I can’t be the only one that’s noticed Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) scans popping up in just about every gym 12-week challenge, or ‘get fit for summer’ promo. These scans are advertised as a ‘new’ and ‘improved’ way to accurately measure your body composition that’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg. But should you be relying on this measure when it comes to goal achievement?
It’s a no from us. Let me tell you why…
How BIA works:
Essentially, this method relies on different types of tissue in our bodies having different levels of conductivity. It sends a small current between body parts in contact with the machine (two or four points) and creates a measure of body composition depending on the response to this current. This is where we start to notice some issues, two or four points? What is that? This measure needs to be standardised if it’s going to be reliable?
BIA machines with two points (hand-to-hand, or foot-to-foot) are inferior to the four-point machines (hand-to-foot) because they won’t measure your entire body. And if you think about this logically, it makes sense. Electrical currents will always take the path of least resistance from one point to another. If you use a two-point machine, this means an entire section of your body could be missed. For example, a hand-to-hand machine, measuring an individual who holds more fat through their hips and legs, will underestimate their body fat percentage; the current will choose the path of least resistance and won’t travel through their lower body. On repeat measures, this will underestimate fat loss as you can’t show a loss of mass that was never measured in the first place. The four-point BIA set up is your better choice here.
So how is body composition measured?
Lean body tissue, like bone and muscle, has higher water and electrolyte content than fat mass. This means lean tissue has a greater conductivity, allowing the electrical current to pass through it easier. Simply put, the lower the reading of electrical impedance, the higher the lean body mass of the individual. The issue is that the water content of tissues can change depending on your hydration status. Hydration status is altered by water lost and gained throughout the day. When you eat carbohydrates, they’re broken down to the simplest form of glucose which, if not immediately used, is stored in your muscles as glycogen. The kicker is, water is wrapped up with this glycogen and stored too, increasing water content and making the muscle better at conducting electricity. So essentially the less glycogen you have stored, the MORE resistance a muscle will place on the electrical current2, and the higher the electrical impedance reading will be. Based on what I mentioned earlier, we would incorrectly interpret this lower electrical resistance reading, as higher lean body mass. In other words, any condition that depletes your glycogen stores or dehydrates you will trick the machine into reading a higher fat mass2. This means BIA can be inaccurate after a heavy training session, a big night out, or on a low carbohydrate or a ketogenic diet.
The Truth: glycogen depletion/dehydration = BIA higher body fat percentage
So depending on your training and dietary habits in the days leading up to the test, results can vary significantly - in fact, a variance of up to 8% has been seen6. To put this into perspective, a scan on an individual who had reduced their body fat percentage by 4%, due to inaccuracy, could read an increase of 4% body fat. Not exactly a reliable measure. When we looked at the research available on the validity of BIA measures we discovered a whole host of different results for different populations: athletic and non-athletic. Some studies saw similar results to that of a DEXA (the gold standard in body composition measurement), others over-estimated lean mass and underestimated fast mass and vice versa1,2,6. All in all, this demonstrates a significant lack of accuracy.
How is the estimation made?
BIA equipment uses a prediction equation developed from a different method of body composition analysis (e.g. hydrostatic weighing/DEXA), estimating your body composition based on the averages of a tested population. This prediction can become an issue for two reasons, (1) if there were inaccuracies in the original body composition measure, or (2) if the population originally tested doesn’t have a similar body composition to you. We could be comparing a new gym member just getting started to a high performing athlete. It’s like comparing apples and oranges…
So what are the implications of this inaccuracy?
Although it may seem quite harmless when used in a gym setting (for those looking to lose a little fat or gain a little muscle), striving to improve through an inaccurate measure is detrimental to your progress. You’re setting yourself a moving target. You’re setting goals that will change depending on your hydration status and the extent the results have varied within that 8%. The reality is, there is absolutely no point in measuring something if it cannot accurately track progress. What you are doing is simply getting a number for the fun of it, a number that may or may not reflect your body composition at the time.
What to do instead:
Our advice is instead of throwing your money into an inaccurate measure, choose a DEXA or skinfold measurement instead. If looking for an affordable, repeatable measure that isn’t impacted by hydration status then skinfolds are your best option here. There are also several other measures that you can use from home that cost nothing!
Weight (although be cautious with this one depending on your goal)
If you’re interested in skinfold measurement, click the button below and book a measurement time that suits you. But remember, getting a measurement is only one very small step towards goal progression. If you’re working towards a body composition goal, book an appointment with Dietitian Approved or your local Sports Dietitian. That’s it from me, happy training!
Comparisons of a Multi-Frequency Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis to the Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Scan in Healthy Young Adults Depending on their Physical Activity Level
Loenneke, J., Wilson, J., Wray, M., Barnes, J., Kearney, M., & Pujol, T. (2012). The Estimation of the Fat-Free Mass Index in Athletes. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 3(3). https://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.34691
Wang, J., Zhang, Y., Chen, H., Li, Y., Cheng, X., Xu, L., … Li, B. (2013). Comparison of Two Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Devices With Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry and Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Estimation of Body Composition. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(1), 236–243. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824f2040
Position of the American Dietetic Association and the Canadian Dietetic Association: nutrition for physical fitness and athletic performance for adults
Van Marken Lichtenbelt, W.D., Hartgens, F.J., Vollaard, N.B., Ebbing, S. & Kuipers, H. (2004). Body Composition Changes in Bodybuilders: A Method Comparison. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(3), 490-497. DOI: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000117159.70295.73.
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Clearing up the science
When it comes to toxins entering our body from food or drink, the systems we have in place to remove them are already quite good at their job without the help of a juice cleanse! Whether it’s alcohol, medication, environmental toxins or bacteria from food, there is a scientific explanation for how these toxins are eliminated. Although I could talk for days on this topic, I’m sure you didn’t come here for a physiology lesson, so I’ll make this quick. Primarily the three organs responsible are the liver, kidneys and stomach. The liver deals with alcohol and drugs; adding these into bile to then be removed from the body1. Alternatively, the kidneys remove items through urine. This is how we deal with waste products of many reactions within the body such as the breaking down of protein. But it can also include drugs and environmental toxins such as pesticides from food that have found their way into our blood stream1. Then there’s the stomach, where acid is produced to break down our food and along with it kill any harmful bacteria. Can you see how these organs are purpose-built for detoxifying? The idea of a ‘detox’ diet overlooks the fact that you already have these methods in place to excrete unwanted toxins.
What is actually involved in a ‘detox’ diet
Although there are many variations of detox diets that come in and out of popularity, one resounding similarity is they are all very low in energy. This sudden deficit in your kilojoule intake is bound to leave you feeling tired, weak, and a bit dizzy. But don’t make the mistake in thinking this is simply the detox working its magic! This is primarily the result of not eating enough carbohydrates to fuel your muscles and your brain. Another result of this carbohydrate restriction will be short term weight loss. Yes, you will most likely see weight loss. But this isn’t a positive! When restricting carbohydrates you lose weight through water. When carbohydrates are stored in the body as glycogen they also hold water in your muscles, so when this glycogen is depleted you lose this water along with it2. Meaning that when you return to your normal diet you will put this weight straight back on. Here are some other symptoms you might see from these diets:
Loss of muscle mass
A decline in physical performance and activity
These issues are not symptoms that must be endured to see the results claimed by a detox diet, they’re symptoms that your body is struggling to perform daily tasks on the energy it\'s being supplied. Consider this; if you want to give your organs the best chance to properly eliminate toxins as they were designed for, the last thing you should be doing is denying them adequate fuel.
The natural timeline of a ‘detox’ diet
The issue with all drastic eating and lifestyle habits is, and I cannot stress this enough, they cannot be maintained. No doubt you will enter the diet feeling positive and motivated to make a change, yet two days into one of these glorified starvation diets and the positivity will start to waiver. You might begin to forget that you actually do care about your loved ones, especially if they stand between you and your next meal. Then finally when the end is in sight, you’ll start to plan your first proper meal ‘post-detox’. And I’ll bet it won’t be one high in veg, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates that you’re craving. Can you see how this timeline is dangerously similar to that of a restriction/binging cycle? This is a damaging mindset to cement, and definitely not one that should be advocated for as a health kick.
What to do instead
When you consider logically how the body functions, and the fuel source that it requires to function at its highest capacity, there is clearly a more beneficial option that energy restriction and elimination of entire food groups. Here are some ideas to incorporate instead:
Stop adding to the trash
Try to avoid consuming any more toxins so your organs are able to eliminate those already within the body, this means no more alcohol or tobacco.
Eat a balanced diet full of whole foods
This automatically limits your intake of discretionary foods high in fat, salt and sugar. These foods will do little to provide your body with the nutrients it requires, while also working your bodies harder. High sugar foods stress your pancreas as more insulin must be produced to deal with the sudden rise in blood sugar levels1. High-fat foods force your liver to work harder as it is responsible for metabolising fat. And high sodium foods work your kidneys harder as they are responsible for balancing electrolytes, so the more sodium you consume, the harder they have to work to maintain this balance1. This way of eating will also increase your fruit and veg intake to provide necessary vitamins, particularly B vitamins, essential for metabolising energy to be used as a workable fuel2. So not only are you making sure you provide your body with the fuel it needs, but also the means to use it.
Don’t cut out carbohydrates!
These are your bodies default fuel source!
A dehydrated body is a tired one!
Remember that fat is important too.
Eliminating this macronutrient can not only leave you feeling hungry, it can also have a negative effect on your hormonal function as fat is required for the production of many hormones2.
Tortora, G. J., & Derrickson, B. (2014). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (14th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Smith, G., Smith, J. L., & Carr, T. P. (2018). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism(7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Watch out for this legend who is toeing the start line at her first ever 70.3 at Geelong this weekend. Together with training buddy and cousin Phoebe. We\'ve been privileged to be a part of their triathlon journeys so asked them to share who they are and what they do.
These two were complete beginners 3 years ago. Now look at them go as they climb the triathlon ranks. Ironman next year ladies? 😉
Current home location: Melbourne, Australia Profession background: Student Sport of Choice: Triathlon How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 3 years What got you into it in the first place? I had just finished school and was looking for a hobby. My cousin, Phoebe sent me a link to a triathlon beginner course and asked me if I wanted to do it. I already owned a bike so I thought "Why not?" What’s your favourite training session? Saturday long rides Main event for 2019? Geelong 70.3 Woooo! Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career? I am hoping to qualify for the Olympic Distance World Champs team that’s heading to Switzerland in August :) What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far? The Melbourne Half Marathon was a big achievement for me as I never thought I could run 21.1 km Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by? "Every training session is an achievement!" What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success? - Give every session a go - Nap Three things you can’t live without?
Favourite food? Ice cream Favourite post-training meal or snack? Chocolate thick shake What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in Triathlon?
Watch out for this legend who is toeing the start line at her first ever 70.3 at Geelong this weekend. Together with training buddy and cousin Annabel. We\'ve been privileged to be a part of their triathlon journeys so asked them to share who they are and what they do.
These two were complete beginners 3 years ago. Now look at them go as they climb the triathlon ranks. Ironman next year ladies?
Current location: Armadale, a gorgeous suburb in Melbourne, Victoria
Professional background: Partnership Manager at Crocmedia where I implement and manage media campaigns for big brands such as McDonalds, Kubota, Greyhound Racing Victoria. I’m also hopefully about to start volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities!
