Appropriate nutrition is a topic that has multiple applications depending on what an individual’s goals are such as weight loss, weight gain and muscle repair. While it is utilized with specific principles in varying professions, it plays an extremely important role in physical therapy and rehabilitation. This blog post will give a general introduction to appropriate nutrition for goals specific to physical rehabilitation including weight loss and muscle repair.
Weight loss is one of the most sought after goals for the majority of the population. According to U.S. Health News, more than 65 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Some 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2 through 19 are overweight. And nearly 1 in 5 children ages 6 through 11 struggles with weight issues. Whether it be for aesthetic purposes or health management, weight loss plays a key role in physical therapy. Obesity can cause excessive wear on our weight-bearing joints, eventually leading to painful osteoarthritis in our spine, hips, knees, and ankles. It can also lead to cardiovascular insufficiency, which sends people spiraling into a seemingly never-ending battle with not having the physical ability to exercise appropriately, leading to additional weight gain.
While exercise is extremely important to weight loss, nutrition is equally if not more important. Many diets have claimed to provide the fastest results toward weight loss, but the most appropriate diet that can be applied to the general population is the Zone diet. The Zone diet utilizes the principle of eating foods that have a low glycemic index (such as vegetables) and limiting consumption of foods with a high glycemic index (such as starches and grains). This diet essentially encourages people to not limit their carbohydrate consumption, but simply choose the appropriate source. Green vegetables, fruits, white meat and fish, and whole grains are all considered “good carbs” that fall into the low glycemic index category. White bread, rice, fruit juice, and soda are examples of foods/drinks with a high glycemic index. The beauty of this diet is that it does not require you to follow any complicated caloric and fat intake measure, only to limit the amount of high glycemic index foods that you eat throughout your day. For a quick and easy reference to finding out where your favorite foods fall on the glycemic index visit http://www.glycemicindex.com/
Physical therapy utilizes the principles of corrective exercise for muscle strengthening. When muscles are used to exercise, they go through a process of repair which requires adequate protein intake. Protein is the building block to muscle growth and strengthening, and it needs to be ingested via our diet. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick, not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day. While athletes’ protein needs are greater than that of non-athletes, they’re not as high as commonly perceived. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training. Protein intake should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts. So for the purposes of physical therapy and muscle strengthening in rehabilitation, between 0.8 and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight is necessary to assist muscle repair. For a quick reference on the best sources of protein visit: https://authoritynutrition.com/20-delicious-high-protein-foods/
Last but not least is the appropriate consumption of water and for this topic please feel free to visit our blog at: Why Drinking Water Is Important