Tag: Health

Keto Diet – 7 Unexpected Health Benefits

7 Unexpected Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

People have been flocking to the Keto Diet in recent years because of its reputation for enhanced weight loss. And a survey of dieticians in the United States in 2020 showed that the Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet will continue to be the most popular fat loss diet this year. But there are tons of other health benefits of Keto apart from total weight loss.

You might already know that ketogenic diets were actually developed to reduce symptoms in epilepsy patients. Or that Keto can help to boost your immune system function. However, there are lots of other unexpected health benefits that are contributing to the Keto diet reigning supreme.

So, here are seven other unexpected health benefits of the Keto diet…


1 – Lowered Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

On a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are cut to just 5% of your daily food intake. High-fat and low-carb intake is part of the keto basics. Your body usually breaks down carbs to produce glycogen which fuels your body. On Keto, the high fat intake and reduced carb intake trains your body to start burning fat into chemical compounds called ketones for energy instead.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops as a response to overconsuming sugary and starchy foods. Eating too much of these foods causes your pancreas to make high levels of insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels. When your insulin levels are consistent that high, your body becomes resistant to insulin which is a key marker of Type 2 diabetes.

But on the Keto diet, your body is not relying on carbs and sugar for energy. The drop glucose helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and therefore lower insulin levels. Doctors often recommend lower carbohydrate intake for patients with Type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that the Keto diet helps to improve weight loss and reduce insulin levels.


2 – Alleviation of Depression & Anxiety Symptoms

Depression and anxiety are closely linked to the brain. And early research has begun to establish a link between ketogenic diets and the alleviation of typical symptoms of these common conditions.

A study conducted on rats showed promising results. Low physical activity is a common symptom of depression in people. In this study, one group of rats were put on a ketogenic diet. Those rats showed similar results to other groups of rats that had been treated with antidepressants. The scientists concluded that the Keto group were less likely to show “behavioral despair.”

In another study, one group of pregnant mice were fed ketogenic diets while another group was fed a standard diet. The mice born to the Keto group were more active physically than their standard diet counterparts.

The exact link between Keto and depression and anxiety has not been established. But anecdotal feedback among people who suffer from depression and anxiety has been very positive so far.


Improved Sleep Quality

3 – Improved Sleep Quality

In the short term, Keto can actually have a negative impact on your sleep. This is most likely due to lower levels of serotonin and melanin. But these symptoms are short-lived. And research suggests that in the long term Keto can lead to better quality, deeper sleep.

Once you transition into ketosis (when your body is primarily burning fat into ketones for energy), your body settles down into better sleep patterns. Not only does Keto result in a deeper sleep and increased time in the all-important REM cycle, but a study by the International League Against Epilepsy found that people on Keto diets also needed less sleep time.

Learn more about proper sleep >>


4 – Healthier Liver Function

Fatty liver is a chronic condition that can lead to very serious health implications including cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s also a condition that affects around 25% of adults in the Western world.

Two significant research studies have shown that low-carb diets, such as the Keto Diet, can quickly and dramatically reduce liver fat and the risk of these conditions. The first was a small study but produced highly compelling results. Participants experienced a massive loss of liver fat when following a low carbohydrate diet.

In another study, patients following a ketogenic diet showed significant improvement in the risk for non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), liver scarring, and a 60% reduction in liver fat.


5 – Increased Brain Function

In the early twentieth century, ketogenic diets were developed to help relieve symptoms in epilepsy patients with groundbreaking results. More recently, studies suggest a link between the Keto diet and reduced risk for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease amongst others.

Some followers of Keto experience alleviation of chronic ailments like headaches and sleep disorders. It also has the potential to decrease the risk of certain brain cancers.

The science behind Keto and improved brain function is complex and not conclusively established. But scientist’s early research suggests the production of certain chemicals and ketones interact differently with the brain as a more efficient energy source.


Cardiovascular Health

6 – Healthier Cardiovascular System

Following the Keto diet has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and may help prevent heart disease. However, this health benefit is closely linked to the nutrition sources used by Keto diet followers. It’s vital that your high fat intake is achieved from healthy sources and the “right” type of fat.

For example, a study in 2010 found that, between two low-carb diet groups, those that sourced their fats from vegetables and rich Omega-3 fatty acid foods decreased the risk of heart disease by 23% more than those who sourced fats mostly from meats.

To derive cardiovascular health benefits from Keto, it’s essential to source fats from unprocessed options like avocado, salmon, and nuts.

