It seems like competition has gotten a bad rap these days. We’ve gone away from keeping score. We’ve introduced mercy rules. High schools don’t give out awards for the top male and female athletes of the year. We don’t hand out finishers medals but instead everyone gets a participation medal.
Are we going in the right direction? Is this helping us as a society?
I’d argue that it’s not. And here’s why.
I guess we eliminate acknowledging the best athletes at the end of the year because there can only be one winner. And therefore to protect the feelings of those who don’t win we just do away with the award altogether.
I’d suggest that this fails on two levels. First, the best athlete is robbed of the award they worked hard to achieve. Secondly, the athletes that don’t win don’t feel they are equal to the one that should have won. Instead I’d suggest the ones that don’t win feel worse because now we’re also hoping they’ll buy into the idea that all the athletes are equal. So not only do they not have the same athletic ability but we’re also hoping they’re dumb enough to believe it.
Life is not fair. And because two athletes aren’t equal has nothing to do with value.
When we play this game we set young athletes up for a rude awakening. They will be surprised when they aren’t selected for an interview. They will be incredulous they weren’t hired for the job. And they won’t understand why they were passed up for the promotion.
Business tycoon Jimmy Pattison is said to have fired the lowest performing sales person at his car dealerships. Some people would consider this harsh. Or is he being fair and honest with these people? Would it be better to keep someone in a job they don’t have the aptitude and drive to succeed? Or would it be better to release them from the position and let them get on with whatever they will be successful in life sooner?
What does the research have to say on the topic?
Is there any proof in the literature that competition can be a good thing? And why it might be a good thing to keep score and know how close you are to the winner?
A 2009 study looked at over 60,000 basketball games played in the NCAA and NBA (1). What they found that being slightly behind at half-time, 2 and 6 points for these leagues, was an advantage when it came to winning.
In the NHL the same trend holds true. Teams that are up one goal after the first period go on to win only 33% percent of games.
What about testing our own limits? Will we achieve more when we believe we are in competition?
The answer is yes.
In a 2017 study researchers had cyclists perform a 4000 m time trial (2). This is an all-out effort to complete the time trial in the least time possible. If you’d like to see this demonstrated just ask Axel Merckx and he’d be happy to jump on a bike and show you.
After the time trial the researchers had the cyclists repeat the time trial. This time however there was an avatar for the cyclists to follow. The cyclists were told the pace of the avatar represented their best times from the previous effort. The truth is the avatar was set at a 2-5% higher power output than their previous best. The cyclists were able to keep pace with their avatar and thus improve their performance.
So what does this all mean?
Well basically that competition can be a good thing. It can challenge us to do more and bring out the best in us. Maybe there is too much of an emphasis on winning. And if you’re not winning that this is the worst thing in the world. So we create scenarios where there are no winners and losers to protect fragile egos.
Instead I’d rather see a world with fair competition. I’d rather play my best against a much better opponent, and almost win, than play poorly and beat a weak adversary. At the end of the day hopefully it comes down to win or learn. Because if we aren’t keeping score, if we aren’t competing and if we aren’t learning than we aren’t getting better.
What do you think?
Did this post rub you the wrong way? Let me know if the comments section below.
Berger, J. A., & Pope, D. (2011). Can Losing Lead to Winning? Marketing Science. 57(5), 817-827.http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/ mnsc.1110.1328.
Stone M.R., Thomas K., Wilkinson M., Stevenson E., Gibson A.S.C., Jones A.M., Thompson A.M. 2017. Exploring the performance reserve: Effect of different magnitudes of power output deception on 4,000 m cycling time-trial performance. PLos One. 12(3): e0173120.
The last few years has seen a huge increase in products with CBD or cannabidiol. But is the research there to prove CBD provides an advantage to athletes? And more importantly is it safe for athletes to use CBD?
CBD is one of the active ingredients in cannabis and comes from the hemp plant. Due to all the claims as to how CBD can help with anxiety, pain, cognition and more we’re seeing more and more companies looking for ways to add this to their ingredients.
But what about sports performance? Does CBD lend any benefits?
The short answer is no.
Despite the claims made by the tokin’ athlete there isn’t any research that proves it is effective and will enhance performance. TSN did a special in the fall and interviewed a number of athletes that talked about how they use CBD and how it helps them. And I believe this.
Yes people are using CBD. And people believe that it works. They will take it for anxiety, pain-relief to treat inflammation and more. The problem is that none of these things will enhance performance. In fact, you could argue that taking CBD will impair performance. And here’s why.
When you train you want there to be an inflammatory response. This is necessary to trigger certain pathways i.e. m-TOR, that lead to protein synthesis. Taking a product with anti-inflammatory properties will blunt the natural growth response that should occur.
But besides CBD working against your efforts to get stronger in the gym there is also the risk of a positive drug test during competition. While taking CBD may be allowed THC is not. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD is not a banned substance but cannabinoids are. An Olympic medallist learned this the hard way.
Devin Logan won silver at the 2014 Olympics and was taking a CBD product. A positive test for THC in December 2019 resulted in a 6 month ban for the slope-style skier. The take home message is that just because a product is listed as CBD is no guarantee that there may not be trace amounts of THC. If there are this puts the athlete at risk for a positive drug test and subsequent suspension.
Going forward maybe wait on taking CBD products. The support for performance benefits in the research isn’t there yet. It may negatively impact gains sought in the gym. And you can’t be sure there isn’t THC in a CBD product.
This is one of the busiest times of year at the gym. Many put their health and fitness on hold during the Christmas season. But now we’ve flipped the calendar to a new year, and decade, and we’re ready to get started.
