In a previous article, we explored the role of macronutrients and fat-burning in Stunt Work and Acting. With so much advice orientated towards short and intense bursts of energy and performance we often see people deploy methods that are actually detrimental to maintaining the physical and mental performance that is required by Performers who need to sustain their energy on long sequences or long days on set.
To go deeper into this, today, we'll focus on two equally crucial aspects: hydration and micronutrients. Also we'll look at the role of ATP energy and Creatine in improving physical performance.
Why Hydration Matters
Hydration is not just about quenching thirst; it's a vital component for optimal physiological function, especially in high-intensity activities like stunts. Proper hydration aids in temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and even cognitive function.
While macronutrients provide the energy for physical activities, micronutrients are essential for cellular function and recovery. These include vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, iron, and zinc, which are crucial for bone health, immune function, and energy production.
The Powerhouse: ATP Energy
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is often referred to as the "energy currency" of your muscles (or the the cells they're made up from to be precise) . It provides the energy needed for many biochemical processes, including muscle contraction, which is crucial in Stunt Work. The more ATP you have available, the better your muscles function during high-intensity activity.
Creatine and ATP Energy
Creatine is a compound that helps to regenerate ATP, which is why it's commonly used in supplements to boost performance. It allows for more immediate energy in the muscles, improving strength and endurance.
In your muscles, creatine is 'phosphorylated' to create phosphocreatine, an energy reserve. During high-intensity, short-duration activities like stunts, phosphocreatine donates its phosphate group to the depleted adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to quickly regenerate your ATP Energy. This process is facilitated by the enzyme creatine kinase.
The quick regeneration of ATP allows for a brief but powerful burst of energy, which can be particularly useful in activities that require sudden, intense effort. This is why creatine supplements are often popular among Athletes and Stunt Performers.
Do Athletes really need to Supplement with Creatine?
No. This simply isn't true and many leading Sports Nutritionists, and The ISA, recommend a 'Food First' approach. We do this for a variety of very good reasons, including preventing side-effects related to over-supplementation.
As with Protein, Athletes and Performers can get enough Creatine from food alone. While red meat and salmon are great sources for amino acids and creatine, vegetarian-friendly eggs provide a massive amount of these amino acids as well.
Natural Alternatives to Creatine
Good nutrition can also play a role in ATP production. Foods rich in certain micronutrients like B-vitamins, iron, and magnesium can help improve mitochondrial function, the site of ATP production. By focusing on a balanced diet, you can reduce or eliminate the need for creatine supplements.
According to the USDA, eating two eggs (roughly 100 grams) nets nearly 11 grams of protein, 422 mg of glycine, 691 mg of arginine, and 486 mg of methionine in addition to other essential amino acids. Eggs also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B2.
Are there Risks Related to Sustained Creatine Supplementation?
Yes. Its not a debate, the risks are well researched and studied. Occasional use may not pose much of a risk but continued use can do. The risks and side effects include:
ATP is the primary energy carrier in all living organisms on Earth, meaning ATP is the most overlooked molecule that is most essential to your physical performance and endurance.”
Nutritionists specialising in athletic performance emphasise the role of hydration and micronutrients in recovery and sustained energy levels. In our field we also emphasis the importance of not just short bursts of energy but ensuring you have sustained and sustainable energy levels throughout the day, without relying on sugar / carb-loading which will cause peaks and crashes - to do this we recommend conditioning your body for we call 'fat-burning' (and we don't mean this in terms of weight loss!)
In addition, ignoring hydration and micronutrients can be detrimental to your performance and recovery. Make them a part of your nutrition strategy to excel in your Stunt Work.
Join The ISA and discover how we go deeper than simply training techniques. To sustain performance and be successful in your career as an Action Actor or Stunt Performer requires a deeper understanding of the energy systems that sustain mind and body. As professional performers this enables us to keep our energy, spirit and focus up from the start to finish on every job, and across multiple jobs.
About the Author
Gavin Martin is the Principal of The International Stunt Academy and a recognised authority in stunts, film, and human performance. With a scientific approach to dissecting techniques and enhancing performance, he's equally passionate about the art and psychology of Stunts, Acting, Performance and Film-making. Before joining The ISA, he worked globally as a Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Creative Director, collaborating with many of the world's leading brands and innovating in digital film and production techniques. Known for his targeted coaching philosophy, Gavin is an agent for rapid, effective change. He values progress over accolades and pushes hard for the rapid and effective changes that moves us all forwards.
This blog os co-authored by The ISA Team