What are some good foods to eat to help with the recovery after I work out? I seem to be unusually sore and tired.

– Stephanie E.


The goal of recovery nutrition is two-fold. First, to restore balance by eliminating deficits of glycogen and buildup of toxins. Second, to infuse the muscles with building blocks to repair and form new cell structure. Your concern definitely points to the first goal. With that in mind, you will need to look at timing and composition of your recovery meal/snack.

Since your muscles are sore, their cellular metabolism needs to be restored to normal. You might need more sources of potassium and anti-inflammatory compounds. These include tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, kale, cabbage, berries, cherries, lentils, salmon, tuna, nuts, garlic, curcumin, and olive oil. One possible recovery meal is tuna salad with tomatoes, olives and pine nuts on spinach. A tasty snack option is cherries and almonds.

Please note that muscle soreness is no longer thought to be caused by a buildup of lactic acid. More often it’s caused by microscopic damage to the muscle fibers from intense work. Pacing yourself during your workout with adequate breaks between sets may help.


American Council on Exercise “What causes muscle soreness and how is it best relieved?” 9/4/09

Harvard Health Publications “Foods that fight inflammation” 8/13/17

Sports Illustrated “Debunking the myths about lactic acid, fatigue and recovery” 7/21/16

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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