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3 Workout Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

08 December, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

By: Jason Riley

     

     You finally finish your workout!  What you decide to do next can have long-term implications to your performance, your health and your weight loss. Are you sabotaging your training goals by making these simple blunders? Here are 3 essential truths that you will learn:

Success is a matter of choice

  • Nutritional refueling is a must to maximize your performance, wellness and weight loss strategies
  • Active Dynamic stretching can actually improve your strength, power and muscular endurance
  • Dehydration can negatively impact every facet of your performance and your quality of life

REFUELING:

     How many times do we see clients walking on a treadmill while reading a book, and then going to Starbucks and sucking down that Caramel Frappuccino like their effort in the gym was so deserving. Refueling is more than just a necessity for athletes training hard, it actually takes careful planning. But lets make sure the intensity of the workout was deserving of your post-workout smoothie.

     Nutrient timing is a science that explores the implications of what you eat and how quickly you eat after a workout. It was designed to make sure that you are achieving your workout goals by consuming the necessary nutrients. Intense training, especially weight training, sprinting and HIIT turn our bodies into nutrient vacuums. They want and need nutrients to help the rebuilding and repair mechanisms within our body. During this time, our muscles crave glucose, and start storing it or using it as a fuel for recovery. In addition to that, our post-workout protein consumption ignites our muscles protein synthesis mechanism.

     Although nutrient timing can be an asset to help us achieve our body composition goals and refueling strategies, research also shows that eating well throughout the day is probably more important to your overall body composition goals than simply just focusing on nutrient timing post-workout.  

STRETCHING:

Stretching Girl and Guy

     Stretching is definitely not a sexy term when you are talking about body composition analysis or weight loss measures. Research has shown that while static stretching may not help prevent injuries, increase overall strength, or reduce muscle soreness after working out, it does have some benefits.

     Stretching can be extremely important to quality of life measures. Many people have desk jobs and sit all day long, limiting their hip flexor and quadriceps flexibility. This can lead to low back pain, hip pain and altered biomechanics, which can create unnecessary strains on other muscles that wouldn’t necessarily be prime movers if your flexibility was adequate. Static stretching can promote healthy circulation, enhance range of motion and flexibility as well as reduce stress.  

     Most static stretches attempt to isolate a single muscle. Fascial stretching on the other hand, engages the whole myofascial system.  Understanding fascia is an important step to understanding movement and soft tissue pain . Fascia is like the saran wrap of our bodies. It looks at the connection between the muscles, as well as their neighboring joints, tendons, ligaments and bones, and a multitude of other functions. This has some serious performance and health benefits that will take much more time to dive into.  Stay tuned in future posts to really understand this concept. 

     Another form of stretching called active dynamic stretching can improve strength, power, muscular endurance, speed, stability and overall coordination patterns. This type of stretching is similar to what most athletes do before competitions, and they utilize it to prime the body for the movements that they will encounter in their respective sport. You will see football players, baseball players and track and field athletes all perform active dynamic warm-ups before going out and competing. Active dynamic stretching can even serve as part of your workout if done correctly. The benefits of this type of stretching includes:

  • Increases core body temperature
  • Increases heart rate
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases nervous system stimulation

     If you are not yet convinced, try performing active dynamic stretching before your workout or static stretching after your workout for a solid 30 days and we guarantee your body will thank you for it.

HYDRATION:

     Girl Athlete Drinking from Bottle

     Water may be considered one of the world’s most fundamental nutrients for life. Therefore, a lack of water within the body is capable of negatively impacting nearly every activity that we try to perform. Since the perception of thirst is an inaccurate indicator of the need to consume water, dehydration has become a common ailment that often goes unnoticed until its too late.

     The more energy you expend, the greater your fluid needs. When working out, maintaining fluid balance is critical for peak athletic performance, regulating core body temperature, lubrication of your joints and helping to transport nutrients to their respective locations. If your urine is clear or light yellow, you’re in good hydration status. But, when your urine is yellow, bright yellow, or brownish in color, that’s when dehydration is a problem.

