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Sports Nutrition: Feeding a(n) (Olympic) Village

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Every couple of years, the world’s best athletes get to compete in either the winter or summer Olympics, and I have been wondering about what they eat! I know as a dietitian I am obsessed with food, but surely other people wonder about sports nutrition on this kind of scale, too. These elite athletes have a routine when it comes to their nutrition, especially before competition. Then they are put into a situation where they have a giant smorgasbord of choices in the Olympic Village. How hard it must be to try to stick to their plan…at least until their event is over.

Here are some food stats from previous Olympics that I found interesting.

London 1948 and 2012

In the 1948 games in London, which was the first Olympics after the war, food shortages meant that each country had to bring food for its athletes. Things have definitely changed, and in the 2012 summer Olympics in London, they ordered 25,000 loaves of bread and 232 tons of potatoes for the 2 weeks during the games. For protein, they had 100 tons of beef, 31 tons of poultry, and 82 tons of seafood. Luckily, there was plenty of produce to balance the carbs and protein; they ordered 330 tons of fruits and vegetables. Water was the most popular beverage, but after that it was milk, with 75,000 liters consumed!

Rio 2016

In the 2016 summer games in Rio at its peak demand, they fed 18,000 people per day and were open for 24 hours, so athletes could eat whenever their schedules allowed. They served over 40 varieties of exotic fruit such as acai, carambola, and maracuja (passion fruit). The buffets included cuisines such as Brazilian, Asian, International, pasta and pizza, and halal and kosher offerings. The kitchen was the size of a football field and the dining area was larger than two football fields.

Something that could potentially be an obstacle for athletes was the giant and free McDonalds that was the centerpiece of the dining hall. This has been an Olympic Village staple since the company first became a sponsor in 1976.One great thing they did in Rio was to donate the leftover food each night. They provided more than 100 meals on average nightly to the homeless.

PyeongChang 2018

At this year’s winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea, they are expected to serve 5 million meals at 13 different venues. This is for 6,000 athletes and officials during the Olympics and 1,700 athletes and officials during the Paralympics. As with other locations, they will serve plenty of food that is local to South Korea to promote their culture to athletes from other regions. There are drinking fountains at all of the venues, but the ones on the mountains will need an anti-freezing machine to keep the water from freezing. There is a different menu every day, and information about the recipes, nutritional facts, and allergens will be made available to those who ask.

***

Even world-class athletes are susceptible to the pitfalls of buffets, especially ones as large and varied as the ones at the Olympic Village. So most coaches have now discussed these issues and encouraged a plan when it comes to food. Or they tend to pack suitcases full of familiar foods to guarantee they have what they need. Having the proper nutrition can be the difference between a gold medal and a silver medal. They can enjoy the free McDonalds and all-you-can-eat buffets after their events.

This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Exercise Programs

Sit Ups vs. Crunches Which One is Better and what is the difference?

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Flat stomach and good abs are probably the pinnacle of fitness achievement for anyone who has started with a diet and workout regimen. Although it goes beyond saying that a trim and slim core is far more appealing than those unflattering stomach rolls, a strong core will also improve your posture and make your exercises more efficient while remaining injury-free. Having said that, it is fair to say that the abs are probably the most stubborn and most difficult muscles to tone (especially for women!) and that a six-pack comes at a serious price of watching your diet and training to your limits. So how do you square the debate between sit ups vs. crunches?

Sit Ups And Crunches

Presuming that youve
cut down on all the food that makes your tummy chubby and you are now looking
for a way to see those attractive ab-delineating lines, it still goes without
saying that you need to be prepared for some serious sweating. The reason
behind the sweat? Lots of and lots of sit ups and crunches!

Although all
forms of exercise tend to make your core stronger, you wont see that six-pack
of yours without ab-targeted workouts. Youve all probably heard of sit ups and
crunches, but youll be surprised how many people either confuse them and think
of them as the same exercise or are not quite sure what makes them different. If
you are one of them, stick around while we take a closer look and compare these
two ab-splitting exercises. Its time for the sit ups vs. crunches duel.

