Swishing a sports drink around in your mouth and then spitting it out might sound like a nonsensical way to boost performance, but it’s been nearly a decade since research first suggested that rinsing improves your workout. A study by sports scientists at University of Central Lancashire this April found that during an hour-long workout, cyclists who swished carbohydrate-rich sports drinks for longer covered more distance and felt less tired than after a five-second rinse or rinsing with water.
How the trick works may surprise you. Brain scans show that specific regions light up when carbs are in your mouth. The longer you rinse, the more time the carbs have to stimulate sensors in your brain, says study author Lindsay Bottoms. “The concept of mouth rinse supports the idea that the brain is very much playing a key role in fatigue,” says Bottoms.
Swishing is most beneficial during relatively short, intense workouts. Not only can the rinse give you a performance boost of about 2 percent, but it also helps avoid indigestion from swallowing carbs during workouts. “When performing high-intensity exercise lasting less than 60 minutes, using a carbohydrate rinse for 5-10 seconds can improve performance,” says Bottoms. “It could potentially allow you to train harder.” If you’re doing a couple hours of exercise, however, rinsing will start to lose its effect since your muscles really do need more carbs.
Need a little inspiration on what to eat for snacks throughout the day, or even at night? Here are few ideas to get your brain going.
If you like it COLD
Try some KEFIR, a yogurt drink. It comes in several flavors, plus a plain version. Drink it by itself (it’s like a thin milkshake) or use it as the base for your shakes. Add strawberries and a little bit of honey. You will have a tasty protein shake that is full probiotics and vitamin C.
Freeze some fresh blueberries. You can even top them with a little light or fat-free whipped cream. Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber.
As an alternative to ice cream, how about putting yogurt (or a homemade smoothie) into an ice cube tray and freezing it. The cubes will get “slushy”.
If you like it SALTY
Grab a hard pretzel, twist or stick. These are a better choice then potato chips. Have a few with some peanut butter or some dark chocolate.
Experiment with different crackers. Look for a brand called “Mary’s Gone Crackers”. Their stuff is amazing, and is whole grain, no gluten, no trans fats. Very different flavor and EXTREMELY crunchy. Wasa is another brand to try. Hummus, Laughing Cow, or lowfat cream cheese are great spreads to put on these.
Make a quick quesadilla. Use a corn or flour tortilla (corn is lower in fat) and sprinkle with a shredded cheese blend, like Mexican or cheddar jack. Microwave for about 12 seconds. Roll up and eat. Dip in salsa if you like! These are great for breakfast, too, especially if you add a scrambled egg.
Popcorn!! I think pan popped is the best, but use as little oil as possible. The microwave versions are so dang tricky with their labels it’s exhausting to find one that is actually low fat AND has good taste. Regardless, be creative with what you sprinkle on the popcorn. It doesn’t have to be salt. Try pepper or chili powder. How about cinnamon?
If you like it SWEET
Get some Greek Yogurt, I like Façe. But Dannon, Stonyfield, or Brown Cow are great, also. Use plain or vanilla and add your own fruit, maybe even a little honey. These tend to be good sources of protein and are good for the evening snack.
There is nothing wrong with DARK chocolate. A little bit goes a long way. Get some that is 70% or higher in cacao. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and lower in sugar than regular chocolate. Also great with a few roasted almonds.
Have you tried figs? Get them fresh or dried. They are sticky and sweet and high in fiber. They go great with cheese, honey, yogurt, and chocolate. Pick your combo!
Do you have some great snack ideas to share? Please post them here or on the Rudog fanpage.
It is a part of getting ready for the fight. The most dreaded part. Every fighter knows about it. No fighter wants to do it. So why do they do it? Why do the fighters save the weight loss for the last minute? It’s similar to that final exam that you know you have to take. You put off studying until the last possible minute and then you of hope for the best. Deep down inside you know you could have done more and done it sooner. This is often the mindset of the fighter. How many times do we hear fighters comment that they cut too much weight at the end and it really affected their performance? We hear it way too much. As a dietitian working with fighters, it is my number one priority to teach them how to not cut weight. The goal is to actually cut it out entirely.
Many fighters don’t fully understand the impact that cutting weight can have on their bodies and their long term health. It is a practice they have been doing since they were young, and it most likely was encouraged by both coaches and parents. To tell a fighter to stop cutting weight is almost like asking someone to just quit smoking. You have to retrain the brain.
