Monthly Archives: June 2014

Optimal Performance Demands Excellence

Have you ever considered how much time, money, energy and triple checking goes into making sure a Formula One racing vehicle is all systems go on race day?

The engine itself costs in excess of $80,000. There are 15-20 men working in the pit crew at any given time. Why is all of this necessary? Because if the car doesn’t perform, people don’t get paid, endorsements are dropped and pride is injured. Cutting corners in Formula One is unheard of for consistent performers.

What does this have to do with maximizing performance on the game field, at a CrossFit meet, or in your drive for personal records? Everything! If you want to see what your body truly has to offer you, then you have to fuel it with the nutrients and living substance that will propel it beyond what has been your historical threshold. You have to surround yourself with people who have gone farther than you have. Does this mean you need a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, naturopath, coach, and personal chef? Not by a long shot.

It does mean that if you settle for hype over substance or the consistent “just this one time” junk food indulgence you are going to end up right where you should, but not where you could of. The difference between Formula One and your body, is that better fuel, more living food, and smarter workouts increase your threshold and efficiency exponentially. Your body builds off itself. This is why if you run 1 mile each day for 30 days, you will burn less calories on day 30 then you did on day 1, even if everything else was identical. Your body is optimizing itself, evolving to meet the demand put on it. Formula One race cars don’t have this luxury.

If performance and gains are a part of your summer plans, it is time to take a look at the little (or big) things that are holding you back. Is your food, supplementation, and workout strategy based on optimizing human performance or some flashy thing you read online? Is the tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, pastries, synthetic sweeteners, and soda pop so amazing that you would sacrifice your potential, to indulge in them regularly? Is your pride that important that you can’t make it to the gym to workout with those who are performing beyond your current level?

This summer, strongly consider giving your body the opportunity to perform at a level you didn’t know you had in you!

HMB for Recovery

HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) is a by product of the branched chain amino acid Leucine in the process of metabolism. HMB stimulates essentially the same pathways as insulin. HMB sends signals that tell the body to decrease breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. The end result expected to be improved muscle growth response to weight training.

Studies show that 3 grams daily of HMB is necessary to get its anti-catabolic activity on skeletal muscle. The 3 grams should be taken in one gram divided doses throughout the day for best effect.

However, it should be noted that HMB’s effect beyond placebo is only about two weeks. By the time 4-6 weeks comes around the HMB using group and placebo control group demonstrated the same muscle gains. A 2009 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed no increase in power output or strength gains in trained athletes.

Current data seems to indicate that HMB is best used in the elderly and those who are not able to exercise. Clinical muscle wasting conditions like AIDS, cancer, bed rest, and times of heavy caloric deficit would likely have a positive effect from HMB supplementation. It is our opinion that the general population and athletes alike would be better off sticking with Leucine and the other BCAAs, not only for their anabolic benefits but also their body composition support..

 

Caffeine as a Performance Aid

If you are thinking about using caffeine as a performance aid, consider the following. Timing is everything. Blood levels of caffeine peak between 30-60 minutes post ingestion however, the maximum effect of caffeine on fat stores appears to occur several hours after blood levels peak out. For potential performance results it is best to drink green tea, black tea or coffee 3-4 hours before your workout or event. You are much better off using caffeine in the matrix of coffee or tea then using as a standalone drug. Coffee and green/black teas besides having caffeine have a host of positive effects on muscle tissue and in disease prevention. At Elite Fuel we believe in maximizing performance while improving health, not one or the other.

The exact mechanism by which caffeine exerts its performance enhancing effects seems to be related to enhancing fatty acid oxidation and thereby sparing muscle glycogen. Another notable theory is that caffeine creates a more favorable intracellular ionic environment within active muscle, enabling increased force production by each motor unit. This occurs because of increased mobilization of intracellular calcium which increases contractile strength and favors activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase leading to increased nitric oxide.

The body can quickly build a tolerance to caffeine; in fact many athletes build tolerance within four consecutive days of use.

