Post Workout Nutrition: What Foods Help Muscle Recovery after Workout?

After working out, you often experience exercise-induced muscle soreness, which is uncomfortable and affects your workouts in the following days. Sometimes, it’s so extreme that you can’t continue with your exercises—you have to rest until the soreness is gone.

Thankfully, you can use plenty of recovery strategies to reduce the soreness, minimize muscle damage and speed up the recovery.

One of the best strategies is to take the right recovery foods and drinks. Which are the best recovery foods and drinks? Here they are:

Smoked salmon

The omega-3 fatty acids in sardines, salmon, and mackerel translate to lower levels of delayed onset muscle soreness after a workout.

According to a research study by the Washington University School Of Medicine, the omega 3s make their way into the muscle cells, where they help reduce the exercise-induced damage that brings about inflammation.

The best way to consume the salmon is to spread 2 tablespoons of cream cheese on a small whole-grain wrap, then top it with 3 ounces of sliced smoked salmon, a handful of arugula, and 1/4 cup of sliced pickled beets.

Sweet potatoes

Some people think the best post-recovery foods are only those packed with protein. Well, this is not always the case.

A Journal of Applied Physiology report shows that consuming carbohydrate-rich foods such as fruits, grains, or potatoes can help lessen the drop in the immune system that often comes after an intense workout.

The good news is that the carbohydrates you consume from the potatoes aren’t packed as fat. Instead, the carbs are immediately used for energy. This means you won’t lose your six-pack from eating sweet potatoes after working out.

To draw the benefits of sweet potatoes, place one medium-sized peeled and cubed sweet potato and one tablespoon of water in a microwave-safe bowl, then cover the bowl tightly with a plastic wrap.

Nuke the potato for at least 6 minutes or until it gets tender. Remove the plastic wrap and smash the potato with a ½-teaspoon ginger powder and 1/3 cup applesauce. For more nutritional benefits, scatter dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, then eat.


According to a research report in the journal of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, as little as 9 grams of dairy are enough to kick-start the healing and muscle-building process.

Go for ½ cup of ricotta with 14 grams of milk protein. Ricotta is also an excellent source of whey protein, which means that it contains the essential amino acid leucine, which comes in handy at signaling mTOR to spark new muscle growth.

The researchers also found that pairing whey protein with carbs after working out was vital in strengthening bones.

The best way to take the ricotta is to stir together ½ cup of park skim ricotta cheese and ½-teaspoon vanilla extract bowl. Top the mixture with 1/3 cup of granola and ½ cup of berries for added benefits.

Tart cherry juice

Studies show that tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice extracts can facilitate muscle recovery and mitigate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

DOMS is muscle injury that comes about when you engage in extreme or unfamiliar exercise. It brings about symptoms such as swelling, painful restriction of movement, and stiffness.

Antioxidant-rich foods and beverages can help reduce the DOMS side effects and facilitate recovery.

Tart cherry juice is rich in anthocyanins, which have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties make tart cherry juice highly effective at reducing soreness and exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD).

Of 25 studies done in 2021 on tart cherry juice, 15 showed that drinking the juice after exercise significantly speeds up muscle recovery, lowers the chances of inflammation, and reduces DOMS.

To get the most from cherry juice, start supplementing several days before you exercise and continue doing so days after.

Beet juice

Beets contain plenty of betalains that help send oxygen to the muscles and improve the efficiency of the mitochondria. Betalains have also been shown to significantly reduce inflammation and oxidative damage to the body cells.

A 2016 study that featured 30 active men showed that drinking beetroot juice immediately after exercising significantly reduced muscle soreness and sped up muscle recovery.

A recent 2021 study that featured 13 soccer players showed drinking beetroot juice at least 3-7 days before, on the day of the exercise, and 3 days after exercise significantly reduces DOMS. Doing this also improves exercise performance during the recovery period.

Whole eggs

A study by the University Of Illinois showed whole eggs are more effective than egg white. In the study involving 20 men that regularly worked out, the muscle-building response from the whole eggs was about 40% greater than egg whites alone.

According to the study, this difference was attributed to the nutrients found in the yolk, such as vitamins, fats, and other minerals such as phosphorus and iron, that made it easy for the muscles to use the high-quality protein in the egg whites more efficiently.

The best way to consume the whole eggs is to mash a few hard-boiled eggs with ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt, ½ teaspoon of yellow curry powder, and a few pinches of salt. To make it tastier, spread it on rye crackers.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks have had a bad rap over the years, as some manufacturers take shortcuts and produce poor sports drinks that are only made up of sugars and other non-nutritional ingredients.

When you are just getting started, the drinks might not be beneficial but if engaging in strenuous exercises, the right sports drinks can come in handy and help replenish the dwindling glycogen levels and ease muscle soreness.

To get the most from sports drinks, ensure that you buy high-quality ones from a reputable store such as LIFEAID. You also should ensure that the drink you buy contains the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and water.

As a rule of thumb, avoid drinks only packed with sugars or caffeine, as they won’t help you.

To draw the most from the drinks, consume them at least an hour after your workout.