Preworkout

Pre-workout supplements seem to be all the rage. I’ve heard about them on dates, from friends, and of course, seen the brightly colored liquids at the gym.  Last week, on the radio a guy even used a pre-work supplement before his “date.” But nevermind that, I want to examine what pre-workout supplements are and potential issues.

Definition: Pre-workout supplements (aka “preworkout”) are typically powered drink mixes with (supposedly) performance enhancing ingredients. Some common ingredients are caffeine and amino acids such as arginine and citrulline. In general, there does not seem to be clear definition of what a preworkout is. But all preworkouts are some ridiculously bright color that reminds me of Koolaid!

Potential Issues: 

  • Unregulated: The supplement industry is mostly unregulated; supplements are not regulated like drugs or food. Defined by the FDA, supplements are these are edible things “not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases.” Supplements often go to market with no testing. The FDA can remove or restrict the sale of a supplement, but only after it has been on the market and been shown to be unsafe or mislabeled. (This typically means after a class action lawsuit and severe injuries or death). Feel free to Google Herbalife and liver injury . Or Google Heavy metals and protein supplements. In short, you have been warned, you don’t know what you’re actually getting in a supplement when you take it! The need for more supplement regulation and labeling is seemingly obvious to me, but it will take time for legislature to get there.
  • Unproven- Is there even research behind the suggested ingredients? Primarily, in my opinion and looking at unbiased evidence-based research, few ingredients can be considered proven to enhance performance. My favorite ingredient (and the most common) proven to enhance performance is caffeine. Some companies tout there is research behind their products, but if you look closely the company performed the research. This can be a major issue leading to bias as it’s in the company’s best interest to have good outcomes in the research.
  • What’s Missing?! Sadly missing from most Preworkout is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for our bodies and help fuel our muscles during workouts. Ideally, a snack should be consumed <2 hours before a workout or a meal around 4 hours prior to a workout.
  • Need- Let’s reverse this process. Why do you feel like you need a preworkout? My guess is that most of you will answer one of 2 reasons- either to enhance performance or you’re tired. If you’re tired, try to look reason why you’re tired i.e. did you get enough sleep, have you eaten today, etc. For enhancing performance, a few ingredients have been proven e.g. caffeine, beet root juice, and amino acids (look at this review article for more info).

 

Suggested Alternatives/Considerations: 

  1. Cold brew coffee and snack bar (caffeine and carbs)
  2. Coffee and PB toast (This old standby, still holds value!)
  3. Beet Smoothie (with beet root juice supplement, greens, oatmeal) This one is y’all dying to try beet supplements, but can’t do it alone!
  4. Matcha tea* (or latte for extra carbs) and tea cookies *Quick note on matcha. Matcha is powdered green tea, therefore it has about the same amount of caffeine as coffee.

Snacks with a carbohydrates and some protein and or fat can help provide a necessary “energy boost” when consumed around 30 minutes before a workout. You do not have to overthink your “preworkout.”

Side note/Poop warning: If you do choose, caffeine as part of your preworkout regiment, don’t forget caffeine is also proven to move the bowels. So allow time for your poop process.

Insistent that you still need a specific preworkout, here’s what to look for:

  • A brand you trust. This one is tricky, but read about the company, look at their research, etc.
  • Third-party testing- NSF and some organizations test supplements. Look for a seal or certificate.
  • Look at the ingredients. While not all the ingredients may not be listed, still look at them and if you don’t know what they are, look them up.

Try to be smart about your preworkout, whether you are choosing a labeled preworkout or consuming a snack before your workout, make smart decisions to enhance your workout and your health.

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Coffee Overdose

So about my birthday weekend 2017…..I may have overdosed on the coffee. I try to keep track of coffee/ caffeine intake, since I’m sensitive to it; but it’s tricky sometimes.

