Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts.

Lee-Anne Wann: Foods to relieve post-workout pain

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Nuts, eggs and salmon are all great foods to help with healing and recovery. Photo / Getty
Nuts, eggs and salmon are all great foods to help with healing and recovery. Photo / Getty

We all know what it can feel like the day after a particularly tough exercise session. And while a little muscle pain can be desirable, severe muscle pain can be downright debilitating. (Yes, those of you who squat know what I mean when I say it's difficult to get off the toilet seat.)

So what can we do to help reduce the pain and get us back on our way?

Here are five great food choices that can accelerate recovery and reduce muscle pain.

1. Spice up your meals with ginger and turmeric

Turmeric has been around the sporting world for a while now and touted as a great option to improve recovery and reduce inflammation in the body.

Turmeric contains the compound curcumin which can reduce pain and inflammation meaning less DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Try adding it to stir-fry vegetables or mixing through some mashed kumara and a little coconut oil or butter.

Ginger is another great addition as it also comes from the rhizomes plants known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Add some diced, fresh ginger when grilling your chicken, blend into a smoothie or simply make a ginger tea.

2. Add eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein which help with healing and recovery. They are an excellent source of leucine, which is one of the most important amino acids for building muscle, so they're perfect for after a training session.

Research states eating eggs can enhance energy production and aid in muscle repair while providing some good antioxidants.

Don't be afraid to include eggs in your nutrition. While we once thought they were a deciding factor in elevated triglycerides, heart disease or high cholesterol, we now know this is not the case.

3. Snack on raw nuts

Adding a variety of nuts to your nutrition can be a great way to improve recovery and enhance health.

Brazil nuts, for example, are most known for raising testosterone and contain selenium, magnesium and zinc - all important for balancing hormones and recovering optimally.

Almonds are another great option to include for recovery and boosting energy along with walnuts and pecans. Try mixing with raw vegetables, coconut shavings, or eat as a snack on their own. They are also an easy, portable option to always have on you, in your desk at work or in the car.

4. Water, water and more water

As boring as this sounds, I would be remiss to leave it out. Drinking water is imperative to optimise recovery and reduce inflammation.

Water is essential and a decrease in as little as 2 per cent can reduce strength and performance when training because it causes a drop in blood plasma volume so that energy does not reach the cells.

Staying hydrated is key for everyone all of the time, not just when we exercise. Try starting your day with 250mls of water and set yourself a water goal throughout the day so when you do go to exercise you are already hydrated and can continue to be.

5. Include salmon on your recovery plan

The omega 3 fats from salmon can help reduce inflammation and aid in recovery.

It's a great idea to add it in 2-3 times per week as part of your general meal planning for great health. It's also an excellent option as a meal a few hours after a hard training session.

If you're not a fan of salmon, fish oil capsules are a good alternative - just be selective with your brand and choose a reputable one.

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Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts.

Lee-Anne Wann is one of New Zealand’s most trusted health and fitness experts. She is the Vodafone Warrior’s team nutritionist, ambassador for Men's Health Trust NZ and runs a health and consultancy business.

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