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For October 24, 2016

  • Choosing The Best Fuel For Endurance
    Choosing The Best Fuel For Endurance


    Most endurance athletes choose to consume a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, and some practice a strict vegetarian lifestyle. From a health standpoint, such dietary practices will both reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diminish the number of deaths from chronic disease. From a sports perspective, this diet will optimize the storage of muscle and liver glycogen, which can be used as a source of energy during training. Recently, some individuals have advocated the use of dietary fat supplements, or "fat loading," to spare glycogen stores and improve performance. The reasoning behind this is that fat appears to be such a perfect energy molecule.

    When fat and carbohydrates are compared, fat has several characteristics that would make it a great energy molecule. First, there is more than twice as much energy stored in a gram of fat (9 kcal) as a gram of carbohydrate (4 kcal). Since glycogen is highly hydrated, an equal amount of energy stored as fat weighs only 6-8% of what an equivalent amount of glycogen would weigh. Fat can also be stored as tiny droplets in close proximity to the muscle mitochondria where it is easily accessible for oxidation into energy. This oxidized fat also provides 1.3 times more energy per carbon molecule. Finally, after 15-20 minutes of endurance training, hormonal stimulation causes the body to burn more fat as an energy source.

    In this case, it could be reasoned that if fat is such an efficient energy substrate, eating more fat might cause the body to burn fat and spare muscle glycogen, thus increasing endurance. Some studies in rats have even supported this theory. In a perfect world, this might be the case, however, don't start eating potato chips for breakfast just yet. Nearly all human studies have shown that high fat diets can actually reduce glycogen stores and decrease performance. In one case, individuals were fed a diet consisting of 76% fat for four days. When they were asked to run until exhaustion, those who fat loaded reached exhaustion 40% sooner than those who didn't.

    The reason for this is that the body can't oxidize fat as well as it can glycogen during intense exercise. During exercise, only about 30% of our energy is derived from fats. Also, the oxidation of fat may produce more energy, but it requires 75% more oxygen. This puts greater stress on the cardiorespiratory system.

    Exhaustion during exercise is directly linked to glycogen depletion. When the muscle shifts over to fat burning when glycogen levels are exhausted, the ability to maintain intensity drops off 65%. Therefore, the only recommended supplementation for endurance runners is carbohydrate loading to increase muscle glycogen stores. For athletes training at high intensity, about eight-ten grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight should be eaten daily. Most studies have shown that athletes fail to get this amount of carbohydrates in their daily meals. Therefore, athletes should make up the difference by using a carbohydrate supplement before, during and after training to load, sustain, and replenish glycogen stores, respectively.

    Fat may be a perfect energy molecule in theory, but in the real world of exercise it can't live up to its potential. Besides, eating a high fat diet would certainly be disastrous to both your health and physique.

    Nieman DC. Carbohydrates or fats: which is best for endurance exercise? Veg Nutr 1997; 1: 17-21.

    CARNITINE BOOSTS POWER Carnitine has an integral role in muscle metabolism. It is responsible for the transport of fatty acids for oxidation and energy production within the mitochondria of muscle cells. When muscles are used, this can result in a deficit of carnitine and limit the amount of energy produced. A study has shown that supplementation with L-carnitine can prevent this deficit.

    When seven long-distance runners were given two grams L- carnitine per day, they found that their peak running speed increased by 5.68%, their heart rate slowed, oxygen consumption decreased, respiratory exchange ratios were lower and blood carnitine levels increased. These findings show that supplementation with L-carnitine positively affects aerobic capacity.

    Swart I, Rossouw J, Loots J, et al. The effects of L-carnitine supplementation in plasma carnitine levels and various performance parameters of male marathon athletes. Nutr Rev 1997; 17: 405-414.

    ANTIOXIDANTS PROTECT ACTIVE MUSCLES Supplementation with antioxidants is associated with a reduction in the number of oxygen free radical damage. One good example is the vitamin E-induced reduction in the oxidation of LDL, which greatly reduces the risk of coronary artery disease.

    It has now been shown that supplementation with 294 mg vitamin C, 1,000 IU vitamin E and 60 mg ubiquinone can protect muscles against acute exercise-induced lipid damage. The antioxidant potential of eight endurance athletes was measured after a 31 km run both with and without antioxidant supplementation. The supplementation increased the athletes' antioxidant potential of LDL and serum, and reduced lipid oxidation.

