Archive | September, 2009

So Much to Do, So Little Time

17 Sep

A while back, before I myself became a mom, I marveled at how many moms put the needs of others ahead of the needs of their own.  Some of this is unavoidable; a sick child definitely trumps an appointment for a workout.  Others, I’m not so sure.  The same holds true for all of us, whether it’s work, family or something else, it seems for many of us, our ‘default’ is to put the needs of some one or some thing above the needs of our own.

Whether you stay at home mom, work or both, there is typically a small window of time to yourself.  When considering how to spend this time, how often do you ask yourself, “What can I do for me?” And how often is the answer something that is good for you, is scientifically documented to combat stress, and might even be fun if you approach it with the right attitude?

I consider myself fortunate because I love being active.  I love lifting, I love running, I love hiking . . .the list goes on but for my first few years as a mom, I did abercrombie runvery little of any of it.  You could, and I did, write this off with the excuse that my children came first, that between work and them, there was no time left over.  Somewhere in my transition to motherhood, I forgot how much I enjoyed exercising and simply added it to my list of things to do.  Inevitably, it fell to the bottom of the list and then became one more thing I felt guilty about not getting to.  Whether due to work or kids, I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

I talk to moms and dads frequently who explain that they feel like they don’t see their children enough as it is, they just can’t feel good about taking more time away to go exercise.  I speak to executives who make the argument that getting things done at work makes their life less stressful because they can’t relax if x, y, z didn’t get finished.  I totally understand and respect all these objections but do ask the question, “Would the extra 3 hours per week (1 hour 3 times per week) away make you a better parent? A better employee?  A better boss?  Would it help others in your life to see you the way you would like them too?”  Sometimes in our hectic lives, we can all be guilty of overlooking the quality of the time we spend versus the quantity.

As I mentioned in last month’s article, getting started is never easy but once I did, an old feeling returned, that feeling of accomplishment, that feeling of strength plus a new feeling, the feeling of being proud of myself, not for exercising per se, but for making time to do something that made me feel good.  Every time I workout, overcoming the pull of children saying mommy don’t leave or the lure of my inbox flashing new messages of things I’ll have to get to later, it’s about doing something for me and that alone makes me smile inside.  I hope the the next time you had planned to go do something active and something comes up (the laundry is piling up, phone calls need to be returned, work needs to be done) that you can remember you in all of it, make yourself the priority, and do something active that will make you smile inside, and maybe even outside too.


15 Sep

By Johnny Nguyen

There would be little technological and human advancement if it weren’t for scientific research. It’s no different with exercise science; otherwise we’d still be using those rubber sweat suits and the Thigh Master.

In the past half-century, numerous scientific studies have added to a wonderful body of knowledge that helps to streamline our efforts for better health and fitness. But we still need to put scientific studies into the context in which they were conducted. We need to consider the type and experience of subjects, the design and methods used, the statistical analysis, the findings, and all the variables.

And when considering an exercise program, we also have to put it into the context of our goals. Also we must put exercise into the context of our lives. Are we getting enough physical activities? If not, then are we substituting this lack of physical activity with the proper amount of exercise? Too little? Too much? Exercise is inarguably tied to our health (and so is its volume and intensity). Yet, exercise is only part of the equation to optimal health. As such, are we optimizing our health by complimenting exercise and/or physical activities with a healthful diet? How about rest? Relaxation? Development in other areas of our lives?

There is a lot of information out there, and that’s probably the root of confusion for many, but it can also be the backbone for empowerment when we put it all into the proper context. This post is a friendly reminder (to myself and to others) to avoid myopic tendencies and consider all the variables in our lives. The big picture is a beautiful thing.

