How to optimize your aerobic performance during a heat wave?

July 8, 2021

Summer heat is back, as well as the return of the gym after the “Covid” brake. You want your summer “shape” back as quick as possible, but look for tools to avoid succumbing to this warm environment? Well, this article is for you! Here are 10 tips to help you stay hydrated, to optimize your training performances and bring maximum benefits to your health. Before trying anything, just make sure with your healthcare professional that this is appropriate for you.

1.      Beet

Several studies on the subject show an improvement in aerobic sports performance related to the consumption of beets.

Nitrates or nitrites increase. Nitrates convert to nitric oxide in saliva (use of alcoholic mouthwash or antiseptic solution may interfere with this conversion). Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, allowing better flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen to cells. Given this vasodilator effect, a hypotensive effect follows.

If you prefer to take supplements, you will find L-Arginine gel caps at BNI Supplements: https://bnisupplements.ca/produit/l-arginine-750-mg-120-capsules/

Oxygen use improvement, strength and power. Beet consumption appears to reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise. Beet nitrate may induce muscle fiber depolarization, resulting in muscle contraction (better performances at the gym for example); however, physiological adaptation to show sports benefits requires several days.

Exercise-induced and anti-inflammatory muscle pain reduction (beet betaines would inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 activity).

Total cholesterol reduction, LDL, triglycerides in people with coronary artery disease, with slight improvement in blood pressure and blood sugar.

If you are looking for something to eat or drink as a “shooter” before your aerobic workout, it’s is a great choice!

2.      Green tea

Although it is not suggested to consume the equivalent of 3 cups of green tea per day every day and in a long term, or up to a maximum of 8 cups in 1 day without side effects (or about 400 mg of caffeine), the occasional consumption of green tea 7 times in a day (distributed at each meal), either 135 mg EGCG (molecule found in green tea) or 640 mg of green tea 90 minutes before exercise would improve maximal oxygen absorption, which leads to a better aerobic performance!

The consumption of catechins (present in green tea) at a rate of 576-886 mg per day (caffeinated green tea or not) for 12 to 24 weeks would slightly improve weight loss in overweight or obese people (generally in green tea, EGCG represents about half of catechins).

EGCG and other catechins found in green tea appear to help reduce inflammation and protect cartilage by inhibiting degradation of proteoglycans and collagen (EGCG inhibits COX-2 and interleukin-1 beta-induced nitric oxide synthase). Polyphenols from green tea, which are antioxidants, appear to reduce joint degeneration in laboratory models of rheumatoid arthritis. These antioxidants have also shown benefits in terms of cardiovascular health.

Epidemiological studies have shown that long-term consumption (10 years) would increase bone density.

Green tea contains 2-4% caffeine or 10-80 mg of caffeine per cup, which is a central nervous system stimulant in addition to increasing dopamine levels and reducing Gaba levels.

Consuming green tea for joint health and as a stimulant can be a great alternative to coffee.

3.      Dark chocolate – Cocoa

Rich in magnesium (necessary for energy production) and antioxidants (good for cardiovascular and cognitive health among others), studies on cocoa have shown that a higher consumption of cocoa is associated with a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and of cardiovascular mortality up to 50% compared to the consumption of lower amounts of cocoa. However, consuming more than 90 g of cocoa per week did not show any additional benefit. The consumption amounts studied varied between approximately 0, 0.92 and 4.18 g per day and were used with people about 72 years old (Brian uijsse et al., 2006).

In a meta-analysis (Sheng Yuan et al., 2017) comprising 508,705 participants aged between 5 and 16 years old, they studied the effect-quantity ratio according to diabetes and coronary heart disease to conclude that less than 6 servings per week, but at least 3 (1 serving = 30 g of chocolate), there were benefits, but no additional benefit if exceeding 6 servings per day, to prevent these diseases.

Consumption of cocoa also showed benefits on the skin’s gross elasticity (but not net elasticity nore biological elasticity) after 12 weeks, but these three markers happened to be improved after 24 weeks, by about 10%. In addition, there are improvements in skin wrinkles and the average and maximum skin roughness compared to placebo. (https://examine.com/members/deep-dives/article/the-chocolate-fountain-of-youth/)

Consumption of cocoa would also improve resistance and sensitivity to insulin (a problem that can interfere with the process of fat loss in addition to being a detrimental factor to good metabolic health) when consuming between 19 and 100 g of dark chocolate per day; of course, we are not  talking about chocolate treats, but rather 94% chocolate minimum…

4.      Coconut water and V-LOAD from BNI Supplements

Coconut water is a drink that naturally contains electrolytes. This drink is comparable to sports drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes that people consume after sports, especially if the coconut water is enriched in sodium. If necessary, add a pinch of salt (if you lack sodium, the water will not reach your cells enough and you will not rehydrate properly). Coconut water can also help prevent exercise-induced dehydration in the heat before training.

