Monday, November 14, 2016

New blog site

My blog has moved! Please head on over to to check out the new home for Bob Seebohar's blog.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Spartan World Championship Recap

I was fortunate enough to travel to Lake Tahoe to do some sport nutrition consulting work and just happened to race in the Spartan World Championships for the second year in a row. Last year was my first Spartan Race ever (started with the Beast) and since then I have accumulated three more races (sprint, super and beast-for the Trifecta).

I was very unprepared last year except for my run base. After finishing 21st in my age-group in 2015, I became a student of the sport and developed a solid training plan to prepare me for the rigors of OCR (obstacle course racing).  This year, it was quite different. Even though I had battled a few health challenges throughout 2016 and only started training in early August, my mindset was completely different going into this World Championship race.

I was lucky to have entered the competitive wave, which provides a huge advantage of having somewhat of a clear course ahead of you as there are only the pro's and elites up front. Little did I know that I would pass quite a few elites so it did get a little bogged down at times on the single track trail.  That said, my mindset was focused and I went into the race with only one goal: to push myself as hard as I could while monitoring my body along the way. Spartan had changed the course from last year (more obstacles and distance) so it was unfair to set a time goal for comparison.  I attacked from the start as I knew there was a long single track section after the first obstacle and I needed to have clear trail (since trail running is one of my specialties).

I won't go into extreme detail about the obstacles, the terrain, weather, etc. because I really want to highlight my nutrition during the race. I believe OCR nutrition can be all over the map so I want to share what a metabolically efficient athlete did during the race in terms of nutrition and how it affected me.

Here are my nutrition stats:

  • Total time was 3:51:47
  • Total calories consumed during the race were 500 (all in the form of Clif Bloks and Clif Shot)
    • 129 calories per hour
  • Total water consumed during the race was 20 ounces (water only)
    • 7.7 ounces per hour
  • Total milligrams of sodium consumed during the race was 690 (from Clif Bloks and 1 Clif Shot)
    • 179 milligrams per hour
Last year I carried a hydration pack and hardly used it so this year I went without it. I carried two sleeves of Clif Bloks in my pants and relied on water and other nutrition on the course.

Assessing how I felt based on what I consumed, I never had any energy lull or experienced undue fatigue throughout the race. No low points and felt "on" and powerful the entire race.

What would I change? I would have made an effort to drink more water at the aid stations since this race was at altitude (>7000 feet) but I chew gum which doesn't prevent dehydration but does stimulate the saliva response to keep my mouth moist. I may increase my sodium intake by carrying a few SaltStick capsules in a baggy with me next time but I didn't feel that I needed it. No swelling of the extremities and no other hydration issues.

In all, it was an extremely successful day from a nutrition and race execution perspective. I didn't have to carry much, I was smart in my pacing, my mindset was spot on and I managed to figure out most of the obstacles (I only missed three).  At the end of the day, I was rewarded with a 4th place age-group finish (barely missed a podium spot by 2.5 minutes) and 9th overall in the competitive category. 

It's only my second year in obstacle course racing so I will continue to fine tune my training, nutrition, and race tactics in the future so I can share with more individuals.  Five Spartans done, more to come!

Enjoy your week...

Coach Bob

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The letter "M"

This week's blog is brought to you by the letter "M". Does that bring back memories for you? Anyway, the "M" stands for mindset. I haven't discussed mindset too much outside of nutrition so what a better time than now?

The last two weekends reminded me of mindset as I had back to back sprint triathlon races. Some people may view a sprint triathlon as "easy" because it is so short but it really depends on the athlete's goals. In my case, I try to go as fast as possible, pushing my mental and physical limits. Call it ego or whatever, but as I age, I am finding great pleasure on developing my anaerobic energy system whenever possible. Keep in mind that this is my 23rd year in triathlon so it would be safe to say that I have learned quite a few things along the way and developed a somewhat decent aerobic base that provides me the opportunity to add higher intensity training.

That allows me to focus more on strength training, specifically, heavier lifting, body weight and plyometric exercises. I train this way for a few reasons: 1) because it is extremely time efficient, 2) there are great gains for the short amount of time spent doing it, 3) it translates well into Spartan specific needs, and 4) it carries over into sprint distance triathlon racing quite well if done correctly.

I won't go on and on about the benefits but I will say this...lift light weights for high repetitions and it doesn't touch the mindset you need to make the call to the anaerobic energy system and suffer. Lift heavy, do explosive exercises to failure and now you have the attention of the little voice in your head that tells you to stop. Mindset, in this example, is all about being comfortable being uncomfortable. I'm not talking about all of the time but certainly a good amount so when you are in a race scenario, you know what it feels like to push beyond your limits. Do we even know where those limits are? I doubt many endurance athletes know.

That leads me to the lessons I learned over the last two weeks in my races. My sprint tri last weekend felt great, almost effortless like I wasn't trying. I achieved the outcome result I set for myself prior to the race but upon my post-race analysis, I wasn't happy with my mindset and some of my process goals. Even though my results were excellent, I felt like my mindset was off. I pulled up on the gas when I shouldn't have but it was a great catalyst for this weekend's race mindset. Having come off that experience last weekend, I set a few other goals, one of them being comfortable being uncomfortable. 

