Today I’ve got 6 easy post-run snacks so you can eat within 30 minutes after your run without hassle. Why eat within 30 minutes? During that time your body will absorb nutrients more effectively to repair exercise-induced damage, decrease your body’s response to cortisol (stress hormone), and replenish your glycogen stores.
Ok, let’s put it this way: If you eat a snack with protein and carbs after your run, you’ll feel stronger and less tired for your next run. You’ll also be less likely to demolish the kitchen a few hours later trying to satisfy your body turned insatiable runger (run + hunger) monster.
Post-Run Food Basics
The recommendation is a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbs to proteins. The carbs replenish your glycogen stores. The protein repairs damaged tissues and muscles. Eating a snack in the 30 minute window, and again a few hours later will give you the nutritional materials to recover from your run.
BCAAs (branch chained amino acids) and other amino acids are often marketed in post-workout products. Leucine is an essential amino acid (meaning your body does not produce it) and stimulates protein synthesis. There is generally good scientific backing leucine to aid in exercise recovery, but not many of the other amino acids yet. Leucine is found in eggs, chicken, pork, and lean beef. It can also be found in fish, soy, and whey (soy and whey are 2 common sources for protein powders).
What if I don’t want to eat?
There are several reasons people don’t want to eat after a workout. First, your appetite is typically suppressed immediately after hard workouts. You may be in a rush to get on with other obligations in your day. Having something quick and easy will ease this process and benefit you greatly.
If you feel queasy after your runs or eating right after you run, you may need to experiment. Maybe your body would be more accepting of a liquid over solid foods? Or maybe waiting 20-25 minutes of the 30 minute window will let your stomach calm down and accept food. Also consider the types of foods. Maybe after activity you’re more sensitive to lactose, added sugar, or acids.
6 Easy Post-Run Snacks
1. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk has the proper carb to protein ratio, tastes great, and is cheaper than most marketed recovery drinks. You can read more here. Unfortunately I’m lactose intolerant, so I’ll leave this one for you.
2. A sandwich
A turkey or tuna sandwich can have a good measure of carbs and proteins. (I love turkey sandwiches… I really do. Chances are I ate a turkey sandwich today… and yesterday.) A peanut butter and banana sandwich is also a great option.
3. Smoothie with added protein
Smoothies can be easily made to taste and dietary requirements and preferences. Adding protein powder, yogurt, kefir, milk or another protein source can get you the right balance. I love sipping a smoothie while I soak my feet in an ice bath, post-run.
4. Fruit and peanut butter
An apple or banana with a couple tablespoons of peanut butter. Bam. Done.
5. Protein bar
Find one you like with a good carb and protein ratio. Keep them stocked, rip one open, and munch away.
6. Yogurt and fruit
A little Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit is another easy to assemble recovery snack.
- Triathlete’s article on the 30 minute count down with food ideas
- Journal of Nutrition’s scientific article on Leucine’s role in protein synthesis after exercise
- Body Power’s article on appetite suppression after hard workouts
- Runner Connect’s article on chocolate milk as a recovery drink
Eating one of these easy post-run snacks will make you feel loads better and jump-start your body to recovery.