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Whether you’re looking to adjust your swing or become a stronger player, Sanford POWER is here to help drive your game no matter your age or current skill set.
The Sanford POWER Golf Academy in Sioux Falls is the most comprehensive golf program in the region, bringing together skill work with sports science, physical therapy, and strength and conditioning.
It can be difficult for athletes, coaches and parents to sort out fact, fiction and fads in the evolving field of sports science.
The Sanford Sports Science Institute is here to help. Through its role as the official research partner of the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, SSSI experts are going to your questions in this ongoing segment: Ask an Expert.
Question: I have heard from friends that athletes have higher protein needs and need to drink a protein shake post-workout in order to gain muscle. Is this true?
Answer: Good question! While it is true that athletes have higher protein needs than the average person to help build and repair muscle, large amounts of protein doesn’t necessarily equate to more muscle and most athletes can meet their protein needs through food. Eat high-quality protein, such as meat, eggs, fish, dairy, or soy in addition to carbohydrates and healthy fats at each meal to optimize performance gains and muscle recovery.
Question: How do plyometrics transfer in sprinting and middle-distance races?
Answer: Plyometric exercise involves an eccentric, or lengthening, muscle contraction followed by a forceful concentric, or shortening, muscle contraction. Research has shown that strength training and plyometric training to improve running economy and performance. To run faster, a runner needs to be able to put added force into the ground to create a powerful contraction to propel themselves forward. Plyometric training has been found to improve the stretch shortening cycle by improving musculoskeletal stiffness and increasing the ability to store and release energy. Other benefits of plyometric training include increased recruitment of muscle fibers, improved neuromuscular coordination, and improved fatigue resistance. Plyometric training can benefit both sprinters and middle-distance runners. This type of training will help make a runner more explosive at the start of the race and added muscle fiber recruitment will also increase their stamina to the finish line. If you are including plyometric training to the strengthening program be sure to include it at the beginning of the session and it should be performed at maximum effort and velocity.
Jennifer Dalland, MS, ATC, Sanford Sports Science Specialist
Jessie Haines, CSCS, Lead Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Spurrs, R.W. et al (2003). “The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance” European Journal of Applied Physiology, 89(1), 1-7
Turner, A.M. et.al (2003). “Improvement in Running Economy after 6 weeks of plyometric training” Journal of National Strength and Conditioning Research, 17(1), 60-67.
Question: How can I monitor my hydration status throughout training and before competition?
Answer: A simple way for athletes to monitor hydration is by looking at the color of their urine. If an athlete’s urine is dark yellow, that is a sign of dehydration and means the athlete should drink some fluids (water or a sports drink are often the best options). Dehydration usually happens over an extended period of time, so it may take several hours for an athlete to fully rehydrate. Moderate and consistent fluid intake is the best strategy for preventing dehydration and rehydrating after activity. If an athlete’s urine is light yellow it means he/she has probably been doing a good job of staying hydrated. Well-hydrated athletes should continue regular consumption of fluids to maintain a proper hydration status.
Dan Poel, MS, CSCS Sports Science Institute
Question: What sort of diet should a 100-meter sprinter follow?
Answer: Good nutrition can help sprinters get the most out of their training to build muscle, become stronger and faster, and gain the energy they need to perform at a high level. During training, the majority of a sprinter’s calories (at least 55 percent) should be coming from carbohydrates in the form of bread, pasta, rice, cereal, fruits, vegetables, dairy and legumes/beans. Although the sprint race itself is short and will not necessarily require carbohydrate loading, adequate carbohydrate intake during training is essential for providing the muscles with energy and for recovery after training sessions/practice. Another key nutrient is protein – sprint athletes have high protein needs (at least 1.2 grams per kg body weight) to promote muscle recovery and growth. Having a serving of protein-rich foods, including meat, poultry, dairy, eggs and fish at all meals, snacks, and post-workout helps athletes meet their protein needs to build muscle and aid in recovery. In addition to meals, drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated is essential for performance, especially for longer or intense workouts or exercise in a hot/humid environment.
