By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
After a good workout, the food you choose to eat is crucial to your recovery and can mean the difference between success and failure. Eating healthy is fun and delicious, and a focus on muscle recovery foods will help you fight fatigue and keep your energy level up.
Recovering quickly after a workout isn’t just important so you can exercise more. A fast recovery minimizes soreness and makes it easier for you to enjoy your life. When you’re having fun and eating well, you’re also more likely to keep on top of your diet and exercise plans.
At the end of a good exercise routine, a low-sugar protein bar is an excellent way to get a jump on your recovery. But a snack is just the beginning. Keep reading to find out my favorite foods for post-workout snacks and meals.
Let’s explore these options.
Staying hydrated is the most important part of nutrition, and it will help you avoid cramps and muscle knots. Sports drinks, sodas, and other liquids are good, but nothing is as good as the original thirst buster. Water also tastes better when you’re working out, so skip the sugary and flavored drinks and rediscover how delicious water can be.
But don’t forget that salt is necessary for proper hydration, so pair your water with a healthy source of sodium.
Salmon is not just for grizzly bears. Chock full of omega 3 fatty acids and protein, salmon is one of the best meats you can eat, and it’s delicious, too. Salmon is so good for you that many nutritionists consider it a superfood, and it’s no wonder oily fishes are on the top of the list of lean protein foods.
The high level of protein and healthy fats found in nuts will help you recover without going overboard or feeling bloated. While peanuts aren’t real nuts, they are a really good muscle recovery food, so don’t forget to mix in some peanuts.
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of whey protein, with fewer carbs than a glass of milk. It is a great way to rebuild fatigued muscles and get you ready for your next strength training routine.
And cottage cheese pairs well with many other healthy and delicious foods. When you add cottage cheese to your diet, you are taking a big step on the fast track to health and wellness.
Potassium helps relieve cramps and sore muscles, and bananas are a powerhouse of nutrition. This is why bananas are a great natural food for muscle recovery. Bananas are delicious, too, and this may be why mothers have made them the most popular fruit in the world.
Eggs are a great food for muscle repair because they are one of the best sources for high-quality protein. The humble egg is rightly regarded as a superfood, but only if you eat the yolk, too. Don’t be afraid of the cholesterol unless you are under a doctor’s orders to limit your cholesterol intake. And eggs are so versatile you can eat them a different way every day for a month. You can even supplement your diet with egg protein powder.
Packed with antioxidants, blueberries are a delicious snack to boost your muscles through recovery. Combine multiple entries on this list of superfoods by adding blueberries to yogurt.
If you work your muscles to failure, chances are you have to deal with inflammation. Tart cherries are a great food for muscle soreness that will help you fight inflammation and reduce muscle pain. If you suffer from excessive joint pain or are focusing on muscle growth, you might want to consider collagen supplements for better results.
With 28 grams of protein per 3 oz serving, chicken is an amazing source of lean protein. It’s no wonder chicken is a favorite food for muscle growth.
Low in carbs and fat but high in protein, yogurt is a delicious way to replenish your energy and muscles at the end of a workout. Many probiotics are found in yogurt, so in addition to good macronutrients, yogurt can boost the good bacteria in your gut, too. Yogurt is versatile and can be used in many recipes, eaten plain, or mixed with berries, fruit, or nuts, making it an easy food to add to your existing diet.
Eating the right foods before and after a workout is a crucial part of your overall wellness, but it’s important to remember that everyone is different. The foods on this list are delicious and good for almost everyone (barring allergies). They are especially helpful for people who play sports or exercise hard and need a fast recovery time.
You can and should consult the best resources when you build or adjust your diet. There is no single plan that is right for everyone, so when it comes to nutrition it’s important to listen to your body. Notice how you feel after eating different foods and find the things that make you feel your absolute best. Only you can make the right decisions that will optimize your health.
I love exploring new foods. Good health and nutrition are probably as important to you as they are to me. No matter what you want for your long-term goals, ensuring your muscles recover fast will help you along your way.
How can you boost your workouts by changing the foods you eat? Review your diet today and see how easy it is to make positive change and improve your results.