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Kevin Haag

The Importance Of Post Workout Nutrition!

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You just finished up an awesome workout and you’re trying to decide what to eat. This article is for you! You will learn what the best things are to eat post workout!

You don’t need to be a resource management specialist to know that time is the most valuable finite resource that you have. And as you well know, there’s a very limited amount of it to go around. So if you’re smart, you’ll figure out ways to get the greatest return on the investment of your time.

While this may be well recognized and applied in many aspects of modern life, it confuses me as to why people seem to ignore this when it comes to their exercise training. From what I see on a daily basis, it’s clear to me that most people in the gym are wasting their time investment. They’re spending precious hours engaged in strength or endurance training programs that yield little or no results?

Need proof? When was the last time someone in your gym made any noticeable physical progress? In fact, when was the last time that you made any significant physical progress? Exercise training has the potential to yield huge returns on any given time investment. Isn’t it a shame that most people don’t ever see this magnitude of return?

Despite this disappointing reality, I’m here to tell you that hope is not lost. In fact, there’s a very easy way to capitalize on your investment. You see, in most cases the exercise is not the problem. The problem is that people fail to invest in the other important commodity that, in combination with exercise, yields the biggest returns.

They’re buying the cart without the horse, the lemonade stand without the lemonade. They’re spending their time focused on only the exercise program while ignoring the importance of a sound nutritional program.

Now I could write a dozen articles focused on straightening out the nutritional problems of the world. But those articles are for another day. In this article today, I intend to focus on what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of exercise nutrition – eating during the post-workout period. The knowledge of how to eat during this time will maximize your efforts in the gym and yield the biggest returns on your time investment.

REMODELING AND THE POST-WORKOUT PERIOD

Exercise, both strength and endurance training, is responsible for countless health and aesthetic benefits. However the exercise itself is a significant physiological stressor. Perceived symptoms of this “stress” are often mild and include muscle soreness, the need for extra sleep, and an increased appetite.

These symptoms let us know that the exercise has depleted the muscle’s fuel resources, caused some minor damage, and that the muscle is in need of replenishment and repair. While the words depletion and damage may sound like negative things, they’re not if they only stick around for a short period of time. You see, these changes allow the muscle to adapt by getting better at the exercise demands placed on it.

Therefore if you’re doing endurance exercise, the muscle will become depleted and damaged in the short run, but in the long run it will super compensate, building itself up to be a better aerobic machine. And if strength training is your thing, you’ll tear down you’re weaker muscle fibers in favor of building up bigger, stronger ones.

In all cases, exercise essentially tears down old, less adapted muscle in order to rebuild more functional muscle. This phenomenon is called remodeling.

While the remodeling process is much more complex than I can describe here, it’s important for me to emphasize that this remodeling only takes place if the muscle is provided the right raw materials. If I plan on remodeling my home I can hire a guy to tear down a couple of walls, a guy to clean up the mess, and a guy to come in and rebuild better walls than the ones that came down.

But if I don’t give that guy any bricks, how’s he going to get anything done? If I don’t give him the bricks, all I’ll have in the end is a much smaller, unfinished house.

The same holds true with exercise remodeling. In particular, during the exercise bout and immediately following it, exercise breaks down our muscle carbohydrate stores and our muscle protein structures. Then, the immune system comes in to clean up the mess.

And finally, signals are generated to tell the body to rebuild. However, as I hope you can now see, without the proper protein and carbohydrate raw materials, this building can’t take place. You’ll be left with muscles that never reach their potential.

So with this analogy, I hope it’s obvious that this post-exercise period is not a time to take lightly. Remember, you spent a significant amount of time in the gym breaking down the muscle for a good reason. You want it to be better adapted to future demands.

So to realize full return on your time investment, you need to give the body the raw materials it needs, namely protein and carbohydrates.

FEEDING HUNGRY MUSCLES

As I mentioned earlier, all trainees (male or female), regardless of their chosen mode of exercise, must take their post-exercise nutrition seriously in order to provide the muscle with the raw materials it needs. As all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, muscle carbohydrate depletion is inevitable. Therefore a post-workout meal high in carbohydrates is required to refill muscle carbohydrate/energy stores.

However any ol’ amount of carbohydrates will not do. You need to consume enough carbohydrates to promote a substantial insulin release. Insulin is the hormone responsible for shuttling carbohydrates and amino acids into the muscle. In doing this, carbohydrate resynthesis is accelerated and protein balance becomes positive, leading to rapid repair of the muscle tissue.

Therefore, by consuming a large amount of carbohydrates, you will promote a large insulin release, increase glycogen storage, and increase protein repair. Research has shown that a carbohydrate intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight maximizes glycogen synthesis and accelerates protein repair. However, unless you’ve had a very long, intense workout, 1.2g/kg may be a bit excessive as excess carbohydrate can be converted to bodyfat.

Therefore I recommend 0.8g of carbohydrate per 1 kilogram of body weight for speeding up muscle carbohydrate replenishment while preventing excess fat gain (van Loon et al 2000a).

In addition, since muscle protein is degraded during exercise, the addition of a relatively large amount of protein to your post exercise meal is necessary to help rebuild the structural aspects of the muscle. After exercise, the body decreases its rate of protein synthesis and increases its rate of protein breakdown. However, the provision of protein and amino acid solutions has been shown to reverse this trend, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown.

