The Best Recovery Foods for Runners

  Oct 31, 2016  |  #Marathon Training

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I have less than ONE WEEK until my marathon, so I thought it was a great time to talk about the best recovery foods for runners and marathon nutrition.

Being my first marathon, I am totally devoting all of my attention to this race. I’m taking Friday off from work, so I can head to Savannah Thursday night after seeing clients. I want to have Friday to just relax, stretch well, and rest up and lay low.

I tend to do my best thinking on long runs. A few weeks ago during a long run, I was brainstorming about my post run meal and snack. I was thinking about what ingredients to add to my smoothie bowl, and what would be best for my body and muscle recovery.

Then, I thought it would be a great post idea to share them with you!

The Best Recovery Foods for Runners

Nutrition plays a crucial role in recovery from exercise. So, here are some of my favorite recovery foods for runners and some insight into why they are great for recovery.

These foods would be pertinent to include in your marathon nutrition plan, or your marathon recovery plan.

Running, Best recovery foods for endurance exercise


I add frozen wild blueberries to every single smoothie and oatmeal bowl I make. Better yet, add them to baked oatmeal!

Blueberries are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which can improve our defense systems in the body. Some research shows cardiovascular benefits and they can reduce muscle damage.


Bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries, peanut butter, tart cherries and bananas.


The main electrolytes we lose through endurance exercise are sodium and potassium. Bananas are a great natural source of potassium and can be great for reducing cramping.

Also, bananas are high in carbohydrates that our muscles can take up rapidly, after being depleted due to a long workout or run.

My favorite way to use them is frozen in smoothies, muffins, topped over cereal, yogurt, smoothie bowls or oatmeal.


Most people think of oatmeal as a pre-race food, but did you know if can be a post race food, too? Especially if you fill it with the right things!

I love these one step oat bowls with fun, nourishing ingredients that I may not always keep on hand in bulk (use code BLTDAILY for $25 off your first order!).

Otherwise, I tend to add many of the same ingredients I’ve talked about here – blueberries, yogurt or milk, peanut butter, chia seeds, pumpkin and seeds. 

Oatmeal topped with berries, yogurt, peanut butter in white bowl


Summer quinoa salad as a side dish | Bucket List Tummy

Guess why? They have double the amount of Vitamin C as an orange!  You could also go for apricots, oranges, red bell peppers, or broccoli. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps counteract the oxidative stress we put on our body during extreme exercise.

It can help aid with decreasing soreness and inflammation. Dried mango is sometimes a little easier and stays fresher longer!

This mango lime quinoa salad is a great source of complex carbohydrates and a fun way to add in mango. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes have complex carbs to help replenish those glycogen stores. They also have ample beta carotene, an antioxidant and a precursor for Vitamin A. They also have Vitamin C, iron and potassium.

I love them in my sweet potato nachos, sweet potato bread, sweet potato ginger energy bites and in turkey burgers.

Sweet potato turkey burgers with toppings


Omelets are a great way to refuel with everything. The eggs are providing necessary protein (and the amino acid, leucine). Amino acids are needed for your muscles after the long exercise where they are being broken down to help replenish and rebuild them. 

Also, depending on what you add to the omelet, you can also be doing yourself an even bigger favor. For instance, red bell peppers and broccoli are both high in Vitamin C.

I also like a good skillet breakfast scramble, quiche or even egg pizza.

[su_highlight]If you do add meat, I suggest locally sourced, grass fed meat with higher quality omega fatty acids. [/su_highlight]

Whole Grains

Think oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, quinoa, brown rice, etc. Whole grains are full of B vitamins, which help our bodies convert glucose into energy, and also magnesium.

Magnesium is a nutrient that’s typically low in the American diet and helps regulate blood pressure and is great for bone health.

I love these banana oatmeal muffins and no bake peanut butter and cherry trail mix bites!