Normally fat loss is the number one goal of those going to the gym. After a few weeks of egg nog, short bread and late nights this is worse than it normally would be.
With that in mind I want to share with you some of our top fat loss tips. This will give the best chance to shed the holiday pounds and then some. Plus when you put these habits to practice you’ll be able to not only lose the weight but keep it off.
In no particular order here are our Top Fat Loss Tips for 20202.
1. Sleep 7+ Hours per Night – When we are sleep deprived a couple of hormones get disrupted. Ghrelin, which tells us we are starving, gets amplified. We tend to eat when we aren’t needing nutrition. Leptin tells us we are full and we miss this message. So we end up overeating.
And if you’re someone that struggles with cravings, sleep will help you win this battle. When you are sleep deprived a part of the brain, the amygdala, is stimulated. This is the part of the brain that tells you to have a treat or reward. Additionally the insular cortex which is your will power is suppressed and makes it harder to say no.
Lastly, when you’re sleep deprived you’ll be less likely to pop out of bed for a training session. You won’t be able to train as intensely when you’re tired. And when you do push it will take you longer to recover.
2. Journal – Maybe you’re familiar with the quote from Peter Drucker, ‘What gets measured, gets managed’. It’s pretty hard to improve on something if you don’t know what it is. It hard to know if something is improving if it’s not being measured.
In order to start journalling write down what goes in your mouth. If we just said to write down what you eat or drink a lot of supplements and prescriptions would get ignored. And these play a role in your fat loss efforts. So write down what goes in your mouth, the amounts and times.
Once you’ve gotten in the habit of doing this for a while you will begin to notice trends. You’ll see times when most of your eating happens, or doesn’t. You’ll see how much you eat of certain foods and how little you eat of others. And you’ll start to see the quality of your nutrition.
3. Take Breaks/ Reduce Stress – On a recent trip I was reading about how stress impacts our health. In one study participants were asked to self rate their level of stress. Two groups were then formed based on whether the participants had low or high levels of stress. All participants were then exposed to a cold virus. Those with high levels of stress were 3 times more likely to become ill than those with low stress.
Now obviously getting sick is not the same thing as seeking a weight loss goal. But they are similar in that they both involve an aspect of our health. And the take home message is that we are healthier when we have a manageable level of stress.
When someone is stressed they may loss the motivation to train. They may skip meals or make poor nutritional choices. And just how sleep can impair our ability to recover from a workout, stress can impact how effectively we can respond to a training response.
4. Eat for Your Goal – Are you familiar with the expression about taking actions but expecting different outcomes. I’m talking about the one to do with insanity. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Often times we want a result but we don’t make substantial change. We need to make changes with respect to our sleep, mindset, nutrition and activity. Packing a salad for lunch Mon-Fri is not going to move the needle. The changes have to be big enough and for long enough to result in a change.
If today I weigh 243 lbs and my goal is 200 lbs I should be eating for 220 lbs and eventually 200 lbs. Don’t make the mistake of making decisions for too far off in the future.
5. You Need a Deficit – I remember meeting with a client a while back. And this client’s goal was weight loss. As we took a look at their nutrition I heard how they were vegan. They didn’t eat animal products of any kind. And everything was organic. This individual still struggled to lose weight.
Here’s the thing. Weight gain can still occur with the best quality foods. You can still gain weight on a vegan, all organic diet. This is a lot harder to do because of all the fiber that is consumed which makes a high caloric intake hard to do. But eat more calories than what your body needs and you will gain mass.
The other key to (insert favourite weight loss diet) is that it works because it creates a caloric deficit. Stop eating sugar and you eat fewer calories. Stop eating carbs and you eat fewer calories. Stop eating whatever food and you typically eat fewer calories.
6. Seek A Net Result – Have you ever gotten started trying to lose weight. And you’ve been really good for the first part. I mean you are getting 8 hours of sleep per night. You are bringing a lunch to workout everyday. You are waking up and getting to the gym every morning.
You are feeling really proud of yourself. And at the end of the first week or so you look forward to stepping on the scale. You can’t wait to see what kind of result you’ve earned. And what you see is that you’re down a pound. Worse the scale may show you as the same mass.
Screw it!( you think to yourself) I gave it my best effort. I guess I’m just someone who’s not destined to be lean. I gave it my best. Back to my old habits where I can be this weight and enjoy life.
Hold on a second. Fat loss isn’t just about decreasing fat mass. It’s about increasing bone density and stimulating muscle mass.
7. Gym Calories Don’t Count – Have you ever used used a heart rate monitor and tracked how many calories you’ve burned during a workout? Or maybe your favourite cardio machine tells you how many calories you spent during that session. Whatever your method for knowing how many calories you burn don’t use this as the means to achieve your goal.
First of all most calorie counters are just estimates. And they are based on averages. So you really could be coming up short if you base you energy balance on the numbers you’re tracking. As well, many of these estimates don’t eliminate how many calories you would normally burn at rest. For example, if the session shows 350 calories burned but at rest you would burn 50 calories you could be out by a fair bit if tracking this way.
Instead a better approach would be to use your training to improve mood, posture, mobility, strength, power, fitness and many of the other things that can be improved in the gym. Yes you will burn calories while training but the bulk of the deficit should come from nutritional changes rather than increased activity.
8. Small Results Work Best – North America is the land of marketing. And we’re constantly pitched the idea that more is better. So if you could lose X lbs per week than 2X or 3X would be even better right?
