Recovery – Where’s it Going Wrong?

I wrote an article a couple months ago about the importance of recovery and the “Big 3” elements involved. After taking some time to think about these things, I thought of how difficult it could be to achieve for some people.

As someone who must balance several responsibilities while trying to find the time to get in at less than satisfactory workouts, I can understand the struggle. A lot of times what must happen is a compromise of one of those “Big 3”.

So how do I know where and how to compromise?

The answer is complicated and simple. It depends. It depends on your schedule, your priorities, and what area you tend to struggle with. For me, I choose to compromise on sleep. That doesn’t mean I just let it fly out the window so to speak, but I do my best and take what I can get. I have to get up very early for work usually so in order to spend the time I want to with my son and wife, I stay up a little later than I probably should.

If you have to give up sleep, you have to make sure that the other areas of your recovery are on point. Once that second area starts to slide, trouble is just around the corner. Nutrition and hydration should be kept as close to ideal as possible. They will go a long way to overall health, especially if sleep is compromised.

Movement can be manipulated to still be satisfactory even if some of it is compromised.

Next time I will talk more about how we can make movement work in a busy schedule! Thanks for reading and tune in next time!

Have questions about your fitness?

We can help! Contact us to speak with one of our Professional Coaches today!

Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Director of Education for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Nutrition and the Energy Systems:

You Are What You Eat

By Zach Lewandowski, BS, CPT

If you have been in a gym before, I’m sure you have heard the term “energy systems”. Learning about the energy systems in the human body can help us truly understand how we get fuel for our workouts, especially if your goals are performance related. In this article, I will try to simplify the 3 main energy systems in the body and the mechanisms behind them.

Muscle Contraction and ATP

Exercise requires muscle contraction. Muscle contraction throughout the human body can be broken down based on muscle subtype specialization to accomplish its dynamic function. In general, muscle fibers are classified into 2 large categories:

  • Striated muscle fibers  
    • Cardiac muscle tissue (involuntary)
    • Skeletal muscle tissue (voluntary)
  • Smooth muscle fibers
    • Located in the walls of the hollow, visceral organs (involuntary) (1)

In this article, we will be talking about voluntary contraction in the skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscle contractions are exercises that are dependent on the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the associated release of free energy. (2) ATP is often called the “energy currency” of our bodies. All of the energy systems in our body work to generate ATP or generate molecules that will further drive ATP production, increasing the amount of energy we can “spend” upon exertion. We cannot store large amounts of ATP within the cells of the body which is why we have to rely on the 3 energy systems in the body: ATP-PCr System, the lactic acid/glycolytic system, and the beta-oxidation system.

While the 3 systems are similar in their outcome goal, to provide energy to the muscles, they differ in the pre-cursers used, products made, maximal rate of ATP regeneration, capacity of ATP regeneration, and their associated contributions to fatigue. It is important to note that the body uses all 3 systems in some fashion, never completely closing one off. The main factor that determines which energy system is used during exercise is the intensity and duration of the workout.

Outline of the 3 Main Energy Systems

  1. ATP-PCr SYSTEM (anaerobic)
    1. ATP – Adenosine Triphosphate
    2. PCr – Phosphocreatine
  2. Lactic Acid System/Glycolytic (anaerobic)
    1. Muscle glycogen (CHO)
  3. Oxygen/Beta-Oxidation System (aerobic) 
    1. Muscle glycogen & blood glucose (CHO)
    2. Muscle TG (triglyceride) & blood FFA (fat)
    3. Protein (aa); minor source

ATP-Phosphocreatine (ATP-PCr) System

The ATP-PCr system is mainly used for short, intense bursts of energy such as a 40-yard dash or a maximal exercise lasting about 1-10 seconds. This system is anaerobic meaning it does not require oxygen. Anaerobic contractions occur when you are performing a high-intensity exercise at 80 percent to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you reach this level of intensity, your oxygen needs will exceed your oxygen supply, and your body will turn to alternative sources of energy, like phosphocreatine, to supply muscle contractions. ATP-PCr involves ATP and creatine phosphate that are stored within the muscle fibers. ATP is used and then resynthesized by using creatine phosphate to generate more ATP. 

Since we do not have large stores of ATP and creatine phosphate in our muscles, this pathway stalls once we run out of creatine phosphate. (3)  This is when supplementation with creatine may give someone the extra edge in competition or lifting. Creatine is naturally found in animal products such as red meat, fish and chicken. It is the building block for creatine phosphate/phosphocreatine. So, when someone is supplementing with creatine it helps to replenish ATP quicker which in turn, helps you get those extra few reps.

The Lactic Acid System

When we run out of creatine phosphate and need to replenish ATP,  our next best source is glucose (aka carbs)). The Lactic Acid System, also known as glycolytic system, is used for bouts of HIGH INTENSITY (maximal rates) of exercise. In this context, high intensity can be defined as something that is all out or close to maximal effort for 30-120 seconds. This could be something like a heavy set of deadlifts for 8 reps or a shift in ice-hockey. This is the dominant system for most sports which is why our nutrition is very important.

