Monday, November 25, 2013

Dr. Maffetone on sugar - in life and performance.

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Oversold on Sugar
Is the white stuff running you down and wearing you out?


Dr. Phil Maffetone

Even if you think you’re avoiding it you may not be. Sugar could be finding its way into the food you are eating. This happens during travel, in restaurants, buying packaged items, those holiday dinners, or if you don’t make all your meals from real food. After more than a hundred years of sugar deception by the industry, three things have come into focus. A small number of companies have become huge conglomerates, regularly reaping billions of dollars in profit by selling sugar. Second, billions of sugar consumers worldwide have become sick and fat, including young children. And, the problem continues to worsen.

In discussing sugar, I include other processed carbohydrates too because they convert to sugar very quickly in the body after consumption. This includes flour and other refined carbohydrates found in breads, crackers, cereals, bagels, muffins and other items, not to mention sweets—let’s just call it all "sugar." It’s impossible to say, but probably 99 percent of the sugar consumed is the refined, unhealthy version— the stuff that maims and kills. Unfortunately, for most Paleolithic people today it is a global food staple.

Governments have jumped on board the sugar bandwagon, long ago, encouraging citizens to eat more of these unhealthy foods. It’s not just a problem in affluent societies. In the course of only one generation, many millions of third world people have gone from starvation to obesity through the consumption of sugar (the World Health Organization calls it the “nutrition transition”).

Clearly there are many health and fitness problems that result from the consumption of sugar. Here are some of them:
- Illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Chronic inflammation, a key part of injuries and other physical disabilities ranging from arthritis and bursitis to muscle, ligament, tendon and bone disorders. Even hair loss.
- Fatigue and depression.
- Increased body fat.
- Poor oral health, including cavities, tooth loss and gum problems.
- Lower quality of life—often part of the aging process, but the brains of young people are adversely affected by the regular consumption of sugar.

Abnormal sugar regulation can occur in those without diabetes or other diseases. Even in active people, including competitive and professional athletes, higher levels of body fat are becoming common. Despite expending a lot of calories in training, too many of these calories burned during a workout are in the form of sugar and not fat. This occurs because eating sugar affects metabolism, forcing the body to use much more glucose, and too little fat, for energy. The result is less energy for endurance performance. Because less fat is used for energy, it’s stored throughout the body in hopes it will be used some day.

Poor performance is often associated with sugar consumption. Whether you are a runner trying for a better race time, a golfer seeking lower scores, an executive or student wanting more brainpower, a pilot, machine operator or commuter who cannot afford to make an error, reduced performance is associated with sugar consumption. (Probably many more auto accidents come from this than alcohol.)

The most common symptoms of excess sugar intake include sleepiness and loss of concentration, especially after meals. That’s because blood sugar is reduced by insulin, depriving the brain of its constant need for glucose. Another complaint by those eating too much sugar is intestinal gas, often due to the inability of the body to effectively digest many kinds of sugar.

Sugar in Disguise

The myth of “whole grain” continues to lure millions of people into thinking they’re eating well when, in fact, they are just consuming sugar. The same untruth is commonly told about sugar being necessary for energy. The fact is there is no nutritional requirement for sugar, including carbohydrates.

Agriculture scientists have made genetic changes to sweeten many of our natural foods, causing them to contain harmful sugar. These include potatoes, corn, watermelon and pineapple. It is just as if you scooped up the white stuff with a spoon and ate it for dinner or a snack.

So even if you think you’re not eating much sugar, think again: whether in a gas station store or Whole Foods, almost all bread, cereal, rolls, muffins, pasta, noodles, bagels, rice cakes, and foods made with refined flours are just sugar. Not to mention the junk food products with higher amounts of sugar such as cakes, cookies, candies, pies, and similar items sold in these same stores.

Of course, many liquid refreshments can cause even more harm because they are usually highly concentrated—especially colas and juice drinks. Likewise for so-called sports products (most are consumed by non-athletes), which are usually full of sugar. These include Gatorade and the many related beverages, carbohydrate replacement products, energy bars and others. For athletes, just consuming these products during competition won’t magically improve performance—instead, training the body to be a better fat-burner is the first step, then finding a healthy source of carbohydrate for competition can help maintain speed and endurance.

In addition to table sugar, called sucrose, many other names for different versions of the same harmful food are common. Here are some of them:
- Beet sugar
- Corn sugar, high-fructose corn syrup
- Rice syrup
- Maltose, malt sugar/syrup, maltodextrin
- Dextrose, glucose
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Grape sugar
- Invert sugar
- Molasses
- Raw sugar
- Cane sugar
- Sorghum syrup
- Turbinado sugar

If you read ingredient lists you’ll find sugars listed everywhere; from ketchup and mayonnaise to cold cuts and fish products. There is even a separate listing for “sugar” under the “carbohydrate” heading on nutrition labels. Most, although not all, of these sugars are the added variety.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that certified organic sugar is any better for you—it’s not. This is just part of the deception.

Sugar is also hidden in many packaged, frozen, canned and otherwise processed food, sometimes not listed on the label. The ongoing name game with labeling is meant to deceive consumers, with food lobbyists petitioning governmental regulation so the products don’t look so bad. It was not long ago, for example, that the only ingredient in peanut butter was listed as peanuts. But a sizable amount of sugar was added too. That particular loophole has been closed, but we usually only hear about these types of tricks after the fact, so beware of any packaged or prepared item. The same is true in most restaurants—fast foods are especially full of it, but most food services use sugar as a cooking ingredient.

If sugar, in any of its many forms, is a part of your diet—whether it is the majority or just smaller amounts—you will only be healthier and become more fit without it.

Another problem with sugar is that the bad foods containing it are taking the place of healthy items in our diet. Instead of fluffy, nutrient-poor unhealthy processed foods, replace them with the real thing, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, raw almonds and cashews, the best protein choices (including eggs, meats, and fish), and other foods as tolerated such as cheese and other fermented dairy, beans, and lentils.

If it would make the world a better place, why can’t we just stop eating sugar? This is easier said than done for the millions of people who are hooked on the white stuff. There is even a so-called war on sugar in some local governments who want to keep sugar out of schools or reduce the amount of sugar in single serving items. It is certainly something to applaud. But like big tobacco, the sugar industry has a more powerful and secret weapon—addiction.

