Ask the Sports Dietitian – What Foods Help Speed Up Recovery?
Are some foods better than others in aiding recovery after a rough run?
As far as I am concerned, the WHEN and HOW MUCH are as important as the WHAT.
WHEN: For the best recovery, refuel within 15-30 minutes of a run. Make it a priority!
HOW MUCH?: Aim for a post run appetizer (about a tennis ball size amount of food), not a full meal. Often, you may finish a run without an appetite, so remember less is more.
Recovery can also carry into the following meal. Your post run meal should include ¼-1/3 of a plate full of carbs (rice, pasta, potato, bread, tortilla or cereal), ¼ plate full of protein (lean meat, poultry, fish, soy foods, beans, eggs, low-fat dairy), fruits/vegetables for the remainder of the plate, plus some fat (oil, avocado, nuts, nut butters).
WHAT: Be prepared. Bring non-perishable snacks to store in your car or locker so you don’t have to wait until you get home or to a restaurant to start refueling. Follow this trifecta for optimal refueling: replace 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during a run, eat 12-15 grams of protein, and 35-50 grams of carbohydrates immediately after a run.
If you’re too tired to chew, you can refuel with beverages (provided they’re other than plain water). A 12 ounce glass of low-fat flavored milk, a ½ cup of trail mix of roasted soynuts/dried fruit and cereal, or a sports bar with enough carbs and protein (but under 200 calories) should work fine.
A few special items of interest to consider:
- Ginger may help to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, so you could add ginger to a stir-fry, or mix a little candied ginger into a trail mix, or even add ginger root to tea.
- To expedite recovery, think about the type of carbs you choose: higher glycemic index items such as cereal, crackers, a small amount of honey/syrup may aid in faster muscle glycogen recovery.
- You don’t need a special recovery product, or supplements. Just time it right, and in terms of the quantity—keep it light!
Recover, Restore, Replete!