What is the difference between crunches and sit ups?

When it comes to crunches vs. sit ups, the main difference is the muscles they target. Although they are both ab-working muscles, sit ups, unlike crunches, target multiple muscles at once. Unfortunately, neither of them targets belly fat directly (you need to stay out of the kitchen and go though the hell of cardio for that!).

The good thing about your core is that you will target some of the muscles with virtually every other bodyweight workout. Take for example squats or lunges both contribute towards a stronger core, beyond their primary purpose.

What muscles do
sit ups work?

Sit ups work the abs and a range of other muscle groups like the chest,
lower back, hip flexors and neck. However, you shouldnt dread building
additional muscles, as muscle cells, due to their higher metabolic activity
compared to fat cells, will make you burn more calories (and consequently fat)
even when you are resting, which will bring you a step closer to a shredded
abdomen.

What muscles do
crunches work?

Crunches work by the principle of intense muscle isolation. They only work
the abdominal muscles, therefore making them the most popular exercise for
those trying to get a six-pack. They are also a perfect exercise for developing
a strong core, which includes the lower back muscles and obliques. And a strong
core translates into better posture and improved balance.

The sit up
vs. crunches discussion inevitably breaks over the benefits of each of these exercises,
which (and this cannot be stressed enough) will be significantly reduced if
proper form is not maintained. So let me get back to the opening question:

Sit ups vs. crunches
which one is better?
Well, lets have a
closer look at how these exercises work and then compare them one against the
other.

What are the benefits of crunches and how to do a proper
crunch?

Sit Ups Vs. Crunches 1

The crunch works by strengthening the rectus abdominis by flexing it. Although in performing crunches you dont go as high as with the full sit up, this primary abdominal muscle activates during the first 30-45 degrees of movement, or just at the point when you lift the shoulders off the ground.

The crunch has a smaller range of motion compared to the sit up, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as it works your core without putting stress on your back.

One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found out that the Ab-slide exercise shows higher electromyographic activity across the external oblique, upper rectus abdominis and lower rectus abdominis, and is therefore slightly more effective than the crunch. However, the study also concluded that the crunches show significant activity as well, and should therefore not be excluded.

Of course, you
wont see any of the benefits of crunches if you fail to do them correctly. So
in order to maintain proper form, follow the steps below.

Crunches also
build endurance in abdominal muscles. By being an isolated exercise, they help
achieve abdominal endurance faster and more effectively when compared against
other ab exercises. As the purpose of your abs is to stabilize your
mid-section, help you have a good posture, and support you when lifting heavy
objects, one of the best benefits of crunches is that they help you achieve exactly
that which makes them quite the functional exercise.

How to do a
proper crunch?

  1. Lie down on your back and bend
    your knees
  2. Put your hands behind your head
    or cross them so that palms are touching opposite shoulders
  3. Draw in your belly button towards
    your spine and lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor (no higher),
    exhaling while going up.
  4. Pause, inhale, and return to the
    staring position. Make sure that your feet, low back and tailbone never lose
    contact with the ground as you roll up and down.

What are the benefits of sit ups and how to do a proper
sit up?

Crunches Vs. Sit Ups

As I already mentioned, sit ups work more muscles in your body as opposed to abs only. They are a bodyweight exercise, just like crunches, but the fact that they engage multiple muscle groups means that they are more beneficial for toning your body and developing functional strength compared to crunches. Another of the great benefits of doing sit ups is that they do a great job at stabilizing your muscles and strengthening your core while protecting your spine.

Doing sit ups
will help you increase your range of motion and flexibility, which will in turn
help you maintain a good posture and reduce the risk of back injury or strain.

Here is how to perform
a full sit up:

  1. Bend your knees and place your
    feet flat on the floor
  2. Put your hands behind your head
    or cross them to opposite shoulders
  3. Draw in your belly button
    towards your spine
  4. Lift your upper body pulling up
    from the floor until your elbows reach the knees. Exhale while lifting up.
  5. Pause for a second, and then
    slowly bring your upper body back to the floor. Inhale while lowering.

