Friday, November 9, 2012

Pass The Salt Please

Brian Lily writes today; “New Democrat MP Libby Davies wants to introduce guidelines for food manufacturers that will see them cut in half the amount of salt in their products, or put cigarette-style warning labels on their product”.
I guess this was a breaking point for me. I’m at the point now when Health Canada puts out a warning such as, tanning beds cause cancer, lawn herbicides cause cancer and finally too much sodium raises blood pressure which leads to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death I immediately raise an eyebrow.  Whenever governments start these campaigns, look for cancer rates to rise and CVD deaths increase.
Let me go on a quick rant about sodium. Salt is an essential mineral. Without it the body will die. If you get too little your IQ will drop and your body’s systems will become damaged.  This salt myth has been around since the 60’s. I believe it started when drug companies started introducing blood pressure lowering medications. They started spewing untruths that too much salt was causing hypertension and the only solution was drugs.
This myth has been vetted literally through hundreds of studies proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that lowering salt intake will not lower risk of CVD. In fact it will raise it.  The Lancet Medical Journal published the results of a study referenced in the Journal of the American Medical Association, May 2011. In it Jan Straessen and colleagues found when studying systolic blood pressure (BP) that a positive correlation could be found with sodium when examining 24 hour urinary sodium excretion.  She found lower sodium excretion predicted higher cardiovascular disease. mortality.
It is not the sodium content in processed foods that are bad, it is the fact that these foods are nutritional poor with too much inflammatory fats, carbs, dyes and preservatives. There is nothing wrong with adding salt to prepared meals.
This article links to my last on adrenal fatigue. Too little salt equals adrenal problems. The lack of exercise and horrid diets have left most of our population in a state where hormone levels are out of wack. If your hormones are jacked you will not lose weight.  When your adrenals are not activating properly, you become leptin resistant. This leads to gut inflammation and then insulin resistance.  I see this everyday with new clients being tested at my personal training studio in Ottawa. Along with exercise it is the key to their health. Like many they show up believing all of the untruths that they see and read in media.  Unfortunately our government seems to believe these myths as well.
So what type of salt is best. I like  coarse sea salt over refined salt. Himalayan mountain salt is the most unpolluted, if you are the “I need the best of the best type”.
Be very wary about government policy on health.  Politics and science usually don’t mix. The message coming out at the end is usually complete garbage. I’m not being too harsh. Next they’ll tell you that eating vegan will keep you looking younger. Oh and pass the salt!
Mike Hayden
TopShape Fitness Studio

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are My Adrenals' Exhausted?

I'm not sure whether it is the heat or the economic down turn, or that people are just generally more stressed these days...but I am seeing many more clients with either adrenal stress and very high cortisol levels or adrenal exhaustion.  One will inevitably lead to the other if not addressed.
So here is a good article that may shed some light on why you are feeling like you do.

I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Have you got what it takes?

Have you got what it takes?

It has been said that if you spend an average of six hours a week in the gym that you are considered an athlete. This statement is somewhat true but if you intend on being a high level athlete then six hours is just the beginning.

Six hours is much more than the average fitness buff spends on a fitness routine but, if we look at an elite track athlete’s program or swimmer they have training programs that have them in the pool or at the track four to five hours a day, and this does not include time spent in the gym.

As the Olympics will come to an end and the Paralympics approach I want to give everyone an idea of the complexities of a training program for a high level athlete. Programming for an athlete involves many different training goals and each must somehow be incorporated into a program. Each program must be designed to have the athlete’s performance peak at a specific time. The program must allow for proper nutrition, recovery and must have the proper stimulus to create a positive adaptation. We must remember that training is a stress; this stress is designed to create an adaptation. Hopefully the stress is enough to create a positive adaptation and not a negative one. Too much stress in the form of intensity or volume can have some very negative side effects. Some of these negative side effects include insomnia, irritability, loss of appetite, soreness in the muscles that lingers, injuries and more.