Sport of Choice: Originally I came from a Field Hockey background having played since the age of 10 as well as partaking in Athletics, Rowing and Snowboarding (have you seen my quads?). I still do play Hockey in the Victorian Premier League but my sport of choice now is Triathlon. How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? For about 3 years now, this season would be my 4th. What got you into it in the first place? I found my Hockey off-season super boring and found going for runs tedious and the gym unbearable so a friend suggested we try a beginner Triathlon course with the newly created TriChicks, an all-female squad out of Melbourne. 10 weeks of a new sport at the time seemed so effing daunting but holy moly am I glad I did it! The swim in my first ever triathlon was death, legit thought I was going to drown, but got over it and well…now here I am! What’s your favourite training session? It used to be the brick sessions but since training for a Half Ironman, I have actually really enjoyed the long runs! Mostly because I get peace and quiet to listen to my true crime podcasts I love so much… Main event for 2019? I am competing in my first ever bloody Half Ironman on the 17th February in Geelong!!!! I am so looking forward to it, having spent months consistently training for it so am keen to get it done and enjoy myself whilst out there. Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: I am very much a methodical person, have to do things in the right order, so I have started small with Sprints, progressed to Olympic distance and am coming up to my first ever Half. I would probably have to lose my mind and be considered insane to try a full Ironman. I want to see how the Half goes, if I enjoy it then I will try another until my body might be ready for the next step. But also really mindful that my arse may never forgive me if I sit on a bike for 180km. On a more serious note, I think in 2020 I would like to try and qualify for the Age Group World Championships and give that a crack! What’s your biggest achievement in triathlon so far? Once Geelong is done, the Half Ironman will be my biggest achievement. Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by? “Just get the job the done” I’m a pretty focused person when it comes to training and I always like to just get it done. What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success? My nutrition day to day, it gets me through the training sessions and helps me prepare, train and recover well for the next session. I actually don’t know how I did long rides on nothing before getting in touch with Taryn. Also, massages are not a luxury they are a bloody necessity. I get a massage every Sunday and dry needling once a week. It’s a game changer and gets me ready for the next week. Three things you can’t live without? 1. Melting moment biscuits by Belmont Biscuit Company from Aldi 2. A Sex and The City box set 3. My deep sleep lavender spray And on a more serious note….I would crumble if I didn’t have my family and partner in crime, Angus Favourite food? Love anything chicken related... Chicken parma, butter chicken and Chicken and Leek pie! And my go-to dessert would have to be those Melting Moment (yo-yo) biccies or if I am feeling super lavish, a banana gelato filled with Nutella from Pidapipo Favourite post-training meal or snack? Chocolate milk and pancakes, with whipped butter and maple syrup. None of that fancy deconstructed freeze dried birds of paradise or whatever the shiz they try and put on them these days ;) What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in Triathlon? If you don’t practice the nutrition in your day-to-day and on training and race days you are setting yourself up for a huge loss. Getting in touch with Taryn has helped me exponentially in how I prepare myself day to day and on the weekend to ensure I get the absolute best out of myself during these sessions. I have never trained, competed or recovered better in my life!', 'post_title' => 'Dietitian Approved Crew - Phoebe Rothfield', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'dietitian-approved-crew-phoebe-rothfield', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2019-07-29 16:28:51', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2019-07-29 06:28:51', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'http://dietitianapproved.com.au/?p=1333', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 4 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 207, 'post_author' => '2', 'post_date' => '2019-01-13 23:00:00', 'post_date_gmt' => '2019-01-13 13:00:00', 'post_content' => 'https://vimeo.com/362466672/ab2148c4f9
Physical inactivity is the second-highest lifestyle-related cause of disease and illness in Australia.
As part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, participants must consistently do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity, ‘huffy puffy’ exercise each day.
What is ‘huffy puffy’ exercise?
‘Huffy puffy’ exercise is any movement that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. You should be out of breath and unable to hold a conversation in full sentences.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend accumulating 2.5 – 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. In an ideal world, you’re aiming for a combination of both.
The benefits of exercise
Getting 30 minutes of ‘huffy puffy’ exercise in each day can be easier than you expect. Besides, the benefits are totally worth it! Getting vigorous exercise in each day will help:
Optimise your mood, memory and brain function
Increase your blood flow, oxygen and nutrient supply to your body
Reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis
Assist with managing your weight
Here are 3 fun and easy ways to get puffed in 30 minutes:
1. Circuit Training
Circuit training is one of the most efficient ways to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. It’s easy to create a short, sharp session at home using different exercises to target different muscle groups and body parts. Try incorporating upper body exercises like pushups, tricep dips and chin-ups with lower body exercises like squats, lunges, calf raises and stair climbs. Throw in some crunches, planks and leg raises to finish off and work your core. With minimal rest cycles, you can easily make this a high-intensity session and tick off your 30 minutes.
2. Interval Training
Steady-state exercise like going for a long run, ride or row at a slower speed are great, aerobic, huffy puffy exercises, but if you want to boost the overall intensity, try adding interval training. This style of training mixes high and low intensity (or active rest) exercise for great metabolic results.
Instead of going for a slow run, try sprinting for 30 seconds at maximum effort and then scale back the intensity to an easy jog for 1-2 minutes of active recovery. Repeat 8-10 times. Varying exercise intensity can help your body adapt to exercising for longer and at higher intensity levels.
Skipping rope is a fun, total body way to break a sweat. Using a skipping rope strengthens both your upper and lower body, gets your heart rate pumping and builds coordination and balance. If that’s not enough to convince you – a skipping rope costs less than $5 and is light and transportable so you can take it with you anywhere.
All 3 of the above exercises are great ways to incorporate ‘huffy puffy’ exercise into your favourite routine or use them on their own as a serious heart-pumping activity. Don’t be afraid to mix up your cardiovascular exercise – any activity that helps you get your sweat on is perfect!
Mobility is the ability for the body to move through its full, functional range of motion (ROM) efficiently and effectively without pain or compensation.
It is not to be confused with flexibility, which is how a muscle lengthens. Mobility training targets and improves your joint mobility – a person with good mobility can perform everyday activities with no restrictions and with strength through the entire range of motion. You can think of mobility as an umbrella term covering factors which affect a joint’s ROM:
When joint mobility decreases, the body compensates around that joint by recruiting muscles in other areas to help out. This affects how you move and over time you may suffer significantly more wear-and-tear and pain than if the joint could move normally. Unfortunately when you are exercising, if you perform ‘faulty movements’ under higher intensity, this puts you at an increased risk of injury.
How does mobility training work?
Several joints in the body contain synovial fluid and cartilage. The cartilage protects the end of each bone and must be maintained to prevent bones from damage when we move. Synovial fluid surrounds the joint and cartilage, lubricating the joint and nourishing the cartilage. When you perform mobility exercises you circulate synovial fluid around the joint which provides nourishment for the joint to keep it healthy and mobile.
Mobility training is definitely not just for athletes, it significantly improves your joint health and can help you maintain your body’s flexibility and ability to move smoothly. This training should be an essential component of your daily routine and it’s never too late to start!
There are several different exercises you can use to enhance mobility.
The three key methods include: foam rolling, mobility drills and stretching.
Using a foam roller releases your muscles connective tissue called ‘fascia’. Fascia plays an important role in how a muscle moves, it’s shape and strength. Keeping the muscle’s connective tissue well-hydrated and supple improves joint range of motion (ROM) and aids in muscle recovery. Roll the foam roller under your body until you find a tender muscle group or area and maintain pressure using your bodyweight for 30-60 seconds. Then move slightly away from that spot and repeat.
Mobility drills are exercises which target the range of motion around specific joints. The mobility of each joint is important however, there are some ‘troublesome’ joints like the neck, shoulders, hips and knees. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can assist you in designing an individualised mobility (and flexibility) program.
The process of stretching is important for flexibility and mobility. It is difficult to move a joint when the muscles connected to the joint do not stretch far enough. There are two types of stretching – passive and active. In active stretching you actively contract one muscle to stretch another, these stretches can be performed using a partner or stretching accessories like bands or straps. Whereas in passive stretching you use an external force or gravity to stretch the muscle.
Ensure you hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds. This allows the initial pain and tension on the surface to subside, ensuring you get to the stretch to the deeper muscles below.
Incorporating both passive and active stretching into your day, particularly before and after exercise, aids in mobility and also prevents injury.
Always perform mobility exercises when you’re warm, ideally after a workout, and focus on each muscle group for total body improvement. Incorporating mobility and flexibility training as part of your daily routine is ideal however, a minimum of two to three days per week will still do the trick. Overall aim to be consistent – long-term flexibility and mobility programs produce the best improvement.
When men think of healthy eating for some reason, they automatically think they have to eat salad. But we’re here to tell you, you can be healthy without having to resort to boring rabbit food!
Men and women aren’t that different when it comes to daily nutrition. Yes, men tend to have more muscle mass which increases their requirements compared to a female. But nutritionally speaking, men still need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to tick along each day. If you’re a ‘skip the veggies, pile on the meat’ type of guy, don’t worry we’re not about to suggest you turn your phone off and lock yourself at home eating chicken, broccoli and rice to meet your goals!
We surveyed all the men in our lives and found some common themes when it came to eating habits. Based on these findings, here are our Top Tips to Eating Healthy as a Dude while still balancing life and the bro-code.
Common Man Trend No. 1 – Skimping on the veggies
Veggies just get in the way of meat right?! Well depending on your age, 5-6 serves are recommended each day for men. This equates to 3 cups of vegetables or 6 cups of salad which we know can be hard to meet at times.
Hot Tip 1
Our biggest advice here is to try and add a serve or two to breakfast. Throw some spinach, tomato, mushrooms into the pan while you’re cooking your eggs and add some baked beans on the side. Or if you’re partial to something sweet for breakfast, give our carrot cake porridge a go! It’s far easier to meet your serves each day when you start early with 1-2 already ticked off before morning tea.
Common Man Trend No. 2 – Forgetting to trim the fat
Just because it’s attached to your steak doesn’t mean you should eat it! Leaving meat untrimmed can more than double the fat content and add over 500kJ to your meal. It’s also not a fat we need any more of in our diets.
Hot Tip 2
Try making a visual connection between the fat you’re eating and the energy it provides. That 500kJ is the same as an extra ½ cup of rice, a slice of bread, or a tub of yoghurt. Always trim the fatty rind off BEFORE cooking or avoid the temptation altogether and swap that rib-eye for a nice eye fillet without the fatty rind and heavy marbling to start with.
Common Man Trend No. 3 – Making it all about the meat
Overconsumption of protein, in particular, red meat, is one of the most common downfalls for Australian men. It seems to stem from the common misconception that more protein equals more muscle mass. But in fact, excess protein is simply a waste, not to mention problematic for our health. High meat and in particular, red meat intake is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (1). High meat consumption also leads to an increased intake of energy and saturated fat that over time can cause excess weight gain and a build-up of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.
Hot Tip 3
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good BBQ and red meat 2-3 times per week. The World Health Organisation recommends keeping red meat intake to 500g/week or less to decrease the risk of cancer. A great way to include red meat while not going overboard with 450g rumps is to make your own burger patties. Try our delicious homemade recipe for beef burgers HERE, they’re delicious!
Common Man Trend No. 4 – Falling into the cycle of after work drinks
It can be easy to fall into the habit of having ‘one or two’ drinks (or at least that’s what you tell your partner) after work each day to wind down, or perhaps a few more when catching up with friends over the weekend. Unfortunately, this common habit can negatively impact your health by increasing your energy intake, appetite and altering the way your body metabolises fat.
Hot Tip 4
Our advice is to enjoy one beer or one glass of wine with a meal, but be careful not to let this become a daily event. If you’re joining your colleagues after work for a drink then try and opt for something non-alcoholic (just don’t tell them), or a choice that has a lower alcohol content like light beer so the overall quantity of the toxin entering your body is less. Avoid getting yourself into rounds as you lose all control when you’re part of the pack.
Common Man Trend No. 5 – Not adjusting your intake to reflect your activity
Most guys eat the same thing every day. But as your training load changes, so should your daily energy intake. It can be easier to remember to increase your intake on a heavy training day, as your body gives you hunger cues. But it’s the other way around that can be forgotten.
Hot Tip 5
If you didn’t end up going for that long run as you’d planned, or if you got too busy with work to get to the gym, think about scaling what you’re eating. We’re not saying starve yourself – but perhaps swap that large roll for a wrap or your rice out for potato. This will help you adjust your intake to reflect your activity without having to resort to rabbit food.
Common Man Trend No. 6 – Ignorance is bliss!
If you are unaware of recommended serving sizes for different food groups, then it becomes increasingly easy to miss the mark and either be eating too little or too much! Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t going to help you hit any training or nutritional goals.
Hot Tip 6
Try using visual measures of the food on your plate based on the following serve sizes:
Protein – aim for approximately the size of the palm of your hand
Carbohydrate – aim for approximately 1 fist on your plate for lunches and dinners
Salad/Vegetables – aim for 2 fists serves on your plate. 1 serve of veggies = ½ cup of cooked veg, 1 cup of salad. Remember you need 5-6 each day
Life is about balance and we’re all about enjoying food. We firmly believe healthy eating shouldn’t be HARD or BORING. We challenge you to give our 7 hot tips for Healthy Eating for Men a go and see how you feel. We’re not asking you to eat rabbit food, just make some conscious decisions for your long term health.
Comment below if you give any of these strategies a go!
Beetroot juice was the secret sauce for many athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lots of countries were using it, but it wasn’t until afterwards that the news about beetroot juice became public knowledge...
Many athletes are looking for that performance edge over their competitors. Most athletes have heard about it, but don’t know how to use it. If you’ve nailed the fundamentals of basic sports nutrition and are looking at taking your racing to the next level, it is essential to add beetroot juice to your race plan.
Why beetroot juice?
What is it about this vegetable that gives you a performance kick? The component responsible for the benefits of beetroot juice is Nitrate. It’s produced within our bodies and is also found in some of the foods we eat, particularly green leafy vegetables, beetroot, processed meats and the water supply.
But the nitrate content varies widely even among the same vegetable variety. Freshness and farming practices play a part in how much nitrate is present by the time it lands on your plate. Vegetables grown with nitrogen-containing fertilisers will have higher levels of nitrate. So if you choose organic produce, these will probably contain lower levels of nitrate compared to non-organic produce.
How does it work?
When ingested, nitrate is absorbed and rapidly converted into nitrite. This circulates in the blood and is converted to nitric oxide under conditions of low oxygen availability (just like when you exercise).
