Running a marathon is no easy feat. You need to train for months in advance, prepare your body for the long distance, and then, of course, actually run it! After you cross that finish line, though, you still have work to do - recovery. This article will discuss what to eat after a run to help speed up your recovery process.
What Are The Benefits Of Good Post-Run Nutrition?
A good post run meal helps marathon runners recover faster after a race, which allows you to get back into training quicker!
In addition, it will also help your body repair and build up strength so you can optimize performance during the next run by getting rid of soreness and muscle fatigue earlier.
Marathon runners should make sure they incorporate these four components - proteins, carbohydrates, liquids, and electrolytes - and rest to restore their energy levels while preventing injuries that could lengthen muscle recovery time.
What To Eat After A Run
Below we discuss four ideal post-run foods for marathon runners that should be a part of their everyday diet.
After a race, your body will be in a catabolic state. This means it is breaking down muscle tissue to help fulfill energy needs and restore glycogen stores as quickly as possible - which in turn, can cause muscle soreness. Eating protein filled with essential amino acids helps counteract this process by slowing the breakdown of muscle while promoting muscle repair, growth, and recovery.
An excellent way to get more protein into your diet after running a marathon (or any other exercise for that matter) is with protein-filled post run snacks like beef jerky! PREVAIL Beef jerky is a good lean protein source - 12 grams per serving- and is one of the best foods you can eat post run. It's also a good source of iron, which often tends to be depleted when you exercise. Our jerky is also filled with healthy fats and is low in carbs, so it won't make you feel heavy or bloated after eating it. Lastly, It's chewy and easy to digest, making it a perfect post run meal!
PREVAIL's Beef jerky is a marathon runner's favorite because you can eat it on the go while also enjoying its rich flavor and nutrient profile.
Some other excellent sources of protein include:
- Nut butter
- Home-made protein shakes
To get the most out of your protein intake, consume 0.25-0.45 grams every two hours! This will help you feel better and recover faster after a race because proteins help promote muscle repair and growth while slowing down breakdown.
One of the best foods you can eat after a run is fresh fruit. While this may seem like a no-brainer to some, you'd be surprised at how many athletes forget about one of nature's most perfect foods following their event. Fruit provides carbohydrates and sugars that are necessary for your body to replace any energy it used during the race - especially if you're running 26 miles! Fruit also replenishes fluids lost from sweating and replaces minerals in our bodies such as sodium which can be depleted when we sweat profusely.
Other foods you can eat include:
Note: Sticking to a PALEO diet means staying away from grains like brown rice.
If you fail to replenish your muscle glycogen stores, you're cheating your muscles and impeding recovery. Asides from that, delaying carb intake by just two hours has been proven to reduce the amount of glycogen restoration by half!
For the first four hours after finishing a marathon, you should consume at least 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight each hour. After four hours, you may return to your usual carb intake, depending on your daily requirements.
The third most crucial thing marathon runners should consume after a race is fluids. Drinking water and other hydrating beverages helps replenish your body's lost fluids used during the run and electrolytes such as sodium, which can be depleted when you sweat profusely.
Berry shakes are great for following rehydrating exercise because they contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to help speed up recovery while increasing energy levels! You'll want to drink at least a half gallon of fluid within two hours (and more if it's hot out) in addition to any beverage or food consumed afterward. If possible, avoid caffeinated drinks since they could cause dehydration by making you urinate more often than usual - especially caffeine.
You'll also want to make sure you're replenishing your electrolytes after a race. Electrolytes are minerals that play an essential role in the body, including regulating fluid balance, transmitting nerve impulses, and contracting muscles.
Some good sources of electrolytes include:
- Pickle juice
- Bone broth
- Coconut water
- lemon juice
- Chocolate milk [dairy free]
Just like protein and carbs, aim to consume electrolytes every two hours to help your body recover faster!
The Four R's Of Recovery
So, what should you remember when it comes to post-marathon nutrition? Remember to:
- Replenish your muscle glycogen and protein stores
- Restore hydration levels
- Replenish electrolytes
By following these guidelines, you'll be on your way to a speedy recovery!
What Not To Eat After A Marathon
There are some things marathon runners should not eat after a race. These include alcohol, refined sugar, fatty foods, and junk foods!
Alcohol is high in calories which can lead to weight gain if you're trying to lose some pounds - plus, it's super dehydrating, so it will slow down your recovery time instead of helping!
Refined sugar causes spikes in insulin levels that could delay glycogen replenishment by up-regulating the enzyme responsible for converting carbs into energy and inhibiting cortisol absorption, causing blood glucose levels to drop too low.
Fatty foods are also very calorie-dense. Since they take longer than protein or carbohydrates on average to digest, eating them right after a run may cause stomach problems while slowing digestion because fats require more bile to be emulsified in the small intestine and take longer for your body to process.
Last but not least, marathon runners should avoid eating junk foods like candy bars and potato chips because they're loaded with unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt. Not only will these foods make you feel terrible after running 26.219 miles, but they'll also sabotage your hard work!
Here is a quick summary of what to eat after a run:
- Replenish glycogen stores by consuming at least 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight each hour.
- Consume 0.25-0.45 grams of easy-to-digest protein, such as beef jerky, per pound of bodyweight every two hours to rebuild muscle tissue.
- Restore hydration levels by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Consume electrolytes every two hours to promote optimal recovery.
- Rest by taking it easy for the rest of the day - you've earned it!