11 Foods for Muscle Health
Everyone wants to be fit and eat right. Today, it’s all about strong bodies and healthy lifestyles. There are Instagram feeds dedicated to fitness selfies, blogs replete with clean-eating recipes, and websites brimming with workout plans. Not only are people more interested than ever in fitness and health, they are more aware of what they are putting in their bodies and what these things can do for them.
Good food is essential to fitness and training, and what you eat affects your muscles. Even though we don’t always think about our muscles, except when they ache after a max-out day or running a 5K, muscles are an integral part of our bodies; they're like the body’s engines, turning energy into motion. They enable us to perform our daily activities, like walking or talking, and for the gym rats among us, those endless curls and squats. Our more than 700 muscles made up of thousands of fibers give our bodies strength — and make up almost half of our body weight.
Certain foods help with muscle architecture, while others help to reduce muscle soreness. Eggs can be satisfying in ways that go beyond the flavor of an omelet, because as a complete protein, they can aid in muscle repair and development. Summer favorites as tart cherries are more than just delicious; they do the body good by helping to ease muscle inflammation.
Dr. Michael Hirt, founder of the nationally recognized Center for Integrative Medicine in California's San Fernando Valley, and Michelle Collier, founder of Pennsylvania-based Performance Fitness, offer explanations for how some foods and drinks help your muscle health.
During that long run or right after an intense workout, grabbing a cool sports drink can be refreshing, but also helpful to hardworking muscles. “A healthy, balanced sports drink helps keep the body in aerobic metabolism, burning sugar and fat, longer,” Dr. Hirt says, adding, “When you run out of sugar stores to burn for fuel during exercise, you enter anaerobic metabolism, which is associated with higher acid buildup, which can damage or irritate tissues, or create cramps.”
Is a tall glass of chocolate milk a good thing after a work out? Yes and no, according to Collier. “Chocolate milk is high in carbohydrates and has a decent amount of protein (eight grams), so that makes it a good recovery drink after endurance events (think long distance cycling) or high intensity exercise,” she says. But unfortunately this childhood favorite has some downfalls. She points out that chocolate milk is “high in sugar with 24 grams and calorically dense at 200 calories per eight-ounce serving,” so “chocolate milk may not be the best choice for a recovery drink for average Joes and Janes, especially those concerned with fat loss or weight maintenance.”