Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Thirty rugby players were chosen to be tested, although the researchers believed the results to be applicable to any field sport. I think the results apply to pretty much any athlete tasked to move his or her own body around.

The rugby players had a computer scan their bodies to create a digital model. Based on that model, a huge assortment of measurements were taken, such as bodyweight, height, circumference, length, and other data. The athletes were also tested for their one-rep-max (1RM) strength on squats and deadlifts, as well as their power output on jump squats and a fast deadlift. Once all of the data was collected, it was put together to see which factors affected sprints (from five to thirty meters), vertical jump, and change of direction the most.

Bigger Isn't Better

In what might seem to be a counterintuitive result, bigger muscles were negatively correlated with performance in all of the tests. It didn’t matter what muscle groups were chosen, from forearms, to arms and chest, to the muscles of the thighs and calves - bigger muscles made the athletes slower, less agile, and less powerful on their vertical jumps. In fact, the more important the muscles were for each test, the worse the performance was as the subjects got larger.

There’s one good reason for these results. When moving around, relative strength (when compared to the athlete’s bodyweight) and power are the most critical factors. Although the athletes got stronger as their muscles grew, they also got heavier at a disproportionate rate. Because all of the body measurements taken were associated strongly with bodyweight, performance was reduced even though the weight room numbers were going up.

Relative Strength Wins the Day

To further drive this point home, when relative strength was measured by the 1RM performance of the squat and deadlift exercises, and then divided by the athlete’s bodyweight, the results were exactly what you’d expect. The greater the relative strength, the better performance. In fact, performance was more significantly correlated to relative strength than it was to body size.

But how much did the studied factors actually impact these tests? The researchers stated that for the vertical leap and thirty-meter sprint, as much as ninety percent of performance variation can be explained by the collected data. In general, relative power, average and peak power outputs, and velocity correlated with better field performance. In other words, the heavier and faster you can lift at a given bodyweight, the better you will perform in field tests.

Research Limitations

The researchers admit that the five-meter sprint and the agility tests were not as well explained by the collected data. They suggested that more advanced body composition measurements might help with this test, but I suspect otherwise. The five-meter sprint and change of direction tests used were short and had high technical requirements to perform well. I suspect that lack of technique on these tests could explain virtually all of the remaining uncertainty.

Of course you want skill for tryouts and for better performance on the field. But in the weight room, focus first on getting to the appropriate bodyweight for the position you play, and from there, getting as strong as possible without gaining much weight

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cross-Training for Runners –

by John Feeney

Coyle et al. (1984) suggested that the reduction in VO2max following a period of detraining takes place in two stages. The first stage is likely to occur within 2-3 weeks and may result in a reduction of VO2max by 5-7% (Coyle et al. 1984; Houmard et al. 1992). This initial decrease is thought to result from a decrease in maximal cardiac output brought about by a reduction in stroke volume (Coyle et al. 1984; Martin III et al, 1986). These changes occur at a ‘central’ level (i.e. at the heart rather than in the skeletal muscle) and so alternative exercises can be introduced to prevent detraining and the reduction in VO2max (Mujika & Padilla, 2001).

The second stage takes place over a longer period of time (8-10 weeks) and may result in VO2max returning to pre-training levels (Davidson & McNaughton, 2000; St-Amand et al, 2012). The rate of decline and the level at which VO2max subsequently stabilises depends on the training status of the individual (Mujika & Padilla, 2000). The changes occurring during this second stage are more specific to the trained skeletal muscle. Consideration should be given to the introduction of alternative sport specific exercises that involve the same muscle groups without placing additional stress on the muscle/joint. If this is not possible, VO2max can be maintained by using alternative exercises but if these are not sport specific then the athlete will quickly lose aerobic endurance (Mujika & Padilla, 2001).  Read More