How about different varieties of each?

When considering each exercise, it is important to note that the crunch offers a far more versatile training program if you know how to vary the basic movement. We published an entire article, with a free video from our workout program, where you can gather some ideas on doing a variety of crunches or a palate of other ab exercises, so make sure to take a look.

Ab exercises

The sit up, on the other hand, is not an easy movement to modify. You can hold one dumbbell in your hand in order to increase the resistance on your abs and lower back, or perhaps extend your arm as you reach the highest point going upwards. Another option would be to make a slight twist with your core and therefore target your obliques too.

If you need a comprehensive program that includes some of the most advanced abdominal workouts incorporated across a number of bodyweight training sessions, make sure to check our platform Fitness Updated, where you can find complete nutritional breakdown, recipes, and smart bodyweight training videos.

Sit ups vs. crunches the verdict

While sit ups engage more muscles, they undoubtedly put more strain and stress on your spine, including the neck. However, if not done with proper form, crunches can also lead to back pain, especially in beginners.

As for their
input in achieving the desired flat belly, they are both excellent for
developing and strengthening core muscles. But, if you are still looking for a
definite answer to the question Sit ups or crunches for flat stomach, the
answer goes beyond the crunches vs. sit ups debate. No ab exercise burns fat,
and getting a flat tummy requires combination of these exercises with a
healthy, low-calorie diet as well as regular cardio exercises.

As part of a comprehensive exercise routine, both the crunch and the sit up can help you lose body fat by contributing to an increase of your metabolic rate, as well as a slight but significant increase in muscle tissue around your abdomen. They alone wont shrink your tummy, but will speed the weight loss process dramatically and as you lose belly fat, your newly strengthened abs will start showing.

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Dumbbell Dangers How to Prevent an Injury When Working Out With Dumbbells?

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Exercise is a key component to keeping your body and mind fit. Everyone will benefit from working out, but only if you do so correctly. Many different things could go wrong during a workout, so it is important that you prepare and use the proper precautions. An accident that leads to injury will hamper your workout progress more than just about anything else, so it pays to be extra careful.

Dumbbell Workout

Regardless whether
you are picking up dumbbells for the first time, or you are someone
who has been consistently pumping iron for 30 years, everyone needs to follow
some basic guidelines for staying sage at the gym. Gym equipment is designed to
be as safe as it can be, but no design in the world is going to be able to
account for human error. So, play it safe and you should be sweating and aching
in all the right places.

Keep reading to
find out how you can prevent an injury while training with dumbbells.

Stretch Before and After

The first bit of
advice is something that a fair amount of exercise enthusiasts seem to forget
about more often than not. Stretching is so important to get your
muscles, tendons, and joints ready for the upcoming punishment. It helps make
everything looser, oxygenated, and generally more prepared to exercise.

By stretching out your muscles properly, before and after, you are also going to do your best to prevent pesky muscle tears that can put you out of commission for a long time. Just do your best to get a proper stretch and get your blood flowing before you really start your workout. Thats one of the best ways to avoid a dumbbell injury.

Know Your Limits

Yes, the point of exercising and working out is to get stronger and better at the particular exercises you do. However, this does not mean that you should push yourself too hard too soon. Your body can only take so much punishment before it starts to ache, so it is probably a bad idea to add an extra 50 kilos to your max bench press. Using too much weight too soon is one of the most common rookie mistakes that can result in major injuries, so it pays to know your limits.

Take It Slow

Your limits here
dont have to be on weight alone, as not everyone is going to work out with weights.
Cardiovascular activities such as running and cycling is are great ways to get
your heart pumping so you can burn off excess calories, but only if you listen
to your body. If your legs start cramping or you start feeling the pain you
need to know it is time to stop or drastically slow down.

Why is it important to take it slow?

A dumbbell workout, having in mind the muscle it can target, will always be a co-depended one. This means that you will rarely ever do it in isolation from other types of training. Most people put their dumbbell workout on chest day, when they can work their entire pectoral area, but also the biceps.