Nitric oxide is a versatile little compound that can improve some of the crucial components needed during exercise. It’s known to play a number of important roles in the regulation of blood flow, hormones and metabolism (1, 2). By using beetroot juice, it’s been shown to (1-3):
Reduce resting blood pressure
Reduce the oxygen cost of exercise - So you use less oxygen for the same amount of work
Reduce time trial performance
Increase fuel availability
Improve skeletal muscle contraction
Improve high-intensity performance
Ticking lots of boxes to allow you to work harder and faster before you reach exhaustion!
Who could it benefit?
Some of you may have already dabbled in beetroot juice supplementation and not noticed any difference. Or you don’t know how to properly use it to your advantage. In fact, you probably won’t be able to tell on a day to day basis. Some people are not as responsive as others...
When we look at the relationship between nitrate and oxygen efficiency you would expect the majority of the benefits to be seen in endurance events where oxygen cost is crucial. But in fact, current research shows inconsistent results in longer events of sub-maximal intensity (e.g. an Ironman) (3-5). More research is needed in this space. Whereas if we look at high-intensity exercise (>85-90% VO2max), where our body creates an acidic environment, this is perfect for nitric oxide conversion, helping to improve performance for this type of exercise (5).
Results can also depend on the personal conditioning of the athlete. If you have a higher proportion of Type II muscle fibres that are responsible for powerful bursts of movement, then you’ll likely see more benefit from nitrate use. Also, if you’re more on the beginner/weekend warrior end of the athlete spectrum, you’re more likely to see improvements compared to a highly trained, elite level athlete.
More research is definitely needed, but current protocols suggest taking 5-6mmol (or ~300mg) 2-2.5hours before exercise. There are a few concentrated products that help you do this – Beet It (300mg) and Go Beet shots (260mg).
For longer events, e.g. triathlon, road cycling, marathons – 1 shot 2-2.5hrs before may not be enough, so add an additional shot closer to the start of the race (as tolerated).
Potential side effects
Good news here! The side effects appear to be few and far between. With the most common issue reported being temporary and harmless pink discolouration of urine and stools (1,3). Some athletes do report gastrointestinal tract discomfort (1,3) though so this is definitely something to trial in training before using for the first time on race day.
Take home message
In summary, if you’ve got the foundations nailed, want to race faster and improve your performance, make sure you look at introducing beetroot juice into your bag of tricks. If you want more great tips like these to enhance your performance, sign up for our regular newsletter where we share evidence-based sports nutrition tips for everyday athletes HERE.
We’re interested to hear from anyone that has played with beetroot juice supplements already so please comment below if you have and share your experiences!
Remember if you don’t use beetroot juice, chances are your rivals are and will have an advantage over you on race day. When you start using this secret sauce correctly, you’ll reach your full potential!
(1) Burke, L., & Deakin, V. (2015). Clinical Sports Nutrition (5th ed.). North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill.
(2) Dyakova, E.Y., Kapilevich, L.V., Shylko, V.G., Popov, S.V., & Eanfinogenova, Y. (2015). Physical exercise associated with NO production: Signalling pathways and significance in health and disease. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 3. doi:10.3389/fcell.2015.00019
(4) Mcmahon, N.F., Leveritt, M.D., & Pavey, T.G. The Effect of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation on Endurance Exercise Performance in Healthy Adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(4), p735-756. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0617-7
(5) Van De Walle, P., & Vukovich, D. (2018). The Effect of Nitrate Supplementation on Exercise Tolerance and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(6), 1796–1808. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002046
“I turned into a Fitness freak and never thought I would learn so much about how my body and mind were connected and what I was truly capable of.”
It all started when I got divorced. Yes, life took a turn I wasn’t expecting but it lead me down a path of health and fitness. I started doing Body Building as a distraction and yes if you\'re wondering, it’s the sport where you just eat chicken, broccoli and rice! Well not entirely true, but it definitely was a very strict way of eating. I did feel great, but it wasn’t really a good idea long term as it took me 20 weeks to prepare for 40 minutes of gratification. I came 2nd in Queensland in my first competition and was blown away with how much my body changed. I did this a couple of times but it really was a lot of hard work and it taught me some really bad habits about nutrition and flogging yourself at the gym.
I wanted to learn everything I could about health and fitness and decided to make this my life’s passion by becoming a Personal Trainer and Massage Therapist. I did this for quite some time and even landed a role to massage the QLD State of Origin Team (don’t hold that against me, I’m a Blues girl!)
Being a Leo, I don’t sit still for long so my adventurous side got the better of me when my friend suggested I try Crossfit. I thought “how the heck am I going to do this?!” but sure enough, I loved it and got addicted! It was the perfect way for me to keep motivated, be challenged every session and to become a part of a great community that supports you no matter how good (or bad) you are.
If that wasn’t enough, I also had a goal to be a runner. Yes, I know you think PT’s are always fit and can run. Well, let me tell you that isn’t true! I didn’t really tell anyone and I joined a running group. The first session I literally thought my lungs were going to fall out onto the footpath! But my coach was so good with me - even though she knew I was a PT and should be fit, she totally got that running is a skill that has to be learnt, fit or not! And yes, you guessed it, I became a runner!! I even got up to running 10km at least twice a week.
At that time, my days were filled with running an outdoor fitness business for Mum’s and Bub’s, Crossfit 4 days a week and running 2 days. And the only reason I was able to do this was with the help of my Sports Dietitian, Dietitian Approved.
Fast forward 12 months and another curve was sent my way… a back injury that absolutely flattened me, literally. Everything that I loved was put on hold. I am recovering today but I had no idea what my clients had gone through all these years of me training them. I heard their words, I even saw them cry with such frustration but now ‘I actually get it’.
I was the only one that had to do the hard work to break through some pretty crazy habits and negative self-talk I had going on. It was a long journey but after 2 years of seeing Taryn last week, this was the first time I didn’t drive straight to the shops after my skin folds to reward myself with a block of chocolate. Yes, that’s what I did and wasn’t proud of myself but all I can see now is PROGRESS.
So for anybody that doesn’t believe that nutrition is the key to getting that body you desire or mental stability around food, then think again because it is and I am doing it without no more than 10 mins of walking a day!
How many years have your been training for: I have been training for just over 2 1/2 years.
What got you into it? For running, I was never really a runner and decided one day that I wanted to push myself and do a fun run. My first fun run was City 2 South in Brisbane and I loved it! If you are a runner, you will understand that running & fun runs are addictive so I kept looking for fun runs to enter which lead me to the Vienna City Half Marathon & Disneyland Half Marathon. I love running overseas as it is a great way to see the sights and it keeps you accountable while you are overseas.
I got into powerlifting as I had just started strength training and I really enjoyed it. I changed gyms and felt a little insecure in the weights area so I got in touch with Alesha Pimm from Building Elite to help me gain some confidence lifting weights. It is here that I learnt what powerlifting was and I fell in love with the sport. I have now competed in 4 novice competitions. I love the competition day environment, everyone is so supportive and they just want to see you do well.
What’s your favourite training session? deadlifts with a conditioning circuit to finish.
Events for 2018: Pretty & Powerful in October - 3 lift all female novice competition
Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: Although my training has been focused on powerlifting lately I still love (sometimes hate) running and I would love to run a full marathon one day. For powerlifting, I would love to be able to compete at a national level one day.
What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: 120kg deadlift
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by? The body will achieve what the mind believes.
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success? I train every morning even if I don\'t feel motivated to.
Three things you can’t live without?
1. My husband
2. My puppy, Winnie
Favourite food: Ice cream
Favourite post-training meal or snack? Protein oats with berries or a smoothie....... yum!
What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?
1. Spreading protein throughout the day is important to promote muscle recovery.
2. It is important to eat within 30 mins from training to optimise recovery & helps me feel fuller throughout the day.
Now that the colder months are upon us, it’s time to be proactive with our nutrition for the best immune system defence.
For active people, immune function plays a role not only in fighting off infections but also in promoting tissue repair to recover from exercise and injury1. To function properly, the immune system requires lots of nutrients – both macro and micronutrients. For an athlete under heavy training load, requirements are even higher putting you at risk of a suppressed immune system if you’re not meeting your needs.
To help you stay well over the colder months, we’ve put together a few key points to keep you firing on all cylinders this winter!
1. Rest and Recovery is Key
Regardless of the type or intensity, exercise places stress on the body – meaning your immune system has to work harder to build and repair damaged tissue1. Moderate training loads can be protective against illness by boosting the immune system. Whereas heavy training loads, particularly with high-intensity sessions, compromise the immune system. Our immune system is down for up to 72 hours following high-intensity training, making this a key time for susceptibility, especially if you train outside where you’re more likely to pick up bacteria from the road3.
This is where rest and recovery are key to prevent unwanted illness and the decreased performance and sick days that follow! Although these effects are transient in the majority of people, if you’re doing continual intense exercise with minimal rest, your immune system can be compromised long term. Sometimes it’s hard to stop, but don’t ever underestimate the importance of rest days!
2. Avoid Low Energy Availability
Energy Availability refers to the amount of energy left available to support regular body functions, (like your immune response), once energy has been expended on exercise1. When we don’t have enough energy available to meet our daily demands, we’re fighting an uphill battle already. Even before injury or infection occurs. If you then pick up a bug, the body is not adequately equipped to fight it off and chances are you’ll get sick.
Endurance athletes, in particular, need to ensure their energy intake matches their energy expenditure – a true skill where training volumes fluctuate across the week, months and year. You shouldn’t eat the same thing each day unless you’re training is exactly the same each day. Boost your immune function by scaling up on heavier training days and having some strategies in place to eat appropriately for a rest day. A Sports Dietitian is your best point of call for how to do this for your program.
3. Carbohydrate is Protective
Carbohydrate contributes to meeting our daily energy needs but is often the first thing to be thrown out the window when trying to lose weight. However, training in a carbohydrate-depleted state, or not refuelling properly can be a contributing factor to impaired immunity.
After sustained exercise, there’s an automatic release of stress hormones. These hormones in excess (think cortisol) suppress the body’s immune response immediately following a training session, leaving us susceptible to infectious agents2. When training in a glycogen depleted state (low carbohydrate stores), this stress hormone release is markedly increased2. But by ensuring we have enough carbohydrate in our diet to support the demands of training, we can blunt the release of stress hormones and reduce the stress placed on the immune system2. If you’re constantly getting sick, consider adding carbohydrate during some of your aerobic exercise sessions as this can help to reduce inflammation, support the immune system and decrease recovery time2.
If you are unsure of your individual carbohydrate requirements, meet with a sports dietitian to calculate the correct amount and timing for your training schedule.
4. Eat the Rainbow
Fruit and vegetables contain a wide range of different micronutrients with varying roles within the body. Many of which are involved in immune function such as iron, vitamin C and D, and zinc1,2. Athletes with even mild deficiencies in any of these micronutrients can have an altered immune response1.
The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough micronutrients is to consume a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables. Eat the rainbow! If you find yourself always reaching for the same two or three varieties, it may be time to change it up! If you’re in need of some serious inspiration, check out our earlier blog on how to make veggies tasty!
5. Prevent dehydration
Unfortunately, it’s not only food you need to watch out for as being dehydrated can also contribute to a compromised immune system. During the colder months, it’s easy to forget to drink but it’s just as important. One of the front line defences of the immune system is immune proteins in our saliva. When we’re dehydrated, the levels of these proteins decreases, meaning our initial defence to bacteria entering through the mouth is also decreased1,2. So don’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink up, carry a water bottle with you (everywhere!) and keep sipping throughout the day.
Like everything else, there’s no magic pill to boost your immunity. Plan rest days and some lighter training weeks, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables and ensure you’re meeting your energy and carbohydrate requirements. Sleep well, wash your hands before eating and stay well this winter.
(1) Burke, L., & Deakin, V. (2015). Clinical Sports Nutrition (5th ed.). North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill.
(2) Gleeson, M., Nieman, D., & Pedersen, B. (2004). Exercise, nutrition and immune function. Journal of Sports Sciences, 22(1), 115–125. doi:10.1080/0264041031000140590
(3) Seher Çağdaş Şenişik. (2015). Exercise and the immune system. Turkish Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(1), 11–20.
(4) Nutrition and the Immune System. (2018). Nutrition Health Review. 118(1), p13.
In the last few years, John has literally turned his life around. Peaking at 182kg and getting puffed chasing his daughter around, John knew he had to do something. One step at a time (literally) he\'s lost a whopping 70kg. He now loves to ride flat out with the CCC boys and is gearing up for 160km at the Noosa Classic this month. Welcome to the #DietitianApprovedCrew Chef!
Name: John Alexander
Current home location (where you live): Tingalpa (Bayside Brisbane)
Profession/Educational background: Executive Chef
Sport of Choice: Cycling with a side of Triathlon
How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? I have been cycling for a bit over 2 years now
What got you into it in the first place? When I started riding I was 186.4kg. Cycling was the next step for me to get fit and drop weight. It was a laugh as I was on a mountain bike to start off with and a 15km ride was an EPIC morning out. Now I regularly clock 200km weeks.
