The Effect of Music on Exercise

It is no real secret that music has a profound effect on exercise. The use of music to enhance exercise performance has been dated back as early as the ancient games of Greece and is still widely used today. Whether it’s music that’s playing over the loud speakers at the gym or music that’s playing from an mp3 player of a runner, music just seems to go hand in hand with exercising. But what is it about the music that makes it so appealing to exercisers, and what affect does music have on the physiology of exercise?

This was exactly the question that I was looking to answer in my most recent research study that I had the opportunity to present last week. The title of my research study was “The Physiological Effects of Music on Exercise”.  That may sound all fancy and everything but really what I was specifically looking at was how the tempo of music could alter exercise intensity and how that would affect something called the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercise.

The RPE (or rating of perceived exertion) is basically just a measurement that measures how hard an individual feels like they are exercising on a scale from 6-20. A rating of 6 would basically mean that the subject is sleeping and a 20 would be like sprinting as fast as possible up a flight of stairs at high altitude with a ravenous gorilla throwing poo at you. So for example, if someone were walking their dog they would most likely be at an 8 and if someone were out for a comfortable jog they would be at about a 12-13. The weird 6-20 just comes from the fact that the number is supposed to correlate with the subject’s heart rate by a factor of ten. So if the subject was at a RPE of 6 then their heart rate would theoretically be at 60bpm and if they were at 12 then their heart rate would theoretically be at 120bpm. It is a rather simple scale but is surprisingly accurate when matching heart rate to RPE.

So back to the music and what I was measuring; lately there have been many mobile apps and devices released that claim to “enhance your performance” by using music to keep you exercising at a harder pace than you would normally exercise. It turns out that what these apps actually do is take a given song and alter the tempo of the song to match your heart rate while you are exercising. So if you were to run faster, the tempo of the music would increase and if you run slower, the tempo of the music would decrease. The idea is that by matching the tempo of the music to your own heart rate while exercising, your rating of perceived exertion would decrease at a given intensity so that you could exercise harder without actually feeling like you were actually going that hard, this would allow you to exercise at an intensity that would normally feel like a 15, but now feels like a 13 because of the music. This means that exercisers could increase the intensity of their exercises without even felling like they were increasing the intensity. What I was testing in my research was if that really works or not.

The design of my experiment was pretty simple, I had subjects exercise at 3 different exercise intensities that were each progressively more difficult on a stationary bicycle (35watts, 70watts, and 140watts), measured their heart rate, matched the tempo of a given song to their heart rate and recorded their rating of perceived exertion every 30 seconds. I repeated that procedure 2 more times, once without any music at all to act as a control, and once with music that did not change tempo to see if it was purely just the music itself that made the difference an d not the music that matches your heart rate.

What I found was actually quite surprising. According to my results there was really no significant difference in the rating of perceived exertion between any of the trials! That means that adding music or music that matched the subject’s heart rate had no effect on the subject’s rating of perceived exertion at all during exercise. This is quite interesting because that would suggest that music doesn’t make exercise feel any easy than it does without music.

This then begs the question of what is actually happening when people feel that music makes their workouts more enjoyable. According to my study the music we listen to during exercise and the music that matches our heart rate with the apps makes no difference on how hard we feel like we are exercising. So if you are exercising at a perceived exertion of 15, adding music or adding music that matches your heart rate still ends up with a perceived exertion of 15.

That is kind of cool that it disproves what many of the apps that alter the tempo of music claim to do, but it still leaves us wondering what is going on. So it’s back to the drawing board for another research study to find out what is going on. I have a hunch that we may be able to find a different result if we were to measure something other than the rating of perceived exertion. The rating of perceived exertion is a great measurement but it is measuring something that doesn’t really change at a given intensity. If you are at a heart rate of 145bpm and your RPE is 14, then adding music will still have your heart rate at 145bpm and should come up with the same result of a RPE of 14 because it is measuring purely how hard you feel like you are going. What I am measuring for the next experiment is the somewhat of a measurement of enjoyment and willingness to stop exercising. Instead of measuring how hard an exerciser feels like they are going, I am going to measure how much the person is enjoying the exercise and how willing they would be to stop exercising when presented with the chance. This would then measure how much music adds to the enjoyment of exercise, which is very important because it is much easier to get someone to exercise harder or more often when they enjoy exercising.

