Post by Emily White
For as long as I can remember the words ‘slip, slop, slap’ have been gospel. Whenever you step out into the sun it is hard not to think about skin cancer and thereby the importance of covering up. However scientists are now suggesting that we have taken this a bit too far with a lot of people suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency- without even knowing!
Post by Emily White
The age-old quote, 'let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food' by Hippocrates is certainly of relevance in todays world. Gut health is something that can be related to this and is an extremely important determinant in someone’s health. The nutrition that we provide for our body plays a huge role in this and probiotics in particular, are a very important aspect of any nutritional plan in order to optimise gut health and overall wellbeing.
Post by Emily White
The average person gets struck down with a cold or flu two to three times every year. It is estimated to be one of the most frequent illnesses amongst humans and brings about great frustration, as it seems your body waits until it is absolutely most inconvenient before you get struck down with the virus. Murphy's law right?!
By Sarah Mortimer (HPN graduate)
Magnesium is one of the most talked about minerals and justifiably so; it is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body (1) including energy production pathways hence its potential relationship to sports performance. These energy pathways mentioned involve the uptake of oxygen into the muscle, the ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) pathway as well as the electrolyte balance4 another important aspect affecting sports performance.
Post by By Cliff Harvey ND
Natural, bio-identical, synthetic - In the field of supplementation what do all these terms really mean? Do you really know if you are getting the most out of your supplementation regime?
Many people make the assumption that ‘natural’ supplements must be superior, or must be more easily absorbed, digested or metabolised. This is not necessarily true, and in this case it is fair to say that the devil is in the details.
By Matt Foreman
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the world and by far the most popular for muscle building. However the majority of people underestimate the powerful effects of creatine and its hidden benefits that can be utilised by everyone, regardless of whether you are a bodybuilder, athlete or everyday person.
Post by Emily White
You have been away on holiday for 3 weeks, indulging in a little too much alcohol and processed foods, and you have come home feeling a bit ‘squishy’ and all round like your body is in dire need of some TLC.
But never fear, because the week you get back you are going to get knees deep in the latest and greatest detox cleanse!!
Hear the word detox diet and you get polarizing opinions:
-The first being that they are wonderful- gods gift to weight loss and all round health and vitality!
- The second being that they are an absolute load of money wasting crap (or something along those lines).
So who is right?
Post by Emily White
More then a thousand studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate making it the most studied sports supplement to have been identified. It has also found to be one of- if not the most effective on the market.
It is hugely popular amongst men, however it is interesting to note that very little women supplement with creatine monohydrate. Many women believe that it is a ‘men’s supplement’ and taking it will result in them becoming ‘bulky’ or gaining unwanted weight. So is creatine a supplement that more women should be using and is it safe to do so?
Post by Cliff Harvey ND
- Pea Protein Isolate contains all essential amino acids
- It provides essential amino acids in the amounts recommended by the World Health Organisation
- The amino acid composition of Pea Protein Isolate compares favourably with the recommended pattern of the Institute of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health
- It contains up to 90% protein, making it one of the highest sources of protein available
- Pea Protein Isolate provides an effective, complete solution for your protein requirements
By Matt Foreman
Isagenix is a multi-level marketing scheme which offers people the opportunity to make money the higher they get on the pyramid. It offers nutritional cleansing, detoxing, weight-loss supplementation, and general wellness products, along with additional financial benefits through the marketing of their products.
I started working as a nutritionist (initially as a student practitioner) back in the late 90’s. At the time I loved strength and ‘physical culture’ in all its forms…including bodybuilding. In fact I still think bodybuilding of the type epitomised by Bill Pearl, John Grimek and other ‘pre-steroid era’ bodybuilders is awesome. These guys were true physical culturists. They lived and breathed the pursuit of strength and health, and the way they looked was a consequence of this. Over time the aesthetic became pre-eminent, and as any athlete is tempted to do, means to improve more rapidly (primarily anabolic steroids) became more and more rampant.
The freakish nature of the physiques that came to emerge was one of the main things that turned me off bodybuilding, along with the lack of attention to function (as it relates to being able to move and perform). And as a result I spent the next 16 years doing all-round weightlifting, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and yes…from 2007 or so…the occasional CrossFit workout (along with of course working with many, many CF athletes as a health, nutrition and strength consultant).
There is a worrying trend that CF athletes are getting bigger, stronger, fitter and faster at an extremely rapid rate. (I alluded to this here: http://www.holisticperformancenutrition.com/1/post/2014/03/is-crossfit-making-you-fat.html) and almost daily I’m asked by one of my athletes and colleagues in CF “Are the top guys (and gals) on gear?”