Learn more about proper Diet >>


7 – Improves Acne

Much of the evidence that says ketogenic diets improve acne is largely anecdotal. However, when you examine what we know about how acne flare-ups are triggered, combined with conclusive biological changes due to ketogenic diets, the effect of Keto on acne makes sense.

Acne is caused by a build-up of excess oil on the skin through sebaceous glands. This causes blockages in the pores which result in acne breakouts.

In one small study, it was found that diets low on the glycemic index reduced insulin levels and androgens (male hormones) which contributed to a reduction in acne. Keto is also proven to reduce inflammation in the body. And since inflammation can drive acne flare-ups, it’s logical that this may be a contributing factor in how ketogenic diets alleviate acne symptoms.

It’s pretty clear that the benefits of ketogenic diets go far beyond weight loss. So, if you’ve been thinking of trying Keto to eat clean and improve your general health and wellness, give it a try!


Keto Diet Starter Guide

Get started on your Ketogenic Journey today with this awesome infographic from TotalShape.com.

The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Starter Guide - Infographic

More Readings:

Don’t forget to get a Workout Program >>

Stronger Than Cancer

Stronger Than Cancer

Prevention As A Cure

What is Cancer? What are the Signs and Symptoms? Am I at Risk for getting Cancer? And how can I prevent it? These are some very common and important questions to ask about this terrible disease known as Cancer. This article will tell all and even teach you about using prevention as a cure for cancer! 

Plus, join the fight, and help cancer victims when you buy a shirt today!

Stronger Than Cancer Awareness Ribbon Pink

Table Of Contents:

Introduction

First, I want to begin by stating that, to date, there has not yet been found a cure for cancer. Cancer is a disease that the best doctors and scientists in the world are still trying to truly understand; to better help care for those with it.

This article is not meant to give false hope that a new discovery has been found. Or to argue against qualified medical professionals on how to treat cancer of any kind.

This is merely a helpful guide, for both those with and without cancer, to better understand how to decrease its negative effects. And how to prevent it from ever occurring to you.

With that being said, let’s begin…


What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease where your body’s affected cells grow rapidly, randomly, and without control; blocking normal cell growth. This continuous growth forms into what is known as a tumor, or group of continuously growing cells. These cells can break off of the tumor and spread to other areas of the body, adding to the damage created by this unforgiving disease.

Tumors are also dangerous because they affect the cells around them, and start to modify the functions within the body’s systems to where the systems can no longer do their job properly. And if the cells within a system cannot perform their job, then the system breaks down and that body part no longer functions.

Imagine if that was your lungs, bones, or digestive system (colon). If any of those systems no longer function properly, then we will soon be brought to the harsh reality of cancer. 

We Are All Born With Cancer

Cancer Cells

The truth is, we all already have cancer.

We are all born with cancerous cells within our bodies. If we did not, we would not be alive. Cancer is just a continuous growth of cells that can get out of control if triggered. That is why we see cancer occur at all stages of life. Even in children.

We all have cancer cells. Though many of us will live a long healthy life without ever experiencing its devastation at work.

Why is simply unknown. But we can speculate that it is due to the cancerous cells being triggered by a combination of unhealthy living, heredity, and old age. And the more triggers you send to your cells, the more likely you are to start having them grow rapidly.

If un-triggered, then you will likely never get a tumor. So the best way to prevent cancer is through healthy living. 


Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Before continuing, here are some common signs and symptoms that may help you determine if someone has cancer. 

  • Unexpected Weight Loss
  • Prolonged Fever
  • Fatigue – felt often
  • Pains – that are reoccurring or in specific common cancer sites
  • Skin Changes
  • Change in Bowel Habits or Bladder Function
  • Sores that Don’t Heal
  • Lumps or Thickening of Skin
  • Prolonged Illness

Reference: *Cancer Basics 2019 http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/signs-and-symptoms-of-cancer.html

Often times, many of these signs and symptoms need to be felt to indicate the possibility of increased cancer activity. However, there is no guarantee.

So, if you are ever concerned that you may have cancer it is imperative that you see your doctor right away and thoroughly explain your reasons for speculation. 

For more information on Cancer signs and symptoms go to: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/


Cancer Risk

The risk of getting cancer among US citizens is relatively high, but there is still hopeful news.

In the US, the risk of getting cancer for males is 42% and 37.5% for females.

