The best foods for muscle pain
A little muscle soreness after your workout is normal. It is a sign that you have pushed your limits. But you don’t get stronger and fitter during your workout, but afterwards during your recovery. If you experience muscle pain, it is therefore very important to recover optimally. This way you not only avoid that your stairs can no longer be descended, but you also ensure that you get the best results from your training. What is the best food for muscle pain? Which nutrients are most important for a quick and painless recovery?
The best foods for muscle pain
You can do various things to quickly recover from muscle pain, such as stretching, sleeping well, foam rolling or taking a warm shower. But a healthy diet with adequate protein remains one of the most important factors in muscle recovery. With the foods from this list you can promote your muscle recovery and reduce muscle pain.
First things first. The ideal food for muscle pain is (coconut) water. Sufficient drinking always comes first. It has priority both during and after your workout. Especially when you have exercised in warm conditions, replenishing moisture is very important. If your body is well hydrated, it can dispose of waste more easily and faster. Not hydrating yourself enough will make you feel limp, and in a more serious case it will cause nausea and headaches.
Water is always good, of course. But because you also lose many minerals through sweating, coconut water is an ideal choice! Coconut water contains a number of important electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium. This makes it absorbed just as well as an isotonic sports drink. An isotonic drink means that it has the same concentration of dissolved particles as our blood. It is nice to drink it as it is or to make a smoothie.
Magnesium is the main mineral we lose during exercise, along with salt. That is why it deserves a separate mention. You can find magnesium in all kinds of healthy foods such as dark leafy vegetables (eg spinach), nuts, seeds and even chocolate! Bananas are also a popular source for athletes. Because magnesium is so important, many athletes take it as an extra supplement. It prevents or relieves muscle cramps, relaxes the muscles and ensures a better night’s sleep.
Fruit, especially pineapple, cannot be missing in the list of foods against muscle pain. Pineapple has several properties that promote muscle recovery. Like most fruits, pineapple contains a lot of water that is well absorbed. And fruits like pineapple also contain fruit sugars, which are quickly absorbed by the body to replenish your energy supply.
This tropical fruit is also rich in vitamin C, an important anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants are substances that literally protect the body cells against damage. Other fruits are also good for this, just think of: blueberries, cherries and cranberries.
But pineapple also has another secret weapon. Research has shown that pineapple suppresses pain stimuli in the nervous system. Pineapple, therefore, ensures optimal muscle recovery and has an extra analgesic effect.
Another important component in muscle recovery are omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Especially the balance with omega-6 is important. An excess of omega-6 fatty acids compared to the omega-3 fatty acids is pro-inflammatory. The problem is that we consume far too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3.
Minor inflammation is a major cause of muscle pain. By eating enough fatty fish you can balance the inflammation and promote muscle recovery. However, it is not something you should necessarily eat right after a workout. Just try to include regular omega 3 foods in your healthy eating schedule.
Good fatty fish are herring, salmon, and sardines. Omega-3 can also be obtained from vegetable sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and algae oil.
A coffee before training provides a mental and physical boost. Thanks to the caffeine it contains, the production of adrenaline is stimulated. This makes us mentally alert and our body goes into action mode! Your heart rate and breathing increase, your blood pressure increases, the pupils in your eyes dilate and energy is released.
The release of adrenaline also ensures that your efforts can last longer. Adrenaline puts us in a fight or flight mode where the pain is suppressed. This makes an effort feel less heavy than normal. This pain-relieving effect can help you in the middle of your workout, but can also serve as food against muscle pain the day after.
Ginger has a number of interesting properties. It has an anti-inflammatory effect just like omega-3 and it is full of zinc and magnesium. Research showed that taking ginger supplements reduced muscle soreness by 25%. Ginger goes well in oriental wok dishes or you can use it to make tea. For enthusiasts, there are also ginger shots on the market, a concentrated version that really gives you a boost.
Maybe not a good idea just before exercise, but afterward. Spicy food causes the muscles to relax and your body to warm. It lowers blood pressure and creates an ideal situation for muscle recovery.
The capsaicin in spicy foods is also anti-inflammatory. Another miracle property of this substance is that it has an analgesic effect. In fact, it has been used as a migraine remedy for years.
Of course, we must not forget the supplementation of proteins. Without enough protein, the muscles cannot recover and you will walk around with muscle pain for longer. Not only are eggs a good source of protein, they are also specifically rich in the amino acid leucine. This amino acid is a major trigger for your body to enter recovery mode.
In summary: What is the ideal diet for muscle pain?
The ideal food against muscle pain is a combination of healthy food that is especially rich in proteins, water, omega-3, vitamin C and magnesium. So, first and foremost, an overall healthy eating schedule is most important. If you supplement this even further with ginger, coffee and peppers, you will recover faster and you can suppress the muscle pain. And before you know it, you will be eager for your next workout!