Many people encounter great difficulty giving up sugar in all its forms. Foods don’t taste the same without sugar, they say. And because sugar is such a widely used ingredient, finding out which foods don’t contain it can sometimes be a nutritional challenge.

Of all the patients I’ve treated for serious illness, all the fitness problems encountered in a wide variety of athletes, coach potatoes and everyone in between, the single recommendation that helped more people the most—probably more than all other therapies combined—has been the elimination of sugar. In fact, this seemingly simple, single recommendation can dramatically improve your health, reduce body fat, and increase performance literally overnight. Eliminate sugar today and you can be significantly better tomorrow.

Does this mean no more desserts or enjoyable food? Certainly not! While I avoid all processed food, I do eat a healthy, homemade dessert daily, sweetened with small amounts of natural honey or fruit. Honey is a lower glycemic food, tolerated well by healthy people and most of those transitioning from sugar addiction to a healthier lifestyle. My website contains a recipe section with many healthy desserts (see below).

It is our choice to be healthy or not, to perform well or poorly, to reach our human potential or continue to struggle, to be injured and in pain or live life to the fullest—or, to finally shed the unwanted body fat.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Marathon Success – 6 Key Variables You Need To Consider

Wurtele guyUnderstanding a few key fueling concepts can be the difference between having a great marathon and not even making it to the finish.
Everybody is different, so it’s important how to customize an individual fueling plan to ensure race-day success.   It can take months of preparation to properly prepare for a marathon, and failing to understand a couple key nutrition tips is often what prevents someone from reaching their true potential.  Taking a little time to research, plan, test, and fine-tune your nutrition throughout all your training will significantly improve your marathon-day success.
This article will give you a starting point which you should adjust as necessary based on these six variables: body size, athletic background, total duration, pace, conditions, and training habits.
Consider a 150-pound, trained athlete whose goal is to finish a marathon in 3.5 hours in 65 degrees.    This athlete has a background of 2-5 years racing in endurance sports.
This athlete should consume 150 calories per hour (525 calories) and 53-ounces of water.  A balance of all five electrolytes should be consumed with a target of 400mg sodium per hour.  Again, it’s important to practice and implement this nutrition plan during your long training days.
courtesy Nils Nilsen photography
courtesy Nils Nilsen photography
Body size:  Larger athletes require more caloric fuel than smaller athletes.   There is no rule of thumb here because other variables need to be considered.  However, for a trained athlete, 1-calorie per hour per pound is a good starting point.   If you’re a 200-pound athlete, you should consider 200 calories per hour.   This general rule should be adjusted considering the following variables.
Athletic background:  Aerobic training brings about physiological adaptations that take a number of years to develop.   An athlete with a long history of endurance training has developed increased vascularization, more mitochondria and is more efficient at burning fat than an athlete who has no endurance training background.   Your body has to go through the process of adapting to stress in order become more metabolically efficient at longer distances.  The goal is to train your body to spare glycogen, burn fat more efficiently and use fewer calories per hour.
Total duration:  While you only have around 2 hours of stored glycogen (fuel), you have days worth of stored fat as fuel.   Again, the goal is to train your body to spare glycogen, burn fat more efficiently and use fewer calories per hour.
Your body prefers glycogen, which is then converted to glucose as its fuel for racing.   This means if your race lasts two hours, you can just consume water.  On the other hand, if you race takes four hours, you must consume enough fuel to cover the two additional hours worth of effort.  If you race ten hours, you’ll need enough fuel to cover a minimum of eight hours of exercise.
Pace/Effort:  How hard you plan to race determines which fuel you should use. The ONLY calories that need to bereplaced during the event are glycogen calories.  Fat calories do not need to be replaced.  If you plan to run your marathon at a fast past, which requires more effort, you’ll require more glycogen and will need to increase your calorie intake per hour.  If you plan to run at a slower pace, which requires less effort, you’ll rely on more fat as fuel and you can therefore consume fewer calories per hour.
Conditions:  Whether the race day temperature is cold or hot does not affect the amount of calories you should consume, however, it does affect the amount of fluid and electrolytes you should consume.    In a hot race, total fluid consumption is critical to success and you should drink no less than 12 ounces of water for every 100 calories.  In cooler conditions the total fluid can be reduced to as little as 6 ounces for every 100 calories.   The endurance fueling article reviews this in detail.
Training habits:  Athletes who’ve trained many months or years with few calories are able to also race with fewer calories.  If much of your long distance training has been done with very few calories you will have systematically improved your metabolic efficiency.   This means you’ve successfully shifted your body’s reliance to burning fat over burning glycogen.   Details on this can be found in the low carbohydrate training article.
Summary:  How you fuel for a marathon is greatly affected by your athletic background and other key variables.   Understanding these variables allows you to fine tune your unique fueling plan to ensure success on your next marathon.   During your marathon, consume the appropriate amount of calories and fluids based on your training and you can be assured success.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Managing Muscle Fatigue PART 2: Build a faster, fatigue-resistant body and brain.

Original article.

Dr. Phil Maffetone
 
Almost everyone feels muscle fatigue. Normally, it can be noticed during a race, hard training session, or a long workout. But if pushed too much we feel the consequence of excess fatigue as more severe soreness or pain, muscle imbalance producing a joint that hurts, or the inability to properly recover.
 
The real feeling of muscle fatigue may come from various levels of pain more than any other single sensation or movement. The brain interprets pain in an area called the limbic system—the emotional center. The idea of pain as an emotion is not new, and the symptom of excess fatigue is usually quite real. Our awareness of the problem in the brain allows our neurons to compensate for normal fatigue by improving fitness, or excessive fatigue by correcting related problems.
 
The brain can also teach our sometimes stubborn conscious mind to avoid unhealthy training and racing, take adequate time to recover, and other healthy habits that help build fitness. This is referred to as intuition or instinct.
 
In a race, the brain uses the feeling of fatigue as a key regulator to insure that the event is completed as fast and successfully as possible, and without excessively damaging the body.
 
So the primary factor controlling muscle fatigue is the brain. All other features discussed in Part 1, from cardiovascular function and oxygen, to lactate and energy, are secondary.
 
