Archive for Nutrition

The Smallest Worthwhile Change

Posted in Health, Nutrition, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by razorsedgeperformance
There is a concept in high performance of the smallest worthwhile change. It is a concept borne out in statistics about what type of intervention is necessary to change your placing in competition. For example, the 100m dash in the Olympics. The SWC is a change necessary to affect your placing in the 100m final. It uses the typical variability in competition within the sport to quantify whether a change in a performance metric is meaningful. I have the good fortune of working in high performance sport and I can say that it is often fascinating to find different ways to create this SWC. It can come from recovery, training, equipment modifications, technique changes, the list goes on and on.
You see, for an athlete who is going to the Olympic games, maybe even for the second or third time, you are turning  over every leaf. At this point in there career, they have likely tried and mastered many things to bring them to the top of their sport, and it gets harder and harder to find more ways to improve performance. If you want to win gold though, sometimes it’s necessary.
The flip side of the coin though, is when this concept arises in developing athletes. You see it all the time. Think about a friend who bought new shoes, or cleats, thinking it will change their performance. The new pre-workout supplement, compression gear, or even workout track. We see it all the time, not even thinking about it, but people love to seek out the SWC at every age.
The only problem is that while it is really sexy to find this secret sauce, for most athletes the focus should be on the Largest Worthwhile Change. You see many of these “elites” that I just spoke of have gone through many yearly training plans, maybe even a quadrennial or two…
The LWC can be thought of as a consistent approach to the basics. It is surprising how many athletes don’t put in a full-year of focused training before going to college. I am referring to an approach to training with full mental engagement and consistent adherence for a yearly plan. Too often athletes think that one workout, or maybe a good 2-3 weeks is enough to create an adaptation. The truth is, most athletes haven’t learned to push themselves hard enough to make that a reality. With our experienced Olympian from the last paragraph, maybe 3 weeks is enough to get a SWC in the middle of a competition period, since they should have technical mastery of the training methods, and the ability to focus all their effort to it’s execution.
The developing athlete though, whether they want to or not, doesn’t have the experience to really push themselves as hard as they need to for that to happen. So true adaptations may take months to achieve. This is nothing to get discouraged about, it is the standard process that everyone must go through.
Let’s take complex training for example. Typically, it is done by pairing an exercise of high load (lets say squat, 1-3RM) with an exercise of high speed (lets say countermovement jump) to elicit a performance improvement. Without going into all of the reasons, the belief is that the exposure to high load will make performance of the high speed activity better. There is research to support this. However, the research also shows that until you have reached a certain training age, and met certain strength criteria, this second exercise may in fact have a reduced performance, the opposite effect. It’s simple really, you are fatigued after a hard set of squats and don’t have the reserves to create the high output jumps…
The complex just serves as an example of a training method, that while effective, doesn’t need to be used with every athlete you train. Taking time to be patient with the basics and develop mastery can go a long way in improving your performance significantly now, and setting you up for more SWCs in the future.
The LWC that I am referring to can appear in a variety of ways including: consistent training throughout the year (even DURING competition periods), focused effort on movement quality, recovery/regeneration methods, sound and consistent nutritional intake, a growth mindset, and deliberate focus and attention to detail.
The most recent example I can think of comes from the platforms at a local weightlifting club. Every week I see athletes come in with the best shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and workout supplements. Then they proceed to underwhelm in their performance. Now I am not saying any of these items are bad, or that every athlete has to be amazing, we all have to start somewhere. I am just saying, before rushing out to buy all the toys (for SWCs) and accessories, spend time working your craft! Most of these lifters aren’t being held back because of the knee sleeves, wrist wraps, or shoes!
Focus on the Largest Worthwhile Changes before you waste money on the smaller details. You will thank me in the end.

 

The People Demand Answers!! February 2013

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on February 20, 2013 by razorsedgeperformance

The Q and A is back for more!

question

The first question I have relates to some of my speed training clients, especially hockey players going to dry land for the first time in a long time….

My shins are absolutely killing me, how do I make shin splints go away?

Shin splints occur for multiple reasons. One might have poor biomechanics, an imbalance in the lower leg or tightness in the lower leg. The first plan of attack is to reduce swelling and soreness by icing and light massage. Then you need to take on the soft tissue in the lower leg with foam rolling, massage and stretching. After that, make sure the anterior and posterior muscles are each getting adequate work. For most people that will mean adding some tibialis anterior work (resisted dorsiflexion) since calves are often overworked. So put a little extra work into your lower legs and your shin splints will be easier to control.

At what point will the foam roller hurt me?

