The 10 Best Foods for Recovery
When it comes to improving your athletic performance, the time you spend recovering is arguably just as important as the time you spend training. Nutrition plays a huge role. Making the right food choices can help you recover smarter and faster, getting you back under that barbell as soon as possible. What should you be eating? I'm glad you asked! Here are 10 of the best foods for recovery:
We all know how important protein is for recovery, but it shouldn't end with your post-workout shake. After training, make sure you eat a protein-rich meal within a couple of hours to maximise gains and help keep those DOMS at bay!
Do you suffer from post-workout muscle cramps? If you do, potassium deficiency could be to blame. It also plays an important role in protein synthesis from amino acids, helping your muscles repair themselves after training. Consider eating a banana with your post-workout shake to get the required dose of potassium, and fast-acting carbohydrates.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, and regularly top lists of the best foods to fight inflammation. This makes them the perfect food choice if you want to avoid DOMS in the days following your workout. Try using them to create your own recovery smoothie.
When you train, especially at a high-intensity or volume, you're likely to cause a certain degree of oxidative stress within your body. Reversing this cellular damage is key to recovery, and you can speed this up significantly by eating the right kind of foods. Curcumin, which is found in turmeric, has been consistently linked with the reduction of exercise-induced oxidative stress. Add some of this spice to your post-workout meals to cut your recovery time.
5. Coconut Oil
The general health benefits of coconut oil are now well-known, but it's also perfect for post-workout recovery and muscle growth. It's high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have been found to promote fat loss whilst protecting your hard-earned muscle mass. Coconut oil is extremely versatile - you can add some to pretty much any meal, smoothie or snack.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Whenever you do an intense WOD, your body's glycogen level will drop significantly. To recover effectively, you need some complex carbs in your post-workout meal to restore normal glycogen levels. Sweet potatoes are the perfect choice, as they're more nutrient-dense than many of the alternatives. They're also rich in antioxidants, which helps fight post-workout inflammation and prevent muscle soreness. If you're bored of sweet potato mash, check out these alternative recipes. You could even try some of our chocolate orange sweet potato brownies!
Eating dark cherries after your workout can also reduce muscle damage and prevent DOMS. Try to get your hands on some tart cherry juice for best results, which has been consistently shown to decrease inflammation following an intense training session. It has also been linked to improved sleep so, for best results, drink it as part of your evening routine.
Dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach and broccoli, are high in antioxidants and other nutrients that both reduce inflammation, and help your body recover quickly from training. They're also thought to have a hormonal effect, reducing estrogen to maximise muscle growth.
9. Oily Fish
Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, provide a decent hit of protein - as well as inflammation-busting Omega-3s. Try including fish as your post-workout protein source 2-3 times per week, for maximum benefit. Not a fish fan? Consider introducing a high-quality fish oil supplement instead.
If you want to get back into the gym as soon as possible, you should regularly add some ginger to your meals. Intense exercise can send your immune system into overdrive, as it tries to repair any muscle damage whilst still protecting your body from everyday threats. Research suggests that ginger may be one of the best foods to include in your recovery routine, as it fights inflammation and boosts your immunity. It's another versatile spice, and be added to juices, smoothies or stir-fries.