The Basics Around Injury Rehab Eating
The hot tip would be “don’t diet,” many athletes (and exercise enthusiasts alike) when they get injured experience some fear around the possibility of getting fat given that they won’t have the capacity to train as they were prior to suffering the injury. So it isn’t uncommon for people to diet during their injury rehabilitation period in an attempt to minimize this risk. It is worth noting here that the majority of calorie intake consumed is used simply in 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 depending on the injury. The best rule would be to respond to hunger and eat when hungry and stop when full obviously this is easier said than done but there is no need to starve yourself when considering nutrition for injuries as ultimately you wont be doing your recovery any favours. Muscles, other soft tissues, bone and joint injuries will all heal better and heal quicker when they are supplied with the proper type and amount of nutrients where as being low on calories can potentially slow the healing process. And being unable to train combined with low calorie diet after injury can accelerate muscle loss.
What Types Of Foods Should Be Avoided During Injury?
Cutting back on the following foot types may assist you in achieving 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. And sugary drinks and foods promote inflammation so as your blood sugar levels increase, so do inflammatory factors which can potentially impact pain levels and tissue healing.
- Fried And Fatty Foods – Contain oils high in omega-6 fatty acids not the good fatty acids, which can again potentially increase inflammation.
- Alcohol – Consuming alcohol after an injury reduces your muscles’ protein-building ability, which can lead to more significant muscle loss as well as a lot of alcoholic drinks are high in sugar such as beer and cocktails and will have the added insult of potentially increasing inflammation.
Nutrition For Injuries: What Foods Should You Eat When Injured
Don’t eliminate food groups, carbs, protein and fats are all important when recovering from injury but certain tips around the consumption of these food groups can be useful in helping enhance recovery.
- 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 can go up following injury, with your body burning more fuel to help build repair damaged and build new tissue.
Tip with carbohydrates – Don’t skip meals, but consider trying to eat small amounts often and avoid large periods (such as 5 or more hours) without eating. Some suggest that 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. These amino acids are the build blocks of new tissue and following injury your body needs extra protein and needs this protein supplied in a steady stream to promote the healing process.
Tip with protein – Aim to include 20 to 30 grams of quality protein at each meal and snack, this includes consuming foods such as eggs, chicken, lean beef, seafood, low fat dairy products, tofu, lentils…
- Fats – Eating the right fats during injury is important as not only are essential fats good for your joint and heart health but they also have anti-inflammatory properties. Try eating foods like olive oil, nuts, nut butters including peanut butter, flax oil, avocados…
Tip with fats – Try to consume Omega-3 Fats, these are the fats in our diet 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 as well as this they may help decrease muscle atrophy which can be challenging to avoid as we age.
Nutrition For Injuries: Vitamins And Supplements
It is generally considered 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 vitamins and anti-oxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Aim to eat lots of blueberries, strawberries, grapes, carrots, broccoli, and pineapple for this reason.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is used to make new skin and other tissues and is considered to be vital to your healing.
Tip with vitamin A – 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 so that is another reason to look at increasing your cold fish intake during injury.
- 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 which is the substance that helps glues the injured area back together.
Tip with vitamin C – Regular intake of vitamin C is important, try having a diet rich in berries, oranges, cantaloupe, and other fruits, doing this you will easily meet your healing bodies vitamin C requirements.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important in rebuilding bone after fractures. Vitamin D is naturally produced 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, either naturally via getting exposed to some sunlight in the safer UV times of day here in Sydney or via vitamin D enriched foods.
- Vitamins E: Vitamins E is important for connective tissue and cell repair, helping prevent internal scarring.
Tip with vitamin E – Try and eat lots of avocados, alfalfa sprouts, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds to get your fix of vitamin E.
- Calcium: Like vitamin D, calcium is particularly important when recovering from a fracture and you should be consuming up to 1,500 milligrams a day. This can be achived via supplements if you can’t achieve it naturally. Foods rick in calcium include dairy products as well as almonds, soybeans, figs…
A number of other anti-inflammatory foods exist that are frequently recommended during the recovery from injury a couple of popular foods considered relevant in reducing inflammation and helping in times of injury include:
- Turmeric (a spice used in curry but also can be consumed in many other ways that simply in a curry),
- green tea
- and garlic.
The basic rule with regard to nutrition for injuries is eat in a clean and balanced way. Eat good naturally occurring foods and eat them often, don’t starve yourself or diet. Doing this will give you 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.