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.
A common goal of everyone that trains is to be lean. And I don’t mean to be skinny. By lean I mean to carry the most amount of muscle mass and the least amount of body fat possible. And this should still allow us to do our regular tasks and activities without lacking fitness or mobility.
Sometimes when someone initiates a fitness program the results can be slow in coming. We know we feel better. We have fewer aches and pains. We sleep better at night. And our performance in sports is trending up as well. Yet the scale doesn’t budge.
Below are a number of nutritional reasons this may be the case.
Meals Eaten Alone
When we eat with others there are natural pauses for conversation. We want to hear how the other person’s day went. We comment on the flavour and textures of the prepared meal. We put the fork down every now and again to listen and answer.
Eating alone leads to eating more quickly. Nutritional quality tends to be lower. Maybe this is because we like to have a treat when no one is watching and won’t be judged. Or it could be that when we cook for others, i.e. for children, we feel a responsibility to provide the best nutrition possible.
Eating alone also means we could be doing something else while we’re eating. Maybe we watch a TV show. Sadly, we used to do this. Maybe we’re on our phones. Maybe we read a book. Maybe we try to get some work done at the computer. Regardless of what we do while we’re eating it serves as a distraction and leads to mindless rather than mindful eating.
Simply by eating in the company others we will eat more slowly, eat less and eat better quality foods. And if you do eat alone make sure that’s all you’re doing.
Sleep Plays a Role
When we are sleep deprived the hormone leptin is suppressed. Leptin’s job is to tell us we’re full. Compound being a little tired with eating alone and the potential for overeating becomes a real problem.
I remember one of my sisters sharing a story when she was studying while in university. I don’t want to dox her here but let’s just say she was studying for medical school and eating spoonfuls of peanut butter while studying. At one point she rotated the container of PB and saw she was getting 200 calories for every 2 tablespoons. When she saw a near empty container she realized how easily it can be to mindlessly add extra calories to the day. Pulling all-nighters for all her exams probably didn’t help.
Planning & Consistency
Nutrition is one of those things that needs to be planned ahead of time. You don’t need to go to the extreme of having a dozen Tupperware containers loaded every Sunday for the week to come. If you’re already in the habit of doing that’s great. Keep it up.
What you should do is have foods on hand for all your meals. Know what you’re going to have for breakfast before you go to bed. Make an extra serving at dinner so you can bring leftovers for lunch. Carry a water bottle so you don’t become dehydrated. And throw some fruit, nuts or bars in your car for times when you’re on the go and won’t have time to stop and eat.
What derails most is not having a plan. And not applying the plan consistently. If I skip breakfast some days what are the chances I drink more coffee to get going? Will I eat a bigger lunch? Do I wait until the end of the day and then overeat at dinner?
When you see the fuel light come on in your vehicle you plan to fuel up. You don’t ignore this signal and think it doesn’t matter. We’re similar in that we’ll get a signal of when to fuel up. We can ignore this signal and then body will then compensate accordingly.
Not One Factor
Getting lean isn’t just about a change on the scale. And it’s even possible to see no change on the scale. What we are seeking is a change in body composition. We want to add lean mass and decrease body fat.
Just as health can’t be summarized by one factor we can’t simplify our results based on the scale. We should also be measuring our strength and fitness. We should track our waist circumference and our overall health status. When most factors are moving in the right direction it’s likely a positive body composition is taking place as well.
It’s All About the Habits
I will always be lean. I don’t mean to be boastful. And sure some of the credit is due to picking the right parents. But most important are the habits I live day in and day out.
Some of my habits that I live daily to stay lean include:
Getting 8 hours of sleep every night
Moving every day
Eating the right amounts of healthy foods at the right times
Having practices to reduce stress
Drinking enough water
Minimizing low nutrition calories and alcohol
There are more healthy habits someone could use to get lean but those are mine.
We have compiled a list of the best evidenced-based habits that lead to weight loss. And we’ve developed a system to help our clients lose and keep the weight off.
If you would like to know more about these habits send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Healthy Habits’ in the subject line. We’ll be in touch to help get you set up with some better habits and a leaner you in the future.
When we young kids growing up our family hosted a young boy from Northern Ireland. Peter Casey was from Belfast and spent about 8 weeks one summer in Kelowna to get away from the turmoil back home.
