Our main goal is to always get the most out of our workouts, and a big part of this comes down to our muscle recovery. A key factor in this is are we eating the things that we need to eat in order to get optimal recovery from our muscles, Most people think that by eating protein they are doing all they need to do to help their muscles recover. While eating protein does help our muscles recover, there are also specific types of foods that we can eat that will also help optimize our muscle recovery. Try adding these 10 foods below into your diet to aid not only muscle recovery, but also in overall health.
Cottage cheese contains both whey and casein proteins. Whey protein is a quick acting protein that is good for quickly replenishing muscles after a workout. Whereas casein protein is a slower acting protein that is good for continuing to allow your muscles to recover over a longer period of time, even when you sleep! Not only that, but cottage cheese is also packed with live cultures (good bacteria) that help break down and absorb nutrients in the body.
As we found out a few weeks ago, sweet potatoes are considered to be a super food so it should come as no surprise that they help us with muscle recovery. Sweet potatoes help to replenish our glycogen stores that were depleted during our workout, and actually help lessen the drop in our immune system that can occur after intense exercise. In addition to replenishing our glycogen stores, sweet potatoes also provide us with many other benefits seeing as they contain vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene, and vitamin C.
Watermelon is probably one of the last things people would think about when it comes to foods that help us with muscle recovery. However, watermelon contains a lot of vitamin C which helps to reduce inflammation. In addition to the vitamin C, watermelon also contains vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium. All of these make watermelon a good go to food when we find ourselves feeling overly sore. It is also made up of 92% water, which makes it a really good source of hydration.
Salmon is a food that is high in protein, so it also makes sense that it is a food that helps with muscle recovery. Along with being high in protein salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamin B, potassium, and selenium. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are known to help reduce the exercise-induced damage which causes inflammation, the potassium helps reproduce electrolytes that were lost, and of course the protein helps to aid and rebuild muscles.
This is another food that is commonly thought of when people think of food for muscle recovery. Eggs are a food that is high in protein, so by consuming them after a workout we are helping give our body the amino acids that it needs to repair itself after a workout. It has actually been found that the nutrients that are found in egg yolk, such as healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, allows your worn out muscles to use the protein found in the egg whites more efficiently, as opposed to if you just consumed egg whites by themselves.
I know spinach isn’t always the most appealing food, but it provides us with so many benefits nutritionally that it’s hard to pass up. Spinach is another one of our superfoods that is full of many beneficial nutrients. It contains antioxidants that help to fight off serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, and also helps us quickly rebound from strenuous exercise. In addition to that, spinach is also packed with magnesium which helps us maintain normal muscle and nerve function, and can even help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The magnesium and potassium together can also help us replenish our electrolytes after a workout.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds offer us a variety of options and are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids help to fight inflammation in our muscles, as well as help improve our bone and joint health. In addition to offering us omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds also give us protein to help us with muscle recovery, and has zinc to help boost our immune system. These make for a great snack to throw in our gym back for a post workout snack full of benefits for us!
Once again, this isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of muscle recovery. However, green tea is packed with catechink, which is a natural antioxidant, that helps prevent and reduce the cell damage that is caused by exercise. This makes green tea an ideal pre- or post-workout drink, seeing as it also helps you stay hydrated.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries provide us with numerous benefits when it comes to muscle recovery. Tart cherry juice has been found to help minimize post-workout muscle pain, help limit delay time to fatigue, and promote overall muscle recovery. Tart cherry juice is great for recovery for both runners and weightlifters, which makes it that much better for us CrossFitters! Finally, tart cherry juice has also been found to lower the systolic blood pressure 90 minutes after exercise as compared to those who didn’t have it.
Turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory go-to food, which makes it great for recovering muscles. It has actually been found to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness which is what causes us to be sore 1-2 days after our workout. Turmeric helps by easing the pain and swelling by blocking the pro-inflammatory enzymes and is the reason we feel less pain when we consume turmeric.
So as you can see, protein is still going to be a good source for muscle recovery however, if we start adding some of these foods into our diet not only will we get the benefits of general muscle recovery, but we will also get several added benefits. These benefits will ultimately help us get the most out of our workouts because they will leave our bodies with the nutrition they need to run properly.
Schedule a call with one of our coaches today to talk more about your health and fitness goals!