What to Eat After a Long Run: 5 Tips

Research shows that runners should combine carbohydrates with protein to  facilitate muscle repair and recovery and glycogen resynthesis after running. Hydrating with electrolytes and including foods with anti-inflammatory properties can also repair muscle damage from running and reduce inflammation. Read on to learn what to eat after a long run including the best post-run meals and nutrition timing.

women eating at the tailgate of a car
Getting in some carbs like in a banana plus some protein right after you run in key in recovery!

You are only as good of a runner (and mother runner) as you eat. If you don’t eat enough before, during, and after your long run, you risk not recovering, getting sick or injured, and being VERY cranky! So, what to eat after a long run so you recover and feel your best?

I got you! In this article, I am going to tell you all you need to know about what to eat after a long run because I learned the hard way the importance of the post run meal.

For most of my life, I never thought much about how my nutrition could support my running. When I started training at a higher level, I started to feel very lethargic, cranky, and not recovered by the next run.

This is when I had a game-changing moment. One day after my long run, I immediately had a banana and a chocolate milk. It was amazing how much better I felt that day and after! As I started running more, I started eating more and feeling and running better!

note from Jake to whitney
For Mother’s Day, my husband took the kids to run errands and left me my favorite post-run meals.

When you eat and what you eat after a long run is crucial. So, let’s get to the expert advice on what to eat after a long run and when!

Related: Is it Ok to Split Up a Long Run?

Should I eat after running?

Yes, you should eat after running—especially if your run was over 60 minutes long. After running is when your body is most receptive to repairing the damage done to it by the stress of running, and rebuilding it so that you are stronger and faster!! It also replenishes your glycogen storage. Glycogen is the predominant fuel source for long-distance runners.

If you don’t eat after running, your training will suffer as your body won’t recover as well. If you aren’t bouncing back before your next run, reflect on your refueling. This will continue the recovery process and will make you feel more energized.

Related: The Scientific Benefits of the Long Run

The second post-run meal was another game-changer for me. I would start to get tired (not allowed as a mom!) but when I refueling with more protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, I perked up!

(By the way, what you eat before your run and during your run is just as important!).

Related: How I Fueled my 2:54 Marathon

post-run meal pin
The best post-run meal and recovery drink may surprise you. Pin these top recommendations plus how to think about what to eat after a long run.

What should I eat after I run?

You’ll want to eat a 3:1 or 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio after your long run. So, this is roughly about 75-100 grams of carbs and at least 25 grams of protein. Variables such as your size, the distance you ran, gender, age, the weather, your pace, etc. will impact how much but this is a very helpful guideline.

What to Eat After a Long Run: 5 Tips

  1. Look to refuel with three main macronutrients, says Megan Robinson, a registered dietitian. The more you run, the more you will need these macros!
  • Carbohydrates are energy.They replenish the glycogen you burn on the run. Eat carbs that contain fiber to keep things moving and help you feel fuller longer. Experts recommend roughly .5g of carbohydrate for every pound you weigh in total for the day.
  • Protein is crucial for muscle repair and keeping hunger at bay.Aim to have at least 20 grams of protein post run. Runners need more protein than regular people (about 0.5 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.)
  1. Fat is important for crucial bodily functions and nutrient absorption.It also promotes satiety (about .45 grams per pound of bodyweight total or 20 percent per each meal).
  2. Eat soon. Aim to eat and drink within 30-60 minutes after your long run.
  3. Eat again. If your long run was over 90-120 minutes in length, you will want to eat a second post-run meal about 3-4 hours after completing your long run. Again, you will want this meal to be mostly carbohydrates, at least 20 grams of protein, and some healthy fats. Spreading out your protein intake helps with muscle synthesis.
  4. Re-hydrate! You’ll also want to start re-hydrating after your long run with a sports drink that contains about 400 mg of electrolytes with the goal if intaking as much fluid as the weight you lost. So, if you lost about two pounds of water weight—you will want to aim for about 32 ounces of fluid after your long run. Read more details on re-hydration in my Hydration Guide for Runners.
what to eat after a run pin
The best post-run meal and recovery drink may surprise you. Pin these top recommendations plus how to think about what to eat after a long run.

Best food to eat after a run

Now we know why you should eat after running—what are the best foods to eat after a run? The goal is to eat nutrient-dense food aka no junk food or empty calories!

Below are some of the best post-run foods to have on hand. Whatever you choose to eat after your long run, stand by these general rules of thumb:

  • Aim for it to have a 3:1 carb to protein ratio of at least 75 grams of carbs, 25 grams of protein, and healthy fats.
  • Also, consider the fat versus carb ratio of 1:2 (20-30 percent healthy fats and 40-60 percent carbs) and stock up on whole grains.
  • Aim for nutrient-dense foods versus processed foods that contain antioxidants as their anti-inflammatory properties may help expedite recovery.

Reminder, these guidelines will vary based on variables such as training, age, and gender.

  • Protein powders
  • Protein bars
  • Bananas
  • Whole wheat bagels or toast
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Nut butters
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Lean meats and cheese
  • Quinoa
  • Granola
  • Berries

Related: Best Protein Powders for Runners

Best recovery drink for runners

Below are some of the best post run recovery drinks which I typically drink as I walk in the door and follow-up with a “real meal.”

(By the way, you can save 15% off Previnex with code TMR15. I love ALL Previnex products because they are top quality, you can trust them, and they do what they claim.)

The best post run meal

Below are some of my favorite meals to eat after a run!:

  • Banana and peanut butter on whole wheat toast or bagel
  • Egg sandwich on whole wheat toast
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder and/or nut butter
  • Oat Protein Cookies 
  • An egg or bean and cheese burrito
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait with nut butter
  • Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich with avocado and spinach, and a side of chips
  • Oatmeal bowl with vanilla protein powder, blueberries, almonds, and milk
  • Toasted bagel breakfast sandwich with eggs, cheese, and spinach
  • Lentil Soup — with or without ground turkey
  • A veggie burger, bison burger, or turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with side salad and sweet potatoe fries
  • Whole Wheat Waffles with berries and eggs or yogurt

Also check out some refueling recipes for runners here.

Related: 20+ Easy Snacks for Runners

what to eat after a long run post
These are rough guidelines for what to eat after you finish your long run.

What to eat after a marathon

After you run a marathon, aim to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal of at least 75-100 grams of carbohydrates (or 1.2-1.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight) with at least 20-25 grams of protein plus some healthy fats.

As you cross the finish line, sip on water or a sports drink to start rehydrating with electrolytes. Grab that post-race banana or bagel. When you get to your post-race destination or to the post-race party, go for the pizza, pasta, sandwich, or burger to start restocking those glycogen stores and give your muscles the protein they need to rebuild.

The sooner you eat, and the more you eat after a marathon, the better you will recover!  

Related: 7 Smart Ways to Recover Faster from a Marathon

What to eat after running a half marathon

Running a half marathon isn’t as taxing on the body so you don’t need to refuel as much—but you still need to refuel, pronto! Again, aim for complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats in nutrient-dense foods. Bonus points if you include foods like berries or spinach that contrain anti-inflammatory properties.

Recover after a long run with the right fuel

So how do you how to recover after running? You eat!

What you eat after a long run can make such a big difference in how you feel. If you skimp on carbohydrates or protein, you’ll likely notice your energy levels—and your legs—not bouncing back as quickly.

Eating the right foods soon after running is your secret weapon to running and feeling your best!

Follow the Mother Runners for More Health Tips for Women »

If you’d like assistance with your postpartum running journey, check out my run coaching services and my other free training plans:


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