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Anthony asked...

I am a 38 male, weighing 80Kg, and 6ft in height. I have always tended to get addicted to exercise without building in enough rest and potentially not eating the right things at the right time. I would really appreciate some guidance as to rest/mix of exercise and nutrition, as I suffer from fatigue at times and don't feel like I get the full benefit for the amount of effort that I put in (Am I doing more harm than good?). My typical routine is: Monday - Small bowl of cereal with skimmed milk at 6am. Starting at 6:30 am = 3 mile run in 21 minutes, 1 hour circuit training, followed by 50mins weights workout (predominately chest and arms). USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Followed by 300g of chicken and fruit throughout the morning. Tuesday - 1hr 15mins cardio (cross trainer, bike, treadmill, stepper). USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Wednesday - Small bowl of cereal with skimmed milk at 6am. Starting at 6:30 am = 3 mile run in 21 minutes, 45 mins abs class, followed by 50mins weights workout (predominately back and arms). USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Followed by 300g of chicken and fruit throughout the morning. Thursday - 1hr 15mins cardio (cross trainer, bike, treadmill, stepper). USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Friday - Small bowl of cereal with skimmed milk at 6am. Starting at 6:30 am = 3 mile run in 21 minutes, 1 hour resistance class, followed 20 mins punchbag, and sit ups). USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Followed by 300g of chicken and fruit throughout the morning. Saturday - 1 hour boxercise class. USN protein shake immediately afterwards. Sunday - rest The rest of my diet (evening meals) are generally healthy with plenty of fish and veg.

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The Answer

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘not getting the full benefit for the amount of effort that I put in’. What are you aiming for with this exercise regime? On average, half an hour of aerobic exercise five days a week will provide really good levels of fitness and heart health for ‘normal’ people.

Clearly the situation is different if you’re a competitive athlete. You yourself use the term ‘addicted to exercise’. While it’s relatively difficult to do yourself physical harm from the levels of exercise you describe, I do wonder whether your life is being taken over by thoughts of exercise and it could be having a psychological effect on you. A high protein diet is often used by bodybuilders who are trying to build muscles. Most doctors do not routinely recommend protein supplements such as protein shakes – it sounds as if you have a healthy, balanced diet which is low in saturated fat and high in fruit and vegetables the rest of the time.

You may find that eating more ‘slow burn’ unrefined carbohydrates would increase your energy levels. If a patient comes to the doctor complaining of tiredness, the sort of medical conditions we would be looking for include anaemia, diabetes and underactive thyroid gland, along with liver or kidney problems.

It is highly unlikely that you would be able to exercise at this level if you had any of these conditions.

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