Athletes Guide to COVID-19 Nutritional Rehabilitation
You are a formidable opponent! You’ve arrived at your destination. However, your struggle is far from over. It is critical to regain muscle and strength, as well as provide the body with the nutrients it requires to maintain a healthy immune system.
So, these results in increasing the stakes in attempting to find a healthy way forward for COVID-19-positive athletes at all levels. Athletes with positive COVID-19 test results on college or professional teams, or athletes with high profiles who have positive test results and are placed in quarantine, are reported almost every day. Physicians, trainers, coaches, league administrators, and others responsible for athletes’ health, as well as the athletes and their families, have all been concerned about the safety of returning to training and competition.
Your body used all of its resources fighting the infection when you were in the hospital. This fight, combined with bedrest, resulted in significant muscle loss. It is important to begin rebuilding right away, and this process can take a long time. It takes more than a year and needs constant diligence. You’ve got this!
START WITH A SCHEDULE
Creating and sticking to a meal and snack routine and schedule will help you get the calories and nutrients you need. This is especially important if your appetite is suppressed. Even though eating used to be a pleasurable experience and is now a hassle, it is critical to your recovery. Your taste sensations may be altered at first, and the food may not be appealing. During this time, choose foods with a variety of textures (crunchy, smooth, etc.) to keep the eating experience interesting. Choose foods that can be eaten cold (sandwiches, cold pasta salads or other grains, cottage cheese/Greek yogurt with fruit, etc.) if the scent of food bothers you. If different flavors appeal to you, try them out, or keep it plain if you prefer. Rest assured that this will pass and your taste buds will return to normal. Before then, you must consume calories and pay special attention to obtaining sufficient protein during the day.
- Protein-rich foods, along with sufficient calories, are important for muscle recovery. Muscle failure occurs as a result of bedrest and immobility, which compromises immune function, power, and function, and delays recovery.
- Your metabolism has changed, making it more difficult to promote muscle growth before it is restored. The amount of protein you need and can use is influenced by your age, genetics, physical activity, height, and weight.
- Consume 25 to 35 grams of protein at each of your three meals and 10-20 grams at each of your 2-3 snacks per day as a general rule. Dickinson is a fictional character. Please see the attached list of protein-rich foods.
- To get enough protein at each meal and snack, mix and match: for example, at lunch, add three ounces of turkey and a slice of cheese, and at snack time, 6 ounces of Greek yogurt plus 1 ounce of nuts
- If you weigh more than 200 pounds, make sure to consume the higher protein range and include protein in each of your three meals and three snacks, as protein requirements are determined by weight, and you may need slightly more than the above recommended amount.
STIMULATE MUSCLE REPAIR
- If you consume protein during the day rather than a huge amount all at once (like waiting until dinner to eat a big meal), your muscle protein will be activated the most, so make sure to provide protein with each meal.
- Protein consumption combined with physical activity can result in increased strength over time. In reality, for an extra boost in muscle gain, have a “recovery snack” that includes protein after your regular physical therapy/training.
- You’ll be doing both muscle strengthening (which is essential for muscle growth) and cardiovascular training (essential for stamina, heart and lung health). Both types of physical activity are necessary.
- Keep in mind that while protein will make you feel full, it is not a complete meal.
Protein supplements will assist you in achieving your protein targets.
To minimize stress on your body and allow the food you eat to go toward re-building your power, you need enough calories. When you “under-eat,” you put your body’s systems under strain. Your body would be catabolic, or in the process of breaking down.
- When you get out of the hospital and are trying to get back on your feet, you can eat at least 35-47 calories per kilogram of bodyweight.
- Instead of undereating throughout the day and overeating at night, try to consume these calories at regular intervals during the day.
- If you can’t eat much, use calorie-dense drinks (milk, coffee, smoothies) to help you get more calories. When you no longer need the extra calories, these are simple to eliminate.
- To add calories, choose calorie-dense foods like breads, muffins, puddings, and shakes.
- To increase calorie intake, use olive oil, nut butters, and other healthy fats. For example, as in a fine Italian restaurant, dip your bread in olive oil before eating it; coat pasta or rice in oil before adding other sauces or flavorings; sauté vegetables in oil; add nuts to salads, vegetables, yogurts; add jam to toast, chocolate syrup in milk, honey in tea, avocado and/or hummus to a sandwich.
