9 Ways to Enhance Endurance, Health and Recovery
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
There are a bunch of supplements I use on a daily basis. I chose what I believe to be the most vital energy enhancers for those of us who do their training, often at the end of a long day while needing to be fully be recovered for the next, sometimes, with sub-optimal sleep. I believe 100% that it is best to get your nutrition through food and nature as much as possible, but often times, in our "go-go-go" world, it becomes difficult, if not impossible. In a perfect world, we'd get our daily dose of vitamin D from the bright morning sun lighting up our whole bodies, a complete profile of nourishing vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients from a diet rich with green, leafy and colorful wild vegetables with an endless array of anti-oxidants and polyphenols. Our sleep would be deep and restorative because we wouldn't have artificial blue-light radiating from our phones, TV's and computers putting a halt to our melatonin production every night and our protein would come from healthy animals, raised in the wild, absent from harmful anti-biotics and fattened with moldy "feed." When we think of supplements, we automatically think of things like whey protein, BCAA's and a multivitamin. We rarely think of lifestyle choices and diet as a way to supplement our goals and daily needs. Here I'll try to cover both.
Without further adieu; my take on what I like to call; optimal ancestral living influenced by modern science. Sunlight or Vitamin D Vitamin D is the most important supplement on this list. Vitamin D acts on over 1,000 different genes and serves as a substrate for hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone, and estrogen. It moderates our immune system and fights inflammation. 'D' also assists in calcium metabolism and bone formation. It’s no coincidence that Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins we can make on our own with exposure to a little bit of sunshine. Without it, we’d be dead. Unless you live on a beach and spend ample amounts of time under the sun, this supplement is a no brainier. Vitamin D3 pairs excellent with vitamin k2, which unless you were raised on a diet with lots of fermented foods and grass-fed dairy, you are probably deficient in. Wide Array of Organic Plants or Greens Powder Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? The answer is very quite possibly, no. Plants such as romaine, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomato and maybe even kale may be present in your diet (and are really f'n good for you!), but when was the last time you chopped a salad chocked full of wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, organic red beet root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, parsley, resveratrol from grape seed and blueberry extracts and exotic berries like acai, maqui and papaya. It's probably "been a minute." Lol. Using a solid greens powder like Onnit's Earth Grown Nutrients may be an excellent (and tasty) investment in your overall health, vitality, performance and recovery. Look for organic ingredients and an array of digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics for an added kick in gut health, a subject we'll tackle in just a minute. Carnivorous Diet or Creatine Monohydrate Shawn Baker; founder and follower of "The Carnivore Diet." A few months ago, I experimented with an all-meat diet called "The Carnivore Diet." I looked shredded, but the diet was not for me. It's probably not for you either. Red meat is the richest form of bioavailable creatine available at the supermarket, and if your diet is rich in red meat, you might be able to skip this part. However, if you're like me and eat red meat pretty moderately, a good creatine supplement should for sure be a staple in your pantry or gym bag. Creatine helps to regenerate a molecule called ATP, your body’s main source of energy. When creatine stores in your muscles are depleted, the production of ATP comes to a screeching halt and your energy is dramatically decreased. Supplementing with creatine increases the available fuel to power ATP, which can increase recovery, muscle strength, size and power output. The most tested and studied form of creatine is creatine mono-hydrate. It is also very affordable and common online and in stores. Wild Fatty Fish or Krill Oil Wild fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout contain the most abundant amount of omega-3's in the isles of your grocery store. Chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, grass-fed beef and free-range eggs are also good sources, but here, the fish is king. Fatty fish contain a solid amount of EPA and DHA, important fatty-acid's for brain, joint and eye health. The key with omega 3 supplementation is keeping as close to a 1:4 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 ratio as you can. This can be difficult because omega-6 fatty acids are in pretty much everything, and an imbalance of omega-3 to omega-6 acids can lead to some pretty serious inflammation. If you are eating a high amount of fatty fish and a low amount of nuts and crappy sources of fat like vegetable and canola oil, you're probably in pretty good shape. If that's not the case, a good Krill oil supplement can be a real boost in your regimen. Beef Liver or Active