You’ve made a commitment to healthier living—including exercising regularly. But that post-exercise muscle soreness sometimes gets in the way of your next workout. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many of us suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) quite often. However, recent studies point to promising foods containing certain nutrients that may help combat this pain and speed muscle recovery time.
Researchers recently studied a specific amino acid known as L-Citrulline found naturally in watermelon. It’s believed that this amino acid improves blood flow, while also reducing arterial pressure. A small study conducted in Spain examined the bioavailability of L-Citrulline by offering watermelon juice to athletes as part of their fluid-replacement regimen. Preliminary data indicates that those individuals who were offered juice experienced a reduction in muscle soreness and recovery time after a 24-hour period over the placebo group (Tarazona-Diaz, 2013).
Ways To Enjoy
Try brushing small slices of watermelon with an olive oil-honey mixture and lightly grill for a unique side dish at your next barbeque. You may also try placing chopped melon in a blender with ice, lime juice, and sugar substitute (to taste) for a low-calorie afternoon refresher.
Protein plays a major role in muscle recovery by helping to build and repair tissue.Tempeh, tofu’s lightlyfermented cousin, contains about 30 grams of protein per cup. It is particularly rich in the amino acid L-carnitine, which some studies have shown can be used as a targeted intervention to address mechanical damage within muscle tissue (Connolly, 2003).
Ways To Enjoy
Tempeh has a great deal of versatility and can be enjoyed as a meat substitute in various meals.Try adding it to scrambled eggs with salsa and rolling in a whole-wheat tortilla for a hearty breakfast burrito.Because of its nutty flavor and firm texture, tempeh is also a perfect savory ingredient to add to your favorite soups and stir-fry dishes.
Cherries are rich in a phytonutrient known as anthocyanin, which is the pigment responsible for giving cherries their deep ruby color.This power antioxidant holds precious natural anti-inflammatory agents that are thought to help ease pain.One study looked at long-distance runners and found that ingesting cherry juice for one week prior to and during their runs helped to minimize post-workout muscle pain (Kuehl, 2010).
Ways To Enjoy
Cherry juice can be blended into a healthy smoothie, used to make sauces for your main entrée, or simply poured over a slice of angel food cake with non-fat whipped topping for a quick and easy dessert. For a new twist, try filling an ice cube tray with cherry juice and use the frozen cubes in your favorite beverage.
Tarazona-Diaz, M. et al. (2013). Watermelon juice: Potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,61, 31, 7522-7528.
Connolly, D. et al. (2003). Treatment and prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17, 1, 197-208.
Kuehl, K. (2010). Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,7, 17.
By Gina Crome
Gina M. Crome, M.S., M.P.H., R.D.Gina Crome is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise. She holds a dual Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology as well as a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Loma Linda University whereby she received the Selma Andrews Award for Excellence and Professionalism.
Over the past 20 years, Gina’s mission has focused on guiding individuals towards gaining a better quality of life. She has previously struggled with her own weight issues and has since lost a total of 172 pounds, driving her passion home to promote healthier lifestyles. Gina is available for media interviews and community appearances and she is the author of various online nutrition and fitness columns.