The most common techniques for cutting weight are starvation, dehydration training, limiting fluid and sodium intake, and diuretic use. There are certainly other more severe techniques, but these seem to be somewhat universal. I am going to review each one briefly and identify some of the risks that accompany each.
Starvation, or severe calorie restriction, is supposed to induce weight loss. It will do this, but at a physical expense to the fighter. Naturally, the fighter will be hungry (and therefore distracted) but he or she will also be fatigued and less able to focus. The lack of carbohydrate in the diet makes it impossible for the muscles to stay adequately fueled. It also greatly affects the quality of sleep. The majority of the weight that is lost is water, with some being muscle. The end result is a fighter that has no gas in the tank, has less muscle mass, is irritable, poorly recovered and sleep deprived. Sounds like a winning combination, doesn’t it?
Dehydration training is perhaps the most dangerous. The fighter trains with a sauna suit in order to increase perspiration and therefore weight loss. Often the room temperature is also increased while the sauna suit is being used. The fighter does not take in fluids during this time as well. The increase in core body temperature that occurs as a result is extremely dangerous and can cause heart problems and death. Any fluid that is lost during this training session is fluid that must be replaced. Fluid losses that are greater than 2% of total body weight are considered excessive and dangerous. If this fluid is not replaced, the body is at risk for heart, kidney, and blood pressure problems. Again, it sounds like a winning strategy, right?
Fluid and Sodium Restriction
Restricting fluids can be dangerous when done excessively. When fluids are not readily available, basic bodily functions are compromised. The body needs fluid for cells to function, for body temperature to be regulated, to clean the blood, to maintain blood pressure, and more! To limit fluid intake while the body is under stress (like training) is dangerous. The shift of electrolytes that occurs when the body is dehydrated is the primary concern. It can cause cardiac arrhythmias, drop in blood pressure, kidney problems, or death.
This can be anything that promotes going to the bathroom. It generally involves an over the counter product, but large amounts of caffeine will have the same effect. This is usually used in conjunction with some or all of the above techniques and can be dangerous for the same reasons that have already been mentioned. Anytime you are promoting fluid loss, you run the risk of messing up your electrolyte balance (that little sodium and potassium stuff). If it gets really messed up, your heart can stop. I know, it sounds a little extreme, but it is the truth. You only have one heart and you need to be careful with it.
When cutting weight, many fighters are trying to lose anywhere from 5 to 30 lbs. This repeated weight cycling with each fight preparation certainly takes a toll on the body, the effects of which may not show up for years. The yo-yoing is similar to the long term effects of an eating disorder. The stress of losing weight under extreme conditions can weaken the heart, the immune system, and the body’s ability to heal and recover. Each weight cutting generally requires more and more extreme measures to accomplish the same weight loss, which is even more stressful on the body and results in more and more loss of lean body mass. This loss of muscle mass ultimately puts on more weight later, making it even harder to cut the next time. As a fighter ages, it also becomes more challenging to cut as much weight in the same short amount of time. This only encourages taking more drastic measures. It’s a vicious cycle and one that is very difficult to stop.
The best strategy for a fighter to use is to NOT need to cut weight. The goal should be for the fighter to maintain his or her weight within 5 lbs of the desired fight weight all the time. This allows the fighter to be fight -ready all the time. The muscles are properly fueled and the body is physically prepared for the stress that will be endured at that weight. I feel so strongly about this that I have declined to work with fighters who are trying to cut too much weight in too little time. I generally ask that they contact me after the fight so we can begin preparing for the next one.
Things are starting to change and there is definitely an increased interest in diet and how it can improve performance. My hope is that rather than thinking about diet only when preparing for a fight, fighters will focus on how they eat year round. This will not only produce a better and healthier fighter, it will produce a fighter with a longer career and a much healthier post-career.
Do men actually have body image issues, too? You’ve probably never thought about it, but keep thinking about it. With the rise in popularity of MMA, energy drinks, supplements, and muscular fitness, we are seeing an increase in the amount of media targeting men and depicting “hypermuscular” physiques. Male models are now leaner and more muscular than in years past. Could this be having an impact on men and their satisfaction with their own bodies? Look at A&F advertising, just to pick an easy one. What is the message that is being sent to guys? (Besides the whole sex thing…)
Women have been dealing with it since fashion has been in print. There are programs, hospitals, groups, blogs, prescriptions, and more to help women deal with body image issues. What about men? Interestingly, you guys are not immune.