Injury Free Dumbbell Workout

It goes without
saying that a demanding routine on the bench will leave little room for a
demanding session with a pair of dumbbells. So what is my advice? Take the
first part of the workout slow, and you can exert more power when you finally
lift those dumbbells.

The same goes for doing cardio, or just about anything else. If the dumbbell workout succeeds another one, make sure that you pace yourself during the first part of your training session, as to avoid a dumbbell injury.

Stay Hydrated

This tip can save you from hours of agonizing muscle cramps, which as anyone whos ever experienced this will tell you really, really hurts. When working out, you are naturally going to sweat a lot, thats if you are doing it right and youre giving your muscles a thorough workout. Keep in mind that everything that goes out of your body is going to need to be replenished.

Flavor Your Water

Make sure to keep lots of water on hand and even a sports drink or two to help replenish those electrolytes and salts lost through sweat. Water, really is the essence of life, and you are going to be doing your body a big favour by staying hydrated while exercising.

Listen to Your Body to avoid a dumbbell injury

Everyone is going to have different abilities and skill levels at the gym, so it is difficult to say exactly what an individual workout should look like. Your best gauge of success with exercise is to listen to what your body is telling you. Some mild aches and pains are a good thing and come with the territory, but overdoing the set is one of the ways to cause a dumbbell injury.

If you notice
something is too painful or just not right, it is time to listen as your body
is telling you something is wrong. Ultimately, though, your body will take some
time to adjust to the workout and its very likely youll feel stiff the next
day, but if you take on board the aforementioned tips then youll increase your
bodys conditioning and improve recovery time.

Avoid jerky
movements with the dumbbells

In order to get the most out of your dumbbell workout, you will have to perform slow and controlled movements. This is the only way to activate the proper muscles, and also ensure the greatest amount of burn.

Watch Your Movements

But going slow is not only about efficiency. It has to do with staying injury-free as well. If you perform the repetitions with a jerky movement, you can easily strain yourself and be out of the gym for days.

Using the dumbbell for different exercises

The only rule you need to remember when using the dumbbell for different types of exercise, is to keep correct form. If , say, you are doing a front loaded squat, where the weight is supplied by the dumbbell, you only have to make sure to keep the proper posture for the squat.

Dumbbell Exercises

It is also important to bend your back slowly when putting the weights down, since most of the lower back injuries happen after the set is actually over. Dumbbell relate injuries definitely fall within this category!

Summary

All in all, if youre the type of person who regularly works out then youll already know that proper pace and energy awareness are the best precaution mechanisms when it comes to injury prevention. Always remember that before you start to work out you should be adequately fed and hydrated. Do also note that you have to stretch your muscles to prevent muscle strains.

Try not to overwork yourself and know your limits, since for as much as you might want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you need to get there incrementally and over-lifting is the fastest way to an early gym hiatus. The best way to avoid a dumbbell injury is to follow some of the tips above, and take it one step at a time.

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HGH Therapy For Athletic Performance What You Need To Know

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Hgh Therapy For Athletic Performance

By now, you probably have heard about HGH therapy. Its been discussed on various platforms, more specifically about how it relates to athletic performance. It is every athletes wish to be able to maintain their stamina and strength throughout their life, but as the effects of aging catch up, it sometimes proves to be challenging. Well, in as much as many athletes have already joined the buzz, there is still a lot of research that is being done on HGH therapy for athletic performance.

But first, let us understand the basics of the growth hormone.

What is HGH?

The human growth hormone, commonly known as HGH, is produced at
the base of the brain in the pituitary glands. The production of the growth
hormone usually is at its peak during childhood and puberty, and as the clock
ticks and age catches up with us, the production slowly decreases.

HGH production is also higher when we sleep as compared to daytime.
This is more reason why athletes are always advised to get enough sleep, as
part of enhancing their overall performance. An optimal supply of the growth
hormone in the body builds and repairs tissues by stimulating the release of
IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1).