We spent that summer riding our bikes, going to the beach and doing all the things 8-10 year old boys do. And that included getting dragged by their moms to go cherry picking.
One time when we were cherry picking, Peter thought it would be funny to throw cherries at my brother Jon and I. It didn’t take much for us to get drawn into this fruit fight considering:
A. There were two of us and only one of him
B. We were in the habit of throwing from playing football and baseball. Peter was used to playing soccer and had a terrible arm.
So the war was on. Since August in Kelowna can get very hot Peter soon ditched the tarp giving us this nice, pasty white target to aim at. We quickly realized if we bit half the cherry off a direct hit resulted in red circles all over Peter’s body.
Now while it’s fun to reminisce about fun stories growing up we weren’t the only ones cherry picking.
If you’ve seen the ‘documentary’ Game Changers you’ll know what I’m talking about. But in case you haven’t here’s a quick overview.
A MMA competitor injuries himself and spends his recovery time researching the best ways to come back to his sport better than ever. What he discovers is that a plant-based diet is not only better for health but it also gives athletes an advantage as well.
Those are a couple of the claims anyway.
Having produced some great pieces of fictional content such as Avatar and Terminator I’m sure James Cameron felt right at home producing Game Changers. He was joined by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan in producing this one.
As I sat back to watch Game Changers, twice, I noticed my head getting tilted sideways as it does when something doesn’t seem right. Rather than do a full autopsy on this one I’m going to lean on a few reviews that have already been produced. These reviews are courtesy of Men’s Heath, Menno Henselmans and Layne Norton. I’ve included direct links to their reviews below.
Men’s Health Review of Game Changers
At the beginning of the of documentary the MMA narrator James tells us that a plant-based diet is superior for cardiovascular health, sexual function and mortality. The story continues to prove these claims.
The first piece of proof is a ‘study’ of the remains of gladiators. The skeletal remains of these warriors indicate that gladiators, the most impressive physical specimens of the time, at predominantly fruits and vegetables.
The problem is that it isn’t a study that isn’t being presented but instead a narrative, taken a little bit out of context. As well, certain details indicating gladiators ate fish and had higher levels of creatine i.e. from eating meat, fail to make the final cut.
Later there is the mention of a study of how milk can drop testosterone and increase estrogen levels in men. The problem here is two-fold. The first is that seven men were included in the study and the findings were temporary. Hardly conclusive evidence to stop drinking milk.
The Men’s Health piece addresses the claim that increased meat consumption raises the incidence of cancer. This is true but there is more to the story. The incidence of colorectal cancer is 5% and eating a hot dog per day may raise this to a 6% chance. However using a marinade and or eating more fruits and vegetables could mitigate this increase altogether.
Game Changers Review by Menno Henselmans
Menno does a great job at looking at various claims made during the documentary. What I liked is that he includes omitted details from the studies mentioned and therefore a complete picture of the discussion. Here are some examples of his review:
A vegetarian diet may have a lower risk for certain diseases than meat eaters. What is left out is that the lower risk is equivalent to fish eaters.
A plant-based diet may result in increased cardiovascular health. What is left out from this study is that plant-based diets may also have an increased chance of non-communicable blood disease.
A plant-based diet may add more vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals which are all good things. Eating animal products may allow for the consumption of higher quality protein, more iron, omega-3 and B vitamins.
Menno mentions a study where senior women eat a high-meat diet. The study subjects increased muscle size and strength as well as markers of inflammation. Reduced inflammation is touted as one of the main reasons to ditch meat in favour of a plant-based approach.
Game Changers Review by Layne Norton
The last review to look at is the one by Layne Norton. Layne identifies many of the same short-comings covered by Men’s Health and Menno. So the brevity of this section is simply looking at unique points not covered in the previous reviews.
Layne does a good job of exposing potential conflicts of interests of those associated with the documentary.
James Cameron and Suzy Cameron are both owners of a plant-based nutritional company. James is the CEO and Suzy is the founder of Verdiant Foods, a pea-protein nutritional company.
Jackie Chan is a vegan himself.
And Schwarzenegger is part-owner of a supplement company that sells vegan products.
There is nothing wrong with having interests in plant-based companies or profiting financially from them. But how many of the people watching this documentary were aware of these relationships? Knowing these ties makes the documentary feel more like a commercial and less like a review of the scientific evidence.
