By Joe Mullings
I received a request from a fan of JiuJitsuMania.com the other day. He asked me to give him some insight as to how to stay in shape and how to recover from all of the training that we do. I see this friend, Sal, at 6am in the mornings in passing as he heads in to train and I am heading out. Sal is also ancient…just like me, but we continue to appreciate the sport of Jiu Jitsu and other mat sports.
Also full disclosure, I turn 50 years old next year. So hanging and training with the “20 and 30 somethings” takes some extra work on my behalf. I still have my “old man strength” and my “old man tricks” I can rely on. But nothing takes the place of proper training, rest and recovery.
So I usually hit the gym for my strength training and some cardio first thing in the morning (5am…oofah) as I have a career, a family and other commitments that require me to be busy from early morning to late at night. However, I also squeeze in my BJJ training a few nights a week as well and usually on Saturdays.
Your body is an amazing machine. It needs stimulus to grow, it needs rest to build and it needs nutrition to provide the building blocks for growth, repair and recovery. It needs the fuel / nutrition to keep running and performing. Over time however, it no longer recovers as fast. Not only that, but it also stops producing the required levels of critical components that it did in its younger years.
I will address the first part of this request from the nutrition side. Nutrition is arguably the most important component in this equation. Dr. Tom Deters had addressed the need to properly manage carbohydrates and glycogen levels in his article on this site titled “Energy On the Mat : Fueling Better Performance”, so please refer to that as it is a critical component in recovery of the athlete. Especially, the older one.
Next, I would say that the post workout meal is the next critical one. That means regardless of what you are doing, cardio, resistance training, BJJ, boxing, whatever it is…you need to hit the protein right away. I strongly suggest that you have a scoop of a top protein powder and a scoop of a carbohydrate based powder in a convenient shaker and jam that down as soon as you are walking out of the gym. Put it in your gym bag as you would any other piece of gear. Finish your workout, hit the drink!
Next are the supplements I suggest you take on a daily basis. I list the following supplements that I think are the critical ones that should be part of any athletes daily regimen, but especially for the older athlete. The dosages you take will have a lot to do with your activity levels, bodyweight and personal experiences with the respective supplement. More doesn’t mean better, so be prudent with your choices.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – is naturally occurring in the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells. CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, muscular dystrophies.
Fish Oil / Omega 3 – not naturally produced in our body. So it needs to be taken in through foods or a supplement. Strong scientific evidence on its effects on heart disease, stroke, mental benefits, etc.,
B Complex – it is important to take a B Complex supplement as the benefits of taking all of the B Vitamins has been demonstrated versus a particular one. B Complex benefits metabolism, immune and nervous systems functions, cell growth (red blood cells avoiding anemia), etc
Multi-Vitamin w/ Minerals – as previously discussed we should try and get all of our vitamins naturally from our diet. However that’s not always possible. Especially with some of the trace minerals that are not easily obtained through foods or are just not naturally occurring. Therefore a Multi-vitamin with trace minerals is a must.
Beta -Carotene – this is converted to Vitamin A in the body and also an excellent antioxidant.
Vitamin E – another excellent antioxidant. Low levels of Vitamin E have been tied to muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass.
Vitamin C – one of the safest and most effective nutrients you can take. Its impact on heart disease, healing, immune system and a myriad of other benefits arguably make it one of the most important vitamins you can take.
Kelp – Kelp is rich in essential nutrients, such as calcium, potassium and iodine. Iodine helps the thyroid gland to function properly. In turn, the thyroid controls growth, energy and metabolism in your body.
So there you go Sal…just remember, there is no magic pill or supplement. There is however a discipline to being sure you effect change on the things that are within your control. These smaller components of protein and recovery carbs married with the vitamins and minerals on the supplement side should substantially charge your system. Give it a few weeks to get traction, but I guarantee you will see a dramatic effect on your recovery and performance.
(Note: Another couple of articles you might want to read on this site are “Stress & Cortisol Part I” and “Cortisol Management Part II” both of which can be found under the Performance Nutrition tab in the top navigation bar, for more helpful tips in this area).