Archive for Nutrition

Blood Glucose and Exercise


Brian Dick

Did you know that exercise and physical activity can result in an INCREASE in blood glucose levels?

As a newcomer to understanding the effects of exercise on diabetics’ blood glucose levels, I was surprised to find that exercise in some cases can actually increase an exerciser’s glucose levels. My initial assumption was that exercise

Working out with diabetes

Fitness & Diabetes

would always have a negative impact on glucose levels, as your body called upon the glucose for energy. However, after researching fitness and diabetes on American Diabetes Association’s site (ADA) I found that stress hormones released in high intensity workouts can actually have a boosting effect on blood glucose levels in some cases. This information is particularly important if you have a high glucose blood level prior to engaging in high intensity fitness activities. According to the ADA, if your blood glucose reads high before exercising, it is critical to test your blood and urine for ketones. If ketones are found, vigorous activity should be avoided altogether. For more information about the glucose boosting effects of high intensity workouts, please visit ADA.

As expected, however, physical activities can also have diminishing effects on blood glucose levels — and this scenario is much more likely. The ADA suggests testing your blood prior to engaging in fitness activities. If your blood glucose is less than 100mg/dl, the ADA highly recommends that you eat a small carbohydrate snack prior to working out. A small carbohydrate snack is classified as a snack containing roughly 15 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate content can be quickly found on the back of most packaging or on the affixed nutrition label. However, for produce, or other non-packaged foods, you can also Google Search: “carbs in [your favorite fruit/vegetable].” Interestingly, Google’s top result is their own nutrition calculator where you can modify the size and quantity of the food that you are eating for a more accurate assessment of carb content. Check it out for yourself here.

Beet Root Extract = Newest Performance Trend

by: Brian Dick

Beets Affect Performance

Beets Affect Performance

I love to stay up-to-date on performance and athletic related fitness studies, and it seems like everywhere I turn now there is a new article or video clip on the efficacy of beet root extract — or more simply, beets. The beginning understanding is that the nitrates in beets are digested in the body and act as vaso-dilators. This dilation of the blood vessels lowers blood pressure and increases the effectiveness of oxygen consumption into the muscles. This process offers performance enhancing characteristics when endurance and effective oxygen uptake is critical (i.e., virtually every sport!)

In fact, many notable journals have posted interesting articles on the usage of beet roots and their positive effects on performance (walking, running, swimming, and cycling). Numerous studies show that beet root consumption could decrease the O2 costs of certain exercises and could increase speed (times) in running and cycling competitions. Examples of positive studies can be found below:

There are, however, other studies that have shown no explicit gains from the ingestion of beets. For example:

It should be noted, however, that this last study recorded effects of consuming beets for one day only. It appears that the positive effects of beets on performance may only be realized if the consumption occurs on a more frequent and consistent basis.

I have increased my beet uptake recently to see if it would impact my functional strength and cardio workouts. I eat canned, cooked beets, and I juice raw beets regularly. While I haven’t noticed a noticeable change in my strength conditioning, I have noticed far greater endurance when I’m running. Whether this is a placebo affect or not I’m not sure, because I don’t have a way to accurately measure my blood O2 levels. To me it doesn’t matter — if one day (without eating beets) I can run 5 miles comfortably and unwinded, and after a few days of eating beets regularly I can feel the same at nearly 5.75 miles, then I’ll take that placebo effect any day. Consider incorporating more beets into your diet before and on cardio days if you feel comfortable increasing your intake. Be forewarned however. If you eat beets for more than 3-4 days consecutively you will likely begin peeing in red. I’ll admit it, I freaked out a little bit the first time this happened — until I realized what was happening.

Jack3d Is Discontinued

by: Brian Dick

One of my favorite supplements has been discontinued!

Jack3d will be officially discontinued after a few run-ins with the FDA. See the press release made by the manufacturers USPlabs.

USPlabs Logo

USPlabs Logo

The apparent culprit of the FDA’s concerns was a chemical named: 1,3-DMAA or 1,3-dimethylhexanamine. It appears there are no definitive studies on any usage dangers, but the uncertainty in its safety provided more problems than it was worth for the manufacturer.

