Nutrition for runners is important to help maintain performance, stamina and overall health. A diet must include important elements to create a balance and help the runner’s body to work more efficiently, both during a run and throughout the normal day. Different elements (ie: carbs, protein, fats, vitamins) are required at different times to optimize health and workout benefits. There are particular points you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to eating after engaging in a long run.
Importance of Post Run Foods
The best plan for nutrition for runners includes the right meal or snack immediately after a run. During vigorous exercise, the body has used up stores of energy and water to help you complete your mission. Glycogen levels are low and the body must be rehydrated. Eating may be the last thing on your mind, due to more favorable options such as rest or a shower, but there is a window of time beginning directly after you finish your exercise, and ending somewhere within a 2-hour timeframe. Replenishing the body’s missing resources quickly is the most effective route to take. Intake of the right foods and liquids can also alleviate burning and muscle pain later on, as well as enhance muscle strength.
Focus on Hydration First
It’s important to first rehydrate your body. Proper intake of fluids is important before, during and after a long run, and especially when you’ve used up a majority of the body’s stored resources during exercise. Water is healthy and beneficial (and should be drank first), but you may also find that consuming other liquids can provide all the necessary nutrients. Chocolate milk, for example, contains proteins, carbs and vitamin B. This type of drink may be especially helpful if you are trying to avoid solid foods. Juicing can also be tasty and beneficial. Try juicing with a watermelon; a high-glycemic food helpful in replenishing glycogen levels.
Foods to Choose
Replenishing carbohydrates right after a long run is very important to nutrition for runners. Carbohydrates are important, but replenishment of protein is necessary as well. A general ratio of 4:1 carbs to proteins is optimal. Have a bagel, pastry, egg and toast, sports drink or even a small bowl of ice cream. Just be sure to avoid too much fat intake. Not only can this counteract with any weight loss results you are trying to achieve, but too much fat can also interfere with the absorption of carbohydrates, slowing down the process of the body’s recovery.
Some drinks can be very helpful in maintaining nutrition for runners after a long run or workout. In addition to chocolate milk, there are many drinks and shakes on the market that can satisfy the needs for rehydration and proper protein and carbohydrate intake very quickly. Check out Cytomax or Endurox R4 and consider adding in some whey or soy protein. Having your drink mixed and ready to go as soon as you’re finished running may be the most convenient and healthy choice for you.