My swim was a bit lackluster compared to last week but I still managed to come out of the water first in my category. I was passed by two guys on the bike and decided to try my legs and keep close to them. While this only lasted a few miles as they were stronger cyclists, this is where my mindset was challenged and I am proud to say, I welcomed the uncomfortable feeling in my legs and lungs for the remainder of the bike. I didn't play it safe, worrying about how it would affect my run. Whatever happened would happen I thought. I knew I came in a bit behind these guys into the second transition and while one was not in my age-group, the other was and I had quick decisions to make.

Upon exiting T2, I remembered my quantitive goal for the 5k and knew that I would have to be extremely uncomfortable the entire run to accomplish it. Within the first 1/2 mile, I caught one of the guys who passed me on the bike. Another mile down, breathing hard and beginning to wonder if I would make it to the finish without slowing down, I passed the second guy. I seemed to find a groove, a comfortable feeling being uncomfortable for the last half of the run. I remember feeling that I should just slow down and leave my finish place to chance. Whatever happened, happened. But then I thought back to the previous weekend and knew that I would not be happy with that mindset. Immediately, I threw out that thought, went back to my labored breathing and found another groove. I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could endure being comfortable being uncomfortable.

Have you ever experienced this in your life? Was it a race? At work? In your family? Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and not only tell yourself you can do it but also PROVE it. Some people refer to it as "go hard or go home". I think anyone can go hard but not everyone can develop the mindset to embrace what hard really is.

Next time you are in this situation, think about it before you act. Your mind is the gatekeeper to the next level of performance.

As for my race, yes, I did achieve my quantitative goal for my a mere 3 seconds! It worked and now I can close my 2016 triathlon season with a very good mindset!

Enjoy your week!

Coach Bob

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wait, what? Be patient.

Did you ever notice that when you begin something new, let's say changing your daily nutrition plan for the sake of example, that your body doesn't respond how you think it should initially?  Your mind is flooded with thoughts like "I really thought I should be losing weight now", or "why isn't the fat around my belly decreasing?", or "shouldn't I be running faster?".  Yeah, it happens to all of us.  Immediate gratification it's called.  Unfortunately, when it comes to manipulating your biology (via nutritional changes), it is not that easy (or fast).

I experienced this first hand the last four weeks.  Coming off of a stagnant triathlon season plagued with two sinus infections and walking pneumonia, I was ecstatic to begin really training again four weeks ago for two late season sprint triathlon races and two Spartan Beast competitions. As I began my training, I noticed the obvious fatigue seen with increased training load but I also changed my nutrition just a bit to be more Metabolically Efficient.  I increased my fat a bit and decreased my carbohydrate a bit to balance out. Protein stayed the same.  For some reason, even though I have been through this before and I teach it every day to athletes, I thought my body would change faster than it did. Body weight remained stable. I didn't see any change in body composition (aesthetic, not quantitative measurements). I thought it was strange but had to remind myself that this is biology and while things may happen quickly in our body (like cellular turnover), the results are not immediate.

Why am I bringing this up? I was patient after I reminded myself that immediate gratification simply does not happen when changing daily nutrition strategies. The body acts and reacts differently with every change that you induce and in the end, we must all remember that anything that you try to change will take time to adapt, just as it did on the front end when you may have let it slip from your normal routine.

Personally, it took my body two weeks to begin to see changes to my altered training load and nutritional changes. Will it take yours two weeks? Probably not but perhaps. My point is: remain patient, trust the process, and stay committed. You will be rewarded in the end.

Enjoy your week!

Coach Bob

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

CHO Unloading

Carbohydrate loading, um, I mean, unloading.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  I have written about this topic in my Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat book but I thought it was time for a refresher because I keep meeting athletes who are frustrated with their metabolic efficiency experience. 

Let's take a typical endurance athlete who may be consuming 500 grams of carbohydrate (2000 calories) per day. This athlete wants to be more metabolically efficient and he knows he must periodize his macronutrients to teach his body to burn fat more efficiently. Let's say he has in his head that 150 grams of carbohydrate per day is a good number to achieve a better balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Great. Next step is to just decrease his carbs, right?

Wrong!  Most athletes require a stepwise reduction, or what I call, carbohydrate unloading protocol, in order to successfully change this nutrition behavior and avoid mood swings, fatigue with exercise, and "foggy-brain". The best way to do this is to reduce carbohydrate intake each week until your desired carbohydrate level is met.

Back to our athlete example. I would recommend he begin with reducing his carbohydrate intake by 100 grams per week (yes, per week) for best results. That means he would eat 500 grams, then 400, 300, 200, then to his goal of 150 grams of carbohydrate per day. This would take him a good 4 weeks and would promote a much higher success rate at adapting his body to the new levels of carbohydrate (and protein and fat).

I will say from personal experience that I do not recommend a drastic reduction of carbohydrate in one day. I did that for my 4-week experiment back in 2012 and was extremely hungry, my mood was a bit off and I couldn't think right. It took me a couple of days of altering my protein and fat to make up for the significant reduction of carbohydrate until I felt better.

So, lesson of the day. If you want to lower your carbohydrate intake (and balance out your protein and fat consumption), be patient. Any type of nutrition change is a behavior change and requires time. Give it at least 4-6 weeks in your quest to be more metabolically efficient. Believe me, you will thank yourself later for the little bit of time you spend on the front end being patient!

Coach Bob

Sunday, August 28, 2016

You CAN do it...

