How we eat is extremely important not only for our health but also for our running performance. In the book Thrive by Brendan Brazier, Brazier outlines a series of recommendations of what people should eat before and after exercise. Brazier is a professional athlete and realized the affect that his eating habits had on his athletic performance. I know that some people will eat unhealthy after exercise feeling like they earned it or that they burned off the calories so they can afford it. However, you are hurting your health, your running performance, and limiting your weight loss. Research has shown that a person’s eating habits is more a predictor of disease than any other factor including genes.
For a pre-exercise snack, Brazier has different suggestions for different levels of activity. He calls exercising 1 hour or less as level 1 activity. For Northern Virginia boot camp, this is how long we’ll be doing for our runs during boot camp. Brazier says that fruit or dates is the best since the Glucose from the simple carbohydrates goes to the liver for immediate energy. When you go for longer runs, you can even bring these types of snacks with you for fuel during exercise. Many runners do this during long runs, carrying it in a pack around their waist.
Brazier refers to the 45 minute time period after exercise as the “fuel window”. At this time the body is better able to absorb carbohydrates (in a good way, don’t think that carbohydrates are “bad”, we need them) which speeds recovery. If you are able to recover more quickly from exercise then your body has more energy to do other things necessary which will give you overall better health.
For faster recovery, you need a simple carbohydrate (fruit is a simple carbohydrate) with little fat or fiber and a low percentage of protein for your post-run. The sooner you consume this the better and make sure it’s within the 45 minute window. Brazier recommends a liquid or near liquid consistency since it’s easier for the body to digest especially since your body is fatigued from the exercise. In Brazier’s book, he has 2 post-workout recovery drinks which includes fruit, dates, hemp protein and agave nectar. If you want the detailed recipe, please let me know. If you are planning on doing my Northern Virginia boot camp (as with any of my boot camps), make sure to plan ahead and have a recovery drink ready to go.
After an hour has passed since the snack, it’s time for the post-workout meal. Brazier says ideally this will consist of “high-quality, easily digestible raw protein such as hemp omega-3 fatty acids (also from hemp and flaxseed), and vitamins and minerals from natural whole food sources” (p.119-120). He says that a conventional meal is not ideal at this time since blood is in the extremities doing it’s job to help recovery and not as much in the stomach for digestion so it’s better not to tax the system with a meal that’s more difficult to digest.
I hope that information was helpful. I have to remind myself how important these post-workout meals are. The more that we can do to increase recovery, the more we will see improvement and the more prepared we will be for our next workout.
If you would like to try my upcoming Northern Virginia boot camp or are interested in being an MCC (Marathon Charity Corporation) participant, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to helping you with your running goals!