Posts Tagged ‘Sports Performance’

Food Mistakes

By Cynthia Sass

Whether you earn your living working up a sweat, or squeeze in workouts when you can, it’s easy to fall prey to eating errors that unintentionally hold you back from getting the most out of your workouts. Here are five common missteps I see, and how to correct them to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Eating Too Little Fat Despite my recommendations to include good fats at every meal, like avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut oil, some of my clients remain fat phobic, and will scale back, fearing that fat is “fattening.” But the truth is, getting enough fat is a smart strategy for both sports nutrition and weight control, because fat: delays stomach emptying, so you feel fuller longer; increases satiety, to shut off hunger hormones; boosts antioxidant absorption, which in emerging research is related to leanness; and ups metabolic rate, to help you burn more calories. In fact, fat is one of the most vital nutrients in your diet, because it’s a structural part of your cells, which means you can’t heal a cell or construct a new one without enough fat to perform these important jobs. Cutting back too much can result in fatigue, chronic hunger, or a lack of satiety, irritability, depression, a weaker immune system and an increased injury risk. So even if you’re trying to reduce your body fat percentage, don’t be afraid to add almond butter to a smoothie, top your salad with avocado, and sauté your veggies in extra virgin olive oil. Filling the fat gap can be the key to finally seeing results.

Using A Sports Drink When You Really Don’t Need One If you sweat heavily, work out for more than 90 minutes, or exercise in hot, humid conditions, reaching for a sports drink rather than plain water is a smart way to keep hydrated, stay fueled and replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. But if you’re exercising for less than an hour and a half, in a climate-controlled gym, plain water should be fine. The carbs in sports drinks are designed to keep you going when you can’t stop to eat, but if your muscles don’t need the fuel, just one 20 ounce bottle means consuming a surplus 35 grams of sugar, the amount in about 20 gummy bears. And while unsweetened coconut water is a little lower, an 11-ounce jug still contains 15 grams of potentially unneeded carbs.

Not Eating After A Workout Because You’re Afraid To “Eat Back” What You’ve Burned While it’s true that overcompensating for a workout by eating too much can prevent you from shrinking your fat cells, striking the right balance is key. Working out takes a toll on your body, and having the right raw materials to heal and repair the wear and tear is important for seeing results. In other words, it’s not just the training itself, but the healing from the training, that mends muscles, boosts metabolism and makes you more toned and fit. So while a good hard workout isn’t a license to sit down to a big plate of pasta, or eat dessert every night, you should be eating something afterwards, with a goal of delivering the nutrients your body needs to properly recover.

Only Eating Protein Post Workout While protein is a key recovery nutrient, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to a lean protein source, like a smart phone-sized portion of fish or chicken or a scoop of lentils, you should aim for plenty of produce (to replenish nutrients and supply antioxidants), a healthy fat source (which also helps muscles heal and optimizes circulation), a small serving of a whole grain, like wild rice or quinoa (to replete glycogen, the carbohydrate stored in muscle tissue, which serves as a primary fuel source during exercise) and of course fluid, preferably good old H2O (to rehydrate). If you exercise after work, a great post-workout recovery dinner would be a stir-fry made with chicken, shrimp or organic tofu, along with a variety of colorful veggies, over a small portion of whole grain rice, topped with sliced almonds or black sesame seeds. For a simple aromatic stir-fry sauce, that’s not loaded with sugar, whisk together a few tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, with a splash of fresh squeezed citrus juice (like tangerine or blood orange), and a dash each of fresh grated ginger, minced garlic and crushed red pepper.

 

Doubling Up On Recovery Meals For my pro athlete clients, I highly recommend eating something like an all natural bar or shake within 30 minutes of the end of a game or a tough training session whenever possible, because starting the recovery process within a half hour has been shown to help maximize healing. But employing this strategy if you’re not a pro can wind up working against you. For example, if you munch on a bar or grab a smoothie on the way out of the gym, then go home and eat dinner, you may be in recovery overkill. While it might not register as a meal, a bar with 30 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein is like eating a small turkey sandwich with mayo. And a smoothie can be the equivalent of three to four handfuls of fruit, plus a container of yogurt. Downing these “snacks” just an hour or so before eating a regular dinner, can mean giving your body far more than it needs for recovery, which results in feeding your fat cells, rather than shrinking them. If you’re going to be eating a meal with an hour of leaving the gym, skip the bar and shake. And if it’s going to be a little longer, munch on something like almonds, which supply some protein, good fat and nutrients, to tie you over.

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by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

      Image      Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.

In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.

What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain-the glutes, in particular-working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential your posterior chain-including the glutes-has to not only be firing, but must be strong.

But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.

The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:

– You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.

– You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…

– It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?

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This piece first appeared in the September issue of Competitor Magazine.

If you’re only focused on race-day nutrition, you’re missing the big picture, says Littleton, Colo.-based Bob Seebohar, the personal sport dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team and author of “Nutrition Periodization for Athletes: Taking Traditional Sports Nutrition to the Next Level.”

“You have specific physiological goals associated with each training cycle, such as increasing endurance, speed, strength and power, and improving technique, tactics and economy,” Seebohar said. “You should have specific nutrition goals as well.”

Those goals might include losing or gaining weight, losing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, reducing inflammation and improving overall health. To achieve your goals, Seebohar recommends periodizing your nutrition plan just as you would your training.

