Posts tagged nutrition
Skipping Breakfast Impairs Subsequent Resistance Training Workouts

The basics of sleep, hydration, and nutrition are the low hanging fruits of performance. Easy to access, albeit hard to change at times, but extremely impactful on our overall health and wellbeing. The cognitive and physical benefits of breakfast are well established and the timing and contents of the meal has been shown to influence future athletic performance. A previous blog discussed the importance of pre and post workout protein intake and a new article further supports the utilization of pre workout meal.

Authors in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research studied the impact of a pre workout meal on resistance trained men (Naharudin et al. 2019). Participants were included if they performed strength training at least 3 days per week and ate routinely ate breakfast prior to their workouts. In the study, each participant’s 10 rep max was found during a back squat and bench press exercise. They were then randomized to either a breakfast containing 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight or water only. 2 hours post meal each participant performed 4 sets at 90% of their 10 rep max on each of the 2 exercises. As expected, total work performed and performance was significantly lower in the group who skipped breakfast.

Timing Protein Intake For Optimal Workout Benefits

We are often asked when is the best time to eat following a workout. Meal timing is an important strategy to take advantage of the “anabolic window” for enhancing muscular adaptations. A common strategy involves consuming protein less than an hour after exercise to increase hypertrophic muscular gains. Past literature has suggested Muscular Protein Synthesis (MPS) is increased 3-fold in those who immediately consume protein after a workout. However, these studies primarily followed those undergoing aerobic and long duration cardiovascular exercise suggesting increased cellular aerbobic activity versus resistance training adaptations.

There are inconsistencies in the literature with nutrient timing within the resistance training population. Some studies claim increased MPS with pre-workout protein consumption while others claim increased MPS during a fasted state pre workout state. A recent article in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy concluded the “anabolic window” is short and less important than the day’s total nutrition. Specifically, total daily protein (1.6-2.2 g/kg of bodyweight per day) intake has been shown to be most important. For those with the goal of increasing cross-sectional area of skeletal muscle (hypertrophy), the window of consuming protein is dependent on when nutrients were consumed before the training bout.

In short, the anabolic effects of a meal last 6 hours. Thus, eating 3-4 hours before exercise reduces the importance of immediate post workout nutrient consumption. If you train in a fasted or partially fasted state, immediate intake of protein is suggested to elicit anabolism. The author suggested the most prudent protocol would include protein consumption (.4-.5 g/kg body weight) pre and post workout within 4-6 hours of each other.

Eating for Recovery After Injury

Acute muscle strains and sprains remain one of the most common injuries we encounter at our Boulder Physical Therapy clinic.  In a previous blog post we summarized the findings of new research studies showing how early Physical Therapy accelerates a patient's recovery after these injuries.  In addition, to exercise and sleep, nutrition also plays an important role in recovery.  A healthy, balanced diet is critical in post operative or injured patient.  

Collagen is a key structural protein in many of our body tissues including blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  It remains an essential natural resource utilized by our body during the healing process.  Many factors have been shown to reduce collagen production including smoking, simple sugars (candy, soda), and UV light.  These factors can damage proteins necessary for collagen formation and in turn healing.  

Conversely, collagen production is increased with exercise and may be augmented through nutrition and diet.  Nutritionists recommend a diet sufficient in protein due to its' high content of amino acids especially leucine.  Leucine has been shown to both reduce the breakdown of muscle and enhance muscle synthesis in animal studies.  Key sources of leucine include chicken, cheese, eggs, whey and soy protein powder.  In addition to protein intake, colorful fruits and vegetables also play a key role in recovery due to the abundance of anti oxidents found in berries and vegetables.  The vitamins found in this food group facilitate muscle and soft tissue recovery.

There are numerous supplements claiming to accelerate recovery, but like most supplements many fail to demonstrate statistical significance above a placebo.  Small studies have found an accelerated recovery from injury when collagen and Vitamin C are combined in supplementation, but more research is needed before widespread use.  Outside of supplementation, gelatin and bone broths are found to have high contents of collagen. 

Patients are advised to follow up with a nutritionist and their medical doctor before any significant change in diet or beginning any nutritional supplement.


