We didn’t always have the option to eat all day long. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would go days, even weeks, with no food yet managed to cope and survive under these conditions. Before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago food availability was highly unpredictable, in abundance in the summer and scarce in winter. Fasting has been a natural part of our evolution and practiced for millennia by all faiths as a means of “cleansing” the body and mind, yet today medical authorities warn us of the dangers of missing a meal (or even a snack).Read More
One of the most common reasons athletes, Crossfitters and "skinny guys" come to see me in clinic is to add more lean muscle mass to their frame. They'll often complain that “no matter how much I eat, I just can’t gain any weight!” Naturally taller and leaner body types who find it easy to stay slim often struggle with adding more size. There are number of factors that can make it more difficult for you to add 10-15 lb. of additional muscle so you can raise your performance in the gym or on the playing field (or just look good naked).
Let’s take a closer look at five common roadblocks that prevent you from gaining lean muscle.Read More
It seems like 2017 is the year of the ketogenic diet. A new study examined the impacts of a 6-week ketogenic diet on body composition, health and fitness markers in healthy middle-aged men. So, if you’re active and want to take a glimpse into the effects of adopting a keto diet may have on your health and performance, here is your chance to take a sneak peek. Let’s review
Forty-two men in their late 30s were recruited for this 6-week study. They were fed a non-calorically restricted ketogenic diet – comprised of 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs - and assessed for ketosis using urinary testing.Read More
Today, approximately 30 million people are struggling with a thyroid problem and many more are undiagnosed. Women are much more affected by thyroid problems, compared to men, with one out of eight impacted in their lifetime and the likelihood increases as you age. Alarmingly, while most cancer diagnoses are on the decline over the past decade, thyroid cancer rates have been increasing. The obvious question to ask is why are thyroid conditions becoming so commonplace? Like most chronic and degenerative conditions it's multi-factorial, and one key factor affecting your thyroid health is your gut bacteria, also known as the microbiome.Read More
Today, we just don’t enough sleep. Our modern high-tech society seems to be wreaking havoc on our sleep time (and quality), and ultimately health and performance. The average America adult gets only six and a half hours of sleep per night and alarmingly 33% of the population gets less than 6 hours of sleep per night. One of the most common question I get from clients to offset their sleep debt is “can I just sleep more on the weekends?” It’s an interesting question, but unfortunately the current research suggests no… you need to be consistent with your sleep to reap the health and performance benefits.Read More
As you get older, it’s more difficult to maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle is not only a crucial factor in physical performance but also a key marker of healthy ageing.(1) After the age of 50 muscular power starts to decline, more rapidly than strength qualities, making it an important factor to focus on during training. Power isn’t just for dynamic sports efforts, your fast-twitch muscles are essential for “catching yourself” as you fall and hip fractures are significant risk factor in older populations. The good news is maintaining muscular power predicts a reduction in future falls, so not only is focusing on power qualities during exercise important for performance, but overall health as well.Read More
There is a growing debate in the nutrition community about the cause of obesity; too much sugar or too much fat? While the debate rages online, the research experts are actually in agreement… it’s both! Consuming an excess of calories leads to weight gain, while a caloric deficit leads to weight loss. (There is also the “endocrine theory” for weight loss, but I’ll address that in future post). It sounds straight-forward in theory, however in practice it can be tremendously challenging to implement.Read More
Sleep problems seem to be the “new normal” these days. Most of the clients I see in clinical practice complain of difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep regularly throughout the week. Sleep quality isn’t the only problem. The average person gets a mere 6.5 hours of sleep per night (a far cry from the 8 hours our grandparents slept two generations ago) and over 33% of the population get less than 6 hours per night. New research shows lack of sleep is also a major factor contributing to blood sugar, insulin imbalances and chronic disease (not to mention poor athletic performance), so rebooting your sleep and recovery are critical. It seems late nights watching iPads, working on your laptop, or scrolling social media is dramatically changing our modern sleep patterns.Read More
Coffee is by far the most popular beverage on the planet (aside from water). The caffeine in your morning cup of Joe – also found in tea, chocolate, etc. – is also the most frequently ingested pharmacologically active substance in the world. There have been a lot of recent debate over the benefits and drawbacks of coffee (and caffeine) consumption, and with a lot of new research coming out, I thought I would take the time to highlight some of the findings. The following is a quick review of five ways coffee can extend your life.Read More
This time of year, it seems like every time you turn on the TV or open up Facebook, someone is talking about tips and tricks for staying healthy during the winter months. And while being a stickler about hand washing, disinfecting your workspace, and getting plenty of rest is excellent advice for avoiding seasonal colds, one area you cannot—I repeat, cannot—neglect is your diet.
