Tuesday, January 31, 2012

11 Supplement FAQs

I was answering these the other day for staff training and thought they’d make a helpful post for everyone. Basically they are questions we get from most of our customers in some alliteration about taking supplements of any kind. I have no idea who actually compiled these questions but I’ve heard them all many times.

1-what should I consume before a workout?

Nothing, hopefully, but there are times when eating something makes sense. Basically if your diet is good then you have an empty stomach and fully tapped glycogen stores that will last for 1-1.5 or so hours of hard training. However, there are many scenarios (dieting, too busy to eat, etc) that mean you should eat prior to training. When this is the case nutrition follows the post-nutrition protocol in that glycogen store replenishment supersedes all other factors, meaning mainly carbs, a little protein, very little fat and a solid electrolyte profile.

2-Can I take my supplements after 6pm?

Time is irrelevant because we all have different schedules and each supplement has different parameters for its usage. In general supplements are either meant to be 1) taken with food 2) taken in the morning on an empty stomach 3) taken before bed on an empty stomach 4) taken pre-workout 5) during workouts, especially long ones 6) taken post workout. Of course this is all dependent on what it is but those are pretty much the only nutritional windows we have to consider.

3-Will creatine make me fat?

Creatine has nothing at all to do with getting fat. It works in your Kreb’s cycle improving anaerobic endurance by allowing your cells to store more phosphocreatine. When you take creatine you store more water to add volume to your cells and that adds a little bit of weight but this disappears when you stop taking it. It’s never stored as adipose tissue (body fat). Only as water to allow your body to perform better. However, even a slight bit of extra weight can matter so those in, say, gravity-dependent sports will want to monitor their creatine usage.

4-I heard chocolate milk is good to consume after a workout, is this true?

In ONE study chocolate milk outperformed Gatorade or something similar that was a carb-only electrolyte supplement and the dairy industry has made a big play out of it. It does come close to a 4 to 1 carb to protein ratio so it’s more appropriate than many options but won’t perform nearly as well as specialty formulated post-workout recovery supps.

5- Can I drink too much water and is it possible to dilute my supplements, thereby minimizing their effectiveness?

You could theoretically do this but it’s not particularly likely unless you’re exercising all day long where water can dilute your electrolyte balance and create a potentially lethal condition called hyponatremia.

6- Can i eat and take my supplements at the same time?

Depends on what you are taking. This is almost always addressed on the label. As a general rule vitamins are best taken with a meal and everything else is situational.

7- Is there anything I can take to reduce my soreness after exercise?

The best thing, by far, is a post-exercise recovery supplement because quick glycogen replenishment is the most vital factor for minimizing muscle soreness.

8- My joints hurt after lifting heavy weights. Is there any supplement I can take to make this go away?

Not really. Fish oil and other omega 3 supplements can help with inflammation but post-exercise pain in a joint, unless you have a chronic condition, is due to something more akin to an injury. Regular omega 3 supplementation can minimize the risk of such conditions to some degree and is almost always encouraged, especially for people on acidic high-protein diets.

9-How much protein do I need each day?

Daily protein intake is not nearly so important as how much you get each meal. Studies continually support that fact that large amounts of protein cannot be digested at one time, meaning that it’s important to have some protein each time you eat for best results. No consensus has been reached to upper limits as there are many factors that affect digestion but somewhere around 30 grams seems to be the range almost anyone can use. Therefore we like to recommend that all meals and snacks contain somewhere in the 30 gram range as a maximum for efficient protein utilization.

10-Is it bad to eat fat in my diet?

No. In fact you’ll die without it. There are only three macronutrients and they are all equally important for proper function and performance. Fat is every bit as vital to your diet and protein and carbohydrates, which is probably why most foods found in nature have some of each.

11- If i miss my window of consumption post exercise, should i still drink my recovery drink?

Basically yes but it depends by how much you’ve missed the one-hour window and what else you’ve eaten. When you are low on glycogen you need to replenish it if you’ve recently exercised. When you don’t exercise the template changes but after hard exercise you need to replenish your glycogen stores. Your body will do this with any food it gets but it’s much slower if you use the wrong macronutrient ratio. So if you’ve eaten after your workout a recovery formulation won’t help much but if you haven’t it will, even if it’s been more than an hour or two or three.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What We're Doing Wrong & How To Do It Better

The title is a line from yesterday's video-ish chat. The ish is due to a little malfunction part way in so it becomes sort of a radio show with some slides of me doing stuff. The moderator is my colleage, part of Beachbody's illustrious fitness team, the lovely Steph Saunders. Keith the Dude also has a few baritone interludes.