    The generation of oxygen-free radicals is increased during long periods of intense exercise; and, if left unchecked, can damage the lipid portion of the muscle cell's membrane. The daily supplementation with a cocktail of antioxidants will not only reduce this exercise-induced damage, it will also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Vasankari T, Kujala U, Vasankari T, et al. Increased serum and low-density-lipoprotein antioxidant potential after antioxidant supplementation in endurance athletes. Am J Clin Nutri 1997; 65: 1052-1056.

  • Dan Wirth - Flat vs. Incline Bench, Which Will Make You Stronger?
    Dan Wirth - Flat vs. Incline Bench, Which Will Make You Stronger?

    This article was written in response to the following question: Dan, how do you feel about the Incline Bench compared to the Bench Press when it comes to developing great upper body strength?

    Ah, the infamous Incline Bench Press. The great and almighty 45 degree sports specific force producer! Seriously, the Incline Bench is a great exercise, but, not one that should use a full periodization schedule. Meaning, it is not my "major stimulator" or Primary Strength Exercise (PSE) for the upper body.

    PSE�s are complex movements that utilize more than one muscle group. They are the exercises that will use a full periodization schedule working from higher volume and lower intensity phases into maximal strength and power phases. This would be in contrast to a Secondary Strength Exercise (SSE) like the Incline Bench, or an Assistive Strength Exercise (ASE) like a Dumbbell Curl that would not use a full periodization schedule and would not work into maximal strength and power phases!

    By major stimulator, I am simply talking about exercises that you can inherently lift the most weight with therefore creating the highest neuromuscular or contraction activity in the muscle groups being used (notice the plural use of the word �groups�, the Bench is not just a chest exercise, but more on that later!)


    The Bench Press is inherently set up so that you should be able to push more weight than you could with an Incline bench (barring any injuries or biomechanical problems). If you took one thousand athletes or fitness buffs and tested them on the Bench Press and the Incline Bench Press, about 97% of them, not all but most, would be able to Bench Press more than they could Incline Bench. This is especially true for the 35-45 degree Incline Bench Press which is pretty close to the optimal angle of release for a shot putter and a close representation of the pushing angle after the initial contact phase of a football lineman.

    It is for this reason, and this reason only, that the Bench Press is my upper body Primary Strength Exercise. The angle of the Incline Bench is what makes it a great exercise but it is also what keeps it away from PSE status. PSE�s for me are the Power Clean, Squat, and "Flat" Bench in athletic based programs. And, I substitute the Deadlift exercise for the Power Clean in programs for people who want to develop great strength.


    We could use the Power Clean and the Squat as further examples of Primary Strength Exercises. In most strength and conditioning programs, in sports where strength and power output are vitally important, the Squat exercise is the major stimulator as opposed to the Front Squat, or the Barbell Step Up. The same thing applies with the Power Clean versus the Power Snatch for example. This is not taking anything away from the Incline Bench, Power Snatch, and Front Squat exercises. Many times I emphasize these lifts in my strength and power programs, but, when I am focusing on absolute strength and power increases during certain training cycles it is the Power Clean, Squat and Bench that I use.

    When I mentioned neuromuscular activity levels earlier, many research buffs would like to bring to my attention an occasionally found research example of the Decline Bench exercise having a higher neuromuscular activity than the Bench Press (found through EMG testing). I would say yes, this is true in some cases. However, the Decline Bench has some problems with it�s limited range of motion. But, that�s another story.

    Now, this brings me to a very important point: The Bench Press is not just a chest oriented exercise. It is a Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps exercise. And, this is precisely the reason why most people can lift a heavier poundage with this exercise! The strength of those three muscle groups combined is ultimately stronger than a lift like the Decline Bench which is primarily only a chest developer or the Incline Bench which activates the shoulders even more than the chest.

    Finally, my upper body strength philosophy is pretty simple. Use the Bench Press as your PSE for the upper body. And use the Incline Bench as your SSE on heavier upper body days, or use the Dumbbell Incline Bench as an ASE on lighter upper body days.

    One final note about anyone doing heavy pressing movements: You have to consistently work the posterior head of the deltoid along with performing stabilization exercises such as external rotators in order to keep the shoulder joint healthy. This will ensure you can keep on benching injury free!

