Stress and the Well-Trained Athlete

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

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Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Stress and the Well-Trained Athlete
Stress researchers, including myself, frequently study competitive athletes. For obvious reasons, athletes are extremely interested in balancing the “dose” of stress they deliver to their bodies with the amount of recovery necessary for optimal performance.

Counteracting the muscle-wasting and fat-gaining effects of prolonged cortisol exposure becomes a large part of maximizing performance gains while minimizing the risk for illness and injury. For many athletes, the delicate balance between training “stress” and recovery poses a significant dilemma: To become faster and more competitive, they have to train hard, but training too hard without adequate recovery will just make them slow, because they’ll be tired or get sick or hurt.

Athletes who excel at the highest levels are those who are most adept at balancing the three primary components of their programs: training, diet, and recovery.

A phenomenon known as “overtraining syndrome” has been linked to chronic cortisol exposure, exactly the same situation that the average person faces in their battle with daily stressors and the struggle to maintain biochemical balance and high vigor. Although chronic overtraining is easy to recognize by its common symptoms of constant fatigue, mood fluctuations, and reduced mental and physical performance (sounds a lot like the burnout and lack of vigor suffered by many nonathletes), it may be difficult to detect in its earlier stages, just like the early stages of stress.

Therefore, competitive athletes, like everyone, need to become adept at balancing exposure to stress with recovery from stress to approach the optimal physical and mental performance they are looking for.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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