Whenever this topic comes up the inevitable statements you will hear are things like “it’s healthier than drinking and partying” and “there are many things worse than bodybuilding.” While yes, bodybuilding is relatively healthier than smoking and drinking, is that a realistic way to look at things? Smoking cigarettes is healthier than heroine, but you typically don’t hear that argument often.
My point is this: justification of any given topic doesn’t do much for progression, but rather we need to delve deeper than what it is on the surface. Is bodybuilding truly unhealthy? This is a topic that could easily span 20,000 words (I will spare you, it doesn’t) just based on the sheer amount of depth.
“Health” is a very relative word. Driving is the most dangerous thing any of us does, but do you think it’s unhealthy? Proper precautions and intelligent steps taken can ensure that most things in life can be done in a healthy, and safe way (still might want to avoid heroine).
Since this could be a lot longer than what it’s going to be, this is a very high level overview of three areas of our health that bodybuilding can directly impact. These are the things directly on a lot of our minds and what’s going to be the most discussed. Let’s dive deeper into the health ramifications of bodybuilding, and what we can do to minimize the effects.
One of the most important and common issues many bodybuilders face is the threat of kidney issues. Obviously gear usage plays a very large part in this. However, just the training and diet alone can have a negative effect on the kidneys. Now don’t run off searching the internet for things like “weight training kidney health,” because you would probably never step foot in the gym again (who am I kidding, this article is directed towards bodybuilders).
Excess protein waste in the body has a direct effect on the kidneys. This is not to say that protein is directly at fault, however something within the kidney filtration mechanism is not working properly. High protein diets can in fact have a direct impact on overall kidney health. Excess dietary protein has been shown to cause the kidneys to work harder, but it does not seem that is the issue with the kidneys.
The main issue bodybuilder’s face with decreased kidney health is blood pressure issues. The nephrons in the kidneys are supplied with a dense network of blood vessels, and high volumes of blood cells flow through them every second. As time goes on, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries around the kidneys to narrow, weaken or harden. These damaged arteries are not able to deliver enough blood to the kidney tissue.
Managing blood pressure is key to ensuring your kidneys are operating at optimal levels. There are many things we can do to ensure blood pressure is kept in a normal and healthy range. One being watching sodium intake, especially if blood pressure is a concern. We all know that sodium is an electrolyte and is crucial for muscle pumps in the gym. However, too much sodium can wreak havoc on our blood pressure numbers.
Some supplement ingredients that can help manage blood pressure and helps with kidney health are Vitamin B6, omega 3, CoQ10, Resveratrol, and curcumin. All of these ingredients can be found in Redcon1 Med+Kit. This is a very health focused product, with the bodybuilder in mind.
To be big, you have to eat big.
To eat big, you damn well better have an effective digestive system.
Poor digestion has a litany of other implications that can directly affect areas within the body. “Protein farts” might be a funny thing to joke about, but it can also be a sign that your body is not digesting the food you’re eating properly.
Improper food digestion can lead to heart disease, kidney problems, clogged arteries, colon issues, and immune problems. Not to mention, it’s extremely uncomfortable. Digestive issues are very interesting, in that they can cause systemic issues within the body outside of the digestive system. Proper food absorption is not only key for building muscle, but also maintaining health.
As bodybuilders, we consume lots of protein, carbs, and fats; however, we typically don’t do much more than the average population when it comes to optimizing our digestion to support these excess macros. Certain digestive enzymes can actually help aid in the digestion of high amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs.
Amylase is the enzyme found in both saliva and the intestine (made by the pancreas) and is responsible for breaking up dietary carbohydrates. Many bodybuilders over carb (subjective) themselves. This is especially the case if using exogenous insulin to help shuttle these carbs. The body can only process so much, and the different amylase enzymes help to digest and break down all of these sugars.
Proteases are the class of enzymes associated with protein breakdown during the digestive process. They work by performing proteolysis, which is protein catabolism done through hydrolysis of the protein’s peptide bonds.
Lipases are like proteases and amylases, but breakdown dietary fats. It does this by hydrolyzing them into smaller chains, which are then easier to absorb into the system. For instance: triglycerides are broken down into their component fatty acids and glycerol molecules; thus allowing the fatty acids to then go and perform their roles.
All three of these important digestive enzymes can be found in Redcon1 GI Juice. On top of that, GI Juice also contains pancreatin, pepsin, ox bile (yes, it’s what you think it is, bromelain, and betaine HCL. A good mix of these ingredients and digestive enzymes will help keep your body and digestive system functioning well.
As bodybuilders, we all know the role insulin and carbs play in building muscle. Let’s pretend though for a minute that we don’t know (which might be the case).
Insulin is used to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. Over time, the body may become insulin resistant, which in turn can lead to diabetes and other blood sugar related issues. Think of insulin resistance as your body no longer being able to use insulin for good, and can only use it for bad. Very basic way of putting it, but essentially that is the case.
Insulin’s anabolic properties come in the way of transporting nutrients and amino acids to muscle tissue. If these nutrients are shuttled primarily into muscle cells the muscle grows. Insulin also stimulates mTOR and protein synthesis, a process necessary for growing new muscle tissue.
The opposite of insulin resistance is insulin sensitivity, which is much more conducive to bodybuilding. Staying insulin sensitive will allow the body to secrete just the right amount of insulin and use glucose in the most effective way possible. Insulin sensitivity is the sensitivity the body has to insulin, and not necessarily just the amount of insulin. It’s an efficiency mechanism with more qualitative properties than quantitative. Meaning, you do not have to have a large amount of insulin release to be insulin sensitive.
Understanding the importance of insulin sensitivity is one thing, but keeping the body in that state is a little more difficult. Without getting into exogenous insulin use and using drugs like Metformin (which has sides such as lethargy, muscle pain and cramps, nausea, dizziness, trouble focusing, as well as the difficulty of keeping muscle glycogen levels full) let’s look at what we can do to help keep the body insulin sensitive and not resistant.
Glucose disposal agents basically help your body more effectively use glucose. They are nutrient partitioning compounds, ensuring glucose arrives to muscle cells and not stored as fat. GDAs also work to keep blood sugars and insulin at stable levels. These products and ingredients work to act as insulin mimetics. When we consume carbs the body tends to secrete excess insulin, oversaturating the body in muscle and fat cells. GDAs help to ensure these sugars do not arrive there too quickly or oversaturate these cells.
Redcon1 RPG is a much safer alternative to these harsh drugs like Metformin. While being safer, it is also just as effective (if not more effective) than these prescriptions.
Berberine has been shown in many different studies to be more effective than metformin. Berberine is a natural ingredient extracted from a variety of different herbs. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol and can improve intestinal health. Berberine mimics insulin activity by increasing glucose uptake for a period of time after ingestion. It creates a hypoglycemic response making the use of glucose more effective without the need for excess insulin. This alone creates insulin sensitivity by reducing the need for extra insulin to be excreted by the pancreas.
What Health Ramifications?
With proper steps in place, we can all minimize the negative health implications that can come with bodybuilding. These are just three areas of the litany of things we must all be cognizant of with what we do in bodybuilding. Just like anything in life, we must take a focused approach to minimize the negative and highlight the positives.