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2017 Sports Nutrition News from the American College of Sports Medicine

2017 Sports Nutrition News from the American College of Sports Medicine

In this era of highly competitive sports, more and more runners, cyclists, soccer players and other serious athletes are eagerly seeking information on how to fuel optimally. Performance nutrition is also of interest to Marines, special operations troops such as the Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) teams, and others in the military who need to perform at a very high level to both survive and to carry out their missions. Hence, effective fueling practices are a topic of great interest and research for the US Armed Forces.

At this year’s annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (the nation’s largest group of sports medicine professionals, exercise scientists, and sports nutrition researchers; www.acsm.org), civilian as well as military exercise scientists presented the results of their recent nutrition research, some of which I have highlighted below. This information might be of interest to you, whether you are a competitive athlete or soldier who trains for hours in the summer heat, winter cold, at high altitude, or for in preparation for a strenuous event—be it a military mission, Ironman triathlon, or an adventure race. Regardless of your reason for exercising, fueling your body wisely and well can greatly impact your ability to perform optimally today as well as invest in your future health and well-being.

Highlights of research on nutrition for military performance:

  • To become a Navy SEAL, you have to go through SEAL Qualification Training. A survey of 264 of these serious “military athletes” indicates their diets rated only 56 out of 100 on the Healthy Eating Index. This is slightly lower than the score of 59 for the general US population. To the disadvantage of these trainees, their dietary patterns were low in health-protective fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, but high in health-eroding refined foods with added sugar, fat and alcohol. This type of eating pattern promotes inflammation. By improving their food choices (more colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats), they could reduce systemic inflammation, which could enhance recovery from training, boost immune response, and help them maintain better health. As you know, an injured or sick soldier or athlete is not an asset to any team.
  • Marines in training for acceptance to Special Operation Forces exercise extremely hard during their training program. One might think they would suffer from long-term undesired weight loss. Not the case. After each period of intentional severe food deprivation, the trainees manage to restore the significant amount of weight they lost. For example, in the toughest part of the 261-day training program (days 115-123), the men burned about 6,400 calories a day. They had access to only 2,400 calories of food. That’s about 4,000 calories a day less than they needed! They lost, on average, 11 pounds (4.9 kg). The Marines intuitively returned to their baseline weights after that training period, when they had access to adequate fuel. As an athlete who has dropped weight, only to regain it, you may have seen first-hand how the body works hard to defend a genetic weight. Weight is more than a matter of willpower.
  • Speedy recovery from strenuous exercise is of key interest to military personnel. Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (more commonly called HMB; a natural by-product of protein/leucine metabolism) has been shown to enhance muscle recovery from high intensity exercise. Would HMB with supplemental probiotics (gut microbes that enhance protein absorption) be a way to enhance soldiers’ muscle recovery? To find the answer, soldiers took HMB + probiotics during 2 weeks of intense military training (carrying ~77 pounds (35 kg) of equipment while marching 16-19 miles (25-30 km) per night in tough terrain). Results of this study suggest that HMB supplementation reduced the inflammatory response to intense training. Combining HMB with the probiotic Bacillus coagulans was even more beneficial than HMB alone in maintaining muscle integrity during the intense military training.

The question now arises: Can athletes who eat a high quality diet with leucine-rich food (meat, fish, chicken, cheese, whey) + probiotic-supporting fiber-rich food (vegetables, fruit whole grains) reap the same benefits? Sounds like a winning combination to me!

 

  • Staying healthy is important for soldiers and athletes alike; neither have time for illness due to upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) such as colds. Would taking a high does of Vitamin D, which has been shown to improve immune function, offer protection? To answer that question, Marines in basic training received daily for 12 weeks either 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D-2 (the RDA is 600 IU) or a placebo. The majority (72%) of recruits reported getting a URTI during the 12 weeks. The high dose of Vitamin D did not offer a protective effect in this highly stressful environment. Perhaps you could instead focus on having clean hands and getting adequate sleep.
  • Now that women can perform combat duty, a question arises: How well can the women perform physically compared to the men? To find the answer, 302 marines underwent comprehensive testing including strength, flexibility, balance, power, agility, and physical fitness tests (pull ups, push ups, sit ups, bench press, 2-mile run, etc). They then were stratified into three groups according to the test results, regardless of sex or body fat: best (all men), middle (mostly men), worst (mostly female).

When compared by sex, the men, understandably, tended to have less body fat—except when compared to the best performing women. The amount of the male or female marines’ muscle-mass determined athletic performance more so than their body fatness. The best-performing men and women in groups one and two had significantly more muscle than the men and women in group three. The researchers concluded that muscle mass may have a stronger association with performance during strength, aerobic, and anaerobic tests than does percent body fat. This is a good example of how the leanest athlete is not inherently the best athlete. For some athletes, building more muscle might be more important than losing body fat.

 

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD has a private practice in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875), where she counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes, teaching them how to eat to win. Her popular Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and food guides for marathoners, cyclists and soccer are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com, as well as information about her online workshop and teaching materials.

 

 

Questions about chocolate milk

Questions about chocolate milk

Dear Nancy,

I have a lot of questions about chocolate milk as a recovery drink. Thank you for your answers.

Continue Reading

Bread: Good, Bad — or Yummy?

Bread: Good, Bad — or Yummy?

