Protein Specific Problems for Sub-Groups: Specific to Athletes

by Dr. David Minkoff April 28, 2022 8 min read

Person jogging in nature with blue mountains and clouds behind them.

The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein, chapter 7.

Athletes come into the clinic with the goal of improving their health, athletic performance, or body composition. Since I’m an athlete myself, I enjoy helping them, and their results are always of great interest to me.

Athletes often face problems with injury and recovery. They’ll say, “I’m getting injured more often. I don’t seem to have enough energy to perform, and my recovery time is too long.” Many of these athletes lack adequate amounts of amino acids, and their bodies can’t keep up with the demand that is being put on them. When we add Perfect Amino to their programs, they notice a dramatic difference.

On any given day, I’ll go on a hard five-mile-run, and then head to the ocean to swim another mile as fast as I can. My neighbor, on the other hand, takes his dog for a leisurely twenty-minute walk, twice a day. There is a big difference between the level of wear and tear on my body versus his. He might get along fine with a couple of servings of protein each day, but that wouldn’t be enough for me active bodies require more nutrition.

Soreness is a concern for athletes and is caused by the muscles being broken down. When athletes get what they need, the recovery process begins immediately, and they won’t be sore the next day, or even the day after. If amino acids are replaced quickly, their muscles will heal at a faster rate.

Sometimes, people train so hard that they overstress their system and don’t benefit from it; instead, they go into a breakdown, experience a decrease in adrenaline and cortisol, and lose energy. They may be sore or tired for a few days, or have several nights of restless sleep, because they are lacking much-needed protein this leads to diminished returns when training. With enough amino acids and other strategic nutrition, athletes can avoid the breakdown, become stronger, and maintain high performance even when they put massive stress on the body. It’s helpful for athletes to take their last dose of Perfect Amino before bed. Growth hormones spike during sleep, and that’s when the body does the majority of its recovery and repair.

THE WALK ACROSS THE TAKLIMAKAN DESERT IN CHINA

In a study published in Advances in Therapy Volume 20/4 2003, a fifty-one-year-old female racewalker walked across the Taklimakan desert in China a distance of three hundred-forty-two miles in twenty-four days. Weather conditions were extremely harsh while she walked, ranging from twenty-three to eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The desert terrain consisted of sand dunes with a lot of ups and downs, and she carried a fifty-pound backpack as she crossed the desert alone. Her diet consisted of taking eight tablets of Perfect Amino three times per day, plus vitamins, minerals, and a blended drink of carbs and fats, for a total caloric intake of three-thousand per day.1

Before embarking on the journey, a variety of exercise tests, laboratory blood tests, and body composition tests were conducted; they were also repeated upon her completion of the walk. By using the essential amino acid blend contained in Perfect Amino, results showed that she: 1) increased muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Her initial heart rate walking at eight kilometers per hour was one hundred-forty-nine, and at finish it was one hundred-twenty-eight; 2) decreased fat mass by 20 percent, and had improved cardiovascular performance with a 15 percent improvement in VO2 max; and 3) had increased red blood cells, hemoglobin, and hematocrit. The conclusion was that using the Perfect Amino formula as the sole substitute for dietary protein in conjunction with extreme physical exercise can optimize body protein synthesis, as well as improve performance.

PREPPING FOR THE TOUR

Earlier in the book I talked about my friend and patient who provided nutritional strategies for one of the American teams doing the Tour de France. The race always begins the first weekend of July, and one year in March, one of their riders developed a bad parasitic infection with lots of diarrhea and malabsorption. He became very weak and lost muscle mass. The medical staff strongly doubted he’d recover by July and be physically prepared for twenty-one, high-intensity days of grueling physical activity.

My friend consulted me about this problem, and we were able to figure out what the infection was. Since there was severe protein malnutrition, I suggested we put the rider on Perfect Amino. All were amazed that in just over three short months he was race ready, won a mountain tour stage on a breakaway, and had his best Tour ever! This recovery and result, along with the race walker’s successful walk across the Taklimakan, proved to me that amino acid supplementation can create physiological improvements in athletes.

CASE STUDY

Cherie G is notably the best masters Ironman athlete of all time. She has won Age Group Hawaii Ironman World Championships an unprecedented thirteen times, and Ironman 70.3 World Championships three times. She has done this from age sixty to her current age of seventy-four and she is still winning. According to Cherie, her ability to continue to put in high training hours to compete in these grueling events is largely due to her use of Perfect Amino. They allow her to recover and train the next day. To find out more about Cherie, you can read her Foreword at the beginning of the book.


