General how diet and hydration affects injury and recovery

In this week’s blog covering all things injuries, we’ll explore the vital role of diet and hydration in injury prevention and recovery. We’re going to explore how your dietary choices and hydration habits can significantly impact your body’s ability to prevent injuries and recover from them more effectively. There’s a lot of information out there, but getting food right for performance does not need to be hard. Here are your “best bang for buck” things you can implement.

 

When I coach people on their nutrition I use a pyramid to start with. Too often I see people focusing on aspects at the top of the pyramid when they haven’t even got the most important things in check.

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Hydration

Your body is around 60% water, which that should say enough. Water, is involved in almost every bodily function. It transports nutrients and oxygen, maintains cell structure and protects organs. Proper hydration is crucial for the health of your connective tissues, including tendons and ligaments. Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of injury risk as it reduces muscle function, increases the risk of fatigue, delays healing, and reduces oxygen transport within the body. Dehydration can also occur when your body is deficient in electrolytes, so you may need to supplement with these to support hydration.

 

Calorie Balance

Excessive calories increase fatty tissue which leads to higher levels of inflammation in the body, therefore increasing injury risk. However, being in too much of a deficit means your body isn’t fuelled appropriately, which also increases your injury risk. Make sure your calorie intake meets your demands!

 

Protein for Recovery

Protein plays a pivotal role in maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. Adequate protein intake supports muscle strength, reducing the risk of muscle strains and tears. It aids in repairing damaged tissues and helps your body bounce back more effectively after injuries. This is highly individualised, and we will cover some guidelines on protein intake in more detail in another blog. Generally, aim to include protein in every meal and aim for a daily intake of 1.2-2.2g of protein per kg of body weight, depending on your goals.

 

Carbohydrate Intake

As the body’s primary source of energy, carbohydrates are essential for fuelling muscles during physical activities. As a guideline, aim for 8-10g of carbs per kg of body weight on a big training day, but this is very individual. Consume complex carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes) about 3-4 hours before exercise and simple carbohydrates (fruit, glucose gels) around 1 hour before.

 

Nutrient-Rich Foods

A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients is the foundation of injury prevention. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support your body’s natural defence mechanisms and help maintain overall health. For example, vitamin C is vital for collagen production, which is crucial for tendon and ligament health. Additionally, fibre is one of the best protectors against illness. Focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to ensure you’re meeting these needs. You might need additional supplementation for nutrients you’re not getting from your diet.

 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is essential for strong bones, and you need Vitamin D to maximise calcium absorption. If you’re deficient in these, the risk of stress fractures and other bone-related injuries increases. Ensure you get adequate calcium from dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods, and supplement with Vitamin D if you’re not getting enough from sunlight.

 

Creatine Monohydrate

This is the most well researched and evidence based supplement for supporting protein synthesis and muscle repair. This increase in muscle mass can lead to improved performance in high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weightlifting and sprinting. Additionally, by supporting stronger and more resilient muscles, creatine can reduce the risk of injuries. There is also more recent evidence that it can improve cognitive function!

 

Inflammatory vs Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Consuming inflammatory foods can increase injury risk or delay recovery by promoting chronic inflammation in the body, which can lead to tissue damage, weakened immune responses, and poor tissue recovery. Foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as berries, turmeric, and green tea, can help manage inflammation and expedite healing. Inflammatory foods, such as highly processed foods and alcohol, serve no purpose in injury recovery.

 

Timing

After high-intensity exercise, your body is depleted of its glycogen stores, and there will be a lot of tissue damage. It’s important to get your nutrient-dense meals (high in protein and carbohydrates) in as soon as possible after finishing.

 

Get your nutrition right! It can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to improving performance, recovery, and reducing injury risk.

Stay tuned next week when we delve into another topic in all things rehab and recovery.

 

 

 

If you want help around diet and injuries then feel free to Book In and we can get you on the journey to becoming pain free again.

 

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