Foods for Faster Recovery
If the saying ‘your body is built’ in the kitchen is true, then the same can be said of your recovery. Although you might feel like comfort food on the sofa if you’ve overdone it in the gym and need to take some time out, the right diet can really help on your road to recovery, minimising soreness, aiding muscle repair and reducing inflammation. Whether you’re taking some enforced time out after an injury or are just looking to safeguard your strength after a particularly gruelling session, read on to find out what fuel can help you get back on your feet.
Any form of protein is an essential when it comes to helping your body repair faster because it contains such a rich source of amino acids. When you work out, you damage your muscles and tissues (even more so if you happen to go one further and injure yourself) which means you need amino acids in the form of protein to repair them. Protein also helps fight infection, balance fluids and carry oxygen through your body, making it a really important all-round recovery tool. Research shows that animal-based protein provides a broader range of amino acids than plant-based proteins, but you can still get your quota if you are vegetarian or vegan, you might just need to box clever when it comes to combining your sources. If you struggle to consume enough quantities of protein or need something quick and convenient, Workshop’s Organic Vanilla Pea Protein Formula is a dairy-free, vegan, easily digestible source.
While you might recognise stiffness and joint pain as regular post workout soreness, they’re actually signs that post-workout tissue inflammation is taking hold, and while inflammation is a natural and integral part of your body’s healing process, if it’s prolonged or exacerbated it can slow recovery right down and stop you from reaching your fitness goals long term. Citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables are rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the amount of inflammation present. Vitamin C is also responsible for stimulating collagen production which can help maintain proper bone, muscle and tendon health.
It might seem a little decadent to sit down to a plate of post-workout oysters, but this shellfish contains the highest levels of zinc (closely followed by red meat, nuts and poultry) a mineral that is essential for speeding up healing. As well as keeping the immune system ticking over (vital for recovery) and repairing muscle damage, zinc also plays an important part in muscle protein synthesis, helping cells to create protein too.
No recovery diet is complete without a good source of healthy carbs and sweet potatoes are about as good as they come. Brilliant for providing the energy cells to heal after injury, carbs are also important sources of enzymes like hexokinase and citrate synthase, which have shown to be important in wound healing. Sweet potatoes are another good source of anti-inflammatory vitamin C so consider them a (tasty) double threat.
As the cheese with the highest quota of calcium per serving (one ounce contains 33% of your RDA), parmesan is a great fortifying addition to your post recovery diet. Not only is calcium widely known for its ability to help heal bones, it’s also important when it comes to muscle contractions. If you can combine your calcium intake with a vitamin D supplement (or foods such as oily fish) then even better as vitamin D enhances the body’s absorption of calcium. If you’re dairy-free then other good sources of calcium include soy or almond milk or seeds such as sunflower seeds. Side-note: hard, aged cheeses like parmesan are lower in lactose so are easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance or issues.