A sample day of meals for an athlete might look like this:
Breakfast: 2 pieces of whole grain toast with 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter and sliced banana, 2-3 eggs with shredded cheese
Snack: Trail mix made with nuts, raisins or other dried fruit and whole grain cereal
Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich on a whole grain bun with 1-2 slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, 1 piece of fruit and 8-16 oz. milk
Pre-Workout Snack – a few options: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a date and nut bar or a granola bar or a piece of fruit
Dinner: 4-6 oz. meat, poultry or fish, 2 cups of cooked vegetables, 2 cups of cooked grains/starches (pasta, rice, quinoa, corn, beans, peas, sweet potato or potato), optional side salad with vinaigrette dressing and 8-16 oz. milk
Optional bedtime snack: 1 cup of Greek yogurt with berries and granola
Nutrition is highly individualized, so although all athletes should be focusing on consistency with nutrition (starting the day off with breakfast, eating every few hours, packing snacks to have pre-practice and making sure post-workout recovery nutrition is occurring within an hour post-workout), nutrition needs vary between individuals. Additionally, there are other considerations such as when and what to eat before a competition, travel nutrition, and individual goals of athletes that may change nutrition recommendations for different athletes, so working with a Sports Dietitian can help you determine what your nutrition plan should look like on workout and competition days.
Question: What causes muscle cramps and how do you treat them?
Answer: Muscle Cramps are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions that can occur during or after exercise. They can be caused by muscle fatigue or from an excessive loss of water and electrolytes due to heavy sweating. Muscle cramps are more likely to occur during intense and/or prolonged exercise in hot, humid conditions.
The best treatment for muscle cramps is prevention! This includes being well-trained and conditioned for a given bout of exercise, and being properly rested, nourished and hydrated before exercise begins. During and after exercise, it is important to replace fluids and electrolytes that are lost. A cool-down can also be beneficial. If muscle cramping does occur, gentle massage and stretching will help relax the muscle and alleviate the pain.
Jennifer Dalland, MS, ATC
Sanford Sports Science Institute
Question: I have a goal to reduce the size of my legs. I do some exercises (more with leg) in the gym and then I run on a treadmill. I’m scared these workouts will increase the size of my legs. If I do exercises that focus on other parts of the body will my legs get smaller?
Answer: It’s a common misconception that strength training negatively influences runners. The idea that increasing leg size or muscle mass will slow down a runner is inaccurate. In fact, strength training has many positive factors on improving running performance. Strength training increases running economy by improving the muscle tendon stiffness, increasing the capacity to store energy in the muscles, and by improving muscle contractions. This will help increase speed, power and running endurance. There are also several other factors that influence an increase in muscle mass such as, genetics, age, gender, nutrition, and the type of strengthening program. There are different variations in strengthening that can increase muscle strength without a significant increase in muscle mass.
When we work with our running groups, we focus on heavier lifts in the rep ranges of 2-8. This helps create neurological connections with type II muscle fibers that are not typically activated in runners. These type II fibers are the larger and stronger fibers that will help increase speed and power, thus improving running economy and reducing run time. The benefit of this is creating the neurological connections will not add to muscle belly size. What happens most times when starting to lift heavier sets and reps the muscle belly starts to shrink slightly as fat mass is burned.
Jennifer Dalland MS, ATC
Sanford Sports Science Institute
Charley Smook, MS, CSCS
Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach
Question: What is the best nutrition strategy to follow when recovering from a strenuous workout?
Answer: Right after a strenuous workout (within 30-60 minutes), you should start your nutrition and hydration plan following the “3 R’s of Recovery.”
Re-hydrate with fluid and electrolytes by drinking water or sports drinks to replenish the fluids lost in sweat during your training session. You can weigh yourself before and after a training session, and drink 16-20 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost during that workout.
Refuel your muscle energy by eating a carbohydrate-rich snack. Carbohydrates are your muscles’ preferred fuel source and your body likely uses up a significant amount of those carbohydrates during a strenuous and/or prolonged training session. Get ready for your next workout by having carbohydrates in the form of grains and starches, fruit or dairy.
Rebuild your muscles by eating 15-25 grams of protein to promote muscle growth and recovery.
A good example of a post-workout routine would be to drink water or sports drinks, and have a carbohydrate- and protein-rich snack, such as chocolate milk, a turkey sandwich, Greek yogurt and berries with granola, or a smoothie made with milk, Greek yogurt or whey protein, and fruit, within one hour after a workout. Remember to continue to eat “real meals” throughout the day – your next meal should be 1-2 hours after that recovery snack. In general, a diet that has adequate carbohydrates, protein at each meal and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats will support recovery during the most strenuous training periods.
Question: What exactly is the best time to taper for optimal peaks?
Answer: Leading up to an important competition, the challenge is to find the optimal balance between maintaining maximal fitness and strength levels while resting enough to reduce the fatigue from training.
