Race Fueling

How To Eat For Recovery

Your food choices can prevent you from sitting on the sidelines—or help you recover faster.

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Sometimes getting sick or injured while training is beyond your control. But your food choices can prevent you from sitting on the sidelines—or help you recover faster.

Eat To Prevent Illness (colds, minor viruses)

Tip: Establish good pre- and post-training nutrition habits. Grab a recovery drink with quercetin-rich cherries and blueberries to prevent immune suppression, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and excessive tissue breakdown. Get lots of sleep—it assists with nutrient absorption and recovery.

Boost these nutrients:

Iron and zinc (seafood, lean meat, beans) to help prevent infections.
Vitamin C (citrus, fresh melon, berries, peppers); vitamin A (peaches, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale); vitamin E (nuts, seeds, oils) and selenium (seafood, brazil nuts) act as antioxidant protectors from damage caused by training.

RELATED: Help! I’m Sick On Race Week

Eat To Recover From Illness

Tip: Concentrate on quality rather than quantity of food to promote healing and minimize weight gain from being less active.

Boost these nutrients:

Vitamins A and C, zinc and iron, which are the top anti-infection nutrients.
Herbs and spices (ginger, turmeric, cumin, oregano) are known for their gut healing and antioxidant properties.
Probiotics (yogurt, aged cheese, tofu, miso, pickled ginger) help establish good bacteria in the stomach.

RELATED: Outsmart Your Allergies

Eat To Prevent Injury (overuse, bone stress reactions)

Tip: To avoid injury, maintain a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates. Don’t diet during periods of intense training as it increases the risk of stress fractures and decreases muscle function.

Boost these nutrients:
Protein (dairy, chicken, fish, soy beans, red meat) protects muscle and tissues and repairs your cells, bones, etc. Depending on your training phase, protein can range from 80–150 grams per day.
Essential fatty acids (fatty fish, avocados, nuts, oils) for anti-inflammatory properties.
Healthy carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) prevent an increase in stress hormones or overtraining symptoms.

RELATED: Do I Have Overtraining Syndrome?

Eat To Recover From Injury

Tip: A big concern is the fear of gaining weight while taking time off from training. Even though you are burning fewer calories, you still need more calories than your sedentary friends—about 10 percent more to promote healing.

Boost these nutrients:

Vitamin C (citrus, melons, berries, fresh herbs) helps collagen building, bone healing and tissue repair.
Calcium (milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, kale, spinach, chard) is a bone healer as well as Vitamin D (salmon, tuna, egg yolk, plus sunlight 10–15 minutes a day).

RELATED: The Injury-Prevention Diet