Finished the Race? How Do You Fuel?
You just crossed the finish line—now what? Do you grab a beer with friends? Chug down a chocolate milk? Let’s dive into what your body needs after a 10-miler and why.
Right After the Race
Aim to grab a larger meal 30-60 minutes after a race, but in the meantime grab a snack and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Bodies lose fluid with strenuous physical activity—it is important to drink until your thirst is diminished. Be sure you are not drinking too fast—this can make you feel ill. Continue to drink fluids (water and drinks with electrolytes such as Gatorade, PowerAde, coconut water) for the next few hours after your race.
It is suggested to start replenishing your carbs first in the form of a sports drink, then move on to crackers, bananas and bread. Protein is crucial as well to help your exhausted muscles. A great quick way to get both carbohydrate and protein is with some delicious low-fat chocolate milk. A protein bar is also a good alternative to hold you over before a meal—choose one with a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. For example: if your bar is 30 g of carbohydrate, look for protein to be 15 g or 10 g.
1 -2 Hours After the Race
When you finally sit down for that long awaited meal, you’re probably craving carbohydrates. Rightfully so, as your body needs energy in the form of glucose (the broken-down carbohydrate) to refuel the body. Stick to foods that are starchier—though fruit is a delicious and healthy source of carbohydrate, pasta and breads will help you refuel more efficiently.
Now, do you need whole grain sources or are white pasta, breads and bagels OK? Either choice will help recovery, but for long-term health and nutrition 100 percent whole wheat is best.
As you chow down on rice, bread, and pasta, don’t forget protein! A small amount about 15-25 grams (this equates to 2 eggs, 3-4 oz of chicken, small beef patty) allows your meal to really help your body replenish.
Your friends may want to treat you to a celebratory beer at your dinner. Feel free to enjoy your drink, but make sure you consume some carbohydrate and protein first. It is recommended that you down the beer at least an hour after the event—allow your body to be nourished by chocolate milk, electrolyte drinks, and ample water first. Beer is also a diuretic. This means that is does the opposite of hydrating your body, so be wary of how much beer you are consuming.
The Day After
Your body will continue healing into the next 24 hours, so treat it well! Continue to eat carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grain rice, quinoa, starchy vegetables, beans, and lentils. Incorporate rich protein sources at every meal such as chicken, fish, tofu, and lean cuts of meat. Make sure you don’t skip any meals and continue to keep hydrated.