Nutrition is everything, whether you are on a new diet, trying to gain muscle, or in this case, recovering from an injury, it should be at the top of the list of things you should be performing at a high level. When talking about recovering from an injury, few things are more tedious than waiting to heal and get back to 100 percent. Whether you are a dedicated athlete or physically active professional, injury recovery can be a challenge. Not only are you kept from your usual physical activity, but you also need to carefully optimize your lifestyle to heal quickly. A huge part of optimizing the opportunity to come back faster, stronger, and healthy is ultimately choosing what you eat and your overall nutrition.
When you’re stuck on the couch, it can be tempting to snack. In fact, you may need the extra calories to rebuild the damaged tissue, but what you eat matters more than how much you eat when it comes to healing. Your body needs to stock up on specific nutrients and building-blocks to knit your injury back together quickly and you need both plenty of protein and a variety of rarer minerals found in colorful fruits and vegetables. The meals you eat should also be lean and light on things like carbs and fats, since you can’t burn those calories easily during recovery. If you are tempted to snack on something that doesn’t fit the criteria, remind yourself why are keeping track of your diet and why you are going through therapy, always remember the why.
What to Eat to Heal Quickly
So when you’re watching movies at home instead of hitting the gym, what should you have for dinner? When you’re pampering yourself a little during the recovery, what will taste great and help you heal faster? The answer is to craft your meals and snacks from foods that give your body what it needs. Focus on lean meats, fresh produce, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Surprisingly, your menu can stay pretty simple and delicious. No need to learn how to cut an avocado or even shop at the health food store. The best foods to eat for injury recovery are probably among your favorites already.
Everyone loves a beautiful, perfectly cooked steak. Marbled, flavorful, and just the right amount of red in the meat can make a heavenly experience. Injury recovery is the perfect excuse to spring for a few steaks this month. You and your family can turn your time on the bench into an at-home holiday.
Enjoy a few delicious slabs of red meat, knowing that all that iron and protein is essential for rebuilding the tissue around your healing injury. It’s easy to cook a steak at home with the pans you already have. Simply sear the steak for about two minutes on each side and pop it in the oven for another 3-7 minutes to finish. Season to taste, everyone likes their steak a little different and now is the perfect time to indulge.
Citrus is essential for healing, and not just fighting off the common cold. Citrus fruits like oranges and pineapple have minerals that are incredibly helpful to your body in healing the injury and boosting your immune system during the healing process. You can just eat and drink citrus at home, but there’s a more fun and diverse way to get all your fruity nutrients: smoothies.
Many athletes are already in the habit of making smoothies and protein shakes daily. During injury recovery, focus your smoothie ingredients on citrus-based recipes with bananas and colorful berries. Yogurt and protein powder will also help, as you can use all the lean protein you can get. These smoothies will be packed with the kind of diverse nutrients your body needs for quick injury recovery and a strong immune system along the way.
Eggs and Toast
While we’re talking about breakfast, don’t neglect the eggs. No matter how you enjoy them, eggs are another great source of protein and combined nutrients. The common egg, scrambled or fried can set up your body for an entire day of healing. Or, if you are a breakfast for dinner person, you can have eggs for dinner and relax into an evening of protein-fueled recovery.
Eggs combined with whole-grain toast make a great meal because they contain fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats along with a mix of vitamins and minerals. Definitely keep eating your favorite eggy breakfast while your injury is healing.
Sweet potatoes are one of those weird superfoods that either you love or don’t. Sweet potatoes are packed with soluble fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C which is indicated by the rich orange color. They contain the minerals iron, calcium, and selenium which are all essential for a healthy body and healing in particular. They also include Manganese, Copper, Niacin, Potassium, Copper, and Pantothenic acid.
Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that also promotes healthy eyesight. So if you can enjoy a baked sweet potato with butter and savory or sweet spices, dig in, they’re amazing for you and can really help accelerate your injury recovery.