    Dan Wirth M.A., C.S.C.S.
    Fitness Director (Fitrex.com)
    Director of Strength and Conditioning
    The University of Arizona
  • Weight training benefits children
    Weight training benefits children

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health)--Weightlifting programs can improve the muscle tone and endurance in children - and help them to feel good about their athletic performance, researchers conclude.

    They recommend that resistance training programs for children include a high number of repetitions lifting moderate weights rather than few lifts of heavy weights, noting that high-repetition, moderate-weight training "resulted in more favorable changes in upper body strength."

    In their study, Dr. Avery Faigenbaum and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, in Boston the Boston researchers assigned 11 girls and 32 boys between five and 12 years of age to eight weeks of weight training. Half of the children engaged in workouts consisting of six to eight repetitions of each exercise, using relatively heavy weights. The other half of participants completed an average 13 to 15 "reps," but with lighter loads.

    In their report, published this month in the electronic version of the journal Pediatrics (www.pediatrics.org), the authors conclude that weight-training programs "can enhance the muscular strength and muscular endurance of children."

    They also note that there were differences in outcome depending on the training regimen used. While leg muscle endurance improved in both exercise groups, children using high-rep, moderate weights experienced "significantly greater" gains in muscle endurance compared with children in the low-rep, high-weight group.

    And while leg muscle strength increased by 31 percent in children engaged in low-rep, high-weight workouts, the benefit was even greater-- nearly 41 percent - in children involved in high-rep, moderate-weight workouts.

    Most of the children appeared to show the greatest improvements in strength during the first four weeks of the program, with lower body muscles tending to be more responsive to weight training than muscles in the upper body.

    The Boston team conclude that children should begin weight-training using moderate weights and a single set of 13 to 15 repetitions per exercise. This type of program "not only allows for positive changes in muscular performance," they explain, "but provides an opportunity for each child to experience success and feel good about his/her performance."

    The researchers note that three major organizations - the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association - support children's participation in "appropriately designed and competently supervised" weight training programs.

    Source: Pediatrics 1999;104/1/e5.

  • Holiday Calories
    Holiday Calories

    Q: Sometimes caloric intake goes up during the holidays. What are the best ways to combat the inevitable?

    A: You figure it takes an extra 500 calories a day for a week to gain one pound. Try and have some days where you compensate for the days you overeat. During the holiday season you don't have to overeat every day. What people should keep in mind is that they're going to maintain their normal eating pattern during the holiday season but allow themselves a couple of treats a week. You don't have to have this mentality that it's the holiday season so you're going to overeat every day. You have to go into the holidays saying you're going to be in control, sticking with your normal eating pattern. You can even calorie bank.

    What I do a couple of times a week is eat a light dinner so I know if I'm going to a party on Friday and Saturday nights, I've saved up some extra calories so I can have a couple of drinks or eat extra treats. Be careful a few days a week and do some extra exercise to help compensate. The main thing is the whole mindset, that you don't give yourself permission to overeat all the time just because it's the holiday season.

    We all have bad days, and if you have a couple of bad days in a row, you just have to start fresh. You can't beat yourself up over these indulgences. So many times people have a couple of bad days and they feel totally out of control, and they just keep bingeing. You need to say, "Okay, I had a couple of bad days, I'll get back on track tomorrow." Overeating a couple of chocolates is not the end of the world, but if you do it everyday then it will be. What's important is forgiving yourself, not beating yourself up, and just starting fresh.

  • New Skinny on Weight Control
    New Skinny on Weight Control

    How much should you exercise to maintain your weight loss?

    Originally featured in:


    After you lose weight, how much exercise do you need to keep it off?

    80 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (walking between 2.2 and 3.7 mph, playing softball, golf or table tennis) a day or 35 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging, active dancing, tennis) a day.

    That's according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin at Madison who followed 33 women, ages 20-50, for one year after they had lost at least 26 pounds.

    This amount of exercise -- the 80 minutes of moderate or 35 minutes of vigorous activity a day -- which the study found necessary for maintaining weight control is much higher than the half hour a day of moderate intensity activity generally recommended to promote health. The researchers suggest that, if you want to try it, the most practical approach is to alternate vigorous exercise one day, moderate the next.

    But don't take these numbers as gospel. "It's a good study," Says John Foreyt, Ph.D., a leading obesity researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "But it's one study. Many people are able to maintain their body weight with less exercise [than this]." While physical activity is a must to keep off weight, he says, those who maintain a weight loss often figure out for themselves how much they can eat and how long and hard they must exercise. It varies from person to person.

