Physique Tip #12 – Hydrate Heavily

Sunday, January 29th, 2017


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While not the most exciting topic, proper hydration is incredibly important for anyone who’s active.


Fluids keep everything from your brain to your big toes functioning properly. Nutrients are transported by and dissolved in fluids… The sweat we use to cool body temperature is comprised of fluids… Metabolic waste products are excreted in fluids (1)… Quite simply, fluids – specifically, the water that they contain — are more essential than ANY other nutrient. We can survive without food for weeks, but perish after just a few days without water.


Our bodies are comprised of over 60% water. Concentrations in muscle tissues are even higher. So, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that as little as a 2% reduction in body water can diminish performance by 10-20%! Imagine if there was an energy or protein bar that could almost instantly improve performance by up to 20%; the stores wouldn’t be able to keep that $#*! on the shelves.


Luckily, fluids are found pretty much everywhere. The most obvious source is water itself. But, other liquids like coffee, tea, sports drinks, juice, and soda pop are also quite hydrating (2). Foods such as fruits & vegetables, soups & stews, and cooked cereals like oatmeal contain lots of water, which counts towards your daily fluid intake.


How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Thirst and urine color can be unreliable predictors of fluid needs. By the time that you get thirsty, fluid losses through perspiration and respiration may already be great enough to impact performance. And urine color can be affected your diet as much as your hydration status. Anyone who has ever taken a high-potency multivitamin knows how these supplements turn your pee bright yellow.


Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 12.56.02 AMSweat rate is a more dependable way to gauge your fluid needs. To calculate your sweat rate, simply weigh yourself (sans clothing) before and after your workout. For each half-pound of weight loss, you should aim to drink 6-8 fl oz (177-236 mL) of water or sports drink to replace what you lost during that workout. If you regularly perform different types of workouts (e.g., weights only, weights + cardio, long-duration cardio, and CrossFit), you should check your sweat rate for each and rehydrate accordingly.  You’re likely to sweat more during long-duration cardio than you will during a workout focused solely on resistance training.


Bottom Line: Don’t skimp on hydration. It may not be as exciting as the latest training technique, nutrition bar, or carb-controlled diet plan, but it’s every bit as important.




  1. Athletes that eat a high protein diet need even more fluids to keep the kidneys flushed
  2. It’s a common myth that caffeine-containing beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks, and cola are dehydrating. While they may not be as hydrating as pure water, the net effect is still positive. Put another way, you don’t pee out more than you take in. In fact, the increase in urine output for caffeinated beverages is only marginally higher.


Physique Tip #09 – Don’t Confuse Appetite for Hunger

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017


Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 2.06.57 PMWhen’s the last time that you’ve heard someone say, “I’m really appetite?” Bad grammar aside, probably never. But much of the time that’s exactly what is going on when people claim to be hungry.


Hunger is a physiological requirement …a legitimate need for the energy and nutrients that foods provide. Hunger is instinctive and uncontrollable.


Appetite, on the other hand, is a psychological desire to eat. Unlike hunger, appetite is controllable, and often operates completely independent of any refueling requirements. Common triggers include stress, boredom, insufficient sleep, sensory cues (advertising depicting mouthwatering food or smelling something delicious), and social pressures such as moms trying to fatten up their kids and the pressure to go out and eat & drink with friends.

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Not sure if it’s hunger or appetite driving you to eat like Pac Man? Look for these signs: grumbling stomach, irritability, headache, and lightheadedness, which can indicate low blood sugar. If you are not exhibiting any of these, chances are good that you’re not really hungry; something just stimulated your appetite.


Ok, now that you know difference controlling your appetite will be easy right? Hardly.

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“Don’t underestimate the Force” – Darth Vader


One need not be an epidemiologist specialized in obesity to know that the forces that lead us to the cupboard, fridge, or through the late-night drive thru are strong. Most heavy people are aware that they are overeating; they just don’t have the ability or willingness to stop. Since you’re reading The Log, willingness probably isn’t the problem. So let’s look at a few strategies to help improve your ability:


  • Fail to plan, plan to fail. Sure, it’s cliché, but expressions don’t get overused without good reason. Take the time to estimate how much energy you need, what your macronutrient breakout should look like, and plan & prepare your meals for the week. If you have everything calc’d out, you’re less likely to get hungry.


