Who hasn’t experienced muscle soreness after an intensive workout in the gym? DOMS, or delayed onset of muscle soreness, can be unbearable, yet somewhat rewarding. It can make walking up and down the stairs or sitting down and up on a chair without aid impossible. Yet, it is the one pain and soreness we deem to be on the positive side as it means we are working out in the gym effectively. However, ignoring DOMS may lead to long-term injuries. We should not only allow our muscles to repair itself, but also help it to recover fully and pretty quickly! So what do we need to do to hasten muscle repair and recovery so we can go back to training effectively without sustaining long-term injuries?
Proper Supplementation For Faster Muscle Repair and Recovery
In my blog “Do women really need to take Supplements?” I discussed the need and importance of taking supplements for women. I discussed its importance to our body as we strive to reach our fitness goals, and also shared a list of my top recommended supplements for faster muscle repair and recovery. Some of my favorites that I feel will work best are BCAAs, ZMA, CLA, Fish Oils, Casein Protein, Whey and Calcium Magnesium. (Do read the blog to find out how our body will benefit from these supplements) Keep in mind, however, that proper supplementation should go hand in hand with a proper nutrition.
Recovery Foods For Faster Muscle Repair and Recovery
I cannot reiterate enough the importance of having a proper and well-balanced diet, not only for a healthier body but also to aid us in recovery as well. Nature provides us with a beautiful array of delicious and nutritious treats that not only serves as fuel to our body for energy but also as recovery foods for faster muscle repair and recovery.
Here are my 8 favorite recovery foods:
A popular stimulant mostly used to boost productivity and enhance performance in sports. Whether caffeine really makes any difference to the speed of muscle recovery is still being debated. However, a recent study showed that taking a high in carb meal with caffeine after a workout is more beneficial that just eating plain carbs. Caffeine, taken with a high-carb meal after a workout, is believed to boost our body’s sugar uptake, which in turn refuels the depleted muscles.
Studies have shown that blueberries can reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). These tiny, delicious, dark-colored super-fruits are bursting with nutrients and assist too with eliminating waste from our body! The blueberry, however, isn’t the only belle of the ball! Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cherries all shine brightly as a delicious recovery food.
Leafy Green Vegetables:
Leafy green (spinach, kale, bok choy, chard) and cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) veggies are the powerhouses of veg when it comes to muscle repair and recovery and speeding up metabolism. There is a rainbow of nutrients in these little green giants. They have properties that not only reduce inflammation but also lower the stress hormone, cortisol, after a training session. They are low-glycemic as well (which means sugar levels will remain steady)!
It is a known fact that protein aids muscle repair and recovery. Although whole proteins (meat/eggs/fish) take longer to metabolize, protein is essential for muscle synthesis and repair. Eggs are the perfect protein source and have the essential amino acids that assist with muscle building. Like the leafy green vegetable, it reduces inflammation and a good source of antioxidants. There has been a lifelong debate about whether eggs should be eaten whole or without the yolk! I’ll leave it to you to decide, but definitely, it is one of my most favorite recovery foods!
Oily fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Cod, Sardines):
The Omega-3 fats, EPA, and DHA found in oily fish, is one of the most natural ocean wonders of the nutritional world for me. Omega-3 fats have been shown to increase blood flow to muscles during exercise which causes a significant decrease in muscle soreness. It is also known to reduce swelling and lubricate joints which increase the range of movement. If you are not so fond of oily fish in your diet, there are fish oil capsules available – a widely used supplement known to aid muscle repair, improve brain function, and
reduce joint inflammation.
RAW WHOLE ALMONDS OR NUT BUTTER:
Almonds contain the Omega-6 fat known to aid recovery and speed up recovery time. It is also high in vitamin E and B – both of which are essential for energy metabolism. Two other nutty heroes are walnuts, known to assist in alleviating muscle fatigue and Brazil nuts which contain the minerals magnesium & zinc, great for recovery. A handful of these nuts after training will aid in faster muscle repair and recovery and give you improved energy levels.
As an alternative, there are also different kinds of nut butters, a delicious and perfect recovery food. Grab a bottle or two from your local health store to keep in your pantry. There are many cheaper options available but they are mostly laden with sugar, salt, and the dreaded hydrogenated oil which plays havoc with your body and moods. Do make sure you check the ingredients and always opt for a nut butter that contains raw nuts and nothing else.
Natural butter is always the best! However, take it easy on the amount you have per day – a handful as a snack or a teaspoon of nut butter is enough! Although a good fat, do not consume the whole packet or jar, as too much of it becomes unwanted fats!
A fully functioning digestive system is crucial for regulating your metabolism and muscle recovery. Your digestive tract is responsible for absorbing essential nutrients that aid with tissue repair, removing waste from the body, reducing inflammation, and in turn boosting immunity. So when the opposite is happening and your gut is not happy, it has a domino effect on the efficiency of muscle repair and recovery and eventually impacts on your health. Fermented foods (probiotics) will sort any gut issues out almost immediately and is a great recovery food! Sources of probiotics are a good quality full-fat plain yogurt, fermented milk, kefir, pickled ginger, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These all are delicious additions to your meals.
Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger:
Cinnamon is an incredible spice and is widely underestimated. The essential oils are known to kill E. coli, the bacteria responsible for foodborne illness. It has superb antioxidant abilities and adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon to your diet every day will have positive effects on muscle recovery, digestion, and your immunity. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease muscle aches and pains. Turmeric, this yellow spice seasoning has been used for centuries in Indian cultures as an immune booster to stave off illness. Curcumin, the compound that makes turmeric yellow, assists with fighting flu symptoms. All of these power spices do come in a capsule form and can be used as an additional supplement for muscle repair.
So there you have it! My top 8 recovery foods that I know will change the way you train but most importantly, how quickly your body recovers!
Check out my Recipe Guides, with up to 100+ pages of delicious and nutritious dishes, which include meals personally prepared by myself!