Sports Attrition: The Down-Side of What’s Up

Sports Nutrition! What a great enterprise and fabulous model for achieving and sustaining optimum health and wellness. It’s the only category in the natural health food industry that successfully bridges the gap between fitness and nutrition.

Sports nutrition encompasses a wide range of athletes, weekend warriors, gym rats, fitness buffs, diehard aerobic queens and sport fanatics. It’s a special kind of nutrition for a shrinking and misunderstood percentage of the population. To qualify you have to move with intention, intensity and passion.

Sports nutrition is ideal for those of us who choose to engage in any form of physical activity or exercise. In fact, if you train for any sport or for health, life or rehab, or even for “vanity”, you’re a member of the club. If you exercise and eat food, you’re engaged in sports nutrition and membership has its privileges.

So what is sports attrition? Let’s break it down logically and begin with the word sport.

Sport is a derivative of Middle English ‘sporte’, which is short for ‘disporte’, and is translated from Old French ‘desport’, meaning pleasure, and from desporter, meaning to divert. Historically speaking, sport was originally viewed as a non-essential form of pleasure utilized by men and women to distract them from the hardships and serious side of life.

Since its original inception, organized sport has provided a physical means of enjoyment to help people cope with the burden of living. Sport is fun and entertaining, in fact watching it has become a national pastime for billions of people.

Unfortunately, sport has also evolved into a huge business that involves governments and some of the world’s largest corporations. This is why the true ideal and fundamental ethics of sport has eroded into a literal display of cheating, violence and winning at any cost. The business of sport for profit only completely disregards the significance of good sportsmanship.

So what about attrition? What’s that got to do with sport?

Attrition is a very interesting word. It means a reduction in size or strength. Attrition involves a slow, gradual weakening of resistance. It is the act of rubbing against something until nothing is left.

Attrition is what happens when any external force wears something down by friction or abrasion. It’s the constant wearing down of virtually anything, and if that force is left unattended or ignored, it ultimately wipes out its target.

Why do hockey players lift weights? Why do athletes supplement their sport with additional fitness activity and weight training? Why don’t they just practice and play their game? Is it because they can gain an extra edge by developing more strength, more flexibility and more aerobic power? Of course and so can we.

Weight training also prevents injuries and sports injury is a good example of attrition. During convalescence we weaken, shrink and lose mass. Sometimes an injury is good because it forces the athlete to stop and set new priorities, but it’s always best to prevent injuries or at least treat them with natural remedies.

A great read on this topic is Dr. Michael Colgan’s latest book The Anti-Inflammatory Athlete

But there’s another reason why athletes train with weights, and it’s seldom told, understood or even considered by the masses. It’s tied in with the same reason why some athletes take steroids or inject hGH.

Weight training acts as a reliable deterrent against sports attrition. Resistance training is anabolic. It creates an anabolic flux inside the body called “negative entropy” that pushes out against entropy itself. It’s like a biological force field.

Entropy has to do with energy and information. Lightly translated entropy is the measure of disorder or randomness of a system, and everything that exists over time tends to move from order to disorder, including you and me. After our growth cycle is complete after birth, we literally begin to disintegrate molecule by molecule.

You see playing the game itself, including the Game of Life, doesn’t build muscle, improve flexibility or enhance aerobic capacity to the same degree that controlled, strenuous training performed in addition to the game can accomplish.

In fact, with advancing age coupled with sleep deprivation, dehydration, travel, wear and tear, oxidative damage, pressure to win and playing the game itself, athletes often lose significant size and strength by the end of each season and then desperately try to recoup their losses during the off-season.

Professional sport is incredibly stressful and stress for the most part is highly catabolic. Catabolic is the opposite of anabolic. It’s attrition’s big brother and both equate to net loss. Catabolism cuts through functional tissue and muscle like a knife.

By progressively lifting and adding weight incrementally in the gym, you force muscle fibers, motor units and neurons to fire at near maximum capacity. This slows entropy down and helps prevent sarcopenia, the medical term for age-related loss of form and function.

Progressive resistance training (PRT) creates an anabolic response that acts like a defensive shield against the catabolic and corrosive effects of light, oxygen, radiation, gravity, cortisol and time. In fact it’s this simple action performed consistently over time that elevates blood testosterone and improves insulin stability, growth hormone release and the formation of IGF-1.

When performed correctly, exercise develops muscle strength, muscle endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility, and if combined with excellent nutrition and natural health products (NHPs), this proven strategy creates ideal body composition, greater tolerance to stress and improved resistance to disease and infection.

But without whole food this procedure will eventually fail. It’s like trying to send a probe to Mars without a computer. Not gonna happen. So what is more important for health, wellness, power and strength: exercise or nutrition? The answer is neither. Both are critical and essential to understand and apply.

Like math and physics, sports nutrition is a legitimate science. As a component of environment, nutrition influences gene expression, nucleotide sequence formation and protein synthesis. Food plays a vital biochemical role in energy, recovery and growth. It’s a biological link in evolution that even Darwin didn’t appreciate.

The best food is real, fresh, organic, whole and natural. Why? Because whole food is the only kind of food that is compatible with our genome. Sports nutrition is about eating the right food, in the right form, at the right time in the right amount.

Sports nutrition is also about taking supplements. To help modify the effects of oxidation, stress and elevated cortisol consider whey protein isolate, calcium and magnesium, niacin, B-complex, inositol, melatonin, GABA, glycine, 5-HTP, tryptophan, acetyl-L-carnitine, HMB, BCAAs, CLA, vitamin C, gingko biloba and phosphatidylserine.

Food is something we all have control over, in spite of invalid claims to the contrary. Humans have the power of choice, which is why we’re accountable for everything we do and say. Food serves our species as a biological means to a biological end: life for life.

Addiction to factory food is actually a form of self-imposed emotional slavery driven not by the food itself, but by the mental and emotional state of the person who consumes it. To change the effect we must change, modify or annihilate the cause.

No matter how you slice it, it’s irrational to allow yourself to be controlled by any substance or person, good, bad or indifferent. We are free thinking Homo sapiens entitled to our own individual life. The odds of us being here right now in the flesh are staggering when calculated mathematically. Don’t waste the gift of life and health. Be your own Guru. Recognize who and what you are and rise to your own occasion!

As always, stay well and live free!...Dr.C