Post-Injury Nutrition Important for Optimal Healing

Athletic injuries pose severe metabolic challenges to athletes. A healthy diet is essential for optimal healing— according to June Kloubec and Cristen Harris from Bastyr University in Washington. Athletes should consume enough calories to promote healing and fuel the 15 to 20 percent increase in metabolic rate that accompanies injuries. Caloric intake should be less than when training intensely but more than when sedentary. Recovering athletes need more protein than normal— at least 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Carbohydrates are important but they should not be overemphasized, in order to prevent weight gain. Carb intake should be approximately five to eight grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Adequate fiber intake prevents constipation promoted by post-injury medications. Athletes should also consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin A, selenium and zinc to help control free radical damage and excessive inflammation. Foods such as blueberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and pineapple are good post-injury foods. Recovering athletes should eat a variety of healthy foods and avoid calorie-dense junk foods. (ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 20(2): 7-11, 2016)

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