What Happens After the Diet Ends?

Here’s a question for anyone that is currently on a “diet” or has ever been on a “diet”, what happens now? What happens after you have lost weight, or reached your ideal body composition? Does a person suddenly walk through some imaginary gate into the world of skinnies and stay that way forever or is there a lot more to the story than just finishing a diet?

It is an interesting question to think about what happens after someone finishes a diet. The question of “what happens now?” is somewhat of a multi-purpose question that is really asking a few things. 1) Was this “diet” a short term fix for a larger underlying problem? And 2) did the “diet” instill lifelong habits that will be sustainable to manage this new body composition forever?  Too many diets only focus on what happens during the diet to get people to lose weight and then send the newly glorified skinny people off into the world only to fend for themselves. So it is not surprising that the current success rate for any weight reduction plan (ie. Diet) is a whopping 20%. This means that if there are a group of ten friends that go on a diet together and tell each other that they are going to keep everyone motivated through this awful diet experience (which it doesn’t have to be), 8 out of the ten people will gain all of their weight back and only a lucky 2 will actually be able to keep the weight off, probably because the other 8 ate all of the food.

So what gives, why do the majority of newly shrunken people gain most of their weight back? Good question! For the unlucky regrown 8 that gained all of the weight back there will be 8 different reasons to go along with why so although this covers some of the reasons, I by no means am saying that this is an all-inclusive list.

The first reason why the majority of diets and quick fix “cleanses” suck is that they are just pure crap to begin with. If any diet sends you every single meal pre-packaged every week then you are definitely already destined to be overweight again. I’m not trying to say that any diet that rhymes with nutrabystem or menny braig isn’t going to work; I’m just saying that it might be a swift kick in the ass when the magical “get skinny in a box” doesn’t show up on the doorstep anymore. And to be completely honest, that is what those industries are hoping for. I hate to burst any bubbles but companies like that bank on the fact that you will gain all of the weight back. Why? Well because then you get the wonderful opportunity to spend thousands more of your hard earned money on buying more of their products, hurray! Genius on their part, but not so great for the ones trying to lose weight. The biggest question before starting any type of nutrition program that needs to be asked is “how sustainable is this?” If the answer is, not for long, than you may as well not even start it and try something else because it’s not magically going to get easier as soon as the gnarly tasting glorified dog food stops showing up pre-packaged for every meal.

Another one of the biggest reasons why so many people end up right where they started is because of some emotional trigger. The quick and dirty definition to an emotional trigger is something that brings up an emotion within your brain that triggers you to do something. This doesn’t seem like it would have anything to do with a sustainable weight loss except for the fact that eating food is the most common solution to any emotional trigger. If you don’t believe me than give 99% of all females (not all ladies… believe me I’m really not sexist) a piece of chocolate and see what happens. It will usually result in some noise that is similar to the soothing sound that a mother gives a newborn. This example with chocolate may be a stereotypical assumption but seriously, food is connected to more emotions that we can even fathom. Does chicken noodle soup really make you heal faster from a cold? Hell no, if anything the intestine destroying gluten from the noodles and scary looking sad excuse for chicken will make you worse, but if giving you soup when you are sick triggers a calming emotion then it is definitely going to make the person more relaxed which is something that temporarily make them forget that they are sick. My point is that humans are very emotionally tied to food. So if someone uses food to deal with sadness, or anger, or frustration, or loneliness then there is going to be a lot more to the puzzle to keep weight off after a diet because unless the diet addressed these emotional cues and replaced them with something else then they second that person becomes sad, they are still hard wired to find food to deal with that sadness.