  • 12 Ways to Restart Stalled Weight Loss
    12 Ways to Restart Stalled Weight Loss

    What to do When the Scale is Stuck

    (From Prevention, Nov 1997; 49(11), By Marisa Fox)

    Reaching a plateau in weight loss when dieting is common but it can be overcome. The problem is caused when the diet is no longer burning enough calories for the new lower weight. Tips include: monitoring portion size, eating more whole foods, drinking more water, and burning more calories.

    So you're still doing the same things that peeled off the first 5, 10, or 50 pounds. You've kept up the daily walk, and you're a role model for low-fat eating. So why does it seem that your scale is stuck?

    You're on a plateau. Join the club. It happens to people losing weight all the time. "Plateaus can happen when you're doing the same thing as you always were, diet and exercisewise," says Terri Brownlee, R.D., dietitian at the Duke University Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC.

    What's changed is you.

    The smaller you are, the fewer calories you require. So the diet and exercise program that helped you get from 190 pounds down to 160 may not be burning enough calories to get you to your goal of 145. This doesn't mean you have to swear off satisfying meals or walk to the other side of the state and back to get rid of more pounds. You just need to stop for a minute and grab a pencil.

    Keep a Positive Attitude

    "Instead of getting down on yourself, try to understand what's not working and rethink your strategy," is the advice for dieters given by Cathy Nonas, R.D., administrative director of the Theodore B. VanItallie Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

    That's what Cathy Upchurch did when she hit a two-month plateau after losing 70 pounds. "I kept on giving myself pep talks and refused to give up," says this 45-year-old Colorado work-at-home woman. "I kept telling myself that I was an athletic person underneath it all and that there were all these fun things I wanted to do." Cathy eventually lost another 70 pounds and has kept it all off for eight years. Like Cathy, thousands of people have come up against plateaus and been victorious. You can too! As important as a positive attitude is, you need specific and careful evaluation as well. "Once you see what the problems are, you can get back on track," says Pamela Walker, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas. "It shifts the focus from 'something is wrong with me' to problem solving."

    The first thing you want to take a look at is what you've been eating and doing:

    • Have your portions expanded as your waistline has shrunk? "Many people who experience success start getting overconfident and complacent," Dr. Walker says. "Portions start creeping up, and sweets are slowly added again."
    • Has your exercise routine taken a backseat to less strenuous activity? Exercise is always one of the first things to go. Walks get shorter or get skipped.

    Careful examination of eating and exercise logs can pinpoint areas where your guard may be down. Skipping your evening workout in favor of drinks with friends or indulging your sweet tooth more frequently? No time to pack a healthy lunch, so you're resorting to the vending machines?

    "It makes you accountable to yourself, and frequently you're shocked to see that you did start eating more and exercising less," Dr. Walker says.

    Get Calories Under Control

    No matter how you got on the plateau, the answer to blasting off it is to shake things up. You need to start burning more calories than you're taking in. But don't despair. That's not as hard as it sounds. Here's how to get going:

    1. Measure your portions. Arm yourself with measuring devices like scales or cups, so you don't have to rely on your eyes (or your stomach), says Nonas. Once you're familiar with what your portion sizes should be, you need only measure from time to time to make sure you're still on track. Keep portions reasonable. (But don't put limits on plain veggies -- raw or cooked. And try for three to five servings of fruit a day.)

    2. Shortcut portion control. Stock up on prepackaged low-fat meals. Food labels make it easy to know exactly what you're getting -- and you save yourself the job of measuring portions.

    3. Try a meal substitute. Liquid meals can be helpful, especially when you're on the run. This shouldn't become a long-term strategy, but it can help break a plateau.

    4. Fill up on whole foods. Bananas, carrots, and air-popped popcorn pack more fiber and fewer calories than reduced-fat cakes or cookies. Result: You feel full on less food.

    5. Postpone dinner. Eating half an hour or even an hour later than usual may be just what you need to take the edge off late-night munchies.

    6. Drink up. "Put a liter of water on your desk, and make sure you drink it by the end of the day," says Nonas. Filling up on water during the day can help make portion control easier at meals.

    7. Limit mealtimes. So you stuck to your portion, but then you ate your kids' leftovers, and before you knew it, you were noshing ad infinitum. "It's important to do things that signal the end of the meal, like brushing your teeth," says Nonas. "Or set a timer when you sit down to dinner, and when it goes off, you're out of the kitchen or dining room."

