It’s a simple fact: Running burns calories. After your run, your body requires adequate replenishment of calories to adequately replenish and rebuild muscle tissue. Increasing your mileage means your body has higher energy and macronutrients needs, so your appetite will be raging even greater.
So what do you do to quiet the hunger beast? And how do you maintain, or even lose, weight while pounding out high mileage?
Follow these simple rules to help replenish your losses, rebuild your muscles, and sustain lasting power, and keep you full, and not rungry, for an extended period of time:
1. Quality counts.
After a long run, and especially if you’ve waited too long to refuel, it’s easy to rationalize a junk food as an OK option. The foods you choose to refuel with are going to be the difference between constant nagging hunger and snacking all day and a fully satisfying meal. Remind yourself that your nutrition is an extension of your training plain and what you fuel your body with does impact performance. I’m not saying never treat yourself, just don’t go overboard!
Your post-workout meal should focus on higher amounts of protein and fat and grains that are high in fiber, all foods you likely avoided pre-workout. Foods rich in both protein, fiber and healthy fats all impact your blood sugar less drastically than carbohydrates. This gives you longer lasting energy and less urge to reach for another snack. Nuts and avocados are a great choice.
2. Eat whole grains
Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient for runners as they are the primary fuel source for your mind and muscles. Your body is able to store carbohydrates so you can tap into these stores mid-workout. Unlike refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, or even candy, whole grains give you vitamins and minerals, fiber and some protein. This will help you meet nutrient needs and control hunger pangs. Try oatmeal, quinoa or air-popped popcorn for a healthy and satisfying snack.
3. Choose whole fruits and vegetables
These foods are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants help protect the body after periods of stress (running-induced counts) and fiber helps keep the digestive system happy, and us fuller. Consume at least two servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables with each meal.
4. Pay attention to timing
When we wait too long to eat after a workout we set ourselves up for failure. Waiting will likely lead you to overeating at your next meal and drive you to make less-than-smart nutrition-rich food choices. Aim to eat at least a 100 calorie snack 30 minutes post-run, preferably with a 4-to-1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. Try Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator mixed with water, or a handful of trail mix.
5. Keep a food diary
Writing out your daily intake will help you become more aware of everything you’re eating. Are you grabbing too many bites of granola or handfuls of trail mix as you walk through the kitchen or prep your next meal? Did you forget you already “rewarded” yourself with a treat? Keeping a food log, even for just a few days, will allow you to not only be more mindful of exactly how many treats you’re having can help you assess areas you’re falling short, such as not enough protein or too few servings of fibrous vegetables.
It’s important to remember that healthy foods promote positive energy levels, tissue repair, muscle recovery, and so much more. With adequate caloric intake you will see not only faster recovery but also fitness gains. Follow hunger cues, fuel up with whole, real foods, and you’ll be ready to tackle the next workout on the calendar, and the runger that follows!