Whether you are a highly-trained athlete or a fitness enthusiast, there’s always a risk for injury. While some injures are minor, such as a bruise or inflammation, others are much more debilitating such as a tear, broken bone, impingement, stress fracture or ruptured tendon.
To avoid a decline in muscle strength, neuromuscular control and overall fitness, nutrition is vital in the healing and rehab process. Sometimes, with the right therapy, re-training program and dietary habits, athletes come back stronger and faster after an injury. Because the body has altered nutrient and energy needs during an injury, the following recommendations will help expedite return to sport:
- Protein - While the precise amount varies, be sure to keep up with your protein intake (ex. 1.5-1.8g/kg/d) – especially after exercise/rehab – to maintain strength and muscle mass.
- Carbohydrate – Slightly lower carbohydrate intake to prevent excessive weight gain and prioritize higher-fiber, satiating foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies.
- Fats –Prioritize plant and fish oils and be mindful of portions to decrease inflammation.
- Vitamins and minerals – Calcium, Zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C and A will help with wound healing, immune function, tissue repair and cell growth. Consume three servings of dairy (or fortified calcium + vitamin D rich foods) a day for bone health.
- Hydration – to help delivery nutrients and support your joints and soft tissues, stay well hydrated with 90-120 ounce fluids per day.
- Plan ahead - By having meals prepared in advanced, you can feel confident about meeting your daily nutritional needs to ensure that you are getting enough of the right nutrients, at the right times, to keep your immune system healthy as you recover from injury.