What’s your favourite training session? Group rides with the CCC crew. We go alright for a group with an average age of 43 (I’m not that old), belting out a 60-80km ride at an average above 31km/hr.
Main Competition/Event/s for 2018: Currently training for the Noosa Classic 160km ride (with 2.1km elevation) as I have been asked by Bicycle Queensland and the coordinators of the Noosa Classic to be an Ambassador for the Ride. This is sensational for me as 3 years ago I would not have even bothered with it… now it’s a challenge.
Upcoming Competition: I am booking in for 4 of the Gatorade Sprint Triathlons, in the Clydesdale Category. First one is in September at Redlands
Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: I will be getting sorted for my first ever Olympic distance triathlon (running is not my favourite thing) but will give it a go. I’m also looking at the Kraken in Yeppoon 2019.
What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: I have completed 4 x Sprint Triathlons and in the last one I competed in I got a Bronze Medal in the Clydesdale division!!! Something I never thought I would be able to achieve as I‘ve never been in a club and I have just had advice from friends in what to do and how to go faster. I have the bike down no worries but transition … oh dear.
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?
Saying: Can’t, Won’t, Don’t are three words that will not be used when training!!!
Motto: “If your legs are hurting tell them this is normal” (James - Head Captain of the CCC) It sounds better when yelled in a Yorkie accent.
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success? Always give it 100% when training. It helps clear my head from my work and it feels cleansing when you have put in a great session. It makes it easier to then head off to work for a 12hr day on your feet or when stuck in meetings for a few hours of it.
Three things you can’t live without?
My Daughter Mikayla – She’s also my training partner for swimming and running as she has never gotten a handle on the bike.
Favourite food: Steak…. Wagyu Steak
Favourite post-training meal or snack? Weet-Bix, banana, local honey, milk and a bit of yoghurt
What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?
Eat less steak and more vegetables, fruits, grains etc …. LOL (You knew that was coming)
The main thing that I have learnt is that healthy foods can also have flavour. You can eat better foods/fuel to keep your energy up longer so you don’t get just a sugar hit and then crash.
What awesome progress you\'ve made John! We can\'t wait to see you smash the Noosa classic.
I never thought I’d do an Ironman. Triathlon was just another way to challenge myself – except my challenges just kept getting bigger and bigger! I believe that every race is a learning experience and I try to find new ways to improve when I reflect post-race. Now that I have 2 Ironman’s (IM) under my belt, here are the Top Three things I learnt from and changed between Ironman 1 in Cairns 2017 and Ironman 2 for Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie 2018.
Fuel Your Body - In the lead up to IM Cairns, I was not consuming enough food during training to fuel my everyday needs, cue falling asleep at 2 pm during work and lots of hangry moments. IM Australia was much more organised. I followed a periodised nutrition plan from Dietitian Approved to ensure there was no midday drowsiness, even on my bigger training days, only the occasional hangry moment (who doesn’t have those!?) and plenty of energy to smash training.
Practice Makes Perfect – I did a lot of my training with friends for IM Cairns which made the 5+ hour rides a lot less lonely. But come race day, I got very lonely and fatigued at the back end of the bike - at one stage I wondered if the race was still going! For IM Australia I made a point of trying to do a lot of solo riding in training where possible and I believe this gave me a much more positive mindset come race day.
Knowledge is Power – Nerves were not an issue with either IM but lack of experience was. How was my body going to hold up during my 12+ hours of racing? My “weakness” is my run leg and after blowing up fairly early on the run in IM Cairns I knew I had to have a better plan for IM Australia. Taryn made some big changes in my bike nutrition to ensure I was getting the right amount of fuel without any gut issues. Combined with a well-controlled run leg, this made for a much happier race and faster, consistent run splits!
Whilst I was reflecting on the differences, it also gave me time to remember the things that didn’t change. One thing that was a constant between both races was the love and support I received from my friends and family. It was unwavering, and I am truly grateful (you all know who you are). Triathlon is an individual sport, but it takes a team to get you there. Thank you to everyone on my team. I feel Ironman is achievable for everyone, don’t be intimidated by the distance, embrace the challenge - make a plan, build your support team (coach, dietitian, massage, training buddies) and go for it! You won’t regret it.
Thanks to DA Crew member Bec Baird for sharing her reflections with us!
We constantly get asked to explain the difference between a Dietitian and Nutritionist. Yes they\'re different and yes we will always correct you when you call us a Nutritionist. Read on to find out why we get slightly offended ;)
Australia currently does not regulate the professional titles ‘nutritionist’ or \'dietitian\', leaving a wide market for misinformation if you do not do your own research. The media also tends to use the two terms interchangeably, making distinctions between qualifications increasingly difficult. Read on as we break down the differences between these professions, their relevant qualifications, what they can do for you and what to look for when looking for a professional.
This term can be the most confusing of the three, as there are varying levels of qualifications that result in the title ‘nutritionist’. Nutrition is a three year university degree, but there is currently no regulation over this title in Australia, meaning anyone can call themselves a nutritionist if they want, even you. Even if they have only completed a 20 minute online lecture!
The Nutrition Society of Australia is currently attempting to clear up confusion with a voluntary registration that requires a minimum three year tertiary degree, or relevant years of work experience, to gain the title Registered Nutritionist (RNutr). Nutritionists have completed study pertaining to community and public health, food science and food policy. They are qualified to offer broad health advice, however are not qualified to deliver individualised medical nutrition therapy. In Australia, every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist can call themselves a dietitian unless they\'ve gone on to complete further study. Confusing right?!
A dietitian is a person with a 4 year University education in Nutrition & Dietetics. They are qualified to provide individualised, evidence-based nutrition advice after undergoing a course of study with substantial theory and practice in medical nutrition therapy. They are classified as the quality standard for nutrition advice by the Australian Government, meaning they are covered by Medicare health rebates and recognised by most private health funds.
Once again the term ‘dietitian’ is not specifically controlled, however you can trust that professionals who carry the title Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) have completed a minimum four year tertiary degree and must undertake many hours of continual professional development to uphold their qualification each year. See a general dietitian if you need assistance with a chronic disease, weight management or just want to improve your overall health.
A Sports Dietitian has gone on to complete further study to become experts in Sports Nutrition. They must be an Accredited Practicing Dietitian first, with a minimum of one year clinical experience, along with completion of additional study in the field of nutrition for sporting performance. Sports Dietitian\'s are the guru’s on optimising athletic performance through food. Their services aren’t just for professional athletes, they can (and do!) assist everyday exercisers to get that little bit more out of their training. See a Sports Dietitian if you\'re an exerciser of any level and want to:
Develop a plan to help you reach your ideal body composition (fat loss/muscle gain)
Get specific dietary advice to get the most out of your training/exercise/sport
Maximise your recovery
Make weight prior to competition without having to starve yourself
Get sports supplement advice for the performance edge
Carbohydrate load for endurance events
Get tips on sticking to your nutrition plan with a busy lifestyle
Healthy athleat friendly recipe ideas Plus many many more
Accredited Practising Dietitian\'s and Sports Dietitian\'s are both fantastic resources and have a wealth of knowledge to assist you in reaching your goals. Our founder Taryn has completed more than 6 years of study and continues to clock numerous hours of ongoing education to maintain an Advanced Sports Dietitian status. Now you\'ll know why her nostrils flare a little when you call her a Nutritionist ;)
Now that she\'s an Ironman, we asked Sarah to reflect on her experiences and share what she learnt from the day. Here are her top 5 tips for anyone out there embarking on their own first Ironman journey.
STICK TO THE PLAN!! The days leading up to the race and particularly on race day, you\'ll be a ball of nerves and not thinking clearly at all. No matter what advice you receive from the well-meaning seasoned athletes who have done a billion Ironman races already... Never, ever, steer away from the plan. DO WHAT YOUR DIETITIAN TELLS YOU. The golden rule of racing - never try anything new on race day!
ENJOY YOURSELF. Make sure you enjoy every second of the race because the day goes by way too fast. On the day you are so busy caught up in staying focused that the hours just fly by you. No matter how exhausted you are, take in that finish line chute because they really make you feel like a rockstar.
DON\'T EVER DOUBT YOURSELF! When you taper, your head will start to try and convince you that you aren\'t ready to take on this event. You will start to worry about things that have never even crossed your mind. Trust your program, trust your training and always back yourself.
THANK THE VOLUNTEERS. Those people are just incredible and the lengths they go to to help you out are just amazing. When it\'s getting late into the night and a lot of spectators have gone home with their athletes, the volunteers will still be out there screaming cheers for you, giving you water and food and going above and beyond to help get you to the finish line.
BE POSITIVE. When it starts to get tough on course, reflect back to all the achievements you have made to get to the start line. Think of the sacrifices, the hours spent on the bike, the laps in the pool and the pavement you pounded every day... You are better than your head is telling you, stay on track and go get it!
Intermittent Fasting; the latest in diet trends. Claiming health benefits from weight loss to prevention of chronic disease. Is it really the answer to the world’s health problems? We take a look at the evidence...
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting encompasses several different dietary behaviours, all of which focus on controlling the period in which food is consumed. These behaviours dictate a fasting and feeding schedule of various lengths. However, there isn\'t a restriction placed on the TYPES of foods consumed during feeding times.
Different Types of Intermittent Fasting:
The three most popular methods that are circulating the health and fitness industry are:
Time-Restricted Feeding Daily fasting for a minimum of 12 hours (the most common fast is 16 hours, with 8 hours during the day to eat, for example only eating between 11am and 7pm).
Alternate Day Fasting Involves cycling between one day of “fasting” and one day of consuming your regular diet. On the “fasting” day, you consume less than ~25% of your daily energy requirements. For an average adult this equates to ~2175kJ – or roughly equivalent to your lunchtime chicken sandwich.
The 5 and 2 Method This involves energy restriction to less than 25% of requirements for two non-consecutive days per week. While 5 days you eat as per usual.
The Health Benefits
Intermittent fasting has been shown to cause significant weight loss in short-term studies, varying from 4-8% loss of body weight within 6-12 weeks (3-5, 7). However, when this was compared to a constant control of energy intake there appears to be no difference in weight loss between the groups (3-5). Findings did point to less loss of fat-free mass (our muscle) during intermittent fasting, demonstrating that it may be a more efficient method to prevent loss of lean muscle mass during weight loss periods (4-5). Intermittent fasting has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, however with the current research available it is difficult to observe if benefits are unique to fasting, or if they simply occur as a result of weight loss. These benefits include improvements in cholesterol (lowered LDL and total cholesterol), triglycerides, blood pressure, and inflammatory and oxidative stress markers (3-4). Fat loss also produces changes in circulating levels or certain adipokine’s (proteins released by fat cells) which has a protective effect on the progression of cardiovascular disease and cancer (3-4). Fasting has also shown decreases in fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance, good news for the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes (3-4). Despite these preliminary benefits, current research remains largely inconclusive, highlighting a need for further long-term human studies.
Is it an Option for Athletes?
When considering changing up your dietary routine, one of the most important questions to ask is, “is it sustainable in the long term for your lifestyle?”. Whether a recreational athlete or a serious competitor, having enough fuel in the tank is essential to get through long, hard training sessions. Incorporating extended periods of fasting and depleting fuel stores, while continuing to attempt a high training load is counterproductive. We know that lower intensity exercise draws predominantly on fat as a fuel source. While higher intensities have an increased reliance on carbohydrate as a fuel. With insufficient fuel at high intensities, you slow down to allow the body to utilise more fat as a fuel. In both professional and recreational athletes, VO2 max decreased by up to 12% during an intermittent fasting routine (2). However, regardless of type or intensity of exercise, all athletes reported feeling higher levels of fatigue (1-2). So if your daily training routine is more aerobic, slow and steady style, then fasting may not impact too much on performance; although you might not feel quite as light on your feet! Planning rest days or shorter, easier, recovery type sessions on fasting days could be the way around this. If you’re more interested in short, sharp, high-intensity sessions, you would struggle to get the best performance out of your session in a prolonged fasted state. Recovery is also significantly impacted if you’re not able to refuel after a session. The ingestion of protein and carbohydrate post-exercise increases muscle synthesis and replenishes glycogen stores. If you’re unable to adequately refuel post-exercise or even during the following 24 hours, this can result in muscle breakdown and inadequate energy stores to complete training on subsequent days (8). In summary, it would be difficult to incorporate intermittent fasting with a heavy training load, however, there are certain adjustments you could make to try and minimise negative effects:
Choose time-restricted feeding over other fasting patterns, this allows for adequate fuel intake EVERY day and will have the smallest negative impact on recovery.
If choosing a fasting technique where intake on certain days is less than 25% of requirements, ensure protein intake is adequate to prevent muscle breakdown after training. Intake of 20-30g of protein following a session and regularly distributed throughout the day is a good place to start! (8)
Plan training sessions OUTSIDE of fasting times if possible to minimise the effect on performance.
Stay HYDRATED to prevent further fatigue on your body. Sometimes when we’re not eating we also forget to drink!
