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Tag Archive: hydration

  1. Fuelling athletes in the real world: Dave Ellis


    “Athletes have an inability to recover from one beat down to the next”

    dave ellis fuelling tacticsDave Ellis presented twice at GAIN on fuelling athletes and supplementation. He is quite simply the best person I have seen talking about nutrition and feeding athletes in the real world. We shall be doing a live Q&A with Dave next week for our athletes and parents.

    Stimulant dependent generation

    A combination of lack of fitness, short off seasons, travel, pressure to perform and overall stress lead athletes to seek stimulants.

    This means that there “are a bunch of landmines out there, that can go off at any time.” As a coach, you must realise what is happening, and be ready to adjust your training accordingly.

    The stimulants come in different forms: over the counter ones like caffeine drinks or high fructose ones; or hidden in “herbal remedy” type health drinks or pills.

    Chinese Grasp on supplementation

    The slides, stats and videos that Ellis showed on the supplementation factories and warehouses were shocking to say the least.

    Metal filings, hair, dust and bits of plastic are some of the things discovered in the food batches sampled. As they are sold by weight, metal might be heavier by volume than powder!

    All the Vitamin C sources for fortification and supplements in the USA come from China. The quality control is not good, whether by accident or design. (This report from the FDA shows 615 supplements have been identified as tainted since Jan 1st 2008).

    Talking of design, Ellis made some clear points about how the profit driven industry has a massive influence in the things we eat and buy.

    It is a political landscape, where Gatorade pay the NFL $1.1 billion to be the official supplement provider to the league.  Ellis can’t give Vitamin D supplements to NFL players because Gatorade don’t make them.

    Research Fraud

    The profit driven industry create poor research studies, then publish them in pseudo science journals, then spin the poor results to the health industry.

    This comes to you the reader via newspaper articles or adverts featuring sports stars drinking sugar drinks.

    Over trained or under recovered?

    Ellis talked a lot about the stressors involved in serious competition and their impact on the athletes. Training volumes and intensities are not that great for college and professional team sport athletes.

    Instead, the players do not recover enough due to other factors. His BIG 4 contributors are:

    1. Lack of sleep
    2. Binge eating patterns
    3. Inadequate hydration
    4. Missing post workout supplement/ food timing

    3 step approach to fuelling

    fuelling athletes

    Great poster

    Here comes the real world application. Ellis shows how he sets up eating stations or works with teams to get these 3 key steps followed:

    1 Less down time due to illness: eat fresh foods and vegetables. This should be put on your plate first.

    2 Energy critical for work: slow and fast releasing carbohydrates, to be periodised according to your activity that day.

    3 Less muscle soreness and improved recovery time: low, medium and high fat protein sources. Use a variety throughout the day, and only low fat proteins on rest days.

    The poster shown on the right lists all the foods that are recommended and how they contribute to this pattern of eating.

    This was not some lecture by a pseudo scientist talking about lipids and pathways and a diet based around marathon running. Nor was it a fad junkie trying to promote the latest supplements.

    Instead, it was a highly informative and practical look at how important nutrition is and how athletes can improve their performance through simple changes.

    I have taken his 3 step approach and showed it the athletes I work with. I provide our athletes with one of these posters, and they are really useful.

    Further reading

    The history of supplements: read how teenage gullible boys became the target market.

    If you have any questions for Dave, please leave a comment below that we can add to the live chat next week.

  2. “What are the best vegetables to eat?”


    Powerhouse your diet with the best fruit and veg


    Scurvy busters

    Scurvy has made a reappearance in Australia with only 7% of Australians eating enough vegetables every day. Less than half eat 2 portions of fruit or more too!

    Before trying to get “specific sports nutrition advice” you have to take care of the basics.

    A recent study1 has identified 41 “Powerhouse” Fruit and Vegetables which can significantly improve health. These nutrient dense foods have been found to be the most effective in reducing chronic disease.

