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Augment Your Recovery with These Key Behaviors and Nutrients
Coach Nathan Charpentier | August 22, 2021
What a wonderful time to be at the gym!
We continue to receive positivity about the layout and spacious “feel” of the gym floor now, the Level Method program and all of its intricacies, the color schemes, some of the new equipment, etc. It is extremely exciting, getting in some challenging workouts again, sharing the joys (and maybe some disappointment) about Level Method testing. However, for many of us, it has been several months since we may have been training to the same intensity and frequency as prior to us opening.
That has some effect on general baseline health.
For the most part, it means: losing aerobic capacity abilities, our physical ability to breath and utilize oxygen for energy gets downplayed probably most significantly. Additionally, our nervous system may desensitize itself to lifting or performing certain movements, and our tendons and ligaments may have weakened slightly. Consequently, with all the excitement and positivity, we have to stay realistic and disciplined enough to work within our capacities. Most of these symptoms of detraining will reverse themselves and get very close to where we were in a few months. So let’s make the number one priority goal to stay positive and keep the consistency of dedication to training!
Plus it is such a good time, why wouldn’t you? We want to thank you thoroughly for the continuous positivity and support, it is only the beginning.
What next? What now?
Consistency is an incredible key to success.
Beyond The White Board once had a posting where they analyzed a bunch of their data to see what makes people better at CrossFit. Unsurprisingly, the single biggest factor to progress was showing up to the gym. The people who showed up more often, more consistently, also were the ones who experienced the most progress. Our nutrition challenge is starting in mid-September so there is still time to work on managing your schedule to get a successful routine of attendance.
Consequently, continuing to find your groove, your ritual is what is the most important of what is to come. We will have a poster showing the most significant part of all this is making the gym a priority and training significantly.
Secondly, sleep (getting at least seven hours a night consistently, which averages to being in bed for 8 hours).
Then, nutrition, making sure you are getting a complete plate fulfilling your essential nutrient needs, macronutrient needs, and the like; then, maybe supplementing if needed and using recovery methods like ice baths, contrast showers, sports massage and the like. These things work off of each other, and all contribute to success in some meaningful way. Many of you have showed interest in the nutrition challenge. This is a good step to improving your experience at the gym if you have been finding consistency easy (coming 3-4+ times a week). If you have not been able to find that consistency, then prioritizing the gym to the point of it being an important appointment would be the most practical focus for you going forward. Hopefully you can gain an understanding of your lifestyle that will get you disciplined and determined enough to show up consistently. Plus, this is going to provide you the most benefit to a domino effect of finding success.
I am consistent and want to focus on nutrition, what can I do?
Ok, and now you are consistent, and want that extra nutrition push. With the nutrition challenge around the corner, one major thing to focus on in the interim is sleep.
Make sure you are in bed for 8 hours a night at a consistent time.
Sleep has a tremendous impact on our hormonal regulation regardless of how we train or what we eat. If we are not sleeping enough, we are not recovering, and our bodies' communication systems may become out of sync. So, make your bedtime a priority too! For most adults this seems easy enough; if it isn’t, then maybe look at your schedule and find ways to make the time to get to bed on time. If you get this habit rolling into the Iron Body challenge then you may get the most benefit from the dietary changes you make.
Let's go through some other easy habits you might find benefit from incorporating and without taking too much effort in the meantime. They will revolve mostly on supplementing key essential nutrients needed in a thousands of processes within the body that many people are commonly deficient in.
Supplementation of Key, Essential Nutrients
Dr. Bruce Ames, author of “The Triage Theory”, believes most health issues stem from a lack of essential nutrients (aka nutrients we can only find outside of our bodies from our environment). Our key “survival organs” like the heart, liver, lungs and brain, partition nutrients when we are deficient. Therefore, everything else (our muscles, tendons and bones, for example) are de-prioritized and will get last dibs! It is important to keep a consistent intake of key micronutrients and monitor some of these nutrients as they can change seasonally and be affected by seasonal sunlight and dietary choices (like seasonal food variety). This “deficiency” is really in our non-survivalist organs, and over time, metabolic insufficiency may occur and slowly degrade cell functions. That is the theory anyway.
Some of the major essential nutrients (outside of getting complete proteins) are vitamin D, fish oil, and magnesium/zinc. Remember, the only way to achieve adequate levels of these nutrients would be through outside sources (usually food). We will go briefly into each of these nutrients and how to go about the decision to supplement. Included in this email is an attachment of a great study of this subject by a pharmacist who completed this for their student project under my preceptorship, if you want more technicality and sourcing.
Vitamin D is not a vitamin, it is a hormone that regulates thousands of processes in the body, and research is still ongoing to try to find out all the incredible things vitamin D is responsible for. Mainly, vitamin D is involved intimately with our circadian cycles (the daily shift of our hormones). It is found in processes in many cells throughout the body, especially in immunity. It might not be a coincidence that studies are suggesting a correlation between vitamin D levels and COVID severity, which makes sense given the triage theory and vitamin D's role in immunity.
