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Five Top Foods for Muscle Recovery

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We all know the importance of scheduling rest days into our fitness routine. We prioritize recovery with foam rolling, stretching, staying hydrated, and getting regular massages. But what many may not know is that food plays a crucial role too.

Research from The ACE Scientific Advisory Panel reports on the importance of post-exercise muscle recovery in conjunction with nutritional related strategies. Whether you’re new to training or a top athlete, you can eat to help support muscle recovery and repair, and reduce inflammation within the body. 

The good news—this includes eating the healthy foods you probably already love! Here are five foods to start speeding up your recovery process.

SALMON 

Salmon is a recovery superfood. It’s packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce muscle tissue inflammation which is vital post workout or when recovering from an injury. Salmon also has a high protein content which helps to rebuild any damaged connective tissue. 

Try to buy wild or organic salmon whenever possible. There are a number of great recipes you can make such as Keri’s Dijon Salmon or Smoked Salmon Toast.

QUINOA 

Quinoa is a powerhouse for protein and fiber alike, and can be a quick and easy option to add to any meal. This seed, yes it’s a seed,  contains 8 grams of protein per cup cooked, and is considered a complete protein since it has all nine essential amino acids. It also has a high lysine content which helps to repair muscle tissue.

We love adding quinoa to our salads, or you can try this Quinoa Stuffed Pepper.

Pro Tip: Add a vegetable stock cube to the quinoa when boiling in the pan to give it an extra boost of flavor. 

CHERRIES 

Cherries are rich in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation in the body which is key to muscle recovery. An added bonus…they also contain high levels of melatonin, the hormone that naturally regulates your sleep cycle. Sleep allows for the repair of muscle tissue damage which is a vital component to any injury recovery plan.  

Not a fan of cherries, blueberries are a great alternative as they have similar vitamins and nutrients.

SWEET POTATOES 

Sweet potatoes supply your body with glucose, which helps to provide us with the energy needed to go for a run, dance class, or yoga session. Any glucose that isn’t used up is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. This extra storage is essential post workout so you don’t reach a glycogen depletion. The lower the level of glycogen stored in your body, the more it will affect the level and duration of your performance. So not enough of that healthy glucose could mean a bad workout.

Sweet potatoes are also high in beta carotene which can aid in strengthening the immune system, helps with inflammation and fight off infections.

To get the most nutrients, keep the skin on the sweet potatoes, and steam or boil them to preserve the slow-release carbohydrates. Here are seventeen recipes to add to your weekly menu.

GREEN TEA 

Green tea is an excellent source of  antioxidants which helps to protect and reduce cell damage. It is rich in polyphenols, natural compounds that have health benefits like reducing inflammation, and are associated with higher bone mineral density in older adults if regularly consumed. 

Try to switch up your afternoon coffee for a comforting cup of green tea, or mix it up with some Green Tea Yogurt.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

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