5 Best Recovery Foods for Endurance Athletes

Updated on December 21, 2016

A big factor that leads runners to be discouraged is all the aches and pains that can come along with setting a new goal and trying to meet it. It doesn’t matter whether you are training for your first 5K or 100-miler, once you start running further than you ever have, it hurts. Waking up after a run and feeling terribly sore and stiff can leave runners questioning their motivation and abandoning their goals.

As an endurance runner and Registered Dietitian, I have several tricks up my sleeve that allow me to recover faster and train harder. Understanding specific foods and properties of those foods can give you and edge, boost your performance, and have you out running or racing with less recovery time.

Natural Sources of Antioxidants Are One of the Biggest Secrets in Recovery

Antioxidants have become a hot research topic among athletes seeking a faster recovery time. While taking antioxidant supplements seem to provide an easy fix, science is really showing that whole foods, not supplements, allow your body to fully metabolize nutrients and gain all the benefits. Here are 5 of the top nutrient dense foods that can help you recover faster.

1. Spinach

While leafy green vegetables may not be everyone’s favorite food, science shows that it can be a great recovery tool for athletes. Spinach is extremely high is vitamin K, Vitamin A, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, and Iron.

A research study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine looked to evaluate whether chronic daily spinach intake alleviated markers of stress and inflammation in twenty healthy runners. The results showed that by consuming spinach daily, athletes had less muscle damage, recovered quicker, and felt better.

2. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds can be an easy on-the-go snack to pack for re-fueling after long runs. Peanuts, sesame seeds, and pistachios are some of the best to choose because they are high is Coenzyme Q-0. Coenzyme Q-10 is a fat-soluble substance that resembles a vitamin. It plays a significant role in energy production in the body.

Research on Coenzyme Q-10 has revealed that, when consumed on a regular basis, it can reduce exhaustion in muscles and stabilize and rebuild muscle cell membranes.

Another benefit of nuts and seeds, especially flax and chia, is their high omega-3-fatty acid content. Omega-3-fatty acid has been cited in research many times for its effectiveness in decreasing inflammation.

3. Turmeric Root

You can find this root alongside fruits and vegetables in some grocery stores. Turmeric is packed with some of the most potent plant extracts. It is no wonder athletes are reporting significant benefits from it.

In a research study looking at the efficacy of turmeric, athletes were broken up into two groups. One group was given turmeric and the other a placebo. The athletes were then put under stress from high-intensity exercise. The athletes taking turmeric reported “feeling better than usual” and reported experiencing less physical stress during the training day. Turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory so less inflammation after a run can lead to less soreness the next day. There are numerous other ways turmeric can benefit your body.

If you are wondering how to consume turmeric root, try juicing it, cooking with it as a spice, making curry, or adding it to a soup. Because of turmeric’s beautiful yellow pigment, it can be used to brighten up foods and make them more appealing.

4. Tart Cherries

Tart cherries and other dark-colored fruits contain high amounts of nutrients called phytochemicals and anthocyanins. There have been over fifty research studies looking at the effects tart cherries have on health. A specific study evaluating athletes competing in strenuous activity for eight days straight showed that those that were given tart cherry juice showed less muscle stress and muscle damage. You can eat tart cherries fresh, frozen, juiced, dried with nuts or in a pie.

5. Seaweed

Much like nuts and seeds, seaweed is a natural plant source of omega-3-fatty acid. There is plenty of marketing and hype in the media regarding getting fish oil to get your omega-3-fatty acid, but lets study how fish get it. Fish is a rich source of omega-3-fatty acid because they consume seaweed and algae that is a naturally rich source. Why not cut out the middleman and go directly to the source. Research shows that omega-3-fatty-acid delays the onset of muscle soreness. This has huge implications for athletes performing in endurance or multi-day events.

But how do I eat seaweed?

You can add spirulina or blue/green algae to a smoothie with fruit and the flavor is not significantly altered. Another fun way to get more seaweed is making raw sushi or veggie rolls and using the seaweed as the wrapper. Seaweed is also becoming much more of a common snack to see dried and flavored in convenient snack packs.

Conclusion

Research shows that consuming more of these antioxidant-rich superfoods can up your game, enhance your recovery, and get you out training faster. Eating your way to better performance is a much safer approach than seeking out the latest pill or supplement. When your body is sufficiently nourished you will reap the rewards.

Reader Poll

Do you ever consume specific foods to help you recover?

See results

References

Bohlooli, S., Barmake, S., Khoshkhahesh, F., & Nakhostin-Roohi, B. (2015). The Effect of Spinach Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress. Journal of Sports Medicine, 55(6):609-14.

Nakhostin-Roohi, B., & Javanamani, R. (2015). The Effect of Glutamine Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress. Journal of Advanced Agricultural Technologies, 2(1).

Sciberras JN, Galloway SD, Fenech A, et al. The effect of turmeric (curcumin) supplementation on cytokine and inflammatory marker responses following 2 hours of endurance cycling. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(1):5.

Bell, P., Stevenson, E., Davison, G., & Howatson, G. (2016). The Effects of Montmorency Tart Cherry Concentrate Supplementation on Recovery Following Prolonged, Intermittent Exercise. Nutrients, 8(8), 441. doi:10.3390/nu8070441

Burke, K. A., Ebelhar, J. L., & Weiss, E. P. (2009). The Effect Of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation On The Inflammatory Response To Eccentric Strength Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 185. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000354215.91342.08

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://caloriebee.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)