Exercise Provides Health Benefits

15 Sep

A Response to the Time Magazine Article “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”

Written by Karen Moreno

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) sent a request to members and professionals to get the “right health message out to the public.” This request was made in response to the Time magazine article “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” which too narrowly examined the role of exercise and weight loss. For the most part the article is a personal account of the author’s dissatisfaction with a long-term exercise program and lack of results. An Exercise Physiologist and ACSM member was consulted for the story. Unfortunately, according to the researcher, his study outcomes and opinions were selectively reported in the article. There are five points the ACSM is concerned will confound the public health message regarding the benefits of exercise and physical activity:

§       “Losing weight matters more than being aerobically fit in the prevention of heart disease”

§       “One can’t lose weight from exercise because exercise makes you hungrier – and willpower can’t conquer the hunger enough to make good food choices”

§       “Exercising 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week in order to lose weight (a recommendation from a ACSM Position Stand) is unrealistic”

§       “Leisure-time physical activity-just moving around more during the day – is more effective for weight loss than dedicated exercise”

§       “Vigorous exercise depletes energy resources so much that it leads to overeating – i.e., weight gain”

My concern is that this article will undermine a person’s commitment to exercise and a healthy lifestyle. A distinction needs to be made between exercise and physical activity. Exercise is physical activity, however physical activity is not exercise. Exercise is planned, structured repetitive movement designed to improve or maintain physical fitness, where physical activity is any movement carried out by the musculoskeletal system that requires energy. In other words, moving across the room is considered physical activity. There is strong scientific evidence that exercise and physical fitness promote greater health benefits than physical activity. Swain & Franklin (2005) found in their review of both clinical trails and epidemiological studies that the acute and chronic physiological adaptations to aerobic fitness following vigorous endurance exercise promote greater cardiovascular disease protection than moderate or low intensity physical activity.

exercise-heartAlthough I agree that exercise alone is not the most effective way to lose weight, I also believe that healthy body composition is more important than the number on the scale. Exercise focused on building lean body mass contributes to healthier body composition and metabolic processes, as well as diminishes age related declines in strength and power. Vigorous aerobic exercise has also been found to reduce visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat (the fat distribution associated with diabetes and heart disease). Irving, et al. (2008) examined the effects of low and high intensity exercise on total abdominal fat while controlling for energy expenditure. The results indicate greater improvements in both physical fitness and body composition with the group exercising at higher intensity when energy expenditure was comparable to the group exercising at the lower intensity. This means the higher intensity group exercised for less amount of time however expended the same amount of energy as the lower intensity group, suggesting that how hard we exercise maybe more important for reducing abdominal fat than workout duration or energy expended. It was interesting to note that these favorable body composition changes were induced without a reduction in body weight.

Slentz, et al. (2004) examined the effects of three different exercise intensities and volumes (measured as distance ran) on weight, body composition and waist circumference. The researchers found two interesting outcomes: 1) significantly greater improvements in all three of the above mentioned measurements in the groups that ran the shorter distance at moderate or vigorous intensities when compared to the non-exercising control group, and 2) the group that ran the greater distance at higher intensity lost more over all body mass than all the groups. Incidentally, Slentz et al. also found that the non-exercising control group gained weight during the 8-month study. The researchers concluded that not only was exercise intensity beneficial for promoting weight loss, improving body composition and reducing waist circumference; exercise in general was effective for weight management.

Weight loss through diet alone does not promote lean muscle mass, stimulate metabolic processes, increase insulin sensitivity, or improve cardiorespiratory fitness. The message is clear; exercise promotes greater health benefits diet alone, even if the scale does not budge. After reading the Time magazine article, the additional comments I would like to make are as follows: 1) if your exercise routine is not enjoyable or providing the expected results, change it and examine whether or not your expectation are realistic and your training program is appropriate; and 2) just because you exercise does not mean you can eat everything and anything you desire. The commitment to a healthy lifestyle requires knowledge, effort, determination and accountability. If your goal is to lose weight and your exercise routine is only using 300 Calories of energy, don’t eat a 500 Calorie post workout meal.


Karen Moreno, MA Candidacy Kinesiology/Exercise Physiology

BA Social Science/Education


ACSM Addressed Myths About Weight Loss, Exercise

Irving, B.A., Davis, C.K., Brock, D.W., Weltman, J.Y., Swift, D., Barrett, E. J.,

Gaesser, G.A., and Weltman, A. (2008). Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 40(11),1863-1872.

