By Dr. Mercola,
This wildly popular fitness routine will hinder your results, not help them. That may be why pro athletes like LeBron James, Ray Allen, Nell Stephenson, and many others are turning their backs on it, trading it instead for this. Should you join them?
If you want your body to perform optimally, you need real food and all-natural nutrients. This is commonsense advice for everyone, but perhaps of particular importance for athletes.
Although you’d think professional athletes would know better, many still make unwise food- and lifestyle choices. This is largely related to the fact that they are mostly young and their body can compensate for foolish food choices (think Michael Phelps).
With all the exercise they get, the damaging effects of poor food choices tend to be held at bay longer than for someone who is sedentary, but sooner or later it does catch up with you, and athletes who take a more natural, whole foods approach usually find it really does give them an edge.
The fact is, a high-sugar, high-refined carb diet makes you more prone to muscle and joint deterioration and injury. Who knows how many careers have been cut short due to diminishing skills or injuries?
Right now, I’m thrilled for my hometown hockey team, which has performed exceptionally well, and I congratulate Duncan Keith on his personal achievements in particular.
Duncan is one high-level professional hockey player who decided to take control of his health, and is reaping the rewards of improved performance and well-being.
Energy and stamina doesn’t come from sugar. Taking in simple carbs like sugar, corn syrup, pasta, or bread before an event will tend to cause a quick spike in your blood sugar followed by a corresponding fall, making you feel more exhausted than before. More than anything, simple carbs and excess complex carbs will make you sluggish and hamper your performance. If you want to create energy naturally—and this certainly applies to non-athletes as well—here are four simple rules to follow:
- Just before a game or hard workout, eat a little bit of fruit, such as an apple, plum, pear, citrus fruit (not juice) or berries. They’re great right before a game or workout, as they give you a small spike without the massive plummet.
- Two to three hours before a game or hard workout, complex carbs, fats and a small amount of protein will do the trick. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, olive oil, almond butter, flax oil, walnuts, almonds and eggs are all easy to digest and can give you more sustained energy.
- Post exercise, your body is nitrogen-poor and your muscles have been broken down. That’s why you need amino acids from animal proteins like chicken, beef and eggs, as well as vegetable carbohydrates. Whey protein is another excellent choice here.
- Although many experts still recommend carb-loading before an endurance event, the fact is, burning sugar is not what happens over long distances. Carbs are stored in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen that your body uses as fuel. Once this fuel runs out, fatigue sets in and your performance suffers. Your body actually starts burning fats after a short period of time, so therefore, rather than loading up on carbs, loading up on healthy fats and small amounts of protein will typically improve athletic endurance.
Some athletes, including basketball superstars LeBron James and Ray Allen, have started taking this advice to heart—with excellent results. Other athletes jumping onto the high-fat, low-carb diet include Ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, pro cyclist Dave Zabriskie, ultra-marathoner Timothy Olson, and former Ironman triathlete Ben Greenfield, who is said to have followed a ketogenic diet while training for the 2013 Ironman World Championships.
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