Eating after running

I find after a run the last thing I want to do is eat. After an evening run I could easily go to bed without eating anything (but drink a lot). Am I best to do this, or is it better to eat something? If I didn't eat would I feel worse in the morning?


(I am only running around 6miles at the moment but building up to a half marathon)


  • Suz,
    I am the same i dont like to eat straight after running. I am assuming you run in the evening? Have your main meal at lunch time. Then you can have something lite at night. try eating a banana after your run. This will help refueling. But your body does need to be refueled.

    Expect V-Rap to give you the full reasons why, and probably a better answer.

  • Try to have something within an hour of your run, Suz, especially if you plan to exercise again the following day. After 6 miles, your leg muscle glycogen stores will have fallen and need refilling.

    If you can't face food (and I'm with you there in not finding it easy to eat after an evening run), have half a litre of sports drink or squash (not the sugar-free sort) as part of your post-run rehydration, and maybe a couple of biscuits with your bedtime cocoa. Then follow up with a big breakfast!

    Athletes aiming mainly to lose fat do use a technique in which they do an evening exercise session, don't eat afterwards, then do another hard session early in the morning before eating breakfast. In theory, the muscle glycogen depletion forces them to burn fat for the second workout. I suspect that assumption oversimplifies the way our bodies work.

    As your aim is to train for endurance running and the amount and intensity of exercise you do is going to increase, you'll need to get used to refuelling after your long runs. The situation may sort itself out in time. Once you're doing more miles a week, and longer long runs, you'll probably be so hungry all the time that you'll gladly fall in the front door and straight into a plate of treacle sponge and custard.
  • Nic, my answer may not be better, my reasons may not be full, but your telepathy can't be faulted.
  • V-rap,
    I knew you would explain it better. Just saw that you hadn't got round to answering this and thought i would sneak in ;)

  • Hadn't got round to it!? Nic, my response went up 20 minutes after Suz posted, which must be something of a record for me! Nice to be wanted, but...


    Anyway, nothing I can pull from the textbooks is worth a fraction of one Forumite coming on and saying "think about trying this, it may not be in any running book but it works for me".
  • Thanks to you BOTH for your quick replies!!!

    It is the evenining runs when this happens. Last night I had a small bowl of pasta when I got back, and didn't feel and better or worse for it. I had read something somewhere about refuelling, but I do like the idea of a sportsdrink followed by a big breakfast in the morning! Even better, the long runs followed by treacle and custard!

    Thanks again for you advice.

  • I usually have a bowl of porrige mid to late afternoon if i'm doing an evening run (usually a hard session with the guys so i need something!). When i come in afterwards i have a banana and 1/2 litre sports drink, then my shower, then (about 45 mins after run) have a yogurt and a couple of slices of toast before bed.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    I usually try to eat something after a long run, even if I feel a bit sick (sometimes do if its hot or has been really long). I can usually stomach a cereal bar and some sports drink pre shower, then something like malt loaf or toast afterwards. I also quite like those little pots of instant mashed potato with onion........couldn't eat them any other time, but after a run they do taste good.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Sometimes in the evening I have a bowl of soup which although not ideal, at least replaces some fluids. Get some crusty bread as well , good for 'dunking' !
  • I know I'm posting over a year late on this one, but this is important.

    After exercise your muscles have a 'glycogen window'. This occurs 30-90 mins after you finish exercising.

    Glucose (from carbs or sports drinks etc) is converted to glycogen to replenish your muscle store.

    During this window, you will store glycogen at four times the normal rate.

    If you want to fuel you next running session. Eat!

    I always eat a full meal after training, sometime within 30 mins. As my heart rate returns to normal pretty quickly, I'm not stressing my system.

    I eat fat, carbs and protein in my meal to help repair tissue damage and prevent muscle breakdown.

    One other point. My uncle doesn't bother when or what he eats and still runs my arse off!
  • Just imagine how good your uncle could be then!
  • He's old school! I can't tell him anything.

    If I can beat his PBs one day, he'll have to listen.
  • I just cant eat for 2 hours post running
    destined to be crap
  • Hey Hippo, try a sports drink or some fruit if you can face it. Also I doubt you're destined to be crap. C'mon, at least you're running, so who cares when you eat! Like I said, it never did my uncle any harm.
  • I'm a beginner and started running with a club about 2 months ago. I tend to eat a banana a few hours before I run but then I enjoy eating a full meal about an hour after my run...pasta or something. It's kind of like my 'prize' after my run. Most people at the club I've joined don't feel like eating so was beginning to feel like I was doing something wrong! Thanks for the info.
  • I eat a banana drink a milky drink or protein shake (not too filling). It seems to help my energy level regain to exercise the next day. Starting with my carbs in the morning
  • I know I know... 3 years later... I don't care image

    I just came back from a 16-mile run. Since I don't really know much about running theory, I had to look up info about whether to eat after running or not on the net. I found your forum... helped me a lot, thanks a lot!

