Sports Nutrition, Muscle, Endurance, Recovery, Sexual Health, Weight Management
Water is one of the most important components of the human body. Making up almost 2/3 of the body, water assists nearly every part of the body in functioning efficiently. Just to give you an idea of how important water is to our health, consider this: our blood is made up of 92% water, and our brains and muscles are each made up of 75% water. Water plays a critical role in regulating body temperature, cushioning and protecting joints and vital organs, delivering nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in the body, and removing waste from the body.
For athletes and individuals who exercise regularly, staying sufficiently hydrated is also critical to exercise performance. The body can lose more than a quart of water in one hour of exercise, and if there is not enough water for the body to cool down through perspiration, dehydration occurs. Exercising while in a dehydrated state can result in exhaustion, muscle fatigue, loss of coordination, heat exhaustion, and in more extreme cases, heat stroke.
The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that women consume 91 ounces of water daily, and that men consume 125 ounces daily, with approximately 80% of your daily intake coming from beverages, and 20% through food.1 People who exercise regularly need even more, especially if they are working out in warm to hot weather. Women typically do not require as much hydration as men due to smaller body size, slower perspiration rates and electrolyte loss, and lower metabolic rates during exercise.
However, the rate at which individuals sweat and dehydrate varies depending on length and intensity of exercise, altitude, and temperature. There are two simple methods that will help you determine your individual hydration needs. First, monitor your urine. You should have a large amount, and urine should be pale (unless you are taking vitamins or other supplements, which can darken the color of urine for several hours). Dark, concentrated urine generally means you are dehydrated. Second, weigh yourself before and after exercise. Drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound lost after a workout.
To ensure that you are properly hydrated for your workout, be sure to consume an adequate amount of fluids 24 hours before you exercise. You should also prehydrate with 17 to 20 ounces of water at least two hours before exercising, and drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluids every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout. And as stated, after completing a workout, consume 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost to help your body recover and rehydrate for your next workout.2
Though water is generally the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, if you are engaging in high-intensity exercise for longer than 45-60 minutes, sports drinks containing sodium can help to replace electrolytes lost during your workout faster than water. Individuals who sweat profusely during a workout or who have a high amount of sodium in their sweat (evidenced by salt stains or rings on your workout clothes) may also want to opt for sports drinks, and monitor their diet to make sure they consume enough sodium.
1. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (2004) National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Water/73-185.pdf
2. Casa DJ, et al. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes. J Athl Train 2000;35(2):212-24.
If you travel a lot for work, you may be having trouble keeping up your work out routine. But if you plan ahead, going out of town doesn’t have to mean putting exercise on the back burner.
Most hotels have fitness facilities on site, so call ahead and find out if that’s the case where you plan to stay. If there’s nothing on site, do a search on line to see if there are gyms nearby or ask the hotel’s concierge for a recommendation.
If you don’t have time to make it to a gym, pack a jump-rope or exercise DVD so that you can squeeze in some exercise in your hotel room before bed or right when you get up. Any other equipment that is small and light that you can pack is also a good idea.
There’s nothing like a good old fashioned push-up when you’re really strapped for time and a place to work out. Crunches, jumping jacks, lunges and squats are all great options too.
If you’ve got jet lag or are generally exhausted from traveling and long days of meeting, going for a brisk walk can get your endorphins going and your heart rate up. It may even give you energy for a more strenuous work out later in the day.
And whenever possible, try to exercise at the time of day you normally do when you’re at home. It may help jet lag and fatigue and will probably help you get back to your routine once you get home.
How many times have you been gung ho about starting a new workout program, only to lose motivation and quit after you start getting bored with your routine or don’t see fast results? Staying motivated is one of the biggest challenges to sticking with a workout routine. Below are some helpful tips to keep you motivated and on track towards achieving your fitness goals.
Set clear, realistic goals. Start with short-term goals, such as jogging for 20 minutes three times a week, or taking a walk during your lunch hour. The key is to make your goals realistic and achievable for you. Unrealistic goals can sabotage your efforts, leaving you feeling discouraged and unmotivated to continue if you don’t achieve them. Once you begin achieving your short-term goals, start setting long-term goals, such as dropping 10% of your body weight, or completing a 10k run.