Researchers have used anywhere from 0.2g – 0.4g of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight to demonstrate the effectiveness of adding protein to a post-workout carbohydrate drink (van Loon et al 2000b, Roy et al 1998). As an increased consumption of the essential amino acids may lead to a more positive protein balance, 0.4g/kg may be better than 0.2g/kg.

While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

As your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your depleted muscles, fats should be avoided during this time.

Finally, another important factor to consider is the timing of this meal. It is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are biochemically “primed” for nutrient uptake.

This phenomenon is commonly known as the “window of opportunity”. Over the course of the recovery period, this window gradually closes and by failing to eat immediately after exercise, you diminish your chances of promoting full recovery. To illustrate how quickly this window closes, research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one only 1 hour later.

In addition, consuming one 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

In conclusion, when you decided to start exercising you decided to give up a specific amount of time per week in the interest of getting better, physically. However, if you haven’t spent the necessary time thinking about post-exercise nutrition, you’re missing much of the benefit that comes with exercising.

I assure you that once you start paying attention to this variable in the recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.

WHOLE FOOD VS. NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTATION

Anchored firmly atop their calorie-counting soapbox, nutritionists have traditionally asserted that whole food always trumps supplemental nutrition. For them I have only one sentiment:

Always…it is a meaningless word. -Oscar Wilde

While I wholeheartedly believe that complete, unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed whole food should form the basis of any sound nutritional regimen, there are some instances in which supplements can actually be superior to whole food. In the case of post-exercise nutrition, I believe that liquid supplemental nutrition is far superior to whole food for the following reasons.

LIQUID MEALS ARE PALATABLE AND DIGESTIBLE

Typically, after intense exercise, most people complain that eating a big meal is difficult. This is understandable as the exercise stress creates a situation where the hunger centers are all but shut down. However, as you now know, it’s absolutely critical that you eat if you want to remodel the muscle, enlarge the muscle, or recover from the exercise.

Fortunately liquid supplemental formulas are palatable, easy to consume, and can be quite nutrient dense, providing all the nutrition you need at this time. In addition, since these formulas are structurally simple (I’ll save the biochemistry for another article), the gastrointestinal tract has no difficulty processing them. Your stomach will thank you for this.

LIQUID MEALS HAVE A FAST ABSORPTION PROFILE, WHOLE FOOD IS JUST TOO SLOW

The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals.

To put this into perspective, a liquid post-exercise formula may be fully absorbed within 30 to 60 minutes, providing much needed muscle nourishment by this time. However, a slower digesting solid food meal may take 2 to 3 hours to fully reach the muscle.

LIQUID MEALS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE “WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY”, WHOLE FOODS MAY MISS IT

The faster the protein and carbohydrates get to the muscle, the better your chances for muscle building and recovery. Current research has demonstrated that subjects receiving nutrients within one hour after exercise recover more quickly than subjects receiving nutrients three hours after exercise. Liquid nutrition is making more sense, isn’t it?

LIQUID MEALS ARE BETTER FOR NUTRIENT TARGETING

During the post exercise period, specific nutrients maximize your recovery. These include an abundance of water, high glycemic index carbohydrates, and certain amino acids (in specific ratios). It’s also best to avoid fat during this time. So the only way to ensure that these nutrients are present in the right amounts is to formulate a specific liquid blend. Whole foods may miss the mark.

POST-EXERCISE CHOICES

So your workout is over and it’s time to reach for your post workout meal. What do you reach for? Here are a few examples of good post-workout choices in order of effectiveness.

REFERENCES
  1. Levenhagen et al. (2001). Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasisAm.J.Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 280(6): E982-993.
  2. Tipton et al. (2001). Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am.J. Physiol Endocrinol. Metab. 281(2): E197-206.
  3. Roy et al. (1998). Influence of differing macronutrient intakes on muscle glycogen resynthesis after resistance exerciseJAP. 84(3): 890-896.
  4. Van Loon et al. (2000a). Maximizing postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis: carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixturesAm J Clin Nutrition. 72(1): 106-111.
  5. Van Loon et al. (2000b). Ingestion of protein hydrolysate and amino acid-carbohydrate mixtures increases postexercise plasma insulin responses in menJ Nutr. 130(10): 2508-2513.

READY TO PLAY

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READY TO PLAY – How Nutrition may be the key to staying in the game.

Yes, injuries are often an unavoidable part of sports. And to recover fully, whether from a minor strain or major surgery, you must meet certain specific nutrition needs. The physical damage caused by training or injuries is the same as any other trauma. Even if sport trauma is anticipated and intentional, the body needs to repair and recover from that damage before it can handle more stress.

LET THAT SINK IN!!!

The body needs to repair and recover from that damage before it can handle more stress!

Recovery from injury is a complex process that involves fueling the healing process, removing damaged cells, managing inflammation and repairing damaged tissue.

  1. Fueling Healing

One of the most common errors in recovery nutrition is misunderstanding calorie needs. Many athletes underestimate how many calories it takes to heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, calorie needs can increase by up to 20 percent above baseline. Injured athletes should also realize they are often significantly reducing calories expended during activity. By accounting for both decreased activity and the increased healing factor, athletes are able to fuel recovery without promoting negative changes in their body composition.