     When you realize that the body is at least 60% water, you can start to understand why hydration is on the top 3 list of workout blunders. Try incorporating at least ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day on days that you are not working out (120 lbs = 60oz of water). Workout days will require more water, so bring a bottled water to the gym and drink up to maximize your fluid needs.

     When trying to achieve peak athletic performance, maximize your overall health, or even try to lose body fat and weight, it is important to consider these variables. They will will assist you in reaching your goals. By incorporating proper post-workout fueling strategies, stretching routines and hydration status, you can keep your body functioning optimally.

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Mighty Minerals: The Ultimate Nutritional Supplement

23 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

By: Jason Riley

5 REASONS MINERALS ARE A MUST

  • Poor farming practices and soil erosion have allowed our soil to be devoid of essential nutrients
  • Research directly supports the notion that the human body is dependent upon the ingestion of at least 23 minerals to sustain life.
  • Minerals act as catalysts for many of the chemical reactions that occur within our body and aid in the formation of blood and bones, healthy nerve transmission, as well as enabling the body to increase energy production, growth and healing.
  • Mineral supplements should be plant derived, full-spectrum, organically sourced trace minerals, which can be delivered to the cells for immediate uptake.
  • Minerals are not only fundamental for performance before, during and after athletic events, but they are essential for optimal health.

Minerals for Athletic Performance and Quality of Life

      In order to achieve optimal health, we must provide our bodies with all the raw materials required to function, perform and repair.  However, these raw materials can be challenging to find in todays society. Years of poor farming practices and soil erosion have allowed our soil to be devoid of these essential nutrients. Poor nutrient quantity in the soil equates to poor nutrient content in our food, which means you, the consumers’ health and performance suffers.

     Minerals are the basic building blocks of all things, and they are involved in nearly every metabolic function within the body. They act as catalysts for many of the chemical reactions that occur within the body, as well regulate and manage the normal function of all our organs, muscles, and tissues. They ward of disease states, combat fatigue as well as a myriad of other major bodily functions. Many medical and nutritional specialists have concluded that minerals may be even more important than vitamins. The health benefits associated with proper mineral consumption cannot be exaggerated.

     Vitamins and minerals are two very different types of substances, yet they work synergistically to promote good health and wellness. The body cannot process vitamins without a sufficient supply of minerals. Likewise, minerals will be largely ineffective if not supplemented with a vitamin rich diet. For this reason, it is important to ensure that you consume a diet that is high in both vitamins and minerals.

     Traditionally minerals have been broken down into two categories, macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are generally known to act as either electrolytes in nerve transduction and/or as crystal like structures to strengthen bones. Trace minerals are commonly known to function as co-factors for enzymes involved in biochemical pathways. To help illustrate how important minerals are to the function of the human body we can look at one of the essential minerals. Zinc is an essential cofactor for at least 70 different enzymes, essential for regulation of gene expression, essential for protein folding, and essential for immunity.[i],[ii] Evidence of mineral malnutrition can be seen in several health conditions such as energy loss, premature aging, diminished senses, and degenerative diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. What is interesting is that many plants can grow on less than 2 handfuls of minerals, while the body needs a full spectrum of minerals to optimize health.

     Research directly supports the notion that the human body is dependent upon the ingestion of at least 23 minerals to sustain life.[iii] However, over 60 different types of minerals have been found in certain tissues of the body. This suggests that the body may need more than the 23 minerals that research literature has established as essential to life. A missing mineral or vitamin will put the body into a state of imbalance, requiring it to “steal” those nutrients from somewhere else so that we can maintain “normal” living. This will lead to a cascade of deficiencies that the body will continually have to compensate for. This delicate balance affects your health, wellness, energy levels, athletic performance, brain function and immune system. What we need to understand is that not all minerals are alike.

     Plant derived minerals, which have not been destroyed by heat or altered my man-made chemicals are considered living minerals. They are natural, making them easier for your body to absorb and assimilate. These minerals function as the catalysts to enzymes throughout the body. The best minerals are sourced from pre-historic fresh water humate deposits. Humate is a mineral that is mined from the earth. Humate is actually an early stage in the development of coal from organic matter. Humate is rich in humic and fulvic acids, which are active components of soil humus. Fulvic acid increases the availability of nutrients and makes them more readily absorbable. It allows nutrients to work together with one another, breaking them down into the simplest ionic forms chelated by the fulvic acid electrolyte.