Dr. Timothy Noakes, in his writings about the importance of the athletic brain, states that, “the ultimate control of exercise performance resides in the brain’s ability to vary the work rate and metabolic demand by altering the number of skeletal muscle motor units recruited during exercise.” For many years, Noakes has discussed the physiological and emotional mechanisms, both unconscious and conscious, of muscle fatigue.
 
Training the Brain
 
If the brain is this important in sports performance, which it is, how can we train it? All athletes can improve the brain for better performance by stimulating the full spectrum of aerobic muscle fibers—the bulk of muscle in the human body. A unique feature of these muscles is that they are fatigue-resistant. They can function at very high levels for hours, or if necessary, all day long and even well into the night.
 
In addition, almost all endurance race energy comes from the aerobic system, which is under the guidance of the brain. These muscle fibers also support the physical body to correct and prevent injury, help antioxidant function to maintain better immunity and speed recovery, improve circulation, and significantly increase the amount of fat burned for fuel, reducing stored body fat.
 
But even more important, training the entire aerobic system has a powerful therapeutic affect on the brain. It is an incredible physiological cycle, and those who maintain it well come closer to their athletic potential.
 
The Neuromuscular Mechanism
 
Every step you take starts with the brain sending messages to specific muscle fibers throughout the body to either contract or relax. In turn, and almost immediately, messages from each muscle fiber are sent to the brain with information about its status. In addition to the creation of physical movement and other aerobic benefits, this mechanism increases the brain’s blood circulation (brining in oxygen and other nutrients), stimulates the growth of new neurons (brain cells), and improves communication between cells. New neurological pathways between the brain and body are produced. The result is that you can build a better brain that takes care of your athletic body more effectively. And it does not take much: Just a slow jog with proper warm up and cool down can do this, and actually increase the size of the brain.
 
In addition to making movements more efficient, including improved balance and a better gait, the brain can benefit in more amazing ways. These include improvement of those areas associated with memory, cognition, social function, speech, hearing, behavior, and learning.
 
In order to train the full spectrum of aerobic muscle fibers, and its counterpart in the brain, an effective warm up and cool down, as described in “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing,” is vital. This might mean spending a bit of time walking at the onset of a workout, and at the very end of it, to stimulate those muscles that move the body easily—otherwise, the full spectrum of aerobic fibers may not be trained. I recommend this routine regardless of the level of ones fitness.
 
It also means being serious and disciplined—and honest—about following a heart rate that helps keep the workout truly aerobic (see The 180 Formula). In addition, rather than guessing your aerobic system is being properly trained, the MAF test is an important monthly evaluation that more objectively measures these changes.
 
It does not take long for these changes in the brain to occur—in fact, they begin during your very first high quality workout. And as the months pass the many physical changes that occur in the brain—and they can be significant—continue with each training session.
 
Performance and the Brain
 
Effective racing involves pacing. I don’t mean the mental strategy that involves our competitors, but rather, how the brain budgets muscle energy in our own body on a moment-to-moment basis. This helps create the ideal performance.
 
The sum total of all our physical experiences is recorded in the brain—a mechanism referred to as muscle memory. So not just any workout will do. Efficient training helps build a better brain leading to optimal performance. One of the best lessons about the athlete’s brain can be found in a quote by Green Bay Packers’ legendary coach Vince Lombardi: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Optimal training is perfect practice, and it teaches the brain how best to perform.
 
Performance is a combination of many factors, which when not working well can cause excess muscle fatigue. Only when muscle fatigue is managed well can performance improve consistently and for a longer time. Training, nutrition, and stress are three key lifestyle factors that could either help the brain effectively manage fatigue, or not. Let’s look at each topic.
 
1. Training is obviously a key factor for optimal performance, and is associated with how the muscles are treated during physical activity. Minimizing fatigue is important, whether we are training for endurance, or strengthening bones and muscles. Yet, without stressing the body sufficiently, no training effect will occur. It is a question of balancing the quality of the workout or race, and the ability to recover from it. My traditional training equation is one that athletes should post in a prominent place where it can be seen everyday: Training = workout + recovery.
 
By far the most common mistake by athletes is too much training (intensity and or duration), too little recovery (rest), or both. This results in excess muscle fatigue and brain function that is below par.
 
2. Nutrition is another key factor for optimal muscle, brain and race performance. This means eating the optimal diet for your needs. It starts by avoiding all junk food, including refined carbohydrates, fast food and other harmful items.
 
Muscles are continuously replacing old parts, so to speak, especially between workouts as part of the repair and recovery process. The building materials needed these activities come from our diet. Along with all the vitamins and minerals, protein is particularly important to improve training and racing tolerance in muscles.
 
Oxidative stress is associated with muscle fatigue, both at rest, and during physical activity. The aerobic muscle fibers utilize anti-oxidant nutrients for optimal function, including prevention of excess fatigue. Essentially, almost any nutrient is important for our anti-oxidant system, not just vitamins C and E, and others touted in ads. The best source of these substances is a healthy diet that includes 10 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits. Some of the more powerful foods include blueberries, blackberries, apples, and beets, spinach and kale. However, supplements of antioxidants may not only be ineffective, but can worsen oxidative stress.
 
Healthy fats are important too. In addition to the brain being 60 percent fat, this macronutrient regulates the body’s inflammatory mechanisms, which can dramatically increase muscle fatigue.
 
Another factor associated with muscle fatigue is the increased levels of the brain’s neurotransmitter serotonin. This chemical rises with the intake of high carbohydrate foods, and is reduced with the consumption of more complete protein.
 
3. Stress regulation is another key aspect of great performance in the brain and body. It’s simple: too much stress can increase muscle fatigue. The most obvious example is overtraining, which leads to poor muscle recovery, excess fatigue, and reduced performance.
 
Stress can be external, such as a bad job or relationship, overtraining, or poor diet, or internal, such as blood sugar impairments, mental or emotional strain, or poor training and racing strategies. In all stress situations, it’s the brain that must deal with it. When successful, stress won’t defeat us. But if not, our brain sends messages to the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands, to try adapting. Muscle fatigue and other impairments, electrolyte imbalance (sodium deficiency), poor water regulation, and other problems result. In particular, the rise in the stress hormone cortisol reduces other hormones such as testosterone, which increases muscle fatigue. (Long training session greater than two hours can also reduce testosterone levels.)
 
