What to eat after a run

Eat these runner-friendly recovery foods after a run to help your muscles rebuild and repair more quickly. The result? You’ll give yourself a greater chance of training injury-free.

1. Watercress

Once thought of as a mere garnish, watercress is now an established big hitter for recovery and damage limitation. The peppery leaves contain hefty amounts of iron, vitamin C and calcium.

Eat: Whenever you can.

2. Venison

Venison offers more protein for the calories than almost all other meats, and it’s also a great source of iron and zinc.

Eat: A 75g steak after a tough run.

3. Beer

It contains powerful antioxidant phenols: a German study showed runners who were given non-alcoholic beer for three weeks before the Munich Marathon suffered less inflammation afterwards than a placebo group.

Drink: Erdinger Alkoholfrei.

4. Apples

Among many good things, apples contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.

Eat: Like they say, an apple a day

5. Whey

The simple by-product of making cheese offers the complete set of amino acids and is absorbed more quickly than other proteins, speeding up muscle repair.

“Whey also contains the potent antioxidant glutathione,” says Dr Phil Maffetone, author of The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.

Eat: Ideally, within 30 minutes of finishing tough sessions.

6. Green tea

A recent study found the body can absorb anti-inflammatory polyphenols from green tea during a run. It also contains caffeine.

Drink: Instead of normal tea when recovering, or try it mid-race.

7. Milk

Milk provides whey and casein proteins, and omega-3s.

Drink: A glass late at night for casein protein – to help build muscle as you sleep.

8. Sardines

These pack a similar protein profile to tuna, but provide more iron, vitamin D and omega-3s.

Eat: On toast with tomato and garlic after training.

9. Pineapple

Contains the anti-inflammatory bromelain, which can reduce swelling, tenderness and pain.

Eat: Fresh (the canning process destroys much of the bromelain).

10. Pea protein

Of all veggie protein alternatives, pea has perhaps the most potential, thanks to its array of essential amino acids – it’s also easily digestible.

Eat: Pea protein burgers are available in most supermarkets as an alternative to meat.

11. Blueberries

These antioxidant powerhouses boost cardio and bone health and have anti-inflammatory benefits.

“Blueberries may be the best source for reducing runners’ oxidative stress,” says Maffetone.

Eat: 50g a day, frozen or fresh, to combat oxidative stress.

12. Avocados

Avocados aid lean muscle growth, with around 15g of ‘good’ fats per fruit. Like olive oil, they’re high in oleic acid, which is great for boosting the heart and fighting inflammation. They also aid absorption of antioxidant carotenoids.

Eat: Ripe avocado in salads or as a snack drizzled with olive oil.

13. Chicken/turkey

It’s hard to separate these two. Chicken offers slightly more protein per gram, but turkey is leaner. Both pack equal levels of D-Aspartic acid, which aids muscle repair.

Eat: Skinless white meat is the leanest option.

14. Salmon

This is a great source of protein (100g of wild salmon contains 25g) and omega-3s. Recent studies have found salmon also contains bioactive protein molecules that may be beneficial for joint cartilage.

Eat: A 50g portion at least once a week during heavy training periods.

15. Turmeric

This spice contains curcumin, a bone-boosting flavonoid.

Eat: Add to curries after training. The root is more powerful than the powder.

16. Beef

It’s one of the best meats for muscle growth and it can help digestion.

“When cooked rare or medium rare, it provides a high amount of glutamine,” says Maffetone. “This amino acid is fuel for the gut, helping other foods to be absorbed, to ensure we obtain all their nutrients.”

Beef also contains the most easily absorbed form of iron, vital for red blood cells and muscle function.

Eat: Organic and grass-fed. A 100g steak contains 22 to 26g of protein.

17. Eggs

Chickens, ducks, geese, quail: their eggs all pack a punch. The yolk contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, B12 and folate, as well as omega-3 fats.

Eat: Get 6g of protein per large egg at breakfast, post-training and as a snack.


This feature was originally published by Runner's World. Discover more great features on every aspect of running and refresh your training with a subscription. Find out more at