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Why Functional Sports Nutrition Will Be Your Secret Weapon

Why Functional Sports Nutrition Will Be Your Secret Weapon

I know you’re looking for an edge.

While most athletes realize sports nutrition is important, few appreciate how much it can be a total game changer when it comes to energy and performance.

Have you ever heard of a guy by the name of Tom Brady? Brady, an NFL all-star, came off of the best season of his career at age 39. Granted, Brady’s work ethic and physical skills are certainly one of a kind, there is no doubt his nutrition regimen plays a major role as to why he continues to perform at such a high level.  

Brady’s approach to nutrition includes a commitment to a diet that minimizes inflammation. While nutrition is extremely individualized and different for every athlete, Brady has discovered that limiting or completely removing gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, fruit, and caffeine has worked well for his body.

Is this the best approach for every athlete? Certainly not. However, what we can take away from his approach is that every athlete’s immune system is unique. We should all strive to listen to our body when it comes to improving our diet.  In Brady’s case, it has allowed his body to recover like a teenager and age at a snails pace.

Where did he learn this concept?  What can it do for you?  Welcome to the world of FUNCTIONAL sports nutrition.

Functional Sports Nutrition is Cutting Edge

While many athletes are gifted, few can stand the test of time due to injury, wear and tear on the body, and aging. A large reason why so many athletes struggle to maintain performance season after season is a lack of recovery.

This is where functional nutrition comes in to play. And, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about slamming a pint of chocolate milk or chugging the latest and greatest plant based pre-made shake after a workout. I’m talking about knowing if and what you should be consuming after your workout based on your individual biology. This of course is just one example of many.

Should you be taking an individualized vitamin regimen? If so, how much? The bottle says to take 2 soft gels of supplement XYZ but can that really be the proper dose for a 180 lbs defensive back as well as a 300 lbs offensive linemen, or a 110 lbs female cross country runner?

Do you know which vitamin and mineral supplements are pure and legal for sport vs. those that are a bunch of hocus pocus?

Do you know which foods to cut back on as they might be promoting inflammation in your body? Do you know which ones you should increase to reduce inflammation in your body?

Do you ever feel fatigued for no reason? Experience persistent gut issues? Suffer from chronic skin conditions that just   won’t clear? If so, then we have some work to do!

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last 10 years of practice, it is that optimal health MUST be achieved first and foremost before you are able to truly experience optimal performance. End of story.

The Cookie Cutter Approach to Sports Nutrition is Over

When learning traditional sports nutrition, chances are that you were told vitamin and mineral supplementation was not necessary with a “balanced” diet. You may have also been told that the USDA Food Pyramid was the best reference for guidance when it comes to your daily nutrition intake. You may have also been told that fatigue, autoimmune disease, pain, and skin issues were just a part of life. “Aging with a bit of genetics mixed in to the equation” as they say.

Sorry. Not true.

Functional nutrition dives into studying YOU.

Newsflash! Our bodies do not all operate in the same fashion.

Our genetics, gut health, and training demands are vastly different to name a few. The only fact that remains consistent across the board, is that approximately 77% of our immune system lives in our gut (hence why nutrition is so critical!!!).

Some of us are fighting to get through practice each day as we struggle with undiagnosed nutrient deficiencies. Others have lived with food sensitivities or food allergies for years without having a clue.

Some of us have a gut that is not functioning optimally due to medications and environmental exposures. Some of us experience increased focus and energy with caffeine while others experience anxiety and fatigue.

Here is a very basic example that might help you to understand Functional Sports Nutrition on a deeper level. I like to use the chocolate milk example because it is a common recovery nutrition choice among athletes.

OK, so you drink chocolate milk after your workout because its affordable, the marketing is great and there is some research to support it, BUT every time you throw back a glass, you experience bloating, gas, diarrhea, excess mucous or a skin flare up.

Do you really think this is benefitting your body? Your immune system is probably trying to tell you something. When the immune system is not happy, performance may suffer. Furthermore, is your reaction a result of a genetic intolerance to lactose? A newly developed food sensitivity to casein or whey?  Perhaps it is not the milk itself but the treatment of the animal or the pasteurization process that your immune system does not like. Regardless of the root issue, we want to know how this inflammation post consumption is effecting your recovery and performance.

As you can see, the list goes on and on. No matter how long you have been on this earth, you can always learn something new about your body and the way that it operates.

It’s Time to Get to Know YOU

Chances are you’ve never taken the time to complete testing or set time aside to simply track your daily symptoms and energy levels each day as it relates to nutrition and training. Most of us, including myself as a young athlete, were never educated on the subject.

Learning the ropes of Functional Sports Nutrition is your chance to get to know YOU a little better. It’s finally time to dig deeper in order to discover exactly how YOUR body works.

Let’s work together to help you figure out the best nutrition approach for your biology. Otherwise, how will you ever know that you did everything you could to reach your body’s fullest potential?  Your current dietary and supplement practices may be doing more harm than good.

At the end of the day, I want you to understand that an individualized nutrition protocol can be the difference between winning and losing a competition. The difference between excelling during a training session or pulling back the reigns after 20 minutes. The difference between a shortened career laden with injury or an extended career full of energy and personal records of performance. And while it may not be your primary focus today, a solid nutrition foundation can also prevent you from experiencing chronic illness as you age.

Alright, are you ready to improve your recovery, increase your energy, and give yourself the winning edge that you deserve?

Thought so. Now come join me for a ride on the Functional Sports Nutrition train.

After all, it seems to be working just fine for Tom Brady…

About The Author

Michael Bogden

Michael is a residency and fellowship trained sports physical therapist. A life long advocate for exercise and nutrition, he unexpectedly ran into issues with fatigue and recovery which significantly hindered his training. After working closely with his wife, Kylene, a dietitian trained in functional nutrition, he learned an entirely new approach to eating and living a more holistic lifestyle. This dramatic life change lead to remarkable improvement in his overall energy and performance. In 2017, with the help of a Functional Sports Nutrition approach, he improved his half marathon PR by 5 minutes. These improvements inspired him to create the FWDfuel blog with Kylene in order to spread the word so that others could experience the same success.

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