B-Vitamins Beef liver. I have this funny feeling this isn't going to be a fan favorite. The nutrient density of beef liver however is the ultimate rebuttal to the whole vegan-movement. Ounce for ounce, liver is probably more nutritious than any other food. A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked beef liver supplies a surplus of your daily requirement of vitamin B12 and copious amounts of other B vitamins. It is also rich in protein, zinc, copper, iron, and even vitamin C, with only about 180 calories and 6 grams of fat. So livers not for you but without supplementation, it is hard to get a full spectrum of B vitamins simply from food. For a boost in brain health and increase in athletic performance and recovery, look for an active vitamin B supplement, specifically with methylcobalamin (or methyl-B12) for optimal absorption. Bone Broth or Collagen Supplement A few months back I wrote an article called "Dive into the Fountain of Youth with Collagen Protein" where you can see the benefits of collagen in more detail. Collagen is commonly used as part of an anti-aging regimen as it is a protein that makes up close to 75% of the protein in our bodies. We produce collagen from the time we are very young, but our production decreases 1.5% every year. Collagen is responsible for healthy skin, nails and hair as well as healthy joints. Collagen, along with Krill oil, which we discussed earlier can be vital keys in keeping your joints healthy if you practice a sport such as Brazilian Jujitsu where the load on your joints may be taxing. Best sources for collagen are broth made from the bones of beef, chicken, turkey or fish or a good, grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen powder, which tasteless and pairs awesome in your morning coffee or smoothie. Intermittent Fast or MCT Oil Intermittent fasting is all the rage right now. Sometimes referred to as "time-restricted eating," IF is a dietary method through which you practice an extended fast (12-20 hours) and small eating window (4-12 hours). The most common practice is a 16:8 fast to feed ratio due to the benefits of a process called "autophagy" occuring at about that sixteen-hour mark. Autophagy is a fancy word for "cellular cleanup" where the body goes through a natural detox cycle, recycling and eliminating fatty tissue and inflamed cells in the body. Fasting also produces ketones, a by-product of fat-burning and preferred source of energy by the brain. For some, fasting for 12 to 16 hours is unrealistic. Some work long hours while others are athletes in need for energy and simply can't cope with 0 calories and the idea of using nothing but their stored body fat as fuel. Enter MCT oil. While MCT oil is calorically dense and definitely does break a fast, the by product of MCT (medium chain triglycerides) is in fact ketones. To reap some, but not all of the benefits of intermittent fasting, try fasting only with the addition of MCT or Emulsified MCT oil in coffee, tea or your favorite beverage during your self-alotted eating window. Minerals from the earth or Electrolyte Blend Its summer where I'm at in New York City right now, and if you're an athlete training in or outside right now- you're probably sweating your butt off. You're told often to "stay hydrated" but what if staying hydrated with plain-jane h2o is actually doing a bit of harm? Years ago, and to today, sports drinks that end in "ade" were the talk of the town for athletes needing proper hydration during their training and in games or competitions. We now know that the 49 grams of sugar per bottle of "...ade" is not the fuel we need to be at our best. Supplementing with a good quality sea salt, like Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan pink sea salt can be a life-saver for any endurance athlete or even the weekend warrior with a tough outdoor job or commute Monday through Friday. Himalayan salt for example contains 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron- fuck you Gatorade! A pinch of sea salt in your water bottle, on your food or in some lemon water first thing in the morning can really hook your body with with some natural earth-grown elements, vital for true hydrtation. If drinking salt water isn't your thing (I get it), the company Onnit makes two really great supplements, one coming in capsule form called Key Minerals and one delicous lemon-line powder you can scoop right into your gym bottle or morning cocktail called Mineral Electrolytes. Keifer, Kombucha and Kimchi or a Good Probiotic Supplement (Or all four!) If you're a Joe Rogan fan, you've heard the three "K's" close to 100 times. You’ve got an entire factory of workers in your body. Trillions of microbial bacteria that contribute to your immune health, brain health and are keys in longevity and well being. Maintaining a healthy gut and keeping your "good" bacteria flourishing can be greatly amplified with the right strains of supplemental probiotics through fermented foods ala a fermented and often flavored tea called kombucha, full-fat probiotic-rich yogurt or keifer or fermented vegetables in the form or raw sauerkraut or a spicy Korean recipe; kimchi. Adding unknown and foreign foods are often difficult for people to digest- no pun intended. If that's the case, reach for a good probiotic supplement to take in the morning or at night to keep your gut health at top notch.