  • Don’t let yourself get hungry. The line between hunger and appetite gets blurrier when you skip meals, try to cut calories too severely or quickly, and when you eat energy-dense foods with low water volume. While satiety won’t overcome all of the factors that drive us to eat, it’s an important place to start.


  • Think before you eat. If you’ve done the proper planning, you should know what, when, and how much you are eating. Are you really hungry, or are other factors leading you to eat? Did you burn more calories than usual today or skip your bedtime protein shake the night before? Consciously consider the motivation of unplanned portions.


  • Ride the brakes a little. There’s a delay in the relay of information between your gut and your brain. The faster you eat, the more likely you are to overindulge. More on this here.

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  • Postpone Cravings. Got a hankerin’ for a hunk of cheesecake? Hold off for 30 minutes. Go for a walk, get in a quick workout, read …do something to distract yourself for a little while. Still craving that cheesecake? Go ahead and have a small piece, but chances are good that the craving will fade away if you wait.



Physique Tip #07 – Slow Down to Fill Up

Thursday, January 19th, 2017


Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 11.42.29 PMIt takes time (about 20-30 minutes worth) for your brain to realize that your stomach is full. If you wait so long between meals that you’re ravenous, you’ll eat faster, increasing the likelihood that you’ll overeat by the time that mission control gets the message.


Not surprisingly the inverse is true. People that eat slower typically consume fewer calories and are more satiated (stay full longer). The speed at which we eat impacts the various signaling mechanisms (neural, mechanical, hormonal) involved in regulating hunger. So if your 2017 goal includes weight loss, do yourself a favor and eat like you’re driving through a construction zone covered with speed cameras: go slowly and be vigilant.


Slower eating strategies:


  • Don’t skip meals. Short-changing breakfast or lunch is only likely to end up in a larger dinner or more snacks throughout the day. And by the time that your willpower finally breaks down (trust us it will), you’ll not only eat faster, you may end up overcompensating for the earlier missed meals.


  • Pay attention. Avoid mindless eating in front of the TV or computer. Set the DVR or pause the game and step away to the dinner table. Focusing on food for a half an hour won’t kill you.


  • Hold the fork in your non-dominant hand. Using the opposite hand means less coordination, which equates to slower less efficient eating.


  • Chew your food more. If you’re a speed eater, this may be one of the most effective ways to slow things down. Take 15-20 chews of each bite of food before swallowing.


  • Hydrate your hunger. Stop and take a small drink of water, black coffee, unsweetened tea, or other low calorie beverage in between each bit of food. In addition to decelerating your fork speed, the extra volume in your gut helps signal the brain sooner.


  • Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.07.53 AMGo voluminous. Foods that are high in water, fiber, and protein like legumes, vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt, and casein protein shakes are relatively low calorie and fill up a good deal of that hunger space in your stomach.


  • Eat most of your calories. The rate of digestion depends in part upon the state that the food is presented in. Liquids are typically digested faster than purees, which are digested faster than solids. Think of it this way, an apple is more filling than applesauce and applesauce is more filling than apple juice. Whenever possible, eat the form that’s closest to the way that the food appears in nature.


  • Don’t forget portion size. Even if all else fails and you end up eating too fast, if you’ve metered out your portion size in advance you may still be hungry, but you won’t be able to overeat.


Is Paleo Eating Heart Healthy?

Saturday, September 10th, 2016


Despitscreen-shot-2016-09-10-at-2-48-47-pme limited scientific evidence, the so called “Paleo Diet,” a meal plan where participants eat only foods believed to be available during the Paleolithic era, remains very popular – particularly with the CrossFit® set.


Many of the foods permitted in the Paleo plan are of animal origin (e.g., beef, pork, eggs, duck, lard, tallow, etc.) and thus, high in saturated fat and cholesterol, leading many nutrition experts question the safety and validity of the diet.


