Nutrition tips for injury recovery

Being injured sucks – I know. But you know what? You can’t change it anyway!

The one thing you can do, is supporting your body to recover as quickly as possible.

“Food is medicine.”

A motto that you might have already heard a few times and it is so true! With the right diet you can speed up the healing process and be back to your usual activity as quickly as possible.

As I share my favorite tips when it comes to dietary support for injury recovery, I want to also explain to you what stages your body goes through while recovering.

Stage 1: inflammation (1-3 days) 

In this stage you experience pain, swelling, redness and heat. Most people associate inflammation as a bad thing but actually it is important in the recovery process because it draws healing chemicals to your injured area that take care of your cellular debris.

This biochemical process removes injured tissues and kickstarts the repair process.

In comparison to soft tissue injuries, bone injuries are inflammed much longer – about 2-3 weeks.

What to eat during inflammation stage

When it comes to inflammation it is important to have the right amount of inflammation to trigger your recovery process but at the same time not cause any additional damage.

→ Eat more ant-inflammatory fats like olive oil, avocado, fish oil, flax oil or ground flax, fish and nuts and seeds.

→ Try to eat fewer pro-inflammatory fats like vegetable oils, transfats and processed foods high in saturated fats.

→ Turmeric, curry, garlic, bromeliad from pineapple and cocoa, tea and berries are also great to manage inflammation.

Stage 2: proliferation (about 10 days)

In this stage your damaged tissue is removed and new blood supply and temporary tissue aka scar tissue is build. This scar tissue is weaker than the original tissue but still provides function.

Stage 3: remodeling (couple of weeks up to months) 

Last but not least, your scar tissue is replaced by stronger, more permanent tissue.

What to eat during stage 2 & 3

→ Make sure to eat an adequate amount of protein, balance your dietary fat, eat all the veggies and fruits and also eat enough carbs. Not only fats but especially enough protein is important because injury repair requires more protein.

→ Your energy intake should be your number priority throughout these stages.

How many calories do you need?

When it comes to caloric intake, it is true that because you are not active anymore you need less energy.

BUT when injured your energy needs increase during acute injury repair.

Research shows that your BMR may increase by 15 to 50% when suffering from a sports injury or minor surgery. If you have a severe injury then this number might even go up to 50%.

I would recommend eating not as many calories as when being really active and working out but on the other hand eating more calories than when just being sedentary because recovering and healing requires some extra calories.

When in doubt rather eat too much than too little – otherwise you will just have to take a longer break cause you are hindering your recovery process by under-eating!


When it comes to supplements, I am of the opinion that they aren’t necessary and by focusing on eating a healthy and balanced diet, no one needs them. But there are some supplements worth mentioning that scientifically proven have some positive effects on injury recovery.

→ Useful supplements during the first couple of weeks after your injuries are vitamin A, C, copper, zinc, glutamine and arginine.

→ The only supplement I honestly swear by is collagen protein*. Collagen is an essential nutrient for wound healing and healthy skin, bones, tendons, connective tissue, and muscles. Due to its benefits on bone and skin health, adding it to your diet can speed up recovery time for strains, sprains, and other soft tissue injuries.

I hope those tips are somehow useful and help you to heal as quickly as possible to be back to working out and living you daily life as fast as possible!

If you wonder, what I ate on a day where I was not training and recovering from an injury, check out this Full Day of Eating which also includes all the tips mentioned in this post.


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional. The tips I give in this blog post are based on my experience, education as fitness coach and based on scientific research I found. If you suffer from any health conditions, aways consult a doctor for advice and treatment!

All products with * are affiliate links. If you want to support me without paying extra money, you can purchase my favorite products through these links. This will enable me to continue providing you with content and help to grow my blog.

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