Recovering after exercise or a recent injury often starts with giving your body the fuel it needs,. When recovering from a recent injury or strenuous workout, we’re often eager to speed up recovery in any way possible. Exerting yourself too much too quickly can set you up for future injuries. Consuming nutritious snacks and healthy foods can be supportive of the healing process and help mitigate risks to your long-term health.
Good nutrition is an often forgotten factor when it comes to exercise-related injuries and recovery. With the right food intake, you can reduce the time of recovery, stay focused on the process, and give your body the nutrition it needs to get back in gear. As your body begins to recover from the strenuous workout or heal from a recent injury, it needs vital nutrients to effectively repair damaged muscle and build strength.
Ensuring that you're on a proper diet to help with your exercise and injury recovery starts with understanding the correct foods you should be putting in your body and when you should be consuming them. Before consuming any new snacks or beginning any new diet program for exercise or injury recovery, take the time to consult with a qualified healthcare professional. We’ve put together a quick list and some helpful pointers for you to ensure your food intake is setting you up for success for exercise and injury recovery.
When in a recovery period, there are several vital nutrients and minerals that fuel your body. For most exercise recovery, diets rich in Vitamin C, Omega-3 fats, and protein aid the body in replenishing energy and cell activity to muscles.
Some great foods that are high in Vitamin C include fruits, strawberries, and broccoli. Omega-3 fats can be found in high concentrations in fatty fish foods like salmon or chia seeds. Great sources of protein can be found in meats, eggs, and peanut butter.
When trying to determine which foods you should consume, the best place to start is the healthy options. Focus on consuming a healthy and balanced diet that consists of vegetables, fruits, lean meat proteins, whole grains, water, and healthy oils. There are plenty of helpful guides, resources, and tools you can use to evaluate and create a healthy diet that will help you meet the recommendations including the CDC's Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate. In addition, you should consult with qualified healthcare professionals to make sure that the diet plan and foods you are consuming are right for you and your recovery.
Some of the best foods you can eat for exercise and injury recovery include:
Foods rich in Vitamin C, like broccoli, kiwi, bell peppers, and citrus fruits help fight inflammation and provide a boost of collagen which helps your body maintain healthy joints.
Some great snacks for exercise and injury recovery for any time of the day include eggs, dairy products, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, beef, turkey, chicken, and fish. Quick grab-n-go snacks like whey protein shakes, high-protein and nutrient-rich energy bars, sunflower seeds, Greek yogurt, and walnuts can also help you make sure that you're eating healthy throughout the day. Try to avoid sugary beverages and snacks.
Selecting healthy pre-workout and post-workout snacks is an important step in making sure you fuel your body for the exercise and recovery period after. Nutrition plays a key role in helping you reach new personal bests in the gym and preventing future injuries. This requires making a game plan on snacks that you can squeeze in before and after your upcoming workouts.
Snacking before exercise can help your body make it through an extended and strenuous workout. Before a workout, you should also make sure your body is hydrated and fueled with long-lasting nutrients that burn slowly and help you power through to the end of the workout.
Try oats and other whole grains which release energy slower, allowing you to maximize your workout. Bananas and peanut butter are a great combo of potassium and protein which can create energy that lasts. Foods rich in protein help your muscles stay active and alert for the duration of your workout.
Supplementing your body with the nutrients that have been depleted is important when selecting a post-workout snack. While water is number one, you can also look for drinks that contain electrolytes, vitamins, and snacks that contain protein, which help rebuild muscle fiber and help you feel full.
After exercising, reach for a post-workout snack that contains protein to help replenish your body and begin the recovery process. Chocolate milk, hard-boiled eggs, lean meats like turkey or chicken, or cheese and fruit are good post-exercise snacks that aid in workout recovery.
When recovering from a sports injury or planning your nutrition around your workouts, take stock of the exertion and match your food intake. If you’re planning strenuous activities without properly preparing your body beforehand, your endurance will suffer. Likewise, if you’re doing low-impact activities but fueling your body with large amounts of protein and carbs, you’ll find reaching fitness goals will be harder as you might feel too bogged down to complete the activities.
Aim to make it through a strenuous workout, and pay attention to your recovery. If you find that recovery is tough, opt for more post-workout snacks that replenish your body better. Finding the right balance of nutrition and activity is important for optimizing your recovery from a sports-related injury, and can help prevent the leading causes of injury like fatigue.
Physical therapy is an effective method to treat and overcome over 100 conditions. Our licensed physical therapists are experts in helping you recover from recent injuries using manual therapy techniques and can provide additional guidance and education to help you understand how nutrition plays a key role in helping you reach your fitness and recovery goals based on your unique needs.
Schedule an appointment today at a nearby physical therapy clinic!