Post-Run Nutrition (plus shortcuts)

sarah cuff Food for Runners, Nutrient Timing, Run Recovery 4 Comments

DSC_0021 - Version 2Following up on my Pre-Run Nutrition post, your post-run nutrition practice can make a world of difference in how well and how quickly you recover.

In fact, if you neglect taking in nutrition of any sort immediately after a long or hard run, you risk delaying your recovery time by half and suffering greater levels of pain and soreness as well as reduced energy levels over the next 24-48 hours. In order to make sure that your recovery is optimal, follow these guidelines.

Post-Run Nutrition (within 20-30 minutes of completing your run):

It is imperative that you consume recovery nutrition within 20-30 minutes of a hard (tempo, intervals, hills) or long (60 minutes or longer) run.

This typically is best found in the form of a recovery shake simply because liquid is easier to digest post-run. Your post-run nutrition should:

  1. Be antioxidant rich – or in other words contain the vitamins A, C and E, minerals zinc and selenium as well as phytonutrients, to combat post muscle soreness and manage the healing process;
  2. Be carbohydrate rich, ideally containing between 50-75 grams of carbs – or about 1g carb per kg of bodyweight, to refuel depleted glycogen stores;
  3. Contain a bit of protein, in a 4:1 (or 3:1) ratio of carbs to protein, which doubles the insulin response that is required for manufacturing glycogen and also aids in muscle synthesis (and specifically the amino acid glutamine which supports the immune system and prevents protein breakdown by blunting the rise in cortisol, a hormone released when you exercise intensely, and the amino acid arginine which makes glucose more available for glycogen synthesis);
  4. Contain electrolytes – minerals including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium which are lost in sweat and are required for muscle contractions;
  5. Are low in or free from fat, which would slow rehydration and glycogen replenishment;
  6. Include water, for rehydration.

DSC_0013An example of a perfect post-run recovery shake might use tart cherry juice and coconut water as a liquid base, with added banana, strawberries & blueberries, hemp hearts and chia seeds blended in (and optionally raw cacao powder and/or a high quality protein powder and/or a greens powder such as Amazing Grass).

My number one recommendation is to make your own recovery shake. If you need to make it ahead of time and bring it with you, then do that. There is, quite simply, nothing on the market that can rival what you can make in your own kitchen. Good planning goes a long way when it comes to recovery nutrition.

Best Post-Run Natural Food Option:

If you can’t make your own shake, your next best option may be to stop by a natural organic smoothie bar that sells freshly made shakes, such as Body Energy Club (they sell both Eat 2 Run approved protein powders: Ergogenics and Vega Sport). Look for ingredients that are similar to the ones found in the shakes listed above.

DSC_0005Good Post-Run Natural Food Options:

  • A cup of tart cherry juice with a banana dipped in hemp hearts
  • A cup of coconut water with a couple handfuls of dried tart cherries and hemp hearts
  • A cup of fresh pressed juice with medjool dates stuffed with hemp hearts

Post-Run Eat 2 Run Approved Sports Product ‘Shortcuts’:

If you’re wondering about chocolate milk as a post-run recovery drink, I don’t recommend it unless you are virtually left with no other option (something is always better than nothing). You can read the detailed reasoning why I don’t recommend chocolate milk here. 

By ensuring good post-run nutrition we replenish our glycogen stores, repair muscle damage and rebalance our immune systems. This in turn rewards us with greater energy, improved performance, and better resistance to injury and illnesses. Plus you’ll be ready to get out there and run strong again sooner than you ever thought possible!

Eat clean, run strong, be well… Cheers,


Sarah J Cuff, RHN

Comments 4

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      Great question Ally! If it’s a shorter, easier run, I’ll either just go straight into whatever next snack or meal you have planned for the day, or I’ll have a 1/2 cup tart cherry juice so I’m getting those anti-inflammatory and healing phytonutrients into me, and then move into whatever snack or meal is next on the days menu!

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