    I decided to eat a bunch of stuff. I had a big bowl of cereal with milk, a cup of hot milk chocolate with marshmallows, and a full glass of apple juice (Couldn't find any fruits/vegetables image ). My stomach is huuuuuurting now, but I'm pretty confident that it will, as you say, refuel my muscles. They sure felt tired after the run.

    I'll post how I felt after tonight later on to share my full experience.

  • Eat. The time you benefit from a long run is only when it's over - when your muscles rebuild and repair themselves and they need fuel to do it otherwise not only are you not replacing energy you're also leaving yourself more open to injuries.
    Eat bananas. Eat cereal. Drink protein shakes. Bagel with PB and banana...
    But eat something at least 30 mins after a long run of 6 - 8 miles or more (anything that goes over the hour).
    Then stretch. Then jump in an icy bath. Extreme recovery for your muscles. Stops the inflammation and helps reduce delayed sore muscles (you know the ones you get two days later and wonder WHY????)
    That's all I know.
  • But what if you need to loose a few pounds ? and only exercise every other day so you dont need to refuel so quickly. Surely it would be best not to eat after a run ?

    Any thoughts ?

  • Hi SmilerChris

    I guess the generally accepted best way to 'lose a few pounds' is to 'do more eat less.'
    But if you're running you have to eat 'right' not less, so snack on a banana and some nuts Just a few or a fruit smoothie to refuel. Try to avoid empty calories, like sugary sweets, chocolate and overly processed foods. It's all about balance.

    If you aren't running more than 30 min in session and not every day, bananas or a piece of wholemeal toast with Peanut butter should do and plenty of fluids. Just make sure to eat right at every other meal as well. Starving your body of calories makes it go into hibernation mode where it will hang on to all the energy stores it has (mainly your fat stores) and you'll either find you stop losing weight or only lose it very very slowly. The more you exercise and build up muscle and stamina the more energy (calories) you'll burn because you will have changed your metabolic rate and muscle burns more energy than fat even when you're not exercising.

    Slow release carbs, wholewheat bread, pasta, basmati rice, brown pasta, good low fat sources of protein skinless chicken, fish, beans, pulses, nuts have 'good' fats such as brazil, cashews. Loads of fresh salad, veg, fruit ALL GOOD STUFF, for runners and dieters alike.

    And there's NOTHING wrong with a bit of cake now and then.
  • Hi Lisa thanks for the great tips (I chuckled at the cake comment), my diet is pretty healthy and I eat most of those things you suggest.

    My thoughts were to consume less calories and burn more calories, as Im new to running I guess eating what I do now with the extra exercise will let me loose those few pounds.

    You didnt mention monkey nuts ! are they okay ? I had a binge on those last night !

  • Go for it on the monkey nuts. Someone has to eat them I guess!
    I tried to eat less and exercise more, but honestly and this might just be me, I ended up feeling ill and then actually being quite 'run down' for a couple of months. You might be be more robust than me! I just gotta eat.
    Good luck with it all, it does eventually pay off.
  • for some reason i always have a chocolate bar, usually one with nuts in it as well like a snickers or sometimes a boost and a glass of chocolate milk. I do have a sweet tooth which may have something to do with it. I usually run midday. after eating this i have my usual evening meal between 6 and 7. since i started having something sugary and chocolate milk i always feel much better. Dunno if there's any science behind it but it works for me!
  • This advice is awesome... I found out the hard way not to eat much BEFORE my runs.... I had the most awful heartburn... and the "need to go" (if you know what I mean).

    One thing that gets me is - advice says, you should not eat a late meal (if trying to lose a few pounds). I have no problem eating after a run - but what is worse....

    to eat after a run - but eat late at night before bed


    to have a massive brekky the next day and not eat late at night?

    Any ideas? (Not that I am overanalysing at ALL.)

  • I'm a beginner and started running with a club about 2 months ago. I tend to eat a banana a few hours before I run. One important thing to remember is that there isn’t one method that works for everyone, rather, there are guidelines to follow and work with to see what works best for you and your body. That’s because your body will react and process food differently than someone else.. Thanks for the info. 

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  • Another 3 years later! Thanks for the thought everyone.  I have just come back from a 10mile run (long for me, only done it once before) and can't eat 3 hours later. I managed a yoghurt and lots to drink, and aim to eat a good dinner tonight.

  • BikoBiko ✭✭✭
    If I go for a 10 mile run I generally arrive back at the house and eat pretty much everything not nailed down in the kitchen. I suspect that's at the other extreme of "bad".
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