Olympic Dietitian Bob Seebohar Metabolic Efficiency Training Webinar

This webinar is just over an hour long, but really explains Metabolic Efficiency, and is well worth the time spent:

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UCAN – An Athlete’s Story

As a science guy, I’m not much on unscientific testimonials, but I thought this was worth sharing.  Last Saturday I had planned on increasing my usual long ride by 10 miles. There was a new road I wanted to try, so I mapped out a 60 mile ride. I had on board, enough fluid and enough UCAN to cover the distance. As usual, I carry half of a UCAN “peach passion” bar, just in case something comes up. Somewhere on the new road, I missed my turn. When I realized the error, I was going to have to ride an additional 15 miles to get back home. Although, there were places I could get additional fluid, there was no place I could take on additional nutrition. By rationing the UCAN and thanks to the peach bar, I was able to cover the entire 75 miles with no problem from maintaining energy levels. Fluid, on the other hand, was a problem. Temperatures had risen to 90 degrees and I was requiring way more fluid than I anticipated. Thanks to a guy out watering his flowers that let me fill up with his hose, and a really nice lady at a country gas station that sold me a $1.89 bottle of water for just the buck I had with me, was I able to make it back home. Once home, all I needed was air-conditioning and BIG glass of UCAN Hydrate.

What is significant about this story, is that there is no way I could have ridden for 5 hours with just the nutrition I had on board, had I been using traditional sugar based sports drinks.  I had 2 servings of UCAN in a small gel-flask, and half a peach bar. To get the equivalent using a sugar/maltodextrin based product, would require at least four 24 oz bottles and a couple of gel-packs. Most would not have carried enough drink-mix to cover an extra hour of riding. It was the slow release of the SuperStarch that kept the error for being a disaster. Thank you UCAN!

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Athletes and Coaches Talk Generation UCAN Nutrition

Here is a powerful video that gives you an idea what type of athlete can benefit from SuperStarch:

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Generation UCAN – This is how it all began

The story of Jonah and how SuperStarch came to be.

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UCAN – The Proof

Ok, you know I’m the Science Guy. Here is a link to a 6 page paper by Dr. Jeff Volek that really explains Super Starch.

CLICK HERE

Or for the non technical person, you can watch the video:

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UCAN Revolutionizes Sports Nutrition

About a year ago, I was asked to evaluate a new sports nutrition product, tailor made for the endurance athlete.  I was very skeptical, at first, about a “timed release” carbohydrate, but the research was there and they had the results to back up their claims. Fast forward a year later: I now use UCAN exclusively for all workouts over 90 minutes. The term, “metabolic efficiency” is now part of my vocabulary and I will not go back to sugar based/complex carb products for any endurance workouts.

Over the next couple post, I will show you what I’ve learned, and you can decide if this concept is worthy of a try.

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EMPACT and AMMONIA

Author’s update: The information contained in this post, although true in every aspect, is now irrelevant.  Mannatech has decided to discontinue this product.

What if there was a Sports Nutrition product that aids in the removal of performance-robbing ammonia? This leads to the question: What is the primary cause of premature fatigue?

Most people think its the accumulation of lactic acid or the depletion of muscle glycogen.  Both are factors, but according to Dr. Michael Colgan in his book that discusses ammonia and its detrimental effects on performance. Colgan wrote:

“A second inhibitor of exercise, happening simultaneously with the accumulation of acidity, is accumulation of ammonia. All anaerobic and endurance exercise produces oodles of the stuff. Bad news! Ammonia is toxic to all cells, reduces the formation of glycogen, and inhibits the energy cycle. It has devastating effects on brain function. We still don’t know how much it contributes to fatigue, but we do know that the higher your blood ammonia, the poorer your performance. So the second thing that a successful ergogenic supplement has to do is reduce ammonia accumulation.”(1)

So how can you reduce and/or neutralize the formation of ammonia? In a book by Dr. James Balch, the amino acid aspartic acid is a key substrate for endurance athletes. Dr. Balch writes: “Because aspartic acid increases stamina, it is good for fatigue and plays a vital role in metabolism. It is good for athletes and helps to protect the liver by aiding in the removal of excess ammonia.”(2)

The best way to get aspartic acid is combining it with potassium and magnesium to form potassium/magnesium aspartate.  Studies (Agersborg and Shaw 1962, Hicks 1964, Gaby 1982) have shown that a magnesium + potassium + aspartic acid combination provides substantial benefits in the prevention of fatigue. Aspartic acid also combines with other amino acids to form molecules that absorb toxins and remove them from the bloodstream, aids the function of RNA and DNA, and helps to protect the liver. Additionally, the potassium/ magnesium aspartate compound increases production of a key substrate, oxaloacetate, which is involved in energy production.

EmPact contains Magnesium Aspartate and Potassium Aspartate in an easy form to add to your fuel-mix bottle.  During workouts that go over 90 minutes (when ammonia buildup starts to be an issue) one or two teaspoonfuls of EmPact added to your bottle could significantly reduce fatigue by aiding in removal of excess ammonia. Additionally, there is support in the prevention of cramping due to the aspartate component being chelated to magnesium and potassium, 2 critical electrolytes.

 

References:

1.  Colgan, Michael. Optimum Sports Nutrition. New York: Advanced Research Press, 1993, pp. 282-3

2.  Balch, James F. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1997, pp. 36-37

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EMPACT – Energy and Endurance Formula

This product has been discontinued.

What if there was a sports performance formula that has been clinically shown to enhance VO2max by 15%.

