All athletes experience delayed-onset muscle soreness after a workout, thanks to small tears that occur within the muscle fibers during exercise. The level of soreness varies, based on the intensity of the workout and how well-trained your muscles are to perform certain exercises.
Diet also plays a role. Research shows that many fruits contain nutrients that can help sore muscles recover more quickly after exercise. The top three are tart cherries, pineapple and watermelon. Consuming at least 10 ounces of tart cherry juice, 1 1/2 cups of pineapple or 2 cups of watermelon after a workout can help reduce muscle damage and speed up recovery.
Here are three easy ways to incorporate these fruits into a refreshing post-workout treat.
Cherry Mango Smoothie
Tart cherries naturally have high amounts of antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation caused by exercise to aid in quicker recovery and reduce pain. The best benefits come from consuming tart cherries, in any form, consistently after workouts, so find a recipe you like and stick with it! Try this Cherry Mango Smoothie for a kick of antioxidant goodness and vitamin C boost to keep your immune system strong.
Makes 1 serving
- 1 cup frozen tart cherries
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup frozen mango
- Additional 3/4 cup water
- Place the cherries and mangoes in separate bowls and let them thaw for about 10 minutes.
- Place the cherries and a ½ cup water in the blender and blend on high until smooth. Add the other ¼ cup of water if it seems too thick. Pour into a glass.
- Rinse the blender and add the mango with ½ cup water. Blend on high until smooth. Add more water if needed. Pour into the glass on top of the cherry layer.
Pineapple Ice Cream
Pineapple helps reduce muscle soreness through bromelain, an enzyme easily absorbed and utilized quickly within the body to help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. This recipe includes an additional anti-inflammatory spice, cinnamon.
Makes 2 servings
- 2 frozen ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and enjoy with a spoon.
Note: This recipe can be made into smoothie consistency by adding ½ cup milk to the mixture.
Strawberry Watermelon Popsicles
Finally, watermelon has a high water and carbohydrate content, along with potassium to help you rehydrate and replenish energy quicker. It also contains nutrients such as l-citrulline, lycopene, vitamin A and vitamin C—all antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Eat it by itself or make these yummy Strawberry Watermelon Popsicles for a nice way to rehydrate and cool off.
- 3 cups fresh watermelon, cubed
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 4 fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp honey
- Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until frozen solid.
Finally, don’t forget to check in with your sports dietitian to make sure you are meeting your individualized carbohydrate and protein needs to help reach your specific goals for refueling after workouts.