HGH therapy and athletic performance

As mentioned above, a sufficient supply of the
growth hormone plays a significant role in building muscles and burning excess
fat throughout the body. Therefore, when there is a deficiency of the hormone, the
opposite tends to happen your lean body mass starts to decrease, bone density
goes down, and you enjoy less stamina and strength.

For this reason, many athletes today have faced the stigma associated with HGH replacement therapy and changed their mind. All with the goal to maintain their performance in the field, and stay in shape regardless of age.

Athletic Performance

Precaution, however, must be in place. Many athletes are considering clinics without doing their due diligence and research. It is crucial to understand how replacement therapy works, since more often than not it can end up causing more harm than good. As such, it is best if athletes could find out more about weight loss as it relates to hormone therapy.

The short version of the story is that the Human Growth Hormone is responsible for cell reproduction, regeneration and growth. Being a naturally occurring hormone, that is produced in the pituitary gland, it is tasked with many things like slowing down the aging process or treating most age-related diseases. But the HGH also stimulates the liver with the goal of creating a protein quite similar to insulin, which later produces cartilage cells. This, in turn, helps organ growth while also being responsible for muscle protein synthesis. So naturally, we associate this hormone with increased performance, and also weight loss.

But the mechanics of HGH therapy is a rather complicated topic to explore in this short article, so youll have to spend extra hours researching how it works in relation to improving your BMI, and ultimately performance. We tracked few studies that show controversial results, which only further illuminates the need for detailed research on your part. Needless to say, Google alone wont suffice eventually you will have to consult with a medical professional.

The growth hormone is listed on the prohibited World Anti- Doping Agency list of anabolic agents. In fact, most sports associations and leagues such as the International Olympic Committee, National Football League, Major League Baseball and World Anti-Doping Agency have banned it. What this means is that any athlete, be it a junior athlete, an elite athlete or a masters level athlete is at the risk of disqualification once the tests show that they are abusing GH.

A team in California performed a research study to compare the effects of HGH on athletic performance compared to that of a placebo, to a group of about 440 people who were mostly men. About 303 of them received the HGH injections while 137 volunteers received the placebo. The 303 volunteers received the HGH injections daily, for about 20 days. The results showed that the people who had received the HGH injections have added about 4.6-5 pounds of lean body mass. However, the gains in lean body mass did not necessarily improve the exercise capacity and performance of the subjects. The results also showed that the volunteers who got the placebo injections were less fatigued and also retained less fluid compared to those that received the HG injections.

Needless to say, there is conflicting evidence as to whether or not HGH therapy improves athletic performance by as much as previously though. A safer path, perhaps, is lifting heavy weights and creating a caloric surplus.

Bodyweight workouts wont help you get the same results as training with resistance, but if you are adamant on exercising using your own weight only, then perhaps consider intense supersets that target several muscle groups at once.

Side effects of HGH
therapy

Like any other treatment, however, side effects are always a
possibility. It is, therefore, important to note that since our bodies are
different, we all react differently to all treatments, including HGH
replacement therapy. As such, some of the side effects might be similar, while
some might totally differ. Studies have shown that close to 30% of
HGH patients experience some side effects. Having said that, Let us now look at
some of the side effects of HGH therapy;

  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Increased risk of heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Fluid retention
  • High cholesterol levels

The takeaway HGH for athletic performance

Weight Loss

Now that you are more informed, understand how the growth
hormone works, and what is its importance, the big question remains should
you consider HGH therapy?

Well, it is evident that HGH therapy can have immense benefits,
but since its use for improved performance is banned in the athletic arena, it
is best to choose natural methods of boosting the growth hormone in your body.
That is, if you actively compete. Bodybuilding has been proven to affect your
growth hormone levels, especially if you lift heavy and add a caloric surplus
to your diet.

If, on the other hand, you are out of the court and field, you
should definitely talk to a qualified professional and go through all of the
pros and cons before making up your mind. Although relatively new in the public
eye, HGH therapy has been well established for many years now, and it is a
viable alternative to weight loss methods and different strategies for
improving athletic performance.

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