If you've overtrained -- or worked out too hard over a period of time without proper rest and recovery between workouts -- fueling your body with the right foods can speed up your body's rate of recovery. While following a proper sports nutrition diet is crucial for reducing the effects of overtraining, you still need to give your body some time to rest, fully recover from overtraining, and prevent potential injuries.
Ingesting whey protein aids in muscle recovery after strenuous workouts, and is often beneficial for overtrained athletes, according to a study published in 2006 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Whey protein supplements are widely available for post-exercise recovery. Milk and plain Greek yogurt are excellent sources of whey protein and carbohydrates -- and beneficial foods to eat after overtraining. A study published in 2012 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise notes that chocolate milk is beneficial for muscle recovery after endurance exercises.
It's important to replace your body's carbohydrates stores, known as glycogen, after all workouts -- but especially after overtraining. Quinoa is not only rich in energy-boosting carbohydrates, it's also high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein, making quinoa an excellent post-workout food. Because of quinoa's high carbohydrate content, it helps replace lost glycogen stores in your body due to overtraining. Iowa State University suggests consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes post-exercise to maximize the replenishment of used up glycogen. The protein in quinoa helps repair stressed muscle fibers after strenuous workouts.
Similar to whey protein and quinoa, grilled chicken breasts are rich in high-quality complete protein, but without the carbohydrates found in milk, yogurt and quinoa. Grilled chicken breast, without the skin, contains more protein per ounce than many other foods. For example, a 3-ounce portion of a grilled chicken breast contains about 26 grams of protein, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database. A review published in 2013 the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in found that ingesting 20 to 40 grams of protein after workouts helps build and repair muscles after exercise, which is beneficial when you've overtrained.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.