Running is an excellent exercise, and you need to work smart to recover well from each training run. Not recovering correctly between training sessions can lead to injury, fatigue and poor performance. Exerting yourself running causes glycogen to deplete and works the muscles, but a healthy post-run recovery snack can counter this. A balanced mix of carbohydrates and proteins makes the best post-training snack to refuel the glycogen and repair and protect the muscles. Here are some pro-runner tried and tested favourites to get you started.
The humble banana is one of the most accessible snacks to keep with you when training. It is an excellent source of carbs and digests easily. Bananas also contain glucose, fructose, sucrose, and starch, which is perfect muscle fuel. Finally, they have a good amount of potassium and magnesium, the former is needed for the body to balance fluid in cells, and the latter helps create new cells.
Another easy fix that can be popped into your kit bag is the granola or cereal bar. Stick to those with a high oat content as oats have slow-release energy and a higher protein kick than some cereals. Watch the fat content; aim for less than 5g of fat and no more than 130 calories per bar.
A natural source of carbohydrate and protein, milk is a great post-run drink and even better when flavoured. Chocolate milk was studied in 2009 by researchers at James Madison University. They found that muscle recovery supported by chocolate milk was faster and better than runners who consumed sports drinks after running. It leads to less soreness and a quicker recovery time. Again watch the sugar content and stick to those designed to be healthier.
Provided you are not endlessly snacking on roasted and salted varieties, most nuts after brilliant for post-training recovery. They are naturally high in fibre and protein and include vital vitamins B and E. B is needed for energy, and E protects the heart. Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and more can help muscle recovery and lose weight.
High in antioxidants and phenolic acids, berries are another excellent choice for snacking post-run. Just 15 berries give you 1/3rd of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which can help fend off infections and kill viruses. They tend to be seasonal, so fresh blackberries aren’t always an option, but frozen berries make a great smoothie ingredient and are available all year round.
The point of post-run snacks is to help the body recover from the effort and wear and tear that running causes. Note the emphasis on snacks; you do not want to undo all of your hard work by overindulging and seeing a run as the perfect chance to justify bad food. Keep things interesting by creating new post-workout combinations like peanut butter on rice cakes or blending fruit into milk. You should notice your recovery times improve, and your energy levels explode.
Now you may or may not agree with the above but we would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Feel free to comment with your post run/workout food.