4 Ways to Save Your Joints

When you are dedicated to your training and putting in the hours to achieve your goals then there is nothing more frustrating than joint pain and inflammation. It almost feels like your body is punishing you for working hard. No fair, right!

Rather than make excuses about your pain or backing off on your training you may want to consider some new techniques to mitigate the damage from these patterns of overuse.

1. Focus on form
2. Make intensity your new volume
3. Recover Harder
4. Hit the Supplements Aisle

1.Focus on form
If you are training often and hard then even the slights inefficiencies in your movement can turn into nagging injuries over time. Before you put in all that hard work you owe it to yourself to work with an experienced coach to refine your movement. You will make progress faster and stay healthy in the process. Slow down, not every day is a competition.

2. Make intensity your new volume
Sometimes the body simply needs a break from volume. All athletes in any sport go through periods of alternating intensity and volume throughout the year. They have different rhythms and protocols for preseason, in-season, post-season, and off-season training. Try backing off on the volume of your training and focusing on higher intensity pieces instead. For lifters, this could mean performing fewer sets or reps and using a higher load, shorter rest times, or a faster tempo. Runners might try lower mileage with weeks and adding a sprint workout 1-2 times per week instead.

3. Recover Harder
Training hard without the proper recovery techniques is bound to beat you up and becomes unsustainable long term. Make time for massage, foam rolling, stretching, yoga or mobility sessions, sleep, and any other recovery methods that can improve your performance. Sometimes the most beneficial thing you can do is stimulate your parasympathetic nervous with these recovery techniques to let your body’s natural healing mechanisms kick in.

4. Give your body what it needs to repair itself
There are tons of great supplements that can help with joint health. Fish oil and omega 3’s provide a healthy inflammatory response in the body amongst many other health benefits. Glucosamine and Chondroitin provide the building blocks for joint repair. Tart Cherry Juice extract has been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Give those a try to start!

Don’t let joint pain stop you from moving and doing the things you love! Click here to meet with a coach and learn how you can begin your fitness journey.

Top 3 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlifts

People tend to have polarized feelings about deadlifts. Either they love them or they hate them. No matter how you feel about them, deadlifts are a great movement to strengthen your entire back and surrounding muscles.

Let’s explore the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts!

  1. Ditch the Mixed Grip
  2. Dial-in Your Setup Position
  3. Train Deadlift Variations

1.Ditch the Mixed Grip

One of the best ways to start improving your deadlift is to ditch the mixed grip. Many people worry that grip will be a limiting factor at their maximal percentage lifts but you can easily overcome this by implementing a hook grip. This takes some getting used to since you’ve probably never lifted a bar of this weight with a hook grip and the pressure can seem unreal. Try taping your thumbs the first few sessions to take some of the edge off.

The benefits of a double overhand grip is a better position on the bar, less torque on the hips and spine, and decreased strain on the bicep. Build up this strength in your training sessions and if you really need to resort to a mixed grip for a competition or 1RM attempt then you will be better for waiting.

2. Dial-in Your Setup Position

One of the biggest issues you may be facing with deadlifts is the setup. That first pull off the ground never feels quite right. To overcome this you can practice rolling the bar into position. This may feel more comfortable and your body will naturally find the right position without you fidgeting around.

If you are new to lifting or know that your mobility is lacking then you may find it beneficial to practice pulling off of blocks. The higher start position will make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain. Another good option here is to work from the top down with lighter loads. Take the loaded bar from a rack or higher blocks and start standing tall, hips fully extended. Keeping your back and core tight and start pushing your hips toward the wall behind you as the bar descends down your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your legs and the weight in the middle of your foot and heels.

Practice lowering down in a slow control fashion taking 4-5 seconds to lower for each rep. If you have a hard time finding the right position then you should take someone on one time to work with a coach who can provide the right cues to get you properly set up.

3. Train Deadlift Variations

Another way to build confidence in your deadlift is to explore different deadlift variations. Sumo deadlifts, single-arm, single-leg, trap bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, atlas stones, dballs, and tire flips will all help you. Getting stronger is going to help even if it is nonspecific. There’s no shortage of heavy stuff to pick up off the ground! These variations will train your grip, stabilizers, and strengthen many smaller muscles of the glutes and hamstrings that may not get fully recruited in your normal deadlift style.

