Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Exercises’ Category


ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST!

Every time someone is diagnosed with diabetes, there is, typically, a sense of disbelief! However, did you know that your pancreas has been waging a losing battle against wrong food choices for an estimated 12 years*(!), before your diabetes is diagnosed?!

Diabetes.jpgThe beta-cells of pancreas – responsible for insulin secretion – go through different stages of worsening dysfunction over years. However, since the patient is usually asymptomatic (no symptoms and signs present), diabetes is difficult to diagnose clinically.

The earliest sign of something being wrong is insulin resistance. And, thus, prevention and reversal of diabetes should ideally focus on the earliest point of dysfunction, which is insulin resistance.

Unfortunately, because clinicians focus on blood sugar and not insulin as a standard test, crucial years are lost and treatment typically begins when the proverbial ‘horses have bolted’, making reversal difficult!

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

Typically, diabetes type 2 is diagnosed around 40 years of age. In India, this age is even younger. So, ideally, you need to start worrying about diabetes as you approach your 30s; get your insulin levels and insulin resistance checked.

*SOURCE: Vivian A. Fonseca | Diabetes Care. 2009

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


‘We do not realise that it (obesity) is the biggest problem that affects us…’ – Dr. Dee, CONDITIONING CLINIC

Obesity, some staggering numbers:

1. Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975
2. In 2016, (out of an estimated 7.2 to 7.4 billion people) more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese
3. In 2016, almost 40% of adults were overweight and 13% were obese
4. In 2016, off pre-school age children (under the age of 5 years), 41 million were overweight or obese
5. In 2016, in those aged 5-19, over 340 million were overweight or obese

Also, much of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.

In more recent times, central (abdominal / visceral) obesity has emerged as a separate risk for development of metabolic syndrome (Met Syn) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Of note, an estimated 17.7 million people die of CVD each year, world over; this equates to 31% of all deaths!

All this despite the fact that OBESITY IS TOTALLY PREVENTABLE!

Citations:

1. World Health Organisation. Obesity and overweight Fact sheet. Updated October 2017
2. Després and Lemieux. Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome NATURE, December 2006

 

Read Full Post »


BACKGROUND

It is generally believed that deep squats and ‘knees beyond toes’ increase the risk of lumbar spine and knee joint injury. ‘Sitting back into a chair’ and avoiding deep knee flexion, thus keeping the knees from moving past the toes in the bottom position, during a barbell squat, is usually recommended to minimize this risk. However, you’d be surprised to know that the opposite, in fact, seems to be true!

SCIENCE

Jerry Gamallo,Based on biomechanical calculations, the highest retropatellar compressive forces are seen at 90°. With increasing flexion, the wrapping effect, functional adaptations & soft tissue contact between the back of thigh and calf contributes to an enhanced load distribution and enhanced force transfer with lower retropatellar compressive stresses.

Studies comparing joint kinetics between when forward displacement of the knees was restricted vs. not restricted found that restricting forward movement of the knees minimizes stress on knees, but forces are likely, inappropriately transferred to the hips & lower-back; proper joint loading may necessitate knees moving past your toes!

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

Squat deep; don’t worry about knees beyond toes.

SOURCES

1. Hartmann et al. Sports Med., 2013.

2. Fry et al. J Strength Cond Res., 2003.

SPECIAL THANKS

To Jerry Gamallo of Venatõr Athletics, CA for allowing me to use his pictures.

PLEASE NOTE

This is more of a ‘stump article’; I have tried to keep it short and interesting. However, for those of you want more evidence, hold on to your horses – I will addressing this issue in more detail in the near future.

DISCLAIMER

Read Full Post »


SONY DSC


The whole town and his wife seems to be using whey protein.

Whey protein isolate – everybody knows – works; you know it works. It is the best protein for improving body composition (reducing fat while improving lean mass)! Or is it really?!

Whey protein isolate may be the best protein for you in most instances, that may not be the case always! Depending on your fitness goal, whey protein concentrate (and, even casein!) can sometime give whey isolate a run for its money. How is that?!

Well, read on to find out!

However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of which type of whey will best serve your purpose, let us get to know a bit more about why you should supplement with whey, in the first place.


Why should I take whey supplements?

Resistance training causes increase in muscle mass. This is due to increased muscle protein synthesis (MPS) that resistance training induces (Hulmi et al., 2009; Hakkinen et al., 2001; Hulmi et al., 2007). However, intense workouts alone are not enough to keep packing on lean muscle mass; you have to ‘stay anabolic’ most of the time to be able to keep that MPS working for you.