Of those with cancer, 86% are over the age of 50. And of those with cancer, ~70% survive and are able to live complete lives.

Also, it is estimated that 1.7 million people in the US will get cancer in 2019 (Cancer Basics 2019). And though these numbers can be scary, they can also be improved.

This is because the best treatment for cancer is PREVENTION through living a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.

Do our complete Risk Assessment >>


Cancer Prevention

Prevention is the best treatment for cancer. And healthy living is the best way to prevent cancer and other illnesses.

Cancer Prevention Tips

Again, we are all born with cancerous cells within our body. And the more triggers, or “bad habits”, we give these cancerous cells, the more likely they are to become destructive.

So by avoiding a number of bad habits, we can greatly decrease our chances of ever triggering these cancer cells from growing out of control.

Here are some ways to prevent “triggering” cancer:

These are some basic ways found to help prevent cancer as well as many other forms of illness; including diabetes, internal organ failures, or common sicknesses.

Of course though, to be healthy enough to prevent illnesses you must have a combination of exercise, a good diet, and the avoidance of “bad habits” such as those listed above. 

Maintaining a Healthy Body

We know that we need to be healthy, but how do we know if we are healthy or not? The answer to that question varies because it is very individualistic.

“Healthy” is an opinioned term. This means that something may seem “healthy” to one individual and “unhealthy” to another. But the official definition is unclear.

However, a health assessment can be very beneficial in determining your risk level. And give you valuable insight into cancer prevention.

Take Your Health Assessment >>

Next, here are some physical guidelines that can help you better determine if you have a “healthy” amount of exercise and body composition to help prevent cancer:

Weekly Exercise Minimums

Breast Cancer Awareness Run

Below is a chart stating the minimum amount of weekly exercise you need to do in order to maintain a healthy body and prevent cancer. But realize that these are only minimums. And if you truly want to be healthy, you should do at least twice as much exercise, if not more. 

Intensity

% VO2 Max

Minutes / Day

Days / Week

Moderate 40-60% 30 min. ≥ 5

or

Vigorous 60-85% 20 min. ≥ 3

or

A Combination of these 2 Intensities

Reference: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]

Note: These are the weekly physical activity minimums as stated by the American College of Sports Medicine for an individual to obtain the physiological benefits of exercise required to not be considered sedentary, or without exercise.

Start Exercising! >>

Exercise Intensity

First of all, I know that most people do not know their VO2 Max. Also known as, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use at one time during exercise. So let me simplify it for you.

Moderate-intensity is a pace that you can maintain for an extended period of time. And is intense enough that you cannot maintain a conversation during the activity. Think of it as between a 4-6 difficulty on a 1-10 scale. 10 being the hardest thing you have ever done and 1 being just above rest, such as standing.

Vigorous-intensity is a near-maximal intensity where you are working at a rate in which you may need to stop and do multiple bouts within the given time. Usually, this exercise lasts only 3-7 minutes per bout and is between a 6-8.5 on a scale of 1-10. 

Why Do We Care?

Now, why do we care about VO2 Max and meeting the exercise minimums, suggested by ACSM? We care because it has been shown that an increase in VO2 Max, also suggesting an increase in heart efficiency, decreases the rate of all-cause mortality.

This means that the more efficient you are at exercising, the better chance you have to avoid all causes of death by cardiac (heart) instances, illness, and disease.

This, of course, does not guarantee that you will not have something like a heart attack or cancer occur. But it greatly decreases your chances.

ACSM Body Composition Guidelines

Diet and Exercise Made Simple

Another way to decrease your all-cause mortality and prevent illnesses, such as cancer, is through maintaining healthy body composition. This is what the ACSM gives as basic guidelines for body composition:

Calculating BMI

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measurement of body mass density. This measurement is the leading standard for determining the risk level for all-cause mortality.  Or the likelihood of death from a heart-related incident (heart attack, heart disease, etc.) or illness (cancer, life-threatening diseases, etc.).

BMI = Bodyweight (kg) / Height² (m)

Or

BMI = [ Bodyweight (lbs) / 2.204 (kg) ] / [ Height (inches) X 0.0254 ]² 

Weight (kg) = Bodyweight (lbs) / 2.204

1 kg = 2.204 lbs

Height (m) = Height (inches) x (0.0254)

1 inch = 0.0254 cm

Body Mass Index (BMI) Risk Level and Classification

BMI

Risk Level

Classification

<18.5

Increased Risk Underweight

18.6-24.9

Normal Risk Optimal
25-29.9 Increased Risk

Overweight

30-34.9 High Risk

Obese – Class 1

35-39.9

Very High Risk

Obese – Class 2

≥40 Extreme Risk

Obese – Class 3

*Risk Level is greatly increased when paired with a large waist circumference.

