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Re-United with My Sugar Addiction…..

Post-Holiday Addiction

I think we have all faced this at one time or another, you visit an amazing place with phenomenal food and you trying everything insite because, hey you’re on holiday.

Many of you will know I have just come back from Melbourne and to those that have been to Melbourne, you will know that is world renowned for amazing food. As a massive foodie, it is fair to say I went a little overboard…. But no regrets because that is what holidays are for, expanding your horizons to new things, just sometimes that also means expanding your waistline at the same time. There is nothing wrong with this and I think we should all live and experience life but I have noted since coming home the true danger lies in coming home reunited with my old friend my sugar addiction. As I have stated in many of my previous articles this is powerful as a cocaine addiction, as it reacts in the similar fashion in the brain.

In realising the trap for myself I quickly realised that I will not be alone in this struggle, so why not share the strategies I will implement to get myself back on track. This document is for anyone looking to cut sugar, it doesn’t matter if you have been on holiday or not, just coming out of winter can be hard enough, as we tend to drift towards comfort foods

Cold Turkey

Just like any addiction moderation is not a good idea as “just a little bit” ends up as a “big bit” or “another bit”

Time to be strict, no more sugar for me for at least two weeks, so goodbye to my beloved chocolate, although I eat 90% dark chocolate it does still have a small amount, so that will have to go as well.

Two weeks strict no leniency and following this I will reassess and most likely be more liberal with good quality sources eg my dark chocolate (90%). The key focus is to break the habits of snacking.

 

I’m going, Keto

Those who follow me know that I am an advocate for keto when done appropriately for the right person, I have written extensively on it

I traditionally cycle in and out of keto depending on my training and racing schedule, but it looks like it is time for another solid cycle of Keto, especially with race season around the corner now.

Keto is one of the quickest ways to kick the cravings to a curb. However, it is always harder going into with re-established sugar cravings. The induction period can be tough as for any detox you are removing an addictive stimulant that you currently rely on. Your body doesn’t know what hit it, naturally, you begin to crave those foods more and begin making elaborate explanations and justifications to why you “need sugar” or “This is a good source of sugar” All this does is draw out the induction period. If this sounds like you and something you have tried and failed with before, the next couple of steps may also be challenging for the same reasons but don’t worry we have a solution for you! Check out the Exogenous Ketone section.

There is no one fits all approach

Not everyone needs to go full keto, high fat low carbohydrate (HFLC) will be sufficient and keto maybe to extreme for many. You need to keep in mind my baseline of carbohydrate intake was previously very low and I know I personally function best in this state with my performance goals. Everyone will function off varying amounts of carbohydrate. It is what Cliff Harvey calls “carbohydrate appropriate” so don’t feel like you need to go all or nothing. I would personally suggest starting HFLC and see how you go, re-assess and decide if you want to take it a step further to keto.

 

No Snacking

While on holiday it is easy to snack and graze on food throughout the day. Although our bodies are not designed to graze, this places a greater demand on our digestive system which in turn our body neglects other key processors.

Back from holiday is a great time to establish my new routine so no more snacking instead focus on 2-3 key nourishing meals.

 

Intermittent Fasting

For those like me who like to take it a step further beyond restricting carbohydrate and snacking and want optimal benefits. Intermittent fasting should definitely be considered as it provides your digestive system a greater opportunity to rest placing less unneeded external stress on your system

There are wide-ranging fasting protocols, that you can select from and to learn more read my previous posts but I think the key to any of the protocols that is often missed is that you should never suffer! Fasting is not about starving yourself it is about listening to your body and eating when hungry. As you become less reliant on carbohydrate for fuel and your body shifts over to primarily utilising your fat stores, as this happens you will naturally be able to fast for longer, but you should never push this adaptation phase, listen to your body and gradually increase your fasted window.

 

This is too hard! I Need a Helping Hand

If you are struggling with the above steps and you need a helping hand or just want to stay feeling amazing, look no further than Exogenous ketones.

Exogenous Ketones

Cravings and hunger catch us all off guard at one point or another but what if you could remove these while putting yourself into a fat burning zone (ketosis) while increasing mental capacity and clarity.

Sound good?

Exogenous ketones are the answer with an extensive list of benefits they are phenomenal from a performance standpoint but also a sugar addicts best friend as they detox the sugar. They are my specialist trick and often refer to them as the “catalyst for ketosis”. There is nothing as powerful in getting you through the tough times of induction period of keto or kicking the sugar addiction. Firstly because they taste amazing (even sweet) but because they remove hunger, craving and keep you performing at your best. Plus they are high in electrolytes which keeps the dreadful keto flu at bay.  

