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This is the second instalment in our running recovery series, with the first part covering general tips and tricks - whereas, we'll now go over the nutrition side of it. Nutrition is something, we've already written about from a more general point of view (read the guide here), with the focus now being on the performance aspect of recovery and thereby what food that will optimise your recovery the most.
At the most basic level, nutrition is important for athletes because it provides a source of energy required to perform activities. Nutrition is fuel for your engine - but nutrition is also recovery, in terms of building and repairing muscles, ultimately preparing you for your next workout. Read our best tips for your running recovery below the picture.
You put a lot of sweat, energy and effort into your training and competition by always pushing yourself that little extra and not giving in - the true suffer patrol mentality. To take your training and results to the next level, it's very important to be serious about your nutrition.
Our best rule of thumb for you, is to get something - both food and liquids - immediately after your workout. Research has shown that you have a small window after your workout where the body is screaming for recovery. This window is approximately 30min for you to eat something, to boost your recovery, the best way possible.
Even if you are not hungry, the body needs something after a tough workout. A go-to if you are not the heavy eater, could therefore be a protein shake or a protein bar that are both easily digestable and won't fill up too much. Banana's would also do the trick, as these are filled with carbs and potassium - both necessary to spark your recovery. So, if you are not super hungry after a tough workout you can make use of the above mentioned. Then afterwards, you should eat a larger meal consisting of carbs, protein and healthy fats.
Whether you are an elite athlete running twice a day, or if you run twice a week, the recovery nutrition is still as important. Besides eating some carbs and protein, you should remember to hydrate after your workout too. We wrote about this part in our first recovery post. It's very important that you focus on drinking plenty of water and getting electrolytes. Especially if your workout is in the Summer time, then your body definitely need electrolytes.
When you're done with your training or race, taken your shoes off and perhaps have taking a long shower, you should focus on getting a larger meal to properly recover. We have gathered our best tips for this meal below.
During your workout, the muscles are under pressure and will be ripped apart. This means that the blood flow to these muscles are high and therefore the recovery should start quickly after your run.
Proper recovery food should include replacing fluid and electrolytes that you have lost through sweating, carbs to replace muscle glycogen and protein to repair the damaged muscle tissue and develop new ones. Not only do you need the above, but athletes also need healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits.
Our bodies can not properly use and storage protein and carbohydrates without micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that is often found in vegetables. So our best advice is to eat as many vegetables and as often as possible. Besides veggies, fruits are amazing as well. Especially berries are anti inflammatory and are therefore perfect on your cereal or as a snack.
Another rule of thumb is to use protein as the anchor for every meal. By eating adequate amounts of protein you will maintain muscle mass, improve recovery and sleep, and improve your immune system. Protein such as chicken, egg, cheese, yogurt, milk, tuna etc. will do the trick! You can also add plant based proteins into your diet. Plant based food are great and are packed with many nutrients, proteins and vitamins for you. Try to add chickpeas, lentils or tofu into your weekly diet.
Carbs are an athlete's main fuel! So don't ever try to cut these out, especially not after a tough workout. Tips for good carbohydrates include: bread, cereals, fruits, pasta, rice and potato. Again, if your body needs a more simple and easy recovery-meal after a tough workout you can use sportsdrinks and/or bars, but we recommend that your meals should consist of real carbs.
Fat is also a significant contributor to your energy needs after a tough workout. Make sure to eat plenty of nuts, oil, real butter, peanutbutter etc. for the best optimal recovery.
Good nutrition for athletes is essential and should be treated seriously by everyone - no matter your level! The importance of running nutrition cannot be understated and a well-balanced meal consisting of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fats are the foods that your body is screaming for.
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