Protein is often the focus of recovery, as it plays a major role in tissue regeneration and repair.  Athletes must consume enough protein. General recommendations for protein are between 0.8 and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, but injuries can push the need up to 2.0 grams per kilogram.

Injured athletes can often meet their additional protein needs though dietary changes. Many add whey protein isolate or a vegan protein option to help support their diet.

 

  1. Managing Inflammation

Swelling, pain, redness and heat are signs of inflammation that most athletes readily identify following an injury. Inflammation is an important and necessary part of injury recovery. It is triggered by the body’s need to clear dead and dying cells and to start the process of new cell development. For as many as four days post-injury, it’s important not to attempt to decrease this inflammation phase because it can impact recovery time. Following this initial stage, the focus should shift to managing inflammation.

A diet rich in fats knowns as omega-3s can help maintain the body’s normal inflammatory response to activity and injury.  Research has shown that consuming 2-3 grams of omega 3s daily can positively influence markers of inflammation in the body.  Athletes can consume this amount through a diet containing two servings of fish per week combined with increased intake of nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, chia and flax seeds—or through the addition of a fish oil supplement.

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has been shown to promote reduced swelling and bruising after surgery by helping to maintain a healthy inflammatory response to exercise and injury.* Bromelain is recommended in amounts between 150 and 500 milligrams per day. Although all parts of the pineapple contain bromelain, it is most abundant in the stems, leading many people to add a bromelain supplement to their diet.

  1. Repairing Damaged Tissue

The final piece of recovery nutrition involves supporting the creation of new tissue to replace the tissue damaged by injury. While many vitamins and minerals are needed to support recovery, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc get the most attention.

 

Vitamins A and C help support the first few days of a beneficial inflammatory response and assist in the formation of collagen, which helps provide the structure of connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin. Vitamin A has also been linked with a decrease in immune suppression normally seen after an injury.  Research has shown that a vitamin C deficiency can lead to irregular formation of collagen fibers, and hence to decreased stability of the tissues and abnormal scar formation.

Zinc plays a role in new DNA creation, the ability of cells to multiply and protein synthesis.* Zinc deficiency, which is fairly common, can inhibit wound healing.  Recovering athletes might consider a multi-vitamin containing vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc to assist in the recovery process

Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are the last area of consideration for the recovering athlete. In times of stress and damage, the body has an additional need for some amino acids.  Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream. It is considered conditionally essential in times of trauma or damage as an important source of energy in recovering cells.

Leucine and its metabolite HMB have been shown to help slow muscle breakdown and nitrogen loss in injured patients.

Arginine can increase nitric oxide production, which can improve blood flow to damaged areas, providing important nutrients and promoting removal of dead and damaged cells.  Amino acids are part of complete proteins in the diet, some athletes prefer to take them directly in supplement form.

Understanding what is happening in your body following an injury can help ensure that your diet supports a full recovery so you can get back on the field or court quickly. The above recommendations are guidelines. It’s always best to consult a registered dietitian or your health-care provider when making significant dietary changes or introducing nutritional supplements. When choosing a nutritional supplement, it is imperative to look for a brand that has been certified for safety and is free of banned substances, as determined by a third party such as NSF Certified for Sport.

Special Thanks to Stack.com and Exos Performance for providing the information for this article.

FAST FOODS for High Performance Athletes

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Fast Foods – 10 Eating Rules

  1. START YOUR DAY AT THE FUEL PUMP

When you wake up in the morning, your body hasn’t received any nutrients for roughly eight hours. Trying to perform without eating breakfast is like a NASCAR driver trying to win the Daytona 500 on an empty tank—it simply isn’t possible.

An ideal breakfast for an athlete delivers a balance of carbs (your muscles’ preferred fuel source), protein and healthy fats. If you don’t have an early workout, you can go big at breakfast. Opting for something like a veggie omelet accompanied with peanut butter on whole wheat toast, a piece of fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal with berries and nuts, can kick-start your day. But even if you do have a morning training session, you should still eat something. A banana with peanut butter or an apple and string cheese are light snacks that can help your body wake up and give you a boost heading into the gym.

  1. TOP OFF THE TANK BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT

What you eat in the two-hour window before your training can have a huge impact on your performance. Not eating at all is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, because training on a completely empty stomach often results in the wheels coming off in the middle of a workout. But if you chow down on the wrong things, your body will be stuck in park when you need to be in drive.

Fuel up with a snack or small meal one to two hours prior to your workout so your body is primed to perform. Your focus should be on taking in simple, easily digested carbs—which your body uses for fuel. (For examples of simple and complex carbs, see the sidebar “Fueling Field Guide: Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates” on page 15.

  1. REFILL THE TANK AFTER YOU TRAIN

Your workout isn’t finished when you walk out of the gym or off the track. Training, especially strength training, breaks down the muscles in your body so they can grow stronger and more powerful later. Following an intense workout, the goal is to switch your body into muscle-building mode (called the anabolic state) by consuming nutrients that will help repair muscle fibers, making them thicker and stronger. The ideal way to do this is to eat within a half-hour of the end of your workout. (You definitely don’t want to wait longer than an hour.)

