Home Posts tagged "Brian St. Pierre" (Page 3)

Holistic Farming: A Wholesome Choice

It's been a while since we featured a nutrition post, so today, Cressey Sports Performance Coach Andrew Zomberg takes the baton and brings nutrition back to the forefront. Enjoy! - EC

From a production standpoint, most farms focus on maximization. Big farms. Big concrete barns. Lots of cows. Lots of food. But this mentality only sees profit and neglects the economic, social, and environmental realities of these decisions. Fortunately, some farmers recognize the need to change and sustain our ecosystems.

I have the pleasure of buying a lot of my meat from Steve Normanton. A farmer since the ripe age of 8, Steve learned the livestock trade in South Africa and recently established himself as a full-time farmer in Litchfield, NH. His holistic farming system mirrors nature in a way that builds fertility in the soil, treats the animals humanely, and produces healthy food. He takes the focus away from yield maximization and puts it towards input optimization.

According to Holistic Management International, holistic farming is a whole planning system that helps farmers better manage agricultural resources in order to reap sustainable environmental, economic, and social benefits. This practice allows farmers to guide the relationships between plants, soil, livestock, people, and water in ways that mimic nature, while addressing the financial aspects of these unique elements. “The concept of holistic management takes into account the well being of everything involved,” says Steve. “It is not just about end product because in order to get this end product, you must better the whole.”

The term “organic” is such a buzzword, so I questioned the difference between organic farming and holistic farming. Apparently, while “organic” is a great place to start, it only refers to the end product, or the food we put into our mouths.

“Take organic dairy,” Steve suggests. “Sure, it is organic because the feed that the cows eat is organic. But cows are not designed to consume loads of grain. The grain (which fattens the cattle) turns a cow’s stomach very acidic. This toxic environment manifests super e-coli, which humans cannot tolerate.” Cows are meant to roam free and eat grass, and Steve Normanton Farm values this, allowing animals to exist they way they should.

Holistic planning not only respects the animals, but uses their natural tendencies to keep land healthy and productive. For example, pigs are not thrown in concrete barns. They graze freely to root their nutrients, receiving 70% of their diet from underground. This nurtures biologically active soil (loaded with carbon and other organic matter) that attracts all that’s good, including water molecules. This increases the grazing capacity for the livestock and reduces the impact of erosion on the farm.

“If the soil is healthy, the grasses are healthy and we are providing better food for the animals” says Steve. “And remember, we are at the end of the food chain, so healthier animals means healthier food for us.”

Why am I writing this article? As a nutrition enthusiast, I encourage people to make the healthiest choices. Holistic farms nurture their soils and grasses for the welfare of their animals to produce high-quality, nutrient-dense food, which:

• Has a high concentration of beneficial fatty acids and a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the “total fat” content)
• Is lower in total fat – especially saturated fat; leaner meat leads to lower LDL levels and lower in total energy (calories)
• Comprised of many micronutrients including: beta-carotene and Vitamin E (antioxidants), B-vitamins (thiamin & riboflavin) and minerals: calcium, magnesium and potassium (electrolytes)
• Has high levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA, a fat found in meat & milk)

Further, the animals themselves are healthier, demanding less (if any) antibiotic treatment. They have minimal risk of contamination from dangerous bacteria because they aren’t confined in tight, crowded conditions. And most importantly, the animals are raised without added hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. (Exposure to chemicals and pesticides increases our chances of suffering from metabolic conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, autoimmune disorders, and more).

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The choice to buy from holistic farms is also economically smart. The dollar stays in our community and contributes to the growth and stability of the American economy. And sure, short-term, holistic management yields healthy food. But long-term, these farms enhance the biological diversity and productivity of our land. When we buy from these farms, we help mirror the way nature functions, sustaining the environment that sustains us all.

Food is always at our fingertips. But as consumers, we can help move away from conventional thinking and our way of eating and understand the situation. So next time you need to stock up your refrigerator, I encourage you to make decisions that feed your body right as well as emulate the way nature functions to ensure that our future is truly sustainable over time.

