Lifting is great and some people enjoy the soreness they feel the next day after an intense workout while others really can't stand it -- especially if they did a crazy leg workout. But you know the phrase: You can feel sore or you can feel sorry. Feeling sore can offer a sense of achievement. Still, it's important to recover from many long training sessions, so try incorporating the foods below to recuperate more quickly.
Why Do I Feel Sore? Many people feel the soreness but aren't sure where the pain comes from. The question that I get most often is, "How come I feel sore the day after, but not that same day?" The answer is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). So what causes this? When you work out, you are creating tiny tears in your muscles. This is normally a result of high intensity exercises such as heavy lifting or sprinting. Your muscles then want to recover, so they begin to heal themselves. Consuming an adequate amount of protein and nutrients, while giving your body enough time to rest helps accomplish this; and your muscles are built during this phase. That's why recovery days are very important.
1) Whole Grain Cereal: You may have heard that you should eat carbs before a workout, which is true, but you should also consume them after as well. Carbohydrates can help your body fight the fatigue that it feels after a workout by restoring your glycogen stores. When you exercise, you are using up all of your glycogen stores (or energy stores.) It's really important to replenish them after a workout so that you do not experience that sleepy feeling. Any carbohydrate snack will do but whole grains are always the best choice.
2) Cherries: Cherries are kind of like a magical fruit. They have many anti-inflammatory properties, which are really important for relieving muscle soreness. The antioxidant that gives cherries this healing ability is called anthocyanins. Many athletes consume tart cherry juice prior to workouts for this reason. Instead of popping that ibuprofen or Advil, reach for some nice, fresh cherries or cherry juice instead.
3) Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts -- whatever kind of nuts you want. All kinds of nuts are very high in Vitamin E. This vitamin has muscle strengthening powers which will ultimately help to fight muscle soreness. Once you begin to get stronger, you will notice that you are not as sore as you were when you first began training. When you have been training for a while, your muscles are stronger and you don’t tear the muscle as much as you did in the beginning. Less tears equals less soreness. Vitamin E also helps repair the damage that was done to the muscle tissue. Eat foods high in Vitamin E, like nuts, to help build that muscle strength…and keep training.
4) Berries: Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants are what protect your cells against damage. Aside from their ability to reduce muscle pain, they also help protect against all the other damages that can be done to our cells that can cause cancer. Generally, the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it contains so try to eat dark berries such as blackberries and blueberries. They are a healthy and delicious snack. You can even throw them into your protein shake for an added bonus.
5) Salmon: Fish in general is loaded with protein and a ton of essential fatty acids. Fatty acids help to reduce inflammation which in turn fights muscle soreness. Not a fan of fish? Take a fish oil supplement.
6) Eggs: Particularly egg yolks. Ignore the cholesterol factor. Eggs are high in protein and Vitamin D. Both of these two things help fight muscle soreness and aid in muscle growth. Vitamin D has become one of the biggest deficiencies in the American diet. It is really important to consume foods high in this vitamin, especially to help reduce muscle pain. Many people tend to get rid of the yolk of the egg because of the added cholesterol and calories but those calories in the yolk are all really good calories. They provide vitamin D and protein. Eat the whole egg. If you do have high cholesterol, try to limit yourself to a couple whole eggs a week and consume Vitamin D fortified low fat milk.
Overview: All of these foods are high in many nutrients and vitamins that your body needs on a daily basis in order to sustain life. They all have the ability to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation so it's important to include them in your diet. Now, they aren't really "super" foods. If you have sore muscles and eat some eggs, you aren't going to automatically feel better but they will aid in the healing process. Aside from getting the right nutrients, it's important to allow yourself some rest. Taking one to two days a week off heavy training will be very beneficial for body. If you are an exercise freak and need to get to the gym, take it easy. Do some light cardio or lift lighter. You really only experience soreness when you push yourself to your limits.
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