This system relies on carbohydrates (glucose or stored glycogen) in order to generate ATP. When our muscle glycogen stores are low, we tend to feel like we “hit a wall” and we cannot perform at our best. This is one reason why our nutrition is so important, especially carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients and are found in fruits and vegetables, bread, rice, potatoes, etc. When we consume carbohydrates, they are digested, absorbed, and finally, converted into glucose (unless they are ingested as glucose).

The carbohydrates we consume pass through the liver and are mostly either converted to glucose and sent out into the bloodstream or stored as glycogen in the liver. Blood glucose is an important fuel for the nervous system. When our blood glucose drops too low, fatigue increases and our performance has a significant decrease. Your muscles need glycogen to perform at higher intensities over the length of a game or a lifting session, and your nervous system needs blood glucose to tell your muscles to give you all they have.

This is why nutrition is so important because when your opponents are starting to fatigue, you are able to compete at a higher intensity later in the game.

 I am sure everyone has heard of the term “lactic acid”. It has been known to be a negative byproduct of exercise and some contribute it to their fatigue. Recent studies have shown that lactate is in fact beneficial during intense exercise (3, 4]. “Interestingly, exercise, which promotes lactate production, has been recently reported to have a positive effect in many physiological as well as pathological conditions, including brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.”(5) Production of lactate in muscle during intense exercise is beneficial for removing pyruvate, sustaining a high-rate of glycolysis which, in turn sustains a high rate of ATP generation.

Beta-Oxidation System

The final energy system is the Oxidative System which is aerobic, meaning it requires oxygen to function. The major processes involved are: respiration, circulation (heart pumps blood w/oxygen), peripheral circulation (arteries carry oxygen rich blood to the muscles), and metabolism (muscle takes oxygen that is being used to make ATP which comes mainly from carbohydrates and fat).

The oxidative energy system has two main parts and one lesser part. The two main parts are aerobic glycolysis and aerobic lipolysis. The one lesser part that takes place is aerobic proteolysis which has very limited energy production. Aerobic glycolysis is similar to the last energy system we discussed. It is the oxidation of glycogen or glucose (carbohydrates) during higher intensity but longer duration activities such as a 5k.

Aerobic lipolysis is the oxidation of fats when our bodies need energy for something longer than aerobic glycolysis can handle. Much larger quantities of ATP can be obtained by the oxidation of fatty acids derived from the breakdown of fat in adipose tissue, but the maximal rate of ATP generation is slower yet than that of glycogen oxidation and is more than tenfold slower than that with creatine phosphate like we talked about earlier in the article from ATP-PCr.(6)

Finally, the last part of the oxidative system is aerobic proteolysis, which is the oxidation of glucogenic or ketogenic amino acids. Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins. There are a total of twenty amino acids that comprise muscle protein. Nine of those are essential amino acids (EAAs), which means they cannot be produced by the body in physiologically significant amounts, and therefore, are vital components of a balanced diet. (7) Aerobic proteolysis breaks down amino acids to generate ATP although it does not play a large role in the oxidative system and has limited amounts of energy production.

Summary

As you can see from this article, our energy systems rely on different sources of fuel. This is why individualized meal plans are important for each person depending on their goals and requirements during activities. No single diet is best for competition because they all have their own demands. This table below summarizes the energy systems, which sources they use for fuel, and the activities in which they will be used.

Remember, no system ever completely shuts off. They are all used in some fashion. That means that we need to be sure to full all of the systems well with a well-balanced and strategic diet. If you would like more information on how to construct a good diet or to learn more about the energy systems, contact us at: info@madlabperformance.com.

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance, LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Zach is the Nutrition Specialist for MadLab Performance, providing lifestyle change offerings through nutritional strategies. He is also a Professional Coach, training in person and online. When he’s not coaching, Zach can be found performing sets of 8 reps of deadlifts. Zach may be contacted by email at: zach@madlabperformance.com

References

(1) Gash MC, Varacallo M. Physiology, Muscle Contraction. [Updated 2018 Dec 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537140/?report=classic

(2) Baker JS, Mccormick MC, Robergs RA. Interaction among Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Energy Systems during Intense Exercise. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010;2010:1-13. doi:10.1155/2010/905612.

(3) Robergs RA, Ghiasvand F, Parker D. Biochemistry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2004;287(3). doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00114.2004.