    Here is a review of the main findings of the research, as well as some practical guidance for getting the most out of your nutrition:


    The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 took numerous fruit and vegetables and analysed their nutrient content based on the 17 nutrients of public health importance:

    • Macronutrients– Protein, Fibre
    • Minerals– Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc
    • Vitamins– A, B(Niacin, Folate, Riboflavin, Thiamin, B6, B12), C, D, E, & K

    The foods were assigned a nutrient density score based on the bioavailability of the given nutrients. The highest scoring foods were classed as Powerhouse Fruit and Vegetables and are listed below in their categories.

    • Cruciferous- watercress, Chinese cabbage, kale, arugula, Broccoli, Cauliflower
    • Green Leafy- chard,  beet green, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, romain lettuce, kale
    • Yellow/orange– carrot, tomato, winter squash, sweet potato, pumpkin
    • Allium- scallion, leek
    • Citrus- lemon, orange, lime, red and pink grapefruit
    • Berry– strawberry, blackberry

    How many of these foods are you currently getting into your diet?

    best vegetables for sportAll these foods contain nutrients which reduce your chances of getting ill, meaning you can spend more time training and competing.

    It is important to eat a variety of these fruit and vegetables to ensure that your body is receiving all of the vitamins and minerals it needs. You should aim to include at least one or two of these foods with every meal.

    For example, in order to enjoy a healthy breakfast, include some blackberries and strawberries in a bowl of porridge, with some chopped nuts for extra protein.

    Even simple additions to your daily diet such as a bag of fresh mixed green salad leaves with your lunch, or snacking on fresh fruit, will pay big dividends.

    As with all good training, diet and lifestyle practices, it comes down to forming a habit. To learn more about habit forming, and for tips on how to implement positive changes to your routine, read here.

    Eating for competition

    what fruit helps you in sportWhen planning your meals around training and competition, it is still important to maintain a good intake of nutrients to help your body recover.

    However one nutrient which should be limited directly prior to training or competition is fibre, as it is hard to digest and can potentially lead to gastric discomfort.

    For more information on this, read our guide on Eating for competition.

    Matt Durber


    Di Noia, J. (2014) Defining Powerhouse Fruit and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach Preventing Chronic Disease, 11

  3. Should I drink Red Bull?


    red bullShould I drink Red Bull?

    Is one of our most asked questions from athletes we train. I have seen the misuse of this on young athletes, where they were asked to refrain from chocolate and caffeine for 6 weeks. Then, 10 minutes before their first International match, they were dosed with Red Bull by the team “Doctor”.

    Predictably the results mixed from nausea to poor execution of fine motor skills. Here Gemma looks in a bit more detail at whether you should drink Red Bull as part of of your nutritional plan.

    What is in Red Bull?

    Red Bull is a caffeinated energy drink available in a normal, sugar-free or extra strong variation. The ingredients also include different types of sugar. It has roughly (depending on how you brew) the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee – 80 mg/250 ml.

    It also contains:

    • Glucose
    • Taurine
    • Glucuronolactone
    • Caffeine 
    • Niacin (niacinamide)
    • Sodium citrate
    • Inositol (sometimes called “meat sugar”)

    Details of these ingredients here

    Does Red Bull give me an energy boost?

    The energy from these drinks is not likely to last and consuming more can lead to an increase in calories. Not ideal for those looking to maintain or lose weight.

    A study in the ‘Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2009 found that the sugar-free variation did not affect high-intensity run time to exhaustion. So, you may get a temporary boost, but it won’t impact you overall.

    Longer duration endurance work requires more energy than short term work; therefore, glycogen stores need to be replenished. These stores can last 60-90minutes in an exercising athlete. Ideally, you should drink every 15mins to replace fluids and top up glycogen stores. If you were looking to do an endurance session, keep to the water or sports drinks

    Effects on strength

    A study by ‘International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2007)’ found that Red Bull did increase upper body muscle endurance. The exercise used was a bench press. It showed that when Red Bull was taken, it significantly increased total bench press repetitions over 3 sets (compared to those that took a placebo drink).

    Resistance type exercises need shorter bursts of energy compared to endurance exercises, so Red Bull could improve performance as the energy lasts for a short period of time.  Counter this with the effects of caffeine on motor skill performance though.

    Does Red Bull help me sprint faster?

