Maintaining muscle when you’re sick—has this thought ever occurred to you?
Here is a scenario you might want to ponder on. You have a scheduled marathon in a month’s time. You have been on a strict diet plan for weeks and have ensured that your meals are full of amino acids to keep your muscles strong and ready for the event. You are regularly exercising and training to keep you in shape. However, the unexpected happens. Your roommate got so stressed out with his finals and due to severe fatigue, he caught flu. Being in the same room with him, you also got sick and now it worries you as the efforts you have given for several months to train and get your body in shape might be put to waste.
Be it that you are having a healthy and active lifestyle or a sedentary one, we can’t really predict when are we going to be sick or injured. Let’s admit it. When we are sick, our physical performance will be affected as our body will be weaker as compared to when we are in a healthy shape. And if you have an aim to be in your best shape ever, several rest days due to sickness may have a great impact on whether you will achieve your goal or not. To help you face this dilemma, here are some important points or tips that you will find very useful in maintaining muscle when you’re sick.
Having a Healthy Diet
This may be a cliché but having a healthy diet while you are nursing an injury or when you are sick will in no doubt help you maintain your muscles. According to medical experts, the first thing to remember if you are maintaining muscle when you’re sick is to avoid dropping your calorie intake as it is essential to boost your immune system and at the same time retain your physique. For a more effective method, it is advisable to distribute your total number of calories to take in a day to several small meal schedules.
Once you ensured that you have all the calories that you need to survive the day, then the next best thing to do is to have a high protein meal. The breakdown of the muscles will be stopped if your protein requirement is increased when you are sick. A clinical research found that positive nitrogen balance which is needed to promote muscle development and buildup is affected by a high protein requirement in patients who were diagnosed to have serious diseases. Examples of food sources that have high protein content are omelets and cottage cheese.
Right carbohydrate intake timing is important to maintain muscles during injury or sickness. Many medical professionals agree that lowering your carbohydrate when you are sick as our body is not in its prime state to store simple sugars as compared to when you are physically active. Clinical experts also argue that our muscles are at its best point to receive glycogen when the carbohydrate intake happens in the morning.
Lastly, having high fats intake is essential since these are needed to have proper oxidation. In addition to this, fats are also proven to be helpful in the production of our energy levels which our cells need to alleviate sickness.
Water is the Best Therapy
We commonly hear from our parents that we have to drink lots of fluid when we are sick. This is really true since we are using and losing a lot of water during sickness. To maintain the muscles, it is important to supply our body with enough water that we lose due to mucus release and excessive sweating caused by high fever. The water will be used by the body to help our muscle cells retain its structure and fight off any signs of injuries or damages.
Supplements to Help Maintain Muscles
Another effective way of maintaining muscles when you’re sick is by drinking several supplements that will supply all the nutrients and vitamins that we need. One of the most helpful supplements is the ascorbic acid or vitamin C as it will surely boost our immune system and fight off all the injured or sick muscle cells. Medical experts advise us to take 2.5 grams of vitamin C as a supplement on a daily basis and increase the dosage to five grams if you are sick.
Aside from vitamin C, vitamin E is also helpful as it plays a role in limiting the damages in the lipid membrane caused by viruses, bacteria or infections. Among the scientifically proven benefits that we can get from vitamin E are better production of lymphocytes, increased immunization response of our antibodies and lower viral reception of the respiratory system.
Glutamine is gaining popularity nowadays. Known as the amino acid that helps maintain the functioning of the brain, liver, kidneys, muscles and other body parts, glutamine is needed to boost our metabolism and at the same time the immune system. With the presence of glutamine in our body, the breakdown of the muscles will be prevented.
We often find this combined with vitamin C especially in the supplements for children and older adults. Zinc is crucial to enhance our immune capacity. Many researchers agree that deficiency in zinc may lead to serious health conditions such as kidney disease and HIV. With the important role played by zinc in our immunity, health professionals that those who are sick or injured have more than 25 milligrams on a daily basis to stimulate their recovery and enhance the levels of their anabolic hormone which is essential to maintain their muscles.
Lastly, you might have also heard of the amino acid called arginine. This amino acid is essential to enhance the production of lymphocyte in our body which is important to heal our injuries and wounds. Although, this is helpful to boost our health condition, medical experts and researchers still recommend that we limit the intake of arginine to 20 grams a day as it may also have damaging effects on our cells that could hinder our body’s immune response.