Most of the time when you think about eating to support rest and recovery, you think about protein. At school you learned that “protein is for growth and repair” so it makes sense.
It’s not as though this isn’t true. But, like so much with life and eating, it’s not that simple. When you’re trying to recover and rest, your body uses a whole lot of other nutrients and minerals in addition to the macronutrients. It will depend entirely on you and the specific situation as to exactly which nutrients you need. Honestly, it’s pretty likely you won’t be able to tell what you need. There are some foods that are good to eat for recovery, your body will do its best with what you give it.
Last week I wrote about eating when you’re tired. The post was really about using systems to help you stay on track while you’re tired or otherwise engaged. This very same system is what will support you in rest and recovery. If you’re supporting your body all the time by mostly eating a varied diet of foods that work for you, you won’t need to do anything in particular to help recover.
Timing and specific details on exactly what food to eat to recover from exercise could help athletes. But if your eating system isn’t working for you, what you eat to recover and support your rest won’t really matter to the big picture. To spend time worrying about the specifics is a detail distracting you from the main game.
Eating is about the strategy, not the tactics.