In my last blog I talked about the best foods for fuelling before a run. This time I thought that I’d talk about something equally important – refuelling after your run.
The consensus is that you should ‘refuel’ within 30-60 minutes of your run (exercise). This is the window when your muscles are primed to take on the all important nutrients (e.g. glycogen) that they need for recovery and repair.
Getting your ‘refuel’ right is important. It helps prevent further muscle breakdown, optimises muscle and liver glycogen stores and helps with your training adaptations.
You will recall that choosing your pre-run snack/meal (fuel) depends on what works for you. Your ‘refuel’ is the same. There’s lots of advice out there – not just mine.
Play around, especially if you’re prone to GI sensitivity, and see what works best for you. Here’s what I think about and what has helped me find what works for me.
Proteins and Carbohydrates are essential for full recovery. The longer and/or more demanding the run (exercise) the more important they are.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel for energy. They are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. The body can only store a certain amount of carbohydrate. Replenishing these stores quickly is essential.
Proteins, the other energy source, play a significant role in our post-run snack/meal. They are vital for the growth, repair of muscle tissue and the production of hormones, not to mention helping strengthen our immune system!
Although healthy essential fats are important in any diet, you need to watch how much is in your ‘refuel’ and should aim to keep them low. Fats take longer to digest and as such may slow down the digestion and absorption of other nutrients. I don’t believe in their ‘elimination’ – to me it’s about being aware, limiting them (being sensible) and finding what works best for you.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to rehydrate! This is essential for quick and effective physical and mental recovery. Almost two thirds of your body is made up of water.
As a quick rule of thumb, if you have 10 miles or more to run then water is not enough. You need water and electrolytes – sodium, chloride and other minerals. They can be in your drink or in other foods. I always have a banana to hand (an excellent source of potassium which plays an important role in recovery).
If that was food for thought, here are some of my favourite ‘refuels’:
- Eggs on rye with spinach
- Breakfast hash
- Greek yoghurt with berries, chia/flax seed and honey
- Smashed peas and egg on rye
- Almond milk, oats, honey, banana and almond butter protein shake (perfect when I can’t face eating or when the kitchen is over an hour away)
The bottom line is, remember that you need to ‘refuel’, identify what works for you and maximise the benefit of your exercise.