Abby Housefield

Written by Abby Housefield


How to Recover Faster: 27 of the Best Foods for Healing

As a runner, getting hurt sucks.

Whether you have just recently joined the running injuries club or maybe you have been babying a nagging injury for a while now, it can be disheartening and frustrating when you can’t train as hard or as long as you wish.

Depending on the injury, research has shown that icing, message, compression, rest, strength work, and elevation are all successful treatments for injuries; however, to completely heal an injury time off is almost always a necessary element.

But, are there healing foods that aid muscle recovery?

If so, what are the best healing foods to load up on during this “waiting period” for runners with bone issues and tendonitis to help decrease healing time and get back to running?

Your body is built to heal from the inside out and eating recovery foods are important in the healing of injuries.

If you provide the right foods and nutrients to your body during the time of healing the duration of an injury can be shortened.

First: Make sure you’re eating enough

Research has shown that lack of nutrition can delay wound healing.

Our body’s use the nutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) from the foods we eat to aid in the process of recovery.

As such, when you’re limiting the amount of nutrients you put in your body, you now have less nutrients available to dedicate towards recovery.

So, you want to carefully balance eating enough calories to aid in recovery without going overboard and gaining weight.

The easiest way to do this is make sure all the foods you eat are nutrient dense and help with healing. This means no wasted calories!

What Foods Will Help Me Recover Faster?

If you happen to be fighting a nagging injury or have just recently picked up a runner injury, I suggest adding the following foods and nutrients to your diet to help get back on track with your training and allow your body to be at its best.

Even if you do not currently have any aches or pains, adding these foods into your diet can help prepare your body for healing if you should happen to get hurt.

RunnersConnect Bonus

Download our FREE recovery foods guide, with the top 10 foods for each of the essential recovery vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients. Plus a sample 1-day meal plan!

Click here to access

Foods rich vitamin C

Examples include: citrus fruits, kiwi, peppers and broccoli.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that your body does not have the ability to make, which means you need to consume it on a daily basis. Vitamin C plays an important role in the healing process by building new protein for the skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.

Vitamin C also helps our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissues. In addition to the healing properties, vitamin C offers internal protection against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in our body that can cause significant damage and come from our external environment, such as the foods we eat, high intensity work outs (like running), and chemicals we are exposed to.

Foods Rich in Vitamin A

Examples include: sunflower seeds, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, swiss chard, and spinach

Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells are the main “keepers of the injury”; they help fight off infection and viruses.

Even if you don’t have a visual injury like an open wound, your body will still rely on the production of white blood cells to protect the injury and increase the rate of healing.

Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Examples include: salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts.

Many research studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, so much so that other pain killers and drug may not be needed.

Most of these studies have been conducted on individuals with rheumatoid arthritis or other cases of extreme inflammation. The results of these numerous studies indicate that high quality omega-3s will reduce inflammation from an injury or daily run.

Reducing the swelling and inflammation around an injury will reduce the pain you may be experiencing and promote healing!

Foods Rich in Zinc

Examples include: oysters, nuts, seeds, and chicken.

Every single tissue in your body contains zinc; therefore, it becomes very important in the healing process of any injury. Zinc will help your body use the fats and proteins you consume to promote growth and healing of the injured tissue.

Zinc will also help keep your immune system strong, much like vitamin A, which will protect you from other infections or viruses.

Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Examples include: blueberries, tart cherries, prunes, turmeric, ginger, coffee.

Free radicals are the toxins that are roaming around our body, especially when we sustain a running injury. They make us weaker by taking from our healthy cells. Foods like blueberries, strawberries and tart cherries help to control those free radicals, so our body can focus on repair.

Ginger and numeric have also been named natures anti-inflammatory medicine as they accelerate recovery within our bodies.

Finally, coffee has been proven to not only decrease recovery time, but restore Central Nervous System function, so it can get back to making you better.

Foods Rich in Protein

Examples include: grass feed beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt.

An injury to the body automatically increases the body’s demand for protein. Protein is required in multiple processes that take place as soon as the injury happens and through the injury recovery time.