The answer of course has to be “I don’t know…but….” Because I don’t know for sure who is on and who is simply a natural genetic super-freak. BUT I have worked with many elite athletes from many sports over the years and I’m fairly confident that in most of the major sporting competitions in the world the overwhelming majority of athletes are probably using some degree of banned substance. That not-withstanding it would be unfair of me to say definitively that athlete X is using steroids when I couldn’t be 100% sure.
The evidence does seem to indicate that top CF athletes are using though. John Romano (you may have seen him in the documentary “Bigger Stronger Faster”) wrote a great article “Steroids, Crossfit, and The Crossfit Games: Who & How” at his blog: http://romanoroberts.com.mx/steroids-crossfit-and-the-crossfit-games-who-how/ which does a great job of discussing steroids in sport, how prevalent they are and how one can get past the tests. I’m not going to rehash these as John and Anthony Roberts did a great job but what I found most interesting was the use of a paper which provided a metric by which to determine an anthropometric probability of someone’s steroid usage. This paper by Kouri and colleagues , published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine calculated fat-free mass index (FFMI) in a sample of 157 male athletes, comprising 83 users of anabolic-androgenic steroids and 74 nonusers.
The FFMI is defined by the formula (fat-free body mass in kg) x (height in meters)-2. The authors then added a slight correction of 6.3 x (1.80 m - height) to normalize these values to the height of a 1.8-m man.
The following results were noted:
- Normalised FFMI values of athletes who had not used steroids extended up to a limit of 25.0
- A sample estimate of 20 Mr. America (bodybuilding) winners from the presteroid era (1939-1959), had a mean FFMI of 25.4
- The FFMI of many of the steroid users in our sample easily exceeded 25.0, and that of some even exceeded 30
Romano and Roberts took this metric and applied it to the top male CrossFit athletes. They estimated body-fat at a standard 9% and adjusted the cut-off UP to 26 just in case. And this is what they came up with:
So according to the original measure we could conclude probable steroid use in 9 of the top 10 CF athletes in the world, or when adjusted up to 26, half of the top CF athletes are likely to be enhanced.
I would suggest that because of the nature of CF and it’s demands on the musculature it is more likely to result in hypertrophy and that genetic stand-outs are going to be more likely to be in the list above (as compared to an arbitrary list of bodybuilders) but there is still at least a precedent that what we are beginning to see in CF is well outside the norm and it appears to be becoming more prevalent over time. Worth considering too is that bodybuilders (and especially the Mr America winners mentioned earlier) train specifically for hypertrophy...which of course CFers don't.
Does this mean that the above guys are on gear? No. But it does mean that there is an indicator of potential probability of use. Does it warrant further investigation? I think so.
Back too why this is dangerous for CrossFit: CF has developed due to it’s community basis, and the fact that everyone competes to some degree, at some level. The top athletes have, like in many emerging sports, seemed just an arms-length away, but now they are beginning to become unattainable to Joe or Jane CrossFitter. A high prevalence of steroid use removes one of the inspirational drivers in sport. It removes an athlete from comparison because if for example I am doing a WoD and getting a certain score I have no idea what it would be if I were on gear, and so I can’t be sure of how competitive I am in relation to the top guys.
Finally one of the things that I liked about CF in the early days was something that harked back to the early days of physical culture that I love. A focus on health and holism. Many who attend boxes follow a clean eating regime of some sort. They are interested in active recovery, yoga, pilates and other things that speak to a more holistic approach to strength and life. Steroids do begin to stand in opposition to that, where it is about using an unnatural approach to development and one that is more concerned with rushing to the post rather than being present in a developmental process within ones natural talents and attributes.
I don’t have any answers, only questions. And I welcome your comments because I think this issue deserves frank discussion.
Kouri, E. M., Pope, H. G., Jr., Katz, D. L., & Oliva, P. (1995). Fat-free mass index in users and nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Clin J Sport Med, 5(4), 223-228.
By Cliff Harvey ND.
Chlorella is a single celled blue-green algae renowned as a nutrient superfood and used in many multi-nutrient products and sold individually as a health supplement.
In spite of its rich nutritional profile there has been some concern that the detoxifying effects (such as reductions in dioxin and mercury levels) may raise exposure to these damaging compounds for the unborn or breastfeeding baby.
The form of folate that is used in food fortification and most dietary supplements is a synthetic form; pteroylmonglutamate. There are important differences between naturally occurring and synthetic forms of folate however, and this article seeks to explain some of those differences.
Cliff Harvey PhD, DipFit, DipNut
Folate (vitamin B9) in any form is not used directly within the body, but is metabolised to a metabolically active co-enzyme, tetrahydrafolate (tetrahydrafolic acid).
1. Ashokkumar, B., Mohammed, Z. M., Vaziri, N. D., & Said, H. M. (2007). Effect of folate oversupplementation on folate uptake by human intestinal and renal epithelial cells. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(1), 159-166.
