The role of nutrition

Nutrition can offer you much more than just input versus output. The right nutrition plan may offer protection against illness and injury, particular during intense training periods. Exercise recovery is somewhat of a given, in that, to aid recovery the right nutrition programme can provide a wealth of benefits, most noticeably fuel replenishment and muscle development. Platform Nutrition believes that nutrition can not only aid exercise recovery but also prevent illness and support injury rehabilitation .

Injury Recovery

Many budding exercisers to elite athletes hampered with an injury, will testify that recovery is a combination of physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, rest and nutrition that together will support speedy return to full training. In regard to nutrition, the first thing to consider is the decrease in training volume and compensations that will need to be made in terms of reduced energy intake required. Focusing on key nutrients during this period will however pay dividends, speeding recovery and reducing discomfort. 

The power of protein

Depending upon the injury any nutritional response needs to be individualised. For example, let’s take a football player, who has unfortunately broken their leg, the immobility will mean muscle (atrophy) loss, certainly in the leg and possibly in any untrainable areas. To prevent or at least slow muscle atrophy, maintaining a positive protein balance is important. Where protein synthesis is reduced due to a reduction in exercise, increasing the protein intake will help off-set the imbalance. Similarly, carbohydrate intake should be altered with the reduction in training but avoiding a severe reduction, as any energy malnutrition aggravates the inflammation response and will slow the recovery process.

Supporting nutrients

Additional supplementation support such as creatine and omega 3 fatty acids (both to reduce muscle loss) have been suggested to help during the recovery process, but as yet the research is inconclusive. With that in mind, the sensible approach would be to carefully consider any additional supplementation above and beyond a well balanced diet.

Limiting Immune Suppression

To achieve your goal/s is likely to take a significant amount of hard work; training many hours a day, 5-7 days a week; to be leaner, fitter, faster and stronger. Hard work all comes at a price - during heavy training the body’s natural defence against infection is temporarily suppressed; this is especially true immediately after exercise. This period is termed ‘the open window theory’, a window for infection. This will be unfortunately all too familiar to many hard training athletes, as they become more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), better known as the common cold.

This type of infection can be a real set back in a anyone’s training. Training through it, although seeming the tough thing to do, could bring about further complications and push the recovery time back even further. As with anything the ideal is to have preventative measures.

Carbohydrate is key

The link between reduced carbohydrate availability and immune function is well established so ensuring adequate carbohydrate, the body’s fuel of choice, intake is a key step to reducing susceptibility to infection.

Boost your defences

Further support, to boost immunity, can be found through antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation. Naturally occurring multivitamin foods exists, such as: Blueberries, Almonds, Avocado, Cranberries, Flaxceeds, Olive oil, Pumpkin, Sweet potato and Oranges. However, for a convenient way to reach the required dosages, sport nutrition supplementation can be excellent alternative.  

Injury and illness are at times an unavoidable consequence to hard training. Any set back in training can have devastating effects on your desired goal. Listening to your body and tailoring your nutrition accordingly, will ideally prevent an injury and illness before it strikes.