Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Speed Training and Dynamic Warm-ups Revealed.

-Excerpt from an article I read, thought I’d share…link below*

Picture a morbidly obese mouse, you know, the ones companies use to show as the “before” picture when marketing certain products.  Anyhow, let’s call him Jumbo. Jumbo is unique – he’s an ob/ob mouse. This is a mouse that becomes a type II diabetic, can’t stop eating, and packs away body fat like crazy. No matter how much you feed him, he won’t stop.
Poor Jumbo has a mutation in the gene coding for leptin – he’s totally missing it! His fat cells can’t properly communicate with his hypothalamus because he has no leptin. If you inject Jumbo with leptin, he’ll stop eating and lose weight, but the solution isn’t so simple for us non-mutants.  Most obese people don’t have missing or mutated leptin genes – they can make plenty of it. The problem is that in spite of leptin still finding and binding its receptors all over the body, no downstream message is sent. The system that senses leptin is broken.
This is called leptin resistance, a condition in which the brain can’t determine when body fat is at an okay level. The fat cells are sending leptin out to the hypothalamus to signal that fat stores are full. Leptin binds the receptors, but no downstream messages are sent. It’s like knocking on the door when nobody is home. In spite of all the extra body fat mass, the brain perceives starvation and orders fat storage. The kicker is that you’re also very hungry, and continue to eat more and more.
If you know anyone who just can’t stop eating like Jumbo, as tempting as it may be to instantly judge them, it’s likely not entirely their fault. Many obese people have metabolic systems that are simply broken. You can’t outrun Mother Nature, and if the leptin signaling is messed up, you can only control yourself so much.


For full article by John Meadows CSCS check out:  <;

Help me Help YOU!.


Pancreas…Insulin…Body Fat! Ohh My!!.

Insulin can be a double edge sword, it’s arguably the most anabolic hormone in the body.  At the same time, insulin also has the ability to become the body’s “fat storage hormone” so to speak.  Insulin is a peptide hormone released by the pancreas in response to an increase in blood sugar upon ingesting carbohydrates.  Most of the cells in the body have insulin receptor sites which bind to circulating insulin as it travels throughout the body.  Once attached to the binding receptor on the surface of a cell(s), the cells then activate other receptors designed to absorb glucose (as well as other macro/micro nutrients) from the blood stream into the cell itself.
    With a cliff-note explanation of insulin, the next critical factor is to understand why and how controlling it applies to a trained athlete.  Carbohydrates are measured by the Glycemic Index or GI(link to pull up chart).  The Glycemic Index is a numerical index that ranks carbs based on the conversion to glucose within the body.  For example, straight glucose which is sugar in it’s simplest form has a glycemic value of 100.  Where as an apple has a glycemic value of 38.  Therefore a food item with a lower GI number is going to breakdown at a slower rate than an item with a higher GI number (Note: I mention the glycemic index because it’s commonly known about, what’s less known about and in my opinion a far more important factor when discussing carbohydrate intake is the “Glycemic Load!”  This refers to the quantity of insulin released vs. the rate at which carbohydrate breakdown into glucose or shorter starch chains…an article about the glycemic index vs the glycemic load is in the works).  Choosing carbohydrates with a lower GI number requires less insulin to be released by the pancreas at one time allowing for more sustained energy.  This is important to know as an athlete for maintaining optimal energy levels throughout the entire game or training session.  It’s imperative as an elite athlete to learn and understand how certain foods, particularly carbohydrates affect your body in terms of energy, energy crash, digestibility, and performance to harness the mind and body to achieve peak performance levels each time stepping in the gym or on the field of play.
    Here’s a scenario… remember Thanksgiving dinner?  Afterwards, everyone becomes tired and lethargic while Uncle Larry snores away in the old recliner.  Chances are we’ve all heard or been told this happens because high amounts of the amino acid L-Tryptophan is contained in the turkey meat.  Well… more likely it’s due to the mass amount of carbohydrates and the drastic spike in insulin coupled with the amount of blood that rushes to the gut to start the digestion process.   As I said before it’s important for athletes to know how foods affect them as individuals, as there are a variety of factors that come into play, such as insulin resistance, the sport, body type, basal metabolic rate, food combinations etc.  This is why I feel it necessary for all athletes to keep a food journal with specific attention and note taking as to how the body feels day to day, and meal to meal.  In regards to insulin, it’s proven that a high fiber diet will have a positive effect on insulin control.  I also believe that combining a protein and green vegetable with a starchy carbohydrate will give an individual much better sustained energy levels over a longer time even under intense training conditions and games.  Now that’s not to say that glucose-fructose drinks like Gatorade don’t have their place during strenuous activities.  Remember how important hydration and electrolyte replenishment is.  I prefer to use Pedialyte in a performance based activity because it’s lower in sugar and higher in sodium than typical sports drinks.  Keep in mind that sodium is the most abundant electrolyte in the  human body and is excreted in large quantities during perspiration as well as respiration.  Consider this information when selecting foods, it can be especially important in planning meals that fall prior to a workout or game!