The jury is still out on the long-term benefits and/or health implications of Paleo eating, but the results from a small study out of the University of Houston suggest that the diet could be heart healthy (at least in the short term).


screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-2-30-04-pmIn an eight-week trial, eight healthy people were asked to switch from their normal (typical Western diet) to Paleo-style eating. All of the participants were educated about the meal plan and instructed to each as much of the permitted foods as they wanted during the study period.


What they found:


  • 35% increase in interlukin 10, a signaling compound believed to protect blood vessels by counteracting inflammation.


  • The group lost weight. Even though the amount of food was not restricted, on average the participants reported eating 44 fewer grams of carbohydrates and 22% fewer total calories while eating Paleo.



This research is interesting, but it’s hardly conclusive. The study was very small (8 people), short (just 2 months long), and not well controlled (no comparison group). It is quite possible that the reduction in inflammatory markers was a result of consuming fewer calories or carbohydrates, and/or a result of weight-loss itself. These are answers that will hopefully be better elucidated by future research.






Tart Fruit, Sweet Findings

Friday, August 19th, 2016

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The juice concentrate from tart cherries may boost athletic performance and assist with post-workout recovery, according to a recently published study in the scientific journal Nutrients.


Previous research in resistance and aerobically trained individuals found the use of powdered cherry skin extracts improves:

  • athletic performance
  • attenuates muscle soreness and markers of muscle catabolism
  • reduces strength decrement and immune/inflammatory stress, and
  • assists with redox (antioxidant) balance


In this most recent investigation, researchers set out to observe the effects of tart cherry on prolonged, intermittent exercise in sixteen semi-professional soccer players.


Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 12.39.56 AMUsing a double-blind, placebo-controlled study design, the participants were divided into two groups and given either tart cherry concentrate (TCC) or placebo for eight consecutive days. On the fifth day, the players were subjected to a modified version of The Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST), which induces a heavy stress response and closely simulates the physiological & metabolic demands of the sport.


The soccer players in this study consumed approximately 1 fluid ounce (30 mL) of tart cherry concentrate diluted in about 3.4 fl. oz. (100 mL) of water twice a day throughout the study period.


Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 9.48.25 AMSeveral measures of performance and exercise-induced damage including muscle soreness (DOMS), max voluntary isometric contraction, interleukin-6, and creatine kinase were analyzed at baseline and for 72 hours post-exercise.


Performance indices in the group taking the TCC not only rebounded faster, they reported less muscle soreness. The tart cherry also appeared to diminish the acute inflammatory (interleukin-6) response to the strenuous LIST.


High levels of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical within tart cherries, have been shown to act as a natural COX inhibitor are widely believed to be responsible for the health and performance benefits observed in people that consume them.

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While this particular study was focused on soccer players, the authors suggest that the findings are applicable to any sport involving prolonged periods of intermittent activity such as rugby, hockey, football, or lacrosse.





Are you D-ficient?

Saturday, August 13th, 2016


If you’re a serious athlete, your chances of running low on vitamin D are higher than you might think.

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Researchers from Maastricht and Wageningen Universities recently identified the latest example of a seemingly widespread problem in athletes.


According to the scientists, almost 70% of the subjects in the study group were observed to have insufficient vitamin D status (50-75 nmol/l) or were outright deficient (< 50nmol/l) in vitamin D.



We knowScreen Shot 2016-08-13 at 10.16.15 PM what you’re probably thinking. This is interesting, but what’s the applicability of to me? It turns out “Low D” isn’t something limited to just elite Dutch athletes. Earlier research conducted in the US and Europe had very similar findings, suggesting that many — possibly even most — highly trained athletes are at risk for insufficient vitamin D.




Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to everything from higher Body Mass Index (BMI) to brittle bones and hormone deficiencies to loss of strength, decreased muscle protein synthesis, and reduced aerobic capacity — all of which can adversely affect health, body composition, and athletic performance.



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Recently, scientists identified another possible benefit of higher levels of vitamin D: fat loss. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the most biologically active form, appears to activate the genes and enzymes within adipose tissue thereby increasing fat oxidation or burning. Elevated D concentrations are also positively correlated with endogenous testosterone synthesis and may have the ability to blunt adipogenesis (the synthesis of new fat cells).