For a track and field athlete, this means identifying a few key races or competitions during the season to taper for. It is not possible to taper for every meet, as you would not have enough time to make gains by training intensely and with enough volume. Tapering does work, and has been shown to improve performance by up to 3 percent. Most research identifies the greatest benefit from tapering between 7-21 days. This is a large window of time to try and identify what works best.
Much of this depends on the event an athlete is competing in along with the duration and intensity level of their training. It makes sense to err on the side of a longer taper as a well-rested athlete will out-perform one that is fatigued. For a power event such the jumps or the javelin, you may want to experiment with a taper in the 7-14 day range. This would mean that the duration/repetitions in practice are reduced while maintaining a high level of quality and intensity.
Each athlete is unique and will react differently to the duration of taper that delivers the greatest performance benefits. You should try and experiment early in the track season to see what works best so that you have a set routine leading up to the most important competitions later in the season.
Scott Hettenbach, MS, CSCS
Question: I am a male athlete who is carrying around few extra pounds. What is the best way for me to lose weight through my diet without losing muscle mass?
Answer: Athletes who want to lose weight or decrease their body fat should be aware that large decreases in calories, eliminating entire food groups, or skipping meals inappropriately can lead to fatigue, decreased focus and mood state, poor performance during training and competitions and could lead to a decrease in hard-earned muscle mass. Ideally, athletes trying to lose weight and/or decrease body fat would continue to eat three meals a day, while decreasing overall portion sizes and intake of fast food/fried foods, convenience, packaged snacks and sugary beverages. To maintain muscle mass while decreasing body fat percentage, there should be an emphasis on loading up the plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruits, lean protein sources such as grilled chicken, and decreasing carbohydrate portions (1/3 to 1/4 of the plate instead of 1/2 to 1/3 of the plate) at meals. Overall, these adjustments will result in a lower calorie intake, and a smaller percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates/starchy foods (though this is not a LOW carb diet), so athletes should make these nutritional changes in the off-season to limit any undesirable effects on performance. Working with a dietitian to help you determine your energy needs and a more detailed nutrition plan will help take the guesswork out of meeting your goals.
Answer: Yes! A dynamic warm-up is vital, and should be tailored towards the activity you are about to perform. For example, you should do shoulder mobility work before throwing or overhead lifting, or coordination and light plyometrics (jumps, hops) before running- or jumping-based workouts. These types of warm-ups prepare the neuromuscular system (nerves and muscles) for the activity it’s about to undergo, increasing performance and reducing the risk of injury. Before any form of exercise or sport, it’s recommended to perform an appropriate dynamic warm-up.
Zadok Isaacs, MS
Sanford Sports Science Institute
Question:Most endurance athletes are well-rooted in the concept of cooling down (or warming down) after a race or hard-workout – easing the body back to a normal, relaxed level with at least several minutes of very light jogging (or cycling or swimming, say). But what about events that involve explosive power, like jumping, vaulting or throwing field events? Or even something like weight lifting or football. Does the same principle apply, even if the heart rate has not been elevated like in a longer race?
Answer:The primary purpose of cooling down after exercise is to gradually transition the body to a state of rest (i.e., homeostasis) after a period of exertion. Light activity (e.g., walking, jogging) after a difficult workout or competition supports the cardiovascular system’s transition to rest by helping circulate blood throughout the body and reducing the demands on the heart. Cooling down also helps the body dissipate heat over a period of time, so that there is less thermoregulatory strain on the body.
For explosive or power-based activities, the need and usefulness of a cool down depends on the total duration and/or volume of work performed. If an athlete performs a couple of throws or jumps without greatly elevating his or her heart rate or body temperature, the body will return to homeostasis rather quickly without a deliberate cool down – though a warm up would still be recommended beforehand.
For an athlete performing a series or throws or jumps, or going through an entire weightlifting workout, it’s likely that his/her heart rate, body temperature and neuroendocrine system would be up-regulated in response to the workload, and therefore a cool down would be warranted. Even if there are periods of recovery in between attempts or sets of high intensity activity, the cumulative workload will create disturbances in one’s physiology that are best reversed with a cool down period rather than abruptly stopping the activity.
Q:What is the best brand or type of running shoes to train in to reduce injury risk?
A:Sports medicine professionals, athletic coaches, and retailers frequently advertise or recommend certain brands or models of running shoes as the “best” or editor’s choice, with the aim of preventing running related injuries or improving performance. With the numerous features of today’s running shoes, such as motion control or stability devices, the heel-toe offset, and degree of cushioning, it can be difficult for the consumer to identify what features they might need in a pair of running shoes.
