Yesterday was long run day. Which means that today, and maybe even tomorrow, and definitely tonight, I’ll want to just eat everything in sight. I’m usually not that hungry the same day as I run, but give me 24 hours and it arrives. We call it rungry – that little rumble in my tummy that is briefly subsided by each snack and meal, and then returns again. And again. And really just seems to be permanently lurking around and leaving me in a permanent state of running induced hunger. But The thing with post run snacking or post long run snacking is that your body is craving food and any food for a reason: it needs to recover and it needs to replenish calories. That means, it’s important to fill it with the right foods that not only satisfy your hunger, but also fill a nutritional purpose and help in muscle recovery (i.e. protein), or help depleted energy levels (i.e.carbs and healthy fats). But with the abundance of bars and shakes and snacks and on the go refuel options, it can sometimes be hard to know what is best. Here’s 8 ideas to get you started:
1) Medjool Dates – The sugar of the earth as I like to call them, dates are a great refuel option because of their high energy content that does not cause a spike in your blood sugar like other sweet treats. Dates have a low glycemic index meaning they release their energy slowly to your body, not all in one burst. This steady release helps regulate your blood sugar, preventing it from rapidly increasing and then crashing as you may have experienced with other sugars. Furthermore, their high carbohydrate content makes them great for refuelling your energy levels.
2) Energy Bites – Whether it’s chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel and mint chocolate, or whatever other flavour combination I feel like at the time, I typically make energy bites once a week. Or more depending on how fast I eat them and how extreme the runger is! They are definitely one of my favourite treats, perhaps because of the fact that they make such a great post run snack. I make the base out of dates (carbohydrate), include some protein option like hemp hearts or protein powder, and then add some nuts for a healthy fat addition. I like to play around a lot with the flavours and ingredients and the result is a calorie dense snack that gives me protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats while making a tasty refuel and recovery option.
3) Hemp Heart Bites – This is the newest addition to the running snacking options, and the newest addition to Manitoba Harvest as well. I have been using Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, hemp protein and hemp oil for quite a long time and it is one of my top protein sources aside from beans and legumes. They recently sent me the hemp bites to sample and review as well. They’re slightly chewy with a bit of a crunch and are the perfect bite size to pop into your mouth. They are a really great option immediately after your run when you aren’t that hungry but need to get some protein and carbohydrates back into your body for an effective recovery. I could picture myself having a couple right after a race or long run, but I personally found them pretty sweet and wouldn’t be able to eat any large quantities of them. I love the chewy, slightly crunchy texture though and they have the perfect hemp flavour just like all their other delicious products!
4) Fruit – Sometimes simple is best. Lately I’ve been craving fresh summer fruits like it’s my job. And sometimes after running in the heat and humidity, all I want to do is sink my teeth into some fresh berries or a cold, juicy peach. Although fruits isn’t an optimal snack for after long runs (at least not just fruit alone), because of it’s low protein content, it is definitely a great choice for energy after shorter runs, or as a compliment to a protein option after a long run. Personally, no matter what the run, sometimes I can’t resist and just stuff my face with fruit and have a handful of nuts to satisfy the protein requirement.
5) Nuts – Speaking of nuts, nuts are also a great post run snack! Nuts cover the protein and healthy fat categories of your post run snack, which is why they work so well when paired with something like fruit, which is mostly just carbohydrates. Opt for raw nuts and seeds that are unsalted, and try to mix it up with different kinds, as each one is especially good for a different part of your body.
6) Protein Bars – I can’t speak about any store-bought protein bars, but I can certainly vouch for making your own and packing them with natural ingredients and lots of plant-based protein. If I just want a plain protein with no flavour, I use hemp protein or hemp hearts (from Manitoba Harvest like the Hemp Bites above!), and if I’m feeling some flavour action, my go-to is Vega Protein & Greens in either chocolate or vanilla. And sometimes I’ll even pack in both, to get a dose of healthy fats from the hemp protein as well, just like I did in these Vanilla Protein Bars below. Just like the energy bites, it’s important to include your carbohydrates and healthy fats with the protein, even if the bar is protein heavy. Check out the recipe to get inspired and try your own!
7) Nut Butter – I talked earlier about having a handful of nuts or some fruit and nuts, but equally as good is some nut butter. Whether you spread it on a banana, slather it on some apple slices, or eat it by the spoonful (guilty), nut butter is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats and is calorie dense. Enjoying it with some fruit or some whole grain crackers will also refill your carbohydrates and get your energy levels back up! Want to try your hand at making your own? Start by trying this Salted Caramel and Almond Sunbutter!
8) Green Smoothies – Green smoothies, and more recently, smoothie bowls are a daily staple for me. I load them with fruit and veggies, spinach, greens powder, some superfoods like bee pollen and matcha, a scoop of hemp hearts and then whizz away. Just like the energy bites, I love playing around with different flavours and I try to pack as much nutrition and superfood goodness into them as possible. For me, smoothie bowls have been my go to lunch lately, with fruit piled on top and sprinkled with chia seeds and coconut. Sometimes I have a green smoothie for breakfast, as it’s quick to take on the go, or sometimes, if I need some refuel after an afternoon workout or hot yoga class, I’ll have a smoothie then. Whenever you fit it in is fine because it’s super good for you and is a complete recovery option containing carbohydrate, protein and fats.
What are your go to favourites for healthy snack options? If you need some more inspiration, check out these:
- Buckwheat Crackers
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
- Coconut Chia Pudding
- Gluten Free Sweet Potato Gingerbread
- Creamy Blueberry Smoothie
Have a great weekend!