Wondering what to eat after a run or other workout? You may not be able to scarf as much food as you might think. We often over-estimate the number of calories we burn during a 1-hour sweat-session, especially if it felt particularly tough. Try these snack and mini-meal ideas from The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners to refuel without overdoing it.
1. The Meal: 8 oz low-fat chocolate milk + 1 serving fresh fruit | Nutrition: 225 calories, 40g carbs, 9g protein | Health Benefits: Fresh fruit and milk help you rehydrate while providing calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals.
2. The Meal: 1oz. pretzels dipped in 6oz. low-carb (protein-rich) yogurt | Nutrition: 275 calories, 59g carbs, 12g protein | Health Benefits: Pretzels offer carbs, plus sodium to help replenish electrolytes. Yogurt adds calcium and vitamin D.
3. The Meal: Turkey sandwich that includes 2 slices whole grain bread, 4 thin slices of deli turkey, and veggies | Nutrition: 310 calories, 55g carbs, 17g protein | Health Benefits: The turkey provides protein, while the bread provides nutrients and minerals that support heart health.
4. The Meal: 1 medium banana with 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 8oz. recovery shake | Nutrition: 380 calories, 55g carbs, 12g protein | Health Benefits: The sports drink replenishes electrolytes and fluids. The banana provides potassium to help with muscle contraction. The peanut butter adds healthy fats, plus niacin, which helps recovery.
5. The Meal: 1 whole egg (cooked in a nonstick skillet) on a toasted whole wheat English muffin + 1 cup fresh blueberries 6oz. Greek yogurt | Nutrition: 290 calories, 37g carbs, 21g protein | Health Benefits: Blueberries contain antioxidants that help ease muscle soreness. The yogurt provides calcium and vitamin D to support bone health. The egg provides protein, B vitamins, and choline, which boost immunity.
6. The Meal: Smoothie that includes 8oz. fat-free milk, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 medium banana, 1 tablespoon fat-free chocolate syrup | Nutrition: 340 calories, 55g carbs, 14g protein | Health Benefits: This is easy on the stomach if you can’t tolerate real food after a run. Milk provides calcium and protein. The peanut butter offers healthy fats and niacin. The chocolate syrup adds carbs and a sweet treat.
7. The Meal: 3 cups air-popped popcorn + 8oz. low-fat chocolate milk | Nutrition: 280 calories, 46g carbs, 11g protein | Health Benefits: Popcorn provides carbs, fiber, and iron. Milk provides calcium and carbs. Together they can satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. *Calories and nutrient counts are estimates based on USDA nutrition database; specific brands may offer nutrient counts that vary slightly from the values listed in the table above.
Update From MyFitnessPal‘s Registered Dietitian:
Many nutrition experts recommend low-fat instead of full-fat dairy because the latter is higher in calories and saturated fat. There is controversy about whether this is the best advice, as research emerges to say that full-fat dairy is not as harmful as we thought and could be beneficial for weight management. The choice between full-fat, reduced-fat, low-fat dairy or no dairy is a personal one. It likely won’t have a huge impact on your health goals if you include dairy as part of a well-balanced, well-portioned diet. Still unsure? Talk to your doctor or dietitian to figure out the best choice for your individual needs.
—Trinh Le, MPH, RD
What’s your go-to, post-workout snack? Tell us in the comments below!