    A study was completed in 2011 on a group of female athletes to see the effects of Red Bull on their performance.  There were 15 female soccer players all aged around 20 years old. Some were asked to drink 255ml of Red Bull or a placebo drink an hour before their exercise routine. Heart rates, RPE and sprint times were recorded.

    The results showed that there was no difference observed between those that drank red bull or the placebo drink for the sprint times. Five girls in the Red Bull group and 5 girls in the placebo group performed better.  The five girls that ran faster in the Red Bull group also had higher heart rates then the five faster girls in the placebo group and two of the girls from the Red Bull group complained of side effects including trembling and sickness.

    This study could have been completed in a more realistic way such as how the drinks affected the athletes in a game situation rather than singling out sprint work. (All of these studies have small sample sizes and are not that robust).

    What are the long term effects of Red Bull?

    Ultimately, drinking a lot of Red Bull regularly is a bad idea. It is full of caffeine and sugar and can have a massive risk on your body and health. It’s easy to get addicted to caffeine and sugar. In some cases, too much Red Bull consumption can lead to:

    • obesity  
    • diabetes
    • tooth decay
    • nervousness and anxiety  
    • insomnia
    • osteoporosis

    (Take note that this is when consumption is very high or the person taking it is almost dependent on it.)


    Other studies have shown that caffeinated drinks like Red Bull do have a positive effect on some training. But if you eat healthily and train well, you won’t need this energy rush before every game or training session. Everyone has off days so a Red Bull may be a ‘pick-me-up’ but I wouldn’t recommend regular consumption of this drink. It certainly won’t hydrate you during exercise either.

    Why not try our FREE #1 Recovery Supplement Here?

    Gemma Robertson 

  4. How to make your own sports drink


    Lucozade and Red Bull are expensive

    how to make your own sports drinkbut not necessarily better than water (see here for comparison). You can easily make your own sports drink which will help you save money and tailor it for your own needs.

    The label on water  states that it contains no carbohydrates, sugars, protein or fat for that matter.

    Water acts as a buffer when body temperature rises if there is high specific heat (the specific heat of water equals 1 when 1 kilogram of water is heated 1°C between 15 and 16°C).

    However the effects of water are to cool you down, rehydrate and help increase the mineral and vitamin absorption of a daily diet. Electrolytes are something that Lucozade does not contain enough of.

    Some fluid facts

    • Fluid losses of 1–2% of body weight or greater induce the need for fluid and electrolyte replacement.
    • Losses as small as 1–2% of body weight stimulates thirst.
    • The hypothalamus is the center of the brain where thirst regulation is dictated
    • Fluid replacement guidelines have been established to minimize exertional dehydration.
    • Dehydration, as defined by a 2% loss of euhydrated body weight, negatively impacts athletic performance.
    • An athlete engaged in prolonged exercise can lose 5 L of fluid per day with a range of 4,600–5,750 mg sodium and much smaller amounts of potassium.

    3 different types of sports drink

    Isotonic – quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating and supplies a boost of carbohydrate. This drink is the choice for most athletes – middle and long distance running or team sports. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy therefore it may be appropriate to consume Isotonic drinks where the carbohydrate source is glucose in a concentration of 6% to 8% – e.g. High Five, SiS Go, Boots Isotonic, Lucozade Sport.

    Hypotonic quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating. Suitable for athletes who need fluid without the boost of carbohydrate e.g. jockeys and gymnasts.

    Hypertonic used to supplement daily carbohydrate intake normally after exercise to top up muscle glycogen stores. In ultra distance events, high levels of energy are required and Hypertonic drinks can be taken during exercise to meet the energy demands. If used during exercise Hypertonic drinks need to be used in conjunction with Isotonic drinks to replace fluids.

    Want to make your own?

    home made sports drink

    Contains water

    Isotonic – 200ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled

    Hypotonic – 100ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled.

    Hypertonic – 400ml of orange squash (concentrated orange), 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt (1g). Mix all the ingredients together and keep chilled.

    Replacing sodium, after exercise is very important. Lucozade sport contains 23mg of sodium whereas the other types do not contain enough for replenishing what the body has lost through sweating and exercise.

    Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue with only 2% body water loss potentially causing this. Therefore maintaining hydration during an event is crucial.

