What millions of Spartan racers can teach the rest of us about energy, diet and longevity

Spartan racers at start of race

Each year, millions of people participate in Spartan obstacle course races around the world. For most, the goal isn’t to finish first but rather to just cross the finish line. These athletes have an unbreakable drive to fuel their strength and resilience. And they could probably teach the rest of us a lot about achieving our personal best.

What are we missing when it comes to our fitness?
There are elite athletes. At the other end of the spectrum are those whose only exercise is walking to and from the kitchen. Most of us fall in the middle. We just want to be fit and normal. A friend of mine refers to this as the fitness middle class.

Most people just want to learn what they need to do to stay relatively fit and support their overall wellness. This conversation is coming up with more frequency with my clients.

What’s new in energy, from the guy who wrote the book on the subject
A Spartan race can take several hours to complete. Participants must learn how to fuel sustained energy. We may not be training to run an obstacle course, but we would probably benefit from having the energy to routinely add exercise into our already hectic day.

“A lot of people say they don’t work out because they don’t have the energy. My book, “The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy,” was published in 2018. What didn’t exist back then, that I’d write about now?

For one thing, I’d talk more about the benefits of raw whole bean coffee powder as a caffeine source. Because it has fiber, the body absorbs the caffeine gradually. You get sustained energy without the jitters and crashes.

Combine the raw coffee powder with matcha tea plus L-theanine for focus, and you’ve got more of the energy you need to finish your workout routine. In fact, there’s even a Spartan Energy supplement with these ingredients, developed with Spartan athletes in mind.

Two surprising reasons why we should probably eat more protein
Most of us know protein helps build strong muscles. Muscles help supply our bodies with energy and they are essential for every movement we make throughout the day. For Spartan racers, the more muscles they have and the more they use them, the more protein they need.

I’ve revised my own understanding of protein. The latest research suggests that we have way underestimated how much protein we need for optimal health! Most of us should be eating between 100 and 120 grams daily. That should come from a variety of sources. And don’t ignore beef! Grass-fed beef has many essential nutrients you can’t find anywhere else.

All of us start losing muscle mass around age 40. We can do two things about it. One, we can build up muscle reserves ahead of time. And two, we can take steps to slow the loss through diet, exercise and supplements.

In addition to giving us energy, it may be surprising to learn:

  1. Muscles help us manage our blood sugar levels. And eye-popping 80 percent of the sugar in our bloodstream is cleared by muscle. The more muscle mass we lose, the less sugar we’ll be able to process, and the higher and longer our blood sugar will stay elevated after eating.
  2. Healthy muscle mass will help protect against one of the biggest risks to longevity: frailty. Consider this: If you fall in your later years and break a hip, it’s often a death sentence. And who is at most risk for falling? Those who are frail!

Even if we never plan to run a Spartan race, what we put into our bodies matters to our energy level and longevity. You can get away with a bad diet when you’re younger. But all of that goes out the window when you hit 40. You’re on a slippery slope. It becomes real when one day you can’t even open a jar!

Take your cue from the Spartan athletes. They’re challenging themselves to continually improve on their personal best. If you start making changes now, no matter your age, there’s still time to improve your quality of life so you can be ready for anything!


Meet the Experts

  • Jonny Bowden

    Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster” ™ is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Health, Prevention, and dozens of other print and online publications.

    Dr. Jonny is the best-selling author of 15 books including The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Living Low Carb (now in its fourth edition), Smart Fat (with Steven Masley, MD), and The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer.

    Follow him @jonnybowden
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