You can learn more about Steve and his farm at http://stevenormanton.com. For holistic farms in your area, visit http://www.eatwild.com.

Looking for more nutrition insight like these?  Be sure to check out The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide by Brian St. Pierre of Precision Nutrition; it's available as part of the gold package of this resource.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/10/14

I hope you all had a great weekend.  Before the Monday Blues can set in, here are some recommended strength and conditioning reads to get the week started off on the right foot.

Is Nutrient Timing Dead? - Not a week goes by the Dr. John Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition don't kick out some awesome nutrition-related content. Former CP employee and current PN team member Brian St. Pierre (who authored The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide) took the lead on this great article.

Reality: You Can't Run a Sub 5.0 Forty - This article is absolutely awesome because it highlights just how inflated most high school 40 times are. 

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's ETM, I've got two new exercise demonstration videos, an article, and a webinar called "5 Important Upper Body Functional Anatomy Considerations." There's also some great content from Tyler English and Vaughn Bethell this month.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/20/14

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Long-Term Athletic Development and the ABCs of Training - This was an awesome article from US Lacrosse, but it applies to all sports. It closely reflects our approach to developing baseball players at Cressey Performance.

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Carb Controversy: Why Low-Carb Diets Have It All Wrong - Brian St. Pierre wrote up an extremely well-researched post for Precision Nutrition - and some of the points he make will surprise you.

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11 Ways to Make an Exercise Harder - Call this a little "Throwback Thursday" inclusion, as I wrote it back in 2010. If you're looking to learn how to write strength and conditioning programs, this is a good resource for understanding progression and regression.

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8 Nutritional Strategies For Those Who Can’t Gain Weight

Throughout the off-season, my wife and I have professional baseball players staying with us quite a bit.  It's become very common for athletes to come to town for a few days, do a little "crash course" at Cressey Sports Performance on training and nutrition, and then head back home, where I'll program for them from afar.

In almost all these cases, one of the biggest eye-opening experiences for these athletes is eating with the Cresseys.  They learn new recipes and cooking practices, and many are a bit amazed at how much I eat in spite of the fact that I'm only about 185 pounds.  They come to Boston expecting to learn about arm care, pitching mechanics, and strength and conditioning, but the nutrition add-on is a nice bonus.

As an example, several years ago, one athlete put on over ten pounds in the month of January while staying with us before he headed to Big League Spring Training.  Sure, some of this is old weight that he had to "recoup," and some is likely just water weight.  However, being heavy enough going into spring training is profoundly important, particularly for position players who are out in the field almost every day between February and October.  Below are some nutritional strategies we've employed with not only Anthony, but a lot of our other skinny guys.

1. Get around big eaters, and make eating a social challenge.

With the skinny guys who complain about how they "eat all the time and still can't gain weight," it's not uncommon for them to get a big slice of humble pie when dining around bigger eaters.  In the Cressey household this month, Anthony had to keep up with me at every dinner - so if I got seconds, so did he.

I've also had athletes who always made a point of going out to eat with each other after training sessions.  It's instant accountability with respect to caloric intake.  Sushi is a great option in this regard.

2. Cook with more oil.

When an athlete's day is spent "uncomfortably full," finding convenient ways to add calories is incredibly important - especially if that individual has multiple training sessions per day and can't be worried about getting sick in the gym or on the field. Adding in some healthy oils - olive and coconut are my two "go-to" choices - can make it easier to get an extra 200+ calories at each meal.  The healthy fats the athletes get are nice perks of this approach, too.

3. Eat faster.

We always tell people who want to lose weight to eat slower, but many people fail to appreciate that eating faster is actually a great option for true "hard-gainers." You see, it takes time for the body to perceive fullness, so if you can get your calories in a bit faster, you can essentially trick yourself out of fullness. 

