Sport related injuries can disrupt your workout program for weeks, months…or longer. A proper training diet can help reduce your risk of sport related injuries no matter your current exercise program. The following are dietary guidelines to support you and your active lifestyle.
#1 EAT SUFFICIENT CARBOHYDRATE & PROTEIN DAILY
Low dietary intakes of carbohydrate and protein can significantly increase your risk for exercise-related injury.
- Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel source to support exercise. When carbohydrate stores are low the body breaks down muscle-protein to use as fuel supplies. Therefore chronic carbohydrate depletion may lead to decreases in strength and possibly damage to muscle tissue.
- Dietary protein is vital for muscle maintenance, growth and repair. Muscle protein breakdown occurs in both endurance and strength training activities, therefore you need an adequate intake of high quality dietary protein to repair muscle damage caused by exercise. For active individuals, studies show that the amount and timing of protein intake are important to maximize growth and repair.
To help prevent injury fuel up with both carbohydrate and protein 1-2 hours before your workout and within 30 minutes after. Combination pre-workout meal may include a smoothie made with low fat milk and fruit. For a convenient recovery snack, chocolate milk fits the bill.
#2 CHECK YOUR HYDRATION STATUS
A dehydrated joint is more susceptible to tears and injuries. Dehydration creates added stress on the body including increased internal temperature, heart rate, sweat rate, early fatigue and loss of balance and mental focus. To help prevent dehydration you should practice drinking fluids before, during and after your exercise session. Be sure to drink water throughout your day not just around physical activity! Water, fruit juice, smoothies and milk all count towards your fluid intake.
#3 MAXIMIZE YOUR CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D INTAKE
Preventing stress fractures are critical in preventing other exercise-related injuries. Getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D every day helps develop and maintain strong bones. Studies have shown that athletes who consume diets low in calcium tend to have lower bone mineral density (BMD) and increased risk for stress fractures. Great dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D are dairy products and fortified foods such as orange juice.
#4 INCLUDE HEART-HEALTHY ESSENTIAL FATS
Dietary fats provide essential fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own. Essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids are needed to make and repair cell membrane, and are good for the heart, a source of energy, lubricating joints and tissues and reducing inflammation in the body. Cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), ground flaxseed and walnuts are a few good dietary sources to include in your daily training diet.
#5 RAMP UP YOUR ANTIOXIDANTS
Vitamins C and E are injury preventing antioxidants that help protect your body’s cells from damage. Vitamin C plays a role in tissue repair and formation of collagen. Collagen provides strength and flexibility for ligaments, tendons and is necessary to hold bone together. Vitamin E helps protect tissues and organs from damage caused by free radicals. The combination of these vitamins is thought to minimize damage from exercise and therefore help with recovery from your workout or training session.
Think of deep and vibrant colors when choosing which fruits and vegetables you consume. Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes and peppers contain tissue repairing vitamins. Vitamin E can be found in almonds, almond butter, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and avocado.
In general, the basic dietary approach to reducing your risk for sport related injury is to provide a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods that support bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues. Including plenty of whole grains, dark green vegetables and red, purple, and blue fruit, low fat dairy products and healthy fats and staying hydrated can help minimize your risk for exercise related injury.
Injury Preventing Pre-Workout Snack/Meal
- Power House Smoothie…Milk, blueberries, strawberries, banana, kale and ground flax seed
- Almond butter sandwich, strawberries and milk
- Meat or cheese sub loaded with veggies, milk or fruit juice
Injury Preventing Post-Workout Snack/Meal
- Chocolate milk and walnuts
- Yogurt, low fat granola and berries
- Salmon sandwich, fruit cup and milk
- Lentil soup with rice, yogurt, fruit salad and milk, juice or water
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