Top 10 Foods For Exercise Recovery

Man and Woman Sitting, Talking at the Gym

A little soreness with a workout is bearable. . . maybe even pleasant if it’s a reminder of how hard you worked the day before.  However, some aches and pains that are more intense or don’t seem to go away quickly enough. This can limit both your ability and motivation to train.

Many clients tell us they don’t take pain medication because of the side effects, they don’t have time for a massage, and the ice bath that the trainer recommended is just unbearable.  So, the question that follows is . . . how else can I help my body recover after I exercise so I feel my best and reach my goals?

The answer may be found in your refrigerator . . .  the foods you eat.

Not just post workout, but how you fuel your body on a regular basis.  Your muscles and immune system must be ready to take the hit of training and bounce back with ease.  Here are the top 10 foods I recommend as a Certified Nutrition Specialist for rapid muscle recovery:

1. Blueberries

The antioxidants in blueberries help prevent free radical damage to your muscles.  Research reports increased speed of muscle recovery for athletes who consumed them pre or post workout.

2. Tart Cherries

Cherries are similar to berries in their antioxidant properties.  However, specifically tart cherries are found in studies to decrease both muscle soreness and inflammation following exercise.  

3. Protein

This can come in the form of meats, plant based proteins, or a healthy shake.  Whatever way you take it, protein is essential to rebuilding the muscles fibers that are damaged during workouts.

4. Spinach

Dark leafy greens contain high levels of potassium that help decrease involuntary muscles contraction, otherwise known as dreaded cramps. Avocado is another great potassium source. 

5. Oily Fish

Most commonly salmon, oily fish contain omega 3 fatty acids that reduce the inflammation that causes muscle pain post workout. If you don’t eat fish at least twice a week, an omega 3 supplement is a must!

6. Eggs

In addition to being a source of protein, eggs also contain the hard to find antioxidants selenium, lutein, and zeaxanthin that enhance energy production in your muscles needed for recovery.

7. Coconut

Coconut oil and coconut butter contain MCT’s (medium chain fats) that act in your body more like carbohydrates than fat. They provide quick and easy to utilize energy for your body to use for muscle healing and repair.

8. Broccoli

Full of potassium, magnesium, vitamins, and antioxidants, broccoli fights inflammation and free radicals in your body resulting in better recovery. It also helps eliminate toxins that may be making it difficult for your body to bounce back. 

9. Turmeric

Turmeric contains the powerful anti inflammatory compound curcumin that can help alleviate muscle pain.  MRI scans in one study showed subjects who took turmeric experienced less muscle injury while training.

10. Water

I know, it’s not really a food, but your muscles must rehydrate after a workout.  Dehydration leads to low blood plasma volume meaning less energy for your muscles and delayed muscle recovery.

I hope you can see that it isn’t just one magic pill that will ease the pain and help you recover from exercise.  You need a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and macronutrients to repair muscle and get back in the game quickly.

There is of course a place for shakes, bars, and supplements, but they must be used to do just that. . . supplement or add to the whole foods that are fueling your workouts and recovery. Our favorite Post Workout Drink provides a high quality complex of proteins, electrolytes and antioxidants to reduce recovery time and speed up repair. It provides the proper nutritional support that your muscular and nervous system need immediately following exercise.  Then you can use your next meal to refuel with some of the ingredients listed above.  

If you feel like you are doing all you can with your nutrition and hydration and still struggle to recover as quickly or fully as you used to, request to speak to one of our physical therapists who can give some additional tips and tricks.  Our goal is always to keep you in the game, on the court, at the starting line. . . or where ever life takes you!

Just click HERE to start that conversation today.