How quickly and how well the injury heals can largely depend on consuming adequate amounts of high quality protein. Therefore, it is essential that runners who are hurt shift their diet from a high carbohydrate to high protein.

With races to train for and PR’s to hit, getting injured or staying injured is simply not an option for most of us.

If you are plagued by an old injury, just recently injured, or looking to prevent an injury, add these foods into your diet to give your body what it needs to protect, heal, repair, and recover as quickly as possible.

RunnersConnect Bonus

Download our FREE recovery foods guide, with the top 10 foods for each of the essential recovery vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients. Plus a sample 1-day meal plan!

Click here to access

Free Strength Training Course

The Right Way to Add Strength Training To Your Running to Avoid Injury and Improve Performance

Here’s what we’ve got for you

How the “core” actually contributes to your running and which muscle groups are most important for staying injury-free

Which type of strength training exercises are most likely to directly improve your running performance (based on scientific research)

The 5 most common mistakes runners make with strength training (and how you can fix them)


>Collier, James. "Nutrition And Wound Healing." Nutrition And Wound Healing. Web. 23 May 2012.
Geusens, Piet, Carine Wouters, Jos Nijs, Yebin Jiang, and Jan Dequeker. "Long-term Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis."Arthritis & Rheumatism 37.6 (1994): 824-29. Print.
Haydock, David A. "Impaired Wound Healing in Surgical Patients with Varying Degrees of Malnutrition." Impaired Wound Healing in Surgical Patients with Varying Degrees of Malnutrition. Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition. Web. 23 May 2012.
Molnar, Joseph Andrew. Nutrition and Wound Healing. Boca Raton: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2007. Print.

Connect with Jeff Gaudette on Google+

13 Responses on “How to Recover Faster: 27 of the Best Foods for Healing

  1. Good advice, particularly for people who have a minor strain or soreness to lower back. But, depending on how bad the injury is you might only recover by taking a complete 6/8 weeks rest. A back ligament and glut muscle injury will take longer to heal, again depending on how long you have had the injury and the severity of it, I would also advice any athlete/body builder to get it checked out by a reliable physio, like myself, before it’s too late and turns into a long term problem and lay off from all gym activites including free-weights, cardio and abs. Machine weights might be your only choice, and that’s only if your physio/doctor gives you the green light to begin. Finally I would also like too point out is, no matter what gym activity we do our lower back is being used and is sucking the pressure, at that time you may feel fine and feel as if your getting away with it, but the fact is your doing yourself no favours and are making the injury much worst, the problem spot would then stiffen and also spread to other parts of the body. This happens when we protect the injury side by using more off the other side. Be dafe than sorry!

  2. sir my self subrat kumar rout age -25.i ve in serious ligament enjory i am a vegeterian plz tell me what food or proten or medicine to take for recovering my enjory

  3. I am marathoner of 40km daily, but i suffer from cushing syndrome due long use of predinosone. I have a small internal pain that has taken long to heal. I take enough suppliments daily, and 1.5lt of fruit and vegetables daily to boost my endocrine system to recover faster. I can no longer run fast as before. What can i use?

    • Hi Ronnie, the foods we recommended in this post are your best shot. Unfortunately there is nothing that will magically make you heal, but by eating the right foods, and allowing for recovery, you will heal. Just try to be patient (I know its hard!)

  4. My naturopath gave me some L Aginine for tissue repair but it was a standardized professional grade stuff not your regular off the shelf stuff.

  5. Hi.. I met with an accident on oct 15. My lower left leg below knee had 2 fractures. Suggest some foods which help in building the strength of bone and I have undergone plasticsurgery too. I would appreciate you suggestion on the healing of the wound. Thanks for your time in advance.

    • Hi Avinash, sorry to hear about your accident, if you read above, we have recommended lots of good foods to help you heal! Hope you heal well, but make sure you are conservative in returning to running!

  6. Pingback: Top Foods for Faster Muscle Recovery | Promax Nutrition

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adding new comments is only available for RunnersConnect Insider members.

Already a member? Login here

Want to become an Insider for free? Register here