I recently read an eye-opening article about how our bodies react when dealing with an injury. The human body is fascinating – I think sometimes we forget the intricacies and natural healing properties within us.
More and more avid exercisers are getting injured – the most common being the knee or back. Much of this stems from the wrong form during a movement or is the result of too much repetitious pounding from explosive movements. Whatever the cause, if you are someone who works out religiously every week, an injury can be extremely challenging mentally and physically.
Naturally, once you get injured immediate questions come into your head:
- Can I continue to eat normally without exercising?
- Will I gain weight?
- Should I be taking supplements?
- Is there quicker way to heal?
Here’s what I learned:
- Maintain a healthy intake. Rather than waiting to shape up your diet after an injury – strive to maintain a high-quality food intake every day to bank up on vitamins and minerals that your body needs to repair if you were to get injured (or during daily muscle repairs after micro tears when training). You will heal quicker by replenishing your body with nutrient-rich foods).
- Good nutrition enhances recovery. To enhance healing, maintain a healthy combination of food groups – proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits. Proteins are critical during healing. They digest into amino acids needed to repair damaged muscles. Ensure you incorporate 20-30 grams of protein at each meal or snack. And eliminate processed foods.
- You need to eat when injured. Many athletes decide they are going to starve themselves to cut back on the calories they are no longer burning off at the gym. In actuality, our bodies need fuel to repair. You just have to eat mindfully. You might have to cut back on your servings if you are no longer torching a lot of calories when working out. Eat enough to fuel your body at your current activity level.
- Our organs burn the majority of calories in our body – not our muscles (although they do a nice job too). “Organs are metabolically active and require a lot of fuel”, says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD. “About 2/3 of the calories consumed by the average active person support the resting metabolic rate” (energy needed just to exist).
- Surgery or trauma requires an additional 10-20% more calories for your body to function. Your body responds naturally to hunger cues. So, eat when hungry and stop when your stomach is full.
- Muscle does not turn into fat. Muscle atrophies. Our bodies have muscle memory – once we go back to our normal routine, the muscle rebuilds quickly.
- Our bodies also have a “genetic” weight. If we are underweight, our body will try to adjust to the intended size and natural physique.
If you are injured, don’t panic. Your body has your back, literally. You will recover, and in most cases, often stronger than before your injury.