After training, it’s vital to replenish your body’s energy stores and repair your hard-worked muscles, which will be depleted of nutrients.
For fast muscle recovery and replenished energy levels, a combination of protein and carbohydrates makes the best post-workout food. Here are a few of our favourite finish line snacks:
Whole-wheat bagels with nut butter offer a duo of nutritional support. The bagel provides calories and complex carbs, while the nut butter is packed full of minerals and electrolytes vital for muscle repair. Add some sliced banana to increase your protein, carbohydrate and fibre intake and you have a naturally delicious post-workout treat.
Houmous is an excellent source of both protein and carbohydrates. A whole-meal wrap filled with houmous and your favourite salad is therefore a perfect recovery fuel. We like houmous and beetroot wraps with feta for that extra protein kick.
Whole-wheat pasta with chicken is another way to hit the right balance of carbohydrate and protein. Runners need 50-75% more protein, depending on their degree of exertion, than non-runners and just one 120g portion of chicken can provide half of a runner’s daily protein requirements. Combine with some fibre-some and easily digested whole-wheat pasta, your favourite sauce and some cheese for a satisfying meal that will restock your energy stores.
If you prefer a post-workout salad, make sure you aren’t missing out on the carbohydrates your body needs. Try adding roasted sweet potato or butternut squash for some slow-releasing energy. Combine this with salmon or chicken, baby spinach, green beans and chickpeas.
For re-fueling on the go, liquid meals can do the job with the added bonuses of being quickly absorbed and easily digested. Blend Greek yogurt with soya milk, rolled oats, your favourite fruits and a dash of honey for some ultimate smoothie goodness. We like pineapple and pomegranate…full of antioxidants, plus pineapple is known to have anti-inflammatory properties (great news for your muscles). For an extra nutritional punch try adding some organic Chia seeds, which contain calcium, manganese, phosphorus and lots of omega-3 fats.
Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to replenishing glycogen stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise, so its best to eat as soon as you can once you have finished your workout!
However, not everyone can handle eating straight after exercise, the adrenaline rush and post workout buzz can often leave you thinking of anything but food. If this is the case, then a great alternative is chocolate milk. With double the carbohydrate and protein content of plain milk, this chocolate treat is perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces fluids lost as sweat, preventing dehydration, and offers a plethora of nutritional gems such as sodium, glucose and calcium.
There are hundreds of running magazines, books, websites, blogs, podcasts and apps that offer a wealth of further information on running and nutrition. Click on any of the links to view the 12 best of each, as voted by our users, and find out more.