Being a "weekend warrior" may not be the best choice for healthy activity, but JAMA research shows exercising once or twice a week for a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise resulted in a lower risk of death compared to not exercising at all.
Weekend warriors had a 30 percent decrease in risk of death from all causes and a 41 percent decrease in risk of cardiovascular disease death when compared to those who had an inactive lifestyle.
Just as with someone who is training seven days a week, weekend warriors need to focus on proper nutrition. Diet may not be enough for those who are physically active. The need for dietary supplements is even greater for those with an active lifestyle, even if it is just on the weekend. Weekend warriors need to enhance the workout, decrease injury, repair the body and improve overall health. These can all be resolved by consuming the right nutrients.
Other than the hydration factor that includes consuming beverages with electrolytes, supplementing with additional minerals should be considered. Of all the minerals, magnesium and potassium play the largest role in athletic health. Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of metabolic functions, including muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium supplements should be taken daily to decrease the chance of deficiency and additional doses should be used during periods of intense workouts. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue and cramping and effect mental health and performance.
Most understand that consuming a diet of, or supplementing with, antioxidants is sound health advice. When speaking of weekend warriors or daily athletes, antioxidants are even more essential. Just like a car produces more exhaust when it is moving 100 mph rather than 25 mph, the body does the same. When the body is involved in high-level activity, its biochemical and physiological functions increase production of free radicals. These free radicals need to be neutralized quickly or they will lead to cell damage, inflammation and other serious health issues over time. Even though the activity is limited to the weekend or one to two days per week, antioxidants should be consumed daily. Key antioxidants to consider are: ubiquinol, Pycnogenol (from Horphag Research), fenoprolic, turmeric and green tea. The list of antioxidants for highly active people is endless. It is beneficial to consume multiple antioxidants and not just one specific ingredient to ensure free radical reduction among the multiple pathways of oxidative stress.
Protein is a macronutrient, meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. During high levels of activity, the body tries to fill its nutritional void to keep running, first utilizing glucose and glycogen stores and then by cannibalizing itself, a process also known as catabolism.
This process occurs to extract the amino acids it needs to operate. Protein deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and loss of muscle mass and make it difficult for the body to repair the muscle damaged by increased activity. To avoid this, supplementing with protein may be needed. Help consumers fill their needs by stocking brands that offer easily digested and absorbable forms that have a complete number of essential amino acids. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), whey, complex veggie proteins and collagen are all effective forms to deliver the amino acids needed for energy and repair.
Black cumin seed oil
Along with high-intensity workouts comes increased inflammation throughout the body. Joint and muscle inflammation are linked to post-workout soreness and slow recovery. Using supplements to support the body’s ability to decrease inflammation can be achieved with several nutritional ingredients. One ancient ingredient that is making a comeback is black cumin seed oil, also known as the blessing seed. In 2017, it saw an increase in sales of 202.5% compared to 2016, according to a Fall 2018 report from HerbalGram. The main active in black cumin seed oil is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called thymoquinone.
Recent research with ThymoQuin, a cold-pressed black cumin seed oil standardized to 3% thymoquinone from TriNutra Ltd., showed mice improved oxygen consumption, which may lead to decreased fatigue during workouts, after consuming the ingredient. Additionally, the study showed improvements in fasting glucose, decreased blood pressure and decreased hepatic fat.
Omega-3s are not just for cardiovascular health. High-intensity exercise lowers omega-3 levels. This decrease can be linked to increased inflammation and illness post-activity, longer times to recovery and decreased performance. For these reasons, omega-3s should be regular part of the weekend warriors’ supplement program.
Glutamine is important for the weekend warrior because, like protein, it helps decrease muscle catabolism. Additionally, glutamine has been shown to promote healing, support the immune system, reduce post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery.
L-carnitine has an impact in multiple areas that benefit the weekend warrior, including increasing energy production, decreasing fatigue, reducing metabolic waste accumulation and facilitating recovery post-exercise. L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids out of the blood and into the mitochondria, the energy factory of each cell. These fatty acids are then burned as fuel to provide energy during increased activity.
L-carnitine also helps improve endurance by inhibiting the build-up of lactic acid, one of the primary causes of fatigue. It has also been shown to reduce the accumulation of metabolic wastes during exercise. This helps increase workload output during exercise and enhance recovery post-exercise. Finally, L-carnitine plays a positive role in reducing tissue damage and muscle soreness and facilitating the overall process of recovery.
Keep in mind that the supplements listed are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sports nutritional supplementation. Whether someone is a weekend warrior or a world-class athlete, supplementing the daily diet is necessary to help enhance workouts, decrease injury, repair the body and improve overall health.
Dave Foreman, R.Ph., N.D., is a pharmacist, author, television commentator, radio host and practitioner of natural living and holistic approaches to better health. His weekly radio program is broadcast throughout the United States.