Heals on Meals; 9 Foods that Help Sore Muscles

When you're aching from delayed onset muscle soreness and need relief, look to these 9 foods that help sore muscles and get yourself some heals on meals. 

Most people who are passingly familiar with fitness know that unhealthy processed foods aren’t going to help them recover from their sore muscles. But, instead of just guessing what whole or minimally processed foods can help you overcome muscle soreness, here are 9 of the best foods you can eat to help you heal after a tough workout.

1.   Eggs


A significant part of workout soreness is due to your muscles developing microtears during your workout, which created the uncomfortable soreness as you heal. So, what makes more sense when it comes to addressing muscle regeneration than eating a clean source of protein like eggs?

Consider this—one large boiled egg has only about 70 calories, but has 6 grams of protein, which is 12% of the protein you need on a 2,000 calorie diet. In fact, research has shown that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be prevented by ingesting protein after exercising, and snacking on a couple of eggs after your workout is pretty easy if you prepare some boiled eggs beforehand.

2. Watermelon


You may not want to eat a donut after a workout (unless you've deadlifted), as it can impede your recovery, but indulging in natural sugar from a watermelon may be just the thing you need for recovery.

Watermelon is packed with L-citrulline, which can reduce muscle soreness. Also, since this fruit is rich in amino acids, it can help rebuild muscles which have taken a beating during your workout.

3. Coffee


Not only is coffee helpful post-workout when you are feeling a little drained, but research has shown that about two cups of coffee can reduce pain from DOMS. However, it’s best if you don’t smother your coffee in cream and sugar, as excess sugar can have a negative effect on your recovery process.

4. Seeds & Nuts

seeds and nuts

After a tough workout, it can be hard to stomach much, especially if muscle pain has already set in. If you have difficulty facing eating a meal after a strenuous workout, keeping a mix of nuts and seeds can help enormously. Not only are nuts and seeds packed with nutrients that can help your body rebuild, but the high protein and healthy fats can assist with mood issues. For some specific nuts and seeds you should indulge in, here are some of the best:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds

Another bonus of nuts and seeds is that they are easily paired with other foods, such as protein-rich Greek yogurt and other light foods that won’t upset a tender stomach.

5. Salmon


Clearly, salmon is a great source of protein. But like nuts and seeds, salmon is also a fantastic source of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. In just a 3 oz cut of Atlantic salmon, you can have 177 calories, 11 grams of fat, 17 grams of protein, and even more vitamins and minerals packed into just a small piece of this fish.  

With all these nutrient, your body has the things it needs to recover more quickly from a grueling workout. The omega-3s are particularly helpful in attending to muscle soreness, as these fatty acids can help fight off inflammation in the muscle by decreasing swelling and increasing blood flow.

6. Cottage Cheese

cottage cheese

If you really want to increase your protein intake, then cottage cheese needs to start making a regular appearance on the menu. This unassuming food has a whopping 27 grams of protein in just a cup of cottage cheese and is an overall excellent source of casein protein, which is a high-quality protein that contains all the essential amino acid that you need.

While it is clear that protein, in general, helps with muscle recovery, a study looked specifically at how casein protein like cottage cheese helps individuals overcome muscle soreness. In the study, those participants who consumed casein protein experienced high levels of muscle protein synthesis, compared to those who just took a placebo supplement.

7. Mānuka Honey


One of the most potent and beneficial types of honey in the world, Mānuka honey comes from just one plant that lives in New Zealand. This monofloral honey is exceptional as it is packed with health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties that help suppress muscle inflammation to antioxidants which can help get rid of free radicals which can build up after aerobic exercises.

By adding Mānuka honey to your post-workout snack like cottage cheese or even drizzled in coffee, you can double-down on the benefits of the honey and other ideal muscle soreness fighting foods.  

8. Cherries


Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These dual properties help ease muscle soreness and reduce the damage that is done by the free radicals that you can accumulate as you exercise.

Also, you can choose to eat the cherries as whole fruit or opt for tart cherry juice. Researchers found that tart cherry juice helped to reduce muscle damage and assisted with workout recovery by testing a group of marathon runners. And if there’s a group who understands muscle soreness, it’s long-distance runners.  

9. Spinach


Last, but certainly not least, spinach is a powerhouse vegetable. Not only is it low in calories, but this dark leafy green is packed with nutrition, from a considerable amount of iron to vitamin A. It is also easy to incorporate spinach into a meal as a salad or throw it into a post-workout smoothie.

Its anti-inflammatory properties can help ease inflamed muscles, and spinach’s high nutrient density will work in your favor as it boosts your body’s ability to recover from the toughest workout.

By eating these post-workout foods and avoiding foods that are bad after workouts, you should be able to recover faster, so your next workout isn’t spent fighting your sore muscles.

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