Physical Performance

Nutrition is an important aspect in athletic performance. Download these shareable videos, graphics, handouts and recipes to help promote the power of protein and eggs.

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Get Your Plate In Shape:Motivation

Today’s guest post is from Personal Trainer Travis Burkybile. Travis has a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and a NCFS certification. He works as a Strength Coach at Corefitnesschicago.

At this time of year, warmer weather is on everyone’s minds, the holidays are a distant memory, and tax season is in full swing. Your fitness routine is probably the last thing you are thinking about right now. So how do you keep your New Year’s commitment or get started if you are ready to take the plunge?

Working as a coach in the fitness industry for the last 6 years in a corporate gym setting and a smaller private training facility, I have gotten to know what works and what does not work so well for my clients. The biggest hurdles for most people, regardless of where and how they workout are making the time for exercise and wanting results too quickly. Today, I will share some ideas that have helped my clients overcome these barriers.

How can you make time for fitness and stay motivated to continue? If you are starting a new fitness plan, or looking to improve on your current one take a lesson from Leo Babuta in the book The Power of Less. He advises that when beginning an exercise program start slowly and always leave enough room to do a little bit more. This tactic keeps you engaged and motivated to return to your workout. It is much more beneficial to be consistent when building a habit than it is to try and get it all done in a day or even a week. This will also make it easier from a time perspective to fit exercise into your existing lifestyle. If you are already doing a program, change it! Shorten your rest breaks, change your reps, and the gains will come again.

The most important part of any exercise program is what you get out of it. Whether training to improve a pain or weakness, improve your body composition, or be stronger, it is important to see results. There are multiple ways to measure such as body fat percentage, circumferences, personal bests in races and training, and many more. If you are stuck with motivation, results, or both hire a qualified coach! The best motivation is success.

Remember this final tip. A project, a habit, or a lifestyle change is successful when you restart it every day. It is a willful and conscious decision to start again rather than simply continue. You aren’t in a pattern, good or bad, if you aren’t doing it. Restart your own fitness today!

IDEA World of Fitness Conference

health fitness

Last week I had the opportunity to exhibit for the Egg Nutrition Center at the IDEA World of Fitness conference. This is the first foray the Egg Nutrition Center has made into communicating with the fitness and personal trainer profession. We recognize that with increased awareness of the importance of exercise for improved health, weight control and strength in aging, the personal trainer community has often been asked to be a resource about good nutrition. We learned earlier this year from a focus group that we conducted with personal trainers, that the personal trainer scope of practice does not include nutrition counseling although they share a strong interest in nutrition as it relates to health and body composition. However, since the exercise and fitness profession is seen by many as a good role model of healthy living, we felt it was important to reach out to this professional group with accurate information about eggs and overall nutrition.

Our observations from our focus group with personal trainers were reinforced at the IDEA World of Fitness Conference exhibit when many attendees stopped by showing interest in learning more about eggs and the many nutritional benefits of egg intake. The people I met were genuinely enthusiastic about eating eggs and were pleased to learn that including an egg yolk in their multiple egg white meal would offer so many vitamin and mineral benefits. We talked about the additional benefits of satiety to keep from hunger during long practices and the role of amino acid leucine that signals muscle synthesis making eggs a good protein source after exercise. Many attendees also wanted to know more about the benefits of additional nutrients in specialty eggs such as enhanced content of lutein, omega-3 fatty acids and choline. I was pleased that most people who came to our booth had a basic knowledge about the eye health benefits of lutein, the infant brain development benefits of choline as well as the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids but wanted to know more because they were already convinced that eggs were an inexpensive source of high quality protein.

In fact, this group of exercise enthusiasts serves as a wonderful example of how eating eggs, while maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly, can reduce the risk of most chronic disease.

Refueling After Exercise

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the growing acknowledgement of the importance of protein for physical performance. Much research published in recent years suggests that protein, long downplayed as a key nutrient for better performance, may play a larger role than previously thought.

But what about post-exercise? What should an active person consume after a hard workout to re-load and replenish, to minimize tissue damage, and to restore energy stores for the next workout? Once again, newer research is pointing to protein (as a part of a carbohydrate/protein blend of nutrients) as a key to recovery.  Much of the research performed in the 1970s through the 1990s pointed to carbohydrate as the principle nutrient for exercise recovery, and I don’t mean to minimize the benefits of carbs for active folks. However, many studies now indicate that a mixture of carbs and proteins (some say a 3:1 mixture of carb:protein is best, though the exact ratio is still open to debate) can more quickly convert an individual from the catabolic (or tissue breakdown) state that occurs during exercise to an anabolic (or tissue build-up and repair) state that is preferred during exercise recovery.  High protein shakes and products of that nature are preferred by many athletes after a hard workout. They are convenient and they will provide carbs and protein. But one shouldn’t forget “real” food either. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate milk and hard-cooked eggs are starting to gain favor with athletes as well. Products like these taste great, they’re familiar to most folks, and they deliver additional micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that can aid in tissue recovery.

Some food for thought whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a new exerciser seeking to make fitness gains while minimizing risk of injury and overuse.

Protein for Peak Performance

For many years, athletes were advised to consume very high levels of carbohydrates, with little attention placed on the amount and timing of the protein they consumed. Personally I was very much a proponent of this sort of regimen for athletes. I worked in the sports nutrition arena for years, and provided diet and exercise advice to many professional and college athletes.

But times change, and the science supporting carbohydrate as the near-exclusive domain of athletes has changed as well. I’m not suggesting that carbs are no longer considered a key substrate for athletes; quite the contrary, carbohydrates provide the quick energy that athletes need, and they allow athletes to use their other energy substrates (fats and proteins) effectively. But newer research indicates that athletes need more protein than previously believed; about 1.5 to 2 times as much. As we learn more about the role of amino acids as messengers in various metabolic pathways, we’ve come to appreciate the need for protein to provide ample levels of these amino acids to promote, among other things, optimal muscle growth and repair. And newer studies suggest we won’t achieve ample amounts of particular amino acids (e.g., leucine) on RDA-levels of protein. Further, on  a more applied note, studies such as those by John Ivy at the University of Texas and others have indicated that an appropriate ratio of carbohydrate to protein (somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:1 carb:protein) may be better at enhancing post exercise recovery than consuming carbohydrate alone.

Here is an article that serves as a basic primer on some of the newer research on protein and exercise. While some of this work is in preliminary stages, and we still have more to learn about the effects of various substrates on exercise performance, suggesting that athletes increase their protein intake a bit (largely through food) is sound advice. Carbohydrates are still important, but the role of protein in physical activity should not be underestimated.