For many people fantasies of a juicy burger on a pretzel bun topped with melted cheese and a fries dipped in a milk shake get them through the final 6.2 miles of a marathon, the post run meal dream is real.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little splurge, especially right after a race when your body NEEDS carbohydrates to kickstart the recovery process.

But after that meal the focus needs to come back to recovery and there are indeed best post run foods.

I say this because one of the first questions almost ANY runner asks is “how soon can I start running again?” And I cover this in-depth in the post marathon recovery plan, so today we’re adding to that by looking at how the foods we eat will improve not only our post race recovery, but our recovery throughout training!

A smart recovery nutrition plan will decrease inflammation, improve energy/mood and take you back into training without having packed on a few lbs from all those dreamy meals.

What Should You Eat After Running a Marathon?

What to eat after a run? What to eat after a marathon? What to eat after a long run?

These are some of the questions in my inbox frequently, so per normal I did some research to give you the best answers for the best marathon recovery foods to the best foods for runners.

After a marathon, carbs, water, electrolytes, and protein are essential. According to the results of a study published by James Madison University, the food you eat in the hours following a marathon can have a significant impact on your level of muscle soreness for 72 hours post-run.

Anti-Inflammatory Recipes

So no matter if it’s your first marathon or your 10th, running a marathon puts a huge amount of stress on your body. It is important to get back on track with your nutrition as soon as possible.

Choosing these meals throughout training will get you to race day feeling so much stronger! And maybe without the dreaded running weight gain because you’ll be fueled with great nutrition and satisfying protein, not just carbs.

I’ve listed a number of individual foods in this post that will enhance the recovery process. Healthy things to eat after a run, can also taste incredible, as you’ll see in the recipes I’ve listed in this article. But before that, let’s figure out what the goal of a post-run meal is:

What’s the Goal of a Post-Run Meal?

The goal of a post run meal is the following 6 things:

  • Hormonal Support
  • Immune System Support
  • Muscle Glycogen Replenishment
  • Protein Synthesis
  • Rehydration
  • Soft Tissue Repair
  • Inflammation Reduction

The best meal to have after a marathon is something that will incorporate all of those things. I have 29 great post run meal ideas for you to check out, but before we get into that let’s look at the important components in more detail.


After a marathon, carbohydrates are essential. Why is that so? That’s because these essential nutrients replenish muscle glycogen, which was depleted during the race.

The primary fuel source for running is muscle glycogen. Glycogen is the form of glucose that is used to store energy. It is made up of long chains of glucose molecules with different branches.

When necessary, the glucose separates from the glycogen chain to create ATP, a chemical energy carrier necessary for muscle contractions.

How then do you refuel your muscles’ glycogen stores after a marathon? By consuming high-glycemic (fast-digesting) carbohydrates as soon as possible.

Specifically, research shows that you need to consume 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of body weight post-marathon for proper glycogen resynthesis. 

race banana

Some great examples of foods with carbohydrates include bananas, raisins, chicken breast, olives, quinoa or brown rice, avocados, pita bread, or even a granola bar.

If you don’t replace the glycogen in your muscles, you’re cheating them and making it take longer for them to heal. Also, studies have shown that waiting just two hours to eat carbs cuts the rate of glycogen replenishment by 50%.

So, keep in mind that adequate and correct carb intake is one of the most essential components of post-marathon recovery.


Most runners are aware of the value of carbohydrates, but they often overlook or are unaware of the importance of protein. Even though protein plays a negligible role in fueling our runs, it facilitates muscle recovery during and after running.

When carbohydrates are combined with protein, glycogen can be replenished more effectively and with less discomfort. After a long run, our bodies have more amino acids, which makes them easier for our bodies to use.

Your goal should be to consume roughly around 20 to 30 grams of protein. Some great whole food sources of protein include chicken breast, ground beef, salmon and tuna, whole eggs, quinoa, and nuts.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The idea that certain foods can help to reduce inflammation in the body is nothing new. But as I have undertaken my own journey to feel my best, heal my digestive system and perform better well I finally started really paying attention!