A young athlete running at the track was complaining of tightness so I showed him how to use a foam roller. After using it for about 10 minutes, he was afraid it may hurt him. The truth is, extended use of a foam roller really won’t hurt you but it also won’t continue to give you benefits. The main goal is to promote blood flow and return elasticity to the fascia (soft tissue enveloping muscles) and muscle fibers. Generally the foam roller helps with mobility, flexibility and recovery. So once you’ve used it for a few minutes you’ve probably already received its benefit. The only risk would be bruising but you would need a lot of pressure and a very hard object. If you’ve never used one, try adding in a few minutes pre workout and watch you positioning improve!

foam roller

I’ve been eating low fat foods and haven’t been losing weight, what gives?

I feel like the word is slowly getting out, but it’s still not there yet; Fat is NOT the enemy – unless it’s transfat or everything you eat is deep fried. The truth is, most individuals, especially if they’re fat loss clients, could benefit from increased fat intake and decreased carbohydrate intake. As mentioned in Carb Timing, starches and sugars should be saved for post workout times. If you stick to protein, fats and veggies for most meals of the day then fat loss will come more easily. I mean you’ll still have to exercise and not overeat, but at least you can just do those consistently and you’ll lean right out. The point of a low carbohydrate diet is to reach what’s called nutritional ketosis. This is the point where your body switches from glycogen for energy to ketones which come from fat stores. In order to reach that point though, we need to significantly reduce carbohydrate intake ( <=50g/day). At that point, even though we’re starting to use up fat stores for energy, we still need additional fat intake to meet energy demand. For that reason, you can’t really have low carb and low fat, it just won’t work. If you decrease carbohydrate intake you must increase fat intake of all types.

low-fat1

If you want to see your question in next month’s Q and A, shoot us an email at: info@razorsedgeperformance.ca

Remember,
It’s About Getting Better!

Supplements…What to Choose?

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

It’s a loaded question…I don’t know your goals. The supplements you take and the food you eat should obviously go hand-in-hand with the workouts you are doing to help fulfill your goals. Period.

With that being said, there is a good chance that these supplements will cover most people’s goals and should therefore be included your daily routine/regimen.

The biggest thing to understand about supplements is that a very large part of the industry is built on deception, not a good thing for the consumer who cares. There are so many companies offering a wide variety of products, that all claim to have made a BETTER VERSION. Why would any logically thinking human being think that this is reasonable?!?!?!

So here is the gameplan…find a company that is trustworthy and stick with them. You may pay a little bit more than your friends, but you know it works. There is a lot of value in that. Some companies with great products include Cytosport, Rivalus, MusclePharm (for the most part), AllMax, Dymatize. I’m sure many of you have a bigger list than that, but I like to make sure the products are clean and effective, so I don’t need more options than this…

Now onto the products that work. This is by no-means an exhaustive list, but will provide plenty of options for a well-rounded supplement protocol.

PROTEIN POWDER

This is a no-brainer for a few reasons. Firstly, protein ingested immediately post-workout is very important for increasing muscle-protein synthesis; that is the creation of new muscle mass. Secondly, anyone looking to improve their body composition must understand that they need a steady dose of protein throughout the day. This can come from a variety of sources, but a good protein powder is a great weapon to ensure that you can get your servings even when your outside of your routine. Whey Protein, Whey Protein Isolate, Casein Protein, and a vegetarion source like Brown Rice Protein are all good choices for purchase.

CREATINE MONOHYDRATE

If you have been trying to get huge, then you probably already get your fair share of creatine. If not, you probably think it is somehow illegal, or makes you bloated. The term ‘water weight’ gets thrown around quite a bit, without much evidence to support it. The truth is creatine is very beneficial for increasing high-intensity work capacity, for muscle hypertrophy, and lately has been shown to be extremely beneficial for your cognitive health (YOUR BRAIN!!). All the while, myths about cramping, bloating, or water retention have been refuted in the research. It is cheap and flavourless, so just drop 10g a day in one of your workout beverages and you are good to go!

BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

BCAAs might have to be the favourite supplement out there for most people who train regularly. It has a long list of benefits, including decreasing ratings of perceived exertion (difficulty/fatigue of the workout), increased muscle protein synthesis, decreased muscle breakdown, preservation of glutamine levels, and symptoms of DOMS. It has been shown effective before the workout, during the workout, and after the workout as well. While I don’t suggest replacing a protein shake after your workout, the consumption of BCAAs around your workout could make the post-workout shake redundant. If you aren’t looking to ADD a significant amount of lean mass, the BCAAs may be your top priority.

VITAMIN-MINERAL COMPLEX

This is the general blanket pick. There are so many factors that affect the level of your micronutrients, and the last thing you want is to have your progress stunted because of a deficiency. Take a vitamin-mineral complex that ensures you have a good variety of nutrients regardless of your diet, but don’t believe that you can eat garbage because of a convenient once-a-day.

