Your level of conditioning plays a major role in injury prevention, as does the substance of your diet. Poor eating habits can actually make you more susceptible to injuries. The converse is true, too: you can chase away risks by pursuing the right nutrients, like those found in Optimal Nutrition consultant Justin Robinson’s Flavor Explosion Pizza. Robinson, who also serves as a performance coach for Rehab United, explains how certain nutrients defend your body against harm.
Robinson, whose clientele includes AVP athletes and San Diego State’s lacrosse team, points to lack of adequate calories as the greatest factor leading to injuries. “Your body must have its energy source,” he says. “It knows what it needs, and it will break down itself…to get that fuel.”
Avoiding damage starts with establishing and maintaining a diet that provides adequate calories and nutrients to keep your body functioning right and stocked with energy. Robinson’s pizza offers ample calories  —energy you’ll need to beat feeling depleted. It’s also loaded with 65 gram of carbs, the body’s go-to energy source. When you don’t supply enough, your body pulls from other macronutrients, like protein, which, optimally, you want to reserve for use in “building and rebuilding lean muscle tissue.” And with 31 grams of lean, quality protein in this dish, you can ensure this is another nutrient you won’t be without.
According to Robinson, by not giving your body the right fuels, you compromise your ability to train or play at your best, because you fatigue quicker. Fatigue leads to poor technique; in turn, you are more vulnerable to injury.
“Soccer is a great example,” Robinson says. “If you have poor nutrition and training habits, toward the end of the game, your body [will] be broken down. All of a sudden, [when] you land from a header, your body’s not as strong as it was at the beginning, and you [may] land more awkwardly, [which] could lead to injury.”
Macronutrients alone don’t power your body, however. You also need micronutrients, such as calcium. The 221 milligrams found in this pizza are crucial for strong bones, which also keep injuries at bay. The body constantly [strengthens] bones by breaking them down and building them back up. Without calcium, we won’t have the right tools to rebuild bones. “The body requires calcium for a lot of different processes,” Robinson explains. “And, if it’s not getting it from the diet, the body [will] take that calcium from somewhere else.” Since the majority of this mineral is stored in the bones, they become weak when the body uses them for other needs.
Robinson thinks that some high school athletes who have poor nutrition may have the bone structure of a 60- or 70-year-old. He says, “They can have osteoporosis-type-of bones before they’re even 20.” This is especially problematic for athletes who bear a lot of impact in their activity [e.g., taking a hit, landing a jump]. “That impact has to be taken up by the bones, by the joints and by the muscles,” Robinson says. “If one of the links in that chain is weak, [it will] break.”
The antioxidant-rich veggies in Robinson’s pizza supply more micronutrients, such as key vitamins, like C and E. Together, these support the immune system, boost iron absorption and protect against oxidative damage.
“If you want to be the best, you have to change the way you eat,” Robinson says. “What you put into your body [will] get you that extra 10 to 15 percent increase in performance.”
*For a large, whole-wheat pita, 3 tbs. marinara, 2 tbs. parmesan cheese, ½ C bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, 1.5 oz. chicken breast, 2 tsp. flax seed oil, 2 tsp. light Italian dressing