Without complicating matters, here’s a look at how resistance training increases lean muscle mass: a resistance training session causes muscle protein breakdown. This is then followed by repair of the damaged muscle tissue so that the muscles come out stronger the next time you hit the weights. For the muscles to get stronger, however, proteins ingestion (over and above normal needs) is crucial. Needless to say, the process of repair will suffer if you aren’t loading up on proteins.

That resistance training combined with protein supplementation causes muscle hypertrophy is well-documented (Moore et al., 2009; Hulmi et al., 2009; Cribb, Williams, Carey, & Hayes, 2006).  Ingestion of a whey protein supplement either immediately before or after a training session is – considered by some – to be the best for this purpose; also whey increases muscle protein turnover like no other protein. Furthermore, whey protein seems to work equally well in women as well (Josse, Tang, Tarnopolsky, & Phillips, 2010).

Another benefit of supplementing with whey is, improved post-workout recovery  This is likely due to the ‘anti-catabolic’ action of essential amino acids (Bird, Tarpenning, & Marino, 2006; Hoffman et al., 2010; Etheridge, Philp, & Watt, 2008).


What is Whey Protein?

You most likely know that whey is one of the 2 milk proteins – the other being casein. Casein is the more abundant of the two and it is casein that gives milk that white colour. In commercially available cow’s milk, 20% of protein is whey while the rest of it is casein (Hulmi, Lockwood, & Stout, 2010; Ha & Zemel, 2003; Etzel, 2004; Krissansen, 2007).

Whey is produced in large amounts as a by-product in the cheese industry. However, this whey has loads of fat, milk sugar (lactose) and salts in it and is not suitable for improving body composition.

During the process of whey purification, whey concentrate and isolate are produced sequentially. During the initial steps, larger molecules are separated out resulting in formation of whey concentrate. These larger molecules are proteins, lactose, immunoglobulins, amongst other less important ones. To produce whey isolate, cheese whey is passed through an ultrafiltration process (ion exchange or other methods). The ultra membrane filters fat, milk sugar (lactose), salts and other unwanted ingredients leaving behind a pure form of whey (Barile et al., 2009).

Hydrolysates, on the other hand, are formulations where large protein molecules are broken down into smaller fragments. The hypothesis is that this might further increase the rate of absorption of whey. However, this might not be totally true and hydrolysates may not offer much of an advantage over isolates or concentrates.


Types of Whey Protein

Whey is available commercially as either isolate or concentrate. ‘So, what’s the difference between them and which one should I be using’, you might want to ask?

The main difference between the two is the quality and the amount of protein content – isolate is purer and thus will contain almost 100% protein (well, 90-94% to be precise) while whey concentrate will contain protein ranging from 70-85%.

‘Well, that settles it – I am going with whey isolate!’, you might say. Hang on, not so fast! There is more to it than just protein content.


Comparing Whey Isolate and Whey Concentrate

Since whey isolate is higher in protein content, has a better amino acid ratio and thus bioavailability, it is absorbed into your system way quicker than whey concentrate (or any other protein, for that matter). That makes whey isolate the ideal post-exercise anabolic drink (Hulmi et al., 2009). Some researchers have suggested taking whey protein isolate before workouts as well in addition to your routine post-workout shake for maximum benefits (Esmark et al., 2001; Cribb & Hayes, 2006). Quicker absorption will mean almost instantaneous rise in blood amino acids which are then taken up by ‘hungry muscles’.

Having said that, the need for immediate post-workout protein supplementation in now being increasingly questioned (more below).

High protein content and higher quality of protein, however, that does not clinch the deal in favour of whey isolate. Concentrate has something up its sleeve that will make sit up and take notice!

As stated earlier, in comparison to isolate, whey protein concentrate will contain lesser amount of protein (in the range of 70-85%). However, somewhat similar to casein, whey protein concentrate will get absorbed slowly – this helps you stay anabolic for longer! Slower absorption also helps with absorption of other important nutrients from food like calcium. Not a lot of people know this but calcium plays an important role in causing fat loss (in addition to keeping your bones healthy)! Add to that the added benefit of appetite suppression for longer and casein suddenly become an important tool for your fat-loss goals or intermittent-fasting health journey…

Furthermore, whey protein concentrate is loaded with immunoglobulins – this helps boost your immune system and therefore may be beneficial in dealing with the intense stresses of training (especially if you happen to overtrain!).


