Home Posts tagged "Sports Nutrition" (Page 3)

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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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 16

Here are this week's strength and conditioning and nutrition tips to make you just a little more awesome, compliments of CP coach Greg Robins.

1. Spread - don't sit - when squatting.

2. Read the entire food label.

Reading food labels is an important step in selecting quality products to include in your diet. It may seem rudimentary, but I often find that people neglect to take into account the nutrition facts as a whole. Rather, they fall victim to the flashy marketing on the front cover, or go immediately to checking the macronutirent breakdown (protein, fat, carbohydrate). By doing so, they select foods that seem like better choices than they are, and discard many solid choices they believe to be "unhealthy." So, how should we read the labels?

First, make sure you look to see how large a single serving is. Many foods will advertise an appealing amount of calories or other benefit per serving. However, a single serving will be much smaller than perceived by looking at the product as a whole. Interestingly enough, even products as small as a 16oz beverage or single nutrition bar will show a food label that is representative of a single serving, not the total amount within the package or bottle. Don't skip the first line; make sure you know how big a serving is, and how many servings you are buying in all.

Next is the most popular part of the label: the middle portion. Here you will find information on calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Additionally, you will see information on sodium content, as well as how many grams of fat come from different fatty acid profiles, and how many grams of carbohydrates come from sugar and fiber. These are obviously important considerations, but not to be viewed outside the context of the product as a whole. Remember to view these within the parameters of a single serving, and then within the parameters of the package as a whole. For example, many canned products will provide an entire day's worth of sodium.

Moving down the label, vitamins and minerals are featured next. This is important for everyone, and a good gauge of how nutrient dense a product is. You should be trying to fill your diet with as nutrient dense foods as possible, and the bigger numbers you see here, the more sure you can be that what you are taking in is filling your requirements for a healthy diet.

Last, but surely not least, is the ingredients list. I, for one, move my eyes directly to this paragraph when investigating a new product. Often, a product will check out fairly well until you get to this section. I often joke that the more blurbs on the front telling me what's not in a food, the skeptical I am of what actually is in the food! More times than not, there are loads of ingredients I can barely pronounce, and a paragraph long enough to warrant a comfortable chair and barista to make it feel like a more appropriate setting for the day's reading. Limit ingredients to five or less, and take note of the order in which they are featured. When sugar is the second ingredient after water, you can be pretty sure that you're about to consume just that.

3. Remember that booze continues to be a poor post-training nutrition strategy.

Many people sabotage their gym efforts by consuming far too much alcohol. In fact, it's probably more prevalent than we think even in the most dedicated gym-goers. After all, many people who consider themselves avid exercise enthusiasts are also those who frequent bars and clubs to show off their hard work in the gym. Consider this study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, that found alcohol ingested post-training by rugby players had a detrimental effect on both peak power outputs and recovery. It's not something you didn't already assume, but nonetheless, it's a reminder that alcohol and peak performance don't mix. If you are an athlete over the age of 21, reflect on what is important to you. Be a professional, and do the things that separate the average from the elite. This includes taking into account your recovery, something alcohol certainly will not expedite. For the rest of us, if you are going to embody a healthy lifestyle, do it to the fullest and be aware of your alcohol consumption. For further reasoning, consider these additional ways alcohol negatively impacts your training and health: it contains empty calories, raises estrogen (beer, mostly), dehydrates you, taxes your liver, ruins your sleep, diminishes muscle recovery functions, I could go on. Bottom line, if your training is important to you, you will limit alcohol consumption.

4. Get into a routine for continued success.

Spontaneity is not a bad quality to possess. I once dated a girl who actually commented that she liked me because I was spontaneous. I laughed, because in reality, I'm a creature of habit. I am purposefully habitual because being so keeps me focused, consistent, and successful. You don't need to organize your entire life into a routine; that would be boring, and girls/boys will never like you for your spontaneity. You should, however, form routines for activities that need to take place regularly and set you up for continued success in the long term. I have routine for cooking my meals, writing, continuing education, sleeping, hygiene, and training. I approach my food prep the same way every week by allotting certain days for grocery shopping, and certain times for cooking. I have a nice routine for clearing my head to write, and another for reading books and articles to keep me up to date on happenings in the industry. Likewise, I have a routine that helps me get to bed, as well as stay clean and groomed. Lastly, I approach my training in a very similar fashion every week so that I don't overlook my pre-training nutrition and checklist of cues before each lift.

