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Which sporting event has the most extreme energy expenditure?

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Written By Asker Jeukendrup for mysportscience.com
Follow Asker on Twitter @Jeukendrup

It is often said that the Tour de France is perhaps the most gruelling endurance event on the planet. The same is sometimes said about Ironman. We saw in my previous blog that energy expenditure in the Tour de France averages almost 6000 kcal per day for 3 weeks (5).  It has been measured that energy expenditure can be as high as 9000 kcal per day. How does this compare to other sports? Is this really the most extreme sport? Is it Ironman… Or is there another event?

In the literature we can find energy expenditure values for a number of events and I have tried to find the highest values for energy expenditure in the literature. If someone knows of other papers that report extreme values please let me know and I will update this list.

There is a report of a male distance runner covering ∼100 km/day for 1,000 km (1), He averaged around 6,000 kcal/day.

Another report describes 2 elite cyclists averaging around 330 km/day for 10 days and expending 7,000 kcal per day (2)

There is also a report of a team of elite cyclists expending 6,500 kcal/day who covered nearly 4,900 km in 6 days during the Race across America (RAAM) (3).

Similar values were also reported in cross country skiers during intense training (6,000 kcal/day) (6).

Dr Mike Stroud, a Polar explorer and researcher, measured energy expenditure in man-haulers over several polar expeditions during the 1980s and 1990s (7). Before these studies the very high energy costs of polar travel on foot appreciated. During a modern-day, one-way expedition to the South Pole that repeated Scott’s route (“Footsteps of Scott expedition”), an average of 6,000 kcal were expended every 24 h. Mike Stroud himself together with Sir Ranulph Fiennes crossed Antarctica by foot and expended on average nearly 7,000 kcal/day.

During this crossing there was a period of approximately 10 days, while ascending to the plateau, during which they averaged nearly 11,000 kcal/day).

A recent study by Dr Brent Ruby and Colleagues (4) compared measurements at Ironman Hawaii (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run (3.8km; 180km and 42km respectively) and the Western State 100 (a 100 mile (160km) ultramarathon). Energy expenditure during the Hawaii Ironman averaged 9,040 kcal (plus or minus 1,390 kcal). In the Western State energy expenditure was as high as 16,310 kcal (plus or minus 2,960) but of course the duration of this event was more than 24 hours on average (26.8h).

It is clear that daily energy expenditure can be much higher than the reported average of 6000 kcal per day for the Tour de France cyclist. Values can be even higher than the extreme values reported during the longest and hardest days in the Tour.

What make the Tour de France unique though is that these extreme energy expenditures are achieved within 4-6 hours of racing per day and also that this is sustained over a period of 3 weeks.

Most other sports with extreme energy expenditures achieve their high numbers by exercising more hours per day at a lower intensity and sometimes by eliminating sleep.

Which is the most extreme sport? Difficult to say… would you rather do a day in the Tour than a day crossing Antartica, or running a 100 mile race in the heat without sleeping?

 

References 

1. Eden B, Abernethy P. Nutritional intake during an ultraendurance running race. International J Sports Nutr 4: 166–174, 1994.
2. Gabel K, Aldous A, Edgington C. Dietary intake of two elite male cyclists during 10-day, 2,050-mile ride. Int J Sports Nutr 5: 56–61, 1995.
3. Hulton A, Lahart I, Williams K, Godfrey R, Charlesworth S, Wilson M, Pedlar C, Whyte G. Energy expenditure in the race across america (RAAM). Int J Sports Med 31: 463–467, 2010.
4. Ruby BC, Cuddy JS, Hailes WS, Dumke CL, Slivka DR, Shriver TC, Schoeller DA Extreme endurance and the metabolic range of sustained activity is uniquely available for every human not just the elite few. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 11(1): 1-7, 2015.
5. Saris WH, van Erp-Baart MA, Brouns F, Westerterp KR, ten Hoor F. Study on food intake and energy expenditure during extreme sustained exercise: the Tour de France. Int J Sports Med;10 Suppl 1:S26-31, 1989
6. Sjodin A, Andersson A, Hogberg J, Westerterp KR. Energy balance in cross-country skiers: a study using doubly labeled water. Med Sci Sports Exercise 26: 720–724, 1994.
7. Stroud M, Coward W, Sawyer M. Measurements of energy expenditure using iso- tope-labelled water (2H218O) during an Arctic expedition. Eur J Appl Physiol 67: 375– 379, 1993

Focus on Sleep and Recovery: Road To Kona with Sarah Piampiano

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I want to win the Ironman World Championships. That’s what I’ve wanted since the day I started doing this sport. That’s what I work towards every single day.

 

Scott Dixon Goes For Fifth IndyCar Title

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Racing for up to 3 hours in over 100 degrees while stuck in a hot car with a fireproof onesie on isn’t the most comfortable – you can lose up to 5lbs during the race.  I know for a fact that SOS Hydration has helped me tremendously. I wouldn’t race with out it.

Written By Ben Stanley for Stuff.co.nz – original source here

Despite racing for his fifth Indycar title in California this weekend, Kiwi motor racing superstar Scott Dixon admits that a change in engine manufacturer and aero-kit left him with far lower expectations for 2017.

Dixon, a two-time former Halberg NZ Sportsman of the Year, sits just three points behind American Josef Newgarden ahead of the season’s final race in Sonoma on Monday NZT.

With two second places in his last two races, Dixon, who has driven for Chip Ganassi Racing since 2002, heads to the Grand Prix of Sonoma with momentum, while the race’s double points mean the Kiwi veteran has every chance of claiming the season’s crown with the final chequered flag.

Scott Dixon wins at Road America in Wisconsin back in June.
Scott Dixon wins at Road America in Wisconsin back in June.
Yet few Indycar experts, members of Dixon’s car crew and the driver himself were that confident he’d be this competitive after Chip Ganassi Racing switched engine manufacturer and aero-kit from Chevrolet to Honda in the off-season. Dixon last raced using Honda in 2013.

“We maybe got, well, not so much complacent, but a little stuck in our ways with how we approached some venues,” Dixon, whose sixth place finish last year marked his worst season since 2005, said ahead of a recent Indycar race in Madison, Illinois.

“[The new engine and aero-kit] was kind of like having a new shiny toy – it was something we could look at a lot differently. We really had nothing to lose because we knew it was going to be a tough change.

“The engine is very good from Honda, but the aero kit is a huge disadvantage. I think we surprised ourselves for the first quarter or half of the season with the performance we had.”

Blair Julian, Dixon’s long-time chief mechanic, agrees with the Kiwi motor racing icon, whose 41 Indycar race wins is now the fourth most successful in the vehicle classes’ history.

“Changing to the Honda configuration and the engine aero-type head was a big deal,” Julian, who hails from New Plymouth, says.

“I actually didn’t expect us to be as competitive as we have been, coming straight out of the box. In St Petersburg [where Dixon finished third], we started off pretty competitive and fast straight away, which was, for me, unexpected. I thought we’d be struggling a little bit, to be honest.”

They had to work hard get the aero kit “all linked together through the race package – but we’re going faster than normal. We’ve got a good team here, so we figured it out.”

SOS Hydration Ambassador Scott Dixon

Dixon capped an exceptional start to the season ahead of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying for the glamour race with the fastest time in 21 years and climbing to the top of the driver standings.

Yet the Kiwi would suffer a nightmare race weekend in his new hometown. Dixon was mugged at a fast food restaurant, before being involved in a horror in-race crash that saw him escape, remarkably, with just a fractured ankle.

Dixon, known for his calm, pragmatic approach to racing, brushed off the crash, but rued lost opportunities for points as the season has progressed.

“We should have won St Pete [and] we should have won Long Beach. We got pole at Indy [500], and got some good points at [the] Indianapolis [Grand Prix]. We should have won or finished second in Texas.

“We look back already and we’ve lost a ton of points – 60 or 80 plus points – that could have made a huge difference.”

More support from fellow Chip Ganassi drivers would have also made a difference for Dixon. Tony Kanaan, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball have struggled to be competitive this year, while Newgarden’s Team Penske teammates have provided ample assistance.

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power sit third, fourth and fifth on the driver standings, behind Newgarden and Dixon.

Dixon may have some Kiwi support at Chip Ganassi in 2018, with Palmerston North’s Brendon Hartley – a former F1 test driver – having been in talks with the Indianapolis–based team.

Whatever the future holds, Dixon, who is planning to drive competitively until he’s at least 40, reckons the wild world of Indycar is still, mostly, as fun now as it was when he debuted in 2001.

“Some things are,” he says, with a laugh. “Some things get …well, you learn to expect a certain amount of things sometimes too when you get older and have been immersed in it so long. I think that also drives the inspiration too, though.”

– Stuff.co.nz

 

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Nick Willis Wins 5th Avenue Mile

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By Rich Sands, @sands
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (10-Sep) — Experience counts on 5th Avenue.

Jenny Simpson and Nick Willis proved that here today with emphatic wins down the famed New York City boulevard. Simpson scored a record sixth title at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile shortly after Willis notched his fourth victory in the event, staged by New York Road Runners on a picture-perfect day.

With the temperature at 70 degrees, low humidity and a generous wind at their backs, both the men’s and women’s professional races were exceptionally fast. Willis broke the tape in 3:51.3 while Simpson clocked 4:16.6 to equal the venerable event record set by PattiSue Plumer back in 1990.

PHOTO: Nick Willis of New Zealand and Jenny Simpson of Boulder, Colo., after winning the 2017 New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

In the men’s race, defending champion Eric Jenkins and Robby Andrews took the early lead for the opening downhill blocks. Craig Engels and former Oregon star Edward Cheserek, making his professional debut, joined them on the front line as they hit the first quarter in about 59 seconds. As the course flowed uphill, 800-meter specialist Drew Windle jumped out front, eager to snag the $1000 bonus given to the first runner to hit the half mile. He dueled with Engels and even dipped at the marker to hold a tiny edge as they came through in 1:58. (Alas, Engels would take home the prize, after Windle faded badly and didn’t meet the requisite 4:00 finishing time needed to collect.)

Engels opened up a gap on the field during the third quarter as the road sloped down, but he was swallowed by the pack shortly after the three-quarter mile mark (2:56). Brits Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman surged ahead, but Willis smoothly positioned himself towards the center of the pack, before launching a perfectly timed kick in the final 100 meters to grab the win.

“I think I ran over one of the manhole covers with 30 [meters] to go and I was already at my max so I was worried that I was gonna fall over there,” said the 34-year old New Zealander, who previously won this race in 2008, 2013 and 2015.

PHOTO: Nick Willis of New Zealand wins his fourth New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City in 3:51.3 (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

O’Hare (3:52.0) held on for second, ahead of Ben Blankenship (3:52.3), with the next five runners separated by only three-tenths of a second and a total of 19 men clocking sub-4:00 times.

“We had a really strong field, so I knew that I’d have to use my experience on this course to run my best,” said Willis, who had run conservatively in the middle of the pack for most of the race. “I knew I had to wait and wait and wait and wait and be the last person to make the move. The finish line always looks closer than it really is, so I used the 1500-meter mark as my gauge to when I really got into fifth gear. I was able to slingshot off of them right at the end and thankfully it was enough.”

A two-time Olympic medalist in the 1500, Willis placed a disappointing eighth at the recent IAAF World Championships in London. “This was a great way to finish what has been a pretty trying season for me with a lot of hiccups with injuries along the way,” he said as he points to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April where he is likely to move up to the 5000-meters.

Simpson took a more assertive strategy than Willis, immediately going to the front of the women’s race. A pair of Brits, Laura Weightman and Jessica Judd, quickly joined her up front through a 62-second opening quarter.

Nobody seemed terribly eager to snag the halfway bonus, so Judd made a last-second decision to go for it, splitting 2:10 and picking up the extra cash (which she says she’ll put towards her upcoming vacation to Hawaii). She continued to force the pace until Simpson and Weightman caught her about 200 meters from the finish. The American cruised home comfortably, with Weightman taking second in 4:17.6 and Judd holding off a late-surge from Brenda Martinez for the final podium spot, 4:18.3 to 4:18.4. In a mass finish similar to the men’s event, 16 women broke 4:30.

“This race can be really different if the wind is at your back or in your face, and the road can be really uneven, and so just knowing how to time yourself and know when to look up at the finish and when not to look at the finish is really important part of timing it right,” said Simpson, who took silver in the world championships 1500 last month, the fourth international medal of her career. “So over the years I think I’ve just gotten it down to a science. And the beautiful thing is, with 5th Avenue, when the road is clear it’s pretty much the same every year, so I know where I want to put in my surges.”

PHOTO: Jenny Simpson of Boulder, Colo., wins her sixth New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City in in 4:16.6, equaling the event record (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

This was Simpson’s unprecedented fifth straight victory down 5th Avenue, dating back to 2013. Her first win came back in 2011, but despite all that success, she knows she’s going to be challenged. “The first quarter mile you’re headed downhill and there’s always this sense in your mind that maybe it’ll feel easy,” she admits. “And then it doesn’t. And then you think, these girls are gonna make me run so hard this year. As I get farther into the race I believe more and more, the crowd gets incrementally louder and louder and I just can’t let people down.”

Simpson will resume training after a 10-day break, and this fall she’ll take her first vacation since 2010 when she and her husband, Jason, spend a week in Hawaii prior to the wedding of her friend Emma Coburn, who finished ninth on Sunday.

Both Willis and Simpson earned $5000 for their titles, which capped a day of 23 heats featuring a record 7664 finishers over a variety of age groups and abilities in the 37th running of the event.

High-Sugar Sports Drink Sales up 35% as School Starts

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Despite the health risks, parents are stockpiling gatorade and similar ‘sports’ drinks as kids head back to school and back on the field.

Despite the American Academy of Paediatrics and many other reputable organisations, including the Connecticut state government, attempting to limit consumption of the sugary beverages, sports drinks experienced a 35 percent spike in sales over the course of five weeks leading up to school starting thus year. The numbers come courtesy of a recent Nielsen insights report in which parents appear to be apathetic towards increased dental costs and obesity rates.

“Given the current epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity, we recommend the elimination of calorie-containing beverages from a well-balanced diet,” reads the official AAP stance on sports drinks, which carries a notable caveat: Low-fat or fat-free milk, given its Calcium & Vitamin D content. 

Though some research indicates that certain young athletes may benefit from the combination of carbohydrates, protein, or electrolytes sports drinks offer, those studies are greatly outnumbered by studies accentuating the opposite. For most kids engaged in routine physical activities, doing an impression of that awesome Gatorade sweat ad merely translates into empty calories and extra trips to the dentist. Still, all that slurping is understandable if you look at the market; given that most schools have phased out selling sodas, beverage manufacturers have been pushing sports drinks, which have become the third-fastest growing beverage category in the U.S. after bottled water and energy drinks since 2006.

Not all hydration is created equal. SOS has 5x less sugar & calories than Gatorade. Try it here today

Since that time, some school districts have fought policy battles over sports drinks. Connecticut banned them from schools along with soda in 2006 and the The U.S. Agriculture Department launched an initiative to get Gatorade and drinks like it out of schools in 2013. But all that legislative effort is largely pointless if parents are going to send kids with sports drinks in their back packs anyways.

Still, the Nielsen data wasn’t all bad news and shows that parents are at least paying more attention to labels. They found that consumers spend 37 percent more on sports drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners and 19 percent more on drinks free of sugar in the same five-week back to school period. The absence of artificial colours and the presence of antioxidant properties also boosted sales 25 and 29 percent, respectively. And the most popular item of all were apples with $243.5 million in sales.

Forget the post workout ice bath – study suggests hot water, instead

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Written by Alex Hutchinson for The Globe and Mail 

The epitome of the hard-core, no-pain-no-gain approach to training is the post-workout ice bath. After pushing your muscles to their limits, you soak them in teeth-chatteringly cold water to speed their recovery before the next gruelling workout.

But there may be a gentler, more soothing path to greatness.

A recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports suggests that swapping the ice tub for a relaxing soak in a hot bath can trigger performance-boosting adaptations that mimic how the body adjusts to hot weather. That is particularly valuable for those training through cold conditions – a Canadian winter, say – for a springtime race where the weather can be unexpectedly hot.

Better yet, hot baths actually feel good, points out Neil Walsh, director of the Extremes Research Group at the Bangor University in Wales and the senior author of the new study. “A hot soak is comfortable for aching limbs,” he says, “and there are other supposed health benefits – think Roman spas.”

Walsh’s interest in the topic dates back to his days as a competitive road cyclist. “I’d always taken a hot bath after a long training ride, and it didn’t make sense to me as a physiologist why a cold bath would be helpful.”

The idea that hot baths, beyond being pleasant, might actually boost performance stems from recent research into heat adaptation. After one to two weeks of exercising in hot conditions, your core temperature will drop, your sweat rate will increase and you will produce a greater volume of blood plasma, all of which will enhance your ability to perform in the heat.

A controversial 2010 study from researchers at the University of Oregon suggested that the same process of heat adaptation could also enhance endurance in cool conditions. This idea remains hotly contested (it was the topic of a debate in the Journal of Physiology last month), but the study spurred interest in more convenient ways of triggering heat adaptation.

An Australian study last year found that four days of 30-minute postrun saunas at 87 C produced a large increase in plasma volume.

It’s important to replace the fluids you lose during heat adaptation. SOS works just as rapidly as an IV Drip. Try it here today 

Still, not everyone has easy access to a heat-controlled treadmill or a sauna, so Walsh and his colleagues wondered whether a simple hot bath could provide some of the same benefits. They recruited 17 volunteers to run for 40 minutes on a treadmill for six consecutive days, followed each time by a 40-minute bath submerged to the neck. Ten of the volunteers were assigned to hot baths at 40 C, while the other seven took “thermoneutral” baths at 34 C.

By the end of the study, the hot-bath group had a lower resting rectal temperature by an average of 0.27 C, their temperature stayed lower during exercise and they began sweating sooner. Their performance in a five-kilometre treadmill trial improved by 5 per cent in hot conditions (33 C), though it didn’t change in cool conditions (18 C).

These are compelling results – but it’s worth nothing that the baths were pretty intense. On the first day, Walsh says, only four of the 10 hot-bath volunteers were able to complete 40 minutes, though nine of the 10 were able to complete it by the fifth day of adaptation. He and his colleagues hope to test less-onerous protocols in future studies: “As little as 20 minutes in the hot bath may be necessary to provide heat acclimation,” he says, but “this needs confirmation.”

So, will hot baths replace cold baths as the default postworkout soak? That depends on who you are, physiologist Trent Stellingwerff points out. Olympic endurance athletes such as those he works with at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific in Victoria already have extremely high blood-plasma volumes, so hot baths may not provide enough of a stimulus to make any difference. Non-elite athletes, in contrast, might see a bigger benefit.

For now, there are few firm conclusions to be drawn. But if you are training through the winter for an event with potentially warm weather, a few hot baths seem like a low-risk insurance policy.

“I definitely felt the heat when I ran the Ottawa Marathon [in late May] in 2009,” Guelph-based marathoner Reid Coolsaet recalls. “It wasn’t even that hot, but I wasn’t used to it at all.”

Coolsaet plans to use a steam sauna to help him prepare for the expected heat of the Olympics in Brazil this year, though the late-summer timing of the Games means that he will not need much help getting used to muggy conditions. “Luckily,” he says drily, “the weather in Guelph in July and August is comparable to that in Rio.”

If you do decide to try hot baths this winter, bear in mind that heat puts additional stress on the body. For starters, stick to 10 minutes at no more than 40 C (a standard upper limit for hot tubs), and get out immediately if you feel dizzy or nauseous.

Hydration On The Run

in BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING by
Adapted from Matt Fitzgerald

Hydration during running is not as complicated as you may have been led to believe.

When you run, you sweat. The more you sweat, the more your blood volume decreases. The more your blood volume decreases, the harder your heart has to work to deliver oxygen to your working muscles.

Sounds dangerous, but it’s really not. Runners almost never experience dehydration levels sufficient to cause major health consequences. But normal levels of dehydration will make you feel uncomfortable and cause you to slow down.

Drinking while you run will limit these negative effects of dehydration. But what should you drink, how much, and when?

SOS can be compared to an IV drip. It works just as rapidly but is safer and cheaper at combating mild to moderate dehydration. Try it here

In the past, athletes were encouraged to drink as much as possible during exercise, or at least to drink enough to completely offset dehydration (that is, to drink enough to prevent any decrease in body weight during exercise). However, it is now understood that this is bad advice, for two reasons.

Firstly, it is possible to drink too much during exercise. Forcing yourself to swallow more fluid than your body really needs while running may cause gastrointestinal distress, and in extreme cases it can cause a dangerous condition known as water intoxication, or hyponatremia. Secondly, research has shown that drinking to completely offset sweating offers no advantage with respect to performance or body temperature regulation compared to drinking by thirst.

The new exercise hydration advice is in fact to drink according to your thirst. As long as you keep an adequate supply of a palatable drink accessible during your runs, you will naturally drink enough to optimize your performance if you just drink as often and as much as your thirst dictates.

Dehydration only affects performance in workouts lasting longer than an hour, so you don’t have to drink during workouts that are shorter than an hour. However, you can if you like.

Why Walking Throughout The Day Is Just As Important As Your Weekend Exercise

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We’re well aware that sitting all day is damaging your body in countless ways, but counteracting that isn’t just about exercising. As the Wall Street Journal points out, it’s also about getting up and walking more.

The focus for most health departments has been to push people to get about 30 minutes of exercise a day, but exercise alone isn’t enough if you spend the rest of your day sitting around:

A study that followed more than 240,000 adults over 8½ years found that watching a large amount of television was associated with a higher risk of death, including from cardiovascular disease—even for participants who reported seven or more hours a week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise…

“Our results suggest that exercise alone may not be enough to eliminate risks associated with too much sitting,” says Charles Matthews, lead author of the study and an investigator with the National Institutes of Health.

The reason is pretty simple, all the movement you do throughout the day, from getting up to grab a glass of water to doing the dishes, burns calories and increase metabolism. Even if you’re exercising daily, sitting all day counteracts that. The best thing you can do? Walk more. The goal is to hit about 10,000 steps a day (which is the equivalent of about four miles. We typically average around 5,000 steps a day). You can track your steps with fitness tracking gear, a cheap pedometer, or even a free app like Moves for iPhone or Accupedo for Android.

Feeling tired this afternoon? The #1 cause of daytime fatigue is dehydration. Try SOS HERE and feel the difference

Since you may need to essentially double the amount of steps you take a day, you might have to get creative with how you spend your day. We’ve heard plenty of tricks to do this before, like walking up the stairs instead of taking an elevator (walking up 10 stairs is the equivalent of taking 38 steps on the ground), parking further away in the parking lot, and getting up throughout the day to walk around the office. But if you still want to sit around and watch TV, the Wall Street Journal has a simple fix with surprising results:

Dr. Bassett says a doctoral student in his department conducted a study in which 58 people watching 90 minutes of television marched in place in front of the TV during commercial breaks. “They increased their steps by about 3,000 per day just by doing this during commercials,” says Dr. Bassett. “That’s equivalent to about 30 minutes of walking.”

That’s a pretty big boost to your step count, and it doesn’t really require that much effort on your part (although you may annoy anyone watching TV with you).

Hard Math: Adding Up Just How Little We Actually Move | The Wall Street Journal

SOS can be compared to an IV drip. It works just as rapidly but is safer and cheaper at combating mild to moderate dehydration. Try it HERE

To Burn Off A Soda, You’ll Have To Run 50 Minutes

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As a society, we don’t pay much attention to nutrition information when we eat out.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimates just 8 percent of Americans use nutritional information when deciding what to order.

So, what might make us pay attention? Well, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have a theory.

Calories are listed next to menu items in a Starbucks coffee shop in 2008 in New York City. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Instead of just listing calories, why not also include how many miles of walking or minutes of running it would take to burn off the calories you order. This could help people put the calorie counts in context.

“People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories,” says Sara Bleich, an associate professor in the department of health Policy and management at Johns Hopkins.

“So, if we’re going to put this information in restaurants,” Bleich says, listing the miles of walking it would take to work it off “may be the more persuasive way.”

Bleich and her team were interested to know how low-income tweens and teenagers would respond to this kind of messaging. So she and her colleagues posted calorie and “miles to walk” signs in corner stores in predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore.

Since sodas are a common purchase among teens, the signs focused on beverages, pointing out that a typical 20-ounce soda has 250 calories, which would take 5 miles of walking — or 50 minutes of running — for a 110-pound adolescent to burn off. (It would take a little less time for an adult with a higher body weight to use up the energy in one of those sodas.)

“We sat in these stores for hours and watched what kids were doing,” Bleich says. And her team documented that among the roughly 35 percent of teens who noticed the signs, the calorie and walking information shaped their choices.

One of the posters used in the study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Sara Bleich/Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Before the miles-of-walking signs went up, the teens were purchasing about 203 calories’ worth of sugary drinks. After the signs were installed, the number of sugary drink calories purchased dropped to 179. So not a huge drop, but a significant change.

Kids also started buying smaller-size drinks. Before the signs went up, more than half of teens were buying 16-ounce or larger servings. After the signs were installed, the purchases of large-size beverages dropped to 37 percent. The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Bleich says when she started the research project, she drove through the Baltimore neighborhoods where the study was to be carried out. These neighborhoods are “low-income, heavy drug use,” Bleich says. “[There are] all sorts of social disadvantages.” And she recalls thinking, “Who the heck is going to care how many calories are in the sodas that they’re drinking?”

But, now that she’s documented that the signs do make a difference, she says she’s very encouraged.

“So to me, the message is: Among a population for whom health is probably not a primary concern, we’re [seeing] a significant effect,” Bleich says.

And, she says, her hunch is that if she carried out the same study among higher-income populations, “I think the effects would be even bigger.”

SOS can be compared to an IV drip. It works just as rapidly but is safer and cheaper at combating mild to moderate dehydration. Try it HERE

Spilling The Beans on Caffeine

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Hydrate, caffeinate, repeat. It’s a way of life for those with an active lifestyle. So what is it about caffeine? Can it really be that good for performance?

Who can benefit from caffeine?

Caffeine can have positive performance improvements across a range of different sports and in both males and females.

Performance improvements of ~3% have been found in the lab, however, it’s difficult to predict precisely the improvements we can expect from caffeine in ‘real life’ training and racing, as other factors such as tactics or weather conditions can influence results. It’s also important to know that individual responses to caffeine are highly varied. Some athletes may find that caffeine can have negative effects on performance while others find that caffeine offers them no benefit at all.

Why use caffeine?

It was once thought that caffeine increased the use of fat as a fuel thereby ‘sparing’ muscle glycogen. However, we now know that the most significant benefits of caffeine come from its effects on the brain. More specifically, caffeine is able to act as an adenosine receptor antagonist. By blocking the action of adenosine, caffeine influences the central nervous system. This can improve your perception of fatigue, resulting in a longer period of sustained work.

In simple terms – you can improve your ability to ‘go harder for longer’ before the effects of fatigue set in, improving your performance.

What caffeine product works best?

Coffee, cola drinks, caffeinated gels, caffeinated gum…the array of caffeine containing products available is huge. But is any one source better than another?

In general, no.

Studies have found that the beneficial effects of caffeine are seen across a variety of different products. Where it becomes tricky is that different products (and even different brands of the same product) have different amounts of caffeine. Knowing how much caffeine you are consuming is important as there can be a fine line between the amount which improves performance and the level at which negative side effects can occur.

It’s important to consider the diuretic effects of caffeine, always remember to stay hydrated with SOS Hydration 

The list below provides some examples of how much caffeine is found in a range of products – be aware though, formulations frequently change so it’s best to double check the packing to be sure.

Product Serve Caffeine per serve (mg)
Instant coffee 250ml cup 60 (range: 12-169)
Espresso Standard shot 107 (range: 25-214)
Iced coffee (commercial) 500ml bottle 30-200
Tea 250ml cup 27 (range: 9-51)
Hot chocolate 250ml cup 5-10
Coca-Cola 600ml bottle 58
Diet Coke 600ml bottle 77
Red Bull 250ml can 80

When to take caffeine?

Unlike some supplements, you often feel the benefits of caffeine soon after consumption (regardless of when levels peak in the blood). Performance improvements have been found regardless of whether the caffeine is taken one hour before an event, split in to doses over an event or taken only in the latter stages of an event when feelings of fatigue are most likely to really kick in.

The duration of the event will obviously have an impact on timing of caffeine intake. In shorter events (e.g. cycling criterium, sprint triathlon) where there is little opportunity to eat or drink during the event, having caffeine before the event is the most useful approach. On the other hand, during events lasting several hours (e.g. ironmanmarathon) having caffeine before the event and/or topping up during the event, or saving the caffeine for the final stages, is more likely to be beneficial. Individuals should practise a variety of different strategies to determine the approach that works best for them.

Regular coffee drinkers can relax – there is no need to stop having caffeine in the days leading up to an event if you want to use caffeine during an event. Withdrawing from caffeine offers no additional benefit and will more likely lead to negative effects associated with caffeine withdrawal (e.g. headaches, irritability).

SOS can be compared to an IV drip. It works just as rapidly but is safer and cheaper at combating mild to moderate dehydration. Try it here

How can I use caffeine during my training?

Here’s a quick summary of how you can use caffeine to help you go harder for longer:

  • More isn’t better. Usually ~1-3mg caffeine / kg body weight (e.g. 70-210mg caffeine for a 70kg person) improves performance. Higher intakes won’t offer an extra benefit and will more likely have negative side effects (e.g. shakiness or increased heart-rate)
  • You are unique! Individual responses to caffeine are highly varied – start small
  • Do the sums. Make sure you have a (rough) idea of how much you are consuming
  • Be flexible. Trial different amounts, types and timing of caffeine
  • Don’t sacrifice sleep. Will caffeine negatively impact your recovery?
  • Practise! Always trial during training to work out the best strategy for you

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