Whey Isolate

Pros

    • pure; contains 90-94% protein!
    • purity means that it is great for gaining / maintaining lean mass while getting ripped (ideal when nearing competition or a photo shoot)
    • contains all essential amino acids in the best possible ratios
    • bioavailability for humans is best amongst all proteins – meaning, of the amount ingested, more is likely to be absorbed. For instance, in a scoop containing 25 g of whey isolate, almost all of the protein in there, will be going into your muscle
    • lightening fast absorption; ideal post-exercise drink – helps you get into the anabolic mode almost immediately

Cons

    • pricier than whey protein concentrate – to ensure purity, the commercial production of whey necessitates use of complex filtration procedure, hence the price
    • although whey isolate will help recovery after workouts, it loses out to whey concentrate in some respects. This is so because immune boosting constituents of milk protein like alpha – lactoglobulins and lactoferrins are removed during the purification process

Whey Concentrate

Pros:

    • lot cheaper than whey isolate
    • has a slower absorption rate than whey protein isolates; thus ensures a steady state of elevated amino acids in the blood and helps you stay anabolic for longer. This also reduces the need for frequent dosing
    • slower absorption helps with absorption of other important minerals like calcium and reducing blood glucose and lipid levels
    • induces appetite suppression which may help longer fasting interval, thereby improving body composition and metabolic disease parameters
    • contains immune boosting complexes (alpha – lactoglobulins and lactoferrins) which help post-exercise muscle recovery
    • helps fight diseases – for instance, chronic hepatitis C (Elattar et al., 2010)

Cons:

    • some amount of fat will be present so not ideally suited during times when keeping body fat% down is desirable
    • if you have any degree of intolerance to milk and dairy products, you might want to forget using whey concentrate on account of its lactose content – which is missing from the more purer whey isolate

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

In conclusion, isolate and concentrate are equally good – however, your circumstances – price, training goals and lactose intolerance – should tip the scales in favour of one or the other.


Recent developments

  1. More recently, the presence of a post-workout anabolic window (of opportunity) is being increasing questioned. ‘Not only is nutrient timing research open to question in terms of applicability, but recent evidence has directly challenged the classical view of the relevance of post-exercise nutritional intake with respect to anabolism’ (Aragon and Schoenfeld, 2013). The amount and quality of protein that you consume throughout the day is, now, thought to be more important than immediate post-workout whey ingestion.
  2. BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine) may be overrated and ‘data do not seem to support a benefit to BCCA supplementation during periods of caloric restriction’ (Dieter BP, Schoenfeld BJ and Aragon AA, 2016).

Reference List

Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2013;10:5 /1550-2783-10-5.

Barile, D., Tao, N., Lebrilla, C. B., Coisson, J. D., Arlorio, M., & German, J. B. (2009). Permeate from cheese whey ultrafiltration is a source of milk oligosaccharides. Int Dairy J, 19, 524-530.

Bird, S. P., Tarpenning, K. M., & Marino, F. E. (2006). Liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion during a short-term bout of resistance exercise suppresses myofibrillar protein degradation. Metabolism, 55, 570-577.

Cribb, P. J. & Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci.Sports Exerc., 38, 1918-1925.

Cribb, P. J., Williams, A. D., Carey, M. F., & Hayes, A. (2006). The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine. Int J Sport Nutr.Exerc.Metab, 16, 494-509.

Dieter BP, Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA.(2016). The data do not seem to support a benefit to BCAA supplementation during periods of caloric restriction. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition;13:21. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0128-9.

Elattar, G., Saleh, Z., El-Shebini, S., Farrag, A., Zoheiry, M., Hassanein, A. et al. (2010). The use of whey protein concentrate in management of chronic hepatitis C virus – a pilot study. Arch.Med Sci., 6, 748-755.

Esmarck, B., Andersen, J. L., Olsen, S., Richter, E. A., Mizuno, M., & Kjaer, M. (2001). Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. J Physiol, 535, 301-311.

Etheridge, T., Philp, A., & Watt, P. W. (2008). A single protein meal increases recovery of muscle function following an acute eccentric exercise bout. Appl.Physiol Nutr.Metab, 33, 483-488.

Etzel, M. R. (2004). Manufacture and use of dairy protein fractions. J Nutr., 134, 996S-1002S.

Ha, E. & Zemel, M. B. (2003). Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review). J Nutr.Biochem., 14, 251-258.