The last reason why so many diets fail at keeping weight off is the simple fact that there is a set end date or a set goal number to reach without a goal for what next after reaching that goal. Too many times I hear, “I’ll do this diet for a month and then I’ll be good”. That sounds great on paper because it gives the person an idea of how long they must suffer through the shitty diet but in reality they need to plan out what happens after. Because if they suddenly go back to eating how they were when they were overweight, they will just gain the weight back. Like I said before, losing weight doesn’t suddenly give you an all-exclusive pass into the skinny club where you can eat whatever you want, it just means that you’ve done the hardest part and now you need to maintain it. If you eat like you did when you were overweight then you will look and feel like you did when you were overweight; if you keep eating the same foods you ate to lose weight then you will look and feel as great as you did when you lost weight. It sounds simple but it’s true. Without change there will be no difference, period. The simple solution to this is to eat just as you were when you were losing weight, but simply add a bit more volume and don’t worry as much if you accidentally slip up for a day (notice I said DAY, and not week).

The idea of an end to a “diet” or nutritional strategy, or “cleanse” is often a very gray zone. We must eat to survive so it’s not like we can just stop eating after we reach our weight-loss goals. Instead the biggest focus of any nutritional intervention needs to be the sustainability of it in the long run. If it’s not possible to maintain that pattern of eating for a long long long time than don’t even start it and find something new that is sustainable. The initial weight-loss period of any diet is merely just the small beginning part of it. The next and most important step is what happens next.

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!!!

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee… It’s like a little bit of magic in a mug. I’m sure all of us are fully aware of the many wonderfully magical properties of coffee. It seems as though almost everyone alive lives swears by the stuff every morning, and that is no exception when it comes to athletes. Coffee has long been used as a performance enhancer in the world of fitness. Athletes of all sports are the biggest coffee fanatics of them all. After talking to numerous elite level athletes, the common trend is that the higher level the athlete, the more they tend to rely on the little boost from the wonderful little bean.

So with all of these athletes practically about to get a drip IV strait into their antecubital with a fresh brew, it begs the question, is it the coffee as a whole that has these profound effects on performance, or is it just he caffeine that comes along with the cup of joe that gives athletes an edge?

Luckily enough I received a research article to a study that looked exactly at that question, is it the caffeine or the coffee as a whole. Here is a link to the study. In the study the researchers had a group of cyclists (also known as an endless supply of exercise guinea pigs)perform a 30min warm up and a 45min time trial with a few different treatments. All of the cyclists performed this test in a fasted state. One group received water (suckers). Another group received decaf coffee (those poor souls). Another group received full strength coffee, and the last group received a mixture with only caffeine. All during the time trial the researchers took blood samples and tested a few different parameters but basically were just testing to see which group performed the greatest.
To no surprise the groups that were wired from the full strength coffee and the mystery mixture of caffeine out-performed the suckers that were lucky enough to get water or decaf coffee. But where the interesting part comes in is that the groups that received the caffeine mixture and the full strength coffee both performed similarly with no significant differences between the two. That would go to say that sadly there really is no magical property from the best present Columbia ever gave us. According to this study it is really only the caffeine in the coffee that gets the kabootle on everyone running a little faster.
Not as monumental of a result as I was personally hoping for from the study but at least it is one source to tell us that the only thing that really is helping us from the coffee is simply the caffeine. But if I had to argue, I would still make a few arguments toward the magical properties of coffee. For instance, let’s not forget that coffee has the all too common effect of not only waking your brain up but also waking the ol’ colon up from its slumber and telling it to take the trash out. This can have such an enormous effect on performance that it may as well be a low dose steroid. Ever try running a marathon when you’re constipated?… I rest my case. There are also numerous studies that show a dopamine release from regular coffee drinkers consuming coffee, whether it is decaf or full strength. This release of dopamine calms you down and also gives you a feeling of happiness, which can be crucial to performing at your best. There are already enough stressors from competing in an athletic competition, no need to add any extra anxiety from not getting coffee.