     So when looking to maximize your health and performance, make sure your mineral supplements are plant derived, full-spectrum, organically sourced trace minerals, which can be delivered to the cells for immediate uptake. These types of minerals are not only fundamental for performance before, during and after athletic events, but they are essential for optimal health.  Minerals are required for formation of blood and bones, healthy nerve transmission, as well as enabling the body to increase energy production, growth and healing. Although athletes should eat a balanced diet, there are several minerals that are very difficult to obtain in sufficient levels from even a balanced diet since almost all athletes and those exercising require more nutrients than are supplied by the established allowances.[iv]

 Benefits of Plant Derived Fulvic Mineral Supplements:

  • Powerful Electrolyte
  • Powerful Antioxidant
  • Powerful Energy Enhancer
  • Powerful Alkalinizer within body
  • Powerful Immune Enhancer
  • Anti-Viral / Anti-Bacterial properties
  • Aids Nutrient Bio-Availability
  • May Decrease Healing Time

 Here are some examples of Mineral Functions in the body:

 

MINERAL

FUNCTION

Magnesium

Aids in muscle relaxation and lowers anxiety, stress and can lower blood pressure and can help alleviate insomnia

Chromium

Important for glucose uptake which stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis

Iron

Key element in hemoglobin formation which aids in the circulation of the blood and oxygen

Phosphorus

Integral in reducing muscle weakness, boosting brain function and optimizing body metabolism

Copper

Improves brain function, helps boost immunity and helps iron uptake

Potassium

Can increase water flow in the body, alleviate muscle cramps and ensures proper oxygen distribution

 

Research:

Ashmead, Harvey, PhD— “Tissue Transportation of Organic Trace Minerals” J Appl Nutr, 22:42 1970

Motyka, Max, MS— “Minerals, Trace Minerals, Ultra Trace Minerals” Albion Research Notes vol.5 no.2 May 1996

[i] Saper, R. B. and Rash, R. Zinc: an essential micronutrient. Am Fam.Physician 5-1-2009;79(9):768-772.

[ii] Prasad, A. S. Zinc: role in immunity, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Curr Opin.Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12(6):646-652.

[iii]O'dell B & Sunde, R.A. Handbook of Nutritionally essential Mineral elements. Page 4  Marcel Dekker, New York, 1997.

[iv] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22774482

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Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

18 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

Recipe by: Jason Riey

Yes, it is November and pumpkin season is in full effect! Living in Florida, you really don’t get a chance to enjoy the sights and smells of a cool fall day like everyone up north. Autumn comes to us Sunshine State residents in the realm of food. When we see pumpkin lattes, we know fall has officially arrived.

In developing this recipe, we used all organic ingredients and limited the unnecessary junk so that you could enjoy the taste of fall without the guilt. So whether your looking for a post-workout reward, a healthy breakfast option or a late night snack, you won’t want to miss out on these. So grab some Elementz Whey protein from our online store and fuel up my friends.

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes by Jason Riley

Prep Time:              10 min

Cooking Time:        5 min

Yields:                     8 small pancakes

 

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Organic Oat Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Elementz Grass Fed Vanilla Whey Protein
  • 1 T Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Powder
  • ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp Himalayan Sea Salt

 

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 Organic Free-Range Eggs
  • ¼ cup Plain Greek Yogurt (Noosa or Greek Gods)
  • ¼ cup Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 2/3 cup Filtered Water
  • 1 tsp Walnut extract
  • 3 T Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 T Organic Maple Syrup

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well
  2. Combine all liquid ingredients into a separate bowl except the coconut oil and mix well. Heat the coconut oil slightly and mix with wet ingredients to prevent any oil clumping in the recipe. To make a fluffier version of these pancakes, you can also separate the egg yolks and egg whites and beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form.
  3. Combine the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine just until mixed. Do not over mix.
  4. Heat skillet at 375 degrees and cook for 2-3 minutes or until bubbles form on the top of the pancakes and flip.
  5. Serve and enjoy with some fresh fruit, almond or peanut butter or some good old fashion organic maple syrup.
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5 REASONS ATHLETES SHOULD EAT SWEET POTATOES

09 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

By: Jason Riley

  • They contain up to 100% of your daily vitamin A intake
  • Rich in fiber and help provide steady energy for prolonged periods of time
  • Positively impact your immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory food which can directly affect non-contact injuries
  • Play an essential role in athletes fueling strategies

Not only do they taste sweet as pie, but they provide some amazing health benefits to athletes. Sweet potatoes are a very potent fueling option for athletes to consume, regardless of sport. They are rich in slow digesting carbohydrates, which will provide a steady energy state over a long period of time. The bright orange color displays its rich beta-carotene content, and sweet potatoes supply the body with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and even Vitamin B.

When describing other potential performance benefits, other exotic fruits and vegetables often steal sweet potatoes thunder. However, a large sweet potato can contain up to 100% of the daily intake of vitamin A, and are therefore one of the best foods to consume for vitamin A. Vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables is considered “pro-vitamin A”, and must be converted by the human body into the usable form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse and plays a vital role in bone growth, immune system health, and helps the skin and mucus membranes effectively repel bacteria and viruses. It is also critical in maintaining healthy eyesight. Some other sources of beta-carotene are carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, pumpkin and butternut squash.

Among the other performance enhancing benefits of sweet potatoes are their anti-inflammatory properties and blood sugar regulating properties. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many disease states as well as many non-contact injuries in sports. Inflammation is one of the cornerstones of the bodies healing processes, as seen in many injury states with redness, swelling and pain. These symptoms are the body’s way of flooding the site with more nourishment and more immune activity. Stress, too much exercise, injury states, poor food choices and exposure to environmental toxins can all create inflammation within the body, and if not rectified, will wreck havoc with your health and performance.

Carbohydrate foods also influence this inflammatory process. You can control inflammation by keeping blood sugar levels low and stable. Education on how foods impact the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing non-contact injuries and disease states. Eating less processed foods, breads, white potatoes, pastries, sweetened drinks and by avoiding fast foods and products made with high fructose corn syrup we can keep inflammation at bay.

The glycemic index measures how quickly certain foods release carbohydrates into the body. High glycemic foods cause blood sugar levels to spike, while low glycemic foods release glucose slowly into the bloodstream. A surprising fact about sweet potatoes is their ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. Research has confirmed that sweet potato extract can increase blood levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone produced by your fat cells, which regulates the way your body metabolize’s and even lower’s insulin levels. The truth is, carbohydrates play an essential role in an athletes fueling strategy because they are a key source of energy and provide the glucose necessary to replace the glycogen lost during training and competition. So if your looking for a super-food that you may have overlooked, try giving sweet potatoes another shot in your fueling strategy for performance and quality of life measures.

Here are 3 ways that you can enjoy this nutritious food in your meal plans:

 Baked Sweet Potatoes                             Sweet Potatoes with                                     Baked Sweet Potatoes                            with Rosemary & Garlic                        Fried / Scrambled Eggs                               with Greek Yogurt & Chives   

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic                 Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs                   Baked Sweet Potato with Goat Cheese and Chives

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Vitamin D: An Essential Vitamin For Athletes?

02 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

     

 By: Jason Riley

     

Vitamin D is essential for life... Not just athletes! Research continues to show that virtually every tissue and cell within the body has receptors for Vitamin D. (1) According to numerous reports, Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin at all, but a pro-hormone. The very presence of receptors specifically for vitamin D defines it as a hormone more than a vitamin. (2)

Since vitamin D can alter the expression of your genes like a pro-hormone, then we can postulate from research that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to numerous acute and chronic medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, etc… However, since most our readers are athletes, lets look at how a vitamin D deficiency can effect your acute and long term performance measures, and we will look into quality of life measures in later posts:

  • Increased susceptibility to infections – vitamin D is vital for the immune system functioning and keeping you on the playing field at all times. (3)
  • Decreased adaptive immune response - if you cannot adapt to the stresses imposed on your body, you will not perform at your highest level (4,5)
  • Increased inflammatory related injuries – inflammation in your tissues can increase the susceptibility of non-contact injuries (6)
  • Decreased neuromuscular function – this will impact your bodies protein synthesis capabilities, causing muscle weakness, decreased strength and altered muscle functions (7)
  • Decreased bone density – vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, but it is critical to take vitamin K2 (MK7) with vitamin D3 supplementation.

