Nutrition Plan After Sports Injury
When taking part in any sport, the one thing that most of us dread more than anything else is suffering from a sports injury.
No matter how healthy, or how hard we try to combat the risks of injury, it is bound to happen to us at least once or more times during our active sporting lives.
For some, injury may cause a long lay off of their sport which can be mentally agonizing as well as the physical side.
Injury can cause loss of muscle strength and mass which can make the return to sport even more difficult but this is where Nutrition can help by minimizing your muscles wasting away.
Below are 3 ways nutrition can play are part in your recovery.
1. CALORIE BALANCE
Muscle disuse during a period of injury is often accompanied by reduced physical activity and energy expenditure as well as a coinciding reduction of appetite. Consequently, many athletes end up eating less in an attempt to maintain calorie balance. It has been well established that calorie deficits negatively influence the synthesis of muscle proteins and this is a key contributor to accelerated muscle loss.
While the intuitive response may be to reduce food intake during periods of reduced training or activity, the need for less calories may not be as obvious as it seems.
It’s important to note that during the healing process, calorie expenditure is sometimes increased, particularly if an injury is severe.
2. HIGH PROTEIN FROM QUALITY SOURCES
An accelerated loss of muscle tissue during a period of muscle disuse and reduced food intake may be more attributable to a decrease in protein intake which is often a natural consequence of reduced calories.
The metabolic process responsible for changes in muscle mass is muscle protein balance. This is the balance between the rate of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown. In order to achieve a positive net protein balance and inhibit muscle losses, the rate of protein synthesis must exceed the rate of protein breakdown. This can be accomplished by ingesting relatively high amounts of protein and/or amino acids at regular intervals throughout the day.
Research has shown that consumption of essential amino acids may stave off decrements in functional mobility and muscle loss stemming from disuse. The essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine are what’s referred to as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). Of the three BCAA’s, leucine has gained special interest as it has shown to be a potent stimulator of muscle protein synthesis. Some studies have suggested that leucine supplementation may have protective properties for muscle health during periods of physical inactivity. Therefore, protein sources with a high leucine content which include whey, beef, and chicken may be especially beneficial.
3. CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION
One of the potential benefits of creatine that is of particular interest to strength athletes is an increase in lean body mass which results from creatine supplementation. Creatine supplements are capable of increasing expression of a variety of growth factors involved in skeletal muscle growth and function and may also be of benefit during rehabilitation following a period of muscle disuse.
Oral creatine supplementation has been shown to improve muscle mass regeneration following limb immobilization and rehabilitation. It has also been shown to temper the decline in an important transporter protein called GLUT-4 which is responsible for skeletal muscle glucose uptake.
These factors suggest that creatine supplementation may be a promising nutritional counter measure to muscle mass loss during disuse and to improve rehabilitation.
There are some people who may remain wary of the safety of creatine supplements. However, the available evidence indicates that creatine monohydrate supplements have an excellent safety profile and when ingested in proper doses, appear to pose no serious threat to healthy individuals.
These examples show how sports and nutrition combine to help with the healing process after injury.