With balanced training, diet and stress control, increased aerobic function, and a better brain, not only is muscle fatigue significantly reduced, but performance improves.
 
In Part 3 of this series, I will have a checklist to further help you manage muscle fatigue.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are We Fated to Be Overfat? by Dr. Phil Maffetone

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It’s a worldwide epidemic and it even affects many of those who workout regularly,
including athletes. It’s the accumulation of excess stored body fat.


Dr. Phil Maffetone

JB just reached birthday number 40 and claimed that it was the first time body fat content appeared too high. Were there indicators over the years warning that body fat would be increasing? Probably yes. In fact, there may have been more than 40 years of signs and symptoms. Predicting JB’s vulnerability to being overfat was possible, but it was not a question of fate.

Whether our workouts are reduced as life gets busy, or we spend too much time sitting, especially watching TV and the computer screen, or grab too much fast food, sometimes body fat accumulates too much. Some say the problem seems to arise when we’re not looking, despite watching what we eat or working out regularly. Regardless of the reasons, excess body fat is too common, and a serious, ongoing worldwide epidemic that continues to grow. Call it overweight or, when more extreme, obese, but don’t call it normal or healthy, because it’s not.

I’m not talking about what many think is having slightly too much body fat, or a few extra pounds of scale weight. But in most cases, those who have too much body fat, whether it shows on the scale or not, know it. Clothes fit too tight, waists get larger, bellies bigger. With more than the necessary body fat we need for health comes the real potential for illness, poor fitness, and even disease. It’s a vicious cycle—with reduced health and fitness comes more body fat, which further reduces health and fitness.

For virtually everyone, being overfat is not genetic but a lifestyle issue. In particular, when the body burns less fat for energy, more is stored. It’s not that we don’t burn enough calories—we don’t burn enough fat calories.

Our body requires a certain amount of stored fat to protect organs, glands and bones, regulate temperature and perform many other important jobs. So too little body fat can also be a problem. But this article is about the overfat epidemic, which affects 75 percent of the world’s population, and shows no signs of slowing.

While a widening waist with age is something that can’t be denied in the majority of people, and a very common warning of increased body fat, numerous other indicators exist. Some clues start before birth, and can predict the risk of being overfat later in life, while others appear as we age. A recent study confirmed many of the long-known risk factors, but uncovered others. The research, by doctors Glenn Flores and Hua Lin of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, was published in April 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Below are some of the more significant risk factors that predict the increased risk for being overfat.

Before Birth

The developing fetus sets its metabolism based on the maternal body. So when the mother does not burn enough fat, which may be due to increased stress during pregnancy, poor blood sugar control, poor diet, or other factors, it predicts an increased risk for the child to be overfat sometime during his or her life. Maternal gestational diabetes is particularly a problem, as is hypertension, and being overfat before becoming pregnant. (Interestingly, research shows that pregnant women with the lowest alcohol intake had babies with higher, not lower, risks of becoming overfat.)

Birth

At birth, a number of factors can predict being overfat. These include cesarean delivery, and birth weight of five and one-half pounds or less and above eight pounds. In addition, ethnic factors exist: those with darker versus lighter skin have higher risk for being overfat.

Childhood

In the study noted above, it was shown that a third of American kindergartners were overfat. Predictors for this problem included less breastfeeding and earlier introduction to formula and solid foods, and feeding on a schedule rather than when hungry. Those who drank water with meals, consumed fast foods and sugary-drinks, including soda, sports drinks and fruit drinks, had increased risk for being overfat.

Other predictors of being over fat included trying to have the child toilet trained before one year of age, and increased screen-watching (TV and computer). An interesting developmental factor in children was the age they pulled themselves to a standing position: those who could accomplish this before 7.5 months had a higher risk of being overfat in kindergarten.

As children age, those who are taller than average for age have an increased risk for being overfat. Another risk factor included children who regularly had reduced amounts of sleep. (Grownups with insomnia or sleep apnea are usually overfat.)

Adults

As adults, we don’t have control over how we were treated early in life. But in addition to having significant influence of our children’s lifestyle, we also are in charge of our own health. My personal experience is not unlike that of most healthy adults—much of our life is spent undoing the damage of childhood, especially that of dietary distress. Our advantage is that the body is incredibly resilient. We replace it regularly, and the new cells we make come from the foods we eat—one reason to never eat anything that is not healthy. (In addition to many articles on this Website, I’ve written an entire book on this topic—The Big Book of Health and Fitness.)

Our family history can also give us clues about the susceptibility to being overfat. The illnesses in our parents and grandparents may also appear in us as part of the cycle of being overfat contributing to illness or disease. Here is the list of conditions to look for in both family and personal history: kidney or gall stones, gout, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and or low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Of course the greatest family history factor is when a parent or grandparent has or had adult onset diabetes.

Also in adults at any age are a variety of signs and symptoms that indicate carbohydrate intolerance—the metabolic factor that is most often associated with being overfat. The most common ones include poor concentration or sleepiness after meals, and increased intestinal gas or bloating.

Frequent cravings for sweets or caffeine, often associated with lower levels of energy, are also associated with the increased risk of being overfat, along with low protein intake.

A common sign in women with an overfat metabolism, whether they are slim or not, is polycystic ovary (ovarian cysts). In both sexes, fat often first appears to increase in the abdominal area, and sometimes in the face (especially cheeks).

Increased risk of having too much body fat does not necessarily mean one will become overfat—but those with higher risk more likely will. We have control of our metabolism, and those with increased risk usually need to be more careful with lifestyle factors to avoid being part of the overfat epidemic.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More interesting tests from Phil Maffetone.

Original article.

ATHLETE’S ASK…
Why Don’t I Get Faster?
Find and fix these 7 health and fitness hazards that can slow you down

Dr. Phil Maffetone

One of the most common questions I receive is from athletes asking why, despite all the training, don’t they get faster and improve performance. “Why doesn’t the MAF test improve—why am I still slow?”

Many factors can impair progress despite an optimal training program. Injuries, health issues, and other problems—many very well hidden—can prevent one from reaching their athletic potential.

Six common hazards are outlined here. Any one of them can cause injury, impair health, restrict fitness, and ultimately slow you down.

