Image by Kelly Brooks
Training for a race can be incredibly taxing on the body. The endless miles logged day after day can break down muscles, joints, tendons, and our mental well-being. To be sure that we are able to train and perform both physically and mentally day after day, it is important to give our bodies what they need to recover at lightening speed.
One of the best ways to recover quickly is to keep meals as clean as possible. Processed foods, fried vices, and refined sugars can increase inflammation, which can slow recovery time. Gear your focus towards loading up on lots of raw fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and clean proteins. Below are some staple items to keep on hand for enhancing your diet and shortening your recovery time.
This orangey-yellow root vegetable (used as a spice in many cuisines) is loaded with curcumin – a powerhouse antioxidant that fights inflammation and boosts immune function. Keeping inflammation low is the number one tool for aiding in recovery. Add this bright spice to your smoothies, juices, and salad dressings to bump up your intake of curcumin. NOTE: Curcumin requires black pepper to aid in the activation of its anti-inflammatory properties. Add a pinch of black pepper to unleash the beast.
A very potent root, ginger contains powerful antioxidants and enzymes that help reduce inflammation and muscle pain. Like turmeric, this can be added to smoothies, juices, and dressings, as well as stir-fries, and soups. A little goes a long way and can overpower a dish, so be sure to start small!
Coconut water, in its purest form, is a great source of hydration and electrolytes. Staying hydrated throughout the week, whether before, during, or after a workout is incredibly important. Proper hydration allows for faster delivery of nutrients and helps rid the body of pesky toxins. Electrolytes help with many cellular functions within the body, such as muscle contraction, nerve transmission, energy production, and the metabolism of nutrients.
Pineapple has a superhero within it and its name is bromelain. Bromelain not only helps reduce inflammation but also aids in digestion – two for the price of one! These super enzymes help remove metabolic waste and breakdown food for better absorption. The better your digestive system is working, the easier time your body will have in making use of nutrients for recovery.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which keep our immune systems strong. The cumulative stress placed on our bodies over time while training can break down our immune systems and lead to illness. Load up on blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries to counteract immune system depletion.
Protein is the master of rebuilding muscles after they’ve been broken down during the daily grind. When selecting a protein it’s important to aim for clean, low acidity proteins. Keeping our bodies in a more alkaline state is very important for proper immune function, allowing good bacteria in the stomach to thrive, and preventing an abundance of inflammation. Aim for plant-based proteins whenever possible like hemp, pea, and brown rice. Avoiding proteins that contain the word “isolate” is important, as these types of proteins have been heavily processed. Processing leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to extra wear and tear on the body. Your life’s new motto: The cleaner the better.
RECIPE: Miami Vice Recovery Smoothie
1 C coconut milk
1 C frozen pineapple
1 C frozen strawberries
1/4 C coconut water
1/4 C plant-based yogurt (like Kite Hill or SoDelicious)
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 scoop protein powder
1 Tbsp coconut butter
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp ashwaganda root powder (also known as Indian ginseng)
pinch of coarse sea salt
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until combined. Pour into a glass, sip, imagine yourself on the beach, enjoy, and recover.
If using fresh fruit rather than frozen, add a handful of ice during the blending process to cool it all down.