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Many runners focus a lot on what they eat before a race and during a race, but they do not give much thought to what they eat after a hard workout. Post-workout nutrition is just as important as pre-workout nutrition. Eating the proper recovery snack helps your muscles to begin their recovery after a tough training session like a speed workout or a long run.
4:1 IS THE OPTIMAL CARB/PROTEIN RATIO FOR RECOVERY
For workouts that are less than an hour, an exact carb/protein ratio is not as crucial as it is for workouts lasting more than one hour. For training runs less than one hour, go for a snack that has both carbohydrates and protein like fruit with yogurt or a small bowl of cereal. However, when you run for an hour or longer, you need to aim for a post-run snack/meal that contains a 4:1 ration of carbohydrates to protein. For optimal results, make sure you eat the recovery snack within 30 minutes of ending your workout.
Studies show that the mix of carbohydrates and protein is optimal for the rebuilding of glycogen stores that were depleted during your workout. Snacks/meals with the 4:1 ratio increase glycogen levels more than carbohydrates alone.
SAMPLE IDEAS FOR RECOVERY SNACKS
Because most of us cannot precisely calculate the carb/protein ratio of our snacks (especially after a tough workout!), here is a list of some good running recovery snacks to eat following those tough workouts:
- a glass of chocolate milk (also helps with hydration).
- half of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
- sliced apples and a string cheese
- smoothie or protein shake
- commercially prepared recovery drink like Muscle Milk, GU Recovery Brew, or Endurox R4. My favorite is Shaklee Phsyique.
Don’t Forget Hydration
Immediately after a workout, make sure that you rehydrate properly–that’s the first priority, then feed your muscles with a good running recovery snack. By properly refueling your body, you will help your muscles repair themselves, so they can be ready for your next training session!