It might seem like a paradox, but working out regularly may not make one immune to poor health or reduced fitness. Fatigue, asthma, depression, hormone imbalance, sleepiness after meals, and other signs and symptoms are clues that the body is not working optimally. The same is true for more serious disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. While we think of those who are sedentary as being afflicted with these problems, they are also found in athletes. Moreover, the ongoing overfat epidemic does not spare those who burn a lot of calories while running, cycling, swimming, or performing other workouts. This type of training does burn many calories—but too often more sugar and less fat.

Almost all health or fitness problems come with a warning. Various signs and symptoms, especially when grouped together, can provide us with clues—a red flag of potential hazards ahead. Heed the warning.

Below are seven surveys, groups of signs, symptoms and lifestyle habits common to a particular condition that can prevent the body from making progress. A “yes” answer to any one question may not be significant, but if two or three in one group applies to you, the likelihood of that problem increases significantly. In other words, those individuals who have more clues pertaining to a specific condition have higher risk for it.

Included under each survey is its possible implication or condition, common dietary and supplement needs, lifestyle considerations, and tests you or your healthcare professional might consider for verification or monitoring.

Survey 1

1. Frequently eat restaurant, take-out or prepared/packaged foods
2. Consume these vegetable oils regularly: corn, soy, safflower, peanut oil, or canola, or margarine
3. Chronic pain
4. "itis” conditions: arthritis, colitis, tendonitis, bursitis, etc.
5. Hair loss
6. Aspirin (or similar drugs including NSAIDs) improves symptoms
7. Body fat above normal
8. Frequent anaerobic training
9. Take birth control or estrogen replacement
10. Family or personal history of stoke, heart disease, osteoporosis, ulcer, cancer, allergies or asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, or cataracts
11. Low-fat diet
12 .Depression

Possible Implications: Chronic inflammation. It’s not only common, but most people are actually unaware of its presence. It is often the earliest stage of cancer, stroke, Alzheimer disease and heart disease, not to mention to common ‘itis’ conditions such as tendonitis, arthritis, colitis, and bursitis. It can also trigger a wide range of unhealthy conditions: cataracts, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, and asthma, immune dysfunction and hormonal balance, and promote pain.

Diet: Consume more natural anti-inflammatory foods including raw ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, and 10 servings of vegetables and fruits. Include ocean fish (not farmed) such as salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel.

Avoid all trans fats and refined carbohydrates as both can promote inflammation.
Reduce omega-6 vegetable oils such as soy, safflower, corn, peanut, and canola.

Most Effective Dietary Supplements: EPA-DHA (from fish oil). Flax oil is much less effective.

Lifestyle: Avoid anaerobic exercise, including strength training and competition until problem has resolved.

Tests: C-reactive protein (blood test).

Survey 2

1. Fatigue
2. Increased body fat
3. Chronic inflammation
4. Physical injuries
5. Hormone imbalance
6. Feelings of depression
7. Reduced endurance
8. Performance plateau
9. Unable to improve aerobic pace (MAF test)
10. Overtraining

Possible Implications: Aerobic deficiency syndrome. Typically a combination of reduced aerobic and excess anaerobic function. It often is the result of a combined training, dietary and lifestyle stress problem.

Diet: Eliminate refined carbohydrates, and increase food frequency.

Most Effective Dietary Supplements: Varies with individual’s need.

Lifestyle factors: Avoid all anaerobic training until problem is remedied.

Tests: MAF test, and others as per individual needs.

Survey 3

1. Fatigue
2. Dizziness upon standing
3. Crave salt
4. Allergy or asthma
5. Low blood pressure
6. Feelings of depression
7. Often wake in the middle of the night
8. Sensitive to bright light or difficulty with night driving
9. Sexual desire reduced
10. Recurrent infections
11. Hormone imbalance
12. Amenorrhea
13. Frequent hunger/cravings
14. Increased body fat
15. Frequent anaerobic workouts

Possible Implications: General indication of adrenal gland dysfunction. Elevation of the stress hormone cortisol is often associated with lower levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, but is only one type of adrenal problem.

Diet: Eliminate all refined carbohydrates. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Avoid skipping meals, and increase frequency of healthy snacks.

Most Effective Dietary Supplements: No particular supplement is good for all types of adrenal imbalances.

Lifestyle: Assess and reduce physical, chemical and mental stress. Avoid anaerobic training until problem is remedied.

Tests: Salivary hormone tests for cortisol, DHEA and sex hormones.

Survey 4

1. History of bone fractures
2. Low bone density
3. Poor recovery from training or racing
4. Reduced sexual desire
5. Long standing hard training
6. Loss of muscle mass
7. Use of tetracycline
8. Low-fat diet
9. Low-cholesterol diet
10. Feelings of depression

Possible Implications: Low testosterone.

Diet: Avoid low-fat and low-cholesterol diets unless for specific medical reasons as both are important for testosterone production.

Most Effective Dietary Supplements: DHEA, pregnenolone and or licorice as indicated in additional tests.

Lifestyle: Assess and reduce physical, chemical and mental stress. Balance aerobic and anaerobic exercise, and strength training workouts.

Tests: Blood and or salivary hormone tests as indicated.

Survey 5

1. Poor concentration or sleepiness after meals
2. Increased intestinal gas or bloating
3. Polycystic ovary (ovarian cysts)
4. Frequent hungry
5.I ncreased body fat
6. Chronic fatigue
7. Insomnia or sleep apnea
8. Waist size increasing with age
9. Difficulty improving endurance
10. Personal or family history: diabetes, kidney or gall stones, gout, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/low HDL, high triglycerides, heart disease or stroke, breast cancer.
11. Low protein intake
12. Cravings for sweets or caffeine

Possible Implications: Carbohydrate intolerance. This condition can reduce fat burning and impair performance. It can also precede more serious conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and others.

Diet: Eliminate all refined carbohydrates. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and healthy snacks throughout the day.

Common Supplements: Varies with individual.

Lifestyle: Reduce physical, chemical and mental stress. Aerobic workouts only until problem is remedied.

Tests: The Two-Week Test. Blood tests for glucose, insulin and others as needed.

Survey 6

1. Athletic performance plateau
2. Over age 50
3. Work or reside indoors most days
4. Moderate to dark skinned (natural or tanned)
5. Risk or history of bone fractures or osteoporosis
6. Reside in northern climates (above 30-40 degrees north) or around cities
7. Regular use of sunscreen
8. Wear tight knit/protective clothing when outdoors
9. Pregnant or nursing
10. Body fat too high

Possible Implications: Low vitamin D. This problem is not unusual in athletes who train outdoors.

