Monthly Archives: November 2016

Food for thought: the new rules of nutrient timing

If you’ve ever wondered if what you eat and when you eat makes a difference to the effectiveness of your workouts, the short answer is that it does, and it’s a method many professional athletes rely on. It’s called nutrient timing, and here’s how it works.

The concept of nutrient timing can be divided into three phases: the energy phase, the anabolic phase and the adaptation phase.

The energy phase

There’s a one- to four-hour pre-workout window that allows you to build up muscle glycogen, or carbohydrate stores, that you will draw from as you exercise. The longer you train, the more your body pulls parked carbs from your muscles to fuel higher endurance workouts. Eating a meal with 150 to 200g of carbohydrates up to four hours before you exercise pumps your muscles full of glycogen and helps improve your physical performance.

Sipping on a carbohydrate-rich beverage with added protein during your workout can help increase muscle glycogen stores, too. It will buy your muscles more time, so you can exercise longer and more e ectively.

A moderate serving of protein can also help to reduce muscle damage and the level of soreness you might feel the next day. For instance, adding protein to a carbohydrate beverage can decrease muscle damage and soreness for at least 24 hours post-exercise, when compared to a carbohydrate-only drink.

The anabolic phase

A er an intense exercise session, your body’s muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted and your skeletal muscle is starved for nutrients. Consuming the right kinds of nutrients at this stage is important for rebuilding tissues and speeding up recovery.

Immediately after a high intensity workout, eat or drink something that contains enough carbohydrate (1.0 to 1.5g per kilogram of body weight) and about 20 to 30g of protein to build your muscle glycogen stores back up. If your workout was only of light to moderate intensity, modify the carbohydrate amount to 0.3 to 0.8g per kilogram of body weight and the protein amount to 10 to 12g.

Remember, the longer you wait to replenish your glycogen stores, the more you invite inflammation, muscle damage and soreness!

The adaptation phase

Your body will hit the maintenance phase about four to six hours post- energy phase. A regular meal, or even a snack that contains about a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein and under 200 calories, is enough to maintain muscle glycogen stores and protein synthesis. If you’re hungry before bed, you can have a low-calorie protein snack that will help with muscle recovery. Just make sure it has at least 20g of protein with minimal amounts of carbohydrate and fat.

Our muscle glycogen stores are what get us through even the most punishing workouts. Do your body a favour by keeping those glycogen stores topped up – it will help to serve you better in the long run!

Incorporating nutrient timing into your routine

Use the table below as an example of possible nutrient timing with workouts, supplements and meals for three different daily training schedules:

PW supplement: Following prolonged, intense workouts, the post-workout (PW) supplement should provide sufficient carbohydrates to maximize muscle glycogen storage during the first hours of recovery and also contain between 20 and 30g protein. For light to moderate intensity workouts, a light carbohydrate with protein (10 to 12g) supplement is recommended.
CP Snack: Between-meal (CP) snacks should be approximately a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate/protein and contain 100 to 200kcal.
Bedtime snack: A snack before bed should contain approximately 20g protein with minimal carbohydrate and fat.

Have you ever tried nutrient timing? What have your results been like? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

The thirst is real

You’ve probably heard that if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re likely already dehydrated.

Well, it’s sort of true. Thirst is basically your body’s way of telling you to get some sort of liquid into it. Your fluid levels are always fluctuating depending on the foods you eat and what you excrete.

While a parched mouth may only mean that your fluid tank is down by 1.5 per cent (which is by no means dangerous),[1] it could also mean that you’re borderline dehydrated.[2] If you find yourself heading for the water tap again and again, you should explore what else might be going on.

But there could be a host of reasons as to why you might have a persistent dry mouth. It could be as simple as sleeping with your mouth open and not breathing through your nose, or not drinking enough water while you’re exercising.

But being thirsty all the time can also signal a serious medical condition.

In technical terms

Xerostomia is the clinical name for having a dry mouth. It means that there’s not enough saliva to help you chew, eat, swallow or talk.[3] Everyone suffers from it from time to time, especially when they’re in situations that make them nervous.

