By Brian Wallace, Ph.D., FACSM |
Over the decades, nutrition and exercise have emerged as the quintessential strategies for improving health and fitness while setting the foundation for peak performance. Unfortunately, a decided limitation with these programs has been the one size fits all mentality, which quite simply is an unfortunate oversimplification of intricate physiologic dynamics. Population based statistics and studies were never meant to be recommendations for a specific individual but rather broad based generalizations for how population groups would, by and large, respond over time. Training and nutrition programs simply cannot be designed based on the statistically average person but rather must be specific to each individual’s personal physiology.
A considerable amount of research is helping to identify how exercise and nutrition can affect us on a cellular level, impacting the biochemical and physiologic pathways for how we function and age. Exercise genetics, epigenetics and nutrigenomics, new disciplines describing the interplay between exercise, nutrition and genes, are ramping up and personalized programs that address our own personal genome based on testing should arrive in a decade or so. We may soon learn precisely which combination of exercise, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, has the greatest impact on a specific individual – their waistline, LDL’s, HDL’s, body fat, muscle fibers, energy and ultimately, performance. The reality is, we already have biomarkers that tell us exactly how we respond to a particular diet and lifestyle. Ultimately, isn’t that the bottom line!
In light of this, we have created a framework through which we can work with each individual – a system anchored in science, integrity in numbers and quality assurance. It offers a platform upon which we can build a high performance nutrition and fitness training program – aligning vision and needs with individual-specific goals. In this model, each person becomes an individual case study – first establishing a baseline physiologic blueprint – an ahead of the curve assessment system designed to surface individual physiologic and biochemichal strengths, weaknesses and differences. From this, we can create your Personal Physiologic Profile laying the groundwork for your nutrition and training program.
Most importantly, this is not a one time, one size fits all approach to training and nutrition but rather a systematic individualization of programming based on sequential testing and follow-up over time. Unlike the health care community which goes outside the numbers to determine pathology, we go inside the numbers to determine exactly where someone is and what we need to do to get them to optimal function from both a training and nutrition perspective. Using this system we are able to exact more information about ones physiology, lifestyle dynamics and individual responses to targeted strategies than any other program; and in those instances when a particular measure starts to move in the wrong direction we’re able to address this issue in a timely fashion.
This article is reprinted and updated from the Sport Digest archives.
Dr. Brian Wallace is the chair of sports exercise science at the United States Sports Academy.