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Nutrition for Recovery
After intense training sessions, what you eat really matters. Choosing the right foods can help replenish energy depleted in your muscles and liver, repair damaged muscle fibers, AND reduce inflammation throughout your body. Here are a few foods and tips to speed up your recovery.
Goals for Recovery
- Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat.
- Replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during exercise.
- Choose protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.
- Begin recovery by eating a snack (carbohydrate + protein) within 30 minutes of completing exercise, and eating a meal (carbohydrate + protein + fat) within 2 hours of completing exercise.
- Carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat.
- Monitor urine color—dark color indicates dehydration (may also be due to vitamins and/or foods ingested); lighter color indicates adequate hydration.
- Monitor sweat loss through change in body weight before and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
Top 10 Recovery Foods
- Tart Cherries—heals joint pain & muscle soreness.
- Coconut Water—restores fluid balance & potassium (an electrolyte lost in sweat).
- Blueberries—anti-inflammatory; quercetin improves endurance and recovery.
- Chia Seeds—omega-3 fats reduce inflammation & improve flexibility Salmon—vitamin D increases jump height, power, & strength.
- Kefir—boosts immunity with probiotics.
- Beets—nitrates increase blood flow & delay fatigue.
- Oranges—vitamin C supports collagen formation & joint health.
- Kale—vitamin A improves vision & skin.
- Ginger—anti-inflammatory that relieves muscle soreness & joint pain; improves digestion.
Recovery Snack and Meal Ideas
- Smoothie (kefir or whey protein + berries + tart cherry juice + dark leafy greens + ginger).
- Low-Fat Chocolate Milk + Protein Bar.
- Cottage Cheese or Greek Yogurt + Fresh Fruit + Chia Seeds.
- Salmon + Mashed Potatoes + Mixed Veggies.
- Burrito Bowl (brown rice + chicken + beans + cheese + salsa + avocado + lettuce).
- Stir Fry (lean meat + broccoli + bell pepper + carrots + brown rice),
- Turkey Sandwich + Salad
Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN
Trish Kellogg, MS, RDN, LDN