What to eat after a run to boost recovery and performance, according to a running coach

Nail your post-run nutrition, reduce muscle soreness and boost your performance

What to eat after a run: woman running through the street
(Image credit: Getty Images)

So much attention is often placed upon what food we should eat before a run that we often don’t think about what to eat after a run, until the last minute. “Fuelling for recovery is just as important as fuelling for training,” explains Fran Bungay, Head Coach for Goal Specific Coaching and the Training Today App. “As you need to restore those muscle glycogen levels post workout, and help the muscles repair.”

Whether you’re a marathon runner, a hybrid athlete, or someone who enjoys a few easy miles on the weekend, fuelling your body with the right foods is vital to prevent muscle soreness. Plus, it'll boost your performance the next time you lace up your running shoes. Here’s how to nail your post-run nutrition...

What to eat after a run

Confident sportswoman listening music through in-ear headphones while jogging on bridge in city

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The sooner you eat after your run, the better, so aim to eat within 30 minutes post-run to help kickstart your recovery process. The main macronutrients you want to re-fuel your body with are carbohydrates – to replenish your glycogen stores as these will be depleted and are your body’s main fuel source – and protein – as this is key for protein synthesis. Aim for 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per kg/bw and 0.4g of protein per kg/bw. 

You may finish your run and feel ravenous (don’t reach for any old rubbish in your cupboard if this is you), on the flip side it’s common to lose your appetite completely. For the latter, Fran recommends preparing a smoothie, as this will be easier to costume than a full-blown meal, whilst still getting all the nutrients that you need. “Whey protein powder, almond milk, nut butter (if you like it), and a banana or blueberries/raspberries, will certainly help with recovery,” she says. However, for those with more of an appetite afterwards, she suggests a slice of granary toast with peanut butter and a banana, oatcakes, and hummus.

As well as what you eat immediately post-run, it’s important to think about your meals later on throughout the day too. “Consume normal, well-balanced meals and make sure you include protein and carbohydrates,” says Fran. 

Here are some of Fran’s suggestions:

  • Pasta with chicken vegetables in a pesto sauce or spaghetti bolognaise
  • Tofu with vegetables curry and noodles. 
  • Granary sandwich with avocado and chicken, salad and fruit 
  • Pancakes made with protein powder, topped with fruit and Greek yoghurt
  • Omelette with some protein 

It’s important to remember there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to what you should eat versus another person after your run. We’re all different and our gut will respond differently to different foods. Fran says the best thing you can do is to practice and find what’s right for you, while ensuring you stick to the basic principles of eating the correct macronutrients. “Finally, especially if you’ve been running in the heat, ensure you are replacing your electrolytes and are staying well hydrated,” says Fran.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.