If you are a runner, you are likely to experience muscle soreness, workout cramps, and recovery issues after a long run or intense workout. While there are a plethora of recovery supplements that allow muscle repair and recovery, they aren’t entirely natural.
Sip on these powerful and naturally delicious drinks that promise faster recovery, increased endurance and a boost in your running performance:
On the surface, coconut water may seem like an ordinary clear liquid. However, lately, it has gained great popularity among runners and athletes as an alternative to sports drinks. Cholesterol-free, low in calories and fat-free, coconut water contains carbohydrates that are easily digested, in the form of sugar.
It consists of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium that help fill in the nutritional gaps that occur after exercise. Potassium also works with sodium to maintain water balance and stimulates the muscles so that they can contract and relax at their optimum level.
If you are looking for a natural way to replenish your energy levels and to rehydrate after a tough running session, coconut water is your best bet. You can also mix it with a scoop or two of protein powder to get that perfect carb and protein ration for maximum recovery.
If your athletic regime bars you from consuming any chocolate, you are in for a surprise. As it turns out, chocolate milk is an excellent drink for post-running recovery. The drink you once loved when you were a kid has precisely the right amount of proteins and carbohydrates that your tired muscles need to recover.
Researchers claim that this perfect carbohydrate to protein ratio (3:1 to 4:1) is ideal for boosting recovery time after an intense workout session. It helps rebuild all the fluids and electrolytes that one may lose during a run.
A study led by Joel Stager showed that drinking chocolate milk after running or any intense exercise speeds up recovery process and delays exhaustion time during training better than any sports drink.
Another study found that regular milk or flavored chocolate milk is better than sports drinks or water at restoring fluids of the body. The carbohydrates present in this drink promote quick fuel replenishment while the proteins help repair and build muscle.
Beetroot juice has been quite an endurance-boosting sensation for a few years now, owing to the number of healthy vitamins and minerals it contains. It is a delicious vegetable juice rich in nitrate, a chemical which our body turns into nitric oxide.
This nitric oxide influences many of our biological processes including muscle contraction, lowering blood pressure, etc. Research has it that beetroot juice also improves performance in endurance exercise and promotes faster muscle recovery post-exercise.
A study was conducted which assessed the effects of beetroot juice on recovery between two sprint trials. The participants received either beetroot juice or a placebo after three consecutive days after the initial sprint test and then after the second test performed 72 hours later.
Their voluntary contractions, pressure pain threshold, reactive strength index, etc. were measured before, during after both the sprint tests. According to the results, participants who had beetroot juice exhibited faster recovery regarding their reactive strength index and countermovement jumps.
Green tea is typically famous for its weight-loss qualities and the way it detoxifies the body and cleanses the system. However, recent discoveries have come to show that it is also an excellent drink for runners and athletes for post-exercise recovery.
Green tea is one of those stellar sources of antioxidants like catechins that fight cancer and heart disease. Catechins also help repair muscle damage caused by a hard run. It also contains a significant amount of caffeine which boosts endurance levels and ensures a speedy recovery.
A study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine shows that green tea is the perfect drink for endurance athletes. The researchers of the study fed several doses of green tea to rats after they finished swimming or running.
They noticed that over a span of two weeks, the rats’ endurance increased largely and they were able to recover from their workout much quicker. These researchers went on to say that green tea also has the potential to prevent a decrease in the body’s iron levels.
If you are not big on the flavor of green tea, you can try herbal fruit teas which are also full of health-boosting properties. You can even get a herbal fruit tea sampler for yourself and see which flavor you like the most.
While this may come off as surprising, whole natural foods like fruits and vegetables have high potential to fuel training and also promote fast and proper recovery as efficiently as any engineered food.
They also provide higher nutrition and all the essential nutrients your body may require after working out. A lesser-known endurance and recovery whole superfood are tart cherries.
Research shows that they contain anti-inflammatory properties that help manage muscle inflammation after a hard training session. Tart cherries have a high content of anthocyanin which is a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties similar to drugs like ibuprofen which helps reduce joint pain and ensures faster recovery.
A study done by British researchers discovered that runners who drank about 16 ounces of tart cherry juice before, during and after a running marathon experienced less oxidative stress, muscle damage, and inflammation.
Another study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports showed that twenty recreational runners drank either cherry juice or placebo for five days before their marathon, on the day of the marathon and for two days after as well.
Those who got the cherry juice displayed less muscle damage and were able to recover muscle strength faster than the placebo group. Declan Connolly, a professor physical education and exercise science, also says, “Cherry juice is very useful for post-exercise recovery.”
These recovery drinks not only promote endurance and recovery but they also make your immune system super resilient. Because hard bouts of running and training can significantly depress your immune system, a dose of cherry juice or chocolate milk will keep you from falling sick before, during and after your big marathon!
Evie Harrison is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
Find her on Twitter:@iamevieharrison