Monday, July 19, 2010

Magical Magnesium, Healthy Alcohol, 24 Hours of Fun and a Few Notes

It's Essential

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and after Exhaustion.

Karaman High Medicine of Physical Education and Sports, Selcuk University, Karaman, Turkey,


This study was performed to assess how 4 weeks of magnesium supplementation and exercise affect the free and total plasma testosterone levels of sportsmen practicing tae kwon do and sedentary controls at rest and after exhaustion. The testosterone levels were determined at four different periods: resting before supplementation, exhaustion before supplementation, resting after supplementation, and exhaustion after supplementation in three study groups, which are as follows: Group 1-sedentary controls supplemented with 10 mg magnesium per kilogram body weight. Group 2-tae kwon do athletes practicing 90-120 min/day supplemented with 10 mg magnesium per kilogram body weight. Group 3-tae kwon do athletes practicing 90-120 min/day receiving no magnesium supplements. The free plasma testosterone levels increased at exhaustion before and after supplementation compared to resting levels. Exercise also increased testosterone levels relative to sedentary subjects. Similar increases were observed for total testosterone. Our results show that supplementation with magnesium increases free and total testosterone values in sedentary and in athletes. The increases are higher in those who exercise than in sedentary individuals.
PMID: 20352370 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 enzymatic activities; it's vital for everything from blood pressure regulation, neurotransmission, skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction, and aerobic AND anaerobic energy production.  Needless to say, it's damn important---and obviously, even more so in the aspiring athlete.  And, interestingly enough, athletes are the most prone to Mg deficiency; a military study as far back as the 60's showed a 2.3mg loss through sweat per hour.

So how does one prevent deficiency and optimize levels? (Current RDA sits at roughly 350mg, gender/age dependent.  Optimal levels?  Some say 500mg and up)  Through diet, of course!

Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds being king!), dark leafy greens, dark chocolate (jackpot!) fish, and various legumes and grains.  A great database of magnesium content can be found here.

Important Point: Grains and legumes, while technically having high sources of magnesium, are also extremely potent sources of inflammatory lectins, gluten, and anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which bind to minerals like zinc and magnesium.  Don't eat them.

Is Supplementation Necessary?  No, supplementation is never necessary; as you can see from the massive database, it's pretty damn easy to get magnesium from food sources.  BUT---some points to consider:
  • Athletes are prone to deficiency due to loss through exercise and sweating
  • Soil depletion leads to much lower levels of naturally occurring Mg in foods
  • Actual required optimal levels in athletes is unknown
  • Current RDA is more than likely sub-optimal for both health and performance
My Thoughts:  If you train intensely 4-5x/week, are an endurance athlete, live and train in a hot environment,  do NOT follow a Paleo diet AND eat grains and legumes (phytic acid, remember?) you should consider magnesium supplementation.  Yes, I understand that just about covers everyone.  :) To add to this, if you are male, you should consider ZMA supplementation, which is zinc, magnesium, and B6; zinc is the second most deficient mineral in athletes, and zinc has a direct tie-in to testosterone production and immunity.  Poliquin harps on this continually, and really, who is going to argue with Poliquin?

  If you're going to take it, take it before bed to maximize sleep quality (Zn, Mg and B6 all play roles in sleep quality).  Also, if you don't use the ZMA formula (a patented formula designed by Victor Conte of Balco Labs.  Remember "The Clear"?  Yeah, same dude.), steer clear of magnesium oxide, which has low bioavailability.  The standard dose of ZMA includes 450mg of magnesium aspartate; I'll leave you, savvy reader, to figure out what YOU need, if YOU deem supplementation appropriate.

Martin Berkhan, author of LeanGains, enjoying some healthy vino

Everyone knows I fully endorse low to moderate intake of quality alcohol.  Why? Because, looking from the health/longevity end of the spectrum (and not the athletic performance end), there's countless proven benefits, some of which I've posted here in the past.  Most folks, though, unjustly shun it like a Crispy Creme doughnut just due to plain ignorance and misinformation.

One of the most well-written and researched websites I've come across is Martin Berkhan's LeanGains
.  His topics normally focus on achieving and maintaining lean body composition through diet and intermittent fasting; however, looking beyond that focus leaves a wealth of incredible information and knowledge in regarding to nutrition.  Trust me, this guy is no dumb bodybuilder.  When he writes a book, I'll own it.

