There's plenty of science to support the importance of solid nutrition after intense exercise. Most experts have their own take, making for a complicated tangle of information. The supplement industry plays into this over-complication by making it seem like you need proprietary blends of ingredients you can't pronounce or else you've wasted your training.
It doesn't have to be so complicated and you don't need highly processed supplements. We were born to run and we've been doing it long before N-Acetyl-Tyrosine was ever available in powder form.
I boiled down some of the fundamental truths about recovery meals into a simple guide for fueling after your run.
Trust your body
People tend to over-complicate the recovery meal. What and how much I eat after a run comes down to how my body is feeling, the workout I did today, and the training I have planned for tomorrow. I always try to eat what my body is craving and how much I feel it needs. After a hard workout, my focus is on replenishing with the right mix of protein, carbs, hydration and electrolytes.
Overly processed food robs ingredients of their nutritional value. It can be difficult to find time to cook but there are plenty of quick meals that can be prepared in bulk and kept in the fridge. These are some of my favorite whole food options for after your run:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Brave Nut Butter
- Whole wheat toast
- Quinoa (I make a big batch for the week)
- Sautéed vegetables (broccoli and kale are my favorite)
I mentioned in my previous post that I'll eat half of a Brave Overnight Breakfast before my run. After my run, finish the rest of my Brave to cover all my protein and carb needs with real food.
Hard training creates small tears in your muscle fibers and protein helps you to build back stronger. Most people, particularly if your goal is to build muscle, should aim for between 15 and 25 grams of protein after a longer workout for recovery and to prevent fatigue the next day. That's the equivalent of 3 eggs. It's best to get your protein from whole foods but protein powders can help if you feel like you need a quick fix or the workout was challenging. I like Evolve protein shakes (chocolate flavor), or Sun Warrior protein (chocolate flavor) mixed with water.
Our bodies also need carbs to recover properly after a long run. As you exercise, your body burns glycogen and glycogen levels are like a battery. After intense exercise, that battery needs to be recharged for sustained performance, energy and muscle repair/growth. Complex carbs help you replenish glycogen levels so you feel strong and recovered after your run.
If you keep a close eye on your blood sugar, opting for low-glycemic carbs such as quinoa, brown rice or Ezekiel toast, or eating things like nut butter and banana together is a good option.
Ella Genasci Smith - Brave Squad Member