The Best Foods To Eat For Recovery

The Best Foods To Eat For Recovery

The concept of “recovery” when it comes to exercise commonly inspires thoughts of foam rollers, ice baths, massages, acupuncture, and even sleep.

We often overlook one of the most powerful tools we have to support to recovery: nutrition.

Eating the right foods can help improve your recovery and therefore, boost your endurance, power, and speed in your sport.

We can’t make progress without proper recovery.

People stretching to help with recovery

We tend to think that exercise is the way we achieve the results we’re after. However, exercise is only the stimulus to change. In fact, fundamentally speaking, exercise is a source of stress. It creates a demand on the body — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but without proper rest and recovery, we can’t actually make progress.

Our bodies repair and strengthen, and therefore, adapt, in the time between workouts. Intense exercise puts the body in a state of breakdown (or catabolism). Time spent in this state needs to be balance with time spent in a state of building (anabolism). Without proper recovery, the stress of exercise can accumulate and become chronic, creating low-grade inflammation that impedes our goals and negatively affects our health.

Your diet may be causing inflammation.

Stress and inflammation are unavoidable. But the goal is that they are short term occurrences, and the body is able to effectively deal with them and rebalance. One of the most common hindrances to this is a diet that fuels low-grade, chronic inflammation.

When it comes to nutrition, inflammation is often caused by foods that are highly processed and lacking in vital nutrients, foods that interfere with digestion and gut health, and personal food intolerances. Some foods cause more inflammation than others, and although these can differ for each individual, certain foods are inflammatory for everyone. These include:

  • Highly refined grain products: white bread, pasta, and anything made from flour

    • These are stripped of their natural vitamins and minerals and can interfere with digestion and blood sugar balance

  • Processed vegetable and seed oils: corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and peanut oil

    • The fatty acids in these oils are precursors to pro-inflammatory hormones in the body

  • Refined and artificial sweeteners: white sugar, corn syrup, sucralose, and aspartame

    • These impair healthy blood sugar handling and lead to an insulin response, which is inflammatory by nature

  • Certain proteins: gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye), casein (found in dairy), and soy

    • These can interfere with healthy digestion and stress the gut, leading to immune responses that cause inflammation

Dealing with inflammation distracts the body from other, crucial tasks.

Consuming these foods on a regular basis means your system has to work overtime to deal with inflammation. This can distract our bodies from their regular roles. If the source of the inflammation is not addressed, it will continue to cause damage. This is one of the reasons why Kettlebell Kitchen pays close attention to avoiding these foods and focusing instead on options that provide the nutrition you need to thrive.

Keep in mind that you may not notice an immediate response from these foods. It’s fairly common to have symptoms without realizing it. The best way to find out which foods affect you is by eliminating the above foods from your diet for a minimum of 30 days. The Whole30 Program is a great way to do this. You can then reintroduce foods one at a time (if you choose) to see how your body reacts.

You can fight inflammation and boost recovery with specific foods.


There are certain nutrients that help our bodies handle inflammation. These include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: found in wild fatty fish, chia and flaxseeds, and walnuts

    • These help our bodies make anti-inflammatory hormones

  • Curcumin: found in tumeric

  • Enzyme-rich foods: raw vegetables, pineapple, and papaya

  • Ginger

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: found in olives, olive oil, avocado, avocado oil, and raw nuts and seeds

  • Collagen: found in animal bone, joint, and connective tissue. You can also obtain collagen from bone broth or a grass-fed collagen supplement

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