Body builders and athletes sometimes focus on foods to develop strong muscles but forget about recovery. Their interest is in attaining muscular or fitness heights but they wonder why it takes so long and what causes pain and cramping.
One reason for slow development is that the body is busily using calories to repair injured or strained cells, not just build them. Don’t waste muscle creation by causing a catabolic reaction (when muscle is used for energy): fend off muscle loss with these muscle recovery foods and don’t wait long to chow down: about half an hour is long enough if you don’t have an appetite right away.
Any food is better than nothing; even a glass of chocolate milk. Your body won’t convert muscle to fat because it’s going to use every ounce of carbohydrates and protein you supply to restore itself. The best foods, however, are a lot healthier than junk food and sweet drinks while still simple and easy to digest.
1. Protein Smoothie
Gym rats can’t move for all the drink mixes sold at their local workout centers and health food stores. Do you need to buy a concoction or is the home-made style good enough? Views are mixed, but there should be an assortment of antioxidants and proteins in the blend plus sweetener and liquid.
To make this mixture enjoyable but also nutritious, blend fruit, including berries, plus milk or a dairy-free alternative with a natural sugar like honey or agave and something with protein in it. This could be whey, pea, or rice powder or even peanut butter. More protein is better, so it’s fine to add a commercial product. But don’t be sucked into purchasing high-priced stuff.
2. Pasta and Meat
Do you love spaghetti and meatballs? Now is the time to load up on your favorite carb, but not just noodles. Ladle oodles of meaty sauce over the top plus a homemade sauce. Bottled sauces are loaded with sugar and salt. While you need more salt to replace what you lost while sweating, sea salt is better than the stuff pumped into commercial products. Also, a little extra calcium won’t hurt to prevent cramping and enhance recovery. Add cream cheese, grated cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese to your sauce for a smooth and rich finish. Don’t skimp on flavorful herbs and add some vegetables too, like peas or grated carrot.
Sports scientists have been right all along, so ignore those silly side-bar ads that tell you not to eat bananas. They are rich with electrolytes your body loses like crazy when you exercise.
Electrolytes are minerals such as calcium, sodium, and potassium. Bananas are easy to digest and can be added to other foods if you like.
Try topping one with homemade nut butter and sprinkling the mixture with granola or sunflower seeds. Blend a banana into your smoothie as above.
Not only is this a nutritious choice the body can utilize quickly but bananas enrich any liquid mixture, creating a thick finished product more like a milkshake than a health drink.
4. Yogurt, Honey, and Seeds
Avoid fat-free, flavored yogurt: this is usually thickened with sugar or a type of gum. Besides, you need fat plus protein and antioxidants which your body will more readily digest when your gut bacteria are balanced.
Select plain yogurt featuring live bacteria, add a dollop of honey for sweetness and healing properties, and sprinkle seeds onto the mixture. Be careful to select those with BCAAs which the body can utilize. A couple berries on top will add a little extra nutrition and flavor.
Some are harder to absorb than others no matter how rich in protein they are. Flax is easier to digest when ground into meal but chia probably won’t do much good for muscle recovery. Pumpkin seeds are the best and you don’t need much: maybe a tablespoon.