What is the correct nutrition strategy after post-injury recovery?
Rest, ice, physiotherapy or drugs are part of strategies aimed at alleviating pain and inflammation, promoting recovery to go back to training as soon as possible. However, they do not play any role in maintaining a good nutritional status, in terms of lean-fat mass ratio.
Athletes, forced to rest from an injury, tend to eat less because their energy expenditures have decreased. Nevertheless, this behavior does not take into consideration the role of nutrients in the modulation of the inflammatory process, in the recovery of trophism and muscular function and in the prevention of an unwanted increased body fat.
After an injury, our body faces an increase in all the molecules involved in the inflammatory process, including TNF-alpha, the main cytokine responsible for systemic inflammation, which causes a reduction in the synthesis of muscle proteins. This phenomenon, called "Anabolic Resistance", is the main cause of muscle mass loss, especially during the times of forced immobility.
It follows that our diet should have three main characteristics during the post – injury recovery:
1. Right amount of Energy
Our food strategy should provide the right amount of energy, without unnecessary restrictions, to facilitate recovery.
2. Stimulate Muscle Proteins Synthesis
Our diet should stimulate the synthesis of muscle proteins, providing proteins and essential amino acids, which must be eaten in all meals during the day.
3. Modulate the Anti-Inflammatory Process
Food can modulate the inflammatory process so it is advisable to eat anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, and to limit pro-inflammatory ones.
Avoiding excess calories is certainly important to prevent the accumulation of body fat (which among other things has a pro-inflammatory effect): However, we must always bear in mind that, during the recovery phase, our body requires adequate energy to restore the optimal conditions.
Food must be balanced in carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (preferring whole grains, legumes and fruit and limiting refined flours), high quality proteins (also in the form of supplements if necessary) and mono and poly-unsaturated fats, presented in fish, but also in dried fruit and vegetable oils.
Distributing caloric intake in five meals promotes the use of proteins and avoids an excessive increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, which in addition to having a pro-inflammatory effect, stimulates the deposit of body fat reserves.
Eating five portions of seasonal fruit and vegetables, in various colors, ensures a good intake of vitamins and minerals with an antioxidant action and helps the immune system involved in repairing the damages. Although drugs are helpful in alleviating pains in the acute phase, let's not forget that their consumption, especially if prolonged, can lead to unpleasant side effects.
If you train, don’t forget you need a balanced nutrition plan, but also the right sports nutrition strategy. Keep away from sports nutrition products with additives and artificial ingredients that may affect your health. Always check the label and make sure you recognize all the ingredients.
Crownhealth was developed specifically to support your body during the inflammation process.
Author: Nutricoach Dr. Francesca Deriu