So according to the study mentioned previously, it really is just the caffeine in coffee that gives athletes a little boost in their performance. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that blocks adenosine receptors in the brain (adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a.k.a it makes you tired). It definitely makes sense that it is the only thing going on in coffee to boost performance, but it isn’t all that fun and exciting. So in light of the depressing study that tried to crush our hopes and dreams for a magical liquid found in our mugs, let’s not forget about the amazing calming and digestive help that a nice cup of coffee can give us.

New Adventures Opening a Gym

It’s rare that I actually write a blog post about what I’m doing in life but this one is exciting so I had to write about it. I’m actually opening up my own gym! I found a place in Green Bay that gave me a pretty good deal on rent and the whole training people out of the basement thing  isn’t working too well since it kind of turns the basement into a gym. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure my parents love the sound of a grown man grunting during a squat in the evening coming from the basement, but it was time to get a place.

The fitness center opens April 1st and is going to be called B’n Fit. Here is what the logo looks like. Location is 2733 N. Packerland drive, Green Bay WI.

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In week one of construction we tore down the center wall and got the wonderful task of cleaning up the mess of drywall and lumber. Thankfully I got some wonderful help otherwise I would still be cleaning up debris. Vacuumed the whole floor with a microscopic head of a shop vac only to walk outside to a flat tire on my trust steed of a mini-van and possibly hit a new level of pissed off. But luckily all of the equipment got picked up that day which made up for the 3hr vacuum session and flat tire. Did I mention all of the equipment fit in the van? Who needs a truck anyways when you can rock the Cadillac for soccer moms?

The website is still being worked on but check out bnfitfitness.com to see the rest of the details about B’n Fit. And give me a call if you’re ready to get fitter, healthier, faster, and stronger. Whether you want to lose weight or take your performance to the next level, we’ll get you there in no time at B’n Fit.

The Side Effect From Your Diet

There are so many diets out now that it is nearly impossible to know about every one of them or let alone try every one. Some of them are actually good and reasonable, such as Paleo,The Zone, and No Sugar no Grain. Some of them are silly like the fruititarian diet, or the Master Cleanse, and others are just downright useless (cabbage soup diet anybody?). Every diet has their own set of claims and promises and they all guarantee to get you to a size zero in less than a week, but do any of the diets actually tell you what you’re in for when you start it?

Side effects of diets are what make them so frustrating and humorous at the same time. If it weren’t for people passing out from low blood sugar then the Atkin’s diet might not have been so damn popular. Or if nobody ever shit their pants on the master cleanse then we would have never even heard of the whacko salt water and lemon juice “cleanse”. (Believe me, if a diet ever says “cleanse”, run like hell because your dog will never drink the toilet bowl water ever again after what you deliver out of your anus to the porcelain thrown…if you make it there).

Like I said I’ve tried my fair share of diets and have experienced my fair share of side effects so here are a few side effects that all of the wonderful details that the diet companies “forget to mention” when you give a diet a try.

Atkin’s diet- Sure it seems like the perfect diet, I mean hell you get to eat loads of beef, cheese and even BACON. Just stay away from the carbs and you’ll look like a model in no time, but what they forget to mention is that you’ll get crazy low blood sugar in the first week, hate life in the second week, get dizzy every time you stand up in the third week and then maybe, just maybe if you make it past the first month you’ll lose weight really fast.

Cabbage Soup Diet- Seems simple right? All you have to do is keep a cabbage plantation in business and eat nothing but cabbage soup for a while. Except they forget to mention that your soul will hate cabbage by the time you are done with this hellish diet and you will suddenly adopt a grand orchestra in your trousers that will play Beethoven’s symphony number 5 every time you don’t consciously try to fight the urge to deflate.

Tapeworm Diet- I see no flaws in this one, actually haven’t tried it. What could possibly go wrong with having a white squirming foot long creature living inside your intestines and feeding off of your intestinal contents.

30 Bananas a day- So you think you like bananas? Give this one a try, all you have to do is eat 30 of the little buggers and be one with your inner chimpanzee. Oh ya, just don’t forget that you will feel like a human hot air balloon (fully inflated) that will beg for dear mercy to relieve some of the pressure only to realize that you still have 15 bananas to go. Have fun with this one, if you make it through you will never have a cramp ever again for as long as you live.

