Dr. Tom Bilella: Nutrition and Metabolism

By Dr. Tom Bilella – Team Nutritionist, New York Jets

As an athlete, your body has an incredible ability to be fit and healthy and to operate at a high level of performance. However, the stress of training, competition and life can create some health related ups and downs. If in your career you have ever experienced things like fatigue, cravings, gaining weight too easily, anxiety, depression, blood sugar disorders, sleep disturbances, sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) and/or digestive disorders, this is your body’s way of telling you that you are out of balance.

The food choices you make, the quality of the supplements that you take, the training and exercise you do or lack of getting well rounded exercise plus the phenomenon of too much stress (distress) on your body all contribute to putting you and your body out of balance.

To get your body in balance and functioning like a high performance engine at Le Mans you must understand something about metabolism. The chemical reactions in the body’s cells that convert food into the energy required to do everything from walking, running and jumping to thinking to growing are called “metabolism”.

Metabolism is a constant process that begins when we’re conceived and ends when we kick the bucket. It is vital for all life forms — not just humans. If metabolism stops working properly, life cannot go on.

We create our metabolism, we are not victims of it. In other words, what we feed our body and when, along with the balance of calories from carbohydrates, fat and protein, largely dictate our metabolic capacity and metabolic health.

People are made up of three metabolic types: Protein, Carbo, and Mixed type.  The type of metabolism of an organism determines which substances it will find nutritious and which it will find poisonous. For ultimate health and fitness, your metabolic type must be determined. You just might be feeding your body the improper mixture of food. Sort of like too much oil, not enough gas.

I recommend the book, The Metabolic Type Diet, by William Wolcott. This will allow you to customize your diet, to free yourself from food cravings, achieve your ideal weight; enjoy high energy and prevent injury and improve performance. You have the ability to transform your body but you need to customize your personal program properly.

What you put in your mouth determines how your genes are expressed. Poor food choices and consumption of empty calories (alcohol, sugar-rich drinks) promote degenerative conditions (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc…) even if there is no major genetic link.

The above point does not lessen the importance of supplements for athletes. In fact most athletes are not getting the needed nutrition from their foods. In today’s world, with its unprecedented mixture of toxic substances, and the generally poor quality of foods produced by modern agriculture, supplements are a necessity for optimum performance and health.

Your choice of supplements is important. Choose a product with biologically active nutrients. For example, look for ionic minerals in liquid form and B vitamins that are easily assimilated. Otherwise, you may be putting more stress on your body trying to assimilate these non-active forms.

A great base supplement that I use with most athletes I work with is Natural Vitality’s Organic Liquid Vitamins®, mixed with water. This is a great liquid multi-vitamin that is easily absorbed by the body.

In my work with athletes from pro football players to girls softball teams, to world class triathletes, I have repeatedly encountered specific mineral deficiencies, zinc and magnesium being the main ones. I have also found excessive amounts of calcium with women athletes who think that calcium in large amounts will prevent osteoporosis which is a fallacy. I have always recommended that they get on the magnesium supplement Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm® taken 2-3 times per day in small doses. Magnesium balances calcium out so it doesn’t accumulate in arteries or form kidney stones and create other health issues. This has helped them with better recovery and deeper and more restful sleep.

For those that do need calcium, the balancing formula of Natural Calm Plus Calcium has done the trick.

Since I was eleven years old when I went with my mother to see a chiropractor for a back injury she had sustained, I knew I wanted to be involved in helping people improve their health. After high school I pursued an education in natural healing and nutrition and achieved a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine and a Masters degree in Nutritional Science.

I knew it wasn’t enough to talk about nutrition and exercise; I needed to “walk the talk”. In the 1990’s I trained as a body builder and ended up winning the overall title in the light heavy weight division of the 1995 N.P.C. Natural New Jersey Bodybuilding Championship, my first and only bodybuilding competition.

My approach to nutritional medicine has helped many shed unhealthy body fat, reduce the effects of premature aging, optimize genetic potential, enrich their careers and reach peak performance in all areas of their life. I have done it for myself and I can do it for you.

My list of clients includes work with high school athletes, college players and major league baseball teams such as the Boston Red Sox and the N.Y. Mets. I am currently the team nutritionist for the NFL’s New York Jets and have worked with players from the NY Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.

Athletes are constantly in search of the latest information that will help them pack on more muscle, make them stronger and leaner, and improve endurance. If you want to get to the next level, odds are you will need to improve in all or one of these categories. Learn about metabolic typing and pay attention to what you eat and how you supplement. This just might be the most important performance health strategy that you can start implementing right away.

Note: Dr. Tom Bilella is a Doctor of Chiropractic, Master of Science (in Nutrition), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Diplomat in the Clinical Board of Nutrition.