Being a “weekend warrior” may not be the best choice for healthy activity, but research shows exercising once or twice a week for a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise resulted in a lower risk of death compared to not exercising at all.1 Weekend warriors had a 30 percent decrease in risk of death from all causes and a 41 percent decrease in risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) death when compared to those who had an inactive lifestyle.
Just as with someone who is training seven days a week, weekend warriors need to focus on proper nutrition. Diet may not be enough for those who are physical active. The need for dietary supplements is even greater for those with an active lifestyle, even if it is just on the weekend. Weekend warriors need to address these areas: enhance the workout, decrease injury, repair the body and improve overall health. These can all be resolved by consuming the right ingredients.
Other than the hydration factor with consuming beverages with electrolytes, supplementing with additional minerals should be considered. Of all the minerals, magnesium and potassium play the largest role in athletic health. Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of metabolic functions, including muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium supplements should be taken daily to decrease the chance of deficiency and additional doses should be used during periods of intense workouts. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue and cramping and effect mental health and performance.2
Most understand that consuming a diet of, or supplementing with, antioxidants is sound health advice. When speaking of weekend warriors or daily athletes, antioxidants are even more essential. Just like a car produces more exhaust when it is moving 100 mph versus 25 mph, the body does the same. When the body is involved in high-level activity, its biochemical and physiological functions increase production of free radicals.3 These free radicals need to be neutralized quickly or they will lead to cell damage, inflammation and other serious health issues over time.4 Even though the activity is limited to the weekend or one to two days per week, antioxidants should be consumed daily. Key antioxidants to consider are: ubiquinol, Pycnogenol® (from Horphag Research), fenoprolic, turmeric and green tea. The list of antioxidants for highly active people is endless. It is beneficial to consume multiple antioxidants and not just one specific ingredient to ensure free radical reduction among the multiple pathways of oxidative stress.5
Protein is a macronutrient, meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. During high levels of activity, the body tries to fill its nutritional void to keep running, first utilizing glucose and glycogen stores and then by cannibalizing itself, a process also known as catabolism. This process occurs to extract the amino acids it needs to operate. Protein deficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue6 and loss of muscle mass7 and make it difficult for the body to repair the muscle damaged by increased activity.8 To avoid this, supplementing with protein may be needed. Brands should offer easily digested and absorbable forms that offer a complete number of essential amino acids. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), whey, complex veggie proteins and collagen are all effective forms to deliver the amino acids needed for energy and repair.
Black Cumin Seed Oil
Along with high-intensity workouts comes increased inflammation throughout the body. Joint and muscle inflammation are linked to post-workout soreness and slow recovery. Using supplements to support the body’s ability to decrease inflammation can be achieved with several nutritional ingredients. One ancient ingredient that is making a comeback is black cumin seed oil, also known as the blessing seed.9 In 2017, it saw an increase in sales of 202.5 percent compared to 2016, according to a Fall 2018 report from HerbalGram. The main active in black cumin seed oil is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called thymoquinone.10 Recent research with ThymoQuin™, a cold-pressed black cumin seed oil standardized to three percent thymoquinone from TriNutra Ltd., showed mice improved oxygen consumption, which may lead to decreased fatigue during workouts, after consuming the ingredient.11 Additionally, the study showed improvements in fasting glucose, decreased blood pressure and decreased hepatic fat.
Omega-3s are not just for cardiovascular health. High-intensity exercise lowers omega-3 levels.12 This decrease can be linked to increased inflammation and illness post-activity, longer times to recovery and decreased performance. For these reasons, omega-3s should be regular part of the weekend warriors’ supplement program.
