Tips For Eating Right When Sick And Recovery Training

Life is going on nice and smooth; you’ve been training and eating clean food religiously. Suddenly, you are down with fever, sore throat or the flu. Oh, God is Great. Recently, I got diarrhea and after going to the toilet twice, I felt very weak. Soon after, I felt my entire body aching and I knew a fever was impending. True enough, before long, I was down with 38.5 degrees Celsius fever. As usual, after going to the doctor, he said it was due to an unknown virus attack. This article cover what to do should you fall sick and I hope it will help when you are in need of this.

What Do I Eat?

When we are sick, our bodies are weak and inflamed due to fighting pathogens and their capability to break down and digest food decreases. Hence, introducing food that requires less chewing is the best. Taking in watery food will help with that. A good example would be plain porridge instead of rice. It is also the simplest thing to do. It is almost similar like cooking rice but the water would be 3-4 times the normal amount. Add some chopped ginger for additional benefits. Fish is the way to go with the porridge, particularly Tioman fish. Addition of century or salted egg is another option.

What Shouldn’t I Eat?

Try to stay away from milk, wheat, food containing gluten, as well as processed food with additives. Avoid dense meat like beef, duck and Chicken. Oily, fried food should be avoided at least for a week. Lastly, chili. Stop eating any form of chili.

What Do I Drink?

Plain warm water with ginger or tea will be very good. Drink lots of such fluids as your body needs water to flush out toxins. Drinking herbal tea would be like a magic potion during periods of sickness. Simply go to any Chinese medical shop and tell them your condition. They will then recommend you the appropriate herbal tea. You can also purchase it in powder form to speed up healing. However, you need to drink it regularly for at least 3 days to see effects. I would advise to buy these herbal drinks on a daily basis instead of buying in bulk to store in the fridge because they turn bad easily.

What Shouldn’t I Drink?

Stay away from protein shakes for now. 25g(1 scoop) or 50g(2 scoops) of protein per drink is way too much for the body to breakdown and digest for now. Do not even think of pre-workout drink too. It will make your body worse. Try to stay away from cold iced water if possible.

Why Is There A Drastic Decrease In My Appetite?

Your total energy output is decreased tremendously as you are not doing much physical activity. Furthermore, your body is in a state of recuperation and not functioning as usual. Hence, appetite decreases automatically. You will find that instead of your usual 2 cups of rice, even half a cup could fill you when you are ill.

What About Pill Supplementation?

Stay away from all supplements including multi-vitamins and vitamin C. I would strongly suggest that because the body is already weakened from fighting the pathogens and it will not be functioning as optimally as before. Hence, introducing these supplements may complicate and disrupt the rate of recovering. It is true that vitamin C helps with recovery but eating real food such as avocados and kiwifruit will be a better option.

Do I Still Train As Usual?

Training has to cease for 3-4 days depending on how you feel. When you feel better, go for a total body workout where you do 2 compound exercises for each body part and focus on breathing (see sample workout below). The purpose here is not to deplete yourself but to re-introduce the physical stress back to your body bit by bit. Limit your workout to 45 minutes or less. A light walk for 30-45 minutes in the early morning before sunrise or evening time would be good. Stay away from the sun as you are still recovering.

If you have just recovered and you want to smash your workout, chances are you will fall sick easily again because your immune system simply cannot withstand such stress. You may think I am joking about how long the body takes to heal. Let us take a look at a scenario where you cut your finger with a knife. How long does it takes to heal? Pretty long for such a small cut yeah? Now, imagine how much longer it would take for a body that was down with fever – unless you are Deadpool with super healing powers!


Sample workout:

Flat chest press 3 x 12 reps Pushups 3 x 15 reps

Seated rows 3 x 12 reps Pullup 3 x 12 reps

Shoulder press 3 x 12 reps Lateral raises 3 x 15 reps

Deadlift 3 x 12 reps Jump squats 3 x 10 reps


Why Does My Strength Decrease at the Gym?

Expect 60-80% of strength and stamina drop during your first few workouts after recovery. Like I’ve advised above, keep your workout simple and easy. You are losing some lean muscle mass and your strength will definitely decrease. It can be built be up again.

How Do I Maintain Muscle Mass?

Due to the number of days you didn’t train, you will lose muscle mass due to the lower caloric intake. It is a psychological war and not easy to deal with. I have been through many times but fret not, you will be on track if you train and eat right again. Within a month of training, you will be back and kicking again. All you need is patience. It is part and parcel of balancing life and training.

Why Do I Feel Like I Have Lost 5kg?

Whatever you have lost is actually lean muscle mass. When you’re sick, your body becomes catabolic (breaking down of muscles). The amino acids that are liberated from the muscle breakdown are scavenged by the liver and used as an emergency energy source (glucose production via gluconeogenesis) and as the building blocks for acute phase proteins, which the body employs to fight infection. Your muscles have many good reasons to ache when you have an infection. Hence, rest a lot to recover fast to prevent further muscle loss!

How To Know If I Am Ok To Train Again?

When your appetite feels better and you are able to go about with your daily activities more freely. The latter is just a guideline. Always go slow on your first training session. Never try to smash your workout thinking that you didn’t workout for the past few days so you need to ‘compensate’ for them. Remember, you have already lost your lean muscle mass. Do a simple 3 sets per exercise. Increase your intensity as the days pass by.

What If I Am Preparing For A Contest?

Sadly, you have to stop everything and rest. Losing muscle mass is inevitable. You need to completely rest the body so it can fully recover and get back into business. You don’t want a situation where your body is half-healed and you are pushing hard, compromising your immune system again. During my contest prep in 2015, I was down with a sore throat. I couldn’t train for a couple of days. It was difficult for me but I held on and competed.

Any Last Advice?

Sleep, nap and rest. Get plenty of sleep and rest will help a lot. This will allow the body to fight off the remaining pathogens inside your body.

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Your Coach, Amirrudin Ong


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