5. Consider training capabilities - not just specific movements - for increased performance.

Specificity in training for sports performance is a complicated subject. It's complex in of itself, and also because there are so many schools of thought on how to maximize the requested outcome. It is important that we breakdown movements past what they look like in relation to the sport of question, and more to the desired improvement of certain capabilities (strength, energy system demands, etc.). A recent study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that counter movement jump ability (think: depth jumps, reactive heidens) had a positive correlation to the improvement of elite basketball player's repeated sprint ability (RSA). While training explosive strength via jumping doesn't seem to have any surface linkage to sprint ability, the concept makes perfect sense. In order to repeat high output sprint efforts during the game of basketball a player needs to have adequate strength and an ability to call upon that strength quickly. This in turn requires an efficient management of their energy in relation to the demand. While training these characteristics with actual sprint work will increase their RSA, so will using other means that elicit similar and nearly identical demands / outputs. These would include jump variations, resistance training, and various other special strength exercises. Don't assume that in order to increase one skill you must train it specifically (at least not all the time). Additional training of other movements, that utilize similar properties, will also increase other like skills. A steady combination, and intelligent organization, of both the specific and the general will gamer the best result.

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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 3

Here are this week's random tips to get you headed in the right direction with your workout routine and nutrition program, with assistance from Cressey Performance strength and conditioning coach Greg Robins.

1. Take a preventative approach.

Often times nagging pain, injuries, and adverse health effects are an issue of negligence. It is is important as a coach, athlete, or weekend warrior to take a preventative approach to keeping your body healthy. There is no shortage of information on how to deal with various joint pain, or why its important to do "this" to prevent "that". At Cressey Performance, we take a preventive approach to keep our athletes on the field, but the ball doesn't stop there.

A common example is resistance training among older women to prevent bone degeneration. A recent study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that younger women, in their mid twenties, who participated in a 12-week resistance training program showed significant increases in the hormones responsible for new bone growth. This isn't revolutionary, but the take home point is to promote heavy lifting long before signs of degeneration begin to present themselves.

Similarly, anterior knee pain is a hot topic with active individuals. This pain can be debilitating, especially as an athlete or someone with a more active job / lifestyle. Another recent study conducted at The University of Cincinnati found that an intervention with four daily close chained kinetic exercises among military recruits (undergoing rigorous training) greatly reduced incidents of knee pain when compared to a control group who did not. Military personnel underwent daily physical training for 3-4 hours per day, including endurance marching, military field exercises, running, weapons and foot drill, and strength and conditioning. If as little as four exercises were able to help these individuals, imagine what they can do for you.

2. Eat more fish - and preferably ones that did cool stuff like this while they were still alive.

3. Wear a pedometer for a day.

If you talk to a lot of people "in the know," non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) is an often overlooked factor contributing to fat loss success (or failure). Some people just move all the time, whether it's because of their occupation (e.g., manual laborer) or the simple fact that they are constantly fidgeting. It might surprise you, but this NEPA can really help get you lean - or keep you there.

One quick and easy way to get a feeling of where you stand on this front is to simply wear a pedometer for a day.  I did this about two years ago and discovered that I actually walk about four miles in eight hours of coaching at Cressey Performance.  That's a lot of calories burned!

Just like writing down everything you eat can force you to consider what you're putting in your mouth, wearing a pedometer can motivate you to take some extra steps each day.  Give it a shot; you may be surprised at how many or few steps you take each day.

4. Count your blessings.

Being happy, and finding fulfillment in your life and training, can be as easy as remembering all that you already have. Stop stressing about what you don't have, and focus on the many things you do have. Take five minutes and write down everything you are grateful for. Every morning start your day by reading through your list, and add to it as you see fit. Doing so will give you a positive start to each day. Try it out!

5. Be more specific with your "conditioning."

The term conditioning is grossly misunderstood. The lack of understanding, in consideration of the demands of an individual within their chosen sports or activities, has led to many asinine training protocols developed by misinformed coaches and general people alike. An elite powerlifter may not be able to run a six-minute mile, but they are perfectly conditioned for their sport. Likewise, a baseball pitcher has no business doing extensive distance running when they a play a sport that involves covering as little as 100ft of total ground per outing (if that). More appropriately, they need to develop the energy systems conducive to producing explosive movements repetitively for the amount of time they spend on the mound. This will differ within the position as well: Starters, long relievers, closers, etc.

Using resources such as "time motion analysis" is a great place to investigate the actual demands placed on an athlete in a given sport. You can access A LOT of these through a basic google search. As a team sport coach, take a critical look at what you assign as "conditioning" work to your athletes during practice. In this day and age, many kids are participating in strength and conditioning programs outside of their practice and game schedules. Assuming that they are receiving intelligent programming, you do not want to interfere with their training by having them do additional work that is detrimental to their progress. Solutions: stop the ridiculous amounts of distance running and "suicides," and instead form a relationship with their strength and conditioning coach.

For you weekend warriors: Your approach to conditioning will be as specific as your main goal. Many general fitness people are kind of across the board on what they are trying to accomplish. With that in mind, try to keep a similar stimulus in your conditioning work to what the rest of your training for that day is. For example, place sprint work with adequate rest on heavy lifting days, place more aerobic work on off days, and include a day of high intense intervals with shorter rest later in the week after training.

