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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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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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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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