Food EducationHealth

10 Best Plant-Based Recovery Foods For Runners

Sports scientists love to disagree over just about everything, but they have come to a consensus about one topic: the importance of recovery nutrition for runners.

By eating these foods daily, the body will be more energized, function better during training and recover faster because it has been properly fueled.

What Happens in the Body Post-Workout?

After exercise, the body needs to be refueled with a delicate mix of protein and carbohydrates from quality foods.  

Post-exercise, our cortisol levels are normally high while insulin is usually low. This happens because we’ve put stress on the body, which causes stress hormones (namely cortisol) to pump out more abundantly in the body.

Also, insulin levels drop because glucose has been depleted, which lowers blood sugar levels. As a result, we need simple and complex carbohydrates.

Protein must also be restored. However, protein is best utilized by muscle cells when it is eaten with carbohydrates. Quality carbs help drive amino acids from protein into the muscle cells where they are needed most.

There is only a limited amount of food runners can and should eat in a single day. No matter the diet you subscribe to or don’t subscribe to, athletes especially benefit from consuming nutrient dense plant-based foods.

These foods contain all the macronutrients and are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. They help boost immunity, ease digestion and promote better sleep. The goal is to eat them regularly, if not daily, to get the maximum benefit from their running workout plan.

10 Plant-Based Recovery Foods

Here is a list of ten “groups” that are nutrient dense and that love your taste buds as much as they love your body!

1. Ancient ‘Grains’

  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Kamut
  • Bulgur
  • Teff

2. Legumes

plant-based recovery foods

  • Lentils
  • Black, Kidney, and Pinto Beans
  • Chickpeas

3. Seeds

  • Hemp seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia & Flax seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Sesame seeds

4. Nuts

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts

5. Seaweeds

  • Spirulina
  • Chlorella
  • Dulse
  • Nori

6. Berries

plant-based recovery foods

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries

7. Greens

  • Kale
  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Arugula

8. Cruciferous Veggies

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Bok Choy

9. Root Vegetables

  • Yams
  • Beets
  • Potatoes (red, purple, white)
  • Parsnips
  • Winter Squash

10. Bonus “Must Have” Runner Foods:

  • Avocados
  • Bell Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Cherries

Keep in mind, your post-training food decision is a highly individual one. What works for someone else might not work for you.

Use these trial and error from these lists to refine your post-training meals, and to figure out what works for you. Keep your particular daily energy needs in mind.

Mix and match these foods to develop post-training meals you love that leave you feeling your best!

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