In a previous blog, I had written about throwing in the towel or trying to overcome obstacles and challenges after a series of events (in my case repeated illnesses this year) throw you a curve ball.  I am happy to report that I overcame my first challenge of competing in the Spartan Beast in Breckenridge. My goal was to race to the highest of my abilities, have fun, and do my best.  Check, check, and check. However, there are a few things worth mentioning.

First off, let's talk strength. As you may know, I have been an endurance athlete for over 20 years, having done my first triathlon in college.  However, I came from a competitive soccer background and thus, adore sprinting. Early in college, I had a group of friends that lifted weights (one was a body builder). While I didn't look the part, I absolutely loved lifting and getting strong.  Combine that with my affection to sprinting and higher power/intensity exercises, and you can see that Spartan racing is a great fit for me. 

Back to strength...I was having a conversation with a few eNRG Performance members this past week about strength training and the importance of it, especially as we age. As an endurance athlete and coach, it puzzles me that more endurance athletes do not hold strength training in the same acclaim as their endurance training. I have argued for years that strength training is the glue that holds the body together so endurance activities can be done successfully. But I am not here to get on my high horse. Rather, consider this a challenge to you to incorporate more strength into your routine. And while I recognize the benefits of body weight and functional training along with yoga and pilates, that is not enough.  The strength I am taking about is lifting and moving heavy objects. You don't have to be a body builder or power lifter but you do need to move things that are heavier than you normally move. Why? Because your skeletal system needs this overload to strength bones, ligaments, tendons, and prevent the age related loss of muscle mass (called sarcopenia), which researchers agree begins in the mid to late 30s. The faster you lose muscle mass, the less function you will have and if you are an athlete, this is bad news. 

I could go on and on about how strength training improves endurance performance and how many endurance athletes have benefited from it. But I will save that for a later post. Suffice to say, the blend of having endurance and strength should be everyone's goal. It doesn't matter if you enter a Spartan race or not. It doesn't matter if you are an endurance athlete or fitness enthusiast. What matters is that you make strength a priority and fit it into your daily life and training program. And remember, you don't need to do this in a gym. Go outside, grab some rocks, trees, tires, etc. Just have fun moving, throwing, flipping, and lifting!

Until next week...

Coach Bob

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Taste or Function?

This week's blog topic arises from an issue I encounter with many of the athletes with whom I work: taste vs. function. You see, there has been an issue that has been getting worse in the world of sport nutrition. This issue is that sports nutrition product companies seem to think that adding more sugar will attract more athletes to their products. In a sense, they are correct. The combination of sugar, fat, and salt in foods will attract most people to a particular food.

However, we are not talking about food, per se. This issue stems by athletes not separating the function of sports nutrition products versus real food. You see, sports nutrition products (gels, bars, chews, drinks, etc.) have a very specific purpose: to supply the body with certain nutrients to support physical exercise. Conversely, daily nutrition (meals and snacks) have the purpose of supplying the body with nutrients to improve health, decrease the risk of disease, and alter body composition and body weight.

Taste is an interesting word and in my humble opinion, food should have the highest priority for tasting good. Use different cooking methods, spices, herbs, etc. to improve taste. Don't add more sugar to food. Remember, think of the end goal of calories used throughout the day versus calories used during training.

Taste should not be as high of a concern for sports nutrition products. Don't get me wrong, they should pass the initial, "I don't have to plug my nose and wince to consume a product", but c'mon now, if you expect a sports nutrition product to taste as good as food, you are fooling yourself. Sports nutrition products, when used, have a specific purpose as I mentioned previously. While good for a company's business model, these products should not replace real food eaten during meals and snacks. And therein lies the problem...

Athletes, I urge you to reshape your thought patterns to support using sports nutrition products for a purpose and not eating them for leisure. Use these sparingly, only when needed, and don't expect them to taste as good as the meals you make at home. Additionally, save your taste buds and harsh critiques for the food that you eat throughout the day. This is where being critical is to your benefit.

Remember, look at the ingredients in your sports nutrition products to be sure that they support your nutrient requirements during exercise, not during your normal work and social activities throughout the day.

And there you have it...


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Throw it or beat it?

This week's blog is going to be a bit more personal but one that every person can relate to I am sure. Whether in the past, currently, or in the future, I am sure this scenario has, is, or will happen to you. Often times, like with me, it is easy to keep things bottled up inside and difficult to let them out in the open. We typically worry about being vulnerable, weak, or defeated but in reality, I believe sometimes we do not express our current challenges for fear of failure and not proving to ourselves that we are good enough.

It can be weight loss, quitting smoking or drinking, ending a bad relationship...anything really. Why don't we face our challenges? Are challenges fears? Sometimes, but I believe that challenges are internal tests that are provided to us to make us better. It may take a few tries but try we do and eventually, no matter how many times we fall, we will get back up and succeed.

Reflect on a current situation that you have gone through. Did you feel deflated, mentally fatigued when thinking about the mountain you had to overcome? Did you feel it was impossible (which in my dictionary really means I-AM-POSSIBLE). Sometimes, we do let it get the best of us. But sometimes, something special happens. You know that special as it is the "get up and go", the "I'm not taking this", and simply the "why not?". Whatever motivation you use, use it now. Tell yourself that it is important. Change, do, succeed. Make no mistake, you will be a better person in the long run because you learn more about yourself, the obstacles that try to stop you and the ones that you overcome to succeed. Succeed at being an athlete, a parent, a sibling, a friend, and most importantly, a human being. It will be difficult but you will make yourself proud.