As an interesting aside to this, my business partner, Pete, is one of the slowest eaters on the planet.  No joke: it'll take him four hours to finish a protein bar.  And, not surprisingly, any time that Pete has put weight on in the past, he's had to be "uncomfortable full" for months on end.

Brian St. Pierre discussed this "speed of eating" phenomenon in The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, if you're interested in learning more.

4. Have convenient calories wherever you can’t miss them.

One other strategy Anthony uses are homemade protein bars.  They're made with healthier ingredients, and without preservatives. This means they have to be refrigerated, but it also means that they're going to go bad if he doesn't get in 2-3 per day, so there is incentive to consume them faster.  It's an easy 1,000 calories on top of his normal meals, and also provides some convenience when he's away from the kitchen.  Most importantly, though, he has to see them every time he opens the refrigerator for anything, so they're ultra-convenient.

5. Use liquid nutrition.

With most of our clients, we heavily emphasize eating real food and not getting calories from drinks.  In those who struggle to gain weight, however, big shakes can really help.  Tim Collins was a good example, as he'd have a 1,000+ calorie shake after each training session for his first few years of training until he arrived at a good weight...45 pounds heavier.

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With that said, stay away from those garbage high-calorie weight gainers.  They're usually loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats - not to mention low-quality protein. I would always much rather have guys make their own shakes with a decent low-carb protein powder, and then add almond or whole milk, coconut oil, fruits, natural nut butters, Greek yogurt, oats, ground flax, and even veggies.  If you're going to take in 1,000 calories in a shake, you might as well get some nutritional value from it.

6. Write it down.

One of the best ways to evaluate how much you're eating - whether you're trying to lose fat or gain muscle - is to simply write it down.  I'd estimate that in 95% of cases, having a "hard-gainer" do thise immediately eliminates the "but I eat all the time" argument.  Sometimes, just knowing that you aren't trying as hard as you think you are is the biggest key to subsequent progress.

7. Review medications.

Many medications can have a profound impact on appetite.  The most prominent effects I've seen are with ADD/ADHD medications, as most reduce appetite.  In one instance, we had an athlete struggle to gain weight for almost two years on Adderall, but then he put on over 40 pounds in a year after switching to Focalin for his ADHD.  It's completely outside of my scope of practice to make recommendations on this front, but if appetite suppression is a concern, it'd be good to talk with your doctor about other options that might be available.

8. Make time instead of finding time.

Having an insanely busy schedule usually leads people to eat unhealthy, convenient foods - and they get fatter.  Many folks who are underweight actually go in the opposite direction; they simply forget to eat when things get busy.  To that end, if you want to gain weight, you need to make eating a priority - and that starts with plugging a specific time you'll eat into your schedule.

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Hunger and Fullness Cues, and the Story of Hyper-Rewarding and Hyper-Palatable Food

Today's post is an excerpt from The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, written by Precision Nutrition's Brian St. Pierre; this guide is available as part of the "gold package" version of the product. This section has received a lot of positive feedback, so I thought I'd share it as an example of what you can expect.

Eating Slowly and Only Until Satisfied
 
Many of us eat far too quickly.  And, at each meal we expect to eat to the point of fullness.  Unfortunately, eating in this manner – quickly and until full – will always present challenges to your performance, health, and body composition goals.  This is true even if you eat the right foods (though eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods makes it much easier to tune into these powerful appetite cues).
 
Learning to tune into and follow your hunger and fullness cues will be paramount to your long-term success.  It will teach you to slow down, to listen to your body and its needs and to stop eating when you are satisfied, not full.  This is actually one of the most important skills you need to build for long-term nutrition success.
 
Why is this so?  It takes about 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to work.  What this means is that the signal from our gut takes time to get to our brain.  So, if you eat quickly, it is more than likely that you will eat far more in that 20-minute window than you need, and before your brain can tell you that you have eaten enough.  Regardless of food quality and macronutrient composition, over-eating is over-eating.  Unless you are trying to gain weight, learning this skill is critical (and even then it is still critical, because you won’t be trying to gain weight forever).
 
