Thursday, November 24, 2011

Water isn’t just for fish!

Most of us use water everyday. We use it for bathing, doing dishes, laundry and a multitude of different things. But, how often do we think of drinking it?  For most people it’s not nearly enough! If you have waited for your body to tell you that you need a drink it’s too late! The dehydration has already set in and a host of negative side effects are already under way!

Most people these days understand how important it is to drink plenty of water, but many are still not drinking enough. Most North Americans only drink between 3 and 4 cups of water a day. Some drink the recommended 8 – 10 glasses a day but then counter that by drinking diuretic drinks like coffee and alcohol.

The price you pay for dehydration is dull senses, poor production, fatigue, and bad recovery from stress and illness.  I believe that knowledge is power, and if you understand how your health is affected the better the chance that you will change any bad habit.

Of all the nutrients we consume protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins and water the only one we can’t live with out for more than a few days is.......water. It goes without saying then that it’s pretty important! Water is being continuously lost through sweat, evaporation, respiration and waste. Water helps purge toxins from our bodies it transports nutrients to the cells and is a natural appetite suppressant just to name a few beneficial effects.

More and more doctors, strength coaches and nutritionists are coming out with studies stating that we need more water then ever. This is especially true if we exercise and if you’re an athlete you need to consume upwards of 1.5 to 2 liters a day.

The warning signals of dehydration are; first, thirst.  This is a red flag, telling you that your body’s functions are in desperate need of re-hydration. You need to be drinking before during and after a workout and all through the day you should never say “boy I’m really thirsty”.  

Drinking plenty of water before you exercise will allow you to perform at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. Why? Well, compared to other drinks water releases and absorbs heat slowly. Maintaining temperature control is extremely important for athletes. A study done by Columbia University showed that if water is not replaced that total blood volume dropped and oxygen delivery was delayed as blood is more than 50% water.
The findings of a study presented at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Baltimore. Conducted by scientists at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Barrington, Ill., looked at how accurately athletes could estimate their sweat losses and fluid consumption during a 10-mile race. Eighteen seasoned runners participated in the study. The results showed that the runners drastically underestimated how much sweat they lost and consequently drank too little to stay well hydrated.
The runners underestimated their sweat losses by an average of 46 percent and their fluid intake by an average of 15 percent, resulting in the runners replacing only 30 percent of their fluids lost through sweat.

The study was conducted during a competitive 10-mile race on a 400-meter track. Participants were given access to a sports beverage consisting of a 6% carbohydrate-electrolyte solution in a 20-oz. sports bottle at mile two, four, six and eight. They were allowed to drink at their discretion at each designated stop, as well as carry the bottle and drink while running. Despite this, the runners still became dehydrated.

Both your heart and brain use water for balance of electrolytes and for electrical signals to pass. According to the Gatorade Institute a drop of 1-2% in water will begin to affect concentration and cause fatigue. A drop of 3- 5% will cause dizziness, headache and then muscle cramps. The 3% drop will also cause up to an 8 % drop in muscular strength and a 10% drop in speed. Severe dehydration can lead to heat stroke and even death.  Also a lack of water in the system will stress your cardiovascular system. For every 2-3lbs of water lost during exercise an increase of 8-10 beats per minute can be seen and your heart puts out one liter of blood less per minute.

The majority of people trying to lose fat through an exercise program don’t realize that they're metabolism and digestion are working less efficiently because their dehydrated.
An athlete also wants toxins out and nutrients in. Water does both eliminating toxins through sweat and excretion and allowing nutrients to be absorbed through the water barrier in the cell membranes.

Water also helps with injury prevention and recovery by protecting the organs, tissue and helping create synovial fluid which lubricates your joints. It is the component which makes up most of the cerebrospinal fluid the shock absorbing fluid between the vertebrae and around the brain. People who are hydrated sufficiently have fewer instances of chronic back problems and strokes.

Many people believe that drinking to much water will lead to excess water retention. The truth is that fluid retention and bloating are more common in people who are dehydrated.
Dehydration causes the body to retain water to dilute excess sodium. Now many people believe that sports drinks are better than water. Not true, they cause bloating and give you lots of unnecessary calories. Now for endurance athletes and those who tend to train at high levels for more than an hour yes the replenishment of fluids and electrolytes is very important thus, electrolyte based drinks can be beneficial.