Reference: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]

Waist Circumference

Your waist circumference is a measurement around the largest area of your stomach, or just below the navel.

While standing with feet together, arms at sides and feet relaxed, take a horizontal (level) measurement around the narrowest part of the torso between the umbilicus (belly button) and xiphoid process (base tip of the sternum).

Waist Circumference Risk Level

Men

Women

Risk Level

<80cm / <31.5 in.

<70cm / <28.5in. Very Low

80-99cm / 31.5-39in.

70-89cm / 28.5-35in.

Low

100-120com / 39.5-47in. 90-110cm / 35.5-43in.

High

>120com / >47in. >110cm / >43.5in.

Very High

*Risk level is greatly increased when paired with an obese BMI measurement (≥30).

Referenced by: Williams, L., Wilkins. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [Text]

Muscle vs. Fat Tissue

By improving your body composition, you are much more likely to live a longer, healthier, cancer-free life. As you will place less stress on your body’s systems, allowing them to function better.

However, both your BMI and your Waist Circumference present the same health risk; whether your mass is made mostly of fat or muscle tissue. In fact, the stress on the heart may even be greater in those with more muscle.

This is because muscle tissue has blood vessels and must be maintained. While fat is simply stored, with little maintenance. And muscle puts increased stress on the heart to function at a higher rate at all times.

So it doesn’t matter if you are made mostly of rock-solid muscle or fat. The same risk applies because it is based on your heart. Not based on your tissue. 

Helpful Weight Management Articles:

6 Pack Abs for womenJACKED – How To Build Muscle >>

SHREDDED – How To Get Lean >>

RIPPED – How To Get 6-Pack Abs >>

Fat Loss Forever >>


The Bottom Line For Cancer Prevention

A lot is still unknown about Cancer. Except that we are all born with the potential for it to occur.

This is why we see children with cancer even though they have done nothing to trigger these uncontrolled growth responses. We simply do not know why they occur. And they can happen to anybody.

Even the most elite athletes can obtain cancer, such as Lance Armstrong. He was a world-class athlete and had multiple battles with cancer. But he survived them all. And he is a great example that cancer can be overcome.

Yet, the best treatment for cancer is still prevention.

And many people can prevent cancer, along with other illnesses, just by simply taking care of their body’s. If you live a lifestyle where you do not care for your body, then you cannot expect it to be able to protect you when you need it most.

However, just by taking a little time to exercise, eat clean, and avoid bad habits, you can greatly decrease your chances of ever getting a life-threatening illness. Then you can feel better and be there for the people and things that you love.

Take Action

So I suggest that you choose to challenge yourself. To make a better life for yourself, and those around you by taking action. And fight back against cancer, by preventing it all together!

I know it is not always easy and many of us already do way too much. But we have to put ourselves first sometimes to better be able to help others.

And that can be as simple as just being there for them in the future. And not placing the stress of possibly preventable illnesses on them.

So take action and be different today. Because tomorrow may be too late.

Take Action! >>

I wish you the best of luck at preventing cancer. And remember to keep getting stronger my friends! Stay Stronger Than Cancer! 

More Articles >>


References

Cancer Basics. (2019). Retrieved from

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/signs-and-symptoms-of-cancer.html

Wilkins. Williams, L. (2019). ACSM’s Guidelines For Exercise Testing and Prescription. American College of Sports Medicine. Tenth Edition. [text] 

www.acsm.org

Yoga for Athletes: 4 Ways to Advance Your Practice

Yoga for Athletes

4 Ways to Advance Your Practice

No matter what type of athlete you are, yoga can improve your performance. Yoga builds strength, flexibility, and balance to keep your body in peak condition and prevent injury.

However, like other workouts, your yoga practice can plateau. If your yoga flow has started to feel like you’re just going through the motions, why not introduce new challenges into your yoga practice? These are four tips, tools, and tech you can use to keep things interesting on the mat.

This is a guest article by Jason Lewis from StrongWell.org!

