Recovery is often greatly undervalued. It is in the recovery in which you become a faster, stronger, and more efficient as an athlete. A major key to recovery is cooling down the inflammation that you created in the workout session. Whether it was a lifting session, HIIT, or a long endurance effort, they all create a large amount of inflammation. Our bodies are incredibly efficient at reducing inflammation post-workout through its complex systems, but sleep, hydration, and nutrition all essential deal breakers that can either slow or speed up the body to full recovery. Although many athletes have a common knowledge of macronutrients, fat, protein, and carbohydrates, many are ignorant of the essential micronutrients and unique compounds that have incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
1. Oranges – This bright orange fruit is known for its rich source of vitamin C. Bringing over 100% of your DRV of vitamin C, oranges often always bring less than 100 calories. Vitamin C plays an essential part in reducing oxidative stress, which is caused by working out, and also carbohydrate metabolism. A lesser-known benefit of oranges is that they are low in FODMAPS. FODMAPS are a group of sugars that cannot be digested, thus are very susceptible to fermentation and further gut distress. Foods lower in FODMAPS can certainly be safer options to eat come the day of an endurance event or game.
2. Sardines – These small fish are known as one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the earth. Low in mercury and high in protein, sardines also pack a big punch worth of Vitamin B, an essential vitamin for metabolizing your food into energy. The biggest highlight in this fish is the high source of omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids play a huge role in anti-inflammatory properties. Another great reason to add these nutrient-dense fish to your diet is because of the portability and cost. Many grocery stores carry 3-4 ounce cans of sardines packed in olive oil or water which are a healthy, convenient meal on the go.
3. Grass-fed Beef – The reason animal protein triumphs over plant protein are because of their bioavailability. Many plant foods are rich in antinutrients, compounds that often prevent you from absorbing most of the vitamins and minerals that plant-based advocates boost they have. In fact, many of these antinutrients such as gluten, lectins, and phytic acid can cause more inflammation in the body. Grass-fed beef is rich in protein, vitamin A, and Vitamin E. Both A and E are powerful antioxidants. Grass-fed Beef is much higher in omega 3 and healthy fats whereas conventional beef will be higher in omega 6 fats and less healthy fats. The healthy fats and bioavailable nutrients of grass-fed meat will also help balance your blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar in check will help prevent cravings and also lower inflammation.
4. Sweet Potatoes – Believe it or not, potatoes are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the earth. The sweet potato even brings another great vitamin into the mix, Vitamin A. Vitamin A is responsible for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. The health of your skin is actually a very important part of endurance athletes, as the runners and cyclists spend all of their time out on the roads, often exposed to many pollutants and toxins. One medium sweet potato brings in over 400% of your DRV of vitamin A, 30% DRV of Vitamin C, and 15% DRV of potassium. This means one medium sweet potato is bringing in just as much potassium as a banana with way more other great nutrients. Great use of sweet potato is to cube them up, drizzle some olive oil and bake in the oven at 400F for roughly 30 minutes, or until u can stick a fork through them. Add two eggs and a pinch of natural salt to that to make a nutrient-packed post-workout meal!
5. Brazil Nuts – These large oval-shaped nuts are known for their high-calorie content, but bring a boatload of unique nutrients to help combat inflammation post-workout. Just three of these large nuts bring over 300% of your DRV of selenium. Selenium is an essential mineral responsible for fighting oxidative stress, a big cause of acute inflammation caused by workouts. Selenium is also a major supporter of thyroid function. A low functioning thyroid can bring exhaustion and a slowed metabolism. The healthy fats in these nuts can also support preventing injury and the overall health of your brain.