Autumn is here, which means the leaves are beginning to fall and it’s almost time for fall cleanup projects. Raking, lifting and hauling bags of leaves, and climbing and stretching to clean gutters can be very hard on your muscles and you will feel it the next day. To help you minimize injury and maximize recovery from the wear and tear, here are five types of foods to help you with muscle repair:

Brown Rice or Quinoa– After strenuous activity like raking the yard, your muscles are tired and the glycogen – the form of carbohydrate stored in the muscles – becomes depleted. Slow carbohydrates like brown rice and quinoa help your body recover when consumed within 30-45 minutes after activity. If you wait too long to refuel with these slow carbs, your body won’t recover as easily.

Meat (or plant-based proteins)– Protein provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscle repair. After you exert your body, consume at least 10 grams of protein along with the slow carbohydrates mentioned above. As with the slow carbs, the first 30-45 minutes after activity is when your body is best able to convert the protein from food into new muscle tissue to start the healing process.

Romaine or green leaf lettuce– Strenuous activity can produce additional free radicals in the body, which can lead to premature aging and potential health issues. The antioxidants found in romaine or green leaf lettuce help neutralize free radicals, preventing them from doing damage. Fresh berries are another great source of antioxidants.

Pumpkin seeds – Nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation. Studies show that omega-3’s increase blood flow to tissues and organs, which helps decrease swelling and soreness. Seeds are always a quick snack option, so be sure to keep some on hand.

Dried apricots – Apricots have electrolytes, specifically potassium, sodium and magnesium, which help with muscle repair. Electrolytes can help minimize cramping that can occur when strenuous activity depletes these minerals. Beets and lentils are also good food sources for these nutrients.

If you want your muscles to efficiently recover and rejuvenate themselves quickly, include these foods in your nutrition plan. You will love the way you feel!