As I reflect on these words, I look back at my athletic season this year. While it may sound shallow, sport and competition is a very important part of who I am. Setting and achieving goals is very important to me but I also use sport to teach life lessons to youth and juniors (and myself!), and influence others to lead healthier lives.

Earlier this year, I got a sinus infection. Pretty typical as I usually get one per year. Now, I'm probably not the wisest but I just do not like going to the doctor or taking any medications so I just powered through it and let it run its course (probably not a good idea as you will see). This was in April and May. I did some light training and was able to do a back to back Spartan Sprint and Super race in May. Then I transitioned into triathlon training (short course).  

My first triathlon was the end of June and while I was training, I never really felt good.  I completed the race and will tell you that I had never felt so lousy during a race in my entire athletic career.  Something was off. I found out a week later that I had walking pneumonia and raced with it. The medical person I saw gave me antibiotics and said to take it easy for a month. I listened and did very little training in fear that the walking pneumonia would resurface. I played it safe and saw my fitness level plummet. When I thought it was safe, I started to train a little and found that I, again, did not feel well.  Another trip to the medical clinic last week and another diagnosis with a sinus infection. This time, I knew what had to be done: take antibiotics. Desperate times call for desperate measures!  Ten days of antibiotics now to hopefully kick this second sinus infection.

So, here's the kicker...I have a Spartan Beast race in two weeks, at altitude.  I have two sprint triathlon races in 4 weeks and cyclocross season after that. A week ago, I threw in the towel, literally. I gave up on my training, my season, and my goals. I knew I didn't have enough time to train to accomplish the high goals that I had set. Just today, I threw that idea in the trash. Why, you ask?

It doesn't matter if you don't feel like you can accomplish the goal that you set for yourself. We will always be underprepared but you know what? You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I learned that when training for 100 mile runs. To give up my season would be a failure in my mind. I have decided to march through the bad luck that I have experienced this year and move forward because my health is important to me. Fitness is important to me. Proving to myself that I can do this is important to me.

So I ask you: what is important to you and what will you do about it?

Until next week...


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Genomics testing

I first wrote about genomics testing in a previous blog and since then, I have had the opportunity to order and interpret a few tests for a few of my athletes. At first glance you would think genomics testing is nothing special but once you see the data, it's a game changer. I want to highlight the practitioner (me) vs. athlete (you) take on a genomics report.


This is a ton of cool data! I see which genes have SNP's on them and then I figure out how these genes interact with the other genes in the systems of the body. Does one SNP affect another which makes a certain cycle or protein less or more active? What about the affects this has on which foods I should recommend to my athlete? Does my athlete have to take certain supplements in addition to eating certain foods in order to complement their genomics and individual SNP's? 

These are all of the questions that initially go through my head when looking at the genomics report. Of course, I then progress to looking at the different categories of genes and SNP's such as eating behaviors, immune system, inflammation, oxidative stress, thyroid, and weight management (these are all markers on one specific genomics panel-called the sports genomics panel).  There is a more comprehensive panel that looks at many more genes and can help an athlete understand more health markers related to gene SNP's rather than those just affecting their sport performance.

It's great information for sure. I take it and put it into more understandable language for the athlete, spend some time discussing it with him/her, and then come up with a better daily nutrition plan. Easy peasy (so to speak).


This is a ton of cool data! I can see pages of pages of information but I really don't know what to do with it (most athletes look at each gene SNP individually instead of in groups of how they affect other systems of the body). Is this saying that I am going to gain weight or that I have increased risk of some diseases due to some SNP's on my genes? Do I have SNP's on genes that affect my body's ability to fight inflammation and oxidative stress? What does all of this mean????


Yes, it can be confusing if you just have a report sent to you with no interpretation from a qualified specialist. Just like any test really. You want to be sure that you are working with someone who knows how to interpret the results but also how to package it into your life, exercise and nutrition habits.

My point in circling back and writing about genomics testing is that with more and more of these tests that I am ordering and interpreting for my athletes, the more I gravitate toward the importance of testing. Be it blood work, metabolic efficiency, sweat sodium concentration, or now, genomics testing, it will really provide a portfolio of information regarding your health and how to improve your lifestyle to improve your performance.

I put myself through the ringer of genomics testing and sprung for the most comprehensive package. What I learned is some of the most incredible information that I have never known before. I wish I would have done this 20 years ago so I could have shaped my eating and exercise behaviors a bit more intelligently instead of just going with the flow.

I truly believe that genomics testing, coupled within the nutrition model, will be a game changer for all athletes, regardless of age, sport or level. It takes the guesswork out of how your body is working at the most deepest level.

Have I changed my daily nutrition habits based on my genomics report?  Oh, you bet I have! I will save that information for a future blog. And there you have it.  A little teaser for you in hopes that you contemplate the need to justify having genomics testing done on you.

Until next time...


Monday, July 25, 2016

Overthinking it?

I have had the great honor to work with hundreds upon hundreds of athletes in my career.  Olympians, recreational, youth, all different sports and ages. One thing that I have realized is that "it depends" is a very popular answer in my repertoire of answer questions from athletes. The simple reason is that each athlete is very individual from their physiology, genetic make up, fitness level, and psychological outlook.  The latter is what I wanted to chat about a bit in this blog since it seems to be a hot topic in the sports nutrition for athletes world.