Co-Author Greg Robins is strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. Check out his website, www.GregTrainer.com, for more great content.

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The Truth About Meal Frequency: Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

Today's guest nutrition blog comes from former Cressey Performance intern Tyler Simmons. “It’s best to eat 5 - 7 times a day." "Eating every three hours fuels your metabolism." "If you skip meals, your body goes into 'starvation mode,' you gain fat, and burn muscle for energy.” Chances are that you’ve probably heard something like the above statements if you’ve read anything about diet or exercise in the last ten years. Many of you (myself included) probably spent a lot of time preparing and eating meals, in the hopes of optimizing fat loss and better muscle gain.

What does the data really show about spacing out your meals? When I started researching the topic of meal frequency in 2010, I assumed there was ample scientific evidence to back up these nearly unanimous claims that smaller, more frequent meals were better than larger, less frequent meals. Boy, was I disappointed.

To my surprise, the scientific literature had some different things to say. My research focused on how changing meal frequency impacts two different things: 1) Metabolic Rate and 2) Weight Loss. What I found was compelling evidence that reduced meal frequency, sometimes known as Intermittent Fasting (IF), could actually help me, so I started an experiment. In the summer of 2010 I was living in Alaska doing construction and labor, as well as doing off-season training for Track and Field (sprinting, jumping, and lifting). For years I had focused on eating every 2-3 hours, but based on my new findings, I decided to limit all omy food intake to an 8-hour window, leaving 16 hours of the day as my fasting portion. Despite doing fasted, hard labor all day, then lifting, sprinting, and playing basketball, I managed to set records on all my lifts at the end of the summer. Not only was I stronger than ever, but I got leaner too. Here’s pictures from before and after, about 2 months apart:

Getting lean wasn’t even my main goal; the idea that I could be free from eating every three hours without suffering negative side effects was extremely liberating. No longer was I controlled by arbitrary meal times and tupperware meals in a lunch box. During this summer, I developed the ability to go long periods of time (18-24 hours) without food, and not get tired, cranky, our mentally slow down. So why didn’t I catabolize my muscles, drop my metabolic rate, and end up looking like skinny-fat Richard Simmons (no relation)? The Science The idea that eating several smaller meals is better came from a few pieces of information. The first was because of an association between greater meal frequency and reduced body weight in a couple of epidemiological studies, although this only shows a correlation, not causation. Breakfast eaters are more likely to engage in other health activities, such as exercise, which explains the relationship. In the most comprehensive review of relevant studies, the authors state that any epidemiological evidence for increased meal-frequency is extremely weak and “almost certainly represents an artefact” (1). The second piece is related to the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), which is the amount of energy needed to digest and process the food you eat. Fortunately, this is dependent on total quantity of food, not on how it’s spaced, making the distinction irrelevant. So, now we can see that the supposed benefits from increased meal frequency do not hold up to closer inspection, but why would we want to purposefully wait longer in between meals? Originally, researchers thought Caloric Restriction (CR) was the bee’s knees. Preliminary research showed that CR slows aging, reduces oxidative damage, and reduces insulin and levels. All good, right? Unfortunately, these benefits come with some nasty trade-offs, including reduced metabolic rate, low energy levels, constant hunger, and low libido, pretty much what you would expect from chronically restricting food intake. These were not happy animals.

Recent research has shown that Intermittent Fasting or reduced meal frequency can convey many of the benefits of CR while avoiding the negative side effects. Some of these benefits include:
  • Favorable changes to blood lipids
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased markers of inflammation
  • Reduction in oxidative stress
  • Increased Growth Hormone release
  • Greater thermogenesis/elevated metabolic rate
  • Improved fat burning
  • Improved appetite control
Some of these effects may be secondary to the reduction of calories due to improved appetite control, or they may be primary effects of IF, the research is not conclusive on this yet. One of the most interesting findings was that contrary to conventional wisdom, reduced meal frequency actually causes an increase in thermogenesis (metabolic rate), which is mediated through the increase of catecholamines (stress hormones), such as adrenaline and norepinephrine (1,2). Yep, you read that right: instead of slowing your metabolism down, it speeds it up. Catecholamines also help with the liberation of fatty acids from fat cells, making them available to be burned as energy. That’s the “why” and the “how” for some of the effects of IF. Whatever the mechanism for it, IF seems to be effective for at least some people, myself included. But before you rush off to go start fasting 16 hours a day, here are some tips and caveats. Important Considerations Many people ask me if IF is good or bad, but as with most things, it depends. IF is not appropriate in certain situations. It can be good or bad, depending on who you are (your current health status/lifestyle) and what your goals are. IF is a stressor on the body; one of the primary effects is an increase in stress hormones. If you’re lacking sleep, eating low quality foods, stressed out about your job, and excessively exercising then don’t start an IF protocol. It will backfire and you will end up fat and tired! Only experiment with an IF program if you are getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night, eating a high quality diet, appropriately recovering from exercise, and don’t have too many mental/emotional stressors.

