Learn how intense workouts compromise your immune system and what you can do about it.
Keeping your immune system strong is important, especially if you do intense workouts. Some of these steps are the same ones we would recommend for maximizing performance in the gym. Nutrition is a great place to start when trying to boost your immunity.
How Does Exercise Affect The Immune System?
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the immune system. That includes intense exercises.
While moderate-intensity exercise improves the adaptive immune system by way of how it responds to and fights pathogens, intense exercise can compromise the immune system.
In the hours following a hard workout, your body will have a difficult time defending itself against germs. If you take measures to properly recover from your workouts, your immune system will bounce back and become stronger because of it.
If you don’t allow a proper recovery time, your immune system remains compromised. You’ll find yourself sick all the time, running low on energy, and losing strength and muscle mass.
4 Steps To Support Your Immune System
The hour or so you spend in the gym training intensely can deliver a blow to your immune system. Besides taking vitamin C, proper handwashing, getting plenty of sleep, and finding ways to reduce your stress, these tips will help you boost immunity.
1) Eat Plenty of Protein
The immune system is literally a system of proteins. Protein intake is especially important for those who train with weights because the muscles also need those amino acids to rebuild themselves. People who train should consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
2) Consume Fast Carbs Post-Workout
Post-workout carbs decrease immunosuppression that comes from hard training. When you train intensely, you stress the body, which makes cortisol rise and immune function go down. The goal after training is to return cortisol to normal levels. When fast carbs are consumed either during or immediately after training, muscle glycogen is restored, cortisol levels decrease, immune function improves, and more water enters the muscles, creating a bigger pump and increasing muscle protein synthesis.
3) Get Your Omega-3 Fats
Increase your healthy fats to boost immunity. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are a potent “immunonutrient” that’s known to have positive effects on the immune system. Salmon and other fatty fish are great sources of omega-3s. But you’d have to eat an awful lot of fish to reach the amount you need for optimal health. Find a clean supplement to make sure you get the amount necessary to maintain immunity.
4) Go With Glutamine
The essential amino acid glutamine is another immunonutrient. Glutamine is one of the highest-level amino acids in the body, and it’s a critical energy component of the immune system. As mentioned earlier, the stress of intense training delivers a blow to the immune system and the immune system is happy to pull glutamine from your muscles. When this happens, muscle endurance drops. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is also compromised when glutamine levels are low, which is the last thing you want after a workout.
Keep Your Immune System Strong
Supplements are a great way to get everything your body needs to build and maintain muscle while protecting your immune system. Nutrition Nation has a variety of protein, fast carbs, and other supplements that will keep you healthy and strong all winter long.
By Leslie Radford