Many athletic programs, all the way from little league to professional teams, recognize the importance of chiropractic care.
Even if you aren’t working with a particular team, you likely have patients who are athletes or work out regularly and not only need chiropractic adjustments but also advice on sports nutrition.
And sports nutrition is a booming industry in the U.S., grossing almost $6 billion each year, and this is expected to reach over $33 billion by 2020.
Sports drinks are the most popular product because of their on-the-go appeal. Athletes account for close to 40 percent of global sales of sports nutrition products, while nearly 30 percent are casual gym-goers. And while this market is lucrative, most of these workout products are not significantly helpful.
Real food and natural supplementation provide just as many or more of the same benefits as predesigned sports foods, but are a lot less expensive.
Your patients who are athletic often rely on chiropractic and nutrition to assist them with recovery, speed, increasing muscle mass, and body composition. It’s important for athletes to obtain the proper nutrition to aid in the recovery of muscle tissue, replenish lost fluids, and provide carbohydrates to sustain blood glucose levels.
Supplements, in addition to a healthy diet, can be incredibly effective at providing the body with energy, recovery, and maintenance. Having the specific nutrients at the right time can significantly improve performance.
Preparing the body for strenuous exercise is important. Hydration is essential, as there are high amounts of fluid and electrolyte loss during a workout. It’s also critical to have fuel to burn, and having the proper amount of carbohydrates that can easily break down mid-training will increase stamina. Some specific nutrients to look for in a pre-workout drink would be:
- Vitamin B12 to support nerves and red blood cells, as well as prevent anemia. B12 also reduces fatigue and depression, helps maintain a healthy digestive system, and replenishes skin, hair, and nail cells.
- L-Arginine, an amino acid that improves the cardiovascular system by establishing a healthy blood flow, and produces nitric oxide and stimulates protein production.
- D-Ribose, to increase cellular energy, is a natural sugar produced by the body.
- Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that helps enzymes work properly.
- L-Citrulline, a semi-essential amino acid that increases nitric oxide production. It helps with heart and blood vessel conditions such as chest pain, heart disease or failure, vascular headaches, clogged arteries, and erectile dysfunction.
- Niacinamide (Niacin) dilates blood vessels while encouraging lymphatic flow, and also increases circulation.
- Acai extract, which contains an abundant level of antioxidants for fighting free radicals in the body.
During the workout
Staying hydrated during a workout can be challenging. Fluid and electrolyte loss can lead to exhaustion and poor performance. It’s important to supplement mid-workout with an antioxidant- rich blend of vitamins that maintain intensity while replenishing the body. Some nutrients that sustain the body mid-workout include chlorella, spirulina, coconut water, vitamin C, and beta- carotene.
Replacing sugary sports drinks with a supplement such as a powder to mix with water, and blending all the above ingredients together would be hugely beneficial for patients, and could help them maintain peak performance for the duration of their workouts.
Post-workout sports nutrition
Recovery is a vital stage in exercise. It’s important to revitalize the body, which will be depleted of electrolytes and hydration post-workout. Having a healthy protein powder to drink post- workout can improve results tenfold, and also help to heal muscle tissue and maintain blood glucose levels.
Protein is essential in rebuilding muscles that get torn during workouts, and having a healthy shake handy that contains amino acids, vitamins, and minerals will help replenish the body, improving future workouts. Protein should be of the highest quality available, and patients should avoid added sweeteners, chemicals, and fillers.
Workout tips for patients
Here are four suggestions for patients to help them create energy naturally:
1. A couple of hours before a hard workout or a game, eat a small amount of protein, fats, and complex carbs. Almond butter, sweet potatoes, flax oil, walnuts, brown rice, olive oil, eggs, and almonds are all easy to digest and can give patients continuous energy for the day.
2. Before a hard workout, eat a little bit of fruit, such as a plum, apple, berries, or citrus fruit (not juice). They’re convenient right before a game or workout, as they give a small spike of energy without the massive fall.
3. Post-exercise, the body is nitrogen-poor, and muscles have been broken down. At this time the body needs amino acids from animal proteins such as eggs, beef, or chicken, as well as vegetable carbohydrates or a nutrient-dense protein shake.
4. Despite popular opinion, it is unwise to load up on carbs before long-distance events or endurance workouts because during endurance workouts, after a short period of time, the body is burning fat.
Helping patients to reach their goals
Incorporating sports nutrition into your chiropractic practice can help patients immensely and becoming knowledgeable about each patient’s goal, and then assisting them in reaching those goals, is personally rewarding. Providing them with information and supplements that can help rejuvenate their bodies and prevent injury will seal you in their mind as their primary care physician.
Ultimately, being a source of knowledge and care for your patients brings fulfillment to your life. If you implement the suggestions outlined above, you’ll find yourself with an extensive and bustling practice of repeat patients who turn to you for all their health concerns.
Todd G. Singleton, DC, is an author, speaker, and consultant in practice for more than 25 years. He has an all-cash nutrition practice in Utah specializing in weight loss, neuropathy, spinal decompression, knee pain, and other nutritional deficiencies. He can be contacted through singletonsystems.com.