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8 Best Foods for Muscle Recovery & Reducing Muscle Soreness

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8 Best Foods for Muscle Recovery & Reducing Muscle Soreness
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Muscle soreness is the most common complaint after a workout. It can be caused by overtraining or other injuries, but eating right is always advisable to repair your muscles and alleviate any pain you're experiencing. 

That's why we've compiled this list of foods that can help with muscle recovery and tips on how to consume them after exercise. This blog will look at what causes muscle soreness and how you can reduce it by focusing on your diet. 

What is Muscle Soreness?

Muscle soreness is a common symptom of exercise, and micro-tears in the muscle cause it. These tears heal within 24 hours, but they can leave you sore for up to one week after your workout.

Symptoms of muscle soreness include pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Treatment for muscle soreness typically includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications. In severe cases, physical therapy may be recommended. 

Prevention of muscle soreness includes warming up before exercise and cooling down afterward. Stretching regularly and staying hydrated. The good news is that some foods help reduce muscle soreness, so you don't have to worry about it as much as you think!

How Can Muscle Recovery Foods Help?

You may have heard that certain foods can help ease muscle soreness. But what exactly are muscle recovery foods? And what makes them so effective?

Just as muscles need the right fuel pre-workout to perform at their best, they also need the right nutrients post-workout to repair and grow. That's where muscle recovery foods come in. Eating the right foods after a workout can help reduce muscle soreness, improve energy levels, and promote repair and growth.

Muscle recovery foods are a great way to help your body recover from intense workouts and increase the effectiveness of any workout routine. These foods also provide the nutrients necessary for building lean muscle, allowing you to go hard at any fitness activity without feeling tired after each workout session.

Essential Nutrients for Muscle Recovery

While opting for the best foods for muscle recovery, you'll need to be aware of essential nutrients that play an integral role in muscle recovery. Some essential nutrients for muscle recovery include:

Protein

It is essential for muscle growth and repair. Consuming adequate protein after exercise can help promote muscle recovery. Protein sources include chicken, fish, beef, tofu, and eggs.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are another important nutrient for muscle recovery. They help replenish glycogen stores, which are depleted during exercise. Good sources of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation can delay muscle recovery and lead to soreness. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines.

Antioxidants

They help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cell damage and contribute to inflammation. Good sources of antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, green tea, and dark chocolate.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for bone health. It can also help to reduce inflammation and promote muscle contraction. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, and almonds. 

8 Best Foods for Faster Muscle Recovery

Now that we know healthy nutrients that help muscle recovery let's look at foods packed with these essential nutrients. Here's a list of the 8 best foods that will help your muscle recover faster and ease muscle soreness:

1. Chia Seeds

They are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Chia seeds are a good choice for muscle recovery because they contain all the nutrients your muscles need to heal and grow. They are also easy to digest and absorb, making them a good choice for athletes looking for quick energy and muscle repair.

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is another great food for muscle recovery. It is high in protein and carbohydrates and contains probiotics that help promote gut health. Yogurt is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

3. Eggs

Eggs are considered one of the protein sources  that help in muscle recovery. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is important for liver health. Eggs are a low-fat, high-protein food that is easy to digest.

4. Lean Meat

Lean meat contains a good amount of protein for muscle recovery. It is also a good source of zinc and iron, which are important for muscle health. Lean meat is a healthy source of low-fat and cholesterol protein. It is also easy to digest and provides plenty of energy for athletes.

5. Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and carbohydrates. It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Quinoa is an all-around healthy food that provides plenty of nutrients for athletes. It is especially beneficial for those looking to build lean muscle mass.

6. Wild Rice

It is another grain high in protein and carbohydrates. It is also rich in minerals, including zinc and magnesium. Wild rice is healthy for athletes who want to recover quickly from a tough workout.

7. Blueberries

Blueberries have been shown to increase the rate of muscle recovery. Blueberries are a superfood high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are especially beneficial for athletes because they help reduce inflammation after a strenuous workout. 

Blueberries are also easy to digest and provide plenty of energy for athletes looking to recover quickly from a workout session.

8. Whey Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a great way to refuel your muscles after a workout. They are high in protein and carbohydrates and contain all the nutrients your muscles need to heal and grow. 

Whey protein shakes are easy to digest and absorb, making them a good choice for athletes looking for quick energy and muscle repair.