The good news is, in otherwise healthy individuals, low vitamin D status is easily remedied. In the recent Dutch study, nearly all of the athletes were able to achieve sufficient vitamin D concentrations after supplementing with 2,200 IU/day for three months. Moreover, once favorable baselines were reached, the athletes were able to cut back the daily dosage to maintain the adequate levels.



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Many nutrition researchers recommend a daily supplement providing at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 to ensure nutritional adequacy. From an optimizing standpoint, some research suggests that taking even more vitamin D may have further ergogenic, or performance boosting, effects and enhance post-exercise recovery.


The Food and Nutrition Board has defined the upper limit (NOAEL) for vitamin D at 4,000 IU/day, which means it’s safe for healthy athletes in daily dosages of up to 10x the % Daily Value on food labels.



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The Take Away: If you’re looking to maximize performance, maintain good health, and possibly reduce body fat in the process, supplementing with vitamin D3 might be a worthwhile endeavor.




Red Meat, Bad Kidneys?

Saturday, July 30th, 2016


Thinking about having a big juicy steak for dinner? Here’s some news that might make you want to reconsider – especially if kidney problems run in your family.

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In a collaborative study between the Duke Medical School and the National University of Singapore, scientists assessed the data from over 63,250 individuals over a 5-year period.


Here’s what they found:


  • Red meat intake is strongly associated with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).


  • The risk for ESRD increased in a dose-dependent manner with red meat consumption. In other words, individuals that ate the most red meat had the greatest risk of developing renal disease.


  • Those in the highest red meat consumption group (top 25%) had a 40% greater risk of developing ESRD than those in the bottom 25% of the study group.


  • Replacing just one serving of red meat with other types of proteins was associated with a relative risk reduction of over 60%. Incidentally, the researchers did not find any association between fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy intake and ESRD. The association was limited to red meat.



It’s important to note that this is an observational study and that even a strong association does not necessarily equate to causation. Put another way, it is possible that something else may be contributing to, or even causing altogether, the increase in chronic kidney disease that the researchers observed over the study period. That being said, the findings of this study are similar to other observations about heavy red meat consumption and reduced kidney health and function so we wouldn’t bet against the possibility of a causal link between the two.


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What makes red meat potentially more damaging than other forms of protein? Researchers aren’t exactly sure, but nitrates, nitrites, glycation and lipoxidation end products, high heme iron content, and the production of acidic compounds during digestion of red meat have been speculated.


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While the science unfolds, it may be wise to eat a mix of diversified protein sources, focusing more heavily on seafood, dairy, egg, chicken, and plant-based proteins and eating red meat in moderation.






Eggcellent News For Bodybuilders and Other Strength-Training Athletes

Monday, July 18th, 2016


Eggs have long been a staple of the strength-training athlete’s diet. They’re rich in protein, contain all of the essential amino acids, are easily digested, and generally pretty budget friendly. Despite its many intrinsic benefits, the humble egg’s reputation has taken a beating over the years because of potential health concerns related to the high cholesterol content within the yolk.


Turns out, like many long held nutrition beliefs, this one isn’t all it was cracked up to be.


A new Finnish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that egg consumption is not associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) — even in individuals who are genetically predisposed to elevated serum cholesterol levels. In fact, participants in the highest control group consumed an average daily cholesterol intake that was nearly twice the % Daily Value (520 mg/day in the study vs. 300 mg/day % Daily Value on U.S. food labels) without impact on CAD risk or thicScreen Shot 2016-07-18 at 1.09.30 PMkening of carotid artery walls. This research reinforces the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Service’s Departments’ recent decision to reduce its focus on daily cholesterol consumption recommendations.


While dietary cholesterol may no longer considered a nutrient of concern from a health standpoint, it’s important to keep in mind that there are notable nutritional differences between the whole eggs and egg whites.


A single large egg contains about 80 calories, 5 g of fat, and 6 g protein. By comparison, two large egg whites only have about 40 calories, 0.2 g fat, and 7 g protein. On the flip side, egg yolks are plentiful in key micronutrients including vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, B9, B12, D, and E, as well as, antioxidant carotenoids, phospholipids, choline, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Thus, a blend of whole eggs and egg whites is probably best from a nutritional and physique maintenance standpoint.