What might be best for one runner’s muscle strength, range of motion, running technique, and even previous injuries, may not be the best for another runner’s. Contrary to popular belief, clear evidence to support an all-encompassing prescription of certain styles of running shoe just isn’t there. In fact, prescribing someone running shoes most likely starts with the running shoes they are currently wearing. For example, if a runner is accustomed to wearing a pair of shoes with a 10-mm heel-toe offset with a moderate about of cushioning and pronation control, their next pair of shoes shouldn’t be too much different. Switching from one style of running shoe to a completely new style may not allow this runner’s body enough time to adapt, possibly leading to pain or injury similar to what they might experience if they increase their training intensity or volume too rapidly.
If this runner eventually wants to transition to a more minimal shoe with a 0-mm heel-toe offset, their next pair could pair could possibly have an 8-mm heel-toe offset while keeping the other characteristics similar. While running shoes may slightly alter running technique, no runner should expect a new pair of running shoes to completely resolve a nagging injury. After all, the majority of running related injuries can be traced back to training error, inadequate muscle strength or joint range of motion, or running technique faults.
Colin Bond, MS
Sanford Sports Science Institute
Q: I tend to sweat a lot when I train, is that normal?
A: An individual athlete’s sweat rate is unique to them. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself, via evaporation of sweat on the skin’s surface. Your sweat rate is dependent on environmental conditions (temperature and humidity), intensity of the training session and current fitness level. As you become acclimatized to a hot environment you tend to start to sweat sooner as your body recognizes the environment you are training in. You will also tend to hold onto key electrolytes (eg. sodium) more efficiently.
Jason Dorman, MS, CSCS
Sanford Sports Science Institute
Q: How can I stay safe when training in the heat?
A: Training in hot, humid conditions can be challenging for any athlete. Heat illness is more likely to occur and performance can often be limited, particularly in sports and events that take place over a long period of time. It is important to allow your body a chance to adapt to the heat and humidity by slowly increasing the length and intensity of your workouts in these conditions.
This adjustment (acclimatization) period normally takes one or two weeks, and should also include a gradual introduction of protective gear in sports that require it (e.g., football).
During your practices/workouts, you should take longer rest periods and adjust the length and/or intensity of your sessions based on the temperature and humidity. If possible, work out during cooler times of the day (early morning or late evening) and wear lightweight, light-colored, breathable clothing. Begin every session well-rested, well-nourished and well-hydrated. Start drinking fluids (water, sports drink) well before your training session begins, drink regularly throughout your workouts and remember to drink extra fluids afterwards to replace what you lost from sweating. Rehydrating after a training session will make your body more prepared for subsequent workouts in the heat.
Finally, be aware of the symptoms of mild and severe heat illness. Symptoms of mild heat illness include fatigue, weakness, and feeling overheated. More severe heat illness may cause you to experience headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or confusion. Recognize these symptoms early and take action to prevent your condition from becoming more severe.
If you suspect that you may be getting ill, stop your workout, go to a cool place, lie down and elevate your feet, drink fluids and notify someone who can help you. If you train SMART, you can perform safely in the heat and may even get an edge on your competition.
As we move into the New Year, you may be craving a fresh start. The holiday season can often derail our normal fitness and nutrition habits. While health should be a year-long pursuit, New Year’s resolutions can be a fun opportunity to change your habits for the better.
Many people select over-ambitious or vague resolutions, and this leads them to lose track of their resolutions before they achieve their goals. Have you ever noticed how packed gyms tend to be in January, but by February they clear out significantly?
Here are some tips for sticking to your resolution throughout 2019:
Write it down where you’ll see it. If you made a goal to eat healthier, put a reminder on your fridge. If you made a resolution to walk during your lunch hour, set an alert on your phone or a post-it at your desk. If you made a goal to gain strength and lift more, write down your progress throughout the year.
Select SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These guidelines will help you to pick goals that are better defined and easier to stick to. So, instead of setting “lose weight” as a goal, you could set “lose five pounds by May 2019 by cooking at home at least four times weekly and going for a run twice weekly.”
Focus on the habits over the outcome. You may want to increase your lean muscle, but you’ll get there by changing your habits. Focus on the adaptations you’ll make to your fitness routine and eating habits.
Form compatible resolutions with friends or family. You can resolve to work out or cook together, which will help you both stay more accountable with your resolutions. The social support will help you if you struggle.