As far as what goals this works for, common sense applies here. IF is generally best for people who are already moderately lean and are trying to get leaner. If you’re trying to put on 30 pounds of mass, don’t start IF. If you’re an athlete with a very heavy training load, don’t try IF. For those of you who fit the criteria of goals and health status, I suggest experimenting with the 8-hour fed/16-hour fasted periods. Eat quality foods to satiation in your eating window, especially focusing on the post-training period. Keep in mind that IF is not for everyone, but it can be a powerful tool at certain times.  Most importantly, even if IF isn’t for you, remember that you shouldn’t stress out if you miss a meal occasionally! Additional Note/Addendum Many readers have noted that this is similar to what Martin Berkhan does in his LeanGeans protocol. Martin Berkhan was certainly influential in the thought process behind this, and I don’t mean to take anything away from him. To be clear, LeanGains is much more complex than a 16:8 fasting:eating period. LeanGains involves calculating calorie intake, fluctuating calorie intake +20% on training day/ -20% on off days, macronutrient cycling (high carb/low carb), supplementing with BCAA's, etc. I didn’t use any of these techniques during my ten week experiment, I just ate to satiety during an 8-hour window. Martin is a great resource for people that want to learn more, especially on the body composition side of things. His website is leangains.com. About the Author Tyler Simmons is the owner and head Nutrition/Strength & Conditioning Coach at Evolutionary Health Systems. He has his bachelors in Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Science and Exercise Nutrition from Humboldt State University. A former collegiate athlete, Tyler specializes in designing training and nutrition programs for athletes of all levels, as well as general population. Learn more at EvolutionaryHealthSystems.com. Related Posts Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government Anabolic Cooking: Why You Don't Have to Gag to Eat Healthy References 1. Bellisle, F., & McDevitt, R. (1997). Meal frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77, 57-70. 2. Mansell, P., & Fellows, I. (1990). Enhanced thermogenic response to epinephrine after 48-h starvation in humans. The American Journal of Physiology, 258, 87-93. 3. Staten, M., Matthews, D., & Cryer, P. (1987). Physiological increments in epinephrine stimulate metabolic rate in humans. American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, 253, 322-330. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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The Skinny on Sodium Intake: Is Salt Bad for You?

Today's guest post on sodium intake comes from current Cressey Performance intern, Jordan Syatt. Sodium intake is a highly controversial topic within the fitness industry, mainstream media, and even the medical community.  Very simply, everyone wants to know: "Is salt bad for you?" Nobody seems to have a clear-cut answer.

While many are quick to demonize the tasty mineral, I’ve long wondered if the evils associated with salt are the result of poorly constructed and misinterpreted research or actual cause for concern. In an attempt to settle the debate once and for all, I began to dig up all the research I could find pertaining to sodium intake, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and general health. To make things as simple as possible, I’ve outlined my findings below. I think the results may surprise you! Sodium Intake: What Does the Research Say? First and foremost, high-blood pressure is perhaps the most prevalent risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Bearing in mind that CVD is currently the world’s leading cause of death, any information we can find to aid in reducing the risk of CVD is of the utmost importance.

Therefore, considering it is well established that diets excessively high in sodium may result in increased blood pressure (BP), it should come as no surprise that doctors and health professionals alike strongly encourage maintaining a low-sodium diet in the long-term.  Epidemiological research suggests high-salt diets may not only affect blood pressure (BP) and thereby cardiovascular disease (CVD), but could also “increase the risk of stroke, left ventricular hypertrophy and renal disease.” Perhaps worst of all, great sodium consumption tends to cause water retention, thus giving leaner individuals a noticeably “softer” appearance. In other words, their abs won’t appear to be as cut-up. What the hell, salt!?!? Based on the information provided above, it would appear as though high-salt diets are the primary cause of illness, death, and guys making excuses for why they don’t look as lean as they should.

We should probably cut it out of our diet, right? Not so fast. While high BP is certainly a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease, recent research has clearly shown the ratio of sodium intake to potassium intake within the diet has a much greater effect on BP than sodium (or potassium) alone. Other studies have confirmed this finding and even the USDA recommends individuals place an emphasis on increasing potassium-rich foods and/or lowering sodium intake in order to lower BP. While excessive sodium consumption can have a negative impact on BP (thus increasing one's risk of various diseases), simply increasing the amount of potassium consumed on a daily basis holds the same benefits as lowering salt intake.  As low-sodium diets are rather difficult to maintain in the long-term, placing an emphasis on potassium-rich foods may help individuals keep BP in check without causing undue stress notably in social situations. In addition to the ratio of salt to potassium within the diet, other factors such as age, gender, genetics, activity level, and body fat are tremendously significant in determining ones risk of high BP, CVD, and other related illnesses. Not surprisingly, exercise and weight loss significantly reduce the risk of CVD. As such, rather than solely focus on reducing salt intake, beginning an appropriate training routine and maintaining a healthy body weight would most likely be the ideal first step in preventing CVD.