Micronutrients…Make a Mega Difference!!.

Micronutrients are nutrients required by humans and other living things throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a whole range of physiological functions, but which the organism itself cannot produce.  (Canadian UNICEF Committee, Global Child Survival and Health, 2006, p.67)

I tend to find that many athletes underestimate the importance of vitamins and minerals, that’s why I found it appropriate to start this blog with the acronym, CHOPKINS Cafe MG.  This acronym stands for the bio elements that make up the fundamental structures of all living things; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, nitrogen, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Quite simply, these are the “bare necessities” needed for mammalian existence.  Vitamins are organic compounds that a living organism requires in trace quantities for good health, but which the organism can not synthesize and therefore must be obtain through it’s diet.  Vitamins are not an energy source but play a vital role in releasing the energy that is stored in foods consumed for sustenance.  Vitamins play a key role in the control and regulation of enzymes, as well as, the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.  Minerals in contrast to vitamins are inorganic compounds.  Minerals require no digestion, and some may even be stored in the liver.  Minerals are vital in the formation of strong bones and teeth, they also help control the nervous system, fluid balance, muscular contractions, as well as, some hormone functions and enzyme secretion.  Electrolytes provide the proper electrical charge within bodily fluids for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular contraction, proper acid-base balance for ideal ph and overall fluid levels.  Without getting into specific detail of each particular vitamin, mineral, or electrolyte… The key take home message here is the importance of a balanced nutrition program, a quality vitamin/mineral supplement, and the significants of proper hydration and electrolyte replenishment.  As an athlete, the aforementioned elements are lost through sweat, respiration, physical, and mental stress to the body.  In order to perform at optimal levels at all times, I can’t stress enough the importance of proper nutrition and supplementation.  Intensely trained athletes don’t necessarily have a difference in micronutrient requirements than that of the average person… However, the requirement is typically far greater.

Many studies have been done on athletes using vitamin and mineral supplements.  The outcome is consistently the same,  supplemented athletes show greater performance, for longer periods of time then non-supplemented athletes.  It’s nice to think that it’s a possible to ingest the required amount of vitamins and minerals from one’s diet, but in today’s day and age of pesticides, preservatives, and poor soil quality it’s nearly impossible (I hate to be negative, but let’s be honest here).  I personally believe, as an elite athlete being spot on with one’s nutrition program AND giving an equal amount of attention to micronutrient supplementation based on vitamin/mineral testing is essential to performance.  This simple process will eliminate the guess work involved, ensuring each athlete knows exactly what he or she as an individual is lacking in order to attain… Ultimate Human Performance!

    Okay…so without being hyper-redundant I’d like to edify the truth about fruit.  As I insinuated (w/ the redundancy remark), I’ve written about fruit in the past, yet it’s always one of the first inquisitions people make when the word “diet” is mentioned.  Before I begin, I’d like to clarify upfront…I am NOT against fruit!!!  I’m only against the discordant effects to overall health when an individual’s consumption of fruit is incorrect.  How’s it possible to consume fruit incorrectly??  Glad you asked….
    Fruits are what I personally refer to as “performance carbohydrates” which I differentiate from “cosmetic carbohydrate” in a previous article (performance nutrition vs. cosmetic nutrition).  If after reading this article you learn nothing else, remember this…Fruit MUST be consumed on an EMPTY stomach (at least 2-3hrs after previous meal or before meal 1), otherwise the nutrient value is not only greatly diminished, the fruit becomes rancid and ultimately toxic to the body.  Fruit requires immediate gastric emptying, this is obviously a problem if there is already food in the gut blocking the fruits path directly into the small intestines.  The fragility of fruit, coupled with the highly acidic environment of the stomach are the two glaring factors from a physiological standpoint that illustrate why fruit MUST exit the stomach and enter the intestines (where nutrient uptake occurs anyway) upon consumption.  When considering the notion of fruit becoming rancid in the gut, you can draw a parallel by imagining (better yet do this as an experiment) what happens if you set a glass of orange juice in the sun for the day.  
    Another aspect in the misunderstanding of fruit worth mentioning is that skeletal muscle tissues lack an enzyme to convert fructose (the type of sugar that accounts for approx. 40+ percent of carbohydrates in fruit) into “storable” glycogen, fruit can only be “stored” in the Liver (Hepatic), which unless you’ve been in a carbohydrate depleted state for days or even wks, it’s (the liver) fully loaded, aka NO VACANCY at the inn.  The ideal times to consume fruit in order to maximize all the great vitamins and nutrients they do contain, are upon wake about 30 minutes prior to meal 1, intra-workout or game w/ whey protein, or immediately following the workout or game, also w/ whey protein.  Not to say there aren’t other times of day that fruit may be consumed without problems, I simply find the information more applicable when it’s narrowed down to the most IDEAL times to OPTIMIZE the value fruits provide to the body!….Hopefully this sheds some light on the myths and misunderstandings surrounding one of natures oldest delicacies….Fruit!!