Diet: Fresh fish (not farmed) such as salmon, tuna, halibut, herring, and mackerel, egg yolks, butter, Shitaki mushrooms.

Common Supplements: Vitamin D from fish liver oil.

Lifestyle: Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. Proper expose is necessary.

Tests: Blood test for vitamin D.

Survey 7

1. Chronic injuries
2. Fatigue
3. Performance plateau or reductions
4. Less than about 7-8 hours sleep each night
5. Regular anaerobic training throughout the year
6. Low-fat, low-calorie or low-protein diet
7. Depression, anxiety or other altered moods
8. Chronic or recurrent infections
9. Asthma or allergy
10 .Reduced sexual desire
11. Resting, training or racing heart rates too high or low
12.Menstrual problems

Possible Implications: Overtraining

Diet and Supplementation varies with individual.

Tests: MAF Test, salivary cortisol, others as required.

Chronic inflammation, aerobic deficiency, adrenal stress, hormone imbalance, overtraining, carbohydrate intolerance, and low vitamin D are common problems. Any of these conditions can reduce health and quality of life, and significantly contribute to injuries and poor performance. For more information on each topic, follow the link.

Most people can make appropriate adjustments in their training, diet, and lifestyle to remedy the problem. Others may need to seek help from an appropriate health professional. Now is the time to address these factors.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Managing Muscle Fatigue — It’s all in your head by Dr. Phil Maffetone

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PART 1

Dr. Phil Maffetone

Anyone who has ever competed knows the feeling of muscle fatigue. You want to keep going at the same pace but can’t. The mind is willing but the body is weak. Power output cannot be maintained. Even inactive people know the feeling after some hasty yard work. While a certain level of muscle fatigue is normal with physical activity, too much can impair training, reduce health and ruin your race.

When a single muscle is evaluated, fatigue can be measured as a reduction of power. In the case of the whole body, it is a slowing down of pace during running, cycling, swimming or other activity, all while the heart rate remains the same, or is elevating. Managing muscle fatigue is an important aspect of effective training, one that contributes to improved performance. The process begins by understanding the normal, abnormal and the origins of fatigue.

Normal and Abnormal

In the natural state, mild and moderate muscle fatigue is normal and even necessary. Proper training means working the body and its muscles a bit harder than usual—a state called overreaching—then allowing adequate recovery. When properly done, the body learns to accomplish more work with the same effort. In other words, we get faster at the same heart rate. (When this does not happen, it means there is some imbalance preventing progress.)

While normal, healthy fatigue encourages muscles to better adapt and prepare for more power, there are other benefits. Included is improved heart, circulation, and lung function, enhanced regulation of oxygen and carbon dioxide, better utilization of muscle energy, and optimal metabolism of lactate. The most important end result is a better brain, one that can best manage all the body systems leading to greater athletic performance.

When the delicate balance of work and rest is disturbed, normal fatigue turns abnormal and problems arise. Too much intensity or higher volume training can cause undue, excessive muscle fatigue because we go outside overreaching, into that zone where muscles are damaged. While this occurs during and after a race, making proper recovery a necessity, it can happen more regularly with imprecise workouts, or following a program not specifically designed for our particular needs.

Working out this way presents several problems. We build a “debt” of muscle fatigue, whereby training exceeds the body’s ability to properly recover. It can eventually lead to injury or ill health, although just one fatiguing session that is damaging enough, especially without appropriate recovery, can impair health. As the problem escalates we may pay the penalty of poor performance on race day because muscle fatigue still exists. The same dilemma occurs when racing is too frequent, there is inadequate taper, recovery is too short, or a combination of factors.

These two types of muscle fatigue—normal/healthy, and abnormal/harmful—are best exemplified in strength training. When performing most weight programs of several sets of high repetitions, muscles are isolated and worked to the point of failure, which means significant fatigue. The muscle can no longer lift the weight. This is traumatic, and the body’s response is to produce stress hormones. The need for recovery is significantly increased—something many people don’t obtain. The next workout, whether easy or hard, typically starts before one is properly recovered. What is the alternative?

A healthy option is to perform less repetitions and sets, and avoid excess fatigue. A single set of strength training, for example, is as effective as three sets for increasing strength. Because muscles are not significantly damaged, added benefits include faster recovery, the strengthening of bone, stronger muscles without bulking up, more fat burning, and no impairment of aerobic function.

Damaging Fatigue

Excess fatigue is often glorified as part of the “no pain, no gain” work ethic in today’s social sports world. While some athletes, such as those in track and field, power lifting and football, get closer to the line of overtraining and are injured more easily, endurance activities are much different. Running, biking, swimming and multisport events rely mostly on aerobic training, which, when properly done, does not produce significant muscle fatigue unless the volume of training increases too much. Despite this, improvements in performance should regularly occur—in other words, swimming, biking, and running at faster paces at the same heart rate during training and racing.

Muscle fatigue is also associated with other problems:
  • Fatigue generated by an intense workout can increase stress hormones and potentially impair endurance.
  • A muscle that is fatigued will not contract as many fibers, reducing power and increasing weakness.
  • Muscle fatigue can impair associated joint movements (e.g., quadriceps and knee joint), and contribute to such chronic conditions as osteoarthritis.
  • Poor posture and gait irregularity result from muscle fatigue. This problem can last many hours following training or racing.
  • Working a fatigued muscle can lead to muscular imbalance and result in further damage to ligaments, tendons, joints, fascia or bone.
  • A fatigue-producing anaerobic interval track workout, like a popular weight lifting session, requires significant recovery—at least 48 hours, often more, before working out again.
  • Muscle fatigue can significantly reduce training and racing performance.
  • During competition, varying ones speed can cause more muscle fatigue compared to racing at a steady-state pace.
  • Respiratory muscles can often fatigue, sometimes more than leg muscles, and limit maximum exercise intensity and duration. (This is associated with the relationships between inhalation and exhalation, and gait and foot-strike.)
  • Muscle fatigue can result in metabolic disturbances, including the over-accumulation of ammonia from protein breakdown. (Taking branched-chained amino acid—BCAA—supplements can worsen this condition.)
  • Equilibrium can become disturbed with muscle fatigue. Poor balance can lead to inefficient movements and increase the risk of trauma (such as bike crash or twisted ankle).
  • Muscle fatigue can worsen symptoms in those with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.
  • Anaerobic muscle fibers fatigue much more easily and quickly, while aerobic fibers are relatively fatigue-resistant.
Causes of Muscle Fatigue

While there may be many reasons for muscle fatigue, through the years a variety of trends have pinned the blame on the “usual suspects,” as if the answer to the age-old question has been found. These include cardiovascular limitations, oxygen deficits, lactate levels that change pH, diminished muscle energy, and others. Any or all of these common issues may contribute to muscle fatigue, but not as a primary factor.