Master Cleanse- Uh oh, another one of those cleanses. This one’s not for the faint of heart. You start by doing this thing called a flush where you drink way too much salt water that is meant to move through you like a plunger for your intestines. You will then proceed to shit out the grilled cheese you ate in 3rd grade and the baby food your mom fed you as an infant. If your lucky the toilet won’t be full and you will know you’re done when you actually poo out salt water…no I’m not joking, this is one odd experience.

If diets were easy then they definitely wouldn’t be looked at as such a burden. If it was easy then we would all just look at the mirror every once in a while and lay off the treats for a week or two when we notice a bit of pudge from all the fudge. But instead, the common trend is to just graze like cattle until our heart starts misbehaving and then realize that we need some major diet to drop the weight that was so much fun to put on. To wrap things up for this post let’s just all admit that diets suck, and what even sucks worse is the side effects of the diets. So next time you start a diet please, I’m begging you, please know what you’re in for.

Increase Performance by Listening to Your Noodle

How would you like to learn the absolute best, most powerful super-duper awesomely radical amazing trick to increase performance and guarantee no chance of burn-out, overtraining, or plateauing? Well guess what, this secret is accessible to anyone and everyone and it’s even free. That’s right, it’s free! No pills, needles, gimmicks or any other whooty patooty niacin-overdosed, caffeine-hyped product that a shitty salesman fitness expert tries to sell. This wonderful little secret is the most powerful training tool that there is, but the problem is that 99% of people don’t use it, and the ones that do might not even be using it to its full potential.

So what exactly kind of voodoo whoo-ha am I talking about?  Well, I am talking about the all too important tool that lives inside of us and is simply called listening to your body. Surprise! But seriously, it really works. The actual term used for this is called interoception. It’s somewhat related to a much more widely used term, proprioception, that is often more easily recognized. Proprioception is most simply put as ones awareness of body parts and their position in space. It’s what our brains use to know where things like our arms and legs are at all times so that they can be positioned in the right places at the right time… well most of the time, I’ll be one to admit that I’ve fell flat on a face more than a few times from misjudging a step or something. But luckily I just get up and say “damn you proprioceptive system, you got me good there” and go along my merry long way.

So what exactly is interoception and how can it help performance? Interoception is ones sense of what’s going on inside their body. It is the ability to know that your body temperature is rising, or that you are dehydrated, or sensing that your heart is beating. These are all very important things of course, but when it comes to athletic performance or weight-loss, interoception can also be used to put your body in the ultimate position for success. This can be done by actually listening to that thing inside our noggins that’s actually the only thing on the planet that truly has the capability to ignore itself.

The best way to utilize this tool of “interoception” is to listen to your body. By listening to your body, this means that you take rest when your body tells you it needs rest and you go hard when your body tells you it can. All too often people will hit a sport or activity with a 110% all the time and ignore the signs in their body that are telling them to take a chill pill for the day. How many times have we all said, “oh ya, I feel like crap but once I get warmed up and moving today I’ll be good” or “I feel like I got hit by a milk-truck this morning, but my off-day isn’t till Monday”? But guess what, if you truly feel like a bag of dog turds that got put in a mailbox then the best thing for you athletic performance and mental sanity is to truly just keep everything on the backburners for the day or even take the day off. This also goes for the other side of the spectrum as well. I can’t count the number of times people will hold back from going for a PR or doing an interval at full speed just because they weren’t supposed to. I’m not saying that it’s smart to belligerently disobey a coach or anything, but if you are truly feeling like your body is telling you to go full-throttle and drop the hammer then by all-means the best thing for you to do is to hit it hard, run like you stole an eagles egg and mama big bird is after you, or lift something heavier than you ever had before and push your car home you monster.

