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Nutrition For Injuries: What And What Not To Eat

Nutrition For Injuries: What And What Not To Eat
Nutrition For Injuries: What And What Not To Eat

The Basics Around Rehab Food

The hot tip is “Don’t Diet”. For many athletes or exercise enthusiasts when they get injured there is an obvious fear around the possibility of getting fat. So it isn’t uncommon for people to diet during injury in an attempt to minimize the risk. It is worth noting here that the majority of calorie intake consumed is used simply supporting tissues and processes responsible for keeping you alive. In addition to this your body can require 5-20% more fuel than your usual baseline levels just to help repair your injured body.
The best rule is respond to hunger and eat when hungry and stop when full. There is no need to starve yourself when considering nutrition for injuries as you wont be doing your recovery any favours. Your muscles, bone and joint injuries will heal better and more quickly when supplies with the proper nutrients.

What Foods Should You Avoid During Injury?

Cutting back on the following will help with a speedy recovery from injury:

  • Sugar – When recovering from injury, your body isn’t as effective at processing sugary carbs which could raise circulating levels of fat in your blood.
  • Fried And Fatty Foods – Contain oils high in omega-6 fatty acids which can increase inflammation.
  • Alcohol – Consuming alcohol after an injury reduces your muscles’ protein-building ability, which can lead to more significant muscle loss.

Nutrition For Injuries: What To Eat

Don’t eliminate food groups, carbs, protein and fats are all important when recovering from injury.

  • Carbohydrates – By eating carbs your body can use this as fuel and use the protein you consume to help repair and heal injured muscles. Because your metabolism goes up after injury burning more fuel to help build new and repair damaged tissue.
    Tip – Don’t skip meals, eat small amounts often and avoid large periods (such as 5 or more hours) without eating. It is important to keep your fuel up and continue feeding the healing process.
  • Protein – Protein digests into the amino acids needed to repair damaged muscles. Following injury your body needs extra protein and needs it supplied in a steady stream to promote healing
    Tip – Aim to include 20 to 30 grams of quality protein at each meal and snack, including foods like eggs, chicken, lean beef, seafood, low fat dairy products…
  • Fats- Eating the right fats during injury is important as not only are essential fats good for your joint and heart health but they have anti-inflammatory properties also. Try eating foods like olive oil, nuts, nut butters including peanut butter, flax oil, avocados.
    Tip – Try to consume Omega-3 Fats, these are fats that are in good supply in cold water fish and flax oil. Consider a supplement if your diet is low in these fats as they can play an important role in regulating the inflammatory response and may help decrease muscle atrophy.

Nutrition For Injuries: Vitamins And Supplements

It is always ideal to try and get your nutrition from real foods over taking supplements and being injured is no exception to this rule. Try and consume lots of colorful fruits and vegetables when injured they are packed with anti-oxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Aim to eat lots of blueberries, strawberries, grapes, carrots, broccoli, and pineapple.

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is used to make new skin and other tissues that are vital to your healing.
    Tip – Try and eat two servings of leafy greens and yellow and orange vegetables every day during your rehabilitation, fish oil also has naturally occurring vitamin A.
  • Vitamin C: Your body needs vitamin C, it is essential for the repair of connective tissue and to reduce inflammation. Vitamin C helps make collagen the substance that glues the injured area back together.
    Tip – Regular intake of vitamin C is important, try having a diet rich in berries, oranges, cantaloupe, and other fruits and you will easily meet your healing bodies requirement.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important in rebuilding bone after fractures. Vitamin D is naturally produces by your body when exposed to sunlight so your circulating levels can drop during the winter months. Meaning if you are undergoing rehabilitation for a fracture it is crucial to add Vitamin D to your diet.
  • Vitamins E: Vitamins E is important for connective tissue and cell repair, helping prevent internal scarring.
    Tip – Try and eat lots of avocados, alfalfa sprouts, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds to get your fix of vitamin E.
  • Calcium: Calcium is particularly important when recovering from a fracture and you should be consuming up to 1,500 milligrams a day.

A number of other anti-inflammatory foods exist that are frequently recommended during the recovery from injury a couple of popular foods are Turmeric (a spice used in curry), green tea and garlic.

The basic rule is eat clean, balanced and don’t diet to give yourself the best possible chance of a speedy recovery.

Disclaimer: Always talk to your doctor prior to a new diet and  Nutrition For Injuries is no exception to this rule. Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on Nutrition For Injuries should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or dietician.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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