Depending on the type of injury, your body may need extra calories to support recovery. However, remember that with an injury you are also exercising much less. This means you probably will not be able to eat the same diet you were eating during training since your physical activity level is lower. Try to balance eating enough to support the recovery process but not eating so much that you start to gain weight.
2. Include a good source of protein at each meal.
Protein is involved in recovery, repair, and strengthening in injuries that involve muscle groups. While research is unclear on the exact amount to support healing, a protein intake of about 1.2 grams/kilogram of body weight has been suggested by several researchers. This can easily be met by including protein - whether animal or plant-based - at meals and snacks.
If you have a ligament or tendon injury, you should know that protein has not been shown in research to help with collagen synthesis. However, you may participate in physical therapy for recovery or after surgery with these types of injuries, which sometimes involves strengthening the muscles around those areas. Because of this, it is important to get adequate protein intake with these injuries as well.
3. Be sure to meet vitamin and mineral needs.
Consider these essential vitamins and minerals that may play a role in injury recovery:
- Vitamins C and E have been shown in research to reduce inflammatory markers following surgery for ACL injuries.
- Calcium and Vitamin D intake are particularly important for stress fractures, as they are involved in bone health.
- Zinc and Vitamin A are also micronutrients involved in immune responses (Tipton et al, 2010).
In addition, one study found that current vitamin and dietary status, reflecting long term habits, may be an important contributor to post injury recovery. This means a balanced diet each day now could help you bounce back from an injury later!
4. Opt for omega-3’s.
Omega 3’s are a type of fatty acid that are through to be anti-inflammatory and may help with the recovery process. You can find them in foods like…
- Fish (and Fish Oil Supplements)
- Algae Supplements
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Soybean or Canola Oil
5. Avoid excessive alcohol.
Alcohol, on the other hand, has been thought to impair muscle protein synthesis and may contribute to increased muscle loss (especially during an injury, which requires immobilization for a period of time). It’s wise to avoid excessive intake during an injury.