 

Out of Site out of Mind

When struggling with willpower which you most likely will early on, hide your treats. For some, this is not enough so I suggest giving them away or throwing them out so that your house is clean with no treats.

Accountability

Get friends, family, flatmates onboard. Let them know your plan and why you are doing it, ask them to keep you honest and on track, because let’s be honest we can justify anything, at least this way you will get an unbiased accountability.

Brush your Teeth

Danger time for me is following dinner, normally when I reach for the dark chocolate or go for seconds and then thirds when I am not even hungry. Brushing your teeth straight after dinner is a great way to stop yourself from eating

Join in the Journey: Stay Tuned

Join me as I re-undergo this induction phase and ditch the sugar and carbohydrate. I have my exogenous ketones ready to go and looking forward to being addiction free and back full of energy with no spike or crashes.

 

7 Strategies to Structure Your Day for Nutritional Success

 I am extremely grateful that we were able to secure Cliff Harvey to come down to Hamilton and present in the Taylored studio last week.

Cliff is someone I have followed and highly respected throughout my academic career. As a lot of his work is in academia not too many had much knowledge of him, even though no doubt you have come across some of his work or products at some point or another. From Cliffs books to his the products he has helped create like Nuzest, Cliff is a wealth of knowledge and was great to bring him in and provide a stage for him to share his knowledge.

With so many nuggets of information from Cliff’s talk, I thought I would collate his thoughts for those who attended and those who missed out. Especially as he did so well to keep it simple and actionable and at Taylored Health & Performance that is what we are all about.

Cliff, like us at Taylored, is all about performance. Performance to us does not necessarily mean athletic performance, it is all about getting individuals performing at their best whatever that is. It could be as simple as more energy to be able to spend more quality time with your kids, through to athletic endeavors. Regardless, these foundational strategies listed below should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.

In this post I will be discussing Cliff’s strategies for success, I will highlight how I personally implement them to give you an idea of methods for applying these essential strategies.

  1. Hydration

Dehydration has a profound effect on performance and is one of the quickest and easiest to fix, yet it is so commonly neglected. It can be easy to think our bodies shut down at night although this is not the case. sleep is the time where our bodies are working hard to recover from the day before as we store memories and doing vital tasks such as detoxifying your liver etc.

With as little as 2% water loss of body weight, this causes noticeable decreases in physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more during physical activity may decrease the capacity of roughly 30%. Additionally, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal problems have also been associated with losses greater than 2%. You would be doing well to achieve this kind of dehydration through sleep but it is still important to understand the gravity or importance of dehydration.

Application: This one is as simple as starting your day with water. Ideally don’t skull it, gradually sip on the glass and for added absorption and retention you can add a pinch of mineral-rich salt (Colima or Pink Himalayan).

Personally: I place a glass of water with a pinch mineral-rich salt to drink as I wake up, I will also often have a freshly squeezed lemon and apple cider vinegar with mineral-rich salt as a lukewarm tea, to prime the gut and promote digestion. Don’t boil the water as it has the potential to denature the apple cider vinegar

 

2. Mindfulness

Kickstart your day being present.

What is mindfulness? The act of detaching yourself from the past and the future and being truly present at the moment, the truth is you can not change the past nor can you impact the future without being present. Being mindful and present you will begin to enjoy the small things and not stress the big stuff, all of which will increase levels of gratitude and a better way of life.

Not only will you see a direct impact in your life overall, but also, those who practice mindfulness increased levels of diet compliance, with reductions in binge eating, emotional eating, and weight and fat-loss, most likely due to the impact on the ability to be present and make better decisions.

Application: Everyone has a couple of spare minutes per day, we are habitual creatures by nature so start small to build the habit, even if it is 1-2 min per day that is great! As you find more time you can gradually increase this and take it as far as you wish.

Personally: I do a minimum of 10 min per day, 5 min of which is first thing lying along my roller doing postural rest (in the sun if possible) listening to Headspaces guided practices (Normally: Early Mornings, or Waking Up session). The other 5 min I will fit into the day somewhere when I need, and on top this I often throw another 10 min in to help unwind and put myself to sleep (Headspace: Sleeping, knocks me out every time!)

Find what works for you

Important to note you don’t have to have a dedicated guided mindfulness practice like me it could be as simple as sitting and counting your breaths or going for a short mindful focused walk.