Seafood of most varieties are also a great meal when you have an injury to heal. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and the many whitefish varieties are all packed with protein, Omega 3’s, and healthy fats that will promote your body’s natural processes.
Shellfish is also a helpful addition to your diet. Shellfish tends to contain high amounts of zinc which is critical to the healing process in specific. In fact, a deficit of zinc can actually slow down your ability to heal. Enjoy zinc-rich foods like shellfish, other types of fish, and whole grains. This makes seafood, in general, a great way to promote healing and shorten your recovery time.
Why do berries come in such a wide range of reds, purples, and blues? The answer is that they are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and other powerful nutrients. Berries are one of the best sources of the rare minerals that your body needs when it is rebuilding tissue. This is why mixed berries and berry smoothies are often recommended as part of a super-foods diet.
You may have heard that the dark blue color of blueberries or the deep red of raspberries are rich in nutrients, but every kind of berry has something to offer. Eating a fruit salad of mixed berries or snacking on mixed berries instead of junk food can seriously enhance your overall health and your body’s ability to rebuild tissue using all necessary components.
Along the same lines, you want a colorful variety of vegetables in your diet. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn a bunch of crazy new recipes. Just eat a salad every day that has interesting ingredients. Do not use lettuce, instead, use spinach, arugula, and other leafy varieties as your base. These tend to contain a great deal of calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D. Prioritize dark leafy greens. Then to spice it up, add elements of other colors like orange carrots, red and green bell peppers, olives, purple cabbage, white onions, and so on.
The more colorful your salad is, the more nutrient-rich it will be. This will fuel your body up on the building-blocks it needs to heal quickly. Also an important thing to remember, easy on the dressing. If you douse your salad with a dressing such as ranch, it basically makes your healthy choice of eating a salad a waste.
Looking for a snack that will help you heal faster? Mixed nuts are always a good bet because they are packed with rare minerals, healthy fats, and protein. Each type of nut has a different balance of vitamins and earth minerals that make them unique among our food selection. Nuts tend to contain trace elements of metals and rock-minerals that our bodies need in small doses but sometimes have trouble finding.
Make sure your body has all the essentials by snacking on salted nuts instead of chips during your injury recovery.
If you love hamburgers, we’ve got good news. Enjoying a lean hamburger is exactly what the doctor ordered when your body is building new tissue and knitting together an injury. You need plenty of protein and energy to get through this healing process so kick back with a burger at home without worry.
The best burgers for injury recovery are made with 90+% lean meat so that you’re prioritizing your calories on protein instead of fat. Most grocery stores carry 93% or 96% lean hamburger, so having trouble finding this should be held to a minimum. Being able to control how lean you make your hamburgers is why it’s best to make your burgers at home while recovering instead of going out for fast food.
We’ve covered produce and vegetables and salads, but it’s worth mentioning that broccoli shows up time and time again as a food to be eaten during injury recovery. It’s packed with fiber, which is great for a healing body, rich in calcium which is essential for healing bones and nerves, and also carries Vitamin D which helps the body to absorb calcium. Plus, broccoli’s pretty tasty prepared in a wide number of ways.
Cover it lightly in cheese, steam it in spices, bake it into a casserole, or simmer it into a soup. A little broccoli is great for anyone recovering from an injury or just trying to stay healthy in general.
Recovering from an injury is not fun, but that doesn’t mean you should sit at home for a month eating potato chips in front of the TV. Take this time to really focus on your nutrition, as this will propel yourself in the right direction in order to come back healthy and strong. On the contrary, now is the time to eat a couple meals that you usually wouldn’t bother having. Use your injury as a reason to treat yourself to some delicious fresh foods, from juicy steaks to colorful fruit salads, but also as a reason to better your nutrition for future success.
Here at Mueller Sports Medicine, we are dedicated to helping athletes and people recover in style. Visit the Mueller website within our website to shop for products that can help get you back on track to where you want to be.