BETA-ALANINE

A similar concept as creatine, beta-alanine just uses a slightly different mechanism to have its main effect. When ingested, beta-alanine is converted to carnosine, which is a compound that is used by your body to protect against a drop in pH. Specifically, carnosine buffers hydrogen ions, keeping the environment in your muscles from becoming acidic and function being impaired. This means when you are operating anaerobically (typically between 30 seconds and 3 minutes of strenuous exercise) taking beta-alanine will help delay fatigue and increase work capacity. Beta-alanine has also been shown to help increase lean muscle mass, so again provides the double whammy. Combining beta-alanine and creatine does not cause a conflict of any sorts so it should be encouraged! It’s a little bit harder to find beta-alanine alone but it is found in many pre-workout mixes.

CAFFEINE

Should you drink coffee? Should you avoid it? Here is the deal. Get some caffeine in you and reap the benefits. Tea, coffee, energy drinks, pre-workout cocktails, and anhydrous caffeine pills are all great ways to get some juice in your system. The truth is, it is one of the best supplements out there for improving performance. Increases in performance of endurance exercises, as well as strength-power work, repeat sprint performance, agility, reactive times, and game day performance are all found in the literature.  Don’t avoid caffeine because you think it’s wrong. It might be wrong if you need a constant supply to get through your day, but using it to enhance your workouts is just a great idea! Anywhere from 200mg to 400mg should provide a great jolt to your lifts, and allow you to complete a few extra sets or reps.

The moral of the story is that as long as you become educated, you can use nutritional supplements to your advantage to help your performance and reach your goals. There are many products designed to maximize your physiology or mentality, so don’t be afraid to try some out!

It’s About Getting Better!

Razor’s Edge Performance

Clean up your diet… Literally

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , on July 2, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

There’s nothing better than getting home from the grocery store and devouring an entire basket of those huge juicy berries.  They taste so good and they’re humongous! They must’ve used magic or something, none of the local stuff grows like that! Guess what, it’s not magic, it’s not luck, it’s not climate, those were grown with additives and sprays to optimize their size and color.  So really, there is something better than devouring “those” berries; get out to a local market and pick up some locally grown fruit and produce.  I’ll give you a few good reasons why. 

image

Bio magnification –  You may remember this word from high school, but in case you don’t I’ll try and keep it pretty simple.  If you put something on a plant (steroids, pesticides, hormones, etc.), each plant will have a small amount of that stuff in it.  As you move up the food chain however, the amount of that substance gets more and more concentrated.  In our case, it’s skipping from the bottom of the chain to the top (us). The plant only has a little bit of the substance, but we eat a vast number of plants. Just in one sitting I could eat a basket of berries, how much do I eat in my lifetime? If there’s something foul on those berries, I’ll slowly build levels in my bloodstream over my entire life. Each level it moves up the food chain (added appetite) the amount multiplies.

What do they spray things with? According to the environmental working group many fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides and insecticides. These are made specifically to kill living organisms, to think they’ll have no effect on our own bodies seems very naive to me. If you’re interested in what is and isn’t sprayed, you can see their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
On top of pesticides, commercial growers use various sprays to increase production – both size and speed. One thing that’s been approved for this is MSG. So although MSG is being eliminated from restaurants, it may still be used to ripen fruit. MSG is linked to a number of diseases and disorders and is definitely something that should be avoided if the option is there.

One solution is to buy organic, whether local or from the supermarket. However, I’m usually asked – “is organic worth it?” – due to its increased cost at the till. For those asking, two things I suggest:
1) The goods on the dirty dozen are the highest priority if you can only pick a few.
2) Wash all fruits and vegetables you buy; Not just for pesticides, but dirt, bacteria and even feces from birds and animals can make their way onto your food.

The best thing you can do is wash everything as soon as you get home from the store; this can also be a good time to chop some up for later meals.

At the end of the day, what you put into your body is important, just like the quality of gas you put in your car. The difference is, you can’t go back to the dealership after you drive your body into the ground. Focus on healthy foods, avoid chemicals, pesticides, genetically altered and highly processed foods. Focusing on cleaning up your diet will make you feel better and get better output from your body.

image

Remember,
It’s About Getting Better!

Get Help in the Kitchen!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Everyone in the fitness industry laments the start of January due to the flood of people in all of the gyms and health clubs around North America. Is it because we think this is bad? Absolutely not! That’s amazing…for 2 weeks of the year, everyone is acting the way they should ALL YEAR ROUND. The reason us professionals get frustrated is that by the end of January, most people have fallen back into the old habits, and have lost site of whatever health and fitness related resolution they undertook on January 1st.
I think I can help everyone out a little bit by shedding light on the most important intervention for achieving your goals, whether they are related to hypertrophy, fat-loss, or performance enhancement. LEARNING HOW TO COOK. I’m not talking about becoming the next Jamie Oliver, just someone who can follow a damn good recipe.
I always chuckle when people ask me if i’m a good cook. I make almost all of my food, save for some supplements taken around workouts, so that should say something. Yet I have no imagination in the kitchen. I have made some great dishes, and some bad ones. The key to my success? Find a good recipe, and follow it!

