If you were reading the blog last year, you may remember that I had a couple of BioSignature assessments in the latter stages of my competition prep: the first one about a month out from the BNBF British Finals and then a follow-up assessment just a few days before the Final.
Well, I’m not quite that close to getting on stage yet this year, but I thought I’d go and get assessed again, so my BioSignature friend Ben could help me get good and lean again for when I do step on stage!
(Small print: which will be 12 weeks today)
Please refer to my previous BioSig blog posts (linked to above) for more information about BioSig itself (or Google it) since it’s too much to go into here. A quick explanation is that it’s a skinfold test, using calipers, which assesses 12 specific sites on the body that relate to individual hormones. The result shows your hormonal profile, and the idea is then that the practitioner can advise on nutritional, lifestyle and supplement changes to help get you healthier and leaner.
So, how did my most recent BioSig go? At 13 weeks out, I was well aware that I was nothing like as lean as last time I had the assessment done. I’ve been going through (and continue to go through) numerous “lifestyle stresses” which are severely affecting my emotions, my ability to relax and my length/quality of sleep. To put it mildly, this year’s prep has been one hell of a lot harder than last year’s. So, quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this BioSig!
However, what I did know is that – good or bad – I would use the result as a starting point from which to improve. If the results were good, then great! It would give me the encouragement to carry on. If they were bad, well, hey ho, things can only get better from here! That’s how I was approaching it.
Either way, I knew I was in safe hands with Ben. He’s hugely professional, completely non-judgemental and utterly committed to helping his BioSig clients regardless of the challenges they’re facing.
I hope you can see the image (click to enlarge), which also includes the details of my previous two BioSigs to compare. Although, as Ben said, I shouldn’t let the % increases freak me out (!), since I was incredibly lean last time he took my measures.
Here’s what Ben had to say:
“The results of your latest BioSignature assessment indicate oestrogen, especially ‘xenoestrogen’ (foreign oestrogen, the hamstring site) as your main priority. What we can also see from your measurements is that the triceps (2) and pec (3) are also high on the list.
“When the pec is high on the list of priorities this indicate the person is aromatising their own testosterone/androgens into oestrogen. T,his could be caused by the presence of xenoestogens but in this case your hamstring measurement is not far of normal range so there is likely to be another contributing factor to the conversion of androgens to oestrogen and causing this hormonal imbalance.
“The lifestyle stresses we have discussed that you have been under recently and the detrimental affect it has been having on your sleep patterns and quality could be a leading factor in this process. Whenever we produce stress on the body (physical or mental) we produce cortisol, this sends our body into a catabolic state and increases the production of other hormones (including oestrogen) and decrease in the beneficial hormones (such as testosterone and growth hormone). It is likely that if you are stressed throughout the day and also if you are not sleeping and recovering properly, the amount of time spent in this catabolic state and the increase in oestrogen could be the main source of the problem.
“We will re-introduce the fibre cycle to help eliminate any foreign oestrogens and toxins, along with the ‘Methylator’ supplement to improve the excretion of the toxins and focus on trying to reduce cortisol in the evening and improve sleep. We are going to introduce two types of magnesium to help improve sleep quality ‘Uber Mag with Tryptophan’ and ‘Uber Inositol with Magnesium Taurate’. Magnesium is a ‘Yin’ mineral and contains calming properties so taking this in the evening will help you to wind down and relax, so when you get into bed you are ready to sleep. The ‘Uber Mag’ contains Trytophan, the amino acid which helps to produce ‘serotonin’ (the sleep hormone). The ‘Uber Inositol’ has ‘adaptogen’ properties, meaning it will help to rebalance neurotransmitter production, reducing those which are too high and increasing those which are too low. This is great for those who go to sleep ‘wired’ and can’t switch off.
“Hopefully with the improvement in sleep we should see less time spent in a catabolic state, reduction in cortisol, reduction in aromatisation and increase in growth hormone.”
Thanks, Ben! Here’s to my re-assessment in a few weeks time. I have a goal in mind… and I think I can get there!
Stress is something which affects many of us, not just bodybuilders prepping for a competition. So I asked Ben to give some general advice which can be used by anybody, sporty or not. I hope these nutrition, sleep and relaxation tips help:
Dealing with Cortisol in the Real World
“We are exposed to so many different stresses nowadays that elevated cortisol is very common and can be the main cause of low energy, an inability to lose weight or struggles to gain lean muscle. Here are my top tips to reduce cortisol levels.
“When looking at reducing cortisol during the day and improving energy, food choices are the biggest factor. Breakfast is hugely important as this sets you up for the day. You want to have a breakfast that is high in amino acid ‘tyrosine’: this increases the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ which is responsible for attention span and drive. Food that contain high levels of tyrosine are egg, red meats and wild meats. So we recommend the ‘Meat and Nuts Breakfast’.
“Your typical breakfast of cereal will spike insulin – and, as a result, spike cortisol – and increase serotonin, which promotes sleep. That’s probably why you have low energy. Throughout the day you want to eat more lean proteins, vegetables, smart fats and avoid refined or processed carbohydrates. You can consume carbohydrates, just chose better sources such as quinoa, sweet potato, brown or wild rice and berries. In the evening you want to have more white meats or fish as these foods contain higher amounts of the amino acid taurine: this is converted to Gabba so will help with sleep. Some carbohydrates in the evening will help with the production of serotonin (the sleep hormone) but again make sure its not a refined or processed source.
“Earlier on in the day, you could add a slice of two of lime to your water: improving your PH levels can also help reduce cortisol, don’t do this in the evening though as you need to be slightly acidic for sleep.
“To improve sleep you need to help your body switch off in the evenings so that when you get into bed you are ready to sleep. Here are some ideas:
1) A ‘mental dump’: this can be something as simple as a to-do List for the next day. By writing it all down you move those thoughts to the sub conscious so when you go to bed they are not running through your head.
2) Remove stimulation. Have a certain time in the evening before you go to bed where you don’t use electrical devices, get off Facebook or Twitter, stop answering emails and text messages.
3) Create the Cave. We are supposed to sleep in the dark, that’s why its harder to get up in winter than it is in summer. There should be no light in the room so invest in some good curtains or a black-out blind. Even the standby light on your TV or radio is enough to disturb sleep. Remove things that emit radiation, this will stimulate your body and affect sleep. Put mobile phones, laptops, iPads in another room, you’re asleep anyway so you’re not going to need them!
Thank you Ben!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.