It’s time to get back into the groove and return to those exercise routines now that eggnog and holiday treats are more difficult to find. This time of year is the perfect time to do a cleanse to reset your palate and get rid of sugar cravings and maximize your metabolism. Cleansing and exercising work together well to kick-start weight loss, fat-burning and muscle building when done properly. A favourite cleanse that I often recommend is 3 weeks and mainly diet based with a morning shake and liver support supplements and can be enhanced with a few Meyer’s injections (high-dose IV vitamin therapy in 15 minutes). It is based on products from a supplement company called Thorne Research, which we carry at our clinic. Please email for more information. Now onto the exercise component…
It is becoming more mainstream these days to eat, drink or take supplements before, during and after workouts. The company Vega has recently launched several new products that target athletes specifically and are presented as enhancements to improve metabolism, endurance, muscle-building and recovery. Protein is an important component in all of the above as muscles (among other important body tissues) are made of proteins. A post-workout shake with around 20-30g of protein within 45 -60 minutes of exercising will enhance muscle rebuilding. Excessive protein intake will lead to fat production as any unused/un-needed protein is converted into fat. As to the type of protein, whey is considered among the best as it contains higher amounts of particular amino acids and is well digested by most (even those with dairy sensitivities can often digest whey – it is usually other proteins in dairy such as caisen that cause problems). Those who prefer to avoid dairy or look for vegan options may choose the Vega line products. If you are new to protein shakes, I recommend that you look for sample packages of a few different types, as you don’t want to get stuck with a large container of something that makes you gag when you drink! One caution to new shake drinkers as well is that those with kidney disorders should only take extra protein under medical supervision. As carbohydrates are also important to include after workouts, the addition of a banana is an excellent (and delicious) way to balance out your shake.
Other popular additions to the post-workout shake include a scoop of L-Glutamine (helps build muscles, improves digestive function, contributes to neurotransmitter production), anti-oxidants and electrolytes. Anti-oxidants can come from the addition of dark red/purple/blue berries, which contain a variety of anti-oxidants in good concentrations. The purpose of including this to your shake is to quench the free radicals produced when exercising. As the body is working harder and chemical reactions are occurring at a faster rate, more by-products and “waste” are circulating. Anti-oxidants will bind and neutralize free radicals before any damage can be done. I have seen some new lines of supplements that are targeting anti-oxidants specifically beneficial for athletes, such as including larger amounts of R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and have started using them with patients at the clinic.
Sports drinks often contain artificial colouring and flavouring that requires your liver to work harder to break down and excrete. It is also important to look at the type of sugar used in these drinks (not all sugars are equal) as well as the timing of consumption. It has been determined that drinking high carbohydrate drinks prior to an event can actually impair performance due to the invoked insulin-response which can lead to hypoglycemia. One homemade healthy sports drink that can easily be put together includes the following:
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup/honey or sugar
- ½ cup of either orange juice, mashed banana or coconut water
- water to bring the drink up to 1L
There are many other supplements that can enhance performance, optimize muscle building and fat burning, improve endurance and replace lost nutrients. Some favourites include carnitine, creatine, vitamin C, Co-Q10, B-complex, magnesium, omega 3s and mineral mixes. Please feel free to contact our clinic for more information or to develop a strategy for your specific training needs.
- Dr. Jennifer Luis, Naturopath at Downtown Wellness Centre