Finally, one need only look at the extremely high amounts of sodium in processed foods to understand why greater sodium consumption is associated with high BP and CVD. I’d venture to guess that those individuals who base their diets largely on processed foods are not only consuming too much salt, but are also not eating enough potassium, neglecting to exercise, failing to get an adequate amount of sleep, not maintaining an appropriate body weight, nor living a healthy lifestyle in general. Taking the above into consideration, is it really the heavy sodium consumption causing high BP and CVD? Or, could it possibly be the overall sedentary lifestyle, overconsumption of processed foods, being overweight, etc? I bet it’s the latter. If otherwise healthy individuals are eating a diet largely consisting of whole/unprocessed foods, consuming adequate potassium, regularly exercising, and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, they can probably stop worrying over the minutia and feel free to add a dash, or two, of the ever-so-tasty mineral. My General Recommendations: Individuals should maintain a diet largely consisting of whole/unprocessed foods and make a concerted effort to acquire enough potassium on a daily basis. Examples include, but are not limited to, baked potatoes, cooked spinach, bananas, oranges, and cooked beans. For a detailed list of potassium-rich foods, click HERE. Additionally, I encourage individuals to follow an appropriate strength and conditioning program designed specifically for their individual needs. Note: those who already have high blood pressure, first and foremost, you must consult with your primary care physician and follow his/her directions, as various anti-hypertensive medications can interact differently with food and exercise.  Plus, you want to find out why you are hypertensive in the first place in order to individualize your treatment approach. I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. About the Author Jordan Syatt is a strength training and nutritional consultant out of Boston Massachusetts. He is Westside Barbell Certified, currently interning at Cressey Performance, and studies Health Behavior Science at the University of Delaware. In addition to actively competing in various Powerlifting Federations, Jordan works with a diverse population of clientele, focusing on fat loss, mass gain, and athletic performance.  Jordan is the owner and operator of www.syattfitness.com. Feel free to contact him directly at: jsyattfitness@gmail.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word – Part 1

I'm excited to present to you an awesome guest post on coffee consumption from Brian St. Pierre.  I learned a lot reading this two-part series over, and I'm sure you will, too!

Coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, trailing only water (and debatably, tea). As you all know, caffeine is a key component of coffee and is a compound of great debate.  It is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug, with 90% of North American adults consuming caffeine daily. However, is this such a bad thing?

Many health advocates would try to convince you to give up coffee and possibly even caffeine altogether. However new research has certainly raised the question, should we actually give up our beloved Cup o’ Joe?

Does Metabolism Matter?

There is a lot of conflicting research on coffee consumption, and it seems to be because people have different clearance rates for caffeine. On one hand, you have the “slow” metabolizers of caffeine: people who are adversely affected by caffeine, get the jitters, and are wired for up to nine hours. Then, there are those who simply have an increase in energy and alertness that wears off within a few hours; they are considered “fast” metabolizers of caffeine.

This seems to be a defining difference in whether or not coffee will help you or hurt you, as those who are slow metabolizers may be at an increased risk for a non-fatal heart attack, while the fast metabolizers may not.

If you are a slow metabolizer of caffeine and coffee, steer clear.  It’s not for everybody, and it is not for you.  In your case, it can do more harm than good, and this may explain why coffee consumption has been associated with:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Interference of normal sleeping patterns
  • Increased PMS symptoms
  • Increased blood pressure, even in people without hypertension
  • Non-fatal myocardial infarction

Fortunately, this seems to be a minority of the population.  For those lucky enough to be fast metabolizers, there is good news – and lots of it.

Why Coffee Rules

Coffee has more antioxidants than dark chocolate or tea, and may make up as much as 50-70% of the total antioxidant intake for the average American!

A recent study found that men who drank the most coffee (6 or more cups per day) were nearly 60% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

In fact, at least six studies have found that regular coffee drinkers have up to an 80% decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s.

In addition, other research has shown that when compared to non-coffee drinkers, people who regularly consume two or more cups per day may have a 25% decreased risk of colon cancer, up to an 80% decreased risk for cirrhosis, a 35% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and up to a 50% decreased risk for gallstones!

In terms of the gallbladder protection, it was only seen in people who drank caffeinated coffee.  So, if you drink decaf, it’s not doing much for the gallbladder.

