Nutrition can be the fuel or downfall of your progress. The thought in many people’s head is that they can eat whatever they want after a workout. But, there are certain foods that will propel your progress and other foods that will come between you and your goals. Here are the 5 best and the 5 worst foods for muscle recovery.
Best Foods for Muscle Recovery
Below are the best foods to assist in post workout muscle recovery. The key is to make sure you have a combination of protein, healthy fats, and quality carbs for the best results.
- Eggs: Protein has one of the biggest effects on muscle repair. This nutrient helps rebuild damaged muscle fibers so muscles can grow stronger and be ready to go for the next workout. Eggs are a great choice for muscle recovery because of their high protein content. Their yolks also contain healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that support muscle growth.
- Sweet Potatoes: Workouts can deplete glycogen stores so it’s important to consume carbs afterwards to rebuild those stores. Sweet potatoes are a quality carb that are full of potassium. They also provide nutrients that help boost immunity post workout. Other quality carbs include oatmeal and fruit.
- Salmon: Not only is salmon one of the best foods for muscle recovery because of its high protein content, but its Omega 3 fats and potassium also make it a top pick. Studies have shown that Omega 3 fats can increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce inflammation in the body. Salmon’s high levels of potassium help to replace electrolytes that are lost during your workout.
- Blueberries: Fruit is a fast-acting carb that is able to quickly replace diminished glycogen levels and create an insulin spike. Blueberries are full of antioxidants which will help prevent free radical damage in your body.
- Spinach: Heavy sweating and dehydration causes a decrease in your body’s electrolytes. Spinach is rich in potassium and magnesium, which are key electrolytes that the body needs to recover. Keeping your potassium levels at a healthy level will help to prevent muscle cramps.
Worst Foods for Muscle Recovery
After a workout, the goal is to repair damaged muscle, rebuild energy stores, and reduce the amount of fat your body stores. The foods below have the opposite effect and should be avoided.
- Fast food: Fast food tends to be high in calories, fat, and sodium and deficient in essential recovery nutrients. This can cancel out gains made during your workouts and slow down your digestion.
- Donuts: These breakfast treats seriously lack key nutrients needed for muscle recovery. They have no protein and are high in refined sugar and carbs. The fat they do have is not the beneficial kind you would get from eggs or nuts.
- Sugary Drinks: Drinking too much sugar after a workout will actually decrease your metabolism. While some sugar after a workout will help quickly restore your energy levels, you don’t want to consume too much. Anything that your body doesn’t use will turn into fat. Be sure to limit refined sugar and instead consume unrefined sugar from sources like fruit.
- Salty Snacks: Even though we lose electrolytes while working out, minerals like potassium and magnesium are the more important electrolytes the body needs to recover. Sodium lowers potassium levels and we tend to get enough salt already in the American diet.
- Alcohol: Having one drink may not seem like a big deal, but drinking right after a workout will dehydrate you and reduce protein synthesis. Plus, alcohol is full of empty calories that can sabotage your progress.
Muscle recovery is a key component of working out. If your body isn’t able to repair itself from workout damage it will start to break down and your chance of injury increases. Performance is another factor that’s negatively affected. You won’t be able to give your best or feel very good when your body isn’t able to recover. Using active recovery techniques, like the Marc Pro, are proven to be the most effective technique to get your body back to homeostasis. Nutrition is an important piece of the puzzle, but most people who train regularly need additional recovery strategies as well.
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