As any athlete knows, what you put in your body is just as important as what you do with your body. Athlete nutrition is different (and has to be different) than nutrition for the everyday person. We as athletes put our bodies through a lot and in order to keep them functioning at a high level we’ve got to refuel them constantly with the right foods. That means we need to know what to eat for muscle recovery, pre-workout, and even on off days.
Today we’re looking at what to eat for muscle recovery and why those items are important to your muscle recovery. Check out our Pre-Game: What to Eat Before Running blog post for information on what you should eat before your workout!
First, we want to look at the reason why we have included these foods. The purpose of muscle recovery isn’t necessarily muscle gain. That’s a misconception. We are looking at foods that help your muscles recover after a workout or activity. These foods will help reduce soreness and recovery time.
Dark colored fruits
Specifically focusing on blueberries and tart cherries can help reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). They are also very high in antioxidants that will support your body in eliminating toxins and waste products produced from your workout. Also, tart cherries have been shown to boost melatonin which will help you get your rest after a big event and they also have anti-inflammatory qualities.
Greens & veggies
In order to avoid muscle cramps, you need to be sure that your hydration and potassium levels are good. While we’ll cover the hydration a few points down, here we’re looking at your potassium. Many muscle cramps are caused by the micronutrient deficiency (potassium) caused by excessive sweating and dehydration. Get your leafy greens in to help replenish your potassium levels to prevent the onset of cramps.
Also adding cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts will help you metabolize estrogen in your system.
Fruits & starches
Like the previous point, a great source of potassium (and the most well known source) are bananas. Fruits and starches are also a great source of glycogen which is stored as energy in your muscles. Foods like watermelon, potatoes, pineapple, and sweet potatoes are very nutrient rich and help to restore your glycogen and many are also high in antioxidants to reduce toxins in your muscles.
PRO TIP: Don’t go crazy with sugary fruits or high carb starches. While they are very beneficial to your muscles after a workout, going crazy with them can cause excess glycogen to be stored as fat.
Fish is a great source of Omega 3’s and EPA & DHA acids that are known to limit inflammation. The protein in the fish is also very important to helping the muscles that you just stressed recover and grow. We recommend cod or salmon for your post-workout meal as they’ve both been shown to help reduce inflammation and support muscle recovery.
A variety of nuts can have a great affect on your post-workout recovery including almonds, Brazil nuts, and walnuts. All of these nuts are a great source of “good” fats that help your body to recuperate after a workout. They’re also a great source of many micronutrients such as selenium, magnesium, and zinc. Adding a variety of nuts to your post-workout diet can help increase testosterone, help muscle recovery, and even boost energy.
This one is pretty obvious, but instead of reaching for that high sugar energy drink, soda, or performance drink, reach for a water instead. During an intense workout you are losing a lot of water and your muscles need it to recover and grow. Not only that, but without getting the proper amount of water after a workout you could end up dealing with cramps, fatigue, and even dizziness. Work towards getting at least 20 ounces of water in your body within the hour following a workout.
You know that helping your muscles recover is vital to performing at your best. That’s why we developed our Therapeutic Recovery Cream! It’s all-natural and helps to eliminate muscle soreness and stiffness! Try it today!