A good post-workout snack provides you with 4 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein it delivers. Many post-workout shakes deliver this ratio, making them a convenient way to get the nutrients you need to stimulate muscle growth. Aim to consume 20 grams of protein and 80 grams of carbohydrates following activity.

  1. MAKE PIT STOPS EVERY THREE HOURS

The “three-meals-a-day” schedule isn’t ideal for athletes, who tend to have higher metabolisms and burn through calories fast. Instead, eat four to six small meals and snacks throughout the day, aiming to take in a balance of all three macronutrients—carbs, proteins and fat—at every meal. This approach will provide you with more sustained energy throughout the day and ensure you’re getting the amount of nutrients you need without having to stuff your face at a single sitting.

  1. CRUISE WITH CARBS

Carbs are your main source of fuel during exercise. Having too few carbs in your system will leave you feeling like you’re moving under water—slow and plodding instead of fast and explosive. Broadly speaking, carbs come in two forms: simple and complex. Complex carbs, which break down slowly and provide a long-lasting energy supply, typically come from whole plant foods. These carbs are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and confer a huge number of long-term health benefits, including a lowered risk of obesity and disease. Simple carbs tend to be high in sugar but low in nutrients and fiber. Your body digests them faster, so they deliver energy very quickly.

FUELING FIELD GUIDE: SIMPLE VS. COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES Complex carbs take your body longer to break down than simple carbs, which makes them a good choice for long-lasting, sustainable energy with no crashes throughout the day. Simple carbs are a better choice shortly before a workout, when they can give your body a blast of easy energy to help power you through your training session, or immediately after training when they can help quickly refuel your muscles. Eating simple carbs at other times throughout the day isn’t a great idea, however, because they induce fat storage. Opt for simple carbs if you’re within 30 to 60 minutes of a workout and complex carbs throughout the rest of the day.

Complex Carbs include:  Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and oats Foods like pasta, breads and cereals in whole grain form. Look for the words “whole wheat flour” to be high on the ingredient list to ensure you’re getting a food high in whole grains. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn and pumpkin Beans and lentils Green vegetables

Simple Carbs Include: Fruits like bananas, oranges, apples and grapes White bread Fruit jellies or jams Honey Dried fruit Pretzels Crackers

  1. POWER UP WITH PROTEIN

Unless you eat enough protein, you won’t build muscle. Without muscle, you’re like a car with no horsepower—you simply won’t have the raw power needed to go fast.

Aim to eat roughly one gram of protein for every pound of body weight per day. For example, if you are a 175-pound athlete, take in about 175 grams of protein throughout the day. How do you know how much protein is in the foods you’re eating? A good guideline is that a palm-sized portion of lean meat contains approximately 30 grams of protein.

When picking your protein, remember that grilled beats fried. Fried foods are laden with more calories and fat, which will slow you down over the long haul. Try to keep your protein clean and simple—for example, opt for a grilled chicken breast over one that’s battered and deep fried.

FUELING FIELD GUIDE: PROTEIN CONTENT OF POPULAR FOODS People commonly associate protein with meat, but there are other ways to get protein. Certain vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts all pack solid amounts of protein.

  1. RACE WITH A RAINBOW OF FRUITS AND VEGGIES

In the race to fuel your body for speed, fruits, vegetables and legumes are neck-and-neck with protein sources in terms of importance. Fruits and veggies are nature’s nutritional powerhouses. They’re stuffed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they’re low in calories.

The average American, however, eats far too little produce. Between 2007 and 2010, only one in every 10 kids in the U.S. ate the recommended amount of vegetables per day, and only four in 10 consumed the recommended value for fruit. This is a problem because athletes cannot reach peak performance on protein alone. Micronutrients

4 ounces of skinless chicken (about the size of a deck of cards): 40 grams of protein 6 ounces of cod or salmon: 40 grams 6 ounces of tuna in water: 40 grams 4 ounces of lean pork: 35 grams 4 ounces of lean red meat: 30 grams 6 ounces of tofu: 30 grams 1 cup of cottage cheese: 28 grams

1 cup of black, pinto or garbanzo beans: 15 grams 1/2 cup of whole almonds: 15 grams 1 cup of quinoa: 8 grams 2 tbsp. of peanut butter: 8 grams 1 cup of milk (fat-free, 1%, 2%): 8 grams 1 cup of peas: 8 grams 1 egg: 6 grams 1 cup of spinach: 5 grams

such as the vitamins and minerals provided by produce help support important functions within the body, including the delivery of oxygen to hard working muscle tissues during activity.

Simply put, there’s no better chef than Mother Nature. Naturally occurring foods are incredibly nutrient-dense, meaning they serve up a ton of vitamins, fatty acids, protein and fiber with a small amount of calories. Sure, some processed foods have some of these same nutrients, but your body is generally better able take in nutrients from whole food sources. Try to “eat the rainbow.” Consuming fruits and vegetables of different colors provides you with a wide range of nutrients.

  1. SUPPLEMENTS AREN’T A SHORTCUT

Popping pills and downing powders can’t make up for a poor diet. If you’re pairing vitamin pills with a double-bacon cheeseburger, your body won’t be fooled into thinking you’re eating a balanced meal. Your body isn’t as effective at drawing in nutrients from supplements as it is nutrients from real food. Furthermore, supplements aren’t well-regulated in the U.S., meaning there’s a good chance that what you put in your body when you pop a pill won’t match up with what’s advertised on the label.

