• Training the gut
    Blog,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition

    Training the gut

    Training the gut is a sports nutrition strategy designed to allow athletes to handle increased amounts of food and fluid to meet their training and competition requirements. Gastrointestinal symptoms Many athletes, particularly those participating in intense and/or prolonged exercise, suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. The symptoms are highly individual and can include bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting (1, 2). On the most severe end of the spectrum, athletes may experience ischemic colitis and small bowel infarctions, which may require surgical resection (2). Regardless of severity, GI symptoms can certainly affect both performance and recovery (2). Factors The following factors play a role in the development of gastrointestinal symptoms in…

  • Exercise and bone health

    Exercise and bone health

    It makes intuitive sense that exercise and bone health are tightly related. Regular exercise can help prevent bone loss and decrease the risk of falls and fractures later in life. Exercise can help with muscle strength and bone strength, improving balance (1). At the same time that the muscle contraction during exercise leads to muscle grow, it also causes mechanical strain on the bones, leading to bone adaptation (1). As seen in the article Nutrients for bone health, bone tissue undergoes opposing processes of resorption and formation. Therefore, bone loss occurs when resorption is greater than formation. Most (about 90%) of our peak bone mass is gained from infancy until…

  • Sleep and nutrition in athletes
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    Sleep and nutrition in athletes

    Sleep and nutrition in athletes is an often overlooked aspect of recovery and performance. In this article, we explore the multiple factors that can affect an athlete’s sleep quality and quantity. Sleep in athletes Many athletes suffer from sleep issues, including short duration of sleep (a.k.a. sleep deprivation) and sleep disturbances (e.g. insomnia, waking up at night) (1, 2). The factors that may contribute to sleep issues in athletes include: Muscle soreness (1) and pain Intense training (1) Early or late training sessions or competition (2, 3, 4) Poor sleep hygiene, including screen use close to bedtime (2, 3) Stress, nerves and/or anxiety due to competition or other reasons (2,…

  • How does alcohol affect exercise?
    Blog,  Diet,  Fitness,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition

    How does alcohol affect exercise?

    Within the realm of sports, alcohol has been viewed as a performance-enhancing drug, a rehydration beverage, a social lubricant and a post-event treat. Although it is generally understood that excess alcohol intake can be detrimental to health, the answer to “how does alcohol affect exercise?” is less clear. Alcohol consumption is a socially acceptable and expected aspect of team and other sports, and major alcoholic beverage brands often sponsor sports teams and events. Therefore, instead of pretending we can remove alcohol from athlete’s diets, it is more useful to identify which aspects of exercise can be affected by its intake. How does alcohol affect exercise? Energy balance Alcohol is a…

  • Exercise, gut health and gastrointestinal issues
    Blog,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition

    Exercise, gut health and gastrointestinal issues

    Exercise is generally regarded as beneficial for health. Gut health is not an exception, athletes tend to have microbiomes with increased composition and/or function. However, too much exercise can be detrimental. This is an overview on exercise, gut health and gastrointestinal issues. Exercise and gut health Most people will agree that exercising is beneficial for health. When comparing the microbiomes of exercising individuals (including athletes) with those of sedentary individuals, scientists have found: More bacterial diversity and/or richness, generally regarded as beneficial to health More short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) metabolic pathways, important for intestinal integrity and other aspects of health Increased metabolic pathways of amino acids (including branched-chain amino acid,…

  • Muscle cramps during exercise
    Blog,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition

    Muscle cramps during exercise

    Muscle cramps during exercise are relatively common and have been investigated for decades but remain a mystery. Scientists have identified potential risk factors, causes and solutions but evidence is not very solid. Exercise-associated muscle cramps Also known as EAMC, these are cramps that happen during or immediately after exercise (1, 2). Muscle cramps occur in a wide range of athletes participating in a variety of disciplines. These are most commonly reported in endurance-type sports and team sports (1) although this could be due to research bias. EMAC are usually a minor inconvenience but they can vary in intensity and duration, with a very small percentage of the population experiencing severe…

  • Nitrate and exercise performance
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    Nitrate and exercise performance

    Nitrate and exercise performance is one of the most studied topics in sports nutrition. Nitrate is one of the handful of ergogenic substances with solid evidence behind them. Keep reading to find out what is nitrate, its roles in the body and how it can benefit your athletic endeavours. What is nitrate Nitrate (NO3−) is an anion, i.e. a molecule with more electrons than protons. Nitrate is naturally found in plant foods such as leafy greens and root vegetables, including lettuce, spinach, rocket, celery and beetroot (1, 2). The role of nitrate in the body Some of the nitrate taken in the diet is converted to nitric oxide (NO) (1,…

  • Can magnesium improve exercise performance
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    Can magnesium improve exercise performance?

    Last week we talked about magnesium and health. This week we answer the next logical question: Can magnesium improve exercise performance? What is magnesium? As a reminder, magnesium is an essential mineral present mainly in bone and other tissues in the body. Magnesium and exercise As seen in the previous article, magnesium is involved in many functions in the body, including energy metabolism, bone development, muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium can bind to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency in the body (1). It can also bind enzymes that act on RNA and DNA (2). In addition, magnesium is involved in the balance of other essential elements in…

  • Exercising in the heat
    Blog,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Training

    Exercising in the heat

    Exercising in the heat represents a number of challenges for an athlete, ranging from discomfort to severe health threats. This is particularly relevant this year, as we approach the summer Olympic games in Tokyo, where temperature and other ambient conditions can be severe and non-predictable. Effects of heat on the body Our bodies function best at temperatures between 35 and 39°C (1). Exercise stress can result in exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome, which consists in decreased integrity and function of the gastrointestinal system. This condition is worsened when our core temperature goes up to 39°C. A compromised gut can, in turn, cause other issues such as bacteria entering the bloodstream, decreased nutrient…

  • Krav Maga
    Blog,  Fitness,  Training

    What is Krav Maga and why I do it

    Krav Maga is the self-defence system used by the Israeli Defence Force. Therefore, it is not a sport, a martial art or a fitness class. Krav Maga was created by Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1940s for army purposes. He later adapted the system for civilian populations. There is a grading system that works like most martial arts: with a belt system that reflects the practitioner’s level. This is mainly to determine which techniques are taught to which people. More advanced practitioners, for example, learn third-party protection (i.e. how to defend others). Training topics include holds (e.g. chokes – including head locks, wrist grabs, shirt grabs, bear hugs, takedowns, etc.), weapons…