Refueling is one of the simplest and most enjoyable steps to recovering after a run. All you have to do is eat, right? But for most runners squeezing in their workouts on a busy schedule, there’s not always time to sit down and enjoy a freshly cooked meal after a run. Eating within 60 minutes of completing a run is essential for replenishing your glycogen (stored carbohydrates) and helping your muscles recover for the next hard effort. Having some quick post run snacks available to snack on will help you recover well from your workout without missing a beat in your busy day.
The ideal post run snack contains both carbohydrates and protein, which will aid in glycogen resynthesis and muscle repair. You can also add a bit of fat for flavor and satiety. Ideally, you want to choose from natural, whole foods to receive necessary vitamins and minerals as well, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Ready-to-mix powdered smoothies or protein bars may be easily available, but you will get the most bang for your caloric buck with whole foods – not to mention how much more satisfying a yogurt bowl with fruit and granola is compared to a watery protein shake.
Homemade Granola Bars
A granola bar is a quick, portable snack that doesn’t require any chopping, reheating, or other preparation. However, store-bought granola bars can be packed with loads of sugar. By making your granola bars at home, you can control the ingredients and sugar content. My favorite recipe are these no bake molasses and pumpkin seed granola bars, which require just a few minutes to make a large batch. I’ve made them with honey instead of molasses before as well and they always turn out delicious.
Apple or Banana with Peanut Butter
Fruit with peanut butter is the ultimate portable carbs and protein combination. An apple will provide you with satisfying fiber, while a banana offers potassium, which you may have lost in your sweat during the run. You can also get creative with the type of nut or seed butter you use, such as this Honey Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter.
Whole Grain Muffins
Especially if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, a whole grain muffin is a sweet treat that provides the carbohydrates you need after a run. Bakery style muffins, while delicious, are low in nutrients and high in calories and sugar. Making your own muffins at home and using whole wheat flour, maple syrup or honey, and fruit will improve the quality of this treat. Try these sprouted grain muffins, one bowl whole wheat pumpkin bread, or coconut banana chocolate chip muffins.
You can cook up a batch of muffins at the start of the week for a grab-and-go snack. Since muffins only stay good for a few days, freeze half the batch so you aren’t eating soggy snacks later in the week.
Hummus with Pita and Veggies
For runners who prefer a savory snack, hummus served with a whole wheat pita (or slice of whole wheat bread) and carrots, bell peppers, and other vegetables provides plenty of nutrition and satisfaction. Hummus provides a plant-based protein and healthy fat, while the pita provides carbohydrates and the vegetables boost the nutrition. You don’t have to stick to plain hummus either – you can try this red lentil hummus or the Don’t Get Beet Hummus from Run Fast, Eat Slow.
Yogurt is a fantastic snack for runners because it provides carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, calcium, and probiotics. In particular, runners need calcium for healthy bones and probiotics for a healthy gut. You can top your yogurt bowl with fresh fruit and/or granola (this recipe for healthy granola is my favorite) for extra carbs and nutrients.
What’s your favorite snack to grab after a workout?
Do you pick sweet or savory for a snack?