Whether someone is training seven days a week or a weekend warrior, there is a need to focus on proper nutrition. The need to feed the body the right nutrients from foods or supplementation is even greater for those with an active lifestyle. Weekend warriors need to address these areas: enhance the workout, decrease injury and improve tissue repair. Below are several key areas in which weekend warriors should focus their attention.
Antioxidants are essential for people with an active lifestyle. Just like a car produces more exhaust in hour when it is moving fast versus idling in the garage, the body does the same. Increased activity in the body causes an increase in free radical production (exhaust). These free radicals need to be neutralised quickly or they will lead to cell damage, inflammation and other serious health issue. Key antioxidants to consider for active people are: ubiquinol, astaxanthin, and turmeric.
Other than the hydration factor with consuming beverages with electrolytes, supplementing with additional minerals should be considered. The body not only excretes minerals through perspiration, but also depletes them through metabolic function. Of the macrominerals, magnesium is perhaps the most important. Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of metabolic functions including muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, cramping and effect mental health and performance.
Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein. During high levels of activity, the body tries to fill its nutritional void in order to keep running. First utilising glucose and glycogen stores and then by cannibalising itself, a process also known as catabolism. Protein deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, loss of muscle mass and make it difficult for the body to repair the muscle damaged by activity. BCAAs, whey, complex veggie proteins and collagen are all effective forms to deliver the amino acids needed for energy and repair.
There is a connection between high-intensity exercise and drop in omega-3 levels.[iii] This decrease can be linked to increased inflammation and illness post-activity, longer times to recovery and decreased performance. It is for these reasons omega-3s should be regular part of the weekend warriors supplement program.
L-Carnitine is depleted during exercise[iv] and is needed to help with energy production, decreasing fatigue, reduce metabolic waste accumulation and facilitate recovery post-exercise. L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids out of the blood and into the mitochondria[v], the energy factory of each cell. These fatty acids are then burned as fuel to provide energy during increased activity. L-carnitine also helps improve endurance by inhibiting the build-up of lactic acid[vi], one of the primary causes of fatigue. L-carnitine also plays a role in reducing muscle damage and soreness.
Whether someone is a weekend warrior or a world class athlete, supplementing the daily diet is needed to help enhance workouts, decrease injury, repair the body and improve overall health.
[i] O’Donovan G, Lee I, Hamer M, Stamatakis E. Association of “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):335–342. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8014
[ii]O’Donovan G, Lee I, Hamer M, et al, Association of “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality JAMA Internal Medicine 2017;177(3):335-342
[iii] Davinelli S, Corbi G, Righetti S, et al. Relationship Between Distance Run Per Week, Omega-3 Index, and Arachidonic Acid (AA)/Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) Ratio: An Observational Retrospective Study in Non-elite Runners. Front Physiol. 2019;10:487. Published 2019 Apr 26. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.0048
[iv] Nuesch R, Rossetto M, Martina B. Plasma and urine carnitine concentrations in well-trained athletes at rest and after exercise. Influence of L-carnitine intake. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1999;25:167-71.
[v] Lenzi, Andrea et al., A placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial of the use of combined l-carnitine and l-acetyl-carnitine treatment in men with asthenozoospermia, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 81, Issue 6, 1578 - 1584
[vi] Vecchiet L, Di Lisa F, Pieralisi G, et al. Influence of L-carnitine administration on maximal physical exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1990;61:486-90