Slentz, C.A., Duscha, B.D, Johnson, J.L., Ketchum, K., Aiken, L.B., Samsa, G.P.,

Houmard, J.A., bales, C.W., and Kraus, W.E. (2004). Effects of the amount of exercise on body weight, body composition, and measures of central obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164(1), 31-39.

Swain, D.P., and Franklin, B.A. (2005). Comparison of cardioprotective benefits

of vigorous versus moderate intensity aerobic exercise. The American

Journal of Cardiology, 97, 141-147.

What’s the Best Exercise Program for Me?

15 Sep

Written by Matt Brockhaus

Do you remember what it was like the first time you decided to exercise?  Not just a stroll through the park, or a pick-up basketball game with friends, but a true endeavor into the world of fitness and wellbeing.

How did you decide upon an exercise routine?  Did you follow what a friend or colleague was doing?  Did you blindly jump into a program based around a series of machines and exercises based on what others were doing?  Or did you put together a thorough plan based on science and sound judgement?  How did you decide on the “right” amount of sets, reps, and rest?

No matter how it started, I am sure that there were doubts and questions along the way.  Glance around any gym in the country, and you will see a multitude of exercises and program designs in practice by people of varying shapes, sizes, and ages.  But how do you know which plan is right for you?  The popularity and doctrine of training philosophies have been as varied and sporadic as the last century’s fashion trends.  In the 1970’s, with the rising popularity of “high-intensity exercise” and bodybuilding, Nautilus machines were all anyone needed to reach the pinnacles of health, strength, and physique.  Yoga and Pilates became dominating forces in the late nineties and early 2000’s, but are they as superior as they are purported to be?

Within strength-and-conditioning, wellness, and athletic performance circles, these debates wage on time immemorial.  There really does not need to be – nor can there really be – one true and best form of exercise.  Often times, the notion of exercise dominates the conversation, and the idea of physical activity is forgotten.  The goal, after all, is to make small incremental improvements.  Without improvement, what are you after anyways?

BiggerFasterStronger believes that it is the best and most effective resistance program for developing athletes.  Don’t tell that to Rob and those who live and die by weightlifting.  And what about powerlifting?  A lot can be said for the strength that those 300 pound behemoths have – 1000lb. squat anyone?  Coming from a high school setting, I have wrestled with these questions for years.

New exercises (Killer Delt Triad) and programs (The Cure for Ostrich Legs)* are introduced daily; how do you wade through all of the hype, and find what will actually help you on your course to a stronger, healthier, more beautiful you?  My contention in all of this is that there is a lot of trial and error.  Nobody can know your body better than you, and nobody can perform the exercises for you.  If a jog on a crisp Saturday morning sounds like a better idea than crushing yourself under the weight of a barbell, then maybe that day it is.  What about not feeling bad about missing your swimming session?  You were out carrying and throwing boulders while hiking after all.

Physical activity – in all its form – must be the motivation for any exercise routine.  Once the joy of getting out, moving, and breaking a sweat become habitual and welcoming, then you can try your hand and putting together the “Ultimate Training Program X-3000”.  I look forward to trying it out.

**Note: Those are actual exercise and training program titles – I did not make those up.

In Response to the Time Magazine Article, and All its Rebuttals

15 Sep

By Johnny Nguyen


It’s obvious most articles in popular press weave in a degree of sensationalism to sell magazines, and the Time article by staff writer John Cloud is no exception. This is unfortunate, especially if the sensationalism sends the wrong message to a readership already teetering between exercise and sloth, between motivation and excuse. And it also frustrates experts and enthusiasts who must bear witness to twisted facts. But, twisted facts they may be, in the end the twist still contains facts.