Keep a journal. Track your progress by logging your goals, details of each workout, and how you feel after each workout. A visual reminder of how much effort you’ve put in and how far you’ve come towards reaching your goals will encourage you to stay on track.
Reward yourself. Be proud of your accomplishments, and reward yourself when you achieve one of your long-term goals. Your reward can be something fitness related such as a new exercise outfit or sneakers, or just something fun, like a new book or cd.
Make it fun. Select activities you enjoy when working out. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep at it. It’s that simple.
Add variety. Going through the same workout routine can get boring and tedious very quickly. Spice up your fitness regimen by alternating different activities. Also try switching up your workout environment — if you usually use the treadmill or stationary bike at the gym, try running or biking outside when the weather is nice.
Buddy up. Working out with a partner or group can be a great source of encouragement and motivation. A little friendly competition can also help you push yourself harder. The social interaction will make exercising less tedious, and make the time go by faster. And you’re more likely to show up to your workout if you know someone else is expecting you.
Shout it from the rooftops. Tell all your family and friends that you’ve started an exercise program, and tell them what your goals are. It will give you a sense of accountability as people ask you how your workout regimen is going.
Remind yourself how great you feel after a workout. In addition to the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel from sticking with your fitness plan, remember that you are also improving your health. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which can help to improve your mood!
Just show up. They say that 80% of success is just showing up. Even if you’re tired, sore, or just not in the mood to exercise, showing up and doing even a little bit of exercise is better than doing nothing.
Always remember that before you begin any diet or exercise program you should consult your physician.
Sometimes just getting to the gym feels like half the battle. Make sure you’re fueling your body with food that will energize you while you’re there.
Between work and play, your energy may not always be where you need it to be to put in a charged session at the gym, on the track or wherever you’re working out. Your diet can make a huge impact on your energy.
Most people go right for the caffeine when they need an energy boost. In the long run, this will only wear you out faster. This is because caffeine affects the amount of insulin your body produces, spiking your blood sugar and then causing a “crash” in your energy level shortly after. It can also cause dehydration.
You want to go for foods that contain complex carbohydrates—like vegetables, fruits, whole grain products and beans. Because they are digested and absorbed slowly into your body, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels up and stable without the crash. Eat around five to six meals a day with these kinds of foods and watch the quality of your energy improve.
Sugary foods and other simple carbs also give you that “quick fix” you get from caffeine, but you’re still going to get the crash if that’s what you’re fueling yourself with. Again, stick with complex carbs several times a day.
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With so many products to choose from in the Sports Nutrition category it can be overwhelming for consumers to determine what to purchase. Always remember the single most important supplement you can take is a high quality multi vitamin. I like to think of multi vitamins as the body’s nutritional insurance policy.
Consider this: the human body is literally a big chemistry set. Although most athletes understand the important role carbohydrates, fats and protein play in our diets, many fail to realize our food choices may lack the quality vitamins and minerals needed to support our metabolism at its highest level.*
For example: Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is primarily responsible for carbohydrate metabolism along with the function of the nervous system.* Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is an important agent in the repair of all cells following rigorous training or competition!* Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is crucial in the metabolism of sugar, fat and protein.* Vitamin B15 (Pangamate or Pangamic Acid) is known for its ability to increase blood and oxygen supplies to tissue.* Magnesium is a mineral essential to muscle contraction.* The lack of this key mineral can result in fatigue, spasms, muscle twitching and muscle weakness (A condition any athlete wants to avoid!).1 These are just a few examples of the role vital nutrients play in the performance of strength and endurance athletes.
Athletes (including active individuals) burn through these micro nutrients at a much faster pace than average people, and that will ultimately play a critical roll in your overall performance.*
If you want to be a successful athlete or simply perform at your peak level, you need to provide your body with everything it needs. Multi vitamins deliver micro nutrients at the cellular level to help maintain a healthy metabolism!* They are involved in thousands of metabolic functions throughout our day from building muscle tissue, to breaking down sugars and fats for energy consumption.*
Up for a nutrition Challenge? Click here.