Another great point Layne makes is to examine the claim that plant-based proteins are superior. This simply isn’t the case.
Proteins from animal products have a higher bioavalability by about 10-40%. This is a measure of how much of the protein we can absorb and use. Egg white has a bioavailability of 100 and other foods will be higher or lower than this. Kidney beans, soy and wheat have BVs of 49, 54 and 59 respectively.
Plant proteins are typically lower in essential amino acids than animal proteins. Essential amino acids (EAA) are ones the body cannot make and are therefore essential to be included in the diet. Leucine in particular is an important EAA and plays an important in muscle protein synthesis.
So what’s the take home message?
Netflix is great for entertainment. They are lots of great shows to evoke a variety of emotions and allow us to escape. Two hours of watching a documentary online doesn’t equate to the learning that comes from a university education.
Going forward look to include more fruits and vegetables in your nutritional plan. And if you are an omnivore you can rest assured that eating protein that comes from animals doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.
If you’d like to check out these reviews further here are the links:
What do you believe? I don’t mean this specifically related to health and fitness.
Although for people nutrition can become a theology and they speak of it as though it were a religion.
I believe eating organic is the only way to go.
I believe that eating meat isn’t healthy.
These statements don’t reference science but instead our beliefs. And sometimes our beliefs can be at odds with science. Just ask Kyrie Irving.
So there are times in life where we believe so strongly in something that we make life decisions based on this belief.
Consider the placebo effect which basically says that a positive health change is due the placebo itself. The placebo has no active medical ingredients and therefore it is our belief that the placebo will work that accounts for the beneficial effect.
We are probably familiar with these types of research studies. One group takes a pill to treat a disease and the control group does not. The pill has no medical ingredients but the study participants don’t know this. They are made to believe the pill will deliver a positive health result. The experimental group, i.e. the ones taking the pills, experience the positive health outcome.
More recently there have been studies involving an open label placebo and a control group.
An open label placebo involves a group of research subjects that know they will be receiving a placebo. The other group of study subjects continue their regular treatment plans known as treatment as usual.
Now it’s important to be clear that the placebo group knew what a placebo was and that is what they would be receiving during the study. I’m imagining the information session for the study going something like this:
You’re not getting any medicine. Instead you’re going to eat Tic Tacs twice a day for 3 weeks. Before we get started we’re going to watch a video on what a placebo is so there’s no confusion as to the fact that you’re receiving a placebo. We’ll give you the pills in a prescription bottle labelled ‘Placebo’ and the pills themselves will also be labelled ‘Placebo’.
The researchers also explained to all the study participants the power of the placebo effect. They talked about how the placebo effect can induce certain behaviours similar to Pavlov’s response. The shared how a positive attitude is necessary for the placebo effect to work. And they stressed how it was essential that the experimental group continue taking the placebo pills for the full 21 days of the experiment.
All of the participants, n = 83, were adults of least 18 years of age and had chronic back pain for the past 3 months. If subjects were taking NSAIDs prior to the study for pain they were allowed to continuing doing so. 6 subjects refused to participate, 3 discontinued in the placebo group and 2 discontinued in the treatment as usual group.
At the beginning, half-way and end of the experiment subjects were assessed for level of low back pain and disability due to pain.
The results showed that the open label placebo group had a 30% greater reduction in pain and disability.
So how do you explain this?
Well, part of it has to do with wanting to please the experimenter. Maybe they were swayed in their subjective responses when asked about their level of pain or disability in order to provide the experimenters with a favourable response.
There are also the potential psychological analgesic effects associated with opening a bottle of pills and swallowing a pill. It could be having the pills in a prescription bottle written out as though it was a true prescription, even though only placebo was written on the bottle. Could the simple act of getting the bottle out of the cupboard, twisting off the child-proof safety lid, pouring a glass a water and swallowing a couple of pills be enough to start the psychological cascade of events to induce pain relief? Maybe it was simply the act of trying something different that may give them some relief.
The last thing I found interesting about this study was at the completion 17 of the study participants wanted the prescription refilled! Crazy, right? I mean these are sane, competent adults eating pills with no medical ingredients asking for more of these pills as it is working for them.