The final verdict on coffee and cancer is that coffee consumption is associated with a lower overall risk of cancer.  Period.  Specifically, coffee consumption has shown to be associated with a lower risk or oral, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast (in post-menopausal women), liver, colon, and aggressive prostate cancer.  Sounds good to me!

Beyond the health benefits, there are many noted mental and physical performance benefits as well. Caffeine has been shown to reduce the rate of perceived exertion, so it doesn’t feel like you are working as hard as you really are.  In addition, people who regularly drink coffee have been found to have better performance on tests of reaction time, verbal memory, and visuo-spatial reasoning.

Taking it a step further, another study found that elderly women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on tests of cognitive function if they had regularly consumed coffee over the course of their lifetimes.

In addition, many people think of coffee as increasing their risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the reality is that coffee consumption has been found to moderately reduce the risk of dying from CVD.  Another study, done in Japan, followed 77,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 79. Researchers found that caffeine and coffee consumption were also associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

One other coffee/caffeine myth is the idea of dehydration. It is widely believed that caffeine-containing beverages like coffee and tea cause the body to expel more fluid than they provide, but  does the research actually back this up?

Nope.

A recent review of 10 studies found that consuming up to 550mg of caffeine per day does not cause fluid-electrolyte imbalances in athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Another review the following year found that consuming caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle does not lead to fluid loss in excess of the volume of fluid ingested, nor is it associated with poor hydration status. Myth busted.

That seems like an awful lot of awesome with respect to coffee consumption, but does it continue?  Check back soon for part 2 to find out!

Related Posts

Healthy Food Options: Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government
Metabolic Cooking: Making It Easy to Eat Clean

About the Author

Brian St. Pierre is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He received his degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a focus in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and he is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the same institution. He was the Nutritionist and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA for three years. He is also the author of the Show and Go Nutrition Guide, the accompanying nutrition manual to Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Training System.

With his passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. For more information, check out his website.

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References

Cornelis MC, et al. Coffee, CYP1A2 Genotype, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141

Wisborg K, et al. Maternal consumption of coffee during pregnancy and stillbirth and infant death in first year of life: prospective study. BMJ. 2003 326 (7386): 420.

Richelle M, et al. Comparison of the Antioxidant Activity of Commonly Consumed Polyphenolic Beverages (Coffee, Cocoa, and Tea) Prepared per Cup Serving. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (7), pp 3438–3442

Leitzmann WF, et al. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.  JAMA. 1999 281:2106-12

 Leitzmann MF, et al. Coffee intake is associated with lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in women. Gastroenterology. 2002 Dec;123(6):1823-30

 Webster Ross G, et al. Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease.  JAMA. May 24, 2000, 283:20

Hancock DB, et al. Smoking, Caffeine, and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs in Families With Parkinson Disease. Arch Neurol. 2007;64(4):576-580.

Klatsky AL, et al. Coffee, Cirrhosis, and Transaminase Enzymes. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1190-1195.

van Dam RM, Hu FB. Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.  JAMA. 2005 Jul 6;294(1):97-104.

Tavani, A, et al. Coffee and tea intake and risk of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancer. Oral Oncol. 2003 39 (7): 695-700. 

Ganmaa D, Willett WC, Li TY, et al. Coffee, tea, caffeine and risk of breast cancer: a 22-year follow-up. Int  J Cancer 2008 122 (9): 2071-6.

Inoue M, Yoshimi I, Sobue T, Tsugane S. Influence of Coffee Drinking on Subsequent Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Prospective Study in Japan. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute 97 (4): 293-300

Nkondjock A. Coffee consumption and the risk of cancer: an overview. Cancer Lett. 2009 May 18;277(2):121-5.

Arab L. Epidemiologic evidence on coffee and cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(3):271-83.

Somoza V, et al. Activity-Guided Identification of a Chemopreventive Compound in Coffee Beverage Using in Vitro and in Vivo Techniques. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 51 (23), pp 6861–6869

American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Dec. 6-8, 2009.

Jarvis MJ. Does caffeine intake enhance absolute levels of cognitive performance? Psychopharmacology. 2 December 2005, 110:1-2, 45-52.

Johnson-Kozlow M, et al. Coffee Consumption and Cognitive Function among Older Adults. Am J Epidemiol 2002; 156:842-850

Lopez-Garcia E, et al. The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine 2008 Jun 17;148(12):904-14.

Koizumi A, Mineharu Y, Wada Y, Iso H et al. Coffee, green tea, black tea and oolong tea consumption and risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese men and women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2011 65: 230-240.  

Armstrong LE. Caffeine, body fluid-electrolyte balance, and exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exer Metab. 2002 Jun;12(2):189-206.

Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a reviewJ Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 16(6):411–420.