It is advisable to give yourself a 3-5 day wash out period of no caffeine before competitions to decrease caffeine tolerance and make sure you are getting the maximal caffeine effect. The only caveat to this is caffeine withdrawal side effects. Many people get mood changes and intense headaches when discontinuing caffeine. This is yet another reason if you want to use caffeine for performance to use it inconsistently, so that your body does not make caffeine stimulation the normal mode of operation.

Before even considering using caffeine to help on game day, make sure you have practiced with it extensively so that you know exactly how your body will respond. Remember caffeine is a drug and if you are in a competition that tests for restricted drugs, exceeding 1000mg (8 cups of coffee) of caffeine in a day will show as doping. Depending on metabolism even 350mg in some athletes has led to positive drug tests. For both long term health and to eliminate the chance of being disqualified from a competition I would not use more than 250mg a day as a performance aid.

Also, beware that caffeine interacts with many prescription drugs and can eliminate the positive effects of supplemental creatine when taken in tandem. It is always best with any new addition to your performance regimen to start slow and only add in one supplement at a time so you are aware of your body’s response to the new substance.

For an in depth review of caffeine’s theorized effect on the human body check out the reference below:

Dominik H Pesta, Siddhartha S Angadi, Martin Burtscher and Christian K Roberts. The effects of caffeine, nicotine, ethanol, and tetrahydrocannabinol on exercise performance. Nutrition & Metabolism 2013, 10:71.

Creatine Energizes Muscle Tissue

Creatine can either be ingested via food sources such as meat and fish or produced within the body by the kidneys, pancreas and liver. The body uses the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine to synthesize creatine. Issues with your liver, kidneys or pancreas as well deficient levels of these crucial amino acids could leave you at a creatine deficit.

Humans produce 1-2 grams per day. Creatine is almost entirely stored in skeletal muscle, with a 150lb person carrying between 120-140 grams of creatine at any given time. Approximately 60% of the creatine in your body is in the form phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is the limiting factor in ATP resynthesis. ATP is the currency of energy for every cell in your body. During intense muscle contraction, phosphocreatine levels are depleted which reduces the muscles capacity to make ATP and hence energy production is slowed in the muscle.

The ability of muscle cells to recover following maximal exercise is directly related to how quickly phosphocreatine levels can be restored. You can blame your fatigue during intense exercise on the failure of your skeletal muscle to maintain adequate ATP levels due phosphocreatine depletion. Low phosphocreatine in animals and humans has been directly correlated with decreased muscle force production.

Creatine has significant research demonstrating its performance benefit in activities involving jumping, sprinting or cycling.

One study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging showed that mice fed creatine had a 9% greater healthy life span than control mice; performed significantly better on neurobehavioral tests; had a reduction in reactive oxygen species; had a significantly lower accumulation of lipofuscin (a pigment related to aging); and had an upregulation of genes implicated in nerve growth, nerve protection and learning. No doubt creatine is much more than just a supplement for the elite athlete.

It is always wise to do your homework before jumping into any supplement and creatine is no different. Potential harmful impurities such as dicyandiamide, thiourea, and dihydrotriazine are found in many creatine products that are not pharmaceutical grade and are being produced by low-cost methods. In general, creatine is considered an extremely safe supplement when used appropriately and can benefit men and women alike in their quest for stronger, more energized bodies and minds.

References

“Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance: Recent Findings,” Bemben MG, Lamont HS, Sports Med, 2005;35(2):107-125.

“Creatine in Humans With Special Reference to Creatine Supplementation”, Balsom, Paul D., et al, Sports Medicine, 1994;18(4):268-280.

“Creatine improves health and survival of mice,” Bender A, Beckers J, et al, Neurobiology of Aging, 2007 April 6.

“Creatine Supplementation: Recent Developments,” Greenhaff, Paul L., British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1996;30:276-281.

Juhn, M.S. 1999, Oral creatine supplementation, The physician and sportsmedicine, 27(5): 47-61,89.

“Creatine Use Among Young Athletes,” Metzl JD, Small E, et al, Pediatrics, August 2001;108(2):421-425.