This even works for nutrition as well. Most of the time our bodies will tell us in the form of a food craving if we are missing something from our diets. For example, cravings for burned foods could mean that you are deficient in carbon and need to eat more fruit. Or cravings for acidic foods could mean that you are deficient in magnesium and need to increase your magnesium intake. Or one of the most popular is the craving for red meat or dirt or ice, these all show a sign of an iron deficiency. The same goes for macronutrients as well. If you are training hard and your energy sucks and the only thing you can think of is carbs then maybe, just maybe you should actually increase your carbohydrates, it will be the best thing you could ever do for your health and performance. I will add one disclaimer to the food cravings though, if the food cravings are coming from a pregnant female then they may just be something else, you can choose to ignore them or if you would like to live to see the day of the birth of your child (all future baby daddies) then definitely listen to the cravings.

Listening to our bodies if often overlooked without giving any thought to it. Pushing through training sessions or skipping certain foods just because we need to stay to the plan is great for will-power in the short run but will do damage in the long run. I like to think of it as running a car without checking under the hood and giving it what it needs every now and then. Can the car run without coolant or oil for a little bit, sure but is it doing more damage than good, yes. If it missing something, than give it what it needs. Listening to our bodies is truly the best way to know if you are recovering from your training or knowing if that diet you are trying is working.

What to Take to Make Your Perfromance…worse

Arguably one of the most popular topics in sports and fitness is the discussion of ergogenic aids. These ergogenic aids are anything that someone takes in attempt to increase physical performance. This could be anything as simple as vitamin C, whey protein, and fish oil or anything as extreme as anabolic steroids and peptides. Heck, it could even be an angry rabid, rabies infested chipmunk if it gave you enough of a kick in the pants to get moving faster.  There are no doubts that there are plenty of these ergogenic aids that can give your performance a boost, but the often overlooked subject of something known as ergolytic aids are just as important as these crazy tree-burden, disease laden creatures (oops I meant ergogenic aids) that make us perform better.

Ergolytic aids are the evil counterparts to ergogenic aids. They are anything that is taken to decrease physical performance and fitness. Why would someone take something so detrimental to their performance? Well, honestly most of the time they don’t even know that is an ergolytic aid. So if you could take anything that will decrease your performance, what would you take?

Here are a few of my favorite ergolytic aids. I guess by favorite I mean the most popular, although they aren’t very popular if they make your performance suck, whatever you get the point. Here are some little sweethearts that turn your body into mush. (and I’m not talking about a hot female, that goes under ergogenic)

1)      Alcohol- This one should be a no brainer. Alcohol has been known for years to be detrimental to performance both pre and post workout. It’s pretty easy to see that any type of exercise while drunk as a skunk would not be very beneficial. (With one exception, professional eaters may do just fine hammered. These “athletes” must clearly just be machines) Post exercise can be negative as well, if your liver is busy storing glycogen do you really think taxing it with liquor is a great idea? 

2)      Antihistamines- We have all experienced allergies and the wonderfulness that comes along with the sniffles, but remember when the medication says it causes drowsiness?  Guess what, it does. And when it comes to performance sleeping is not really your best friend. Histamine is a very important molecule in wakefulness, it binds to these little H1 and H3 receptors in your posterior hypothalamus to promote wakefulness. So when you block it you get very sleepy, just as you may be from the quick neurobiology lesson there.

 

3)      Artificial Sweeteners- Ah yes your all so powerful sports drink is working wonders until it causes your belly to start filling up like a life size belly balloon and your butthole turns into a muted opera singer that is begging to show off her lungs. Artificial sugars such as sucrose, xylitol, acesulfame potassium, manitol, sorbitol, aspartame, and any other artificial sugar are prime causes to extreme bloating which doesn’t do performance any good. Ever tried running with a stomach that felt like a puffer-fish? It isn’t exactly a joy.

These are just three of an extremely long list of ergolytic aids that can be used to hurt physical performance and fitness. Ergolytic aids are often overlooked when it comes to performance and in reality can have just as big of an impact as any ergogenic aid. That huge behemoth of a man with a needle in his butt may be on all of the right juice to get his body ready but won’t be very useful when he’s drunk, falling asleep, and fighting the urge to make his colon sing every time he goes to squat or take a running stride. Avoid these common ergolytic aids and it won’t even take any ergogenic aids to take your performance to the next level.   

