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Whether you’re just starting a new workout activity, or increasing the intensity or duration of your current workout to achieve new goals, you may find that you begin to struggle with muscle recovery. Ensuring that you have a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help your muscles to recover more effectively.

The recovery after an intense workout is arguably as important as the workout itself. If you don’t allow your muscles to recover effectively, you won’t see any significant gains in muscle mass, and it may impede your everyday activities.

Why are muscles so sore after working out?

Working out can sometimes leave you with sore muscles, particularly when you try a new sport or increase the intensity of an activity your body is used to. This is because you are using your body in a new way. Eccentric contractions – for example, lowering the weight during a bicep curl – can also lead to soreness.

Soreness after working out, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is believed to be caused by microdamage to muscle fibres and inflammation. This is part of the process of your muscles becoming conditioned to a new activity.  DOMS takes a day or two to come on, whereas pain from an injury will be felt instantly, so it’s not often difficult to distinguish the two.  DOMS will usually resolve within 5-7 days, and when you have the correct nutrients in your diet, shouldn’t cause too much trouble.

When to take muscle recovery supplements.

The best time to take a specific supplement changes based on the type of supplement you are taking. Check the packaging of each supplement, and this will recommend the best time to take them, and if you need to take them with food.

What are the best supplements for muscle recovery?

There are a wide variety of different supplements that can help your muscles recover:


Magnesium helps to relax the muscles after a workout. It speeds muscle recovery by helping to support muscle function, maintain electrolyte balance and reduce fatigue. Magnesium can be found in legumes, leafy vegetables, whole grains, and fortified cereals, but can also be added to your diet via a daily supplement. Magnesium is best taken after a workout, or before bed, as it has been known to support sleep quality.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, which contributes to the integrity of your bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It’s also an important factor in wound healing. Therefore, getting enough vitamin C in your diet is a great way to help your body rebuild tissue after an injury. Luckily, vitamin C is one of the easiest vitamins to get through your diet, found in foods like bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, mango and papaya. You can also find vitamin C in multivitamins.


Zinc is a component of a variety of different enzymes and proteins, and also contributes to wound healing, tissue repair and growth. Consuming zinc-rich foods like meat, fish, shellfish, pulses, seeds, whole grains and nuts can help you to support these vital processes.

Vitamin D and calcium

These nutrients work hand in hand to support muscle recovery. Calcium is an important component for bones and teeth, and is involved in muscle contractions and nerve signalling. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, leafy greens, sardines, broccoli, seaweed and fortified tofu and plant milks.

Vitamin D is equally important, helping your body to absorb the calcium found in the foods you eat. However, few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but your body can make vitamin D from exposure to the sun, so it’s recommended to supplement vitamin D.

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