Pre-workout Meals

Pre-workout Meals

 

There are a few important things to consider in the pre-workout meal discussion. Timing, size, and content are the three key factors in choosing a great meal that will give you optimal performance levels.
Timing– Ideally, a meal should be eaten between 2 and 3 hours before a workout in order to give your body time to fully digest the protein, carbohydrates, and sugar that will be converted to fuel to power you through those grueling last few reps. For all you earlier birds, I don’t expect you to wake up at 3 Am to make an omelette. So your meal and portion size will be much different.
Size– Portion size is extremely important because you don’t want to feel bogged down or bloated during a workout. On that same token ensuring your muscles are properly fueled is vital to prevent muscle degredation. The preworkout meal and time before workout are directley correlated. The farther away you are from a workout (say 3 hours) the bigger your meal (probably full size). If you are grabbing something 15-20 minutes before it should be much smaller and generally in liquid form so it is easily digestable.
Content-An ideal pre-workout meal should consist of 20-30 grams of protein to keep your body in an anabolic state to prevent muscle breakdown during your workout. Along with the protein, 20-30 grams of low glycemic carbohydrates is also advisable.

A 2-3 hour prior example 

A turkey/chicken breast, spinach & tomato omelette with a small serving of steel cut oats. Low glycemic carbohydrates such as spinach and steel cut oats will be converted to energy and used as fuel during your workout. Low glycemic carbohydrates will keep your insulin from spiking which can lead an energy crash mid-workout. This meal is also low in fat and fiber which will make it easy to digest.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole cage free eggs
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ turkey/chicken breast
  •  ¼ cup dice tomatoes
  •  ½ cup cooked steel cut oats with cinnamon and blueberries

Nutritional Facts

  • Calories-400
  • Protein-30 grams
  • Carbohydrates-30 grams
  • Fat-6 grams
  • Fiber-8 grams

I like to workout in the late mornings so the first thing I do when I wake up is start off with a great breakfast that has an adequate source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. The protein will ensure there is no muscle breakdown and give your body a steady stream of fuel and amino acids through your workout. The carbs will be converted to energy while the fiber and fat will keep you feeling full throughout the pre-workout/workout period. Adequate hydration is also vital to prepare you body for a successful workout. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will prevent cramping and optimize performance.

Now, for the early birds. (15-45 minutes before workout)

 

Home made protein shake

My protein shake is very generic but an effective, homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  •  1/2 serving plain unflavored greek yogurt
  •  1 tbsp chia seeds
  •  ¼ cup of blueberries
  •  ½ banana
  •   1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  •  3 grams of glutamine
  •   Ice cubes

Nutritional facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout, or 30 minutes prior, to ensure your muscles receive healthy carbohydrates and protein from natural sources to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down during a workout. A liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The addition of fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles. Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt will stabilize blood sugar levels and not cause a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present.  The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. With such a wide array of products and additives that are present in many supplements and shakes, I always recommend people make their own, using unprocessed ingredients, to ensure your muscles receive the most bang for your buck. Here is a tip: Make your shake the night before and store it in the fridge to save yourself the hassle and cleanup in the morning.

Generally a medium-sized meal is recommended 2 hours before your workout to give your body a chance to digest and convert the food before you lift. With that being said, every person is different. Finding out what works best for you in terms of energy levels, muscle growth, and recovery is the most important thing. Whatever you do make sure you have a steady stream of energy to you can power through a tough workout.

Sorry about the recent hiatus and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

1.You are a victim of routine and habit:

Muscle memory is no myth. If you perform the same exercises and workouts every week, with no variation, your muscles will grow accustomed with them overtime and your fitness goals will severely plateau. Repitition of exercises allows the brain to become “hard-wired” with a simple, efficient circuitry that enables the activity. The brain and muscles no longer have to work hard to make that particular movement happen, so the activity “feels easy” to you, as if it were second nature.

My suggestion: Switch it up

  • I am all for getting in and sticking to a set routine, however, if you want to see progression in your fitness goals, whether it is bigger strength gains or more fat loss, vary your workouts/rep range/rest time.  You will see dramatic changes as your muscles will have to work harder to adapt to these new changes.