SUPPLEMENTS CAN BE VERY USEFUL when used to supplement a good diet.  Protein powder is a convenient way to reach your daily intake goal, and most are generally seen as effective. Some athletes are deficient in important micronutrients like magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids, so the use of supplements to get on track with those nutrients is fine. The bottom line: A cabinet full of supplements will never beat a fridge full of healthy food, but can be a difference maker to very active athletes.

Visit My ARBONNE page (http://KevinHaag.arbonne.com) if you are interested in purchasing nutritional supplements.  I have tried them all and stay affiliated with Arbonne because I believe they are the healthiest and most trustworthy company out there.  I recommend the protein Power and The PhytoSport Line for Athletes.

  1. WATER KEEPS YOU RUNNING

You’ve probably heard that your body is roughly 65 percent water. That alone should tell you how important H20 is to your health and wellbeing. And though every living being on earth needs this magic fluid, it is especially important for athletes. It transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, aids in muscle contraction, fights fatigue and regulates body temperature. Being even slightly dehydrated can have a direct and profoundly negative impact on your performance. Studies have shown that just a 2-percent level of dehydration (i.e., losing 2 percent of your body weight in water) is enough to impact how you feel and play. And the more dehydrated you become, the more your performance will nosedive.

A good goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you weigh 160 pounds, you should take in 80 ounces of water during the day. While that sounds like a lot, it’s just the equivalent of 10 small glasses. To get there, get in the habit of drinking water with every meal, and carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Sip it when you feel thirsty, and refill it when it goes empty. Several containers include fluid markers on them, so you can know exactly how much water you’re taking in. Soon you’ll be hitting your hydration goal without a second thought.

  1. PICK THE 85-PERCENT BLEND

Nobody’s perfect, and trying to eat 100 percent healthy 100 percent of the time is a recipe for a breakdown. You’ll be more susceptible to getting overwhelmed and giving up on eating healthy altogether.

That’s where the 85-percent rule comes into play. If you can eat the right foods 85 percent of the time, that’s good enough to have a huge impact on your performance and body composition. The other 15 percent of the time, you can sample different foods and indulge in some of your not-so-nutritious favorites. That way you’ll get most everything you need, most of the time—including an occasional reward for all of your hard work.

You don’t have to beat yourself up just because you had cake and ice cream at your friend’s birthday party. Healthy choices should make up the majority of your meals, but you can still enjoy your life and the role that food plays in it!

 

THE FEED FOR SPEED: WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR PLATE

Foods that are high in valuable nutrients are supercharged for speed, and are great choices for fueling your tank on a regular basis. Other items should be seen as an occasional treat, otherwise you should toss ‘em to the curb

TANK ‘EM EAT THESE FOODS

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans and lentils (black, brown, garbanzo)
  • Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, millet and couscous
  • Peanut butter and other natural nut butters
  • Lean jerky
  • Healthy oils such as coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Whole wheat and whole grain items such as pastas, breads, cereals. Look for the words “whole wheat flour” to be high on the ingredient list.
  • Fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel
  • Whole eggs
  • Unprocessed or low-processed nuts Greek yogurt
  • Lean chicken, beef and pork

TOSS EM – EAT RARELY IF EVER

  • Soda (both diet and regular)
  • Fast food
  • Potato and tortilla chips
  • Deep fried foods (donuts, General Tso’s chicken, onion rings, etc.)
  • Snack cakes
  • Candy bars
  • Ice cream
  • Overly-dressed proteins (cheesesteaks, country-fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers)
  • Sugary cereals
  • Alcohol
  • Baked goods high in sugar

 

phytosport nutrition

True Functional Training for Lacrosse

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True “Functional” Training for Lacrosse

By Brian Yeager

The term “functional” training has become a very trendy method of training over the last few years. In both the fitness and sports conditioning fields, many so-called experts have stretched this idea to the point of my great amusement. I realized that the industry had gone over the edge when I attended a seminar and the speaker outlined how he trained a motocross racer to perform better off jumps on the track by having him leap onto boxes while swinging heavy dumbbells upward as if pulling on handlebars. Now I’m not a mechanic, but I’m pretty sure that the bike is largely responsible for the jumping part. So in this article, I would like to introduce some techniques I have used successfully with my athletes that have produced greater levels of “functional” performance.

All of us have seen the large Nordic men on ESPN pulling trains, throwing cars, and picking up small buildings. They are examples of what being truly strong looks like. If these men did not have “functional” strength, the would be quite incapable of performing in the events that they do so well. Over the last several years, modified exercises that closely emulate much of what they do have found their way into the strength and conditioning programs of progressive thinking coaches in a variety of sports. These training exercises provide greater levels of overall strength and conditioning as well as mental toughness and what I view as real core strength. You often hear about core strength in relationship to the abdominal region, but I feel that as an athlete, if your ankles, knees, and hips are not strong, you will be unable to generate force from the ground to reach the midsection. The strongman exercises do just that. Upon adding these to your training routine, you will feel much more powerful and grounded on the field and you will definitely notice the ability to display force over the course of a game.