Monday, August 25, 2014

Plantar fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis can be a nuisance to treat and, to date, we've had little high quality evidence to guide us. Today's blog represents an exciting new direction in treating this stubborn condition. For some time we've noted the similarities between plantar fascial problems and tendinopathy. Back in 2006 Scott Wearing wrote an excellent paper on how the two structures shared similar pathology and similar response to load. However, no one has tested whether we might be able to treat plantar fasciitis like a tendinopathy, that is until now… Michael Rathleff and colleagues have just published an exciting new paper that is the first of it's kind and represents a new treatment approach for plantar fasciitis, so I was delighted when Michael very kindly agreed to share his findings with us in a guest blog. Michael's work includes excellent papers on hip strength and patellofemoral pain and patellofemoral pain in adolescents

Read More 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Skillet Chicken & Potatoes – An Easy One-Pot Meal

Skillet Chicken & Potatoes
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp   oil
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into ½” chunks
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Add the oil to the skillet and place over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, put the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a bowl and season with the salt, pepper, and thyme.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the skillet skin-side down, alternating between thighs and drumsticks. Let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden-brown. Flip all the chicken pieces over and remove the skillet from heat.
  3. At this point, add the potatoes and onions. Make sure to fill in the spaces under and between the chicken pieces. Once they’re all squeezed in there, pour the chicken broth and buttermilk over the top and put the skillet into the oven for about 40 minutes. Top with the tarragon leaves and serve.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Metabolism boosters don't work for weight loss


First, let's explain what metabolism means: it's the biochemical processes by which your body turns what you eat (calories) into energy to keep you alive. Your 'resting' or 'basal' metabolic rate measures how many calories you burn while you're doing nothing: lying down in the morning before you eat and get out of bed. "It's the least amount of calories you're burning throughout the day, on average about a calorie per minute," said the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Michael Jensen, an endocrine specialist who has extensively researched metabolism.
While there are certain foods — caffeine, chili spices — that will speed that rate up just a little, the change is so negligible, it would never have an impact on your waistline.
"These ‘metabolism boosters' might raise your metabolic rate to 1.05 calories burned per minute for a very short period of time," he said. "To put that in context, if you walk really slowly you can generally burn three calories per minute."
Still, celebrity doctors like Dr. Mehmet Oz, have made this tiny change sound like the holy grail of weight loss and regularly encourage people to invest their money in so-called "metabolism boosters." Dr. Oz has endorsed everything from chili to chocolate and a rainbow of supplements as potential "belly blasters" and "mega metabolism boosters."
"Ninety percent of the stuff that (Dr. Oz) is claiming will boost your metabolism has zero scientific evidence behind it," said Dr. Jensen. "The 10 percent that does, the increase in metabolism you would get from it is so small that in a million years you're not going to have an effect on weight."

So "metabolism boosters" may not burn your fat but they will burn your money.

Everything you know about your metabolism is wrong

Besides the fact that metabolism boosting supplements may not work, there's also a surprising science behind that association between your metabolic rate and your weight.
"We've measured the resting metabolism in lots of skinny people and in lots of people with serious weight problems, and everything in between," said Dr. Jensen. "Whether you're above or below average, skinny or obese, as a rule you cannot say obese people have lower metabolism rates than lean people. That's just not true."
"Whether you're above or below average, skinny or obese, you cannot say obese people have lower metabolism rates than lean people."
Research has shown that we do vary in how many calories we burn at rest — again, the basal or resting metabolic rate — but even big variations in that number aren't necessarily associated with being skinny or fat. In fact, bigger people often have higher metabolic rates than smaller people because their bodies need to do more work to sustain them.
For this reason, Dr. Jensen says you can't blame a slow metabolism for being overweight. That number on the scale is more probably related to things like appetite control, activity level, and calorie intake than anything else.
"We do know obese people tend to be up and about about two to two-and-a-half hours a day less than lean people," Dr. Jensen said. "My take is the amount of physical activity we do and the amount of calories we take in is far more important than what we do at rest."
So even though you can't control the speed of your metabolism, you can control how many calories you eat and what you burn through physical activity. When people ask Dr. Jensen how to boost their metabolisms, he tells them "go for a walk." That's something raspberry ketones just won't do. And it's free.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Should I Refrigerate My Peanut Butter (Or Any Nut Butter)?