Great examples:

  1. Intervals vs. steady cardio. (see previous post for more specifics about this)
  2. Heavier weights with reps between 5 and 8 and allowing more rest in between rest.

2. You don’t get in a good warm-up:

The goal of any warm-up is to increase your heart rate, body temperature,. and blood flow to your muscles. The increase in these things will prepare you muscles and mind-set for the upcoming exercises. As a result, you will see better performance results and reduce chance of injury. Research over the last decade has shown static stretching cold muscles can actually inhibit performance and put you at greater risk of injury.

My suggestion: Perform movements that are specific to the exercises that will follow.

  • Activate the energy systems and muscles that are going to be required to complete your workout.
Great Examples:
  1. Jump Rope for 5 minutes- This gets both your legs and upper body involved at the same time.
  2. Dynamic stretch warm-up and not static stretching!-Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that will get your blood flowing and major muscle groups activated. (bodyweight pushups, lunges, squats, or spider man crawls all work great)
3. You don’t do enough multi-joint movements:
Everyone wants more bang for their buck. So, why limit yourself to single joint movements or “isolated movements” when you can combine exercises and use multiple joints to build muscle, decrease fat, increase metabolic rate, and burn more calories, all at the same time.
My suggestion: Use multi-joint movements for the bulk or your exercises and supplement them with single joint movements.
  • Multi-joint movements will allow you to become a more functional and well conditioned athlete by using major muscle groups in conjunction with one another.
  • Supplementing multi joint movements with single joint movements will allow you to take care of the smaller and stabilizer muscles that can be overshadowed when doing multi-joint movements.
Great Examples:
  1. The old-fashioned back squat- Not only do squats activate all your lower body muscle group,  but it also activates your core muscles which are the foundation to your strength and posture. (utilizes knee,ankle, and hip joints)
  2. Dumbbell snatch- A great, functional exercise that utilizes major muscle groups such as your legs, core, and shoulders.

4. After all my suggestions you still do sit-ups:

Core is an essential component to a functional and strong body.Why is it that I continue to see people wasting time doing one of the most inefficient and outdated exercises today!

My suggestion: Trade in your old-fashioned sit ups for a core exercises that are more efficient

  • There still exists a common misconception that the key to a six-pack is by doing a bunch of sit-ups. False, the key to washboard abs is by losing stomach fat through a healthy(total body) exercise regimen and an all-natural diet.

Great Examples:

1. Plank on swiss ball- This exercise will force you to stabilize your core on an unbalanced surface.

2. Hanging leg raise- Targets your hipflexors and lower abs along with the rest of your core.

5. You don’t replenish your muscles after your workout:

“Approximately 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores-particularly muscle and liver glycogen. This is also a critical time because the body instigates muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replenishes fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adapts to the stresses encountered in the workout.”

My Suggestion: Invest in a workout shaker and some tupperware.

  • Bringing a recovery powder to your workout will ensure you provide your muscles with adequate nutrition to fully recover immediately after finishing. Bringing some food in Tupperware is also a great way to ensure you are getting ample carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on your sport and fitness goals, your post-workout shake should range from a 1:1 carb/protein ratio to 4:1 carb/protein  ratio if you are involved in more endurance activities and are trying to restore carbohydrate levels.

Great Example

1. 6oz of coconut water
6oz of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c yogurt, 1 banana
1 c frozen strawberries/blueberries
1 scoop whey protein powder
3-5 grams glutamine

For all those interested in fat loss, check out my good friend’s website Kellie Kaufman at https://wrapmeskinnywithkellie.myitworks.com/home. This may help you gain the edge and break through plateaus.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From Naples,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com


Active Recovery

Active Recovery

Being that it is a Sunday, and usually an “off day” from work and training, where people lounge on the couch, spend time with family, and passively rest, I wanted to take a little time to talk about active recovery or “active rest”.

Active Recovery is a term used to describe the days you don’t workout but still perform light exercise or some sort of activity. This light exercise enables you to continue burning calories without putting too much strain on your body and muscles, which should be recovering from workouts and training, (long winded definition) With the amount of athletes in today’s society trying to “gain the edge”, trainers and coaches are starting to understand the impact of over-training. Often times the importance of complete rest is undervalued and injuries linked to fatigue and overuse have become more prevalent. With that being said, I think there is an efficient way to stay active on your “off days” that may actually help your body recover better and allow you to burn calories at the same time.