Hakkinen, K., Pakarinen, A., Kraemer, W. J., Hakkinen, A., Valkeinen, H., & Alen, M. (2001). Selective muscle hypertrophy, changes in EMG and force, and serum hormones during strength training in older women. J Appl.Physiol, 91, 569-580.

Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N. A., Tranchina, C. P., Rashti, S. L., Kang, J., & Faigenbaum, A. D. (2010). Effect of a proprietary protein supplement on recovery indices following resistance exercise in strength/power athletes. Amino.Acids, 38, 771-778.

Hulmi, J. J., Ahtiainen, J. P., Kaasalainen, T., Pollanen, E., Hakkinen, K., Alen, M. et al. (2007). Postexercise myostatin and activin IIb mRNA levels: effects of strength training. Med Sci.Sports Exerc., 39, 289-297.

Hulmi, J. J., Kovanen, V., Selanne, H., Kraemer, W. J., Hakkinen, K., & Mero, A. A. (2009). Acute and long-term effects of resistance exercise with or without protein ingestion on muscle hypertrophy and gene expression. Amino.Acids, 37, 297-308.

Hulmi, J. J., Lockwood, C. M., & Stout, J. R. (2010). Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutr.Metab (Lond), 7, 51.

Josse, A. R., Tang, J. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2010). Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Med Sci.Sports Exerc., 42, 1122-1130.

Krissansen, G. W. (2007). Emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications. J Am Coll.Nutr., 26, 713S-723S.

Moore, D. R., Tang, J. E., Burd, N. A., Rerecich, T., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Differential stimulation of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic protein synthesis with protein ingestion at rest and after resistance exercise. J Physiol, 587, 897-904.

Read Full Post »


cafe_neroGet off the Tube – straight into the nearest Cafe Nero  – pick up your favorite coffee and then off to work – isn’t that what most of us do?! Don’t we all love having our coffees, especially first thing in the morning? Yes, we do! – The reason being?! Well, for sure one of the reasons has got to be that coffee really ‘gets you going’ first thing in the morning. But, have you ever wondered how your innocuous looking cup of coffee manages to do that? Read on to find out more.

CAFFEINE

Let’s face it, we have to drink coffee every single morning coz somewhere along the line, we’ve got addicted to caffeine present in our coffee. It is this caffeine that is responsible for the ‘gets me going’ phenomenon!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that caffeine is the most ingested psychoactive drug (stimulant) in the world. It is a of major contents of almost all ‘stimulant’ beverages like tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks (not to mention thermogenic fat loss supplements).

According to Starbucks information on beverages, a tall latte’ contains 150mg of caffeine (filter coffee ‘venti’ – meaning twenty in Italian – is low in calories but contain a whopping 400mg per serving). Taking in that amount of the drug can have profound effects on your physiology.

What exactly are these effects and how does caffeine in your tall, skinny latte’ help you to get ‘switched on’, you might want to ask? Well, read on to find out more.

CHEMICAL STRUCTURE AND PHARMACOKINETICS OF CAFFEINE

But before we get into the intricacies of what makes caffeine tick, let us have a closer look at what caffeine really is. Chemically, caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.

Derived from the purine xanthine, methylxanthines have numerous medicinal applications, especially in lung disease. Apart from caffeine, other methylxanthines of note are theophylline, aminophylline (both of which are used as bronchodilators – in asthma), paraxanthine and theobromine. As you may have guessed, methylxanthines are  cardiac and CNS stimulants and bronchodilators (with individual variations, of course).

On ingestion, caffeine is expeditiously absorbed through the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Within 15 minutes of consumption of coffee, trace levels of caffeine appear in blood; peak concentrations are reached within an hour 1.

Caffeine is highly lipid soluble (dissolves rapidly and completely in fat). Thus, it can cross cell membranes (of muscle and nerve cells), especially, the blood-brain barrier (a partition which allows only certain chemicals to enter the brain matter).

Caffeine exerts its action (as given below) on various systems through a number of proposed mechanisms.

After exerting its action, caffeine is broken down by the liver and kidneys – metabolites (break down products) that are formed are paraxanthine, theobromin and theophylline1. Incidentally, these metabolites have actions similar to caffeine as well – theophylline is considered even more potent!

ACTIONS OF CAFFEINE 

As mentioned previously, caffeine is the most often used stimulant in the world with prominent actions on the central nervous system as well as metabolism. As opposed to caffeine present in drinks, anhydrous form of caffeine (in the form of capsule/tablet/powder) is more potent.