A Fooducate community member recently asked about the shelf life of nut butters. Here’s what you need to know.
Peanut, almond, and cashew butters are not only tasty, they are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats. These fats are susceptible to rancidity as a result of oxidation, and that’s why manufacturers recommend refrigeration.
However, the oxidation process is not immediate, and if you seal the lid on your nut butter and keep it in a cool dark pantry, you can go for 2-3 months without refrigeration. Another benefit of non-refrigerated storage is that your nut butter will be easier to scoop out of the jar and spread. Always use a clean utensil so as not to introduce any contamination. If you live in an extremely hot area, the refrigerator may be a better choice.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fast food diet makes us more susceptible to allergies and infections

Fast food diet makes us more susceptible to allergies and infections, study says
While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease. | Myles, Ian A. "Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity." Nutrition journal 13.1 (2014): 61.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why It's So Hard to Remember People's Names

by Thorin Klosowski  

It happens to the best of us. You meet someone at a party, then three days later you run into them at the grocery store and can't remember their name. The Atlantic takes a look at why that is.
We all forget people's names sometimes. Whether we remember them or not is at least partially circumstantial. That said, your memory system has a lot to do with it too. Your brain likes to make connections between pieces of information, so it tends to remember the most when you can connect a fact about someone with something you actually know. For example, I met a person at a party this past weekend and could remember where he lived because it's right around the block from a Japanese restaurant I like. But I couldn't remember his name to save my life.

Whether you remember a name or not isn't just about making connections. Your basic working memory plays its role too. The Atlantic explains:
There are two types of storage in the brain: Long-term and short-term. The short-term variety is called "working memory," and it functions like a very leaky thermos. It doesn't hold much and it spills stuff out all the time. "You can hold just a little bit of information there and if you don't concentrate on it, it fades away rapidly," Paul Reber, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, told me in an email. "Information like a name needs to be transferred to a different brain system that creates long-term memories that persist over time."
Of course, that's not all. Sometimes, you'll forget a name because you're too busy dealing with the social pressures of meeting a new person. Other times, you simply don't care because you don't think the meeting will matter in the long run. Head over to The Atlantic for a few more explanations for why you can't seem to remember names, and be sure to work on a few tricks to actually remember them while you're at it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Best Way to Organize Your Freezer


Have you ever had that "ouch" moment when you open the freezer and some heavy, unidentifiable object hurls out and lands on your toe? I know I'm guilty of throwing things in there wherever I find space, only to have the frustrating experience of trying to dig and unearth it later.
Looking into an organized freezer, on the other hand, always puts me in a good mood — things are packed up correctly so they last longer and won't go to waste, and I know exactly where everything is. Here are my seven tips for freezer organization that you can put into practice today, and hopefully you'll be as happy as I am with the results!

1. Know what's actually freezable.

As much as I wish all foods can be frozen, some just won't survive the freezing process well. Fruits and vegetables with high moisture content like lettuce and watermelon, dairy products like yogurt, or fried foods are examples of things best kept out of the freezer.
Good candidates for freezing are pancakes, waffles, nuts, berries, muffins, stocks or broths, meats, fish, shrimp, chilis, and stews. You're more likely to want to eat foods that survive the freezing process intact.


2. Freeze in usable portions.

It might be tempting to just throw the whole value-pack of chicken pieces straight into the freezer, but you'll regret this shortcut later when you only need a few pieces but the whole thing is one frozen mass.
Instead, take the time to portion out ingredients into usable portions, like eight pieces of chicken or a pound of ground beef, and freeze each portion in a separate container or freezer bag. That way, you can just pull out what you need and thaw the right amount.
Another option is to freeze things in individual pieces first, then consolidate the frozen pieces into one bag or container. By doing this, the pieces won't stick together and you can just grab the exact number of pieces you need.

