4 Nutrition Strategies to Speed Up Muscle Recovery

 November 24, 2016|  Dona Maria

While you can’t prevent all muscle soreness, you can optimize your diet to reduce it and recover fast. What you eat before and after your workout matters. Optimal nutrition is essential to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate muscle-damage repair and recovery. Here are 4 strategies to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery:

#1- Have At Least 20g of Protein Post-Training

Protein intakes post-workout are necessary to repair, rebuild or build new muscle tissue. According to research, 20g of protein post-workout is enough to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and accelerate recovery. In a study, 6 men performed intense exercise and consumed 0, 5, 10, 20 or 40g whole egg protein. Muscle protein synthesis was maximally stimulated at 20g and reached a plateau after 40g.

Take 20 to 40g of protein post-workout. This is equivalent to 100 to 200g of chicken, beef, salmon or 4 to 6 eggwhites. You can also take 1 scoop of whey protein- it’s a fast digesting protein and contain all amino acids needed to activate protein synthesis. It can therefore speed up tissue repair and recovery post-training.

If you’re using Fuel Up, 100g of any protein you pick provides you with 27 to 31g of protein.

#2- Reach For High Glycemic Carbs Post-Training   

No matter what training you did, your body used your muscle stored carbs, also known as glycogen, for energy. Carbs promote insulin release, the hormone that takes glucose and amino acids to your muscles for building, tissue repair and recovery.

Research recommends 0.8 to 1.2g/kg to maximize glycogen synthesis and accelerate muscle repair. But 1.2g/kg may be a lot to eat. For example, if you weigh 100kg, you need 120g of carbs after your training-equivalent to 3 cups of rice!

The combo of 0.2-0.4g/kg protein with 0.8g/kg carbs was shown to stimulate the same insulin release as having 1.2g/kg of carbs only. So if your weight is 70kg, 50 to 60g of carbs post-workout is more than enough to maximize your glycogen synthesis.

High glycemic carbs, or simple carbs, promote faster insulin release. So opt for high glycemic fruit like banana, pineapple and melon;   starchy veggies like potatoes and beets.

If you’re using Fuel Up, 150g of potato or white rice provide you with 30 to 40g of carbs. Add 150g of spinach, green beans or mixed veggies to reach your requirements.

#3- Include Antioxidant-Rich Food In Your Meals

Antioxidants help reduce exercise-induced muscle damage brought on by oxidative stress and inflammation. Top 10 antioxidant rich foods include berries, artichoke, pecans, dark chocolate, kidney beans, spinach and broccoli. For example, blueberries were found to accelerate muscle repair and recovery of muscle strength. In a study, those who had a blueberry smoothie before and after strenuous exercise had less exercise-induced muscle damage and recovered faster than those who had a placebo smoothie. This was related to blueberries’ high antioxidant capacity. Berries are ranked among top high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value antioxidant foods.

Try adding more antioxidant-rich foods in your meals for faster muscle recovery. If you’re using Fuel Up go for oats with berries, choose chocolate based snacks and pick broccoli and spinach as veggie sides for your meals.

#4- Take BCCA Supplements

BCAA or Branched Chain Amino Acids are essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize. So you can only get these from the food you eat.  Many studies showed that BCAA supplementation delayed soreness and accelerated muscle recovery. In one study, BCAA supplementation before squats decreased DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and muscle fatigue for a few days after exercise. In another study, resistance trained males were randomly assigned to either BCAA or placebo. Subjects consumed the supplement for 3 weeks before their 4th week of high-intensity resistance training. The BCAA group had less exercise-induced muscle damage. Finally, males doing intensive resistance training and taking BCAAs before and after their session had reduced markers of muscle damage including DOMS, creatine kinase and maximal voluntary contraction.

Try taking BCAAs 15 to 30 minutes before, during or immediately after your workout when your muscles are most receptive to nutrient up-take.


Moore, Daniel R., et al. “Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 89.1 (2009): 161-168.

Buckley, Jonathan D., et al. “Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 13.1 (2010): 178-181.

Kerksick, Chad, et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 5.1 (2008): 1.

McLeay, Yanita, et al. “Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9.1 (2012): 1.

Howatson, Glyn, et al. “Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9.1 (2012): 1.

Jafari, Hanieeh, J. Barrett Ross, and Chi-An W. Emhoff. “Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Recovery in Highly Endurance-Trained Athletes.” The FASEB Journal 30.1 Supplement (2016): lb683-lb683.

da Luz, Claudia R., et al. “Potential therapeutic effects of branched-chain amino acids supplementation on resistance exercise-based muscle damage in humans.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 8.1 (2011): 1.

Dorrell, Harry, and Thomas Gee. “The acute effects different quantities of branched-chain amino acids have on recovery of muscle function.” (2015).

 November 24, 2016 | Dona Maria
Dona Maria

About the Author

Dona Maria Mesmar is the Nutrition Manager for Kcal Brands. She develops nutrition and diet programs for athletes and provides them with one on one nutrition consultation to help them achieve their body composition goals. She is also a certified fitness instructor, published nutrition writer and has appeared numerous times on national live TV, where she has provided expert advice on nutrition and healthy eating.

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