Before I continue, this post is part of Tuesdays on the Run with My No-Guilt Life, MCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere. When you're done reading here, be sure to check them out! I didn't write about the same topic they are this week. I've gone rogue.
Anyway, when it comes to recovery after a workout, the possibilities are endless. But what you should eat really depends on how long your workout is. If you workout for 30 minutes to an hour, you really don't need to go crazy with a lot of food after your workout. Something small that's more carbohydrates than protein and fat is the best option. Then after your initial post-workout snack, you can go about your day as usual and eat at your regular time. Some of my favorite post-shorter-workout snacks include:
- Fruit with a handful of nuts or string cheese
- A small salad with greens like spinach plus some tomatoes or carrots and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
- Half a whole-grain bagel or piece of whole-grain bread and 1/2 a serving of nut butter (1/2 a serving is usually 1 tablespoon)
- A handful or two of trail mix that contains dried fruit and nuts
- Half a baked sweet potato topped with hemp seeds
If you're working out for more than an hour, or your workout is shorter but very intense, you can have a little more to eat but you still don't need a ton of food. You want to again focus on carbohydrates rather than protein and fat because it's hard for the digestive system to process protein and fat after a tough workout. One option would be to have a smoothie that's loaded with frozen fruit and a moderate amount of protein and fat such as nut butter or half a serving of protein powder.
The key to recovering after a longer or more intense workout is making sure you keep eating for recovery throughout the day after your workout. The first meal after your workout is small and focuses on carbohydrates. The second meal, about 2-3 hours after your workout, should also have carbohydrates but you can increase the amount of protein and fat. This meal can include foods that are more anti-inflammatory such as dark green vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, seafood, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and canola oil), as well as herbs and spices such as ginger and tumeric. A great option is a smoothie made with coconut water, frozen berries, hemp or flax oil, spinach or kale and a touch of garlic or ginger. I have been known to eat an entire avocado throughout the day after an especially long run in the mountains, with nuts and seeds following closely behind. Those healthy fats with their anti-inflammatory properties are key to recovering from workouts!
My friends over at Nuts.com have put together a great list of healthy snacks that you can have after any of your workouts to help promote recovery. Snacks to try are definitely the organic trail mix as well as the freeze-dried blueberries. Blueberries are great for after a hard workout because the anti-oxidants help protect our bodies from the stress we place on them, including the stress of tough workouts. And let's not forget the hundreds of nuts and seeds you can get in various combinations. Nuts are a great way to get your healthy fats, protein, fiber and tons of vitamins and nutrients, all of which you need after a workout.
What are some of your favorite snacks to have after a workout?