2. Kelly, P., McPartlin, J., Goggins, M., Weir, D. G., & Scott, J. M. (1997). Unmetabolized folic acid in serum: acute studies in subjects consuming fortified food and supplements. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 65(6), 1790-1795.
3. Smith, A. D., Kim, Y. I., & Refsum, H. (2008). Is folic acid good for everyone?.The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(3), 517-533.
4. Wright, A. J., Dainty, J. R., & Finglas, P. M. (2007). Folic acid metabolism in human subjects revisited: potential implications for proposed mandatory folic acid fortification in the UK. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(4), 667-675.
5. Troen, A. M., Mitchell, B., Sorensen, B., Wener, M. H., Johnston, A., Wood, B., ... & Ulrich, C. M. (2006). Unmetabolized folic acid in plasma is associated with reduced natural killer cell cytotoxicity among postmenopausal women. The Journal of nutrition, 136(1), 189-194.
6. Ulrich, C. M., & Potter, J. D. (2006). Folate supplementation: too much of a good thing?. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 15(2), 189-193.
7. Pietrzik, K., Bailey, L., & Shane, B. (2010). Folic acid and L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate. Clin Pharmacokinet, 49(8), 535-548.
8. Konings, E. J., Roomans, H. H., Dorant, E., Goldbohm, R. A., Saris, W. H., & van den Brandt, P. A. (2001). Folate intake of the Dutch population according to newly established liquid chromatography data for foods. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 73(4), 765-776.
There's a lot of buzz about the uses and benefits of beet juice for performance. In this article, Joe McQuillan PhD (at the time a PhD candidate) looks at some of the research on beets and performance
Joe McQuillan PhD
Recently, two research articles presented evidence for increased time-trial performance in well-trained cyclists (relative VO2max ~57 ml/kg/min) following dietary nitrate supplementation using beetroot juice.
If you have been following the time-line of beetroot juice as a method to enhance stamina or decrease the cost of exercise you would know there is nothing unusual about the findings—aside from the fact it was carried out on trained cyclists. To ensure transparency of findings both studies utilized a double-blind (researchers and subjects are not aware of whether the drink is nitrate rich or nitrate depleted), repeated measures cross-over (subjects carried out all testing under nitrate rich and nitrate depleted conditions). Diets were also closely monitored so that prior to testing cyclists did not alter their diet in any way, thus reducing the possibility for external alterations to changes in performance.
The choice of drink in both studies was James White Drinks organic beet-it juice, however the two studies employed quite marked loading protocols with Cermak et al (2011) using a 6-day chronic loading phase using 140 ml/day at a concentration of 8.0 mmol. In the second reviewed study, Lansley et al (2011) used 500 ml of 6.2 mmol concentration taken as an acute dose 2.5 hours prior to the 4 km and 16.1 km time-trial. Table 1. details the characteristics of participants, the loading protocols and changes in performance over 4 km,10 km and 16.1 km distance following dietary nitrate supplementation.
While previous studies have shown changes in performance using ‘healthy’ populations this is the first evidence that dietary nitrate supplementation via natural beetroot juice can enhance performance in a trained group of athletes. A reduction of time by 1% will result in a 34 sec reduction for a 60 min time-trial. To achieve this from as a result of a ‘training effect’ for an already well-trained athlete would require either an increase in training time, change in methodology of training or—if this option exists in the sport – purchasing equipment to go faster or all of the above.
Within their study, Cermak et al (2011) also investigated the impact of nitrate supplementation on two bouts of 30 mins of steady state cycling. To achieve this, participants cycled on an ergometer at 45% and 65% of their peak power output (PPO) based on a previous incremental cycle test. Their ventilation response was measured during this time in order to assess a variety of breathing responses including oxygen (VO2) utilisation and carbon dioxide production (VCO2). As witnessed in previous papers a reduction in VO2 was accompanied by no change in VCO2, total energy utilization, heart rate or rate of perceived exertion. The magnitude of the reduction of VO2 at 45% PPO was 3.5% and at 65% PPO it was 5.2%. Therefore at greater relative intensities, dietary nitrate appears to have a greater effect on enhancement of exercise economy. It would appear that the combined effects of vasodilation, alterations within the mitochondria and improved ATP efficiency are – at least in part—responsible for these physiological improvements which lead to the performance improvements witnessed in the three details time-trials.
The relatively large dosage of Cermak et al (2011) equates to a nitrate intake of ~500 mg. I say relatively large as to ingest the same amount of nitrate through raw vegetables would require eating ~3 moderate lettuces in one sitting. Healthy, yes, but quite impractical as a loading strategy and in the lead up to competition. Obviously, with no preparation required and ease of ingestion 2.5 hours out from an event the beetroot juice is formulated for a sporting focused market. With these relatively new findings expect to see an increasing number of cyclists, runners, multisporters and triathletes of all abilities consuming beetroot juice before their peak events.