Maybe it’s your medication

There are over 400 different medications that can cause a dry mouth. OTC antihistamines, decongestants and sedatives, or more specific prescription medicines like antidepressants, anti-Parkinson and anti-hypertensive drugs can all be culprits.[4] A lot of medicines act as diuretics, increasing your urine output and causing you to become dehydrated.[5] Your kidneys act as water sensors – too much and they send you to the bathroom, not enough and they send you in search of fluids.

The food-thirst connection

Ever notice how your mouth feels after you eat a bag of chips? It’s almost like the sodium sucks every bit of moisture out of it. In fact, OD-ing on salt can cause you to suffer from hypernatremia, a condition where your body has too much sodium and not enough water.[7] Though a small amount of sodium is necessary for optimum muscle and nerve function, too much sends that signal to the kidneys to flush it out – and all the extra fluids along with it.[8]

Even spicy foods can send you running for a cool glass of water, but not just because your tongue is on fire. Eating a meal with lots of heat slightly increases your body temperature, so in order to bring it back down, that thirst reflex kicks in once again.[9]

Strangely enough, reducing carbohydrates in your diet can also make you thirsty. When you reduce carbs you lose water weight, because both are stored in the body together. Certain carbohydrates like oats, brown rice and pastas absorb liquids when cooked and are a good source of hydration.[6] Cutting them out can leave you on the hunt for fluid replacement.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Try to make it a rule to have a glass of water for every cup of coffee you drink. Though caffeine itself isn’t dehydrating in small amounts, it can quickly turn the other way if you drink more than 500 milligrams, or about three to five cups, a day.[10]

Drinking alcohol decreases the body’s production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which the body uses to reabsorb water. When that hormone is compromised, more fluid than usual is excreted, leaving your body begging for water.[11] You might be familiar with that foggy feeling the morning after a night out. Vomiting also causes fluid loss, just saying…

Naturally dry

Though they can be very effective solutions for many health issues, some natural remedies cause increased urinary output and can make you feel thirsty. Dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn and juniper[12] all have natural diuretic side effects, so check your supplement labels if you feel like your remedies might be leaving you a little parched.

Treat your diabetes

You may have already been diagnosed or be just on the cusp. Either way, having a constant dry mouth can be a big red flag for diabetes. When you’re diabetic, glucose builds up in the blood and your kidneys are called in to work double time to filter and absorb the extra sugar. If your kidneys can’t keep up the pace, the excess sugar ends up in your urine, bringing along fluids from your tissues. The more you urinate, the more you become dehydrated. The more water you drink, the more you’ll urinate still; it becomes a constant cycle until your diabetes is treated.[13]

Watch your mouth

Saliva is important for washing away food particles and plaque. Severe tooth decay and gum disease can result if you have constant dry mouth, so drink water to keep the saliva going. About 30 per cent of tooth decay in older adults is caused by low saliva levels.[16]

The nerve of it

Suffering any kind of head or neck trauma can damage nerves that carry messages from the brain to the salivary glands telling them to make saliva. Radiation on the head and neck, as well as chemotherapy drugs used to treat certain cancers, can also decrease saliva production. The results can be temporary or permanent, depending on the length and intensity of treatments.

So those are some real reasons why you might be craving a tall, cool, glass of water more than usual. There are also some myths around why you might feel thirsty, and how to tell if you’re really dehydrated. We’ll try to set the record straight for you here with these FAQs:

Is it possible to drink too much water?

Though rare, it does happen, especially in very hot weather, or if you are an extreme competitive athlete. Drinking small amounts over longer periods of time is ideal. That way the kidneys can keep up with the extra intake of fluids and process and excrete them at a reasonable rate.

When too much water is ingested too quickly, the kidneys can’t keep up and dilute and reduce important electrolytes. As your body works to balance levels out, you might feel tired or nauseated and suffer from muscle cramps or vomiting.[14]

Do I really need eight glasses of water a day?

There is no hard and fast rule regarding how many glasses of water you should drink per day. Actually, the recommendation should include all fluids, sugary drinks excluded.