Get our FREE Daily 30 Bodyweight Strength Training Guide! >>

How To Start Yoga >>


1 – Set Goals for Yourself

Yoga might not be your primary athletic pursuit, but progressing in yoga requires setting goals and tracking results just like your cardio and strength training does. If logging workouts in a notebook is a little too old-school for you, download an app to set weekly and monthly goals for yourself. You can use a Best Fitness App, or a yoga-specific app with progress-tracking features, like Pocket Yoga. Or even a general fitness tracking app like Fitness Buddy or MyFitnessPal.

If you’re sporting an outdated phone that doesn’t support the latest apps, use this as the push you need to finally upgrade. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go broke just to replace your smartphone; even the iPhone XS is only $41.66 a month through a provider like Verizon. Android users also have options at all budget levels, and it only takes a little research to find the right one.

2 – Find a Teacher You Click With

Most people tend to stick with the same few routines when practicing yoga at home. Searching for videos is tedious, and once you find an instructor and flow that you like, it’s easier to return to an old favorite than sift through the countless options online.

Taking a yoga class for weightloss can be just what you need to push your practice to the next level. In class, there’s no fast-forwarding through sequences or turning the video off early. And with an instructor to mix things up each time, you’re forced to stay alert in order to keep pace.

You’ll get more out of a yoga class if you find an instructor you enjoy learning from. Look for instructors who teach your preferred yoga style, whether that’s Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, or another yoga variant, then test out different classes until you find a teacher who makes you feel comfortable yet motivated in your yoga practice.

3 – Incorporate Mini-Sessions Into Your Practice

If you struggle to find the motivation for full-length yoga practice, give yourself permission to practice for as little as seven minutes at a time. You might not get the same physical workout you’d get from a 60-minute flow, but short sessions are a great centering activity. Incorporate seven-minute flows into your morning and bedtime routines, squeeze a session into breaks at work, or intersperse high-intensity workouts with yoga stretches to prevent stiff muscles.

4 – Attend a Yoga Workshop

Is there one yoga skill that keeps tripping you up? If something is holding your yoga practice back, a yoga workshop is a great chance to overcome it. Workshops let yogis dive deep into one particular skill or pose, and with more opportunity for one-on-one work, you can get the expert advice you need to step up your practice.

Yoga workshops might focus on mastering an advanced pose, learning yogic breathing styles, improving alignment and posture, overcoming an injury, or another topic. Ask your instructor if you’re not sure where to find yoga workshops near you.

There’s no one right way to practice yoga. Maybe you practice yoga as a “rest day” activity, or perhaps yoga is a core part of your fitness routine. No matter how you approach yoga, you should always strive to grow in your practice.

See all of our Mobility Stretching Exercises! >>

Diet and Exercise Made Simple

Diet and Exercise Made Simple

We all know diet and exercise are important. However, it doesn’t have to be hard! So many people make it out to be much harder than it really is. If you just do a little planning and put in the effort, your health and weight loss goals can be accomplished. 


Which is more important…diet OR exercise?

We all want to know! What is it?! What is more important for getting leaner, stronger, and for me to reach my health and fitness goals fastest? Do I need to focus more on diet OR exercise?

Answer: Neither!

Neither diet nor exercise trump the other. They are BOTH important if you want to reach your strength, health and fitness goals! They both work together to help create a healthy body. If you do one or the other well with little regard towards the other, you will not get near the results as if you worked both together. 

“Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise…”

Have you ever heard something like, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet”? Well, though exercise is highly valuable, and burns a ton of calories, it’s too easy for us to eat more calories than we can burn off. Also, if you have a bad diet, you likely will not have the energy to exercise enough to maintain a healthy body.


Have A Good Diet

Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise and gives you the energy to perform at your best. So, in order to perform your best, YOU NEED A GOOD DIET!

That doesn’t mean you should be stuck eating bland foods like chicken and broccoli every day, but you should put more thought into it than “oh look, ice cream has 2g of protein in it!”.

Your calories and their sources matter. Have a reasonable amount of fats, carbs, and protein if you want to perform your best and get the most out of your workouts.

DO NOT make one nutrient out to be “bad” and another the only thing you concern yourself with. Find an equal balance that fits your lifestyle and stick to it with little variation.


Do Real Exercise

“If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog.”

If you don’t exercise you aren’t going to change much of anything. You can’t diet your way to a 6-pack while just sitting around or going through everyday activities. You need some amount of exercise no matter how clean your diet is.

