Over-Training, Nutrition and the Athlete

Hello Everyone,

This is David and this is my first post on the RG Active Blog as an RG Active Coach.

John has asked me to write a piece about Over-training, and as many of you come to the end of a long season you start thinking about Winter Training, taking the intensity away and slowing things down.

However, just because the intensity is gone and you are working at lower heart rates, it doesn’t mean that over-training is not something to forget about, and talk about this from experience! ha ha

In this article I am going to talk about over-training and how it relates to what you eat and don’t eat and how nutrition plays an important part in making you the ‘complete’ athlete. Nutrition is as important as any training session, you don’t put diesel in a petrol car and expect the same performance, do you?

Overtraining can occur at any time during the training schedule and is a series of physiological changes that results in a deterioration of performance and health.

The reasons for this occurring in the body are very complex. However, it is very important that you have the right training and nutritional coaches on hand to structure both your training and dietary schedules in order to prevent this happening.

When the body is under severe stress glands called the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s natural anti inflammatory, however if produced for too long and in excess quantities it will depress the healing process, breakdown muscle, depress testosterone levels and suppress the immune system. Chronic overtraining will also deplete the body’s feel good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin leading to apathy and depression. Adrenal Stress is therefore one of the major results of overtraining and is responsible for many of the symptoms that are experienced.

So here are some of the signs of over-training:

· Decreased performance

· Prolonged recovery

· Decreased work capacity

· Changes in heart rate at rest, exercise and recovery

· Chronic Fatigue

· Insomnia

· Loss of appetite

· Feelings of apathy

· Feelings of depression

· Susceptibility to illness

· Recurrent infections

· Wounds that don’t heal

· Injuries that take time to heal

The list of changes that occurs in the body is obviously much more extensive than this, but this will give you a taster of what to expect.

Here are some nutritional tips that will help protect you against the symptoms of over-training.

Optimum hydration is the first step. On non- training days 2-3 litres of good quality water is important. On training days ingest the above but it is also advisable to ingest at least 1-1.5 litres of water 1 to 1.5 hours before training. Then ingesting 150-250mls every 15 minutes whilst training or competing.

Minerals are involved in nearly every chemical process in the body.

It is believed that we require up to 60 minerals for optimum functioning.

The modern western diet supplies a maximum of about 20-25 therefore it is a necessary pre-requisite to ingest a full spectrum plant derived mineral supplement to prevent over-training.

As adrenal stress is the cause of many of the symptoms mentioned it is important to support the adrenals adequately.

B vitamins play a major role in this.

The following herbs that will also help with this are rhodiola rosea, Siberian and American ginseng, astragulus, ashwaghanda and liquorice.

Post training a carbohydrate drink of a 3:1 carbs to protein mix will also aid recovery and prevent the symptoms of overtraining.

So 60-100 g of carbs to 20-25 g of whey protein is the optimum amount to ingest immediately post training.

The amino acid Glutamine has been found to be anti -catabolic(stops tissues breaking down , enhances repair and supports the immune system ).Consume 10g before and after training .

The branched chain amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine used before and after training have been shown to support recovery and energy production.

Essential fats such as found in oily fish , nuts and seeds support the anabolic steroid testosterone and help recovery and prevent over-training.

Consuming protein in the ratio of 0.8-2g of protein per kg is also very important in preventing the effects of overtraining.

To support the immune system herbs such as cats claw, olive leaf, Echinacea, pau d’arco and goldenseal are all extremely beneficial.

Zinc and vitamin C are all proven in their support against viruses. These particular supplements are so important to prevent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections.

Implementing some or all of these nutritional tips will go a long way to help you, the athlete achieve the best from your training. However , the best approach is always to consult with a nutritionist / naturopath with specialist knowledge.

For more information about this or any other Nutrition issue, please do not hesitate to Email me, or visit my page on the RG Active website for more information about Nutrition Tests, services that I can offer you.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,


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