My first instinct when I was told that I wouldn’t be snowboarding anymore this year was “Great, I’ll get to work towards losing some weight and thinning out a bit etc” so I left the snow with exactly that in mind, cut back right? Wrong. Luckily as an athlete I have access to some of the best dietitians and doctors I could ask for and their general consensus is dieting pre surgery is a terrible Idea.
Now I’m not saying go crazy and eat all the terrible junk foods you can imagine eating. Eating healthy is obviously super important. But what I was told much to my surprise is that cutting down on caloric intake is a terrible idea.
Why Not Cut Down
The prehab period leading into surgery is all about building muscles and strength before going under the knife. This is a proven way to help ensure you have a head start on your rehab journey post op and helps limit the amount of muscle atrophy you may suffer as a consequence of the downtime you need to recover.
To achieve this goal, dieting for weight loss is a terrible idea. For starters when you diet to lose weight is common to lose muscle at the same rate that you lose fat, 1:1 is the standard rate of losing fat to muscle. Obviously this is fine if you supplement your weight loss with an exercise regime of lifting and movement to keep your muscles from losing as little as possible.
What you should be doing at this time is eating at or slightly above your metabolic rate to ensure your muscles have enough fuel to feed off and prevent that muscle atrophy. Below is a list of the best food groups to indulge to give yourself the best chance at an effective prehab and a speedy recovery.
- Omega 3 – Omega 3 is a well known combatant of inflammation. At this early stage of recovery it is important to ensure that the inflammation is kept to a minimum through relatively high workloads in the gym. The easiest ways to get Omega 3 include, cold water fish, walnuts and flax seed meal to name a few.
- Protein – Specifically the timing of your protein intake. You want to include at least 20 grams of lean protein with each meal, and supplement meals with high protein snacks post exercise sessions. High protein snacks can include, a cup of plain milk, ricotta or cottage cheese and of course greek yogurt (Which can be easily turned into a chocolate mousse by adding a little bit of cocoa powder).
- “Eating The Rainbow” – Now by this I dont just mean eating lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, but also a wide variety of cooking methods. Antioxidants found in vegitables can be destroyed in the cooking process, so ensuring you have a wide range of techniques to cook, you ensure you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need.
Mixing it up, eating healthy but also eating to maintain your body at whatever state it is currently in will ensure a more effective recovery in the long term.
Aside from these 3 points there are also the other food groups of Fats and Carbohydrates which are important to maintain energy levels in your body. I have been recommended a handful of carbs 2 times a day, Low GI carbs are best with brown rice and sweet potatoes being my go to. Fats are just a case of picking healthy natural fats and limiting anything processed.
What I Eat
My day to day is fairly standard. I enjoy food a bit more than I should at times and as a result struggle with keeping a consistent weight level throughout the competition season. However with this injury I have taken a more reserved approach to my diet and my day mostly consists of the following.
- Breakfast – 3 eggs and a banana smoothy with Chia Seeds, Flaxseed Meal and Water.
- Lunch – Half Chicken Breast with whichever seasoning I choose, a few heads of broccoli and cauliflower as well as a handful of rice.
- Dinner – This is the most diverse meal of the day for me, but I try to keep to 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs and 1/2 vegetables as a standard.
This is may seem like a boring menu but with the different seasonings for the chicken and the ease of cooking quickly it can be surprisingly tasty. Everyone will have their own spin on their diets and this is by no means the best option, just the one I have decided on.
Apart from the list above I also supplement my intake with snacks throughout the day, fruits and other assorted goodies to round out my caloric intake and bring it up to a healthy level for consistent weight management and muscle gain.
What kind of things did you eat after getting injured? Did you let yourself blow out or did you do the opposite and lose a bunch of weight. Let me know in the comments below.