“Look at your nutrition as a function of your energy expenditure and physical goals associated with each training cycle to guide your nutritional choices,” Seebohar said.

Seebohar shares five tips for fueling during your competitive season, when you have the highest energy expenditure needs.

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Foam Rolling – The Basics

By Nicole Drummer

As a coach, I encourage all my athletes to utilize a foam roller in their training — the recovery part of training. Many of you have probably heard of foam rolling and have certainly seen these dense foam cylinders in your favorite running or cycling store, and perhaps also at the gym. This article will take a quick look at the purpose of foam rolling and how a triathlete can use it to aid in recovery. Let’s start with the basics:

What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a foam cylinder, approximately 6 inches in diameter. They vary in length and density. They can be purchased online or at running/cycling/tri or other sport specialty stores.

Why do you want to foam roll?
Getting a regular massage is something a lot of us know we should do, but don’t. Foam rolling is an inexpensive way to provide self massage. It’s not as good as a “hands-on” massage from a  licensed massage therapist, but proper utilization of a foam roller to break up adhesions in the muscle tissue and/or fascia can help you recover faster and keep your muscles ready to train. In layman’s terms, breaking up the adhesions in the soft tissue aids in decreasing trigger points from forming and brings blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow will bring nutrients and assist in repairing damaged muscle that your last workout may have caused.

How do you foam roll?
There are several methods to foam rolling – you can find a trigger point (tight, painful spot) and just apply pressure there, or you can roll along the muscle (like the sweeping strokes of a massage therapist). You can also do a combination of the above. One thing to note — don’t foam roll joints or injured tissue.

How often should you foam roll?
Athletes training 5-6 times a week can probably foam roll daily, and right after a workout if possible. If you can spend 15-20 minutes foam rolling and 10-15 minutes stretching before bed, you’ll probably sleep better, feel better and recover faster, which means your next workout will be more effective. Note: foam rolling might be painful on chronic tight spots, but listen to your body as it shouldn’t feel like injury pain. If it does, go see a physical therapist!

Now that the basics are covered, here are some major muscle groups triathletes should consider foam rolling:

 

 

Glutes: One of the largest muscle groups and a primary driver in our sport, having a healthy gluteus maximus, minimums, medius is important.

This position helps isolate the piriformis.

 

 

 

IT Band: While Illiotibial band (a thick section of fascia from the hip to knee) issues usually stem from a muscle imbalance somewhere, keeping the ITB and the muscles around it loose is quite helpful to our running and cycling performance.

 

 

 

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hydration Sports Nutrition Tips to Help You Lose Weight and Perform Better

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the world’s largest organization of sports medicine and exercise science professionals. At ACSM’s annual meeting in Denver, more than 6,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and other health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few of the nutrition highlights.

• Looking for a way to get fit quickly? High intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective, though it’s hard work. Once you are fit, you can then reduce the exercise intensity to a more enjoyable (sustainable) level. Dr. Martin Gibala of McMaster University in Ontario does not believe HIIT is a heart attack waiting to happen, but recommends untrained people first get a proper medical check-up.

• HIIT can be an effective part of a weight reduction program. Overweight men who did 20 minutes of HIIT (8 second sprints with 12 seconds recovery) three times per week for 12 weeks achieved a 7 percent drop in body fat. In another study with untrained, slightly overweight women ages 30 to 45, those who did high intensity exercise lost more weight and body fat than those who did lower intensity training. One benefit of high intensity exercise is it can suppress the appetite (temporarily) compared to lower intensity exercise.

• HIIT can create a significant afterburn. Men who expended roughly 500 calories during 47 minutes of vigorous exercise continued to burn 225 extra calories in the next 18.5 hours.

• When athletes lose weight, they lose muscle as well as fat. For example, soldiers during nine weeks of combat training lost 9 lbs (4.2 kg) body weight, of which one-third was muscle loss and two-thirds fat loss. They consumed about 15 percent fewer calories than required to maintain weight.

• Even bodybuilders and figure competitors do not lose just body fat when they “lean out.” In the 12 weeks pre-competition, male bodybuilders lost about 4 lbs (1.8 kg) lean body mass and 11.5 lbs (5.2 kg) body fat. The female figure competitors lost about 5.5 lbs (2.6 kg) lean and about 6.4 lbs (2.9 kg) fat.

• Why do women struggle harder than men to lose undesired body fat? Perhaps because they are women. In the animal kingdom, female animals generate less body heat after overfeeding compared to the males. Research with humans suggests similar energy conservation. When four men and four women were overfed ice cream for three days (150 percent of energy balance needs), the men burned off some of the extra calories while the women conserved energy.

• Should you believe the calorie estimates displayed on exercise machines? Not necessarily. The Precor EFX556i overestimated energy expenditure, particularly with women.

• A novel way to burn a few extra calories is to sit on a stability ball while you are at work. At a call center (where 90 percent of the time is spent sitting), employees who sat on the stability ball for five hours during the workday burned about 260 more calories per eight-hour shift. Theoretically, that could lead to loss of 26 pounds in a year! They burned about half a calorie more per minute sitting on a stability ball than sitting in a chair. The biggest barrier to using the stability balls was aggravation of pre-existing back pain.

• Trained cyclists who consumed equal calories of either a sports drink or banana chunks during a 75-kilometer cycling time trial performed similarly. The banana, however, offered a beneficial anti-inflammatory response. Natural foods generally offer more benefits than engineered sports foods.

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