Scoring an injury is not fun and dealing with the aftermath of recovery is a whole other challenge. We know the importance of leaving the body to rest and managing the pain through techniques like the icing, stretching, rehab exercises and foam rolling. However, how can we use nutrition to help optimize the process and manage the pain?
To investigate this, we must first look back into the physiological process of what happens when you’re “damaged”. To put it simply, the moment your body experiences a physical injury, the muscles will usually experience a strain, or even worse, a tear. When that happens, the muscle will experience a significant rate of muscle breakdown.
Aside from maintaining body weight, the goal of nutrition for injury management is to reduce muscle breakdown and increase recovery.
Protein, Protein, Oh Protein
The biggest player when it comes to reducing muscle break down is protein. When you’re injured, you may need up to 40g of protein per meal every 3 to 4 hours to allow the body to send nutrients to the affected body part. Examples of protein food sources you can consider would be eggs, beef, dairy, soy or seafood.
However, consuming high amounts of protein can be challenging, and some of us just don’t have the time. As such, supplementation such as Kinetica Sports Lean Active Protein or EQ Nutrition Elite Protein can be useful to help support your protein needs.
Some of us may prefer a portable snack. In that case, consider using a protein bar like Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar .
Other ways to support your protein needs would be to grab a Greek Yogurt Protein Smoothie or Whey & Oats from Optimum Nutrition. Not only will a good breakfast with protein help you with your recovery, it will also regulate your appetite, which helps control your body weight. Talk about a double win!
Supplements to Increase Muscle Recovery
Now that we have the major building blocks in place, we want to take care of the minor. These nutrients may not play a role as big compared to protein but have the tendency to increase your recovery by that 1 or 2%. Thus, while you don’t have to buy all of them, they can be good to consider should you want to increase your rate of recovery.
Micronutrient deficiency can cause you to hold up in your recovery process. One of the most crucial Vitamin would be Vitamin D. If you’re not out in the sun often, you could be vitamin D deficient. This could affect your ability to increase muscle mass. You can consider getting vitamin D from food sources like salmon, egg yolk or beef liver. Alternatively, a supplement to consider would be Cal-D from Blackmores.
While our vegan friends will find it possible to get protein from plant sources, they may find it harder to get leucine, an amino acid within protein that basically accelerates, or jump starts the muscle recovery process. Better leucine sources tend to be from meat sources like beef or dairy sources like eggs. If you’re part of this group, my suggestion would be to get some BCAAs to supplement your recovery. Try PAS Nutrition's Pro Iso Elite with BCAAs - a combo of electrolytes and BCAA to aid in recovery for elite athletes taking part in intense exercise.
Fish oil have also shown to be beneficial in helping to increase muscle recovery during an injury phase. Aside from helping muscle recovery, fish oil’s omega 3 fats are also great resources to support inflammation regulation during the recovery phase. However, in order to receive the benefits of fish oil, one needs to begin consuming them early. Thankfully, BioG is ready to cover you with their Super Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil.
Supplements to reduce Muscle Breakdown
Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate or HMB is a metabolite derived from leucine that has been used to enhance skeletal muscle recovery. During an injury phase, apart from improving the rate of muscle build up, we also want to slow down muscle breakdown so that our body can create sustainable muscle growth. As such, adding HMB into your supplement collection during an injury may prove to be beneficial to your body. Consider HMB supplement such as this.
Stop getting sick!
As a line of defence/insurance, I would generally tell the injured to stay as healthy as possible. Your body is already working hard to help you recover, so you don’t want to add more stress to it. Thus, to reduce your potential of getting sick, I would generally recommend a low-dose multi-vitamin such as Blackmore’s Men's Performance Multi or Womens Vitality Multi .
James Yeo, Bsc, Dip.ISSN, CISSN, Pn2 , SENr
Sports science trained sports nutritionist. Hitting your fitness goals one oreo at a time, because you don't have to eat clean to look good nor win your competitor.