Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it’s a terrific way to boost your heart health.
Though much attention is based around what to eat before running, what you eat subsequently is just as important.
Depending on your goals — such as weight loss, muscle gain, or finishing a long-distance run — different foods may provide various benefits.
Here are the 15 best foods to eat after your run.
1–5. For weight loss
Exercise is an important part of any weight loss regimen, and it’s particularly important for maintaining weight loss in the long term .
Running is an exercise favored by many people looking to eliminate weight, as it can be done almost anywhere and without the use of expensive equipment.
Here are five of the best foods to eat after running when your goal is weight loss.
1. Beet salad
Beets are rich in nutrients, low in carbs, and a excellent supply of hunger-controlling fiber, which makes them a terrific addition to any salad.
What is more, they’re high in dietary nitrates, which are chemicals that help your body produce nitric oxide, one of the main molecules for blood vessel health.
Studies have shown that dietary nitrates from beets and other nitrate-rich veggies, such as spinach and arugula, can increase running performance and delay running fatigue.
Using mixed salad greens as your base, add one peeled and cubed cooked beet and top with goat cheese crumbles.
Complete the salad off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re searching for a more substantial post-running snack, add chickpeas, a hard-boiled egg, or a bit of salmon for an extra protein boost.
A favourite summer picnic fruit, watermelon has few calories and is a good source of two powerful plant chemicals — citrulline and lycopene.
Similar to dietary nitrates, citrulline helps your body produce nitric oxide and might delay exercise fatigue and relieve muscle soreness.
Containing 91% water by weight, watermelon may also help you rehydrate following your run.
You may enjoy watermelon by itself or add it to other dishes such as salads for a more filling dish.
Combine cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, baby arugula, and feta cheese with cubed watermelon for a nutrient-packed, post-run snack. If desired, dress the salad with olive oil and lime juice.
3. Hummus and raw vegetables
Hummus is a spread made chiefly from mashed garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, in addition to a few other ingredients, such as olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
It’s a good source of plant-based protein, supplying almost 8 g per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
Rather than using chips to dip in hummus, opt for low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, celery, radishes, and cauliflower.
4. Veggie omelet
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and high quality protein, eggs are one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses.
Studies reveal that an egg-containing breakfast may enhance weight loss when coupled with a low-carb diet. This makes an omelet the perfect breakfast choice for early morning runners.
Stir in fresh spinach, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, onions, and mushrooms for a tasty, nutrient-packed breakfast.
5. Apple or banana with peanut butter
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Apples and bananas pair nicely with nut butters like peanut butter.
The natural carbohydrates from the fruit and the fat from the peanut butter operate synergistically to not only help you recover from your run but also control your hunger through the day.
Because peanut butter is rich in calories, stick to a 2-tablespoon serving, or about the size of a ping pong ball.
SUMMARYOpt for low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods after your run to assist your weight loss objectives. These include hummus, a veggie omelet, and beet or watermelon salad.
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6–10. For building muscle
Running — when coupled with weightlifting — is a excellent way to assist you burn extra calories, maintain a healthy heart, and build muscle.
Here are five of the best foods to eat after running when your goal is muscle gain.
6. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk appears to be a perfect post-run drink.
It’s loaded with high quality protein and fast-digesting carbohydrates for muscle recovery and energy refueling.
Similarly to many commercial exercise-recovery drinks, low-fat chocolate milk has a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio.
1 5-week study in adolescents found that chocolate milk resulted in a 12.3% strength increase in bench press and squat exercises, compared with a carbohydrate drink.
Furthermore, a review of 12 studies found that chocolate milk provides either similar or superior exercise-recovery benefits, compared with other popular recovery drinks.
7. Whey protein shake
Protein shakes have been around for decades and are the go-to choice for many people looking to build muscle.
Though there are several types of protein powder, whey protein is one of the best choices for muscle building following a run.
Your body digests and absorbs this milk-based protein quickly.
Compared with other forms of protein powder, such as casein or soy, whey protein packs more of the nine essential amino acids that your body needs to jumpstart the muscle-building process.
In a blender, combine 1–2 scoops of whey protein with water till smooth. If you want to bump up the protein and calorie content, use milk instead of water. Add some frozen fruit or nut butter for extra nutrition and flavor.
