There’s a few different reasons why runners don’t eat as much as they need to. Some people are motivated to lose weight and they think eating less while exercising more will help. Others just don’t feel like eating after a big run. The truth is, if you don’t eat enough to support your body, you’ll end up doing damage over time.
Why do we need to eat after a run? Running depletes glycogen in the muscles. After a run, you’ve got between 30-60 minutes to replenish those stores. Because you’ve worked the muscles they are more receptive to take up the new energy, and increased blood flow will help this process to be more efficient.
What should I eat after a run? Your body will need to replenish the glycogen, and the best source of this is carbohydrate. You also need protein to repair the muscles. Make an easy snack that’s high carb and low to moderate protein and get it down, even if you don’t feel like eating. Delaying this will slow recovery as the muscles will become less receptive to these foods as you cool down.
But I don’t feel hungry! The reason for that is simple. When you run, your hypothalamus gland in your brain releases neurotransmitters. These are the same signals that tell you when you’re full from a meal. Because you increase amino acids and fatty acids in the blood while running, these can also reduce or suppress your appetite.
What if I’m underweight? For some people, losing weight may be a goal, but it’s not for everyone. Even if you are trying to reduce extra fat, your muscles still require the carbs and protein to recover and rebuild. Directly after a run the energy you take in will be used for this purpose. Losing too much weight or being critically underweight can lead to severe health complications. A loss of bone density, reduced oestrogen for women and an increase in fatigue and overall illness may result. Manage your calorie intake according to your doctor’s recommendation, but don’t skimp after a run – you’ll do more harm in the long term.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site