NUTRITION FOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – PART 1 NUTRIENT TIMING – HORMONES & EXERCISE

DSCN0804On my previous blogs I mentioned how important is to have a planned periodized training program for sport specific according to the competition schedule.

And I already point out that  part of this plan is to use periodization in structuring a resistance training program that  build up maximum strength, which is the basis of developing power or endurance for sport specific, with the ultimate goal to achieve peak performance for the most important competition of the year.

But as a Registered Holistic and Sport Nutrition Consultant, I never talk in my blogs about nutrition and supplementation for athletes. And now is the time.

In the world of sport nutrition there is a lot of “buzz”  that lead to the sales of various supplements disregarding the fact that some are good but some are just hype. And because many athletes and fitness enthusiasts rely on what the supplement manufacturers are advertising in the media, I will provide more information in my future blogs, with the intention to take the confusion out of supplementation.

NUTRIENT TIMING

Nitrient-Timing[1]The new science in sport nutrition is related to the Nutrient Timing that emphasize now more on the time to eat  rather than only what to eat.

But in my opinion knowing both what to eat and the time to eat before and after training is an essential key in achieving  proper nutrition for recovery and performances.

The nutrient timing system can be divided into 3 different phases:

  1. The Energy Phase refer to the time just before and during workout.
  2. The Anabolic Phase is the time related to the next  45 minutes after the workout
  3. The Growth Phase  is the rest of the time after the workout.

But since the science behind Nutrient Timing is based on the hormonal response to various training intensities, it is better first to understand the role of hormones as related to food and exercise.

HORMONES AND EXERCISE

Inside the body, there are numerous hormones stimulated by exercise and by the food we eat. Some of them have  an anabolic (building up) effect and some of them with a catabolic (breaking down) effect.

5937369_f520[1]The catabolic hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucagon are assisting in the breaking down of food into nutrients necessary for energy production at the cellular level. These hormones also stimulate the raise in respiration tempo, heart rate and blood pressure, to facilitate blood redistribution to muscle, and  to meet the  needs of a continuous dynamic exercise.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, produced by the adrenal gland, which is largely responsible during exhaustive exercise, for the breakdown of carbohydrate and fat for energy.  It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucose, and stimulate the use of amino acids in liver to make new glucose, in a process  referred to as gluconeogeneses.

Glucagon, is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to raises blood glucose when these levels are low. It is the  opposite of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. Both glucagon and insulin are part of a feedback system that keeps blood glucose levels at a stable level.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and  Norepinephrine (also known as noradrenalin) are hormones produced by the adrenal glands and also neurotransmitters produced by some neurons of the central nervous system. Both adrenaline and noradrenalin known as catecholamine hormones, are active on nearly all body tissues and act as a “fight-or-flight” response to stress. Their action is to increases respiratory and heart rate, stimulates the breakdown of glycogen and lipids in the liver, stimulate muscle contraction and  increases the brain’s oxygen supply.

how-to-naturally-increase-growth-hormone[1]The  anabolic hormones that are stimulated by exercise such as insulin, testosterone, IGF-I and growth hormone, facilitate the regulation of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism , maintain muscle and stimulate growth, aid in tissues repair and control inflammation.

Insulin, produced by the pancreas is one of the major anabolic hormone, that is stimulate by food and exercise to regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. While exercise boost insulin sensitivity to increase glucose uptake for muscle contraction, it also  stimulates protein synthesis in muscles by accelerating the transport of amino acids.

But with  intense exercises, actually insulin level decrease due to the fact that adrenaline, noradrenalin and glucagon stimulated by exercise, inhibit the release of insulin from the pancreas. On the other end, food with high glycemic increase the insulin level.

Testosterone is another important anabolic hormone that is produced and in the testicles of man and the ovaries of women, and very little by the adrenal glands. For men it is the main sex hormone and also an anabolic steroid necessary for protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy. High intensity exercises increases the level of testosterone. Similar to other steroid hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol, and it is influenced by the vitamin D, zinc and magnesium level in the body. Foods containing cholesterol (such as eggs with the yolk) and vitamins and minerals should be part of an athlete healthy diet.