    Although Lucozade contains enough sodium, water is still the best for hydration.

    Matt Brookland

  5. Water intake for athletes: Body weight chart


    How much water should I drink during exercise?

    I hope the table below is useful to the all the athletes we train. It outlines the quantity of water that athletes should be consuming in a normal resting day and training days, with different amount of fluid intake dependent on number of hours training.

    The continued coaching cycle, of planning, doing and reflecting, every good coach does it but the question I ask myself is “what do I do with the reflection, and feedback I gain from others?” I gained some valuable feedback from other coaches, after presenting a piece on hydration and fluid intake to the South West Talent Group.

    I have now put into action the feedback I received.

    Read our full guide to eating before competing 

    Fluid intake for Athletes (litres)

    Hours of Exercise

    Body Weight in KG01234
  6. Guide to eating before competing


    “When should I eat before a competition?”

    is one of the questions we are asked most often, followed by “What should I eat before matches?” Pre- competition nutrition is a vital part of any athlete’s preparation. Maximising available energy and properly hydrating are necessary to ensure that you perform at your best.

    What to eat

    In order to maximise energy for competition, athletes should eat meals high in carbohydrate. However it is important to select the right types of carbohydrate to ensure that energy is released slowly and can be sustained throughout the duration of the competition. The table below shows which foods are high in slow release carbohydrates and which release energy faster.

    what to eat before competing

    Eating foods high in fast release carbohydrates too soon before competition will mean a rapid increase in blood glucose levels. This in turn will lead to production of the hormone insulin which acts to remove glucose from the blood and store it in the liver, where it is not available for energy production.

    However, these foods are ideal immediately after training or competition when replenishing the body’s energy stores becomes a big priority.

    Fat is less readily used as an energy source during competition due to the high intensity, so keep ingestion of fats and high fat proteins to a minimum in the lead up an event.

    This will leave more room for carbohydrates, and reduce the likelihood of gastric discomfort which high fat foods can cause due to longer digestion times. The table below shows a list of lean, medium and high fat proteins.

    what to eat before matches

    Keeping hydrated is vital for performance as it will allow you to perform well physically and stay mentally focussed. Try and drink regularly throughout the day rather than drinking lots in a few bursts, as your body will be able to absorb the fluid better. See how much fluid you should be drinking each day here.

    When to eat

    This will depend on the time of your competition, here are some examples of common meal timings for different competitions:


    • competition breakfast8am Breakfast- poached eggs on wholegrain, blueberry and oat pancakes (inspired by pancake day) and/or small bowl of natural muesli. water (more here).
    • 10am Competition- If you struggle to eat before an early competition, sports drinks can be very useful source of energy and are easily digestible.

    Only start consuming once your warm up has started to avoid an insulin spike.

    • Immediately post competition- fast digesting carbohydrates and protein for fast energy replenishment
    • 2 hours post competition- Try and eat a full meal consisting of slow releasing carbohydrates, protein for recovery and fruit and/or vegetables for vitamins and minerals. 2 hours post exercise is the window of opportunity for maximum glycogen storage in the body.


    • 8-9am Breakfast- large breakfast to maximise energy storage e.g. poached egg on toast, porridge with berries, grapefruit. Water
    • 12-1pm- top up energy levels without overeating e.g. small sweet potato with grilled chicken breast. Water
    • 3pm- Competition
    • Immediately post competition- see above
    • 2 hours post competition- see above


    • 8-9am Breakfast- large breakfast. Water
    • 11am Snack- mixed nuts and dried fruit. Water
    • 1-2pm lunch- Grilled salmon and steamed rice and veg. Water
    • 3.30-4pm- small jacket potato with tuna. Water
    • 7pm- Competition
    • Immediately post competition- try and stick to same principles of post competition nutrition, however if you cannot manage 2 meals at this time, make sure you have one good meal.


    what should I eat before playing sport?Whatever time your competition takes place, the same principles of eating plenty of slow release carbohydrates, limiting fat and maintaining hydration should apply.

    (picture of James Marshall helping one of our athletes prepare food ahead of competing)

    Leaving 2-3 hours between eating and competition will allow food to properly digest and leave the body free to concentrate on physical performance with adequate energy.

