WINTER is coming.....are you ready?
There's no getting away from the fact that “Winter is coming” (unless you're heading to the Southern Hemisphere for the duration!) and that means we are all more susceptible to getting colds, bugs etc...
To help get you winter ready, we've teamed up with Simon de Burgh, Performance and Nutrition Director and Founder of VPCC to take you through what you can do to help yourself get winter ready!
Simon over to you, is there anything you can practically do?
"Well.....yes, there is!
Don’t avoid carbohydrates or drop calories too low or for too long
In an industry where Fat Adaption and Keto are gaining ever more popularity, this suggestion may be seen as unpopular. However, there is good evidence to suggest when carbohydrates and Calories are low it suppresses the immune function and increases the chances of getting ill.
Eat adequate protein
Protein is not just food for building muscle. It’s also used by the body to produce hormones, repair tendons, and ligaments, increase mitochondrial capacity via increasing aerobic enzymes and helps creates antibodies to drive a stronger immune function
For athletes and hard-training cyclists, I recommend between 1.6g and 2g of protein per KG of body weight. (I recommend being towards the higher end for athletes over 40 to help mitigate Sarcopenia - protein resistance in the muscle)
Staying on top of your fluid intake is an important aspect of keeping healthy and is often underrated
The Sylvia in your mouth is the FIRST defence against the cold and flu virus. When you are dehydrated it’s much easier for the virus to get into your system! The average person loses 2.7 liters of fluids per day so aiming for this daily is sound practical advice.
Wash your hands regularly - with hot soapy water
Team Sky had a Doctor go around each athlete and show them how to wash their hands and keep their nails clean. Sounds a bit over the top but it is with good reason. You unconsciously touch your mouth A LOT throughout the day and that’s how you transfer the cold virus and get ill.
You can see that dirty hands and dehydration don’t mix well. These are such simple easy habits to work on to stay healthy.
Vitamin D and Vitamin C
These two vitamins have been well studied and are proven to bolster immunity and reduce the severity of symptoms of a cold.
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)
Clearly, at this time of year our vitamin D intake is lowering, any vitamin D we have stored will soon be used up. The lower your body fat levels the less Vitamin D you naturally have which means you could be deficient and may need to supplement. (The only way to tell you're true levels is to get a blood test). *NB VitxCycle has 24% of your D3 RNI.
The RNI for Vitamin C is 40mg per day for men and women. VitxCycle has 300mg so has your back here. Remember Vitamin C is lost in the cooking process, it is also water-soluble meaning it is only stored by your cells for 24-hours, so has to be replaced on a daily basis.
NB. Super loading Vitamin C several weeks before a crucial event and during a period of high intensity training is good practice to bolster your immune function, it also aids iron absorption. Again, given the levels in VitxCycle this means you are covered.
This is an indirect way to improve your overall health which in return will reduce your chances of getting ill. During periods of high stress and high volume training the tight junctions in your gut lining can lose their integrity increasing intestinal permeability and causing small particles of food and bad gut bacteria to cross the gut lining, which is not good for health and depresses your immune function.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
If you eat a rich diet of whole foods, carbohydrates, dairy and lots of green veg you should pretty much have this covered however, in times of hard training it might be good practice to add an extra insurance policy by taking a daily dose of probiotic containing Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium species containing at least ~1010 live bacteria
This amino acid regulates cell proliferation, repair and maintenance of the gut barrier function (Basically it ensures good gut health and tight junctions). It's abundant in whey protein and some vegetarian protein supplements, eggs, dairy such as cottage cheese, milk, soybeans and lentils. The recommended dose is anywhere from 5g up to 40g/d but be warned the top end of this recommendation can cause gastric upset so you need to find your baseline. From experience, most athletes do well at 20g/d."
Simon de Burgh is a 2 times Winner of Gym Based PT, Level 2 British Triathlon Coach, Performance & Nutrition Director and Founder of VPCC.
His mission is to help cyclist over 40 train effectively, be stronger on hills, hold power for longer, get leaner and ride their next event with confidence.
You can learn more about Simon here.