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Did You Ever Think Your Favorite Food Could Be Your Biggest Performance Hindrance?

By: Bill Parisi, CSCS
Founder, Parisi Speed School

I believe everyone would agree that food allergies exist.  This goes without saying.  For example, a person eats shellfish, or a child eats peanut butter, and their throat closes up seconds later. Immediate food allergy reactions are clear but not all food allergy reactions are the same and can occur with a longer time lapse. Some food allergy reactions take minutes, hours or even days depending on which part of the immune system is activated. This is partly under genetic control.

Food allergy reactions that are delayed can be more subtle, causing loss of mental clarity, fatigue, headache, eczema, heart racing, diarrhea and dozens of other reactions that may take a day or two after the food is ingested to occur. This can make it difficult to connect the symptom directly with the food. When someone reacts allergically to a food, it means they are mounting an antibody (an immune protein) or a T cell (one of the specialized immune cells) response to that food.  This response can hinder an athlete’s ability to recovery from workouts, limit future workouts, or worse, inhibit optimal performance in competition.

Specific tests that measure what are called IgE and IgG antibodies can detect these immune reactions. Elimination of the offending food leads to rapid symptomatic improvement. Any athlete who is looking to improve or reach their peak performance should have food and environment allergen testing performed.  Food allergies may also result in unwanted weight gain, which will clearly impair optimal performance. 

I speak from my own personal experience.  I grew up loving milk and eggs.  Every day I consumed milk and eggs.  I also grew up feeling fatigued all the time, always needing an alarm clock to wake up.  Also, if I was relaxed enough, I was also able to fall asleep at any point in the day.

It was not until I became aware of food allergy testing that my life changed.  My test results showed that I was highly allergic to milk and eggs, which resulted in my chronic fatigue.  I removed these two foods from my diet and as a result my quality of sleep improved and my life changed for the better.   I no longer need an alarm clock to wake up and my energy has increased tremendously.  I credit food allergy testing for giving me the focus and energy my body needs to work tirelessly over the past 20 years building the Parisi Speed School. 

Any athlete who is serious about their performance should have food and environment allergen testing performed and then properly interpreted. Very simply, if the culprit allergens are illuminated, an individual’s body should have greater physical capabilities to produce more useful energy, have superior endurance and avoid or remove instances of repeated illness or un-well feelings.

Competitive athletes are prone to injury and infection due to excessive free radical production, which is a natural byproduct of intense and sustained training.  It’s like stepping on the gas pedal of a car – just as you get more exhaust from the engine, athletes create more "metabolic exhaust," from intense training of any kind. This so called oxidative stress can contribute to injury and poor immune function. This oxidative stress combined, with the wrong food and hormonal imbalance and/or nutritional deficiencies will greatly impair performance.

With all that said, there is an easy solution for athletes and one that I would recommend: Athletes can use Quest Diagnostics Blueprint for Athletes for food and environmental allergen testing, testing for nutritional deficiencies and even hormonal imbalances. Results from this simple blood-based test will give athletes significant insight as to what’s going on inside their body and what actions athletes can take to reach a higher level of performance. And, Blueprint for Athletes is not just any blood test – it’s designed to benefit athletes by providing in-depth information in the context of sports by some of the top experts in sports science. Professional athletes in the NFL including the New York Giants have been using Blueprint for Athletes since 2013.

When it comes down to it, there’s no denying that a nutritionally-sound and balanced individual who has removed food allergens from their source of fueling and diet – which I believe are extremely common – and has undergone proper strength and endurance training will be a formidable athlete in any sport.

For more information about Bill Parisi and the Parisi Speed School, check out

Blueprint for Athletes™ provides actionable diagnostic insights to help committed athletes improve their performance.  Powered by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, Blueprint for Athletes offers customized testing and personalized insights that athletes can use to help improve their performance, avoid injury and support better overall health.  To learn more about Blueprint for Athletes, visit