Ten Things You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

Dan Benardot, PhD, DHC, RD, LD, FACSM 

  1. Look Beyond Weight When Determining Health It’s not your weight that matters, it’s what constitutes your weight. Find a way to learn if you have too little muscle or too much fat and find a strategy (exercise and eating well) that increases muscle and lowers fat. The number on the scale might stay the same, but you will look better, perform better and will be healthier.
  2. Building Muscle Takes More Than Just Protein Building muscle requires a combination of:
    • Added resistance to muscles
    • Staying in a good energy balanced state to encourage anabolic hormone production
    • Having a good distribution of nutrients to sustain tissue health
    • Adequate sleep
    • Consuming more protein in the right amounts and at the right times to encourage muscle protein synthesis
  3. Protein: It’s Not Just More, But When and How Much If you are an athlete, you need about double the protein as nonathletes, but just eating more protein isn’t enough. It must be consumed in the right amounts, at the right times and when in a reasonably good energy balanced state. Randomly eating more protein doesn’t accomplish what the body needs.
  4. Infrequent Meals Cause Problems Meal skipping, or eating in a pattern that fails to satisfy energy requirements in real time, creates many problems including higher body fat levels, lower lean mass and greater cardiometabolic risk factors. Interestingly, more frequent eating is associated with lower total caloric intake because of better ghrelin (appetite hormone) control.
  5. Eating Good Foods Helps the Microbiome Keep You Healthy Inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may alter the microbiome, resulting in higher body fat percentage and reduced athletic performance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to sustain good bacterial colonies that live in the gut. Additional benefit: Fruits and vegetables give you the carbs you may lack for maximal performance.
  6. Good Food, Bad Food, Wrong Choice There is no perfect food, and if you keep eating the same food(s) because you believe it’s good for you, you place yourself at nutritional risk. There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of foods that are well-distributed throughout the day. You don’t get too much of anything potentially bad, and you expose tissues to all the nutrients they need.
  7. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) can be a Problem The best exercise performance occurs when you have enough energy to support the exercise. If you frequently post-load by consuming the energy (calories) after the workout/competition, be aware of the potential health and performance consequences. You can’t drive your car on an empty tank of gas, and neither can you perform well if your tank is empty.
  8. Poor Hydration, Poor Performance Sustaining the best possible fluid balance is important for many reasons, including sustaining heart stroke volume, sustaining sweat rates, enabling delivery of nutrients to working cells and enhancing removal of metabolic waste products from cells.
  9. Recovery from Exercise is Just as Important as the Exercise Putting stress on muscles through exercise isn’t enough to reap the full health benefits. You must give muscles an opportunity to recover from the stress so that they can benefit from the exercise. Adequate sleep is important by helping to sustain appropriate eating behaviors and muscle recovery.
  10. It Is Important to Learn How to Lower Stress Stress levels impact eating behavior. High stress levels can lead to the consumption of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar. Find a strategy for stress-reduction that can help you sustain optimal nutrition, which will positively influence both performance and health.

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How Does Exercise Actually Make You Better?

By Dev Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc, Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • A recently published scientific study shows that blood protein markers fall into specific patterns, and some patterns are associated with regular aerobic exercise
  • The patterns in regular exercisers are different than the patterns found in non-exercisers
  • Studies such as this shed further light into exactly how exercise improves health status and ultimately may lead to improved exercise prescriptions for individuals

I’m sure pretty much everyone knows that exercise is a good thing and makes us fitter and better. The right kind of exercise will make you feel better, look better, and likely add to your healthspan. But the exact mechanisms that lead from exercise to better health are surprisingly hard to pinpoint.

recently published scientific study shows that certain groups of proteins in the body are present in larger quantities in people who exercise regularly, suggesting that the proteins are somehow responsible for actions leading to improved health status. This study did now investigate cause and effect, but it sheds light on a previously poorly understood area. The field of “proteomics”- the study of body proteins and their functions- may lead to exciting discoveries in exercise science.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder performed the study. The first study group was comprised of 31 healthy young men and women, about half of whom exercised regularly, while the rest did not. They also recruited an additional group of 16 healthy middle-aged and older men, half of whom were physically active and half of whom were sedentary. So this study was a snapshot in time comparison of people who performed regular aerobic exercise vs. those who were physically inactive.

They collected blood samples from the study participants and analyzed for more than 1000 blood proteins. From the analysis they were able to find 10 groups of proteins that they arranged into patterns or modules.

