Improving Exercise Performance and Recovery
Recently, I had the good fortune of attending an exceptional health conference in southern California which reviewed groundbreaking medical research. Ordinarily, when I attend meetings in sunny 80 degree climates, I have moments where I want to sneak away from “class” to soak up the sunshine. However, this conference was different. The topics were so cutting-edge and the speakers were so compelling that I found myself sitting on the edge of my chair in every single session soaking up every last piece of information.
One session that was particularly informative was on the latest research on exercise. We are continually bombarded with headlines touting the benefits of working out. We are told we can live longer, lose weight, improve our heart health, prevent disease and increase our sense of well-being simply by moving more. But we are left with a lot of questions. What kind of exercise should we do? How often should we exercise? How much is too much? How do we maximize our performance?
Without going into great detail here, for general preventive health it is probably sufficient to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. Moderate exercise is defined as working at 55-69% of maximum heart rate . Maximum heart rate is calculated by taking the number 220 and subtracting your age. For getting in shape, most of the latest research seems to be showing that interval training is the best strategy. Interval training just means that you combine periods of high intensity and low intensity exercise in your workout. In using this type of exercise strategy, you can improve your fitness level faster.
To help our patients with exercise goal setting, we recently purchased a machine called InBody 230. This equipment allows us to collect information about your body composition. It is able to distinguish between body fat and muscle mass. The machine is so advanced that it even calculates the amount of lean mass that you have in each limb! This assessment helps us determine what kind of exercise makes the most sense for you. The technology also helps us monitor how diet, lifestyle, exercise and supplements are influencing your body composition. This machine is sophisticated enough that it is used by professional athletes, but it is equally helpful for those of you just starting an exercise program.
The most ground-breaking information that I learned at the conference was about the flip-side of exercise. In addition to causing sports injuries, intense training can promote inflammation and damage immune, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal tissues. The type of exercise that has the potential to do the most damage is endurance training (which is defined as exercising at 70% of maximum heart rate for more than 45 minutes). The prevailing view seems to be that regular endurance exercise is only beneficial in the long run when the bio-chemical side effects are well-managed. In other words, if you want to exercise intensely, you need to mitigate the damage to your body.
Endurance sports have become a routine part of many of our patients’ lives. We live in an area with a large concentration of “weekend warriors”, so these latest findings apply to many of you. You may play sports in the evenings or on weekends and intense exercise is often used for stress relief. We also see many teenage athletes who are over-training.
Regular intense exercise in endurance athletes can have some of the following negative effects:
- Increased cortisol production. This can lead to inflammation, immune dysregulation, blood sugar issues and allergies.
- Additional endotoxins in the gut and increased gut permeability. This may result in symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. This phenomenon is often experienced by long distance runners.
- Lower levels of thyroid hormone. Overtraining leads to lower levels of thyroid hormone because the body tries to conserve energy. This can lower metabolism and decrease immune function.
- Decreased levels of testosterone. This can lead to mood decline, decreased bone density, and cardiovascular disease and injury.
In an effort to support our athletes and weekend warriors, we have chosen our favorite supplements to aid in exercise performance and recovery. During the month of May, we are offering these products at 20% off of suggested retail.
- Xymogen I -5 Protein Powder-This is a fructose free shake mix. Each serving contains 21 grams of vegetable (pea and rice) based protein. The product is made to support the body’s natural ability to detoxify and respond to inflammation.
- BioGenesis Whey Protein Powder-Containing all essential and non-essential amino acids, this protein powder is made to help with blood sugar regulation, support immune function and to promote healthy body mass ratio. Each serving contains 16 grams of protein. We frequently use this product for our teen athletes.
- Thorne Elevate- This energy drink (in “shot” size) is designed to give you a pre-exercise boost or to get you through those last few miles. This herbal formula contains almost no caffeine and very little sugar or carbs. It is designed to boost energy and endurance during strenuous exercise.
- Thorne Catalyte-This is an advanced electrolyte replacement formula that contains electrolytes lost with sweat and intense exercise. It also contains creatine and d-ribose to supply energy to all cells in the body, especially in the muscles. It can be used before or after exercise.
- Thorne Q-Charge-Every cell in the body is fueled by Co-Q10. This is a highly absorbable form of Co-Q10 that increases cellular energy and supports cardiovascular function.
- Thorne Restore- This is a probiotic (“good bacteria”) that supports post- exercise bowel regularity. The probiotic is designed for increased digestive and immune support and should be used after exercise. This product is especially helpful for those of you who notice changes in bowel habits (such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea) during and after working out.
- Thorne Rebound- Designed to help with exercise recovery, this supplement contains botanicals that help prevent post-exercise stiffness and soreness and help prevent tissue breakdown. This is taken post exercise.
- Thorne Daxibe QOL- This supplement was made to promote anabolism. Essentially this means building more muscle while maintaining what you already have. This product comes in single serving packets to mix with water. It contains easily absorbed branch chain amino acids as well as other amino acids to promote building lean mass and muscle strength.
To help you determine which type of performance supplements are best for you, we suggest that you schedule an appointment with us. We can also take the time to evaluate your exercise program and diet and measure your body composition on the InBody 230.