Playing devil\'s advocate
In our opinion, any form of dietary restriction should come with a big fat warning sign! These behaviours can result in increased hunger levels and overeating outside of fasting times. We commonly see people on the 2 and 5 diet binge eat on their 5 days of “normal” eating, completely negating any effect of the 2 days of fasting! Our body is great at playing catch up. Other negative effects to highlight include irritability and an inability to focus, so proceed with caution as everyone is different and fasting may not suit you (or your family!). Extra effort should also be placed on consuming a balanced diet in the hours of feeding to ensure you are still getting everything you need.
The final word
Although intermittent fasting is praised at times, there is still inadequate research to promote it globally as a superior method for weight loss or prevention of chronic disease. Yes, there are several proposed benefits, however, these could simply be seen as a result of weight loss itself. Fasting also requires significant effort to ensure dietary intake is adequately met and for athletes, alterations to your training schedule so performance is minimally affected. The best diet is the one you can stick to! If fasting is something you want to consider - see an Accredited Dietitian who can ensure you’re getting everything you need across the week, no matter what fasting program you’re on.
Chaouachi, J., Coutts, P., Chamari, P., Wong, P., Chaouachi, P., Chtara, P., Roky, P., et al. (2009). Effect of Ramadan Intermittent Fasting on Aerobic and Anaerobic Performance and Perception of Fatigue in Male Elite Judo Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(9), 2702–2709. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181bc17fc
Chaouachi, A., Leiper, J., Chtourou, H., Aziz, A., & Chamari, K. (2012). The effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting on athletic performance: Recommendations for the maintenance of physical fitness. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30, S53. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1026565523/
Patterson, R., & Sears, D. (n.d.). Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition, 37, 371–393. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634
Anton, S., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W., Marosi, K., Lee, S., Mainous, A., Leeuwenburgh, C., et al. (2018, February). Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity. doi:10.1002/oby.22065
Harvie, M., & Howell, A. (2017). Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects-A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence. Behavioral Sciences, 7(1), 4. doi:10.3390/bs7010004
Maughan, R., Fallah, J., & Coyle, E. (2010). The effects of fasting on metabolism and performance. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(7), 490. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.072181
Varady, K. (2011). Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 12(7), e593. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x
(8) Burke, L. (2010). Fasting and recovery from exercise. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 44,502-508. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.071472
Sleep is essential for general health and wellbeing.
The more we learn, the more we realise that increased sleep duration and quality is associated with better performance in sport and life. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each day for optimal health (1). But it\'s not clear exactly how much sleep athletes need. It\'s been suggested athletes require more - closer to 9-10 hours (2). But duration is not the only factor - sleep quality is also important. Getting the right amount of good quality sleep has some incredible benefits for athletic performance. Let\'s take a deeper look...
For an athlete, sleep is the ultimate form of recovery. It\'s like a big sponge that soaks up fatigue overnight. This sponge assists with the recovery process so we can adapt from and absorb hard training. The bigger the sponge (sleep duration), the more water (fatigue) it can soak up.
It\'s in the deep sleep phases (Stage 3 and 4 NREM) during the first half of the night that we do most of our physical recovery and repair.
The light sleep stages which make up approximately 50% of a total nights sleep (Stage 1 and 2) are also key to both physical and neural recharge overnight. If we don\'t spend enough time in these phases, we wake up feeling foggy.
Sleep is a WEAPON
Reaction time, coordination and accuracy
It\'s in Stage 5 (REM) sleep where our brains recovery, learning and development occurs. We create new nerve pathways to consolidate and repair memories, skills and process information. Side note - it\'s also where we release testosterone (in both men and women). Research suggests that sleep deprivation delays the signals which travel along these pathways, decreasing our coordination and accuracy (2). So much so that inadequate sleep has been likened to being drunk! Williamson and Feyer (2000) demonstrated the longer the duration without sleep (up to 23 hours), performance in cognitive tasks, motor skills, speed and accuracy decreased to levels equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1%. Twice the legal driving limit in Australia!
The duration of REM sleep increases as the night progresses, with the longest duration occurring just before waking. So get to bed early to ensure you get the beneficial effects on mental performance more REM sleep brings.
Injury & illness
Decreased sleep has been associated with an increased risk of injury and illness. Inadequate sleep is immunosuppressive, increasing our risk of upper respiratory tract infections. In a study of 164 adults administered nasal drops containing rhinovirus, those who slept for less than 5hrs were 4.5 times more likely to develop an illness than those that slept for greater than 7hrs (4).
Being sick or injured reduces training availability and is obviously something we want to avoid. The underlying mechanism for increased injury with sleep loss is unclear but is likely due to cognitive impairment and decreased reaction time, along with higher levels of fatigue. All of which can increase an athletes risk of injury.
Mental stamina and mood
Striving to be fitter, faster and stronger doesn’t just require physical effort, it also requires mental stamina. Feeling mentally drained will impact your mood and we all know that missing out on a good nights rest can alter how we think and feel. People who sleep for less than five hours are often sadder, angrier and more stressed (2) which is linked with low motivation and decreased sports performance (5).
Not a lot is known about sleep deprivation and its effect on short, sharp, anaerobic power type exercise, but a number of studies have shown decreased endurance performance (6, 7, 8, 9). Sleep loss clearly resulted in increasing 3km time trial duration in cyclists (7), decreased time to exhaustion in volleyball players (6) and decreased treadmill run distance covered in a 30 minutes self-paced test (9). This appears to be due to an increase in our perception of effort (how hard you feel you\'re working) (8). It may also be due to an alteration in substrate availability as pre-exercise muscle glycogen (our carbohydrate fuel tank) has been found to be decreased after sleep deprivation (10).
Improve sleep efficiency
Multiple studies show the significant implications sleep deprivation has on performance. From impaired accuracy, coordination and reaction time, fatigue, inadequate recovery, to increased risk of injury and illness. So what can we do to improve our sleep efficiency - both duration and quality?
Get to bed earlier, aiming to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Stop using your phone in bed. The blue light it emits affects our normal sleep hormone production (melatonin)
Ensure all of your devises are set up with night mode so they switch to a more warm, orange hue after sunset.
Make your sleep environment comfortable, dark, cool and quiet
Establish a regular sleep routine
Eat foods that assist with promoting sleep - more on this next time!
Next up - we take a look at food to boost sleep performance. Stay tuned!
1. Hirshkowitz et al., (2015). National Sleep Foundation\'s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. 1(4), 233-243
2. Bird, S, P. (2013). Sleep, recovery, and athletic performance: a brief review and recommendations. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 35:43-47.
3. Williamson, A., Feyer, A. (2001). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57: 649-655.
4. Prather, A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. and Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviuorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep. 38: 1353-1359.
5. Totterdell, P., Reynolds, S., Parkinson, B., & Briner, R. (1994). Associations of Sleep with Everyday Mood, Minor Symptoms and Social Interaction Experience. Sleep, 17(5), 466-475.
6. Azboy, O, Kaygisiz Z. (2009). Effects of sleep deprivation on cardiorespiratory functions of the runners and volleyball players during rest and exercise. Acta Physiologica Hungarica. 96, 29-36.
7. Chase et al. (2017). One night of sleep restriction following heavy exercise impairs 3-km cycling time-trial performance in the morning. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism. 1-7
8. Fullagar, H, H, Skorski S, Duffield R, et al. (2015). Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports Med. 45, 161-86.
9. Oliver, S, Costa, R, Laing, S, et al. (2009). One night of sleep deprivation decreases treadmill endurance performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 107, 155-61.
10. Skein, M, Duffield, R, Edge, J., et al. (2011). Intermittent-sprint performance and muscle glycogen after 30 h of sleep deprivation. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise; 43: 1301-11.
11. Watson, A. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 16(6), 413-418.
Many of us think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down, but in fact, what happens when our head hits the pillow is quite the opposite. Sleep is a dynamic process – our brain changes its state many times as we pass through the five stages of sleep in approximately 90-minute cycles. The first four stages of sleep make up our non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and the fifth stage is when rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep occurs.
Across NREM sleep we move from very light sleep during Stage 1 to very deep sleep in Stage 4. It’s very difficult to wake a person who is in Stage 4 sleep. Typically, our eyes do not move during NREM and we have low muscle activity, although all of our muscles are still able to function.
Stage 1 – Very Light sleep: We drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily.
Stage 2 – Light sleep: Where eye movement ceases.
Stage 3 & 4 – Deep sleep: We’re difficult to wake and have no eye movement or muscle activity.
Stage 5 – REM sleep
During Stage 5 or REM sleep our brain waves are as active as when we are awake and breathing becomes more rapid. The limb muscles are temporarily paralysed, our body does not move, eyes can dart rapidly in all directions and we dream vividly.
A typical night under the covers isn’t simply four to six of these 90-minute sleep cycles pieced together. In the first two to three cycles of shut-eye, we spend most of our time in deep Stage 3 and Stage 4 (NREM) sleep. During the final two to three cycles, we enter more REM sleep which is accompanied by some lighter NREM sleep.
Cycling through the sleep stages is important for preventing tiredness and irritability the next day and maximising the benefits of sleep. Next up, we’re taking a look at how sleep can boost performance. Stay tuned!
Sarah came to see us in August 2017 with the primary goal to get off the couch and keep Hubby happy on the weekends after big training sessions. She\'s gone from strength to strength and is gearing up for her Ironman debut at Port Macq in a few weeks time. We\'re excited to share her story with you and can\'t wait to see her become an IronWoman next month.
Name: Sarah Leuenberger
Current home location (where you live): Brisvegas
Profession background: Assistant bean counter studying to be an official bean counter (accounting)
Sport of Choice: Triathlon
How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 3 years since my first triathlon
What got you into it in the first place? I have always been interested in triathlon but was never brave enough to try one (plus I couldn’t run down the street even if a pack of wolves were chasing me :). My work offered free entry to a friendly non-competitive corporate triathlon which was a nice enticer distance. Even though I thought I was going to have a heart attack during the 4km run, I finished it with a smile and was completely hooked.
What’s your favourite training session? I always enjoy my bike sessions. I love exploring and taking in my surroundings. Rides are always therapeutic especially as they generally end with a caffeine fix.
Main Competition/Event for 2018: Ironman Australia on the 6th May; it will be my first Ironman distance event!
Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your Triathlon career: My main goal is to continually improve and always try new challenges. I love the feeling of doing something amazing and I also love getting out of my comfort zone. I haven’t thought too much about what my next event will be, I just want to keep having fun and keep inspiring my kids and friends to get active and involved in fitness.
What’s your biggest achievement in Triathlon so far: Hmmm, that’s a tough one as if you asked 5 years ago Sarah if she could do half of the things 2018 Sarah has achieved then she would laugh in your face and tell you that “you cray cray”. I think my stand out moment would be when I rode my bike from Brisbane to Sydney with some friends. We did the trip over 6 days and we had the best time. It was very challenging at times and backing up each day was hard work but we got to see some parts of Australia that you just can’t appreciate as much when you drive through in a car.
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by? My very favourite quote is one said by Audrey Hepburn and it is, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible”. I try and remind myself of this quote each and every day. The only thing stopping me from being great is the doubts I allow to enter my head. Get rid of those doubts and anything is achievable.
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?
Like I said, I never doubt myself, as soon as I let the negative thoughts enter my head then it’s game over.
Always be open to push out of your comfort zone, no matter how scary it seems. Like they say, out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
Three things you can’t live without? My family, coffee and my bike.
Favourite food: Mexican for suuuure! Love it, the more spice the better…now I want some Mexican food immediately…damn it.
Favourite post-training meal or snack? Sarah’s Secret Smoothie, I would tell you what’s in it but then I’d have to kill you. Let’s just say it may or may not involve a banana, a shot of coffee, a hit of protein and milk.
What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in Triathlon?
How to use food to fuel! My number one thing I asked Taryn to help me with when I first met her was, how to prevent myself from becoming a useless heap, asleep on the couch after any big sessions. We have nailed this perfectly!! Yay team!!!
The right foods to eat to keep me full and stop me heading for those binge sessions at the fridge. Healthy grazing options have been my saviour when it comes to getting down to race weight.
Yeah yeah, we’re the fun police, we get it. Take it or leave it, but at the end of the day, alcohol is a toxin. Here are three major reasons why alcohol is not your friend.
1. Increased energy intake
Pure alcohol is energy dense, containing 29 kilojoules per gram – almost equalling fat which contains 37 kilojoules per gram. Alcohols kilojoules are known as ‘empty kilojoules’ as they fail to provide nutrients that our body requires to perform important physiological functions. These kilojoules tend to stack up quickly because they are consumed in liquid form – liquid kilojoules don\'t elicit the same feeling or level of satiety as kilojoules from food. Because our hunger is not suppressed by alcohol we don’t compensate by reducing our food intake and our overall energy intake can increase significantly.