Active Rest vs. Passive Rest

Simply put, passive rest is where you do nothing, and completely let your muscles recover by not training, staying inactive, and sometimes immobile. While the physical element of this is vital, the mental break that you actually receive from passive rest may be the greatest benefit. Some examples could consist of any of the following;

  1. Sleeping
  2. Watching TV
  3. Reading
  4. Studying
  5. Surfing the web
  6. Lounging in the sun
Active Recovery benefits
While there seems to be great debate and differences of opinion on the actual purpose and effectiveness of active recovery, here are some of the potential benefits;
  • Stimulates the metabolic pathways of recovery without contributing to fatigue. (I.E. gets your blood pumping and juices flowing without contributing to muscle fatigue or strain)
  • Allows you to get some light work in on those often neglected stabilizer muscles or small muscle groups you might miss in a workout without putting strain on the large muscle groups. (Some examples would be shoulder rotational exercises or hip mobility)

  • Using it as a way to burn calories while still letting your major muscle groups recover.
  • Recovery or regeneration training-Countering a high-intensity training day, where there may be a build up of lactic acid or acidosis, with a less-intense recovery session may actually help speed up recovery, reduce high intensity-induced damage, and restore your natural lactate levels. (Often seen in biking and swimming)
  • Light weight workouts might help speed up recovery by increasing blood flow to the stimulated areas and removing waste products. This method ,coupled with a solid carb/protein recovery meal, will aid in your muscle regeneration and restored energy levels
Active Recovery Activities
  • Light weight workout at 50-75% of your 1 rep max.
  • Low-intensity cardio at 40-60 % of your maximum heart rate (Jog, brisk walk, light bike, light swim,)
  • Yoga class
  • Play golf
  • Light sport specific activity (Intended so you don’t “lose the feel”. Some examples would be stick handling a puck, shooting free throws, and juggling a soccer ball.)
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United juggles with the ball during a training session held at the Carrington Training Complex on September 16, 2008 in Carrington, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Sports massage or foam roll.

Conclusion

I think there is something to be said about having 1 day completely off to passively rest. This day should be made up of a whole lot of R&R, where you physically do nothing as well as give yourself a mental break by just zoning out for a day. (For those who know me, I prefer my passive rest by the pool or on the beach as I am definitely not a part of the 75% of the U.S that is Vitamin D deficient) However I think 1-2 days of active recovery or rest where you may perform a less intense workout, easy yoga, or one of the active recovery activities listed above, is extremely beneficial and important to an overall healthy lifestyle. My recommendation would be for athletes to spend at least one active rest day doing something functional that is not involved in your sport. For example if you are a hockey player go for a light jog or if you are a marathon runner go for a light bike to involve different muscle groups and stay mentally fresh. For those who are trying to get in shape or lose fat, active recovery is a great way to burn some calories while giving your body some much-needed rest.

My suggestion

While I don’t advise anyone to workout 7 days in a row, cycling high-intensity training days with light recovery days can be beneficial to your body. As a generic recommendation, I would suggest 3 or 4 days of workouts with 2 active recovery days and 1 day of passive rest. An individual’s specific regimen may be able to tolerate much more of a work load or less of one. (Get to know your body’s needs and limits) Thanks for reading and let me know your comments and suggestions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com

Essential Vitamins and Supplements

Essential Vitamins and Supplements

Beginning the search for adequate supplements is undoubtedly overwhelming. The first question one should ask when considering what to potentially take is “what am I trying to accomplish?” There is an array of over-the-counter supplements on the market claiming to cater to a variety of individuals. It is important to note that there are still many different needs among individuals.

The best way to approach one’s personal needs is by adjusting food intake rather than attempting to make up for deficiencies through supplements. By following the advice posted in past blogs, it is relatively easy to develop an idea of how an optimal athletic diet should look. With that being said, there are a few basic supplements that are beneficial to most people.

I conducted a survey using 50 people and asked them what supplements they took on a daily basis to identify trends, beliefs, and ideas, about the health/wellness and performance market.