The first exercises is the farmer’s walk. This is very simple to perform and I believe very underrated as a tool for improving sports performance. It will improve your anaerobic conditioning dramatically, increase grip strength, as well as strengthen the ligaments in your ankle and knees. The easiest way to do these is just by grabbing a really heavy pair of dumbbells and walking with them, either for distance or time. I suggest that if you are in great condition you use heavier dumbbells and aim for short distances with explosive speed. If you are really strong but are carrying around some extra insulation, you will benefit greatly from lighter weights and carrying them for distances anywhere from 50-100 yards. Two or three workouts of this a week, and you’ll be ripped in no time at all. When training the farmer’s walk, always look in the direction you are heading and take short, choppy steps. One variation you might want to try to increase abdominal strength is to use one dumbbell heavier than the other and alternate sides each set.

The next exercise is my favorite, sled dragging. The sled is an excellent tool for developing explosive leg strength and power. As with the farmer’s walk, it can also serve as a fantastic method for raising an athlete’s level of conditioning while improving strength levels. There are also many variations that can be done with the sled to work the upper body. The main two exercises that I use with my athletes are forward and backward sled dragging. Forward dragging with the sled attached via a belt around the waist really targets the hamstrings. You want to keep an upright posture and walk with powerful, driving steps. Using an attached rope, you can also drag the sled backwards. Driving explosively backwards, taking short steps, pull the sled backwards. I like to tell my athletes to visualize punching the ball of the foot into the ground. Again for stronger athletes in need of conditioning, this can be an excellent tool when used for moderate to longer distances of up to 100 yards. If your strength is lacking, load up the weight and go for explosive pulls of no more than 20-30 yards. I purchase my sleds from EliteFTS.com as they have been using them with athletes for years and make a sturdy, durable product that should last for a long time. One other variation that I like to use with my players is lateral sled dragging. You can purchase two dog collars at your local pet store and attach them to the dragging rope that comes with the sled. Putting the collars around your ankles, you can pull the sled sideways stepping first with the outside foot and them with the inside leg. This will improve your ability to explode laterally past your opponents or stay in front of them when on defense.

Next, we are going to discuss improving balance and core stabilization. I promise that you will not be required to stand on one leg while juggling lacrosse balls. The strongman event that is my favorite for improving these qualities is the Super Yoke. If you can picture that yoke that farmer’s used to use to carry heavy buckets of water, you’ve got the right idea. Because the weights will begin to sway as you walk, you can see right away how this would work the core and your ability to stay vertical. There are many ways to utilize this implement including intentional stopping and starting, moving side to side, and backwards. One of the most challenging drills with the Super Yoke is to set up a slalom course and have your athletes manipulate the course, either for time or distance. The Yoke is a good tool for correcting strength imbalances in the legs.

And now the king of all strongman events, tire flipping. I have found no better tool for developing explosive strength in my athletes, regardless of their sport than with a good old hunk of rubber. Tire flipping is an excellent tool for conditioning during intensification and accumulation phases of training. Tire flipping has a great transfer of power to most combative sports, and the last time I checked, lacrosse falls into that category. When flipping tires, be sure to focus on driving through the tire explosively, rather than trying to deadlift it. With the tire lying on its side, position the feet about one foot away from the tire. You should feel like you’re falling into the tire. Your grip width will depend on the tread, but the wider your hands are positioned, the higher your hands will be on the tire when you flip it up on end. Have your chest pressed against the tire with your chin resting on top. Then, imagine driving the tire up and forward at a forty-five degree angle. Your shoulders and hips should rise at the same time. If not, then the load is too high. Perform the movement as explosively as possible to build that ability to crush an attacker on defense or blow by a stunned defensive player en route to the goal. Make sure to use cleats when training on grass and be careful that if you miss a lift, the tire does not fall back on the knees. If you need to develop strength, use heavier tires and perform a high number of sets for low reps. If you want to improve strength endurance, use a smaller tire and go for distance or time.

As far as periodization goes, I like to use strongman training in two different ways. At the very beginning of an athlete’s general physical preparation, these exercises serve as a great tool for building overall conditioning and stamina. In this case, you would keep the loads relatively low and use an accumulation of either distance or reps. This will improve your anaerobic conditioning and tolerance to lactic acid. When used closer to the season, keep the volume load and slow build intensity to maximize your ability to display your hard earned strength on the field. You can choose two exercises and perform one of them every five days on a alternating schedule. For example, on Monday you could do the Farmer’s Walk and on Friday, flip tires. Change up the movements every 3 weeks to avoid plateauing and keep yourself mentally fresh. These drills are very taxing and the last thing you want is to dread the workouts due to boredom. Try incorporating these exercises into your off-season training and I can guarantee you will see and feel a difference on the field. And more importantly, so will your opponents. Remember, train hard or go home.

Boost your metabolism all Day

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Boost Your Metabolism all Day!!

Upside down at K2

When you want to create a lean, firm body, the best way to accomplish it is with an effective workout program and a healthy eating plan. But that’s not the end of the story . . . . Because no matter how much you’re putting into your exercise sessions, practicing a range of healthy habits the rest of the time can give your metabolism an even bigger kick.