What to eat after a run isn’t just about calories. It’s about the foods that are going to help us progress in our training!

What’s the deal with inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is what leads us to major disease states, effects athletic performance and causes mental issues such as depression. Thus implementing long term solutions such as meditation and optimal food choices are going to help achieve all those goals I just listed!

I absolutely believe food is powerful and I love this statement from Dr Haymen:

Disease is not a normal consequence of aging…Your body is a system, an ecosystem where everything is connected. When that system is out of balance, disease arises….the body becomes out of balance {from}: Too much of the bad stuff (poor diet, stress, microbes, toxins and allergens), and not enough of the good stuff (whole, real fresh food, nutrients, movement, water, air, light, rest, sleep, rhythm, love, connection, meaning and purpose).

As discussed previously tired, sad and sick are not normal {read it to take charge with your dr}! Or maybe more accurately it has become common for many American’s, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

The following anti-inflammatory food pyramid was developed by health expert Dr.Weil and I find it more useful than any chart ever produced by the US Government! I love that the biggest focus is on 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily! Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Another reason I love this chart is because it includes the use of herbs and spices for muscle recovery!

Everyone who has undertaken one of my challenges knows that I promote this over cutting out foods and many are surprised to find that they weren’t getting anywhere near that number.

While I do use some supplements daily, like a digestive enzyme and collagen, I believe that you must start with a base of great nutrition before expecting supplements to work {hence their location on the chart}.

One way you can naturally do that is through understanding how spices like turmeric reduce inflammation or garlic serves to promote great heart health. EASY and cheap spices allow you to change the taste of your food and improve your health without ever buying a pill.

Anti-inflammatory eating could be your ticket to injury prevention! Read more>> #Fitness Click To Tweet

Hydrating Foods and Drinks

You’ll be dehydrated after your thrilling 26.2-mile run, especially if it’s a hot day. Start drinking as soon as the marathon is over and keep it up until your urine is clear and your weight is back to what it was before the marathon.

It is always a good idea to weigh yourself before and after the marathon for this purpose.

What’s a good guiding principle? For each 2.2 pounds of weight lost following a marathon, drink four glasses of fluid which is approximately 8 oz.

Even though it might be tempting to toast your success with a beer, remember that alcohol is a diuretic and can further dehydrate you. If you do have a beer, make sure to drink as much water as you do beer.

I’ve shared some great ideas down below to help you figure out what foods you can have that will hydrate you from within.


Another thing to consider is replacing electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which are lost when you sweat. These minerals help keep fluids in balance and keep muscle contractions under control. Sports drinks can help, but you shouldn’t count on them exclusively.

Sodium and chloride are the most prevalent electrolytes lost in sweat, while potassium, magnesium, and calcium are lost in smaller quantities.

Always keep in mind that it’s not just about the liquids you drink and the food you eat but what they contain.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, drinking plain water after strenuous exercise such as a marathon will make you feel less thirsty, even though your body still needs more fluid.

Electrolytes also go hand in hand with hydration from the previous section we discussed and they are abundant in natural, raw, unpasteurized coconut water, which is a good way to rehydrate.

Also think about whole foods that are high in sodium, like milk, chocolate milk, bread, crackers, tomato juice,  pickle juice and salted nuts. All of these will help you replenish and restore your electrolytes levels after a marathon.

Pickle Juice Muscle Cramps
Image from Eat North

In addition to this, you should consume foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, dried apricots, raisins, milk, yogurt, baked potatoes with the skin on, leafy greens, tomato juice, and orange juice.

These kinds of healthy foods will give your body all the vitamins and antioxidants it needs to heal damaged muscles, keep free radicals from doing more damage, and boost your immune system.

Your body repairs itself primarily while you’re asleep at night, so eating a protein-rich snack before bed is essential for facilitating this process. Go for some nuts, a protein shake, or some Greek yogurt.