    Burn More Calories

    1. Add a minute. "Gradually extend the length of your workouts," says J.P. Slovak, fitness director at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. A few extra minutes here and there can go along way toward producing real results.

    2. Lift some weights. To combat the decrease in metabolism that often comes with weight loss, increase your muscle mass. Muscles burn more calories than fat, even when you're sleeping. And they take up less space, so you look slimmer.

    3. Try something new. You're not the only one who gets bored on the stationary bike -- your muscles do too. If you always work the same muscles in the same way, they become very efficient and then won't burn as many calories as when you first started doing the activity, explains Tedd Mitchell, M.D., medical director at the Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas. If you want to shake up your metabolism, work your muscles in new ways by cross-training. If you're walking, try swimming. If you're running, try boxing. No one activity should ever get to be too easy.

    4. Add some intervals. Invigorate your routine with short blasts of very intense exercise. "Try not to mosey along at the same pace," says Dr. Mitchell. "Sprint for an interval if you're running. Pedal really fast on the bike if you're cycling." Intervals not only make working out more exciting and challenging, they help burn extra calories.

    5. Go the long way. "You don't need to have gym clothes on to get exercise," says Kyle McInnis, Ph.D., a professor in the department of human performance and fitness at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Use the second-floor bathroom or the copier down the hall. "Accumulating physical activity throughout the day, such as walking more and taking the stairs, adds up," he says.

    A Veteran's Advice

    "The important thing is to realize how far you've come and to remind yourself of your goals," says weight-loss success Cathy Upchurch.

    And that's exactly what Cathy did. She celebrated her victories, didn't dwell on what the scale said, and reevaluated her exercise regime. When she added biking to her daily 1-hour walk and water walking in the pool, the weight started to come off. Today Cathy climbs mountains, mountain bikes, and even snowboards. She's every inch the athlete she always wanted to be.

    Is it really a plateau -- or your ideal weight?

    If you're still 70 pounds more than what most weight tables recommend for your height, chances are you're just on a plateau. If you're merely 10 pounds more, then it might be time to accept your weight. In between? That's a gray area.

    Ideal weight varies among individuals. But the term has become a statistical figure generated by insurance people who are telling you what to weight to live the longest based on averages. "That's something very different," says David Levitsky, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

    So if you're in that gray area, here are some things to consider when deciding if you should lose more weight:

    • Are you weight training? Muscle weighs more than fat but looks a heck of a lot better.
    • Where's the weight? If those stubborn pounds are around your middle, they could be increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Waist measurements greater than 39 inches for men and premenopausal women younger than 40, greater than 35 inches for men and women 40 or older, and greater than 33 inches for postmenopausal women pose greater health risks.
    • Do you have any signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or high blood glucose? These may be the first clues that your weight is affecting your health.
    • Is it realistic to eat any less or exercise any more?

    "You can't diet forever," Dr. Levitsky says. "It's better to choose a lifestyle that encourages healthy weight -- in which exercise and healthy eating are a regular part of the program -- than to obsess over a few pounds.

    Balancing Act

    The slimmer you get, the less effective your current weight-loss plan will be. Here's why:

    If you were 190 pounds and sedentary when you started, you burned 2,280 calories a day to maintain that weight. (Men burn slightly more.) If you ate 2,280 calories and burned 344 calories in a 1-hour walk, you burned 344 calories more than your body needed to maintain that weight -- so you lost weight.

    Say you reach 160 pounds. Now, you need only 1,920 calories to stay at your current weight. But you're still eating 2,280 calories and going for a 1-hour walk. Since you're lighter, your walk burns 292 calories. Now you're eating more -- 68 calories -- than you're burning. Keep it up, and the scale will start moving in the wrong direction. Here's how it adds up:

    If you weigh 190 and:

    • You eat: +2,280 calories
    • You burn*: -2,280 calories
    • You exercise: - 344 calories

    Result: -344 calories a day and weight loss

    If you weigh 160 and:

    • You eat: +2,280 calories
    • You burn*: -1,920 calories
    • You exercise: - 292 calories

    Result: +68 calories a day

    This means a plateau, even though your eating and exercising habits haven't changed. Over time, you'll regain some weight unless you shift the balance.

    *to maintain your current weight if you're sedentary


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