An excellent goal is to aim for about 15-20 minutes per meal, at a minimum.  If this is too big of a change for you, simply aim to take a little longer for now, slowly stretching out your meals until you are able to reach that 15-20 minute mark.  
 
To do this, simply utilize the following strategies:
 
• take a seat when you eat
• turn off the TV and eliminate distractions (though some light reading can be okay)
• take smaller bites
• chew your food more completely
• put your fork down after every few bites
• drink some water
• share some witty banter with your dining partner(s)
 
Slowing down your eating will help in many capacities.  When you eat slowly, you tend to eat fewer calories with each meal (because your brain has time to tell you enough has been eaten), drink more water (improving hydration status and health), improve digestion (because it starts in the mouth), and tune into your hunger and fullness cues more effectively.
 
Hyper-Rewarding and Hyper-Palatable Food
 
This is also one of the reasons that eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods is so powerful.  When you eat these whole foods, which tend to be fibrous, full of water and tasty (but not overly-so), your brain is also better able to signal to you that you have eaten enough.
 
 
However, when you eat highly processed foods, they tend to be what are called hyper-palatable and hyper-rewarding.  In essence, what happens when you eat these foods, is that your brain becomes over-excited, and it can’t “hear” the signals coming from your GI tract on how much food you have eaten, which delays the signal telling you enough has been consumed.  This leads to over-consumption, addictive-like behaviors, obesity, inflammation and diabetes.
 
While a full discussion on hyper-palatable and hyper-rewarding foods is outside the scope of this resource, just realize that food products have been specifically engineered to get you to eat a lot of them.  Food companies have a limit on how much of their product can be purchased; this limit is called the human stomach.  The only way to increase sales is to get you to eat more.
 
And they do this by systematically testing exactly how their foods affect our hedonic and reward systems in our brains.  Basically, think of it like this: hyper-rewarding foods are foods that you will strongly seek out.  Your brain has associated them with awesomeness (because they over-stimulate and over-excite your reward centers in your brain), so you will go to great lengths to find them and consume them.  Reward is what drives you to find a food (among other elements).
 
On the other hand, hyper-palatable food is food that tastes so good at that moment that you eat more of it than you should, even if you aren’t hungry.  It’s like Thanksgiving.  You have already eaten a ton, and are stuffed – but then the pies come out.  You put some in front of you and you eat a whole big slice, maybe two.  The hyper-palatability of the pie over-excites the hedonic (or pleasure) centers of your brain, so you ignore satiety cues and eat even though you aren’t hungry.  Where reward drives you to seek out food, palatability dictates how much you eat in a sitting (again, among other elements).
 
While these two elements are intertwined, they aren’t always together.  For example, let’s say you want ice cream.  Your brain knows how delicious it is, and associates it with an awesome time.  So you seek some out (reward).  But, when you start eating it, it is not very good.  You take a handful of licks – because you did pay for it, after all – but you discard half of it.  That element was palatability, or in this case, lack thereof.  If it had tasted like the ice cream your brain was envisioning, you would likely have eaten it all, even past the point of fullness.
 
You might be wondering how exactly these processed foods can be so palatable and rewarding. This is because food companies carefully manage three elements:
 
• fat
• salt
• sugar (or refined carbohydrates)
 
donut800px-Donuts_(Coffee_An),_Westport,_CT_06880_USA_-_Feb_2013
 
These three elements rarely exist in nature together, but when combined with other chemical additives and flavor enhancers, they create foods that our brains never evolved to handle.  They override our satiety mechanisms, screw up our hunger and fullness cues, and generally cause us to make poor food choices and overeat.
 
Conclusion
 
With all of this in mind, this is why I so highly recommend eating mostly real, whole, minimally processed foods.  They tend to provide normal levels of palatability and reward, and because of their high water content and fibrous nature, make it easier to eat them slowly, chew them fully, and stop when you are satisfied, but not full.
 