There are over a dozen rebuttals to Cloud’s article and they contain fascinating commonalities. Whether deliberately or by mistake, every rebuttal expertly sidesteps the actual bone by pitching information irrelevant to the main contention of the Time article: Exercise and weight loss. Each rebuttal lists the positive effects of exercise on cardiac health, insulin control, disease prevention, and other factors already acknowledged by Cloud in his article. Comically, people recycled Cloud’s assertions for their own rebuttals.

Lost in Translation

Among all these rebuttals and energetic exchanges, the two words that appear to be lost in translation: WEIGHT LOSS.

Unfortunately, the sensationalism forced into Cloud’s article sent the message that exercise does not produce weight loss, when it actually should have stated that exercise does not produce any more weight loss over diet alone – which is the finding in the study referenced (Church, 2009). The author of the study, Dr. Tim Church, explained that those who exercise tend to eat more and move less during the rest of the day, an established phenomenon he calls “compensation.”scale_wt2

So exercise produces some weight loss, but not statistically more significant than that of diet alone. For this reason, it is fair to say that (until further research proves otherwise) exercise itself may not produce the weight loss, but that the weight loss itself might come from diet. Of all the studies correlating exercise and weight loss, none so far has proven that exercise itself produces statistically significant loss of weight, for they all failed to differentiate this loss between exercise and diet (J. Volek, 1999; J. Donnelly, 2003; C. Slentz, 2004; B. Irving, 2008). Additionally, a recent study that includes strict adherence to calorie intake found that weight loss was practically similar among all exercising groups, regardless of duration, frequency and intensity (J. Jakicic, 2005). And this was a two-year study.

Further, a 6-month study published in the JAMA measured weight loss in 4 groups:

1. Controls (no diet, no exercise)
2. Diet only
3. Diet plus exercise
4. Very restricted diet (very low calorie)

The control group experienced little change in weight. The diet-only group had 10.4% loss in weight. The diet-and-exercise group had 10.0% loss in weight. The very restricted diet group had 13.9% loss (L.K. Heilbronn, 2006). The group that dieted and exercised experienced the same weight loss as the group that just dieted.

We ought to look hard at the studies, rather than responding with emotion. Incidentally, Gary Taubes’s heavily researched book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, which extensively references numerous studies with intelligent interpretation, clearly explains in details how it is possible within the laws of thermodynamics to fully experience little to no weight loss in a calorie deficit WITH or without exercise. This book should be required reading before any attempt to rebuttal the concept that exercise may not help with weight loss.

What About Body Composition?

Of course the issue of body composition hasn’t escaped the argument here. Exercise’s effect on the fat-to-muscle ratio is a factor that had served as ammunition against Cloud’s article. Irving and colleague (2008) found that exercise decreases abdominal visceral fat (AVF) greater in people who exercise at a higher intensity than those who did it at a lower intensity and over those who didn’t exercise at all, even though body weight remained the same (not surprisingly, the authors of this study state that the AVF loss differences did NOT reach the level of statistical significance across all groups. Additionally, the authors admitted to incomplete dietary data and were “not able to adequately analyze the impact of reduced caloric intake on the changes in body composition”).

Volek in his study (1999) also found that the group that exercised had more muscles than the group that didn’t, even though weight loss were similar between both groups.

Cloud didn’t mention the positive aspect of exercise and body composition in his Time article, presumably for the purpose of sensationalism or perhaps because of ignorance. But in any case, body composition is not the variable examined here, and scientific studies are a process of seeking out and eliminating variables. Weight loss, thus, is the variable at hand.

But I want to expand on the issue of body composition and the perspectives of its biggest proponents. So, at this point, I’ll venture off the original topic of weight loss.

The Perspective of Aesthetics

Aesthetics cannot be argued effectively on the basis of health because it is defined and dictated by the media culture. If you want to look tone and defined, that’s your business. But fatness has not been proven to be the cause of metabolic diseases (though it’s likely the result). Which leads to the next perspective.