Topics include some personal stories from childhood, things I like and don't like, the Cold War, sports I've played and, of course, a lot of questions and answers including why PAP training is hard, the prowess of Jim Thorpe, what to do after P90X2, caloric deficits, overtraining, Shakeology cleanse and zig-zagging, pre-workout supplements, how to tell if you need a multi-vitamin, fish oil, skin elasticity, and more. If you've got an hour you need to kill check it out. Hopefully you'll be entertained or at least learn something new.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

La Bonne Vie! – The Year’s Fitness Retreat Dates Announced

This year’s fitness retreat will be May 26 to June 2. Join us and kick start your summer with a week of fitness, culture, and world-class outdoor sports in a postcard-like setting. It’s going to be fantastic and, as usual, is extremely affordable.

Check out Alisa and Bruce’s site, Raison d’Art, for detailed info:

Fitness Week with Steve Edwards

our urban hub: st. antonin noble val

My version of fitness camp might not be what you’re envisioning if you look at my athlete/trainer profile. While I train hard, recreate at a higher standard than most, and occasionally compete in a national or world-level event, the main reason I do it all is that I believe in enjoying life to its fullest and I just happen to find this stuff fun. So when we say this is a fitness camp in France, particular emphasis should be placed on the France part of that. The main goal of these camps is to have a unique cultural experience. It’s not fat camp. It’s life camp. And hence the reason last year’s retreat theme was ‘la bonne vie’, or the good life.

meals are decidedly french (relaxed)

with nothing but fresh foods that we procure locally

This isn’t to say you won’t get much exercise. We’ll earn our meals for sure. Those who choose to participate in all the activities will get 4-6 hours of exercise daily, not counting sight-seeing, shopping, wine-induced night swims and such. Each workout and activity will have various levels to allow you to choose your own personal intensity setting. The emphasis will be on education. Our retreat is only a week but the goal is for you to take away knowledge that you’ll put to use for the rest of your life.

"That was a lifesaving exercise for me. Whatever werid muscle it's designed to stretch had been bothering me for over a year and hasn't hurt since:) Thank you Steve!"
- Michelle Beronja Wilkins

kayaking in the aveyron gorge

We’ve capped of people so that there will be ample one on one time for any personal issues to get addressed in as much depth as you’d like. You’ll have the option of a pre and post camp fitness assessment we’re you’ll get a good idea of both your strengths and weaknesses so you can leave with a fitness plan in mind.

escalade Saint Antonin Noble Val by iaki
climbing in the aveyron gorge

Since I’m an outdoor athlete you’ll have this option too. How much you participate is voluntary but, since we’ll be surrounded by world class climbing, cycling, kayaking, and hiking terrain, there will be a daily outdoor sports component. We’re professional guides, so no experience is necessary. You’ll be missing out if you don’t take part.

the riding tends to be picturesque

But mainly it’s about fun. You can live hard and play hard. In fact, when I’m balancing both is when I’m the most relaxed. "A sante!", to heath, as they say in France, which will be our theme. We’ll challenge ourselves, learning something new, and then reward ourselves with the amenities of rural France. La bonne vie!

the castle village of najac also has epic mtn bike riding

"I feel better than I have in years. It's been, by far, the best I've ever eaten in my life."
- Dave Talsky, Mammoth Lakes, Ca.

Sample itinerary:

7am - wake up yoga
7:30 - 8:30 aerobic ruke (run/ hike to get your metabolism going)
8:30 - 8:45 eye opener workout (optional - high intensity interval session)
9:00-9:30 breakfast
11:00- 1:00 pm daily activity (run, adventure ruke, bike, kayak, climb)
1:00 - 2:00 lunch
3:00 - 5:30 Free time (sight see, shop, chill...)
5:30 - 6:30 evening workout (progressive difficulty, drop out when you feel like it)
7:00 -8:00 dinner
8:00 post dinnner training digestion session (sunset hike, mobility training)
8:30 apres social

For more pics here’s last year’s announcement:

Train with Steve Edwards in Southern France

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Psyched on Yoga?

If you’re like me, 2012 has started in a rudely-hectic manner. Maybe it’s the triple whammy of condensed work weeks but, however you stack it up, I’m in need of some early-week Psyche to help both calm my mind and get after it physically. Henceforth I present yoga by Equinox.

