Many people put a lot of effort into their workouts to achieve their goal of building muscle as they lose weight. However, intense workouts could lead to post-exercise soreness. Proper attention to post-workout meals can prevent muscle soreness, improve immune system functioning, and build glycogen stores, which are all key building blocks in preparing for future workouts.
Consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before. Certain muscle recovery foods boast specific nutrient profiles which lessen next-day soreness. One expert recommends aiming for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, since protein is best absorbed with a “carbohydrate co-transporter” (www.health.com). In addition helping to rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores, getting the right nutrients after exercise can stimulate growth of new muscle. Here are 12 muscle recovery food options that can boost strength, speed post-workout recovery, and get you back to the gym faster:
- Berries: Blueberries and raspberries have higher antioxidant content than other members of the berry family. They can help your muscles repair themselves after workouts, reduce inflammation, and prevent free radical damage to the cells.
- Eggs: Eggs are rich in protein and an essential building block for muscles. Including eggs in your post-workout nutrition can fight inflammation and support healthy muscle development. Eggs are an important source of leucine which is associated with muscle recovery.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is quick and easy to prepare. It provides a complex carbohydrate source, which will help replenish exhausted muscles and work along with the protein to aid in muscle growth and recovery.
- Watermelon: This juicy fruit has energetic amino acids, l-citrulline, which can calm painful, tender muscles. Moreover, the natural sugars present in watermelon will also supply protein content into the muscles and refill their low glycogen stores. This high water content fruit also helps prevent dehydration and muscle-cramping.
- Bananas: Loaded with both carbohydrates and potassium – two muscle-friendly post-workout nutrients – bananas replenish carbohydrates burned for fuel during exercise, along with potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat.
- Spinach: Along with other cruciferous vegetables, spinach is rich in Vitamins A B, and C. This nutrient packed muscle recovery food helps stave off inflammation. This antioxidant super food fights free radicals in your body, helps you quickly rebound from strenuous exercise, and also reduces risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds have all nine essential amino acids, making this food a great option for muscle recovery after strenuous exercise.
- Green tea: A rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea helps regulate oxidative damage that occurs during training as well as due to lifestyle reasons. According to Health, a study found that men who supplemented with 500mg of green tea extract reduced markers of muscle damage caused by exercise.
- Taro Root: This starchy root vegetable is a great source of carbohydrates and fiber. Experts recommend pairing it with a protein to make it an ideal post-workout meal. This recovery meal can provide the raw materials you need to heal from the wear-and-tear that exercise puts on the body, and make you strong and fit.
- Meat and Fish: Workouts can lead to muscle tearing that can be restored only with proper protein. Meat and fish, especially beef, chicken, and fish, are packed with protein. But keep in mind that meat and fish have higher fat content which means higher calories, which could work against you if you are trying to lose weight.
- Cottage Cheese: With two different kinds of protein, casein and whey, cottage cheese is packed with live cultures (good bacteria) that help break down and absorb nutrients. The whey protein helps in replenishing muscles speedily after training while the case in protein is a slow-acting one that makes cottage cheese a perfect snack.
- Turmeric: A powerful food recognized for its injury and wound healing properties, turmeric is called the “golden spice”. Curcumin, an active ingredient found in turmeric, can reduce the pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness and improve recovery of muscular performance.