Which Whey?

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There are soooo many choices I just don’t know which whey to go. (haha get it…whey instead of way). But seriously, when it comes to choosing protein powder, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different kinds and flavors. It seems that every other page in some magazines have a different human shaped behemoth of a man holding a little shaker cup full of liquid protein. So what is it about protein powder in the nutrition industry that makes everyone go nuts? And if I’m choosing to buy some, what am I really buying?

Simply put, proteins are molecules consisting of one or more chains of amino acids. (hmm funny how that isn’t on any of the labels). There are 20 different amino acids and they all work together to make up almost every part of our body. There are entire books written all about proteins and amino acids so if you want all the molecular goodies, feel free to read one. Talking about the molecular makeup and function still gives me chills from biochemistry class, so that’s all the geekier we’re diving into that.

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So back to the protein powders and supplements. If you took a look around your gym at any given moment of the day, it would be almost guaranteed you would see someone sucking back on shaker cup full of chalky, muddy looking water. Some of the chocolate flavored stuff looks a lot like diarrhea to be honest. This chalky, muddy, diarrhea looking stuff is the protein powder, usually mixed in water or milk. There are numerous different types of protein powder (whey, soy, egg, pea, hemp…) but the most popular by far is whey.

Whey protein powder is usually the cheapest and according to most people tastes the best. By itself whey is actually just a byproduct of cheese-making. It is the nasty looking liquid that is produced when cheese is being made. Whey is a very concentrated source of protein that is very bioavailable to humans (meaning we can absorb it easy) which is why it is formed into powder and sold as a supplement.

mmm, doesn't whey look appetizing

mmm, doesn’t whey look appetizing

There are three main types of whey protein that are sold on the shelves, whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolysate. They all are a little bit different and some people prefer one over the other, but at the end of the day they are all formed from the gnarly looking cheese juice. Whey concentrate still contains parts of the fats and sugars from the dairy, is the least processed, and is by far the cheapest. Whey isolate has most of the fat and sugar processed out and is pretty close to pure protein. Isolate is also considerably more expensive. Whey hydrolysate is already partially predigested by enzymes so it has the least amount of allergens and is absorbed the quickest. It will also cost you about as much as it would cost to raise a cow, get the milk, make cheese, get the nasty liquid whey, and enjoy it with your homemade cheese.

So which one are we supposed to buy, and which one works the best? The answer is… it depends. All of the different types are usually endorsed in advertising by veiny dehydrated monsters that own more syringes than shaker cups, but nonetheless will tell you that it was simply the protein powder that made them look the way they do. Every type and brand will also tell you that they are clearly better than the others and make up some “advanced absorption matrix” marketing scheme, even though the majority of them have the exact same ingredients. When it comes to choosing types, whey concentrate is your best choice if you are on a budget, but be warned that it will most likely bloat you like puffer fish and give you gas that will make your anus sound like a blow horn.  Whey isolate would be the whey to go (haha I did it again) if you are really picky about how much protein you are getting and want to make sure there isn’t really anything else in it. And whey hydrolysate would be the way to go if you are lactose intolerant, or if you don’t feel like clearing the gym every time you squat because of the rotten air coming out of your ass.

Nope, it was clearly because of the protein powder

Nope, it was clearly because of the protein powder

At the end of the day, all of the protein powders are just a convenient source of protein. Do most of us really need extra protein…no. The typical diet gets plenty of protein already. But if anyone feels the need to add extra protein, powders may be a convenient way to get that. You could also just grind up some meat and put it in a bottle if the protein is all you are after. Nutritionally it would be very similar, but you might get some odd stares, although drinking a bottle of meat would certainly transform anyone into a certified bad ass.

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How Do You Roll?

