You might have noticed that LeBron James performed better in the first quarter last season than he did in the fourth quarter. The reason might actually have to do with his arteries.
That’s right: not his muscles, his brain or his heart (spirit), but his heart function—how well his heart supplies energy to his muscles through his arteries. LBJ’s muscles perform well in the first quarter, but to function well down the stretch, they need extra energy. And eating well before the game can provide just that.
As you use your muscles, your arteries refill their energy supply with oxygen and nutrients by pumping more blood into them, forcing the removal of performance-sabotaging waste products like lactic acid. So a key to peak performance is to ensure your arteries are performing at an optimum level on game day.
Think of your vascular system as a train network. Your heart is the main station, the hub through which all trains must travel. Your arteries and veins are the tracks and tunnels that flow through your body, dropping passengers (blood) off at various sub-stations (joints, muscles).
If there’s an obstruction in the tracks, the passengers get irate. In your body, a station getting less blood than it needs will not perform at peak level. Your arteries normally dilate when demand from your muscles increases—unless you have inhibited them.
Artery Inhibitors to Avoid Before Games: Saturated fats, processed meats, milk chocolate, coconut oil and caffeine.
What inhibited LeBron? Possibly that last item, as he reputedly enjoys drinking coffee before games, at halftime and during third quarter breaks.
Artery Expanders to Consume Instead: Foods containing citrulline and arginine, such as watermelon, walnuts or almonds.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He has co-founded 12 companies, including the popular websites RealAge.com and YOUBeauty.com.
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His TV show—The Dr. Oz Show— recently won its third Emmy, with Dr. Oz his second as the best daytime talk show host.