Jack Coak

Jack Coak

Performance Nutritionist (MSc, SENr)

Nutrition For Injured Fighters PT1

Are you a fighter who is currently injured?

Do you want to know how to utilise various evidence based nutrition strategies to help you recover faster & stronger following an injury? 

Well then look no further! This article explains all the things you should consider doing to help accelerate your return to the ring.

Unfortunately injuries are a common occurrence across most sports, particularly in combat sports due to the intense training fighter’s put themselves through. Being injured can have several effects on a fighter’s life which in most cases includes stopping them from training in any capacity.

Partial or complete immobilisation can lead to reductions in physical activity levels leading to decreases in total daily energy expenditure which can have an immediate impact on a fighter’s body composition – particularly if they eat the same amount of food as they did when they were training.

The two key areas of concern include; increases in fat mass & reductions in muscle mass with the latter a common occurrence when upper & lower limbs are injured.

Most injured boxers will undergo some form of injury rehab to aid their return to training, however a well planned nutrition strategy can play a crucial role in accelerating a boxer’s return to training & limit any gains in body fat.

Here Are 3 Key Nutrition Strategies To Add To Your Recovery Toolbox:

1. Consume A Diet High In Good Quality Protein 

2. Maintain Overall Energy Availability 

3. Supplement With Creatine Monohydrate Daily

1. Consume A Diet High In Good Quality Protein 

After sustaining an injury it is crucial that you consume a high protein diet to minimise losses in lean muscle mass, this can be achieved by consuming around 2-2.5g/kg of body weight which equates to 150g/day for a 70-75kg fighter. 

In addition to total daily protein intake, you should aim to consume protein sources which are high in the essential amino acid – leucine. Now leucine is important as it is the amino acid which is responsible for triggering muscle protein synthesis, which if you are injured is pretty important!

It would be a good idea to consume leucine rich foods such as chicken, whey protein, cottage cheese, salmon, greek yogurt or milk every 2-3 hours during the day & 30-45 minutes before bed to help negate against that pesky muscle loss we keep talking about. 

A simple way to think of this is to have 20-35g of protein (depending on your weight) with every meal & snack. If your meal or snack does not have protein in it then go back to kitchen & find some!

2. Maintain Energy Availability  

The consumption of food (energy, calories, donuts, call it what you will) is the key player in any injury rehab nutrition strategy. Now I completely get why you may think being in a calorie/energy deficit is a good idea as you are scared you are going to pack on the pounds if you don’t eat in a deficit.

However this could be something which slows down your recovery time so hear me out & let me explain!

Research has shown that during the rehab process following the onset of an injury, energy expenditure can increase from 15-50% depending on the extent of the injury in question. For example – an injured fighter who is using crutches may expend a large amount of energy on a day to day basis thus increasing the requirement for calories/energy. In addition energy requirements will also be higher as the body requires energy to aid the healing & inflammation process.

Sooooo…. taking these key points into consideration, it is crucial that energy balance is achieved to help provide adequate amounts of energy to aid the recovery process. Maintaining energy balance will also prevent any unwanted gains in fat mass. It is a tough balancing act, but an optimal state of energy availability will help support the healing process following an injury.

Don’t put yourself into an energy deficit – you will just slow down your rate of recovery!

3. Daily Supplementation With Creatine Monohydrate  

Several supplements can help aid the injury recovery process (I cover more of these in part 2) but the main supplement which can help minimise losses in muscle mass & help support recovery from a traumatic brain injury (concussion) is the holy white powder (no not cocaine), creatine monohydrate!

Creatine monohydrate supplementation immediately following an injury may help counter losses in muscle mass paticulary if the injury sustained is to a limb, such as an arm or a leg. Supplementation will also help improve strength & thus help support a well planned out rehab programme. 

Another key benefit of taking creatine monohydrate is that it helps saturate creatine stores in the brain. So if creatine stores have been depleted following a concussion, supplementing with creatine can help top those stores back up to a healthy level.

Ok Jack this sounds great, like really great. But how much should I take?

Brilliant question blog reader, it’s best off to load creatine into the muscle even if you habitually supplement with creatine. I would recommend an acute loading phase of 10g of creatine per day (2 x 5g feeds/day) for 2 weeks or you could supplement with 20g per day (4 x 5g feeds/day) for 5/6 days. Once you have done that, just switch yourself onto a maintenance dose of 3-5g per day & you’ll be laughing!

Be sure that if you do start taking creatine monohydrate you source a batch tested product from a reputable company such as Nutrition X.

Whilst you are here you can also grab a 2-20% discount off any products!

Use the code COAK at checkout.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, if you want to learn more about nutrition for combat sports check out my other blogs or tune into The Ringside Nutrition Podcast!


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