Use technology as a tool to maintain motivation. You can easily set reminders relevant to your resolution on your smartphone. You can also find apps that are relevant to your goals. Want to exercise more without a gym membership? Try apps like Couch to 5k, Nike Training Club, and Daily Yoga. You can also search YouTube for a variety of free fitness videos. Want to be more aware of your eating habits? Try the app MyFitnessPal. Want to cook more? Find a variety of recipes and cooking tutorials online.
In addition, you can set new goals throughout the year. Maybe you found your New Year’s resolution just doesn’t work for your schedule. Maybe you even met your goal earlier than expected and lost motivation to keep going. Self-improvement is a continuous process, so set smaller goals all year to constantly challenge yourself.
The cold and flu season is quickly approaching. Even a mild illness can cause a major setback to your fitness gains.
Making sure that you’re eating the right foods and including rest days in your routine can make a huge difference to your immune health. Maintaining the best immunity can often mean the difference between success and failure during the season.
Let’s talk about foods that can help you stay healthy and maximize your workouts.
How to balance nutrition, exercise and immunity
It is important to make sure that you are consuming enough calories, carbohydrates, dietary fats and protein to keep your energy levels up and to support your exercise energy expenditure.
Long training sessions can have a suppressive effect on immune function. Make sure to include a source of carbohydrates before, during and after a training session.
Foods to help support your immune system
There are many foods that are important to include in your diet to support a healthy immune system:
Including sources of protein like lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, seafood and soy products can help keep your immune system healthy. Protein is part of your body’s defense mechanism.
Vitamin A. To help regulate the immune system, include sources of vitamin A. Vitamin A also helps to protect the body from infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. Foods that are a good source of vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots and eggs.
Vitamin C. Another vitamin that can help protect the body from infection is vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies which can improve immune function. Good sources of vitamin C include: papaya, strawberries, tomato juice, foods fortified with vitamin C, and citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can help neutralize free radicals and improve your immune function. Include sources of vitamin E in your diet such as sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils, hazelnuts, peanut butter and fortified cereals.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Add omega-3 fatty acids to reduce chronic inflammation. Foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
Zinc and vitamin D. Other important nutrients to include in your diet to promote your immune health include zinc (lean meats, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts), vitamin D (fatty fish, egg yolks and foods fortified with vitamin D).
More ways to boost your immune system
To keep your immune system running strong, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet that provides you with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
Make sure to practice proper hand washing and food safety practices.
Recovery from workouts is important. Prioritize this by including rest days into your routine.
Don’t forget that a sports nutrition dietitian is always available to work with you to determine your energy needs to support both your training and immune function. To meet with a dietitian near you,contact us.
Many of us start out our day with a hot cup of coffee to get going. But have you ever considered how caffeine may affect your workouts?
Do you already use caffeine-containing supplements to boost your performance?
Let’s take a look at caffeine’s role in exercise and how best to use it to improve your performance and avoid its downfalls.
Benefit 1: More alertness
caffeine comes in many forms
Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound found in many of our favorite foods and beverages: coffee, tea and chocolate to name a few.
Caffeine is a stimulant and has been demonstrated to improve physical strength and endurance, as well as alertness and wakefulness. Regular use does lead to tolerance, so taking time away from use may be necessary at times to continue to reap the rewards.
Benefit 2: Longer performance
Caffeine supplementation increases endurance exercise performance significantly. As measured by time to exhaustion, caffeine reliably elicits 1.2-1.4 times longer performance.
Additionally, caffeine can reduce the perception of effort, allowing you to do more mileage without necessarily feeling more tired.
Benefit 3: Better power
The benefits don’t stop with aerobic exercise – caffeine holds promise for weightlifters and those participating in anaerobic pursuits as well.
One study in sprinters noted that caffeine resulted in reduced sprinting times. Power output is increased during caffeine supplementation as well, measured in one-rep max tests.
Benefit 4: Less soreness
Caffeine has also been demonstrated to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) when taken before particularly intense workouts. This could all help you set a new PR in the weight room or on the competition floor.
Risks of too much caffeine
So how much caffeine should you consume to see the benefits? Most studies seeing benefits to exercise without side effects use 3 mg/kg of body weight. For the average man and woman, this works out to about 260 and 210 mg, respectively. This equates to about one medium-large sized coffee.
More is not better, however, and too much caffeine may result in anxiousness, impaired sleep, or even heart problems. Use caution and start at a low dose to assess your tolerance. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to use caffeine if you have existing health problems, or experience any symptoms during use.
In conclusion, when used appropriately caffeine can be a useful tool for those looking to enhance their physical performance in the gym or on the field.
