AT A GLANCE

Things feel chaotic right now, and your stress levels are likely higher than usual. Maintain your health and avoid injuries during this time by focusing on nutrition – particularly sources of high quality protein.


Your fitness routine is out the window right now, and you’re trying to train when you can with what you’ve got. Now more than ever, staying injury-free is the goal so when the chaos clears, you can get back to the grind. One thing you can control is nutrition, and adequate protein intake is key for injury prevention. If you aren’t picky about your sources, you can easily keep up the protein during this time – maintaining health is progress in times of uncertainty

Stress is the Injury Catalyst

Injury occurs when the body experiences stress in one way or another – too much twisting, torsion, tension or contraction and we see bones, muscles and tendons break down. Another source of stress? Inadequate nutrition. We ask a lot out of our bodies, and if the repayment is cheap, they have less to give. 

And we’d be remiss if we overlooked the toll mental stress can take on our systems. Stress of any kind, but particularly when we experience anxiety that puts us into “fight or flight” mode, triggers higher levels of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, and most of your body’s cells have cortisol receptors. Rightly so: It can help control blood sugar, reduce inflammation and aids in forming memories. High or prolonged levels of cortisol in the blood can interfere with muscle synthesis and your body’s regulatory repair functions. This can also be triggered by nutrient deficiencies. 

The takeaway here is you’re under stress and you’re more likely to be injured when your body doesn’t feel safe or experiences unusual tension. So how do we make it feel safe? 

Reduce Stress, Eat Protein

Studies have shown protein consumption, particularly those containing tryptophan, can reduce cortisol levels and lower bodily stress – thereby reducing risk of injury. 

But we don’t even need to go this far. When we exercise or use our muscles, they tear under stress. No big deal – we eat protein, and our body uses it as building blocks to repair the muscle tissue, restoring it and often, increasing its mass, improving overall strength. Problems happen when we don’t consume adequate daily amounts of dietary protein. Have you ever tried tearing open a plastic bag? It can take a few tries or a pair of scissors. What about one that’s been perforated? Tiny tears in muscle tissue are big injuries waiting to happen. 

While you may not be hitting PRs or even staying the course with your planned programming right now, don’t let the brick house you built fall. Check out our protein calculator to see what your daily consumption should look like, and stick to it.

My go-to sources are gone!

Supermarket shelves are a crapshoot right now, but animal protein is your best bet for a complete amino acid profile for optimal muscle retention and growth. This is a great time to expand your horizons and try a new recipe. Supplement where you can and need to with a high quality whey. You can also find complementary protein in some unexpected sources: sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts, hemp seeds, peas and spinach all have a decent service of protein while packing a punch with other beneficial vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system and protect the body from injury.

Take-home points:
  • You’re probably under some stress right now. The body is more likely to experience injury during times of stress.
  • Maintaining protein intake can help the body protect itself against injury
  • Bring home quality sources of protein, even if it’s not your preferred source right now