Diet: a double-edged sword
Health and athletic performance are on the solid foundation of a balanced diet. However, some fashion trends may not be the best choice for your heart.
Macronutrients Above All (MPV)
Diet enthusiasts who are guided by the MPV principle can face difficulties if they do not pay due attention to the quality of their food. Keeping macronutrients in mind can help you achieve many goals, but forgetting how important it is to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet is undermining the foundation on which you can build a strong and healthy body.
“With 4,500 calories a day, you can easily add foods that many would call unhealthy, such as chips, cakes, and snacks,” says Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D. College of Sports Medicine.
The danger in packaged food is that it often contains trans fats. Trans fats raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and lower HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels, which should be avoided by those seeking normal cholesterol levels. An excess of trans fats in the diet is also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and generalized inflammatory reactions.
Not all MPV aficionados add huge servings of packaged snacks and trans fats to their menus, but you should never forget that food quality matters. If you want your body to be healthy from the inside out, you need to look beyond the amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein in your daily diet.
High protein / fat diets
The next trend is diets with a predominance of nutrients that the body cannot produce in large quantities. High-fat and high-protein diets can be problematic for those unable to burn large amounts of fat.
“If your body is able to utilize mountains of fat, then it’s okay,” says Dr. Nelson. “But if your body is not designed for such tasks, you can run into trouble. As you know, scientific studies that have studied the change in blood circulation after eating fatty foods have revealed serious problems, especially in overweight people. ” It appears that elevated levels of free fatty acids can inhibit nitric oxide synthesis, which increases the risk of hypertension. If you’re thinking about switching to a fat-dominated diet, remember that not all dietary fats are created equal, and our bodies metabolize them differently.
In general, active people and athletes can use a diet high in fat and protein, such as a low-carb or ketogenic diet , with more success than sedentary people. “In one classic study, physically active and sedentary people were given a McDonald’s breakfast menu of an egg and sausage McMuffin and potato pancakes. After eating such a fatty meal, the scientists evaluated the dilation of the blood vessels and concluded that it decreased by almost 10% in the sedentary group, ”says Dr. Nelson. Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis. These findings support the concept that regular physical activity can reduce the negative effects of fatty foods on cardiovascular health.
The physical form of a person can determine the success of certain specific diets. But staying balanced and getting all the nutrients in reasonable doses (including alcohol) was and remains the best option. Dr. Nelson sums it up: “Fat isn’t that scary in moderation, but eating fatty foods for years is not the best choice for your heart health.”
Preparing for the competition
While the bodybuilding community looks truly healthy, extreme diets can be a source of problems. Dr. Spencer Nadolski, bodybuilder, triathlete and family physician osteopath knows how challenging the body can be to prepare for a competition.
“Low-carb diets high in saturated fat can negatively affect heart and vascular health,” he says. “Athletes on these types of diets often have poor cholesterol levels. Their blood cholesterol – especially the non-HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, and LDL fractions – is the same as in people prone to atherosclerosis. This does not happen with all fans of such diets, but everyone should be aware of the existing risk. ”
“When men and women eat too strict diets – and they get very few calories – it affects the way the brain interacts with various organs,” explains Dr. Nadolski. “In men, the secretion of testosterone and thyroid hormones drops. Women face progesterone and estrogen deficiencies, which can lead to menstrual irregularities, bone demineralization and even thyroid problems. In the long term, this state of the body negatively affects the heart. For this reason, I would recommend limiting the competition period to certain times of the year. ”
To maintain or restore normal hormonal balance, avoid extreme diets and keep your body fat as low as possible for a long time. Try to schedule your competition so that you have plenty of time to recover and maintain a healthy lifestyle for most of the year. Constant medical observation during preparation for the competition will also help to identify any red flags.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you limit yourself to 150 minutes of moderate intensity training or 75 minutes of high intensity training per week to keep your heart healthy. I think many of you will reach this limit in just a couple of days! Of course, training is good for your health, but those who train to the limit for a long time are at risk.
An analysis of scientific papers published by the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, has shown that endurance athletes who train at very high intensity for a long period are at greater risk of developing cardiopathology than their counterparts who train with moderate loads. “The data we have shows that excessive exercise in any form can lead to heart disease,” says Dr. Nelson. “Participants in competitions requiring superhuman endurance are at risk the most. Not surprisingly, weightlifters and powerlifters who work only with sub-maximal weights also fall into the high-risk category. ”
As the saying goes, a little bit of good. “Different exercises have different effects on the heart, and training stress is always different. A bias towards a particular type of stress pushes you towards an area of increased risk, ”explains Dr. Nelson.
Strength training 3-5 times a week will not increase the risk of cardiopathology for most people, and this is true for those who run less than 50 km per week. “However, if you push to the limit, lift gigantic weights at high frequency for decades, or run super marathons for years, the risk will increase,” says Dr. Nelson.
Scientists have yet to figure out what kind of exercise is considered excessive in terms of cardiac risk. But, as in the case of a diet, during training, you quickly forget about a sense of proportion. Keep in mind that by exercising for years, you run the risk of heart disease.
Endurance sports should plan their offseason to accommodate other types of exercise, including cross-training and strength training.
Even if you represent health and well-being, regular medical check-ups won’t hurt. They will be able to identify any early warning signs of heart disease.
Dr. Nadolski recommends that from the age of twenty, the fasting lipid profile should be determined at least once every five years. “I advise you to get this test as early as possible if you have changed your lifestyle, diet, physical activity, or if your tissue composition has changed a lot,” he says. “I also add fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (A1c) testing to patients with relatives with type 2 diabetes. Hemoglobin A1c gives an indication of the average blood sugar level over three months. ”
After the age of thirty, you should continue to have regular blood tests. As is the case with most examinations, before visiting the laboratory, you should ask your insurance company which tests are covered by insurance, and for which you will have to pay extra out of your own pocket.
Dr. Nadolski also recommends monitoring blood pressure and waist circumference, especially since both indicators can be assessed without leaving home. Portable blood pressure monitors simplify blood pressure monitoring and help detect hypertension at an early stage.
If your systolic pressure (upper number) is stable above 120, or your diastolic pressure (lower number) is higher than 80, you should make an appointment with your doctor for an additional examination and assessment of its results.
As for the waist circumference, it should be within 80 cm for women and 94 cm for men to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, in particular type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.