Here is one final test, if you don’t have a bottle of water in front of you right now while you read this article you’re probably not drinking enough! GO GET SOME WATER!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Energy Balance

Energy Balance
The truth about “calories in and calories out”.

You might be a believer in this rule.  If I am 150 lbs and my daily energy expenditure is 1800 calories per day (because this is what the online calculator told me) and I eat 1800 calories per day, than I will stay the same weight.  If I eat less than 1800 calories I will lose weight.  Sounds simple and there is a lot of good science to back up this philosophy.
There is only one problem.  It never seems to work in real life with most people.  The reason is that true energy balance needs an increase in activity and an increase in proper micronutrients to really work.  In most cases, I have found that people living by this method are not exercising regularly and not eating properly. I have found that they are eating under their daily resting metabolic rate (RMR) and are not losing, but gaining fat.  What they do lose, in the very short term is muscle and water, with very little coming from fat stores.
So why is this happening?

It happens for a number of reasons. The most likely being a low RMR (resting metabolic rate), which in turn makes you a thrifty calorie burner and great at storing fat.  Your pro-hormone levels are not activating properly.  Maybe you are insulin sensitive, have high cortisol, thyroid is high or low, growth hormone is low or testosterone or estrogen is too low or too high.  Perhaps you continually looked for a quick fix to your fitness challenge and tried 1 or more of the many fad diets that are advertised.  Any of these reasons could explain the challenges most people face in reaching there fitness goals.
Let me tell you another little secret.  You know those magazine pictures that show these dramatic transformations from fat and frumpy to lean hard body…you know the ones with the house wife who now has abs. Firstly some are fake, surprise. But some are real. I have even met a few of these individuals, and can vouch for there ability to change and keep it off.  In every case, 100% those men or women increased daily activity, lifted weights and did cardio. They also increased daily calorie consumption. In most cases they doubled or even tripled calorie consumption and used supplements.  They also ate very differently than there old habitual way of eating.

Nutrient partitioning
Nutrient partitioning refers to how many calories are directed into muscular stores verses how many calories are directed into fat stores when you consume food.
Well what the hell does that mean?  Here is a simple explanation. Everybody wants to put on muscle while losing fat. There is only 1 problem. This is very difficult. This is because of nutrient partitioning thresholds.  You may have a fat gain threshold of 2000 cal a day. If you eat more than 2000 cal per day you tend to gain fat stores.  You want to gain muscle to, but you have a muscle threshold of 2200 calories per day.  You need to eat at least 2200 cal to gain any substantial muscle.  So to gain muscle you always gain some fat as well. Very frustrating!
Here’s where I give you the good news.  You can lower the muscle gain threshold.  I would say 90% of trainers don’t have any idea how to do this.  But yet again most trainers can’t teach someone to squat properly, let alone construct a proper program.  Sorry… you want the secret of how to change the muscle to fat ratio!  First your 2000 cal (number of calories depends on client evaluation) must be more nutrient rich. So you see a calorie just isn’t a calorie. 
The ratio of protein to carbs to fats has to be balanced.  If I told you that a person eating 600 calories of protein, 800 calories of carbs (mostly sugars) and 600 calories of fats (mostly of it being trans and hydrogenated fats) would not see the results that a person eating 1000 calories of lean protein sources, 500 calories from carbs (mostly fruits and veggies and fibre rich grains) and 500 calories from fats (the majority from omega 3 fish oil and an equal division on saturated and polyunsaturated omega 6 and 9 fats).

Here are some food examples of nutrient rich protein, carbs and fats.
Chicken breasts
Lean red meat
Cottage cheese
Milk protein isolates
Whey protein isolates
Green vegetables
Low glycemic index fruits
Sweet potatoes
Mixed grain bread
Fish oil, flax oil, olive oil
Mixed nuts

Your success here truly depends on being properly evaluated. At TopShape we do this for you. We can also instruct you to do this yourself if you choose our online personal training package.  Check back for follow-ups on this subject in the near future. Good luck!
TopShape Fitness.