Monday, June 28, 2010

Carbs+Caff=Performance, Your Mitochondria, and Pimping Red Wine & Chocolate

Ok, another tardy posting.  But I'm blaming it on beautiful weather, this time.  How can you argue with sun?  And speaking of sun, my too-long-in-the-works Vitamin D post is still brewing.  Since smarter folks than I pump out better information, it'll be a compilation of where-to-go.   In the meantime, so interesting tidbits:

Not the carbs I had in mind...

Effects of carbohydrate and caffeine ingestion on performance during a rugby union simulation protocol 

Authors: Simon P. Robertsa; Keith A. Stokesa; Grant Trewarthaa; Jenny Doylea; Patrick Hogbena; Dylan Thompsona
Affiliation:   a Sport and Exercise Science Research Group, School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
Published in: journal Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 28, Issue 8 June 2010 , pages 833 - 842
First Published on: 01 June 2010


In this study, we investigated the effect of ingesting carbohydrate alone or with caffeine on performance of a rugby union-specific shuttle running protocol. On three occasions, at least one week apart in a counterbalanced trial order, eight male rugby union forwards ingested either placebo or carbohydrate (1.2 g · kg-1 body mass · h-1) before and during a rugby union-specific protocol, with pre-exercise caffeine ingestion (4 mg · kg-1) before one of the carbohydrate trials (carbohydrate + caffeine). The intermittent exercise protocol included walking, jogging, and cruising at pre-determined intensities, simulated contact events, a sustained high-intensity test of speed and agility (Performance Test), and a 15-m sprint. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded every 5 min and a motor skills test was performed after each 21-min block. Performance Test times were not significantly different between trials but the likelihood of 2% improvements for carbohydrate + caffeine over placebo and carbohydrate were 98% and 44%, respectively. For carbohydrate + caffeine, 15-m sprints were faster than for placebo (P=0.05) and the motor skills test was performed faster in the carbohydrate + caffeine trial than the carbohydrate and placebo trials (P < 0.05), while RPE was lower in the carbohydrate + caffeine trial than the carbohydrate and placebo trials (P < 0.05). The results indicate a likely benefit to rugby performance following co-ingestion of carbohydrate and caffeine.

My Thoughts: Once again, good 'ol caffeine is a proven ergogenic. It would have been nice had there been a bigger subject group and a control for caffeine-only. For reference, 4mg/kg is a pretty standard dose for caffeine; for me, that's about 300mg, or a couple of cups of strong coffee.
Take Away Message: For performance, preWO(pre work-out) carbs plus caffeine is superior.

 Cellular Power Plants, baby!

"You are only as good as your mitochondria"---Dr. BG From Animal Pharm
Love that quote!

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Mitochondrial gene expression in elite cyclists: effects of high-intensity interval exercise.

Astrand Laboratory, GIH, The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Box 5626, SE 114 86, Stockholm, Sweden.


Little is known about the effect of training on genetic markers for mitochondrial biogenesis in elite athletes. We tested the hypothesis that low-volume sprint interval exercise (SIE) would be as effective as high-volume interval exercise (IE). Ten male cyclists competing on national elite level (W (max) 403 +/- 13 W, VO(2peak) 68 +/- 1 mL kg(-1) min(-1)) performed two interval exercise protocols: 7 x 30-s "all-out" bouts (SIE) and 3 x 20-min bouts at ~87% of VO(2peak) (IE). During IE, the work was eightfold larger (1,095 +/- 43 vs. 135 +/- 5 kJ) and the exercise duration 17 times longer (60 vs. 3.5 min) than during SIE. Muscle samples were taken before and 3 h after exercise. The mRNA of upstream markers of mitochondrial biogenesis [peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1 (PGC-1alpha), PGC-1alpha-related coactivator (PRC) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARdelta)] increased to the same extent after SIE and IE (6-, 1.5- and 1.5-fold increase, respectively). Of the downstream targets of PGC-1alpha, mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) increased only after SIE and was significantly different from that after IE (P < 0.05), whereas others increased to the same extent (pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, PDK4) or was unchanged (nuclear respiratory factor 2, NRF2). We conclude that upstream genetic markers of mitochondrial biogenesis increase in a similar way in elite athletes after one exercise session of SIE and IE. However, since the volume and duration of work was considerably lower during SIE and since Tfam, the downstream target of PGC-1alpha, increased only after SIE, we conclude that SIE might be a time-efficient training strategy for highly trained individuals.
PMID: 20571821 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

My Thoughts: Ok, I admit, I'm drawn to studies that are specific to my current interest focus, like last week's study on fasted training in cyclists. This one does illustrate that VOLUME is not always necessary to create a favorable result. You might be saying "Wait, these are ELITE cyclists", and that point is totally valid! At the same time though, any study that can show actual changes in elite athletes using a lower volume protocol is pretty interesting. At least to geeks like me. :)
Take Away Message: Don't underestimate the value in short duration, high-intensity training, especially for athletes with a strong base in their chosen sport.

