Most people aren't aware that healthy eating habits can help prevent overuse injuries in regular exercisers, such as plantar fasciitis, from occurring. Proper nutrition itself cannot fully prevent injuries from overtraining or improper shoewear, but specific eating habits can play a role in a thorough injury prevention strategy.
Since your diet is the foundation to your body structure, it only makes sense that proper nutrition will allow your body to withstand a half marathon or an intense cycling session and assist you in finishing injury-free. There are four specific eating habits that will help you reduce your risk of injury:
1) Make sure you eat enough. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when it comes to injury prevention is to eat too few calories. When your body doesn't receive enough calories through the food that you consume, it will enter what is called a catabolic state, which simply means that your muscles will begin eating themselves to meet their tissue maintenance and energy needs. Catabolism hinders your body's ability to repair the tissue damage that occurs during a workout, which slows muscle recovery and increases your risk of injury.
In order to figure out if your eating enough, keep an eye on our workout performance, your body weight and your body composition. When you aren't consuming enough calories, you'll notice a decline in your workout performance. Furthermore, if you're in a catabolic state, your body weight will go down while your body fat percentage will remain stable, which indicates that you're losing muscle, not fat.
2) Don't forget to include fat in your diet. Most people shy away from fat due to the bad reputation it has received, but fat is vital in creating healthy cell membranes that are resistant to damage during exercise. Certain types of fat are also key ingredients in compounds that participate in the inflammation process, which can prevent small injuries from turning into larger ones.
Studies show that athletes who had the lowest injury risk got roughly 30 percent of their daily calories from fat, which is a good percentage to aim for as long as you're consuming the right kinds of fat. Make sure that no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories comes from saturated fat and try to ingest twice as much unsaturated fat as saturated fat. Omega-3 essential fats are also vital to your diet, so try to consume around 3,000 mg per day.
3) Keep your calcium intake high. Calcium is the most important nutrient for bone health and is especially key for those with low bone density. The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 mg, but the average person consumes only 500 to 700 mg daily. Try to incorporate more calcium in your diet by consuming three servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy foods per day or take calcium supplements, which some studies say is more effective than dairy foods in maintaining bone density.
4) Eat the proper times. When you eat is just as important in preventing injuries as what you eat. Muscle and joint tissue damage that occurs during your workout is repaired most quickly in the two hours immediately after the workout, provided that you eat within that time frame. The most important type of food to consume is protein, but recent studies have shown that consuming protein along with carbohydrates is even better because carbs stimulate muscle protein synthesis as well as replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores, which is crucial in preventing injuries.