Dealing with Hunger after a Long Run
It seems to defy all science, but most runners who complete a long distance run or complete an endurance race such as a marathon are not hungry after the run.
There was a particularly bad scenario in 2010, when I raced a 30 KM in Toronto. I finished, checked my time and curled into the car for a 2 hour ride home. I wasn’t hungry so I ate nothing.
By the time that I got home, I was sore, tired, fatigued and ravenous.
I ate an abnormally large meal and went to bed. In the morning, I was much sorer and achey then I should have been.
Why should I eat after a long run?
We have been told countless times to listen to our body and to eat when we are hungry. What happens when we have burned through our stores and we are not feeling hungry?
This is the one time that you have a free pass to eat regardless of hunger cues. Your appetite is suppressed from your run, but if it is left too long, your hunger will surge and you will want to eat, however, at the same time, your satiety cues which control feelings of fullness decrease.
Not eating after working hard decreases recovery and preparation for your next workout, which will suffer as a result.
Why do I not feel hungry after a long run?
When you run, peptide YY is produced (the hormone that tells you that you are NOT hungry) because you are busily banging out the miles and your body cannot be bothered. This means that your hunger hormone, ghrelin, is suppressed for a few hours after exertion. This does NOT mean that you shouldn’t eat.
What should I eat post-run?
I find the best thing to have post run is a protein shake or drink made with water or almond milk.
The best protein powders are plant based, and for my palate – CHOCOLATE.
Liquid allows the nutrition to be easily absorbed and also is easier to consume when you are just not feeling like eating.
A number of hours after your long run, fuel up on healthy carbs and protein. This could be a main meal – chose healthy foods that you enjoy and celebrate your post-long run bliss! One of my favourite post-run foods is the Protein Pancake.
Resources for post run nutrition:
Long Run Recovery Done Right – Runners World
Three Steps to Long Run Recovery – Active
What to Eat Before and After Long Runs – Runners Connect
Do you struggle with lack of hunger post long run?
What is your favourite way to refuel after a race?
Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat says
Lack of hunger post-long run – yes. In my less-smart running years, I’d go for my workout, then on the way home, pick up groceries, stop at the bank, get gas, etc. After finally showering, getting dressed, and doing my hair, I’d be hungry but I know now that by that time, I’d done my body a huge disservice. Now, I try to get home as soon as I can to shower, then eat immediately after, regardless of whether or not I’m really hungry. Post-race when I don’t have access to my kitchen and blender, I usually have a clean protein bar (Quest… and you know how I feel about them!) and a great big apple, then a larger meal when I’m back home and smelling better! 🙂
I know. I felt like in my early years, I embraced my lack of hunger and rode it out as long as it lasted without really thinking about the chaos that was for my system!
And nothing like a Quest bar to make you sprint to the finish line! 🙂
I sort of disagree with the necessity to eat after training. Research has shown that total daily calories and nutrients are far far more important than any timing. If you’re not doing another training session that day, there’s little need to eat within that “30 minute window of opportunity”, as the supplement companies tell us.
Of course, not eating after a long run means you just spend 2 hours running and might not eat for an hour or two, which could reduce the total food volume for the day 😉
Not saying to not eat after a key workout, just that it’s not life or death.
I agree that it is important to get your total daily calories and nutrients and it is more important of WHAT you eat, rather than WHEN you eat it. That being said, I think the timing after eating is different for every one, which is why you may be able to hold off for a couple hours. I just know for myself that when my stores are low, while it is not life or death, it is optimal vs non ideal recovery so it is my #1 priority to get them back to a healthy level.