By: Janice Lyn, Athletes Commission Chair & Holistic Nutritionist
Hello again my fellow muaythai practitioners and enthusiasts. Last time I spoke about 6 important tips to boost your performance. I hope you have incorporated these tips as a part of your nutrition program because it can really be a game changer.
In the world of nutrition, there are many wonderful natural whole foods, herbs and supplements that can offer your body relief from common problems elite athletes face. In a recent webinar from ITA on Nutrition and Dietary Supplements, it was mentioned that the IOC Consensus statement in 2018 addressed the use of dietary supplements, their effects on athletes’ health and performances and the risk of contamination and anti-doping issues. It is recommended that athletes receive most of their nutrition through healthy whole foods. This is the safest way to go, especially to avoid the risk of having an ADRV due to contaminated supplements.
The IOC does recognize that the use of dietary supplements is widespread among elite athletes as it is among the general population. An expert group whose task was to determine the need for dietary supplements for athletes concluded, after three days of intensive discussions, that:
• Diet significantly influences athletic performance, but the use of supplements does not compensate for poor food choices and an inadequate diet.
• Supplementation with essential nutrients may be beneficial if a specific nutrient deficiency is medically diagnosed and a food-based solution cannot be easily implemented.
• A few supplements, from the many thousands of different products on the market, may provide performance or health-related benefits for some athletes in some types of sports, when optimum training, nutrition and recovery are already achieved.
• Quality assurance in supplement manufacture, storage and distribution is sometimes not strictly enforced, leading to products that are of poor quality or contaminated.
Before I delve into herbs and supplements that are great for topics of interest related to athlete health and performance I want to reiterate and highlight that in taking any supplement or herb there is a risk of the substance being contaminated due to processes related to manufacturing and production. To reduce this risk, ITA and WADA recommend you only use supplements and products you trust and which are batch tested by an independent company like Informed Sport or contact your National Olympic Committee on resources related to trusted supplement companies and companies that do batch testing within your country.
I would like to introduce to you adaptogens. Adaptogens are not a new concept. They have been used for centuries to aid the body’s response to stress, aid in mental and physical fatigue and increase energy and focus. Their function is in the name, they help the body “adapt” according to what the body requires. They help the body recover from both short-term and long-term physical and mental stress with some strengthening immunity, boosting mental performance, easing depression and anxiety so that the individual can thrive as an athlete, student, employee and champion of life.
Nakmuay endure a lot of stress, especially during times of training camps for competition where studying as a student, juggling work and time for study, training and sparring amongst other life and modern-day responsibilities which can be quite challenging all at once. As much as we are trained to mentally push through the pain and the fatigue, as fighters we often neglect our basic needs and fail to listen to our bodies which can be an honest cry for help. Ignoring these cries can lead to hormonal and health related issues later on, especially for women, so take preventative action and care so that you can have a long lifespan as a fighter and long health span in general.
In a nutshell, adaptogens increase the body’s resistance to stress and exhaustion and lower the chance of weight gain due to stress which is a bonus for our weight sensitive sport.
How to use adaptogens. Choose one or two adaptogens and plan how you will schedule them strategically throughout the day. Each adaptogen affects the body in different ways so be sure to choose the adaptogen based on the desired result you want. If it is an adaptogen that encourages energy and stimulation, aim to take it before 3pm so that it falls in line with the body’s natural clock and will not disturb your sleeping patterns. You will rotate to a different adaptogen every 6 weeks. If you are taking powder or “pill” form be sure to follow the instructions on the label and once again, take care to ensure that the supplement is batch tested and approved from a credible source.
Everyone reacts differently to different adaptogens so it is best to consult a holistic nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor on how to incorporate the adaptogens of choice into your nutritional regime.
Please note, finding the actual fresh herb or dried herb will allow you to be more creative in your use with the adaptogen. You can use them as teas as you can find many in tea form. Homemade cold brew iced teas are fantastic especially if you want to include them as a special ingredient in homemade electrolyte beverages as an additional nutritional boost and to soups, stews and other cooking creations. You can even use powdered versions into smoothies, oats, smoothie bowls etc.
Enjoy, research and explore the benefits of these amazing traditional herbs and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] and I will happily assist.
Be safe, stay strong and be healthy.