Foods & Drinks You Must Avoid During Muscle Soreness

When you're dealing with muscle soreness, there are a few things you should avoid.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can cause muscle soreness by irritating the lining of the stomach and intestines. It can lead to inflammation and pain in the muscles.

Processed Meats

Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli are high in sodium and other additives that can cause muscle soreness. These meats can also be difficult to digest, further contributing to muscle pain.

Alcohol

It can dehydrate the body and lead to electrolyte imbalances, contributing to muscle soreness. Additionally, alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to repair damaged muscles, leading to further pain and discomfort.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it helps expel water from the body. It can lead to dehydration, which can then contribute to muscle soreness. Make sure you avoid caffeine and stay hydrated.

Can Fruits Help Reduce Muscle Soreness?

Fruits are not only a great source of protein, but they can also help relieve muscle soreness. As any athlete knows, muscle soreness can be a real drag and often impede workout performance.

However, certain fruits contain compounds that can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. For example, tart cherries are a natural source of anti-inflammatory compounds called anthocyanins. 

Pineapples are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to the enzyme bromelain. In addition, kiwis contain high levels of vitamin C, essential for collagen production and tissue repair.

So next time you're feeling sore, reach for a healthy snack of fruits. Your muscles will thank you.

FAQs

1. What helps muscle recovery fast?

Muscle recovers fast when it's given the right nutrients and when it's allowed to rest.

Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, so eating a protein-rich diet is key for recovering quickly. Carbs are also important, as they help your body replenish energy stores that are used up during a workout. 

Finally, getting enough sleep is crucial for your muscles to recover properly. So make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of rest each night!

2. How long do muscles need to recover?

There is no one answer to this question, as the amount of time required for muscles to recover will vary from person to person. However, most athletes need at least 24-48 hours to allow their muscles to recover from a tough workout session fully.

3. What do muscles need to recover?

Muscles need protein, carbohydrates, and omega-3 fatty acids to recover. These nutrients can be found in chia seeds, yogurt, eggs, lean meat, quinoa, wild rice, blueberries, and whey protein shakes.

4. Do muscles ever fully heal?

Muscles usually heal partially only. When a muscle is damaged, it goes through a healing process that removes and replaces the damaged tissue with new tissue. This process is called regeneration.

However, not all of the cells in a muscle regenerate. As a result, some muscles can never return to their original strength or size. So over time, there is usually some improvement in function, although some scar tissue will always remain. Therefore, complete healing of muscle is not always possible.

The Bottom Line

If you've ever trained hard, you'll know how difficult it is to sleep at night. Muscle soreness can be debilitating, and if you don't provide your body with the right resources, it will take longer for your muscles to recover. Fortunately, there are some simple ways that you can speed up muscle recovery when you feel sore, including eating a well-balanced diet. It’s worth incorporating these foods into your diet if you often experience muscle soreness, especially after a strenuous workout.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Applegate, Elizabeth. “Introduction: Nutritional and Functional Roles of Eggs in the Diet.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 19, no. sup5, Oct. 2000, pp. 495S-498S. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2000.10718971.
  • Bhinder, Seerat, et al. “Impact of Germination on Phenolic Composition, Antioxidant Properties, Antinutritional Factors, Mineral Content and Maillard Reaction Products of Malted Quinoa Flour.” Food Chemistry, vol. 346, June 2021, p. 128915. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.128915.
  • Grancieri, Mariana, et al. “Chia Seed ( Salvia Hispanica L.) as a Source of Proteins and Bioactive Peptides with Health Benefits: A Review: Bioactive Peptides in Chia Seed….” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, vol. 18, no. 2, Mar. 2019, pp. 480–99. DOI.org (Crossref), https://doi.org/10.1111/1541-4337.12423.
  • Han, Shu-Fen, et al. “Protective Potentials of Wild Rice (Zizania Latifolia (Griseb) Turcz) against Obesity and Lipotoxicity Induced by a High-Fat/Cholesterol Diet in Rats.” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 50, no. 7, July 2012, pp. 2263–69. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.04.039.
  • McKinlay, Brandon J., et al. “Intensified Training in Adolescent Female Athletes: A Crossover Study of Greek Yogurt Effects on Indices of Recovery.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 19, no. 1, Dec. 2022, pp. 17–33. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, https://doi.org/10.1080/15502783.2022.2044732.
  • McLeay, Yanita, et al. “Effect of New Zealand Blueberry Consumption on Recovery from Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 9, no. 1, Feb. 2012, p. 19. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-19.

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