Let’s go over a few resources that I like to use that can make a world of a difference between winning and losing in this game we play with our bodies and health.


Precision Nutrition

Do yourself a favour and go all-out with the whole system. You get a fantastic cookbook, a manual that describes a lot about WHY to eat certain foods and WHEN to eat them, as well as food preparation tips and other random nuggets of information. The cookbook, Gourmet Nutrition has recipes for shakes, snacks, side dishes, entrees, breakfasts, soups, salad dressings and sauces, and of course desserts. All of the nutritional facts about the meal are given, as well as designations of when the meal is best consumed. The added bonus is access to the online members content on the site, which has forums and articles that are at least 5 years old, so the amount of content archived on the precision nutrition site is massive.

Gourmet Nutrition 2.0

This is the 2nd cookbook in the gourmet nutrition series. It is along the same format as the first version that is in the Precision Nutrition system, but adds a whole bunch of new recipes. If you plan on doing the Precision Nutrition system, wait on this, until you’ve tried all of the recipes in the first book. If you just want a healthy cookbook, then this is one way to go. It really goes above and beyond the infamous ‘chicken breasts and broccoli’ that many get trapped in when trying to eat well.

Best of Clean Eating
http://rcm-ca.amazon.ca/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=razosedgepe02-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1552100855

I haven’t tried many of these recipes yet, but I flipped through the whole book and it looks absolutely fantastic. Not only does everything look gourmet, but the entire cookbook has tips and facts about different foods and nutrtients, as well as recipes that will only make you healthier.

Best of Clean Eating 2
http://rcm-ca.amazon.ca/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=razosedgepe02-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1552100979

Just go back and read what I just wrote above regarding the first version. This is just another resource with new recipes that follow the same ideals as the first.

That’s 4 resources for nutritional help with your resolutions (or constant struggle for improvement if you didn’t just start this week…). Do yourself a favour and get in the habit of cooking your own healthy meals, and realize healthy and gourmet can fit in the same sentence together. Most unwanted deviations from healthy eating occur because you are unprepared and didn’t pack a lunch, or don’t feel like cooking. So take some time to get your act together in the kitchen, so your body is appropriately fueld for your workouts!

It’s About Getting Better

Eating Well Is Easier Done Than Said?

Posted in Health with tags , , , on November 11, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Hey Everyone,

Happy Friday!

I know we always talk about the importance of eating well for improvements in body composition, plus an overall health profile boost, the problem though, is that most clients will say it’s too hard to handle, or just not do it because of convenience. We know who you are. We can tell when you’ve reached the training threshold of ‘big results’, so if nothing is happening, it’s probably because you are putting poison in your body.

I just wanted to send out a quick reminder that eating well doesn’t have to be hard or tedious. The other night I was cooking for my fiancee and I, preparing food for the next day’s feedings. Here is what I put together in 15 minutes or less.

500g of Ground Chicken – $3.53

500g of Frozen “Summer Blend” vegetables – $2.50

500g (a can) of Red Kidney Beans – $0.99

Variety of spices ….negligible

I browned the chicken in a pot, while steaming the entire bag of vetetables at the same time (Fresh vegetables are probably better, but frozen vegetables are still a decent substitute!)…Then I poured the beans in with the chicken and began seasoning it and let it simmer together for 5 minutes. Then I added all of the vegetables and mixed it all together. Voila!

This meal fed 2 people for lunch and a bit of snack the next day on $7.00 and 15 minutes of preparation.

It was all chicken, vegetables, and kidney beans…cheap carbs or dressings.

If I had to add one more thing to it, it would be avocado or nuts for some added healthy fats.

Unfortunately we ate it all before I thought to take a picture. I thought it would be a good reminder though that eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive, or time consuming. I find these mixes or stirfrys are the best way to say ‘Let’s just put all these healthy things into a pot or pan and see what happens!’…

NOW GO MAKE A GOOD MEAL!

It’s About Getting Better!

What do you want to see?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

Hey everyone!
We’ve been posting articles for a while now but we usually post on things we see, things we read about, or maybe something we’re focusing on with our athletes. Let’s change it up and post some of the things you’d like to hear about. So send us an email or comment below and give us some ideas of things you’re looking for! It could be nutrition, training or anything else based on performance. Let’s get the ideas coming so we can research a few good articles for you guys!
K