Best Science-Based Muscle Recovery Foods And Drinks
Nutrition • January 30, 2023 • 10min read
Muscle recovery is an essential aspect of fitness and exercise, as it helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue that has been damaged during physical activity. Proper nutrition and supplementation play a vital role in promoting muscle recovery and adaptation to physical activity.
In this article, we explore the role of food, drinks, and supplements in muscle recovery and provide scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.
Foods For Fast And Effective Muscle Recovery
It is important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group. Eating a diet that is high in protein, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds can help speed up the recovery process and improve muscle function.
It is worth noting that the type of workout you do will determine which foods are the best for muscle recovery. Endurance-type exercises such as running or cycling will require more carbohydrates, while strength training will require more protein.
When it comes to muscle recovery, not all foods are created equal. Some foods are better suited for helping your muscles recover than others. Here is a list of some of the best foods for muscle recovery.
Meat, particularly lean cuts of chicken, turkey, and beef, is an excellent source of protein. Protein is essential for muscle recovery as it helps repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue. The recommended intake of protein for muscle recovery is about 0.14 to 0.23 grams per pound of body weight per day, with most of this protein coming from animal sources, such as meat. Due to its high protein content, this food is suitable for people who exercise with heavy weights.
Eggs are another great source of protein, and they also contain other essential nutrients such as vitamin D, which can help improve muscle function. Eggs are also a good source of leucine, an amino acid that plays a critical role in muscle protein synthesis. Like meat, eggs are high in protein, which is also good for people who are building muscle
Vegetables, especially leafy greens, are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are also rich in vitamins and minerals that support muscle health, including vitamin K, which is necessary for proper bone health.
Some vegetables also contain nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which stimulates metabolism and has a positive effect on cell energy and regeneration.
Fruits, particularly berries are the best fruits for muscle recovery because they are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce muscle inflammation and improve recovery. Berries, especially, are rich in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Flavonoids are a group of natural substances that possess several therapeutic benefits, including anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates and antioxidants. Fruits are good for pre-workout and post-workout because carbohydrates are quick energy for your muscles.
Fish, particularly salmon, is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce muscle inflammation and improve recovery. Omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve muscle function.
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are high in protein and also contain calcium, which is essential for muscle function. Calcium is most commonly associated with healthy bones and teeth, although it also plays an important role in muscle contractions and regulates normal heart rhythm and nerve function.
Quinoa is a plant-based source of protein and contains all of the essential amino acids. It is also high in carbohydrates, which can help replenish glycogen stores that are depleted during exercise.
Best Drinks For Muscle Recovery
Drinking enough fluids is essential for muscle recovery as dehydration can impair muscle function and delay muscle recovery. Here are some examples of drinks that are great for muscle recovery.
Water is essential for hydration and maintaining a healthy body. Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins, reduce muscle soreness, and improve muscle function. It is recommended to drink at least half an ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
2. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks can help replace electrolytes, which are essential for muscle function and recovery. Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are lost during intense physical activity, and replenishing them can help prevent muscle cramps and improve muscle function.
It is worth noting that sports drinks often contain a large amount of sugar, the excess of which can be harmful to muscles, so before drinking such drinks, it is necessary to take into account the amount of sugar already consumed. You should also limit the consumption of these drinks if there is an increase in sugar.
3. Protein Shakes
Protein shakes, particularly whey protein, can help provide your muscles with the protein they need to repair and rebuild. Protein shakes can be a convenient way to increase protein intake, especially when consumed post-workout.
Protein shakes (concentrates) are used by muscle builders. They require extremely high amounts of protein (about 1.5g of protein per kilogram), and it is very difficult to eat such amounts without additional protein. However, consuming too much protein can cause an allergic reaction, such as a rash or itching.
4. Coconut Water
Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and can help promote hydration and muscle recovery. During sports, we sweat a lot, and water and minerals are released with the sweat, which is necessary to ensure muscle functions. Coconut water can be a natural electrolyte drink to maintain normal water and mineral levels in the body.
5. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas such as chamomile and ginger should be drunk after exercise, the tea will not only help restore water levels in the body but can help reduce muscle soreness and promote relaxation, which can help muscles recover. To get the most benefits from tea, you should avoid adding sugar to it. But if you want sweetness, you can add a little honey, which is a natural sweetener that gives energy.
