Little bit more fat protects runners from injuries
Because their diet contains too much carbohydrates, runners are injured unnecessarily often, write sports scientists at the University at Buffalo in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
The researchers monitored 86 female runners aged between 18 and 53, for a year. The women ran at least thirty kilometres a week. The researchers recorded what the women ate and how often they were injured. Just over half of the women – 55 percent – had injury problems during the year. Injuries to the foot were most common.
The researchers found relationships between the women's diet and their risk of injury. The figure below summarises their findings. It shows the diet of the injury-free women and that of the women who were less lucky. The figures marked with asterisks in the right-hand column represent the statistically significant differences between the diets of the two groups.
The most important difference is in fat intake. The injury-free women ate on average 17 grams more fat each day.
The researchers speculate that the higher fat intake meant that the women in the injury-free group were getting more energy. More energy means the body is better at recovering and that therefore muscle and joint damage is less likely to happen. But the researchers found no really convincing evidence of this.
Another theory is that the women who ate more fat were getting more polyunsaturated fatty acids. These have an anti-inflammatory effect. Whether this theory holds water the researchers cannot say, as they did not record the type of fatty acids in the women's diets.
The injury-free women also consumed more vitamin A and K.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Jan 3;5:1.
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