Athletes know about sore muscles—the burning sensation during strenuous exercise, which may be related to the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, and delayed-onset muscle soreness, the kind you get in the days following extreme physical activity. Optimizing recovery from exercise is considered the holy grail of exercise science.
Muscle biopsies of athletes have confirmed that eating blueberries, for example, can significantly reduce exercise-induced inflammation. Studies using cherries show that this anti-inflammatory effect can translate into faster recovery time, reducing the strength loss from excessive bicep curling, and the muscle-soothing effects of berries don’t only work for weight lifters; follow-up studies have shown that cherries can also help reduce muscle pain in long-distance runners and aid in recovery from marathons. Eating two cups of watermelon before intense physical activity may also significantly reduce muscle soreness.
What about oxidative stress? When you use oxygen to burn fuel in your body, free radicals can be produced, just as cars burning fuel produce combustion byproducts. This happens even if you’re just idling, living your day-to-day life, but if you rev things up, start exercising, and really start burning fuel, can increasing intake of antioxidant-rich foods help athletes?
Indeed, use antioxidant-rich foods to douse the free radicals. Whether it’s about training longer or living longer, the science seems clear. Your quality and quantity of life improves when you choose whole plant foods—and not only for athletes.
Learn more about the effects of a special type of fiber found in baker’s, brewer’s, and nutritional yeasts on maintaining white blood cell counts after exercise and feelings of tenseness, fatigue, confusion, and anger, as well as the impacts of beet juice on performance and energy production.
It seems sports news programs are always talking about steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned these mighty and perfectly legit performance-enhancing vegetables? Beets me.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Popular Videos for Athletes
All Videos for Athletes
Why All Athletes Should Eat Plant-Based Diets
Enhance athletic performance with diet.
How Useful Is Personalized Nutrition?
Perhaps it should be less about personalized nutrition and more about taking personal responsibility for your health.
Keto Diets: Muscle Growth & Bone Density
Ketogenic diets found to undermine exercise efforts and lead to muscle shrinkage and bone loss.
Do the Health Benefits of Coffee Apply to Everyone?
Genetic differences in caffeine metabolism may explain the Jekyll and Hyde effects of coffee.
Vegetarian Muscle Power, Strength, and Endurance
Randomized controlled trials put plant-based eating to the test for athletic performance.
The First Studies on Vegetarian Athletes
Meat-eating athletes are put to the test against veg athletes and even sedentary plant-eaters in feats of endurance.
The Gladiator Diet: How Vegetarian Athletes Stack Up
Comparing the diets of the Roman gladiator “barley men” and army troopers to the modern Spartans of today.
Best Brain Foods: Greens and Beets Put to the Test
Cocoa and nitrite-rich vegetables, such as green leafies and beets, are put to the test for cognitive function.
Are There Benefits of Energy Drinks?
The effects of Red Bull and Monster brand energy drinks on artery function and athletic performance.
Ground Ginger to Reduce Muscle Pain
There have been at least eight randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of ginger for pain.