The Road to Recovery Starts with Proper Nutrition


It can happen to the best of us – through an unforeseen accident, overextension, or lack of proper stretching, we are left injured and temporarily unable to run. One very important step on the road to recovery is to maintain proper nutrition through healthful eating. In fact, we should practice these habits even when we’re healthy, so that our body has a reserve of vitamins and minerals from which to rejuvenate should injury occur.

Your body needs calories in order to heal

It’s easy to believe that you need to severely limit your caloric intake now that you’re not as active, but your internal organs require a lot of fuel to perform normal operation. In fact, about 67% of the calories consumed by an average person are burned to support a simple resting metabolic rate. Additionally, as your body works to repair itself from a minor injury or trauma, it can require 10% to 20% more calories; and major surgeries require much more! It’s true that you may need fewer total calories because you are no longer burning through them with intense daily exercise, but you should trust your body and respond appropriately to your hunger cues. Eat when your body is hungry and stop when you feel full. But do not starve your body of the essential fuel needed to rebuild and recover.

Eat a balance of nutritionally rich foods in order to keep your internal processes powered. This is done by choosing a variety of foods and not eliminating any full food groups. Different nutritional elements work together synergistically in order to operate. Your balanced diet should include:

Carbohydrates (grains, fruits, vegetables): Your body needs carbs to burn for fuel, so that dietary protein can be used to heal and repair tissue. While it’s smart not to overdo it on any food group, it’s also crucial not to skimp on carbs.

Protein (lean meats, legumes, nuts and low fat dairy): Digestion converts proteins from your food into essential amino acids which your body needs to rebuild muscle and promote healing. While you’re recovering from your injury, it’s a good idea to ingest 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal and snack.

Plant and fish oils: Nuts, peanut butter, flaxseed, flax oil, avocado and olive and canola oils are rich in anti-inflammatory properties, as are Omega-3 fish oils. Eating these foods will help your body fight inflammation and support healing. Meanwhile, you should avoid the omega-6 fats found in foods containing partially hydrogenated oils, corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and soy oils. An excess of these fats may contribute to inflammation.

Vitamins: Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and contain powerful anti-oxidants that help defeat inflammation.

Minerals: Runners who avoid red meat may find that they suffer from a deficiency of iron. Ask your doctor how daily supplements can help increase levels of essential minerals like iron and zinc during recovery.

By being mindful of what you eat not only during recovery from an injury, but also the rest of the time, you can ensure that your body heals, works, and plays at optimum levels. Remember, it’s a machine that needs the proper fuel to carry you through this hobby we all love.

For additional information on healthy and restorative eating, visit