Exercise not only burns calories, but it also creates numerous changes in your body, including hormonal, that changes how your diet affects you. If you want to look like you are fit and workout, then guess what? You’re gonna have to exercise, and exercise enough to create change.

WALKING DOES NOT COUNT!

Walking Is NOT Exercise!

If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog! Even if you walk your dog uphill, that is still not considered exercise.

Do some strength training, go for a run, do calisthenics at home, cycle, or anything you enjoy. Do it multiple times per week and put in some strong effort so you can get some great results. This will amplify your results as your diet and exercise routine work together to create the most amount of change within your body. 


Make Progress Every Day

“You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.”

Your diet and exercise routine doesn’t have to be complex. Let it be simple.

Let go of the excuses, we all can make them, and get started today. Right now is the time to make a change. Tomorrow is too late!

Get up and do SOMETHING! Anything! Just move and work towards becoming stronger!

Start easy and progress forward by doing just a little more each day. You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.

You can run for 1 minute today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.

The Daily 30 is also a great choice and it was made specifically for beginners!

Whatever you do, continue to improve daily. Doing the same thing over and over will give you little results, plus it’s boring. Do something every day and work towards your goals!


Make Small Diet and Exercise Changes

“Most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day.”

When it comes to diet and exercise, keep it simple! Start with a simple diet change, like taking a multivitamin or drinking an extra glass of water every morning. Then you can move onto adding in a healthy snack during the day. Such as some fruit, vegetables or some nuts.

YES, I did say “add in” a meal before I said to take anything away. This is because most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day. If you add in a healthy snack/meal during the day when you need the energy, you will tend to eat less as night, which will make a big difference in itself!

For exercise, start with doing some push-ups, planks, squats, jogging, the Daily 30 or something! You MUST EXERCISE if you want to create change! This tends to be the hardest part for everyone, but it is extremely important! Diet and exercise go together.

Take it slow, but make a change! Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it! So let’s get to it!

Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it!”

Keep getting stronger my friends!

Strength to you,

Ryan J. Mathias

Owner and Creator of MathiasMethod.com

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Hydration for Athletes and Lifters

Hydration for Athletes and Lifters

What is Hydration?

First, hydration is a balance of fluids in the body or having adequate fluids within the body tissues. There are many factors which affect the balance of fluids within the body as our systems are constantly functioning and changing. Your fluid balance will change depending upon activity, temperature, electrolyte balance, fluids consumed and many other factors. So make sure to follow good hydration practices for optimal performance and health.

Good Hydration Practices:

  • Always carry fluids with you.
  • Consume water regularly throughout the day.
  • Drink 1 Liter of water within one hour of first waking up.
  • Drink at least 0.7oz X Bodyweight of water during active days.
  • Consume 1/2 Liter of a 6% saturated (60g per 1 Liter) solution of carbohydrates in sodium water (400-500mg per Liter) for each hour of your training.
  • Consume an extra 1 Liter of water, or more, when exposed to hot conditions.

Effects of Dehydration

Hydration is important because even a slightly dehydrated fluid balance can have negative effects on your body’s systems, health, and overall performance.

The effects of dehydration affect all tissues within the body. The blood is the smallest fluid compartment in the body and regulates the fluid within the surrounding cells. So fluid loss affects the cardiac system the most. This is due to a decrease in blood plasma volume, which holds a large amount of oxygen and allows for normal cardiac output.

This loss also decreases the blood flow to the skin. This mechanism is used to cool the blood and decreases sweat rate, therefore, decreasing core temperature. An increase in core temperature increases the likelihood of heat exhaustion and other dangerous heat-related illness.

Effects on Performance

The effects of dehydration can also have a great effect on athletic performance.

1A fluid loss of even 2-3% (% of body weight) can decrease your VO2 Max (aerobic performance/ the amount of oxygen the body can use) by 5% and fluid loss of 5% can decrease work capacity by 30% (fluid loss % based upon body weight). Those are major effects occurring after only slight dehydration.

The effects of dehydration are a major concern for endurance athletes that compete continuously for over 1 hour, but there is also a concern for athletes performing high-intensity exercise. 1It has been found that a fluid loss of only 2.5%, prior to exercise, can decrease the capacity for high-intensity exercises, such as sprinting or powerlifting, by 45%. That is nearly half of the athlete’s work capacity decreased just by not staying hydrated before performing.