2. Altered brain chemistry
When we consume alcohol, our brain responds by releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine into our brains\' reward centre. The brain typically uses dopamine to reinforce healthy behaviours, however, alcohol triggers the release of very high amounts of dopamine. Excessive levels of dopamine block the expression of our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, stress or insecurity and as a result, we feel relaxed and uninhibited. Because our inhibitions are lower, assessing our appetite and restraining from unhealthy food choices isn’t a priority. This is why after a drink (or six) you feel more comfortable reaching for a handful of chips or saying yes to that 2 am dirty kebab. Far more comfortable than you did before drinking.
3. Increased appetite
To make matters worse, alcohol is an excellent appetite stimulant. The body reacts to ethanol as a poison, prioritising its breakdown and removal over the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. Breaking down alcohol is a demanding task that requires the full attention of the liver. This means that the liver ceases to perform other important jobs such as the release of glucose to maintain our blood glucose levels. Eventually, our blood glucose levels dip and we become hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose levels) – triggering intense feelings of hunger.
The combination of alcohols high energy content with its un-inhibiting and appetite-stimulating effects often lead to weight gain in the short and long-term. Reducing your alcohol intake is a small but realistic change which, when combined with healthy eating and regular exercise, will promote weight loss.
Drink in moderation and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with friends in a social setting. If you drink every night sitting at home, perhaps explore why you reach for alcohol at the end of the day. Our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge will help you learn what habits you’ve trained yourself to have in this space.
A ‘diet’ is a restrictive eating program used temporarily to lose weight. Diets are often gimmicky or have a certain theme such as the elimination of particular food groups or assigning points to foods. Some diets can be nonsensical, unscientific and downright dangerous – detoxes or juice cleanses anyone? *facepalm. Yes, these diets are restrictive, yes they may produce short term results, but why don’t they work long term?
We see so many clients with a history of yo-yo dieting. They’ve tried everything! Only to fall off the bandwagon, gaining more weight than they started with in the first place! It’s a shame they only come to see a Dietitian AFTER years of trying and failing at all of these programs…
Weight loss is based on the first law of thermodynamics:
“Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but rather transformed from one state to another”
More affectionately rephrased as “calories in, calories out”. This, in theory, is true. When we consistently consume less energy than our body uses each day, weight loss follows.
So why don’t diets work?
The human body is smart. It thrives on balance or homeostasis. Our body has inbuilt appetite and weight-regulating systems which constantly strive to restore the balance.
The role of hormones in hunger
There are two hormones responsible for regulating our appetite: ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is our appetite-stimulating hormone; it is released into the stomach and sends hunger signals to the brain to produce ‘hunger pangs’.
Leptin is our appetite-suppressing hormone, it is released by our fat cells after eating to send the signal that we’re full.
When we restrict our intake to lose weight, leptin levels plummet and ghrelin levels rise meaning our appetite soars. You’re up against strong feelings of hunger and it can become very difficult to resist extra snacks (or meals). Especially if you’re constantly thinking about what you can’t eat.
The role of metabolism
Our metabolism is clever and highly adaptable. It will respond to how much energy (calories or kilojoules) we consume. When our energy intake is high, the speed of our metabolism increases to ‘keep up’ with its energy workload. When our energy intake is reduced – our metabolism slows. One of the major reasons why metabolism slows relates to the effects of dieting on our body composition…
Losing weight on the scale doesn’t mean you’re only losing fat
Our body relies on energy from the macronutrients in our food (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to perform lots of everyday body functions such as breathing and digesting. Stripping kilojoules from our diet forces the body to utilise fat from our fat cells to fuel some of these physiological functions – hence the term ‘burning fat’. But poorly planned and restrictive diets can go too far and deprive the body of energy to take care of day-to-day tasks. This forces the body to increase the activity of catabolic hormones and break down muscle reserves to produce energy instead. So while the weight on the scales may go down, this can be a combination of a reduction of fat tissue AND muscle tissue – not ideal. Lean body mass or muscle tissue is very energy-demanding and losing lean body mass decreases your metabolism significantly. A dietitian can help you with a meal plan to ensure you’re only losing fat with weight loss and not valuable, metabolism driving muscle.
When we inevitably fall off the bandwagon due to our insatiable appetite or stop the diet, our metabolism is sluggish and we can gain weight quickly, typically as fat. Cue the vicious cycle of dieting, weight loss, weight re-gain and back to dieting again which leaves most people feeling defeated.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! Take a more holistic approach to your health which can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight long term. Enter the Dietitian Approved Healthy Lifestyle Challenge! A challenge designed to put in place consistent, daily habits for overall health. Nothing to do with dieting. People do lose weight on our challenge, which is a by-product of these healthy habits.
Here are a few tips for a more holistic and sustainable weight loss:
Ditch the food rules and concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. Incorporate a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds into your diet and allow yourself to eat foods which you enjoy in moderation mindfully.
Become more aware of your hunger and satiety cues and allow these cues to guide when to begin and stop eating. If you’re full, stop eating. You don’t need to finish what’s on your plate despite what your mother may tell you.
Be patient and take your time. Everyone wants to lose 5kg yesterday. Losing weight slowly is not only more maintainable, but it also prevents your weight loss from plateauing and allows your metabolism to adapt to its reduced energy workload. It\'s also far more socially enjoyable than severe restrictions.
Incidental exercise is the movement you perform as part of your everyday life that makes up your daily activities.
These movements can be simple – from walking to the mailbox to gardening to playing with the kids – but together these bite-sized chunks can add up to a significant portion of your total daily physical activity.
Physical activity has excellent health benefits and forms the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. It raises your daily energy expenditure and helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Sitting is the new smoking.Here are some handy ways to boost incidental exercise:
Set an alarm on your phone or watch to move hourly from your desk or chair
Invest in a standing desk
Take regular breaks to grab another glass of water
Take phone calls on your mobile and do laps around the office
Don’t install a printer at your desk, walk to collect printing
Catch up with work colleagues or friends over a brisk walk instead of sitting down at the office or coffee shop
Always use the stairs over the lift or escalators
Jump off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way
Multi-task – instead of sitting down in front of the television, do chores like washing, ironing and folding.
Park further away from the shop entry
Leave the TV remote on the coffee table and get up to change the channel
It is well known that exercise increases your fitness and improves your overall health and well-being. Exercise is also an effective way to manage your mood and stress levels.
Virtually any form of exercise from weight lifting to running or even yoga has powerful ‘mood-boosting’ effects. Exercise can help:
Decrease stress and anxiety levels
Ward off feelings of depression
Boost confidence and self-esteem
So how does exercise work its magic?
Endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters or chemicals. When you perform any type of physical activity your body responds by releasing these neurotransmitters. The endorphins interact with your brain’s opiate receptors and trigger feelings of euphoria and general well-being. They also suppress your ability to feel pain.
Although a demanding schedule sounds like the perfect reason to for-go exercising, setting aside some time to move every day helps turn your daily physical activity into a healthy habit. The current recommendations for healthy adults are 150 to 300 minutes of moderate or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Try breaking exercise up into smaller chunks, mixing up the intensity of your physical activity and alternating between morning, lunchtime and evening activities to fit around your busy days. Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as another chore – it is actually the key to de-stressing after a hectic day!
Yet consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol has detrimental effects on weight loss. The biggest problem with alcohol is not simply its energy density, it’s also how alcohol affects our body’s metabolic processes. Most importantly, its capacity to metabolise fat.
The reason why alcohol impacts our metabolism is linked to the way in which ethanol is processed. Ethanol is a toxic molecule and our body doesn’t have a storage place for it. Unlike fat, which is deposited into fat cells or carbohydrates which are stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver. Essentially the body has no choice but to prioritise the breakdown and removal of alcohol over all other macronutrients.
The major processing site for alcohol in the body is the liver. Up to 98% of alcohol consumed is transported to the liver where the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol to acetaldehyde. This molecule is then transformed into acetate, producing a sudden increase in blood acetate levels.
The body prefers to burn acetate over fat because it is more efficient. Acetate is a very readily available fuel source so the body doesn\'t have to do much metabolic work to use it. Our body suppresses fat oxidation (fat burning), sometimes by up to 73% (!), until the acetate is burned off. This means that for the subsequent hours after drinking, your body is unable to utilise fat stores and any plans you had for fat loss come to a grinding halt.
But wait, there is more bad news…
When we drink heavily for an extended period of time, our body recognises alcohol as a consistent energy source and adapts to use it more efficiently. The body activates a system known as the ‘microsomal ethanol-oxidising system’ in order to redistribute and remove excess alcohol and promote body fat storage. The most common site of fat storage is around your mid-section (hence why lovers of alcohol usually sport a "beer gut").
If you’re a part of our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, these are just a couple of good reasons why alcohol intake scores so poorly. While for some it may be hard to avoid, it wouldn’t be called a ‘challenge’ if it wasn’t challenging, right? We only have your health at heart. Plus it’s only 30 days out of your whole life – you’ll thank us for it later.
We talk about periodising nutrition all the time, but WHAT the heck is it?
And HOW do you do it?
Nutrition Periodisation is the use of planned nutritional strategies aimed at maximising the results from specific training sessions to improve performance (1). It is just like having a training plan but for your nutrition, where your nutrition is planned around your training to get the most bang for your buck out of it. Periodising nutrition primarily manipulates our glycogen stores, or our carbohydrate fuel tank. There are a few ways dietary periodisation can be used:
1. Train low
This is where you train with low glycogen stores. For example, you train first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or you don’t quite top your glycogen stores back up between sessions. This allows your body to learn to run more efficiently on a lower fuel tank. For athletes that train twice or even three to four times a day, chances are they are probably running on lower glycogen stores for some of those sessions.
This is where you sleep with low glycogen stores. For example, you have a hard, glycogen-depleting session in the evening and don’t include adequate carbohydrate with dinner to fully refuel your glycogen fuel tank overnight. You’re going to sleep ‘low’. This allows the body to adapt overnight. It’s then important to fuel up before your session in the morning (especially for females) as this has implications on iron and calcium pathways.
3. Recover low
This is where you delay refuelling in that immediate post-exercise recovery window. Not refuelling immediately after training allows us to adapt to changes occurring as a result of training (2).
4. Train high
This is where you train on a full glycogen tank. This not only supports a quality training session, it also trains your gut to absorb carbohydrate efficiently and can maximise the amount of carbohydrate we can use for energy each hour (1). By manipulating our carbohydrate availability around sessions, we can maximise our training response. Training with high carbohydrate availability, improves performance, especially for the high-intensity sessions where top end speed is required (1). By training with low glycogen stores, we force our body to adapt, to utilise fat as a fuel, making this pathway more efficient and improving aerobic performance. However, when we are running on an empty carbohydrate tank, the quality of our training is compromised. We train to get fitter, faster and more efficient. We spend hours and hours training, but if we haven’t got our nutrition sorted, it can be harder to reach our goals. Invest in some planning of your nutrition, periodised across your training week to get the most bang for your buck. Improved performance was observed after just 1 week of periodised nutrition in cyclists (3). As Accredited Sports Dietitian\'s, periodisation is our forte! We can help you work out which method to utilise when across your training week as you can’t do them all at once. Nutrition periodisation is most effective when following a plan and choosing the most appropriate training sessions to pair it with based on your goals (2).
Now let’s talk about HOW to periodise your nutrition...
Here is an example of the same recipe, but adjusted for carbohydrate content depending on the goals of that meal. Image 1 is our Chicken burger patty with an Asian slaw and soy dressing. Image 2 is our Chicken burger patty on a wholegrain wrap with salad Image 3 is our Chicken burger patty on a large Turkish bread roll with salad You’ll see that the protein portion of each meal remains the same. And the SIZE of the meal is also similar. Yet the carbohydrate content ranges from 20g up to 90g. This my friends is an example of HOW you periodise your nutrition. You\'re welcome. Now we don\'t want to give away all of our secrets so the detail stops there, sorry :)
1. Jeukendrup, A, E. Periodized Nutrition for Athletes. Sports Med. 2017; 47 (Suppl 1): S51-63. 2. Marquet L, A et al. Enhanced Endurance Performance by Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: “Sleep Low” Strategy. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2016; Vol 48(4): 663-672. 3. Marquet 2 et al. Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: Short-Term Effect on Performance. Nutrients. 2016; 8(12): 755.', 'post_title' => 'Dietary Periodisation: What is it but how do you do it?..', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'dietary-periodisation', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2019-08-19 12:43:04', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2019-08-19 02:43:04', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'http://dietitianapproved.com.au/dietary-periodisation/', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 26 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 113, 'post_author' => '2', 'post_date' => '2017-07-13 10:23:16', 'post_date_gmt' => '2017-07-13 10:23:16', 'post_content' => '
We have the absolute pleasure of running regularly with Pat right here in Brisbane.
He makes running look just so easy! We could only dream of running even half as fast or as efficiently as this Swiss machine!
Quite the competitor, Pat has a long list of achievements in the running world. Just quietly, he also won our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge in 2016 which he adds to his list of accolades.
Read on for his story...