Pharmacologically, caffeine is a competitive adenosine-receptor agonist, i.e. it serves as a competition for adenosine at its receptor. This receptor is responsible for suppressing neurotransmitters like adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. Thus, ingestion of caffeine increases the production of these neurotransmitters.

However, since these neurotransmitters have complex and sometimes conflicting actions, effects of caffeine in endurance, strength and explosive sports (enhancement of performance, recovery and hydration) can be conflicting as well.

However, the main actions of caffeine can be described as under:

  • COGNITIVE EFFECTS

Caffeine improves wakefulness and vigilance. It may be also responsible for improved skill levels, especially those acquired through repeated training 2.

Foskett et. al. demonstrated in their study, improved cognitive parameters in athletes due to caffeine ingestion with enhanced sprint abilities as well as ball passing, ball control and accuracy associated with acute ingestion of caffeine3.

Because caffeine in low to moderate doses (3-6 mg/kg of body weight) has been shown to cause improved concentration during sleep-deprived spells, it may find application in services like the Special Forces 2.

  • THERMOGENIC EFFECTS

Consumption of caffeine causes stimulation of metabolism and a significant increase in the production of energy 4 – thermogenic action of caffeine has been shown to last for almost 3 hours after ingestion 4. Caffeine causes mobilization of free fatty acids and fat oxidation to produce energy during exercise 5-7. Additionally, it causes extra-muscular fat oxidation as well. Thus, caffeine seems to be definitely associated with causing fat loss 7.

These metabolic-stimulatory and fat-burning effects make caffeine a crucial ingredient of most fat-loss supplements (thermogenics).

  • ENHANCED EXERCISE ABILITY 

It is believed that caffeine enhances exercise performance. This is owing to its ‘glycogen-sparing effect’ – decreased utilization of muscle glycogen for energy during exercise – fats are used instead. Thus, owing to muscles glycogen lasting longer, the setting in of fatigue is prolonged.

Also, caffeine supports formation of new glycogen (glycogenesis) and thus aids in recovery after an intense exercise session.

Enhanced secretion of endorphins induced by caffeine is also a presumed mechanism in enhancing exercise performance 8 – the resultant decrease in pain perception leading to ‘feel good factor’ of beta-endorphins is well-documented 9.

In addition to the above findings, research also suggests that caffeine can improve neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction 10;11 – both isometric and muscle endurance components are improved 10.

 To conclude, research overwhelmingly supports the view that caffeine enhances performance in endurance events 5;12, sports involving muscle power-strength components 13;14 as well as high intensity team sports 14;15.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

So, the next time you are sipping that favourite coffee of yours, you know exactly what it is doing to you!

To sum up, caffeine has the following effects:

  • is more potent when ingested in the anhydrous state (as a tab/capsule/powder supplement rather than as coffee)
  • aids in sports performance
  • improves skills acquisition in sports – like ball control and passing
  • supports new glycogen formation (glycogenesis) and thus helps quicker recovery from an exercise session
  • prolongs exercise induced fatigue – by their ‘glycogen-sparing’ effect so you can keep going for a longer
  • improves neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction
  • has thermogenic effects – stimulates metabolism causing burning of calories
  • induces fat loss – mobilizes fatty acids from fat stores and uses these as substrate (instead of glycogen) for producing energy
  • improves concentration – especially during sleep-deprived states
  • secretes beta-endorphins – makes you feel good

