Photography by Paul Buceta

Whether training yourself or training your clients, at some point, injuries are inevitable. And when that injury comes on, you know how to program your course of action: rest, seek medical advice if needed, and return to fitness slowly. But there could be another important factor that you’re missing in your injury-recovery gameplan: nutrition. 

As per Amanda Stegmann, MS, LDN in her post, “Nutritional Protocol When Injury Strikes,” on the Nutritional Coaching Institute’s website,, whether it’s a bone injury or another trauma such as sprains, ligament strains, deep bruising, or otherwise, what you should eat changes depending on what ails you. 

Bone Injuries

Bone density is determined by a few factors. One contributing factor for bone density is how much weight-bearing activity you do, and another is the consumption of calcium-rich foods or supplements. Neither is necessarily a new or sexy idea, but that doesn’t make either less true. 

Consuming more calcium is one solution for bone breaks or fractures. According to the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, “The recommendations for calcium intake are the age-appropriate guidelines supplemented with an additional 1500 mg a day for athletes.” But calcium on its own isn’t enough. Vitamin D aids calcium absorption, so try adding mushrooms, fortified foods, and egg yolks to get in the range of 400 IU in addition to calcium. Phosphorus also aids in bone mineralization—you can get phosphorous from meat, milk, fish, dairy, beans, nuts, lentils, and whole grains.

Sprains, Strains, and Bruising

Deep bruising, ligament tears or sprains, and muscle pulls are common to the average athlete or exerciser, but what you stack your plate with can make a difference in healing time. As per Stegmann, “Creatine is the most abundant extractive of muscle and more than 95 percent of total body content. It’s converted to creatinine and excreted in urine. The rise in plasma creatine is greater after injury, suggesting a rapid release of creatine from muscle cells, which is then excreted in urine as creatinine.” To maintain an optimal amount of creatine and help the healing process, consumption of organ meats, shoulder cuts, red meat, poultry, and fish are recommended. 

Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the blood, makes and repairs proteins, which our muscles are made up of. Build more glutamine intake into your diet with cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bone broth, beef, chicken, eggs, and dairy.

And, finally, an often-overlooked source for healing properties is selenium, most typically found in Brazil nuts, eggs, beef, beans, turkey, and spinach. This mineral heals by decreasing inflammation that occurs with injury. The optimal amount is a mere 55 micrograms per day.

Stephanie Kewin
Stephanie is a health and fitness writer and copy editor living in Cambridge, Ontario. Follow her on Instagram at @stephaniekewincopywriting.