The researchers were able to find 5 specific protein patterns associated with aerobic exercise status in adults, as well as 2 modules that were preserved with aging in regularly exercising men. In the groups of regular exercisers patterns were related to biological pathways involved in wound healing, regulation of cell aging, glucose and insulin response, and inflammation/immune responses. Several of the exercise-related protein patterns were associated with physiological and clinical indicators of healthspan, including diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, VO2max, blood vessel function.Logo

This is a unique study that allows us to start digging deeper into the specific processes that take place during exercise and ultimately improve health status. Future studies will need to take a look at cause and effect. How do the protein markers change when taking a sedentary person through a regular exercise program? How do the proteins change from various different types of exercise? Ultimately research studies such as this can lead to improved exercise regimens and personalization of an exercise prescription.

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Keeping Active in the New Year

By: Briana Jamshidi, Rehab Technician for ATI Physical Therapy

After a long week of work, countless errands and running around, the weekends may be your opportunity for leisure to do nothing but sit around all day. While there’s nothing wrong with taking well deserved time off to relax, you may be doing more of a disservice than you realize. The human body is designed for movement and as the saying goes, “sitting is the new smoking.” According to research at Cornell University Department of Ergonomics, sitting increases the pressure on your lower back by 90 percent compared to standing. It’s no wonder back pain is one of the most common health problems in today’s society. On the days that are meant for relaxing, you may want to reconsider how you spend your free time and consider these precautions to make sure you’re treating your body with the best care possible.

Go for a walk

All you need is 30 minutes a day. To make it more enjoyable, make it a family activity by going together for a walk around the neighborhood or at the local park. If you have dogs you can choose to take them along as well, instead of just playing with them inside. If you live in a cold-weather climate, many indoor malls open early for walkers.

Set the intention to get more steps in. Park the car in the back of the parking lot, get off the bus one or two stops early or use phone calls as an opportunity to stand up and move around.

There are numerous benefits to walking daily. Not only will this simple movement strengthen the muscles in your legs, but it will improve the blood flow throughout your body. Walking modifies your nervous system and boosts your mood, making you feel happier and more creative.

Stand up every 30 to 60 minutes

Unfortunately, you cannot offset hours of sitting with one hour of exercise. According to research at Start Standing, “marathon sitting” drastically changes your body’s metabolism. Your metabolism slows down by 90 percent after only 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that aid in fat burning slow down. The muscles in your lower body turn off. And after two hours of sitting, your good cholesterol reduces by 20 percent.

Fortunately, it’s as simple as standing up, stretching and walking around for as little as five minutes for your body’s metabolism to pick back up again.

Stretch out your hips and back

Prolonged sitting, especially with poor posture, causes your muscles to shorten, which is why they feel tight. You might experience shoulder pain, hip pain and even back pain. The deepest hip flexor, the Psoas, is directly connected to our lumbar (lower) spine. When you’re sitting, your hip flexors shorten, causing your glute muscles to elongate. This can cause a tight or pulling sensation in your back.

Negate these pains by stretching out your muscles. To get you started, ATI Physical Therapy’s Rehabilitation expert Briana Jamshidi shares with us a few recommended stretches and suggestions.

Stretches for Your Hips and Back

Click the image above to enlarge the infographic

Prioritize drinking enough water

Proper hydration and nutrient-dense meals are essential for a well-functioning body. Your body is up to 70 percent water and if you’re dehydrated, many functions of your body stop working as a result. Areas of the body that are not important for survival become deprived of water in order to supply the brain and other vital organs. As an example, cartilage is not considered a vital organ, so the body will pull water from it, dehydrating it. When the water content of cartilage drops, it loses its smooth, low-friction and wear resistant qualities, allowing it to become damaged.

It’s recommended to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day (body weight: 140 pounds, water intake: 70 ounces). Carrying a water bottle around with you helps makes sure you drink enough water each day. Proper hydration can result in more health benefits, such as improved skin complexion, increased energy, headache prevention and improved digestion.

Are aches and pains getting in the way of your daily activities?

If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to doing you.

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Here’s How Olympic Snowboarder Spencer O’Brien Overcame Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dr. Brian Cole and Steve Kashul talk with Spencer O’Brien about the challenges professional athletes face during competition while managing rheumatoid arthritis. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that has a severe impact on the joints and can affect other parts of the body as well due to severe swelling. For a professional athlete a diagnosis like this can be physically and emotionally devastating. For O’Brien it was finally an answer to why her body was failing her. She experienced low points, but like a great athlete she persevered, rebuilt herself and triumphed against the odds.



2018 Olympian – Slopestyle and Big Air
2016 X Games Gold Medalist – Slopestyle
2014 X Games Bronze Medalist – Slopestyle
2014 Olympian – Slopestyle
2013 US Open Champion – Slopestyle
2013 FIS World Championship Gold Medalist – Slopestyle
2012 TTR World Championships Gold Medalist – Slopestyle
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