Our skins are able to produce vitamin D, and the production by the sun may be the best way to get your vitamin D because the light actually has a multitude of effects on your skin outside of vitamin D that are additionally beneficial. It is not always easy to get outside and get enough Vitamin D though, and the darker your skin tone, the more exposure you need both in area and in time outside. There is a great amount of work that can be unfolded surrounding what Vitamin D is responsible for, and the controversy and debates continue.
Bottom line, low vitamin D is no bueno (aka not good in Spanish).
Vitamin D levels of 25-30 ng/mL are considered “normal”, yet, more and more research is suggesting levels between 50-55 ng/mL are actually ideal for preventing certain metabolic diseases and for optimal immune system functioning. We are currently looking into working with a local facility to make labs available to members so you can get your levels checked to make sure you are in a good range.
You most definitely want to consider supplementing if you are under 25 ng/mL because that territory is the range of insufficiency. Yes, one of the best ways to get vitamin D is to be outdoors in the sun, and with all the smoke the last couple of weeks of sun blockage, checking in on your levels is a good safety precaution. Roughly 1000 IU of Vitamin D will raise your levels about 5 ng/mL, on average. If you get your levels, you can then determine what dose you may be looking at to get into an optimal range for health. Vitamin D levels change throughout the season since your skin produces it too upon certain UV ray exposure from the sun.
This is a brand that we use, verified via Labdoor.com
When we refer to fish oil, we are mainly discussing the two most studied components found in the fat of certain marine animals, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The verdict is still out on how important these two omega-3 fatty acids are, however, there is substantial research showing that they are involved in many inflammatory pathways, with an anti-inflammatory effect.
Historically, humans are thought to have a ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids of 1:1-1:4 depending on the source. Omega-6 fatty acids are also used in these same pathways, and are usually considered as more pro-inflammatory, meaning, they cause more inflammation. Some reports suggest the average Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in people consuming the Standard American Diet (aka SAD diet) is 1:20+. Incredibly higher than previously thought.
If we do not consume Omega-3 fatty acids, it will obviously lead to this type of range of these fats, the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids has been demonstrated to reduce overall low grade chronic inflammation and markers of inflammation that are sometimes elevated prior to and during certain metabolic disease states. The verdict is still out on a typical dose, 1-2 grams of EPA and DHA (combined, sometimes there is a ratio between these two depending on the product), is typically a good start. Some individuals go upwards of 3-4 grams, and a piece of salmon can have double to triple this amount! So if you already eat a lot of salmon, or sardines, or trout, or mackerel (all good sources of omega-3) multiple times a week, you probably don’t need supplementation. There are also labs that can measure your ratio.
Magnesium and zinc are two essential nutrients, also involved in hundreds of physiological pathways and are regularly deficient in many individuals. They are found in many foods, and getting too much magnesium or zinc is not great...very noticeable.
For example, magnesium, in a high enough dose is a laxative. When we sweat, we lose many electrolytes, like sodium and potassium (most common). However we also lose magnesium, zinc and vitamin D. Some symptoms of low magnesium are muscle cramping, fatigue and trouble sleeping. Zinc is typically paired with magnesium, as they are found in a ratio within the body. Most products have a suggested dosing to the product. A few hundred milligrams of magnesium and five to ten milligrams of zinc is rather common. Taking 1-2 capsules before bedtime may help with muscle cramps and sleep issues due to low magnesium from low intake and/excessive loss from sweating in workouts.
We like the brand Rootcha, which has been verified and third-party tested, via labdoor.com
NaCl (Sodium Chloride or table salt)
Finally, salt! Good old sodium chloride (NaCl) – found in almost every sports hydration drink....for good reason of course. It is another vital essential nutrient, used in many many processes within the body, and it is one of the salts we lose the most of when we sweat. Make sure you are eating salt at meals. Some of the signs of low salt are fatigue and muscle cramps (especially cramps in the abdomen). Salt causing heart disease is likely a myth that was squashed the world over. Studies were riddled with the flaw of most salt intake coming from highly processed and sugary foods. If we use normal salt like pink salt or table salt, with more favorable foods like lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, some fruit and a little starch, that risk of harm is substantially, if not exponentially, lowered in comparison to fast foods and highly processed foods. In conclusion, if you are being consistent and aiming for the nutrition challenge, consider a head start by dialing in on your vitamin D levels (and maybe also Omega3 to Omega-6 ratio), and supplementing with some of the more common essential nutrients we tend to see deficiencies in: vitamin D, fish oil (EPA/DHA), Magnesium/Zinc (aka ZMA products) and NaCl. Attached is a presentation with more detail regarding these nutrients that a student I precepted produced for her pharmacy rotation. Even if you aren’t finding the consistency in the gym, supplementing with these things may help if it is due to a deficiency causing fatigue, muscle cramps, poor recovery and trouble sleeping!
Yours in strength! Coach Nate