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Healthy Food Options? Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government

Today's post is a guest blog from current Cressey Performance intern, Tyler Simmons.  I had a super busy week, so when Tyler brought up this topic at CP the other day, I jumped at the opportunity to get him to write about it.  You won't be disappointed.   Many people don’t know this, but before 1979, there were no public health guidelines for what foods our citizens should eat. So where would we be now without a food pyramid? In the 1950s, a researcher named Ancel Keys developed a theory that certain dietary fats were a major cause of heart disease. Although the support for this theory was weak, it would eventually become the basis of nutritional recommendations for the entire country. This eventually morphed in to the theory that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease, and for the public it was easy to make the jump that these also cause weight gain and obesity. So the US government decided to step in for the benefit of the uneducated masses and save us from imminent death and obesity. The result?  Since 1979, when the McGovern Committee made the first “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” we’ve been encouraged to eat less animal fat, less cholesterol, and more grains. And, we were pretty successful at it; Americans adopted our new food guidelines and embraced a low-fat way of eating for the last 30 years. Here’s a chart of how are diets have changed over the last 100 years:

Source: Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):950-62. We did a pretty good job. We’ve eaten less fat, less beef, less pork, and less dairy (fear the butter!) At the same time, we’ve eaten more chicken, more shortening, and drastically more soy oil (healthy fat right?). Let’s check out this next graph to see what incredible health benefits we’ve gained as a result of this magnificent advice and our stellar compliance:

Source: 2010 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee Who can tell me when it the obesity rate really starts to rise? Oh wow, 1980...but that’s when we got all the good advice to eat less animal fat, more grains, and more vegetable oil. So what can we take away from this? A couple of things: 1. Eating more soy oil was a bad idea. 2. “Healthy whole grains” may not be so healthy after all. 3. Maybe the animal fat and red meat wasn’t actually the problem after all. Numbers two and three here could span several articles in their own right. But for now, let’s just look at one, the soy oil. You’ve probably heard about the “heart-healthy” fats called polyunsaturated fatty acids a.k.a. PUFAs. These include soy oil, canola oil, corn oil, and peanut oil. The high intake of omega-6 PUFAs is one of the most dramatic shifts in the American diet since 1909 with an especially large jump after 1970. I think that the evidence shows that eating soy oil is about as smart as playing in traffic. The graphs above suggest that PUFA’s aren’t particularly good for us and that we’ve been tricked in to becoming obese. What we’re looking at is epidemiological data, which can only show associations. We can see that eating at the same time we started eating way more PUFAs, we saw a striking increase in obesity. This is just association; it doesn’t show cause and effect. So let’s look at a couple pieces of more direct evidence for why we should avoid PUFAs in our diet if we want to get jacked, stay lean, and rock a six-pack into old age. Studies on rodent and humans demonstrate that the more omega-6 PUFA you eat, the more fat you gain. In a rodent study, three groups of rats ate diets with identical amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate, differing only in the type of fat they were eating. One group had beef tallow (low omega-6), the second had olive oil (moderate omega-6), and the third had safflower oil (tons of omega-6). Compared to the beef tallow group, the olive oil rats gained 7.5% in total body weight, and the safflower oil grouped gained 12.3% total body weight. The more omega-6, the fatter they got. In another study, 782 men were split in to two groups that ate isocaloric diets (they ate the same amount of calories) for 5 years. The only difference between the two groups was that one ate animal fats and the other ate vegetable oils (very high in omega-6). Compared to the animal fat group, the vegetable oil group had consistent increases in body fat and body weight. By the end of the study the vegetable oil group weighed 5% more on average.

I have found that when working with athletes and people who just want to look better, modifying omega-6 intake is a critical factor in fat loss. Keep in mind that fat gain is mult-faceted in its causes. I’m not suggesting that omega-6 is the sole reason for fat gain, just that it is a significant factor. There are a variety of reasons to eat less omega-6 fats beyond the fat gaining characteristics, so limit the vegetable/seed oils and don’t be scared of animal fats. And be skeptical of any advice you get from the government. Tyler Simmons is completing his degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Nutrition at Humboldt State University. He designs individualized nutrition programs for athletes and people working to look, feel, and perform better. He can be reached at simmons.tyler@gmail.com or at www.evolutionaryhealthsystems.blogspot.com. Related Posts Metabolic Cooking: Making it Easier to Eat Clean with Health Food Options Precision Nutrition's Travel Strategies for Eating on the Road Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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The #1 Cause of Inconsistent Pitching Velocity

As anyone who reads my posts regularly surely knows, I've devoted a significant portion of my life to figuring out how to make guys throw baseballs faster.  Sure, having a great change-up and a filthy curveball is nice, but let's be honest: throwing gas is what gets scouts' attention and earns you fame, fortune, chicks, scholarships, and, of course, intimidation on the mound.