 

So here’s a full day’s worth of metabolism boosters. Any one of them may have a relatively minor effect, but when put together, they’re bound to help your body burn fat more efficiently. Add these tips to your weight loss arsenal, and you’ll get the results you want as quickly as possible.

Morning

  1. Get some sun. A little outdoor time in the morning can help you slim down in three ways. First, bright light helps regulate your body clock, so you’ll be more energetic during the day and sleep better at night. Second, during the winter months, sunshine helps ward off SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a condition that can lead to uncontrolled food cravings. And third, sunlight on your skin increases your levels of vitamin D, which are associated with a higher metabolism and a lower risk of obesity. (While sunscreen cuts down on your natural vitamin D production, experts warn that you shouldn’t spend much time outside without it. You can also get more D by taking multivitamins, drinking fortified milk, and eating fatty fish.)

 

  1. Eat a good breakfast. Research has shown that a filling breakfast that includes both lean protein and complex carbohydrates helps you burn fat all day (and keeps you satisfied longer, too). In a study presented to the Endocrine Society, dieters who ate hearty breakfasts stuck to their food plans and ended up losing more weight than those who didn’t, despite the fact that their daily caloric intake was actually slightly higher.
  2. And add some grapefruit. There’s a reason grapefruit diets have never gone out of fashion. In a recent study in the journal Diabetes, mice on a high-fat diet that were given naringenin—a flavonoid chemical that gives grapefruit its slightly bitter taste—didn’t gain weight, while others on the same diet did. And a study conducted at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic found that half a grapefruit before each meal helped obese people drop more than 3 pounds over 12 weeks. (Consult your doctor if you’re taking any medications—large amounts of grapefruit can change the way they’re metabolized by your body.)
  3. Have a hot beverage. As you’ve surely heard by now, regular consumption of green or oolong tea can raise your metabolism by as much as 5 percent. But plain old java gives your fat-burning ability a boost too. Green coffee beans have been found to boost your metabolism through the combination of caffeine and something called chlorogenic acid. While roasting lowers the amount of this chemical, according to the Coffee Science Information Centre, a light roast retains more than a dark roast.

Whatever you drink, don’t overdo it, and keep the additives to a minimum—the calories in cream and sugar, or a coffeehouse latte, can far outweigh any fat-burning benefits.

Midday

  1. Take the stairs. Your daily workout will do more than anything else to burn fat and build lean muscle. But that doesn’t mean you should be a slug the rest of the time. A highly publicized British study found that kids who were very active during physical education classes were that much less active throughout the day, which suggests that you may need to make a conscious effort to move your body when you’re not working out, including taking such simple steps as walking everywhere you can and using stairs rather than elevators. Even relatively brief periods of exercise will help keep your metabolism revving at a higher level.
  2. Snack on nuts. All nuts (including peanuts, which aren’t technically nuts, but whatever) are fairly high in calories, but they’re also full of nutrients, especially protein and healthful fats. In a study at Purdue University, when people added 500 calories of peanuts to their daily diets, they ate less during meals and increased their resting metabolic rates by 11 percent. You don’t need to eat so many, though. Just an ounce at a time will go a long way toward boosting your metabolism and keeping you satisfied.
  3. Shop in the outer aisles of the grocery store. Most supermarkets are laid out in similar ways: produce, meats, fish, dairy products, and other fresh, whole foods are along the outside edges, while processed, boxed, and canned foods are in the inner aisles. Shop on the perimeter first, and you’ll end up with nutritious ingredients that will fuel your muscles while keeping you full—and because they’re higher in fiber and protein and lower in starch, you can eat more of them and still lose weight.
  4. Take time to relax. Stress can take a toll on your metabolism. When scientists at Georgetown University fed two groups of mice a high-fat, high-sugar diet, the ones under stress gained more than twice as much weight as the low-stress group. If your job (or any other part of your life) leaves you feeling like a mouse in a cage, try to find ways of cutting down on stress. At some point during the day, take a break for meditation, yoga, or just sitting in a peaceful place and thinking about something pleasant.

Nighttime

  1. Watch your eating. If you’re like most people, your activity level slows down at night, and so does your metabolism. And yet there’s also a tendency to eat a lot at this time, either by having a big dinner or snacking in front of the TV, or both. If you’re overeating due to stress or boredom, the evening is a good time to concentrate on healthful dietary habits.
  2. Hold the hooch. Your body loves alcohol—so much so, in fact, that it’ll burn its byproducts as fuel before anything else. That means that while you’re processing alcohol, you’re not burning fat. Of course, alcoholic beverages also have calories, virtually none of which are good for anything other than helping you gain weight.
  3. Turn off your screens. At least 2 hours before bedtime, dim the lights, put away your computer, and turn off your video games. Bright lights, including those from computer screens, can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, an antioxidant hormone that builds up in the evening and helps you sleep. Research has shown that higher levels of melatonin are associated with lower levels of body fat.
  4. Catch your z’s. While you’re asleep, your body is hard at work producing hormones responsible for weight loss, muscle gain, and glucose metabolism. Studies have found that consistently getting less than the optimal 8 or so hours per night leads to a lower metabolism and a higher body mass. If you find yourself getting sleepy during the day, going to bed just an hour earlier could make a significant difference in your waistline.

