“I gained xx amount of weight because I couldn’t train after getting injured”
I would have quite a lot of quids lol! The reality is injuries do happen but you need to be able to deal with them in the best way possible, minimise weight gain and focus on supporting your recovery.
Being Injured Sucks
Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that being injured sucks. Like many of you, I’ve had my fair share over the years and ain’t nobody got time for dat!
Injuries = pain, they stop you training how you want to and so together this can really put you on a bit of a downer. I get it, I’ve been there, BUT luckily I ‘ve 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 exercise and seek comfort from food, which places them in a calorie surplus.
C) For many eating well and training go hand in hand. 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.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Yeah cheers for that Captain Obvious!”
But despite sounding obvious, sometimes it needs to be reiterated because one thing that’s worse than being injured is gaining weight whilst being injured.
Fret not as I have 6 awesome tips for you that will not only help prevent weight gain but will also speed up the recovery process and have you back doing your thing in no time.
6 Awesome Tips
1) Focus On What You CAN Do
It’s easy to let injuries get you down, however, instead of getting into a funk and listing off all the things you can’t do, focus on what you CAN do. The point of training is to be strong and now’s the time to test your strength.
There’s still plenty of options, I often suggest to our Fitter 365 members when injured that they put pen to paper and write a list of all the exercises they can do.
This helps hugely because you’re taking control of the situation with some positive action and now you have a list of exercises you can use to create some workouts.
Recently a member was feeling down due to a shoulder injury, we put together a list of all the lower body exercises, cardio and core work they could do, alongside some pulling movements to help rehabilitate the injury.
Another member was struggling knee pain so we put together a plan with upper body exercises, more hip hinge-based movements (such as deadlifts and kettlebell swings), a ski erg and ab exercises.
Often non/low impact cardio work are always an option too including walking, hill walking on a treadmill, cycling and the cross trainer.
All movement counts so get writing your list.
2) Move As Much As You CAN
Ties in with the above nicely, 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 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 a more restorative phase for you. Movement promotes blood flow which will support joint healing and recovery.
Also use this time out to establish a better movement foundation with mobility or rehab exercises to reduce your chances of getting injured again. Head to our Yoga and Mobility Section for some routines and inspiration.
3) Increase Protein Intake
Protein has many benefits that go beyond building muscle including supporting immune function and aiding recovery from an injury or operation.
If you’re already eating a good amount of protein, approx. 1.8-2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight, then there is likely no need to increase your intake. However, if it’s lower you may benefit from increasing slightly.
Another benefit to protein is it’s incredibly satiating and at 4 Kcal per gram, it’s low in calories, especially when consuming leaner sources such as chicken, turkey, tuna and white fish.
Remember you still need a variety of proteins including red meat and oily fish to provide micronutrients and essential fats.
4) Reduce Carbohydrates
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 carbohydrate intake slightly just as you increase them when exercising more.
From a weight management point of view, carbs are also incredibly palatable, especially when eaten with fat and salt (think chips, crisps, bread and butter, etc.) so even though they are equal to protein in terms of calories (4Kcals per gram), it’s easy to eat more of them than protein.
Ahh good old sleep, so many benefits yet we still don’t give it the attention it deserves. If you’re injured then getting more sleep should be a priority as it’s the perfect opportunity for your body to repair itself. Combine with 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.
I completely get it. You’re keen to return to your “usual” training routine and whilst you should aim to progress where possible and not fear training, don’t be daft about it. Pushing it too quickly will only delay the recovery process. You’ll get frustrated and likely reach for the ice cream.
I know because I’ve been there, a lot of ice cream got consumed!
So, take your time, understand that different injuries take longer to heal and the rate at which they recover depends largely on the resources you’ve provided your body with.
If you’re struggling with an injury right now I hope these tips help you. If your injury has been ongoing or long term please also seek professional help for more specific guidance.