[su_highlight]For quick snacks (that you don’t have to make or prep), I highly recommend the KIND bar Snack Club – just get bars delivered so you’re always prepared. [/su_highlight]

These gluten-free Almond Flour Banana Muffins are the perfect portable snack before or after a workout and easy to meal prep. Almond meal banana muffins are gluten-free and ready in 30 minutes.


I know I write about this protein powder all the timebut I really love it. It’s also great because it has tart cherry juice and turmeric in it, which are great for recovery and decreasing inflammation!

Another favorite protein powder I often recommend to clients is Gainful because it can be personalized to you and your goals. 

Curcumin, the main component in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and may help decrease pain and swelling. A great way to use turmeric naturally is on these roasted garlic turmeric parsnip fries!

Vega Sport Performance Protein as a recovery food

These turmeric salmon patties are great too! The omega fat from the salmon will also help with inflammation.

zucchini and canned salmon burger on an open faced bun

Yogurt or Cottage Cheese

Both yogurt and cottage cheese provide a great combo of protein and carbohydrates, which you want after exercise. Yogurt also has beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that improve our gut health.

Plus, it’s a great, thick vehicle for fruit (think about all those antioxidants) or in a smoothie!

Cottage cheese is also really high in casein, which is a slow releasing protein, making it a great option for a pre-bedtime snack. Since it’s slow releasing, it can help reduce muscle breakdown while you sleep (aka fast). 

Siggi's, Post run foods, Best foods for recovery


Chocolate Milk + Smoothies

My favorite smoothie is this chocolate blueberry smoothie, FULL of antioxidant potential. 


Or, if you want extra Vitamin C, also consider a tropical creamsicle orange smoothie, with 30 grams of protein and a fun citrus flavor. 

We’ve all heard about chocolate milk as a great recovery vehicle. These are staples in our house.

The reason it’s so great is that it has nearly the perfect 3:1-4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, ideal for rebuilding and replenishing muscles after a long or intense workout.

But, rather than buying one which would likely have more sugar, you could make your own at home. Plus, the calcium (and Vitamin D) are great for your bones.

Tart Cherry Juice

There is a whole slew of research right now about tart cherry juice and it’s endurance benefits. I’ve already bought some tart cherry juice to have after the marathon next weekend.

One study in marathoners showed that those who took tart cherry juice after the race had improved muscle markers than those with the placebo.

Tart cherry juice helps with muscle recovery and reducing inflammation, and increases our body’s total antioxidant capacity. Studies have also shown that CRP (C-reactive protein) levels, a marker of inflammation, were lower in those taking tart cherry juice.

Bonus: tart cherry juice is also included in this protein powder. I actually love using montmorency cherries in my oatmeal and yogurt, or adding them to pancakes!

Montmorency tart cherries help with inflammation and help improve recovery after endurance exercise.

The recommendation is 10 fluid ounces of tart cherry juice within 30 minutes of a workout.

If you can’t find tart cherry juice, cherries themselves are still great for inflammation!

I love adding cherries to chia pudding, plus they go great with chocolate!

Cherry Cocoa Chia Pudding


Don’t underestimate the recovery power and nutritional benefits of water! Water, aside from helping us stay hydrated, is vital for ensuring our cells receive the nutrients we take in.

Without adequate water, our cells and muscles won’t function efficiently.

Water also aids in digestion and bowel function, Also, consider foods with a high water content, like watermelons and cucumbers.

Remember, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Recovery Foods for Exercise with text overlay | Bucket List Tummy

Want to learn more about Sports Nutrition?

What are some of your favorite recovery foods or liquids?


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48 responses to “The Best Recovery Foods for Runners

  1. Great list!

    I love chocolate milk, peanut butter, and yes, beer LOL!. Usually, after a long run or race, I end up craving some kind of red meat as well.

  2. I’ve been reading a lot about blueberries being so good for recovery too! I did not know this. I do like bananas and try to have one as a post race snack oh that and Chocolate Milk is my favorite after a race!!!

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