It was the perfect storm, lack of sleep, wanting caffeine for performance, and trying to stay awake. It started Friday morning. After November Project, I got some coffee at Panera Bread, then at the gym I got some coffee, coffee at work, and a frozen coffee bar at Trader Joe’s. I made it through Friday unscathed, but you can see that was a lot of coffee; upwards of 7 cups. Saturday- coffee before the 8k race, free dunkin coffee shots, 20oz large cold-brew on an empty stomach….and down for the count. My symptoms- elevated heart rate, dizziness, headache, and the caffeine shakes. My only option was to wait it out. Hydrating and eating well can help deal with the symptoms of too much caffeine, but only time will flush the caffeine from your body. Caffeine is metabolized by the liver, so you just have to give your liver time to work. I rested for the rest of Saturday and survived.

Don’t worry, I’m still drinking coffee. I just had to get back to my regular intake (2-3 cups a day). 1 cup in the mid-morning, 1 cup mid- afternoon, and another cups and/or caffeinated gels on the weekend.

Coffee has lots of health benefits. In normal amounts, its hydrating, can boost performance, and extend your lifespan. Coffee can boost performance, but be sure to try it out. Caffeine can cause nervousness and the jitters, especially if you aren’t use to it or sensitive.  Usually 1-2 cups of coffee is sufficient to keep you alert and boost performance.

Tips to keep track of coffee/ caffeinated drinks:
  • Stick to schedule! Drink coffee at regular times i.e. 10am, before a workout, etc.
  • Sneakier foods- chocolate, tea, frozen coffee bars, etc. all have caffeine and need to included
  • COLD BREW- aka devil iced coffee. It’s great. My favorite, actually; however due to processing it does have more caffeine per cup than regular coffee. This varies per brand, so just be careful.

Here’s some information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoothie Bowls

I’m passionate about smoothie bowls…and often their ridiculousness.  Smoothie bowls seem and look so healthy, but often they are deceiving. I recently came back from a run and started ranting about smoothie bowls. Although to be fair, I often rant about many things after a run; something about the endorphins, I suppose.

Let’s talk about smoothie bowls…

Instagram famous, they are, those gorgeous smoothie bowls. They’re packed with health- Superfoods, Antioxidants, and Omega-3s! So, of course, they’re the ultimate health food, right? Errmmm….maybe not.

Pros– I love the crunchies (toppings- nuts, seeds, fruit, etc.) and the fact you EAT a smoothie bowl. Studies have shown that eating and chewing can help signal your brain that you’re full. So you’re more likely to listen to your body and know when it’s full. Satiety is important to know the right amount of food to eat.

Cons– Often smoothie bowls are very large portions with high calorie ingredients. Made with lots of fruit, granola, nuts & seeds, smoothie bowls can have lots of sugar and calories. While, fruit is good for you, overdoing it, isn’t good for you. I’ve seen smoothie bowls on menus with more calories than a meal! There often isn’t much protein, so it’s not a great choice for athletes or as a meal replacement. If you want a smoothie bowl to be a complete meal, make sure it has protein (look for dairy or plant based proteins).

Solutions:

Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask restaurants- what’s in your food and how they make it. I was recently a “secret shopper” at a cafe and the employee tried to explain to us, the base of their smoothie bowl. The base was banana, acai, and chaga tea. The acai smoothie bowl was served in a giant overflowing a container. I can only guess there was 2-3 bananas and lots of acai berries. If eating a banana by itself, I can usually only eat one; they’re very filling to me. Chaga tea is apparently medicinal mushroom tea, which seems a little over- hyped since there’s not much research on it (and also how much was really in the smoothie bowl).

Sharing! Large cafe acai smoothie bowls are be great for sharing between 2 people!

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Example of large acai smoothie bowl

Make smoothie bowls at home! Pre-portion the ingredients and think about what you would normally eat. Would you normally eat 1 banana, 1 cup of yogurt, 1/2 a cup of berries, and some nuts? Then do that and make it a smoothie bowl. Make your smoothie bowl your own. Own it. Own your smoothie  bowl.

Simple smoothie bowl recipe

  • 1 cup of base (kefir, yogurt, milk, almond milk, etc.)
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen berries, mangoes, pineapple, etc.
  • 1/2-1 frozen banana
  • optional 1 single-serve packet of acai (trader joe’s)
  • Toppings- 1/4-1/2 cup granola, hemp seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Superfoods- experiment with 1 superfood at a time. Keep it simple is my motto. Goji berries, blue-green algae powder, kale, etc.

