As a runner, we know that getting in a source of carbohydrate and protein in our post run meal is important for our recovery. But, how soon after you run should you eat that meal? I know for me, this is a very important aspect of my fueling strategy that I have to be intentional about planning in. I prefer morning runs (who else are my 5am-ers?!), and the hustle and bustle of the morning can distract me from getting that post-run fuel in. I can get wrapped up in stretching, petting the dog, taking a shower, packing my lunch, and then rushing out the door to be on time for work (or signed on to my zoom call!). Next thing I know, it has been at least 2 hours between when I finished running and am finally getting to my breakfast!
I don't know about you, but by then I am STARVING and feel constantly hungry throughout the day. No matter what I do I cannot feel satisfied. On top of this, I feel sluggish and sometimes sore the next day. This isn't a coincidence.
How soon after you run do you need to eat to get the most out of your recovery? The answer: as soon as you can is the best option.
We still don't quite know a specific time table on promoting the most adaptations post-run, but we do know that the sooner you can get that solid post-run meal in - the better. I wouldn't recommend you go further than 2 hours post-run to eat your meal (talking to myself here, too!).
There is one other key point you will need to take into consideration when thinking about timing of your post-run meal. Yes, getting in your post-run meal is so, so important! But there is also something just as important - eating enough overall protein throughout the day! Your post-run meal and protein game could be on point, but if you are not eating enough overall protein in adequate amounts throughout the day - your post-run recovery will not be as effective. This is because our body actually breaks down and builds up muscle proteins throughout the day, not just during/after your runs.
Don’t stop at your post-run breakfast meal, be sure you are hitting your protein targets at multiple meals/snacks spaced out throughout the day.
Here is an example day menu of how this may look!
*This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid by any of these brands for this post. All opinions are my own, and are items that I eat on a regular basis.*
Breakfast: Kodiak pancakes with butter/pure maple syrup, topped with fresh berries/banana.
Snack: pretzels and handful of almonds/cheese.
Lunch: 3 oz. chicken salad sandwich with whole wheat bread, sliced bell peppers and an orange.
Snack: Energy bar + 1 cup milk
Dinner: spaghetti with 3 oz. lean ground beef, steamed and seasoned broccoli
Snack: ¾ cup yogurt and granola
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Maddi Osburn RDN LD
Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals. 6th ed., Chicago: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017.