Demographics of the survey

-30 professional athletes between ages of 20 and 30 years old (NFL, NHL, AHL, Professional Golf, were some of the individuals surveyed)

-20 physically active people or fitness enthusiasts ranging from 20 to 60 years old (Both men and women)

-Most of the athletes were in-season and mentioned that the amount of performance enhancers they take (such as protein and creatine) were generally increased in the off-season. Here are the results.

  • The difference in vitamin/supplement intake was extremely widespread 
  • I had 3 Responses that indicated ZERO vitamins/supplements were taken on a daily basis.
  • Here is the other end of the spectrum for a typical day:

Example 1:

  1. 1 multi vitamin,
  2. 2 kre alkalyn 1500mg,
  3.  1 fish oil 1000 mg,
  4. 1 vitamin D 5000 IU,
  5. 1 b-12 1000 mcg,
  6. 3 zinc liver chelate,
  7. 1 protein shake

Example 2:

  1. 3,000 mg fish oil
  2. Multi vitamin
  3. 500-1000 mg green tea extract
  4. 800 iu vitamin D
  5. 1000 mg acetyl-L-Carnitine
  6. 400 mg alpha-lipoid acid
  7. Beta-Alanine-about 3000 mg-ish
There is no right or wrong answer here. I just wanted to show you the difference in the entire spectrum.  Below is a synopsis of the most abundant vitamins reported in the survey.

Multi-vitamins

A well-balanced multivitamin will probably seal up any cracks in one’s diet, provided the individual is consistently getting proper nutrition. Reportedly, 35% of people in the U.S  use  some sort of multivitamin-multimineral supplement. However, some of the most important nutrients like fiber and omega 3 fats are not present in any multi-vitamins. Even if you have an extremely healthy diet, you are likely missing out on some things depending on the time of year and foods available at your store/market.

Remember that less is more when choosing which multi-vitamin to take. You can probably get a high quality vitamin by purchasing something like a USANA multi-pack vitamin which is 130$… or get nearly the same contents by paying 10$ for a generic brand. It is hard enough for our body to break down and effectively use the contents of any pill. Some multi-vitamins are flawed on the side of having more nutrients in a single pill than the human body is capable of breaking down and effectively using. With that being said, I strongly suggest everyone take a multivitamin every day. The following guidelines will help one find the most effective daily vitamin:

  • Look for a vitamin that is formulated around 100% DV(daily value) for most nutrients
  • Most B vitamins may be higher than 100% DV
  • Make sure it has at least 100% DV for Vitamin D
  • Avoid vitamins with more than 100% DV for Vitamin A, Zinc, and Iron
  • Don’t be lured by added herbs. There is little evidence multi-vitamins with added herbs have any benefits
Here is an example of a generic daily multivitamin. (You can basically get 2 year’s worth for 10$)
Centrum multivitamin ingredients

Protein/Recovery Shake

The other supplement that would be beneficial, barring the right product and serving size is being used, is a Whey Protein/BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids)/Carbohydrate replacement shake. It is hard to say exactly which brand is the best because each product caters to different individuals. A shake can beneficial for helping to restore muscle fibers, ensure adequate protein levels, or refuel after exercise. I don’t want to get too specific on this subject because I will be doing a separate blog on recovery where I will go more in depth in a couple weeks. In general, evidence supports that the faster an athlete consumes a shake after a workout, the faster the supplement can begin to help muscles recover. Those that were surveyed drank some sort of protein/carbohydrate/glutamine/greens combination post exercise. So again, this is highly recommended, but more on the specifics to come later this month.

