9 Post-Workout Nutrients You Need for Muscle Recovery

Man wearing gray tanktop and shorts doing battle rope exercises at the gym

When you think “post-workout nutrition”, what comes to mind?

If you’re like most people, it’s likely protein, right? 

While protein is certainly important, it’s not everything. Multiple vitamins, minerals, fats, and other nutrients have a big impact on your body’s ability to repair itself and for you to feel energized and capable at the gym.

If you want to take your workout to the next level, you need to have a well-rounded diet filled with foods that contain multiple vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps with muscle contraction and overall function. It also helps to strengthen and rebuild cartilage and bones, as it interacts with calcium, vitamin C, amino acids, and other components to build tissues. 

Spending time in the sun this summer? Many talk about the dangers of overexposure to the sun (which there are to be sure), but what we probably don’t emphasize enough is that the sun is the very best source of vitamin D out there! 

Try to get as much vitamin D as you can from the sun. Get out on the trail, up in the mountains, or in your backyard. Get the rest of your vitamin D from food! Many different foods are great sources of vitamin D, and that’s because they get their vitamin D from the sun. Whether that’s plants that get their vitamin D from the sun, or the animals that eat those plants. 

Good sources of vitamin D include: 

  • Oily Fish: Sardines, herring, and salmon
  • Liver: A very powerful source of many complex micronutrients, including vitamin D
  • Egg yolks: When chickens eat grass, bugs, or other plants, they give this vitamin D to their eggs
  • Mushrooms: Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Shiitake, and Chaga are especially beneficial
  • Spinach: Perfect for throwing in smoothies with its mild taste
  • Kale: Also rich in vitamin A, K, B6, calcium, and copper
  • Collard Greens: Also rich in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, and iron
  • White Beans: A mild bean that is excellent for homemade soups

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 assists in metabolizing protein and fats. Without this seriously necessary vitamin, your muscles aren’t going to recover very well, and your pump at the gym will be at an all-time low. 

Vitamin B12, in conjunction with folate (vitamin B9), makes red blood cells in the body. When levels are low, your red blood cell count will be low as well. Higher red blood cell content leads to increased muscle capacity and recovery. (1) This is because our red blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body. Oxygen is fundamental to our muscular function, as well as to our brain health. 

Vitamin B12 and folate are also central to our absorption of iron. Without proper iron absorption, we can become anemic and experience a lot of fatigue. If we are fatigued, we certainly won’t be hitting the gym very hard. 

Foods rich in vitamin B12:

  • Organ meats: liver and kidneys
  • Fish: sardines, trout, salmon, tuna
  • Blue-green algaes: spirulina or chlorella
  • Tofu (soy): consume non-GMO whenever possible. GMO soy is “round-up ready” and known to be very toxic to the body. 
Fruits and vegetables that are high in magnesium with Mg sign floating

Magnesium

Magnesium is central to a multitude of processes in the body, including methylation, detoxification, glucose assimilation, and the reduction of lactic acid. (2)

Methylation and detoxification

Methylation is the body’s process for creating and using ATP, which is the source of energy for all cells in the human body and brain. Magnesium is one of the many minerals used for this process. 

Magnesium also helps to remove heavy metals and toxins from the body in conjunction with zinc and vitamins C and E.

When your detox pathways and methylation are working properly, you will experience high energy and excellent performance, leading to a better experience in the gym or out on the trail. You’ll also experience better recovery and faster progression in meeting your fitness goals. 

Glucose assimilation

Unless you are on a ketogenic diet, chances are your body and brain use glucose as their main source of energy. Magnesium aids in the assimilation of glucose, enabling your muscles to have quicker access to fuel so you can keep that pump going. 

Reduction of lactic acid

Lactic acid is the naturally occurring chemical that fills your muscles after a workout. It breaks your muscles down, and then they build back up stronger than before (this occurs mostly while you are sleeping). Magnesium can reduce or delay the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, leading to less breakdown and hence better recovery and growth. (2)

Foods high in magnesium

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts: peanuts, almonds, cashews
  • Avocado
  • Oats
  • Banana
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Edamame
  • Black beans

Ruvi Focus and Ruvi Clean contain a combined total of 9 fruits and veggies that are high in magnesium. 

So next time you’re pounding your post-workout protein shake, add a Ruvi in there to get the extra vitamins and minerals you need to aid in your recovery. 

Ruvi Boost - orange smoothie with sweet potato, orange, kiwi, mango

Vitamin C

One of the main roles of vitamin C is tissue repair. This means that vitamin C helps muscle tissue recover and rebuild. 

In addition, Vitamin C is primarily an antioxidant. That being the case, it helps the cells in the body stay healthy and free of toxins. This ensures you get a clean pump and abundant energy so you can take your workout to the next level. 

