3 Nutritional Tips to Recover Faster from an Injury
Musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains, fractures and strains are very common among active people. They account for more than 50% of sports injuries. But did you know that it is possible to optimize your diet to promote healing from an injury? Here are 3 tips to help you!
1. Spread out your protein intake
To repair tissue and prevent muscle mass loss, it is important to ensure optimal protein intake. In order to maximize your protein synthesis (i.e. protein formation from the amino acids that are at their base), aim to eat five meals or snacks a day that contain 20 to 25g of high quality protein. In addition, one of these high-protein meals or snacks should be consumed quickly after your rehabilitation session (physiotherapy etc). Here are some examples of foods that contain about 20g of protein:
- 90g (3 oz) of cooked meat or chicken
- 120g (4 oz) of cooked fish or seafood
- 3 large eggs
- 150g of tofu
- 80 g of canned tuna (2/3 of a can)
- 1 to 1½ of legumes
- 175g (¾ cup) of Greek yogurt
- 5 slices (85 grams) of turkey
- 60g (2 oz) of cheese
- 120 g (200 ml) of mixed nuts (but also 748 calories !)
2. Manage your caloric intake
Often, during an injury, exercise-related energy expenditure decreases, which means that you have to reduce your caloric intake to avoid gaining weight. This can be challenging, since you might not be used to eating less. To avoid an increase in body fat, foods with a low energy density (i.e. low caloric content for a large amount) such as vegetables and fruits should be favored. Since your energy expenditure will be lower, you’ll also need to reduce your carbohydrate intake, for example by reducing portions of starchy foods. On the other hand, high protein intake is necessary, which provides satiety and helps recovery. It should be noted that an energy intake that is too low (below your needs) can have a negative impact on protein synthesis and tissue regeneration and is therefore not recommended. Don’t hesitate to consult a Sports Dietitian to help you determine the caloric intake appropriate for you.
3. Try a gelatin and vitamin C supplement
The health of musculoskeletal tissues such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bones depends on their collagen content. Gelatin is a dietary derivative of collagen. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is required to promote collagen synthesis. Preliminary studies suggest that gelatin supplementation with vitamin C may promote collagen synthesis and thus accelerate the healing of musculoskeletal injuries. It is recommended to take 5 to 15 grams of gelatin with 50 mg of vitamin C, 30 to 60 minutes before exercise or a rehabilitation session. Further studies are needed to confirm the effects of this supplement on injury recovery.
- Burke et Deakin (2015) Clinical Sports Nutrition, 5th Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, 828 pages.
- Shaw et coll. (2017) Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr 105: 136-143.
- Rawson et coll. (2018) Dietary Supplements for Health, Adaptation, and Recovery in Athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism;28:188-199.
- Barr (2017) Using gelatin to improve performance, prevent injury, and accelerate return to play. http://www.mysportscience.com/single-post/2017/03/15/Using-gelatin-to-improve-performance-prevent-injury-and-accelerate-return-to-play
- Jeukendrup (2015). Nutrition for recovery from muscle injury. http://www.mysportscience.com/single-post/2015/10/12/Nutrition-for-recovery-from-muscle-injury