No doubt you’ve heard all kinds of information about detoxification, and you may have wondered if it’s a good choice for you. If you’re a competitive athlete, there’s no doubt that a good detox can do wonders for your health and prepare you for a competition. What’s the right way to incorporate this strategy into your routine?
What Is Detoxification?
Sometimes referred to as a cleanse, detoxification is used to clean out the system. And by system, that usually refers to the excretory system, which plays the biggest role in detoxification. That includes the skin, liver, lungs, large intestine, and kidneys. Of course, that means we’re also referring to the digestive system.
A cleanse enables you to essentially restart your body so you can once again be at peak performance.
The truth, of course, is that our bodies naturally cleanse themselves. So there’s an argument that detoxification isn’t necessary. If you were to eat all of the right foods, that would likely be a valid argument. But we’re human; we’re not perfect. That bad bad stuff can pile up and not let the system clear itself like it should. Enter, then, the lure of detoxification.
Bad Out, Good In
Most cleanses focus on two aspects: ridding your body of the bad things you’ve put in it and loading it up with vitamin-rich, healthy foods. When you strip your diet down to the bare essentials, you allow your liver and kidneys to really do the work they’re designed to do.
Depending on the type of cleanse you choose, it could be a few days up to a month. Typically, there are phases to the detoxification process. Those may include starting on an all-liquid diet (with supplements), followed by reintroducing foods, with the more neutral ones coming first. All detoxifications eliminate alcohol and smoking, and many also remove gluten, sugar, and dairy from the diet.
Benefits of Detoxification
If you were to do a Google search on detoxification, you’d find there are millions of hits on the topic. That’s why, if you choose to take on a cleanse, it’s important to do your research and consult an expert. When taken on responsibly, your body can really experience a jumpstart from a detox.
Some of the positives associated with extricating the sludge include:
- Ridding your body of excess toxins
- Purifying cells and tissues
- Improved digestion and metabolism
- Increased mental clarity
- Reduced inflammation
- Resetting your digestive system
- Improved performance
- Losing weight
Detoxification for Athletes
As an elite athlete, you’ll not only want to take on a cleanse from time to time, you’ll want to do it responsibly. Detoxification for athletes requires a different approach from those who don’t compete. For instance, going on an all-liquid diet can be challenging for an endurance athlete. After all, where are you getting your energy?
Athletes should definitely consider elimination as part of a smart detox. Cutting out gluten, refined sugars, dairy, processed foods, and alcohol will go a long way to ridding your body of toxins. Smoothies and juices are a good way to get energy and the appropriate mix of macronutrients in an easily digestible format. Of course, water is essential during a cleanse, and even more so for an active athlete. You may also choose to do a short-term cleanse, as opposed to something that’s a full month.
Exercising on a detox that’s specifically formatted for an athlete is possible, but you wouldn’t want to compete at that point. However, once your cleanse is complete, you’ll find that you’re ready to really up your performance. Plus, the change in diet helps you to lose weight and get over stalls you may be experiencing.
Research and Be Smart
While detoxification is a great way to clean out your digestive system and enjoy gains in your training, you should be smart about how you take it on. Do your research. Consult with a specialist. Listen to your body. Only then will you be able to reap the full benefits of a detoxification.
Questions about how you can incorporate detoxification into your goals as an elite athlete? Schedule your initial consultation! I specialize in supporting athletes and preparing them for competition.
Have you tried every diet under the sun, only to be overcome by temptation? Do you live for “cheat days”, in which you can relinquish control? Is food a refuge from the stress of your everyday life? One of my favorite things about functional medicine is its practical approach to weight loss. We all know how to lose a few pounds in a pinch, but keeping them off is another story. In this article, I’ll teach you to shift your relationship with food so that each meal will not only fill you up but fulfill your nutritional needs as well. If you’re ready for a radical transformation, read on!
The Pitfalls of Our Modern Mealtimes
For many of us, mealtime is an inconvenient break in an already full schedule. Food becomes whatever is quick and readily available. Even those who have the foresight to plan and prepare their meals often neglect to set aside a proper amount of time to eat. Our culture is built on this concept. Fast, convenient meals rule the market, despite our growing knowledge of their nutritional deficiency.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
Eating in a rush can trigger our sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight response. Meant for dangerous situations, this response fires whenever we are under a large amount of stress. It inhibits digestion and instead prepares your body for an emergency discharge of energy.
While you may have a balanced meal ahead of you, if your sympathetic nervous system is in charge, the potential nutrients are not absorbed. Your energy-sustaining protein turns into a shot of espresso, instructing your body that right now, getting away (or defeating the threat) is most important. Multiply this by the amount of stress-filled meals you consume each week, and you’ll start to understand why digestive distress, nutritional deficiency, caffeine addiction, and adrenal fatigue are a national epidemic. Until we address digestion, weight loss will always be a difficult, temporary process!
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
If you want to get the most from your meals, take the time to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Often referred to as “rest-and-digest”, this system is responsible for increased saliva production, slower heart rate, relaxed muscles, and the release of digestive enzymes. This response takes longer to kick in, as the body must first assess its current situation and manage any imminent stress. Follow the tips below to shift into rest-and-digest mode.
· Consume your meals in a quiet, uncluttered environment. Avoid eating lunch at your desk, or snacking on breakfast while on the go.
· Spend several moments in thought before you eat. Allow your mind to clear away all stressful thoughts.
· Focus on your meal. Savor each bite. Taste the ingredients, chew well, and avoid drinking during mealtime, as it can dilute the stomach acid needed for digestion.
· Keep the television off, the phone in another room, and the computer monitor turned away. The less temptation you have to jump up and respond, the more successful your meals will be.
Assess Your (Inner) Environment
Poor digestion means more than having an upset stomach. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to more stress on the body, making an already-weakened system work even harder. Food sensitivities can add to inflammation, which leads to more weight gain. Hormonal imbalances, low thyroid function, and a life built around anxiety can all contribute to a cycle of weight gain, weight loss, and poor health.
The functional medicine solution is to look beneath the surface. Science-based test results definitively diagnose (or rule out) any of the above issues. Instead of spending decades on trial and error diet plans, medications, and basic blood panels that miss the mark, the right practitioner can pinpoint the root of your weight loss struggle and can help you find a lasting solution.
Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
I know many of you are probably wondering how a guy like me could possibly understand a lifelong struggle with weight loss. While I don’t have the monthly challenges that most of my wonderful patients undergo, I have had my fair share of ups and downs on the scale. I was extremely active most of my life until I was overcome by a cycle of poor health and weight gain. I know how devastating this can be when you’re trying to live a full life.
So much of our identity is tied to our weight, whether we care to admit it or not. Emotional eating, negative self-talk, and an unrealistic body image are but a few of the pieces of the puzzle we examine in your case review. While it’s never easy to confront these long-held beliefs, I partner with you every step of the way to ensure you have the support and care that you need to construct healthy, lasting habits.
While we may discuss your diet, this isn’t about the three foods to eat (or avoid) to have a flat stomach (thought we will probably come across that at some point, as well). This is about living your fullest life, with the body you have worked for and deserve.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to those extra pounds forever, schedule your FREE consultation with me today!