When seeking a fat loss goal we have to remember it is important to not lose health as a result. In other words we want to keep as much of our lean body mass and bone density during the process. And it can be really hard to lose fat mass while adding muscle mass. It can be done but it’s harder.
As well, with fat loss we don’t want to compromise our resting metabolic rate (RMR). Our RMR eats up a huge chunk of our daily calories and if we cut our calories too much this can put the brakes on our metabolism.
Look forward to a 0.5 to 1 lbs per week weight loss. Not only does this ensure you keep us much of your muscle mass and metabolism it also sets you up for long-term success.
9. Time x Efforts = Results – If I’ve sat down for a Strategy Session with you I may have shared the study comparing three groups. One group gets happy hour daily (max 2 drinks). One group walks 0.5 mile per day. And the third group doesn’t change anything. At the 6 and 12 month points of the study there were only 3 and 7 pounds difference between the three groups.
Imagine if that were you. You start a health habit of walking 0.5 miles per day and your friend is slinging back margaritas everyday after work. After 12 months of effort there is only 7 lbs difference between you.
Would you quit? Would you cry foul and say it’s not fair? I’m not going to lie I might be tempted to quit if that were the return on my investment.
But here’s the thing…the results come later. In the case of this study at the 18 month point there was 70 pounds difference between the groups. That’s a huge outcome. If 200 lbs twins started the study together the walkers are going to be closer to 160 lbs and the drinkers will be closer to 230-240 lbs.
Now those are results that motivate me to keep going if I was in the walking group. And it might encourage me to quit drinking if I was in the other group. Either way the take home message is to know that long term results are based on making small consistent efforts over time.
10. Eat Your Calories – Do you have a favourite drink? I don’t mean alcoholic. This could be juice, pop, milkshake, coffee, tea or something else. Regardless of your beverage of choice it usually goes down more quickly, and sometimes with more frequency, than your favourite food.
If your goal is fat loss you need to limit the calories you drink. You can include coffee and tea but be aware of the calories that come with cream, sugar or other additives. But otherwise you should drink water.
Another benefit of drinking more water is that it will induce more frequent trips to the bathroom. And if you’re someone that can sit for hours on end at the desk this can be a good reminder to get up and move, change your posture and of course, refill your water bottle.
11. The Devil is in the Details – I remember attending a conference and the presentation given by the dietitian explained how much was under-reported nutritionally. And this wasn’t meant to be a strategy to deceive or mislead but simply how many view their own habits.
For example, if you ask people if they drink coffee you may find that they drink 3 cups per day. What is left out is the cream and sugar that goes with each cup. Or the donut that happens with the mid-morning break. This could be the sauces or dressings that provide the extra flavour. Maybe it’s the extra mouthfuls that take place when preparing and tasting a meal. It could be finishing a few bites left on a child’s plate rather than scraping it into the garbage.
Can you see all the ways we can forget or overlook the various ways we take in calories? Remember this if you’re struggling to achieve a caloric deficit and can’t understand why.
12. Make Your Own Meals – When you take a road trip do you like to be the driver or the passenger? Regardless of your preference you’d have to agree that it’s easier to control the outcome when you’re in the driver’s seat.
The same is true when it comes to your nutrition. If someone else is preparing your meals it becomes harder to arrive at your goal destination. And the further removed the chef is from the consumer the harder it can be to hit the target goal-wise.
A chef might not know how many calories you should be eating. They many not know that you are looking to eat more protein, to eat fresher ingredients or eat just enough.
When you make your own meals you are more invested in the process. You have a better idea of what is going in your mouth. You know the quality. And you can adjust macros i.e. proteins, carbs and fats accordingly.
13. Eat More Protein – For a fat loss goal it is usually a good idea to up your protein. This works for a few reasons.
The first is that protein has greater satiety, or sense of fullness, compared to carbs and fats. Eating a serving of protein will fill you up more than some pasta or an avocado.
Secondly, protein takes more energy to digest compared to fats and protein. Think of eating some cotton candy. As soon as it touches your lips it almost dissolves instantly and it pretty digested into a sugar solution. Compared this to eating a steak which takes significantly longer and more energy to digest. This energetic cost of eating is called the thermic effect of feeding and is higher with protein than the other macronutrients.
Lastly, when the goal is to get lean we are looking to create a caloric deficit. At this time it’s a good strategy to up our protein intake. Intake can be from 16.-2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. If you tend to think in terms of pounds, eat one gram per pound of bodyweight. This will help ensure you maintain, and maybe build, muscle mass as you lean up.
Going forward pick the tip you aren’t currently doing but would be easiest to start doing. Track this habit, whether you do it or not, until it becomes automatic for you. There is no set time course as to how long it should take. Once you have a habit on auto-pilot pick the next habit and track it until it is a habit for you.
It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re not only about to start a new year but a new decade. Plus it’s 2020. Very few people were around for 1919 and fewer still will be here for 2121. So this is a special one.
Many will be looking to start anew. This might be wiping the slate clean and getting a fresh start. It’s like making your bed and cleaning your room. You feel a sense of accomplishment and want to keep it up as long as you can.
I’m sure this is how many feel with their health and fitness as we prepare for a new year. And if we flashed forward 12 months to this time next year I can tell you right now, without any doubt, whether you will be successful or not. And I know this because of one thing.
And that one thing is your habits.
Let me share a quick story about habits with you. It involves our 4 year old daughter Vangie. Every since Vangie was old enough to communicate with us I’ve said the same thing to her at dinner time. I ask her:
‘Vangie, do you want to say grace?’
Sometimes she rolls her eyes. Other times she’ll ask why we have to? And on occasion she’ll just start eating.
