One of the downsides to working out, the only downside really, is the muscle aches and pains that can hit you post workout. While these pains are common, they can make it difficult for you to hit your next session with the same gusto! Make your life, and workouts, a little easier by taking some time between sessions to mix up, and sip on, one of these proven, natural remedies!
1. Chocolate MilkThere has been lots of talk in recent years about the benefits of chocolate milk. Beyond providing nostalgia for your childhood, chocolate milk makes a mighty recovery drink! One 8-ounce serving contains nearly 9 grams of protein as well as essential amino acids. Of the proteins in chocolate milk, about 20% of them are whey protein. Whey proteins are digested and absorbed quickly, supplying your blood stream with essential amino acids. Whey is found in many recovery drinks and is believed to help you build and repair muscles. Milk also contains the protein casein which is absorbed more slowly and reduces muscle breakdown while sustaining the amino acids in the blood stream. But what about all the sugar? Well, the simple carbohydrates in chocolate milk help to quickly restore your glycogen levels after your workout. In fact, one study from James Madison University found that college athletes who drank low-fat chocolate milk after an intense training session had lower levels of creatine kinase (CK), which can be a sign of muscle damage, when compared to athletes who consumed a high-carb recovery drink. If you'd like to have a little more control over the sugar content, you don't have to resort to store bought chocolate milk, you can make your own! Try this recipe, keeping in mind that you can adjust the sugar to suit your tastes and needs: Ingredients:
- 3 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pour milk into a blender. Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
- Blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Store unused portions covered, in the fridge.
2. WatermelonWatermelon isn't just a tasty treat for summer picnics, it can be useful in muscle recovery. It contains what you need to replenish glycogen and re-hydrate your body. 4 cups of watermelon contains 50 grams of carbs which is a near perfect amount for replenishing glycogen. And because watermelon is mostly water, it is a no-brainer as a hydration solution. It also contains amino acids and antioxidants like lycopene which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. Straight up watermelon is perfect but if you'd rather have something you can sip on, try this amazing watermelon smoothie! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO9hwDBcE2Q
3. Tart Cherry JuiceCherries have proven anti-inflammatory properties and are chock-full of antioxidants that can help to mitigate any muscle damage. In a study involving distance runners, it was found that those who drank tart (unsweetened) cherry juice twice a day for seven days, had less muscle pain and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory substance found in the skins of montmorency cherries is the same substance found in many over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen. Cherries can also help elevate your melatonin levels, helping you sleep better at night and speed your recovery. But here's the thing, tart cherry juice is, well, tart. If you don't want your face in permanent pucker mode, adding the juice of sweeter fruits can help. Try this: In a juicer: juice 1 green apple; 1/2 cup strawberries; 1/2 pound organic tart cherries, pits removed; 2 ribs of celery; 1/2 cucumber, peeled if not organic; 1/2 lemon, peeled if not organic.
4. Maple WaterDuring the winter months, maple trees accumulate sap which is loaded with minerals like calcium, manganese and magnesium. This sap tastes sweet but is 98% water and only 2% sugar! Maple water contains a whack of minerals including potassium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. It also contains amino acids, electrolytes, prebiotics, and polyphenols. If you can't find your maple water in your local health food store, make your own with this orange-ginger maple water recipe! Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups of spring water
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons dark, organic, maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger