Fight Muscle Soreness With Plant-Based Foods
It’s time to meet your trainer at the gym—but you’re still sore from yesterday’s workout. Been there? In order to fuel your better, you’ll need to start recovery faster between your workouts, so you can train again sooner and make gains faster.
Active recovery techniques
Most importantly, listen to your body. Determine whether your body is injured or needs a complete rest day. If you think you’re just feeling tired because you didn’t recovery properly yesterday, focus on active recovery techniques after today’s workout. Don’t forget to stretch, foam roll or take an ice bath. While these techniques may seem time-consuming, they make a significant difference in the rate that your body can heal and repair itself. Signing up for a yoga class or treating yourself to a sports massage can also help accelerate recovery. If you’ve been training extra hard for an extended period of time, make sure you are getting adequate rest, so you avoid overtraining.
Plant-based foods to fight inflammation
Often muscle soreness is created because of inflammation. Remember, muscle soreness that occurs after the event (sometimes referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS) is not the same thing as the muscle burn during exercise—produced because of lactic acid buildup. (If you’re more worried about muscle burn, head here).
Whole plant-based foods are your allies in fighting inflammation. Stock up on foods rich in whole grains, Omega-3s and antioxidants to manage inflammation. These are some of my favorites:
All types of berries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals like anthocyanins which limit tissue degeneration while reducing inflammation.
- Bok Choy
Looking for vitamin A and beta-carotene? Add some bok choy to your stir fry!
Ginger contains gingerols, powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation.
Dark leafy greens in general help your body speed up the rate of cellular regeneration. Kale is also an impressive source of vitamin K, a nutrient known to regulate your body’s inflammatory process.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
When you consume omega-3s your body makes resolvins. Resolvins fight inflammation by inhibiting the production and regulating the movement of inflammatory chemicals. Top sources of plant- based Omega-3s include flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, SaviSeeds (sacha inchi), walnuts, and macadamia nuts.
Antioxidant powerhouses, peppers provide us with a wide range of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, E and phytonutrients like flavonoids, and carotenoids.
Spinach has are more than a dozen different flavonoid compounds that function as anti-inflammatory agents. It’s also a first-rate source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, E, beta-carotene and manganese.
- Tart Cherries
A perfect food to add to your post-workout meal, tart cherries contain compounds called anthocyanins which block inflammation while preventing muscle damage.
Widely used in both kitchen and medicine cabinets in India, turmeric contains curcumin—an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that also reduces muscle and joint pain
Vega Sport: Recover
Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator not only provides turmeric to support inflammation reduction but also includes 23 synergistic ingredients to replenish your muscle glycogen, support your hormonal system, repair soft-tissue, support your immune system, and rehydrate your body. Drink Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator within 20 minutes of working out to start the recovery process. Within 90 minutes of working out, enjoy a high-protein treat. I use Vega Sport Performance Protein because it contains 25 grams of complete, multisource plant-based protein, as well as additional BCAAs and glutamine. This is one of my favorite post-workout smoothies:
Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie
Originally published in Thrive Energy Cookbook, Penguin Canada
Prep Time: 2 minutes
- 2 Tbsp raw cashews
- 2 Tbsp vegan dark chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp cacao nibs
- 1 Tbsp raw cashew butter
- 1 Tbsp pitted and chopped Medjool dates
- 1 scoop vanilla Vega Sport Performance Protein
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup agave nectar or maple syrup (optional)
- About 2 cups (500 mL) ice cubes
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice. Add ice to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the liquid line. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.
Admitting that muscle soreness is standing in between you and better is the first step to making changes. Work on incorporating one active recovery technique or anti-inflammatory food this week. For more nutrition and training tips on fighting muscle soreness—or any other training weakness, visit FuelYourBetter.com.