Looking for more great nutrition lessons, practical recommendations, and sample meal plans?  Check out Brian's Nutrition Guide as part of The High Performance Handbook Gold Package.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/11/13

First off, a big thank you goes out to all the veterans out there who have served our country.  We appreciate all that you've done to protect our freedom!  With that said, here are this week's recommended strength and conditioning readings:

Lift Big by Bracing, not Arching - Tony Gentilcore covered a lot of ideas and coaching cues that get a lot of attention on a typical day at Cressey Performance.

Suprising Supplements: Five Effective Nutrients You've Never Heard Of - This was an enlightening post at Precision Nutrition from my pal Brian St. Pierre, who co-authored the nutrition guide for The High Performance Handbook.

Freaks of Nature: When Biomechanics Go Out the Window - I always enjoy Dean Somerset's stuff, and this "outside the box" post is no exception.

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The High Performance Handbook: Prize Winners, New Content, Live Q&A, and More Prizes!

Yesterday, our High Performance Handbook launch prize winners were randomly selected and announced!  We gave away five CP t-shirts, three pairs of New Balance Minimus sneakers, and an all-expenses paid trip to Cressey Performance.  The winners were from four different U.S. states, Canada (2), England (2), and Australia (1).  We're worldwide, people; thanks for your purchases and help in spreading the word!

With that said, though, with only 36 hours left on the introductory sale, I figured I'd sweeten the deal again.  And, everyone who has purchased thus far will be automatically entered to win one of these prizes:

1. ANOTHER all-expenses-paid trip to get evaluated and train at Cressey Performance.  It's like this, but you'll be surrounded by other clients who are all working hard like you will be! 

Again, I'll cover all your travel and accomodations expenses, and the training will be on the house.

2. One of three free copies of my "Art of the Deload" e-Book.

3. One of three free online accesses to Mike Reinold and my new "Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body" online resource.

If you've already purchased, you're golden.  If you haven't, you've only got 36 hours left! 

Finally, in light of the busy launch week, I've got a few guest blogs that ran on different sites.  Check these two out:

Fitocracy: Single-leg Success Strategies

Schwarzenegger.com: Efficiency: Important for the Pros and the Joes

Last, but not least, Precision Nutrition's Brian St. Pierre - who authored The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide - is going to be doing a live Q&A on my Facebook page at 3pm EST.  You can check it out and ask him your questions HERE.

There are only 36 hours left, so don't miss out!  Click here to learn more about The High Performance Handbook!

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A Glimpse Inside The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide – Part 2

Earlier today, I posted a few snippets from Brian St. Pierre's nutrition guide from The High Performance Handbook Gold Package.  Here's part 2 of that preview, picking up with key point #3, which actually has a few subcategories (and trust me, there are a ton more huge takeaways!):

Point #3: Environmental Carcinogens

Hundreds of chemicals are capable of inducing cancer in humans or animals after prolonged or excessive exposure.  Chemically-induced cancer generally develops many years after exposure to a toxic agent.  For example, a latency period of as much as thirty years has been observed between exposure to asbestos and incidence of lung cancer.

In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel Report declared that “The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated…this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program.  The American people – even before they are born – are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures.”

According to the report, there are about 80,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States, but only about 2% of those have been assessed for their safety.  The report singles out radon, formaldehyde, and benzene as major environmental toxins that are causing cancer.

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Radon: What is it, Where is it, and How do I Get Less of it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas.  It comes from the natural decay of uranium or thorium found in nearly all soils, and it typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks in floors, walls, and foundations.  It can also be released from building materials or from well water. Radon breaks down quickly, giving off radioactive particles.  Long-term exposure to these particles can lead to lung cancer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year, with 1 in 20 U.S. homes having elevated levels.  Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and the leading cause among non-smokers.