Along with an extensive training regime there must be a nutritional plan. Nutritional planning for an athlete is no small task. Some nutritionists have made quit lucrative businesses in designing nutrition programs for athletes. Each person’s program is tailored to their specific needs for calorie intake, carbohydrate content, protein needs, recovery, and supplementation. Nutrition for an athlete is an ongoing process. The program often needs to be fine tuned at different times of the training cycle depending on the athlete’s performance. The issue of supplementation is one that needs to be addressed. Top level athletes do not have the convenience of using many of the high tech supplements for fear they may contain any of the hundreds of banned substances. Most of them usually stick to the basic protein powders and electrolyte based sports drinks.

Sport specific programs must allow for many diverse factors including, power, strength, speed, agility, coordination, quickness, flexibility, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity and aerobic endurance. The science of training cycles is called Periodization and is very complex and is beyond the scope of this article. The basic idea is the athletes program is broken into four different cycles. The cycles are designed to allow the athlete to achieve the many diverse factors needed to compete at an elite level. Often athletes are training an average of four to six hours a day, six or seven days a week, with training sessions broken up over the day.

The four main cycles are the “Pre-Season”, “On Season”, “Post Season”, and “Active Recovery”. The basics of the cycles are this, the” pre-season” is designed to develop the athlete’s base in strength and power, and this is where most of the heavy weight training is done. As the season approaches the exercises are transformed to more sport specific movements and we begin to add agility and coordination drills into the program.

Flexibility and speed specific work are ongoing throughout this cycle. During the “on-season” cycle the program is geared towards maintaining the athletes’ strength, power, endurance etc. Now, if at any time one or more of these factors begin to diminish we will add a micro-cycle of “pre-season” training into the mix to give the athlete a quick jolt. As the season draws to a close we hope the athlete has not sustained any injuries. If this is the case then referral to the proper medical personal is the next step. Once the athlete has been rehabilitated we begin the final cycle called “active recovery”. The “active recovery” cycle is where the athlete remains active but is not training at a high intensity. Usually the athlete will go swimming, ride their bike, do light jogs etc. The duration of this is usually 2 to 4 weeks. The cycles then begin back at the “Pre season” cycle. Anyone who plays a sport, whether for fun or at a competitive level can make valuable use of Periodization.

As you can see the work involved in becoming an elite athlete is quite daunting.
The athletes must train, diet, work a regular job, and promote themselves and their sport.
All this is done in a typical day where most of us will work 8 hrs and go home.

As a professional strength and conditioning consultant I have an in depth look at what it takes to get to the highest level of mental and physical conditioning and let me say that one out of a hundred people has what it takes. We call them champions!!
Our athletes deserve our respect, gratitude, and applause for the tremendous task they have before them.

To all our Olympic and Paralympic Athletes

Until next time be fit and stay strong!
Peter J. Morel C.F.C, C.I.C, C.P.T.
TopShape Fitness Inc.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shift Work

Shift Work
“Eating right to achieve your health and wellness goals”
By: Mike Hayden CFC, AFS, SPT,

Many of my clients have asked me to produce nutrition plans for them because they work strange hours. Like many Canadians, they work ‘shift work’. In many individuals this has become another obstacle in the fight to build lean muscle and burn unwanted fat deposits.

While working on this diet, I realized that most of the strategies I was outlining were almost identical to the nutritional plans devised for most of our clients with some important exceptions.

Shift workers are usually prone to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and obesity. The major exception is that shift work upsets the body’s natural Circadian rhythms. This system is affected by daylight and night hours and dictates many of our body’s functions, such as sleep, hunger and digestion. Before I set-up this nutritional plan I wanted to understand fully the roll of Circadian rhythm upon shift workers who exercise regularly.

My reasoning was, if one needs to make exceptions to their nutritional plan when on shift work. It is because in many cases shift work is “rushed” work. Also, digestion is not at an optimal level because the body believes this should be your rest, repair and recover hours. It has also been my experience that shift workers are eating poorly during the day and over-eat during their shift. Also a huge problem is that their world flips when it comes to the weekend.

What does the current research say? In 2009 The Salk Institute for Biological Studies used mice to reveal that gene activity in the liver (the bodies’ metabolic clearing house) is mostly controlled by food intake and not by the body’s circadian clock as conventional wisdom lead us to believe.
"If feeding time determines the activity of a large number of genes completely independent of the circadian clock, when you eat and fast each day will have a huge impact on your metabolism," says the study's leader Satchidananda (Satchin) Panda, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory.
"We believe that it is not shift work per se that wreaks havoc with the body's metabolism but changing shifts and weekends, when workers switch back to a regular day-night cycle," says Panda.