What I am referring to is not mental tenacity, planning and preparing meals or snacks, or even what an athlete eats.  I am talking about psychological excessiveness.  I am sure there is a more technical term for this but this is how I describe it. Most athletes do have an "excessive gene" which I define as taking things to the extreme. This can sometimes be good and sometimes not. I remember a few years ago when I was doing my low carb/high fat nutritional experiment and I had to completely take my nutrition to the extreme to ensure that I was only eating a certain amount of carbohydrates and protein while keeping my fat high. I had to log every day.  I had to be methodical to the point where it was fun at first but drove me crazy by the end of my 4 week experiment. Perhaps it was just me, perhaps not.

What I have learned from many athletes whom I have worked with is twofold: 1) many believe nutrition is complex due to their past experiences and feel that they need to count, weigh, measure, and take their nutrition to the quantitative breaking point which can be cause mental exhaustion and lead to the already high life stress of athletes, and 2) many just want nutrition to be simple. Tell me what to eat and don't make me think about it too much. Don't get me wrong, I respect athletes who want to learn more about food and what is best for their bodies but much like my feelings at the end of my nutrition experiment, I wonder if it is worth overthinking this whole nutrition thing.

Hire a qualified Sport Dietitian who can help you take this very complex nutrition world and make it simple. That's our job. I doubt you want to know the intricate details of metabolic processes but rather, want to know what you can purchase at the grocery store to improve your health and athletic performance.  Learn what foods will best optimize your blood sugar and improve health and performance without overthinking this. We all lead busy lives with a high amount of life and training stress. Add another layer of complexity to the mix and it may just send you over the edge.

Push your computer away from you now and think deeply about how you perceive food. How you interact with it, and if you let it take up too much brain power than it should. Now take a deep breath and know that it will be okay no matter which side of the thinking fence you are on. Over or under thinking.  It happens. Try to find that happy balance!

Until next week...


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Meals, mush and feedings

My apologies for missing my blog post last week. I was on a 4 day road trip across the country to coach at a draft legal triathlon for my Teens that TRI team. Fortunately, I had another great travel nutrition tip pop into my head during to my experience on the road, living the hotel life.

I believe many people think that when you travel, you must go out to restaurants when you eat. I mean, you need to eat a meal but does it really have to be a meal? I mean, what is a meal anyway? My perception of meals and snacks is that they are feedings. Call them opportunities to control and optimize blood sugar through the use of different nutrients in foods. Meals hold a certain connotation to them that screams possible overfeeding and quite frankly, I believe this leads to a greater stress on individuals when trying to deal with meal planning.

If we drop the barriers of meal planning and call them what they really are, feedings, perhaps there will be a more positive shift in the way we approach food. Maybe, just maybe, we would listen to our instinctual hunger cues more, eat when we are hungry, only until we are full, and not be pressured into eating too much because of the word "meal". It's just a thought but having spent 19 hours in the car last weekend, it really afforded me the opportunity to collect my thoughts on this subject.

Try it and let me know if switching from a meal and snack system to a feeding paradigm shift works for better controlling your blood sugar and becoming more metabolically efficient. I am curious to hear how many find success with this. I know I have but it did take a little while because I had to switch my habits that were engrained for many years. Be patient and remember, we are all on this journey of life together but we can all take different roads. Be adventurous when you feel comfortable and have the confidence to make the change and maintain it!

As for the "mush" in my blog title...well that was one of my feedings in my hotel room during my last trip. I like to purchase natural crunchy peanut butter, berries or a banana, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk at a grocery store and mix it in a cup in my hotel room.  It's a quick and easy feeding that hits the spot in terms of satiety and improving metabolic efficiency.

Here's to a great week!


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Got Sleep?

Who needs sleep? It seems like more and more athletes are pushing the limits of the 24 hour day to try to fit in as many tasks as possible. But with what consequences? Endurance athletes are known for waking up at "O-dark-thirty", with compromising sleep for early morning training sessions. While this may or may not be the best thing for each individual athlete, what affect may it have on the body?

This brings me to topic of my blog in relation to the research article that I read last week (I read a bunch but this one stood out based on its timing). It looked at sleep deprivation and the effects on testosterone. First a quick review about testosterone. This steroid hormone is produced in larger amounts in males and smaller amounts in females. It increases during puberty and begins to decline after the age of 30. This is important because it acts in the promotion of the growth hormone response which can affect muscle protein synthesis. Aging athletes with decreased testosterone production usually see a decrease in performance. Testosterone boosters and supplements have been all the rage in the past (and present) but I'm not here to discuss that controversial topic.

Back to the research study I read. While it only looked at a small sample size of 10 healthy, young (24 years old) males, what I found interesting (and worth writing about) was the sleep deprivation aspect of this study.

After a normal week of getting 8 hours of sleep per night, the subjects visited the lab where they spend the first three days getting 10 hours of sleep per night then were restricted to 5 hours of sleep per night for the next 8 nights. Most athletes wouldn't bat an eye at this change. In fact, it may be the norm for most working athletes who have families and may travel for work. However, if we fast forward to the results, what is really interesting is that daytime testosterone levels decreased by 10-15%.

Many questions always come out of reading research studies. Probably the most important is one that I receive on frequent occasions from athletes who either have low testosterone levels or are trying to naturally boost their levels is, "what can I do to increase my testosterone levels?". While blood work analysis should first be encouraged for each athlete regarding their hormone levels in response to age and training status, perhaps the pertinent answer right now is simply to try to stay consistent with sleep patterns and try not to deprive yourself of sleep if at all possible.