The human body’s maximal ability to use or consume oxygen for aerobic metabolism during exercise, better known as VO2max, is an important predictor of athletic performance in endurance activities. Two clinical studies examined the effectiveness of EM·PACT (Mannatech, Inc.) on athletic performance.(1,2)  The main findings of these studies were that markers of cardiorespiratory fitness, specifically VO2max, and time to exhaustion were significantly (p < .05) enhanced by ingestion of EM·PACT prior to graded exercise testing. In particular, overall increases were observed in VO2max (15.5%) and time to exhaustion (8.7%). The results of these studies also support the use of EM·PACT  in tests of aerobic power as well.

What one must understand is just how hard it is just to get a modest increase in VO2 max.  Chris Carmichael, coach to dozens of Pro Athletes, explains it like this: “you need bigger and more abundant mitochondria in your muscle cells so they can break down fat and carbohydrate into usable energy more quickly.  With greater capacity in your mitochondria, you can go faster before you reach the point where accumulated lactate forces you to slow down (lactate threshold).  And since mitochondria also reintegrate lactate into normal aerobic metabolism so it can be broken down to usable energy, having more and bigger mitochondria also means you can recover from hard, lactate-accumulating efforts more quickly.”

“Why can’t you grow more and larger mitochondria from longer, lower-intensity training sessions? To a point, you can, but if you’ve progressed to being a moderately fit or above-average athlete, then you’ve most likely reached the point where volume alone won’t lead to continued increases in mitochondrial density.”

“High-intensity interval training is necessary for achieving increased mitochondrial density—no matter how much time you have available for training.”  How does Chris define “high-intensity”?  “VO2max interval training is cross-eyed, burning-lungs, I-think-I’m-going-to-puke intensity”.

If it takes that kind of intensity to get a 4 or 5 percent increase in VO2 max, then you can begin to understand why 15% from a powder you add to your sports drink is huge.  An Increase in VO2 max is just one of the benefits of including EM·PACT in your training and racing routine. It also will increase the energy produced by muscle cells, neutralize lactic acid, and help scavenge excess ammonia produced during long efforts. I will discuss these in a later post.

References:

1.  Byars A, Keith S, Snowden S (2009) The influence of a pre-exercise sports drink on indices of aerobic power. Presented at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine’s 6th Annual Natural Supplements Conference, San Diego, California. January 22-25.

2.  Byars A, Keith S, Simpson W, et al. (2010) The influence of a pre-exercise sports drink (PRX) on factors related to maximal aerobic performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7:1-6.

 

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Outer Banks TRI Sports

If you are ever in the outer banks of North Carolina, be sure and visit Outer Banks TRI Sports. This quote from their website sums up what they are all about: We are a specialty retail store that provides its customers with top notch products and service. We strive to help our customers purchase high quality product that they need to achieve a greater level of fitness, or whatever goals they are trying to achieve. We will provide advice and knowledge on a wide range of products and services, which will help them to focus on their running, walking, swimming, cycling, triathlons and fitness. We want all our customers—whether they are a beginner or a very experienced athlete—to come in and find whatever they need to help them live healthier lifestyles.

Debbie Luke is very knowledgeable about shoes, bikes, wetsuits, and where to run and ride. Her husband, Butch, saved my week with a quick repair on my bike.  Wish I had a store like this in my home town.

Check out their site HERE

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Free Radicals – Good vs Evil

What are free radicals?  Why are they damaging to the Human body?  And how do the antioxidants  help protect the body against free radical damage?  To understand the way free radicals interact with antioxidants, you must first understand cells and molecules.

Cells are composed of many different types of molecules.  Molecules are composed of atoms. Atoms are made up of a nucleus, protons (positively charged particles), and electrons (negatively charged particles).  Electrons “orbit”  the nucleus of an atom in one or more shells.  Because atoms seek to reach a state of maximum stability, an atom will try to fill it’s outer most shell any way possible.  Atoms often fill their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms, forming molecules.  By sharing electrons, the atoms bind together and thus satisfy the conditions of maximum stability, ie. 2 oxygen atoms binding together to form the oxygen molecule that we breathe as “air”. Normally these bonds do not split in a way that leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron.  But when weak bonds do split, free radicals are formed.  Free radicals are very unstable and will react quickly with another molecule  to “capture” the missing electron to gain stability.  Free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron.  When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction, that if not checked, results in the disruption of a living cell.  Normally the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, damage to the cell can occur.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their electrons, ending the electron-stealing chain reaction.  The antioxidants themselves do not become free radical because they are stable in either form.  The antioxidants of “real food”, the anthocyanidins, carotenoids, tocopherols, etc. are long chain molecules with lots of double bonds.  The electrons that make up these double bonds are shared evenly over the whole chain.  This makes the whole chain relatively electron-rich.  So, for example, if a carotenoid loses one electron to a free radical, the resulting charge of +1 is distributed over the whole electron-rich chain, a much more stable situation.  Real Food antioxidants act as scavengers, traveling throughout the body, donating their electrons, and neutralizing free radicals.  Perhaps the most familiar free radical is oxygen itself.  We can see many examples of oxygen doing its electron stealing in our everyday lives: the browning of an apple, the rusting of a nail, the slow fading of our blue jeans.  When a material is oxidized (loses an electron) its chemical structure is altered, often irreversibly.  When this happens in the human body we call it oxidative stress.  Because we breathe air (oxygen) we are constantly exposed to oxidative stress.  Sometimes these reactive molecules formed by normal aerobic (oxygen-requiring) metabolism are beneficial, and in fact, necessary for life, but can also be harmful if present in excess.  This is why it is extremely important to have a source of many different types of antioxidants available on a daily basis.  Real Food compounds provide this antioxidant variety necessary to keep these excesses in check.

 

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