OutsideSubmission-3 columnist

Coauthored by Dr. Eric Serrano, MD, and Scott H. Mendelson

The inability to breathe, focus, and digest can be an instant career killer for athletes of all levels, ranging from professional to youth sports. Dr. Eric Serrano, MD, has been brought into many challenging situations for professional athletes requiring a detailed evaluation, including food allergies, irritations, and intolerance testing.

An NHL team desperate to revive the career of a proven superstar turned to Dr. Serrano, who solved the breathing problems immediately without any medications. Restructuring the nutrition plan to eliminate the foods consumed before breathing problems began to take place was the ticket back to superstardom for this particular athlete.

Break Pre-Game Meal Rituals

The pre-game meal ritual of eggs, steak, and cheese worked well for an extended period of time, but the body finally had enough of those particular food choices. The consequences were severe: shortness of breath and ultimately, the inability to compete effectively. Circumstances are constantly changing, which requires varied nutrition strategies, including rotating food choices, meal timing, macronutrient percentages, fasting periods, and more.

What Worked Before May Not Work Now

Athletes and people, in general, are creatures of habit when it comes to eating the same foods often, which can lead to a wide range of significant problems that can be incorrectly linked to other factors, causing a medical wild goose chase. Poor responses to foods can include difficulty breathing, an upset stomach, bloating, joint pain, low energy, skin rashes, lack of motivation, inability to focus, mucous build-up, and more.

Are You Crushing Your Own Progress?

The broad category of food allergies is one of the top reasons hard-working people never reach body transformation, competition, and performance goals. Allergic reactions to foods can kill progress from metabolic, hormonal, recovery, and nutrient utilization standpoints.

The body has a limited amount of resources each day to build muscle, burn body fat, and drive high energy levels. The greater stresses placed on the digestive system, the fewer resources that can be allocated to improve outcomes for hard-working athletes.

Types of Food Allergies

Certain allergies, such as those to peanuts that cause anaphylactic shock, maybe inherent from birth and easily detected with standard skin food allergy testing. Skin testing, however, does not reveal the whole picture, which is why Dr. Serrano uses blood food allergy testing for complete reports when needed.

New clients are shocked by the fact that eating healthy foods, such as chicken, eggs, and yogurt too often can cause problems to develop over time. We remove the foods most likely to be causing difficulties for new clients, and they immediately feel better from many perspectives, including performance, body composition, and daily energy levels.

In some cases, blood tests are needed for a complete list of foods causing difficulties in addition to identifying which food elements cause the most severe problems based on a scoring system.

Pre-Competition Distractions

There is no worse feeling during the pre-competition national anthem than feeling like you are not ready to compete at the highest potential. Instead of visualizing competition success, the athlete is trying to figure out how they will get through the opening minutes. To solve this issue, many athletes have resorted to not eating for many hours leading up to competition, which results in low blood sugar and energy shortages during high-stakes competition.

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Similarly, the low energy levels created by reactions to food are covered up by a near-constant use of stimulants from pre-workout drinks, coffee, soft drinks, and more. Long-term use of high amounts of stimulants burns out the adrenal glands while increasing stress hormones associated with stubborn body fat accumulation and muscle wasting.

What the Pros Say

We have surveyed professional and elite strength athletes for many years to find out what elements during competition create the differentiating performance leading to victory. Athletes across all sports reported a complete focus on the task at hand and confidence in their abilities determined success. Complete focus and confidence simply cannot be achieved when a variety of distractions related to food allergies are present.

Detecting Food Allergies

Take note of what you consume each meal and how you are feeling following for two weeks. Reviewing these records can give you a firm idea of the foods causing the most problems.

While some symptoms, such as rapid heart rate and immediate stomach upset, can show up within minutes following a meal, other negative responses can take longer to manifest throughout the day. In some cases, spices, such as black pepper, can be a major culprit in many prepared foods and are not easily recorded in the food journal.

The most common food allergens are wheat, dairy (including whey protein), tomatoes, corn, and peanuts. However, just about any food can be a problem if it is consumed too often, so leave no stone unturned.

Lack of Body Comp and Performance Progress

The digestive system can be overwhelmed by food allergies, irritations, and intolerances on a daily basis, which causes a huge metabolic mess. These significant distractions limit nutrient uptake while wiping out digestive enzymes in addition to other problems. The inability to digest drastically reduces quality of life, including daily energy and focus needed to complete daily tasks.

Food Rotations for Allergy Relief

After identifying the foods causing the biggest problems, you must find new choices to fit your needs. We work with clients to build a large variety of appropriate food choices into their personalized nutrition plans to reduce the risk of future difficulties.

In general, it is a good idea to drop the most common foods you have been consuming for at least six weeks to let the digestive system rest. Visit a few grocery stores and different restaurants to find new food choices you will enjoy.

Preventing Metabolic Staleness

Eating the same foods with similar macronutrient percentages and meal timing is a recipe for staleness. Macronutrient cycling techniques, such as dietary fat loading a couple of days per week, make changing up the menu very easy to meet the objectives of the plan. Highly advanced yet simple to execute, dietary fat loading is very effective for losing body fat, increasing strength, accumulating lean muscle, boosting sex drive, and improving energy levels.

Email Scott@infinityfitness.com with questions to improve your own situation and goals and to submit topics for future articles.

Header image courtesy of Kirill Makarov @ 123rf.com

Scott H. Mendelson, director of InfinityFitness.com, is a highly regarded performance nutrition and training specialist. In addition to designing customized programs for his celebrity, weekend warrior, and executive clients, Scott works daily with professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, and NCAA. Scott has built an excellent reputation providing effective supplements, cutting-edge information, and unmatched service to thousands of clients worldwide since 1999. As an assistant to Dr. Eric Serrano, MD, Scott helps with the design of training, nutrition, and supplementation trials to confirm the effectiveness of protocols and expand his expertise.

Dr. Eric Serrano, MD, is the ace sought out by elite athletes and business professionals around the world for help with the most difficult of problems. Dr. Serrano spends a majority of his time promoting the success of his family practice in Pickerington, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Amongst the thousands of patients are elite athletes from around the globe who will travel to the ends of the earth to consult with Dr. Serrano.

General Disclaimer

Exercise, nutrition, and food supplements may affect you differently from another person, depending upon your choices, combinations, intensity, timing, general health, and genetics, among other factors. Scott H. Mendelson, managing director of InfinityFitness.com, can't offer you specific advice on your fitness program or guarantee your results, as we intend merely to get you thinking about your fitness, nutrition, food supplement, and bodybuilding choices. We recommend that you discuss your exercise, nutrition, and food supplement choices with your physician, trainer, employer, organization, governing bodies, and/or dietitian. We make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information provided; in particular, and without limitation of the foregoing, any express or implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, warranties arising by custom or usage, and warranties by operation of law are expressly disclaimed.

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