Every athlete loves to get into an intense workout, but no one likes the recovery period afterward. Instead of just dealing with the soreness and waiting for your body to recover on its own, here are seven foods you can eat that will help speed up the recovery process and get back in the weight room quicker.
One of the main reasons athletes get sore after workouts is because of the inflammation that occurs. Beetroot contains nitrate and phenolic acids, both of which contain anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the recovery process.
In a study done by the University of Northumbria, participants who ingested beetroot juice reported less muscle soreness and performed better in athletic examinations than those who took a placebo in the days following their intense workouts.
Beetroot can be cooked in almost any way but is most commonly baked or boiled. However, many choose to drink it as a juice, mixing the beetroot with carrots, lemon, and ginger.
Watermelon isn’t just for those hot summer get-togethers with family and friends anymore – it can also become a staple of your post workout diet. Watermelon will help supply you with Glycogen, which your muscle cells burn through during aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Aside from boosting depleted Glycogen levels, Watermelon is high in – you guessed it – water, making it perfect for rehydration. Watermelons also contain essential electrolytes that you lose while sweating.
The best time to eat (or drink) your watermelon is immediately following your workout. There is a two-hour window in which your body absorbs carbohydrates over twice as fast as it does in periods not following exercise, so not only will you get to enjoy the great sweet taste of Watermelon, but you will get to do so knowing that it is speeding up your recovery process. That’s the definition of a win-win.
3. Cottage Cheese
When you go through an intense workout, especially one that involves weight lifting, developing small lesions on the muscles is common. Enter cottage cheese, which is not only high in water content (at 79%) but also in protein, which helps the body rebuild the damaged areas of the muscles.
Cottage Cheese is an even better post-workout food if you happen to exercise before going to bed due to the high levels of casein and whey protein it contains, which means you will be building muscle all throughout the night.
This probably comes as no surprise. Foods that are high in protein and low in fat are almost always going to be ideal foods to help you recover after a strenuous workout. Almost all fish fit those criteria. Some of the more popular fish used for post-workout meals are cod, tilapia, and, of course, salmon.
Salmon, for example, contains Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, dietary cholesterol, B Vitamins, Zinc, and Selenium, and is known to boost testosterone. The versatility of fish is a major benefit as it will acquire the taste of your seasonings fairly simply, allowing you to perfectly customize your recovery meal taste.
BONUS TIP: If you are feeling adventurous you could step outside your comfort zone and try some Octopus. Yes – octopus. Just one three-ounce serving of the tentacled creature contains a whopping 25 grams of protein in a three-ounce portion.
It’s pronounced “keen-wah”, not “quin-o-uh”. You’re welcome for the avoidance of any future embarrassment. Regardless of how you pronounce it, however, quinoa is exactly the type of food you need to be eating after an intense workout. Quinoa has even been dubbed a “super crop” by the UN because of its health benefits.
Quinoa is amazingly high in amino acids while also containing more calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium than barely, corn, or wheat. It is also one of the few plant foods on earth that is considered a complete protein, and even though it is not technically considered a grain, it still counts as a whole grain food. In other words, the perfect food to help your body recover after you pushed it to the max.
One of the best parts about having quinoa after a workout is the fact that it can be prepared in as little as 15 minutes, giving you extra time to work out.
Don’t let a hard workout set you back because of the soreness that follows. Make sure you are doing everything in your power to give your body the correct fuel it needs to repair itself. Start with the seven foods listed above and you will be well on your way to continued intense workouts and achieving your fitness goals.