The Perspective of Muscle Metabolism

The argument that increased muscle mass prevents or corrects metabolic derangement assumes that less muscle mass is the etiology of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases. This is false, and to push for more muscle mass as a way to “medicate” metabolic diseases is to continue to ignore and perpetuate an underlying problem.

Perhaps it’s time more of us exploit the overall structure of societal mobility, diet, and other living elements before placing all our bets on a formal exercise program. Consider the Okinawans, Vilcambians, Abkhasians, and the people of the Hunza Valley, who have never seen a health club or a formal workout protocol like HIIT, yet they possess outstanding longevity without chronic illnesses, regardless of body composition. So why then must we use exercise to medicate conditions that shouldn’t exist in the first place? If this is the argument for exercise, then exercise is merely a band aide to a greater problem.

A lack of formal gym exercise does not result in insulin resistance and metabolic diseases.

Who’s Irresponsible?

Though it’s irresponsible for an article to spin the facts for the purpose of magazine sales, it is perhaps even more irresponsible of health and fitness professionals to discredit Cloud without thorough investigation into not just the study he presented but also other relevant studies. Only by further inquiry can we start a more informed dialog rather than merely dismissing something that happens to challenge the status quo. Scale loss And perhaps this dialog will result in an increased number of people who’ll finally understand that exercise offers health benefits along with improvement in body composition that have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale. And perhaps this will free everyone else from the wishful thinking that exercise makes them lose weight, and they can finally acknowledge the improvement in the way they feel and look with exercise, even if it doesn’t net them a greater total loss of weight. And finally, people may begin to put more thoughts into responsible eating.

For too many years fitness professionals and experts alike have told the public that exercise causes “weight loss,” which only led most people to hang-ups with the number on the scale… and ultimately to a feeling of failure. To rebut the Time magazine article with sidestep verbiage serves only to perpetuate this problem.

2009 International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference

15 Sep

Written by Scott Kolasinski

During June 15th and 16th, I visited the 2009 International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) Conference in New Orleans, LA. The ISSN is the only nutritional organization devoted solely to sports nutrition so I look forward to attending this every year.

The following is a quick summary of the lectures.

Resistance Training Exercise Prescription: Understanding the Impact of Choices Made at the Upper Regulatory Level – William Kraemer, Ph.D

Exercise Sequencing Strategies

Dr. Kraemer did a review of the basics of periodized training, the SAID Principle, exercise order. He showed the affects of endurance versus low rep protocols on skeletal muscle morphology. Nutritional interventions (supplements, hydration status) and environmental conditions, such as heat, age, gender, will all dictate the magnitude of genetic expression. Coaches need to train the entire strength-velocity curve of a muscle contraction. For example, training for an increase in strength only will not result in an increase in power alone. We still need to also train for power specifically.

Gender differences exist:

  • Women might oxidize less protein during exercise than men…women use more fat for energy.
  • Women synthesize less muscle protein than men when amino acids were provided after exercise.
  • Women may require more protein/kg to maximize muscle growth.
  • Women use more fat than men during exercise.
  • Women maintain reproductive function in energy-demanding times.
  • Women have better fat use with an increased fat intake.
  • Women use less glycogen during resistance exercise than men.
  • Women cannot carb-load to the same extent as men.
  • Women oxidize less carbohydrate & more lipid during resistance exercise.

Final thought: “We have a lot to learn….as I have just shown you the tip of the proverbial iceberg of things that are stimulated with a resistance training workout..

…….context is always the key”

Nutritional Assessment of the Athlete – Doug S. Kalman, Ph.D, RD, FACN

An athlete’s nutritional needs are based on the energy system demands of their sport, age, gender, lifestyle, health status, training routine, frequency, goals, and conditioning amongst other factors. Genetics are an underappreciated issue.

In order to make a lifestyle routine for an athlete, in general we should look at the basic procedures in nutrition care plans for assessment.

Because of the many complexities involved in an athlete’s diet, we should take advantage of the many technological advances that are available. Dr. Kalman suggested the MedGem device to assess an athlete’s calorie needs. There are other devices out there, but the MedGem is the only one he knows that is FDA-cleared. This means that it has undergone vigorous testing of reliability, accuracy, and repeatability.

