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How to Adapt Your Nutrition and Training Plan When Feeling Sick

At some point, you are bound to get the sniffles, a stomach bug or some sort of cold or illness that will make you question what to do with your normal fitness and nutrition routine.


We want you to rest assured your progress isn’t going anywhere if you do get sick, especially if you take care and follow the below strategies.


Now, keep in mind, the severity of the illness and your symptoms will dictate specifically what to do, but you can use these guidelines to recover faster. And of course, reach out and get proper medical assistance if needed!


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Training


Please, do not go to the gym if you're a snotty, coughing, nauseous mess rocking a fever.


Besides not spreading whatever you have going on, the fact that your body needs REST right now should keep you out of the gym.


Training is a stressor on your body. A well-structured training program is a "good" stressor, but when you're sick it's counterproductive to put a taxed immune system into a state of further distress. All energy should be devoted to recovering from illness. You likely won’t have the best training sessions anyways if have a throbbing headache or can’t breathe and brace as effectively due to congestion.


Instead, we’d suggest sticking to light walks outside, perhaps some stretching or gentle yoga (at home!) as symptoms improve. Even if it's a week or two before you can get back to the gym you won't lose progress. You will only recover quicker if you honor your bodies need to rest!


When you are recovered enough to train, stay at an RIR 3 (3 reps short of failure) or about a 7 out of 10 intensity for the first session (or week depending on how sick you were) back.

 

Nutrition

You still need to eat even if you aren't in the gym or as active as usual. We know it can be anxiety provoking for a lot of you, but understand your body is now using those calories and micronutrients to fight off whatever it is that you're out for the count with.


If you have a separate set of nutrition targets for rest days training days, stick with the rest day macros. In either case, do your best to stay well nourished.  If you were in a calorie surplus, focused on building muscle prior to becoming ill, it's okay to drop down to maintenance. If you were in a fat loss phase, consider increasing calories back to and estimated maintenance level of calories. For many, simply eating intuitively and focusing more so on sleep and recovery when you’re really not feeling good is the bet nutrition approach.


When you’re sick it’s a fantastic time to dial in on micronutrient to support your immune system to recover faster. Soups, smoothies, baby food, bone broth, canned pumpkin, eggs, yogurt, nuts and seeds and probiotic containing foods are some fantastic options to support your body in healing.


You don't need to force feed when you’re sick, but you shouldn't actively restrict.

If you're nauseous, sipping on ginger tea can be helpful. Bananas, applesauce, rice and gluten free toast are binding and can help if you are dealing with loose stool.


Recovery

Recovery is your number one goal right now. A big thing you can do to recover faster is drink plenty of water and stay hydrated with electrolytes. E-Lyte and LMNT are some brands we like. Ginger tea and green tea can also be helpful to sip on to stay hydrated and may have some immune boosting properties.


Focus on sleep! This is when your body is going to do its repair work.  If you have a cough impacting your sleep try up to a tablespoon of honey (not just an old wives' tale! ) or getting a humidifier for your room.


We also recommend lowering stress and taking a few days away from your to-do list. Try not to go ham on work or house projects to occupy your time if it's more than a mild head cold. Relax, take an Epsom salt bath, maybe dive into a new book or TV series. We promise, your body will thank you!



 

We hope you and your family stay healthy, but just in case you do fall ill we hope these tips help you recover and ease any fears of losing progress on your fitness goals.

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