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Best Foods To Always Eat After A Run

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It's important to know what to eat after a run to start the recovery process. Best Foods To Always Eat After A Run www.runnerclick.com

Nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand. And for runners, what to eat after a run is just as important as what we use to fuel our bodies before.

Popular foods for runners before the workout include a banana, Greek yogurt or avocado toast. But what are the best things to always reach for the post-run?

After that long run, we often are left craving a big meal. We often reward ourselves with something less than healthy because of our efforts.

The right foods and drinks are important to promote recovery and refuel our tanks. Here’s what to eat after a run and everything you need to know about post-workout nutrition.

Green smoothies, peanut butter on toast and fruit are great post-run foods.
Photo by Jan Sedivy on Unsplash

The Basics

The two most important things to eat after a run is protein and carbohydrates. Anything that includes these two things is the best food for runners.

Protein is needed to rebuild muscle fibers. Carbs are the preferred source of fuel for runners, so it’s important to replenish these stores.

Aim to get a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein meal in pithing 20- to 30-minutes post-run.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends consuming 0.14 to 0.23 grams of protein per body weight. This translates to about 3 oz. of chicken, salmon or lean beef which has 21 grams each. 

Then combine that with 3 to 4 grams of carbs for every gram of protein. This could be one cut of brown rice or sweet potato. 

Runners also need to hydrate, replenish sodium and potassium lost via sweat. This means drinking plenty of water for short runs but think about immediately having a sports drink after a long run for its electrolytes. 


Depending on the duration and time of the run, having a full-on meal just isn’t possible. This is where knowledge of food for runners come in so that you can still avoid the post-run mistake of not eating after without needing to cook. Cottage cheese is packed with protein, 28 grams per cup. It also has sodium and calcium which both do the body good after a run. When lost on what to eat after a run, combine fresh fruits on top of cottage cheese to enjoy a healthy snack.

Cottage cheese is a perfect post-run food.
Image by DraCat from Pixabay

Watermelon is a great post-run snack because it’s super hydrating. It also contains citrulline, which may help to prevent soreness. Because it’s low in calories, this is a great idea for those looking to lose weight by running.

Hummus with veggies is another option that is quick and satisfying. It provides the runner with protein thanks to its chickpeas, and it’s a way to get more vegetables in your diet when dipping. Try raw bell peppers, carrots, and celery.

Bananas and apples are other foods for runners to consume post-run. Paired with peanut or other but butter to add in that protein and fat to ward off hunger. 


This includes reaching for a protein shake or Greek yogurt-based smoothie. Add in whey protein when looking to build muscle.

Another great idea is sipping on a glass of chocolate milk. Low-fat chocolate milk has the 4-to-1 protein to carb ratio, and studies found that it is great for recovery.

A Full Meal

Breakfast Options: Oatmeal or Yogurt Parfait

If it’s time for breakfast, a great full meal option is either oatmeal or yogurt topped with fruit.

Oatmeal is perfect for replenishing carbs lost, but it also has fiber to keep the runner full longer. Add nuts, chia seeds, honey, and fruit to get added nutrition. And the probiotics in yogurts are great for healthy guts.

The same goes for plain Greek yogurt. Turn it into a parfait and top it with strawberries and bananas and granola. 

A bagel with an egg is also a breakfast option when searching for what to eat after a run.


Besides having a post-workout snack, it’s important to eat a healthy whole meal. If timing brings the runner to lunchtime then make a spinach-based salad topped with beets. 

Beets are filled with fiber that controls hunger. It also has nitrates that promote blood vessel health. And so does spinach. The bonus for runners is that dietary nitrates may increase running performance

Many might think nitrates, which are added to processed meats, are bad. However, vegetables naturally contain these chemicals and studies found it is linked to lower blood pressure and has anti-cancer properties. 

Grilled Chicken 

When thinking about healthy foods for runners, it’s easy to first imagine a plate with grilled chicken and veggies. When stuck on what to eat post-run, this is the best go-to.

For starters, the runner is getting the protein needed. This is also a great opportunity to get in daily doses of vegetables to pair with the chicken. 

And this doesn’t have to be a bland meal. Grill chicken and sauté mushrooms served with a balsamic drizzle. Opt for roasted parsnips, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and butternut squash in the colder months. Top them with oil, and salt and pepper.

Other fun options include an orange chicken broccoli stir fry or swap chicken for salmon like grilled salmon tacos with avocado or salmon cakes with mashed potatoes. 


How can anyone say no to a burrito? It is packed with all foods runners need from lean meat to added protein thanks to beans, along with brown rice and some veggies.

Ditch the tortilla and instead opt for a burrito bowl style to get that hearty feel. Start with brown rice as a race, add in beef or chicken, or vegetarians can no meatless and double up on the pinto and black beans.

Don’t forget to add sautéed peppers, onions, and chopped tomatoes. With a dollop of guac, this is a meal that tastes great and is super filling. 

Pasta And Meatballs

Many people why away from pasta because they believe carbs are bad. But runners need carbohydrates. So have a portioned plate of pasta with some meatballs to get that protein and carb-filled dish in.

When To Eat

Runners know that they don’t need to fuel mid-workout for runs that last less than 45-minutes to an hour. 

But it’s important to eat within the first 30-minutes post-run. This is to replenish the body’s glycogen stores that were used during the workout. It also helps to curb cravings by keeping blood sugar levels normal.

With that said, it depends on the longevity and intensity of the run to determine how important refueling is when it comes to a time frame. Still, it’s important to know what to eat after a run to be able to get the body on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. 

Long-distance runners might want to reach immediately for a protein recovery shake right after the run or snack on toast and nut butter before eating a fuller meal.

Do so before hitting the shower. Get at least a little snack in within that half-hour window then plan for a full healthy meal. This should include protein as the main attraction on the plate as well as healthy fats. Eat this larger meal 45- to 90-minutes after a run.

If it’s an early morning run, then go right into a healthy breakfast like eggs and toast before getting ready for the day. Aim to have about 500 calories for this post-run meal.


  1. Esther Crain , 7 common post-run eating mistakes, Running Website
  2. Christine Luff , What Should I Eat After a Run?, Health Website
  3. Kris Gunnars, BSc, Are Nitrates and Nitrites in Foods Harmful?, Health Website
  4. Amanda Brooks, 30 Scientifically Proven Post Run Meals for Optimal Recovery, Running Blog

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