Men’s Journal: Swishing your sports drink

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.

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MMA Snack Ideas by Rudog

MMA Snack Ideas by Rudog

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.

Cutting Weight: Cut it OUT!

Cutting Weight: Cut it OUT!

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
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.

Diuretic Use
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.

PREHAB for MMA Athletes Part 1

By Mark Zuber, D.C.

This is the first of a series of articles contributed by Mark Zuber D.C. Mark is a practicing chiropractor in Plano, TX. He actively treats athletes in many sports, including mixed martial arts. He has been training in the martial arts for over 10 years and has focused on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past 5 years. His office combines chiropractic, myofascial release techniques, occupational therapy, massage therapy and kinesiotaping. The office website is

Stay on the Mat! Prevent Injuries!

Recovery in athletics, particularly in MMA/BJJ, is an often-ignored component to training. There are many theories, forums and books on every aspect of MMA, save for recovery. By utilizing the techniques and strategies outlined in these articles, a martial artist will be able to train more often, get injured less and just feel better in general. As an athlete ages, it becomes of even more importance. Randy Couture has stated this time and time again. Plus, a martial artist can not evolve if he or she can not stay on the mat! By monitoring recovery, athletes will be better able to train more often, more regularly, and with more intensity. The injury prevention techniques shown in this book will also lead to increased muscle flexibility, core strength and balance. BJJ induced injuries are numerous and can involve nearly every body part. Sometimes, these injuries are caused by impact or a body part caught improperly. Other times, an injury occurs because someone didn’t tap! This is not our focus. A larger percentage of BJJ injuries are actually caused from overuse, and are largely preventable. How does BJJ cause overuse?! Almost all sports create imbalances due to their repetitive nature. This leads to overall tightness in muscles and across joints. Just watch an over-30 BJJer get out of a car after a tournament to get an idea of what I am talking about. Some sports like tennis cause lateral imbalances where one side is stronger than the other, while some like swimming cause imbalances from front to back. Ours just so happens to do both! Preventing or eliminating these imbalances leads to fewer injuries and increased well-being. Learning to detect and monitor your body for signs of impending imbalances is just as critical to a martial artist as awareness of your environment and sensitivity to MMA moves. The techniques shown in this book will help you not only identify these weaknesses, but help you stop them before they turn into an injury that keeps you out of training.

The Over-30 Crowd

As an athlete ages, his body starts changing. His or her hormone levels drop, he gets more sore from exercise and it lasts longer than when he was younger. Some athletes compensate by working out less. Other athletes stop all together as work, family, etc. get involved. BJJ is one sport that does not force an athlete to stop. In fact, it can be done well into the later years, just ask Helio Gracie! Realizing that a large percentage of BJJers aren’t interested in taking more days off, this articles’s focus is to allow the over 30 crowd to continue training at that high level, only smarter! By paying better attention to recovery, an older (and wiser) athlete can compensate for these age-related changes and compete with the young guns. For the younger crowd reading this, it is never too early to start learning how to care for yourself, and it will be all the easier for you to continue these principles as you move into the “wiser crowd”. FOR THE RECORD, THE NUTRITION TECHNIQUES YOU LEARN FROM RUDOG ARE CRITICAL TO IMPROVING YOUR RECOVERY!

My background……

This text is written based on my experience as a chiropractor who treats athletes of all kinds, and my experiences as a BJJ practitioner. In my office, we have utilized these techniques for over 10 years to improve sports performance and help our patients achieve their potential. By applying common protocols we use in my practice, I have seen a great number of BJJers not only lower injury rates, but roll more frequently and with more intensity. A large percentage of guys who come see me present with the same set of issues, leading me to conclude that BJJ causes certain repetitive motion injuries in most people. The routines I have showed them are very effective at correcting a good many of these issues, preventing injury. Other common issues I address with my athletes include improper advice regarding nutrition (no issues with RUDOG), hydration, lifting techniques, etc. Results After spending several years treating BJJers, I would say the group utilizing the materials in this book are much better overall. They have fewer aches and pains, they recover from injuries much faster, and they don’t seem to get the accumulated repetitive motion injuries that athletes who ignore this advice do. A simple way to verify this is to check out the number of training partners “out due to injury” at any particular school. The percentages are high! By lowering these numbers, the entire school benefits.

Do Men in MMA have Body Issues?

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!

Cutting Weight is Dangerous

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.

There is a great commentary on this very issue at the following link.

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.

Pre-Exercise: What to Eat and Drink

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.

Testing the Tank

If you watched the BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian bout from a couple years back, you heard the phrase “testing the gas tank” mentioned more than once by the commentator. The question being raised was about Penn’s conditioning. He had undertaken a new cardiovascular conditioning program prior to that fight and he didn’t look as energetic in the second round as he usually does. The commentator’s point was that Penn’s gas tank was being tested…..he looked a little sluggish…..did the new training leave him with enough gas in his tank? Had he overtrained? Penn went on to win that fight, but I thought the commentator raised a great question. It’s a question that all fighters should ask themselves constantly: Is my conditioning program putting gas in my tank or am I overtraining and actually running on empty when it’s fight time?

Doing your cardio (whatever that may be) harder and faster for longer does not necessarily produce BETTER conditioning. The conditioning training is not just about training muscles to do work at a certain intensity or duration, but also training muscles to store FUEL at an optimum rate. This involves:

  • Eating enough carbs, protein, and fat DAILY to fuel all  components of your training
  • Proper timing of your eating: Before, During, and After exercise
  • Proper hydration

Total daily intake MUST be adequate if you are going to preserve muscle and stay lean. If you aren’t eating enough carbs, then you are potentially making up the shortage by breaking down some muscle to use as fuel. You will also be limiting the body’s ability to burn fat, making it more difficult to get and stay lean.

Let me say it again. You HAVE to eat carbs, protein, and fat for everything to work correctly. If you are short changing yourself on the carbs so you can eat more protein, then you are short changing your muscles’ ability to store fuel. There are no short cuts here. Eating lots of protein DOES NOT get stored in the muscle as fuel. It also doesn’t magically create big, beautiful biceps. Carbs are stored as fuel in muscle. Carbs fuel exercise that builds big, beautiful muscles.  Protein repairs and synthesizes new muscle. Careful here. Listen to what I said. Muscle is made of protein and needs protein to repair, not enlarge, it.  If you are eating more protein than you need, it is important you understand that the extra protein is a source of extra calories. Extra calories only have a couple of fates. They can be broken down and excreted to some degree or they can be stored as fat. Some of the extra protein is broken down into amino acids and then excreted through the urine. (bummer!) The rest of it is actually stored as fat—–a bigger bummer. A lot of times this is the very reason why a guy can be working out like a dog, taking the protein supplements, and can’t seem to get really lean.

Some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but don’t you know that carbs cause water gain? You actually look leaner when you don’t eat them.”

My reply? Yep, carbs attract water. We all know that’s why you don’t eat them before weigh in. That’s a short term strategy for a short term goal.  So what? Training is LONG TERM. It’s a terrible long term strategy. Guys that hold to that theory are the ones that don’t go 3 rounds. They definitely don’t go 5 rounds. Their only prayer is to submit in round 1. Longer than that is a crap shoot. So, the take home message? You gotta have carbs.

Let all of that digest, and next week I will talk about timing of food.

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