    Whatever strategies you put in place for your competition day nutrition, make sure they are well practiced . Trying something new for the first time before a competition is a risk not worth taking.

    Matt Durber 

    Further reading:

  7. Is it better to drink water or Lucozade?


    “Well is it?”…

    water or lucozade?A frequently asked question. While listening to a speech at a coaching conference recently, I heard that if plain water was cool or sleep could be bottled, you could make a lot more money.

    The only reason sleep and water are not promoted more as recovery tools is that no one makes money from them. What is the real difference between drinking water and lucozade? 


    There are many types of Lucozade, supposedly for different situations, fizzy Lucozade energy, Lucozade lite and Lucozade sport.

    • Lucozade lite contains 1gram of sugar per 100ml and is said to contain 70% less sugar than other Lucozade types and it should be used before and during exercise.
    • Lucozade energy contains 50grams of sugar in a normal sized bottle. This type is used very much as a recreational drink and is not designed for sports and is purely to increase energy when feeling low not before an athletics or sports event.
    • Lucozade Sport contains 3.5grams per 100ml. It is supposed to be drunk before, during and after a sport event.

    Therefore depending on which type of Lucozade you choose there is a lot of sugar. Consider that 40g is the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for a woman. This excess sugar will be stored as glycogen and if continually built up can be turned into fat.

    Lucozade during exercise

    All of the Lucozade varieties have come from a “sports science academy” and have been “vigorously tested”. You would expect them to do exactly what they say wouldn’t you?

    Many of you can remember the slogan: you go 33% longer, however research since then has stated that this was a flawed study, allowing athletes to take Lucozade while others had fasted for over 12 hours.

    Lucozade Sport is an isotonic drink as it contains a glucose level of 6-8%. These types of drinks are good to replace some of the energy lost during exercise. Although, it does not mean it contains everything that is needed.

    The Lucozade website states that athletes drinking lucozade sport run faster over the course of a marathon compared to those who drink water. I would personally be skeptical about that as speed is very much training related and so you could also run just as quickly with water.

    Water during exercise….. 

    water or lucozade?The effects of drinking water during exercise are to cool you down and to rehydrate you.  During other times, it helps to increase the mineral and vitamin absorption of your daily diet.

    Water is considered to act as a buffer when the body’s temperature rises when there is a specific heat causing an increase of 1°. This temperature rise is part of the reason why fluid loss of only 1-2% body weight can induce the feeling of thirst. This indicates the need for fluid and electrolyte replacement.

    This level of fluid loss (dehydration) can also lead to feelings of fatigue, which is the biggest precursor to poor performance.

    The recommended amount of water to be consumed is 2 litres per day, plus 1 litre per hour of exercise. If you exercise for 3 hours then you need 5 litres for that day (see chart here).

    As mentioned above the electrolyte absorption is very important, specifically sodium because you lose a lot of sodium through sweating. Water contains 6mg of sodium per litre.

    Most Lucozade types do not contain enough sodium to make them conducive to recovery. Some sources claim that Lucozade sport contains 23mg in total however I cannot find any evidence to back up these claims.

    The label on water states that it contains no carbohydrates, sugars, protein or fat whereas Lucozade does contain all of those but some in minute amounts.

    Research does suggest that carbohydrate- electrolyte and protein- electrolyte drinks are the best for recovery after exercise. Lucozade Sport does contain carbohydrates and so in theory should be good for recovery although it does not contain enough electrolytes to be considered a recovery drink.

    Water is better for hydration and for minerals (electrolytes) and in that respect general health as Lucozade contains such a high percentage of sugar.

    Is there another option?

    banana or lucozade?Redbull is very different to lucozade and unrecognisable to water. If there is a scale of health water is at one end and Redbull the other.

    Redbull is a stimulant and contains about the same amount of caffeine as in a normal cup of coffee. . Water in my opinion is better than Redbull for athletic performance. (more details on Redbull here)

    Bananas are a useful source of energy, and are a lot cheaper than energy drinks. Research has shown that they compare well to commercial isotonic drinks such as lucozade in cycling time trials.

