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5 Tips on How to Reduce Muscle Soreness and Fatigue

5 Tips on How to Reduce Muscle Soreness and Fatigue

Soreness and fatigue not only slow us down and prevent us from accomplishing everything we want in our workouts and busy lives, but can also lead to increased injury, joint damage, and even gut issues down the road.

If not properly addressed, constantly feeling sore and fatigued can potentially place such a heavy burden on the immune system that it eventually triggers an autoimmune condition.

So, it is essential to learn how to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue not only to feel better during workouts but also to maintain optimal health and energy levels. So, in this post, we’re going to outline 5 crucial tips on how to reduce muscle soreness after exercise all while boosting your energy and strength. 

How to Reduce Muscle Soreness and Fatigue

It may seem simple at first glance that reducing muscle soreness after workouts is all about reducing inflammation, but there is A LOT to know to really achieve this including: 

  • What foods are inflammatory
  • Which foods are the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods
  • How to find protein bars that don’t have junk ingredients AND actually taste good
  • Finding whey protein and plant-based protein powders that help rebuild muscle without adding inflammation from preservatives, syrups, coloring, and other binders that are frequently used to make them mix easier and last longer on shelves

Tip 1 on Reducing Muscle Soreness: Remove Inflammatory Foods 

Some people may think that notion of inflammatory foods is a joke or some overhyped concept from “crunchy granola” people. However, more and more research is validating that eating, especially for active individuals, is not just about counting macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) or the theory of “calories in = calories out.”

Figuring out which foods are inflammatory is even more complex as some foods can be anti-inflammatory for some people and inflammatory for others. 

Some foods actually trigger an immune response making your body react almost as if it encountered a foreign invader like a bacterial infection or virus. The challenge is figuring out what those foods are as they can be different for everyone.  While some people can eat eggs every day and see nothing but tremendous benefits, others will feel fatigued, sluggish, and struggle to get out of bed if they do. Figuring this out can be confusing, and understanding the difference between a food sensitivity and intolerance can be helpful. Additionally, we often perform food sensitivity testing with our clients to help us pinpoint the exact problematic foods for them. 

To keep things simple, however, we want to share a few foods that tend to be problematic for just about everyone.  These include:

  • Processed foods, especially those with added sugars such as dextrose or syrups such as high fructose corn syrup or glucose syrup
  • Foods with a high number of preservatives
  • Foods with added coloring
  • Fast foods (often cooked in oils that cause inflammation)

Look, think of it this way, if your body is trying to fight off inflammation because you consumed foods that caused your immune system to freak out thinking they were harmful, do you think the body can do a very good job of repairing the damage in your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones from your workouts? Heck no!

To achieve full recovery between workouts we need to keep the inflammation in our body low so it can devote its limited resources to fixing the wear and tear accumulated in our workouts. 

Another way to think of it is this way- if you have 10 fires burning in a small town, how good of a job can the fire department do of saving each of those houses? How good of a job could it do if there was just one fire?

Our body is no different. If we keep the inflammation minimal, our body can do effectively reduce post-workout soreness by focusing only on a few things that need repair. 

If you’re looking for more information on inflammatory foods, be sure to check out our posts on the top foods that cause hormonal imbalances in females as well as the 17 Top foods that cause inflammation

Tip 2 on Reducing Soreness: Load Up the Anti-Inflammatory Foods 

Loading up on anti-inflammatory foods is like giving your body rocket fuel to get all its work done. 

It’s surprising, but we see a countless number of athletes who come to us after seeing other nutrition professionals and show us how their “macros” AKA their fat, protein, and carbs, are all balanced out, but the quality of their food is garbage. 

A perfect example of this is slamming loads of cheap, grain-fed chicken or beef for protein vs grass-fed beef or wild caught salmon. While an athlete may be consuming about the same amount of protein, choosing something like wild-caught salmon comes with tons of inflammation-crushing omega 3’s!

Fun fact: the bright pink color seen in wild-caught salmon is from the antioxidant astaxanthin. 

So, next time you see the dull-colored farm-raised salmon at the store next to the beautiful bright pink salmon, you know what is missing- powerful antioxidants! 

Simply put, all calories are not the same.  Making sure you get the right amount of carbs, fats, and proteins are important, but hitting your carb, fat, and protein goals while consuming anti-inflammatory foods is game-changing.

We’ve spoken a lot about anti-inflammatory foods in previous posts including making a list of the strongest anti-inflammatory foods on earth as well as the 15 best foods for sore muscles and joints, and even the 7 best ingredients for making anti-inflammatory smoothies (trust us, there are a few on this list that you’ve never heard of and they’re amazing!  

Whether it is eating high-quality anti-inflammatory breakfast foods or making sure the spices you use in the kitchen are adding an anti-inflammatory punch to each dish, there are plenty of ways to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, and it can be tasty while doing so! 

