Here’s a question: What is inflammation?

We can hear the crickets. That’s probably not too compelling on its own. So let’s take it a step further: How can controlling inflammation lead to better muscle gains and increased fat loss? Perhaps now we have your attention.

When most of us are done working out at the gym, outdoors, or even at home, we usually experience soreness in our muscles afterwards. The soreness can least for several hours to several days. This is our body’s natural way of telling us to chill and so that it can repair itself to get bigger and stronger. Part of this healing process is inflammation and it can occur all throughout the body.

One crucial mistake that many lifters make is marginalizing the inflammation process and the effects it has on the body. Inflammation is the immune system’s protective mechanism against injury, foreign substances, and infection; it can be acute or long term. This inflammation is necessary—we need it to heal our muscles, so we can come back and do it all over again. Conversely, if we have too much inflammation, it can be devastating to our body and actually breakdown the healthy tissues diminishing gains. (Not the best outcome for muscle seekers.)

So in lieu of extended rest—usually not an option for gym lovers—or an overuse of anti-inflammatories, what can we do to keep inflammation at bay? You can eat for it. There are foods that you can and should be eating that can keep you build muscle while also blunting your body’s inflammatory response.

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BE AN INFLAMMATION FIGHTER

Inflammation can have devastating effects on the body, leading to joint stiffness, joint breakdown, joint swelling and loss of joint mobility. This can cause major problems to any workout regime. With less range of motion in exercising the body will not be able to run optimally and muscle building potential will surely be decreased. The greatest muscle gains come with a complete range of motion for the exercising muscle anything less we are cheating ourselves. Simply being aware of inflammation and its effects on your ability to build muscle or burn fat is a huge advantage. But by adding these four foods to your weekly menu, you’re likely to find that your muscles and joints recover faster and more completely, putting you back in top form, faster.

Matthew Choate, NASM-CPT, CES, FNS holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Food Administration. He is a recent graduate from the dietetics program at California State University Long Beach and is currently in the Masters of Public Health program at CSULB. He has worked as an expert contributor for several health and fitness publications.

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