Role of Myogenic Regulatory Factors as Regulators of Transcription & Myogenesis: Effects of Nutritional Modulation – Darren Willoughby, Ph.D

This was a complex lecture of molecular biology that described the number of nutritional factors that influence skeletal muscle recovery from exercise. We know that resistance exercise may result in muscle hypertrophy, or a thickening of the muscle fibers. This lecture looked at one aspect of the molecular biology behind how that might happen and the nutritional influences on it.

Myogenic regulatory factors’ (MRF’s) initiate transcription of DNA, but are not understood as well in satellite cell activation. Two nutritional supplements, creatine and whey protein, seem to upregulate MRF’s, but the mechanism is still unknown. More research is needed in this area of research.

Energy Drinks – Jay Hoffman, Ph.D

Energy drinks are now a $5.7 billion industry. The primary ingredient is caffeine and may contain up to 830mg caffeine.  Usually other ingredients are included to enhance the effects of caffeine.

Some side effects of high doses of caffeine are insomnia, nervousness, headache and tachycardia. Caffeine should be used with caution in hypertensive individuals as it may lead to a dangerously high blood pressure. Drinking Redbull with alcohol can cause underestimation of intoxication and lead to potential lethal consequences.

Caffeine does appear to:

  • increase energy metabolism
  • enhance exercise performance (reaction time)
  • increase focus, alertness and energy.

Nutrigenetics and Athletics – State of the Art Today – Jan Debenedetto

One of the hot topics in the nutrition industry that is growing is nutrigenomics, or the concept of understanding how nutrition influences specific genes. This lecture gave a summary of common currently known genetic variations that can be addressed with nutrition, however, it must be emphasized that the environmental influences to our genes must always be considered.

The field is in its infancy, so we have many more questions than answers. However, there are a number of genetic variations that are known today whose health consequences can be effectively addressed via the diet and supplemental nutrition. Today, anybody can get his/her genetic makeup mapped.

A couple of quick stats concerning genes and exercise:

  • There are more genes that are up-regulated in “Active People” than in “Sedentary People”.
  • Sedentary people have more genes up-regulated that are associated with catabolism.
  • If you want to create more active genes from when you were once sedentary, you need to be active for at least 8 years. What are the minimums of activity to make this happen are unknown.

Lastly, certain individual genes do not mean you will exhibit the gene. For example, the most common gene for “Beer Bellies” is also found in sprinters.

Glycine Propionyl-1-Carnitine and Repeated High Intensity Exercise – Pat Jacobs, Ph.D

This lecture was one of three that involved discussing the potential benefits of a supplement called glycine propionyl-1-carnitine (GPLC) for increasing concentrations of L-carnitine, a naturally occurring substance found in most body cells,  in muscle. Dr. Jacobs presented a study to see if supplementing with GPLC would improve repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise.

Dr. Jacobs’s research concluded GPLC:

  • increases resting nitric oxide (NO) concentrations in untrained and resistance trained men,
  • increases the NO response to occlusion in resistance trained men,
  • potentially spares muscle carnitine during aerobic training,
  • potentially increases lactate threshold,
  • short term application increases anaerobic work capacity in resistance trained men with reduced lactate accumulation,
  • provides effects in a combined time/dosage manner.

According to his research, 1 g of GPLC is just as effective as 3 or 4.5g of GPLC. More research is needed.

Potential Benefits of Supplemental Carnitine in Relation to Exercise – Richard Bloomer, Ph.D

Carnitine is considered a water soluble vitamin that is synthesized in the liver and kidneys (0.16-0.48mg∙kg-1∙day-1 (reabsorb ~95% from kidney). It is transported to and stored primarily in skeletal muscle, heart, brain, and neural tissue.  There is a significantly higher content in skeletal muscle vs. plasma (40-100 times higher).

