6 foods you need to ease muscle soreness naturally
Getting back into any exercise routine can literally be a pain in the butt. Achy muscles after a hard workout, or the first few workouts after a long break from exercising, is normal and can even be healthy.
Good muscle soreness is a sign that you are pushing your muscles to their limits. What’s going on inside your body is that your exercises are actually causing small tears in your muscle fibres, which generally repair in a few days. This breaking down and repairing of muscles actually makes them stronger.
Healthy muscle soreness usually peaks between 24 and 48 hours after exercising and then it eases. If the pain lasts any longer, get it checked out by a doctor.
So if your muscle soreness is good, what can you do to help ease the aches and make it easier to stick to your new exercise regime? Our dietitians have shared a list of budget-friendly whole foods that contain important nutrients to aid in muscle repair and ease muscle soreness - and there’s no protein powder in sight.
While no single food or nutrient will prevent muscle soreness, eating a well-balanced diet, including some of the following foods, may help with muscle recovery after your next gym workout:
6 foods that help with muscle soreness and recovery
1. WHOLEGRAIN BREAD
That’s right, don’t ditch the carbs. Eating quality carbs, like wholegrain bread or cereals, helps fuel your body during exercise and may help prevent muscle cramps. After a workout, carbs help to replenish muscle fuel stores. Wholegrains will also give your body a range of nutrients including fibre, protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. Something as simple as peanut butter on wholegrain toast is a perfect go-to that provides quality carbs and protein - a combination that helps reduce the breakdown of muscle protein. Here’s how to get the right balance of protein throughout the day.
2. RICOTTA OR COTTAGE CHEESE
Another great toast topper, these spreadable cheeses provide a source of calcium. While known as the nutrient that keeps your bones strong, calcium is also vital for muscle and nerve function.
These little morsels are loaded with goodness and provide your body with protein as well as nutrients like magnesium. Brazil nuts are the best nutty source but almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans and pine nuts all contain magnesium. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the benefits of magnesium. This essential mineral helps create new proteins to repair muscles and supports normal muscle function. Nuts are also good for your weight and your heart, which you can read more about here.
Legumes are high in zinc, which is known for its healing properties. As well as helping your body repair wounds, zinc supports protein synthesis and breaks down carbohydrates to make it easier for your body to replenish fuel stores. Other sources of zinc include wholegrains, tofu, nuts and seeds.
More than a juicy thirst quencher, watermelon has some surprising nutrition credentials. It contains the amino acid l-citrulline, which has been shown to soothe aching muscles. One study, which tested watermelon juice as a recovery drink for athletes, showed it helped muscle soreness.
Flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are all plant sources of omega-3, known as ALA or α-linolenic acid. This fatty-acid is a building block your body uses to create hormones that regulate a wide range of functions, including controlling inflammation and muscle contraction and relaxation. Your body can’t make omega-3, so you need to include it in your diet. Other plant sources of omega-3 include soybeans , walnuts, seaweed, leafy greens and wheatgerm.