     Unlike vitamin supplementations, which are heavily used as antioxidants and helping enzyme activity, Vitamin D functions differently. Vitamin D works inside your cells regulating small sections of your gene expressions. Without adequate Vitamin D in the body, your genes will not function adequately.   Physical exercise influences neurotransmitter levels, and there is a possibility that the interactions between neurotransmitters and the specific receptors that they affect can play a role in the onset of fatigue. (8) For example, if our brain is not producing enough neurotransmitters, your brain can call on Vitamin D to ramp up production of an enzyme that will make more neurotransmitters. These connections are crucial for affecting mood, perceived exertion and athletic performance.

     Another function of Vitamin D3 is to promote calcium absorption. Calcium can be absorbed into the bones and teeth and strengthen those structures. Vitamin D supplementation without Vitamin K2 supplementation can also be absorbed into the soft tissues like the arteries. Therefore, vitamin D3 without Vitamin K2 can be a dangerous protocol. Supplementing Vitamin D3 without K2 would be analogous to riding in a car without a driver. You might luck out and end up in the right destination, but chances are you will not end up where you need to be. Taking vitamin K2 with your D3 is like adding a driver to the car. It tells the calcium where to be dropped off, into the bones and teeth and staying away from the arteries.

      As you can see, vitamin D deficiency can wreak havoc on the hard work that you are putting into your performance. In order to take adequate dosing of vitamin D and monitor success, it is important to maintain optimum blood levels of vitamin D. The most accurate way to measure this is thru a serum blood analysis for 25-hydroxy vitamin D. A trained physician or nutritional adviser can assist each client.

 

(1) Norman, AW. From vitamin d to hormone d: fundamentals of the vitamin d endocrine system essential for good health. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008:88 (suppl):491S-9S.

(2) Holick, MF. Vitamin D: evolutionary, physiological and health perspectives. Current Drug Targets. 2011 Jan:12(1):4-18.

(3) Aranow, C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011 Aug:59(6):881-6.

(4) Deluca et al. Vitamin D: its role and uses in immunology. The FASEB Journal. 2001 Dec: 15(14):2579-85.

(5) Peterson and Heffernan. Serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha concentrations are negatively correlated with serum 25 (OH)D concentrations in healthy women. Journal of Inflammation 2008, 5:10.

(6) Willis et al. Vitamin D status and biomarkers of inflammation in runners. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012 (3):35-42.

(7) Pfeifer et al. Vitamin D and muscle function. Osteoporosis Int, 2002 Mar:13(3):187-94.

(8) Meeusen and De Meirleir. Exercise and Brain Neurotransmission. Sports Med. 20 (3): 160-188. 1995.

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What Happens to our Brains When We Exercise and How it Makes us Happier

28 August, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

What triggers happiness in our brain when we exercise?

Most of us are aware of what happens to the body when we exercise. We build more muscle or more stamina. We feel how daily activities like climbing stairs becomes easier if we exercise regularly. When it comes to our brain and mood though, the connection isn’t so clear.

The line around our “endorphins are released” is more something I throw around to sound smart, without really knowing what it means. Here is what actually happens:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, is released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose is this writes researcher McGovern:

"These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria."

Overall, there is a lot going on inside our brain and it is in fact oftentimes a lot more active than when we are just sitting down or actually concentrating mentally:

 

Full Article: Link

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Performance is a Choice: Basketball

03 August, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

Some of the greatest athletes inthe game make everything look effortless.  We have all watched the likes of Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrookand LeBron James, and been in awe of their on-court movements.  Their ability to change direction, close down lanes, create positive first steps, and their hang time helped place them in the category of elite NBA players.  When trying to maximize on-court movements, what makes them so special?

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