Various Training

June 21, CFLA, 1PM
1000m row x5, 1:1 work/rest ratio
Props to David for giving me the idea for this WOD.  Much more intense than just rowing a 5km.


Wow.  It took everything for me to come back after the first interval for more punishment; I sandbagged the last 200m on the first, and thank god, because the second showed just how gassed I was.  Interestingly enough, my times improved as I went on.  Perhaps I didn't warm up properly.  I'd like to say I'll do this again just based on the (perceived) effectiveness alone, but it's an ugly one.

June 22nd, CFLA, 1PM

Pre: 11.5km Bike to CFLA
5 Rounds
10 Chest-to-Deck plyo pushup
20 Jumping Squats
Post: 11.5km Bike Home

Interesting note: Legs were fine over the next few days, despite the wicked burn from the WOD---low intensity post-workout aerobic activity reduces DOMS by clearing metabolic waste.  Ever wonder why you see NHL hockey players riding a stationary bike post-game? Yup. Hooray for science.

June 27th, Lethbridge Coulees, 1PM

Rode through the coulees with fellow Crossfitter Jacob (who, to his credit, was hungover AND lacking quality sleep.  Tough as freakin nails, that guy) for roughly 4.5hr;  lots and lots of hill "slumping" over my beautiful, fast and flowy singletrack.  Damn rain.  At any rate, it was a long and enjoyable ride.  We'll see how the legs feel today on my ride to the gym.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Creatine is Sexist, Fasted Training, and A Vitamin D Video

Ok, Ok!

So I took a wee bit of a longer break than I thought I would; I was back home on the 10th, but pretty much every weekend I have off I'll be traveling this summer, so I had some domestic catch-up to do---plus, my computer literally died the day before I left, and I lost a TON of great studies and nutrition material.  Boo.  I have a shwanky new desktop running Windows 7 (versus the boat-anchor that died), so I'm a happy, albeit disorganized, camper.

  Anyhoo, onto the goodies.  I've got a couple of interesting studies with some gender-specific considerations, and an entertaining lil' vid on vitamin D.

Creatine.  It's in there, trust me.

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print]

The Effects of Creatine Loading and Gender on Anaerobic Running Capacity.

1Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma; 2Applied Biochemistry and Molecular Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma; and 3Biophysics Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.


Creatine (Cr) loading consists of short-term, high-dosage Cr supplementation and has been shown to increase intramuscular total Cr content. Increases in body weight (BW) have been shown to result from Cr loading, with differences by gender, and increased BW may impact weight-bearing exercise. The critical velocity (CV) test is used to quantify the relationship between total running distance and time to exhaustion. The CV test provides the variable, anaerobic running capacity (ARC), which is an estimate of the anaerobic energy reserves in muscle. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of gender and Cr loading on ARC. Fifty moderately trained men and women volunteered to participate in this randomized, double-blinded, placebo (PL)-controlled, repeated-measures study. After a familiarization session, a 3-day testing procedure was conducted. A maximal oxygen consumption test (&OV0312;o2max) on a treadmill was performed on day 1 to establish the maximum velocity (Vmax) at &OV0312;o2max and to record BW. Days 2 and 3 involved treadmill running at varying percentages of Vmax. Participants were randomly assigned to either the Cr or PL group and received 20 packets of the Cr supplement (1 packet = 5 g Cr citrate, 18 g dextrose) or 20 packets of the PL (1 packet = 18 g dextrose). After consuming 4 packets daily for 5 consecutive days, the 3-day testing procedure was repeated. The male Cr loading group exhibited a 23% higher (p = 0.003) ARC compared to the PL group. Nonsignificant BW increases were found for the Cr groups. These findings suggest that Cr loading may be an effective strategy for improving ARC in men, but not in women, and revealed only nonsignificant increases in BW. Creatine loading may be used before competition by athletes to provide improvements in high-intensity, short-duration activities.
PMID: 20543729 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

My Thoughts:  I think everyone probably knows my overall thoughts on creatine, as per some of my previous posts; it's effective, it's cheap, and it works.  But I find it interesting that the female control group didn't exhibit an increase in anaerobic capacity; many previous studies have found performance increases in BOTH genders.  Perhaps it's the fact they used creatine citrate versus phosphate or monohydrate, the most commonly available forms.  I can only speculate, since I don't have access to the full study. Once again, though, it's obvious is works well for anaerobic activity.