 References

  1.  Harland BF. Caffeine and nutrition. Nutrition 2000; 16(7-8):522-526.
  2. Lieberman HR, Tharion WJ, Shukitt-Hale B, Speckman KL, Tulley R. Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during U.S. Navy SEAL training. Sea-Air-Land. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2002; 164(3):250-261.
  3. Foskett A, Ali A, Gant N. Caffeine enhances cognitive function and skill performance during simulated soccer activity. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2009; 19(4):410-423.
  4. Astrup A, Toubro S, Cannon S, Hein P, Breum L, Madsen J. Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 1990; 51(5):759-767.
  5. Ivy JL, Costill DL, Fink WJ, Lower RW. Influence of caffeine and carbohydrate feedings on endurance performance. Med Sci Sports 1979; 11(1):6-11.
  6. Erickson MA, Schwarzkopf RJ, McKenzie RD. Effects of caffeine, fructose, and glucose ingestion on muscle glycogen utilization during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19(6):579-583.
  7. Spriet LL, MacLean DA, Dyck DJ, Hultman E, Cederblad G, Graham TE. Caffeine ingestion and muscle metabolism during prolonged exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 1992; 262(6 Pt 1):E891-E898.
  8. Laurent D, Schneider KE, Prusaczyk WK, Franklin C, Vogel SM, Krssak M et al. Effects of caffeine on muscle glycogen utilization and the neuroendocrine axis during exercise. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2000; 85(6):2170-2175.
  9. Grossman A, Sutton JR. Endorphins: what are they? How are they measured? What is their role in exercise? Med Sci Sports Exerc 1985; 17(1):74-81.
  10. Kalmar JM, Cafarelli E. Effects of caffeine on neuromuscular function. J Appl Physiol 1999; 87(2):801-808.
  11. Lopes JM, Aubier M, Jardim J, Aranda JV, Macklem PT. Effect of caffeine on skeletal muscle function before and after fatigue. J Appl Physiol 1983; 54(5):1303-1305.
  12. Hogervorst E, Bandelow S, Schmitt J, Jentjens R, Oliveira M, Allgrove J et al. Caffeine improves physical and cognitive performance during exhaustive exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2008; 40(10):1841-1851.
  13. Woolf K, Bidwell WK, Carlson AG. The effect of caffeine as an ergogenic aid in anaerobic exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2008; 18(4):412-429.
  14. Beck TW, Housh TJ, Schmidt RJ, Johnson GO, Housh DJ, Coburn JW et al. The acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities. J Strength Cond Res 2006; 20(3):506-510.
  15. Schneiker KT, Bishop D, Dawson B, Hackett LP. Effects of caffeine on prolonged intermittent-sprint ability in team-sport athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006; 38(3):578-585.

Read Full Post »


Health and fitness professionals and researchers (me included!) have always cried hoarse about the downsides of obesity. For decades, obesity has been reported to impair health and reduce longevity (Allison et al., 2008). So much so, that research community has branded obesity as a disease (2008) which increases mortality and decreases longevity (Fontaine, Redden, Wang, Westfall, & Allison, 2003). There is, also, strong proof for causal effect of obesity in increasing mortality (4, 5). Conversely, calorie restriction (I don’t totally agree to calorie deficit plans – they aren’t for everyone!) to lower body weight has been shown to prolong life (Weindruch & Walford, 1988).

Notwithstanding the strong evidence for obesity being a curse, there are some curious findings about obesity in humans – those that will make you wonder if being fat is really that bad for you! There seems to be a reason why we gain weight as we age – well, in that case, does obesity afford some protective effect on human existence? Research into the so-called ‘obesity paradox’ certainly points in that direction.

Obesity Paradox

Obesity seems to have a protective effect in people suffering from a major injury or illness; this is called obesity paradox – in such individuals, being fat helps in that it increases survival time.

‘Among persons who already have heart failure, outcomes seem to be better in obese persons as compared to lean persons’ (Niedziela et al., 2014).  The direct causal relationship of obesity in this curious phenomenon is, however, a matter of intense debate (Habbu, Lakkis, & Dokainish, 2006).

Another equally curious observation reported by academicians is that lower body mass indices (underweight or those just under normal) are associated with an elevated mortality rate.  While individuals who are mildly overweight reflect the lowest mortality rates (Childers & Allison, 2010 and Niedziela et al., 2014). Mind you, the extremely obese are worse off though!

Take home message

Although ‘leaner is better’ may be true in most people – especially, in those who are disease-free and injury-free – obesity does seem to provide benefits in the diseased or injured, particularly in middle-aged individuals. This may be part of the reason why we put on weight as we age (Heo et al., 2003).

However, before you jump the gun and start advising middle-aged people to forget about getting lean, do keep in mind that there is, as yet, no conclusive evidence for the protection offered by being overweight or downright obese. Further research providing concrete proof needs to be conducted before we change our views on obesity.

Until that time, I’m afraid, its back to Olympic lifting platforms and HIIT and your nutrient-dense meals! Go people…!

 References 

Obesity as a disease: The Obesity Society Council resolution (2008). Obesity (Silver.Spring), 16, 1151.

Allison, D. B., Downey, M., Atkinson, R. L., Billington, C. J., Bray, G. A., Eckel, R. H. et al. (2008). Obesity as a disease: a white paper on evidence and arguments commissioned by the Council of the Obesity Society. Obesity (Silver.Spring), 16, 1161-1177.