Drew Hicks, Sanford Sports Science Institute dietetic intern
Bell DG, Mclellan TM. Exercise endurance 1, 3, and 6 h after caffeine ingestion in caffeine users and nonusers. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2002;93(4):1227-1234. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00187.2002.
Staying well hydrated is important for athletes to gain a competitive edge because hydration status has a large impact on both performance and recovery. Fluids in the body assist in regulating body temperature, help blood to pump freely, deliver fuel and oxygen to muscles and clear out waste products. Athletes should arrive at workouts well hydrated. Losing as little as two percent of body weight through sweat can impair an athlete’s ability to perform due to a low blood volume and less than optimal utilization of oxygen and nutrients. Drinking enough fluids to keep urine pale and lemonade in color rather than apple juice color indicates good hydration status. Athletes should remember to drink early and often during exercise, but don’t over-drink, and know which drinks are appropriate for what kind of exercise.
Why it can be a good choice: Sports drinks have a concentration of 6 to 8 percent carbohydrate which is an amount that maximizes fluid absorption and carbohydrate digestion. This makes sports drinks a good option for exercises lasting over 60 minutes. After an exercise, sports drinks help to rebalance electrolytes and increase the amount of fluid ingested. Sports drinks are designed to deliver carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids in a way that will minimize stomach upset and maximize absorption for delivery of energy to muscles. Sports drinks also taste great which encourages us to drink more.
When do we need it? If you are training for >60-90 minutes, choose a sports drink to help replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat and provide a quick energy source. Also if you are participating in multiple events on the same day or competing in hot/ humid conditions a sports drink can be a good option.
What to be aware of: Avoid drinking sports drinks throughout the day; keep in mind the calorie content per serving. Sports drinks also provide little other nutrition.
Why it can be a good choice: The best fluid to consume is water. Water is a great choice for all day hydration and during shorter workouts.
When do we need it? Water should be consumed throughout the day, during training and at meal times.
What to be aware of: Water does not contain any electrolytes that we especially need replaced after long, hard workouts. Also, if you don’t like the taste of water, you might not drink enough. Try adding fruit, lemons, limes, herbs like mint or even cucumbers to your water to increase your intake.
Why it can be a good choice: Juice is a good source of carbohydrate that fuel working muscles. It also provides us with vitamins and minerals, but make sure you pick 100% juice when at the store.
When do we need it? Juice is generally not a good fluid choice during exercise. Juice can make a great pre and post workout drink. If it tastes too sweet, juice can be easily diluted.
What to be aware of: The carbohydrates in juice are too concentrated to use during a workout, which could slow absorption and could also cause stomach discomfort. Also, keep the serving size in mind if you’re watching your calorie intake.
Why it can be a good choice: There is some evidence that caffeine may enhance performance in endurance and speed athletes. Caffeine does not appear to increase weight loss but it may delay fatigue and improve mental sharpness. Moderate levels of caffeine, which is the amount in 2-3 cups of coffee, are acceptable especially if you are used to that amount. Larger doses of caffeine can have a diuretic effect.
When do we need it? Caffeine in high amounts is a banned substance by the NCAA. For most athletes, more than 500 mg right before competition may result in a positive test. If you choose to have caffeine, have some about 1 hour before competition and adjust your timing based on your experience. Tolerances vary from athlete to athlete. As a caution- know what you are putting in your body as some products do not disclose the caffeine content. They may also have additional additives that could impair your performance.
What to be aware of: Caffeine tolerance varies between individuals. It can cause side effects like jitters, irritability and anxiety. Also, if your coffee drink is your favorite specialty drink with whipped cream, flavorings and other extras, being aware of calories and dietary fat is important if you’re watching your waist line.
To develop a tailored hydration plan to fit your needs, meet with a Sanford sports dietitian! Click here for more information on meeting with a sports dietitian near you!
By Rachel Dewey, Iowa State Dietetic Intern and Lizzie Kasparek, MS, RD, CSSD, LN Sports Dietitian
Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle, but a growing trend of obsessive healthy eating has medical professionals worried. The hashtag #eatclean has 51 million posts on Instagram. Eating well and exercising are, of course, healthy habits to have, but there is a point where healthy behaviors can become unhealthy. When individuals become overly-fixated on only eating healthy foods, and restricting foods they consider unhealthy, this can negatively impact them in several ways.
