There’s nothing worse than your post-workout high being replaced with the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness – also known as DOMS – in the days after a workout. From not being able to climb the stairs the day after an intense leg session, to struggling to wash your hair after training arms – every gym-goer will have experienced the pain at some point. However, if you’re heading back to the gym now that they’re back open, you might be looking for the best food for DOMS to help you reduce muscle soreness. From salmon to beetroot, we’ve got you covered with some of the best post-workout snacks to aid your recovery.
What Causes DOMS?
DOMS can affect anyone, from seasoned gym-goers to those new to exercise. When taking part in eccentric exercise such as lifting weights, microscopic tears occur in the muscle fibres. The body’s natural response to this is to increase inflammation in the area, causing swelling, pain and stiffness.
How to Avoid Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Although it’s not always possible to prevent DOMS after a workout, there are a number of things which can be done to minimise the symptoms, including:
- Staying hydrated before, during and after your workout to ensure your fluid and electrolyte levels remain balanced.
- Ensuring you warm up and cool down effectively after exercise.
- Focusing on progressive overload, increasing reps and weight gradually each session.
- Scheduling in active rest days, such as gentle walking or swimming to keep the blood flowing to sore muscles.
- Eating a nutritious diet, filled with anti-inflammatory foods.
The Best Food for DOMS
When it comes to exercise, nutrition is one of the most important aspects to ensure optimal recovery, progress and vitality. If you’re not fuelling correctly for your workouts, it’s likely that you won’t see the results you’re looking for – whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle or simply improve your aerobic fitness.
If you want to reduce muscle soreness after exercise, then there are a number of different foods for DOMS to include in your diet. From all-important protein and carbs, to foods with anti-inflammatory properties – these are some of the best post-workout snacks to help ease that dreaded muscle soreness.
Watermelon is one of the best foods for DOMS. Made up of 92% water, watermelon is perfect for keeping you hydrated post-exercise, which can go a long way towards reducing DOMS.
But that’s not all – watermelon contains the amino acid L-citrulline, which is converted into the essential amino acid arginine by the body. Both of these amino acids play an important role in nitric oxide synthesis, which dilate blood vessels to increase oxygen and blood flow to the tissues, leading to faster recovery times.
Post-workout snack idea: Blend together some watermelon, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, coconut water and mixed frozen berries for a refreshing, recovery-boosting snack.
The perfect on-the-go snack, bananas boast a number of nutritional benefits for gym-goers. Their high potassium content contributes to reducing muscle soreness after a workout, whilst the carbohydrate helps to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles.
Additionally, the natural sugars in bananas stimulate an insulin response within the body to improve protein absorption into muscles, helping to speed up recovery. Therefore, it’s important to team your post-workout banana with a protein source to maximise muscle recovery.
Post-workout snack idea: Banana and Greek yogurt will provide you with the fats, carbohydrates and protein your body needs to help you to recover from an intense session.
Turmeric has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries, with studies suggesting it has incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it one of the best foods for DOMS.
Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, which is what gives it its vivid yellow colour. In order to activate this compound, turmeric needs to be consumed with a pinch of black pepper, as it contains a compound called piperine, which increases curcumin’s bioavailability by up to 200%.
Post-workout snack idea: Add a Raw Turmeric & Beetroot Shot into your post-workout routine to easily reap all of the benefits.
A rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein, salmon can help to reduce post-workout muscle inflammation. It’s thought that the regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA, can help to reduce the levels of prostaglandin in the body – a compound which contributes to inflammation. In turn, this can help to decrease the dreaded stiffness and pain associated with DOMS.
If you’re looking for a vegan source of Omega-3’s to help reduce post-workout muscle soreness, then walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds are all excellent options. However, no matter which source you opt for - it’s important to ensure you consume a source of Omega-3 every day to keep muscle soreness at bay.
Post-workout snack idea: Combine smoked salmon and cream cheese on a piece of wholegrain toast for the ultimate, balanced post-workout snack that is sure to aid your recovery.
Studies have shown that beetroot can help to reduce muscle soreness in those who exercise regularly. Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, beetroot has been shown to possess incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
When it’s consumed as part of a post-workout snack, it has been shown to ease soreness and speed up recovery – making it the ideal food for regular gym-goers.
Post-workout snack idea: One of the easiest ways to consume beetroot post-workout is to enjoy a Raw Turmeric & Beetroot Shot, allowing you to easily reap all of the benefits and reduce the chances of muscle soreness in the days afterwards.
Tart cherries are filled with compounds called anthocyanins, which is what gives them their deep, rich purple colour. Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce the muscle pain and inflammation which occur after intense eccentric exercise, helping to improve recovery times and reduce DOMS.
In addition to reducing inflammation, tart cherries increase the melatonin levels in the body, helping you to get a restful night’s sleep to further improve your post-gym recovery.
Post-workout snack idea: Blend together a scoop of your favourite protein powder, a small banana, some frozen berries and tart cherry juice for the ultimate DOMS-busting smoothie.
So whether you increase your weekly consumption of salmon to ensure you’re getting in your Omega-3’s, or you add a Raw Turmeric & Beetroot Shot to your post-workout regime - you’ll be giving your body the best chance of quickly recovering from your next gym session.