Growth hormone is another important anabolic hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland, but regulated by the hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that connect the nervous system to the endocrine system through  the pituitary gland. Growth hormone stimulates the immune system , promotes bone and cartilage growth and increases protein synthesis. Growth hormone can increase with high intensity training and its release can be stimulated by taking some ergogenic supplements such as amino acids arginine, glutamine glycine,  minerals and vitamins such as zinc, magnesium and vitamin C, vitamin B3 and B6 as well as other antioxidants including alpha lipoic acid. And it is inhibited by high glycemic foods that stimulate the release of insulin.

Growth hormone is also responsible for stimulating IGF-I, a hormone responsible for the development of muscle cells.

IGF-1 is a hormone similar in molecular structure to insulin, that has an important role in childhood growth and has anabolic effects in adults,  promoting  muscle hypertrophy. IGF-1 is produced primarily by the liver, and is stimulated by the release of growth hormone. It is now accepted as an anti-aging hormone as showing to decelerate the degenerative aging process. In clinical trials shown great promise for the treatment of diabetes.

You can read more about nutrition, exercise and the hormonal response in my next blogs.

Until then I wish everyone Happy Holydays and all the best in Fitness and Health.

Sports Karate – Canada National Championship

Fighting For a Purpose

As I mention on my previous blogs, my intention to compete to this prestigious 2012 BC Karate Provincial Championship, has had many purposes.

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  • One reason was to test that the periodization training program I designed is a better approach to athletic performances.
  • A second reason was to challenge myself and to see how much I can deliver now at the age of 50, and particularly with the physical limitations that I have after a car accident in 2009.
  • And the third reason, that become the most important purpose of my fight was to raise funds for children in desperate needs for food and medicine.
  • mariofitfightingforkids-charity-bc-children-245x300[1]The idea of attaching this provincial championship to a charitable event, was very important for my mental health, and comes at the right time and as a inspiration to keep me motivated with my training. And here my personal challenge to compete at the 2012 Karate Provincial Championship and my “MarioFit Fighting For Kids” charitable event begin.

Although placing second on this provincial tournament, (+84 kg division) proved that I can be a competitive athlete at the age of 50, more importantly, fighting in the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championship was dedicated to raising awareness for kids in desperate need of food and medicine. And I believe that fulfilled my goals.

Coming from a rehabilitation program, with my increased knowledge on periodization of strength, I redesign my functional training to a sport specific one, that improve my strength and speed considerably. And as I was able to sustain the competition fight against some of best athletes in BC, I also demonstrate that periodization of strength can be a better way to long term athletic performances at any age.

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This is why I decided to study to become a Periodization – Strength and Conditioning Expert (P-SCE) with the world renown Tudor Bompa Institute. I believe that additionally to my qualification as a Registered Sports and Holistic Nutritionist, being also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, it will give me the chance to help many young and old athletes to achieve their performances.

Let’s Go and Do It

Considering my present financial situation and some family related problems, my initial thought was not to go and compete at the Canada’s National Karate Championship in Toronto, on March 14-17, 2013.

But last weekend, on Sunday Dec. 9, 2012, I attended as an observer the Karate BC Elite Team training. And I was impressed to hear that some of the top competitors are not able to attend the Nationals. But I also was amazed to see many young athletes encouraging me to be part of the BC Elite Team, in representing our province (British Columbia) to the Canada National Championship.

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And after I reflected to all the implications that might arise going to the Canada National Karate Championship, and with the hope that I can continue to be a positive example and a good motivation to all members of the Karate BC Elite Team, I decided to go and to compete at the Nationals on March 2013.

So, another journey with a purpose become part of my life.

And thank you to all supporters and friends who motivate me to keep going.

Cheers!

Mario