Maybe.  Maybe Not.

J Sci Med Sport. 2010 May 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Adaptations to skeletal muscle with endurance exercise training in the acutely fed versus overnight-fasted state.

Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand; School of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia.


Minimising carbohydrate (CHO) status in the peri-training period may accelerate the training adaptations normally observed. The aim of this study was to compare adaptations to endurance training undertaken in the acutely CHO fed and overnight-fasted states. Eight female and six male untrained, healthy participants: aged 26.6+/-5.8 years (mean+/-SD); height 174.7+/-7.6cm; weight 75.3+/-11.4kg; VO(2max) 3.48+/-0.67l/min; were randomly divided into two training groups and undertook four weeks of five days per week endurance cycle ergometer training in either the overnight-fasted (FAST) or acutely fed (FED) state. FAST training had no effect on RER or plasma glucose, lactate and FFA concentrations during subsequent submaximal exercise. Training-induced changes in Vastus lateralis citrate synthase (CS) and 3-hydroxy-CoA dehydrogenase (HAD) activities were not different between training groups (P=0.655 and 0.549, respectively), but when the effect of gender was considered, men responded better to FAST and women responded better to FED. The FAST group showed a significantly greater training-induced increase in VO(2max) and resting muscle glycogen concentration than FED (P=0.014 and P=0.047 respectively), but there was no gender interaction. In conclusion, these results suggest that (a) meal ingestion prior to daily exercise can modify some of the exercise training-induced adaptations normally seen with endurance training compared to when daily exercise is undertaken in the overnight-fasted state; and (b) the extent of these adaptations in skeletal muscle differ slightly between men and women. Copyright © 2010 Sports Medicine Australia. All rights reserved.
PMID: 20452283 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Now THIS is a really interesting study; a couple of dudes much, much smarter than me have already looked at it, and broken it down nicely.  Martin Berkhan from LeanGains broke it down in it's entirety, and Alan Aragon recently reviewed it with a fine-tooth comb in his monthly research review.

Quick Points:
  • Fasted training caused an increase of +%50 muscle glycogen POST-workout
  • Women had better parameters when FED; Martin breaks this down nicely. 
  • The study size was small, and in untrained subjects.
My Thoughts:
While the study has issues, I think it definitely lends credence to the idea of "train low, compete high", in regards to nutritional fueling.  Should one run out after their very first 16 hour fast and try and crush a 5km run?  Hell no!  One topic not addressed is RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion).  Training fasted greatly increases this proportional to intensity.  The first time I tried a fasted training session, I decided on 400m sprints.  It was an eye-opener, to say the least.  Personally, I'll be re-visiting this leading up to my 24 hour race.

If you have your diet, training, and lifestyle habits dialed in, give it a try.  IF (intermittent fasting) is a crazy interesting topic, which some folks swear by for performance, body composition, and general overall health.  It's also a very easy way to totally sabotage your training.  And if you're female, you may just want to say "To Hell With THAT!", and you may just be justified!

I know I've been ranting about a nice, juicy vitamin D post, but in all honestly, the topic is so massive, it's daunting. Plus, every week there is new material published. Like this video. So, in the meantime, sit back, grab a cup o' java, and enjoy:

Recent Training

June 2nd-9th
Kamloops, Whistler, daily sessions of XC and DH mountain biking.
Longest ride was 5 hours, shortest would be a 10 minute screaming-downhill run. While there was some pretty significant caloric expenditure, I can GUAR-AN-TEE there was significant caloric repletion, post-ride. :)

June 11th, CFLA, 12PM
Power Clean, 5x5, 155#. After riding for a week, my back was fried from being hunched over, and my quads were mush. Some pulling work was needed, minus the Oly squat

AMRAP in 12 Min:
10 Sledgehammer Hits (12#)
10 C2D pushups
10 Box Jumps (20")

7 Rds + 13. Really liked this WOD, which was CFLA programming from few days earlier.

June 16th, CFLA, 1PM
"Smoke Break Cindy" ---props to Glen for the perfect name for this!
5 rounds of 2 minutes per round
1 minute rest between rounds

5 Pull Ups
10 Push Ups
15 Squats

16+4 rounds. I kind of de-legitimized my effort, but with good intentions; I set a chest marker for my pushups to hit 90 degree flexion, so I wouldn't go shallow. In hindsight, I should have just done C2D, and not worry about the number of rounds I was hitting. In the later rounds, I don't think I was hitting a full 90, due to my hand width. Regardless, this was a great version of the classic Crossfit workout "Cindy"