Eating guidelines for recovery from injury
As a fitness instructor in Clapham, I have a few guidelines on how you can return to good health and full activity faster through correct nutritional choices. We’re taught to feed a cold and starve a fever, but what do we do when we suffer an injury?
Injury sustained…now what?
Determine your requirements
You must feed yourself with your current metabolism in mind, while also recognising that your calorie intake must increase due to the extra energy your body needs to repair itself. The important point here is to consciously take stock of the diet you had before the injury, and then account for the additional energy your body needs to repair/recover.
Focus on the quantities of macronutrients that will help you most
Protein: during training, protein is an important part of the recovery process post-training. When you are injured, it becomes even more important for repair. According to Dr. John Berardi at Precision Nutrition, protein intake is essential to ensure rapid recovery, and injured individual should aim for at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day [i] . Protein needs to be ingested post-workout to help rebuild tissue that has been damaged during the training process. When you get injured, protein becomes even more important to accelerate the repair process.
Takeaway: consume at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily during recovery.
Fats: Dr. Berardi also points to increasing fish oil (i.e. omega 3) during the healing process. The key during the acute phase of an injury (an injury that has occurred for the first time, not an injury that has been repeated and is therefore chronic) is to control the inflammation, and by elevating the omega-3 content of your diet you are increasing your body’s ability to control inflammation.
Takeaway: 2-3 portions of oily fish per week, plus a quality fish-oil supplement daily (substitute with algae supplement and 3 portions of cauliflower per week if you are vegetarian).
In the interests of spoiling yourself whilst in recovery, click here for a video recipe for chocolate cherry bites. In addition to containing dark chocolate (which is very heart healthy), cherries are an excellent anti-inflammatory. The recipe is easy to make as you will see, and besides being great to control inflammation, it also tastes really good!
Carbohydrates: while there is no evidence or recommendation for the quantity of carbohydrates to consume for recovery, by controlling blood sugar levels through non-processed carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains), you will minimise the risk of additional inflammation occurring as you recover from injury.
Takeaway: keep the carbohydrates unprocessed to stabilise blood sugar and prevent further inflammation.
Plan your recovery strategy
When you get injured (and it will happen at some point), make sure that you consciously think about your eating strategy to aid your recovery. Because you are recovering, it does not mean that your body has stopped working, so don’t rely on a decreased appetite due to decreased activity as the gauge for what to consume.
To learn more about healthy exercise and eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.
[i] Berardi, John, PhD, and Andrews, Ryan, MS: The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition – Certification Manual, Second Edition; 226