Also, if you’re looking for more than just a shopping list and would like to really turn your diet around and start boosting your energy right now, check out our free Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan and if you’re a female athlete, check out or even more specific 3-Day Meal Plan for the Active Female.  

Tip 3 for Fixing Muscle Soreness and Fatigue: Time Your Meals & Macros Properly

Repairing and recovering from workouts, day-to-day stressors, and so on, is not a part-time job for our body.  In some capacity, it is an ongoing process.  It does perform more repair and recovery while sleeping (more in this later), but it’s important to know that the repair and recovery process is ongoing. 

For this reason, it’s essential to time our (balanced) meals to provide consistent nutrition to fuel optimal recovery.  Additionally, to balance our blood sugar and avoid binging, we need to have consistent meal timing with meals that include fat, protein, and preferably also some fiber. 

What does this look like? 

Optimal meal timing means that outside of intermittent fasting, you’re eating consistent, balanced meals that include, fat, carbs, and protein, about every 3-4 hours while awake and you stop eating ~3 hours before bed. 

If you’re incorporating intermittent fasting such as a 16-hour fast and finished your last meal at 7 pm, then you will start eating every 3 hours or so from 11 AM each day.  This gives you an 8-hour window to still get meals in around 11, between 2 and 3 pm, then again between 6 and 7 pm.  

One of the issues we often see with busy individuals and college students is constantly skipping meals all day only to binge after workouts or practice and sometimes even again before bed.  So, their body had very little fuel to perform repairs throughout the day, and then their binging led to an excessive intake of calories. A surplus of calories at night can lead to involuntary weight gain. So, try to keep your meal timing consistent and muscle soreness, as well as fatigue from excessive fluctuations in blood sugar, will both improve!

Tip 4 for Reducing Muscle Soreness After Exercise: Focus on Proper Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition 

After workouts, we have a window of time when we can really help our recovery by getting in some carbs and protein in an easily digestible form to help jump-start the recovery process. 

Yes, we can achieve optimal recovery without consuming anything within this 1hr window if your meal timing and nutrition are perfect throughout the day, but this is challenging for most people. So, make things easier on yourself, and be sure to consume a post-workout meal that is well balanced in order to accelerate the recovery process. 

If you need an idea of how to easily jump start your post-workout nutrition, a couple of our top recommendations are: 

  • Garden of Life SPORT Grass Fed Whey Protein with tart cherry juice (tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants and proven in research to help recovery. We usually buy it from Costco but you may also buy individual super-concentrated packets from SIS that won’t expire as quickly and travel easily)
  • Check OWYN portable protein shakes. Pre-mixed and ready to travel with you. The best part? They are free of the top allergens, completely plant-based, and high in protein (35g to be exact!! 💪). 

Tip 5 for Fixing Muscle Soreness and Fatigue: Optimize Sleep Like a Pro Athlete 

We all know sleep is important but most of us really don’t understand how to optimize sleep to truly help fix muscle soreness and fatigue.

One of our top tricks is to work on meal timing and avoid eating within 3 hours of going to bed. Why is this so important?

If your body is focused on digesting food because you ate right before bed, then it isn’t going to be able to devote much focus to repair and recovery. Basically, your body has to choose- do I want to devote most of my energy to processing food or processing damaged muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, etc. 

Avoiding eating within 3 hours or more of going to bed will dramatically reduce muscle soreness and fatigue when done consistently as your body will be left to repair, repair, repair on a high level each night. We promise this will add up over time!

Not sure you believe us? Give it a shot and let us know!

Personally, we usually finish eating by about 6:30 and go to bed around 9:45 or 10 so we consistently get 3+ hours of time to digest our food before heading to bed.

Another trick is to be careful what foods you eat if sleeping is an issue as there are many foods that affect sleep. If you work on meal timing as discussed above and enjoy balanced meals with fat and protein, that will help stabilize blood sugar, and your sleep will naturally improve.

Normalize Hormones, Enhance Strength, and Have Energy That is Through the Roof

Now, we cannot go into every detail on how to fix muscle soreness and fatigue without writing a novel. So, we’ve created a course that has everything you need to boost your energy levels, improve hormone imbalances, stop mood swings and sugar cravings, and increase strength. 

If you’re interested in having endless energy to power through your day, buy our course now and see a difference in as little as 14 days. 

We’re so confident in our system and have seen such success that we’ll offer a complete refund in 30 days if you don’t see the results you expect.

About The Author

Michael Bogden

Michael is a residency and fellowship trained sports physical therapist. A life long advocate for exercise and nutrition, he unexpectedly ran into issues with fatigue and recovery which significantly hindered his training. After working closely with his wife, Kylene, a dietitian trained in functional nutrition, he learned an entirely new approach to eating and living a more holistic lifestyle. This dramatic life change lead to remarkable improvement in his overall energy and performance. In 2017, with the help of a Functional Sports Nutrition approach, he improved his half marathon PR by 5 minutes. These improvements inspired him to create the FWDfuel blog with Kylene in order to spread the word so that others could experience the same success.

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