Riordon vs Reneau

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eating For Recovery

I've been doing research lately on altering your diet to promote recovery from not only your workouts, but from injuries as well. The saying: "you are what you eat", is actually true! When we digest food, we take all the nutrients out of it to then feed our cells and allow for new cell growth. So as we slowly slough off our dead cells, the new cells take their place and in time, we literally turn into what we fueled our bodies with. So common sense would suggest how we feed ourselves dictates how well we recover from injury.

My best suggestion to people after working out, whether they're injured or not, is to eat as clean as possible.  We all like to cheat every once in a while and have that supreme pizza with extra cheese (some more often than others LOL), but right after your workout is not the time.  Now there are plenty of people out there that might disagree with me on this.  Some people have the argument that since your body burns through calories and carbohydrates most efficiently right after a workout, they believe that if you are going to cheat on your diet, post-workout is the best time so you burn most of what you just ate. I believe in feeding my body as cleanly and as balanced as possible though after I get done training so my body can get the most out of each training session.

When injury is a factor, and our bodies are being asked to re-knit bone and/or soft tissue, I believe a clean diet is more important than ever before from the very onset of the injury.  Studies have shown how malnutrition (meaning poor nutrition and not just a lack of food), can significantly delay injury recovery. First of all, injury is tough on both a mental and emotional level.  We often can't move as much as we're used to so as our cardio levels suffer, we start gaining unhealthy weight  and this is the last thing that's going to make us feel better about ourselves.

And more importantly, if our bodies are re-knitting bone, soft tissue, or connective tissue on a larger scale, we want to ensure we are giving our bodies the cleanest nutrients to choose from to regenerate that tissue.

On top of that, there are a few things you can alter in your diet to speed recovery   Obviously speak to your healthcare provider before starting any supplements, or altering your diet from any previously agreed upon diet.

All of that being said, when recovering from injury you want to increase your Vitamin C intake.  Vitamin C is very important during the healing process because it is needed to help repair tissues, and it produces collagen which helps make tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and blood vessels.

Increasing your Vitamin A levels as well is also important at the onset of the injury.  Vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells.  These are the cells that are responsible for healing and ridding the injury site of damaged cells before we begin generating new cells.

Protein is essential in rebuilding strong muscles. Beginning at the onset of the injury, our bodies require more protein than normal to begin regenerating new tissue. The suggested number for daily intake of protein that is out there right now is roughly .8 - 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. During injury recovery, this number needs to increase. Especially in the case of surgery. Believe it or not, studies show that the metabolic rate increases as much as 30% after surgery. Protein is also what is responsible for maintaining muscle mass. If your injury recovery involves immobilizing a part of your body, muscle atrophy is a concern. Increasing your protein intake should help with muscle wasting.

Inflammation is actually part of the healing process, so while you don't want to increase inflammation, you don't necessarily want to eliminate it completely during the acute phase of injury either. However, since inflammation can cause further discomfort, eating anti-inflammatory foods will help decrease the continued increase of inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and in some cases this nutritional approach addresses the issue better than toxin-filled pain medications (I actually swear by it now in place of ibuprofen) .  By reducing the inflammation and swelling in the area, you are reducing the amount of pressure being put on the injury site, which is typically a large contributor of pain in our healing process. Once you reduce this swelling and resulting pressure, you'll reduce the pain and discomfort as well.

Zinc is important as well. In fact, it contains more than 300 enzymes that our body utilizes for various functions. One of these functions relative to this subject is how zinc is responsible for helping in healing and tissue repair.

Injury can be devastating to anyone, but especially an athlete. The only option many athletes have is to simply  get better... and FAST! Following your post injury rehab strictly is extremely important. Alternative treatment methods post-injury are also massage therapy, acupuncture, and even chiropractic.Finally, don't forget your nutrition! Combine these things for one of the fastest recovery processes you'll probably ever experience!

Remember these weekly tips are advise only and are never meant to replace the counsel of your health care provider!

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