NUTRIENTS THAT SUPPORT IMMUNE FUNCTION
There is a lot of talk about ‘boosting’ on the internet and, frankly, everywhere “the body’s defense mechanism in reality, there is no way to ‘boost’ your immune system “. It is active or can be suppressed to varying degrees (e.g. chemo, immune suppressing medications, or auto immune diseases). Do not be fooled by those who claim to be able to “improve” your immunity by offering unproven compounds, elixirs, potions, or isolated nutrients. Recognize that a vitamin or mineral can be prescribed in a higher medicinal dosage that differs from the amount required to maintain a healthy immune system. Below, we have some science-based guidelines for nutrients and dosages to aid in the maintenance of a balanced immune system.
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Since Vitamin C is water soluble and used so often in your body, it’s best to eat a vitamin C-rich food with each meal to ensure your body has the protection it needs every day. For instance, an orange for breakfast, sweet red pepper in a salad or on a sandwich for lunch, tomato sauce for dinner, and mango for dessert
Vitamin C’s RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 95 mg for men, 75 mg for women, and 35 mg more if you’re a smoker or regularly exercise.
Another mineral that is essential for a healthy immune system is zinc. You are more susceptible to infection if you are zinc deficient. However, if you already have enough zinc, more isn’t always better. In fact, too much zinc can impair immune function, cause copper deficiency, lower HDL (‘good”) cholesterol, and reduce the effectiveness of some drugs, such as antibiotics.
Impaired immune function, hair loss, diarrhea, taste abnormalities, loss of taste, impotence, and slow wound healing are all symptoms of deficiency.
Zinc’s RDA (recommended daily allowance) is as follows:
- 11 mg for adult men (19 years and older).
- Adult Females (19 and up) 8 mg
Vitamin D has been discovered to be more than a nutrient. It is a hormone that affects many different processes in the body, including bone health, muscle function, and even immunity.
- Our bodies use Vitamin D, which is produced by our skin using ultraviolet light from the sun! This is one of the reasons why spending 30 minutes outside three days a week (with sunlight on your neck, arms, legs, and face) is beneficial and recommended. Some foods contain it as well. However, as we get older, it’s possible that we won’t be able to convert the active source of Vitamin D from the sun as well. Obese and overweight people can have lower levels of Vitamin D in their blood.
- Vitamin D dosages are given in either IU (International Units) or mcg (milligrams) (micrograms). The RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) for people aged 1 to 70, and 800 IU (15 mcg) for people aged 71 and up.
OTHER NUTRIENTS NEEDED
Did you know your muscles and bones communicate with one another? And, when you lose muscle, the bone density decreases. So, continuing to build strength and performing rehabilitative workouts, as well as consuming protein and calories, would benefit you in a variety of ways. As previously mentioned, vitamin D is an important nutrient for bone health and is needed to absorb calcium from food!
Calcium-rich foods are essential for maintaining bone mass. It is important to consume 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day, in divided doses during the day, for bone health. At any given time, the body can only consume 500 mg of calcium.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 fatty acids (Omega 3’s) can aid in the reduction of chronic inflammation. As you heal, your body could be dealing with a lot of inflammation as a result of the infection, so consuming food-based omega 3 sources may be beneficial.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a form of omega 3 fatty acid found primarily in plants such as flax, chia, nuts, seeds, and oils. In the body, ALA can be transformed to EPA and DHA, but how much converts is uncertain.
For women, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for ALA is 1.1 g, while for men it is 1.6 g.
It will take time for you to recover. You’ll be on the way to better health if you combine these diet recovery recommendations with your physical rehabilitation guidelines.
- It is important to consume enough protein at each meal.
- Whole-food nutrients work together to strengthen the immune system and improve good health.
- Choose calcium-rich dairy or dairy alternatives, healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, and fish, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C and other nutrients, beans, and whole grains.
- To keep your levels in the proper range, make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D.
- These are the foods that will help you maintain a safe gut environment, lowering your risk of infection and allowing you to absorb more of the nutrients you’re consuming.
- Consider whether or not supplements are appropriate for you.
- Continue to wash your hands often, get enough sleep, and keep your distance from others. Assess your progress with your Nutritionist on a regular basis.
While the above article guides you to eating healthier, there is no substitute for customized professional advice given by a qualified nutritionist. We urge you to speak to your personal dietician or if you need help, contact a nutritionist at Qua Nutrition.
You can contact us at 09743430000 or visit quanutrition.com to Book An Appointment.