Supplement For Muscle Recovery
Supplements can also be beneficial in promoting muscle recovery and repair. Here are some of the commonly used supplements for muscle recovery.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that can help improve muscle function and recovery. Creatine increases the availability of high-energy phosphates, which can lead to increased muscle power and endurance. It also promotes muscle growth and recovery by increasing the rate of protein synthesis in the muscles.
Glutamine is an amino acid that can help reduce muscle soreness and boost muscle recovery. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and helps to maintain the integrity of the gut lining, which can help prevent gut-related issues during intense training.
3. NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)
NMN is a molecule that has been found to improve muscle function and recovery by increasing the levels of NAD+ in the body. NAD+ is a coenzyme that plays a critical role in energy metabolism and aging. NMN supplements have been shown to improve muscle function and recovery in animal studies.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that can help improve muscle function and recovery by increasing the levels of carnosine in the muscles. Carnosine is an important antioxidant that helps to buffer the acidity in muscles during high-intensity exercise. Supplementing with beta-alanine can increase muscle carnosine levels and improve muscle performance.
It is important to note that individual nutritional needs may vary and it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your nutrition or supplement regimen. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the supplements you are taking are of high quality and have been tested for safety and efficacy.
Foods To Avoid
While certain foods can help speed up muscle recovery, some foods should be avoided. Here are some foods to avoid for faster muscle recovery.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods are high in saturated fats, refined sugars, and preservatives. Foods such as potato chips, bakery products, pretzels, or fast foods like French fries and burgers can be included in this definition of food. Processed foods can increase inflammation and slow down muscle recovery. Processed foods are also low in essential nutrients, which can impede muscle recovery.
- Fried Foods: Fried foods are high in saturated and trans fats, which can increase inflammation and slow down muscle recovery. Fried foods are also high in calories and can contribute to weight gain, which can negatively impact muscle recovery.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can dehydrate the body and slow down muscle recovery. Alcohol also disrupts the body’s ability to repair and rebuild muscle tissue by reducing protein production.
- High-Sugar Foods: High-sugar foods, such as candy and soda, can increase inflammation and slow down muscle recovery. High-sugar foods can also contribute to weight gain, which can negatively impact muscle recovery.
It is crucial to avoid these foods and opt for nutrient-dense, whole foods that can help speed up muscle recovery.
What Else Can You Do For Faster Muscle Recovery?
In addition to eating the right foods, drinking the right fluids, and using supplements, there are other things you can do to speed up muscle repair.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for muscle recovery as it is during sleep that the body repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Stretch: Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and tension and improve muscle function. Stretching can also improve flexibility and range of motion, which can prevent injury and enhance muscle performance.
- Massage: Massaging can help increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce muscle soreness. Massaging can also help to break down muscle adhesions and improve muscle function.
- Use Heat or Cold Therapy: Using heat or cold therapy can help reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle function. Heat therapy, such as a hot bath or heating pad, can help increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce muscle soreness. Cold therapy, such as an ice pack, can help reduce inflammation and numb pain.
- Take a rest day: Take a rest day to allow your muscles to recover, and do not overwork yourself. Overtraining can lead to muscle fatigue, and injury and can impede muscle recovery.
- Do exercises correctly: Performing the exercises correctly can help prevent injury and promote muscle recovery. Incorrect form can lead to muscle strains and tears, which can slow down muscle recovery.
- Active recovery: Active recoveries, such as light exercise or yoga, can help reduce muscle soreness, release muscle tension, increase blood flow and promote muscle recovery.
It is important to listen to your body and give your muscles the time and care they need to recover. By following these tips and incorporating the right foods, drinks, and supplements into your diet, you can speed up muscle recovery and get back to your workouts faster and stronger.
In conclusion, several foods, drinks, and supplements can aid in muscle recovery. Protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products can help to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Carbohydrates, found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help to replenish glycogen stores, which provide energy for muscles during exercise.
Additionally, antioxidants, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, can help to reduce inflammation and improve muscle recovery. Drinks such as water and sports drinks can help to rehydrate the body and replenish the electrolytes lost during exercise.
Supplements like creatine, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), NMN, and protein powders can also aid in muscle recovery. However, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional before taking any supplement.