There you go, the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts. Now go find a coach and pull some big numbers!

5 Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips

“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” – Bob Knight

Many people have diligent post workout recovery routines including consuming protein shakes, supplements, and other key nutrients.

However, very few individuals give much thought to their pre-workout nutrition.

What you consume for fuel before you exercise should include more than just a stimulant based energy drink. It should contain the right types of fuel for your body and mind to meet the demands of the days activity. A great pre-workout nutrition routine will not only help your days performance but can help improve your daily energy levels, build lean muscle mass, and shed unwanted fat. It is essential for taking your performance to the next level.

Pre-Workout nutrition is unique for each individual. The types of foods, quantities, and ratios of macronutrients may need to be adjusted based on how you are feeling and performing. It is important to discuss all these factors with your coach so they can help you dial in on a plan that works best for you. Check out these 5 pre-workout nutrition tips to start creating a routine that works for you.

1. Leave time to digest

You want to consume the right amount of food to fuel your workout but not so much that it slows you down. Depending on body size and food choice the body will generally absorb about 300-400 calories per hour. That means a meal of approximately 30g of protein and 40g of carbohydrates an hour before your meal will be fully digested by the time you begin exercise. If you have ever tried exercising on a full stomach you the feeling of bloat as all of the blood is out of your working muscles and in your abdomen for digestion. If you continue to push through the exercise your body may try rejecting the remaining contents of the stomach. This is best avoided and makes proper pre-workout nutrition an easy choice.

2. Choose the right foods

The types of foods consumed are just as important as the quantities consumed. A balanced meal of low glycemic carbohydrates and high quality protein is the best choice. For carbohydrates the best foods to consume are fresh fruit like apples, berries, and oranges. For protein try grabbing a 4-6 oz. chicken breast or a shake containing 30 g of quality whey protein. Fats carry a high caloric load and are not an immediately available source of energy for high intensity activities like strength training so they are best left out of pre-workout meals in high quantities.

3. Avoid Certain Foods

Dairy products, spicy foods, and fibrous vegetables may not be the best choice for your pre-workout meal. They can cause cause discomfort on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is less than ideal when you are about to train. Feeling queasy, or running to the bathroom is not the best way to spend your time at the gym. As a rule of thumb, if you have to ask “will this food bother me?”, it is probably not the right choice.

4. Keep it consistent

The more you change up your pre-workout nutrition the greater chance you have of something going wrong. It’s best to be a bit boring when it comes to nutrition, especially when you are eating to live rather than living to eat. Eating the same foods every day around your training schedule is the best way to dial in exactly the foods and quantities that give you the best results.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

5. Keep it simple

The best routine is the one that you have the highest probability of following. When you plan your pre-workout meal consider the foods that you generally have access to and can properly prepare and take with you.

So there you have it. The top 5 pre-workout nutrition tips. If you have any other questions about diet or training reach out to one of our coaches and get started.

Top 3 Reasons To Train Kettlebell Swings

If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone else’s body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle. They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course, a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes.

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen.

  1. Carry Over To Sport and Life
  2. Add Variety To Your Training
  3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found a strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health.

Swings will also improve your performance with the Olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights, the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout.

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavyweight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover.

Wednesday’s workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps, and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time.

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high-intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the Olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings are such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift the maximal weight overhead.

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

Check Your Ego at the Door

“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.” -Ryan Holiday

As someone focused on your fitness, you know how to work hard.

You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal? The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?

In his book “Ego is the Enemy,” author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness or avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.

Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?

At that moment, you were probably not taking the best course of action. You probably were not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.

Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete, you need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.

The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Oftentimes, they think of themselves as invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.

Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly, the outcomes of a situation, you will be in a much better place to decide and act.

Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams.” If you can be realistic with your current standing or status, it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.

How about in the gym? Are you checking your ego when you train?

Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat.

They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. They’ll instruct you exactly on the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.

If you have a health goal you want to achieve, don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out today to speak with with one of our trainers with a No Sweat Intro!

