Diagnostic tests provide the tools to check many and varied aspects of health and fitness. These include:
VO2 Max, Fat burn Zones, Lactate Threshold
Blood Bio Chemistry
When working for clients it must always be remembered that we are all individuals.
If you are not assessing you are guessing.
Danny first consulted me approximately 3 years ago as an established GB squad member. Due to the vagaries of the way British Judo run their coaching and funding Danny had been relying on his own experience and that of other squad members when formulating Nutrition plans and was experiencing some difficulties in maintaining strength and power during the “cutting” period leading up to competition. On consultation it become apparent that some direction was also required during the Strength and Power phase of training to keep unnecessary weight gain to a minimum.
To provide a clearer picture of the task at hand let us firstly look a little closer at the sport and the individual:
Judo is a Japanese martial art and in its current, modern form originated in 1882 with Jigaro Kano being credited with its “invention”. It has been an Olympic sport since1964 (1992 for women). In this sporting environment a judo match lasts for a maximum of 5 minutes. Scores are made by way of throws, pinning an opponent on their back, joint locks and chokes. Strikes with any part of the body are not permitted. A 10 point score (Ippon) will finish the contest; lesser scores are wazari (7 points) and yuko (3 points). Penalties can also be awarded for a variety of fouls or passivity. Competitors at this level will all be Dan Grades (Black belts) and contests are divided into weight categories of under 60kg, 66KG, 73KG, 81KG, 90KG, 100KG and Over 100KG. (Male weight categories).
If scores are level after the 5 minute period has been reached a “golden score” rule applies meaning the next score, of any description, wins.
When we consider the physical requirements of the sport we need to consider energy systems, reasons for fatigue, strength and power generation, muscle activation and movement patterns all within a tightly controlled weight division.
DOB 20th April 1989
Home city Shrewsbury Shropshire
London 2012 Olympic squad member
Glasgow Commonwealth Games Gold medallist
Represented GB since 13 years of age
Judo 2nd Dan
Brazilian Ju Jitsu purple belt
Trains/works Camberley Judo club Surrey
Training and fighting for 25 years
For 10 years lived in shared pre fab building at CJC in order to fund the requirements of being a full time Judo Player.
It appears that only players attending the British Judo centre of excellence at Walsall have a chance of being funded despite many of the best coaches working elsewhere i.e. Camberley.
My brief from Danny was pretty wide and I made it clear at outset that we would work with his existing Strength and Conditioning coach to ensure that everyone was working off the same page and that he was not receiving conflicting information. It’s interesting to note here that the majority of Danny’s S&C programs were provided by email and that there was only minimal, if any, hands on supervision.
My first tasks were to gather information and test results. Money was a real issue with the lack of funding and we therefore had to make sure that we extracted the maximum information from what I would consider the minimum testing possible. Therefore as well as conducting a full diet review consisting of a comprehensive diary of food, drink and supplements consumed with details of any noted effect of diet – digestive problems, toilet habits, mood, energy levels, sleep patterns and any foods avoided for any reason such as religion, ethics allergies or taste, two tests were carried out.
Full Bio Chemistry Blood test
This test gave as a snapshot of Danny’s internal health at the date the test was carried out and included:
Red Blood Cells health and status
White Blood Cells health and status
Kidney function and Electrolytes
Lipid profile inc triglycerides and HDL/LDL Cholesterol
Level of systemic inflammation (if any)
Rate of muscle breakdown to establish any overtraining (catabolic state)
I always stress the importance of health with my athletes as optimum health will equal optimum performance; this test gives us the opportunity to address any anomalies and to produce a truly bespoke diet. Fortunately Danny came back with a completely clean bill of health.
TrainSmart Metabolic tests
Outside of a full laboratory setting, and the subsequent cost involved, the TrainSmart respiratory exchange test gives us a “gold standard” test for fat burning zones, lactate Threshold and VO2 max. This would give us the hard data to fine tune Danny’s aerobic/anaerobic training.
The results of these tests were that Danny achieves his maximum fat burn at between 117 – 123 heart beats per minute, at this heart rate he is 58% efficient at burning fat (11.70 total calories, of which 6.80 are from fat). By 146 bpm 0 fat calories are being utilised. Lactate threshold was achieved at 127 bpm.
These figures are very interesting, if you compare them with mine, a 59 year old Bodybuilder whose level of fitness is nowhere near Danny’s but is used to working at low intensity steady state cardio for fat loss. I reach my max fat burn at 90 – 95 bpm and I’m over 90% efficient at burning fat at this intensity. My Lactate Threshold is 100 bpm and I reach the point of zero fat burn at 106 bpm. Proving how bio individuality must be assessed not guessed.
We now had the ammunition to structure Danny’s aerobic/anaerobic training with some certainty.
I had the opportunity with Danny to work “from the ground up”, he was very receptive to new ideas and as a true thinking athlete if the proposed course of action was explained and made a degree of common sense he would try all of the ideas I threw at him.