But even if she’s reluctant to do so she’ll always lead our family in grace. She’ll add her own version every now and again as well. We’ll usually hold hands as we pray but she may mix it up and cross her arms to the opposite sides and want the other family members to do the same. She’s also be known to link with the person beside her with knuckles and finish the amen with a fist pound.
Anyways, right now I’m writing this from Playa del Carmen where we’re on vacation with our family. There are 25 of us in total including 12 kids and 13 adults.
Last night we were out for dinner and part way through Vangie yelled out ‘Wait! We forgot to say grace!’
So she made everyone stop eating, join hands and a four year old led us in prayer.
Now what does this have to do with your health and fitness in 2020? How can a story of a 4 year old help you to achieve all of your goals?
Because it’s your daily habits that will result in success or failure. It’s not if you went for a 10 km run today. It’s if you will walk 15 minutes everyday. It’s not if you got 9 hours of sleep 2 weeks ago on Thursday. It’s if you will get 7 hours of sleep every night. And it’s not if you cut out all carbs and go full keto for the next month. It’s eating just enough whole foods at every meal.
Your success won’t be determined by an intense workout once in a while. And it won’t come down to a 21 day challenge to avoid certain foods during that period. And it won’t be because you were able to sleep in a little longer on the weekend.
Your success will be due to the smallest increase in positive habits that you can do forever. If you walk for 5 minutes a day can you bump this to 10? If you get to bed on time 3 nights out of the week can you make this 4? If you buy lunch at work daily can pack a lunch once a week?
Do you see the pattern? Figure out where you’re at to set a baseline and then aim to be one better. And as we’ve said in the past your decision making filter for health and fitness decisions should always be:
Is it healthy?
Can I do it forever?
Answer these to figure out what to do. And then do it daily.
Because if a 4 year old is asked to do something often enough, even if it is not something they want to do, soon enough they will start doing it on their own. And they will get other kids, and adults, to join them. Talk about the power of habit!
Now I realize many people won’t know where to start. They won’t know how to set a baseline. They may have no idea what their goals are, what one better would be, or how to get started.
As well, just like Vangie, some people need a dose of accountability. They will need someone to remind them. They will need someone to encourage them to do what they need to do, especially at times when they don’t want to do it.
Lastly, there will be some people who know what they want. And they can make themselves do it. And they also realize they will get a better result with the plan, structure, guidance and support of another. These are people who have had decent results in the past but always wondered what they could do with a coach in their corner?
Regardless of which person you are I challenge you to take control of your health and fitness right now. In the same way 2020 can mean perfect vision I want this to be the year you have a clear vision of the results you will achieve this year.
Leave a comment after this post or stop by Okanagan Peak Performance Inc and we will see if working together would be the right fit.
Accountability for gym routines – coaches are just like you!
Accountability to go workout or be active must be one of the biggest barriers or fall outs of an exercise routine. That is what most people who work with coaches need the most help with. But it is important to know that even the most fit people and coaches themselves have trouble with accountability and sticking to exercise routines.
Coaches have all the components to keeping to a routine best; unlimited access to a gym at any time of the day, and unlimited knowledge of what to program for a workout makes it that coaches have no excuse to miss a workout, yet it still happens! There have been weeks at a time where I am unable to fit in a solid workout in between work, studying, and general life activities.
Eventually, missing workouts leads to lower self efficacy and impacts on our mental health; we feel that we cannot control our time as much as we hope to fit in those important healthy activities like getting to the gym or going for a run. It affects coaches as well because they are supposed to be the ones leading by example when it comes to healthy living. However, we also have the resources to get you back on track!
The first part of the solution to get back to a regular exercise routine is to:
1) recognize that you are in a dry spell of gym workouts so to speak. After you recognize that there is a need to get back to being more active, then
2) find an amount of time you can commit to being active (on any sort of level or intensity); say if you can commit to 30 minutes of activity everyday, then cut that in half to being active for 15 minutes each day; this gives you more control and a higher success rate to give you those small wins!
3) Once you have made a time commitment, pick an activity that you enjoy the most! This could be walking the dog, hiking with a friend, skiing, joining a group fitness class or yoga class, or visiting you favourite coaches at the gym. Whatever you enjoy the most, you will have a better chance of completing it regularly!
4) Finally, it is important to plan for relapses and understand that it is okay to miss a day of exercise! We are human after all, and things come up. But if this is to happen, then try to plan for it and repeat the steps above to get back to your routine quickly.
To help prevent relapses and stay accountable, there are many tips and tricks that can help, such as having a friend or fitness coach message you to remind you to be active, schedule it into your daily routine, have your gym clothes laid out the night before to be worn for the next day morning workout, or visit the gym or go for a walk over your lunch break. It is all about building small habits, starting with 5 minutes a day or less, and slowly building. For those of you who are interested in building healthy habits, I strongly recommend reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Some of the strategies Clear writes about includes focusing on one small habit at a tiny and growing it and associating a healthy habit with something like you do daily (such as every time you brush your teeth – do 5 squats afterward). If you are interested in this topic, keep a lookout for some future blog posts on building habits!
Having clear goals for healthy habits is important, and your fitness coaches are here to help define these goals and find ways for you to be successful for them during your days. If you need some guidance on setting goals, feel free to contact the coaches at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc, and we can set up a Strategy Session for you.
Lastly, as I mentioned above, being out of a healthy routine does affect mental health and even mental performance. As some of you may know, exercise is an excellent modality to improve all aspects of mental health. Being physically active helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms, as well as increase your self efficacy and self worth.