Name: Patrick Nispel
Current location: Brisbane, QLD
Profession: Accredited Running Coach, used to work as an Architect/Urban Designer
Sport of Choice: Running in any form from track to road and the occasional multisport event.
How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 25 years of competitive running
What got you into it in the first place?
I grew up in a small village in Switzerland and started with the local gymnastics club at age 5. My sister got me into running at age 12 but we played many other sports as well. It was not until age 17 I started to take athletics more seriously and qualified for national teams regularly. I moved to Brisbane in 2007 and transitioned to road running with a focus on half and full marathons in 2011.
What’s your favourite training session?
When I\'m fit, I like to push myself in some track intervals e.g. 10 x 1km reps or a Marathon specific long run of 30 to 38km at close to race pace.
Main Competition or Events for 2017:
21st at Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:28:25 (comeback race after a stress fracture in 2017),
Australian Championships half-marathon Sunshine Coast (August), Melbourne half-marathon (October), Overseas Marathon end of 2017 TBC
Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career:
Improve on my marathon PB. Run some of the World Marathon Majors including Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Boston is on my bucket list too. I would also like to take my running group to some big overseas marathon events.
What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far:
I\'ve had a long running career in track, cross country, mountain, trail and road running. Some results and highlights can be found on my website. My top 3 experiences would probably be:
· Winning Zatopek 3000m Steeplechase in Melbourne 2008 (8:59 PB)
· 3rd place at Senshu International City Marathon Osaka JAP 2012
· 9th at International Zurich Marathon SUI 2013 (2:22:55 PB)
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?
Train smarter, not harder!
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?
Eating a well-balanced diet, body maintenance work, getting quality sleep (not always possible with a 17-month-old son ;-)
Three things you can’t live without?
My family, coffee, running
I like and eat almost anything and strive for a balanced diet. Seafood dishes as well as some hearty Swiss potato/veggie/cheese dishes are my favourite.
Favourite post-training meal or snack?
After a big training session; a typical breakfast for me would be: 3 weet-bix, a cup of muesli, rice milk, yoghurt, chia seeds, lots of nuts and berries/ fruits, with cinnamon on top. Green juice or orange juice and a large coffee.
What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?
Nutrient timing as well as optimising my carbo-loading, race day nutrition and hydration plan.
Pat is the owner and head coach at P.A.T.42.2 RUNNING that offers personal running coaching in Brisbane and online. If you want further info, check out his website at:
', 'post_title' => 'Dietitian Approved Crew - Pat Nispel', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'dietitianapprovedcrewpatricknispel', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2019-07-09 16:36:44', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2019-07-09 06:36:44', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'http://dietitianapproved.com.au/dietitianapprovedcrewpatricknispel/', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 27 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 112, 'post_author' => '2', 'post_date' => '2017-07-13 02:57:50', 'post_date_gmt' => '2017-07-12 16:57:50', 'post_content' => ' Calcium is one of the most important minerals in our body. In fact, without calcium we wouldn’t be able to stand or eat as 99% of our calcium is in our bones and teeth! A small amount of calcium is also dissolved in the blood and is essential for our heart, muscles, blood and nerves. In fact, every contraction of our muscles requires calcium. So how much calcium do we need and where do we find it?
After higher calcium needs as a growing teenager, our requirements stabilise at 1000mg/day until they increase again as we get older. This is because calcium isn\'t absorbed as well in our later years. We achieve peak bone mass by our early 20\'s so it\'s important to lay down a good foundation in our teenage years to set you up with good bone density for life.
Food sources of Calcium
In food terms, the best sources of calcium are dairy sources.
Check the label on your milk product and ensure that for each 250ml serve, it contains at least 300mg of calcium. If you prefer milk alternatives, a lot of these are calcium fortified but always check the label for a product that is and ensure it provides at least 300mg calcium per 250ml.
Did you know that low-fat dairy products contain just as much and often more calcium than regular fat products?
Seafood is another good source of calcium
Look for canned fish that contains bones as this is where the majority of the calcium is coming from.
For the vegetarians and vegans, there are some good plant sources of calcium to be sure to include regularly.
Firm tofu, tahini, dried figs, broccoli, canned soybeans, kale and almonds to name a few.
Enhance your calcium absorption
Protein can help with calcium absorption, although too much can have the opposite effect. Vitamin D is also helpful, so get outside for 10-15 minutes each day to catch some rays. Natural sugars like lactose in milk help calcium absorption too
Unfortunately, caffeine and alcohol are not so good for our calcium stores. The same applies to diets high in oxalates which come from foods such as spinach, rhubarb and beans. These only reduce calcium absorption from the food they are present in. Phytic acid from seeds, nuts, grains and certain raw beans can reduce calcium absorption from foods when eaten in combination. Finally go easy on the salt, as calcium is eliminated from the body with it. Choose your canned fish in spring water rather than brine to maximise the calcium absorption from this source.
A daily example that gives you enough calcium...
Breakfast: 1 cup of milk with your porridge, cereal, toast or as a smoothie. Be sure to separate your tea or coffee from your meal so you\'re not blocking the calcium absorption. Morning tea: 200g Yoghurt with fruit Lunch: Canned salmon with bones or sardines tossed through an Asian slaw salad Afternoon tea: Small handful of almonds with 1-2 dried figs Dinner: Firm Tofu stir-fry with rice or noodles', 'post_title' => 'Calcium', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'calcium', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2019-09-30 16:08:54', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2019-09-30 06:08:54', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'http://dietitianapproved.com.au/calcium/', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 28 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 111, 'post_author' => '2', 'post_date' => '2017-06-25 21:00:00', 'post_date_gmt' => '2017-06-25 21:00:00', 'post_content' => '
Dave aka Bangar can do it all. From indoor rowing to rugby, surf swimming, pool swimming and running, what can\'t you do well Dave? Just quietly he holds the title for the No. 1 ranked Indoor Rower for the half marathon IN THE WORLD!
Dave\'s next focus is on smashing his Gold Coast 10km run time with the goal to go sub 39 minutes this weekend. Good luck Dave!
Dave with his son Jack after blitzing the Burleigh Swim Run 2017
Current location: Palm Beach, QLD
Profession: Turf Contractor
Sport of Choice: Running/Swimming
How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 26 years
What got you into it in the first place? Looking for a new sport
What’s your favourite training session? 4-10 1km reps (running)
Main Competition or Event for 2017: Gold Coast 10km run + Burleigh Swim Run (Australia Day 2017)
Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: 2018 World Indoor rowing champs; Australia Day Challenge Burleigh Swim Run; Burleigh to Surfers 10km swim
What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: 10 games with the QLD Reds 1988-1990 2015 No. 1 ranked indoor rower in the world for the half marathon
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?
Be kind to others
Strive for excellence and quality
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?
I am always thinking about recovery
Three things you can’t live without?
My 2 sons + my ute
Wild caught fish (Mackerel, Swordfish), mashed potato, cereal, Dietitian Approved Thai Red Curry
Favourite post-training meal or snack?
Fresh fruit scone, hot out of the oven from the Vietnamese bakery at Highgate Hill.
What’s the number 1 (or 2) things you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?
An all-round LEGEND, Bec is one of our longest standing clients! She even has an original meal plan with our old logo on it - sorry about that Bec :) From humble beginnings as a triathlete 3 years ago, she\'s gearing up to race Cairns IRON(Wo)MAN this weekend. Good luck Bec! You\'re going to absolutely smash it!
Photo cred: Delly Carr
Name: Rebecca aka Bec
Current location: Mackay, QLD
Sport of Choice: Triathlon, but my first love was and still is netball – I’ve retired from playing now to coach
How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? On and off since 2010, started taking triathlon more seriously in 2015
What got you into it in the first place? I love a challenge and a few people I went to university with competed at a pretty decent level so they were a bit of inspiration for me
What’s your favourite training session? Long rides or a brick session
Main Competition or Event for 2017: Ironman Cairns
Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: Ultimately (in a few years) I would love to be able to balance having a family and still train and race in triathlons. I’m enjoying long course racing at the moment so maybe a few more 70.3’s and IM’s …. and I wouldn’t mind qualifying for Kona one day - that would be pretty awesome!
What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: Mooloolaba Olympic Distance (OD) 2017 – did the race with no taper as part of my training for Ironman Cairns. Managed to get an overall OD PB by about 5mins and beat my 2015 MooTri time by about 25mins.
Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?
A life lived in fear is a life half lived
Control the controllables
What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?
Always have my bag packed and food prepped the night before
Trusting the process
Listening to my body
Three things you can’t live without?
Post race = hot chips
Any other time = rump steak (med rare), mushroom sauce with chips and salad
Favourite post-training meal or snack?
This is normally breakfast so I love my overnight oats or Dietitian Approved pancakes.
What’s the number 1 thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?
With the cooler weather setting in, the cold and flu season is upon us. There’s nothing worse than getting sick, especially right before a key event! Here are our Top Five Tips for looking after your immune system and staying well this winter.
1. Get your 2 fruit and 5 veggie serves in each day
Vitamins and minerals are important for a huge range of reactions within the body such as growth and repair, muscle function, energy metabolism and protection from free radical damage. If we don’t get enough of certain nutrients, our health and performance suffers. It also increases your risk of getting sick. That doesn’t mean you need to start sucking back the multivitamins. Focus on getting a variety of nutrients each day from fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colours, the better to ensure you’re getting a wide range of important, sickness busting vitamins and minerals.
Keep up your daily dose of 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables during the comfort food season with these ideas:
Go for warm salads with plenty of roasted vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and capsicum, red onion.
Try vegetable soups loaded up with all of the leftovers in the fridge at the end of the week. These will keep you warm from the inside and provides loads of nourishment. Be sure to include a protein source though if this is your main meal.
Baked fruits like apples, pears and stone fruit make perfect snacks with a little Greek yoghurt on top.
2. Get enough sleep
Despite what some people think, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re sleep deprived and run down you increase your risk of getting sick. Sleep is your ultimate form of recovery, so if you’re not getting enough, you may actually be blunting the effect of training and increasing your risk of picking up the next bug.
Turn your screens off early as the blue light emitted from phone and computer screens affects your natural sleep hormone, melatonin. Set night shift on your phone to start from 6 pm which shifts the colour of your screen to the warmer end of the colour spectrum. This may help you sleep better. Get out of the habit of scrolling through Instagram before bed. Read a book instead to relax and wind down.
3. Stress less
High stress levels are well documented as being immunosuppressive. Stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline and prolactin are influenced by negative events and negative emotions, inducing adverse immunological changes.
The longer you’re stressed for (1 month or more) and the more often you’re stressed appears to be directly related to increased incidence of developing cold and flu symptoms.
Life is sometimes stressful – we get it. If you feel your stress levels getting out of hand, find ways to manage this that works for you. Do some exercise, yoga, meditation, go for a walk, read a book, call a friend, take a holiday!
4. Look after your gut microbiome
Your gut plays a huge role in maintaining your immune function. Look after it to prevent picking up colds and flu’s this winter.
Promote balance of good bacteria by eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, yoghurt with live cultures and fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. Take antibiotics only when they are necessary. Remember, antibiotics won’t help you if you have a virus such as a cold or the flu.
Probiotic supplements also have proven benefit in maintaining gastrointestinal function and positively affecting immunity. If you travel a lot or have a key event coming up, talk to a sports dietitian about whether it’s worth taking a probiotic supplement to support your immune function.
5. Be hygienic
This shouldn’t be news by any means, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands frequently can help stop the spread of germs and prevent getting sick. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Prevention is key.
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before eating.
Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, especially when someone is sick.
Dispose of tissues hygienically, don’t leave them lying around.
Don’t share cutlery, glasses or water bottles with someone that is sick (or well for that matter)
If family or friends are sick, give them space and be extra careful with hygiene
If you fly frequently, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you’ve washed your hands with warm water and soap.
If you do feel like you’re coming down with something, there’s good evidence to suggest Vitamin C and Zinc can help prevent or decrease the severity of a cold or flu. Check with your GP or Sports Dietitian to see if this is a good idea for you.
Over the next few weeks, we look at the latest evidence on what cramps are, why we get them, how to prevent them and how pickle juice may be able to help.
What are muscle cramps?
Ah cramps! They make me nervous just thinking about them! Most of us have had one at some point or another but what are they exactly?
A cramp is defined as a painful spasmodic involuntary contraction of a skeletal muscle which occurs during or after exercise. There are actually two main types of cramps:
Whole body cramping, but thankfully these are not as common;
Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC). This type of cramping involves individual muscles or groups of muscles and is common in the calf, hamstring and quadriceps. Think a calf cramp as you go to push off the wall in the pool. It typically involves the muscle being used.
Cramping prevalence has been reported to be as high as 6-20% during Ironman events, 30-50% in marathon runners, 60% in cyclists and 30-50% in team sports.
Although localised and short in duration, EAMC may lead to musculoskeletal dysfunction, reduced performance and muscle damage, making prevention key for optimum performance.
What Causes Muscle Cramps?
There are many theories on why we cramp...
