7 Tips To Fend Off Holiday Weight Gain by Frank Muntis

[Frank Muntis recently finished his Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Louisville and is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] As a nutrition coach, an issue I find many people struggle with is managing their nutrition in social situations such as parties, get-togethers and holidays. The holidays are a time meant to be spent reuniting with friends and family and partaking in time-honored traditions, however, for the fitness minded it can also be a stressful time trying to figure out how to make it through a season of festivities without losing hard earned progress. With just a few simple behavior strategies, keeping off the holiday weight gain can be easier than you may think. Today, I am going to share with you seven tried and true strategies to stay in line with your goals while enjoying the holidays. Strategy 1: Bring a Dish Between friends and family, it is not uncommon to find yourself at a holiday party nearly every other weekend through the holiday season. Surrounded by appetizers, dips, cookies and other delicious treats, temptations can seem nearly impossible to resist. A strategy that can help combat this is to make a healthy dish ahead of time to share. Not only will you have contributed something to the party, but if you prepare something that is both nutritious and something you genuinely enjoy, you will have a go-to during the party that will keep you from mindlessly eating on junk food. The key here is to find something that you know you enjoy so that it isn’t something you necessarily have to talk yourself into eating. For some, this could be hummus and carrots or pita bread, cinnamon-spiced baked apples [...]

By | 2017-12-14T13:20:28+00:00 December 14th, 2017|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

The Protein Athletes Aren’t Consuming But Should Be by Frank Muntis

[Frank Muntis recently finished his Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Louisville and is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] The internet is full of information about different nutritional topics and it can be difficult at times to sift through all the information to find practical, research-backed strategies to improve health and performance. When talking about sports nutrition it is common to hear discussions of the benefits of whey protein, casein, fish oil, carbohydrates or other various topics for the health and performance of athletes and these topics deserve discussion. There is, however, one nutritional supplement that I have found to truly make a difference in my well-being and performance…collagen. Collagen is a protein that is found throughout your body in your bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, hair, nails and more. In supplemental form, collagen is usually derived from cows and is also commonly used as gelatin in cooking. About 30% of the body’s protein consists of collagen. While much of the research on collagen supplementation is geared towards clinical populations, the implications of the findings from these studies shine a light on an area of sports nutrition that can potentially lead to fewer injuries, increased performance, and improved health and wellness. Effects on the Prevention of Injuries The number one goal of any good strength coach or athlete is to prevent injury. Some of the most common injuries in sports are related to connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, and bones with sprains, strains, tears and fractures as some of the predominant injuries. While these are incredibly strong tissues, they also take a greater amount of time to heal and adapt than other tissues. One study by Dr. Steffen Osser in the [...]

By | 2017-11-21T13:59:19+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing: Part Two by Nick Voth

[Nick Voth is currently finishing his degree in Exercise Science from Bowling Green State University, where he competes on the Cross Country team. He is an Applied Sports Science Intern at Athletic Lab.] As previously stated in Part One of this blog, Part Two will focus on carbohydrate (CHO) mouth rinsing for speed-power performance. Because CHO mouth rinsing enhances endurance exercise lasting approximately one hour via stimulation to pleasure and reward centers in the brain (Stellingwerff & Cox, 2014), it has been hypothesized that this same strategy can be used to increase shorter duration, high-intensity efforts. However, research regarding the potential benefits of CHO mouth rinsing on speed, strength, and power performance is conflicting. Strength training has been studied with inconclusive results. Clarke et al. (2017) recently investigated the effects of a CHO mouth rinse on a wider range of high-intensity, short duration activities. Countermovement jump height, 10-meter sprint time, bench press, squat, and arousal were all enhanced with CHO mouth rinsing (Clarke et al., 2017). In line with that, Gant et al. (2010) found increased maximal voluntary force production following a CHO rinse. The results from Clarke et al. (2017) may be of practical significance because the study was conducted in the morning following an overnight fast. Athletes who train in the morning may not eat prior to a session. Revisiting the idea of fear of gastrointestinal distress, CHO mouth rinsing may provide a fueling solution while avoiding the ingestion of fuel. On the other hand, CHO mouth rinsing was found to have no effect on maximal strength or strength endurance (Dunkin & Philips, 2017; Painelli et al., 2011). A possible explanation for the results observed by these studies resides in the ability of [...]

