Protein is made up of amino acids, which stimulate muscle/ tendon formation and growth. One study has shown that an exercise training programme resulted in a tendon size increase of 8%, but post-exercise protein intake combined with the same exercise programme resulted in this growth rate being extended to 15%. When combined with sufficient calcium (see point 3), protein has a positive impact on bone health and also in times of immobilization/restricted movement, increasing protein intake can help maintain some muscle mass. Additionally, the timing of daily protein intake is important. Spacing protein intakes regularly throughout the day in 4 x 20-25g portions every 3-4 hours allows ongoing muscle repair and cell formation. This 4 x 20-25g method outperforms ‘clumping’ large portions of protein intake at main meals only e.g. 40g at lunch and 40g at dinner.
Simple examples of 20g-25g protein portions are:
- Medium chicken/turkey breast
- 2 large eggs scrambled on rye bread
- 3 egg omlette
- 150g of Greek Yoghurt (0% fat Fage version), with honey and fruit of choice
- 75g of Beef mince in a Chilli-con-carne/bolognaise
- Skyr protein yoghurt
- CNP Pro Flapjack
- 500-600ml of milk
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for muscle/soft tissue repair and bone health. It is also something, which is very difficult to obtain in the modern diet. It is not a performance enhancer in that the more you take there will not be additional strength/power gains, but if you are deficient in Vitamin D (as a majority of people are) then this will hamper the speed at which muscle/soft tissue repairs, wounds heal and will negatively affect bone health status in combination with calcium. So not having sufficient Vitamin D levels could be seen as detrimental to performance, injury prevention and injury rehabilitation.
Vitamin D at an intake of 4000 international units (iu) per day is currently thought to be a good, sufficient level for athletes training daily. Healthspan Elite have capsules that have that exact dosage and that have been batch tested through the Informed Sport anti-doping programme.
Insufficient calcium leads to bone breakdown and therefore during times of immobilization/restricted movement resulting from injuries, sufficient calcium intake is essential. Calcium is best consumed through dietary sources rather than supplementation. The recommended daily target normally is 700mg but aim for c.1000mg throughout the rehabilitation period and when full training is recommenced. As a guide one pint of milk contains c.600mg of calcium and this is a good way to guarantee the bulk of the daily target is met – milk is also a great protein source (point 1). Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium so points 2 and 3 as a combined strategy are essential to support good bone health/regeneration.
Some initial research indicates that Gelatin can have an impact on tendon/ligament repair and recovery by supporting muscle and connective tissue by triggering greater collagen production following injury. Aim for around 10g of gelatin per day. There are plenty of recipes including the use of gelatin online, many of which are deserts (for example, panna-cotta); please find a link to a few ideas below.
You can pick up sachet’s of gelatin powder in any supermarket (probably in the ‘home baking’ aisle).
Foods that are high in polyphenols promote cell formation in muscles and support the healing process;
Blueberries/Raspberries – 120-130g
Red Kidney Beans – 65g
Dark Chocolate (70%+ cocoa content) – 40g
Walnuts – 1 tablespoon
Spinach – 1 handful
- Quick and Simple Recipe
One very quick and practical recipe that hits several of the above recommendations at the same time is a Greek Yoghurt Fruit Salad with Dark Chocolate. This gives you a sufficient portion of protein, some calcium and a mix of different polyphenols.
- 1 x Fage 0% fat greek yoghurt pot (150g)
- 1 x handful of raspberries
- 1 x handful of blueberries
- 40g of 70+ dark chocolate
- 1 x teaspoon of honey/maple syrup
Andrew Nippard is our new Sports Nutritionist here at Summit Wellbeing. Andrew holds an MSc degree in Applied Sports Nutrition and is a graduate member of the SENr (Sport and Exercise Nutrition register).
For further information about how sports nutrition could support you with your sports training goals please contact email@example.com