The potential benefits of carnitine supplementation include: enhanced circulation, may improve fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism in mitochondria, antioxidant properties – may reduce the potentially harmful effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Thus far, 1.5 or 4.5 grams/day GPLC is an effective to bring about the benefits greater carnitine concentrations. However, Dr. Bloomer warned that the lab-tested conditions do not necessarily translate to performance benefits in sport. For example, an improvement in the Wingate test, a measurement of anaerobic power, does not mean GPLC creates more powerful Olympic weightlifters. More research is needed.

Carnitine Formulations for Sports: Promises and Pitfalls – Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D

There is a “carnitine paradox” – high initial glycogen levels lead to carnitine becoming unavailable for oxidation of fats at the transition from rest to activity and

at elevated VO2max.

There are three basic options for overcoming this paradox.

1) increase uptake of supplemental carnitine into muscle by insulin-related actions:

  • Elevate insulin via simple sugars or via an insulin mimetic such as Russian tarragon or an active form of (–)-hydroxycitrate

2) alter tissue retention and compartmentalization:

  • Supplement with choline

3) alter muscle fuel selection to favor fatty acid oxidation while preserving glycogen:

  • Supplement with astaxanthin
  • Supplement with an active form of (–)-hydroxycitrate

Phospholipids and Sports Performance – Ralf Jäger, Ph.D

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an essential component of all biological membranes and is required for normal cellular structure and function. The participation in physical activity often challenges a variety of physiological systems; consequently, the ability to maintain normal cellular function during activity can determine sporting performance. PS has been established as a safe oral supplement capable of attenuating the serum cortisol and creatine kinase responses to acute exercise stress.

In addition to physical stress, PS supplementation benefits subjects suffering from mental stress. PS supplementation has been reported to improve mood in a sub-group of healthy young adults when faced with a stress.

A recent study by Kingsley et al. showed no effect of oral PS supplementation on markers of muscle damage or perceived soreness, however, PS tended to improve sprint and exercise performances when compared to placebo. These findings do suggest that PS might possess ergogenic properties. The effective daily dosages in sport studies range from 300 to 800 mg PS for short-term application (10–15 days) and from 300 to 400 mg PS for 3 to 4 weeks for mental stress.

Dr. Jager’s study concluded six weeks of 200mg/d PS supplementation did not improve perceived stress levels in golfers, but it did significantly improve the number of good ball flights during tee-off which might result in improved golf scores.

Tolerating Food Intolerances – Managing Nutritional Challenges During Training – Mona Rosene, MS, RD

Here is the difference between a food allergy versus food sensitivity: During a food allergy the immune system incorrectly identifies a protein as a threat and attempts to protect the body by releasing histamine. A food intolerance is not related to the immune system. It is usually a GI response and/or a delayed response, for example lactose intolerance. We get allergies from genetics, exposure to food and other allergens (ex. dairy before 1 years old), state of GI tract “barrier”, and excessive response of the immune system.

A concern with a food allergy is inadequate protein intake. This is because most people are allergic to higher protein foods such as dairy, eggs, soy, meat, fish/shellfish, legumes, peanuts, tree nuts. People with food allergies typically have inadequate fat intake. Higher protein foods that may be needed to be avoided are also usually higher in fat. Low allergen foods are low in fat, such as veggies, rice and fruit. As such, athletes with food allergies have difficulty consuming enough calories.

Athletes with food intolerances may have to avoid the food altogether, but food intolerances are usually dose dependent. For example, for some milk is intolerable but yogurt is not. Careful book keeping is best.

In general, eat good whole foods and protein powder is the easiest way to manage food allergies and intolerances.

A Practical Look at Key Nutritional Supplements for Strength & Power Athletes – Colin Wilborn, Ph.D

Four nutritional supplements have support for being considered effective for strength and power athletes:

1) Creatine – 3-5 grams per day

2) Protein supplements – whey, casein and even a glass of milk appear to benefit strength athletes. Timing is essential: post-workout boosts protein synthesis the best.

