If you’re guilty of paying close attention to what you eat before and during your run (for energy and to avoid emergency bathroom breaks of course), but scavenge your pantry after a run, reaching for anything that will satisfy your runger, this is the article for you. Because post-workout nutrition is a key part of recovery from (and preparation for your next) run.
Post-workout Nutrition Timing
- 20-30 minutes post-run
This window of time immediately post-workout is a great time to replenish muscle glycogen stores, rehydrated, and start to stop inflammation in its tracks. The best way to replenish muscle glycogen is with a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs-to-protein immediately after a workout.1 You can start to get rehydrated by drinking electrolyte-enriched water. Foods rich in antioxidants will help your body start to manage the inflammation that has been created from your run.
- 45 to 90 minutes post-workout
Once your muscle glycogen has been replenished, your body can turn its attention to repairing and building muscle tissue. High quality, complete protein sources are the best way to support this. Foods that are rich in amino acids arginine, lysine, glutamine and BCAAs are especially important for recovery.
These are the 12 best foods and supplements to eat after your run:
Vega Sport® Recovery helps replenish glycogen stores, making it an ideal follow-up to your workout.
2. Toast with nut butter
Curious about ways to eat a 4-to-1 ratio of complex carbs to protein? Try a piece of gluten-free or sprouted whole grain bread with a tablespoon of nut butter for another tasty way to replenish muscle glycogen.
3. Trail mix (high fruit-to-nut ratio)
On-the-go and forgot your Vega Sport® Recovery? Grab trail mix that’s heavy on the fruit, for another way to eat somewhere close to a 4-to-1 ratio.
A root commonly recognized as a bright yellow spice, turmeric has recently received a lot of attention for its health-promoting properties. Curcumin—the active compound in turmeric —provides antioxidants which fight inflammation to maintain good health.2 You can find turmeric in Vega Sport® Recovery supplements, or in the produce section of some natural health food stores. The root resembles ginger, but its bright orange shade is a dead giveaway. Eat with a sprinkle of black pepper to increase antioxidant absorption.3
5. Fruits and veggies
Fresh fruits and vegetables are natural sources of antioxidants to help manage inflammation. Consider raw cabbage, spinach or parsley in your post-workout meal, as they all contain the amino acid glutamine—a fuel for immune cells. Exercise reduces glutamine in your blood, so supplementing with it can bring these levels back to normal aiding in muscle cell repair, while helping to support immune system health.4
Vega Sport® Protein contains 30 grams of complete, multisource plant-based protein powder blend. Each serving contains 5,000mg of glutamine and 5,000mg of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs help transition the body from a catabolic (breaking down of muscle during exercise) to an anabolic (repair and rebuild) state.5
7. Beans and lentils
Another great source of post-workout protein, beans and lentils are staple plant-based proteins. Pre-making Mason Jar Salads with lentils or garbanzo beans is a great way to be prepared for a post-workout meal on-the-go.
Gluten-free, delicious and packed with 9 grams of complete protein per cup of quinoa once cooked.6 Quinoa only takes 15 minutes to cook, so it’s a great weeknight post-workout staple. Just be sure to rinse dry quinoa thoroughly before cooking, to remove any bitter taste.
9. Pumpkin seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds make a good post-run snack and contain 10 grams of protein per 1/4 cup.6 Try them in your 4-to-1 ratio trail mix.
Actually, most all nuts are good for post-run recovery, because they contain protein as well as healthy fats. Healthy dietary fats help in hormone production, which is essential for runners, and bone health.
Super green micro-algae chlorella is a good addition to your post-workout smoothie. Not only is it an excellent source of vitamin A—to help support your immune system, but it is also an antioxidant powerhouse.7 Free radical scavenging and quenching carotenoids are also abundant in chlorella, specifically the provitamin beta-carotene.
12. Sesame seeds
Running elevates cortisol—the stress hormone— levels. Consuming minimally processed foods while avoiding uncomplementary stress will help to reduce cortisol levels. Additionally, there is promising evidence that getting enough amino acids, especially arginine and lysine, can help to reduce cortisol levels, while promoting healthy hormone levels.8 Sesame seeds are a good source of arginine. Add them to your post-run salad or smoothie!
What is your go-to post-run meal or snack?
- Kerksick et al. (2008) International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient Timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 5:17. Accessed 7/15/13 from http://www.jissn.com/content/5/1/17
- Health Canada. (2012). Natural Health Products Database Monograph: Turmeric-oral. Accessed 5/20/13 from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=216&lang=eng
- Panahi Y, et al. (2015). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis. Clinical Nutrition.
- Health Canada. (2008). Natural Health Products Database Monograph: Glutamine. Accessed 5/20/13 http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=126&lang=eng
- Bernardot, Dan (2012). Advanced Sports Nutrition. Human Kinetics. 4th ed.
- USDA. (2011). National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Accessed on 3/31/14 from: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
- M.G. Ferruzzi, et al. (2002). Antioxidant and Antimutagenic Activity of Dietary Chlorophyll Derivatives Determined by Radical Scavenging and Bacterial Reverse Mutagenesis Assays. Journal of Food Science 67 (7).
- Smriga M, Ando T, Akutsu M, Furukawa Y, Miwa K, Morinaga Y. (2007). Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans. Biomedical Research. 28(2):85-90. Accessed on 5/20/13 from https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/biomedres/28/2/28_2_85/_article