10 foods to improve your recovery
A lot of thought – and column inches – goes into advising athletes on their dietary requirements leading up to events, competitions and games. Not so much emphasis is placed on recovery.
While complete rest and a good night’s sleep are key to letting the body recover after the exertions of exercise, consuming the right food is also vital to speeding up the process and ensuring your muscles get the nutrients they need for repair.
You’ve put in a shift, and felt the burn – here’s what you should be eating to get yourself back to peak condition:
- Water – it goes without saying that rehydration is absolutely vital in the lead-up to competing, during your performance and also, afterwards too. Drinking water helps with muscle soreness and replaces lost fluids. Soups are a great way to hydrate while cramming in nutrient-packed vegetables with some lean meat (or fish) to get your protein quota.
- Research suggests that you should be squeezing some sour cherries into your post-workout diet. These superfoods, sometimes called ‘tart cherries’ have anti-inflammatory properties that help with muscle fatigue; even better, sour cherries boost melatonin, the sleep hormone, meaning you’ll sleep better too.
- Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and cod contain OMEGA-3, which is also another food that helps with muscle strain and fatigue, and is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Eggs with everything – an essential source of protein, eggs also have amino acids that help muscle repair and building.
- Almonds are another good fat source, containing OMEGA-6 fats, and eaten as part of your dietary plan not only help to relieve muscle repair but also if regularly eaten help to stave off more chronic muscle soreness. Walnuts and Brazil nuts are also rich in magnesium and zinc, which need to be replaced in your post-performance in-take.
- Ginger and Turmeric – both are considered to be superfoods in that they are excellent for the blood and help counter muscle soreness, with their anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sweet potatoes – containing heaps of beta-carotene, which helps the body make vitamin A, sweet potatoes are versatile, tasty and go a long way to help keep your body’s immune system strong.
- Pineapple has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing qualities – considered to be an essential food for those suffering from bruising, swelling and soreness.
- Bananas – high in potassium and with all the right kind of sugars to give you an energy boost after your performance, bananas are a must-have on your post-performance menu.
- Sunflower, Pumpkin and Chia seeds are all packed with magnesium, zinc and fibre to keep your blood healthy, fight muscle cramping and help your gut functioning. If you’re not incorporating these into your diet, now is the time to start.