1. Davis, Paul O. Ph.D & Hatfield, Frederick C. Ph.D. Fitness The Complete Guide. International Sports Sciences Association, Santa Barbara, CA, 2000.
What separates the average Joe six-pack (muscle, not beer) from professional body builders? Other than genetics, and lifting heavier weights, it is probably not your workout. The differences lie in the fine details; really warming up before a workout, weighing food, counting calories, planning meals and understanding muscle nutrition.
While there are many minerals that are important for muscle growth and metabolism, perhaps the most important is magnesium.* Magnesium is an electrolyte that is critical to cellular energy, vitality and membrane integrity.* Magnesium is also a cofactor in more than 300 biochemical reactions. There is a strong link between magnesium levels and the stress hormones cortisol.1
So what does magnesium do for muscles?
Magnesium plays a critical role in anaerobic and aerobic energy production. Specifically, the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) relies on magnesium dependant enzymes (ATPases). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the body and fuels all muscle contractions. Extra magnesium can improve athletic performance if you are below optimal levels. 2,3,4
There are studies carried out on resistant trained and physically active people that would argue against the need to supplement magnesium5,6. However, these studies assume no deficiency in serum magnesium levels. Even when the quality of food is high and the diet is balanced, athletes often struggle to meet magnesium needs so supplementing to RDI levels (400 mg) is advisable.
Sources of magnesium include halibut, whole grains, cereals, green leafy vegetables, nuts and supplements.
1. Br J Nutr 100(5):1038-45 (2008)
2. J Nutr 132:930-935 (2002)
3. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 22:377-395 (1993)
4. Med Exerc Nutr Health 4:230-233 (1995)
5. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33: 493-498 (2001)
6. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 1:12-20 (2004)
By Thane Slagowski, Vice President, Product Development & Quality for Twinlab.
I am a great believer in the power of exercise to help you sleep better; the better you sleep the more energy you will have for exercise.
You can learn a lot about energy and sleep by observing nature. I have a hyperactive puppy (a French bulldog named Yoda) who loves to chew on socks and is often caught stealing flip flops. To protect my family’s shoes and socks from doggy slobber, we take him on a walk each day. After the walk, Yoda is mellow and goes out like a light. In parallel, I doubt construction workers have a hard time falling asleep. Why not apply this same principle to your sleep and exercise routines?
Sleep can be the perfect supplement to your exercise routine. Research shows that the release of growth hormones peaks during deep sleep, while at the same time blood flow to muscles increases and your metabolic rate slows. All this is the perfect formula for the repair and growth of muscle tissue. 1
From personal experience, you’ve probably seen many of the other benefits of a good sleep routine, including mood stabilization and increased learning and memory functions. Leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, is also directly influenced by your sleep routine. You may have a bigger appetite if you don’t get enough sleep, because leptin levels drop and increase appetite.2
Suffer from insomnia? Studies indicate that exercise—especially morning exercise—will help you sleep better.3 An hour of stretching and walking daily can help relieve many sleep problems that often stem from the stresses of regular life.
Exercise at least four hours a week and remember that any exercise is better than none, regardless of the time of day. You should note, though, that exercising right before heading to bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that you exercise at least three hours before going to bed, to give your body enough time to cool off. A lowered body temperature is needed for sleep onset. In order to support vigorous exercise, a positive energy balance from sleep is critical.4
So remember, to help your mind and body regenerate, reduce stress, be more alert and reach your fitness goals, get at least six to seven hours of sleep each night.
1. McManus, Mark. “How to Sleep Your Way to Big Muscles.” Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://www.musclehack.com/how-to-sleep-your-way-to-big-muscles/
2. Plotnick, Rachel. “Diet, Exercise, Sleep! The Path to a Healthier Lifestyle.” National Sleep Association. Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/diet-exercise-and-sleep
3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, June 12). Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 4, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611071129.htm