If I had a quid for every time I heard the whole “I gained X amount of weight because I couldn’t train after getting injured” thing I would have quite a lot of quids!
The reality is injuries do happen and we need to be able to deal with them in the best way possible.
Being Injured Sucks
Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that being injured sucks.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I have had my fair share of injuries over the years and ain’t nobody got time for dat!
Injuries hurt, they stop you training how you want to train and this can put you on a bit of a downer, I get it, I’ve been there, BUT luckily, I have learned some valuable lessons along the way which I’m going to share with you awesome lot.
But before I do I have a truth bomb for you.
As crap as injuries are they don’t cause weight gain, eating too many calories causes weight gain.
Folks put on weight when injured because they either:
A) continue to eat as if they were training and this places them in a calorie surplus.
B) they feel frustrated and low due to not being able to train how they want and they seek comfort from food and this places them in a calorie surplus.
C) for many eating well and training go hand in hand and if they are not training they see less point in eating well, it’s that classic all or nothing mentality.
If you have sustained an injury or are recovering from an operation it’s safe to say you probably won’t be training in the same way as you were before – for the time being anyway.
Chances are your exercise energy expenditure will decrease as well as your NEAT, (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which is basically anything that isn’t actually exercise, such as walking, shopping, cleaning, and gardening etc.
So, if energy going out has gone down and energy intake remains the same or increases there is a chance you will gain weight.
“Yeah cheers for that captain obvious”
Despite sounding obvious, it’s rarely someone’s initial reaction to an injury, but the only thing worse than being injured is gaining weight whilst being injured.
But fret not as I have 6 awesome tips for you that will not only prevent weight gain but will help to speed up the recovery process and have you back doing your thing in no time!
6 Awesome Tips to Prevent Weight Gain When Injured and Aid Recovery
1) Focus on what you CAN do:
It’s easy to let injuries get you down, no one wants them and they can affect our mindset when we sustain them.
However, instead of getting into a funk a listing off all the “I can’t do’s” focus on what you can do.
Sure, you won’t be able to do what you were doing previously BUT I’m sure there is still plenty you can do.
I often put this as a challenge to our Fitter 365 members and by putting pen to paper and writing a list of all the exercises they can do.
They firstly are taking control of the situation by taking positive action but secondly, they also now have a list of exercises they can use to create some workouts.
Just recently a member was feeling down due to a shoulder injury because it stopped them training how they wanted to train.
We put the above into action and then they had a list of all the lower body exercise they could do, the cardio and core work and it turns out they were able to perform some pulling movements too.
Equally another member had knee pain but they were able to train upper body, use a ski erg, do ab work and more hip hinge-based movements (such as deadlifts and kettlebell swings) were ok for them.
Also, non-impact cardio work such as the bike and cross trainer were pain-free exercises they could do.
It’s amazing what a bit of good old-fashioned putting pen to paper can do. Result!
Of course, there is a bit of trial and error involved here but isn’t there always?
2) Move as much as you can:
Ties in with the above nicely but just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you should do nothing.
If you’re able to walk pain-free then increase your daily step count, try incorporating some mobility work into your day too as well as some stretches.
Sure, these won’t burn as many calories as some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), circuit training or Zumba but consider this to be more restorative as movement means blood flow and blood flow aids recovery.
Plus, the better you move the better you feel and there is a good chance improved movement may reduce your chances of getting injured again. Here is a cool mobility drill I do most days.
3) Increase protein intake:
Protein has many benefits that go beyond helping you to get jacked including supporting immune function AND aiding recovery from an injury or operation.
If you’re already eating a good amount of protein, say 1.8-2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight, then there is probably no need to increase your intake.
However, if it’s lower than that then you may benefit from bumping it up a little.
Another benefit to protein is it’s incredibly satiating and at 4 Kcal per gram, it’s quite low calorie, especially when coming from leaner sources such as chicken, turkey, tuna and white fish.
That’s not to say you should avoid red meat and oily fish such as salmon, it’s all about getting a variety of protein sources.
4) Reduce carbs:
Not because carbs are the enemy, far from it, but in terms of fuel if you’re exercising less then you could probably reduce your carb intake in the same way as if you’re exercising more then you should probably increase carb intake.
From a weight management point of view, carbs are incredibly palatable, especially when eaten with say fats and salt, so it’s easy to eat more of them than protein even though they too contain 4Kcals per gram.
So to be clear, they don’t make you fat, just something to be aware of if training less.
Ahh good old sleep, so many benefits yet we don’t give it the attention we should.
If you’re injured then getting more sleep should be a priority as it’s the perfect opportunity for your body to repair itself.
Combined with your increased protein intake you will be back at it in no time.
6) Be patient:
Probably the hardest thing to get your head around on this list lol.
I get it, you’re keen to return to your “usual” training routine and yes you should definitely aim to progress where possible and not fear training, BUT don’t be daft about it because you will only delay the recovery process, get wound up and reach for the ice cream.
I know because I have been there.
So, take your time, understand that different injuries take longer to heal and the rate at which they heal depends largely on what you have provided your body with.
Hopefully, this helps you but I want to be clear that if your injury has been ongoing or long term then don’t ignore it and please seek professional help.