29 Post Run Meal Ideas

Now that we’ve covered all that you need to keep in mind when figuring out what to eat after a marathon, let’s look at some post run meal ideas to try out!

I’ve divided the recipes into groups, so you can find something that best fits the foods you like and the time you have to find the best food to eat after a run.

Post Run Meals with Beets

Research has shown the nitrates help your muscles use oxygen more efficiently, it can also help to dissolve calcium deposits and detoxify. Try adding them to your post run food with these recipes.Recovery meals with Beets


1. Raw Beet and Apple Salad from The Clever Carrot
2. Beets and Berries Overnight Oats from RTTF
3. PomegranateBeet Recovery Juice from Chantal Soeters
4. Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette from Local Savour
5. Roasted Red Beet and Tomato Soup from The Paleo Diet

Post Run Meals with Probiotics/Fermented Foods

Tempeh, a fermented food, is a fantastic digestion helper, which can often be thrown off after the stress of a race.

Studies have shown that athletes who use probiotics or eat these foods (high-quality yogurt, tempeh, pickled veggies, kombucha) reduce inflammation and improve immunity.

Read more about probiotics >> meals with probiotics


6. Pistachio and Dried Cherry Yogurt Parfait from Recipe Runner
7. Creamy Overnight Vanilla Probiotic Breakfast from The Daily Meal
8. Polish Sauerkraut from The Healthy Chef
9. Tempeh and Broccoli Stir Fry from Dietitian Debbie
10.Kombucha Waffles (Dairy-Free) by Natural Family Today

29 Post Workout Meal Ideas Backed By Science #recover #runchat Click To Tweet

Post Run Meals with Vitamin C

Russian researchers have showed that surgical patients who supplement with Vitamin C are discharged from the hospital one to two days earlier, compared to individuals who receive no Vitamin C.

This is because Vitamin C plays a critical role in collagen formation, and collagen is the primary component of connective tissue, which makes it another great post run meal.meals with Vitamin C 11. 20 Minute Healthy Mexican Pizza from RTTF
12. Triple Berry Kiwi Smoothie by The Pretty Bee
13. Lemon Orange Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry from Go Dairy Free
14. Healthy Baked Broccoli Tots from Gimme Delicious
15. Skinny Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers from Chef in Training Recovery Smoothie

Post Run Meals with Berries

Great for boosting immunity which is down after the stress of a marathon, plus a study in Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that eating blueberries accelerates muscle recovery and resulted in faster recovery rate when consumed before and after exercise.Recovery Meals with Berries16. Chicken Pasta with Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions and Tart Cherries from Love and Zest
17. Peach Blueberry Crumble from Eat 2 Run
18. Anti-Inflammatory Cherry Smoothie from Strength and Sunshine
19. 17 Delicious Protein Packed Post Workout Smoothies from RTTF
20. Blueberry Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts from Blueberry Council
21. High Protein Overnight Oats from RTTF

Post Run Meals with Salmon

Omega 3’s can help reduce joint swelling, while also providing a lean source of protein for muscle repair.
Read more about the fishy benefits for athletes >>Recovery meals with salmon

21. Easy Vegetable Packed Salmon Cakes from Cotter Crunch
22. Salmon Asparagus Egg Muffins from Hello To Fit
23. Grilled Salmon Tacos with Avocado Salsa from Cooking Classy
24. Skinny Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles from Just a Taste

Post Run Meals with Chia Seeds

Slows the impact of sugar on the bloodstream which can help with post race cravings, while also expanding and helping to maintain hydration levels. Also known as a great source of protein to help with muscle repair.Chia seed recipe ideas25. Scott Jurek’s Cacao Chia Pudding from RTTF
26. Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing from Two Peas and Their Pod
27. Banana Chia Seed Cake from Simple Roots Wellness
28. Vegan Chia Seed Pancakes from Running on Real Food
29. Chia Seed Protein Eggless Wrap from Purely Twins


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