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Fueling the Body’s Fire

~ by Senpai Christian Schnabel

空手は湯の如し絶えず熱度を与えざれば元の水に還る
Karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru

Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
–        Sensei Gichin Funakoshi, Niju Kun (Twenty Prrecepts)

The quote above should be significant to us, not only as Karate-ka, but as athletes as well. Not only is this an admonition to remember to train constantly and consistently, but it can also be a reminder on the importance of nourishment. Inside the body’s furnace we burn the fuel we ingest, and need to ensure we are correctly lubricating and cooling that machine through proper hydration. The image of a boiling pot now becomes an image of good health.

As constant athletes who practice and push our bodies to new and different limits, we must constantly strive to explore and understand our bodies’ limitations. One such obvious limitation is the fuel we use to drive the fire of our efforts. It has long been an understanding in traditional Eastern schools of medicine that food is not only fuel but also an essential aspect of health – we are what we eat. Seeing as how active we are, it stands to reason that the fuel we use is that much more important to maintain and grow our bodies.

Recently, the importance of hydration has been highlighted in the last Olympic games. Amongst a series of tests, it was found that hydration was the factor which held the most influence over the performance of the athletes being tested. It has been revealed шины Vredestein that post-exertion there is a 30 minute window for optimal nourishment, including hydration. To understand this, it is best to understand the manner in which the body makes use of energy.

The muscles make use of energy stored within them, in the form of glycogen. When we train, we deplete the stores within the muscles, and the body must replenish those stores in order to have the muscle operate again at peak efficiency. The question now becomes what would be an optimal choice for both hydration and nourishment that is most easily absorbed into the body and hence back into the muscles.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are beverages containing greatly touted boosters for alertness and high energy, such as caffeine, taurine, various vitamins and herb supplements. But what are each of these ingredients really giving us? Here are some facts about energy drinks that should make you reconsider the impact these “energy boosters” really provide.

  1. Energy drinks should not be consumed by children under the age of 12 due to the amount of caffeine present in almost all of them. It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid them as well for the same reasons.
  2. There is little to no reliable research done on the efficacy or energy boosting potential of such drinks.
  3. The amount of sugar in these drinks is very high and could cause problems with absorption of hydration if used during/after workouts.
  4. In the year 2013 we will see changes to Canadian regulations on putting nutrition information onto energy drinks, so more information will be available coming soon as to the real nutritional benefits of these beverages. Caveat Emptor!
  5. The amount of medicinal herbs used varies and as such so does its efficacy. Taking supplements from those herbs directly would be more effective and would guarantee the desired results from taking them.
  6. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol isn’t recommended.
  7. Erratic heartbeats are one side effect that has been noted to date.
  8. Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks, which include things like sodium and potassium that are recognized to be helpful for workout recovery.

Sugar (Sucrose)

To give a visual idea of how much sugar some typical drinks, including energy drinks contain, see the below pictures and charts.

Coca Cola

Energy-Drinks-1 - Classical Martial Arts Centre - Toronto Central Region - Martial Arts classes offered in Toronto - Adults and Children - Karate-Do, Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense, Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Gung, Ba Gwa, Iaido, Jodo, Kobudo, Ancient Weaponry, Kali.

Rockstar Energy Drink

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Red Bull Energy Drink

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Vitamin Water, B-Relaxed Jackfruit and Guava Flavor

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Orange Juice

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Armed with all of the above information and being well warned about the dangers of excessive sugar (sucrose) intake, we need to ask ourselves what the best form of immediate glycogen replacement is. Luckily there are more types of sugar than simply sucrose, but what are the options and which is best?

Healthy Alternatives

We still want to use sugars after a workout, due to their importance in muscle recovery and growth, but the key is in the type of sugar we use. Basically, besides sucrose, there is also fructose, dextrose, lactose and maltodextrin. Fructose comes from fruits, but generally isn’t absorbed as quickly as we would like post-workout, so it is not an optimal choice. Dextrose is more easily absorbed, and is often used in some post-workout shakes, but some people do experience weight gain the form of fat from its use. Lactose comes from milk, and is not sufficiently high enough on the glycemic index to have a strong effect on our insulin levels, and hence absorption into muscles as glycogen. This leaves us with maltodextrin, which is actually a complex carbohydrate (unlike the preceding sugars, which were simple carbohydrates). It is absorbed very easily and does not have negative effects like those of sucrose and dextrose. A brief ranking of these sugars is provided below.

Energy-Drinks-6 - Classical Martial Arts Centre - Toronto Central Region - Martial Arts classes offered in Toronto - Adults and Children - Karate-Do, Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense, Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Gung, Ba Gwa, Iaido, Jodo, Kobudo, Ancient Weaponry, Kali.

We also know that simply hydrating with a carbohydrate is not the best we can do – the addition of protein , as well as other essential vitamins and nutrients, can further boost our recovery after a difficult class.

Excellent choices for post-exertion replenishment include protein shakes which contain maltodextrin as the primary source of carbohydrate and with supplemental nutrients such as potassium, sodium and sufficient water to hydrate the body after all the loss through sweat.

This is the reason why Sensei Williams, Sensei Mariani and Sensei Brands all have registered and recommend the use of TrueStar products such as TruePower (no longer available). These products are designed to contain the variety of high quality nutritional elements that the body needs after a workout. It is highly recommended that you register under your respective dojo (links provided below) and begin taking advantage of these products.

For example, the TruePower drink powder contains whey protein isolates (a high quality source of protein), high glycemic index carbohydrates (maltodextrin), a variety of vitamins and minerals, and some additional antioxidants which have also been shown to provide strong recovery for athletes.

The most important aspect of all of the above is that you carefully consider what you put into your body to help fuel it to new heights and help it recover from the occasional fall.


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Sources:

Eat Right Ontario website: https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Caffeine/Energy-Drinks-FAQs.aspx

Sugar Stacks website: http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm

BodyBuilding website: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/post_workout_carbs.htm

LiveStrong website: http://www.livestrong.com/article/341982-sugar-after-workouts/

Sports Medicine About website: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm

 

Posted in Health, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Science
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