It’s week 4 and you’re still going strong!
In week 3 we discussed protein and the role it plays in muscle recovery. Hopefully you’ve started to incorporate good quality protein sources into your meals and snacks as well as around your workouts. This week we’re talking about recovery supplements.
Magnesium works well as a post workout recovery agent, and research has shown it helps muscles to relax.
However, before you jump on the magnesium supplements you should be aware of the type of magnesium you are taking. Rather than taking it in pill form, we recommend getting it from foods such as green leafy veg, figs, bananas, avocados, dark chocolate, beans and fish.
We also recommend an Epsom salt bath. These special salts are rich in magnesium which can be absorbed straight through the skin. This is also the perfect way to reward yourself post workout! So grab a book and relax in the bath for 20 minutes or so. Another way for magnesium to be absorbed through the skin is via magnesium sprays.
The evidence surrounding the need to take supplements to get enough antioxidants is very mixed. Some researchers believe that taking supplements can help to counteract the free radicals (the chemicals produced by the body we talked about in week 1). There’s also an argument that people may not be getting enough from their diet, so supplements are therefore needed. However, other research has shown that antioxidant supplements can have less positive effects, for example, slowing down your response to training.
We suggest that you get your antioxidents from your diet. This can be in the form of fruits and veggies (the richest sources of antioxidants), but green tea and fish are also good options too.
This is a conditionally essential amino acid. An amino acid is a building block of protein and the “conditionally essential” bit means the body can’t always make enough of it itself. Some studies have shown that L-Glutamine helps increase muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness. It does this by reducing inflammation around the muscle and making proteins more available to carry out their jobs. However, doses used in studies have been very high and more research is required.
We suggest that you consume glutamine-rich foods like milk, eggs, seafood and cabbage, rather than take supplements.
Zinc, Iron and Vitamin D
With these nutrients, it’s not necessarily the more the better. It’s about making sure you have enough, as deficiencies can hinder your performance.
You might know zinc as an antioxidant (which we’ve already mentioned) but it’s also important for muscle growth. Make sure you’re getting your fix through seafood, red meat, poultry, chickpeas and almonds are also good sources.
Iron is important for transporting oxygen. Red meat, fortified flours and green veg are good options. Try squeezing some lemon juice onto your broccoli as the vitamin C can help with plant-based iron absorption.
Vitamin D is sometimes called the summer vitamin, and since we’re moving into winter, you should probably think about supplementing. The recommendations are 10ųg a day for adults. Vitamin D is essential for muscle and bone health. While we recommend you supplement this one, also make sure you’re consuming natural sources like salmon, eggs, milk and mushrooms (leaving mushrooms on the window sill can actually increase their Vit D content!)
1-day meal plan
Tasty ideas to get of these nutrients into your diet:
Breakfast — Eggs with mushrooms on rye toast
Lunch — Roasted Chickpea Wrap
Snack — Peach with Greek yoghurt
Dinner — Thai Prawn Ginger and Spring Onion Stir-Fry
Sousa, M., Teixeira, V. H., & Soares, J. (2014). Dietary strategies to recover from exercise-induced muscle damage. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 65(2), 151-163.
Legault, Z., Bagnall, N., & Kimmerly, D. S. (2015). The influence of oral L-glutamine supplementation on muscle strength recovery and soreness following unilateral knee extension eccentric exercise. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 25(5), 417-426.