When your athlete is recovering from a sports injury that’s keeping them from taking part in practice and play, proper nutrition becomes more critical than ever. Eating well during this time can speed up healing and a return to play, while overindulging in junk food can actually set recovery back. Here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, explains how to use nutrition to help recover from a sports injury.
Eating healthy is eating for injury
The good news is that a generally healthy, whole food-based diet is the primary defense when it comes to healing injuries, says Ziesmer. “Cut down on processed foods and focus on whole foods,” she explains. "Don’t restrict carbohydrates, but opt for whole grain versions versus white flour. Fill up on fruits and vegetables. Make your protein intake slightly higher, but only increase it by around 10 percent. And focus on good sources of fat, including nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon or tuna that contain high amounts of Omega3 fatty acids.”
This doesn’t mean your injured athlete can never have potato chips, she adds, but ultra-processed foods should be reduced. “Watch out for how many processed foods your athlete is having. Avoid processed meat like bacon or sausage, and most pre-packaged foods,” she explains. “Those processed and ultra-processed foods can raise the level of inflammation in the body and make it harder for the body to heal."