I know you don’t want to gain weight when you are injured but it takes more energy to repair and recover from an injury. What that means is that you can’t under eat or go on a diet. During recovery, your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate (daily calories burn at rest) should be higher. Depending on your injury, your BMR should be 15 to 50% higher. Yes, you will gain a little bit of weight during recovery but at least you will recover faster. If you diet while being injured 🤕, it will take longer to heal. Even worse, you will suffer another injury.
Let’s take the example of a young male athlete. He’s 14 years old, 5’6″ and 140 lb.
• Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – 1611 kcal or calories/day
• Energy needs when sedentary – 1933 kcal or calories/day (activity factor of 1.2)
• Energy needs with daily training/competition – 2739 kcal or calories/day (activity factor of 1.7)
• Energy needs during recovery – 2319 kcal or calories/day (activity factor of 1.2 and a 20% increase in metabolism due to injury)
It doesn’t matter whether you are a young athlete or not, you need to eat more.
Macronutrient needs during recovery
Injury repair requires more protein. Injured individuals should aim for 1.5-2.0 g/kg, up from the usual 0.8 g/kg. Many already do this.
To ensure a quick recovery, make sure to get this higher protein intake consistently. At minimum, injured individuals should be taking in 1 g of protein per pound of body weight.
I recommend balancing dietary fat by getting about 1/3 of total fat intake from each of the three types of fat. Most importantly, aim for more omega-3s and cut down omega-6s, to get an omega-6 to -3 ratio that’s at least 1:1 and preferably closer to 3:1.
While individuals need glucose for injury healing, no specific carbohydrate recommendations have been established for injury periods. However, you should probably include enough dietary carbohydrate to ensure adequate micronutrient intake and stable insulin concentrations (which, as an anabolic hormone, may affect wound healing). In some individuals accustomed to a higher intake of carbs, not getting enough will be an additional — and unwanted — stressor.