There is nothing like that feeling of satisfaction you get after a tough gym session. You know you “killed it” during that workout but as you slowly walk home, you know something else is on the way too – muscle soreness. Muscle soreness that is fitness-related is so common it has a name: delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS is usually the result of a heavy work out or training session and is caused by overexerting yourself. While a little soreness can be a good thing – you worked hard and hit new levels of athleticism or strength – it can also get quite severe resulting in extreme pain that may hinder your muscle recovery.
A lot of people have this misconception that recovery is too complex, or they simply don’t make time for it. They think of long, uncomfortable ice baths and massages that they can’t afford, or ibuprofen and other NSAIDs that actually have side effects.
In fact, the best way to accelerate recovery and kick out muscle soreness is with food. By applying simple, practical and delicious nutrition strategies, you can replenish multiple systems in the body that get worn out during training. Here are eight foods that will take care of your sore muscles.
Eggs are almost the perfect food. They can be prepared in a million ways and they are easy and portable. Moreover, each serving is packed with protein and a variety of other nutrients. The protein that comes from eggs is quite unique as it is well suited to fight muscle soreness and promote muscle growth. A single egg has about 6 grams of protein containing all the essential amino acids. There are also vital minerals and vitamins such as A, E and K.
A fast and easy way of preparing them is to hard boil, and then allow them to cool for a few minutes, after which you can peel them. Eat them as a snack or part of a meal.
Tuna is a protein and a healthy fat, both of which play a crucial role in repairing as well as rebuilding muscles. Each serving of tuna has high amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation and boost the flow of blood to muscles during and after training. This helps in reducing swelling and soreness in the muscles.
Take a double serving of tuna or salmon during dinner. Store the remainder by covering it with a leafy green salad with berries and pistachios to be taken as lunch the following day.
Brown rice is not white rice, and the difference between the two is not just color. Brown rice is a superfood which is in the category of the world’s healthiest foods. Whole grain rice has several layers, which when removed result in an unnecessary waste of nutrients. In brown rice, only the outer layer called the “hull” is removed.
Now brown rice is an excellent source of many important nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorous and selenium. Our focus here will be magnesium which helps to eliminate muscle soreness, spasms, cramps, tension and fatigue. On top of that, it reduces the risk of heart attack, asthma and strengthens the bones. Brown rice protein is just as effective as whey protein for muscle growth and recovery, if not better.
After a heavy workout, make a point of taking a glass of cherry juice. This might sound a bit odd if you are doing serious workouts, but cherries are rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In 2006, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that athletes who drank cherry juice after training experienced less discomfort and muscle soreness in the subsequent days following the workout.
Look for cherry juice which doesn’t have added sugar if you want to get the maximum benefits from this recovery staple.
By now you probably know that meat is not the only good source of protein. Quinoa is an ancient grain which has a high concentration of protein, fiber and many other essential amino acids which promote the growth of muscles. The reason why quinoa is special is because it has all the nine essential amino acids, unlike most grains. These amino acids help to relieve muscle weakness, cramps and soreness. Brown rice listed above contains lots of protein, but quinoa comes out on top when it comes to protein concentration per cup. People who suffer from chronic muscle pain and cramps probably have a magnesium deficiency so consuming more of this grain will rectify the situation.
If you want to achieve your fitness goals in the gym, then you have to become a breast man. Naturally, exercise is hard work. A good athlete should therefore know how to navigate successfully the cycle of stress, recovery and growth. One proven way of accelerating this cycle is to eat the right quantity of food at the right time. So why are chicken breasts so important at relieving muscle soreness? They are loaded with lean protein and other important nutrients, making it one of the most important foods for body builders. Chicken breast is rich in niacin, vitamin B6, iron, selenium and zinc and these nutrients go a long way in boosting your recovery within a short time.
Proteins are not the only foods that aid muscle recovery. Carbohydrates are also important as they ensure the muscles have enough energy for an intense workout. After the session, your body will break down its protein stores if it doesn’t have enough energy. This is why oatmeal is an important recovery food because it provides the body with slow-burning, longer-lasting energy.
Oatmeal is more than a complex carbohydrate: it also contains a lot of protein (11g per cup) as well as iron and niacin. The B-vitamins found in oatmeal are instrumental in converting carbohydrates into energy and helping the body to utilize protein effectively leading to faster recovery from muscle tenderness.
Whole-wheat toast or English muffin
Eating the right food after a workout is very important as it directly impacts on your muscles which will be begging for the right nutrients for repair and growth. Whole meal toast is a very healthy form of carbohydrate which contains fiber, protein and other essential nutrients which encourage muscle repair and reduce tenderness and soreness. To make it a proper post-workout meal, add a bowl of brown rice or quinoa and you will be good to go.
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