Merdeka.com – Returning to an exercise routine can have an effect on your muscles. It’s normal to have sore muscles after a hard workout, or when you return to training after a long break from an exercise routine.
The muscle pain you feel is a sign that you are pushing the muscle to its limit. What happens inside your body actually causes a small tear in the muscle fiber, but it usually heals within a few days. This muscle breakdown and repair will actually make your muscles stronger.
Healthy muscle pain usually peaks between 24-48 hours after exercise and then subsides. If the pain lasts longer, you can have it checked by a doctor.
Although it can subside on its own, muscle pain can sometimes also make a person feel uncomfortable, and can affect your daily activities. Fortunately, there are many recovery strategies that can help reduce or relieve muscle soreness, minimize exercise-induced muscle damage, and speed muscle recovery.
In this article, we will share some foods for muscle recovery that can be consumed after exercise.
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Watermelon and Watermelon Juice
The first food for muscle recovery is watermelon and watermelon juice. Watermelon is a sweet, hydrating fruit that is loaded with nutrients. What’s more, consuming watermelon or drinking watermelon juice can be a good way to boost muscle recovery after exercise.
Watermelon is rich in the amino acid L-citrulline. Apart from being a building block for protein, this amino acid is also considered to have an antioxidant effect and increase the production of nitric oxide (NO). NO increases blood circulation to muscles and increases cellular energy.
This is why several studies have shown that watermelon juice can reduce muscle soreness and muscle breakdown after exercise.
The second food for muscle recovery is fatty fish. Fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and trout are excellent sources of nutrients for your body for muscle recovery. In particular, fish is a highly bioavailable source of protein, a macronutrient that facilitates muscle repair – the process of regenerating muscle cells after exercise-induced damage.
Some experts suggest that consuming about 1.1 ounces (30 grams) of protein after exercise will support optimal muscle recovery. Fatty fish also contain omega-3 fats, which can help reduce DOM (delayed-onset muscle soreness), fight inflammation, and promote muscle growth.
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The third food for muscle recovery is pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice is a rich source of polyphenols, which are plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. That’s why drinking pomegranate juice can be beneficial for muscle recovery.
In a small 2017 study, pomegranate juice reduced the release of a marker of oxidative stress called malondialdehyde (MDA) and increased antioxidant defenses when compared to placebo treatment. This suggests that the drink can promote muscle recovery.
The fourth food for muscle recovery is beet juice. Beets are loaded with dietary nitrates and pigments called betalains. Dietary nitrates can help deliver oxygen to muscles and increase the efficiency of mitochondria – the organelles, or parts of cells, that produce energy that fuel cells. While betalains can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
A 2016 study in 30 active men found that drinking beetroot juice immediately, 24 hours after, and 48 hours after completing strenuous exercise reduced muscle soreness and accelerated muscle recovery to a greater extent than a placebo.
The fifth food for muscle recovery is eggs. Eggs are known as a nutrient-dense food and are preferred by athletes for their high bioavailable protein content. Eating eggs after a workout can help stimulate muscle recovery.
Although many people choose to eat only egg whites, research shows that whole eggs may also be a better choice after exercise.
In a small 2017 study involving 10 men, participants ate either whole eggs or egg whites immediately after resistance training. Although all foods have the same amount of protein, whole egg foods lead to greater muscle growth.
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Milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese are often used as post-workout fuel. Not without reason, milk, which is high in protein, provides the nutrients the body needs for muscle repair.
Milk and dairy products also contain carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates and protein together will support muscle growth and help muscles replenish their glycogen stores. Milk also contains sodium, which is important for rehydration.
The last food for muscle recovery is coffee. Sipping coffee before or after exercise can help reduce DOM. This is because the caffeine found in coffee can help block receptors for adenosine, a chemical released after injury. It activates pain receptors in your body.
A 2013 study in 9 men who typically consumed low amounts of caffeine showed that consuming caffeine 1 hour before intense upper-body exercise significantly reduced levels of muscle soreness on days 2 and 3 after exercise, compared to a placebo.
Additionally, a 2019 study found that caffeine consumption 24 and 48 hours after intense exercise was assessed to improve muscle strength recovery and reduce DOM in both men and women compared to a placebo.