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Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just getting started on your journey to better physical health, helping your body recover from exercise should never be ignored. For those who exercise regularly, a window time of 48 hours is typically needed for your body to replenish its blood sugar and muscle glycogen stores after heavy activity. You might notice that your muscle aches and pains are worse on the second day following an intense cardio or weightlifting session at the gym. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you eat the right food, you can cut your recovery time in half. Surprisingly, the magic food needed to achieve this is not protein.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that watermelon can reduce recovery time for sore muscles from 48 hours to just 24 hours. What’s so special about watermelon? According to the study, which looked at watermelon juice as a potential candidate for helping athletes recover faster, watermelon is high in l-Citrulline, an amino acid that “[reduces] the recovery heart rate and muscle soreness after 24 hours following intense exercise.”

But it’s not just watermelon that helps — bananas are a favorite pre-workout snack of many athletes and fitness enthusiasts. According to another study, the combination of glucose and fructose in bananas promote the rapid accumulation of glycogen in the liver, which is critical for muscle recovery in endurance athletics. On its own, fructose, which is used as a sweetener in many packaged foods (including protein bars), is not ideal for muscle recovery but when combined with glucose, it’s a workout recovery match made in heaven.

Need more proof that you should be eating fruit after a workout? According to Douglas Graham, Author of The 80-10-10 Diet, “eating fruit during long training sessions and directly after exercise, accelerates the replenishment of muscle glycogen, thus optimizing recovery rate.”

So it looks like one of the best things you can do for your body following your workout is to grab a piece of fruit. We’re all too familiar with the phrase “no pain, no gain,” but we’ll take 24 hours of recovery over a painful two days of muscle soreness any day.

If you’re looking to up your fitness game without the help of meat or dairy, you might find the following articles useful:

If you’re trying to include more plant-base foods in your diet, we highly recommend checking out the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone. With over 8,000 vegan recipes (and over 10 new recipes added daily), you’re going to find something you love!

Image source: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

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