Written by Josh Thigpen
How do you feel about pre-workout drinks for strength athletes?
Many of the pre-workout/energy drinks contain ingredients that don’t have a direct benefit to energy production. Many of them contain large amounts of B vitamins, which in and of themselves do not produce energy. The vitamin B3, or niacin has vasodilatory effect which is theorized to deliver nutrients to the muscle faster, which has not been shown to occur. The same theory is attributed to nitrous oxide producers. They too cause vasodilation, but only initially and them your body adapts to the increased levels of precursors, which are usually Arginine, citrulline, ornithine and other amino acid metabolites. Most often the surge of energy is also perceptive in nature, as many of the ingredients are neurotransmitter precursors and do nothing more than give you a high. The majority of what you are going to get for performance enhancement is going to come from the caffeine. There are much cheaper ways to get caffiene into the body than with these pre-workout mixes laced with a bunch of feel good chemicals.
How do you feel about carb loading before contest?
The main benefit to a strength athlete is from the additional water that you would gain with the increased carbs. If you were cutting weight before a contest then you would get some benefits from the re-synthesis of muscle glycogen in the depleted muscles. In the power sports this would not be much of a detriment, whereas an individual who is a CrossFitter would possible have some performance decrease due to the additional weight attributed to the water gain. So if your sport is more power based over shorter durations, the benefit would come from increase in the weight gained. For powerlifting, strongman, and Olympic lifting this could be a benefit to performance. To a crossfitter, the weight gain could be detrimental. It would not seem to be much of a benefit to a thrower or mma athlete, unless that athlete had to cut weight, and could regain the weight the night before.
Do you think strength athletes should eat “clean”?
Strength athletes should eat to enhance performance. The foods you should eat should be the most nutrient dense. If your focus is on eating a diet that only focuses on meeting your macros regardless of the quality of the food, you are not eating for performance. That type of eating may make sense if all you were focused on is weight gain or loss etc., but if performance is your goal, it is best to pick foods that are nutrient dense. For example, which is more beneficial for performance, getting your carbs from cotton candy or a sweet potato? Well one of them is loaded with many nutrients, the other is just sugar. It is clear which one will help with performance. So we don’t just focus on eating “clean”, or simply meeting your macros, but rather what foods are the most nutrient dense and beneficial for performance.
How do you feel about ” super foods”?
This goes well with our previous answer. “Super foods” are foods that have a high ORAC, a measure of antioxidant capacity. These foods have naturally occurring phytonutrients that have health promoting and disease fighting properties. These foods would obviously be best for an athlete to help combat the free radical damage that is produced with heavy training.
Should a strength athlete take a multivitamin everyday?
Numerous studies have been done to evaluate the performance enhancement potential of various vitamins and minerals. Many of the studies have found no direct performance enhancement. Yet at the same time many studies have been done to show the health effects of deficiencies. Even the American Medical Association recommends that the average American should consume a daily multivitamin. It is our position that the addition of a multivitamin supplement will help to supply the body with any vitamins or minerals that may not be obtained through a good healthy diet.
How do you feel about eating fish, I am concerned about the potential for the presence of mercury?
The presence of mercury in our oceans is definitely of concern to anyone eating seafood of any kind. What is often not thought about is the presence of those same heavy metals being present in poultry or beef. It not any surprise that they are also present there it just hasn’t been as publicized. Your risk of exposure from fish is not any more than from the consumption of land based animal proteins. Also when the testing is done on seafood it is the whole fish that is measured not just the filet that you eat. So any metals that are trapped in the bones or organs that you don’t consume are counted in those measures of toxicity.
I hate vegetables, are they absolutely crucial to my performance?
The answer in short is, “no”. They are not absolutely crucial, but as stated earlier they are packed with nutrients that researches have found to be beneficial in the prevention of certain diseases, and good for all around general health. Some of the benefits of vegetables are the fiber, vitamin and mineral content, and antioxidants. If you can find a way to meet these same benefits through other food, than technical vegetables would not be a must.