3. Freeze things flat.

As much as possible, freeze things flat. Put that leftover chili in a freezer bag, seal, and lay the bag flat in the freezer until frozen. Flat things of an even thickness are easier to stack or organize upright in a container.

4. Choose the right containers.

Air circulating around frozen foods can lead to freezer burn, so your best bet is to find a container as close to the size of what you want to freeze as possible. If you're using plastic bags, make sure you use thicker freezer ones, and press out as much air as possible before freezing. If you're using foil, make sure foods are tightly double wrapped. Doing these things mean you maximize freezer space and keep air out.

5. Use organizers.

Freezers are usually vast open spaces with very little shelving. While frozen foods can stack on top of each other without damaging one another, that also means that the piles can grow unwieldy.
Invest in plastic tubs or organizers to keep things from falling out, and if you assign a category of food for each organizer, it'll make finding exactly what you're looking for easy!

6. Don't store ice cream in the door.

The door is the warmest place in the freezer, so don't put high-fat items like ice cream there when it can run the risk of melting and refreezing. Save the door for things like for nuts and booze!

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7. Label!

Taking the time to label and date foods means you'll never have to guess what's inside. It can be hard to identify stew from soup, and even opening up the container for a sniff test is hard since there won't be much of an aroma. The last thing you want is to defrost the wrong thing, so label for your own sanity's sake!
To take it one step further, measure or weigh what's going into the freezer and write that amount on the label — perfect when you're wondering if you have enough of something for a recipe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where Can I Buy Better Tea?

There's a time and a place for experimentation, but before you run out and start spending money, get a feel for the types of tea that you'll enjoy. Think about the teas that you've had in the past. Have they been loose leaf or bagged? Were they black teas, green, or tisanes (aka herbal teas that may or may not have any actual tea leaves in them?) Whatever you remember enjoying, that's a great place to branch out from.
If you're unfamiliar with tea entirely, or you're not sure of the differences between green, black, or white tea actually are (hint, they're all the same plant, but the color is a matter of when the tea is picked and how it's processed before being sold), our hacker's guide to tea will teach your the basics, and then our complete guide to tea offers some suggestions for you to get started. read more

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sugar’s Got A New Disguise

By Samantha Wilkinson, MS, RDN, LD, Dolce Dietician

But how is this affecting sales of products with sugar listed in the ingredient list? You guessed it, sales are declining. So let’s think like a marketing agency/manufacturer for a second. How else can I get consumers to buy more of my product without having to change any of the ingredients (because that would be too much work, right?)? Oh, I’ve got it! Let’s give it a new name!
Food manufacturers are choosing a “healthier” name for good, old-fashioned sugar. May I introduce to you, evaporated cane juice…. That’s right, you heard it correctly. They took 3 words to say sugar, yet it sounds so much more sophisticated and, in the eyes of the consumers, healthier. It is nothing more than cane sugar. It contains the same amount of calories and yields no greater amount of nutrients than cane sugar. The only difference is that evaporated cane juice originates from sugar cane, not from beets. Sugar derived from beets is usually genetically-modified, but sugar cane is not. Manufacturers could just list sugar cane instead, but evaporated cane juice sounds “healthier”.
The FDA has acknowledged the use of this term and its potential to mislead consumers, but has failed to mandate any regulations on its use on food labels. Due to the lack of regulation, lawsuits have been filed for misleading claims, but unfortunately not much can be done without a formal regulation. The FDA did state that they may be changing their minds on the matter in the near future.
So for now, just continue reading those food labels. I don’t think I can say it enough. It is the best way for you to stay informed. An informed consumer is a savvy consumer.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Whole Truth About Soy Lecithin