    One medium banana (~118 g) contains about 27 g carbohydrate (half as sugars), 3.1 g dietary fiber, 105 kilocalories, and is a good source of potassium (422 mg) and vitamin B6 (0.43 mg)

     Will this question truly be answered?

    why water is better than lucozadeThe original question is very difficult to answer in my opinion. Lucozade is good for what water is not, increasing and maintaining energy.

    You can get many different flavours, cherry, orange, lemon, lime, apple, blackcurrant and tropical. Research shows that fluid intake increases for a drink that is flavoured another reason for Lucozades popularity.

    It does taste very good. Although by adding squash to water will get the same taste without the added sugar!

    Academics have stated that energy drinks that contain carbohydrates should only be drunk in sports that last for longer than 90 minutes.

    If you are burning off carbohydrates and need an energy boost then this will be good but your body contains enough carbohydrate to last two hours so a boast for a sport of much less time may not actually aid performance.

    Although drinking it at half time having conducted a reasonably long warm up may be useful. It will not increase speed though… only training unluckily will do that!

     In conclusion

    Lucozade sport in my opinion is better than water to maintain energy levels for prolonged exercise. It can be used in recovery due to the high level of carbohydrates, but it is not a complete solution.

    Much more is required for proper recovery after a training session, for example protein.

    Water is good for rehydration after an event, and for hydration during the event. While Lucozade is not as good it tastes a lot better, so might help overall uptake.

    Young athletes especially are at increased risk of obesity and diabetes compared to 20 years ago. Part of coaching is the education process of young athletes (we do this as part of our Sports Training System)

    Drinking a sugary drink when it is unnecessary is unlikely to help you become a better athlete: but it could stop you from becoming one.

    If you like this then try reading:

    Matt Brookland

  8. The best sports nutrition supplement is…

    best sports nutrition supplement

    All about sex appeal

    “How can we make more money from impressionable teenage boys?”

    Is a question equipment manufacturers in the 1950s asked. Today, sports supplement companies make a fortune by selling products that promise short cuts and quick gains to young males with low self- esteem.

    Tony Caldwell has been training in powerlifting and bodybuilding for 50 years, here he gives his thoughts on supplementation.

    The first sports supplements

    I have been involved in lifting weights for almost 50 years as a rugby player, powerlifter and bodybuilder.

    best sports nutrition supplement

    Cigarettes and golf

    During that time I have seen massive changes in the field of nutrition for athletes from the beer and potatoes regime of the early strongmen (before my time I might add) to the supercharged (and super priced) products of today as touted in just about every sports magazine in circulation.

    First a little history. Back in the 1950s in the USA strength sports such as Olympic lifting, powerlifting and especially bodybuilding were in their infancy. There were two major companies producing weight training equipment: the York Barbell Co. from York PA and the Weider organisation based at that time in New Jersey. Both sold barbells, dumbbells, benches etc through the magazines they published, York’s “Strength & Health” and Weider’s “Mr America” . 

    Fairly early on both companies realised that not only did they not get many repeat orders for weight sets but the shipping costs for the ones that they did sell were high, thus cutting down the profit margins.

    Then someone came up with the bright idea of food supplements, initially protein. These products were cheap to manufacture, usually being a mixture of skim milk powder and soy (yummy!) and could be sold at a greatly inflated price thus increasing company profits overnight.

    They were then advertised in the magazines endorsed by either a top lifter or champion bodybuilder and given names like “Hi-Proteen” and Energol which was just overpriced wheat germ oil (York) and Weider’s Hi Protein (note the subtle spelling?)

    Pumping Iron and steroids

    schwarzenegger supplement


    In the 60s and 70s the hype and advertising,not to mention the proliferation of new and more outrageously named products exploded to the point where no self respecting strength athlete would take in any less than 300 gms of protein per day.

    Naturally this did not produce a whole generation of people who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger or could press double bodyweight overhead.

    The superbly developed athletes in the magazines achieved this look and power not by ingesting vast amounts of “Crash Weight Gain #7” but by taking copious quantities of anabolic steroids.

    Until the late 1960s these were quite legal in the USA, although obviously banned by all the major sports and their governing bodies.

    Today we have more supplement companies than Bob Hoffman the founder of York Barbell Co. or Joe Weider could ever possibly have envisaged. They sell products ranging from pretty effective to downright worthless but all expensive.

    How to get strong through eating

    healthy food

    Real food wins

    The first requisite when planning an athlete’s nutrition programme is to initially discount supplements and concentrate primarily on real food.

    This should feature the correct ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats obtained from natural sources lean meats, eggs, dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. The athlete’s current goals need to be considered when planning a personalised eating regime.

    US strength coach Dan John has a simplified approach to eating, namely eat protein at every meal, eat vegetables and take fish oils. This is a pretty good point at which to start (I have pointed out to Dan that it is the oily fish, rather than the fish oils that provide health benefits, see British Medical Journal review here James).

    best nutrition supplement


    If you feel extra protein is needed then before purchasing look at the ingredients, sometimes unwelcome extra sugars are added in order to improve the taste although there are several brands which are both pleasant to take and don’t contain anything you don’t want.

    Personally I do take a whey protein shake after training plus I use a multi- vitamin and mineral supplement formulated for men. hey I’m 67 I need all the help I can get. This turns my urine a pleasant shade of bright yellow. I also use fish oils which I buy by the bucket load online from a company called Myprotein.

    What about creatine or testosterone boosters?

    best protein supplementApart from protein the one supplement I have found to definitely give noticeable results is creatine.

    Taken as directed over a 6 week cycle should result in improvements in strength and muscle size providing the training stimulus is intensive enough to trigger a positive reaction.

    There are minimal side effects to longer periods of use but it appears that after about 6 weeks the effects seem to diminish so probably 2 cycles per year would be the optimum programme.

    Another area of interest is the large array of so called testosterone enhancers or boosters. I personally have tried a number of these and have found them to be largely ineffective.

    These products tend to contain ingredients such as Tribulus, Fenugreek or Tongkat Ali, but usually in not enough quantity to have much effect. The main worry for athletes is that there exists a distinct possibility that a positive drug test could result from usage of these supplements.

    They are often touted, amongst other things as libido enhancers, however a 25 year old athlete who needs help in that area should probably see his doctor!

    To recap by all means consider using supplements but remember by definition that is precisely what they are. They are no substitute for a well planned eating programme.

    Give sports drinks companies more money by:

    • taking a pre- workout energy bar
    • sipping on a carb drink whilst training
    • finishing with a high calorie protein and carbohydrate concoction at the conclusion of the workout

    thus ingesting about 3 times the energy expended during the training session.


    healthy athlete dietThe final thing to remember before jumping in and purchasing the latest super duper product promising gains “beyond your wildest dreams” is that this stuff is usually very inexpensive to manufacture and will be sold at a large profit to a market targeting young impressionable athletes.

    The only thing that will produce “steroid-like results” is a steroid. Leave ’em alone!!

    My recommendation would be  a good quality multi vitamin/mineral tablet and maybe whey protein. The bottom line though is EAT!!!

    I hope that this information is of help to athletes and their coaches when putting together a nutrition plan.

    Tony Caldwell


  9. Does Pomegranate Juice Increase Testosterone Levels?


    Increase your testosterone naturally with pomegranate juice

    pomegranate juice testosteroneRecent reports in newspapers have suggest that you can increase your testosterone levels by drinking pomegranate juice. Here, Duncan looks at whether this is true, or unclear.

    What does Testosterone do?

    Within the body testosterone increases nitrogen retention and synthesis of protein in skeletal muscle. Providing that you meet your dietary requirements an increase in testosterone will help strength improvements.

    Testosterone levels can also be increased with resistance training compared to a decrease in levels that are found in endurance athletes. This is why you need a balanced training programme that includes both resistance and endurance training.

    Is there Testosterone in Pomegranate Juice?

    Pomegranate juice has long been called a Superfood, due to it being full of antioxidants which improve blood circulation, decrease risk of heart disease, decrease inflammation and others.

    Research undertaken at Queen Margaret University Edinburgh looked at the changes in salivary testosterone, blood pressure and moods after taking Pomegranate juice. The study was carried out on 60 subjects varying in age and sex, saliva samples were taken 3 times a day and a mood questionnaire carried out before during and after the 2 week period.

