Recovery time plays a vital role in determining the results of your workouts. Innovative training focuses as much time on recovery as on the activity itself. This is why long-distance runners rely on a whole range of recovery superfoods to restore muscles and reduce inflammation. Whether you are aiming for weight loss or muscle gain, you will need a nutrient-rich diet that can provide optimal energy levels during the run and restore your vitality as your muscles recover.
This article explores some of the recovery superfoods that long-distance runners rely upon and how you can use similar meals to improve your fitness plan.
Top Five Recovery Superfoods For Long-Distance Runners
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Green vegetables contain low calories while maintaining substantial dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Spinach and kales contain nitric oxide, a molecule needed for blood vessel health, and has been shown to delay running fatigue and increase overall running performance. Other vegetables such as cauliflowers, brussels sprouts, and zucchini are also rich in antioxidants. They can be prepared with other meals if you are not into eating raw salads; however, keep in mind that cooking does break down some nutrients in vegetables.
The idea that fermented foods help reduce inflammation after long runs is nothing new. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics which help restore the gut’s natural balance and play an essential role in eliminating toxins and immune system support.
Sauerkraut has been found to contain more than 100 times more vitamin C content compared to fresh cabbages. This increase makes sauerkraut a perfect recovery meal as vitamin C aids in collagen formation, the primary component in connective tissues. The result is that your muscles recover quickly. Long-distance runners also need higher levels of vitamin C to maintain optimal adrenal functions and fight off stress and infection, which are common after running or hiking long distances.
Kefir and gleek yogurt has gained popularity among long-distance runners and endurance athletes for their ability to replace nutrients and fluids. Their unique blend of proteins, minerals, and vitamins is highly recommended for reducing muscle soreness and oxidative stress.
A quick look at some of the best long-distance runners’ diets will show just how prevalent fermented foods are in their recovery efforts. Kenyan runners are especially known to take mursik- a variety of fermented yogurt that’s rich in probiotics. The drink plays a critical role in reducing post-workout GI distress and is rich in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
After a long run, your body will require substantial amounts of proteins to repair worn-out muscles, which is key to faster recovery. Dietitians recommend eating something with proteins and some carbs within 30 minutes of completing a race or training. The protein content also plays a critical role in reducing the body’s response to the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands whenever you experience stress. Cortical imbalance can lead to prolonged exhaustion and increased chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Lean meat offers more protein content and naturally balanced iron and zinc minerals. In addition, runners can enjoy venison, eggs, sardines, chicken, or even salmon after long runs. These meals also contain bioactive proteins that play a role in the formation of joint cartilages.
Protein-rich vegan options include soybeans, almonds, oats, soy, peas, and hemp seeds. These are rich in essential amino acids that the body needs for optimal recovery. Leucine found in protein-rich foods aids in muscle protein synthesis, and it usually gets depleted while excising.
long-distance runners often experience energy drops after long races as most of the carbs get burnt in strenuous exercises. Carbs provide glycogen that your muscle cells need to perform high-intensity movements. A healthy way to replenish your energy needs involves consuming simple carbs such as a sugary drink or white rice to replenish your energy levels quickly. However, complex carbs provide a more balanced and prolonged energy boost for quicker recovery. You can get complex carbs from eating potatoes, pasta, bread, fruits, oats, and chocolate milk.
Aerobic exercises usually deplete fatty acids from the muscle cells as more energy gets expended. Remember that fats play roles other than just being a secondary energy source. They also influence hormonal restoration and cardiovascular health, critical for quick recovery. Unsaturated fats that are rich in omega 3 aid in tissue and joint rebuilding. These are found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, avocados, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and fish.
Post-exercise recovery is not complete without hydrating the body back to the optimal hydration level. Your body uses water to flush out toxins and transport nutrients to the muscle cells aiding in quick recovery. After losing substantial amounts of water to sweat while running long distances, your body will need to regulate its pH and temperature balance, both of which require adequate consumption of water. Failure to rehydrate after a run can lead to muscle tension and soreness, prolonging recovery. Apart from drinking water, you can also rely on other fluids within the two hours after the race.
Some long-distance runners prefer chocolate milk for post-workout hydration due to its high water content, carbs, and essential electrolytes. However, you can also drink coconut water which is rich in antioxidants and nutrients that your body needs to recover fully.
While tea and coffee may contain caffeine, they still have a net positive effect on your hydration levels. Black and green teas are highly recommended due to their high antioxidant levels that aid in lowering cortisol levels and reducing muscle soreness.
Long-distance running can be quite hard on the body and should [be followed by a controlled recovery period during which the body gets to replenish lost nutrients and regrow worn-out tissues. A smart recovery nutrition plan that focuses on regaining lost nutrients and reducing inflammation is a sure way to get your energy and mood levels back to normal after strenuous exercises.