By | 2017-07-21T15:58:22+00:00 July 21st, 2017|News, Nutrition Info|0 Comments

The Effects of Alcohol on Sports Performance and Recovery by Vincent Ragland

[Vincent Ragland is in his last semester as a student-athlete at East Carolina University, pursuing a Health Fitness Specialist Degree. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at the Athletic Lab] Does drinking really affect an athlete’s performance the way that you may think? Should athletes avoid drinking altogether, drink in moderation, or does it even really matter? Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the world by college students and all athletes, ranging from high school to professional level. Studies even show that in the last 12 months, nearly 80 percent of athletes reported using alcohol (Wadler). In some years, this number has been as high as 88 percent. In actuality, this number could even be higher because of the inaccuracy associated with self-reported data. In some team settings, the intake of alcohol is even encouraged, as part of a team bonding experience. When teams win championships, it is not uncommon to see videos of nearly the entire team drinking and partying. When teams lose, it is also not uncommon for them to drink, as some athletes see it as a stress reliever and a way to get the mind off of the sorrows associated with losing a major competition. Of course, in extremely excessive amounts, alcohol can be very dangerous to anyone, sometimes fatal. When related to sports performance, there are several factors that have to be taken into account when trying to gauge the dangers associated with it, such as the age and gender of the individual, how much an athlete drinks in a particular setting, how often an athlete drinks over the course of time, how quickly they consume their drinks, the individual’s body size and composition, and their tolerance [...]

By | 2017-07-17T19:57:35+00:00 July 17th, 2017|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments

Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing: Part One by Nick Voth

[Nick Voth is currently finishing his degree in Exercise Science from Bowling Green State University, where he competes on the Cross Country team. He is an Applied Sports Science Intern at Athletic Lab.] Developing proper fueling strategies is always a goal for coaches and athletes across all sports. Particularly, the use of carbohydrates (CHO) before and during competition can optimize performance. CHO fueling typically consists of ingestion of a commercially available food, gel, or sports drink. Other fueling strategies have been investigated, and thus, the concept of CHO mouth rinsing has surfaced. CHO mouth rinsing involves rinsing a solution in the oral cavity for a short duration and subsequently spitting it out. The first of this two-part blog will discuss implications for CHO mouth rinsing for endurance sports athletes. There are a couple potential benefits associated with CHO rinsing as opposed to ingestion. The first, and perhaps of most concern to athletes when developing a fueling strategy, is decreased gastrointestinal issues. Many athletes are hesitant to fuel just prior or during competition in fear of gastrointestinal issues that may hinder performance. Consequently, CHO rinsing may allow for an ergogenic enhancement while avoiding gastrointestinal distress. Secondly, albeit very minor, is the additional mass added to the athlete followed by ingestion of food or drink during competition. In sports where fatigue may be dependent upon an athlete’s ability to move one’s mass, the addition of unnecessary weight may result in earlier onset of fatigue. Therefore, CHO mouth rinsing may be the solution that many athletes have been seeking. Endurance exercise can greatly benefit from CHO mouth rinsing. A systematic review completed by de Ataide e Silva et al. (2014) revealed that CHO mouth rinsing enhances cycling and [...]

By | 2017-07-12T15:14:11+00:00 July 12th, 2017|News, Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Empty Calories Working Against Progress by Brandon Gremillion

[Brandon Gremillion is a student at the University of Mount Olive majoring in Exercise Science. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] Empty calories refer to foods high in calories, but low in nutrients. The term “empty” relates to added sugars and solid fats that are found in many processed foods which offer no micronutrients (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2015). Micronutrients are all of the essential vitamins and minerals we must consume on a daily basis because they are not synthesized in our bodies. A majority of the food found in America is processed. The more processed something is the less nutritious it usually is. Identifying processed food is not difficult. If it does not come from and animal or grows from the Earth then it is processed. If the food is not in its naturally existing state before it is prepped for a meal then it is most likely processed. Many people have an understanding of macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein), but lack knowledge of the micronutrients. Vitamins are organic compounds that regulate body processes necessary for growth, reproduction, and maintenance of health (Ferraro & Steele, 2004). Vitamins are either water soluble (B vitamins and vitamin C) or fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E, K). The vitamins split up into sub groups to “help generalize how the vitamins are absorbed, transported, excreted, and stored in the body” (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2015) Water soluble vitamins are not stored to a great extent and rapidly deplete from the body (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2015). We must eat these vitamins regularly to avoid becoming deficient. “The B vitamins are directly involved in transferring the energy in carbs, fats, and protein to Adenosine triphosphate” (ATP) (Ferraro & [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:27:07+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

The efficacy of intermitting fasting for weight loss by Chris Graham

[Chris Graham is a graduate student at The University of Texas at Tyler and is currently studying Kinesiology. He is currently a sport performance intern at Athletic Lab.] Intermittent fasting (IF) has been popularized in the recent years as a method of weight loss and there are many people who claim to have found success using this method. What exactly is IF, and is it an effective and sustainable method to achieve weight loss? First off, IF is the practice of not consuming food for an extended period of time (typically 12+ hours) which is called your “fasting” time. This is followed by a “feast” time where you can eat ad libitum. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, but one of the most common is to alternate fast and feast days for an extended period (3-8 weeks). In a recent review comparing IF and caloric restriction in overweight and obese individuals, Varaday (2011) found that both diets had similar results on weight loss 4-8% from IF and 5-8% from caloric restriction. However, in the IF studies 10% of the weight loss was from fat free mass compared to 25% in the caloric restriction studies (Varaday, p. e599). This retention of more fat free mass compared to regular caloric restriction proved to be more beneficial in improving body composition, and may be a result of average HGH increases of 1,300% in women, and nearly 2,000% in men during a 24-hour fast (Intermountain Medical Center, 2011). This spike of HGH protects your current muscle mass while also stimulating the breakdown of fat cells. In a separate study examining the effects of IF in resistance trained individuals, one group was assigned a “time restricted feeding [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:27:24+00:00 February 16th, 2017|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Setting Realistic Goals: Yo-Yo Dieting and Post-Starvation Obesity by Carlyn Waffa

