The nutrition you give your body within an hour of finishing a run is key to recovery. The optimal post-workout snack contains carbs to replenish energy stores (glycogen) and protein for muscle repair. As we are in the midst of the summer months, many runners may find themselves with less of an appetite after running in the heat. Registered dietitian Alissa Palladino from Good Measure Meals is here to share 5 cool ways to refuel after a hot run.
Store-bought smoothies can be loaded with sugar and lacking in protein. Making your own gives you control over the ingredients and allows you to customize based on your preferences and what’s in season. A great post-run smoothie should contain 1-2 servings of fruit for quick energy plus fiber to keep you full. For protein, add a cup of Greek yogurt or a serving of high-quality protein powder. Choose unsweetened nut milk, soy or dairy milk, water or even coffee as your liquid base. Throw in a handful of spinach or your favorite leafy greens to boost antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Optionally, add a spoonful of nut butter, nuts, seeds, or avocado for a dose of anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy fats.
Layer Greek yogurt or cottage cheese (for protein) with berries or your favorite chopped fruit (for carbs). Sprinkle with granola and/or nuts for an added crunch and greater satiety.
Most store-bought popsicles are high in sugar with little to no protein. Instead, make your own by blending together a base of simple, nutritious ingredients such as seasonal fruit, Greek yogurt, and/or milk, plus optional add-ins such as peanut butter, avocado or cocoa powder. Blend ingredients and pour into popsicle molds. Place in freezer for about 3-4 hours or until frozen for a quick, delicious post-run treat that’s also very kid-friendly. If you do opt for a store-bought popsicle (hello convenience!) look for versions that are made with yogurt and contain at least 5 (ideally 7+) grams of protein per serving, such as Yasso or Enlightened.
4. Produce + Protein
This is a simple, convenient concept that you can customize based on personal preference and seasonality. Just choose any fruit and pair it with a protein source. Try a peach, apple, orange, grapes or melon plus string cheese, a few slices of deli turkey, a stick of jerky, two hard-boiled eggs, a ½ cup of cottage cheese, or a protein bar. Though higher in fat compared to protein, a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of nut butter will also do the trick.
5. Chocolate Milk
There’s a good reason you often find chocolate milk served at post-race aid stations. Not only is it delicious, but chocolate milk also provides the ideal ratio of carbs and protein for recovery, plus fluids to rehydrate. It’s also packed with key runner-friendly micronutrients such as potassium, an electrolyte needed for muscle and heart contraction, and calcium and vitamin D for bone health. With so many options now available in the dairy aisle, it can be confusing to sort out which milk is right for you. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- When it comes to post-run fuel, dairy milk offers the ideal nutrition profile. 1 cup of whole, low-fat or skim milk provides 8 grams of high-quality protein, along with 12 grams of quick-digesting carbs from naturally occurring lactose sugar. Adding chocolate syrup boosts the carbs/sugar.
- If you’re looking for a non-dairy milk alternative, soy or pea-protein based beverages have a similar amount of protein and overall nutrition.
- Most coconut, almond, and rice milk do not contain protein unless they’ve been fortified.
Give these ideas a try for a summer of running hard and refueling smart!
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