I know it may be difficult for some but if you are an athlete, sleep should be planned in your day just like your training and nutrition. There is no excuse for missing out on one of the best times of the day that you can use to repair your body and improve its physiological adaptation to training stimuli.

Off to bed now...


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fried and Scrambled

Interesting title, eh? Will I be talking about eggs? Perhaps but there is a bit more "peeling of the onion" that I would like to do before I make it to eggs.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to race my first sprint triathlon of the season with a group of my Junior triathletes (Teens that TRI). I was extremely excited for this as I love the energy they bring to a race. My last weekend of travels took a hit on my immune system so last week was spent resting, nursing a fever and body aches, and just overall not feeling well. It wasn't until the day before the race where I decided that I would race. It was a tough decision and I knew I wouldn't be 100% but I wanted to be at the race as Coach so why not race, right!

Fried...I had an okay race. Nothing spectacular and what I would term below average for me due to my immune system. An excuse? No. I train with metrics and knew exactly what I should have been able to do in the swim, on the bike and the run and the metrics just didn't line up on race day. I didn't let the illness in my head but just felt a bit off the entire day. A bit fried, if you will. I analyzed my metrics later that day after the race and confirmed that fried was a good way to describe my overall body feeling. Numbers were low, RPE was high, economy was just off.

I expected this going into the race but what was very interesting to me was to see how much less efficiency my body would give for the day. I don't think I had ever tried to test that out in a sprint triathlon. So, overall, I see it as a very positive experience in learning more about my body's ability and mental preparation going into a race. Some may say it was not wise to do that but I approach every race as a learning opportunity. This one specifically garnered me valuable experience to not only file in the data banks for the future but also to use as a teaching tool for my Junior triathlon team.

If you are wondering, I did manage to pull off the age-group victory (by over 3 minutes) but in a race like this, I should be competing for overall, not age-group awards. Am I upset? Not at all. Sometimes a placing doesn't provide you all of the meaningful information about yourself. Wise athletes will always look deeper for the true interpretation of the day's events...

Scrambled...the highlight of this race is the post-race food. It is known within the triathlon community for an unbelievable post-race buffet and they certainly did not disappoint!  This is what I call nutrition recovery in a true metabolically efficient manner!

Enjoy your week!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Do I have to eat dinner?

No, this is not a blog about trying to get kids to eat dinner. Rather, I thought I would let my travels once again spark a blog topic. I found myself traveling between three states in three days this past week and the last trip was once again with my Junior Triathlon team for a race in Washington.

As you can imagine, my dietary choices are watched closely by my athletes and parents. At our team dinner the night before the race, it was a BYOF (bring your own food). Many restaurants and dishes were represented and then there was the outcast, me, who was represented by a grocery store. Amidst pasta, chicken, salads, and sandwiches, I sat down with a tub of cottage cheese (with fat) and blueberries. Mixed together, this became my dinner.  Why you may ask (as others did)? Because I like these foods together, they are great for controlling blood sugar and to be honest, I just wasn't in the mood for restaurant food. I did top this off a bit later with some dark chocolate (85% cocao)!

It got me thinking about why our society believes that we must eat "meals" at meal times. I have been the "salmon swimming upstream" most of my career so why should my thought process on this topic be any different? Does breakfast, lunch, or dinner mandate a big sit down meal? In my world it does not and perhaps we can begin looking at these as, what I like to term, feedings instead of meals. It will take a paradigm shift to do this and you should be comfortable with receiving blank and questionable stares from colleagues and friends.

It's just a thought. You will have a few opportunities to feed your body throughout the day and control/optimize your blood sugar at the same time. This does not necessarily mean that you must conform to eating restaurant food all of the time if you are on the road. Listen to your body, identify your resources, and feed your body based on it needs and desires. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Enjoy your week!


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Winding down

I was reflecting on my busy weekend this evening, sitting in my hammock in my backyard when I started to ponder what "winding down" really means. Of course, it will be different for each person but specific to nutrition, what do you do to wind down? Have you ever really thought about this?

It's a profound thought because I am sure many people believe winding down nutritionally means cheating or disengaging from their "diet". I believe there is a deep behavior component to winding down which I would encourage you to search within yourself to discover. Winding down means relaxing my mind and body. Will letting my guard down produce a negative eating behavior or response?  For me, absolutely not because I am almost always in control of my perception to food and how it responds to my blood sugar.

However, the intuitive eating response may be blunted when you are tired, your mind "fried" from work or your body fatigued from training. If you find yourself eating something for no reason or are completely disengaged with the eating process (that is, the enjoyment of nutrients and satiety you receive from them), then you may have to spend a bit more reflection time in the behavior category.

Changing and adapting behavior is not easy and is, in fact, a lifelong skill development process. I would recommend one simple exercise to help you improve your behavioral realization process: ask the question, "Why?". Not in a negative sense but if you are reaching for something that you do not normally eat, ask yourself why and what is driving your behavior to make this choice. There is not a correct or incorrect answer. Rather, you are trying to become more intuitive with your eating in an effort to understand the "why" behind your food choices and how they are linked to your emotions.

Go ahead and wind down, enjoy some R&R but try to always engage with your "Why".