[Carlyn Waffa is a senior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is majoring in Exercise and Sport Science, and a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab.] An athlete’s metabolism, or their physiological capacity to transform chemical energy in food (kcal) to other types of usable energy in the body, is an adaptable mechanism that adjusts based on substrate availability and imposed physical demands. In athletes, weight cycling is a common phenomenon. Just like a yo-yo oscillates up and down, an athlete’s weight may go up and down in the same fashion, as an athlete’s weight frequently fluctuates between “in-season” and “off-season” training schedules. Weight loss phases are achieved from a caloric deficit, which may be the result of increased exercise or caloric restriction – or a combination of the two. Nonetheless, quick-fix, short-term methods of weight-loss are not employed without consequence. Recent research suggests a causal link between the number of times an athlete cyclically loses and regains weight and a higher percentage of body fat later in life (Saarni, 2006). Oscillating weight loss and gain wreaks havoc on an athlete’s metabolism, and the success rate of long-term weight loss from yo-yo dieting is painfully low. In fact, while dieting may work for an athlete to “make weight” in the short term, cyclical weight loss and regain is detrimental to weight control in the long term – and may even predispose an athlete to obesity later in life (Saarni, 2006). Dieting can create a caloric deficit, or a negative energy balance, within the body. This is a less-than ideal situation from a biological perspective, as the human body naturally [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:27:52+00:00 February 8th, 2017|Nutrition Info|2 Comments

The Benefits of Blood Testing for Performance

Many believe blood testing is something reserved for when you have a medial problem. The reality is that this is simply not the case and new services and technological advances have made blood testing easily accessible to practical anyone.  Now, athletes, coaches and fitness enthusiasts can use blood testing to ensure they have what they need for optimal performance. Blood testing can even be used to address small imbalances or even predict potentially larger problems before it's too late. Among the benefits, the information from a blood test can help to make changes that will improve metabolism and cognition, optimize mood, build muscle, and reduce inflammation. Blood tests are practically non-invasive and very easy. They require just a small amount of blood but can provide a significant amount of detailed information including what lifestyle changes you need to make with sleep, training and nutrition to optimize your performance. Everyone's blood is different. And within your unique blood are what is known as biomarkers. Biomarkers are indications of your body's status and provide insight on functions and biological changes. Examining biomarkers through blood analysis gives you a 'look under the hood' at your health and fitness and can be an important advantage for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Blood samples in test-tubes A good test will provide you with not just numbers on the biomarkers but meaningful insight in to where you stand against normative population data. This should be based on things like age, gender, activity level. The biomarkers or blood panel you choose to examine should also be selected carefully. The most useful blood tests for healthy individuals involve looking at biomarkers for nutrition status hormones and inflammation. Nutritional tests typically look at vitamin and mineral levels and [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:30:21+00:00 August 26th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments

Barbells and Booze: A Cocktail of Impossibility? by Beau Hains

[This is a guest blog from Beau Hains. Beau is pursuing his Masters of Science in Sports Performance at Louisiana Tech University.  He recently completed his time as a Sport Performance Coach Intern at Athletic Lab with CSCS, USAW-L1, and ACSM CPT certifications] As a personal trainer, I have often experienced individuals who want to reach a certain goal, whether it be performance or physique oriented.  When assessing their basic nutritional habits, I always include asking about their drinking habits.  I do this not for moral purposes, but because excessive consumption can be a hindrance to their training and goals.  Besides the obvious increase in calories, I intend to shed light on how the consumption of alcohol can effect physical activity. Physical Activity and Alcohol Use: Is there a relationship? First, let’s look at the relationship between physical activity (PA) and alcohol use.  After looking at the research, there does seems to be a relationship between how physically active an individual is and how much alcohol they consume, the results may surprise you.  Young adults who participate in moderate-vigorous PA were positively associated with alcohol use (Lisha, Martens, & Leventhal, 2011).  The relationship between PA and alcohol use were the strongest in in adults age 20-25 (college aged), but there was still a moderate relationship in adults from the ages of 26-50.  These results are likely due to social-environmental context which can vary by age.  For example, participating in a recreational sports league may encourage increases in alcohol consumption while exercising. Another factor, that may influence the relationship between PA and alcohol use, is impulsivity.  Impulsivity can be defined as “multifactorial construct that involves a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:30:42+00:00 August 15th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments