How to Beet Your Best Time and Get the Competitive Edge

Beetroot juice was the secret sauce for many athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lots of countries were using it, but it wasn’t until afterwards that the news about beetroot juice became public knowledge.

Many athletes are looking for that performance edge over their competitors. Most athletes have heard about it, but don’t know how to use it. If you’ve nailed the fundamentals of basic sports nutrition and are looking at taking your racing to the next level, it is essential to add beetroot juice to your race plan.

Why beetroot juice?

What is it about this vegetable that gives you a performance kick? The component responsible for the benefits of beetroot juice is Nitrate. It’s produced within our bodies and is also found in some of the foods we eat, particularly green leafy vegetables, beetroot, processed meats and the water supply.

But the nitrate content varies widely even among the same vegetable variety. Freshness and farming practices play a part in how much nitrate is present by the time it lands on your plate. Vegetables grown with nitrogen-containing fertilisers will have higher levels of nitrate. So if you choose organic produce, these will probably contain lower levels of nitrate compared to non-organic produce.

How does it work?

When ingested, nitrate is absorbed and rapidly converted into nitrite. This circulates in the blood and is converted to nitric oxide under conditions of low oxygen availability (just like when you exercise).

Nitric oxide is a versatile little compound that can improve some of the crucial components needed during exercise. It’s known to play a number of important roles in the regulation of blood flow, hormones and metabolism (1, 2). By using beetroot juice, it’s been shown to (1-3):

  • Reduce resting blood pressure

  • Reduce the oxygen cost of exercise - So you use less oxygen for the same amount of work

  • Reduce time trial performance

  • Increase fuel availability

  • Improve skeletal muscle contraction

  • Improve high-intensity performance

Ticking lots of boxes to allow you to work harder and faster before you reach exhaustion!

Who could it benefit?

Some of you may have already dabbled in beetroot juice supplementation and not noticed any difference. Or you don’t know how to properly use it to your advantage. In fact, you probably won’t be able to tell on a day to day basis. Some people are not as responsive as others...

When we look at the relationship between nitrate and oxygen efficiency you would expect the majority of the benefits to be seen in endurance events where oxygen cost is crucial. But in fact, current research shows inconsistent results in longer events of sub-maximal intensity (e.g. an Ironman) (3-5). More research is needed in this space. Whereas if we look at high-intensity exercise (>85-90% VO2max), where our body creates an acidic environment, this is perfect for nitric oxide conversion, helping to improve performance for this type of exercise (5).

Results can also depend on the personal conditioning of the athlete. If you have a higher proportion of Type II muscle fibres that are responsible for powerful bursts of movement, then you’ll likely see more benefit from nitrate use. Also, if you’re more on the beginner/weekend warrior end of the athlete spectrum, you’re more likely to see improvements compared to a highly trained, elite level athlete.

The protocol

More research is definitely needed, but current protocols suggest taking 5-6mmol (or ~300mg) 2-2.5hours before exercise. There are a few concentrated products that help you do this – Beet It (300mg) and Go Beet shots (260mg).

For longer events, e.g. triathlon, road cycling, marathons – 1 shot 2-2.5hrs before may not be enough, so add an additional shot closer to the start of the race (as tolerated).

Potential side effects

Good news here! The side effects appear to be few and far between. With the most common issue reported being temporary and harmless pink discolouration of urine and stools (1,3). Some athletes do report gastrointestinal tract discomfort (1,3) though so this is definitely something to trial in training before using for the first time on race day.

Take home message

In summary, if you’ve got the foundations nailed, want to race faster and improve your performance, make sure you look at introducing beetroot juice into your bag of tricks. If you want more great tips like these to enhance your performance, sign up for our regular newsletter where we share evidence-based sports nutrition tips for everyday athletes HERE.

We’re interested to hear from anyone that has played with beetroot juice supplements already so please comment below if you have and share your experiences!

Remember if you don’t use beetroot juice, chances are your rivals are and will have an advantage over you on race day. When you start using this secret sauce correctly, you’ll reach your full potential!

References

(1)  Burke, L., & Deakin, V. (2015). Clinical Sports Nutrition (5th ed.). North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill.

(2)  Dyakova, E.Y., Kapilevich, L.V., Shylko, V.G., Popov, S.V., & Eanfinogenova, Y. (2015). Physical exercise associated with NO production: Signalling pathways and significance in health and disease. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 3. doi:10.3389/fcell.2015.00019

(3)  Jones, A.M. (2014). Dietary Nitrate Supplementation and Exercise Performance. Sports Medicine, 44(1), p35-45. doi: https://doi-org.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/10.1007/s40279-014-0149-y

(4)  Mcmahon, N.F., Leveritt, M.D., & Pavey, T.G. The Effect of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation on Endurance Exercise Performance in Healthy Adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(4), p735-756. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0617-7

(5)  Van De Walle, P., & Vukovich, D. (2018). The Effect of Nitrate Supplementation on Exercise Tolerance and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(6), 1796–1808. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002046

Dietitian Approved Crew - John Alexander

Introducing John! The Fit Chef.

In the last few years, John has literally turned his life around. Peaking at 182kg and getting puffed chasing his daughter around, John knew he had to do something. One step at a time (literally) he's lost a whopping 70kg. He now loves to ride flat out with the CCC boys and is gearing up for 160km at the Noosa Classic this month. Welcome to the #DietitianApprovedCrew Chef!

Name:  John Alexander

Current home location (where you live): Tingalpa (Bayside Brisbane)

Profession/Educational background: Executive Chef

Sport of Choice:  Cycling with a side of Triathlon

How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? I have been cycling for a bit over 2 years now

What got you into it in the first place? When I started riding I was 186.4kg. Cycling was the next step for me to get fit and drop weight.  It was a laugh as I was on a mountain bike to start off with and a 15km ride was an EPIC morning out. Now I regularly clock 200km weeks.

What’s your favourite training session? Group rides with the CCC crew. We go alright for a group with an average age of 43 (I’m not that old), belting out a 60-80km ride at an average above 31km/hr.

Main Competition/Event/s for 2018: Currently training for the Noosa Classic 160km ride (with 2.1km elevation) as I have been asked by Bicycle Queensland and the coordinators of the Noosa Classic to be an Ambassador for the Ride. This is sensational for me as 3 years ago I would not have even bothered with it… now it’s a challenge.

Upcoming Competition: I am booking in for 4 of the Gatorade Sprint Triathlons, in the Clydesdale Category.  First one is in September at Redlands

Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: I will be getting sorted for my first ever Olympic distance triathlon (running is not my favourite thing) but will give it a go.  I’m also looking at the Kraken in Yeppoon 2019.

What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: I have completed 4 x Sprint Triathlons and in the last one I competed in I got a Bronze Medal in the Clydesdale division!!! Something I never thought I would be able to achieve as I‘ve never been in a club and I have just had advice from friends in what to do and how to go faster. I have the bike down no worries but transition … oh dear.  

Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?

Saying: Can’t, Won’t, Don’t are three words that will not be used when training!!!

Motto: “If your legs are hurting tell them this is normal” (James - Head Captain of the CCC) It sounds better when yelled in an Yorkie accent.

What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success? Always give it 100% when training. It helps clear my head from my work and it feels cleansing when you have put in a great session. It makes it easier to then head off to work for a 12hr day on your feet or when stuck in meetings for a few hours of it.

Three things you can’t live without?

  1. My Daughter Mikayla – She’s also my training partner for swimming and running as she has never gotten a handle on the bike.
  2. My Bike
  3. My Sunglasses

Favourite food: Steak…. Wagyu Steak

Favourite post-training meal or snack? Weet Bix, banana, local honey, milk and a bit of yoghurt

What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?

  1. Eat less steak and more vegetables, fruits, grains etc …. LOL (You knew that was coming)
  2. The main thing that I have learnt is that healthy foods can also have flavour. You can eat better foods/fuel to keep your energy up longer so you don’t get just a sugar hit and then crash.

What awesome progress you've made John! We can't wait to see you smash the Noosa classic. 

Nutritionist vs Dietitian vs Sports Dietitian

What is a Dietitian and Nutritionist?

We constantly get asked to explain the difference between a Dietitian and Nutritionist. Yes they're different and yes we will always correct you when you call us a Nutritionist. Read on to find out why we get slightly offended ;) 

 

Australia currently does not regulate the professional titles ‘nutritionist’ or 'dietitian', leaving a wide market for misinformation if you do not do your own research. The media also tends to use the two terms  interchangeably, making distinctions between qualifications increasingly difficult. Read on as we break down the differences between these professions, their relevant qualifications, what they can do for you and what to look for when looking for a professional.

Nutritionist

This term can be the most confusing of the three, as there are varying levels of qualifications that result in the title ‘nutritionist’. Nutrition is a three year university degree, but there is currently no regulation over this title in Australia, meaning anyone can call themselves a nutritionist if they want, even you. Even if they have only completed a 20 minute online lecture!

The Nutrition Society of Australia is currently attempting to clear up confusion with a voluntary registration that requires a minimum three year tertiary degree, or relevant years of work experience, to gain the title Registered Nutritionist (RNutr). Nutritionists have completed study pertaining to community and public health, food science and food policy. They are qualified to offer broad health advice, however are not qualified to deliver individualised medical nutrition therapy. In Australia, every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist can call themselves a dietitian unless they've gone on to complete further study. Confusing right?! 

Dietitian

A dietitian is a person with a 4 year University education in Nutrition & Dietetics. They are qualified to provide individualised, evidence-based nutrition advice after undergoing a course of study with substantial theory and practice in medical nutrition therapy.  They are classified as the quality standard for nutrition advice by the Australian Government, meaning they are covered by Medicare health rebates and recognised by most private health funds.

Once again the term ‘dietitian’ is not specifically controlled, however you can trust that professionals who carry the title Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) have completed a minimum four year tertiary degree and must undertake many hours of continual professional development to uphold their qualification each year. See a general dietitian if you need assistance with a chronic disease, weight management or just want to improve your overall health. 

Sports Dietitian

A Sports Dietitian has gone on to complete further study to become experts in Sports Nutrition. They must be an Accredited Practicing Dietitian first, with a minimum of one year clinical experience, along with completion of additional study in the field of nutrition for sporting performance. Sports Dietitians are the guru’s on optimising athletic performance through food. Their services aren’t just for professional athletes, they can (and do!) assist everyday exercisers to get that little bit more out of their training. See a Sports Dietitian if you're an exerciser of any level and want to:

  • Develop a plan to help you reach your ideal body composition (fat loss/muscle gain)

  • Get specific dietary advice to get the most out of your training/exercise/sport

  • Maximise your recovery

  • Make weight prior to competition without having to starve yourself

  • Get sports supplement advice for the performance edge

  • Carbohydrate load for endurance events

  • Get tips on sticking to your nutrition plan with a busy lifestyle

  • Healthy athleat friendly recipe ideas
    Plus many many more

Accredited Practicing Dietitians and Sports Dietitians are both fantastic resources and have a wealth of knowledge to assist you in reaching your goals. Our founder Taryn has completed more than 6 years of study and continues to clock numerous hours of ongoing education to maintain an Advanced Sports Dietitian status. Now you'll know why her nostrils flare a little when you call her a Nutritionist ;)

Sleep and Athletic Performance

Sleep is essential for general health and wellbeing. 

The more we learn, the more we realise that increased sleep duration and quality is associated with better performance in sport and life. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each day for optimal health (1). But it's not clear exactly how much sleep athletes need. It's been suggested athletes require more - closer to 9-10 hours (2). But duration is not the only factor - sleep quality is also important. Getting the right amount of good quality sleep has some incredible benefits for athletic performance. Let's take a deeper look... 

Recovery

Image source: Getty images

Image source: Getty images

For an athlete, sleep is the ultimate form of recovery. It's like a big sponge that soaks up fatigue overnight. This sponge assists with the recovery process so we can adapt from and absorb hard training. The bigger the sponge (sleep duration), the more water (fatigue) it can soak up. 

It's in the deep sleep phases (Stage 3 and 4 NREM) during the first half of the night that we do most of our physical recovery and repair.

The light sleep stages which make up approximately 50% of a total nights sleep (Stage 1 and 2) are also key to both physical and neural recharge overnight. If we don't spend enough time in these phases, we wake up feeling foggy.

Sleep is a WEAPON
— Jason Bourne

Reaction time, coordination and accuracy

It's in Stage 5 (REM) sleep where our brains recovery, learning and development occurs. We create new nerve pathways to consolidate and repair memories, skills and process information. Side note - it's also where we release testosterone (in both men and women). Research suggests that sleep deprivation delays the signals which travel along these pathways, decreasing our coordination and accuracy (2). So much so that inadequate sleep has been likened to being drunk! Williamson and Feyer (2000) demonstrated the longer the duration without sleep (up to 23 hours), performance in cognitive tasks, motor skills, speed and accuracy decreased to levels equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1%. Twice the legal driving limit in Australia!

The duration of REM sleep increases as the night progresses, with the longest duration occurring just before waking. So get to bed early to ensure you get the beneficial effects on mental performance more REM sleep brings.

Injury & illness

Decreased sleep has been associated with an increased risk of injury and illness. Inadequate sleep is immunosuppressive, increasing our risk of upper respiratory tract infections. In a study of 164 adults administered nasal drops containing rhinovirus, those who slept for less than 5hrs were 4.5 times more likely to develop an illness than those that slept for greater than 7hrs (4).

Being sick or injured reduces training availability and is obviously something we want to avoid. The underlying mechanism for increased injury with sleep loss is unclear but is likely due to cognitive impairment and decreased reaction time, along with higher levels of fatigue. All of which can increase an athletes risk of injury.

Mental stamina and mood

Striving to be fitter, faster and stronger doesn’t just require physical effort, it also requires mental stamina. Feeling mentally drained will impact your mood and we all know that missing out on a good nights rest can alter how we think and feel. People who sleep for less than five hours are often sadder, angrier and more stressed (2) which is linked with low motivation and decreased sports performance (5).

Endurance performance

Not a lot is known about sleep deprivation and its effect on short, sharp, anaerobic power type exercise, but a number of studies have shown decreased endurance performance (6, 7, 8, 9).  Sleep loss clearly resulted in increasing 3km time trial duration in cyclists (7), decreased time to exhaustion in volleyball players (6) and decreased treadmill run distance covered in a 30 minutes self-paced test (9). This appears to be due to an increase in our perception of effort (how hard you feel you're working) (8). It may also be due to an alteration in substrate availability as pre-exercise muscle glycogen (our carbohydrate fuel tank) has been found to be decreased after sleep deprivation (10). 

Improve sleep efficiency

Multiple studies show the significant implications sleep deprivation has on performance. From impaired accuracy, coordination and reaction time, fatigue, inadequate recovery, to increased risk of injury and illness. So what can we do to improve our sleep efficiency - both duration and quality?

  • Get to bed earlier, aiming to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Stop using your phone in bed. The blue light it emits affects our normal sleep hormone production (melatonin)
  • Ensure all of your devises are set up with night mode so they switch to a more warm, orange hue after sunset.
  • Make your sleep environment comfortable, dark, cool and quiet
  • Establish a regular sleep routine
  • Eat foods that assist with promoting sleep - more on this next time!

Next up - we take a look at food to boost sleep performance. Stay tuned!

 

References

 1. Hirshkowitz et al., (2015). National Sleep Foundation's updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. 1(4), 233-243

2. Bird, S, P. (2013). Sleep, recovery, and athletic performance: a brief review and recommendations. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 35:43-47.

3. Williamson, A., Feyer, A. (2001). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57: 649-655.

4. Prather, A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. and Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviuorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep. 38: 1353-1359.

5. Totterdell, P., Reynolds, S., Parkinson, B., & Briner, R. (1994). Associations of Sleep with Everyday Mood, Minor Symptoms and Social Interaction Experience. Sleep, 17(5), 466-475.

6. Azboy, O, Kaygisiz Z. (2009). Effects of sleep deprivation on cardiorespiratory functions of the runners and volleyball players during rest and exercise. Acta Physiologica Hungarica. 96, 29-36.

7. Chase et al. (2017). One night of sleep restriction following heavy exercise impairs 3-km cycling time-trial performance in the morning. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism. 1-7

8. Fullagar, H, H, Skorski S, Duffield R, et al. (2015). Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports Med. 45, 161-86.

9. Oliver, S, Costa, R, Laing, S, et al. (2009). One night of sleep deprivation decreases treadmill endurance performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 107, 155-61.

10. Skein, M, Duffield, R, Edge, J., et al. (2011). Intermittent-sprint performance and muscle glycogen after 30 h of sleep deprivation. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise; 43: 1301-11.

11. Watson, A. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 16(6), 413-418.

The Different Stages of Sleep

Many of us think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down, but in fact what happens when our head hits the pillow is quite the opposite. Sleep is a dynamic process – our brain changes its state many times as we pass through the five stages of sleep in approximately 90-minute cycles. The first four stages of sleep make up our non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and the fifth stage is when rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep occurs.

Across NREM sleep we move from very light sleep during Stage 1 to very deep sleep in Stage 4. It’s very difficult to wake a person who is in Stage 4 sleep. Typically, our eyes do not move during NREM and we have low muscle activity, although all of our muscles are still able to function.

                Stage 1 – Very Light sleep: We drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily.

                Stage 2 – Light sleep: Where eye movement ceases.

                Stage 3 & 4 – Deep sleep: We’re difficult to wake and have no eye movement or muscle activity.

                Stage 5 – REM sleep

During Stage 5 or REM sleep our brain waves are as active as when we are awake and breathing becomes more rapid. The limb muscles are temporarily paralysed, our body does not move, eyes can dart rapidly in all directions and we dream vividly.

A typical night under the covers isn’t simply four to six of these 90-minute sleep cycles pieced together. In the first two to three cycles of shut-eye we spend most of our time in deep Stage 3 and Stage 4 (NREM) sleep. During the final two to three cycles we enter more REM sleep which is accompanied by some lighter NREM sleep. 

Cycling through the sleep stages is important for preventing tiredness and irritability the next day and maximising the benefits of sleep. Next up, we’re taking a look at how sleep can boost performance. Stay tuned!

Exercise to manage stress and mood

It is well known that exercise increases your fitness and improves your overall health and well-being. Exercise is also an effective way to manage your mood and stress levels.

Virtually any form of exercise from weight lifting to running or even yoga, has powerful ‘mood-boosting’ effects. Exercise can help:

·       Decrease stress and anxiety levels

·       Ward off feelings of depression

·       Boost confidence and self-esteem

·       Increase productivity

·       Improve sleep

So how does exercise work it’s magic?

Endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters or chemicals. When you perform any type of physical activity your body responds by releasing these neurotransmitters. The endorphins interact with your brain’s opiate receptors and trigger feelings of euphoria and general well-being. They also suppress your ability to feel pain.

Although a demanding schedule sounds like the perfect reason to for-go exercising, setting aside some time to move every day helps turn your daily physical activity into a healthy habit. The current recommendations for healthy adults is 150 to 300 minutes of moderate or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Try breaking exercise up into smaller chunks, mixing up the intensity of your physical activity and alternating between morning, lunch time and evening activities to fit around your busy days. Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as another chore – it is actually the key to de-stressing after a hectic day! 

Dietary Periodisation: What is it but how do you do it?..

We talk about periodising nutrition all the time, but WHAT the heck is it? And HOW do you do it?

Nutrition Periodisation is the use of planned nutritional strategies aimed at maximising the results from specific training sessions to improve performance (1). It is just like having a training plan but for your nutrition, where your nutrition is planned around your training to get the most bang for your buck out of it.

Periodising nutrition primarily manipulates our glycogen stores, or our carbohydrate fuel tank.

There are a few ways dietary periodisation can be used:

1. Train low

This is where you train with low glycogen stores. For example, you train first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or you don’t quite top your glycogen stores back up between sessions. This allows your body to learn to run more efficiently on a lower fuel tank. For athletes that train twice or even three to four times a day, chances are they are probably running on lower glycogen stores for some of those sessions.

2. Sleep low

This is where you sleep with low glycogen stores. For example, you have a hard, glycogen depleting session in the evening and don’t include adequate carbohydrate with dinner to fully refuel your glycogen fuel tank overnight. You’re going to sleep ‘low’. This allows the body to adapt overnight. It’s then important to fuel up before your session in the morning (especially for females) as this has implications on iron and calcium pathways.

3. Recover low

This is where you delay refuelling in that immediate post-exercise recovery window. Not refuelling immediately after training allows us to adapt to changes occurring as a result of training (2).

4. Train high

This is where you train on a full glycogen tank. This not only supports a quality training session, it also trains your gut to absorb carbohydrate efficiently and can maximise the amount of carbohydrate we can use for energy each hour (1).