Muscle fatigue is usually countered with energy issues. Our muscles use both fat and sugar (glucose) to create ATP, the ultimate source of energy for muscle contraction. Currently, the popular notion is that when ATP falls below the muscle’s ability to contract, we become exhausted. If local energy levels were the primary reason for muscle fatigue, it would just be a matter of gulping down enough sugar during a race to keep going. But as studies show, muscle energy usually remains more than adequate even after a long, intense effort. This is the reason most athletes have a “kick” at the end of a grueling race. Despite the fatigue that occurs during the event, there is almost always a seemingly newfound ability for the muscles to work much harder and quicken the pace in the final segment of an event.

Other popular notions about muscle fatigue have included limitations of the cardiovascular system—the lungs to bring in oxygen and the heart to circulate blood to the working muscles. Associated with this is the obsession of VO2max—a number athletes love to toss around despite serving no practical purpose.

Another culprit is said to be lactic acid, where changes in muscle and blood chemistry, a rise in pH, impair muscle function leading to fatigue. For decades, products proclaiming to “neutralize” these exercise-impairing metabolites are found in pop magazines and store shelves—they don’t work. As we now know, lactate is an important metabolite and, in fact, an important energy source.

These theories proclaiming the cause of muscle fatigue do not make sense if we just consider that, if the levels of oxygen or ATP falls below the level necessary for muscle contraction, or lactate levels rise too high, an athlete would not just slow down but stop performing, and even collapse since muscles would be unable to maintain a standing posture.

Fatigue can also be discussed from a standpoint of peripheral versus central. In other words, what happens in an individual muscle versus the big picture? The latter refers to the brain’s control of muscles, a topic discussed in Part 2.

Avoiding excess muscle fatigue should be a key goal of training and being healthy. Recovering from it before a race can result in greater performances. But cunning public relations campaigns have brought us lines of nutritional supplements that supposedly gives us what a great diet won’t, pharmacologic compounds that cover symptoms of fatigue, and physical items such as bad shoes that supposed to give us energy, all aimed at an athlete’s feelings and emotions. And they are successful as millions of people will go to the extreme to improve performance. But there is a better, easier and cheaper way to control muscle fatigue as will be discussed in Part 2.
 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Supplements in Sport

Article 

Supplements in Sport - Why are they so tempting?

The sports world is filled with pills, potions, powders, bars and drinks that promise to give the athlete a winning edge. The claims are emotive - better recovery, improved endurance, increased strength, loss of body fat, an enhanced immune system. If you are striving to be at the top, how can you afford to miss out on these miracles? And can you afford for your competitors to have these advantages if you don't? These are some of the feelings that make athletes an easy target for supplements.

Surely if a supplement or sports food makes a promise to improve performance it must be true?

Most people believe that government laws would prevent supplement companies from making outrageous or untrue claims about their products. In other words, they believe that if a company makes a claim, particularly in writing, it must be correct. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In Australia, supplements that belong to the pill, potion and powder category fall under the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Most fall within the 'listable' items category, the most lightly regulated category of the TGA, and are required only to provide proof that they don't contain ingredients that are banned by our custom laws. The TGA has no requirement that a product must have proof of its benefits to be accepted at this level. Sports foods, including bars and drinks, fall under the control of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ provides regulations about the ingredients and labeling of sports foods, and permits a limited number of claims to be made on the product package.
While the TGA and FSANZ expect manufacturers to avoid making wild claims about their products on labels and packaging, these regulations are not heavily policed. More to the point, it is almost impossible to keep tabs on the prolific flow of articles and advertisements for supplements that appear in sports magazines, brochures, the Internet or other points of communication. The bottom line is that supplements can be marketed with very little control over the claims and messages they provide, and many companies appear to take full advantage of this.

But many famous and successful athletes take supplements. Doesn't this show that they work?

Testimonials from athletes provide a key form of advertising used by manufacturers of supplements and sports foods. The athlete associates their recent success with the use of a product or product range - as part of a sponsorship or paid advertising by the manufacturers, or sometimes simply as 'word of mouth' around the sporting world. Obviously this is a persuasive argument to other athletes.
Sports scientists, however, are sceptical that the association between the supplements and the athlete's performance is anything more than circumstantial. Performance is the result of many factors - including talent, training, equipment, diet and mental attitude. In real life, an athlete will be unable to pinpoint how much each of these factors is contributing. In some cases, when the athlete has lots of these factors working well, the supplement may get all the accolades even when it fails to contribute at all! In other cases, any boost to performance that comes with taking a new product is simply the result of a 'placebo effect'. If the athlete feels that they have received something special, or that they are suddenly receiving more monitoring and attention from their coach or other people, they will be motivated to do better. Thus, better performance can come from a psychological belief rather than a real effect from the new product.

So are supplements all the same? Are they all a waste of money?

The answer to this is definitely not! Some supplements and sports foods are valuable in helping an athlete achieve their nutritional goals and optimal performance. However, there are literally thousands of supplements and special sports foods targeted at athletes, with new products appearing on the market each month. To try to sort out the confusion about supplements, it is useful to divide them into two main categories:
  • sports foods and dietary supplements
  • nutritional ergogenic aids

What are sports foods and dietary supplements?

Sports foods and dietary supplements play a role in providing a practical alternative to food. Examples include:
  • Sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade)
  • Sports gels (e.g. Powergel, GU, CarboShotz)
  • Sports bars (e.g. PowerBar Performance bars) 
  • Liquid meal supplements (e.g. PowerBar Protein Plus powder) 
  • Carbohydrate loaders/high carbohydrate powders (e.g. Gatorlode, Maxim) 
  • Iron supplements, calcium supplements, multivitamin/mineral supplements used under direction of a sports physician or dietitian to prevent or treat a dietary deficiency

How do sports foods and dietary supplements work?

