Shop for a good baseline diet first
Before you even consider any specific foods and supplements for recovery you have to make sure your overall diet is solid. Nothing can compensate for a weak breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, find your closest farmer’s market or a decent store and stock up on quality protein, slow carbs, healthy fats, veggies and fruits. If you want to be specific then check out the shopping list from our previous article.
Choose quality protein sources
Protein is the most important building for recovery, so quality matters. The best protein should contain all 21 amino acids in the optimal ratio and it should be easy to absorb too. Animal proteins usually tick both of these boxes so eggs, fish, meat, or Greek yoghurt should make an appearance in your shopping bags. Plant-based proteins are protected by cellulose which makes them a bit harder to digest and they usually don’t have a favourable ratio of amino acids. But there are still some really good options like hemp seeds, quinoa, beans, lentils, peas, or various nuts.
Try out amino acids
If you want to do something extra for your recovery you can try adding some amino acids, those are basically proteins made highly available for your body to utilize right away without much effort.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are three essential amino acids called valine, leucine and isoleucine and studies show that if you take them before exercise they help decrease muscle damage and increase muscle synthesis. An effective dose is 5 g or more at least 1 hour before activity.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that’s been shown to increase exercise capacity, muscle endurance and reduce fatigue. It’s most effective for short and high-intensity exercises. The recommended dose is 2–5 g daily but you should get at least 0,5 g before a workout.
Keep inflammation in check
Inflammation is the essence of recovery in the short term, it causes your body to repair damaged tissues and improve. The problem is when it persists and becomes chronic at that point it actually prevents you from recovering fully.
Buy more fish and fresh veggies because they serve as natural anti-inflammatories. If you train really hard or don’t have a good source of fish (at least once a week) and fresh veggies (every day) then consider supplementing with omega-3s in a form of pills or fish oil.
Avoid buying drinks and foods with sugar and refined grains because they promote inflammation. Only use sugary drinks and energy bars for the hardest training sessions and races. Totally eliminate them in your regular meals and snacks.
Experiment with these recovery foods
Eating dried tart cherries after exercise can dramatically reduce muscle breakdown, pain, and inflammation within the body. Turmeric is full of the inflammation-fighting antioxidant curcumin, which has been shown to decrease delayed onset muscle soreness and ease pain and swelling. Green tea is abundant in anti-inflammatory antioxidants making it the ideal pre- or post-ride drink to prevent muscle and cell damage. And it helps you stay hydrated too!