Monday, September 29, 2014

Endurance Athletes: Don’t Forget About Protein

Refuel, rehydrate, and repair. These three interrelated approaches should be the focus for all competitive athletes engaged in endurance-based training. Your fuel stores, body fluids, and electrolytes can easily become depleted following a long sustained endurance training session. This makes replenishing fuel stores and rehydrating essential for optimizing training performance. 

However, many endurance athletes tend to overlook the importance of dietary protein and only focus on carbohydrates and hydration. It’s time to change that, here is a quick review on the importance of dietary protein for endurance athletes.

Amino acids – specifically leucine, a known regulator of muscle protein synthesis (Norton 2006) – are oxidized during endurance training. The degree to which amino acids are oxidized is based on several factors such as exercise intensity and low muscle glycogen availability to name a few. None the less, these lost amino acids do not contribute to muscle protein synthesis and should be replaced through your dietary intake.

The current population requirement for protein is set at 0.8 g/kg per day or 0.36 g/lb. per day. This recommendation is not sufficient for athletes involved in strenuous endurance or resistance training. The general protein recommendation for endurance athletes is 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg per day or 0.55 to 0.64 g/lb. per day. (Rodriguez 2007) For example, a 150 lb. endurance athlete should consume in the range of 83 to 96 grams of protein per day. But, the majority of endurance athletes are likely meeting or exceeding this range when their daily energy needs are met. (IOC, 2010) 

Meeting the recommendations for protein, however, may not be as important as the type of protein and the timing of intake for maximizing recovery and adaptations. (Tarnopolsky 2004).

The amount of protein consumed is an important nutritional consideration. After resistance training, even small (5 to 10 g) of protein increases muscle protein synthesis (Moore et al. 2009). Muscle protein synthesis is further increased after the ingestion of a larger (20g) dose of protein, but plateaus with a bigger dose. (Witard et al. 2014) Therefore, it seems practical to recommend similar amounts of protein – that is 20 to 25 g – after endurance training to facilitate muscle remodeling processes.

The quality of protein you consume is also an important factor. Dietary proteins differ in amino acid concentrating and the rates at which they are digested and absorbed. As mentioned subsequently, leucine serves as a substrate for muscle protein synthesis. Therefore athletes who wish to enhance muscle protein synthesis during their early recovery phase may benefit more with the ingestion of rapidly, leucine-enriched proteins like whey (Breen et al. 2011). Other high-quality sources of protein include eggs, dairy, lean meats, and soy.

While little attention has focused on the ability of dietary protein to enhance skeletal muscle remodeling and promote adaptations for the endurance athlete, the fact that dietary protein is the building blocks for muscle makes protein an important – and perhaps underappreciated – nutritional component for endurance athletes. 
Always seek advice from a sports dietitian to optimize dietary protein intake as every athlete is different.

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, a nutrition columnist for “The Collegian,” and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Once Gavin becomes an RD, he will aim to achieve the distinguished Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential.

Breen, L., Philip, A., Witard, O.C., Jackman, S.R., Selby, A., Smith, K., et al. 2011. The influence of carbohydrate-protein co-ingestion following endurance exercise on myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis. J. Physiol. 589(16): 4011-4025. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.211888.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition, 2010.
Moor, D.R., Robinson, M.J., Fry, J.L., Tang, J.E., Glover, E.I., Wilkinson, S.B., et al. 2009. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 89(1): 161-168. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26401.
Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr 136: 533S–537S, 2006.
Rodriguez NR, Vislocky LM, Gaine PC. Dietary protein, endurance exercise, and human skeletal-muscle protein turnover. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007; 10:40-45.
Tarnopolsky, M. 2004. Protein requirements for endurance athletes. Nutrition, 20(7-8): 662-668. doi.10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.008.
Witard, O.C., Jackman, S.R., Breen, L., Smith, K., Selby, A., and Tipton, K.D. 2014. Myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis rates subsequent to a meal in response to increasing doses of whey protein at rest and after resistance exercise. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 99(1): 86-95. doe:10.3945/ajcn.112.055517.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mindless Weightloss

How about a diet that you don’t know you’re on?  That sounds too good to be true.  Brian Wansink, of Mindless Eating and soon to be released, Skinny By Design has a research lab dedicated to environmental cues that lead to over eating.  This could explain why you always reach for the Hershey Kisses on your desk.  Their research shows that if you move it at least 6 feet away, you’ll be less inclined to munch.  Simple tricks like these can save Calories daily and result in gradual weight loss without deprivation.

Here are a few tips:
Personalize your diet danger zone. 
Do you eat without abandon every afternoon?  Do you find yourself eating out of boredom?  Can’t pass a candy dish?  Wansink discusses how everyone has a meal script.  To avoid mindless eating you need to figure out a plan to change the “script”, if you eat compulsively in the afternoons when not hungry take a walk instead, take a different route home bypassing the fast food restaurants.
There is no one perfect diet. 
 Each person needs to evaluate what their road blocks are and how to bypass or detour them.  

Watch less TV. 
People who watch a lot of television are known to exercise less, weigh more, and eat more than people who watch less TV. Wansink’s studies show that people watched 60 minutes of TV ate 28% more than those who watched 30 minutes of television.  Think of how much more you’d eat during a Netflix binge.

Cut down on portions or servings without knowing it. 
Serve yourself 20% less on a plate.  This can be a gradual calorie reduction of 100-
200 Calories per day that your body won’t notice; you’ll end up with a gradual
weight loss over a few months.

Other great (and free) resources can be found at


Gina (Lesako) Volsko is a Columbus, Ohio based RD and the SCAN blog coordinator.  Contact her at to be a SCAN blogger.  You can find her blogging at Sport2Fork and Food and Nutrition Magazine's Stone Soup Blog.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Natural Bodybuilding Recommendations Cheat Sheet

Interest in bodybuilding or improving one's own physique is gaining popularity with Facebook pages and #fitspo all over Instagram.  In a recent article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Helms, et al. provided science backed guidelines for natural body building.

Here's a summary of the report:

Gradual reduction in Calories should be set so that the athlete loses 0.5-1 lbs. per week to maximize muscle retention.

Recommendations are set at 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass (not all competitors will respond to this but the majority will).

Keep within 15-30% of Calories from fat and the remainder of Calories from carbohydrates.

Meal frequency:

3-6 meals per day with a meal containing 0.4-0.5 g/kg of bodyweight for protein prior and subsequent to resistance training to maximize benefits of nutrient timing and frequency.  Alterations in timing appear to have little effect on fat loss or lean mass retention.

Additional considerations:
The practice of dehydration and electrolyte manipulation in the final days and hours prior to competition can be dangerous, and may not improve appearance. Increasing carbohydrate intake at the end of preparation has a theoretical rationale to improve appearance, however it is understudied. Thus, if carbohydrate loading is pursued it should be practiced prior to competition and its benefit assessed individually. Finally, competitors should be aware of the increased risk of developing eating and body image disorders in aesthetic sport and therefore should have access to the appropriate mental health professionals.

Find the full article here:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to be a Savvy Supplement Shopper

This article comes from the Food and Drug Administration.  Find this and more information here.

Do I need to think about my total diet?
Yes. Dietary supplements are intended to supplement the diets of some people, but not to replace the balance of the variety of foods important to a healthy diet. While you need enough nutrients, too much of some nutrients can cause problems. You can find information on the functions and potential benefits of vitamins and minerals, as well as upper safe limits for nutrients at the
National Academy of Sciences Web site disclaimer icon

Should I check with my doctor or healthcare provider before using a supplement?
This is a good idea, especially for certain population groups. Dietary supplements may not be risk-free under certain circumstances. If you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or have a chronic medical condition, such as, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing or taking any supplement. While vitamin and mineral supplements are widely used and generally considered safe for children, you may wish to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving these or any other dietary supplements to your child. If you plan to use a dietary supplement in place of drugs or in combination with any drug, tell your health care provider first. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects and their safety is not always assured in all users. If you have certain health conditions and take these products, you may be placing yourself at risk.

Some supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Taking a combination of supplements or using these products together with medications (whether prescription or OTC drugs) could under certain circumstances produce adverse effects, some of which could be life-threatening. Be alert to advisories about these products, whether taken alone or in combination. For example: Coumadin (a prescription medicine), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin (an OTC drug) and vitamin E (a vitamin supplement) can each thin the blood, and taking any of these products together can increase the potential for internal bleeding. Combining St. John's Wort with certain HIV drugs significantly reduces their effectiveness. St. John's Wort may also reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs for heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or oral contraceptives.

Some supplements can have unwanted effects during surgery:
It is important to fully inform your doctor about the vitamins, minerals, herbals or any other supplements you are taking, especially before elective surgery. You may be asked to stop taking these products at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the procedure to avoid potentially dangerous supplement/drug interactions -- such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure and increased bleeding - that could adversely affect the outcome of your surgery.

Adverse effects from the use of dietary supplements should be reported to MedWatch:
You, your health care provider, or anyone may  directly to FDA if you believe it is related to the use of any dietary supplement product, by calling FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178 or reporting
report a serious adverse event or illness on-line. FDA would like to know whenever you think a product caused you a serious problem, even if you are not sure that the product was the cause, and even if you do not visit a doctor or clinic. In addition to communicating with FDA on-line or by phone, you may use the MedWatch form available from the FDA Web site. 

Who is responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements?
Under the law, manufacturers of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. They are also responsible for determining that the claims on their labels are accurate and truthful. Dietary supplement products are not reviewed by the government before they are marketed, but FDA has the responsibility to take action against any unsafe dietary supplement product that reaches the market. If FDA can prove that claims on marketed dietary supplement products are false and misleading, the agency may take action also against products with such claims.