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On a Diet with a Sports Injury - What Do I Do?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

It happens to the best of us. You’re running around, misplace a foot and suddenly you’re rolling over your ankle to a cracking noise. You go to the doctor who tells you to stay off your severely sprained ankle and the only thing going through your mind is: How the heck am I not going to gain weight?

If you’ve been controlling your diet and working out like a mad woman only to find yourself on nursing a sports injury, there are things that you can do to keep your diet and weight loss on track.

First, Don’t Panic

Weight loss is 80 percent what and how much you eat. If you can’t exercise due to an injury, you can control your calories. Make sure you use tools to track your diet. Write down what you eat and stay on top of your calorie intake.

A couple of things to keep in mind

Less exercise means less calories burned. While you’re on the injury list, your caloric needs will be much lower than when you’re active. Understand your calorie needs by adjusting using your anticipated basal metabolic rate to determine a new calorie goal.

Even though a food is healthy, it still has calories! When you burn 700 calories a day exercising, your body needs a lot of good nutrition-rich foods to fuel itself. When you’re exercising at intense levels everyday, you can afford to eat an extra banana or an extra serving of cashews. While these foods are really great for you, they also have calories.


When it comes to sports injuries, always follow your doctor’s advice. Most times, your doctor will prescribe RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

RICE is used to treat inflammation around a joint following an acute injury. And it’s fairly simple, if you want to heal, control the inflammation.

Do What You Can

Resting an injured joint does not mean that you have the license to get lazy or fall off the wagon! If you want to lose weight in a sustainable way, the only way you’re going to get there is diet and exercise.

If you have a lower body injury, focused cardio workouts using your upper body are totally possible. If you have an arm, hand or shoulder injury, you can still get some great cardio in using your legs.

The key here is to do what you can do. For the first week or two depending on the injury, you may want to reduce the amount of exercise you’re doing, but there should be no reason why a broken arm could limit your ability to do some ab work.

Recommended reading if you're looking for cardio to do while injured: Cardio Workouts after Sports Injuries.


It’s hard when you’re so focused on a weight loss goal to have to take a step back from a routine that you’ve committed yourself to but sometimes the only thing we can do is roll with the punches and take an opportunity to refocus energies towards other things that can still help us achieve our goals.

Here are some ideas of how you can still work towards your weight loss without intense exercise:

Take classes on nutrition or exercise science at a local community college or through an online school.

Most community colleges offer very affordable classes on a variety of topics surrounding fitness. If you’re going to have a lot of down time on your hands, it might be worth your time to take a college course in diet and nutrition. It may help solidify your mental focus on your goal and help you understand why your diet game-plan is or isn’t working.

Journal, scrapbook or celebrate your achievements.

Have you accomplished a fitness goal that you’re proud of? Did you run a half-marathon? Compete in a sparring match? Walk for charity? Take your down time to reflect on how far you’ve really come in your weight loss journey.

Chart the future.

Where are you going with your diet? Record it. I use a large chalkboard for example that sits in my office. It has my favorite motivational quotes, goals and ideas to provide some positive reinforcement every time I think about where I want to be with my fitness in the next year.


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