5 Common Mistakes in Low Carb Diets

High fat or low carb diets are popular choices when it comes to styles of eating. Electing to eat more fat and minimize carbohydrate intake can be a great choice if you are trying to promote lean body mass, increase insulin sensitivity, and easily maintain health.

It is important that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new approach to your nutrition. Eating a diet higher in fat, with moderate protein, and lower in carbohydrates is beneficial for some people, but it may not be the right choice for you under certain conditions. Healthy individuals, however, should consider the benefits of a low carb eating approach.

By avoiding these 5 common mistakes in low carb diets, you will set yourself up for success:

  1. Eating the same foods over and over.
  2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
  3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
  4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
  5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.

1. Eating the same foods over and over.
Lack of diversity is one of the mistakes that can occur in many diets. With low carb diets, this usually is a result of a limited range of options for fats and a relatively small amount of carbohydrate consumption. This limits the amount of foods you eat in that macronutrient.

For fats, it is important that you include fats from a wide range of products including nuts, seeds, plants, meat, and fish. You should focus on including high-quality polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that will give your body a healthy dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

For carbohydrates, you should focus on getting most of your intake from vegetables, low glycemic fruits and starches, and unrefined whole grain foods. This will help you meet nutrient requirements and the fiber will help prevent spikes in blood sugar that can lead to cravings and fat storage.

2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
Another common mistake in low carb diets is actually going too low carb. Consuming healthy amounts of vegetables and low glycemic fruits will provide you the energy needed to get through your day. Unless you are trying to enter ketosis, your body is running on glucose to fuel the brain.

And unless you are practiced at fasting or burning fat as a fuel source, you may experience swings in mood and energy levels by simply chopping carbs out of your diet. Most low carb diets still recommend 10-20% of intake from carbs. That means 200-400 calories throughout the day should come from carbs and it still leaves room for healthy foods like broccoli, carrots, and blueberries!

3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
When carbs are restricted, it can be difficult to consume adequate levels of certain nutrients. One study looked at the Atkins diet, a popular low carb diet, and found it delivered 100% of the RDI for only 15 out of 27 essential micronutrients.

Incorporating a wide range of healthy carb choices will ensure you eat a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial phytonutrients. Low carbohydrate intake may not be the best long-term plan without proper supervision and supplementation of certain micronutrients.

4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
Each gram of carbohydrate in the body can hold 2-3 grams of water. When we stop consuming carbohydrates, it can be difficult for the body to maintain adequate hydration levels.

Consuming salt, potassium, and other trace minerals becomes even more important when you choose a low carb diet. Focus on high-quality sea salt that will help replenish stores after sweating.

5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.
The final pitfall of a low carb/high fat diet is improper fueling before and after exercise. During bouts of intense activity the body demands more fuel to sustain intensity and output. Many folks who don’t consume carbs before a workout tend to feel weaker and sluggish during exercise. They then try to fuel their performance with caffeine and stimulants which further deplete them and place additional strain on the central nervous system. Consuming carbs before a workout will help boost performance and allow the body to train longer and harder.

After exercise, the body needs to refuel glycogen stores. Any carbs consumed after a workout are going to be shuttle into muscle cells and stored as glycogen for energy later. By refueling your body during this time you set the tone for your next workout.

Have you made one or more of these mistakes in your nutrition? No worries. Information is key and working with a coach who has the right information is the best way to get the results you want!

Speed Is a Skill

Speed is a skill. Here is how to master it…

Depending on your sport, or your fitness goals, the importance of speed could be a defining characteristic of your success. Naturally, track and cross country athletes want to run fast, but speed can help in almost all team and individual sports where strength and conditioning come into play. Whether you’re a running back who needs to hit the gap just a split second before the linebacker can wrap you up, or a basketball player who needs to explode past the defender for a layup, speed can be your best friend on the field, court, or whereever you’re trying to improve.

Given all else, a faster athlete tends to be a better one and luckily many of the defining characteristics of speed are skill-based. That means they can be trained and improved upon.

It is important to work with a coach who can teach you the skills and mechanics you need to learn. To improve speed, you need to make progress in the following 3 areas: strength, mobility, and mechanics.

Strength

An athlete can become faster by improving their absolute strength and relative strength to their body weight. This can be achieved through a combination of resistance training and plyometric exercises. Heavy squats and deadlifts will help develop the motor unit recruitment and ability of the leg muscles to produce force.

Plyometric exercises like box jumps will strengthen connective tissue and improve the stretch-shortening cycle in the muscle. Athletes will grow stronger and more powerful and this will directly correlate with increases in speed. Working with a coach who is well versed in speed development will help you get results quickly and stay injury-free.

Mobility

Improving mobility, the ability of your joints to move freely and easily can directly improve your speed. This is primarily due to the increase in stride length when the hips, knees, and ankles have a full range of motion. This allows for greater muscular contraction due to the body having a higher threshold for motor recruitment.

Your coach should explain the proper way to dynamically stretch, warmup, cooldown, and mobilize as a part of your program. It is important to discuss any past injuries with your coach so they can help you to the best of their ability.

Mechanics

The foundational movement pattern of running is a skill just like any other. Learning how to generate power through the proper mechanics can be a game-changer for many athletes and may make you feel like you are running for the first time all over again.

The timing, stride length, ability to change directions, and use of both the arms and legs for explosive movement are all essential skills to improve speed. Your coach will be able to address your unique needs and provide the proper guidance to dial in your mechanics.

If you are serious about improving speed to achieve your goals, seek out one of our coaches to develop a training plan to reach your goals.

5 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

By Emma Stewart

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting an equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since its range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy, and injury may occur as a result.

Although there are various factors that contribute to the development of low back pain, some of the common culprits are: tight hamstrings/glutes/hip flexors, weakness in the core/glutes, and lack of spinal mobility.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are five things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Lower Trunk Rotations (15-20 repetitions to each side)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently rotate your spine as you move your knees to the side and then reverse directions and move your knees to the other side. Hold 3-5 seconds here. Repeat as you move through a comfortable range of motion.
  2. Couch Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Kneel on a pillow or couch cushion facing away from your couch/chair. Lean forward and put one foot on your couch. May hold onto a chair/foam roller for stabilization. Stretch should be felt in the front of the thigh of the leg that that has the foot on the couch/chair. Hold 30-60 seconds. Remember to keep your low back in a neutral spine position (do not over arch/overextend your back).
  3. Hamstring Stretch (3-5 repetitions on each leg)
    Lie on your back and place a stretching strap on your foot. Pull on the strap to assist in raising your leg up for a stretch to the back of your leg. Keep your target leg straight to slightly bent the entire time.  Hold 30-60 seconds.
  4.  Posterior Pelvic Tilts (30 repetitions)
    Lying on your back with your knees bent, gently flatten your back to the table and roll your hips up. Hold 3-5 seconds in this position. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. You should NOT be holding your breath during this exercise.
  5. Clamshells (3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side)
    While lying on your side with your knees bent, make sure that your shoulders, hips, and feet are aligned in the same plane. Tie an elastic band around your legs, just above your knees. Draw up the top knee while keeping your feet together. Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your daily routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes more pain or feels uncomfortable, consult your doctor or local physical therapist for further assistance.

Want to learn more about how to improve your overall physical functionality? Schedule your no sweat intro and meet with one of our amazing coaches today!

Make Your Breakfast 10% Better

You’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” A healthy breakfast can support your physical and mental performance. If you are trying to excel, grow, and make changes to your body or in your life then you need the proper fueling regimen to get you there.

Have you ever crashed during your workout? Felt mentally foggy or weak on a particular day? There’s probably a correlation with your nutrition. Whether it can be drawn back to the day’s breakfast or the long-term effects of nutrition choices, you can probably find a link.

To get the results you want, you need to pay attention to your nutrition. In this blog, we’ll be focusing on how you can make your breakfast 10% better. There are so many benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. Of course, improved performance is one, but eating breakfast has also been shown to reduce food cravings later in the day. It can also improve mental clarity and boost energy.

Our bodies are complex machines and our breakfast impacts the way our body operates for the day. Eating breakfast affects neurotransmitter production, electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels, and more. Our bodies operate the best with certain types of fuel and the right ratio of carbs, fat, and protein to perform at their best.

But not all breakfasts are created equal. So what are the makings of a great breakfast?

Choosing high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a great start to make your breakfast 10% better!Increasing protein intake is one of the best decisions you can make for your nutrition, especially at breakfast. Protein contains high-quality amino acids that will keep you satiated and prevent cravings later in the day. Try to eat some solid protein such as meat or eggs. If you need a quick option try keeping hard-boiled eggs and greek yogurt on hand. They are easy options to scarf down quickly or grab on your way out the door to work. Protein shakes are also good but whole foods are best.

People who consume liquid protein in the morning don’t get the same satiety benefits and still tend to overeat later in the day. Use protein shakes only if no other options are available or you are going to exercise first thing in the morning and need something fast digesting.

For fats look for foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods provide healthy monounsaturated fat and are chock full of vitamins and minerals as well. Rotating through different fats will ensure you have diversity in your diet and prevent excessive intake of any one food. A handful of nuts, an avocado, or some chia pudding are all easy grab and go options for healthy breakfast fats.

For carbs at breakfast, you should take a “less is more” approach. Focus on low glycemic carbs such as leafy greens and broccoli. Dark berries are also a great choice when fresh and in season. This will give you some additional fuel for your day. Try to avoid highly processed foods that will spike your blood sugar and have you craving carbs and making energy levels crash throughout the day.

Not a fan of breakfast?

There can be benefits to intermittent fasting too. Just recognize how your body feels and performs its best. For some people that is 5-6 small meals per day. For others, a big lunch or dinner is all it takes. Focusing on high-quality whole foods, getting enough protein and heart-healthy fats, and calibrating carb intake based on your activity levels.

For more nutritional and training strategies, get in touch with one of our coaches today!

Sugar: An Athlete’s Survival Guide

As an athlete or someone who cares about their health and fitness, it is important to make nutritious dietary choices.

One of the biggest battles faced by Americans today is contending with the high amounts of sugar that seem to be everywhere in the foods we eat. Sugar seems to sneak its way into many of the foods and drinks we consume daily without us even realizing it. This can be detrimental to our health, training, and body composition goals because sugar can provide unnecessary calories, impact our mood, alter cognitive function and energy levels, and impact so many other vital functions in our bodies.

What is sugar?

Simple sugars are the most basic form of carbohydrates known as a monosaccharide. You will often hear these referred to as glucose, fructose, and galactose. These ringed structures are also the building blocks for larger compounds such as disaccharides like sucrose (table sugar), and polysaccharides like starch (foods like potatoes, corn, and wheat).

What does sugar do to my body?

Our body actually runs off the simple sugar known as glucose. With the exception of individuals in nutritional ketosis, our bodies actually require sugar to perform vital functions to survive. Our brain is the biggest sugar user in our body and consumes approximately 120 grams of glucose daily, that’s about 420 calories worth! That glucose can come from our diet or gets produced through a process called gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Even though our body loves glucose it needs to moderate the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. A steady stream of glucose is preferred to large amounts because consistent excessive amounts can cause problems in our bodies. It’s like filling up the gas tank in your car. You need to put in the proper amount of fuel and have a maximal capacity for storage. You keep the fuel in the gas tank even though there is more room in the trunk of your car. If you fill your trunk with gasoline it would no longer serve its useful purpose as fuel and would be very dangerous.

What if I have too much Sugar?

To prevent our body from excessive glucose levels in the blood we have the hormone insulin to help store the glucose we don’t need as fat. This is like having those handy little red 5-gallon gas containers. When the tank of the car is full we simply start filling our storage containers to save energy for later. Having a little bit of extra fuel on the reserve is always nice, but we don’t need to store extra fuel every single day or we end up with a problem.

So when can I have sugar?

As an athlete sugar is important for refueling our body after exercise. This makes sure that we have enough fuel in the tank the next time we want to go for a drive. If we want to drive fast and race however we don’t want to carry any extra storage containers in the form of fat. That will only impede performance. Most of our diet should consist of healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables that will not spike our blood glucose levels.

If you have questions about the optimal food choices for your diet to optimize performance you need to work with an experienced coach who gets the best out of athletes. Nutrition is a highly personalized journey and can take some refining and tweaking to optimize. Once you dial in what is best for you there is nothing that can get in your way!