If a strong, high-functioning immune system is your goal, then consuming quality, nutrient-dense foods needs to be a keystone in your game plan.Read More
Rhodiola rosea, referred to as the Arctic or Golden root, has been used by a variety of ancestral cultures for millennia to support energy and vitality. It grows at high altitudes, on mountain tops and sea cliffs in Europe and Asia and is classified as an adaptagen – a substance that supports the body during times of stress. In the 8th century, it’s believed rhodiola was used by the Vikings to fight off fatigue and increase stamina, by indigenous Sherpa’s in the Himalayas to adapt to living at high altitude and a “secret” of Soviet-era military used to ramp up resiliency during extended time on the combat field.Read More
When you’re young or have lots of time on your hands, it’s easy to carve out 5-10 hours a week to hit the gym. Getting all your lifts in when you train 5-6 days per week makes achieving your hypertrophy goals quite straight forward. However, as you get older or your time becomes more limited, or if you’re simply looking for the most efficient hypertrophy program possible, the real question is… “how little time can you spend in the gym and still maximize your gains?”Read More
Yucca root, commonly known as cassava, is native to north, central and south america and a dietary staple in Americas and Caribbean. This gluten-free root vegetable is able to survive the winter months or dry months and regrown due to the nutrients stored in its tuberous stem, similar to potatoes and yams. Yucca is an absolute nutritional powerhouse and should be a dietary staple for all athletes and active people (with the exception of those following a ketogenic diet). The following are seven great reasons to include yucca in your nutrition arsenal.Read More
A common question I get asked after clients start a ketogenic diet is “why do I feel lousy?” Like them, you’re probably thinking going keto will provide an immediate mental and physical boost. For some, it will. For others, you may experience adverse symptoms, also known as the “keto flu”. When you start a very low-carb ketogenic diet, you’ll flush water and sodium out of your body in the first few weeks. As your sodium levels fall, so too will potassium levels. This can leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and wondering what you got yourself into. Fear not, it’s only temporary. Here are some suggestions for avoiding key mineral deficiencies when jumping into a ketogenic diet.
One of the biggest health and nutrition “myths” is that you should avoid salt. If you’re fit, healthy, and following a keto diet you’ll lose water and sodium in the first few weeks. For athletes, this problem can be compounded because you also lose sodium through your sweat, and as your sweat rate increases, your sodium and blood volume will decline. Not a good recipe for optimal energy and performance.
On the flip side, if you’re overweight, out of shape or in poor health then your body is likely already holding on to too much sodium from high consumption of packaged and processed foods (i.e. sodium is used as the primary preservative) or from chronically elevated insulin levels. Therefore, a low-carb or keto approach is great way to restore healthy levels.
Symptoms of low sodium include fatigue, headaches, compromised ability to perform (especially outdoors in the heat) and in more serious cases you may pass out. Remember that most of the sodium in your body is found in your bloodstream, so if your body gets deficient, you don’t have many reserves to tap into.
In the first few weeks on a keto diet, only about half of your weight loss is from body-fat. The other half is from water and sodium loss. Therefore, getting enough sodium is crucial.
Aim for an extra 1,000-2,000mg of sodium daily via:
Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt (not standard table salt)
Broth or bouillon (1-2 cups per day)
Shellfish (i.e. oysters, mussels, crab, etc.)
Athletes should aim to take one gram 30 minutes before workouts to offset adverse effects of low sodium on performance.
When you lose sodium on a keto diet, the salt depletion causes a parallel loss of potassium. Common symptoms of a potassium deficiency - the medical term is hypokalemia - include weakness, muscular cramps, constipation, irritability or skin problems. In athletes, low potassium can compromise lean muscle mass which will ultimately impact performance, and in more severe cases, you may experience heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats, respiratory distress (and even heart failure with serious deficiency).
Virtually all fruits and veggies contain significant amounts of potassium, but not all are keto friendly. In fact, most people don’t realize that animal protein is terrific source of dietary potassium, however the cooking process strips a great deal of it away (but the leftover juices from cooking can be used to keep your levels up).