Think of this next time Yoga X is kicking your butt, and anytime you doubt the ability of yoga to make you strong, fit, or look good. Think of how effortlessly Briohny Smyth makes, well, everything look-—including some very burly movements. I’m pretty sure I’ve increased my strength, balance, and fluidity just by watching. Reminds me of my friend Micah's comment on the merits of regular yoga practice for rock climbing, "yoga is like cheating for climbers."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Win The Day

Looking back on my 2011 training chart puts perspective on the importance of taking on life one day at a time. I train a lot but, still, when you add it all up I’m not getting a lot of chances per year at each of my pursuits, much less each individual workout. The other day, during Plyocide, I was being lazy about working on an exercise I’m weak at when it dawned on me that I was only going to get a few chances at it in the course of the program, which inspired a vision Oregon’s football slogan, Win the Day.

One of the first things taught to Oregon players is the importance of each day. It’s a play on “live each day as though it were your last” but tailored to competition. I find it a great reminder to help get after it during the P90X2 workouts because, as Ducks coach Chip Kelly knows, once you make winning each day a practice it leads to better performance, period.

Why is each day so important? Looking back through my calendar I noted that I had only 6 full climbing days 2011, my preferred sport. My favorite workout of last year, Asylum Strength, I only did 5 times. PAP sessions: 12. When you have a full schedule and begin to analyze how it’s broken down the importance of each workout becomes clear; each time you slack off is missing an opportunity to improve yourself. If you lay each workout on a graph you will see exactly how a bit more effort or concentration here and there would have yielded greater overall improvements. Over time it’s the difference between champions and everyone else.

The X2 workouts are hard in a unique way. My favorite quote about the program, so far, has been “as I get better at the workouts they just get harder.” Conversely a complaint was that they were too slow. P90X2 is not step aerobics. It’s not simply about moving or getting your heart rate up. It’s about winning each encounter with something that’s going to challenge you. Once your body adapts to the subtleties of each movement you then add weight, or speed, or height or range of motion.

If Plyocide isn’t hard then you didn’t jump high enough, far enough, fast enough or use enough control to hit every square, touch the ball with your foot each movement, etc. If PAP doesn’t hurt you simply aren’t giving it enough effort because I’ve seen some of the most athletic people on the planet literally begging for mercy during those complexes. You can’t say you’ve mastered X2 until you can do all the exercises in perfect form with the same weight you can use from a stable platform; and if you think that’s impossible then you’re starting to get the picture. There is room for improvement and winning each day is the essence of what P90X2 is about.

To be fair, daily winning isn’t necessary or required. It’s about the effort. Bad days are a reality. Not to mention that if we never lost then winning would lose its luster. It’s fine to have off days, or lazy days. Days when you choose something over nothing, even when you don’t have the energy to bring it, are an important part of the process. But as you move up the pyramid of fitness to the point where you’re trying to do something special you’re going to run into an adversary. And whether it’s you, or an opponent, how you react to it will ultimately define your success.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Saturated Fats, Diet Trends, & How You Should Eat

We’ve been writing diet guides for a long time, always have great results, yet nothing we publish gets much press because, frankly, it’s boring. The diets we write need to be a: short, b: simple, and c: easily followed by people with limited means in both grocery choice and money. But just because we produce what you could call “common sense” diets doesn’t mean we aren’t constantly scrutinizing the latest science. We’re always testing the latest research ourselves (particularly me on moi) and evaluating its place in our diet plans. Today I present Denis Faye’s exhaustively un-conclusive analysis of saturated fat.

Sat fat is one of the latest trends in dieting. Held hostage by the medical community for years as the harbinger of heart disease modern research seems to indicate it’s been falsely accused. And this, of course (given the “it’s either good or evil” mentality of our public) means we now have legions of people sallying forth on a sat fat craze wielding sticks of butter and tubs of lard like they’re light sabers against the dark side that is heart disease. So Faye went to the source, the actual science along with popular books on the subject, and found that this group might be arming themselves with faulty weapons.

My second source is the most authoritative (read: not lame or poorly researched) pro-sat-fat book I could find: Dr. Mary Enig’s Know Your Fats. (Enig was the first real whistle blower on the dangers of trans fat, decades before the rest of the world figured it out.)

