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

A Practical Look at HMB Supplementation Research and Application by Earl Wilcox

[This is a guest blog by Earl Wilcox. Earl is a graduate from the Kinesiology program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Earl currently possesses his CSCS from the NSCA and is an Applied Sports Science Intern at Athletic Lab.] Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a supplement that is a byproduct of the breakdown of the amino acid Leucine, which plays a vital role in the regulation of protein synthesis. It is because of this relationship that HMB could help improve performance. There is no magic bullet when it comes to supplements and HMB is no different. However, there are a few circumstances in which it could assist athletes in performing better. Why would you need a supplement like HMB if Leucine is readily available in foods rich in protein, specifically animal proteins? The reason is that during the breakdown of Leucine, only 5% is converted into HMB (Wilson et al., 2013). To reach the recommended daily dosage of 3 grams of HMB, one would have to consume 600 grams of protein to reach this dosage, which would be the equivalent of 5.5 pounds (88 ounces) of steak throughout the day. There is a restaurant in Texas that will let you eat for free if you can eat their entire 72 oz. steak dinner in one hour. Pictured below is the size of their steak; now imagine having to add an additional pound to that steak. (Picture of steak) While this certainly might be a delicious option for some, it would not be sustainable from a caloric intake standpoint because that amount of steak would have a caloric price tag just shy of 6,800 calories! This would not align with our goal of increasing athletic [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:30:49+00:00 August 12th, 2016|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Avoid Fad Diets and Build Habits by Zach Rosstich

[This is a guest blog by Zach Rossitch. Zach is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Personal Training Institute. He is also a part of the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] Fad diets are very popular throughout the United States. There is constantly new  “research” that comes out claiming that eating this is better than eating that, or eliminating this from your diet will make you lose weight fast. The more commonly heard of diets are macronutrient-focused diets such as low-carb or low-fat, food elimination-focused diets such as the Paleo diet, time-focused diets such as intermittent fasting, and food group-focused diets such as the Mediterranean diet (1). Even with just this short list of examples, it can be overwhelming for people when trying to decide which one to choose. So, which diet is the best for weight loss? The short answer is: there is no universally optimal diet to follow (1). The human body is so complex, and everyone is made differently and leads different lifestyles. Due to this, each individual is going to have slightly different needs when it comes to their diet. As humans, we naturally desire immediate results. Therefore, these diet gurus take advantage of this characteristic and invent a unique dietary plan that supposedly helps you lose a lot weight in a short period of time. It sounds great and a lot of times people do see significant weight loss within the first couple of weeks, but unfortunately, the majority of these fad diets are not sustainable. They are usually nutritionally unbalanced and work quickly by significantly cutting back on one of the three macronutrients in attempt to create a caloric deficit [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:31:13+00:00 August 1st, 2016|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

The Skinny on Fat by Laurel Zimmermann

[This is a guest blog by Laurel Zimmermann. Laurel is an Exercise Science major with minors in both Business and Biology at The College at Brockport. She is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab. ] Have you ever met someone who can eat anything they want and never gain any weight? Growing up, I was one of those people. I didn’t eat McDonald’s for every meal, but I definitely wasn’t very health conscious. In college, I was required to take different nutrition classes in which I learned that I need to be much more careful about what I eat, not only to look good, but also to feel good. People often assume they are healthy as long as they weigh a certain number or look a certain way. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In the past, we have measured health based on a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI). If you have a high BMI, you are likely overweight and at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than someone who has a lower BMI. According to the CDC, “More than two-thirds (68.8%) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese” (Ogden, Cynthia L., et al. 2014). Some common health risks of being overweight or obese include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. What about the people who are normal weight? Are they safe from these risk factors? Unfortunately, research is beginning to show that they are actually in more danger than someone who has a high BMI. A recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine has shown that “Normal weight central obesity defined by Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR) is associated with higher mortality than BMI-defined obesity” (Sahakyan, Karine R., et al. 2015).  BMI [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:31:35+00:00 July 27th, 2016|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Guidelines for Post Workout Nutrition & Supplementation by Richard Bowie

[This is a guest blog by Richard (Lee) Bowie. Lee is an coach participating in our Coaches Mentorship program at Athletic Lab.] We’ve all had a day on which it takes every ounce of effort we can muster to stop the whirlwind of life going on around us and get to the gym. Even if it is just for a short period of time, it is one of those days where something is better than nothing. When we have a day like this, that chaos going on around us usually doesn’t stop until we walk into the gym and it picks back up as soon as we take our first step out the door. This usually means that we fail to properly fuel our body for the workout or fail to properly fuel our body for recovery. Nutrition and supplementation are integral to fueling your body for each and every workout and allowing your body to recover each and every day. With this comes many different questions. Should I eat a real meal or have a protein shake? When should I have it? How much should I have? How soon before or after my workout should I eat? The questions can go on and on, but what is the right answer? The right answer is not as straightforward as one might think. The research in this area is not definitive one way or another. So where should you start in order to understand how to properly fuel your body for training and recovery? To do this, you must start with the principle that you want to minimize the amount of time your body spends in a catabolic state. Catabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that breaks down [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:32:09+00:00 July 7th, 2016|Nutrition Info|0 Comments

Exercise and Epigenetics: Setting Your and (Maybe?) Your Children’s State of Health by Jenna Burnett

[This is a guest blog by Jenna Burnett. Jenna has a Bachelors degree in physics and mathematics from Purdue University and is working on her Masters in kinesiology at Iowa State University. She is currently working as a Sports Science Research Intern at Athletic Lab.] Epigenetics is an area of genetic research that is becoming increasingly popular in science circles. But what exactly is it? If we break the word down to its roots, ‘epi’ means ‘above’ or ‘in addition to,’ while ‘genetic’ is ‘of or referring to origin.’ Putting these together, we get the basic definition of epigenetics, something that is above or in addition to the origin. The origin in this case refers to the DNA sequence that is the basis of all the things we are. As every biology teacher can tell you, your genetics determine your basic abilities and define what you look like and what you can do. So your epigenetics, at a general understanding, are structural changes to your DNA sequences that cause increased or decreased gene expression. This means that certain genes will be more expressed, leading to increased protein and cell components or it also means they could be decreased, leading to decreased proteins and cell components. Whether the expression is increased or decreased is determined by the different environments your body is put into and the structural changes that result. This means anything that changes your body’s homeostasis may also change your epigenetics and gene expression, including stress, nutrition, chemical exposure and a host of other factors. While a lot of environments will cause detrimental changes, there are also choices you can make that will cause “healthy” changes to your gene expression. One such example of [...]

By | 2017-04-12T19:32:26+00:00 July 4th, 2016|Nutrition Info, Training Info|0 Comments