Here is a list of my potassium rich keto-friendly foods:
Spinach (2 cups) – 330mg
Chicken breast - 330mg
Salmon (3 oz) - 326mg
Beef (3 oz) - 315mg
Avocado (1/2 medium) - 320mg
Broccoli (1/2 cup) - 230mg
Asparagus (1/2 cup) – 202mg
Do you ever suffer from muscle cramps? Lack of magnesium is likely the culprit. Magnesium is the body’s “calming” mineral; helping to keep your brain, heart and muscles relaxed. It’s also essential for protein synthesis, blood sugar control, energy metabolism and over 300 other biochemical reactions in the body. Intense exercise, lack of sleep, and stress can all deplete magnesium levels.
Animal protein is also a great source of magnesium – in particular shellfish like oysters and mussels – along with leafy greens. Veggies get their deep green colour from chlorophyll, and the core of the chlorophyll molecule is magnesium, so make sure to always eat your leafy greens at mealtime. The darker the leafy green, the more magnesium.
Include the following regularly:
Spinach (1 cup cooked) – 157mg
Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked) – 154mg
Pumpkin Seeds (1/8 cup) – 90mg
Oysters (3 oz.) – 80mg
Yogurt (Plain) – 50mg
Avocado (1/2 medium)– 30mg
The Bottom Line: If you’re starting up (or already following) a keto diet, it’s important to make sure you keep your electrolytes in balance; boost sodium levels by adding Sea salt to meals and a bone broth drink, and keep potassium and magnesium levels up via nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, fish and shellfish.
If you follow this approach, you can significantly reduce – and even prevent – many of the adverse symptoms associated with starting up a ketogenic diet. Try these simple tips to help you thrive with your keto diet this year.
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS
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Want to learn more about keto? Listen to Dr. Ryan Lowery PhD talk all things ketogenic diet in Episode #33 of the Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast...
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It’s that time of year again. The darkest and shortest days of the year don’t just bring about cold weather; they can also bring about significant changes in your mood and how you feel.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing that affects over 10 million Americans, with another 10-20 million said to struggle with mild symptoms.
If you live in a city with a true winter climate – like New York, Toronto, or London – you’re up to 10 times more likely to struggle with mild to moderate SAD. Also, adolescents and young adults are more likely to be affected.Read More
Protein intake around exercise is always a hot topic around the gym water-cooler. Is it better pre-workout? Post-workout? Intra-workout? The options seem endless. It’s well recognized from previous research that the minimum amount of protein required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is 20g post-training and that increasing to 40g post-training had no impact on muscle gains after exercise. That said, if you can get some marginal gains from ramping up your protein post-training, why not? A new study attempts to uncover if ratcheting up your intake to 40g post-training is really worth the effort and if bigger athlete require more protein post-training.Read More
To optimize performance gains, the conventional wisdom has always been that caffeine supplements are superior to coffee. That’s one of the reasons why pre-workout supplements are so popular, and for most people, highly effective for improving exercise performance. But, in the last few years there has been some interesting research coming out demonstrating that coffee can perform just as well as caffeine supplements when it comes to exercise. Thus, the narrative shifted to coffee is just as good as caffeine or pre-workout supplements. Until now.Read More
Low-carb and Paleo nutrition approaches share many similar traits to a ketogenic diet. In fact, with only a few modification to your low-carb diet make it possible to achieve the best of both worlds. (Warning... If you're on a high carb diet, it will be a dramatic and often difficult transition. Try low-carb first for 8-12 weeks, then you'll be ready to take the plunge into a ketogenic diet).Read More
Just the other day, a client named Tim came into my office because he was struggling to add lean muscle. He was eating right and training at a CrossFit box 4-5x per week (and getting stronger), but couldn’t seem to pack on the 10 pounds of lean muscle he was looking for. He was stumped. This is a classic case of really having clarity in your goals. Are training to get stronger so that you can perform better in your sport? Or is your primary goal to get bigger and add size to your frame?Read More
Vitamin D has been gaining significant momentum recently in the research for its ability to influence over 1,000 different genes in the body and subsequently some important performance parameters. Failing to get sufficient vitamin D regularly can negatively impact many endurance parameters, including maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max), susceptibility to colds and flu, inflammation, recovery, and stress fractures.Read More