Experts Reveal The 9 Best Foods To Eat When Your Muscles Are Sore AF After A Workout

by Georgina Berbari

You know the feeling when you're so ridiculously sore after an intense workout that you can barely convince yourself to stand up, let alone execute normal, everyday activities? Like that time you challenged yourself to do 100 squats in one workout, or that fitness class you went to that, for some reason, focused on burpees way too much? Same, girl. The thing is, though, you may have been able to prevent a solid amount of your discomfort by including a couple of foods for sore muscles in your post-workout meal.

But before we get into what those yummy foods are, let's talk about why that soreness happens in the first place. According to Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and a certified American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is “a response to damaged individual muscle fibers.” He told Women's Health, "The very easy explanation is that you break muscle fibers down during exercise, and then your body builds them back up while healing, causing inflammation." So, basically, even though soreness doesn't exactly feel pleasant, it usually means you did something right in your workout, and as a result, your muscles are growing, repairing, and making you stronger.

You can ease your sore muscles after a workout in a lot of different ways — foam rolling, cooling down with the right stretches, etc. — but you might not know that there are certain foods that can not only relieve your soreness, but help your muscles recover more quickly, too. Try incorporating any of these nine foods into your post-workout snacks so you can get back to killin' the game at SoulCycle.

Chia Seeds
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If you love whipping up a delish smoothie to help you cool down after a sweaty workout, Morgan Bettini, MS, RDN, a dietitian and yoga teacher, recommends sprinkling some chia seeds into your blender to combat muscle soreness.

"Chia seeds are a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, [which] help reduce inflammation," Bettini tells Elite Daily over email. "Consider a recovery smoothie with blended chia seeds, or sprinkle them on your post-workout snack."

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Another easy smoothie addition? A bit of fresh ginger, says Bettini. "Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory food for reducing muscle soreness," she says.

If you're not into putting ginger in your smoothie, the dietitian suggests you make yourself a warm mug of homemade ginger tea, or you can add ginger into a stir-fry dishyum.

Tart Cherry Juice
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If you thought cherries were just for the summer months, think again. "Tart cherry juice improves muscle soreness among athletes in several studies," Bettini tells Elite Daily. "Adding it to your daily smoothie immediately post-workout can be helpful [for DOMS]."

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Pineapple may be considered a summer fruit, too, but according to Dr. Alex Tauberg, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and sports chiropractor, it can help to relieve your sore muscles any time of year.

"If you are having pain after you work out and need to recover quickly, go out and get yourself a pineapple," Dr. Tauberg tells Elite Daily over email. "Pineapple can help to reduce inflammation, and it also has analgesic [i.e. pain-relieving] effects."

Coconut Water
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Hydrating before, during, and after a workout is always important, but according to Rachel Fine, a registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, it might not be a bad idea to slip some coconut water in there, too.

"To best battle muscle cramping, try hydrating throughout hard workouts with some coconut water (in addition to plain water)," she tells Elite Daily. She explains that the drink provides a healthy dose of potassium and magnesium, which can help your muscles recover more quickly after a tough workout.

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Eggs provide an eggsellent (I'm sorry, I had to) source of protein and leucine (aka an amino acid that plays a big part in muscle growth), both of which are awesome for muscle recovery, says Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, a success and wellness coach, trained holistic health counselor, and president and CEO of Power Living Enterprises, Inc.

"Boil a few [eggs] and keep them in the refrigerator for a quick post-workout meal," she tells Elite Daily over email, "or make an omelette with spinach for an added boost."

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If you're not munching on nuts after your low-key regrettable burpee challenge, get on it, fam. "Nuts are an easy, on-the-go snack packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and promote muscle growth," Kennedy explains.

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Kennedy also recommends salmon as a great post-workout, inflammation-fighting food. "Salmon is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and lean protein — all of which help restore muscles and help prevent soreness," she explains.

Enjoy some grilled salmon on top of a bed of spinach, and your muscles will thank you, my friend.

Sweet Potatoes
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It's time to reignite your love affair with sweet potato fries, peeps. "Sweet potatoes are a wonderful source of vitamin C and beta carotene, and they help build back your glycogen stores, which get can depleted after a strenuous workout," Kennedy says.

The wellness coach recommends cutting them into your desired thickness and baking them with some coconut oil and cinnamon. "You'll get some good fatty acids," she says, "and the cinnamon will help regulate blood sugar as a bonus."