Three key nutrients for healing are calories, protein, and water. It can be challenging to adjust your calorie intake when injured. You want to promote healing, but avoid unwanted weight gain. You will need to consider how much your training volume has decreased and how aggressive your rehab regimen is. Calories should not be restricted too much, because you need to protect your existing muscle mass as much as possible. When you don’t eat enough calories, muscle may be broken down. There is also a calorie cost to the body’s healing process, and too few calories may slow things down. Focus on eating nutrient dense foods and avoiding highly processed and high sugar foods. Check your weight frequently and adjust your intake up or down based on trends that you notice.
Maintain good baseline hydration. Water is important for normal cell function and delivers nutrients for healing. As always, the quick and easy way to monitor hydration is checking your urine color. When you are well-hydrated your urine should be a pale yellow color like lemonade.
For more information about nutrition for injured athletes check out this information from the NCAA. If you aren’t sure about how to eat to maximize your recovery, consult with a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD.) A CSSD can help you to develop some meal and snack ideas to keep your recovery on track.
© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN