Monday, June 30, 2014

Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants

Maintaining proper levels of vitamins and minerals in your body is essential to achieving optimal exercise performance.

Zinc, iron, and vitamin b12 are of concern to vegetarian/vegan athletes.

A daily intake of less than 1/3 of the RDA for thiamin, riboflavin, b6, and vitamin C may lead to decreased exercise performance.

Supplementation may help fill in gaps where the diet does not fulfill nutrient requirements, but excess amounts of supplemented vitamins may cause health problems and interfere with vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient absorption.  More is not always better.

B vitamins
B vitamins play a role in energy metabolism.
Individuals following a vegan, vegetarian, or prolonged low calorie diet are likely to be deficient in vitamin b12.  In this case, it is suggested a B-Vitamin supplement be consumed.
Vegan sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, grains, and legume products.  Supplementation will not be necessary if adequate amounts of these products are consumed on a near daily basis.
Other sources of Vitamin B12 include: chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and freshwater fish.

Because exercise can produce free radicals which are harmful to the tissues of the body it is essential to consume nutrients that combat these free radicals.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which protects the cells of the body from damage.
Studies have shown that athletes deficient in antioxidants recovered significantly more slowly than athletes with abundant antioxidants in their systems when both groups were subjected to identical training programs. (Watson and colleagues 2005)
A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that the body is receiving adequate amounts of antioxidants to help the body recover from damage.
Tea and coffee also have many antioxidant properties.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important for exercise metabolism and is believed to play a role in increasing performance. 
Supplementation with Vitamin C can be beneficial for individuals who do not obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin C from the diet.
Great sources of Vitamin C include: red and green bell peppers, guava, oranges, fortified cereals, parsley, kale, broccoli, and many other fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E has been shown to act as an antioxidant in so far as it reduces oxidative damage to tissues from free radicals.
Great sources of Vitamin E include: wheat germ oil, hazelnut oil, fortified cereals and peanut butters, vegetable oils, and many nut butters.

Iron is critically important for individuals engaging in regular activity.
Iron helps the cells of the body transport oxygen from the lungs to all the tissues of the body.
Iron also plays a role in the production of ATP which is needed for exercise and optimal performance.
When someone is iron deficient his/her aerobic capacity and overall work capacity is limited to less than optimal levels.  Even partial depletion of iron in various tissues and organs of the body can have detrimental effects on exercise performance.
Individuals especially vulnerable to being iron deficient include: females with heavy menstrual losses, people with energy restricted diets, distance runners, and individuals in hot climates who suffer from substantial sweating.
Because supplementation with iron can be toxic in high doses and to individuals with genetic pre dispositions iron supplementation should be overseen by a registered dietitian who is aware of your medical history.
Foods abundant in iron include:  thyme, parsley, spearmint, fortified cereals, cumin, lamb, duck, goose, and liver.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Optimize your exercise with the right nutrients for the job

Optimize your exercise with the right nutrients for the job

Duration and intensity
The type of exercise that someone is participating in determines the types and amounts of food that are necessary to get the job done right.  The two main variables that determine these things are intensity and duration of exercise.

Intensity refers to how hard you are working (specifically what percentage of maximum oxygen uptake you are working at).

Duration refers to how long the exercise is taking place.

Intensity and duration are related to each other in the following way: the higher the intensity of the exercise the shorter the duration of the exercise and vice-versa (biologically speaking).
The duration of your exercise determines what kind of fuel your body will primarily use for its activity. When an exercise bout or event is very long (greater than 2 hours of continuous work) the more fat is used for fuel.  Up to 60-70% of energy used for exercise lasting 6-10 hours comes from fat.  However, in order for the body to use fat for fuel there must be a continuous stream of carbohydrate coming into the body.  The body will use stored carbohydrates (glycogen) in the liver and muscle, but once these run out fat can no longer be used for energy. Thus, exercise capacity is greatly reduced.

High intensity short-duration exercise(such as sprinting, all out swimming, all out cycling, and powerlifting) uses anaerobic production of ATP (ATP is the energy source that allows muscles to be contracted). This is because it is the fastest way to get energy to the muscle.  In this case glucose (carbohydrates) and glycogen are used for fuel. Glucose or glycogen is used 18-19 times faster anaerobically than aerobically so people performing high intensity exercise or competitive races run the risk of running out of stored glycogen.

People performing very high intensity outdoor activity such as vigorous swimming, cycling, and running should be sure to eat a high carbohydrate meal 3-4 hours before beginning the exercise to optimize performance.

People who perform very long exercise (greater than 3 hours) but with lower intensity such as cycling, jogging, swimming, and hiking should be fine eating a regular diet (such as the one listed below).  However, if exercise lasts longer than 6 hours a carbohydrate containing meal will be needed during the exercise to allow further burning of fat for fuel.

Individuals involved in general fitness programs can usually meet their macro nutrient requirements by following a diet of 45%-55% of calories from carbohydrates (1.35g-2.25g per 1LB body weight), 10%-15% of calories from protein (.35g-.45g per 1LB body weight), and 25%-35% of calories from fat (.23g-.68g per 1LB body weight). 

Those involved in more vigorous forms of exercise such as vigorous swimming, cycling, or running may need to increase their carbohydrate intake beyond the recommendations above.

When muscles are used the first source of energy that is used is stored carbohydrate in the muscle (muscle glycogen).  Once these stores are depleted the body uses stored carbohydrate in the liver and creates more glucose from other substances to fuel the active.  Once all stores and substances have been used the body cannot go on.  This is what is referred to as “hitting the wall” is commonly.  This does not typically happen unless exercise is substantially long.  A good example of when this could happen would be a marathon.
Glycogen stores can also be depleted by continuously vigorously exercising multiple days in a row and not replacing the used carbohydrates through diet.

Carbohydrate intake before exercise.
The pre-exercise meal increases performance in two main ways. 
  •       It keeps you from feeling hungry during exercise
  •    It maintains proper levels of blood glucose for muscles to use for energy.

Without adequate carbohydrate in the blood, muscles, and liver the body cannot perform for long duration's or optimally at any duration.  This is where high carbohydrate containing meal comes into play 3-4 hours before beginning to exercise.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!

Monday, June 16, 2014

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to incinerate body fat?

Everyone loves to throw around the word cardio to burn calories, lose weight, and get into shape, but most people don’t realize there are different types of cardiovascular exercise that impact the body in different ways such as recovery time, body fat loss, muscle loss, calories burned.  Two major types of cardio are HIIT and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State Cardio), and each one has its place in a healthy active lifestyle.
Many people claim HIIT is much better than LISS when it comes to burning calories, body fat, and getting in shape.  In order to see just how beneficial HIIT really is I spent a few days researching the topic and this is what I have found:


An example of HIIT would be sprinting for 15-60 seconds at 90-100% effort followed by a 30-120 second active recovery of walking or light jogging. This allows people to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time due to the high intensity bursts. These workouts typically can only last about 10-15 minutes due to the high level of intensity.


HIIT will increase endurance capacity and cardiovascular health.  This is nothing different from what LISS can do for you.  In fact LISS is more effective at increasing endurance capacity since it is performed for longer duration's.  Since HIIT is a high intensity training system it will burn a lot of calories very quickly.  Some people will say that training at high intensities will allow your body to burn far more calories for the remainder of the day.  I personally have not seen conclusive research on this and have never heard any exercise professionals with degrees discuss this potential benefit.  So I say take that theory with a grain of salt. Some people say that HIIT will burn more body fat than LISS but this is not necessarily true.  Any differences between the amount of actual body fat burned between HIIT and LISS will be extremely insignificant.  The primary factor determining fat loss will be overall calories burned, and if your overall calories burned exceeds your overall calorie intake.

Downsides of HIIT.

HIIT will almost definitely decrease your recovery ability if you are weight training with beneficial amount of intensity and/or volume.  This can lead to decreased muscular performance and possibly muscle loss. This is why it is not suggested that weight trained athletes perform HIIT to a significant degree. 

Conclusion on HIIT cardio.

Overall I personally do not feel HIIT has any real benefit over LISS.  They produce the same amount of fat loss as long as they produce the same amount of caloric burn.  They both increase cardiovascular health and endurance but LISS increases endurance more, and HIIT can impede recovery from weight training whereas LISS does not (at least to a far less significant degree).  The only real benefit I see from performing HIIT cardio would be burning calories quickly.

Check out my video on my Transformation from fat to muscular!