Childers, D. K. & Allison, D. B. (2010). The ‘obesity paradox’: a parsimonious explanation for relations among obesity, mortality rate and aging? Int J Obes (Lond), 34, 1231-1238.

Fontaine, K. R., Redden, D. T., Wang, C., Westfall, A. O., & Allison, D. B. (2003). Years of life lost due to obesity. JAMA, 289, 187-193.

Habbu, A., Lakkis, N. M., & Dokainish, H. (2006). The obesity paradox: fact or fiction? Am J Cardiol, 98, 944-948.

Heo, M., Faith, M. S., Mott, J. W., Gorman, B. S., Redden, D. T., & Allison, D. B. (2003). Hierarchical linear models for the development of growth curves: an example with body mass index in overweight/obese adults. Stat.Med, 22, 1911-1942.

Niedziela J, Hudzik B, Niedziela N, Gasior M, Gierlotka M, Wasilewski J et al. The obesity paradox in acute coronary syndrome: a meta-analysis. Eur J Epidemiol 2014; 29(11):801-812

Weindruch, R. & Walford, R. (1988). The Retardation of Aging and Disease by Dietary Restriction. Springfield, IL: C.C. Thomas Publisher.

 

Read Full Post »


Is there a connection between fitness and sexual activity? Would being fat and unfit prevent you from being a great bedroom performer? Chances are – YES; you can achieve much greater things by being leaner and fitter!

couple-holding-hands-intimately-in-bed

Which bring us to the question – could exercise be prescribed to those who want to improve their bedroom performance?! Shouldn’t functional training – which improves efficiency in carrying out our daily functioning – be doing the same for your love life as well? Well, it most definitely should!

Importance of sexual activity in human life

Feeding for one’s survival and indulging in sexual activity for the survival of one’s species are the most basic of all activities – for (almost) all life forms; human beings are no different!

Although even mentioning it, let alone discussing sexual intercourse is still a taboo is most parts of the world, it is an undeniable fact that sexual activity is an integral part of human existence. Thus, it is not at all surprising that striving to be ‘sexually desirable’ by the opposite sex is an inherent part of the human psyche.

Love making and a fit body

Almost everyone out there yearns a good-looking, lean companion, preferably someone with whom you enjoy great chemistry. Have you ever wondered why these qualities are foremost on everyone’s mind?

Well, because these qualities don’t just define physical appearance but have a deep-rooted meaning to them. Optimising chances of conception seems to be at the basis for all of these qualities that you seek.

What we are really looking for – while we may not know it, but these ‘likable qualities’ have been ‘genetically programmed’ in our subconscious minds – is this:

  • good-looking – carries high-quality genetic material
  • improved body composition – a lean waist and toned body with lower body-fat – physiologically and functionally more capable of the sexual act increasing the likelihood of a successful conception
  • right chemistry – the right kind of hormones (running through veins, as they say), the right psychosomatic connections and what-have-yous! Again, these will increase frequency and quality of sexual encounters and thereby, a successful conception

Now, if you are one of those who can read between lines, you will realize that all the above parameters – with the exception of genes, to a certain extent – can be improved by exercise. Agreed you can’t do much about your lack of a good genetic make-up  but – as any good coach will tell you – the ‘not-so-good genes’ shouldn’t stop you from ‘maximizing your potential’.

So here’s how exercise will help you with improving your ‘bedroom performance’ and turning your into a dream lover! But first, let’s see why the same fitness parameters that will improve your on-field sports performance will likely improve your bedroom performance too. And, regular indulgence in one may benefit the other.

Similarities between exercise and love-making

Since ‘lovemaking’ makes use of the very fitness parameters that typically epitomize short-burst interval training, it can be argued that either of these activities may help in improving performance in the other.

Here are some similarities (that I can think of):

  • Fitness parameters used

It is an undeniable fact that sexual activity is akin to exercise – with adrenergic system hyper-drive hearts pounding, blood pressure rising, breathing going haywire, sweating and what-have-you! Shouldn’t come as surprise really, when I tell you that you are using almost all the systems you’d use when working out – not to mention, hitting all components of fitness – cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength-power-endurance, et. al.

It should be a no-brainer that to improve your bedroom performance, you’ve got to improve your fitness.

