Monday, December 30, 2013

Get Your Game On. Meal Planning Around Competition: During competition

When competing in longer or multiple events in a day, such as those with a halftime or a swim or track meet, extra fuel along with a hydration strategy during competition may be warranted to sustain energy levels and performance.

What to Do:

Hydration – Maintaining hydration levels throughout competition and/or practice is essential to performance.  With as little as a 2% weight loss from water weight (3 pounds for a 150 pound athlete) lost through sweat, performance can start to suffer.  Cramping, nausea, heavy legs, dizziness and exhaustion are all signs of dehydration.  In addition to properly hydrating prior to activity, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends consuming 7 – 10 oz of fluid every 10-20 minutes – roughly 2-3 large gulps.  This can be either water or sports drinks.  Sports drinks are which recommended for activity lasting longer than an hour, for those who are heavy sweaters or those are cramp easily.

Quick Digesting Carbs – Utilizing foods that the body can digest quickly and easily can help to maintain and/boost energy levels during long (greater than 60 minutes) bouts of activity.  Things such as sports drinks, bars, gels, chews, low fiber granola bars, squeezable applesauce, fruit leathers or cereal bars may be good options.  Fruit can also be used, but may cause stomach upset in some individuals.

The bottom line is to make fueling part of your training plan, don’t try anything new on game day!

Tara Boening is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian with a Board Certification in Sports Dietetics. She currently works full time in collegiate athletics.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Supplement Safety 101

Today’s athletes are always seeking new ways to improve their performance. Any substance or treatment intended to improve exercise performance – such as dietary supplements – are termed as an ergogenic aid. Ergogenic aids can be nutritional, psychological, mechanical, pharmacological, or any physiological substance. Athletes everywhere are bombarded with sports supplement testimonials and advertisements – the scary part is the supplement company does not have to demonstrate any proof of efficacy or safety. This is due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This disables the Food and Drug Administration from regulating supplements because they are classified as foods. These unregulated supplement claims can present a lot of confusion to athletes.
Many athletes may turn to supplement store personal for advice in hopes of gaining strength, power, or speed. However, it is most likely the employee working behind the counter has no accredited qualifications to be recommending any dietary supplement let alone derivatives of testosterone or growth hormone. Collegiate athletes need to pay very special attention to what dietary sports supplements they are taking. Taking a banned or “laced” supplement can leave you with a failed drug test and a spot on the bench.
            A major ongoing detrimental issue concerning supplements is some contain excessive doses of potentially toxic ingredients or contain ingredients that are not approved the World Anti-Doping Agency, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), IOC, Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Football League (NFL).1 For high school and collegiate level athletes, it is essential to be familiar with the NCAA guidelines – talk with your designated athletics department staff or an RD. Do not use the label as an accurate representation of the ingredients, as many dietary supplements are contaminated with banned drugs that are not listed on the label.      
            Meal-replacement powders, ready-to-drink supplements, and energy bars or gels are ideal for an athletes on the run. But, these should not be regularly substituted in the place of whole foods as this may deprive the athlete of a well-balanced diet. As the name insist, supplements are only to supplement your diet. Do not cheat yourself, food has a greater impact on athletic success. Sports Dietitians have the know-how to evaluate the scientific merit of articles and advertisements concerning exercise and nutrition product and separate the marketing hype from scientifically based nutrition and training practices – your local supplement store clerk more than likely does not.
Athletes should make informed choices when taking dietary supplements. Referencing the NSF and can help educate athletes on what they are putting in their body. The NSF meets the needs of safety and quality for the dietary supplement industry. They ensure product and ingredient safety, while giving both consumers and industry peace of mind through rigorous testing services, GMP compliance, and training capabilities.2

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.    

1.      Maughan RJ: Contamination of dietary supplements and positive drug tests in sport, J Sports Sci 23: 8883, 2005.  
2.      Services by Industry: Dietary Supplements. NSF web site.
Accessed December 4, 2013. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Creatine: How to incorporate this supplement in your diet

You find creatine in meats, but it’s also formed in your body from amino acids. Creatine is used by muscles for energy during high-intensity, short-duration exercises.  
This supplement is well-researched and it is known to enhance strength, performance and hypertrophy. It also seems to produce positive effects on neurological function and favorable adaptations to aerobic exercise.

Creatine is one of the most used supplements for athletes and recreational weight lifters. Read these 3 steps to learn if you need to start taking this supplement: 

Picture source

Step 1: Determine your need and creatine’s safety
When you combine creatine supplements with resistance training, your performance, strength, and muscle hypertrophy increase.
Moreover, it is accepted that endurance exercises should combine high carbohydrate (CHO) diets with creatine supplements to achieve more muscle glycogen stores.
            Most research supports creatine supplements in younger adults (<60 years old). Younger athletes (<18 years old) should only consider this supplement in post-puberty, if they are involved in serious competitive training, they’re eating well-balanced diets, their parents approve it, and supplement protocols are supervised. Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). However, the NCAA no longer allows universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds. 
Creatine is likely safe for most people. People with kidney or liver dysfunction/disease or taking medications that may alter those organs functions should avoid the use of creatine.

Step 2: Which type should I buy?
Supplements are commonly sold as powders, although liquids, tablets, capsules, energy bars, fruit-flavored chews, drink mixes, and other preparations are also available.
The most widely used and researched form is creatine monohydrate (CM). But there are several different available forms of creatine: creatine anhydrous, in salt forms (including creatine pyruvate, or creatine malate), and in ester or effervescent forms.

Step 3: What is the dosage?
Picture source
People who have lower total creatine levels who start taking creatine supplements seem to benefit more than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine and its saturation point is usually reached within the first few days of taking a loading dose.

A protocol where 20g of CM is taken in 1g doses (at 30-min intervals) for 5 days results in reduced urinary creatine and more weight gain. The loading phase must be followed by a maintenance period of 3-5g CM/d or 0.03g CM/kg/d. This could be a better approach to get a maximal saturation of the intramuscular creatine store than the typical creatine supplementation protocol.  Creatine causes muscles to draw water, so be sure to drink plenty of water per day to make up for this. In addition, your body may absorb creatine better when you take it with CHO foods. 

            Cooper et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012, 9:33
WebMD. Creatine. Accessed November 25, 2013.
MayoClinic. Creatine. Accessed November 25, 2013.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Creatine. Accessed November 25, 2013.

Livia Ly
I'm a health enthusiast and a wellness activist. I'm a dietitian trained in Brazil and also a nutrition grad student in Chicago. ΡΌ

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Muscle Protein Synthesis: Protein Consumption

                You may reach for that protein shake after your workout, but what for? Many are aware of the potent effects that resistant exercise has on muscle protein synthesis. And when combined with protein post-workout, muscle protein synthesis has been shown to be stimulated even further. But, when should you consume your protein, from what protein source, and how much?

                So, does this mean the infamous half-hour “anabolic window” is true? Well, not necessarily. The Sports Science Exchange, looked at several chronic studies. The chronic training studies suggest the “window” during which protein should be consumed is likely less than 2 hours following exercise in order to support greater increases in lean body mass and muscle hypertrophy in younger adults.1 Whereas in one acute study, it was translated to consume a source of protein within a 1 hour after exercise to support greater hypertrophy with resistance training.1

                What about the protein source? Chances are your choice is a whey protein powder. But, do whole milk proteins or soy protein have a greater impact on muscle protein synthesis? Well, according to the Sports Science Exchange, both whole milk proteins and soy proteins in isolation or as a supplement were able to support muscle protein growth after a weight lifting session. Concerning whole milk proteins, it was found that whole milk was superior to fat-free fluid milk in the ability to build muscle after exercise.1 Topping all however was a rapidly digested whey protein hydrolysate. The Journal of Applied Physiology found the whey protein hydrolysate to be more effective than both soy and micellar casein – the form of casein in milk – in stimulating both muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise.  The correlation was the peak leucine – a branched chain amino acid – concentration.2

                Alright so we know when to take the protein and what protein source is optimal for muscle protein synthesis, but how much protein is necessary? The muscle protein response in both young and older people was found to plateau at approximately 10 grams of indispensable or essential amino acids.3 Interestingly, as muscle protein synthesis plateaus, the “extra” amino acids are simply being burned for fuel.1 Thus, the idea of “more is always better,” is certainly not applicable to large quantities of amino acids and/or protein in the hopes of induced or accelerated gains in muscle mass. In contrast, consuming 20 grams of high-quality protein – such as whey protein – will optimally maximize the stimulus of muscle protein synthesis.1 Also throughout the day, it is a good idea to consume protein at spaced intervals to maximize the anabolic response – about 0.25 g protein per kg of body mass per meal.1 Of course, larger athletes may require more protein in order to maximize muscle protein synthesis in comparison to smaller athletes. Aim for 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kg a day. This amount is adequate and more than required by the majority of athletes.1 Talk with your Sports Dietitian to assess your individual needs based on your exercise regimen and sport.

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.

1.       Stuart M. Phillips. Protein consumption and resistance exercise: maximizing anabolic potential. Sports Science Exchange. (2013) Vol. 26. No. 107, 1.5.
2.       Tang, J.E., D.R. Moore, G.W Kujibida, M.A. Tarnopolsky, and S.M Phillips (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J. Appl. Physiol. 107:               987-992.

3.       Cuthbertson, D., K. Smith, J. Babraj, G. Leese, T. Waddell, P, Atherton, H. Wackerhage, P.M. Taylor, and M.J. Rennie (2005). Anabolic signaling deficits underlie amino acid resistance of wasting, aging muscle. FASEB J. 19: 422-424.