Smart snacking options include combos such as hummus and fresh vegetables, a bagel and a banana, nut butter and whole grain crackers (or a half-sandwich of nut butter on whole grain bread) or fresh figs with yogurt or cheese. You can generally swap pre-run snack ideas with post-run snacking, but after a run, the smartest thing you can do is to aim for a ratio of 4:1 of carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery. The protein-carbohydrate combination has been found to boost how efficiently your muscle glycogen levels are replenished (that's how efficiently your body is able to move glucose to your muscles) -- and one study found that the 4:1 carb-to-protein combination boosted that efficiency by 28 percent [source: Blende]. If that leaves you wondering what that 4:1 ratio might look like, we can help. Yogurt (substitute soy yogurt if you're vegan or avoiding dairy) with fresh fruit is a snack combo packed full of carbs and protein as well as calcium, or a bagel with peanut butter. If you're a chocolate fan (or if your runs leave your stomach feeling a bit upset), pour yourself a glass of chocolate milk for a healthy, energy-renewing (and stomach-friendly) drink.
You'll also want to include foods that are rich in vitamin E and vitamin C (both are antioxidants) for smart snacking after a run. Almonds are high in vitamin E, protein and fiber. Vitamin E is helpful in muscle recovery and may help reduce your post-run aches and pains. (Unless you're a long-distance, endurance runner with high caloric needs, don't go crazy snacking on nuts. While they're healthy, they're also high in calories, so limit yourself to no more than a handful a day.) Oranges, too, are a good snack choice because they're high in vitamin C, which may boost your body's ability to heal strained and damaged muscles.
More Great Links
- Bastone, Kelly. "Snack Smart." Runner's World. 2009. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-301--13102-F,00.html
- Bieler, Kristen Wolfe. "Nutritional Misfits." Runner's World. 2004. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.runnersworld.com/article/1,7124,s6-242-301--9212-0,00.html
- Bieler, Kristen Wolfe. "Eat Like A Champion." Runner's World. 2004. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-301--6686-2-1-2,00.html
- Blende, Sunny. "Recovery Nutrition." Eat4Fitness. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.eat4fitness.com/articles/Recovery.pdf
- Boone, Jenny Kincaid. "Packing energy for the long haul." The Roanoke Times. 2006. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.roanoke.com/outdoors/running/wb/75438
- Brown, Kimberly. "Top 10 Energy Foods: Carbs Athletes Should Love." Active. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.active.com/women/Articles/Top_10_energy_foods__Carbs_athletes_should_love.htm
- CNN. "Vitamin E may reduce muscle soreness." 2004. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://articles.cnn.com/2004-01-30/health/hln.fit.vitamin.e_1_muscle-soreness-weekend-workout-weekend-warrior-types?_s=PM:HEALTH
- Fernstrom, Madelyn. "Runner's diet: food as fuel." TODAY. 2006. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/15106911/ns/today-today_health/t/runners-diet-food-fuel/#.UCRR9p1lSvQ
- Hadfield, Jenny. "Best Foods for Runners." Health. 2008. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20411333,00.html
- REI. "How to Choose Energy Food and Drinks." (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/energy-foods.html#EnergyFoodOptions
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. "Carbohydrates." 2012. (Aug. 14, 2012)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002469.htm
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. "Electrolytes." 2011. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002350.htm
- Yowell, Jana. "Top 10 Healthy Vegan Snacks." Running Vegan. 2010. (Aug. 14, 2012) http://www.runningvegan.com/?p=274