    The results showed and improvement in salivary testosterone of on average 24%, increases were observed at all time points during the study. Blood pressure was reduced for both systolic and diastolic. Mood improvements were also noted using the PANAS-X test. (compare that with the side effects for steroids)

    A study by Turkish researchers at Firat University found that pomegranate juice slightly increased testosterone levels in rats while improving sperm quality. They found that the juice increased natural anti-oxidants which they stipulated possibly protected fatty acids found in testosterone cells from oxidation.

    However, a study by a Dr Panuck found no effect of pomegranate juice on testosterone levels, they were looking at effects of polyphenols on PSA.

    Will it make me stronger?

    testosterone pomegranate juiceAs these three studies have shown there is a variety of conclusions being made on whether pomegranate juice can improve testosterone levels.

    This is due to how the studies are being undertaken, 2 on humans and one on rats, and whether they are looking directly for the effects.

    Further studies need to be concluded before I can confidently say drinking pomegranate juice regularly could be a great natural method to assisting improved strength levels.

    But drinking it will have many other benefits like:

    • reduced blood pressure
    • improved blood circulation
    • reduced risk of heart disease.

    Nothing replaces a sound training plan: Proper training, Rest and Nutrition are always the best methods.

    2014 update

    Since the initial reports in 2012 claiming pomegranate juice can increase testosterone there appears to be little further published research to back up the original claims.

    One paper tested rats using 3 supplements for comparison, olive oil, nagilla sativa oil and pomegranate extract(5). They found all 3 increased testosterone levels with pomegranate showing the greatest improvement, however the increase was insignificant.

    Looking at bodybuilding websites they are using the original research when forming lists of natural foods that can increase testosterone, however some researchers (4) have criticised the report for not being peer reviewed and stating that it has been used to market the juice rather than to benefit science or nutrition.

    The researcher above and a review from the NHS (6) both say there may be some benefit from pomegranate juice but further research needs to be conducted with humans.

    Read more about nutrition

    Duncan Buckmaster        


    1. Emad Al-Dujaili & Nacer Smail, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Pomegranate Juice influences mood & salivary testosterone in healthy subjects.
    2. Animal Study: Pomegranate Juice increases testosterone level & sperm quality Clin Nutr: 2008 Apr;27(2):289-96
    3. Pomegranate Juice Slows PSA rise in men with recurrent prostate cancer
    4. Critique of recent pomegranate research by Thomas Lumley
    5. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 Jul;3(7):563-8. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60114-8.
    6. Pomegranate Juice: Superfood or Superfad? : Review from the NHS
  10. PTA: Pain Torture Agony

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    Lessons on weight loss from Wrestlers

    how to lose weight safely Cited in John Jesse’s wrestling encyclopaedia, Donald Cooper is quoted from Medical Aspects of Weight Control

    “One thing I have learned in these past few years of reading, talking, calling and visiting with literally dozens of people connected with the sport of wrestling and especially those who are successful, is that plain old hard work and a balanced diet- possibly reduced in quantity but balanced with adequate fluid intake- is the best way to get weight down to its proper level.

    I have had the pleasure of visiting with Olympic champions from this country and Japan, and in every case these men followed a balanced diet, small in quantity but balanced in every sense of the word, and they took some fluids as they worked out. they all said there was no substitute, no short cut, no way to escape hard work. A few years ago, I heard it expressed another way as PTA: Pain Torture and Agony.

    (Proceedings of the Eighth National Conference on the Medical Aspects of Sports, 27 Nov 1966).

    What works with our athletes

    how to lose weight safelyOne player I am training has lost 5kg in 4 weeks- the method? I suggested that every time he ate some junk food at the weekend he did 100 burpees.

    This seemed to do the trick, he has cut out the comfort eating when bored. Won’t work for everyone, but you have to know your athletes.

    Another one has lost 3kg- how? Just by completing a food diary and showing it to me on Mondays, this way he is paying more attention to what he eats. Not amazingly scientific, but it is what works in practice and for the individual that counts.

    You might like to read about The best sports nutrition supplement.