Athletes may find these products valuable in helping them achieve their nutrition goals in a busy day or during an exercise session. Sports nutrition guidelines provide specific goals for intake pre-event, during a prolonged session, or for post-exercise recovery. Products such as sports drinks provide a tailor-made way to look after these nutritional needs. They are an alternative to everyday foods, which might need to be juggled to produce the same nutritional composition, or which might be too impractical to consume directly before or during intense exercise. Sometimes, the convenience factor is the selling point - it is easier to grab a bar or gel to take on a long ride, rather than worry about squashing a sandwich. And these products can sit in a sports bag or car for after training without spoiling or needing special preparation.
Occasionally, when athletes are unable to meet all their nutrient needs from food, a vitamin and/or mineral supplement may be prescribed by a sports dietitian or physician to treat or prevent a nutrient deficiency. These scenarios should be left to the advice of the experts who can put together a total management plan, rather than rely on the pill alone.
The issue with dietary supplements is knowing when and how to use them so that they assist with sports nutrition goals. When used in the right way - the right amount at the right time on the right occasion - they can help an athlete train and compete at their best. In many cases they can be shown to directly enhance performance - for example, there are many studies that show that sports drinks improve performance in prolonged exercise sessions, and more recently, in high-intensity events of about an hour.

Aren't sports foods more expensive than everyday foods? Aren't they just for elite athletes?

Sports foods generally cost more than a similar everyday food. This reflects the specialised marketing, and the research and education program that may support the product. But when used correctly to achieve the nutritional benefit, sports foods are often well worth the expense. Contrary to popular opinion, they aren't just for the elite. An athlete who is playing a long and sweaty game of basketball can expect to play better by drinking a sports drink to replace fluid losses and take in extra fuel. This is as true for someone playing in an under 16 game as it is for a professional player. By meeting nutritional goals, the athlete will be able to meet the true level of their talent - whatever level that is.
Some athletes (and non-athletes) use these supplements outside the conditions in which they are likely to achieve a direct sports nutrition goal. For example, some people eat sports bars as a snack, or have a sports drink with their lunch. In these situations sports foods may simply be a more expensive version of food. Overconsumption of any sports foods (for example, eating sports bars to replace meals on a regular basis) can lead to dietary imbalances as well as an unnecessary burden on the wallet. Sports nutrition education should make the athlete aware of the best uses of these special sports foods.

What are nutritional ergogenic aids?

These products often contain unusual amounts of nutrients or other components of foods. Many of these chemicals are involved in exercise metabolism or recovery pathways, and the products claim that we can supercharge these processes by bumping up our intake of these chemicals. Many of the claims made for ergogenic aids such as creatine, carnitine, coenzyme Q10 and inosine include sophisticated theories of metabolic pathways and biochemistry. Other products such as 'herbals' trade on being ancient compounds whose mystical advantages have been kept secret until recent times.

How credible are these scientific explanations for how a supplement works? They sound convincing!

Scientific theories are important in explaining the mechanism by which a supplement might enhance metabolism and performance. They can also be hyped into persuasive marketing tactics announcing an amazing 'scientific breakthrough'. But a theory is only an idea on paper, until it has been scrutinised through the process of scientific research and publication. Sports scientists are impressed only by the results of scientific studies conducted under a special code of rules, and published only after a review process by other scientists. This process costs time and money. Unfortunately, most supplement companies don't invest in this research - after all, they can successfully sell their products to a public who don't appear to demand real proof of their claims. Furthermore, most of the research that has been undertaken has failed to support the claims of the majority of nutritional ergogenic aids.
The AIS Sports Supplement Program categorises sports foods and supplements according to the level of scientific support that they currently receive. It should be noted that even Group A supplements are supported to enhance performance only for specific types of athletes in specific types of events. And for reasons that are not always understood, some athletes simply don't respond to these supplements, even when used according to directions. In other words, they are not for all athletes, but should be used in well-defined situations.

So where do supplements fit into the total nutrition package for the athlete or exercising person?

Although supplements and sports foods receive most of the glamour and attention in sports nutrition, they really should be thought of as "icing on the cake" rather than substantial fare. The following figure shows that the process of eating well to achieve the nutritional goals of training achieves the most important benefits.
 eating well pyramid
Talent, hard work and time are three extra ingredients in laying this solid foundation. Special sports foods, when used to meet specific goals of workouts and competition can make an important impact - for example, refueling and hydrating with a sports drink might achieve a 5-10% benefit to performance in a prolonged event. At the very top of the pyramid are the small benefits achieved by the Group A ergogenic aids - perhaps a 1-3% improvement in performance. Until everything else has fallen into place, these benefits are unimportant and unnoticeable. Most young and developing athletes should not consider these products until they have made considerable achievements through the foundation layers. As they begin to reach their peak potential, these special aids may provide a noticeable effect.

So what is the problem with athletes trying lots of supplements - surely something will work!

Our experience at the AIS has shown the following problems with the "try anything" approach to supplements:
  • Money, time and interest are all finite resources. Many athletes spend these limited resources on products that don't work, or produce very small benefits for the attention they receive.  
  • Supplements come and go in fashion. Most of the cool sounding supplements are the ones that have no support of their benefits. Athletes get sidetracked on chasing these supplements instead of looking to products and sports foods that can provide more substantial performance benefits.  
  • Athletes use supplements to try to take short cuts. They use them to replace the hard but really valuable factors of effective training, sensible eating, and good recovery techniques. There is no replacement!  
  • The fact that successful athletes are using a supplement lends undeserved credibility to the product and inspires other athletes to try them. And the cycle continues.....  
  • Athletes often follow hearsay about how to use their supplements, and take them in larger doses than needed or sensible, or in protocols that fail to achieve the real benefit.  
  • Some supplements can lead to a positive drug test.

Where can I get more advice about supplements and sports foods?

Refer to the fact sheets for detailed information on individual supplements and sports foods. For individualised advice, consult a sports dietitian, accredited sports scientist or sports physician. The Sports Dietitians Australia website provides details of qualified sports dietitians throughout Australia.