If you are training for a marathon or like to include the occasional distance workout in your exercise routine, then you likely know the importance of monitoring your diet and making sure you get enough calories to refuel after a long run. You may be surprised to find out that pizza can make an ideal post-run recovery food if you know what to order. Pizza can provide you with the ideal amount of carbohydrates, protein, salts, and vitamins to help your body recovery from a long run with minimal soreness. If you are planning to head to a pizza place after a long run, here are five things that you should keep in mind.
Have an Immediate Snack Ready as Soon as You Finish Running
Ordering food at a restaurant can take time, and it is important that you begin replenishing your used stores of energy as soon as possible after your run. You may want to pack a small, healthy snack to eat as soon as you finish your run to allow you to wait until your pizza is ready. You can also order a small green salad or pasta salad as an appetizer to eat while you wait. Alternatively, if you know what time you expect to finish your run, you can place your order early so your pizza will be ready as soon as you show up at the restaurant.
Balance Your Carbohydrates and Protein
After a long run, you should aim to consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Pizza, especially an option with a whole-grain crust, can be an excellent option to achieve this balance. However, you should keep in mind that cheese has as much protein as many meats. Therefore, you do not need to pile on the meat toppings in order to get adequate protein after your run.
Ask for Extra Sauce
Tomatoes pack loads of nutrients that are essential for recovery after a run, including B6 and lycopene, without adding a lot of calories to your meal. You may want to order your pizza with extra sauce or with fresh tomatoes as a topping option. However, if you suffer from heartburn after long runs, the acidity of tomato sauce might further upset your stomach, so you need to weigh the benefits and the risks of tomato sauce for your particular situation.
Re-think the Beer
Many runners believe that beer is a good recovery drink, since it supplies carbohydrates. However, it supplies a low amount of carbohydrates, and the alcohol in beer can further dehydrate you after your run. Instead of ordering a beer with your pizza, make sure to fully hydrate by ordering water. If you need a beverage with more flavor, consider iced tea, especially if it is freshly brewed instead of bottled. After you have started your recovery with a full meal and plenty of fluids, you might indulge in an after-meal beer.
Consider the Seating Arrangement
Sitting for a long period of time after a long run can make you stiff and sore. If you find a restaurant with a large outdoor seating area, you may feel more comfortable standing up and moving around or stretching a little while you wait for your pizza to come. If not, then you can get up to make a trip to the bathroom or step outside to stretch to keep your blood flowing. Just let your waiter know that you are not abandoning your table.
After a long run, it is important to eat healthy foods that help you recover faster. With forethought, pizza can be an excellent recovery choice for runners.