Not hungry after a run or, worse, feel sick when you eat? Nutritionist Michelle Sanchez tells us why and how to make the most of post-run nutrition
Why don’t I feel hungry after a run?
Exercising stimulates certain changes in the body. It increases blood flow to the muscles of the heart and legs, slows down digestion and suppresses particular hormones, such as ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for hunger. It stimulates appetite and food intake, and promotes fat storage. Exercise also increases production of the hunger-supressing hormone, peptide YY, which reduces appetite and food intake further. This is why runners are often not hungry after exercising, and can feel nauseas after food, including post-workout gels and bars.
How to refuel without feeling sick
Despite not being hungry, it’s important to refuel and rehydrate after a long run. Your muscles become depleted of essential nutrients and cells can dehydrate. Refuelling aids muscle recovery and replenishes cells with fuel.
Both protein and carbohydrates are key post-workout. Smoothies are a great option, providing liquid nutrition to refuel and hydrate. Add some fruit or vegetables (blueberries, bananas, avocado, apples, broccoli, spinach), nuts, seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin) and superfoods (maca, spirulina, acai).
Preparing before your run
Making sure that your body is fuelled with the right nutrition before your run is key, too, especially if you know that it might be a while before you get your post-run snack. One to three hours before a workout, have some food. Nut butters (almond, cashew), a chia pudding, a banana, avocado or oats provide an excellent source of nutrients.
Looking for pre-run snack recipes? Try these chocolate energy balls!
Drinking sufficient fluids (water and herbal teas) before and during a workout and ensuring your electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, sodium) are balanced. It will also prevent dehydration, which can worsen gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea. Coconut water a great source of natural electrolytes.
About the author
Michelle Sanchez is a nutritionist, naturopath and medical herbalist with the College of Naturopathic Medicine.
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