There is a condition or “disorder” called Muscular Dysmorphia. Fancy term for, “I don’t think my body is muscular or big enough”. More directly, a disorder where individuals are preoccupied with the concern that their bodies are not muscular or big enough.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of, “That could be every guy at my gym!”
And you are right. I think it starts really simply. Probably most guys don’t get obsessed with it. I think a few really do. The problem is, how do you determine when a healthy interest in bettering your physical shape crosses a line and becomes unhealthy?
The basic definition of an eating disorder is “any eating behavior that puts a person’s long term physical or emotional health at risk”. So if we apply a similar approach to dysmorphia, we would be looking for behavior that puts physical or emotional health at risk. Can you be too lean? Can you work out too much? Can you take too many supplements? These are fair questions. I think that even beyond that, we should be asking who is holding guys at the gym accountable and not letting them go too far? That is tough. I don’t know that it has ever been done!
Which guy wants to be the one who says to someone, “Hey dude, I think you are muscular enough. Why don’t you lay off training a bit?” (crickets chirping)
As Americans, it is in our blood to be the best we can be! Your coach tells you all the time that you can do one more! You’re asked all the time, “Is that the BEST you can do?” More is better. Don’t be a wimp. One more rep. One more mile. One more plate on the rack.
Where is the voice that says, “That’s enough. Good work.”??
When I look at the MMA athletes and what the sport out right demands from them, I think there is the potential for this type of thing to develop if left unaddressed. Good coaches, knowledgeable staff, and educated athletes are essential to keeping the sport healthy for pros, amateurs, and novices…like me!
I have to admit, I am very impressed with Frankie “The Answer” Edgar’s strategy of training at his fight weight. For a title fighter to openly state that he does not cut weight for his fights is such a great example for other fighters. For a fighter to NOT cut weight goes against YEARS of tradition and entrenched thinking, but it has to stop. The practice of cutting weight makes no sense at all. Maybe no one is questioning it. Is it “forbidden” to question it? I am questioning it. MMA is perfectly poised to really set an example in the world of athletics. MMA athletes are perhaps the most well conditioned athletes in the world. A successful MMA fighter is cardiovascularly fit, is strong, has explosive strength, is flexible, quick, mentally focused, is disciplined in all areas of training, I could keep going!! Why would an athlete of that caliber do anything that compromises any one element of his game plan? Think about it. In terms of taking care of your body, and putting yourself in the best possible position to challenge an opponent, why would you starve and stress yourself days leading up to a fight? Let’s look at what happens when you do that:
You lose water weight, yes. BUT, some water that is lost is actually from the inside of the cells. When there is a sudden shift of fluid from the inside to the outside of the cells, you can put yourself at risk for cardiac arrest. That means your heart can stop. Translation: YOU CAN DROP DEAD. Doing this over and over again, fight after fight, takes a toll on you emotionally, hormonally, and physically. It provides the perfect breeding ground for eating disorders, chronic disease (kidney, heart, osteoporosis) as well as chronic injuries that just never seem to completely heal.
Even though there is stress on the body when cutting weight, there is also stress when you carbo load AFTER starving. Then there is the stress of healing and recovery after the fight. When it is all over, the body ends up spending a lot of time in a VERY stressful state. For fighters that take fights close together, the body never really gets a chance to fully recover.
In a world where discipline, pain, and suffering are applauded and aspired to, I can certainly see where “cutting weight” is also a part of getting tough. Unfortunately, it’s dangerous and potentially puts your life at risk. Get smart, guys. Train at your fight weight.
This is absolutely one of the top 10 topics in sport nutrition. It is so important to have a strategy in place as to how you will fuel and hydrate to prepare for training and exercise. What and when to eat and drink is highly variable and has to be individualized. As an athlete, you have to do a little experimenting to determine what foods and beverages you tolerate, as well as which ones enhance performance. Keeping a journal is a really good idea. It’s important to remember that what works for one athlete may or may not work for another.
Pre-exercise meals should have some carbohydrate, moderate protein, and some fat. The meal needs to be eaten 3-4 hours prior to exercise. Of course, this will be different for early morning workouts. In those instances, the “meal” will be much smaller (like only 100-200 kcals) and consumed 30-45 min prior to workout. Think in along the lines of part of an energy bar or a small bowl of oatmeal. If you aren’t doing an exhaustive workout, the pre-exercise calories aren’t as critical.
