The muscle that matters most
Do you play sports but don’t try to protect your heart? Find out which dietary patterns and exercise can be overly extreme for your heart.
Responsible athletes know that eating healthy foods and doing the right exercise can help keep their hearts healthy over time.
In fact, there is an effect of general physical activity versus a sedentary lifestyle on heart health. Likewise with diets that promote healthy body weight. But with some exercise and diet strategies, especially the more extreme ones, the pros and cons to heart health increase dramatically.
In certain situations and with certain individuals, their training patterns and diet can lead you to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and, quite possibly, sudden death.
Dilemmas of diets
Your body’s health and your level of ability are primarily built on a solid foundation of healthy eating. However, there are some fancy plans that may not be perfect for your heart.
If this matches your macros
People who follow the “if it fits your macros” diet trend can run into food quality problems. Macro tracking can help you reach your target numbers, but if you’re not trying to get your nutritional components from a well-balanced diet filled with a variety of foods that provide healthy nutrients, then you cannot have a healthy body.
“If you eat 4,500 calories daily, you have a lot more room to add other ingredients that many think are bad, such as brownies, cookies, and other snacks,” says Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D.
The mistake is taking prepackaged foods, which often contain trans fats. Trans fats can increase LDL levels and lower HDL levels, which is incredibly detrimental to healthy cholesterol. Too much trans fat in your diet has also been linked to an increased risk of type II diabetes and whole body inflammation.
While not everyone following this type of diet will include unhealthy amounts of prepackaged snacks or trans fats in their diets, it’s a good idea to always be mindful of the quality of their foods. If you are striving to have a healthy body on the inside, you may have to think about the amount of carbohydrates, fats you eat each day.
High fat / high protein diets
Other trending diets may contain nutrients that your body cannot process in large quantities. Diet schemes that are high in fat and high in protein can cause problems for those who are not going to burn fat.
“If your body is set to burn a lot of fat, you’ll probably be fine,” says Dr. Nelson. “But if your body is not adapted to using them, you may run into problems. Studies of blood flow after a high-fat meal show acute problems, especially in overweight individuals.” It appears that the increased availability of free fatty acids can reduce nitric oxide production, increasing the incidence of hypertension. If you are following a high fat intake, be aware that not all dietary fats are created equal, just as not all organisms use dietary fat in the same way.
In general, active individuals can use a diet such as a low-carb / ketogenic diet with greater success than inactive individuals. “In a classic study, active and inactive individuals ate a McDonald’s breakfast consisting of a McMuffin with egg and sausage and pancakes. After eating a high-fat meal, the researchers measured the mediated dilatation flow and found it decreased by almost ten percent in the inactive group.” Dr. Nelson notes. Later, this can lead to an increased risk of atherosclerosis. These data support the concept that physical activity can reduce the negative effects of high fat in food on the cardiovascular system.
Exercise can significantly affect how well certain diets work. But to maintain balance, all nutrients must be present in moderation in your diet (including alcohol). Dr. Nelson concludes: “While fat in moderation is not evil, it is still not ideal for your heart health.”
Preparing for the competition
While the bodybuilding community may look like a truly healthy field, extreme diets can cause problems. Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, bodybuilder-turned-swimmer and osteopathic family doctor knows how much competition preparation can have on the body.
“A diet low in carbohydrates / high in saturated fat can sometimes negatively affect heart health,” he says. “People who follow these types of diets may have abnormal cholesterol levels. Their cholesterol levels can lead to the premature development of atherosclerosis. It doesn’t happen in everyone who follows this diet, but it does.”
“When a man or woman follows a diet too seriously and eats extremely few calories, it can have an impact on the communication of the brain with the organs,” explains Dr. Nadolsky. “Men can have low testosterone and thyroid problems. Women can get low progesterone / estrogen levels, which can lead to menstrual cessation, weak bones, thyroid problems. This condition will have adverse effects on your heart in the long term. for the reasons listed, I would limit the participation of the competition during a certain part of the year. ”
To maintain or restore a healthy hormonal profile, avoid excess diets and extremely low body fat for a long time. Try to schedule contests so that your body has enough time to recover, and maintain a healthy lifestyle for most of the year. Regular visits to the doctor while preparing for competitions can also help spot any red flags.
American College of Sports Medicine recommend to you stick to about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week to keep your heart healthy. Many people achieve these numbers in just a few days! It is clear that exercise is good for the cardiovascular system, but there are risks for those who exercise to the extreme for a long time.
A review of the study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that some athletes who exercised at excessively high intensity for very long periods were at a greater risk of developing heart problems than those who exercised more moderately. “Research indicates that excessive exercise of any kind can lead to heart problems,” says Dr. Nelson. “Those preparing for serious competition are at higher risk. It’s no surprise that serious powerlifters or weightlifters who just lift weights may be at higher risk.”
What doctors says?
This leads to the conclusion that too many things don’t always give good results. “Each type of exercise affects the heart in a different way, and too much of one form can push you into a high-risk spectrum,” says Dr. Nelson.
Lifting weights 3-5 times a week will not increase heart risk in most people, and so will those who run less than 50 km a week. “However, when you push the boundaries, doing super-heavy lifts too often for decades, or running super marathons for years, your risk will go up,” says Dr. Nelson.
The exact amount of exercise that is required for the risk to occur remains to be determined. But, just like with your diet, it can get too extreme. If you’ve been exercising totally for years on end, note that you may be at greater risk of developing heart problems.
Serious athletes should plan for a break from competition preparation in the offseason, and should also explore other types of exercise, including cross training and resistance training.
Even if you are in good health, regular physical checkups can help detect any early warning signs of heart disease.
The doctor recommends after 20 to do a lipid profile at least once every 5 years. “I tend to do this more often if there are any lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, or major changes in body composition,” he says. “I would also advise taking a plasma glucose test and even hemoglobin if there is a family history of type II diabetes. Hemoglobin will show a picture of the average blood sugar level over the previous three months.” Routine blood tests should continue beyond your thirties.
It is also worth monitoring the pressure, as well as the waist circumference, which can be controlled at home. Portable blood pressure monitors make it easy to track your blood pressure and can help you diagnose problems early.
If your systolic (top number) is consistently over 120, or your diastolic (bottom number) is greater than 80, it is worth meeting with your healthcare professional for additional tests and discussing the results.
In terms of waist circumference, women should be less than 80cm and men less than 94cm to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular problems.