It’s also important to note that vitamin C is is used in the body during the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes up about a third of the protein in your body. (3) So, as you can imagine, it’s important that it is produced properly. It is the largest component of what makes up your tendons, ligaments, cartilage in joints, gut lining, and muscles.  

Great Sources of Vitamin C

  • Oranges
  • Bell peppers
  • Chili peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Kiwis

Two blends of Ruvi high in vitamin C are Ruvi Active and Ruvi Boost.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q, a.k.a. ubiquinol, plays an important role in metabolism and is a very powerful antioxidant. It helps give your cells both energy and protection. 

Several studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation boosts exercise performance, aerobic power, anaerobic threshold, and recovery. (7) Studies also show that CoQ10 can improve heart health, boost energy, and it is good for the brain. (4)

CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body, but it is also found in multiple foods. 

Foods that contain CoQ10

  • Organ meats: heart, liver, and kidney (abundant sources of CoQ10)
  • Fatty fish
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Legumes
Foods high in omega 3 - White bowl filled with green seaweed and sesame seeds

Omega-3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are good fats that are crucial for our health. We often don’t get enough of these when we consume a westernized diet. It is more often that we consume an overabundance of Omega 6’s in things like meat, dairy, and canola. 

The most commonly known Omega-3s include EPA, DHA, and ALA. Consumption of EPA and DHA is shown to improve rates of muscle protein synthesis, a decrease in muscle protein breakdown, and improved mitochondrial function (boost in energy and ATP production). (5) These factors help bring you more energy and better results at the gym. 

Good sources of Omega 3

  • Fatty fish
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans (be sure you choose non-GMO soybeans)
  • Blue-green algae, such as spirulina and chlorella

Antioxidants

As we have reviewed in other parts of this article, antioxidants help to clean the body of toxins and improve methylation (or energy production) 

It is important we have a diet high in antioxidant rich foods. There are many foods that contain antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, are very high in antioxidants. 

Other excellent sources of antioxidants are mushrooms. There are many powerful mushrooms that are amazing for the body and the brain. Cordyceps, Chaga, Lion’s Mane, and Maitake are mushrooms that are shown not only to have very high antioxidant effects, but also to have an added benefit to energy, fitness, performance, and recovery. 

Tart cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and beet are also abundant in antioxidants. Ruvi Active contains these plus other fruits and vegetables.

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral that is found in very high levels in the muscles. If you exercise regularly, you need more selenium than someone who is inactive, as your body goes through more of it. You also need more selenium for optimal antioxidant balance. (6)

Foods high in selenium

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Oats
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Tuna
  • Brazil nuts
Vegetables high in zinc - broccoli crowns sitting on a wood table

Zinc

Zinc aids in muscle protein synthesis. In other words, zinc helps the protein you eat become part of your muscles. Zinc is also very important for a healthy immune system, so having enough of it will keep you well so you can keep up your exercise routine. 

Research also shows that zinc improves VO2 max. Your VO2 max is your aerobic capacity, or how much oxygen your body can get into your muscles at a time. Increasing this level can improve your ability to feel energized when you workout, lift more weight, and increase your endurance in sprints or max lifts. 

Foods high in zinc

  • Meat
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Green peas
  • Spinach
  • Lima beans
  • Broccoli
  • Shiitake mushrooms

So next time you're in the gym, on the trail, or pumping iron in your living room, just remember that it takes more than just protein to fuel your muscle recovery. It takes a lot of different vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. 

Want a great way to end your workout? Add Ruvi to your post workout routine to see a boost in energy, mood, and muscle recovery. The best part is, it’s totally clean fruits and veggies with nothing else added, and it tastes dang good too. It is free of any artificials or toxins you might find in other mixes. Ruvi is a clean way to recover from a workout and give your body and brain much needed nutrients so you can perform at your peak. 

Ruvi smoothies surrounded by 26 different fruits and vegetables

Sources

  1. The metabolic processes of folic acid and Vitamin B12 deficiency. Journal of Health Research and Reviews in Developing Countries. https://www.jhrr.org/article.asp?issn=2394-2010;year=2014;volume=1;issue=1;spage=5;epage=9;aulast=Mahmood
  2. Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? NIH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622706/
  3. Collagen and Your Body: What to Know. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/ss/slideshow-collagen-and-your-body#:~:text=Collagen%20is%20a%20protein%20your,skin%20elastic%20to%20lessen%20wrinkles.
  4. 9 Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coenzyme-q10#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10
  5. The Influence of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Skeletal Muscle Protein Turnover in Health, Disuse, and Disease. NIH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6742725/
  6. Increase in selenium requirements with physical activity loads in well-trained athletes is not linear. NIH. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15817998/
  7. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. NIH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2315638/#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20several%20studies%20have,individuals%20%5B12%2D14%5D.



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