Before we dish out the ultimate guide to recovery foods, with recipes (we got your back BodyRockers), let’s quickly cover what your body needs post-workout.
Exercise’s Effect on the Body
When you work up a sweat, your body relies on glycogen to power your lunges and all that hard work strips your muscles of protein; it's that breakdown that creates gains. Even before you finish your workout, your body gets busy restoring glycogen levels and regrowing muscle proteins.
The Macronutrients Your Body NEEDS Post-Workout
Wanna help your body recover faster? There are 3 macronutrients your body wants from you:
Build your post-workout buffet with a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein to maximize your body’s recovery. Mix in a small amount of healthy fat and you’re good to go.
Wanna learn more about nutrition, grab a copy of our BodyRock Meal Plan & Nutrition Guide. (Psst: It’s on sale now!)
The Best Foods for Recovery
Time to mix up your recovery food options as you would your workouts so your tastebuds don’t get bored. To help you build your plate or fill your BodyRock Blender smoothie we’ve broken down the foods you need for muscle recovery into: proteins, carbs and fats so all you have to do is mix and match.
Carbs really get unfairly demonized. If you know which ones to chow down on, then you won’t hurt your gains. If you’re interested, you can read more on carbs, by checking out our article: The Skinny On Carbs!
One of the healthiest recovery carb options: the always popular sweet potato. Mashed, roasted or baked; the options for incorporating sweet potatoes are endless. As an orange vegetable sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene that protect and keep your body strong!
Try Our Recipe: Sweet Potato Home Fries
Dark Leafy Greens
Namely spinach, it doesn’t get much better than spinach. Widely available this wondrous leaf may be light but its nutrient-dense. Rich in vitamin A, C, K1, calcium, iron, protein, potassium and magnesium. It rehydrates you with electrolytes (potassium and magnesium), gives you 5 grams of protein in one cup, B vitamins for a boost and it lowers inflammation with chlorophyll.
Try Our Recipe: Spinach + Chickpea Veggie Burgers.
The best berries for athletic endeavours are tart cherries (dried or juiced), blueberries and raspberries. Although, all berries are excellent choices to add to your smoothie. For more great smoothie concoctions, we’ve got an eBook for that: BodyRock Smoothie! Antioxidant-rich tart cherries will improve inflammation, lessen muscle soreness and accelerate muscle recovery. While blueberries and raspberries are the most nutrient-rich berries. They protect the body, lower inflammation and the antioxidants will help repair damaged muscles.
Try Our Recipe: #3 Tart Cherry Juice Smoothie.
Almost entirely water (91%), watermelon will rehydrate you (including electrolytes thanks to potassium and magnesium), reduce muscle soreness and give you a whopping 12 grams of carbs a cup.
Try Our Recipe: Summer Fresh Watermelon Salad.
We could never forget about the mighty banana. Bananas are a great source of potassium that reduces muscle soreness, magnesium to replenish electrolytes and it contains 22 grams of carbs per banana for a hit of energy.
Try Our Recipe: Protein Banana Bread.
This tropical fruit isn’t only great in a pina colada, but it’s an excellent choice for your recovery smoothie. Brimming with vitamin C for a strong immune system, anti-inflammatory bromelain to speed up your muscles recovery and it’s abundant in antioxidants.
Try Our Recipe: Strawberry Banana Pineapple Smoothie.
Perhaps not the most awe-inspiring on the list but oatmeal is a goodie — so long as you skip the packaged sugar-laden kind. Raw dry oats (like steel-cut) are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan (great for immune health), protein (13 grams per half-cup), carbs (51 grams per half-cup), manganese for inflammation and lots of antioxidants to further help with inflammation (namely avenanthramides).
Try Our Recipe: Power Protein Oatmeal.
This superfood is the perfect base for your stirfry or as a stand-alone for quinoa salad. Classified as a superfood, it’s high in protein, fiber and carbs to support your muscles recovery. It’s also got more vitamins and minerals than other grains.
Try Our Recipe: Quinoa Bars.
There are tons of protein sources out there that fall under the header “plant-based” or “animal protein” — no matter your diet, it’s crucial you get enough protein post-workout. Learn more about proteins by reading our Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein Guide.
Whoever talks about cottage cheese anymore? Well, it’s not just for your grandparents as it’s powered by both the slow-release protein casein and whey protein for fast-action muscle repair. It also contains leucine an essential amino acid that is attributed to building muscles after a workout. In addition, cottage cheese is very filling so you won’t be tempted to snack afterward.
Try Our Recipe: Gem’s Refuel & Energise Protein Snack.
Containing all 9 amino acids and a slew of other vitamins like vitamin B and iron, eating whole eggs is just plain good for you. Eggs are also great for gains so long as you’re eating the whole thing and not just the yolks (you’ll get a 40% greater protein hit by consuming it whole). Eat them before or after a workout to thwart soreness.
Try Our Recipe: BodyRocker’s Eggs.
Salmon is a great protein option for post-workout recovery as it contains loads of protein (for muscle repair), omega-3 for inflammation, potassium to balance your electrolytes and lots of helpful B vitamins for overall health.
Try Our Recipe: Roasted Salmon Greek Salad.
Can’t forget about ol’ faithful now can we? Protein powder is one of the easiest ways to ensure you get enough protein after a HIIT session. Plus with so many options available to suit any diet there is a protein powder for everybody.
Not A Fan, Try Our Non-Protein Powder Shake Recipe: Make A Protein Shake (Without Protein Powder!).
Beans in general, are packed with protein and other valuable nutrients making them a perfect recovery food option — especially for vegans. Curious about going plant-based, get a copy of our BodyRock Plant-Based Vegan eBook; for more great recipes and advice. Thanks to hummus’ primary ingredients chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil and tahini this trio is ideal for fighting off inflammation. Spread some hummus on whole-grain toast and top with diced pickles for a mouth-watering meal.
Try Our Recipe: Zucchini Hummus.
Your body needs healthy fats to fuel your weight loss or muscle gains. Learn more about the benefits of fats by reading, 8 Healthy Fats You Should Be Eating.
This superfood is an oddity, containing 15 grams of fat per 100 gram serving making it one of the highest sources of healthy fats in plant form. Rich in monosaturated fats oleic acid (same as olive oil) it’s excellent for fighting inflammation and it has more potassium than a banana to negate soreness.
Try Our Recipe: Avocado Baked Eggs.
Seeds, Nuts and Nut Butters
We haven’t forgotten about our plant-eaters out there. When it comes to healthy fats and protein, seeds and nuts like walnuts, almonds, chia, hemp seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids to counteract inflammation, protein for your muscles, zinc for immune health and electrolytes for refuelling your bod. Snack on em’, spread it on whole-grain toast or add to a smoothie — the choice is yours.
Try Our Recipe: Make Your Nuts Taste Better.
The Best Foods for Muscle Recovery
You work hard to sculpt your body so it’s inevitable that you’re going to experience post-workout soreness. Luckily if you eat the right foods to boost your muscles recovery then you’re less likely to encounter DOMS or next level tenderness. So use this guide to your advantage and we’ll see you soon for your next sweat session!