The 15 Best Foods to Eat After Running
By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD
Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.
Though much attention is centered around what to eat before running, what you eat afterward is equally important.
Depending on your goals — such as weight loss, muscle gain, or completing a long-distance run — different foods can offer different benefits.
Here are the 15 best foods to eat after your run.
1–5. For Weight Loss
Exercise is an important component of any weight loss regimen, and it's particularly important for maintaining weight loss in the long term (1Trusted Source).
Running is an exercise favored by many people looking to lose weight, as it can be done nearly anywhere and without the use of expensive equipment.
Here are 5 of the best foods to eat after running when your goal is weight loss.
1. Beet salad
Beets are rich in nutrients, low in calories, and a great source of hunger-controlling fiber, making them a great addition to any salad.
What's more, they're high in dietary nitrates, which are compounds that help your body produce nitric oxide, one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health.
Studies have shown that dietary nitrates from beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables, such as spinach and arugula, can increase running performance and delay running fatigue (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Using mixed salad greens as your base, add one peeled and cubed cooked beet and top with goat cheese crumbles.
Finish the salad off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. If you're looking for a more substantial post-running snack, add chickpeas, a hard-boiled egg, or a bit of salmon for an extra protein boost.
A favorite summer picnic fruit, watermelon has few calories and is a good source of two powerful plant compounds — citrulline and lycopene.
You can enjoy watermelon by itself or add it to other dishes like salads for a more filling dish.
Combine cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, baby arugula, and feta cheese with cubed watermelon for a nutrient-packed, post-run snack. If desired, dress the salad with olive oil and lime juice.
3. Hummus and raw vegetables
Hummus is a spread made primarily from mashed garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, as well as a few other ingredients, such as olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
It's a good source of plant-based protein, providing nearly 8 grams per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (8).
Instead of using chips to dip in hummus, opt for low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, celery, radishes, and cauliflower.
4. Veggie omelet
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and high-quality protein, eggs are one of nature's nutritional powerhouses.
Studies show that an egg-containing breakfast can enhance weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet. This makes an omelet the perfect breakfast choice for early morning runners (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Stir in fresh spinach, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, onions, and mushrooms for a tasty, nutrient-packed breakfast.
5. Apple or banana with peanut butter
Apples and bananas pair well with nut butters like peanut butter.
Because peanut butter is rich in calories, stick to a 2-tablespoon serving, or about the size of a ping pong ball.
Opt for low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods after your run to aid your weight loss goals. These include hummus, a veggie omelet, and beet or watermelon salad.
6–10. For Building Muscle
Running — when combined with weightlifting — is a great way to help you burn extra calories, maintain a healthy heart, and build muscle.
Here are 5 of the best foods to eat after running when your goal is muscle gain.
6. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk happens to be a perfect post-run drink.
It's loaded with high-quality protein and fast-digesting carbs for muscle recovery and energy refueling.
Similarly to many commercial exercise-recovery drinks, low-fat chocolate milk has a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio (13Trusted Source).
One 5-week study in adolescents found that chocolate milk resulted in a 12.3% strength increase in bench press and squat exercises, compared with a carbohydrate drink (14Trusted Source).
Moreover, a review of 12 studies found that chocolate milk provides either similar or superior exercise-recovery benefits, compared with other popular recovery drinks (15Trusted Source).
7. Whey protein shake
Protein shakes have been around for decades and are the go-to choice for many people looking to build muscle.
Your body digests and absorbs this milk-based protein quickly.
Compared with other types of protein powder, such as casein or soy, whey protein packs more of the nine essential amino acids your body needs to jumpstart the muscle-building process (19Trusted Source).
In a blender, mix 1–2 scoops of whey protein with water until smooth. If you want to bump up the calorie and protein content, use milk instead of water. Add some frozen fruit or nut butter for extra nutrition and flavor.
Whey protein powder is widely available in supermarkets, specialty stores, and online.
8. Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
Chicken is a high-quality, lean protein.
A 4-ounce (112-gram) chicken breast packs 27 grams of protein, which is more than enough to start the muscle-rebuilding process after running (20).