How to Improve SPEED!

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How to Improve SPEED!
by Kevin Haag, CSCS, Youth Performance Specialist

 Who is the faster athlete….the one who gets there quickest

or

the one who can decelerate, change directions and accelerate most economically?

You better believe it is the latter!

Speed is every athlete’s need and many an athlete’s nemesis.  A complete speed training program develops the muscle movements and bursts of energy required to beat the competition.  Regardless of age, speed is the most fascinating component of sports. When an athlete displays speed on the playing field, it is eye catching.  Speed is known to change the outcome of a game in a single play.  In younger athletes, speed is more impressive due to the lack of tactics the opponents use to combat speed. 

Speed training programs should ideally start at a young age.  Drills for adolescent athletes focus on developing the correct mechanics and muscle memory required for quick sprints.  Everything from posture to arm movements should be practiced and repeated to increase fleetness and reduce injury.  Drills for pre-adolescents should be fun and more like a game.  The age of the athletes and specific sport have to be considered when deciding which practices to implement.

Teen athletes should develop a speed training program that calls for explosive movement and muscle strength.  If you want to get faster, do away with the long-distance running and long endurance exercises.  Rather, emphasize getting the maximum burst of energy from the very first step.  Shaving even just a few seconds off your speed time can make the difference between winning or losing the game.

 Any speed training program should follow a few basic elements:

  • Warm-up every muscle group before starting.
  • Concentrate on posture, head and shoulder position, arm movements and hip agility to help prevent injury and give your muscles the chance to show their best.
  • Vary the drills and speed required for each to avoid hitting a “speed barrier.”
  • Strength is a top factor in developing speed, so don’t forget the resistance training.
  • Do not add more than 20% of body weight if your speed training program includes sleds or resistance objects.  Anything over the 10% mark can have a negative effect on speed and actually slow the athlete down even when not weighted.
  • Optimal speed requires optimal health.  Don’t focus on speed training when you are not at your athletic best.  Instead, use those times to work on increasing range of motion, strengthening your core and other training specific to the sport.

 

Sample Speed Training Drill

Start with a Thorough Warm Up
Jog 10 minutes at an easy slow pace followed by some simple range of motion stretches for your shoulders, hips, ankles, neck, trunk and head. Move slowly and breathe deeply.

Maintain Proper Form
Good form means maintaining proper posture while focusing on how you move not just how fast you move. To ensure proper form, you should not be fatigued when you start drills. Form is the first thing to suffer when you are tired.

  • Avoid bending forward at the waist
  • Push from the balls of your feet (not the toes)
  • Focused your vision to the end of the course
  • Keep smooth forward/backward arm swings (not across the body)
  • Hands pump from shoulder height to hips (men) and from chest height to hips (women)
  • Elbows at 90 degrees at all times
  • Maintain relaxed arms, shoulders, and hands
  • Avoid head bobbing or twisting
  • Keep momentum forward and not side to side.

20 Meter Drills
Perform the following drills 2-3 times each session.

  • High-step walking: (lifting knees up to hip level)
  • High-step jogging: (lifting knees up to hip level)
  • Skipping
  • Crossovers: (Jog sideways while crossing right leg over left leg, then left over right leg)
  • Heel kicks: (while jogging kick heels to buttocks with each step)
  • Ladder drills: one foot contact per square
  • Plyometrics: single leg hopping, bounding, bunny hops, tuck jumps, jumping obstacles.

30 Meter Drills
Perform the following drills 2-3 times each session.

  • Double leg hops (jump forward over cones or another marker)
  • Zig Zag hops (jump forward in a zig zag pattern)
  • One Leg lateral bounding (jump sideways one leg, then the other)

Speed Drills: Take a 5 minute rest break between each set.

  • 5 reps / 10 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 4 point start) walk back.
  • 5 reps / 20 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 3 point start).
  • 5 reps / 40 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 3 point start).
  • 2-3 reps of flying 30 meter sprints at 100 percent for acceleration (built up over 20 meters and at max for 30 meters).

Cool Down
Jog for 10 minutes at a slow, steady pace and finish with gentle whole body stretching.

Happiness is contagious?

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I was informed that along with one of my holiday greeting cards was a letter about this individual’s family experience over the past year.  I was told that “You have to read this letter; It is so obnoxious and brags about the children the whole letter.”

Since “Those People” who write and talk about how great their kids are drive me nuts, I almost trashed the letter away before reading it.  I am so glad that I did not!

This letter made me laugh out loud the entire time.  Rather than brag about the children, this letter poked fun at the way kids’ act, the way they think they run the world and…you get the picture.

My point is:  How did this person miss the satire????    

I am not a shrink, but I KNOW that the happiest, most fulfilled, most balanced people complain the least.  They see things different.  They are more open-minded.  This is a Fact based on hundred of interviews and case studies over the years.  These people handle every situation, whether tragic and insignificant, better than others.

I personally believe that the person who viewed this letter as obnoxious is insecure or sad, and wasn’t able to see the happiness and humor this letter was meant to provide.   

I cannot tell everyone how to be happier and live a better life, but I can tell you it begins with change.   And most change cannot happen alone.  Please always work on being happier.  Happiness is contagious!!