Being sick means having to stay out of the gym, and it's usually accompanied by a poor diet and very slow recovery time.
As a bodybuilder, you may think that your immune system is in great condition. After all, you regularly exercise with a balance of weights and cardio (even if your idea of cardio is a 10 minute warm-up!), your diet includes a variety of the freshest lean meats and vegetables, and you are definitely taking your vitamins. Add to that plenty of sleep, and you should never get sick, right? Wrong!
Being a bodybuilder means you're actually MORE vulnerable to catching cold than the average person. Following a vigorous training schedule and eating a minimum amount of food are recipes for immune system disaster. This type of dysfunction is known as autoimmunity, or "when the immune system fails to recognize 'self' as friendly and mounts an attack on itself."
So, how can you boost your health to prevent sickness and keep making gains in the gym? Let's look at the answers.
Review Your Workout Plan:
Excessive exercise is very detrimental to your health, so take a look at your program - on paper - and make sure you're not
overtraining. Trying to push out those extra 3 sets to make new gains?
Staying on the treadmill and extra 20 minutes each day to lose those post-holiday pounds? These "extra" efforts may be causing you more harm than good.
Cut back the length and frequency of your training sessions if you feel sluggish, can't sleep at night, have poor workout recovery, find your strength waning, or are stressed out.
Eat, Eat, Eat:
competitive bodybuilders begin their 2005 contest diets in January to prepare for the spring and summer season. These calorie restrictions cause the body to deplete its immunities as well.
If you're feeling under the weather, increase your food intake by a few hundred calories for a day or two, or until your symptoms subside.
For the noncompetitive bodybuilder, make sure you're tracking your calories a few times a week and that you're getting your body's minimum requirements plus 300-500 extra calories for good measure.
Determine Your Daily Macronutrient Needs!
Catch Some Zzzzz's:
Lack of quality sleep can directly correlate with
overtraining, as it is one of the main symptoms. Try to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep at night. If you find yourself still tired or sluggish, or if it's impossible to sleep that long on your schedule, try taking an afternoon nap to give your body a break.
Pessimistic thoughts and negative attitudes are known to weaken the immune system as well. If you're going through some rough times, try to look at the bright side, or talk with a close friend, family member, or counselor who can help lift your spirits.
Drink plenty of water. Most bodybuilders know the importance of this already, but don't stop sipping! Drink at least 3 liters (1 gallon) of water per day. Minimizing
alcohol intake also assists in preventing illness.
Stick With Nature:
One of the best ways you can prevent illness is by adding some immune-boosting supplements into your program. Glutamine, Vitamin C, Echinacea, Zinc, and Vitamin E are five of the best homeopathic remedies you can use to prevent and treat colds.
- Glutamine - This amino acid not only helps you recover faster from your workouts, it's a vital component in immune system function.
- Vitamin C - In addition to your daily multi-vitamin/mineral that I know you are taking, adding extra Vitamin C boosts your body's production of NK cells and activation of T cells, both of which protect your body against viruses.
- Echinacea - This herb can potentially increase your white blood cells' ability to kill off harmful bacteria by up to threefold.
- Zinc - This mineral has also been known to improve the white blood cells' capability of fending off infections.
- Vitamin E - Adding extra Vitamin E helps your body produce more B cells. These B cells produce the antibodies that help destroy harmful bacteria.
Other helpful supplements include Carotenoids, Bioflavenoids, Garlic, Selenium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Immune Weakening Activities
There are several lifestyle factors and foods that weaken the immune system. They should be avoided or limited whenever possible.
- Overtraining - As mentioned above, more is not always better. Stay in check with your program, and be aware of the signs and symptoms of overtraining, to ensure you aren't doing more harm than good.
Learn more about overtraining here...
- Excess Sugar - Avoid foods with added sugar, especially baked goods, candy, and sodas. Sugar has been found to decrease the body's white blood cell efficiency by up to 40%. Substitute a sugar-free sweetener in place of the real thing, such as Splenda or Trans-Plex Sweet-n-Up.
Learn more about sugar here...
- Excess Alcohol - I don't have to tell you that drinking is detrimental to your bodybuilding efforts, but it's also harmful to the immune system. Like sugar, alcohol depletes the white blood cells' fighting efforts. It also drains the body of its overall nutrients.
Despite exercising all these precautions, you may find that your body still gives in and you catch a nasty cold. The best thing to do in this case is begin supplementing with the above herbs and vitamins to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of your cold. Get plenty of rest, and stay out of the gym! You'll only lengthen the cold if you try to keep training.
I recommend the following anti-cold stack to be taken as both a prevention mechanism and an early treatment method.
The Anti-Cold Stack can be taken as both a prevention mechanism and an early treatment method. Take it twice a day as soon as you notice the onset of a cold, and throughout the remainder of your cold. Take it once a day with your morning supplements to maintain a healthy immune system.
Take this stack twice a day as soon as you notice the onset of a cold, and throughout the remainder of your cold. Take it once a day with your morning supplements to maintain a healthy immune system.
To shorten the cold, I highly recommend Zicam Cold Remedy RapidMelts. They're cherry-flavored tablets that melt in your mouth. This boosts your body's Zinc, which as noted above, drastically assists in fending off illness.
As a bodybuilder, you should already know the importance of taking care of yourself. Listen to your body for signs that indicate something is wrong. Watch for the symptoms of overtraining, and don't be afraid to take a break from the gym!
Exercising while sick not only prolongs the life of a cold, it results in poor-quality workouts that will most likely not benefit your efforts in a positive way. Wait until you're 100% to resume your training regimen. Take care of yourself and follow methods of prevention to ensure you won't have any setbacks from illness this winter.
- Shirley's Wellness Caféº Hollistic Health Care for People and Animals, www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com.
- Vitacost.com - Top Brand Vitamins at Wholesale Cost.
- WholeHealthMD.com, LLC.