Looking to kick up your post-workout recovery? Then you’ve got to try adding some of nature’s finest veggies to your routine. But first, you should know that protein and complex carbs are essential to help the body recover after exercise. They’ve not only been found to improve the rate of recovery in the muscles, but also help regenerate new muscle tissue to keep your body from burning muscle.
Another component to healthy, post-exercise recovery is eating anti-inflammatory foods, which is where these amazing veggies come into play. Veggies help alkalize the body, so eating more vegetables may prevent muscle pain, fatigue, and possibly pain-related injury if you eat them enough. So, how much is enough? Usually, eating six cups a day should do the trick. Some people may be able to eat more, some less. These can come in the form of liquid (smoothies or juices) or whole food meals for your total intake.
One simple way to get more veggies in after a workout is through a smoothie. You can toss in anything, add some superfoods or vegan protein powder, possibly a banana or some nut butter, and some vanilla extract or cacao to flavor it better. If you don’t want to have a smoothie, something like tofu and veggies, hummus and veggies, or just a plate of veggies with some avocado and hemp seeds would be great, too. All of these contain both protein and complex carbs, which will do your body good and help you recover more quickly.
Give these ten awesome veggies a try after your next workout. They’re some of the best to offer post-workout powers – in more ways than one!
Kale is king, and that includes the way it ramps up your anti-inflammatory super powers after your hard core workout! Kale is rich in magnesium and iron, which are two majorly important nutrients that aid in muscle repair and preventing physical exhaustion. It’s also tasty and versatile. Try it in a yummy kale smoothie or an awesome kale salad if you’re in the mood for something more hearty.
Spinach makes a great vegan source of protein with 5 grams per cup and a ton of iron and Vitamin C to enhance absorption and aid in energy repair. Plus, everyone knows that spinach goes great in a smoothie, so add it to your blender with some vegan protein powder, chia, a banana, and some acai puree for a rockin’ post-workout superfood smoothie your muscles will love!
Broccoli is an awesome veggie to eat more of if you don’t already love this cruciferous gem! Rich in chlorophyll, B vitamins, and calcium, broccoli contains a wide range of nutrients to lower inflammation, improve energy, and enhance bone health. It’s also high in fiber so it’s especially satiating. Toss a few frozen florets of broccoli in your next superfood smoothie. You’ll never know it’s there, and it’ll be even thicker and creamier! Or, if you’re in the mood for something savory, try out this protein-rich tofu and broccoli salad.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain a good dose of complex carbs which can help keep you full and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. They’re also a great source of magnesium, Vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. They even contain Vitamin C which helps reduce inflammation. Having a sweet potato everyday is a great idea if you’re looking to avoid grains but still want a healthy source of complex carbs in your diet. Try this Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie.
Carrots contain natural sugars to satisfy your sweet tooth, and they’re a good source of Vitamin C. Carrots are especially tasty with hummus as a snack or can easily be added to any meal. They contain awesome anti-inflammatory powers and offer a nice dose of complex carbs. Crunchy and sweet, raw carrots are nature’s candy and contain natural sugars are perfect for replenishing glycogen lost during your workouts without spiking your blood sugar. Try these Raw Vegan Carrot and Flax Crackers.
6. Winter Squash
Winter squash like kabocha, acorn, butternut, and delicata make awesome post-workout veggies! They’re sweet, filling, satisfying, and they contain less carbs than potatoes if you’re concerned with weight loss. Pumpkin is another winter squash you can use, and it’s one of the best alternatives to add to your smoothies in place of bananas for a fabulous flavorful twist! All winter squash is rich in beta-carotene (Vitamin A) that lowers inflammation and may help improve your joints. Did you also know winter squash even contains omega 3’s? Who needs (or even wants) salmon with this awesome veggie?
Celery is rich in Vitamin K, which is a pretty important nutrient you should definitely learn more about. Celery is also rich in potassium, water, and sodium, so it’s one of the best veggies to replenish your electrolytes after a workout! Plus, it’s low calorie and can be sneaked into any superfood smoothie, salad, or a cooked entree of your choice.
Zucchini is rich in potassium and Vitamin C. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, which enhance your energy and improve your mood. Plus, zucchini is so mild and creamy that this tasty veggie can be pureed into soup, used in dressings and even chopped into your next smoothie to make it soft and creamy. Just be sure to buy your zucchini organic since it’s one of the most commonly genetically modified crops. Check out these 10 zucchini-filled dishes.
Cooling cucumber is one of the best veggies to eat if you constantly deal with joint pain, because it’s especially hydrating to the body and offers a soothing effect to cool down inflammation. If you’re prone to dehydration, it’s also great for both hydrating and flushing out waste, since it’s high in both water and potassium. I like to chop and freeze cucumbers up into cubes to use in my smoothies and give it a frosty, thick texture that also helps cool me down when I’m done working out. Give it a try in your own next superfood smoothie!
Asparagus is a fantastic source of protein, with around 4 grams per serving (6-8 spears). It’s also one of the best vegetables for folate intake, which helps reduce blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Asparagus is also a natural diuretic so it can help keep water weight off and improve your overall water balance if you’re prone to water weight gain due to inflammation. Try this Raw Asparagus Soup.
Eat these veggies with a meal, juice them, blend them, or snack on them raw. However you eat them, just get them into your diet however you can. Your muscles and workouts will thank you for it, guaranteed!
Want more veggie ideas? Check out this list of 50 veggies sure to make you feel awesome whether you’ve just had a hard workout or just rolled out of bed!
Lead Image Source: Flickr