The average adult will pick up a cold or flu bug a couple times a year.
If you’re a lifter who eats enough protein, it’s probably less than that.
But we know it’s inevitable, so it’s important to have a plan on how to adjust your program so you can ride it out and not get derailed.
If you’re feeling it coming on, should you still workout?
What changes should you make with food to get over it faster?
HOW TO CHANGE WORKOUTS
If you have a fever, if the cold is in your chest, feeling achy all over – don’t go. Rest.
If your symptoms are all above the neck, your body will be able to handle a workout.
Dial back the intensity a little. Do that by doing one less set, dropping the load by 10%, doing fewer reps, or a combination of all of these.
You can also swap one exercise for another to work the same muscle group. For example, if the plan was to do squats to work quadriceps, it might be smart to do leg extensions instead if you’re feeling a sick. Use a chest press machine instead of a traditional bench press or heavy dumbell presses.
Do some work, get blood pumped into the target muscle groups, and avoid potential injury. Live to fight another day when you’re back up to 100%!
Make sure you wipe down your equipment, cough into your sleeve, and wash your hands a lot.
If it’s just coming on and you think you’re contagious, it’s probably best to workout at home.
If you’re at the tail-end of a cold – you know – the stage where it hangs on and on – go workout. When I’m in that situation, I remind myself that my quads are NOT sick.
HOW TO CHANGE FOOD
When your body is fighting off an infection, all resources are needed for that task. Calories are the resource in this case.
If you’re in a fat-loss phase and running a calorie deficit, stop that for now. Bring calories up to your maintenance level or a little above.
If you have an appetite at all, you might crave carbs because they are a fast source of energy. But what your body really needs is protein.
The immune system needs amino acids from protein.
When I catch a cold in a fat-loss phase, I close the deficit with increased protein. I’ll increase portion sizes a little and maybe add in a couple protein snacks. Shakes are the easiest to do when I’m not feeling well enough to cook.
If you get sick frequently, research glutamine. This amino acid is considered ineffective for muscle growth, but when I was teaching and I stopped taking it, I caught every cold bug that came to school. When I started taking it again, I stopped catching all the colds.
Glutamine has some benefits for gut health, too. Research it on your own before adding it to your supplements.
Google “glutamine and immune system” and you’ll find a lot of things to read to learn more about this amino acid.
you’ll know exactly how much food you need to eat to reach your goals, you’ll have customized macros, a tracker you can continue to use, a plan for staying on track when eating out, and you’ll have a strategy for when and how to adjust your macros over time.
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Coach Tammy became an athlete in her 50’s and is passionate about helping other busy adults transform their health. Each individual has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that have to be used to shape a program that will work. Science-based principles, flexibility, accountability, and support make all the difference. If you want to learn more about her online coaching programs, click here.