Our lifestyles today are so busy and often we do not have time to eat the “right” foods. We wake up early in a rush to beat the traffic and get to work, then from the office we rush to the gym, where we workout and on our muscles, grabbing take away’s afterwards, which doesn’t really contain any healthy food that supports muscle repair. We then head straight back home to prepare for a meeting with our managers or our board of directories for the next morning.
This has become our way of living in the 21st Century and chances are that you are eating out or buying take aways more often than you are eating nutritionally well-balanced, home cooked meals.
Our lives are so busy and our bodies are so nutritionally undernourished that even when we do make time for gym and exercise, our muscles are taking much longer than usual to recover to a point that we can hit the gym effectively again.
It is said that our nutritional habits contribute to just over 80% of any healthy lifestyle, the other factors being exercise and getting sufficient rest. Let’s look at six healthy foods that support muscle repair in a bit more detail:
Spinach: It seems that the cartoons were right and that Popeye the Sailorman was on to something when he consumed spinach for extra strength and power. Spinach contains a compound which has proven to aid in protein synthesis and helps in the repair of muscles. Spinach is a food that you should never ever skimp out on. Best eaten in a protein shake or steamed with other veges.
Eggs: With one egg containing as much as 10g of protein, it is difficult to think that we take such a nutrition rich food for granted. Protein is the primary building block of muscle, so eating eggs every morning strengthens muscles and aids in their recovery. Eggs are readily available and are extremely easy to prepare. If you can’t stomach eggs early in the morning, aim to have them for morning tea.
Chocolate Milk: Something that would not usually be considered as a food that would aid in the recovery of muscles and that should be relegated to the junk food section is now proving to be a “superfood”. Chocolate Milk has a great balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It also contains more potassium and electrolytes than water, making it a better drink for re-hydrating and repairing the muscles after exercising. Drink this only after a workout, this is still high in unwanted fats!
Green Tea: Green Tea is one of the surprises when it comes to repairing muscles, but it works because it transports glucose directly into the muscle cells instead of storing it in the body as fat. A bonus is that it contains antioxidants that aid in muscle recovery from training and other strenuous exercises. Green tea is also good for the immune system, so drinking it with every meal is a great option.
Meat: Meat is an unrivaled source of protein. One should always seek out fish, chicken and turkey first as they are low in fat, but red meat also does an excellent job of repairing and building muscles. Meat provides all the essential nutrients for muscle repair including iron, zinc and B-vitamins. An added bonus is that meat also contributes to healthy bones. If you are eating red meat, aim to do this only once or twice a week, as it takes a while for the body to break it down properly.
Nuts: Nuts are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, potassium and magnesium. Nuts are also a potent source of vitamin E, which is important for your muscles because it is an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage after work outs. Having less free radicals in your muscles (and your overall immune system) means that they can repair themselves faster.
Most of us are aware that there is a link between good health and good nutrition, so whether you are a professional athlete a weekend sports warrior or a daily gym junkie, adding these foods to your daily diet will result in improved performance and a speedy recovery of muscles between exercise sessions.
Make sure that you are stretching your muscles after each workout as well and if you notice any knots, you need to get a remedial massage to remove those. Contact me today and I’ll come to you!