Having a great workout is killer, as it does the body some good and can make us feel awesome. However, experiencing muscle soreness after a workout can really suck. Thus, it's important to eat the right foods that can boost recovery and make us feel more relaxed and agile, so that we can do a workout all over again the next day and get through life's mundane, physical tasks.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on enjoying fitness and enhancing their quality of life through powerful, exciting activities and healthy behavioral patterns, such as finding high-quality and nutritious foods and paying attention to their bodily needs and providing them with rest, love, and respect on a daily basis. Getting in a workout is always awesome, but the aftermath can be brutal if you experience soreness and pain that just won't seem to go away. Instead of getting worried or pushing through, eating certain foods can help alleviate the symptoms and get you back to feeling better. Here are eleven nutritious and beneficial foods to eat when you are sore, according to some great experts who know just how important a working body really is for our health long-term.
According to certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness and Nutrition, "Berries help reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)," and can help speed recovery. Berries make our bodies feel stronger, happier and less tense overall. Because they contain natural sugars, they can also provide us with the energy to follow through on subsequent workouts and daily activities.
But the benefits don't stop there. According to Web MD, berries contain antioxidants and can include vitamins A, C, and E, which help protect cells from disease. They also have resveratrol, a component also found in chocolate and red wine which can lower inflammation, and protect against cancer.
Not only do spices and seasonings add awesome flavor to our dishes, but they also boast a bunch of other healthy qualities. Bruno says that turmeric is anti-inflammatory, which can ease stress and bloating in the body to make our hearts, muscles and brains feel relaxed. This gives us that extra push we need to power through our basic movements and tough workouts, Bruno says.
Thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin, turmeric has potential healing properties. A 2009 study found that in patients who had arthritis, turmeric was even able to help their pain just as much as ibuprofen.
Nothing beats an egg (pun intended). It's delicious, it's versatile, and you can eat it at any point of the day. Making an omelet after a tough morning workout (packed with some veggies and lean protein for additional health points), or eating hard broiled eggs as a snack mid-day can ease muscle soreness and give you enough protein to feel alert, Bruno says. Plus, "eggs assist with tissue repair," she adds, which is beneficial for our muscles and recovery.
Web MD also notes that eggs have all nine essential amino acids we need, and that one single egg has six grams of protein — both things that can help tremendously with aching muscles at the end of the day.
Probiotics have a host of different benefits, but now you can add helping with soreness to that list. Kombucha, anyone?
According to Bruno, probiotics or fermented foods can act as anti-inflammatories to promote relaxation in muscles and fight soreness. She suggests "fermented foods for improved immunity and digestion." This can help fight tension in your muscles and keep the body working better overall. Such options include Greek yogurt, miso, kombucha, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
5. Protein Shake
Protein shakes offer a quick supply of protein, which can help repair sore muscles and ease inflammation, Connor Young, founder of Ample, tells Bustle. "Refueling is a vital part of any workout routine. It's important to eat soon after to recover, restore energy and build metabolism-boosting muscle — and to make the most of the endorphins your body just released during your workout," he says.
According to Heathline, it may be a good idea to opt for whey protein, because it contains all the essential amino acids necessary to build protein in the body, and help your muscles recover.
Who said chocolate milk was only for kids? As an adult, I can say I am fully on board. Drinking a glass of milk can help reduce inflammation and promote muscle repair and recovery, especially after a tough workout. Pour a glass or enjoy a smoothie, bowl of cereal, or oatmeal with some milk added for the great benefits.
Healthline notes that milk also contains whey protein, which can help your muscles grow strong and healthy.
According to Bruno, fish is a great food to eat because it is filled with anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids. These components have been shown to boost mood, ease soreness, and keep the body in better condition. Any fish is great, but wild caught fish is best.
The American Heart Association also says that fatty fish high in omega-3s — including salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna — provide a good source of protein, and can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
8. Tart Cherries
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, drinking juice from tart cherries can help with muscle pain. When given to runners who drank the cherry juice for the seven days leading up to a major event, they reported feeling less muscle pain after their runs.
So, if you just finished a kickboxing class or you woke up feeling stiff, sipping on cherry juice can help reduce the pain and get you back to feeling lighter, more relaxed, and agile to handle whatever the day might throw at you. "Cherries are rich in antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties in sore muscles," Dr. Lisa Ashe, D.O. medical director of Be Well Medical Group, tells Bustle.
9. Leafy Greens
According to Bruno, eating leafy greens can "help with improved metabolic processes," and they offer tons of nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins to aid in muscle repair and make the body feel more whole. Leafy greens are also full of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation, and lower stress levels — the perfect recipe to help you prep and recover from a workout. Add to salads, smoothies, juices, whole grain pasta dishes, and even desserts to really reap those awesome benefits.
According to Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. associate nutrition editor for EatingWell Magazine in interview with Huffington Post, pomegranates can ease pain due to their abilities to act as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They can also help prevent muscle soreness and injuries after tough workouts. Enjoy as a juice or throw some seeds in a yogurt for breakfast.
Reducing soreness is so important for maintaining your body's abilities and allowing it to serve you in the best way possible. By paying attention to what you are eating and opting for foods that are high in key nutrients and properties to lower inflammation and repair muscles, you'll be better able to live your life to its fullest potential.
This post was originally published on August 23, 2016. It was updated on June 3, 2019. Additional reporting by Kristin Magaldi.
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