The right way to go vegan, how to avoid marathon-induced kidney damage, and more
Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance.Sportand exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, andtechnologyhelp you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.
Should everyone be doing Olympic lifts as part of their fitness routine?
The Science: Norwegian researchers looked at a common form of training for power: Olympic lifting. They studied the impact of the barbell clean and snatch on measures of power and speed (jumping and sprinting) when compared to other forms of training.
EQX Expert Insight:"While the results of this particular study did not support the use of this type of training to improve power, other studies have found they do indeed provide a benefit. Explosively moving your body and/or weights can provide a wide range of benefits from increased muscle mass to lower body fat to a higher quality of life through confident movement. This means that Olympic lifts can be an important addition to your training program in the pursuit of adding power. However, there is a catch. The Olympic lifts are very technique- and skill-driven and challenge the entire body. You will want to make sure that your body is prepared to thrive and not just survive. This means ensuring you have enough mobility and stability in your shoulders and hips to go through the movement as well as enough stability in your trunk to provide a solid foundation for the lift. If you don’t think you are ready for the O Lifts, you can still reap the benefits of power through other types of training, as was shown in the study. This could be accomplished through body weight plyometrics (like jump squats and skaters) or explosively moving free weights."
The Bottom Line: No matter where you start, power training should be low volume, meaning low reps. So err on the side of less is more and build from there.
What’s the best mid-race fuel for triathletes?
The Science:A study by researchers in New Zealand supported previous findings showing that "multiple transportable" carbs (glucose + fructose) are better utilized by the body during a triathlon than "single transportable" carbs (only glucose) and are just as easy on the system.
EQX Expert Insight: "Think of a two-lane highway that has to merge into one to pass through a tunnel. Only so much can get through and traffic is slowed. If that two-lane highway had two tunnels, though, more cars get through. It's the same with carbs entering your bloodstream: glucose and fructose use different transport pathways for absorption, hence sources that have both types of carb are considered the "multiple transportable" whereas those with only glucose are "single transportable." In other words, having two different carb types during a race like a triathlon allows for a high rate of use because there are multiple entry points into the blood and thus to your muscles for energy."
The Bottom Line: Some good sources of carbs that contain both glucose and sucrose include dried fruit, GU energy gels, certain bars, or a homemade mix of honey and sweet potato. Use your training runs figure out what that ideal source might be. The most important thing is finding a fuel source that works for you.
Can a vegan diet really work for athletes?
The Science: The Guardian reported on pro soccer player Jermain Defoe who credits veganism, in part, to his success on the pitch. “I still enjoy training, the buzz is still there and I just want to try to play as long as I can. So I do the stuff that will give me the best opportunity to perform and score goals,” he told The Guardian.
EQX Expert Insight: "As an athlete, what you eat can literally make the difference between winning or losing. Eating meat or animal products is not a requirement to reap those nutritional benefits. As this article highlights, there are numerous examples of high-level vegan or vegetarian athletes in almost every sport ranging from UFC fighters to the NFL to ultra-endurance runners. With that said, if you are an athlete at any level who happens to be vegan, you should be aware of your body’s unique nutritional needs. Veganism is more than just not eating certain foods, but being conscious of what you will need to add in. And when it comes to high performance sports, you are creating a lot of stress on the body which requires specific nutrients that are not always the easiest to come by in an all plant-based diet. A few key elements to focus on are protein, vitamin B-12, calcium, and omega 3 fats."
The Bottom Line: There are a plenty of high-level athletes out there that prove you can reach the pinnacle of performance without animal products in your diet. If you’re a vegan athlete, be mindful about planning your meals.
Should marathon runners be worried about their kidneys?
The Science:In a study out of Yale University, the authors looked specifically at the effect running a marathon would have on the kidneys. The results showed that 82 percent of the runners, when tested 30 minutes after crossing the finish line, had short-term kidney injury with their kidneys failing to filter waste from their blood. However, within 48 hours all runners' kidney function was back to normal.
EQX Expert Insight: "The stress of covering 26.2 miles impacts everything: muscles, bones, connective tissues, and organs. While kidney injury of any kind may sound severe, the effect that a marathon has on the kidneys is actually very logical and, as the study showed, very temporary. During physically demanding tasks like running long distances, blood flow is reduced to the kidneys so it can go to the muscles. Along with that, it is natural for runners to become dehydrated. Both issues can cause the reduced kidney function. The return to normal after two days is likely the result of rehydration and the removal of the stress of running."
The Bottom Line: Marathon participants do not need to worry about their kidneys since the impacts and stresses are both temporary. With that said, preparation can always help to limit the strain. Putting in the miles during training can reduce the shock of the distance to the system, potentially lowering the amount of waste needed to be filtered. Along with training, having a hydration strategy for before, during, and after the race will assist in keeping your fluid balance normal.
Do I need to walk 15,000 steps every day?
The Science:That’s the question brought about in a new study and write-up by The New York Times. The research, done in postal workers in Scotland, found that the biggest health benefits came from walking 15,000 steps a day, not 10,000 as is frequently advised.
Expert EQX insight:“The authors of this study were looking at the association between levels of daily activity and the risk for developing coronary heart disease. When we think about getting healthy or preventing the onset of various diseases, our attention normally turns to targeted exercise. However, just as important (if not more so) is the amount of non-sport or training activity, what is referred to as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), that we accumulate throughout the day. After accounting for all other variables leaving daily activity as the primary difference, the study found that for every hour beyond five that you spent sitting progressively increased your risk while those who were active for three or more hours (covering roughly 15,000 steps) had the greatest reduction; smaller waistlines, normal BMI, and better metabolic profile. These results serve to reinforce the perspective that we were designed to move and need to do so in order to maintain our health."
The Bottom Line:Being active for three hours a day is the total target, which means it can be split up throughout the day. Setting a habit to go for multiple short walks coupled with any training you are already doing can help you reach the target. Beyond the impact to heart health, these frequent breaks from sitting will provide added benefit to your movement quality and function leading to potentially better workouts.