3) HMB (hydroxy-beta-methylbuterate) – an anti-catabolic amino acid that preserves muscle that may be used for energy instead.

4) Beta-Alanine – increases power and reduces fatigue. Appears to work best in conjunction with creatine. Whether or not it works alone is less conclusive. Side effects, such as parathesia – a tingling, prickly sensation that may occur in the face, arms, hands and/or buttocks – occurs less often in a slow-releasing capsule.

FIT Client of the Month, Sept. 09

15 Sep


Client Name:  Leo Cunningham

Age:  49

FIT Member since:  02/07/2008

Goal:  Run distance events without injury; Build strength and power everywhere

Results:  Leo successfully trained for and ran a half-marathon that he completed in December.  He knocked 10 minutes off his previous time, and, more importantly, he completed the training and the race without any pain in a knee that completely sidelined him a year earlier.  Leo also leaned up; dropped about 25 pounds; and improved his strength and work capacity.

Likes:  The positive (healthy, supportive, analytical, constructive) culture that pervades F.I.T.; the feeling when Herm has made me work harder than I thought I could; my new appreciation, through working with Rob, for the athleticism involved in Olympic weightlifting.

Dislikes:  Herm’s embarrassing scream of complete “flabbergastedness” when I shocked him with a muscle-up: dude, be cool!

PR 500 meter row:  1:35.7

PR chin-ups:  Leo is past chin-ups… he can do 3 muscle-ups in a row!

Key to your (client’s) success: Goal setting, consistency, zone-like diet (eating for performance)

Summary Paragraph:

A year ago I hurt my knee and was unable to run.  My physical therapist (Marc at Agile) rehabbed me and convinced me of the need for a well rounded conditioning program.  Herm and Rob have put me through a program that has done more than I ever expected, and they–and the whole F.I.T. culture–led me to re-examine and improve my nutrition and lifestyle.

September Recipe – Gazpacho with Shrimp and Avocado Relish

15 Sep

gazpacho pic

(Delivered to you from Analisa)

Soup Ingredients:

1 lb. peeled and deveined large shrimp
3/4c chopped red bell pepper
1/4c chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 lb plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 (11.5 oz) can low-sodium vegetable juice
Relish Ingredients:
1/4c finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 ripe peeled avocado, diced
1. To prepare soup, cook shrimp in boiling water at least 2 minutes or until desired texture.  Drain and rinse under cold water; coarsely chop shrimp.
2. Combine 3/4c bell pepper and next 9 ingredients (through vegetable juice) in a blender; process until smooth.  Stir in shrimp.
3. To prepare relish, combine 1/4 c bell pepper and remaining ingredients.  Top soup with relish.  Yield: 4 servings (1c soup, 1/3c relish).

Per serving: 350cal, 9gFat, 36gProtein, 17.5gCarbohydrates, 6.2gFiber


11 Sep

The following list comes from I book I have read recently called, “The Blue Zones: Lessons from Those That Live Longest” by Dan Buettner .  The point of the book is simple, what do people that live the longest do in their daily lives that is different from those that don’t.  Gathering the data was not, it took years, and literally a team of multi-disciplinary scientists to conduct.  Although it is difficult to identify a single “magic bullet” to longevity, it does seem as though there is some consistant behavior patterns among those that live beyond a century. I have listed a few here, in no order, you can draw your own conclusions. I will comment on these in another post.

1. Physical exertion daily

2. Reduced caloric intake

3. Eat veggies often

4. Laugh often

5. Stay connected and contribute to the family unit

6. Drink water

7. Remain social

8. Eat meat on occasion

12 Minutes to a Big Mac Attack

1 Sep

The Economist publised a brief article that shows the purchasing power of wages in big cities around the world. And the purchased item used for comparison? A McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger. Workers in Mexico City, Mexico, must slog for 2.5 hours to afford the same Big Mac that Chicagoans can get in 12 minutes.

Thoughts on the accessibility of food around the world and its effect on whole-population health?