Glutamine is important for the weekend warrior because, like protein, it helps decrease muscle catabolism.13 Additionally, glutamine has shown to promote healing,14 support the immune system,15 reduce post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery.16
L-carnitine has an impact in multiple areas that benefit the weekend warrior, including energy production,17 decreasing fatigue,18 reducing metabolic waste accumulation19 and facilitating recovery post-exercise.20 L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids out of the blood and into the mitochondria, the energy factory of each cell. These fatty acids are then burned as fuel to provide energy during increased activity. L-carnitine also helps improve endurance by inhibiting the build-up of lactic acid,19 one of the primary causes of fatigue. It has also been shown to reduce the accumulation of metabolic wastes during exercise. This helps increase workload output during exercise and enhance recovery post-exercise. Finally, L-carnitine plays a positive role in reducing tissue damage and muscle soreness and facilitating the overall process of recovery.21
Keep in mind that the supplements listed are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sports nutritional supplementation. Whether someone is a weekend warrior or a world-class athlete, supplementing the daily diet is necessary to help enhance workouts, decrease injury, repair the body and improve overall health.
Dave Foreman, R.Ph., N.D., is a pharmacist, author, television commentator, radio host and practitioner of natural living and holistic approaches to better health. His weekly radio program is broadcast throughout the United States.
- O'Donovan G et al. “Association of "Weekend Warrior" and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality.” JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Mar 1;177(3):335-342. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8014.
- Pham Pt et al. “Hypomagnesemia: a clinical perspective.” Int J Nephrol Renovasc Dis. 2014;7:219–230.
- Vina J et al. “Free radicals in exhaustive physical exercise: mechanism of production, and protection by antioxidants.” IUBMB Life. 2000 Oct-Nov;50(4-5):271-7.
- Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C.“Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health.” Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun;4(2):89–96.
- Saljoughian M. “An Overview of Antioxidants.” US Pharm. 2008;33(10):HS-22-HS-28.
- Bitarafan S et al. “Dietary intake of nutrients and its correlation with fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients.” Iran J Neurol. 2014;13(1):28–32.
- Campbell WW et al. “Dietary protein adequacy and lower body versus whole body resistive training in older humans.” J Physiol. 2002 Jul 15;542(Pt 2):631-42.
- Stark M et al. “Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Dec 14;9(1):54.
- Dajani E, Shahwan T, Dajani N. “Overview of the preclinical pharmacological properties of Nigella sativa (black seeds): a complementary drug with historical and clinical significance.” J Physiol Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;67(6):801-817.
- Khader M, Eckl P. “Thymoquinone: an emerging natural drug with a wide range of medical applications.” Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2014 Dec;17(12):950-7.
- Licari M et al. “Beneficial Effects of Thymoquinone on Metabolic Function and Fatty Liver in a Murine Model of Obesity.” J Nutr Food Sci. 2019;99(1). DOI: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000751
- Mickleborough TD. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in physical performance optimization.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2013 Feb;23(1):83-96.
- Boelens PG et al. “Glutamine alimentation in catabolic state.” J Nutr. 2001 Sep;131(9 Suppl):2569S-77S.
- Jalilmanesh M, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Azhdari M. “The Effect of Oral L-glutamine on the Healing of Second-degree Burns in Mice.” WOUNDS. 2011;23(3):53–58.
- Calder PC, Yaqoob P. “Glutamine and the immune system.” Amino Acids. 1999;17(3):227-41.
- Legault Z, Bagnall N, Kimmerly DS. “The Influence of Oral L-Glutamine Supplementation on Muscle Strength Recovery and Soreness Following Unilateral Knee Extension Eccentric Exercise.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Oct;25(5):417-26.
- Inazu M, Matsumiya T. “Physiological functions of carnitine and carnitine transporters in the central nervous system.” Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2008 Jun;28(3):113-20.
- Cruciani RA et al. “L-Carnitine Supplementation for the Management of Fatigue in Patients With Cancer: An Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Phase III, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” J Clin Oncol. 2012 Nov 1;30(31):3864–3869.
- Gonen MS et al. “The Effect of L-Carnitine Treatment on Lactic Acid Levels in Normal Subjects and Patients with IGT.” Turkish Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2005;1:13-16.
- Walter P, Schaffhauser AO. “L-Carnitine, a ‘Vitamin-Like Substance’ for Functional Food.” Ann Nutr Metab. 2000;44:75-96.
- Fielding R et al. “l-Carnitine Supplementation in Recovery after Exercise.” Nutrients. 2018 Mar;10(3):349.