They found that putting mice on a strict 8-hour feeding/16-hour fasting schedule restored the circadian transcription pattern of most metabolic genes in the liver of mice without a circadian clock. Conversely, during prolonged fasting, only a small subset of genes continued to be transcribed in a circadian pattern even with a functional circadian clock present.

A Northwestern University study has found that eating at irregular times -- the equivalent of the middle of the night for humans, when the body wants to sleep -- influences weight gain. The regulation of energy by the body's circadian rhythms may play a significant role. The study is the first causal evidence linking meal timing and increased weight gain.
This study was found in the journal Obesity.

For example, genes that encode enzymes needed to break down sugars rise immediately after a meal, while the activity of genes encoding enzymes needed to break down fat is highest when we fast. Consequently a clearly defined daily feeding schedule puts the enzymes of metabolism in shift work and optimizes burning of sugar and fat.

  1. Alternate 8hrs of eating with 16 hrs of fasting everyday.
  2. Planning, identify weakness. More protein, veggies and smart fats such as omega 3 fish oils with each feeding.
Many people on shift work order out for fatty, fried foods. These have a high processed carb make-up and lack a good lean protein source. All meals should contain both a protein and a carb.
  1. Use a digestive enzyme for help with metabolites during shift work. Also including yogurt, ginger, and pears in your diet to help. Add apple cider vinegar to your water to help combat blood sugar rise and blood pressure. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help fight fatigue.
  2. Prepare cut fruits and veggies to bring. Preferably the low gylcemic load type. But don’t be too picky.
  3. Lastly, cut the coffee. Many shift workers drink too much. Have 1 cup before your shift. It would be better if you add oolong tea or green tea during your shift to boost metabolism.

To summarize, the key to staying health for shift work is to remember it is meal timing that matters more than circadian rhythm. Eat small metabolically charged meals containing lean protein sources and vegetables with each feeding over 8hrs. Use a digestive enzyme or include digestive aids such as yogurt, ginger and pears in your meal plans. Prepare foods instead of takeout. Lastly if you are having trouble getting 1.5 to 2g of protein per lb of body weight use a predigested  isowhey protein or high vegetarian protein (ex. Hemp) to supplement.
Keep Strong!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring into Action with Ten Top Fitness Tips

Use these ten tips to spring into the warm seasons, ready to enjoy whatever they will offer!

#1 Remember to warm up properly

Many people neglect to do a proper warm up, an important process necessary to prepare the body and its systems for the high intensity of the exercise program to follow. In the past, trainers and fitness consultants were quick to put people on the bike or rowing machine for an average of ten minutes to increase the temperature of the body and to help disperse the blood from the viscera to the working muscles. We now know that while this is fine for the cardiovascular system as it sends valuable messages to the central nervous system preparing it for the work to come, careful attention must be paid to the intensity of the warm up. If not, the increase in blood lactate could hamper the workout.
Muscles need a different type of neural message. Your central nervous system needs to relay four things to each group of muscles you are preparing to work within the exercise session: 1). What muscles do I want working?; 2). What exercise am I asking these muscles to perform?; 3). What is the range of motion in this exercise?; 4). Will there be a substantial weight involved in the exercise? Completing a couple of low repetition sets with a lighter weight than will be used for your actual workout sets can be a very good warm up.

#2 Use efficient exercises

Exercises like the bench press, the squat, and the pull up, are the backbone of any resistance-training program. Called "basic compound movements" because they force you to use the muscles attached to more than one joint, these exercises use more of the muscle fiber pool than isolation exercises such as flies, leg extensions, or alternate curls. By using compound movements, beginners will reduce the time that they need to exercise and will reduce the possibility of over-training and over-exertion. These movements develop strength in groups of muscles and eliminate imbalances in strength in opposing movements.

#3 Make changes

Change your exercise routines often. A beginner's central nervous system learns through repetitive motion, doing a motion over and over. It's recommended that those new to exercising wait until this neural adaptation phase is complete before making changes - for most people, this takes between four to six weeks. For more advanced exercisers - those of us who have been at it for two years or more - changes need to be made as often as every two weeks before your body adapts to the routine of your program and learns to 'cheat.' If changes are not made, you will enter a state of non-progression where advances will be at a standstill. The only way to get the body to respond to exercise is to stress it in a way it is not used to.