To my shock, Enig gave only two instances where she felt saturated fats were of particular benefit. First, she suggests, “research has shown that saturated fat in the diet is needed by the body to enable it to adequately convert the essential omega-3 fatty acid (ALA) to the elongated omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.” I found the study she cited and it turns out that she got it wrong(ish). According to Gerster, sat fats are marginally better than PUFAs for helping ALA convert, but not “needed.” Furthermore, this advice only really applies to vegans and vegetarians, given a healthy, more omnivorous diet should include EPA and DHA-rich foods such as fatty fish.

What’s Faye has done is exhaustively analyze the actual data and show that their enthusiasm might be better placed elsewhere, like doing some exercise or, “no don’t say it” perhaps just eating a balanced diet. Just because saturated fat may not be something that we should avoid doesn’t mean it’s should be the cornerstone of every meal. He concludes:

At the end of the day, I think the answer is to focus on your own biochemical needs. Even Enig admits, “there isn’t any real evidence that everyone needs to consume exactly the same balance of fatty acids.” She also points out that it’s na├»ve to categorize most foods as sat fats or PUFAs, given both animal and plant-based fat sources tend to be a mix of both. With that in mind, the answer might be as simple as a little self-analysis. Is your current diet working for you? How do you feel? How’s your blood work? Are you having any issues such as inflammation or high LDL cholesterol? If all this looks good, your sat fat levels are probably pretty right for you. If not, it might be time to start experimenting a little, no matter what your Crossfit trainer tells you.

And this gets back to the philosophy behind the Beachbody diet guides. Eat with restraint and common science. If you’re performance increases your body composition will improve. If it’s not working, re-assess and tinker until it does. And this works, oh, about 100% of the time. We have millions of success stories. Among them we have vegans, pesactarians, Paleoers, Atkins-ers, calorie-stricters, Zone-o-philes and probably even some Pritikiners. Because our plans work with you, and your lifestyle, no matter what that happens to be. Nutrition is simply not that tricky. In closing I’d like to say I’m paraphrasing Michael Pollan but I’ve been touting this since long before he wrote it. Eat mostly whole foods, lots of plants, drink plenty of water, and do some exercise and things will get better. Everything else is nitpicking.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Year of the Van

“I have a van.”
-Steve’s reply in the film Slacker when asked if he had a car.

Happy New Year! This year’s goals are all over the board, sports wise. It was going to be the year of the jock or something silly. But then I got to thinking that it wasn’t very creative as I’ve been training concurrently for different sports for many years now. It would likely lead to a redundancy reaction as 2011’s “year of fitness”, which caused more than one friend to ask “isn’t that every year for you?” This year fitness be a given and we’ll focus on the means and the venue, because I have a van.

My 1985 Toyota was put out to pasture in 2009. Its engine (edging towards 400k) was still going strong but it was more or less falling off of the chassis. Sadly she wasn’t restored because she hadn’t been used properly in years as my travel had turned jet set-ish, meaning I’d done more climbing in Europe over the last decade than in adjacent states. When my Subi started showing her age I went into new car mode and was thinking along the same lines until Romney sent me an ad for an old Westy. Bingo.

The wheels started turning. Romney’s locked into an 8-5 gig for the foreseeable future. Weekend getaways are far more realistic than weeks abroad. And, as luck would have it, there’s a massive limestone belt ranging across the northern mountain states that weren’t developed back in my van years in the 90s (when I probably visited 99% of the established climbing areas in the Western US)—-a perfect distance away for short trips in a self-contained living space.

It’s no secret that the van years the pinnacle of my life in many respects. Even though nothing tangible to the Western mindset was accomplished (unless you count first ascents of obscure routes), those years were full of blissful, focused living. Every day had a purpose. Life was simple. It was good.

Things have drastically changed and there are merits. The upsides are easier to calculate as I, ya know, have a family and own an actual house and not just one the is mobile. The downside is that I’m also a cog in the machine. Daily activities acquiesce to others. To-do lists only gets longer.

The reality is that isn’t going to stop and I’m okay with that. I’m doing what I consider to be important work and am lucky to have the opportunity so I plan to ride it into the sunset. But the van will allow some respite. Even if it’s only for a couple of days here and there, this year there are going to be days with no cell reception, no computer, no outside influences at al. Just forests, deserts, mountains, trails, rock, and family and/or friends. And a van to call home.

pic: bob’s go westy calendar entry, featuring his gorgeous synchro and a eurovan that looks like ours.

Hope you all had a great holiday season. We will now get back to our regularly-scheduled programming...