Until next week...


Monday, June 6, 2016

Planning, Preparation and Parfaits

This will be a short and sweet blog about one of my favorite issues that athletes normally have: what to eat while traveling.  I recently traveled to Wisconsin to coach a few of my Junior athletes at a draft-legal triathlon. My oldest son accompanied me as he was racing. This is important because the Sport Dietitian in me must be on high alert to ensure he navigates his nutrition to support optimal performance.

When I travel, I make it a point to bring a few necessities with me which typically includes a light trail mix, Generation UCAN snack bars and a few packets of UCAN protein. These are what I refer to as my “emergency foods”. I am delayed in an airport, can’t find a grocery store immediately upon arriving at my hotel, or simply need an extra snack to control and optimize my blood sugar and support my Metabolic Efficiency. These snacks sometimes make it back home without ever being consumed but they are with me just in case.

I happened to stay at a hotel that did not have many amenities (restaurant food was not good) nor was it extremely close to a bigger city with the typical eating establishments. However, there was a grocery store, Piggly Wiggly nearby and I did have a refrigerator in my room. Whenever I travel, I ensure that I have a refrigerator in my room since my first stop is usually the grocery store to purchase some basics to build snacks and light meals.

This trip was no different. I visited the Piggly Wiggly and stocked up on a few essentials. My final bill was $23 (for two people and many snacks and light meals). Some items in my basket included blueberries, bananas, cherries, grapes, beef jerky, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, granola, and spoons. Can you pick out the foods that you can combine to improve Metabolic Efficiency?  Yes, there is a reason for the foods that I purchased!

Planning and preparing is probably one of the most important things that you can do when it comes to remaining metabolically efficient while traveling. Take a little extra time on the front end of your trip to construct an “emergency food” list and pack them with you. Identify the nearby grocery stores and restaurants where you will be staying prior to leaving if possible and be sure to visit the grocery store first thing upon arriving at your destination.

As for the parfaits…well, that was one of our breakfast options. I grabbed the coffee cups that are always in hotel rooms and layered the Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola.  Quick, easy and metabolically efficient!

Until next week…


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sports Genomics Part 1: SNP's

Did you know that there are between 20,000-25,000 genes in humans but there are 10 million or more SNP's?  SNP stands for single nucleotide polymorphism which, in easier terms to understand, is like a spelling error on a gene.  When a gene has a SNP on it, it alters the protein function in the body by affecting the biochemistry of the cell. 

Having a SNP on a gene can lead to some negative consequences inside the body such as increased inflammation, reactive oxygen species. For an athlete, this is a huge deal. Think about it. If you have a SNP on a group of genes that affect the body's ability to quench free radical production and inflammation, this could lead to slower recovery, decreased performance, and potential injury. 

Now, genes can be affected from inside the body and outside the body (the environment). Interestingly, certain foods can turn on and off genes and can be used therapeutically to "work around" SNP's that may be present on genes.  Which foods? Well, it's not as easy as just eating more fruits and vegetables as most Registered Dietitians recommend.  I mean, it's not a bad thing but we know that each person will have an individual "feed your genes" nutritional profile that should be followed based on their individual SNP's.  Some foods may be trigger certain pathways and biochemical cascades in one person but not another.

A key thing to remember that herbs and spices are of tremendous benefit to health and feeding your individual genes and associated SNP's. 

So, what should you do now? Think about this a bit. Sports Genomics. Let it marinate in your mind and keep following along as I will dedicate a few more blogs to this topic to help you understand more about it and some additional action items but remember, just like Metabolic Efficiency, if you don't test, you don't know. At some point, I would highly recommend getting a Genomic test done so you are more educated about you as an individual and what can help you improve your health and performance. eNRG Performance will offer Genomic testing in the near future so stay tuned.

Until next week...


Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Banana

I bet you think I am going to take this blog and explain the "good" or "bad" benefits of a banana, huh?  Nope. I was honored to attend a Sports Genomics clinic this past week in Boulder and not only did I expand my knowledge base of a very fast growing segment of the sports nutrition field, but I also had the opportunity to give a presentation to the 10 Sport Dietitians in attendance.

As I was intensely learning the first two days from three experts in the field (1 PhD, 1 MD and 1 RD who specializes in culinary genomics), I began thinking about where Metabolic Efficiency fits in. It is fairly obvious (to me at least) how my Metabolic Efficiency concept matches with sports genomics (more on that in a future blog) but I really began thinking of the testing similarities.

Genomic testing is fairly easy to have done but does require a trained eye to interpret and make recommendations. The same holds true for Metabolic Efficiency Testing. Blood work, same thing. So, I began thinking of the three tests and how they are related and if they could support one another. As my brain was filling up each day with unbelievable information regarding genomics, athletes, and nutrition, an analogy of the testing started to form. Enter the banana.

Blood work testing is certainly beneficial but what if you do not pick the right tests to measure? The interpretation may miss something. The opposite is the case with genomic and Metabolic Efficiency testing. There is almost too much data (if there is such a thing) where the nutrition practitioner must decide what is relevant for that athlete at that particular time.