For many years it\'s been believed that cramping is caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, in particular, sodium. This is based on earlier research with underground miners and marathon runners. A heat exhaustion study discovered that miners who cramped were more dehydrated and more sodium depleted than those who didn\'t cramp. In marathon runners, they found the athletes that cramped were more likely to be saltier sweaters and have lower serum sodium at the end of a race.
However in contrast to these earlier studies, more recent research has failed to show an association between EAMC, dehydration or abnormal serum electrolyte imbalances...
A more recent theory suggests that altered neuromuscular activity in the central and peripheral nervous system is the cause of EAMC. Fatigued muscles disrupt the normal functioning of peripheral muscle receptors, altering the excitability of the central nervous system. This causes an imbalance between increased muscle contraction (afferent activity) and relaxation (inhibitory afferent activity) leading to a decreased ability for the muscle to relax after contraction. This is particularly the case when working in a shortened position such as shortened calves when pointing toes in swimming or quads when pedalling while standing on the bike. This theory also helps explain why stretching out a cramping muscle can be the most effective way to relieve it.
So which theory is it that causes cramps? The bottom line - we don\'t know.....cramping is still poorly understood!
Despite exercise-associated muscle cramping being a common complaint among athletes, the exact cause remains uncertain due to a lack of quality scientific evidence to guide management. Perhaps for the heavy and salty sweaters amongst us, doing some sweat testing and developing your own personalised hydration plan will assist in your management of cramping. For others, regular massage, neural stretching, adequate strength and muscle conditioning may assist.
Tune in next time where we discuss prevention and the new kid on the block - pickle juice.
Words by Marzia Bell - Dietitian to be and Mum to 2
Schools are back..."Phew!" I hear you say... Kids are kept busy for the term and parents can find their sanity again.
With back to school also comes the challenge of school lunches. They can be fun for the first week or two and then boredom sets in for both parents and kids alike. Here are a few tips on packing school lunches to make your life easy and fun.
1. Have your tools ready
Containers of different shapes and sizes make packing lunch easy and allow you to separate foods so juices from one don\'t run into the other. Have an insulated bag to put all your containers into to keep lunches fresh in this hot weather.
2. Cold packs:
Food safety is important; especially with the summer heat, cold packs are a must to keep your kids food cold until lunchtime.
3. Stick with a basic structure
(it is much easier to slot things in if you have a basic plan):
Brain snack: small apples, pears, carrot or cucumber sticks, strawberries or snacking tomatoes are perfect for this quick snack. (not all schools do this)
First break: aim for a fruit or veggie serve plus yoghurt or a healthy home-baked goodie
Second break: a protein and salad sandwich or wrap, leftovers, snacking lunch (e.g. cut up cheese, tinned tuna/salmon, boiled eggs, veggie sticks, almonds)
4. Save time, bake ahead:
Make homemade quiches, muffins, banana bread, muesli bars etc. ahead of time and freeze them in individual portions. The night before or the morning of, take them out of the freezer and they will defrost in time for the first break. They can also help keep lunch boxes cold.
is a great mid-morning snack. The protein in yoghurt will keep little people full and energised until lunchtime. There are great little yoghurt containers with an outer shell that can be frozen, helping to keep it cold all morning. Choose plain Greek yoghurt and add some fresh or frozen fruit for flavour. Don\'t forget to pack a spoon!
6. Make school nights easy. Prep ahead of time - utilise your weekends.
Try washing and cutting salad items up into containers in the fridge for lunches, so all you need to do is take your bread or wrap, add protein quickly (ham, cheese, egg, tuna, beans, chicken) and you\'re set! Try different combinations to keep things interesting e.g. egg & lettuce, ham, spinach & tomato, grated carrot, lettuce and beetroot.
Have your veggie sticks and fresh fruit cut and prepped in a large container of time (perhaps twice a week for optimal freshness). It\'s then easy to putting individual serves in a container, add a little hummus, salsa, guacamole or tzatziki for dipping. Little salad dressing containers are perfect for this (find in your local supermarket in the containers aisle).
7. Leftovers are the best!
Full of nutrients and ready to use, these can really help save you time. Get yourself a hot food container (Thermos make some fancy ones, but you can also buy cheaper alternatives at Kmart for under $10). In the morning fill it with boiling water, leave it for 5 minutes, meanwhile heat up the leftovers in a container. When the 5 minutes are up just empty the water and put the food in, easy! You can also use it for warm baked beans with a slice of wholemeal bread. Don\'t forget to pack a fork or spoon!
Make sure the lunch box is full of nutrient-rich foods; Kids brains and bodies need them to stay focused all day. Pre-packaged snacks are easy and tempting but are often nutrient poor and will slow them down.
Have fun, experiment and find some new family favourites!
As the Turmeric latte surges to the front of the trend list, what is it about this spice that’s causing all the hype? We take a look at what it is, the potential benefits and how to include it in your diet.
Why the hype?
Turmeric is a golden yellow spice that has been used for centuries in Indian cooking. Turmeric contains the bioactive compound Curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s claimed to have a positive effect on heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and many other conditions. Be mindful though that research for these benefits has been done in vitro (in a petri dish) or in animal models (mostly rats) which is difficult to extrapolate to humans. The research in humans is limited and more trials are needed.
How much Turmeric and Curcumin may benefit?
It’s not as simple as adding a little turmeric to your latte or smoothie. Curcumin makes up <5% of turmeric. In its naturally occurring state, curcumin has very low bioavailability in humans (i.e. it’s poorly absorbed). Partly due to its low intestinal absorption and partly due to its rapid metabolism. Based on research to date, oral supplementation in the range of 80-500mg is likely to be required, however studies have shown doses as high as 8000mg being insufficient to increase levels of curcumin in the blood (1, 2, 3). The jury is still out on exactly how much curcumin and in what form is required to reap the benefits.
Increasing Curcumin bioavailability
Laboratory testing is currently underway to explore better ways to take curcumin so that it’s more bioavailable, absorbed better and delivered directly to the required tissue. Taken orally, it seems to stay in our digestive system and pass through without being absorbed into the bloodstream. It is possible to enhance curcumin absorption by combining it with piperine, a black pepper extract. One study found that 20mg of piperine paired with 2000mg of curcumin increased curcumin bioavailability by 2000% (4). Curcumin is also fat soluble so it’s possible to increase absorption by consuming with fat-soluble components e.g. oils or traditionally gum ghatti. There is also current research occurring to produce water-soluble curcumin supplements.
Curcumin – the next big sports nutrition supplement
In the sports nutrition space – it has been suggested that Curcumin supplementation may acutely blunt DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), improve tendon healing and play an anti-inflammatory role in tendinopathy. Preliminary studies however (5, 6, 7) have failed to show a statistically significant difference between curcumin supplementation and placebo groups. There are a number of reasons why (small sample size, curcumin dose and bioavailability, fitness level of participants) and further work is required to develop appropriate protocols for athletes.
Is there any risk associated with supplementing curcumin?
Due to its low bioavailability and low concentration in turmeric, it is unlikely that you can overconsume curcumin in its naturally occurring form. However, supplementation has shown side effects when taken in higher doses. Curcumin has potential interactions with antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, salicylates, and thrombolytic agents which may cause bleeding. Taken on an empty stomach, especially in high doses, it may cause nausea and diarrhoea. The safety of curcumin supplements during pregnancy and lactation is also not established. As with any supplement, speak to your doctor or sports dietitian to see if it is suitable for you.
Take home message
Watch this space. Curcumin potentially has some benefit but it’s not a miracle spice that will cure the qualms of the world. There’s no harm in using it in a normal dose – but be careful with a high dose supplement until we know more.
Tips to include more turmeric in your diet
Sprinkle on your oats: this works well with the flavours of coconut milk in particular
Add to a smoothie or juice
Stir through scrambled eggs, it takes a mild, interesting flavour and gives it a beautiful colour
Add to rice during cooking
Add to mince mixes: whether it’s burger patties or cottage pie, a little spice will brighten the flavour
Soups, casseroles and stews: a curry is not a curry without turmeric, but you can add a mild Indian flavour to soups, casseroles and stews with a little turmeric
Sprinkle on roast vegetables, particularly root vegetables such as potato, parsnip and sweet potato
Spice up your salads with a pinch in your salad dressing. This works well with lemon based dressings
1. Lao, C.D., Ruffin, M.T., Normolle, D., Heath, D.D., Murray, S.I., Bailey, J.M., Boggs, M.E., Crowell, J., Rock, C.L. and Brenner, D.E. (2006) BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 6(1), p. 10. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-10. 2. Cheng, A.L., Hsu, C.H., Lin, J.K., Hsu, M.M., Ho, Y.F., Shen, T.S., Ko, J.Y. and Lin, J.T. (2001) ‘Phase I clinical trial of curcumin, a chemopreventive agent, in patients with high-risk or pre-malignant lesions’, Anticancer Research, 21(4B), pp. 2895–2900. 3. Dhillon, N., Aggarwal, B.B., Newman, R.A., Wolff, R.A., Kunnumakkara, A.B., Abbruzzese, J.L., Ng, C.S., Badmaev, V. and Kurzrock, R. (2008) ‘Phase II trial of Curcumin in patients with advanced Pancreatic cancer’, Clinical Cancer Research, 14(14), pp. 4491–4499. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.ccr-08-0024. 4. Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R. and Srinivas, P. (1998) ‘Influence of Piperine on the Pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in animals and human volunteers’, Planta Medica, 64(04), pp. 353–356. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957450. 5. McFarlin, B.K., Venable, A.S., Henning, A.L., Sampson, J.N.B., Pennel, K., Vingren, J.L. and Hill, D.W. (2016) ‘Reduced inflammatory and muscle damage biomarkers following oral supplementation with bioavailable curcumin’, BBA Clinical, 5, pp. 72–78. doi: 10.1016/j.bbacli.2016.02.003. 6. Tanabe, Y., Maeda, S., Akazawa, N., Zempo-Miyaki, A., Choi, Y., Ra, S.-G., Imaizumi, A., Otsuka, Y. and Nosaka, K. (2015) ‘Attenuation of indirect markers of eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage by curcumin’, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(9), pp. 1949–1957. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3170-4. 7. Drobnic, F., Riera, J., Appendino, G., Togni, S., Franceschi, F., Valle, X., Pons, A. and Tur, J. (2014) ‘Reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness by a novel curcumin delivery system (Meriva®): A randomised, placebo-controlled trial’, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), p. 31. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-31.', 'post_title' => 'Turmeric – The Next Big Sports Nutrition Supplement?', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'curcumin', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2019-07-10 07:53:39', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2019-07-09 21:53:39', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'http://dietitianapproved.com.au/curcumin/', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '2', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 34 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 104, 'post_author' => '2', 'post_date' => '2016-08-16 21:43:29', 'post_date_gmt' => '2016-08-16 21:43:29', 'post_content' => '
Sports Supplements are everywhere!
I struggle to keep up with the latest products on the market with new brands popping up every week. As many athletes search for that ‘magic bullet’, sports supplements have become a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, a recent study found that 40-70% of athletes take supplements.
A nutrition supplement, as the name suggests, is designed to supplement the diet and should never replace it. My approach as a dietitian is always “food-first” as your day-to-day nutrition is where you will see the greatest health and performance benefits long term. Supplements are considered the sprinkles, on the icing on the cake. It’s important to get the foundations of a balanced, healthy diet in training right first (the sponge), before adding the icing and even considering the sprinkles.
Supplements typically fall into three main categories: Sports foods and fluids, Medical supplements and Performance supplements.
1. Sports foods and fluids
These include an extensive list of sports drinks, gels, chomps, bloks, bars, protein powders and recovery drinks. They are easily accessible, portable, convenient and provide concentrated nutrients when real food may not be practical. In most situations though, real foods can take the place of sports foods if you’re organised. Sports foods and fluids can be expensive, may be completely unnecessary, are energy dense and can cause gastrointestinal upset in some people.
2. Medical supplements
Are used to treat a known deficiency such as Iron or Vitamin D for a short period of time. They can be pills, potions or powders and should only be taken when recommended by a doctor, accredited sports dietitian or other health professionals after a blood test and/or diet review. Taking un-prescribed medical supplements can be dangerous and have harmful long-term effects.
3. Performance supplements
Approved ergogenic aids or performance-enhancing supplements have been proven in scientific trials to provide a performance benefit when used according to a specific protocol in a specific situation in sport. Things like caffeine, creatine and bicarb form part of this list. However, there are many other popular supplements on the market promising remarkable super-human powers that don’t deliver. In some cases, these supplements may actually impair health or performance.
A recent study found that 80% of certain supplements didn’t contain what the label said (scary). The risk of contamination with banned substances is real and should be at the forefront of every athlete\'s mind. Especially now that age group drug testing is a common occurrence. The supplement industry is largely unregulated, and traces of banned substances can find themselves in products by accident. You can take responsibility by checking your product on the ASADA website. You can also look for products that have been through a contamination screening process such as Informed Sport or Hasta in Australia.