What you really need to examine is how active you are, the climate that you live in, and if you already consume foods with high water content. The Institute of Medicine recommends about three litres of total beverage intake a day for men, 2.2 litres for women.

About 20 per cent of your water is already contained in the foods you eat, the rest is up to you to take in whenever and however much you want. Of course if you live in a hot and humid climate, or you sweat a lot when you exercise, you’ll want to drink more.[15] Just listen to your body.

Does the colour of my urine tell me if I’m dehydrated or not?

It can be alarming to see dark urine, but the colour does indicate how dehydrated you might be. If it’s amber or honey coloured, you are definitely dehydrated and should get some fluids into your body immediately. Dark yellow is normal but drinking a glass of water wouldn’t hurt. Transparent yellow or a pale straw colour is ideal, but if your urine is clear, you’re drinking too much water.

Some quick fixes

Say you’re parched but your water bottle is empty. What can you do to get the saliva going?

  • Chew sugar-free gum or candy – chewing stimulates saliva flow, so always keep some mint, citrus or cinnamon flavoured gum or candy around
  • Stay away from coffee, tea and sugary sodas – while small amounts of coffee and tea are okay, if you’re thirsty, they’re not the first beverages to turn to as they can make a dry mouth even worse
  • Put the cigarette out – we know that smoking is bad in every way. A number of studies have shown that while cigarette smoking can typically cause a noticeable short-term increase in salivary flow rates, it’s still better for your mouth (and your health) if you butt out.[19]
  • Saliva-stimulating mouthwashes and sprays – yes, they do exist. If you suffer from persistent dry mouth, look for products that contain xylitol, which is a natural saliva stimulator[17][18]


[19] Bouquot DJ, Schroeder K. Oral effects of tobacco abuse. J Am Dent Inst Cont Educ . 1992;43:3–17


Sweating it out – why crucial vitamins need replacing after exercise

An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 litres of fluid per hour of exercise. Most endurance athletes might already be aware of the crucial vitamins they lose through sweat, but many non-competitive athletes may think it’s only water (and salt) they’re losing through their pores.

Regardless of whether you’re a casual or professional athlete, it’s always good practice to replace water soluble vitamins like C and the range of Bs that sweat carries out during intense training. Here are some ways to help restore important nutrients post-workout.

B vitamins play a role as coenzymes in the energy production of cells. Exercise appears to especially increase the loss of thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6. In fact, the body might need to take in twice the daily recommended amount of these vitamins to replace what the body sweats out through exertion.

In the case of vitamin C, multiple studies have found blood and plasma levels of vitamin C to be lower in those who exercise, since stores are used to combat exercise-induced oxidation in muscles and other cells, which is brought on by physical activity. Vitamin C also plays an important role in muscle growth, as it’s essential for building collagen, the connective tissue that helps repair tissues and tendons.

Research shows that vitamin C may even help reduce post-exercise pain and inflammation due to it’s ability to help repair the tiny tears in our muscle fibres that can result in muscle soreness and pain after workouts. Proper vitamin C supplementation both pre and post-workout can be effective in helping prevent deficiencies and promote faster muscle recovery.

Although there is evidence that exercise increases the demand for these vitamins, supplementation does not appear to have an enhancing or ergogenic effect. The general consensus among sports nutritionists is that most athletes and active individuals would be able to meet these increased nutrient demands by eating a balanced diet.

Individuals at greatest risk for exercise-induced vitamin deficiency are those following a low-fat or low-calorie diet, and those who don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In these individuals supplementation of the above key nutrients to prevent deficiency is crucial.

CP-blog-sweating-it-out-rehydrationSource: Marriott, B. M. (1993). The Effect of Exercise and Heat on Vitamin Requirements

How do you monitor mineral loss/maintain your levels during and after a workout? Tell us! Leave a comment in the section below.

Allergy, intolerance or sensitivity: when food is your foe

Every time you open a magazine or read a blog, there’s always some kind of buzz about food allergies, food sensitivities or food intolerances. These days, it seems that every other person seems to be either highly reactive to foods like peanuts or announcing that they’re going gluten-free.