To bring more awareness to mental health and how physical activity helps, we here at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. are holding a group fitness fundraiser on January 25th, 2020, called Move for Your Mood. Current Okanagan Peak Performance Inc clients can join by donation, and non-clients have a minimum donation drop in of $10. All proceeds raised will go to Third Space Life Charity, which provides programs for mental health and counselling services to those in Kelowna, BC. If you are interested in attending the event or donating online, contact us at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc! Door prizes and healthy snacks will be available the day of, and group fitness classes will run each hour between 8:30am-12:30pm. Come join us for a good sweat session, and to learn more about the benefits of exercise for mental health!
Nutrition is one area of fitness and performance that many struggle with. Take for example the recent documentary Game Changers as an example. Since this film has begun to trend we’re hearing of more and more people making the switch to becoming vegan or vegetarian.
What this tells me is that the average person:
A. Can be easily swayed by a Hollywood story i.e. James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan produced and/or directed this documentary.
B. Is seeking more or better results and is willing to make changes to achieve better results.
Knowing that many don’t have a background in nutritional science and want to achieve the best results was the inspiration for this piece. Oftentimes those seeking the best results may invest in a supplement and so we want to provide some direction on that end as well.
As we evaluate the various aspects of nutrition we want to identify if there would be benefit to adding a supplement to the mix. We need to be on the same page as to what is a supplement and here is our criteria.
Something that is in addition to and not in place of.
Something that is morally and legally justified.
Something that has 3rd party labeling to assure the quality.
If a substance doesn’t adhere to these three rules we, the coaches at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc., would not recommend it to our clients. Obviously it is possible to source many products that don’t satisfy these three rules, and find coaches that may recommend them, but these are our rules.
Now onto the nutritional guidelines.
Step 1 – Energy Balance
The first step is to determine is you are eating enough calories to support your goal. The last part of the sentence is key. If we want to change our mass we need to eat for our goal not for our current state. For example, if a young athlete wants to add 15 lbs he or she will need to eat for the mass they want to be not the mass they currently are. And vice versa if someone wants to shed some mass they need to consume calories based on the less massive version of themselves.
So how do you figure out how much to eat? The truth is most people don’t count calories. And we don’t recommend this for our clients either. That being said here’s how you can figure out how much to eat.
A quick start would be to answer the following:
your age (more calories for younger, less for older)
your sex (more for male, less for female)
your height (more for taller, less for shorter)
your occupational activity level (more for vigorous work, less for sedentary work)
your fitness training (more for frequent and intense, less for infrequent and moderate)
your goal (more to increase mass, less to decrease mass)
This provides six criteria to estimate how many calories to eat daily based on a range of 10-20 calories per pound of body weight. For example a 150 lbs person would eat between 1500 and 3000 calories based on the conditions above. If all of the six criteria above were on the low end this person would eat closer to 1500 calories per day. And if the six criteria were towards the upper end the individual would eat 3000 calories. Understand this is a rough starting point and further adjustments may be required.
Instead of counting calories people typically do better with adjusting portion size. If the goal is to gain mass, eat larger portions and to lose mass eat smaller portions. To change your portion size change the size of the dinnerware you eat from. Use a smaller bowl or a saucer instead of a plate. Do the opposite if your goal is gain mass.
If you’ve done everything you can with to change your mass, up or down, there may be benefit of a supplement. For weight loss, look to add some spice to the kitchen as they may help suppress appetite. A couple I use include cinnamon and hot sauce with cayenne pepper.
If the goal is to gain mass, consider a meal replacement in the form of a shake. These are advantageous as you can typically drink calories faster than you can eat them, you can consume them on the go and you can doctor the recipe to more of what you like in the shake.
If there are particular ingredients in a meal replacement you’d like to know more about check out examine.com. Hands down this is the best resource online for unbiased info on all things related to supplements.
Going forward journal everything you eat for two weeks. On a weekly basis track your weight upon rising, your waist circumference and bodyfat. If you are gaining or losing 0.5-1 lbs per week don’t change anything as you’re on the right track. If you haven’t seen a gain in your mass after two weeks add a post-workout shake to the plan. If you haven’t lost anything after two weeks double check where your strength, waist circumference and bodyfat are at. If these are moving in the right direction you’re on the right track. If not try reducing your portion size by 5-10% and track again for two weeks.
Step 2 – Protein
Once you’ve figured out your daily caloric requirement you’ll want to figure out how much protein to eat. The range for this macronutrient is from 1.2-3.3 g/kg bodyweight. The low end of the range is for sedentary people and the high end of the range is for those looking to add mass. If you think in pounds instead use 0.5 – 1.5 grams for pound of bodyweight. If we look at an example for an obese person they should eat 0.5 – 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So a 250 lbs person would eat 125-175 grams of protein per day. Another way to think about this is use the palm of the hand to represent a portion of protein. If a serving was 30 grams this would equate to 3-5 servings of protein per day.
For individuals of healthy weight they may consume more protein depending on their activity level and goal. An active person looking to increase their mass while staying lean may consume up to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So a 200 lbs athlete may consume 300 grams of protein per day.
Eating 300 grams of protein per day can be a challenge. Not only can finding the time to eat this much protein be a challenge it’s also tough to eat some steak, chicken or fish when you’re on the goal. A protein supplement can work well in this way.
There are lots of options when it comes to protein supplements including whey (isolate or concentrate), casein or plant (soy, hemp, pea or rice). Whey will be more quickly digested and casein more slowly. For those that don’t want a dairy-based protein the various plant options work well.