However, my interest in velocity isn't just limited to how to get to "X" miles per hour; it also extends to understanding how to stay (or improve upon) "X" miles per hour over the course of a single appearance, season, or career while staying healthy and developing the rest of one's pitching arsenal.  Erratic radar gun readings are as much a problem as "insufficient" radar gun readings.

My foremost observation on this front has been that velocity is much more erratic in high level teenagers than any other population. At Cressey Sports Performance, we've had loads of high school guys top the 90mph mark over the years, so we've built up a good sample size to consider.  While some of these guys are quite consistent, I find that they tend to have more 4-6mph drop-offs here and there than any other population with which I've worked.  A guy that is 90-94 on one day might come back at 85-87 five days later - seemingly out of the blue.

However, I don't think it's just a random occurrence.  Rather, in my experience, EVERY single time it happens, it's because he has let his body weight drop - usually due to being on the road for games and not packing enough food.  We see it all the time in kids who throw great up in New England, but then head down South for tournaments.  All of a sudden, they are living out of hotels and eating out of restaurants multiple times per day - which certainly isn't going to be as conducive to maintaining body weight as "grazing" around the house and chowing down on Mom's home-cooking multiple times per day.  To make matters worse, a lot of kids lose their appetites when they get out in the heat - and not many people from across the country are prepared for the weather in Georgia or South Carolina in July.  So, insufficient caloric intake becomes completely inadequate caloric intake - and that's not exactly a recipe for throwing the baseball faster.

tiny-breakfast

Beyond just the body weight factor, though, you also have to look at the fact that the advanced teenage pitchers are generally also the best athletes - so their coaches almost always have them out in the outfield or at SS/3B when they aren't pitching.  Playing a position interferes with a solid throwing program and just doesn't give a kid a chance to rest. There are more calories burned, too!

What's interesting, though, is that kids who don't throw as hard - say, 70-82 - never have variability in their velocity readings; they are super consistent.  Why? Well, for one, they usually aren't quite good enough to get on travel teams and in competitive scenarios that would require them to have to consciously consider how to maintain their weight.  Rather, it's Mom's home-cooking all the time - so it's easier to maintain their weight.  And, they may not be talented enough to be able to play other positions when they aren't pitching.

This difference is really interesting because both populations - independent of strength and conditioning - are at ages where their bodies are changing and (presumably) getting heavier naturally as they go through puberty and gain muscle mass.  As this picture shows, however, their strength coaches are apparently getting shorter and balder at the same time!

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This rarely applies to anyone who has pitched in the professional ranks for more than a year or two.  You never see a professional pitcher go out and throw 5-7mph slower than normal unless he is hurt or coming back on very short rest.  These guys have found their "set points," and have learned over the years how to get in enough calories when on the road (out on their own means cooking for themselves, plus eating whatever their clubhouse dues gets them at the park).  Plus, they aren't playing the field.

All that said, regardless of your age, experience level, and current velocity, don't skimp on calories.  If you look at every bit of research on the pitching motion, body weight predicts pitching velocity. If you're on the road, make sure you pack some shakes, trail mix, bars, fruit, nuts, jerky, or whatever other convenience food helps you to get in the calories you need to light up the radar gun.  I love Precision Nutrition as a resource on this front.  It doesn't just help you to eat healthy foods; it helps you with strategies to make getting in enough qualities calories conveniently when you may be pinched for time or kitchen access.

precision_nutrition

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Stuff You Should Read: 5/26/10

In this week's list of recommended reading, we've got some training and nutrition tips: Training Basketball Players - Here's an excellent, "outside-the-box" post from Charlie Weingroff about what he looks for in dealing with basketball players. If You Like Steak, Read On - This great blog from Brian St. Pierre highlights some recent research that helps to bury the myth that all red meat is bad for you. Oh, and you need to watch this.  If it doesn't get you a little fired up for the World Cup, nothing will.

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Stuff You Should Read: 1/11/10

We're back on track with our next list of recommended reading.  Here are some things worth checking out: 13 Tips for Fitness Blogging Success - I know a lot of you have blogs of your own, and I'd encourage all of you to check out this great collection of advice from Mike Robertson.  A lot of it parallels exactly what I've tried to do with EricCressey.com. Never Eat Alone - This is one of the better business books I've ever read, as it focuses a ton on how to build and maintain a network in the business world.  I came across the title in some reading I was doing the other day, and it reminded me of just how much it has helped me since I read it in March of 2007.

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Vanilla Pumpkin Pie: Best Smoothie Yet? - Another great shake recipe from Brian St. Pierre. Dude does a face plate into a bunch of iron after a one-rep max deadlift attempt - Okay, I gave this one away.  It was too good to not repost.

Sorry, dude.  That's what you get for celebrating like a weenie.

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