Have you often found yourself on the fast track to the refrigerator after a long training walk or run? Long-distance training leaves your body depleted of both fuel and fluids, but also causes a significant amount of muscle damage, inflammation, broken red blood cells, strain on connective tissues, and more. But don't fear, there are reasons we might experience significant cravings after a long walk or run.
Our bodies are working overtime to repair damage, reduce inflammation, and replenish stores. With the right nutrition strategies you can not only minimize those cravings but also help your body recover faster and adapt to the stress of your long-distance walk or run.
Here are some helpful hints on how you can avoid raiding the refrigerator, curb your cravings, and recover faster.
1. Include a recovery snack or small meal as soon as possible after your long run or walk. This snack or meal should include a quality protein source such as lean meat, eggs, whey or soy protein, low-fat dairy, beans, or lentils. Your goal amount is between 10 and 20 grams of protein combined with carbohydrates within 30 minutes of exercise. Carbohydrate options include grains, fruit, dairy, vegetables, and beans. Carbohydrate and protein combinations within a small window of time will help you recover faster.
"While training for the Maui Marathon I would come home after long runs ready to eat anything and everything in my path. I wouldn't think about what it was as long as it was food. Finally, one day on the way home I stopped at the farmer's market and bought some fresh berries. When I got home I made a smoothie with the berries, a banana, orange juice, and Greek yogurt. When I was done, I realized it was the first time I was not still rummaging through the fridge for more. It was filling, sweet, and good for me, and I did not go into a food coma a few hours later. Smoothies like this are now my go-to drink after a long run or tough workout," claims Debbie Mannix.
2. Avoid large gaps between meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating and strong cravings that are hard to ignore. Even if you do not have the time for a sit-down meal or snack, grab a healthy snack to tide you over. For example, if you run errands after a long run, bring a snack along or grab something quickly after exercise. Some examples include a piece of fruit with a yogurt cup, cereal and milk, fresh fruit smoothie, granola bar and a glass of juice or milk, or a deli sandwich with a piece of fruit.
Additionally, be sure to include more calories earlier in the day. This is when your body will use those calories most efficiently for recovery. This can also prevent cravings and overeating later in the day.