The Best Foods for Runners to Eat Postpartum

One of the best things about having a baby is yes, the actual new human, but ALSO all the free food people bring to your house. But as a new mom and runner, what are the best foods to eat postpartum to power you through your days…and nights…? I got you covered! I linked up with two experts who are also runners–nutritionist Betsy Johnson and food blogger Chelsea Plummer of Mae’s Menu. They dish (see what I did there…) on what the best foods are for new mother runners to eat postpartum and what SIMPLE and delicious recipes you can use to do it.

Related: 8 clever tips for running while breastfeeding

The Best Foods to Eat Postpartum

what new mother runners should eat postpartum
News moms, especially those who are running and breastfeeding, need a healthy dose of protein, calcium, and iron in their diets.

New mother runners face a dilemma. They want to lose the baby weight and get back to running shape, but they also need to fuel to do ALL the amazing things their bodies require on a daily basis.

But the biggest mistake a new mother runner can make is to be in a hurry to shed those extra pounds and get back into tip-top running shape.

That’s according to Mother Runner of two and nutritionist, Betsy Johnson. Betsy says new mothers start to panic—cutting back on calories while simultaneously upping their mileage. And, their bodies start to eat themselves. The result?

“They’re in a boot 6 months later and unable to run.”

Eating the right foods can help new mother runners stay healthy, energized, and get back to training.

Here are the three nutrients you need a healthy heaping of:


One in five women is iron deficient and about half of pregnant women don’t get enough iron. Compounding the problem, after you have a baby, you lose a lot of the nutrients because you lose a lot of blood during delivery and the ten days or so afterward. It takes your body a while to replenish those stores. To help your body out, reach for these top iron-rich foods:

Beef, chicken, leafy greens like spinach, oily fish like salmon, tofu, beans, iron-fortified cereals, eggs, molasses or syrup, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, and chocolate.

If you’re feeling lethargic and tired, don’t assume it is because you’re waking up every two or three hours to feed the baby. You could be anemic or low in iron. Considering getting a simple blood test to check your iron levels. This can be done at your general practitioner. If you’re low, you can take a supplement like Blood Builder to build back your iron stores.

steak soup
With chunks of vegetables and thinly sliced steak, this Steak Soup is a quick and satisfying healthy soup!

Related: Signs of iron deficiency and how to fix it

Iron-rich recipes:

Related: Get Chelsea’s cookbook “Fueled”!


Betsy sees a lot of women suffering from stress fractures after having a baby. The reason? They aren’t eating enough calcium. They cut back on their food and their bones get weak and brittle. Also, breastfeeding requires extra calcium intake. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. To ensure you’re getting this, Betsy recommends taking a calcium supplement which you can find in any health, drug, or vitamin shop. Also, load up on calcium-rich foods such as:

Seeds, cheese (mozzarella and cottage cheese), yogurt, almonds, fish, beans, lentils, leafy greens like kale or spinach, whey protein, edamame, tofu, figs, milk, and calcium-fortified foods, and oranges.

kale salad with butternut squash
This Kale Salad with Butternut Squash is healthy, sweet, and crunchy.

Calcium-rich recipes:

Related: A guide to runner’s nutrition


pumpkin sausage soup
This pumpkin sausage soup comes together quickly, satisfies fall cravings, and is protein-dense.

After growing a baby for 9 months and then supplying it with protein-rich breast milk, it’s necessary to replenish your own reserve. After all, protein is the foundation for your body’s enzymes, hormones, and body tissue. Aim for five to seven servings of quality (preferably organic) protein every day. Some good sources of protein-rich food include:

chicken, seafood, beans, eggs, soy, oats, broccoli, Greek yogurt, lean beef, tuna, quinoa, whey protein, lentils, turkey, fish, Brussel sprouts, seeds, nuts.

Related: Postpartum Running Plan

Protein-rich recipes:

Do not be afraid to eat. You’re doing a ton and your body needs quality fuel to be a badass. Don’t drain those reserves.

PS-I’d love to help you reach your running goals whether it be to run your first 5k or run competitively! Email me at [email protected] with questions or check out my Coaching Services page!


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