Testing for radon and taking the necessary steps to lower radon levels in homes that have elevated radon can prevent many radon-related lung cancer deaths.  This process is known as radon mitigation.  Getting your home air and water (if you are on a well) checked is simple and inexpensive – and can save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Formaldehyde: What is it, Where is it, and How do I Get Less of it?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products.  It also occurs naturally in the environment and is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.  Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen by several government agencies.

Formaldehyde sources in the home include pressed-wood products such as particleboard and plywood, glues and adhesives, permanent press fabrics, cigarette smoke, and fuel-burning appliances.  In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories.

Research studies of workers exposed to formaldehyde have suggested an association between formaldehyde exposure and several cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.  Rats exposed to formaldehyde fumes developed nasal cancer.

The EPA recommends the use of “exterior-grade” pressed-wood products to limit formaldehyde exposure in the home.  Ensuring adequate ventilation, moderate temperatures, appropriate humidity levels (through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers), and the use of indoor plants can also reduce formaldehyde levels in homes.

Benzene: What is it, Where is it, and How do I Get Less of it?

Benzene is a colorless liquid that evaporates quickly.  It is naturally found in crude oil and is a basic petrochemical.  Unfortunately, it is also a known human carcinogen.  Benzene is found in tobacco smoke, gasoline (and therefore car exhaust), pesticides, synthetic fibers, plastics, inks, oils, and detergents.  Benzene has also been found in soft drinks (since removed or reformulated), and dryer emissions from scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets.

About 50% of the benzene exposure in the US results from smoking tobacco or from second-hand smoke.  Substantial amounts of data link benzene to aplastic anemia, bone marrow abnormalities and leukemia - particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (ANLL).

To decrease benzene exposure, don’t smoke, and try to avoid second hand smoke.  Ensure adequate ventilation in your home, use non-scented laundry detergents and dryer sheets, and keep plants in the home.

Looking for more insights like these?  Be sure to check out The High Performance Handbook here. And remember: the $30 off discount is only around for this week!

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A Glimpse Inside The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide – Part 1

I've received some questions about what one can expect from Nutrition Guide that accompanies The High Performance Handbook Gold Package, so I thought I'd use today's post to highlight a few "Ah-Ha" moments from Brian St. Pierre's awesome contribution.  For those who aren't familiar with "BSP," he's one of Dr. John Berardi's right-hand-men at Precision Nutrition.  Check out these thought provoking ideas directly from the text:

Point #1: The Dairy and Diabetes Risk Relationship

With little fanfare, a study recently came out by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and colleagues. Why so little fanfare, you ask?  It’s because the study suggests that dairy fat may actually protect against diabetes, and that goes against conventional wisdom and government recommendations.

Dr. Mozaffarian and company collected two measures of dairy fat intake in 3,736 Americans. They took six 24-hour dietary recall questionnaires, as well as assessing blood levels of trans-palmitoleate.  Trans-palmitoleate comes almost exclusively from dairy fat and red meat fat, and therefore it reflects the intakes of these foods.  Dairy provided most of the trans-palmitoleate fatty acid in this study.

Adjustments were made for confounding factors, and trans-palmitoleate levels were associated with a smaller waist circumference, higher HDL cholesterol, lower serum triglycerides, lower C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), lower fasting insulin and lower calculated insulin resistance.  In addition, people who had the highest levels of trans-palmitoleate had 1/3 the risk of developing diabetes over the 3-year study period.

Again, it is important to note that trans-palmitoleate is a fatty acid, and so is only provided in significant amounts by whole fat dairy, not from low-fat or fat-free versions. The investigators also noted that “greater whole-fat dairy consumption was associated with lower risk for diabetes.”  This is an important distinction, as it wasn’t just trans-palmitoleate levels that were associated with the decreased risk, but the actual consumption of whole-fat dairy itself that seemingly provides the benefit.

