Hi Jess, now that the summer holidays are over I’ve kickstarted my return to the gym. Issue is the DOMS is hitting me hard, making my motivation low. Any friendly advice on what to eat to help?
Trust me, you're not alone in this struggle. Before we get into how nutrition can aid post-gym recovery, let's look at what DOMS actually is first?
DOMS, short for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is the achy feeling you get in your muscles after a tough workout. When we work out, our muscles go through stress, resulting in tiny muscle fiber tears, that’s when the discomfort occurs. Often this feeling remains for 1-2 days post activity - a reminder from your body that you’ve put in the hard work.
Getting your nutrition right around your training can enhance recovery and ease the symptoms associated with DOMS. Although you can’t entirely escape it. DOMS is a natural part of the adaptation process. Here are my top five nutrition tips to aid recovery:
We hear about it all the time, but protein is essential after a workout as it plays such an important role in muscle recovery and repair. However, there’s no need to rush for that protein shake immediately after exercising.
Instead aim for a more balanced approach, consuming around 20g of protein regularly throughout the day (read our article on how much protein you need for more details).
These are essential for fueling your workouts and a crucial part of recovery. Opt for whole grain options such as wholemeal bread, rice, and sweet potatoes, as these provide sustained energy while refilling your muscle glycogen stores.
A simple, but crucial tip. Dehydration can worsen muscle soreness, so aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day. After a long, sweaty workout like a hot weather run, consider a drink with electrolytes (like Huel Daily A-Z Vitamins) to replenish lost fluids.
Sources of omega 3 fatty acids, like nuts and flaxseed, can help with easing the symptoms of DOMS as they have anti-inflammatory properties.
Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, can aid with collagen formation which is essential for muscle repair. Also, the mineral magnesium, found in foods like nuts and leafy greens, can help relax muscle contractions and reduce soreness.
These are my top 3 favorite refueling snack ideas:
Peanut butter and banana bagel
Homemade fruit and greek yogurt smoothie
Carrot sticks, hummus and pitta bread
In a nutshell, if you’re seeking relief from achy muscles and DOMS, balanced nutrition can aid in recovery. Prioritize protein, refuel with complex carbohydrates, stay hydrated, include omega-3 rich foods and don’t forget your vitamins and minerals. Find the post workout snacks that work best for you. PB and banana bagel will always be a firm post-workout favorite of mine.
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