At least 2-3 hours before a workout, start hydrating. This can be water, a sport drink, or a fitness water. This will not only keep you hydrated, but allow ample time for emptying from the stomach so that you don’t get cramps. If you are wondering, “Which is better? Water or a sports drink?” Then answer is, “They BOTH hydrate equally well.” Choose the one that works best for YOU. There is a lot of science behind the formulas of the sports drinks, so definitely take some time to educate yourself and to try some of them. They will taste very different when they are consumed during/after exercise, as opposed to just drinking them as a beverage.
The sport drinks, like Powerade and Gatorade, are designed in way that reduces the incidence of cramping, promotes absorption and stimulates the thirst mechanism. They are generally around 6-8% Carbohydrate and use a combination of fructose, sucrose and glucose to promote emptying and speed fluid absorption. Gatorade is 6% and this helps stimulate carbohydrate absorption. Powerade is also 6%. They are both low sodium, with just enough to keep the thirst mechanism going!
Always pay attention to how well hydrated you are. Sweat production can vary depending on intensity, duration, temperature, and humidity. Fluid weight that is lost during exercise is fluid that must be replaced.
The Gatorade website has a tremendous amount of information if you want to check it out.
I’m talking about metabolism. It’s important to keep it UP. How you eat directly effects how your metabolism operates. If you want to keep your metabolism UP, that is, burning calories all day long, you have to feed it correctly and do the right kind of exercise. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard this before, right? You probably think this doesn’t apply to you because you eat all the time and have no problem putting on muscle. You are also probably between the ages of 18 and 25. 🙂 If that is the case, you are young enough that you haven’t really had to work very hard at this, if at all. Hormones are on your side (for now) and you are kind of on “metabolic auto pilot”. BUT, things change after 25!! They REALLY change once you hit 30. NOW is the time to put the right habits in place.
For those that have already experienced some of those metabolism challenges that come with age, I have good news: You can do this with diet and exercise and you DON’T need expensive specialty supplements and “fat burners”.
Let’s go over the basics:
1. You have to eat every 2-3 hours and it has to start with breakfast.
If you have been sleeping in until 10:30 or later, you are missing the jump-start to your day. You would be doing yourself a big favor by waking up at a more traditional time (7:30?) and having a mini breakfast—-like a slice of toast and a little glass of juice. You could even go back to bed for a little bit, then have a real meal 2-3 hours later. You won’t gain fat weight, but you will stoke your metabolism enough to wake it up. By the time 2 hours goes by, you will be plenty hungry. This is actually the ultimate goal: To eat just enough that you stay satisfied for 2-3 hours, but then are really hungry at the next meal time. This is your body demonstrating that it is utilizing the calories that are coming in efficiently. When the body has burned them all up, it begins to send hunger signals. This is the body’s request for more fuel, please! When you do this all throughout the day, the metabolism never has the opportunity to stall, or slow down. It is constantly working on digesting and absorbing the incoming calories, which means it is BURNING calories. 🙂
2. Maintaining and building muscle mass is essential to increasing metabolism
Up until around the age of 25, the body is primarily anabolic. This means it is in “building mode”. After the age of 25, the body is primarily catabolic. This means it is no longer building stuff, but rather, is tearing things down. We lose muscle mass naturally, about 1% per year. If there is no exercise that maintains existing muscle mass (like lifting weights) or that puts on additional muscle, then the metabolic rate naturally declines. Muscle is metabolically active and burns calories, but as we lose muscle, we require fewer calories. In order to prevent or minimize this, the exercise program must include exercises that promote muscle building. The ideal exercise training program uses a combination of cardio and strength training exercises. The cardio keeps the inside of the body strong and healthy while the strength training improves strength, tone, and increases the metabolic rate. Studies have been able to demonstrate that strength training increases metabolic rate for several hours after an exercise session. Cardio does not.
For those that are over 30, you will have noticed that it is more difficult to cut weight, especially at the last minute. All of those “short cuts” you used to be able to take just don’t cut it anymore. You actually have to put in the long hours of training, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy all of the time. That is all part of aging, but it can be made a little easier by being consistent with your training, your sleep, and your diet. Don’t you wish you had been doing this all those years ago so that now it would be no big deal???? That is the message to the younger guys and girls. Get it right when you are young, so you don’t have to make major changes later.
As for those fat burners and metabolism stimulants, save your money and buy great groceries. Maybe even order some Rudog bars! The pills and powders are gimmicks and generally a waste of your time of money. Be smarter with both. Invest in good workouts and a good diet.