Here’s another nice quote from the authors: “Our findings support potential metabolic benefits of dairy consumption and suggest that trans-palmitoleate may mediate these effects.  They also suggest that efforts to promote exclusive consumption of low-fat and non-fat dairy products, which would lower population exposure to trans-palmitoleate, may be premature until the mediators of the health effects of dairy consumption are better established.”

While it is certainly possible that trans-palmitoleate is mediating a lot of these positive health outcomes that were associated with it, in all reality, it only makes up a tiny fraction of the fat content of milk.  I tend to believe that instead, it is more of a marker of dairy fat intake, with the benefits more likely coming from the other elements contained in dairy fat – CLA, vitamin K2, butyric acid, vitamin D – in addition to the trans-palmitoleate.

HPHNG_Cover

Point #2: Sleep: Why We Need It, and How To Get It

We all know that sleep is important for our health.  However, many of us (if not most of us) tend to act as if that just doesn’t hold true for ourselves.  We seem to believe that we can get away with it.  While you may blame “work” or simply being “busy,” research clearly and consistently shows that people miss out on sleep due to something called “voluntary bedtime delay.”  Basically, we stay up late because we want to, often watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” re-runs, or mindlessly reading useless info on Facebook.  No matter the reason, it is unlikely to actually be more important than logging sufficient and quality shut-eye.

In the big picture, sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise when it comes to improving your health, performance, and body composition. 

The average adult gets about 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep per night. In fact, about 30% of the population gets fewer than six hours per night. Women tend to sleep a bit more than men, and people who carry high amounts of body fat tend to sleep less than those with a normal body fat level.  Studies suggest that people who sleep fewer than six hours per night gain almost twice as much weight over a 6-year period as people who sleep 7-8 hours per night. 

Excessive sleep isn’t necessarily better, either; those who sleep more than nine hours per night have similar body composition outcomes as those who sleep less than six hours.

There is a fairly strong body of research showing that lack of sleep increases risk of many conditions, including:

  • altered food intake
    • decrease in satiety hormones, increase in hunger hormones
    • increase in pleasure response to food, causing increased food intake
  • altered glucose tolerance, insulin resistance & diabetes
  • inflammation
  • obesity
  • disruption of cortisol levels and rhythm
  • decrease in testosterone and increase in estrogen
  • loss of lean mass, including muscle, bone and organs (such as your brain)
  • decrease in thyroid stimulating hormone
  • heart attack
  • stroke

It is important to note that sleep debt is cumulative, meaning that the more nights with less sleep, the greater likelihood of negative effects taking place.  The good news is that you can catch up with just a few consecutive nights of adequate sleep.  Experts hypothesize that each hour of sleep debt needs to be repaid eventually, so don’t let it add up.

Okay, so we know lack of sleep is a problem.  As researchers have noted regarding sleep debt: "these alterations are similar to those observed during aging and sometimes during depression." Awesome. 

Fortunately, research also shows that simply getting adequate sleep can quickly right the ship on these issues.  [Note from EC: Brian goes into great detail on strategies to improve sleep quality and duration in his guide].

I'll be back later today with a few more key points from BSP's manual, but in the meantime, you can check out The High Performance Handbook here. Don't forget: the $30 off discount is only around for this week!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/26/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Hacking Sleep: Engineering a High Quality, Restful Night - Brian St. Pierre goes into great detail on how to improve sleep quality in order to optimize recovery and fitness progress.

What You Need to Know About GIRD - Mike Reinold put together a great review of the literature and outlined the common mistakes he sees with respect to glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD).  This is stuff that Mike and I discuss literally every week, so I'm glad he's finally put it into a comprehensive article.  If you're a coach who is universally prescribing sleeper stretch to all your players, this is must-read material; you'll reconsider it after you're done.

Injuries are an Opportunity - Andrew Ferreira is a CP pro guy in the Twins system, and he offered this great insight on how you can't just have a pity party when you get hurt; you have to use it as an avenue through which you can get better.

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