Whey protein powder is widely available in supermarkets, specialty shops, and online.
8. Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
Chicken is a high quality, lean protein.
A 4-ounce (112-gram) chicken breast packs 27 grams of protein, which is more than sufficient to start the muscle-rebuilding process after running.
However, this poultry can be quite bland by itself, so have a side of roasted veggies with your grilled chicken.
Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and asparagus are prime candidates. Add olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste for additional flavor.
9. Cottage cheese and fruit
Cottage cheese is an exceptional source of protein and calcium.
1 cup (226 g ) of low-fat cottage cheese provides 28 grams of protein and 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium.
Cottage cheese can also be high in sodium, an electrolyte lost in sweat during exercise.
Best cottage cheese with fresh berries, peach slices, or melon chunks or balls for additional antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
10. Pea protein powder
In case you have dietary restrictions or follow a plant-based diet, pea protein powder is an exceptional alternative to milk-based powders.
Supplementing with pea protein powder provides a convenient way to boost your protein intake.
While research on the effects of pea protein on muscle repair and recovery in endurance athletes is lacking, it has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis — the process of building muscle — to a similar extent as whey protein.
In an 8-week study in 15 people undergoing high-intensity exercise 4 times weekly, consuming pea protein before or after exercise generated outcomes similar to those of whey protein in relation to muscle depth and strength.
To reap the benefits of pea protein, blend 1–2 scoops of the powder with milk, water, or a plant-based milk alternative until smooth.
If you want to try pea protein powder, you will find it locally or online.
SUMMARYSeek high-quality protein sources such as protein shakes or chicken and veggies to promote muscle growth and repair after running.
11–15. For marathons
Along with a pre- and intra-race fueling strategy, you need to have a post-race strategy when participating in a marathon.
The objective of a post-race meal is to replace the nutrients you lost during the marathon and supply the essential building blocks for muscle recovery.
Especially, your post-run meal should contain sufficient protein, in addition to plenty of carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen levels, which are your body’s storage form of carbohydrates.
Plus, you’ll want to include salt to replace the sodium lost in sweat. Sodium-rich foods also increase fluid retention when combined with water to restore hydration post-exercise.
Here are five of the best meals to eat after running a marathon.
11. Burrito bowl
A burrito bowl has everything you would typically get in a burrito — just put in a bowl.
While they could contain as much or as little food as you want, they should have plenty of carbs and protein to kickstart the healing process and replenish your energy stores.
Use brown or white rice along with black or pinto beans as the base for your burrito bowl. Next, top it with a lean protein source, such as beef or chicken. You may then pile on veggies of your choosing and top it off with sour cream, cheese, and salsa.
12. Penne with broccoli and chicken
Penne with chicken and broccoli is full of healthy carbs and high quality protein — perfect for after a marathon.
Cook the penne according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last two minutes of cooking.
While the pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, and then slice it.
Finally, combine the pasta and broccoli with the chicken and a garlic in a large bowl and sprinkle everything with parmesan cheese if desired.
13. Salmon with rice and asparagus
Salmon is not just a fantastic source of protein but also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for their role in reducing the risk of heart disease, mental decline, and certain cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancers ).
What’s more, they have been linked to exercise recovery, which makes salmon the perfect post-marathon protein supply .
Pair salmon with a couple cups of rice and spears of asparagus for a full, post-marathon recovery meal.
14. Loaded oatmeal
Oatmeal is a high-quality carb source and rich in beta-glucan, a kind of soluble fiber that’s been linked to several health benefits, such as improved immune function and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Though it’s typically appreciated for breakfast, it’s also an ideal choice for after a marathon, particularly when loaded with different ingredients for additional protein and calories.
Cook the oatmeal in milk and top it with sliced strawberries, bananas, or chia seeds. Nuts, like almonds or walnuts, make great additions as well. Add honey, sprinkle on some coconut, or add dark chocolate chips for additional taste and calories.
15. Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
Greek yogurt is much higher in protein than regular yogurt.
1 2/3-cup (150-gram) serving of Greek yogurt packs 15 g of protein, compared with 5 g for the identical amount of regular yogurt.
Fruit and granola add extra carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to accelerate your post-marathon recovery.
SUMMARYChoose high-carb, high-protein foods after your marathon or long-distance run to help muscle recovery and replenish your energy stores.