There’s nothing quite like the post-workout endorphin rush. The same can be said for sore muscles, especially if you’re not properly hydrating and stretching after your workout sessions. It’s uncomfortable, it affects your future workouts and day-to-day activities, and it can even lead to injury. Thankfully, there are tons of foods you can enjoy after your workout to treat your muscles to some much-needed TLC. Keep reading for the best foods for muscle recovery.
Searching for something you can sneak into your post-workout shake? Spinach is a solid choice. It’s packed with inflammation-fighting nutrients like Vitamins A, B and C, along with 5 grams of protein per cup! This superfood also contains magnesium to maintain normal nerve and muscle function and regulate blood pressure and blood sugar. (You can also incorporate it into your favorite summer salads!)
Keep soreness at bay with a lean protein like salmon. This protein-rich food packs a punch with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, potassium and selenium. The potassium helps replace your electrolytes and the protein helps aid in muscle recovery. Eat it 45 minutes after your workout for maximum benefits!
In addition to being completely delicious, watermelon is also one of the best foods for muscle recovery! This hydrating fruit is made up mostly of water and contains Vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium to relieve tension, soreness and cramps.
4. Tart Cherry Juice
If you’ve been dealing with inflammation, pour yourself a glass of tart cherry juice ASAP. This fruit contains the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food — even more than blueberries. Some researchers have even found that drinking tart cherry juice is a safer way to treat muscle pain and inflammation than over-the-counter pain relievers!
5. Sweet Potatoes
Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are great for replenishing glycogen stores, which become depleted after a good workout. Reach for sweet potatoes (roasted, baked, mashed, you get it) to keep your body healthy and strong. They’re also rich in beta carotene and Vitamin C to fight signs of inflammation!
The best foods for muscle recovery are the ones that come with their own packaging! Bananas are loaded with potassium and carbohydrates to replenish your fuel and electrolytes after you’ve finished exercising. They also taste great in smoothies or topped with some nut butter!
7. Whey Protein
Consuming a fast-absorbing protein like whey supplies your muscles with much-needed amino acids to repair and grow. Remember: the sooner you consume whey after your workout, the better! (Generally, you have a two-hour window to consume proteins and carbs for post-workout benefits.) And if protein shakes aren’t your thing, try a whey-enriched food like cottage cheese.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of fiber and protein for vegetarians and vegans, and they’re also great as a post-workout snack for meat-eaters alike! They’re rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, electrolytes and zinc and require virtually zero meal prep. Enjoy them on the go or add a handful to your shakes or smoothie bowls for an easy helping of much-needed vitamins and minerals.
9. Pomegranate Juice
Looking for something to aid in muscle recovery *and* performance? Hint: it’s pomegranate juice. Loaded with antioxidants like quercetin, polyphenols and performance-improving nitrates, pom juice soothes inflammation, eases sore muscles and even helps dilate our blood vessels to give our working muscles more oxygen!
Searching for a quick and easy way to take care of your muscles? Have some boiled eggs ready to go. Just one egg contains *six* grams of protein with all nine essential amino acids. Eggs also contain Vitamin D for bone health and lutein to help with vision!
And speaking of sore, tight muscles… the next time you feel uncomfortable in your hips, incorporate these easy hip-opening exercises ASAP!
Allison Wheeler is a writer, Bruce Springsteen enthusiast, and sixth-generation Texan living in Denton, Texas.