A similar discontinuation of a pre-workout formula was made by EAS with their <h3>PhosForce</h3> product offering. This discontinuation, however, was not prompted by the FDA, but was rather a self-imposed product stoppage by EAS’s parent company Abbott Nutrition. The supposed ingredient in question with Abbott’s formula was beta alanine.  Beta Alanine, believe it or not, is actually nothing more than a naturally occurring beta amino acid (i.e., found in foods). However, this amino acid causes some users to experience an unsettling tingling sensation throughout their appendages.  I can personally attest to experiencing a tingling sensation, but I actually enjoy it. It is similar to the feeling I get when I’m cold and first pull on a warm blanket.

EAS Phos Force Fruit Punch Powder

While I appreciate there being an organization that is concerned about consumers’ well being, I am uncertain about how I feel about the FDA recommending the cancellation of Jack3D. What are the reader’s thoughts on this matter?



Plan Your Protein Power Ups

In order to maintain your functional workouts, it is of utmost importance to continue fueling your body with the proper amount of protein. Suggestions for active athletes ranges anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 full gram of protein for every pound of body weight – (Of course these numbers will vary wildly depending on your body composition (bodyfat %), your gender, and your specific workout regiment.) Regardless of your specific needs, it is a certainty that you will need to consume at least some protein in your diets. At Functional Strength Lab, we find it very important to plan your protein intake early in your week to ensure proper intake levels. Some tips that we recommend:

1. Find a protein supplement you like and stick with it. Whether it’s whey, casein, hemp, pea, etc. it is important to find a protein that you like the taste, and it works well with your body (i.e., doesn’t cause bloating, water retention, gas, etc.) Because we usually use protein powders only in a pinch (not enough time to cook), we want to make sure it’s not a chore to eat/drink. If protein powders have become a staple or large part of your diet, ensure that you eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, and supplement with branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) – because different types of protein powders are deficient in various amino acids.

2. Cook your proteins in bulk and on the same day. Here at Functional Strength Lab, our protein cook day is Sunday’s. This way we always know when to have our shopping out of the way, and when to set aside time for our cooking. Our ideal proteins of choice for ease of cooking and packing later in the week  are hard-boiled eggs, chicken breasts, lentils (in a crock pot), turkey brats, and salmon fillets (as long as you eat these earliest in the week.)

3. Find protein bars that are low in sugar/carbs. Be wary of protein bars that taste like candy bars, because they likely have as much or more sugar than if you simply ate the candy bar instead. If your body does not respond well to artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, you may wish to skip protein bars all together. Protein bars for us are an option of last resort — mostly because when we look at the ingredient list we can only pronounce half of it.

4. Tuna, Tuna, Tuna: I hope you like tuna, cause it’s about the perfect, super-food. You can transport it easily, it’s cheap, it’s cooked, and it’s extremely high in protein. We love it plain, but try it with mustard, bbq sauce, hot sauce, relish, etc. etc.

5. Walnuts and Almonds: Both of these nuts are delicious, easy to transport, and high in protein. The two nuts together also compliment each other well in terms of omega fatty acids. Where one is weak the other is strong…Omega 3-6-9.

My Source for Nutritional Information

I have generated a new found passion for nutrition knowledge gathering and self-research. My recent self-experiments with calorie intake vs. expenditures, has led me to believe that worrying about calories is now a foolish way view weight loss. For me it has been far more important to significantly limit my carbohydrate intake (almost zero simple sugars (including fructose) and limited complex carbohydrates), and dramatically increase my protein intake. However, I have found that when I consume the majority of my protein through animal sources I feel slightly more sluggish, than when I consume protein through plant sources. I have found that the rough balance for me is 1/3 animal protein vs. 2/3 plant-based. Search for your own correct balance through self-experimentation.

In terms of feeling “full” or satiated, I must admit this diet change has me eating larger quantities and more frequently. For example, it is not uncommon for me to eat entire bags of broccoli or spinach in one meal (including 2 turkey brats or 5 egg yolks – to give an idea of meal size.) Although I’m eating more food, and at higher caloric intake than before, I have still found weight loss to be occurring steadily – roughly 1.5 pounds per week. This has occurred while maintaining a similar workout schedule as before.

One of my favorite sources for nutrition information when I perform these types of self-experimentation is  I have not found a more thorough nutrition site yet. There are multiple video collections on virtually any topic you can imagine. Be forewarned: once you visit this site, you are going to have to allot a fair amount of time, because it is almost certain that you will get addicted.