Step 3 – Carbs and Fat
The next step is to figure out how many carbohydrates and fats to consume. These macronutrients are grouped together because they can both be used as energy.
If you are an athlete and speed and power are a part of your game you will need to consume carbohydrates. The graph below shows why this is the case.
If your goal is not high performance and/or your sport doesn’t involve speed and power you may be able to function on fewer carbohydrates. Whereas an endurance athlete may eat up to 6 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight someone on a ketogenic diet may limit their carbohydrate intake to 5% of total calories. In the literature a very low carbohydrate diet (VLCD) means eating 40% of calories as carbs.
When the goal is weight loss or there is a metabolic disorder fewer carbs may be advantageous. On days when you are more active or you compete increase your carb intake. When you do so remember that carbs and fats can both be used as fuel. So if the carbs increase dial back the fat intake accordingly. Sometimes in bodybuilding circles you’ll hear this referred to as carb cycling.
With your fat intake this makes up the balance of your nutrition. Of your fat intake this can partitioned as one third each of mono-unsaturated (olive oil, avocado, some nuts), poly-unsaturated (fish) and saturated (butter, animal fats and coconut).
As for servings sizes of protein, carbs and fats Precision Nutrition has a great info-graphic to remind us how much to eat of each. We may not always carry a scale or at a glance be able to figure out portions. But we will always have our hands with us.
Step 4 – Nutrient Density
The last thing to consider is the vitamin, mineral and fiber content of your food. The goal should be to ensure that essential nutrients are satisfied first though with real food before looking to add a supplement to the plan.
For example, oftentimes a certain nutrient may be deficient from the diet. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, plays a role in energy metabolism. When someone is low in vitamin B12 they may experience anemia and feel weak or tired. Although you can find breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12 you’d be better off to eat more fish, liver or eggs than a big bowl of Fruit Loops.
The average North American is also commonly deficient in vitamin B6, omega-3, folate, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, vitamin D and vitamin C. A few foods can satisfy our requirements for all of these nutrients. Increasing your consumption of fish, broccoli, spinach, fruit,eggs and getting outside for 20 minutes of sunlight daily will address all of these deficiencies. Eat some eggs and a piece of fruit for breakfast. Get outside for some sunlight at lunch. At dinner eat fish with a spinach salad or broccoli. It’s simple but not easy.
Wrapping It Up
Going forward approach your nutrition in this order. Make sure you’re eating the correct amount of calories to support your goals. Track your results for a couple of weeks then make small changes, i.e. 5-10%, if necessary. For portion sizes remember to use your hand as a guide for how much protein, carbs and fats to eat.
Once your calories are dialed in make sure you’re eating enough protein. Follow this with the right amounts of carbs and fats based on your goal and how intense your training is. Lastly, address any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. If you eat a typical North American diet than you may benefit from eating more fish, eggs, broccoli, spinach, fruit and getting some sunshine.
And that means the parties, dinners and celebrations will be in full effect.
Typically we consider the extra calories and sugar during Christmas. But what about the alcohol?
How Bad Is Alcohol For You?
A colleague with the NBA Hawks, Marie Spano, MS, CSCS, RD, CSSD, shared something on her social media. And I’ve going to share it with you as well.
Alcohol interferes with muscle growth, especially in type II muscle fibers. These are your explosive force-generating muscle fibers 🏋🏾♂️that help you sprint, jump and lift weights.
In one study, 1.5 g/kg bodyweight (this is 5-6 glasses of beer for a 155 lb. man; I show you how to calculate this below) consumed after exercise reduced the synthesis of protein in muscle by 37%. When protein (25 grams post exercise and again 4 hours later) was consumed along with alcohol the reduction in muscle protein synthesis was 24%.
❓How Does Alcohol Wreck Your Gains? Alcohol interrupts the transcription of genes involved in muscle growth by impairing IGF-1 signaling and in men but not women, mTOR signaling. Note: alcohol still reduces muscle protein synthesis in women though mTOR signaling is not impaired.
Drinking alcohol after resistance training or a game decreases testosterone concentration and bioavailability in men but not women. Studies consistently show an alcohol intake > 1.5 g/kg lowers testosterone in men. 😳 Also, long-term alcohol use decreases the androgen receptor, so even if you have a lot of testosterone circulating, there’s a decrease in your body’s ability to use testosterone.
How to Figure Out the Grams of Alcohol in a Drink
1 – Multiple the oz in the drink by the alcohol content. A 12 oz. beer with 6% alcohol has 0.72 oz. of alcohol. Multiple alcohol fluid oz. x 29.57 to get the grams of alcohol. In this example, 0.72 x 29.57 = 21.29 grams per drink.
2 – Take weight in lbs. divided by 2.2 to get weight in kg. Then multiply this by 1.5 to find out how many grams of alcohol one would need to drink to lower testosterone.
Chris here again…
So this is pretty alarming.
First of all, a 37% reduction in protein synthesis is no joke. Anyone who has trained for a while with the goal of adding lean mass knows how hard it is to add a few pounds of lean muscle. Alcohol can quickly reduce these gains.
The other point that is concerning is the fact that long term alcohol consumption reduces the androgen receptor for testosterone. So even with high levels of circulating testosterone you may not be able to make use of it all.
Extra Caution for Those Older Than 25 Years
For men our testosterone production peaks around our mid-twenties and then declines gradually for the rest of our lives. As well, protein needs are much higher for seniors to off-set sarcopenia or the loss of muscle mass. So an older person that drinks regularly is really stacking the deck against themselves when we consider how alcohol makes it harder to build muscle.