PROTEIN’S CONNECTION TO LACK OF ENDURANCE AND PERFORMANCE IN ATHLETES

Performance improvement begins at the cellular level energy systems must be stressed and stimulated to produce more energy. Cells contain factory-like structures, called mitochondria,where oxygen is combined with fuel to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that stores cellular energy. When stressed, the cell manufactures more mitochondria per cell, so that it can produce more energy in the form of ATP when you become more physically fit, the cells get “fitter” too! The ability to manufacture more energy depends on the number of mitochondria per cell, but within the mitochondria there are enzymes that actually take the calories from our food and turn them into ATP. So as there are more mitochondria, there must be a great increase in energy pathway enzymes to facilitate this process.

Since the structure of mitochondria, enzymes, muscle fibers, and tendons is composed of protein, there is a great need for essential amino acids for this process to occur. If we have adequate essential amino acid intake, all of these systems can improve. If we don’t, then working out may produce little or no gain, as the deficiency of essential amino acids will limit the result. If you are working out and seeing no improvement in muscle strength, speed, endurance, or power, then this may be at the heart of your problem. However, you also want to take into account the other important components of this growth cycle: thyroid hormone, growth hormone, and insulin.


A STORY OF ENDURANCE

Another world-class athlete I’ve worked with is a former professional triathlete and three-time Ironman World Champion. He is one of very few people to win this event more than twice, and he has competed seven or eight times. He always arrived in Kona three weeks early for final preparation and to gauge whether or not he was truly in “good shape.”

Compared to the average athlete, Ironman competitors train forty hours a week and are indeed in shape. A sample training schedule might be twenty hours on the bike for two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles; eight hours of running for a total of fifty to sixty miles; and then swimming up to thirty thousand yards. Then, they’ll throw in weight training and stretching for good measure. They end up having a six-to-eight-hour day of exercise training, which is a lot of stress on the body.

To prepare for this rigorous training, this athlete began taking ten grams of Perfect Amino, two to three times per day, three months before his third Ironman attempt. On one of his bike training days prior to the event, he completed the one hundred and forty-mile course thirty minutes fasterthan any of his previous times. He called me in a panic, thinking there must be some kind of drug in the product and, he’d be disqualified I assured him it was a pure, World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) tested, certified product. He went on to win his third Ironman title and retired that year. Later, he attributed his incredible results to Perfect Amino.

PERFECT AMINO AND THE OLYMPICS

One of my clients is a chiropractor who works with world-class track and field athletes. They’ve earned a dozen medals in the last two summer Olympic games while incorporating Perfect Amino into their nutrition program. As a doctor, he knows the power of nutrition in the competitive athlete. “Without superior nutrition, nothing that we do in the weight room or on the track will work. We stress the body so it will improve, but it will only improve if it receives the nutritional components needed to meet the demands of training and heal. That is why amino acid nutrition is so important.”


PERFECT AMINO IN THE WEIGHT ROOM

A Miami fitness boot camp instructor and elite weightlifting coach previously instructed his athletes take two hundred grams of whey protein each day to help them bulk up; nearly every one of them ended up with GI side effects, like gas and bloating. I suggested he give them Perfect Amino instead of the whey he made the switch, and his athletes loved it! They have seen performance improvement, and their stomachs have settled down as well.


ATHLETES AND SICKNESS

As I mentioned earlier in the book, the body has two main functions when it’s under stress from exercise training: keep the immune system up and running and repair structures and tissues. These include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and enzymes. If there is a nutritional deficiency, the body has to choose between these two tasks. It’s common for athletes to get sick a few days after hard training or completing a big race, because the body may choose to repair structural elements and neglect the needs of the immune system. This is especially true if they lack essential amino acids if the immune system is not supported, a cold or infection can ensue.

Personally, I’m very careful about this. For example, I did a race recently, and I took extra doses of Perfect Amino for a few days leading up to the event, and then immediately after, for a few days until all the soreness was gone, and I had completely recovered. I ran hard and did well on a hot race day, and I didn’t get sick afterward because I took the extra doses to keep my immunity up.

As an athlete, I love to put forth effort, push my body, and feel the sweat and the pump I love to compete. The worst days are the ones when my body is overworked or I’m sick or injured I have to mope around and wait until I bounce back. Using essential amino acids like Perfect Amino allows the body to stay in a high state of immune health and to recover and to perform well. For me, amino acid nutrition is the cornerstone of being able to compete at a high level.


Want to learn more? Click HERE to get your copy of Dr. Minkoff's book, "The Search for the Perfect Protein" today!



References:

  1. Luca-Moretti M, Grandi A, Luca E, Mariani E, Vender G, Arrigotti E, Ferrario M, Rovelli E, “Results of Taking Master Amino Acid Pattern as a Sole and Total Substitute of Dietary Proteins in an Athlete During a Desert Crossing,” Advances in Therapy, Volume 20, No. 4, July/August 2003, https://naturalsolutions.nz/articles/MAP-as-dietary-protein-substitute-in-Athlete- Crossing-Desert-Aug2003.pdf