Fish oil

When choosing a fish oil, add up the EPA/DHA portion of omega 3’s, as these are the most important. At a minimum, you should be getting 500 mg/day of EPA/DHA, and several studies and people I surveyed had up to 4000 mg of DHA/EPA per day. Some studies show that too much fish oil can increase LDL (bad cholesterol levels) and If you have a diet filled with foods like salmon, flax seeds, walnuts or kale, you may not need a supplement. However, most people can greatly benefit from a fish oil supplement. It seems like the list is never-ending, but here is a list of the most important potential benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

#1 – Improves Mental Health

#2 – Lowers Cholesterol

#3 – Lowers Triglyceride Levels

#4 – Reduces Inflammation In The Body

#5 – Eliminates Joint Pain

#6 – Improves Your Skin

#7 – Promotes Weight/Fat Loss

#8 – May Prevent Schizophrenia

#9 – Improves Brain Function In Babies

#10 – Increases Your Focus

#11 – Reduces Post-Partum Depression

#12 – Improves Vision

#13 – Reduces Soreness From Weight Training

#14 – Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease

#15 – May Slow Breast Tumor Growth

#16 – Improves Cardiovascular Health

#17 – Eases The Effects Of Alzheimer’s Disease

#18 – Improves Cognitive Function

#19 – Stabilizes Mood

#20 – Decreases Blood Pressure

Vitamin D (focusing mainly on Vitamin D3)

In the winter, Vitamin D deficiency is a world-wide epidemic, with recent estimates indicating greater than 50% of the global population is at risk. Some studies show that up to 75% of the US had an insufficient amount of Vitamin D. Reportedly, two sessions of 15 minutes of sunlight each week is adequate for your body to naturally produce the necessary amounts of vitamin D. However, in the winter(especially here in Norway) the body cannot absorb these natural levels of vitamin D from the sun. In this case, a supplement is needed. Recomended intake: between 500 and 5000 IU’s (international units). I take a 3000 IU supplement in the winter.

Vitamin C

Probably the “best known” vitamin and most popular in the health and wellness market. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 50-60 milligrams per day, but higher levels can strengthen your immune system even more. Vitamin C helps form collagen and maintain such body parts as bones, cartilage, muscle, veins, capillaries, and teeth. Here is a list of some of the benefits.

  • Repairs tissue
  • Heal bones and wounds
  • Maintains health skin
  • Fights infection
  • Helps your body absorb iron
  • Building strong bones and teeth
  • Acting as an agent to hold new cells together
  • Supporting various metabolic processes
  • Boosts immune system
  • Potent antioxidant
Foods high in Vitamin C

If you are consuming these foods, a vitamin c supplement is not necessary. However, during cold and flu season, aiding your immune system with a vitamin C tablet could be beneficial.

B Vitamins

A Vitamin B-complex is used for ENERGY PRODUCTION and increases your metabolism.  Vitamin B is needed to help convert the carbohydrates we eat into glucose and eventually to usable energy.  Deficiencies in Vitamin B can lead to lethargy and fatigue. The best forms of B vitamins are from natural/unprocessed foods such as meat, turkey and tuna, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, and beans. Because there are several Vitamins the make up a B complex, recommended daily allowance is tough to pinpoint. If you have a healthy diet filled with these foods, you are most likely reaching your recommended Vitamin B levels. With that being said, if you feel lethargic or fatigued, give a vitamin B-complex a shot to see if it aids in your energy levels.

Calcium/Magnesium

Calcium’s best-known role in the body is strengthening your bones and teeth. But, it also facilitates muscle activities including lifting, pushing and pulling, and plays an important role in the circulatory system by keeping blood moving efficiently. The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 mg daily. Like calcium, magnesium supports bone and tooth structure and plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation,  as well as helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Recommended daily amount is between 300 and 400 mg. Paired calcium and magnesium supplements are a powerful combination of minerals that complement one another. For instance, calcium primarily causes contraction of muscles and vessels while magnesium primarily causes relaxation. If your intake of any of the foods below are adequate you can probably do without a calcium/magnesium supplement.

Foods high in magnesium

Conclusion

There is no “correct” universal supplementation plan. Supplement intake should be based on what areas you think you are lacking in your diet. I strongly encourage everyone to take a daily multi-vitamin because as discussed before, it can help seal up any cracks in your otherwise, well-balanced diet. Other than that, each daily supplement regiment is very individualized. My general recommendation;

  • 1 Daily Multi Vitamin
  • 1 Fish oil supplement (aim for at least 800 mg DHA/EPA)
  • 1 Recovery Shake (post exercise)
  • 1 Vitamin d supplement (in the winter only)

Special thanks to all those who took part in the survey and Ben Ryan for helping with the blog.

From Norway,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com