Foods to Help Muscle Recovery | Q+A

Foods to Help Muscle Recovery | Q+A

Question:

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.

Answer:

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.

Resources:

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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Quick Tips For Fast Weight Loss | Q+A

Quick Tips For Fast Weight Loss | Q+A

Question:

I’m 5′ 8.5″ and 160 lbs., and want to lose 10 lbs. over the next 3 weeks. How many calories do I need to burn per day to accomplish that, assuming I spend 6-8 hrs. per week at gym with moderate walk and weights?

– Robin B.

Answer:

You will need to amp up your calorie burn to reach a large enough deficit to effectively lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks, even if you were to follow a bare minimum 1200 calorie plan! Below that amount, low calorie diets may only change the scale, not your physique, and rarely provide adequate nutrients. Medically supervised very low calorie diets (800 cals/day) are effective for those significantly overweight, which you are not.

Rapid weight loss from a short-term intervention usually means water loss (not fat) plus regain later. Why not identify areas of your current diet that need tightening and find ways to move more during the day outside the gym?  You can read our biggest weight loss tips by clicking here.

– 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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Celiac Disease & Diet | Q+A

Celiac Disease & Diet | Q+A

Question:

I have celiac and am lactose intolerant. I have just started working out with a personal trainer. My problem is that I’m not gaining weight (rather than not losing weight). My diet consists mainly of meat, vegetables, and fruit. Any suggestions as to how I should modify my diet in order to gain weight and muscle mass?

– Jerry

Answer:

You’ve got the basics down, Jerry. Building lean mass means having the extra energy and building blocks to create new fibers. You may be eating the right foods, but not enough. Or you could be missing the high-calorie essentials that make gaining weight easier. Vegetables and fruit just aren’t energy-rich, save for avocados, olives and dried fruits. Meats, poultry and seafood can be lean or fatty depending on the cut/fish. Regardless of your present choices, adding sugar and fat are the primary ways to boost calories without straying from current foods.

Normally I’d recommend cheeses, and there are enzymes you can chew for lactose intolerance. Meats can be enriched with true gravies, oil-based sauces like pesto and chimichurri, and sautéed mushrooms or garlic. Complex carbohydrates are a staple for building muscle and there are several gluten-free options like potato, corn and rice. The bonus of these is that they go well with butters or margarines for extra calories.

Here are simple suggestions as to how one could bump up the calories from a basic diet of meat, vegetables and fruit:

plain oats → oatmeal w/ ground pecans, raisins, and honey

fruit or vegetable juice → smoothie consisting of avocado, banana, and coconut milk

grilled chicken breast, asparagus → light and dark meat chicken w/ BBQ sauce, bacon wrapped asparagus, homemade mashed potatoes made with dairy free margarine and unsweetened milk substitute

steak, peppers,  onion stir fry → same, plus guacamole and roasted corn

fresh fruit salad → ambrosia-style w/ nuts, shredded coconut and gluten-free marshmallows

iced coffee → coffee soy dessert

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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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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Shredding For The Wedding | Q+A

Shredding For The Wedding | Q+A

Question:

I am trying to slim down for my wedding next June. I am 5′ 3″ and woke up at 129 pounds this morning but fluctuate a few pounds regularly. I work out for the most part 5 days a week switching each day a different aspect of weight lifting for different body parts (chest, legs, arms, etc.). I do not do a lot of cardio, maybe 5-10 minutes after a non-leg day work out – usually treadmill. I know my lack of continued weight loss is partially due to my diet but would love some advice on what I should try to eat more of. I do try to eat salads and chicken and such. Sorry if this is too generic. Let me know if you need more info to properly answer. Thank you in advance.

– Danielle S.

Answer:

Dear bride-to-be, I’m so glad you’re addressing your shape now and not at the last minute!  Your desire to focus on what to eat more of shows your positive attitude. You can’t go wrong with more vegetables and water. Try to get at least 3 cups of veggies and 6 glasses of straight water daily. More calories in the morning versus late afternoon/evening can be key to burning off what you do eat. If your diet is relatively fat-free, it could leave you hungry. A spoonful of healthy fat at each meal can help keep you satisfied and may actually prevent greater calories later. As the American Council on Exercise* puts it, “Including fat at each meal will help you to feel fuller for longer, balance blood sugar level, and increase your satisfaction with each meal.”  Of course you can’t add things to your diet without reducing calories elsewhere.

For stress-free dieting, consider eating your meals with a FIRST, THEN approach:

FIRST plan your meals, THEN shop for what you need. FIRST pack your lunch, THEN you can supplement if plans change. FIRST have a glass of water, THEN eat your meal. FIRST eat your vegetables, THEN your other meal components. FIRST eat fresh fruit, THEN if still hungry have a teacup size of dessert.

Be sure to stay tuned and keep reading our Living Healthy blog for more weight loss articles, menu suggestions and healthy recipe ideas.

* https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/6292/fat-friend-or-foe-and-how-much-should-you-eat/

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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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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Vegans, Say Goodbye to Bloating | Q+A

Vegans, Say Goodbye to Bloating | Q+A

Question:

I am a vegan and was just wondering if you could give me some tips on my diet. I have been eating lots of beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables but I’ve noticed that I feel bloated. How many servings of proteins such as bean or lentils do you recommend daily? Are there any other sources of protein you recommend?

– Alyssa S

Answer:

Many plant foods contain fermentable components that cause gas and bloating. These compounds are known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) and certain sources have more than others. Since the list of foods high in FODMAPs is quite extensive, I’ve referenced it here. Following a diet low in FODMAPs is usually to treat gastrointestinal disorders and is best done under the supervision of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or gastroenterologist familiar with a low FODMAPs diet.

As you’re probably aware, fruit and fats/oils have negligible protein. Beans, lentils and peas are the best source of vegan protein (by weight) and two half-cup servings are recommended daily. Nearly complete amino acid profiles are found in soybeans and soy products. Since they aren’t high in methionine, you’ll need other legumes and grains to meet your methionine need. These should be eaten nearly every meal. To round out your amino acid profile with grains and beans, you should consume about an equivalent of 2 ounces of nuts daily, such as ¼ cup almonds or ½ C pumpkin seeds.  This will help meet the remainder of your protein requirement.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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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.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

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