Food allergies are on the rise – particularly in children. The years between 1997 and 2007 saw an 18 per cent jump in food allergies in American children under the age of 18 alone, a startling increase in only a ten year period.

It’s estimated that between five to six percent of children suffer from food allergies in Western countries. But what’s really going on? Is this just a new health trend, or is it that we’re becoming more allergic to life? And what on earth is the difference between a food allergy, a food intolerance or even a food sensitivity?

Whether you get itchy red bumps, gastrointestinal upset or even ear infections, learning the differences between the three might help with having any food-related reactions diagnosed and treated correctly.

Food Allergy

A food allergy means that the immune system is having a strong reaction to a particular food or class of food. The allergen behaves like an antigen once it’s in the body and prompts the immune system to launch an attack. White blood cells manufacture protein molecules called IgE antibodies that bind to that particular antigen or foreign substance, and order a release of histamines in an effort to protect the body. It’s the histamines that launch the swelling and other allergic reactions like severe anaphylaxis (which can be life threatening), arthritis, celiac disease, depression, hyperactivity or anxiety.

In essence, it’s only the IgE antibody reaction that defines a classic food allergy and generally occurs within a few minutes of eating a particular food antigen. Typical symptoms include hives, itchy, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing when the throat swells and tightens. Sufferers might also get canker sores, chronic bladder or ear infections, abdominal pain including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, asthma, eczema, migraines or irregular heartbeats – the list is long. Testing for IgE food allergies is conducted by an allergist and you can expect a skin prick test, blood draw or oral food challenge to determine the culprits.

Food Sensitivity

A food sensitivity occurs when there is a delayed immune reaction to the food ingested. This reaction produces IgG or IgA antibodies, which can be detected using a fairly simple blood spot test. In a food sensitivity reaction, large numbers of IgG or IgA antigen-antibody complexes are deposited in the tissues faster than the immune system can clear them. Once all these antigen-antibody complexes get into the tissues, they create havoc by causing inflammation, discomfort and possibly disease.

IgG food sensitivities have been linked to migraine headaches, IBS, bloating, tummy cramps, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, mood swings and eczema. IgG food reactions can take hours or days to develop, making it difficult to pinpoint which food is the true culprit. Sometimes IgG food sensitivities develop due to a condition called leaky gut. When the gut lining is inflamed, food particles can leak into the bloodstream and trigger an immune response. This can lead to high levels of IgG antibodies for just about any food that is eaten on a regular basis.

An elimination diet is the most effective approach for this type of food reaction. Foods that are often eaten are removed, slowly reintroduced, and rotated in conjunction with nourishing foods like bone broths, fermented foods, l-glutamine and cabbage juice to help to heal and seal the leaky gut.

Children are most affected by food intolerances caused by enzymes, chemicals or toxins in the food they’re eating. Digestion can be compromised and they may develop symptoms like diarrhea, gas, bloating, headaches, cramps, rashes, nausea, restlessness, agitation and tingling. Because their immune systems are not involved in this type of reaction, no indications of an intolerance will show up on a test.

But that doesn’t mean that adults aren’t prone to intolerances; people who lack the enzyme lactase will not be able to digest lactose (a sugar that is in foods that contain dairy).

If they are missing an enzyme called galactosidase, then they will have difficulty digesting cruciferous vegetables or legumes. Some are particularly sensitive to chemicals like naturally occurring histamines in sauerkraut, dried meats like salami and pepperoni and canned tuna or certain cheeses. Others might react to toxins that naturally occur in peanuts (aflatoxins) or shellfish (saxitoxins). Strawberries, citrus fruits, egg whites, nuts and chocolate may prompt histamine release in an individual’s own body even though it’s not contained in those foods.

So, what now?

Ultimately, if you suspect food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances then you should work with a healthcare practitioner to help you sort out your particular food issues and their cause. Sometimes a simple blood test and avoidance of the offending food is all it takes. Typical food culprits are: wheat (gluten), corn, soy, chocolate, citrus and dairy. Other times a comprehensive, healing diet needs to be followed or further testing for issues like parasites needs to be carried out.

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