The abuse NFL players take is widespread knowledge and not a secret to anyone. From joint replacements and concussions to the recent studies on CTE, we all know the NFL is hurting players. What’s less studied is, how does a player recover from the Trauma of the NFL.
What most regular people don’t know is that as a former player you get mail pouring into your mailbox from the NFL regarding depression and injuries and a list of resources to help you. Why do they do that? For one, depression and anxiety are huge problems amongst former players. Yes, because they’re careers are over and some are having identity crisis’ as well as high divorce rates, but also pain and inflammation can lead to mental health issues as well. Inflammation and pain also results from previous orthopedic injuries like knee surgeries. The common saying in the league is, “what’s the rate of injury in the NFL? 100%”. During playing days, players can keep pain at bay with the anti-inflammatories and pain killers that are infinitely available to players; however, after playing some of that pain begins to catch back up with the player since rehab workouts aren’t constant.
So how does the NFL tell you how to deal with these issues? Well, they tell you to see a western doctor for pain management and a counselor for psychological issues. Those may have some merit, but they don’t solve the root problems that are creating very unhealthy people after their playing days (note: I should say former NFL player insurance does provide chiropractor visits and brain evaluations, which are very helpful. It’s not all bad by any stretch.) After my playing days I searched for a way of life that could reduce pain, make me feel better and produce a higher quality of life.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Bulletproof diet a year after playing that I began to feel real results. For those unfamiliar with the diet, you may think, “How can a diet effect pain and injuries, including brain health?” Well sit back and let me answer that for you.
1. It provides a better nutrient content than a conventional western diet.
NFL players tend to have a better diet than a standard person since they have different nutrient needs and are paid to maintain their bodies. I do think that there are some areas that have hurt the traditional NFL diet.
High protein diets are common since the idea is to keep or build more muscle. More protein is necessary for them, but how much is too much? Some players have a 2.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I think that has it’s root in bodybuilding, and unfortunately to high of a protein intake can lead to higher levels of inflammation, which is one of the many things we need to avoid. The BP diet calls for significantly less protein, in exchange for more greens and saturated fats. This provides more nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Protein supplements from companies like Musclepharm and GNC have junk fillers and are sourced from poor protein sources. The BP diet stresses use of the highest quality of protein from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows.
Aside from that, the NFL diet is high in carbohydrates, but many of those tend to come from grains like breads, oatmeals and cereals. Those, while higher in fiber, are causing more inflammation! The BP diet is an anti-inflammation diet, meaning it encourages food that are anti-inflammatory. Foods dense in omega-3 fatty acids are on the top of the list.
2. I think clear and sharp with the BP Diet
Hits to the head and chronic small hits to the helmet definitely take their toll on your thinking. When you’re younger the body and brain seem to be able to compensate for the hits you take. As we age, we begin to lose our ability to compensate and we start to experience the effects of the hits. With the BP diet, you tend to run off of the brains preferred fuel source: ketones. The MCT oil in the BP coffee fuel the brain and can kick you into ketosis, meaning that your brain and body are using ketones as fuel rather than glucose. The brain begins to function much more efficiently without loads and loads of carbs every 3 hours or so. Running on glucose from carb sources puts you on a roller coaster all day with your mood, because it’s so dependent on your glucose consumption.
The BP diet also encourages the use of natural nootropics like Ciltep, which helps with brain function and mental clarity.
3. Hormone balance is restored
After playing I got my hormone profile tested and it was completely out of whack. My adrenal glands were fatigued, which made me tired all of the time. My cortisol was off the charts and peaked around 4am. That lead to me waking up with tons of energy around 5am and had me crashing at about 9:30am. Unfortunately, that meant I was exhausted all day but when it came time for bed, I was wide awake at 10pm! These two imbalances also caused my Testosterone to dip, leading to low energy and fat storage.
The BP diet helps regular hormone balance and also encourages the use of Chinese herbs and supplements which helped me regulate my hormones. My testosterone returned to normal and thanks to some timed supplementing with these herbs and things like Magnesium, I was sleeping normal again.
It felt amazing to have sustained energy throughout the day and sleep like a baby.
4. Did I mention a reduction in inflammation?
It’s the overwhelming theme of this article. Why? Because it’s main precursor to nearly every major disease or sickness including: diabetes, heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, asthma, cancer, ALS, Alzheimers, Dementia, heart burn and leaky gut, among others. Players leave the league riddled with inflammation from past surgery and chronic hits. We also know the rates of Chronic Traumatic Encelapathy, in decades NFL players. Inflammation is also a precursor to that disease as well.
If NFL players want to get healthy, they need to be relentless in removing chronic inflammation from their bodies. The BP diet is high in saturated fats and Omega-3 fats that greatly reduce inflammation. The diet is scaled so that foods and beverages that cause inflammation are to be consumed scarcely, if at all. I decided that I would simply never consume the majority of these inflammation causing foods since i’ve received my share of inflammation over the years.
What is the result?
What was the result of me doing that? My joint pain has all but disappeared, my brain is firing on all cylinders, and my previous injuries (back, ankle and knee surgeries) are all 99% better. I used to have chronic back pain, but thanks to the BP diet (along with workouts, chiropractic care and acupuncture) the pain has largely been reduced. I also have arthritic knees that used to give me problems, especially after workouts and sports. Now I very rarely have pain or joint swelling.
I’ve been able to reduce my weight 30 lbs, my blood pressure by 20-25 and my resting heart rate from 89 bpm to around 60 bpm. These are significant changes that I wasn’t expecting to see.
I think this diet is crucial for athletes in general, not just retired ones. But NFL players might have the most to gain. If we really want these ex-athletes to have the best quality of life after playing the Bulletproof diet might just be the key.