Going forward if you enjoy a cocktail or two consider the effects this will have on your ability to build muscle. Consider drinks with lower alcohol concentration and bump up your protein intake at this time as well. And if you’re up for it you could pick some milk thistle and supplement with that as well.
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2013;45(9):1825-32. Nutr Metab 2014;11:26. JSCR 2017;31(1):54-61.
Ankle dorsiflexion restriction is an important issue that can be easily missed or ignored in training. If not addressed, it can have a negative impact on sports performance and injury risk. From a weight room point of view where this can have the biggest impact is with your squat depth and mechanics.
A common solution that I see is to raise the heels using plates. This helps bypass the needs for greater amounts of dorsiflexion at the ankle joint and usually results in instantly improved technique and greater depth. I love this option but it does not mean we should not work on improving the restriction at the ankle, especially with athletes. It serves as a crutch, and how wants to be on crutches their whole life?
From a sports performance point of view, limited ankle mobility can reduce power production in athletic movements such as sprinting and jumping. To get into optimal positions for acceleration (first phase in sprinting), an athlete needs to be able to get into greater degrees of positive shin angle. This is very challenging if you don’t have the required ankle mobility.
The ankle joint can also act like a spring, helping the body to be propelled through space, such as a jump. The more you coil spring, the more force it is going to snap back with. So, the more an athlete can coil the foot (top of the foot coming towards the shin) the more force and energy transfer can be put into the floor (to an extent, there is a such thing as too much dorsiflexion).
Do you have an ankle restriction?
Step 1 checks to see how much dorsiflexion you have. For a demonstration visit the video link.
Set up in half kneeling in front of the wall. This is with one knee down and one foot on the ground. Use a ruler or a tape measure and place it against the base of the wall. It is preferable to do this in bare feet.
Stack your hands on your front knee and drive your toe towards the wall. Make sure the knee is going over the middle of the foot, the heel stays down and the same side hip does not pop out to the side. Otherwise it is a false positive!
You are looking for around 10 cm of the knee passing the toes. If you’re +6 feet, look for 12 cm. Another quick option, which isn’t as precise, is to use your own fist as I show in the video.
What type of ankle restriction do you have?
Ok so you have a restriction…..what next? If you are familiar with the topic or have known for a while that you have an ankle mobility restriction, you have probably been told to foam roll your calf until the cows come home. While this can be a part of the process, we need to get specific to better understand whether the soft tissue or the joint issue.
It is a busy time we live in and the more dialled in we can get with option selection, the better, no need to throw paint at the wall and hope for the best.
To do this, here is a simple test you can try! See the video link for a demonstration.
If you have access to a platform like the one in the video great, use this. If not no worries just use a bumper plate, some Airex pads and get creative if you have to. Place the ball of the foot on the platform and keep the heel on the floor.
Keeping your knee straight, step forward and keep doing so just before the point where your heel has to lift. Now ask yourself, “Do I feel a pinch/lock in the front of the ankle or a stretch in the back of the calves”.
Repeat on the same leg, but now keep a good bend in the knee. Ask yourself the same question, pinch or stretch?
If both match up as a stretch in the back of the calf or ankle, then you might have more of a soft tissue restriction. If you match both with a pinch in the front, then you may have more of a joint restriction. If it was a mix then it’s a good idea to work on both.
Addressing ankle restrictions
Now it’s time to start working on the restriction. Since not every restriction is created equal that means foam rolling on its own will not solve the problem. We need to match up the approach with the biggest contributor to the restriction. See the video link for a demonstration.
Soft Tissue Restriction (Video 1)
1.Foam roller/ Tennis ball work on the calf – Grab a foam roller and a tennis ball, roll all three spots as shown in the video for 30 seconds to a minute per spot.
2. Stretch the calf. Hold for 1-2 minutes with a straight leg, and 1-2 minutes with a slight bend in the knee.
3. Re-test and see if you gained more range of motion.
1. Grab a band and tie it off on a bench/ rack/ railing, etc. In a half kneel, place the band on the soft part right between your ankle and foot (see the video).
2. Keep the heel down and push your knee over the toe and ‘pump the gas’ 10-15 times. You can repeat this from 1-3 sets. If you do not have a band you can use your hands (see the video).
3. Retest and see if you gained more range of motion.
Combine both Video 1 and 2 . Use joint restriction first then soft tissue restriction second.
A long term approach
Hopefully, you will see some change in range of motion during the retest. The problem is, the new mobility will start to go away fast, unless we facilitate motor learning and build strength in that new range of motion.
Calf raise variations (video 3)
Calf raises are good for more than just vanity. I show one option in the video but there are many options available. There are some big keys to get the most out of them.
Full range of motion. We need to get all the way to the end range of your plantar flexion (pushing the top of the foot away from the shin, think ‘tippy toes’). A common mistake is a shortened range of motion or the heel go out to the side. To help with this, you can use a ball or block and squeeze in between the heels to ensure the heels do not pop out. Think about pushing the top of your head straight up to the roof and driving through your big toe.
Slow Tempo. It is important to not rush this. Doing so can result in compensatory patterns while also using momentum to get through the range of motion. To help maintain and build strength in the new ranges of motion we also want to elicit as much blood flow into the area, going slow will help elicit a big pump and help you “feel it” where you are supposed to.
Perform 2-4 sets of 8-15 calf raises with a shorter rest period between sets (30-45 seconds) immediately after the joint restriction protocol matching your joint restriction. Play around with different variations single leg, bi-lateral, loaded with lower rep ranges, body weight with higher rep ranges, bent knees vs straight knees. A good place to start would be to do one day where you go heavier with lower rep ranges (8-10) and one day with lighter weights and higher reps (12+ to failure).