Q and A with Boulder Professional Triathlete Nicole Valentine
PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Torres @ATV Photography

PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Torres @ATV Photography

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what got you into triathlon?

I grew up as a swimmer and then switched to cross country running in high school and college. At the time, I had friends who were doing triathlons and always thought that if I could get my hands on a bike, it would be fun to try one. While living abroad in Costa Rica after college, I finally bought my first bike – a mountain bike and did my first triathlon there after a few years of endurance mountain bike racing. It was an absolute blast and I ended up placing first female by a decisive margin. I was hooked.

2. Were you competitive in other sports?

Yes, I grew up playing every sport possible – soft ball, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming.

3. What are some of your career highlights in endurance sports?

In 2015, my last year as an age group athlete, I came in 5th at the Ironman World Championship in Kona and 3rd at the Xterra World Championship in Maui two weeks later. I won the Outrigger Double Award for the second year in a row for the fastest combined time at Ironman and Xterra World Championships. What was particularly memorable about this accomplishment is that I actually fell and crashed on the mountain bike midway through the Xterra race and broke my collarbone. Determined to finish the race if I could, and defend my title, I got back on the bike. I finished the technical mountain bike course and then was able to overtake some of my competitors on the run to place third. Standing on the podium with a sling on my arm was my proudest moment to date in endurance sports, as I knew I had given it everything in that race.

4. What brought you to Boulder for training?

In 2015 I had my sights set on trying to obtain a pro card in Xterra off-road triathlons. I had heard about what a great place Boulder was for training due to the altitude, ample roads, trails, and mountains for running and biking, as well as sports injury specialists and support facilities like MEND, and of course, the number of elite athletes and training groups. I convinced the firm I worked for to let me work remotely, and came out to Boulder for eight months to try the lifestyle.

5. Tell us a little bit about your training philosophy, especially in relation to staying healthy and injury free.

I’m finding that the training itself is just one slice of the pie and in order to support the elite athlete lifestyle and heavy training, you need to put as much emphasis on nutrition, recovery, and injury prevention, otherwise the training cannot happen.

6. What's your favorite recovery food?

Sweet potatoes and Healthy Skoop protein powder. I eat sweet potatoes pre workout, during training for fueling, and for post workout recovery – I love them! I’ve been switching over to a vegan diet and have found that Healthy Skoop plant based protein powder has been amazing for ensuring I’m getting enough protein in and I love the taste.

boulder-triathlete-lovato performance-nicole valentine

PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Torres @ATV Photography

7. How important are the small things, like stretching, weight-lifting?

I’m finding this year that all of the small things – sleep, nutrition, recovery, stretching, pre workout muscle activation, strength training, massage, PT, etc. make the difference between just getting the workouts in (and constantly battling oncoming injuries), and nailing every training session consistently and making huge fitness gains as a result.

8. What role does Physical Therapy play in your training?

Physical Therapy is a critical piece of the recovery puzzle. Whenever I feel that my body is taking a hit from the intense training load, I know that I need to get PT work done in order to keep training going and prevent a full blown injury from happening.

9. How many workouts a week are you doing?

On average, I have 2-3 workouts a day and about 16 workouts a week. It’s a very high training load.

10. If you could be successful at any other sport, what would it be and why?

I think I might be good at Ultra running. I’d love to give it a try! I know so many amazing runners in Boulder and am so inspired by the mileage they put in!

11. What's the hardest decision you've ever made?

Leaving a successful career in marketing for a financial services firm on the east coast to turn professional as a triathlete and move to Boulder. It has been a bumpy and incredibly difficult transition, but I am happy to be pursuing my dream. I know that this is what I’m meant to do.

12. Who makes you laugh more than anyone?

My coach, Michael Lovato. He has a great sense of humor which is so appreciated when we are jumping in the pool at 5:45am for swim practice. I wouldn’t be able to endure such a tough lifestyle without his great coaching support and the camaraderie of my Lovato Performance teammates.

13. What are some of your competitive goals for 2017 and 2018?

This year, my goal has been to place on the podium in Ironman races and so far I’ve been quite lucky to do so with 6th place at Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico and 5th place at Ironman 70.3 Peru. I’m finding that nailing the nutrition, injury prevention, and recovery is making the difference. I hope to keep climbing the podium steps in the pro field!