Orthorexia is the term for a disordered pattern of eating where individuals have become obsessed about eating healthy foods and the quality and ingredients of the foods they include in their diets. They have restrictive diets and ritualized patterns of eating, including certain “clean,” “pure” and “healthy” foods, and rigidly avoiding any “unhealthy” foods, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies, medical complications and a poor quality of life.
With the rise of social media accounts promoting clean and healthy eating, it can be difficult to recognize when healthy habits are taken too far, to the point of being disordered. Although orthorexia isn’t currently recognized as a clinical eating disorder, it can still cause a great amount of distress for individuals , who create so many rules concerning what foods are healthy and what foods are not that more and more mental energy is needed to plan their diet for that day. One study found sufferers of orthorexia could spend upwards of 3 hours daily determining what, how much and when to eat. When food takes up that much of a person’s day, it decreases their ability to be spontaneous, to spend time on relationships, and their overall quality of life. Making sure “clean foods” will be available at family events, on trips, at work or at celebrations limits enjoyment and sometimes causes individuals to skip some social situations all together in order to ensure they can eat according to their rules.
In addition to the psychological stress of needing to adhere to strict food rules, orthorexia can cause other health issues. Some people may experience nutrient deficiencies or malnutrition from cutting out food groups or restricting the overall variety and/or amounts of foods eaten.
Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
Body image concerns may or may not be present
What can you do?
Work with a psychologist or therapist who has experience with eating disorders.
Unfollow social media that makes you feel guilty or overly concerned with health.
Remember moderation is key, don’t exclude treats from your diet.
Eat a colorful well balanced plate, including grains, fat, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy.
Be flexible and try new foods.
Koven, Nancy, and Alexandra Abry. “The Clinical Basis of Orthorexia Nervosa: Emerging Perspectives.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2015, p. 385., doi:10.2147/ndt.s61665.
Olejniczak, Dominik, et al. “Analysis Concerning Nutritional Behaviors in the Context of the Risk of Orthorexia.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Volume 13, 2017, pp. 543–550., doi:10.2147/ndt.s129660.
“Orthorexia.” National Eating Disorders Association, 22 Feb. 2018, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia.
You frequently hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is especially important for athletes. But why? And although every athlete has heard that they should eat breakfast, many still skip it for a variety of reasons. Read on to find out why this important meal can improve your performance and your overall nutrition.
Q: Do I really need to eat breakfast? I feel fine without it?
A: Both your brain and body work best when you provide it with morning fuel. While you are sleeping, your liver burns through its store of carbohydrates so our brain and muscles will not be be well fueled when we wake up. Without having a breakfast, your body proteins or muscles can be losing amino acids until you eat a source of protein. If you are not nourishing your body at breakfast, your energy can be low, your productivity and concentration could be lacking. Cravings for higher calorie treats will increase and you can be left feeling irritable until your first meal or snack. Breakfast also helps you to have better control of your appetite which also helps with weight management. For those individuals with very high calorie needs, missing any opportunity to eat can make it very challenging to meet your nutrition goals.
Q: What if I’m not hungry in the morning?
A: Is your late night snacking getting in the way? You may not be feeling hungry in the morning if you ate too much the night before. Not feeling hungry in the morning can also be habit if you’re not used to eating a breakfast. We get hungry at times that we’re used to eating at. It is okay to not feel hungry right after waking, but aim to eat something within the first hour to two hours of waking.
Q: What if I work out first thing in the morning?
A: If your workout is a light workout first thing in the morning, it’s fine to wait until afterwards, as long as you feel good during your workout. For harder workouts, experiment with easy to digest/ liquid carbohydrates like sports drinks, juice, yogurt or a banana before you exercise. You want to run on fuel, not fumes, which will allow you to work harder and maximize your fitness gains. Remember, whether your workout is light or hard, after your workout have a well-balanced breakfast. This is doubly important because it’s breakfast AND a recovery meal.
Q: What should I eat? Mornings are busy and I need something that doesn’t take time!
A: Breakfast can be quick and easy foods. You do not have to make elaborate, time consuming meals. They can be simple foods like cereal with milk and fruit. Try make-ahead options like batch cooking breakfast burritos, freezing them and then microwaving when needed (recipe can be found at the end of the article). Aim for a source of carbohydrate in the morning like milk, fruit or whole grains. Protein should also be included in your breakfast meals. Protein sources could include milk, eggs, string cheese, yogurt, nuts, and breakfast meats. Keep your fridge stocked with fast, easy breakfast ideas like yogurt, fruit, trail mix, whole grain bagels and hard boiled eggs to name a few.
Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas with even some nontraditional ideas to help you think outside the box:
Breakfast sandwich: Toast any bread of your choice, add eggs prepared your way and add a slice of cheese and/or lean deli meat
Bagel with peanut butter
Smoothie made with yogurt and fruit
Oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts
Leftovers from last night’s supper
Peanut butter and raisin sandwich or a deli meat sandwich with cheese
Breakfast Burritos (2 servings)
2 Tbsp. nonfat or low-fat milk
¼ cup to ½ cup canned beans (like pinto beans or black beans)
2, 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed*(Try whole-wheat tortillas to add fiber)
2 Tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup salsa (purchased or homemade)
Any chopped vegetables
Beat eggs and milk in a small bowl.
Lightly coat a skillet with nonstick cooking spray.
Pour egg mixture into pan, along with any vegetables of your choosing, and cook on medium to low heat until eggs become firm.
Spoon half of egg mixture down the center of each tortilla.
Top each with half of the cheese. Roll tortilla and serve with salsa.
For additional guidance to improve your athletic performance, meet with a sports dietitian! A sports dietitian can work with you to enhance your performance through your nutrition choices. Follow this link for more information on what a Sanford Sports Science Institute dietitian can help you achieve!
By Gavin Van De Walle
Dietetic Intern with Lizzie Kasparek, MS, RD, CSSD, LN Sports Dietitian
Shopping for your significant other is difficult. But have you ever tried shopping for protein powders?
Some powders are animal based and others plant, some digest quick while others slow, and some proteins are made from concentrate and others isolate.
And last but not least, you have to guess which flavor you might like the best.
To make your protein buying decision easier, here is a breakdown of the most common protein powders on the market.
Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysate
The two most common types of protein processing are concentrate and isolate. Protein concentrate is usually 80% protein and the remaining 20% consists of lactose, fat, minerals, and moisture. Protein isolate is the purest — and most expensive — option.
Isolates contains between 90-95% of protein and contains little to no lactose, making it a good option for those who are lactose intolerant.
Concentrate or isolate are available in a hydrolyzed form, which means the proteins are broken down into smaller parts for faster absorption.
But shelling out the extra dough for the isolate or hydrolyzed protein won’t necessarily give you better results.
Whey protein powder is the most popular choice on the market. It is derived from milk and is the liquid byproduct of cheese making. It is quickly absorbed by the body, making it useful before or after your workout.
Whey protein contains the greatest amounts of leucine, the amino acid that is directly involved in the process that builds your muscles and allows you to get stronger.
Beyond the leucine, whey protein also contains bioactive proteins that may offer other health benefits.
Unlike the rapidly digested whey protein, casein digests much slower. When consumed, casein forms gels which takes your body approximately six to seven hours to digest it.
In fact, this is why casein proteins were historically used to make glue. Per scoop, casein protein offers up to 60% of you recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium.
If you are allergic to milk, you might want to forgo the casein as the allergic response tends to be greater with casein than whey.
Soy protein is one of the few plant proteins that contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source for vegetarians.
Essential amino acids cannot be made by your body, so they must come from your diet. Soy protein, however, contains isoflavones, which can act like the female sex hormone estrogen in the body.
For this reason, men fear that soy protein can decrease testosterone levels. Some research supports this, while other research does not.
Rice and Pea Protein
Unlike soy, rice and pea proteins are do not contain all the essential amino acids. Combining them however, makes them a complete protein (one that contains all the essential amino acids).
These proteins are also low allergenic making them appealing to people with egg, dairy or soy allergies.
Interestingly, the combined amino acid profile of rice and pea protein is similar to whey protein making it a great vegan alternative.
Egg protein powders are made with pure egg white protein, making them low in fat and calories. But, that also means you’re missing out on the yolk which is where all the important nutrients are.
These powders digest at a medium rate, which will keep you satisfied longer than a faster digesting protein. But egg protein powders are one of the most expensive protein supplements on the market.
Hemp protein is made from the hemp seed. To clarify the strain of hemp that is used is low in the chemical THC, which is responsible for marijuana’s physiological effects.
Hemp protein is commonly marketed for its content of hearty healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, the omega-3 fatty acids only contribute around 10% of overall calories.
The omega-3 fatty acids also come from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is not the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil (EPA and DHA).
But hemp protein does contain a greater amount of fiber relative to other protein supplements.
Protein powder supplements are just that – they’re supplements. They shouldn’t replace the whole food in your diet nor are they necessarily needed.
However, they are a convenient – and often tasty – way to increase your protein intake.