When to work on ankle restrictions
As a first option, you can do individual ankle mobility sessions on days off from regular training. This will only take about 10-20 minutes following the guidelines in the above sections.
The next option is to utilize the protocol as an extended warm up before your lower or full body days. There are a lot of advantages to doing it this way. Now you can utilize the new range of motion and integrate it into your lower body movements. Once we have those new ranges of motion it is important to learn how to use it in your movement patterns, remember….. use it or lose it!
If you are worried about doing this on your own, we can help you at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. I know it can be daunting to do this on your own and if you’re looking for help, the coaches at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc are there to help guide you through this. Come in and say hello or contact us to book your free strategy session today.
Athletes are always looking for ways to gain an advantage. And good sportsmanship requires that we play by the rules and avoid known short cuts or cheats.
When it comes to sports supplements we’ve got to be really careful.
An athlete can be putting in the time training for their sport. They can work in the gym. The will get their rest, eat their vegetables and make sure everything to ensure performance has been checked off the list.
And then they hear there is something that will give them an edge. It will help them go harder, recover more quickly or heal faster. Whatever the promise they are keen to give it a try. They are already doing everything it takes and are so close to a podium, scholarship or a championship.
What do they have to lose?
Well, it could a ban from sports. It could be the loss of a scholarship or contract offer. Maybe it’s the termination of an endorsement deal. And the inclusion of your name alongside other dopers.
Unfortunately there was a local supplement store selling a banned product during their Black Friday sale.
Allmax Impact Igniter contains higenamine and is listed on the label below.
The Word Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has a list of all banned substances. Higenamine is in a class of substances known as beta-2-agonists and are banned at all times.
So what is an athlete to do that wants do everything possible to achieve the best result in sport yet not risk a positive drug test?
Really this comes down to only using supplements with BSCG, Certified for Sport, Informed Choice, NSF or similar labeling. When a product has labeling from one of these agencies you can be assured that the ingredients are safe, include only what is stated and nothing else.
Okanagan Peak Performance Inc only sells products with the above listed quality controls. Speak to one of our coaches if you are interested in a particular supplement to enhance your results.
Most of us have a good idea of how exercise makes us feel better; it makes us feel accomplished, keeps us energized, and it releases our happy hormones to change the biochemistry of our brains. But exercise can have a greater effect than just feeling happier in people with mental health conditions such as depression or seasonal affective disorder, it can actually help deal with these conditions and allow people to have a more positive well-being.
Depression is a highly publicized mental health condition, but it is a lot more than persistent feelings of sadness. Depression manifests itself in different ways and can take away your passion for previously enjoyed activities or negatively impact things that you use to define yourself and your happiness. Depression can impact anyone including youth, older adults, those living with chronic illnesses or substance use issues, and those going through big life changes.
Approximately 8% of all adults will experience major depression at some point in their lives, with many more going through acute bouts of depression. Depression has had a growing focus on it in recent years, which has allowed people experiencing depression to find help and support to manage it. Physical activity is one of the leading treatments someone can use to help manage depression due to the release of ‘happy’ hormones and endorphins, as well as increasing feelings of self-worth and providing social support outlets. Self perceived quality of life increases exponentially when including physical activity into daily routines – as little as 30 minutes of physical activity per day will permanently change the way in which our bodies produce happy hormones to make us feel better.
As the season is switching over to colder and darker days, seasonal affective disorder (also known as winter blues or February blahs) is common place in northern bound countries such as Canada. It makes up about 10% of depression cases in Canada, and mostly affects adults under 50 years old. The main risk factors of seasonal affective disorder are the lack of sunlight and vitamin D, as well as lower amounts of exercise and poor sleeping habits due to the change of daylight in winter. Some ways to help prevent or manage seasonal affective disorder include: vitamin D supplementation, physical activity, getting sunlight throughout the days, keeping a healthy sleep routine, being in social situations (such as hanging out with friends), and getting outside to be active!
Now this all brings us to chat about Movember, the great movement that started in 2003 and helps to fund projects for men’s health that includes raising awareness on prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention in men. It has grown from sporting a steezy stash to being active throughout the month for Move for Movember, which is great opportunity to see how physical activity positively impacts mental health. Move for Movember was created to get people out walking or running during this month; the set target is 60 km in the month, 1 km for every man that commits suicide every minute around the world. Suicide accounts for 24% of all death in those ages 15-24, and suicide rates are 4x higher in men than in women. The more we can raise awareness about mental health conditions such as depression and create support outlet for those struggling with thoughts of suicide, the more we can prevent premature deaths. Open up a dialog with people in your life and let them know that they and everyone else matters and there is always a place to find help.
If anyone would like to donate their time or money to a great cause, follow this link to donate to our team’s Movember page ( https://moteam.co/okanagan-peak-performance), with all proceeds going to the Movember charity to help with men’s health, prostate and cancer awareness, and depression and suicide awareness. Or if you would like some more information about Movember, read all about them at https://ca.movember.com/?home . If anyone would like some more information on mental health conditions in general, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website ( https://cmha.bc.ca/ ).
And finally, with November coming to a close, I am offering anyone who is interested in learning more, 1 free strategy session (coffee included) and 2 free private training sessions. The first 2 people to contact Okanagan Peak Performance Inc via phone or email before the end of November will get this deal! However, please keep in mind that all the coaches here at Okanagan Peak Inc are here for your physical and mental well-being and will always be available to talk.