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Quick survey, what is the first thing that everyone thinks of when they hear the word roll? Is it a wheel going down the road? A ball going down a hill? Or is it the golden brown, obesity instigating, gluten bomb from hell that is commonly known as a dinner roll? I can only hope that it is not the last choice, but even if it is I promise I won’t judge (ok maybe a little). Or maybe, just maybe the first thing that comes to your head when hearing the word roll is FOAM ROLLING. If it is then hurray! Congratulate yourself for not thinking of the other roll associated with dinner rolls… A fat roll.

Foam rolling is one of the most popular types of soft tissue therapy known as self-myofascial release. Self-myofascial release is essentially just a fancy word that means self-treatment for pain and immobility. So basically self-myofascial release is used to make certain body parts hurt less and become a little more flexible. The “self” part refers to the fact that anyone can perform it on themselves; the “myofascial” part is referring to the connective tissue and fascia covering the muscle. (myo- stands for muscle and fascia is a fancy word for the tissue that surrounds muscle… yay medical terminology!)

Now for the important part, what does foam rolling really do? There have been many proposed uses for foam rolling in the health and fitness world and research is still deciding which ones are true and which ones are not. Some of the proposed uses include:

-Increased Blood Flow

-Increased Flexibility

-Increased Sports Performance

-Making New Friends At The Gym

-Providing A Means To Look Like Your are Humping The Floor

-Really Point Out Just How Uncoordinated We All Can Be

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The research is still inconclusive on many of these, but the one thing that has been proven is that it makes some of us act like uncoordinated earthworms in spandex learning how to wiggle. But nonetheless foam rolling has become extremely popular nowadays. Some new research has been published this month that looks at debunking some of the benefits of foam rolling.

The first research article (LINK) is looking at the effect of foam rolling on overall athletic performance. The researchers tested vertical jumps, isometric holds, and agility. They had one group perform the tests after foam rolling and another group perform the tests after holding a plank. What they found was that foam rolling had no effect on performance. So at least according to this study, foam rolling isn’t doing much for athletic performance. But the fact that the group not foam rolling had to hold a plank kind of raises an eyebrow because last time I checked holding a plank is somewhat physically demanding.

Interestingly enough, another study published this month (LINK) looked at the effect of foam rolling on arterial function. The researchers had subjects roll on a foam roller and then tested pulse wave velocity, and nitric oxide concentration in the subjects’ ankles. That just means that they were testing how strong of a pulse the arteries had and how dilated the arteries were after foam rolling. The findings were that the pulse wave pressure decreased and the arteries dilated after foam rolling. This means that the arterial function was significantly increased, which would essentially mean that blood would be able to be more efficiently transferred through the arteries, which is really interesting because one would assume that greater blood flow would increase athletic performance. So in that case the two studies were somewhat contradicting.

So is foam rolling really that beneficial to athletic performance?… maybe. Some evidence suggests yes and other evidence suggests no. The study looking at the arterial function would give some other benefits to foam rolling because of the fact that it could be used to increase blood flow. That would give some uses for people with circulation issues, arterial sclerosis, or any other condition affecting blood flow. There is also no denying that foam rolling has become the new “water cooler” at the gym, which gives plentiful social benefits, even if each person kind of looks like a squirming squid on the floor.

Top Fitness Questions Volume 2

Here is a list of some of the top fitness questions I have received lately and my attempt to answer them. But there is one catch… all of my answers must be only one sentence, and they must rhyme.

1)      What is the best time to work out?

Any time works fine to move your butt ore even run with your mutt images (2)

2)      Can strength training help me with endurance?

Yes, it really can, seriously lift some shit and it will make you even more fit

3)      What is a “detox”?

Usually involves drinking some juice until your colon sounds like a moose; then you shit a bear and hope it doesn’t get in your hair

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4)      Will fat make me fat?

NO, fats don’t make you fat at all; it’s only when you over-indulge that a belly begins to bulge.

5)      Is squatting full-depth bad for my knees?

If you want to keep the pain away here’s what I say; get that ass to the grass every time, it even makes you look damn fine.

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