Also, check out these balanced smoothie bowl recipes.

Don’t fall into the hype of smoothie bowls! Many are hyped to be full of health, with an expensive price for frozen fruit. Instead, look for smoothie bowls with protein and properly portioned for you!

P.s. if you’re in Chicago, check out the Lifeway Kefir Shop. I’m thankfully to work for a company that supports health and doesn’t fall into the smoothie bowl hype. LKS’s smoothie bowls are all nutritionally-balanced with a few fruit servings, superfoods, and boast 20-37 grams of protein per bowl.

 

 

Protein Periodization

Protein Timing

The timing of protein is very important, because the body can only metabolize 20-25grams of protein at a time. Extra protein is turned into fat in the body. This is why spacing your protein throughout the day is important.

Protein Sources

A source of protein should be included at every meal and at snack time. This ensures fueling and refueling for muscle recovery.

Protein  Sources

2 lg  Egg, 12 g

16 oz  Milk, 16g

1 can  Tuna (5 oz) , 25g

6 oz  Chicken or Beef , 45g

Vegetarian Protein Sources

1/2 cup beans, 6g

1/4 cake tofu, 6-8g

2 TB peanut butter, 7-8g

Amount

As runners and athletes, typically carbohydrates are considered the most important and protein is perhaps forgotten. Protein is especially for important for recovery.  In order to build and repair muscle, protein is needed. How much depends on a few factors, your training, gender, weight, etc.

Dedicated Athletes: .8-1 g/ kg

Endurance athletes: > 1 hour a day, slightly more protein, 1.2-1.4g/ kg

Resistance Athletes: Strength trainers- 1.6-1.7g/kg

Protein Intro

Protein, Protein, Protein….Recently, I’ve seen a few athletes falter in the protein department. It might also be my most frequently asked question: “Protein, tell me more…” So, here’s a quick intro. This week, I’ll be doing a short series on the protein food group.

We all hear and read that we need PROTEIN and need a lot of it for good health, weight loss, training, etc. But is that actually true? Yes and no. Yes, protein is needed for good health and is very important for muscle recovery. However, most Americans are eating too much protein. The general recommendations are .8grams per kilogram of body weight. To put this in perspective, this is about 55 grams of protein for a 150lb person e.g. 1 restaurant steak may contain 62 grams of protein. So you can see that it is easy for someone to very quickly consume too much protein!

Dedicated Athletes: The recommendations are .8grams  of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is a baseline recommendation for the average individual trying to maintain current body weight and fitness.

Endurance athletes need more protein! Why?  Because we’re training, breaking down muscle, and we need to repair these muscles to come back stronger, faster, and fitter! Typically for an athlete in training, 1.2-1.4grams of protein for kilogram of body weight is recommended*.

Resistance Athletes need even more protein! Why? Because you’re building strength and making those muscle fibers break down. Typically for an athlete in training 1.6-1.7grams of protein for kilogram of body weight is recommended*.

*Note: These ranges vary based on the individual, sport, level of training, and various other factors. We’ll discuss this more later in the week. 🙂

Questions:  If you don’t know how to or don’t want to calculate your specific protein needs, please ask me!

Picture credit: Nuun (and the protein I ate after was some Vital Farms hardboiled eggs)

Next up: Meatless Monday and Why I do Dairy!

Sources (because, well I didn’t just make this up, haha):

1. Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2002.

2. Rosenbloom, C. (2012). Sports nutrition: a practice manual for professionals (5th ed.). Place of publication not identified: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

SCAN Symposium 2016

Hey All,

I’m currently attending the SCAN Symposium 2016!

Why?

  1. To exhibit (see disclosure statement).
  2. To be empowered food and nutrition professional (see picture).
    • Through the dietetic practice group, SCAN,  I continue to learn and earn continuing education especially in the sports nutrition area.

Look forward to some exciting information, helpful tips, and emerging research in the upcoming weeks!

Best,

Emily (mid-run along the Portland Riverfront)

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