Dr. Kevin Sprouse is trained in both emergency and sports medicine, making him one of the most sought after physicians working with some of the top athletes around the world. His patients have included many elite, Olympic and professional endurance athletes, including Tour de France cyclists. Utilizing cutting-edge and routine tests, he is able to help tailor protocols to his patients, which now also include recreational athletes. His focus is to help them to optimize, not only their physical endurance and strength, but their recovery as well.  

In this episode, Dave Korsunsky, founder of Heads Up, talks with Dr. Kevin Sprouse about exercise medicine for top athletes. You’ll learn how these principles and techniques can apply to recreational athletes and anyone interested in health optimization and performance as a goal.

Tracking health metrics such as blood tests, lactate, HRV, HRV-CV, sleep and more, and pairing it with the Heads Up app, his patients can see for themselves how the metrics they are tracking are affected by the choices they make in training, recovery, sleep, diet and more. If health optimization and performance is your goal, you’ll want to hear how Dr. Kevin Sprouse, who has worked with people who are at the pinnacle of performance in athletics, to learn what really allows them to perform at their best and how that information can trickle down to the rest of us.

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In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • How we have a lot of access to data tracking, but not a lot of good ways to correlate it to see what’s actionable data. This is why Dr. Kevin Sprouse is excited to work with Dave and Heads Up to help him holistically manage and interpret his patients’ measurements. “Tools like yours helps us to distill those metrics and helps us to see which ones are useful…without that, it’s a lot of shooting in the dark, a lot of guess and check.” [3:00]
  • This is Dr. Kevin Sprouse’s 7th year at the Tour de France and that he spends 60-100 days a year at professional races with his patients. However, the emergency component (not just the crashes) along with other stuff that comes up (the asthma attacks, stomach pains, etc.) allows him to stay in both sides of the medicine he’s trained in [7:45]
  • How Dr. Sprouse has always enjoyed being in sports – baseball, tennis, basketball, soccer, running, Triathalons, mountain biking, cycling. Yet what made him look deeper into exercise medicine was that it’s a missing piece in most of the medicine in preventative care [8:35]
  • Although he is fascinated by the musculoskeletal injury healing, he’s also interested in using the supportive nutrition and performance promotion to heal his athlete patients. The goal is for them to be resilient and to perform their best [9:35]
  • How metric tracking can help those who have been into sports, yet not seeing their physical body change as they would have expected, can help them identify the areas to tweak to get where they want to be [11:00]
  • Metrics Dr. Kevin Sprouse checks for top elite athletes – physiological levels [12:50]
    • Endurance athletes – physiological markers in a sports lab – VO2 max, lactate (testing with a device that works similarly to a blood glucometer), metabolism, etc.
  • How non-athletes can use the same metrics such as lactate to learn more about their health and their metabolic status (e.g., diet, insulin resistance, etc.) [18:55]
  • Advice for people who work out and eat great, but can’t lose the weight. How doing high-intensity exercise can be making them metabolically deficient. How the solution may be to drop the intensity way down (e.g., from CrossFit to brisk walking) to get them to finally lose the weight [20:20]
  • Discussion on fat-adaptation and when it’s best utilized. And how at the high-level, athletes end up fat-adapted just due to their training schedule. [22:15]
    • How you can go too far with seeking a fat-burning state at the expense of hormones, etc. [24:00]
  • Why fat-adaptation, ketosis, etc is not the goal and that there is no shortcut to get you there super fast [26:20]
  • How you can use tracking to help you figure out what your inputs are that help keep you resilient [27:40]
  • A more in-depth discussion on lactate in high-level athletes [28:40]
  • About the KRAFT insulin test that helps to find undiagnosed diabetes [30:00]
  • That sports are a series of surges and recoveries. Recovery is as important as the performance [31:20]
  • Dave and Dr. Kevin Sprouse discuss mouth breathing vs. nose breathing and strategies to simulate altitude training [33:45]
  • Top labs Dr. Kevin Sprouse likes to run and what he’s looking at with them [36:40]
    • Hemoglobin and hematocrit
    • Ferritin and what anemia of an athlete is defined as
    • Testosterone-to-cortisol ratios
    • Fasting glucose, fasting insulin, cholesterol
    • Thyroid status for hormones
    • Creatinine kinase, ALT, AST, and LDH as acute muscle damage markers
  • Tools that Dr. Kevin Sprouse uses to track data with his patients including Garmin, Training Peaks, Strava, Oura ring, Whoop — all based on the athlete and their tolerances to see their recovery [44:30]
  • How Dr. Kevin Sprouse uses a 3-day vs 45-day HRV, including HRV-CV, with his patients [46:00]
  • More discussion about health metric tracking and how Heads Up can be a great central hub for putting all the pieces you’re tracking together [49:30]

References

Podium Sports Medicine – Dr. Sprouse
The FASTER study
KRAFT Insulin Testing

About Heads Up 

Heads Up is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

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