Your workout doesn't end with a click of your stopwatch and some dynamic stretches. It ends after you refuel. Proper nutrition allows you to train harder, longer and better. The right mixture of macro and micro nutrients can help promote glycogen resynthesis, repair muscles and rehydrate your body. Whether you sprinted short intervals on the track or busted out 18 miles, your body needs to refuel.
There are five factors you should take into consideration for fueling after your run:
1. What was the duration and the intensity? Gauge your effort and track your distance to understand how many carbs you need to replenish your glycogen and rehydrate.
2. What were the conditions of the workout? The weather, temperature and humidity have a significant impact on your performance. Your body will have to work harder and sweat more when it is hotter outside. Use this calculator to determine your ideal pace based on weather.
3. What can you stomach? Eat what your body can tolerate. Liquids are best since they can be absorbed quicker by the body and digested more easily.
4. What is accessible? Make something that is easily transportable. This can be a protein bar, fruit or toast that can go in a plastic bag ready for you to consume post workout.
5. What do you have planned for tomorrow? Your post workout meal helps you recover for your next run. This is where the nutritional composition and timing of the meal matter.
Guidelines for Refueling
As a runner, keep these guidelines in mind when refueling.
Eat Carbs: No matter what the latest diet fad says, carbs are not the enemy; as a runner, you need them. Glycogen is the body's preferred source of energy during moderate- to high-intensity exercise. A resting muscle glycogen content of an untrained person consuming a mixed diet is around 80 to 85 milimoles per kilogram of muscle while a runner is around 120 milimoles per kilogram. To adapt and recover you need to refuel with carbohydrates.
Add Some Protein: Be sure you have a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio. After a hard run, you need to replenish your glycogen stores and rebuild muscle. A study conducted in 2014 found ingestion of protein post workout stimulates muscle protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown. So, before you decide to indulge in a pastry, get in some quality carbs like rice or sweet potato with a happy helping of protein like chicken or whey powder.