And speaking of writing, instead of reading my own mediocre middle-man regurgitation, I'd invite you to read his latest post:
                                                       The Truth About Alcohol, Fat Loss, and Muscle

24 Hours of Fun?  Damn Straight!

So in less than a week I'll be taking part in a 5-person team doing a 24 hour mountain bike race at the Canmore Nordic Center; it's a relay type event, where I'll do a lap (16KM per lap.....AHH, I get why Mike always does 16km rides now!!!) then my team mate, etc etc for 24 hours.  Team with the most laps wins.  There's different categories, with the most extreme being the solo.  And to think some guys do it on single-speed bikes.  Insane!

Why, do you ask, would I do something like this?  Well, one, I love mountain biking.  Two, I was asked last year on short notice and couldn't do it because of work, but the bug was planted.  And Three, the captain of the team, John Power (owner of Power Health with his wife, Dr. Chelsea Layden-Power) is a super positive guy with a similar mindset to myself in regards to health and nutrition.  Super stoked, and can't wait to hit the trails.
Recently, the 2010 CFLA Showdown took place; huge props to the winners:
Men's Division
1) Curtis Manning
2) Joey Lutz
3) Kris Fraser
Women's Division
1) Becky Clark, CF Gig Harbor
2) Heather Scott
3) Anne-Marie Young
Men's Scaled
1) Tim Craddock
2) Kirby Cochrane
3) Eric Ong
Women's Scaled
1) Kim Bennetts
2) Neena Rossbuger
                                                                      3) Theresa Molnar
I was only able to make it to the "Showstopper" WOD, but it was a crazy intense day that ran so smooth it was unreal.  Super cool that Dan Rogers, #1 Canadian Crossfitter, popped by to take a crack at the workout.  Next year will be even better!  Complete results can be found here.

Also of note:  2010 Crossfit Games winners were Graham Holmberg and Kristan Clever; I would have like to have seen Annie Thorisdottir (Thor's Daughter?) win, well, because she's just a big sexy viking, and Chris Spealler because he's an amazing athlete who, by the way, did earn a 3rd place podium finish.  Mikko Salo, the beast of a firefighter who won last year, took a very respectable 5th.  The depth of competition at this level is just frightening.  Consider this:  James "OPT" Fitzgerald placed 28th, and Dan Rogers placed 29th.

My predictions for next year:  Clever and Thorisdottir will still place high, if not 1/2.  Guys?  No idea.

Various Training

First off, a real Confession: I've been slack in documenting my training; I'll sometimes post on the CFLA site if I do the main site (main being ours, not that other one with brutal programing) WOD, but if I either do my own at the firehall or ride, like I have been, I find myself staring at the wall calender and reaching into the dusty depth of my coconut trying to remember.  Do as I say, not as I do.  Write down your training.  Ha!

July 12th, Monday, Lethbridge Coulees, 2PM
16.5KM mountain bike loop, approx 75min.  This is the wicked loop John showed me, north of the bridge.  It's perfect, lots of tight singletrack, longish uphill grinds, and short steep sections.

July 13th, Tuesday, CFLA, 1PM
21:19.  Hit the Wall of China on the Burpees (at the 16 min mark, no less) that chewed away a nice sub-20 time.  Best time I've had yet on this benchmark.  Had to step down from the 24" box because my left foot is still fubar'd.

July 14th, Wednesday, Lethbridge Coulees, 2PM
16.5km loop with Jacob; frequent breaks (and a flat tire fix), along with frequent falls----by me.  It's amazing what fatigue does to technique, even in just trying to keep a bike in a straight line.  Had a nice bail down some steep exposure, which luckily I was entangled in my bike and didn't roll far.  Good Times!

July 16th, Friday, #1 Firehall, 11AM
5 Rounds, 30s on/15s off of:
-Wall Ball Shots, 20lbs ball, 10ft target
-Renegade Rows, 35lb DB
-Goblet Squat, 65lb DB
-Push Press, 35lb DB
-Dumbbell Two-Hand Swing, 55lb DB
-Anchored Situps

Nice circuit with short breaks that I did solo---couldn't get any buy-in from the other guys at the station. :)