Going forward, do your research on your nutrition, your training and your health. And whatever it is you decide know that believing it will work is just as important as whatever the solution is. Except if you’re Kyrie Irving. That dude’s just crazy.
If you are an active person there are probably still aspects of fitness that you don’t enjoy.
For example, we all know someone who is really fit but doesn’t enjoy running. They will do almost anything else rather than run. They will swim, bike, row and even go hiking. But go for a 5 or 10 km run? Never.
This reminds of the dinner hour at the Collins household. Alexandra does a great job of preparing delicious meals each evening. But with two little girls there will be something that’s been prepared they don’t enjoy.
With Vangie, 4 years old, this could be peppers. It doesn’t matter the colour i.e. red, yellow or green, she has an equal distaste for all of them. If you try to hide them in chili or something else she will pick them out and set them off to the side.
Given the choice if every meal were ice cream, cookies and pudding she’d be OK with this. And it’s tough for her to recognize that her mom and dad feed her foods to help with her growth, development and overall health.
So there are the foods she’d like to eat and then the ones she needs to eat. And it’s trying to find the balance to make sure gets what she needs and every now and again she gets a little bit of what she wants.
This is kind of be how fitness is for many people.
Maybe we are already active. We go to the gym. We squat, bench and deadlift. The numbers are all going up. We’re getting stronger. And everything is great. Until it’s not.
And it stops being great when we have a new physical demand to face. Maybe it’s going on a ski trip. Or taking the kids to Wibit or some other type of ropes course. Or we get the call from a buddy to come and play men’s league soccer for a game.
Let’s say the event doesn’t end with a knee or Achilles tendon injury. Maybe it’s the next day popping Advil and on the couch watching sports all day. You’re so stiff and sore you can’t move and open waking in the morning you’re quickly aware of every muscle that hasn’t been worked in that way for years, if ever.
This could have been prevented.
And usually it comes back to doing the things that we need rather than we want. For some this is training the backside of the body. It means working the glutes, hamstrings, calves, low back and lats. It’s not uncommon to work on what we see in the mirror after a shower. We see the extra layer of insulation. We see a keg instead of a six-pack. We see soft shoulders and pecs. And so we go to the gym to address these things and improve.
Besides working on what we see, and ignoring what we don’t we can also fall into the trap of doing what suits our body type. For example, a smaller, leaner person will typically choose activities where they have to move their own body and not have to move external load or an opponent. The 145 lbs guy will gravitate towards running triathlons and running marathons but may not look to play rugby.
The opposite is also true. Larger people will tend to sports and training where they can move others or external load. Strong man competitions and powerlifting come to mind. And they won’t be looking to sign up for when they have to move their own bodies on something like American Ninja Warrior.
What about our energy system development?
What do you do for this? Typically sprinters are gifted people. They have the right length of levers, body fat, coordination and muscle fibre type that quick movements come easily. Fast people are just fast. You can work to develop this quality a little bit but it’s not the same as someone who can turn it on in a moments notice.
So far a sprinter they probably don’t do a lot of cardio. They don’t look to go for a 3 hour bike ride or swim a few kilometres at the pool. And yeah I guess you could say because they’ve gotten away with their God-given talents they can be a little bit lazy.
So what is the take home message here?
Well it’s to look at where you are with your health, fitness and performance and we’re you’d like to be. It’s being aware of what you typically do and what you usually avoid. And it’s figuring what you consider more fun and what feels a little more like work.
You don’t need to reluctantly approach every training session because you know you’re going to have to do something you don’t like. But the longer you avoid it the harder it will be to address. Hello, procrastinators, I’m looking at you.
This isn’t the easiest thing to figure out. You need to know all the elements of fitness that contribute to health and performance. You need to know what you are currently doing to improve these qualities. You need to know what your weak links are and how you will address them.
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry.
Reach out to one of our coaches at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc and we can help you figure out a plan and the safest, more efficient way to achieve results. And a bonus, we’re usually pretty good at making it fun as well.
Recently I was away with the family to Idaho. We went down to Silverwood for some roller coasters and water slides. And with a 4 and almost 7 year old our plans for the rides were dictated by their sizes and appetite for thrills. And this reminded of a time with Olivia, the almost 7 year old, when we were going to go on a drop slide together. Read more…