The Lowdown on Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is a mixture of phospholipids and oil derived from egg yolks, rapeseed, milk, and soy. Soy itself has been a controversial piece of nutrition for quite some time. Soy contains an anti-nutrient known as phytic acid that bind to minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium and disrupts their absorption by the human body. 
In a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, the researchers concluded by stating that soy lecithin was also found to be strongly estrogenic.1 These estrogenic compounds found in soy have been shown to disrupt thyroid and endocrine hormone production. 
You may be asking, “Don’t Asian populations consume high amounts of soy and have long lifespans?” Asian countries do consume high amounts of soy, but in the form of fermented soy products. The fermentation process breaks down some of the negatives parts of soy and makes it more easily digested. 

The Research on Soy Lecithin Needs More Analysis

The soy products we consume in the United States are not fermented and the majority are genetically modified. A meta-analysis looking at soy isoflavones in the West and in Asian countries concluded that soy consumption in Asian countries led to a decrease in breast cancer rates, but in the Western Hemisphere there was no correlation.2 Do keep in mind this was a meta-analysis of epidemiological research, so further research is necessary to determine the correlation.
When we genetically modify a food source, we are altering it in a way that can confuse our body. In 2008 a group of Canadian researchers performed an analysis on 22 randomized control trials looking at the health benefits of soy products. The researchers concluded that soy isoflavones slightly decreased LDL, but had no effects on HDL, triglycerides, lipoprotein(a), or blood pressure.3 Soy has been touted as a heart-healthy alternative to meat for some time now, but according to the analysis performed above these claims may be unsubstantiated.
Most research touting the heart-healthy benefits of soy were epidemiological in nature and looking at countries that consume fermented soy products. The researchers that performed the 2008 meta-analysis hypothesized that soybean processing plays a role because of its effects on certain bioactive protein subunits. If you are interested in learning more about the potential dangers of soy products the Weston A Price Foundation has a well laid out summary.

Should You Avoid Soy Lecithin?

Since soy’s health claims seem to be unsubstantiated and it may even be potentially dangerous, should we avoid anything that says it contains soy lecithin? If you are eating a diet that consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, and eggs you will not be consuming much soy lecithin, if any at all. However, soy lecithin is an additive to many supplements and even foods such as dark chocolate.
During growth and processing soybean oil is exposed to certain pesticides that may have negative effects on human health. These pesticides also seem to survive processing.4 This may seem like the perfect opportunity to abandon the soy ship, but the reality is we are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals a day. Remember, unless you have an actual soy allergy, the poison is always in the dose.

The Negative Effects of Soy Lecithin

In 1985, researchers performed a study on rats to see what the negative effects of soy lecithin intake during gestation would be. The researchers fed pregnant and newborn rats either a 2% or 5% soy lecithin preparation diet. The research concluded by stating, “The results indicate that dietary soy lecithin preparation enrichment during development leads to behavioral and neurochemical abnormalities in the exposed offspring.”5
I have seen others break this study down and attribute the negative effects on the rats with choline toxicity. This does seem like a plausible scenario and a problem with this particular study. However, the study does show a potential risk for consuming soy products while pregnant and the potential dangers of soy-based formulas for infants. There is no risk for expecting mothers and infants in avoiding soy, while there may be potential dangers in consuming it, so in these populations it may be best to minimize consumption.

The Conclusion on Soy Lecithin

How dangerous is it to consume soy lecithin? The answer depends:
  • If you have a soy allergy or do not feel well when you consume soy products, then it is best to avoid it all together. 
  • Research has shown potential risks to the fetus when consuming soy products during pregnancy and in consuming soy products as an infant, so I would recommend expecting mothers and infants minimize soy consumption. 
  • Women who are breast cancer survivors, currently under breast cancer treatment, or at high risk of breast cancer should minimize or even eliminate soy due to the potential risk of increasing estrogen levels.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Contrary to popular belief…

Contrary to popular belief…being cold doesn’t “give you a cold” - it actually bulletproofs you against it!