Running is a thoroughly appealing physical activity for a number of reasons… For people in agreeable climates, running means you aren’t confined to the indoors when you workout. You get to be an adventurer and explore while out on your runs – breathing in the fresh air and seeing the sights and sounds. It also means that you don’t need to pay for a gym membership or fancy equipment – everything you need is right there with you on the trail.
The activity of running also offers a number of health benefits, from strengthening your lungs and immune system, to improving mental health and relieving stress, to supporting your heart health. In addition, running is a powerful cardio exercise that can help you in your weight loss efforts – and may even empower you to feel more in control of your health and fitness goals, increasing confidence.
But in order to reap the benefits of running, you have to know how to properly fuel your body for success – both before and after your run. In this article, we’re going to give our professional advice on what to eat after a run – whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply maintain a toned, healthy figure. Let’s begin!
Post Run Nutrition: What To Eat After a Run
Even if carbs aren’t typically a huge part of your daily diet, it’s important to remember that they’re essential after an activity as physically taxing as running – which works every muscle in your body, and puts lots of pressure on your bones and joints. So when it comes to what to eat after a run, make sure you prioritize healthy carbs like whole grains, veggies, fruits, beans and legumes.
The reason healthy carbs are so great after a run is because they replace your glycogen stores – or built up stores of carbs that your body uses for energy while running. You have to replace this glycogen in your muscles before your body can start the muscle repair and building process.
But carbs aren’t the only thing you need after a run. Just as important as carbs is protein, and healthy fats are also beneficial. In addition, you not only need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, but you also need to replace electrolytes (or minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium), that you lose when you sweat.
Keeping all of this in mind, next we’ll go into what to eat after a run based on your specific goals and what you’re trying to achieve while completing the activity.
What To Eat After A Run To Lose Weight
If weight loss is your goal, then you have to keep calories in mind when it comes to post run nutrition. All of the elements of the things you need after a run are the same (carbs, protein, healthy fats and electrolytes), but to slim down, you also need to take calories into consideration.
Here are some ideas for what to eat after a run to lose weight…
1) Raw veggies and hummus (or nut butter)
All veggies are low in calories but high in super-amazing-for-you nutrients (which you probably already know). But you may not think to grab some after a run, yet they’re some of the best post run nutrition recovery fuel. Many veggies are high in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation in your body that naturally goes up after any type of exercise.
In addition, by choosing a smart “dip” for your veggies, you’ll fill in the gap for the rest of your nutritional needs after the fact. Both hummus (which is made from mashed chickpeas) or any type of nut butter both provide protein and healthy fats to fuel your muscle recovery and building efforts. And muscle is important for weight loss, because the more of you have of it, the more calories you’ll burn during the day, even at rest.
Some great veggie choices include celery, cucumber, carrots, radishes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and jicama.
2) Veggie omelet with avocado
Next, eggs are an all-around superfood, not only providing high-quality protein, but also a ton of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Throw in some low-carb veggies like spinach, kale or another leafy green, mushrooms, peppers or tomatoes and you’ll also get those essential carbs. Finally, the addition of avocado adds healthy fats, more antioxidants, and tons of dietary fiber for optimal digestion.
3) Green smoothie
A post run smoothie is one of the best and smartest ways to refuel after your run, because it’s so easy to add everything you need and have it mixed and ready to drink in mere minutes. Plus, you can fill it with foods that help replace electrolytes in your body, and it also helps you rehydrate. When it comes to what to eat after a run to lose weight, you want your smoothie to contain lean protein, healthy fats, and good carbs… but low carbs.
The best way to make a lean, mean, slimming post run smoothie is to start with one of the best plant-based meal replacement shake protein powders. This will give you 15-20g of quality protein right up front, along with beneficial dietary fiber and good carbs and fat.
After that, go ahead and add your favorite nutritious smoothie ingredients. Some great options for weight loss and to replace electrolytes include spinach, kale, blueberries, strawberries, banana, apple, avocado, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, and seeds like chia and hemp.
What To Eat After A Run To Build Muscle
If building muscle is your goal, we have some additional suggestions for post run nutrition, that will spark your body’s muscle building processes even more…
1) Grilled Chicken with Brown Rice and Veggies
Chicken is one of the best lean sources of high-quality protein, with a whopping 27g in one 4-ounce breast. The perfect complement to this muscle-growing food is grilled veggies – which provide a bounty of nutrients. Plus, you can cook them in olive or coconut oil, providing healthy saturated and unsaturated fats your body needs in its recovery process.
Adding brown rice to this meal will help sustain you until your next meal, by providing dietary fiber to keep you full. And even though it’s low in calories, studies show that brown rice is actually a great food to help you with your fitness goals.
2) Oatmeal Bowl
Having a healthy carb such as oatmeal after your run is a great idea to refuel your carb supplies. But when it comes to what to eat after a run to build muscle, the secret here is to add chocolate milk, which may sound strange, but trust us! Low-fat chocolate milk is packed with high-quality protein and fast-digesting carbs that go hand-in-hand with your recovery efforts.
In addition, it has the perfect 4:1 carb to protein ratio… and let’s be honest, it’s delicious.
Feel free to also add some fruits or nuts into your oatmeal bowl for more fiber, vitamins, minerals and needed fats.
3) Power Smoothie
Once again, a post run smoothie is the way to go if you’re trying to build muscle as your goal. And you can fill it up with ingredients that greatly support a lean, toned body figure. Our recommendation is to start with either a whey or plant-based protein power. Though many people still prefer whey, many recent sources now show that plant-based proteins can be just as effective for muscle building.
Next, add in some high-quality dairy, like plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, which provide additional protein and calcium. In particular, cottage cheese is also high in sodium, one of the major electrolytes you lose when you sweat.
Also feel free to add your favorite fruits or veggies into your shake for nutrients and taste. Some great choices for muscle-building include berries, bananas, peaches, plums and melon.
Ready to get your run on?! Now that you know exactly what to eat after a run, we’re hoping you feel empowered to use this physical activity to stay in your best shape, and live your healthiest, most active life!