However, this poultry can be rather bland by itself, so have a side of roasted vegetables with your grilled chicken.
Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, and asparagus are prime candidates. Add olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste for extra flavor.
9. Cottage cheese and fruit
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and calcium.
One cup (226 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese provides 28 grams of protein and 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium (21).
Cottage cheese is also high in sodium, an electrolyte lost in sweat during exercise (22Trusted Source).
Top cottage cheese with fresh berries, peach slices, or melon chunks or balls for additional antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
10. Pea protein powder
If you have dietary restrictions or follow a plant-based diet, pea protein powder is an excellent alternative to milk-based powders.
Supplementing with pea protein powder offers a convenient way to increase your protein intake.
While research on the effects of pea protein on muscle repair and recovery in endurance athletes is lacking, it has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis — the process of building muscle — to a similar extent as whey protein (23Trusted Source)
In an 8-week study in 15 people undergoing high-intensity training 4 times per week, consuming pea protein before or after exercise produced outcomes similar to those of whey protein in regards to muscle thickness and strength (24Trusted Source).
To reap the benefits of pea protein, blend 1–2 scoops of the powder with water, milk, or a plant-based milk alternative until smooth.
If you want to try pea protein powder, you can find it locally or online.
Seek high-quality protein sources like protein shakes or chicken and veggies to promote muscle repair and growth after running.
11–15. For Marathons
In addition to a pre- and intra-race fueling strategy, you should have a post-race strategy when participating in a marathon.
The purpose of a post-race meal is to replace the nutrients you lost during the marathon and provide the necessary building blocks for muscle recovery.
Specifically, your post-run meal should contain adequate protein, as well as plenty of carbs to replenish your glycogen levels, which are your body's storage form of carbs (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Here are 5 of the best meals to eat after running a marathon.
11. Burrito bowl
A burrito bowl has everything you would typically get in a burrito — just put in a bowl.
While they can contain as much or as little food as you would like, they should have plenty of carbs and protein to kick-start the recovery process and replenish your energy stores.
Use brown or white rice along with black or pinto beans as the base for your burrito bowl. Next, top it with a lean protein source, such as beef or chicken. You can then pile on vegetables of your choosing and top it off with sour cream, cheese, and salsa.
12. Penne with chicken and broccoli
Penne with chicken and broccoli is packed with healthy carbs and high-quality protein — perfect for after a marathon.
Cook the penne according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last two minutes of cooking.
While the pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, and then slice it.
Finally, combine the pasta and broccoli with the chicken and some garlic in a large bowl and sprinkle everything with parmesan cheese if desired.
13. Salmon with rice and asparagus
Salmon is not only a great source of protein but also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for their role in reducing the risk of heart disease, mental decline, and certain cancers, including breast and colorectal cancers (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32).
Pair salmon with a few cups of rice and spears of asparagus for a complete, post-marathon recovery meal.
14. Loaded oatmeal bowl
Oatmeal is a high-quality carb source and rich in beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been linked to several health benefits, such as improved immune function and a reduced risk of heart disease (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
Though it's typically enjoyed for breakfast, it's also an ideal choice for after a marathon, particularly when loaded with other ingredients for extra protein and calories.
Cook the oatmeal in milk and top it with sliced strawberries, bananas, or chia seeds. Nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, make great additions as well. Add honey, sprinkle on some coconut, or add dark chocolate chips for additional calories and taste.
15. Greek yogurt with fruit and granola
Greek yogurt is much higher in protein than regular yogurt.
Fruit and granola add extra carbs, vitamins, and minerals to speed up your post-marathon recovery.
Choose high-carb, high-protein meals after your marathon or long-distance run to aid muscle recovery and replenish your energy stores.
The Bottom Line
Running is an exercise many people enjoy to stay healthy.
While much attention is focused on what to eat before you hit the trail or treadmill, don't forget to fuel afterward to jumpstart the recovery process.
Eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods can aid weight loss after running, while opting for high-quality protein can benefit muscle building.
If you have just completed a marathon or long-distance run, prioritize high-carb, high-protein meals for muscle recovery and refueling.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
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