How the body responds to exercise:
Let’s take a closer look at the process of exercise and how it relates to effects on the body. Strenuous workouts are more than just the process of burning calories, cutting fat and trying to grow muscle. It’s great to feel the pump up of a workout, but there is much more going on than many people know. Many athletes actually are breaking down, barely holding onto muscle as they train for intense competition.
Through strenuous workouts, the most important aspect is trying to maintain the body’s composition. The body is really an intricate mechanism in which millions of molecules of amino acids, fats, hormones, and neurotransmitters are circulating throughout the body’s tissues. These molecules are in a constant struggle to keep up with all the demands that are placed upon the body. The body is in crisis mode; constantly building things up and breaking others down, then building new things to stay alive. If the proper building blocks are not in the blood stream when the body needs them, then catabolism occurs. Catabolism is a mode when the body’s cells, particularly muscle tissue, is in a state of breakdown. In this stage, an athlete will not see the results he expects from his workouts, and will end up feeling very tired and run down. Some people may even start to see fat weight gain and muscle loss while working out intensely. Intense exercise breaks down the body, and without proper recovery there cannot be progress.
How to repair the damage – recovery is everything:
Exercise is a stimulus; it’s a stress to the body. To recover from the stress, the proper nutrients have to be put into the body in order to see positive results from hard training.
I have seen and tested some of the most wellknown athletes in
Step 1: Food and Liquids
It is best to replace lost fluids with a sports drink that contains sodium, carbohydrates, and potassium. Most drinks contain high levels of glycemic carbohydrates. While this is not necessary for the average Joe trying to lose weight, it is optimal for the endurance athlete who needs the fastest recovery.
Restore Carbohydrate Reserves:
Muscle glycogen fuels the body during exercise. So, someone who exercises for more than 90 minutes and wants to be ready for the next day’s workout must replenish carbohydrate reserves. Studies repeatedly show that properly timed carbohydrate meals optimize restoration of muscle glycogen stores. The sooner one can ingest carbohydrates after exercise, the quicker glycogen will be restored. Taking in carbohydrates during exercise is also a wise strategy to help with recovery.
Exercise scientists recommend athletes eat 1-1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 2.2 lbs. of body weight within 30 minutes of exercise, followed by additional meals every 2-4 hours thereafter. A 150 pound person should supplement with roughly 70-100 grams of carbohydrates within the first 2 hours after exercise. During the next 4 to 24 hours after exercise, and before the next exercise session, he should eat enough carbohydrates to total 3 to 5 grams for every pound of body weight. Breads, cereals, grains, pasta, vegetables and fruits are good examples of high carbohydrate foods. Generally, a single serving of carbohydrates would something like 2 slices of bread, ½ cup cooked rice, potatoes, or pasta, or 1 cup fortifi ed cereal contains 22 grams of carbohydrates. In practical terms, you could take in 75 – 100 grams of carbohydrate by eating:
› A banana and a bagel
› ½ cup raisins and a slice of bread
› 2 cups of orange juice and a cup of yogurt
› 2-2.5 cups of pasta
As part of your rehydration process, look for sports drinks that will provide 24 to 30 grams of carbohydrates every half hour. Consuming one cup of a sports drink containing 6-10% carbohydrates every 15 to 20 minutes can delay the onset of fatigue.
Immediately After Workouts, Consume High Glycemic Carbohydrates: The type of carbohydrate eaten after exercise can affect the rate of glycogen synthesis as well. Recent studies indicate that high glycemic index foods actually induce greater glycogen resynthesis than do low glycemic index foods. A high glycemic index food is one that rapidly raises blood sugar levels after it is eaten. For example, sucrose or glucose, both high glycemic index sources, resynthesize muscle glycogen twice as fast as fructose, a low glycemic index sugar. In addition, your recovery meal should be low fat and low fiber. Fat and fiber blunt the desired increase in blood sugar levels. It is important to note that lower glycemic index meals are preferable at other times of the day.
Ideal high glycemic index foods include most fruits, baked/mashed potatoes, parsnips, carrots, rice, bread, and other baked goods. When eating snack bars, looks for varieties sweetened with glucose or fructose.
Consume Protein with Your Post Workout Meal:
Insulin transports glucose into the liver and muscle tissues, where it is stored as glycogen. Muscle cells are most sensitive to insulin up to 2 hours after exercise, when elevated blood insulin levels expedite the replenishment of muscle glycogen. Because insulin plays such a vital role in replenishing glycogen stores after exercise, researchers have focused on methods to enhance insulin release during the recovery period. Studies show that protein, when combined with carbohydrates, almost doubles the insulin response. So it is important to include protein in your post workout meal. If protein and carbohydrates are balanced in what is referred to as “the optimum recover ratio” of 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein, the protein does not seem to interfere with rehydration and gastric emptying. So if an athlete consumes 70-100 grams of carbohydrates after exercise, he should also eat 17-25 grams of protein to enhance the insulin response without slowing gastric emptying.