#4 Use training cycles

The use of training cycles is vitally important to avoid falling into the 'bodybuilding' way of life, using split routines and volume training without change. For athletes, this can be a quick path to the doctor's office. No athlete can be expected to train in the same way for 53 weeks of the year, on the contrary, changes in intensity and for sport-specific movements are essential. For example bodybuilders are concerned only with appearance and have no need for jumping power, take off speed and a-lactic recovery.
Cycles are designed to help an athlete to peak at the proper time, usually at the onset of the competitive season. Cycles for mass, strength, power, speed, endurance, and recovery must all be programmed into an athletic program when needed.

#5 Keep a detailed log

Very few people can train instinctively - those who do usually end up in my office on a referral from a doctor or chiropractor! The most important reason for keeping a training log is that it gives you an up-to-date account of where you are within the training cycle and informs you when you need to change. It also comes in handy for answering questions at the doctor's office. I've often asked people what exercise they were doing and how much weight was being used, only to be told that they don't remember.
A log will also show whether or not you are achieving your goals or have reached a plateau in your program.

#6 Eat a proper diet

Nutrition is one of the most important components of the good health formula. Nothing could be truer than the old adage, "you are what you eat." Everything within our bodies can be broken down into the elements we ingest on a day-to-day basis.
When you begin to add exercise to your daily routine many systems are taxed, and how well they adapt is what makes the program work for, or against you. Without proper nutrition, exercise will not work in your favor. If you abandon your daily pizza and french fries for lean meats, fruit and vegetables and follow the same exercise routine, the difference in results will be remarkable.

#7 Eat smaller portions more often

By dividing your caloric intake throughout the day, your metabolism will be forced to work at an elevated rate in order to keep digesting the constant influx of nutrients. If, on the other hand, you eat a meal consisting of a four-ounce chicken breast, a side of vegetables, a salad, milk, and desert, your body will only absorb small amounts of each nutrient at a time. The rest will be sent out as waste. By dividing the nutrients into smaller portions, more of each will be used for the repair of the systems taxed by the stress of exercise. Humans are grazers not gorgers; our systems are not designed to binge and fast, but rather to eat small amounts more often.

#8 Get a good nights sleep

This is yet another very important component of the formula for good health, since your body does as much as 70 percent of its repair work during sleep. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that if you don't get a good night's sleep you'll be a mess the next day. Don't sleep much longer than the recommended eight hours, however, because you'll be depriving your body of food for too long, which is counterproductive to your goal of improving your physical health.

#9 Keep your workouts short

Research shows that levels of productive hormones in the body reach their peak after approximately 45 minutes of exercise. Working with weights or doing cardio past this point is counterproductive since levels of byproducts such as lactic acid and catabolic hormones like cortisol will begin to saturate the blood, impeding performance and recuperation.
By keeping your workout short and intense, you keep these levels low and create a good environment for your body to adapt to the stress. Workouts do not need to be long and grueling and many people would achieve better results by reducing the amount of time they exercise in a given session.

#10 Exercise the largest muscles first

If you plan to work on more than one body part or if you're doing a whole body workout, split your program into large and small muscle groups. By working the large groups like the back, chest, and legs first, followed by the small groups like the biceps, shoulders, and calves, you will eliminate the fatigue factor in the small stabilizers. For example, let's imagine that you wanted to do a bench press, and you know that your work weight for that given exercise is 250 pounds. Before attempting the bench press you did shoulder presses and triceps extensions, then you moved on to the bench press. You attempted to do your first set of tem repetitions at 250 pounds but could only get eight. In the next set, you only complete six. What's the problem? You're not exercising your chest at the proper intensity that this large muscle group needs, and the other small muscles used in this exercise for stabilization and as secondary mover to the chest are already tired from the exercises you did prior to the bench press. A good total body split is chest, legs, back, biceps, shoulder, calves, and triceps.
Until next time stay fit and be strong.
Peter J Morel
President TopShape Inc.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

 Everyone needs to see this!
If your resolution includes getting more fit then let this be your motivation!