By manipulating our carbohydrate availability around sessions, we can maximise our training response. Training with high carbohydrate availability, improves performance, especially for the high intensity sessions where top end speed is required (1). By training with low glycogen stores, we force our body to adapt, to utilise fat as a fuel, making this pathway more efficient and improving aerobic performance. However, when we are running on an empty carbohydrate tank, the quality of our training is compromised.

We train to get fitter, faster and more efficient. We spend hours and hours training, but if we haven’t got our nutrition sorted, it can be harder to reach our goals. Invest in some planning of your nutrition, periodised across your training week to get the most bang for your buck. Improved performance was observed after just 1 week of periodised nutrition in cyclists (3).

As Accredited Sports Dietitians, periodisation is our forte! We can help you work out which method to utilise when across your training week as you can’t do them all at once. Nutrition periodisation is most effective when following a plan and choosing the most appropriate training sessions to pair it with based on your goals (2).


Now let’s talk about HOW to periodise your nutrition... 

Here is an example of the same recipe, but adjusted for carbohydrate content depending on the goals of that meal.

Image 1 is our chicken burger patty with an Asian slaw and soy dressing.

Image 2 is our chicken burger patty on a wholegrain wrap with salad

Image 3 is our chicken burger patty on a large Turkish bread roll with salad

You’ll see that the protein portion of each meal remains the same. And the SIZE of the meal is also similar. Yet the carbohydrate content ranges from 20g up to 90g. This my friends, is an example of HOW you periodise your nutrition. You're welcome.

Now we don't want to give all of our secrets away so the detail stops there, sorry :)

Dietary Periodisation

References: 

1. Jeukendrup, A, E. Periodized Nutrition for Athletes. Sports Med. 2017; 47 (Suppl 1): S51-63.

2. Marquet L, A et al. Enhanced Endurance Performance by Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: “Sleep Low” Strategy. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2016; Vol 48(4): 663-672.

3. Marquet 2 et al. Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: Short-Term Effect on Performance. Nutrients. 2016; 8(12): 755.

Dietitian Approved Crew - Pat Nispel

Introducing Pat! 

We have the absolute pleasure of running regularly with Pat right here in Brisbane.

He makes running look just so easy! We could only dream of running even half as fast or as efficiently as this Swiss machine! 

Quite the competitor, Pat has a long list of achievements in the running world. Just quietly, he also won our Healthy Lifestyle Challenge in 2016 which he adds to his list of accolades.

Read on for his story...

Patrick Nispel Marathon runner
2017 GCAM.jpeg

Name: Patrick Nispel

Current location: Brisbane, QLD

Profession: Accredited Running Coach, used to work as an Architect/Urban Designer

Sport of Choice: Running in any form from track to road and the occasional multisport event.

How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 25 years of competitive running

What got you into it in the first place?

I grew up in a small village in Switzerland and started with the local gymnastic club at age 5. My sister got me into running at age 12 but we played many other sports as well. It was not until age 17 I started to take athletics more seriously and qualifed for national teams regularly. I moved to Brisbane in 2007 and transitioned to road running with a focus on half and full marathons in 2011.

What’s your favourite training session?

When I'm fit, I like to push myself in some track intervals e.g. 10 x 1km reps or a Marathon specific long run of 30 to 38km at close to race pace.

Main Competition or Events for 2017:

21st at Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2:28:25 (comeback race after stress fracture in 2017),

Australian Championships half-marathon Sunshine Coast (August), Melbourne half-marathon (October), Overseas Marathon end of 2017 TBC

Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career:

Improve on my marathon PB. Run some of the World Marathon Majors including Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Boston is on my bucket list too. I would also like to take my running group to some big overseas marathon events.

What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far:

I've had a long running career in track, cross country, mountain, trail and road running. Some results and highlights can be found on my website. My top 3 experiences would probably be:

·      Winning Zatopek 3000m Steeplechase in Melbourne 2008 (8:59 PB)

·      3rd place at Senshu International City Marathon Osaka JAP 2012

·      9th at International Zurich Marathon SUI 2013 (2:22:55 PB)

Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?

Train smarter, not harder!

What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?

Eating a well balanced diet, body maintenance work, getting quality sleep (not always possible with a 17 month old son ;-)

Three things you can’t live without?

My family, coffee, running

Favourite food:

I like and eat almost anything and strive for a balanced diet. Seafood dishes as well as some hearty Swiss potato/veggie/cheese dishes are my favourite.

Favourite post-training meal or snack?