Step 2: Supplementation
Consume Arginine with Your Post Workout Meal:
The amino acid arginine affects insulin uptake and post exercise recovery. Carbohydrate-arginine supplementation increases muscle glycogen replenishment 50% more than carbohydrates alone. Arginine also has the added benefits of reducing ammonia in the body, increasing growth hormone levels, increasing creatine stores in the muscles, and helping with wound healing and immune system function. In summary, the addition of protein in the correct ratio with carbohydrate – and along with arginine – can improve performance by enhancing insulin response, thereby promoting faster recovery.
Consume Ribose with Your Post Workout Meal:
Ribose supplementation can dramatically increase the regeneration of ATP in the muscles, resulting in quicker recovery and increased strength. The recommended dosage is 3-5 grams per day.
Supplement with Phosphatidylserine (PS):
Phosphatidylserine is one of the
body’s phospholipids, and is an integral part of the structure and maintenance of cell membranes. Phosphatidylserine supplementation can help to counteract some of the negative effects of strenuous training. In particular, it has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which accelerates protein breakdown for energy. Phosphatidylserine can help athletes recover faster from strenuous workouts by reducing muscle breakdown and the accompanying muscle soreness. It also has the added benefit of enhancing memory and learning ability.
Supplement with HMB and Acetyl L-Carnitine: HMB (hy droxy-methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. There have been a number of published studies demonstrating that HMB can improve muscle strength and lean body mass, and can reduce muscle damage and strength loss associated with intense workouts. In addition, it has been shown to improve VO2 max in supplemented athletes. Acetyl LCarnitine (ALC) helps transport fatty acids in the cell’s mitochondria. Research has demonstrated that ALC promotes certain improvements in athletic performance, including increased endurance, reduced blood lactate levels during exercise, and improved anaerobic strength output. In addition, it has been shown to increase the rate at which fatty acids are broken down for fuel, thereby creating a glycogen sparing effect during exercise.
Supplement with Glutamine:
Glutamine is one of my favorite aminoacids. It is the most deficient amino acid in athletes that I have tested. Without it, an athlete will lose muscle mass. With it in abundance, muscles can grow or at least be maintained. Glutamine functions as a source of energy for white blood cells and other immune cells, which reduces resistance to infection. Research with athletes shows that endurance exercise significantly lowers blood levels of glutamine. Supplemental glutamine can restore glutamine levels to normal levels and help prevent onset of illness, and it has a strong anticatabolic effect through neutralization of cortisol.
Optimize Hormone Functions:
Growth hormone levels decrease with age, usually starting in the mid-thirties in normal populations, but in athletes the growth hormone levels can start to decrease in the mid-twenties. This early decrease in growth hormone level is due to the amount of stress and the demands placed on the body. For elite and endurance athletes, it is important to try to maintain healthy growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is considered the master hormone, controlling many other hormones in the body and for this reason it may help increase low levels of other hormones, like testosterone, which is defi cient or low in many athletes.
Growth hormone has an incredible effect on healing time and recovery. GH is released at its highest levels during sleep. During this time, the natural recovery phase, occurs the greatest recovery from breakdown of tissues, soreness, and injuries. Growth hormone also has important effects on protein, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism.
› Protein metabolism: In general, growth hormone stimulates protein anabolism in many tissues. This effect refl ects increased amino acid uptake, increased protein synthesis, and decreased oxidation of proteins.
› Fat metabolism: Growth hormone enhances the utilization of fat by stimulating triglyceride breakdown and oxidation in adipocytes.
› Carbohydrate metabolism: Growth hormone is one of a battery of hormones that serves to maintain blood glucose within a normal range. Growth hormone is often said to have anti-insulin activity, because it suppresses the abilities of insulin to stimulate uptake of glucose in peripheral tissues and enhance glucose synthesis in the liver. Somewhat
paradoxically, administration of growth hormone stimulates insulin secretion, leading to
I recommend using the amino-acid growth hormone precursors that are found in many health food stores. These are called growth hormone precursors, growth hormone analogs, or secretagogues. These formulas usually consist of specific amino acids, such as arginine, lysine, and ornithine in powder form, and are taken at night before bed. These formulas may optimize your normal functions, but they will never cause you to overproduce a hormone.
Research on this topic has come a long way. I have personally seen many fighters come in to my office the days before a fight crashing, because of their depleted body mass and energy reserves. At our clinic, we utilize body composition machines to keep a close eye on protein, fat, water, and overall cellular health on the athletes I work with. We are able to alter the nutritional and supplemental status of an athlete depending on a quick in-office test. We are now able to manage the overall health of an athlete, sort of like checking the fluids of your car engine. If an athlete expects his body to perform like a high performance sports engine, then we have to make sure that all of the parts are in perfect working order.