Examples:

Breathing: Place your hands on the stomach to feel rising and falling with breath then count 1 for lift 2 for fall 3 lift 4 fall for 5 cycles to 10 and then begin the cycle again. Aim to complete at least 5 cycles of this with the intention of detaching yourself from your surroundings and focusing in on just the rising and falling of your breath

Mindful Walking: An old Buddhist practice, it is a way to practice mindfulness while moving without a goal or intention. Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. Keep your steps slow, relaxed, and calm. There is no rush, no place to be and most importantly no need to hurry.

 

3. Move

This is not necessarily a time for high-intensity training, instead, it is a time to get the body moving. Simple movements that can be replicated each and every morning. From mobility, yoga, walking or a light jog. This is a great chance to either continue your mindfulness practice or if pushed for time combine the two together.

I completely agree with Cliff that this is a time for gentle movement, especially if you are about to head to a desk and sit down all day. First of all, it will put yourself in a stressed state (fight or flight), plus you are quite possibly fatiguing key postural muscles leading to poor posture throughout the day while you are at your desk, this eventually resulting in imbalances and injury, if not addressed.

Obviously, movement is something at Taylored Health we are especially passionate about and the sad truth is our twenty-first century lifestyles are having a significant impact on our bodies and the way we now move. As we spend too much time sitting and spending all our lives using our anterior chain (front of our body) and not our posterior chain (back of our body). We are seeing more and more anterior dominance such as anterior pelvic tilts (pelvis tilting forwards) and kyphotic postures (rounding of the shoulders). If you are not completing imbalance correction work for undoing this, you are setting yourself up for future injuries.

At Taylored we take a hierarchy approach to programming, we don’t believe in extensive 1-1.5hr long session every day. We understand the biggest commodity is time so we are all about efficiency, providing our clients with a 3 or 4 short but key exercises that will promote the greatest response for them, these will normally be completed within 5-10 mins a day. Following the key priority exercises, we provide secondary and additional focuses beyond these that can be done when your schedule allows.

Application: Similar to mindfulness, work with the time you have then gradually increase where possible but I would suggest aiming for 5-10 mins each morning of gentle movement.

Personally: I aim to get outside (Sun Vit D= Resetting circadian rhythm) for a light walk and mobility. However, not always possible especially in winter so stick to mobility inside but I always do my best to get outside because the sun is even more important in winter.

 

4. Don’t Snack

Contrary to the beliefs of most nutritionist advice, out with the intensive 6 meals per day plan of forcing food down when you are not hungry “to maintain a fast metabolism”. Instead, come to in tune with your bodies needs and eat when hungry not because it is a habit or you think or have been told that you should eat frequently. You need to become mindful of your body and what it is telling you.

Humans have functioned and evolved within feast and famine environment for the majority of our existence. It is how our bodies are used to functioning. Just because technology now allows us to regularly graze, binge and overeat at the click of a button doesn’t mean we should! Frequent eating just places greater demand on our digestive system to consistently digest food instead of completing a restorative process that aid in overall health and longevity.

Application: Simple! Ditch the snacks and instead focus on quality nutritional dense meals that will nourish your body with the nutrients and fuel they require.

1-3 Meals should be plenty for the majority of the population

Personally: I apply time restricting eating most days, something before ditching carbohydrate that would have never been possible for me as I was always hungry!

I normally fast from 7pm-11am ish. However, this window varies greatly as I listen to my body and just eat when hungry. Too many people get fixated on hitting the magical 16hr mark but we need to keep in mind everyone is different and our bodies don’t function as a switch. My fasted windows are sometimes shorter and longer, they personally range between 14-18 hrs per day for me.

My breakfast is normally around the time most are having lunch (11am), and for most people, they would get away with just one other meal at dinner around 6pm, I sometimes eat like this when not training. However, I personally still have 3 meals roughly around 11am, 3pm and 6pm. Why? As an Ironman athlete, I burn through a lot more energy than the general population. Just another example that there is no one size fits all approach, it will depend on your needs

 

6. Protein First

Why protein?

Protein is structure – it is the building blocks of the human body, plus it is the most satiating nutrient, keeping you full and satisfied for longer.

The great thing about the majority of quality protein sources, you will often find good fats, and plenty of micronutrients, making it a great base to build meals off.

Application:

2x Palms sized servings of protein every meal

Ensure the protein source is unprocessed and is as close to nature as possible to ensure it has not had all the nutrients stripped out from being processed and refined.

Personally:

Protein is especially important for me as an athlete to aid my recovery from my training and for building muscle so I ensure I include a wide variety of good quality protein sources.  

 

6. Vegetable’s second

Many people think leading high-fat lifestyle means vegetables are not important because there are carbohydrate based. However, due to the fiber associated they do not possess the same as most carbohydrates and the fact that they are action packed with micronutrients outweighs the minimal carbohydrate they possess any way.

Application:

3x fist size of vegetables

Strive for organic, home grown vegetables

Aim for a diverse vibrant range of vegetables on your plate. Produce rich in Antioxidant content have been associated with with the more vibrant coloured produce (blues, purples, reds) along with being proven to taste better. This is why your vegetable garden tastes 100x better than supermarket produce, they are not mass produced in nutrient deficient soils, plus they have no added substances to preserve the fruit.

Personally:

Every meal I have you will just about always see it combined with a large amount of dark leafy greens (spinach, kale etc) whether on a plate or in a smoothie. Packed full of nutrients and more recently have been identified to promote with gut health. Especially important for me as I have dealt with a Candida in the past. On top of this, as mentioned above, I try to vary the colours up and eat from my parents vegetable garden the majority of the time. I have tried making my own vegetable garden but that didn’t go to well so I outsourced to my dad who loves it.

 

7. Carbohydrate: Appropriate to your needs

Eat carbohydrate appropriate to your individuals needs.

Carbohydrate intake needs will be greatly varied from person to person. Some will possess the ability to breakdown and utilise carbohydrate better than others and also activity levels along with exercise intensity can impact the amount of carbohydrate one can consume. On top of these factors your goals can also determine the amount of carbohydrate you should consume.

Cliff is currently working on a study getting released in the next few months which has come up with an interesting discovering that your triglycerides may play a vital role in how much carbohydrate you tolerate and require to function optimally. By lowering your Triglycerides (fatty acids) you are more likely to be able to handle a higher amount of carbohydrate.

Application:

As mentioned above this will be extremely individual but something I would suggest limiting where possible or at least aim to remove the processed and refined carbohydrates (biscuits, pasta, bread, cereals etc).

Personally:

I limit my carbohydrates as much as possible.

Do I have any carbohydrates? Yes, I do but mostly in the evening.

Why?

I am all about performance, both mentally and physically, I want to stay sharp with mental clarity with focus and a steady flow of energy and I personally find the spikes and crashes associated with carbohydrate do not promote this state. This is why I stay clear of carbohydrate until the evening where I can refuel and replenish carbohydrate stores if I feel I need it. The amount of carbohydrate, if any, is dependant on how I feel and the needs from the day and of the coming day(have I had a big training day or do I have a big one coming up). I still stay clear of processed and refined carbohydrates and normally select something like kumara.

On top of this, I take it a step further as an athlete, as I have trained my body to be fat adapted (Metabolically flexible). This involves a fair bit of fasted training sessions, to further deplete carbohydrates stored and to teach my body to utilise fat as the primary fuel source, offering me the ability to train longer compared to most without the need for regular refueling and the gastrointestinal stress that is often associated with this.

 

References:

Jeukendrup, Asker, and Michael Gleeson. “Dehydration and Its Effects on Performance.” Humankinetics. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2015.

Katterman SN, Kleinman BM, Hood MM, Nackers LM, Corsica JA. Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review. Eating behaviors. 2014 Apr 1;15(2):197-204.

Olson KL, Emery CF. Mindfulness and weight loss: a systematic review. Psychosomatic medicine. 2015 Jan 1;77(1):59-67.

Shirreffs, S. M., & Sawka, M. N. (2011). Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition, and recovery. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29 Suppl 1, S39-46. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.614269

 

Air Quality & Sleep

Air quality is too often looked, yet it is such a vital component when it comes to health. As we have stated previously anything that affects your health will affect your ability to sleep well.

Toxic Mold

If your home is not well ventilated, it can be a breeding ground for mold, leading to poor air quality. Mold is the silent killer that is not getting enough attention. It is making more people weak, fat, and tired than ever before. It is largely invisible and can have a huge impact on your energy and stress levels, not to mention how long you’ll live.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure & Mold Poisoning:

Fatigue + Weakness + Aches + Muscle Cramps + Unusual Pain + Ice Pick Pain + Headache + Light Sensitivity + Red Eyes + Blurred Vision + Tearing + Sinus Problems + Cough + Shortness of Breath + Abdominal Pain + Diarrhea + Joint Pain + Morning Stiffness + Memory Issues + Focus/Concentration Issues + Word Recollection Issues + Decreased Learning of New Knowledge + Confusion + Disorientation + Skin Sensitivity + Mood Swings + Appetite Swings + Sweats (especially night sweats) + Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems + Excessive Thirst + Increased Urination + Static Shocks + Numbness + Tingling + Vertigo + Metallic Taste + Tremors

Exposure to mold and it effects are more common than you may realise. Dampness and mold exposures ranges from 18% to 50% in buildings. The bad news doesn’t stop there sadly, in America over 25% (could assume similar numbers in NZ) of people are believed to carry the HLA-DRBQ gene. This gene promotes hypersensitivity towards mold. Essentially there bodies are unable to recognise mold as a toxin to eliminate it and instead they store the toxic mold within their bodies.

Mold toxins are lipophilic, in other words, their molecular structure is made up of fatty acid molecules. As the brain is the fattiest organ (60% fat) the mold toxins migrate and cross the blood brain barrier and deposit themselves within the brain. Once mold toxins enter the brain, they start to destroy neurons,  they can alter hormone production, and eventually this can lead to many chronic health issues including:

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Hashimoto’s Disease
  • Graves Disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • ADD/ADHD and more

 

Air Quality & Sleep:

Now that you have some background around mold and air quality, lets discuss how air quality can be affecting your sleep.

You spend ⅓ of your life in your bedroom, therefore bad air quality in the bedroom is a recipe for disaster! Some stats suggest that exposure to poor air quality can be 16 time higher in some people bedrooms. Poor air quality affects sleep and as a result has been shown to impact next day cognitive performance and increase perceived feelings of poor concentration and increased sleepiness. In rooms with poor circulating air comes and increased moisture and the development of bacteria and mold will not only impact your sleep but may cause a whole host of serious health concerns.

Want to Learn More:

Dave Asprey from Bulletproof, is a leader in this space after struggling personally with mold intoxication. He is leading the charge globally and highlighting the impact of mold on individuals health.  He has developed a lot of content around mold including a documentary on toxic mold (Moldy Movie), and even discusses the topic it in his book Headstrong.

Naturally cleanse the Air

Plants

Beyond toxic mold removal there are a few other ways to improve air quality within your bedroom. Research at NASA has found that a number of house plants go beyond just looking good, they actually possess the ability to double as a natural air purifiers. Improving air quality by absorbing and filtering out toxic agents from our indoor air. The NASA study listed a number of plants that have beneficial effects for air purification including Aloe vera, English Ivy and Sansevieria trifasciata (commonly known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). I personally own the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue due to it being very low maintenance and have found it extremely powerful.

  

Ever wondered why you sleep better in nature  especially if you are close to water?

Water, air, sunlight and the earth’s inherent radiation produce what is called negative ions (oxygen molecule charged with an extra electron). These negatively charged ions are most prevalent in a natural place particularly around moving water (waterfalls, ocean, thunderstorms etc). The taste and feeling of that “Fresh Air” when near a beach, waterfall or storm is your body receiving and influx in the beneficial negative ions.

Negative ions are good but positive ions are not and the most dangerous levels of harmful positive ions occur in the polluted, large industrial and heavily populated cities. Exhaust fumes from cars, trucks and buses, factory smoke, cigarette smoke, dust and soot, electromagnetic pollution and overall atmospheric pollution caused by air and sea crafts; all act to develop a mixture of harmful positive ions. In doing so reduce the production of the beneficial negative ions in our surroundings and subsequently affecting our overall health, lungs and may be the cause of general lack of energy and depression.

 

Strategies

Prevent, Identify & Repair

Prevent:

  • Avoid moist environments that lack airflow (stuffy environments). As these environments act as the perfect breeding ground for toxic mold.
  • Avoid Water Damaged Buildings:

Water soaked buildings are the perfect breeding ground for toxic mold. You should want to avoid living, working or attending school in any building that have been damaged by water whether from a flood, broken pipes, condensation, or water leaks of any kind. Signs would include; Water stains on walls and ceilings & a funky smell

  • Allow natural airflow as much as possible, sleep with window open as has been shown to greatly impact air quality.
  • Live close to nature, obviously where possible.
  • Get some nature into your bedroom, add some natural air purifying plants such as: Aloe vera, English Ivy, & Sansevieria trifasciata (commonly known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
  • Remove any condensation 
  • Purify and Negatively ionise your air within your bedroom and home with a Ioniser

 

  • Identify:

  • Ensure you have no leaks or mold present in your house.

Check baseboards, ceilings, and walls in your home, office, and school frequently looking for soft spots, stains, or other signs of water damage. If you have any serious concerns or even just for peace of mind get the building inspected by a professional. Additionally, ensure you have a properly installed AC or HVAC system especially in hot humid climates as this can be a red flag and could make the problem worse.

  • Take the Test: The Biotoxin Test can help determine if you are affected by mold. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker developed a formula to determine if you are presenting with the symptoms associated with exposure to toxic mold.

 

Repair:

  • Outsource: If testing deems your house to have mold. Remove yourself from the environment & work with a remediation specialist to develop a cleanup plan. You don’t want to skip corners on this.

Hopefully in reading this I have been able to shed some light on the invisible killer that doesn’t get enough attention. This is something I have dealt with personally and was ignorant to the impact it played as I became sicker and sicker as the mold grew thicker and thicker. It is not something you avoid and hope it goes away you need to take action otherwise you will end up with serious health concerns. Just watch the moldy movie for some good case studies.

Sleep Month: How is your Sleep?

Sleep is the most important factor that underpins everything, if you are not sleeping you are sacrificing your health, well-being, longevity and performance (both work and sporting).

Being good at sleep is not like being good at sport or business, you don’t win any awards for being a great sleeper! Sleep is something that is traditionally private, until it being bad at it begins to seep into other areas of your life, such as when your health begins to decline or your focus starts wavering while at work.

Some will use lack of sleep as a badge of honor, stating that they can train, work, and be more productive with all the spare time gained from not sleeping. We all know these people that claim the amount of hours of sleep that they don’t have time for and that they function optimally with minimal sleep. In fact there is even a  “sleepless elite,” like Barack Obama, Dean Karnazes, Martha Stewart, and Marissa Mayer. Who claim to sleep only four or five hours a night. However, I would argue 99.99 percent of the time, they are lying to themselves. They are instead functioning at a suboptimal level and the cost of this is their health. Sure there is variance in optimal amount of sleep needed from person to person, but it is by no means this drastic.

The average night’s sleep today equates to approximately 6.9 hrs whereas in 1910 the average was 9 hrs! That is a substantial decline in a short period of time and we are paying for it!

Close to home in Australia a study published in March this year calculated the financial and nonfinancial costs associated with inadequate sleep for the year of  2016–2017 (US dollars). “The estimated total financial cost of $17.88 billion represents 1.55% of Australian gross domestic product. The estimated nonfinancial cost of $27.33 billion represents 4.6% of the total Australian burden of disease for the year.”

Chernobyl

If you cast your mind back to the disaster at: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, The gas leak at Bhopal, The Zeebrugge ferry accident, The Exxon Valdez oil spill. When you do a little research, you’ll find that these and many other major industrial disasters have been directly linked to sleep deprivation. Therefore, the financial cost associated with lack of sleep has great potential to be significantly higher.

With the ‘24/7’ society there is no ‘off’ switch and with the increasing night time use of TV, internet and mobile phones this means adequate amounts of uninterrupted sleep is becoming increasingly compromised. With this paradigm shift to 24/7 society, we have more shift workers who are required to service the needs of our society. I am sure everyone knows someone that works night shift. This roster exposes them to significant circadian disruption which is likely to add to the growing financial cost of sleep deprivation seen at the workplace. Quite a scary thing to think about when a lot of the shift workers are those that work in healthcare. To put this in perspective 100,000 deaths occur each year in US hospitals due to medical errors and sleep deprivation.

 

University student sleeping in lecture hall

Sleep loss is happening across the population spectrum from children, students to adults. We are all affected. The table below from a 2004 study in America highlights children of various age groups and clearly identifies their lack of sleep, with many not even achieving the desired number of sleep hours. A study done with Auckland University students in New Zealand showed that a large number (39.4%) of university students where suffering from significant sleep deprivation symptoms. What was interesting and shocking from this study was that students were presenting with clinically significant levels of depression (~17.3% of students) and anxiety (~19.7% of students).

Sleep across a 24hr period (2004 America Study): 

Age Group Suggested (hrs) Average sleep (hrs)
Infants 14-15 12.7
Toddlers 12-14 11.7
Preschool 11-13 10.4
School aged Children 10-11 9.5

(Note: All sleep times are averages.)

 

Summary 

Hopefully this has started to highlight to you the impact of sleep and its importance. As I mentioned at the beginning, sleep underpins everything and if you are lacking in that department you are functioning at a suboptimal level and accelerating the aging process.

Stay tuned for the rest of the month of August as we provide you with the tricks and tools to hack your sleep and get you back to performing at your best.

 

References:

Adams, R., Appleton, S., Taylor, A., & Antic, N. (2016). Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.

Aurora, R. N., Collop, N. A., Jacobowitz, O., Thomas, S. M., Quan, S. F., & Aronsky, A. J. (2015). Quality Measures for the Care of Adult Patients with, 11(3).

Ferrie, J. E., Kumari, M., Salo, P., Singh-manoux, A., & Kivima, M. (2018). Sleep epidemiology — a rapidly growing field, (October 2011), 1431–1437. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyr203

Hillman, D., Mitchell, S., Streatfeild, J., Burns, C., Bruck, D., & Pezzullo, L. (2018). The economic cost of inadequate sleep, (July), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy083

Report, M. W. (2011). National Sleep Awareness Week Unhealthy Sleep-Related Behaviors, 60(8), 2005–2008.

Samaranayake, C. B., Arroll, B., & Fernando, A. T. (2014). THE NEW ZEALAND, 127(1399), 13–22.

Smaldone, A., Honig, J. C., & Byrne, M. W. (2007). Sleepless in America : Inadequate Sleep and Relationships to Health and Well-being of Our Nation ’ s Children, 119(February), 29–37. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-2089F

Alternate Approach to Fueling the Endurance Athlete

Our last post we discussed carbohydrate (CHO) as a primary fuel source and factors that need to be considered. In this post we want to shed light on an alternative approach to fueling as an endurance athlete and how it stacks up against traditional methods.

With the growing body of literature investigating the current ‘traditional and text book’ endurance based nutrition, I wanted to take sometime to highlight some of the newer evidence along with an alternate strategy. I am not saying this is a strategy for everyone, as in so many areas of our sport (e.g. training and nutrition) there is so much individual variance. However, with my clinical and personal experience if done correctly, I have found an approach that works for the majority of clients and is something I highly suggest you consider and test out, not only from a performance standpoint but for your overall health as well.

 

Background/ Training Nutrition

Before talking about race nutrition (particularly Ironman) you must first understand training nutrition. The science has made some significant developments in recent years and I want to identify what these recent changes are and then compare them to traditional nutritional methods and try help you identify which is the best approach for you!

 

What is Traditional/Textbook Endurance Nutrition?

This nutritional method is based around the intake of CHO and the ability to load (before) and continually replenish CHO stores during exercise.

 

What does this mean?

Challenge Roth 2014

Typically our bodies can only use ~1g of CHO / kg of Body Weight / Hour. We are constantly told that to perform at a high level or merely ‘last the distance’ in any endurance event requires us to be fueled solely by CHO. Go to any endurance event or even give “Ironman Nutrition” a quick google and you will see this is still a common thought. Ironman itself even puts on a pre-race dinner “Pasta Party” based around this concept, with the intention of CHO loading (I pre-ate before attending).

But sport science is a new science so we are always learning and older practices (nutritional or other) are being re-investigated and newer methods are always being developed and tested. In the case of nutrition for ultra events the science is evolving and initially these challenge all my previous beliefs, creating a lot of confusion (even for me, someone who has studied sport science).  But, in taking a step back I was able to analyse from a non-bias standpoint and used a bit of logic to allow me to see the potential of this new nutritional strategy.

 

So, what was being suggested? 

A flipping of the traditional method on it head! Out with the CHO during training and in with the fat! With CHO so ingrained in our culture not only as athletes but also in general day to day life, it can be challenging.

There are plenty of methods that now utilise this approach with some variance within them: High Fat Low Carb (HFLC), Very Low Carb and High Fat (VLCHF), Paleo, Ketogenic, Aktins or Modified Akins. Despite their differences (mainly in their name choice) they all work on a similar premise, that is to reduce CHO used during low- moderate intensity (sparing our very very limited body CHO stores for those rare times when we need to sprint finish) and increasing our efficiency at using fat as a fuel source. Some of the diets listed above are a bit more extreme than others. So which one is best? Again it comes down to you and what suits YOU best.

 

My goal: My focus is always on efficiency and maximising performance both physical and mental. Therefore, I put the high fat strategy to the test against Ironman, with the intention of be able to utilise fat a primary fuel source throughout the race.

 

Fat Adapted Athlete or Metabolically flexible

Put simply you have the ability to use fat as a fuel during exercise and this saves your bodies limited CHO stores (~500-600g even when you eat a lot of CHO in your diet). This shift allows you to move away from a limited and finite fuel source to one that is unlimited!!!!!

At the lower exercise intensities required during an Ironman (we are exercising for 8-17 hours) the increased use of our fat stores may mean less frequent refueling and less reliance on external fueling methods (now no stress now if you drop that one gel out on course). Another added benefit of using your fat stores is enhanced fat loss, great for body composition.

Your health is also improved by shifting to a ‘high good fat’ diet. This is due to the fact that when you use fat as a fuel you do not create the inflammatory response that we see with CHO. Less inflammation is great for supporting a healthy body (Let’s talk Science: High Carbohydrate Vs High Fat)

The ‘traditional’ CHO method would argue that fat use in exercise limits your ability to perform at the top end of your chosen sport (endurance and even anaerobic based power athletes). But the recent research has debunked that argument. Some of the best triathletes would consider themselves to be high fat/ low carb and they are winning events at an amateur and professional level.

 

Put in to practice: Proof is in the pudding

 

Pro Athletes: It is hard to say exactly who is and who isn’t but those to the best of my knowledge are listed below. Along with being pro athletes a lot of them are also coaches themselves as well.

Simon Cochrane: 1st Rotorua & Karapiro Half Ironman, 3rd place IM Japan, 3rd IM Taiwan, 3rd IM Philippines. IM New Zealand PB 8:21

Jan van Berkel: 1st Ironman Switzerland (in record breaking time), 5th 2018 IM Texas (7.48.40); 4th 2018 IM New Zealand

Tim Reed: 1st 2018 IM 70.3 Vietnam, 2nd  2017 IM 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships, Western Sydney, 2nd IM Australia, Port Macquarie

Dougal Allan: 1st 2018 Motatapu Xterra, 1st 2018 Redbull Defiance, 2nd 2017 IM Western, Australia

Kyle Buckingham: 1st 2018 IM  African Championships

 

Coaches / Athletes: Who are renowned for the High fat approach to training

Dan Plews (Coaching Service: Plew & Prof): 1st 2018 Age grouper in IM New Zealand – 8:35

Bevan Mckinnon (Coaching Service: Fitter): 1st 2016 Kona IM in Age group World Championships  

 

This does not mean it will work for everyone!! I just wanted to highlight that this is a strategy being utilised by top athletes, showing that its does not reduce your performance, in fact it may have the opposite effect. These are just some of the top athletes well known for this approach but there are plenty more and it is a strategy that is continually growing in popularity as science proves the validity of this nutritional strategy in performance and health measures.

 

How does a Carbohydrate Athlete match up to a Fat Adapted Athlete

I wanted to keep it simple as I know this topic it can become overwhelming to most. Listed below are a comparison of the two strategies.

Key Things to consider:

Below are some key factors to consider before jumping into this approach and often the biggest mistakes I see athletes make.

 

  • CHO Tolerance: Carbohydrate tolerances or insulin sensitivity (ability to produce adequate insulin when required, to ensure efficient uptake of carbohydrate) will vary from person to person. There is no one size fits all macro breakdown there are just guidelines!

 

  • A-Type Personality: The biggest mistake I see especially in the A-Type personality world of triathlon is athletes going to extreme to quick. Just like physical training this shift in fuel substrate should be a gradual adaptation. I highly suggest easing into it, you should never be suffering (eg starving) if so you are pushing your limits too much! However, if done correctly the benefits to your health, performance and longevity will be profound!

 

  • Female Athlete: Females must also be cautious in adapting this approach as you traditionally require more CHO and must consider the impact of your menstrual cycle and design your intake accordingly. For this reason there doesn’t seem to be too many Pro female Ironman athletes currently, I have heard that Melissa Hauschildt (1st Female 2018 IM Texas – North American Championships) is high fat athlete but that has not been confirmed. I think this is something we will see more as we learn how to better cater the approach to the specific demands female body. As quoted by Stacey Sims: “Women are not small men!”

 

  • Train Low Race High: Once fat adapted, athletes to often approach their racing the same as there training void of or minimal CHO. If you want to optimise your performance you buffer your CHO stores so that you can utilise both CHO and fat substrates to their full potential. Although,  this has been recently shown to be especially important in more competitive and elite athletes than those working at ;lower intensities 

 

Take home message:

No detrimental effect in performance, less need for refueling, fat loss and faster recovery, it sounds pretty good to me!

I will say it again that as with any nutritional approach there is no one size fits all approach, you must find what works for you! Sometimes that means some long term self experimenting. Take it gradually don’t go all out and end up with Keto Flu.

 

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