The BNI’s V-LOAD is without a doubt the beverage of choice to optimize your aerobic performance in a heat wave. It contains electrolytes, amino acids, carbohydrates – the perfect trio to improve your long-lasting performance and muscle recovery when it’s hot.  https://bnisupplements.ca/produit/boisson-endurance-energy-sport-drink/

5.      Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit is high in water (80%), potassium (more than banana, interesting when sweating a lot!) and contains soluble and insoluble fibers (about 3 g/100 g), which can help good intestinal health, among other things. (http://www.bioolmetto.it/TheKiwi.pdf)

Consuming a kiwi drink (5% carbohydrates) before training in a hot environment would help athletes to make more volume and high intensity efforts than usual, in addition to increasing vitamin C levels.

Instead of eating junk food or more processed food, the kiwi fruit would be one of the first food I’d suggest you eat every day during summer time or before exercise (with the peel if possible).

6.      Cucumber

Did you know that cucumber helps manage osteoarthritis symptoms? Better than that, a 10 mg cucumber extract twice a day compared to 1350 mg of glucosamine-chondroitin twice a day proved to be twice as effective! The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) decreased by 22.44% and 70.29% on days 30 and 180 respectively compared to 14.80% and 32.81%. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207263/)

Cucumber is rich in water, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fibers (especially if consumed with the peel, as for the kiwi fruit).

Other relevant information: a cucumber seed extract is traditionally used for diabetes by reducing fasting blood sugar in addition to having lipid-lowering effects. Cucumber is also traditionally used as a poultice for wound healing and skin burns.

7.      Watermelon

Like the two previously recommended foods, watermelon is rich in water, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. It has shown benefits in terms of cardiovascular health, conditions related to aging, obesity and diabetes among others.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7698065/)

It has also been shown that a watermelon juice supplementation given to rats has been more effective than L-Citrulline supplementation on their duration of swimming until exhaustion and on the reduction of lactate and ammonia concentrations, in addition to increased nitric oxide production.

If you prefer to take a supplement, you will find L-Citrulline powder at BNI Supplements: https://bnisupplements.ca/produit/l-citrulline-300-g/

L-Citrulline, as well as L-Arginine, can help in the production of nitric oxide.

8.      Pineapple

Another fruit rich in vitamins, minerals and water, the pineapple contains bromelain which has demonstrated benefits both in vitro and in vivo, fibrinolytic, anti-edema, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory, supporting good cardiovascular and respiratory health. This may be of interest to people suffering from certain health conditions such as osteoarthritis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529416/)

9.      Seafood and offal

Seafood and offal are rich in creatine, a molecule produced by the body for energy production, which also has the role of carrying water to the muscles, which helps delay fatigue (before training) and promote better recovery (after training). You could also take a creatine supplement to ensure that you reach the right dosage and get the full potential of this molecule. Up to 5 g/100 lb body weight of creatine monohydrate is fine. You can find this supplement at BNI Supplements: https://bnisupplements.ca/produit/creatine-monohydrate-500-g/

10.   Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

An alkaline compound that has been proven to improve overall health including athletic performance, here are some interesting facts:

·       Taking 200-400 mg/kg 40 to 120 minutes before exercise would improve average performance by 2 to 16%.

·       It seems that the most noticeable benefits are for short anaerobic exercises (e.g.: rowing 2000 m), but it would have very little impact on output power (e.g.: 1 minute sprint, 0.5% improvement) and would not improve strength.

There are other benefits to taking baking soda such as for oral health, but what is interesting is its alkalinity which allows to buffer the acidity in the body. People with diabetes are more susceptible to metabolic acidosis, which can lead to respiratory symptoms and complications among other things. Baking soda helps the body to deal with metabolic acidosis.

Main reference databases: Examine.com and Natural Medicine Database.

Charles Vaillancourt – Certified Naturopath (ND.A.), Neurotherapist (Nt) and Physical Trainer (PT)

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