Friday, February 13, 2009

Master Athletes Need to Eat

Master Athletes Need to Eat Enough and On Time

Are you 35 yrs of age or older and athletic? Then you are a master level athlete!

Surveys suggest that most master athletes do NOT consume sufficient energy to support needs. They have a tendency to supply needed energy AFTER it is needed mainly because they are poor planners with many work, home and sport commitments or they are restricting their intake to achieve too fast a rate of weight loss leading to disordered eating patterns. Training on too few calories can lead to chronic fatigue, poor immune function, loss of muscle mass and decreased performance.

Practice makes perfect
Your digestive system (as well as your muscles) needs some training to be able to keep you well fueled during your training sessions (and competition). If you want to be able to eat and drink comfortably during your marathon (or longer) event, you need to be practicing that in training. Exercising hard while eating and drinking are not things that your body would normally prefer to do at the same time – but just like skiing fast, eating is a learned skill that requires the same amount of practice and attention to detail. If you plan on consuming 200-300 calories an hour and 1 litre of fluid (for example) during your race you need to practice consuming both of these in your training. Don't skimp on fluid or calories during training!

So why do so many of us train on too few calories (and fluids)?
All it takes is getting dropped by the pack when the pace picks up or on a hill climb during training and it's easy to start thinking that “if I just lost a couple of pounds I would be able to stay with the pack". The problem with trying to diet while training is that the lack of calories and specific nutrients (especially carbohydrates) wreaks havoc on your muscles and immune system and makes you prone to injury. Taking in far fewer calories than what your body requires may result in the body attacking it's own tissues, resulting in a a weakened muscular and immune system. Training, building muscle and following a sound diet are the best way to lose weight because it comes off slowly.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Caffeine Connection

Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee and cocoa beans, kola nuts and tealeaves. It is a key ingredient of cola drinks, chocolate, many non-prescription medications and even dietary and sport supplements.

Caffeine acts as a mild central nervous system stimulant - so it provides an initial boost of energy, keeps us alert and prevents fatigue. Our main sources of it are coffee, tea and soft drinks.

A moderate amount of caffeine per day, approximately 300 milligrams, is relatively harmless for most people. Excessive caffeine can give you the shakes, lead to anxiety, upset your tummy, and keep you from sleeping. A recent study (Pediatrics, 2003) suggests that drinking too many caffeinated soft drinks might be preventing some adolescents from getting a good night's sleep. This is a good enough reason for some parents to insist that their children's schools should not have soft drink vending machines.

Some individuals may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine at very small doses, and pregnancy and aging can affect this sensitivity. So these people should be careful with their intake. Caffeine is an ingredient in more than 1000 over-the-counter drugs, as well as prescription drugs. Read product labels and ask your pharmacist if you are concerned about caffeine intake.

What are the Effects of Caffeine on My Body?
Scientific studies have noted that in small to moderate amounts (50-300 mg) caffeine acts as a mild central nervous system stimulant by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure - so it provides an initial boost of energy, keeps us alert and prevents fatigue. Athletes have taken advantage of this energy boosting effect of caffeine for years - to the point that caffeine's well recognized stimulant effects have put it on the list of banned drugs.

Essential Kitchen Tool

Essential Kitchen Tool Often Left Neglected In A Drawer

Less than one in five Canadians regularly use the one kitchen tool that can ensure meat and poultry is safe and cooked to perfection - a food thermometer. In fact, most Canadians do NOT even own one. With barbeque season underway, the food thermometer should be your gift to the good health of you and your family. Food safety experts say that using a thermometer is the only sure way to prevent a potential food poisoning disaster…and food poisoning could kill you!

A gift for the grilling season - a food thermometer!

  • Cook beef to perfection, so that it is tasty and juicy - not overdone. Use a food thermometer to judge when beef is cooked.
  • Cook to safe internal temperatures (see chart below).
  • Be especially careful if you're cooking for those at high risk of serious illness from food borne bacteria -infants/young children, pregnant women, older adults or those with chronic illness.
  • Using a food thermometer or temperature indicator is the ONLY reliable way to test for safe internal temperatures.

Which is the best thermometer to use?

Buy a good quality, digital instant-read thermometer or thermometer fork that gives a temperature reading, not just a doneness range. This thermometer type can be used in all foods and if used when preparing just one of your daily meals, it will cost you less than 3 cents per day (based on a 3 year lifespan for a $35 thermometer).