Here is where the banana comes in. I have crafted the analogy of these three tests (blood work, Metabolic Efficiency and genomic) into a banana. The peel of the banana is blood work testing. Somewhat beneficial but may not provide you measurable action items and may be discarded.  In fact, many individuals do not know what to do with the blood work results that they receive from their doctor.  The fruit of the banana is Metabolic Efficiency testing. It is tangible information that will dig deeper into the fruit (body) to yield very specific information regarding substrate (carbohydrate and fat) usage. Finally, the seeds of a banana, the deepest layer of information in the fruit itself is genomic testing. It is highly individual to that particular fruit (body) and will provide information on the most microscopic level.

All three layers are important and will provide a well rounded knowledge base for any athlete but one without the other may not be as beneficial as all three together.

And there you have it.  The banana. As I digest (pun intended) the information I learned at the Sports Genomics clinic and begin to put it into practice at eNRG Performance, you will no doubt here more and more of how the testing can benefit you but also how the topic of "feeding your genes" will become part of your nutrition behavior system.

Until next week!


Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Sugar Cube vs. A Spoonful of Olive Oil

As you know, following a metabolically efficient lifestyle is centered on controlling blood sugar by combining the proper nutrients (protein + fiber + fat) throughout the day. It is centered on creating a healthy relationship with food, and teaching better instinctual eating cues. ME is not an exercise prescription tool, device, concept or the like. Recently, I heard ME testing being compared to the Maffetone Method but try to compare a cube of sugar to a spoonful of olive oil. Pretty difficult to find the similarities.

I developed the Metabolic Efficiency test over a decade ago, using my exercise physiology know-how. It was methodical in the structure, down to the pre-test protocol. But more importantly, the implementation of the test is what separates it from all other physiological testing. ME testing provides an individual with a snapshot of their current daily nutrition plan. It is a nutritional assessment. Can we find your heart rate, power, or pace in which you should exercise to burn more fat?  Sure. It is possible but it is not the point of the test. The goal is to tell you if your nutrition is supporting your health and performance goals. After having a Metabolic Efficiency test, you have a nutrition plan created for you that is focused on improving health and performance parameters. Simple as that.

Comparing ME testing with the MAF method is not a fair comparison. ME testing uses technology, physiological principles, and experienced professionals to interpret the data. The MAF method uses extrapolations and equations based on physiological principles. There is not measurement of physiological data.  I am not saying the MAF method is not pertinent for what it is trying to offer.  What I am saying is that, quite simply, ME testing and the MAF method cannot be compared to one another. 

It's like trying to compare a lactate threshold blood test with a Metabolic Efficiency test. The former tests fitness and provides training zones while ME testing tests nutritional status and provides the opportunity for a qualified professional to provide a nutritional plan based on the data found in the test.

Want more proof that ME testing should not be compared to the MAF method?  Here are four of eNRG Sport Dietitians data sets for ME testing and calculation of their MAF heart rate. 

What does this mean? I think it is quite clear actually. You can be quite off in using a predictive equation to determine your aerobic heart rate for training. Using a physiological measurement allows you to "peek" inside your body with more accuracy based on your current fitness level.

Metabolic Efficiency is a concept that I developed that centers on the manipulation of nutrition to impact blood sugar. I created the physiological test to validate the nutrition strategies. 

However, keep in mind that the point of this blog was to provide you the reasons why you cannot compare a sugar cube to a spoonful of olive oil. Please don't think that just because two concepts may discuss the same principles (such as improving fat burning) that they are the same. It is quite the opposite in most instances.

Until next week...


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Back at it

Hello world, it's me again! I've taken a couple of good cracks at being consistent with my blog in the past but it never worked out the way I had planned due to other work projects popping up.  However, now is the time and I am committing to writing a blog every week for the rest of 2016! These blogs will not be lengthy. They will make you ponder a few things. They will make you scratch your head. They will make you want to learn more. They will make you want to think twice about the nutrition and exercise plan you follow. They may be controversial. They may be highlighting research. One thing is for sure: each blog will include a huge splash of reality so stay tuned and enjoy the journey!

Back to Blogging

In 2003, I had a vision and after three years, I introduced it to the world. Metabolic Efficiency. Since 2006 many things have happened regarding this concept.  It has progressed from a dietary strategy to cure GI distress in endurance athletes to improving health markers, inducing safe and effective weight loss, and decreasing the need for copious simple sugars during sport competition. I have refined the testing protocols, introducing it to many different populations of athletes. I have created two levels of the Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist certification, one for fitness and coaching professionals and one for health and medical/nutrition professionals. I have written hundreds of articles about the topic, given presentations at annual conferences and for athletes, and have written the book on Metabolic Efficiency (now in its second edition).

Even with all of these great accomplishments, there still seems to be some confusion about what Metabolic Efficiency really is. I could go on and on about how great of a concept it is but let's leave my first blog back with a bit of support by a recently published 2016 Position Statement by the American College of Sports Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Dietitians of Canada. This Position Statement is pretty big stuff in the world of sports nutrition so us Sport Dietitians take note of the updates.

Under the New Perspectives in Sports Nutrition, point #3 states the following:

"A key goal of training is to adapt the body to develop metabolic efficiency and flexibility while competition nutrition strategies focus on providing adequate substrate stores to meet fuel demands of the event and support cognitive function."

Look at independent research studies all you want (and I do frequently). There is always bias in them and I will highlight a few of these throughout the year. However, there is no arguing with a Position Stand from three reputable organizations. For Metabolic Efficiency to be highlighted as a new perspective in sports nutrition is both an honor to me but also a sigh of relief that proves that there are more forward thinking sports nutrition professionals such as myself.

Until next week...