Many athletes and recreational exercisers are staying away from bread these days: It’s a waste of calories. … It’s fattening. … It’s inflammatory. These active people often struggle with denying themselves of this pleasurable food: I tell the waiter to remove the breadbasket so I don’t devour the whole thing. … No more sandwiches for me; I eat just salads. … On Sundays I cheat and eat a bagel! …

Perhaps you are feeling confused about the role of bread in your sports diet? After all, eating (white) bread these days is commonly viewed as nutritionally incorrect. Here are some facts to resolve some of the bread confusion. Continue Reading

Suggestions for Nutrition Books

Suggestions for Nutrition Books

If you have time to kick back and read a few books on your rest days, here are a few recommendations that might suit your fancy. Of course, these are new nutrition books!

  1. The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club by Lauren Harris-Pincus MS, RDN http://nutritionstarringyou.com/protein-packed-breakfast-club/
  2. The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden by Jen Haugen RDN http://www.jenhaugen.com/book/
  3. Gluten Free: The Definitive Resource Guide by Shelley Case RD https://shelleycase.com/book/
  4. Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Surprising Ways to Shop & Eat Without Guilt by Michele Payn https://causematters.com/books/
  5. 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year by Sarah Koszyk MA, RD http://www.sarahkoszyk.com/store/
  6. Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out – and Never Say Diet Again by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN http://www.bodykindnessbook.com/the-book/
  7. Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy 5th Edition by Hope Warshaw MMSc, RD, CDE http://www.hopewarshaw.com/books/diabetes-meal-planning-made-easy
  8. Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Ward MS, RD  https://betteristhenewperfect.com/books/

These new titles have been read, reviewed and recommended by Melissa Dobbins RD. She is the host of Sound Bites podcast. If you can’t sit still long enough to read a book, you can at least listen to her excellent nutrition information: http://www.soundbitesrd.com/podcast-2/

With best wishes for health and happiness,

Nancy

PS, Of course, you might also want to read Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It’s a best-seller and winner that can help you reach your food, weight and exercise goals.

Peanut Butter: Why it’s an excellent sports foods

Peanut Butter: Why it’s an excellent sports foods

Peanut butter (PB) is a popular sports food that is not only yummy but also health-promoting.  I routinely choose to enjoy two (!) PB sandwiches a day: one for lunch and the other to curb late-afternoon hunger.

If you try to stay away from peanut butter because it is fattening or too fatty, think again and keep reading (as long as you are not allergic to peanuts, that is). The purpose of this article is to educate you about the value of PB in a diet for sports-active people of ages and athletic abilities—as well as their parents and grandparents. Continue Reading

Confused by anti-sugar information?

Confused by anti-sugar information?

Nancy, I’m currently watching an anti-sugar documentary … Yikes! Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are in almost everything: bread, crackers, cereal, processed foods. I have this urge to go to my kitchen and throw away every processed food there! 

I’m floored at the information I’m getting from this and how horrible sugar is for you. I had to get your take on this…. Continue Reading

Females, Food & Infertility

Females, Food & Infertility

 

“Yea, I stopped getting my period!!! That means I’m training really hard and am finally thin enough. “

“Yea, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that monthly hassle any more.”

“Yea, now I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant!”

     Freedom from monthly menstrual periods has historically brought pride and pleasure to many female athletes. That is, until they experience infertility when they do want to get pregnant. To their misfortune, many of the same women who were very content having abnormally functioning bodies are now in a state of grief. Continue Reading

How much should I eat on a rest day?

How much should I eat on a rest day?

Nancy,

When we met for our nutrition appointment, you said that I need about 2,400 calories a day — including exercise — to maintain my weight. If I burn off about 400 calories a day with exercise, does that mean I should eat 2,000 calories on days I do not exercise? Continue Reading

What I learned on my trip to the cranberry bog…

What I learned on my trip to the cranberry bog…

The friendly folks at Ocean Spray recently invited me (and a group of registered dietitians who were in Boston for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo) to take a tour of a cranberry bog. Mind you, I have lived in the Boston-area for many years now, but have never trekked to the bogs. I learned a lot about cranberries — and how they offer health benefits that are unique to this tart little red berry.

. • Cranberries can help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)— a problem commonly encountered by women. Components in cranberries (proanthocyanidins) make the bacteria less able to “stick” to the surface of the infected tissues. This can significantly decrease bacterial adhesion and reduce the frequency of recurrent UTIs.

• Fewer UTIs means we use fewer antibiotics to treat the infections. Reducing use of antibiotics is very important because antibiotics kill not only the “bad guys” that cause infections but also the ”good guys” that live in our gut (our microbiota) and contribute to optimal health.

• Reducing the intake of antibiotics also reduces the risk of creating antibiotic resistance and the fear of “super bugs” that antibiotics do not kill. Cranberry compounds might reduce the “stickiness” of these drug-resistant “super-bugs.” Fingers crossed that forthcoming research will uncover a positive answer.

But aren’t cranberry juices loaded with sugar? Most cran-juices do have added sugar; it’s needed to counter the tart flavor and make the juice more palatable. Keep in mind that dietary guidelines suggest that 10% of your calories can come from added sugars. Consuming that sugar in the form of cranberry juice and craisins is a far more nutrient –rich way than to spend your sugar-budget on sweetened iced tea and jelly beans.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy that once-a-year dollop of cranberry sauce with the turkey dinner. Rather enjoy cranberry products frequently as a smart investment in your good health. Ocean Spray offers many cranberry products. How about some craisins (dried cranberries) in your spinach salad?

Remember when smoking was the normal thing to do?

Remember when smoking was the normal thing to do?

Remember back in the 1950’s when the media glamorized cigarettes, and smoking was the normal thing to do? Fast-forward to today’s culture:

–Smoking is banned in restaurants and public places

–Smokers feel ashamed of indulging in this health-harmful habit

–Teens cannot legally buy cigarettes.

Times have changed! Continue Reading

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