Tara Gidus Collingwood

After intense training sessions, what you eat really matters. Choosing the right foods can help replenish energy depleted in your muscles and liver, repair damaged muscle fibers and reduce inflammation throughout your body. Here are a few foods and tips to speed up your recovery.


Goals for Recovery Nutrition

  • Restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost in sweat
  • Replace muscle fuel (carbohydrate) utilized during exercise
  • Choose protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue
  • Begin recovery by eating a snack (carbohydrate + protein) within 30 minutes of completing exercise, and eating a meal (carbohydrate + protein + fat) within two hours of completing exercise


Rehydration Post-Exercise

  • Carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat
  • Monitor urine color—dark color indicates dehydration (may also be due to vitamins and/or foods ingested); lighter color indicates adequate hydration
  • Monitor sweat loss through change in body weight before and after exercise to prevent dehydration

Top 10 Recovery Foods

  • Tart Cherries—heals joint pain and muscle soreness
  • Coconut Water—restores fluid balance and potassium (an electrolyte lost in sweat)
  • Blueberries—anti-inflammatory; quercetin improves endurance and recovery
  • Chia Seeds—omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and improve flexibility
  • Salmon—vitamin D increases jump height, power, and strength
  • Kefir—boosts immunity with probiotics
  • Beets—nitrates increase blood flow and delay fatigue
  • Oranges—vitamin C supports collagen formation and joint health
  • Kale—vitamin A improves vision and skin
  • Ginger—anti-inflammatory that relieves muscle soreness and joint pain; improves digestion

Recovery Snack and Meal Ideas

  • Smoothie (kefir or whey protein + berries + tart cherry juice + dark leafy greens + ginger)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk + protein bar
  • Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt + fresh fruit + chia seeds
  • Salmon + mashed potatoes + Mixed Veggies
  • Burrito bowl (brown rice + chicken + beans + cheese + salsa + avocado + lettuce)
  • Stir fry (lean meat + broccoli + bell pepper + carrots + brown rice)
  • Turkey sandwich + salad




Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness and health promotion.  She is currently the nutrition consultant to the USTA National Campus with Andrews Institute and Nemours, the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic NBA team, the nutrition consultant to University of Central Florida Athletic Department and a nutrition and exercise executive coach at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.


Related Articles