Diet is crucial to performance and health during training, but it can also be very important for recovery. In fact, nutrition can be essential for recovery from all kinds of illnesses and issues, as experts such as cancer specialists The Christie Clinic often advise their patients.
The best foods to aid recovery
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to get injured during your fitness regime or training schedule, you’ll need to know what foods you should be eating to aid and speed up your recovery. Here are just a few of the many super nutritional foods that could help take days or even weeks off your recovery time:
- Proteins – lean meats, fruits and vegetables. While a balanced and varied diet is essential whole recovering from injury (meaning no food groups are left out), protein is one of the most important. By digesting into amino acids, protein helps to repair muscle and start forming new tissue. You can find it in a wide range of foods, including dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, chicken and turkey, pork, soya and certain nuts.
- Plant and fish oils – peanut butter, oily fish and avocado. These ‘healthy’ fats are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, but eat omega-6 fats in packaged foods moderation or the reverse could be the case and they may actually increase inflammation.
- Carbohydrates – fruits, vegetables and grains. Your body needs plenty of fuel while it is recovering, so that the protein you eat can be used for repairing and healing muscles. Find it in fruits and vegetables as well as grains.
- Iron – red meat or vitamin supplements. Red meat gives recovering athletes the iron they need to enhance healing, but if you don’t eat meat then a supplement can top up your stores of iron.
- Spices, botanicals and herbs – whole grains, turmeric, green tea, fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help to reduce the inflammation of your injury so that it feels better and heals faster.
Top tips for healing, and things to avoid
Injured athletes are often terrified about putting on weight when they can’t train or exercise. However, it would be a mistake to try to reduce calorie intake following injury, as this can actually delay healing. In fact, your body may even need 10-20% more calories following a serious injury. The best rule of thumb is to follow your hunger – eat when you feel hungry and don’t when you don’t. Another top tip for faster recovery is to ask your doctor what extra things you can do to heal faster, and follow this advice to the letter. This could mean a rigorous routine of icing the injured area, going to lots of physiotherapy sessions or carrying out certain stretches or gentle exercises each day.