My first principles when working with performance athletes is to address their systemic health as a pre requisite. We already know that he had a clean set of blood results so no major issues needed to be addressed but when constructing a nutritional package I will always endeavour to hit as many health markers as I can without negatively affecting any required performance.
This was made somewhat easier by the fact that Danny was in a strength block of his periodised training and the direct competition prep was some months off. This allowed us the luxury of not having to worry overly much about weight control although I never want my athletes to move to far away from contest condition as this enables them to re establish their “set point” weight making the cut and the maintenance of strength and strength endurance that much easier.
For a number of reasons I will always initially major on real whole foods for my clients as opposed to a high level supplementation program as I believe that this will work in far more synergistic fashion with their bodies, will provide the perfect platform for any supplementation we may introduce at a later date and particularly with Danny the matter of cost needed to be born in mind and as an Olympic sport Judo is subject to drug testing and we needed to be mindful of any possible contamination of supplementation products.
Space prevents a complete breakdown of each meal but to give an overview an example of breakfast would be Organic porridge oats, mixed nuts and seeds, berries, eggs and wholemeal/granary/rye/sourdough toast with organic butter.
For the following meals protein sources were from a selection of turkey, chicken, beef, white and oily fish and eggs.
Starchy carbohydrates were from a combination of various rice’s, white and sweet potato, wholemeal pasta, Quinoa.
With regards to vegetables I stressed that a variety should be used, majoring on the leafy green cruciferous types. In a similar way salads should be as varied as possible with the classic “eat a rainbow” being used to ensure that we utilised as many micro nutriments as possible.
Healthy fats, as well as some of the food sources referred to above, were obtained from cold pressed oils such as virgin olive and coconut and whole foods such as Avocado.
Bio “Live” yogurts and a couple of pieces of fruit were also included.
Having established the off season health base we could then refine the process somewhat when moving into the cutting phase, while trying to maintain as much of a nutritional balance as possible certain food groups will be removed to reduce the levels of sugars and fats. Carbohydrate levels will be adjusted and high GI food stuffs will be gradually eliminated (depending on training loads).
The periods around competition were made that much interesting by the fact that Danny was competing internationally and has visited places as varied and obscure as North America, South America, Japan, Korea, a number of Eastern European states as well as countries on the near continent.
In many of these a quick trip down to Tesco to replenish supplies was simply out of the question and this is where working with Danny became such a rewarding experience. If we ran through the general procedures that I would like him to follow leading up to a Championship, pre weigh in, post weigh in and during the duration of the Tournament ( level of and Glycemic value of Carbohydrate, amount and type of protein, fluid intake etc) Danny is mindful enough to do his own local research and come up with very acceptable options that can be readily purchased in whichever location he found himself in as even Danny may have experienced some difficulty in ordering Sweet Potato and Tender Stem Broccoli in Japanese!!!
Turning to Supplementation, this again broke down into 2 parts, that relating primarily to health and that concerned with sporting performance.
Again cost was a major constraining factor in what could be used.
Although not perfect I opted for a GOOD multi Vit/Min supplement, which along with the micro nutrients being supplied by the off season diet would have to be sufficient.
With regards to the performance supplements and the need to maintain the “KISS” principle I chose Whey Protein, Creatine, Glutamine, BCAA’s, and Beetroot Juice (although you could quite easily classify the Beetroot as a food depending on your point of view) gvh.
The Whey simply took care of any additional protein requirements with a product that scores highly across the board on the 3 main markers:
Protein Digestibility – Correct Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) 1.00
Biological value (BV) 104
Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) 3.2
Creatine is interesting, my view is that its use as a Phosphagen energy system enhancer would be an aid to the length and duration of the sustained attacks that are part of Danny’s fighting style BUT, its use needs to be monitored, especially around contest time, as there can be a tendency to hold intra cellular water which could adversely affect weight gain and disrupt power to weight ratio.
Glutamine is something I would recommend to all athletes in intense training, its ability to assist gut function, improve immune response, improve anti oxidant performance and assist with Glucose formation makes it one of my “go to” products. One word of caution involves the last point made, Glutamine should not be used with anyone experiencing Blood sugar control problems particularly type1 and 2 diabetics. The Liver will break down Glutamine and convert it to Glucose which will, or could, destabilise blood sugar Homeostasis.
BCAA’s once again a supplement I would always look towards with its component parts so useful in triggering Anabolic pathways leading to protein synthesis and inhibiting catabolism. Although Danny doesn’t yet fall within the heading of a “Masters Athlete” I consider the use of Leucine and the other EAAs vital to older Judo players and other athletes as their bodies naturally become more “anabolic resistant” (please refer to my articles on the ageing process and Masters Athletes for further information).
Beetroot Juice provides us with a good number of general health benefits such as the Betaine it contains which aid the various Methylation processes and liver detox. From a performance point of view the phosphates contained within the juice aid with Vaso dilation which has been shown to aid performance energy and recovery.
There we have a very brief snap shot of the nutrition interventions made on Danny’s behalf and the reason for them. Reasons of space make it impossible to enlarge on subjects that are worthy of further discussion but please feel free to contact me directly on any area of interest.
Paul K Ehren - March 2017