After a big training session; a typical breakfast for me would be: 3 weet-bix, a cup of muesli, rice milk, yoghurt, chia seeds, lots of nuts and berries/ fruits, with cinnamon on top. Green juice or orange juice and large coffee.

What’s the number 1 (or 2) thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?

Nutrient timing as well as optimising my carbo-loading, race day nutrition and hydration plan.


Pat is the owner and head coach at P.A.T.42.2 RUNNING that offers personal running coaching in Brisbane and online. If you want further info, check out his website at:

http://pat422running.com.au/

Photo cred: David Magahy
Dietitian Approved Crew in France
GCAM 2017
City2South Winner 2016.jpeg

Dietitian Approved Crew - Dave

Introducing Dave! 

Dave aka Bangar can do it all. From indoor rowing to rugby, surf swimming, pool swimming and running, what can't you do well Dave? Just quietly he holds the title for the No. 1 ranked Indoor Rower for the half marathon IN THE WORLD!

Dave's next focus is on smashing his Gold Coast 10km run time with the goal to go sub 39 minutes this weekend. Good luck Dave!

Burleigh Swim Run 2017

Burleigh Swim Run 2017

Name: David 

Current location: Palm Beach, QLD      

Profession: Turf Contractor

Sport of Choice: Running/Swimming

How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? 26 years

What got you into it in the first place? Looking for a new sport

What’s your favourite training session? 4-10 1km reps (running)

Main Competition or Event for 2017: Gold Coast 10km run + Burleigh Swim Run (Australia Day 2017)

Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career:
2018 World Indoor rowing champs;
Australia Day Challenge Burleigh Swim Run;
Burleigh to Surfers 10km swim

What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far:
10 games with the QLD Reds 1988-1990
2015 No. 1 ranked indoor rower in the world for half marathon 

Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?

-       Be kind to others

-       Strive for excellence and quality 

What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?

-       I am always thinking about recovery

Three things you can’t live without?

-       My 2 sons + my ute

Favourite food:

Wild caught fish (Mackerel, Swordfish), mashed potato, cereal, Dietitian Approved Thai Red Curry

Favourite post-training meal or snack?

Fresh fruit scone hot out of the oven from the Vietnamese bakery at Highgate Hill.

What’s the number 1 thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?

-       Keep the protein trickling in all through the day

-       Periodise your eating

Photo cred: David Magahy

Photo cred: David Magahy

Dietitian Approved Crew - Bec

Introducing Bec! 

An all round LEGEND, Bec is one of our longest standing clients! She even has an original meal plan with our old logo on it - sorry about that Bec :) From humble beginnings as a triathlete 3 years ago, she's gearing up to race Cairns IRON(Wo)MAN this weekend. Good luck Bec! You're going to absolutely smash it!

Photo cred: Delly Carr

Photo cred: Delly Carr

Name: Rebecca aka Bec

Current location: Mackay, QLD      

Profession: Podiatrist

Sport of Choice: Triathlon, but my first love was and still is netball – I’ve retired from playing now to coach

How many years have you been training and competing in your sport? On and off since 2010, started taking triathlon more seriously in 2015

What got you into it in the first place? I love a challenge and a few people I went to university with competed at a pretty decent level so they were a bit of inspiration for me

What’s your favourite training session? Long rides or a brick session

Main Competition or Event for 2017: Ironman Cairns

Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, what are your bigger goals for your sporting career: Ultimately (in a few years) I would love to be able to balance having a family and still train and race in triathlons. I’m enjoying long course racing at the moment so maybe a few more 70.3’s and IM’s …. and I wouldn’t mind qualifying for Kona one day - that would be pretty awesome!

What’s your biggest achievement in your sport so far: Mooloolaba Olympic Distance (OD) 2017 – did the race with no taper as part of my training for Ironman Cairns. Managed to get an overall OD PB by about 5mins and beat my 2015 MooTri time by about 25mins.

Do you have a saying or motto you live your life by?

-       A life lived in fear is a life half lived

-       Control the controllables

What are one or two things you do in your day to day training life that you feel are keys to your success?

-       Always have my bag packed and food prepped the night before

-       Trusting the process

-       Listening to my body

Three things you can’t live without?

-       Family

-       Coffee

-       Friends

Favourite food:

-       Post race = hot chips

-       Any other time = rump steak (med rare), mushroom sauce with chips and salad

Favourite post-training meal or snack?

This is normally breakfast so I love my overnight oats or Dietitian Approved pancakes.

What’s the number 1 thing you’ve learnt about sports nutrition for performance in your sport?

-       The timing of what you eat!

Dietitian Approved Crew Bec Baird
Dietitian Approved Crew_Bec running

Chocolate & Sports Performance – the next big thing?

There’s been lots of talk in the media about chocolate being good for you. From lowering blood pressure to increasing HDL cholesterol, it’s the new wonder drug (apparently). Dark chocolate in particular is rich in cocoa, which is the seed part of the cocoa tree. Cocoa is rich in a compound called flavanols, a potent antioxidant also found in fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine.

Image Source: hungryforever.com

Image Source: hungryforever.com

Research is emerging in the general population of a positive effect of flavanols on cognitive, visual and brain function. It has also been suggested that flavonoid and polyphenol compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improve blood flow and insulin sensitivity. There is however limited research of a performance benefit in the healthy, athletic population.

Chocolate lovers may take solace in a new study out of the UK, the first of its kind in fact.
Researchers found that dark chocolate enhanced performance in a small group of cyclists when compared to white chocolate.

Let’s take a closer look…..

A group of 9, “moderately trained” cyclists were put through their paces in the lab. Their baseline VO2max was measured before completing a 20min ride at 80% of their gas exchange threshold, followed by a 2 minute all-out time trial. In a crossover design, they then consumed 40g of either flavanol rich dark chocolate or flavanol deficient white chocolate for 2 weeks before repeating the exercise testing again. After a 7 day washout period, cyclists crossed over and repeated 14 days of the chocolate supplementation (white or dark) and repeated the testing again. 

What did they find?

Dark chocolate consumption resulted in a 17% increase in distance covered in the 2 minute TT compared to baseline (~300m) and a 13% increase compared to white chocolate (~200m). Dark chocolate supplementation also increased gas exchange threshold by 21% from baseline and was 11% higher compared to white chocolate. There was no difference between groups in the 20min moderate intensity cycle, heart rate, blood pressure or blood lactate. 

Dark chocolate/Flavanols seem to act in a similar way to beetroot juice, but through different mechanisms. Beetroot juice is high in nitrates which convert to nitric oxide in the body, assisting to reduce the oxygen cost during sub-maximal exercise. The flavanols found in dark chocolate appear to increase nitric oxide bioavailability. Are you still with me?

Critically thinking - A few things to note:

  • You can’t effectively blind participants to the trial as it would be obvious whether you were consuming dark or white chocolate due to its distinct taste – this may have caused a placebo effect if participants believed dark chocolate would be of benefit.
  • The cyclists were regular punters, within a healthy weight range (just) BMI 23.75-24.55kg/m2, but were far from elite athletes with VO2 max values only 41.90 +/- 5.4ml/kg/min. (A typical cyclists VO2 max would roughly sit around 80-90ml/kg/min; so double this). 
  • Diet was essentially only controlled in the 24hrs preceding exercise testing. There are many confounding food choices that could have affected the results such as nitrate concentration or carbohydrate quality of the diet.
  • Dark chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine – caffeine is well established as a performance enhancing supplement and may in part be responsible for the observed performances.
  • The flavanol concentration of the chocolates were never specifically tested so conclusions can not be based on the flavanol explicitly. 

So where to from here?

The study, while only small, certainly shows some merit and warrants further research in the area. At the end of the day, what harm can come from consuming 40g of dark chocolate each day?

To prevent unwanted weight gain, stick to no more than 40g/day (2-3 squares) and choose chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids to ensure you’re getting the highest concentration of flavanols.

Move over coconut oil, beetroot dark chocolate will be the next big thing– you heard it here first :)

References:

  1. Baker, L.B., Nuccio, R.P. and Jeukendrup, A.E., 2014. Acute effects of dietary constituents on motor skill and cognitive performance in athletes.Nutrition reviews, 72(12), 790-802.
  2. Nehlig, A. 2013. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75, 716-727.
  3. Malaguti, M., Angeloni, C. and Hrelia, S., 2013. Polyphenols in exercise performance and prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity.
  4. Patel, R. K., Brouner, J. & Spendiff, O. 2015. Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 1-8.