  • Hormonal response

Testosterone is the major male sex hormone – it is instrumental in increasing libido, improving erections and sperm counts. Resistance training, – especially squatting – and HIIT boosts testosterone levels (Craig et al, 1989). Regular sexual activity has a similar effect – even watching porn – boosts testosterone secretion many folds over normal! Testosterone has prominent anabolic actions: helps pack on lean muscle mass, stimulates metabolism and improves body composition by decreasing body fat. This improved body composition, not to mention vigor, comes in handy (pun-unintended!) when it comes to your bedroom performance. Also, improved sperm counts will mean increased chances of conception

Read about the effects of low testosterone levels here.

  • Immune response 

Exercise and regular sexual activity have both been reported to cause increased levels of antibodies – improved serum antibody levels helps fight infections (Brennan and Charnetski, 2000). Studies have shown that those who indulge in sexual activity 2 to 3 times a week exhibited higher levels of IgA antibodies as compared to those who ‘do it’ infrequently (Charnetski and Brennan, 2004).

  • Calories burned

As we all know, exercise is a great way of burning calories over and above those required for your daily chores. Likewise, sexual activity is quite effective at burning calories as well (O’Keefe et al., 2010a;O’Keefe et al., 2011). It might surprise you to know that 30 minutes of intense ‘love-making’ can help you burn as many as 200 calories (O’Keefe et al., 2010b) which would equate roughly to about 15 min. of jogging on the treadmill or a entire weight-training session in the gym.

A word of caution here though: sexual activity alone cannot replace a calorie-deficit diet and being active through the day (improved NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis) as the number one way of inducing fat loss.

  • Cardiac Function 

During a sexual act, you are operating intermittently at heart rates of 150 beats per minute and systolic blood pressures of 200 mm Hg. Thus, cardiovascular dynamics and workloads similar to short-burst interval training are mimicked.  This ‘heart rate training’ induced by sexual activity can, therefore, act as a great cardiovascular exercise and a metabolic-simulator! Conversely, regular sessions of short-burst interval training combined with weights can help you improve your ‘performance in bed’.

  • Busting stress and improving quality of sleep

Exercise and regular sexual activity – by virtue of secretion of endorphins and suppression of cortisone – improve mood, function and help fight stress. Prolactin secretion (which has a close association with sexual intercourse) also causes mood elevation. In addition to these, secretion of oxytocin and the phenomenon of ‘resolution’ – relaxation associated with orgasm – together will put you to a ‘peaceful sleep’. A restful sleep also ensure proper diurnal secretion of growth hormone.

Furthermore, reduced resting heart rates and diastolic blood pressure as a consequence of regular exercise and sexual activity keeps your stress levels reduced throughout the day.

  • Improved muscle tone

By increasing lean mass and decreasing body fat, exercise can help you get the most out of your ‘performances’. Strong pelvic floor musculature is of paramount importance in women as well as in men for deriving optimal pleasure.

Training to produce strong isometric contractions of the pelvic floor can help achieve better erections in males – being able to contract pelvic floor musculature intensely is one of the techniques recommended for treating erectile dysfunction. In women, strong pelvic floor – in combination with strong abdominals) is very crucial for expulsion of the baby during parturition (delivery) and with urinary incontinence, both during pregnancy and childbirth.

Regular sexual intercourse has also been shown to be beneficial in preventing prostate cancer.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

To conclude, both – intense, short-burst interval training with resistance exercise thrown in – and regular sexual activity seems to utilize the same mechanisms and fitness parameters. Improving fitness will improve your performance in bed; regular sexual intercourse (and exercise itself) in turn will cause a plethora of health and fitness benefits.

References Cited

Brennan, F. X., and C. J. Charnetski, 2000 Explanatory style and Immunoglobulin A (IgA): Integr.Physiol Behav.Sci., v. 35, no. 4, p. 251-255.

Charnetski, C. J., and F. X. Brennan, 2004 Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA): Psychol.Rep., v. 94, no. 3 Pt 1, p. 839-844.

Craig BW, Brown R, Everhart J, 1989 Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects.  Mech Ageing Dev., v. 49, no. 2, p. 159-169.

O’Keefe, J. H., R. Vogel, C. J. Lavie, and L. Cordain, 2010a Organic fitness: physical activity consistent with our hunter-gatherer heritage: Phys.Sportsmed., v. 38, no. 4, p. 11-18.

O’Keefe, J. H., R. Vogel, C. J. Lavie, and L. Cordain, 2011 Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness: Prog.Cardiovasc.Dis., v. 53, no. 6, p. 471-479.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »