Research: The Science

  • Is The Ketogenic Diet Good For Athletes? Outlook Not Great for Endurance Sports

    A new study from the Australian Institute of sport has put another nail in the coffin for the ketogenic diet for endurance athletes. High fat, very low carb diets have been touted as potentially increasing endurance performance for a number of reasons; we store more fat in our body than we could ever store carbohydrate, it has been proposed as ‘anti-inflammatory’, and it has even been suggested to help our muscles respond more to a given exercise stimulus. (If you’re not sure what a ketogenic diet is, we’ve written about it before with some examples)

    To put it to the test though, the renowned Australian research group enlisted elite race-walkers (Olympic and world medalists were amongst the participants) and got them to consume either a high carbohydrate, a structured carbohydrate, or a ketogenic diet. They carried this study out and published the data a few years ago. They found that when the athlete’s performance in a race was worse when they had the ketogenic diet compared to the other two. When they assessed them in the lab, they found it cost them more energy to exercise at higher intensities – so their exercise economy was worse. 

    After publishing the data, they decided they would rerun the experiment to try and see if they could confirm the data.

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    New Angle, Same Result

    In this new study, the research group again recruited world-class athletes, put them, again, on one of three diets (two high carbohydrates and one were ketogenic). They also ran two simulated races to look at performance effects and assessed the athletes in the lab. What they also did this time allowed athletes on the ketogenic diet to try and load up on carbohydrates before the races to see if they could get the best of both worlds – have better adaptation during training when they are ketogenic, and then the benefit of carbohydrates which are a more economic fuel to use during high-intensity exercise.

     

    The results – the same as they had previously found. Worse performance, and less economic athletes when they consume a high fat, ketogenic diet – even after they had refed briefly with carbohydrates. The reason why we suspect that the carbohydrate did not recuse performance levels, is because the ketogenic diet blunts our ability to store and then burn carbohydrate in the muscle – exactly where it is needed during exercise.

     

    What’s worse for the ketogenic diet is athletes did perform worse – they did not even maintain their pre-training levels. Whereas athletes in both carbohydrate groups improved their performance.

     

    Pre and post-diet race times during 10km time trial. All runners on the ketogenic diet performed worse while both carbohydrate groups saw improvements.

    Final Nail In The Coffin?

    The results are pretty damning for the ketogenic diet for endurance athletes. But doe that mean there is no place for it at all?

    Probably not. For example, a recent case study showed that an international cyclist has long been able to maintain world-class performances on a low carbohydrate diet (although he did improve when he increased his carbohydrate intake in the weeks leading to competition) (2). There are also many athletes across different sports that are reportedly competing while living on a ketogenic diet. Although even in team sports such as football, performance has been seen to be linked to carbohydrate availability.

    If you are working with athletes, you need to consider their carbohydrate needs based on competition.

    References

    1 -Burke, Louise M., Avish P. Sharma, Ida A. Heikura, Sara F. Forbes, Melissa Holloway, Alannah KA McKay, Julia L. Bone, Jill J. Leckey, Marijke Welvaert, and Megan L. Ross. “Crisis of confidence averted: Impairment of exercise economy and performance in elite race walkers by ketogenic low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diet is reproducible.” PloS one 15, no. 6 (2020): e0234027.

     2 – Webster CC, Swart J, Noakes TD, Smith JA. A Carbohydrate Ingestion Intervention in an Elite Athlete Who Follows a Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2018;13(7):957–960. pmid:29252062

  • New Study Finds Daily Probiotics Has Positive Effects On Anxiety, Relaxation And Brain Functioning In Footballers

    The human gut is colonized by more than 100 trillion microbiotas, and these bacteria can provide benefits to the individuals. We have written many times about the positive effects of probiotic supplements, but a new study (1) has looked to see the effects of a daily probiotic supplementation on cognitive measures in competitive footballers. The researchers took measures of cognitive function, and brain wave activities at the beginning (before supplementing), and then after 4 and 8 weeks. One group supplemented with Lactobacillus Casei Shirota strain (LcS) and the other supplemented with a placebo.

    Probiotics have previously been shown to have positive effects on anxiety and depression

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    Intensive Training Probiotic Complex – Shown To Increase Performance In Clinical Trials

    – Formulated for performance
    – Used in four clinical trials with endurance athletes
    – 25 Billion viable cells per capsule
    – Helps aid digestion during intense exercise
    – Also contains L-Glutamine, N-Acetyl Glucosamine and ElavTPT
    – Endurance supplement

    Find out more…

    The Results

    After 4 weeks, the footballers that had been supplementing with the probiotics had significantly increased theta and delta power from brain wave activities measures.

    What Does That Mean?

    Well, theta oscillation is one of the slowest brain waves where the frequency was around 4–8 Hz that could detect when an individual felt more relaxed, in a sleeping state or while meditating. This indicated that the football players in the probiotic group were more relaxed with low stress and anxiety.

    On the flip side, high delta responses are often associated with cognitive process such as attention, problem solving, perception, and signal tracking. What was even more interesting was that those players with anxiety and depression tended to show slower reaction times in the function tests due to the dysfunction of the process to communicate accurate information accompanied by anxiety and depression.

    How does it work?

    We know more and more about the gut and the bacteria that reside there, and then all of the different roles they might play. Gut microbiota are functionally diverse and play a role in many basic metabolisms including carbohydrate metabolism, immune system activities, and fibre degradation. But we know are beginning to understand the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut.

    This means that changes in the microbial environment can affect behaviour, and behavioural changes can affect the gut bacteria (2). Gut bacteria and probiotics can directly interact with our nervous system, they can secrete hormones that can be transferred to the brain, and they can reduce systemic inflammation.

     

    The Study In Footballers Concluded That…

    “Football is a game where players need to make decisions based on a rapidly changing environment while considering teammates, opponents, as well as the ball. Due to that, players need to intensely focus their attention on the game and maintain the highest physical capabilities to achieve their targets.

    Stress, anxiety, and depression are often associated with competitions, and regulating these psychophysiological components can be the solution to improve performance via food-based nutritional supplements. …with supplementation of Lactobacillus Casei Shirota strain, the delta and theta brain waves were higher in the probiotic group after four weeks that provide evidence for relaxation and attention components in the probiotic group.” 

    References

    1 – Adikari, A. M. G. C. P., Mahenderan Appukutty, and Garry Kuan. “Effects of Daily Probiotics Supplementation on Anxiety Induced Physiological Parameters among Competitive Football Players.” Nutrients 12, no. 7 (2020): 1920.

     2 – Liu, Bangshan, Yunan He, Mi Wang, Jin Liu, Yumeng Ju, Yan Zhang, Tiebang Liu, Lingjiang Li, and Qi Li. “Efficacy of probiotics on anxiety—A meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Depression and anxiety 35, no. 10 (2018): 935-945.

  • Post Workout Protein - Is 20g Of Protein Enough?

    When it comes to getting protein in post-training, most people would agree that it is beneficial – whether it is for muscle growth or recovery. But how much is enough? For a long time, it was believed that you needed no more than ~20g of whey protein post-training. But why? And is this still the case?

    Studies examining how much (and what type of) protein we should take post-training come from studies that use isotopes to measure how much ‘new’ protein we are able to make in our muscles after training – this is the whole point of training. Earlier studies showed that there was no added benefit for muscle growth beyond 20g of protein – even if you doubled the intake to 40g (1). This did spawn one myth that should be put to bed.

    The myth that your body can’t handle any more than 20g of protein in one go needs to be put straight into the bin and never return.

    If you consume more protein than this in one sitting, it is just used for other processes within the body. It might go to a vital organ, it can be used for energy production – it is not just wasted.

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    Anabolic Drive – Post-Workout Nutrition

    – Post-Workout Nutrition
    – Aids growth in muscle mass(1)
    – Increase performance(2)
    – 2:1 Carb to Protein Ratio
    2kg – 30 Servings (Approx.)

    Find out more…

    A New Protein Ceiling

    This original work though showing that there is no added benefit for muscle growth beyond 20g stuck for a long time though. That was until two recent studies.

    The first study again looked at 20g vs 40g. But, unlike the original study that used a leg only training session, this new study used a whole body resistance training session (2). Their theory was that, as we were using more muscle mass, we would most likely need more protein afterwards. What did they find? A 20% increase in skeletal muscle synthesis when participants took on 40g vs 20g.

    So, it appears that how much protein you consume after training or competition might depend on how hard the session was and how much of the body was used. Full body session? You might need up to 40g of protein. Upper or lower body only, you maybe only need around 20g.

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    Training Into Old Age – More Of The Same?

    A very recent study has even shown that 40g may be more beneficial post-training as we age. Unlike the study in younger adults that used tracers to measure protein synthesis after a single training study – this study in older adults wanted to look at the practical effects of consuming either 20g or 40g post training (3). Those in the group consuming 40g post-training showed significantly improved strength performance in chest, shoulder and leg press compared to a matched group that only consumed 20g. Same training – but better results. 

    Something to think about as we age.

    References

    1 – Shing, C. M., Peake, J. M., Lim, C. L., Briskey, D., Walsh, N. P., Fortes, M. B., … & Vitetta, L. (2014). Effects of probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, inflammation and exercise performance in the heat. European journal of applied physiology114(1), 93-103. 

     2 – Roberts, J. D., Suckling, C. A., Peedle, G. Y., Murphy, J. A., Dawkins, T. G., & Roberts, M. G. (2016). An exploratory investigation of endotoxin levels in novice long distance triathletes, and the effects of a multi-strain probiotic/prebiotic, antioxidant intervention. Nutrients8(11), 733.

    3 – Suckling, C., Roberts, J., Peedle, G., Gordon, D., Marshall, H., Taylor, L., & Roberts, M. G. (2016). Probiotic Supplementation and Gastrointestinal Endotoxemia Before and After the Marathon Des Sables. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise48(5S), 249-250.

    4 – Pugh, J. N., Sparks, A. S., Doran, D. A., Fleming, S. C., Langan-Evans, C., Kirk, B., … & Close, G. L. (2019). Four weeks of probiotic supplementation reduces GI symptoms during a marathon race. European journal of applied physiology119(7), 1491-1501.

  • Podcast Episode: GI Symptoms Experienced By Athletes And How You Can Avoid Them With Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson is an associate professor of exercise science and directs the Human Performance Laboratory at Old Dominion University. He earned a PhD in exercise physiology from the University of Minnesota and completed post-doctoral training in sports nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Wilson has authored over 45 scientific articles that span the disciplines of exercise science, sports nutrition, and health. He is the author of the recently released book, The Athlete’s Gut: The Inside Science of Digestion, Nutrition, and Stomach Distress. Wilson is also a credentialed registered dietitian through the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

    In this episode we discuss:

    – Patrick’s early career and how he found himself research in the area of GI symptoms in athletes.
    – Some of his first major findings and what it means to those undertaking endurance events.
    – The most common GI symptoms experienced by athletes, some of the major contributing factors, and how you can try to avoid them.
    – What he wished he knew before writing his new book.

    You can find Patrick on twitter @SportsRD_PhD

    Catch the full episode and subscribe to our podcast here!

    Download the Podcast and Subscribe Here:

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    PRP-Podcast-tunein
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    Intensive Training Probiotic Complex – Shown To Increase Performance In Clinical Trials

    – Formulated for performance
    – Used in four clinical trials with endurance athletes
    – 25 Billion viable cells per capsule
    – Helps aid digestion during intense exercise
    – Also contains L-Glutamine, N-Acetyl Glucosamine and ElavTPT
    – Endurance supplement

    Find out more…

     

    If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.

     

    Please click here to read our legal disclaimer on all products and advice.

  • Fish Oil and Mental Health

  • Will Exercise Add Stress To My Immune System?

  • Taking Caffeine To Enhance Performance with Gabriel Martins

    Nutrition, Health and Performance Podcast

    Gabriel Martins is a researcher at the University Camilo José Cela in Madrid where his research focuses on studying supplement contamination and the use of ergogenic aids in sports performance. He also works with cycling athletes and competing in both road cycling and mountain bike events.

    On top of that, he hosts the fantastic podcast Fuel the Pedal – which is definitely worth checking out.

    In This Episode We Discuss All Things Caffeine:

    – Prevalence – how caffeine is one of the least used supplements.

    – Dosage – what level you shouldn’t go above and how to control the dose you take. 

    – Efficacy – what sports does caffeine have the most evidence for being effective? Is there a difference between male and females?

    – Individual response – can be ergolytic, not always ergogenic

    – Timing – when do caffeine concentrations peak? Should you take it during exercise?

    Download the Podcast and Subscribe Here:

    PRP-podcast-itunes
    PRP-Podcast-tunein
    PRP-Podcast-spotify
    HIIT Fuel Pre-Workout

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    If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.

     

    Please click here to read our legal disclaimer on all products and advice.

  • Do You Need To Take Vitamin K2 With Vitamin D?

  • The Newest Endurance Supplement for Performance | Endurance Athletes

  • Could A Text Improve Your Workout?

    A recent article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (1) discussed the use of a simple method to help personal training clients hit their exercise goals – a text message. Could this easy method help people keep up with their gym plan though?

    The author of the article (Justin Kompf) first highlights that people’s ability to adopt and maintain an exercise program is based on two primary things;

    • Do they feel confident enough in their ability to be able to do the exercise?
    • Can they plan, manage, and monitor their exercise?

    A Message A Day?

    Signing up to a personal trainer is one thing but for most people, it is impossible to pay for a PT for more than once or twice a week. How then, can PTs help clients exercise more often? Enter the text message. SMS messaging and Whatsapp have made contacting clients quick and easy. A 2013 systematic-review of 10 studies concluded that text messages showed early promise for promoting physical activity. But, isn’t this something most PTs will be doing already? Maybe. If you are, do more than just do it as a token gesture. Make sure to consider the following 3 factors;

    Content 

    Do you know what sort of messages your clients want? Ask them. Then tailor your content. If the client lacks the confidence to carry out the exercise, motivational messages are the way to go. However, if they lack the organisation skills, these same motivational messages will be ineffective. In this instance, messages that serve as reminders, or provide a “plan B” in case something comes up in your client’s day, will be the better option.

    Automaticity 

    Clients are likely to start ignore texts that feel automated. A 2015 study (2) showed that, if people found out that the messages they received were automated, they stopped reading them.

    Frequency 

    Try and find the sweet spot in how often you are reaching out to them. This is completely personal and changes from person to person. For example, while 50% of participants in one study (2) felt that 3 messages a day were too many, the other half did not feel as negatively about receiving messages this often. In another study of older adults (3), 13 of the 18 participants thought that 5 messages per week are too many and the remaining 5 thought this was fine.

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    Other options

    If personal training clients want to exercise outside of their paid sessions, it is the trainers job to guide them, help prescribe sessions that are tailored to their needs, and then give them the confidence and organisation to see these plans through. Some of the factors laid out above should then be considered before hitting the send button on a text message. Equally, the success of these messages should be reviewed. Do they evoke the behaviour change they are setting out to help.

    For more information about habits and behaviour change, make sure to check out our podcast episode with Karl Morris.

    SUMMIT Podcast episode #10 Karl Morris

    PRP Podcast: Learning & Maintaining Habits 

    – How And Why We Form Habits.

    – Why It Is So Difficult To Break Old Habits.

    – The Most Important Period When Your Trying New Behaviours

    Find out more…

    References 

    1 – Kompf, J. (2019). The Use of Text Messages for Exercise Behavior Change Techniques. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 41(6), 87-90.

    2 – Wang JB, Cadmus-Bertram LA, Madanat H, and Ayala GX. Wearable sensor/device (fitbit one) and SMS-text messaging prompts to increase physical activity in overweight and obese adults: A randomized controlled trial. Telemed J E Health 21: 782–792, 2015.

    3 – Mu¨ller MA, Khoo S, and Morris T. Text messaging for exercise promotion in older adults from an upper-middle-income country: Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res 18: e5, 2016.


     

    If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.

    Please click here to read our legal disclaimer on all products and advice.

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