Even for non-active individuals, hydration is important for proper body function. A constant state of dehydration leads to:

  • frequent headaches or migraines
  • rough skin
  • decreased muscular function
  • decreased joint function
  • joint pain
  • decreased kidney function
  • and multiple health problems

Many health and performance concerns can be alleviated by simply staying hydrated daily.


How to Stay Hydrated

Luckily, our bodies are smart and they do not give up fluid easily. So normal hydration is not difficult to maintain.

The kidneys filter your blood, removing waste, and maintain proper fluid balance within the body. There is a constant battle between the pull of fluids inside the body versus the pull of fluids out of the body. The side which has the most pull will take most of the fluids. If the pull is too great in one direction or the other, there is an imbalance that will have negative effects.

To be in fluid balance, the pull of fluids out of the body should be equal, or slightly greater, than the pull of fluids inside the body. If the pull of fluids is shifted towards a pull inside the body, then you are in a state of dehydration. This pull allows the body to maintain a constant blood plasma volume. Which then brings fluids to all other cells within the body.

The pull of fluids out of the body is based on the number of waste products that need to be removed through the urine. If there is a greater pull of fluids out of the body through urine then you are either hydrated or there is a major amount of waste product that needs to be removed. This waste can be excess sodium, or other electrolytes, proteins and nitrogen from broken down cells, or toxins within the body. 

Your body wants to get rid of these particles but needs water as a transport. So the more you workout and break down tissue, the more fluid you need to get rid of the waste.

Salt, Water, and Sugar

In the kidneys, Sodium, Water and Glucose are filtered together and move together. One of the major functions of sodium, an electrolyte [Na+], is to help maintain fluid balance within the body’s cells.

In the body, water follows sodium in order to maintain a constant concentration gradient (or fluid balance). This is from comparing particles in and out of the cells.

Also, for every gram of carbohydrates in the body, in the form of glycogen, there are 2.7g of water attached to it. This gives sugary sports drinks an advantage for hydration. If there are sodium and carbohydrates within a water-based drink, such as sports drinks, then there is a large pull towards fluids inside the body during absorption and filtration. This is why it is important to utilize appropriately concentrated sports drinks during long-duration exercise to stay hydrated.

However, that does not mean you always need a sports drink to stay hydrated. You have to earn it! If you are not doing intense exercise for at least one hour, then all you need is water for hydration. Only excessive and exhausting exercise requires more.

The most optimal concentration of carbohydrates in water for hydration is 6% concentration. That is 6g per 100mL or 60g of carbohydrates per Liter of water. The amount of sodium needed within the solution varies depending upon the individual, but it is also an important part of replenishment. The standard sodium content should be enough to taste like Ocean water or about 400-500mg per Liter of water.

It was also found that cold fluids moved through the stomach faster allowing for faster absorption in the intestines. So keep fluids cool during exercise, when possible.

The Perfect Hydrating Drink

To stay hydrated during exercise sessions exceeding one hour, continuous or not, drink ½ Liter of cool water with about 30g of fast digesting carbohydrates, in the form of sugar, for every hour of activity.

Throughout the day manage fluid intake by consuming water. You should consume the same amount of water that you lose throughout the day so that fluid in equal fluids out. This will help to maintain a state of hydration while allowing for urine production to remove waste products.

For individuals with a high activity level, drink a minimum of 0.7oz per pound of bodyweight to stay hydrated while removing the waste product from excessive muscle contractions.

During hot days, consume at least one extra Liter of water to account for the excess fluid loss from skin dissipation or sweat.


Final Thoughts

Overall, staying hydrated is not difficult but if neglected it can have major negative effects on your body’s ability to perform and function properly.

The first step to hydration is being prepared. If you are going to be away from a water source for a long period then carry enough fluids with you. Think ahead and know what you need to consume for the activity you are doing.

Also, learn to enjoy water. You should not constantly be craving water, as that is a sign of dehydration. However, you should not dread every drink you take. Water should make up a majority of the fluid you drink so have no complaints about the taste.

It takes some dedication to consume a large amount of fluid daily for active individuals. However, it takes the same dedication to be fit and healthy. By neglecting to stay hydrated you are neglecting to maintain a healthy functioning body. Just be consistent and you will find it is not as hard as you may think.

Stay strong, stay healthy, and stay hydrated.


Credits:

1 = Gleeson, M. Ph.D., Jeukendrup, A. Ph.D. (2010) Sports Nutrition, Second Edition. Excerpt.

http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance

For more on hydration, watch this video!