(4) Nalbandian M, Takeda M. Lactate as a Signaling Molecule That Regulates Exercise-Induced Adaptations. Biology (Basel). 2016;5(4):38. Published 2016 Oct 8. doi:10.3390/biology5040038

(5) Proia P, Di Liegro CM, Schiera G, Fricano A, Di Liegro I. Lactate as a Metabolite and a Regulator in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(9):1450. Published 2016 Sep 1. doi:10.3390/ijms17091450

(6) Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Section 30.4, Fuel Choice During Exercise Is Determined by Intensity and Duration of Activity. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22417/

(7) Wolfe RR. Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality?. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:30. Published 2017 Aug 22. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9

Holding on to the Glory Days

I have been dealing with some back issues over the past 6 months or so and this morning it got me thinking about how my athleticism has been affected. I’m not going to pretend like I’m some seasoned vet of the life game and that I creak like the tin man getting out of bed in the morning. I still have a good amount of youth left in me, but these recent issues with my back have made me think about the future.

A lot of people start to lose their athleticism when they get into their thirties. This is when you start to see the slow-pitch softball “hammy” injuries pop up. The days of over-exaggerated remembrance of athleticism are upon you and try to hang onto the thread of what is left of youth.

So what to do? Do you just stop being competitive?

Absolutely not.

It’s the time to start being smarter than your much dumber youthful self. Warming up and stretching now need to be part of the plan and movement in every day life cannot stop. Honestly, what’s the biggest difference between 35 year old you and 18 year old you? Movement!

At some point adult life steps in and we stop moving nearly as much. The couch or comfy armchair becomes our fortress of sedation. My dad was able to play in adult athletic leagues until his mid-40s very effectively and still could do so if that was important to him. He’s a grandfather now so that takes precedence, obviously. He doesn’t workout more than once a week. So what was/is his secret to maintaining his athleticism? Movement! His job requires a lot of moving and lifting. He naturally stays in really good shape.

I understand a lot of people are behind a desk all day, but what about when you get home? What about days off? Get your “reserved seating” sticker off your couch and go do something active! You will be amazed with the changes you can achieve in your body composition and athleticism. Going to the gym obviously helps tremendously, but our bodies are just meant to move.

So go out and hang onto those glory days a little longer!

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Director of Education for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

Intentional Programming

Hey everyone,

I’m going to start a new little blog called FFT (Food for Thought). This will just be things I have been thinking about or have been asked about throughout the week.

The other day I was really thinking about programming and why people have such a hard time with programming their own workouts. After considering my own personal struggles over the years, I think it really comes down to execution of your intent.

It sounds absurdly simple, so let me explain. It is.

Really think about what you are trying to achieve in the gym. Are you trying to get in better shape? Are you looking to lean out a bit (or a lot)? Trying to get big (jacked)? Or maybe you want to be a better athlete? THAT needs to be your priority. Everyone stands to get stronger because it will translate to everything else, but you can do that in a myriad of different ways and it means different things to different people.

Let me give a brief example. Let’s say I play pick up basketball once or twice a week and it is really important to me that I can continue to do that activity and do it well. So what’s the plan then? In the weight room, I’m probably going to focus on general strength of the whole body with medium to mildly high repetitions (5-10). I’m going to put an emphasis on stability, especially through my trunk and I’m going to make sure I maintain a good platform (stable feet and mobile ankles) in order to reduce injury risk. From a performance standpoint, I’m going to work on loading and landing with plyo metrics at the beginning of my workouts. For conditioning I’m going to mix intervals with occasional, longer steady state cardio.

Again this sounds brutally simple but it’s so easy to screw up and get stuck doing crazy stuff that’s going to get you injured.

Always remember intent.

That’s my FFT Friday! I hope you enjoyed the first iteration of this!

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Director of Education for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

Surviving Your Workout Aftermath

The people have spoken and we have answered! This next series of articles will be reflective of the Instagram poll we recently ran on article topics. This first article will cover the all-important aspect of workout recovery.

There are a lot of fancy gadgets, supplements, and exercise modalities that you are made to think are the secret to optimal recovery. I’m not saying that those things can’t work, but it can be so much simpler than we make it. In this article we will discuss what true recovery is, why it’s important, and how we can figure out a proper recovery plan to implement in our own schedules. 

Recovery? What’s that?

First off, what exactly is recovery and why is it important? Recovery is not only our body’s return to homeostasis, or it’s natural, comfortable state, but the improvement of the body from one day to the next. In his article on Breaking Muscle, Jeff Kuhland explains recovery as follows:

“We have different systems that need to recover. These include hormonal, neurological, and structural. Our structural system includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Muscles recover the quickest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons, ligaments, and bones receive indirect blood flow and therefore can take longer to recover and be more susceptible to overtraining stress.” (1)

Where we normally think of recovery from a structural standpoint, there are hormonal and neurological components to this as well. I won’t discuss that portion of it in this article, but if people are interested I can definitely do a follow up article later. We are going to cover the structural part of recovery in this article.

Going with the “keeping it simple” theme, I am going to break recovery down into 3 vital elements. We will call them the “Big 3”. The Big 3 are sleep, nutrition, and movement. Next, we will dive into each of these and their impact on the recovery process.

Catch those zzz’s…

Sleep might just be the most neglected and the most “self-pardoned” recovery method in this triumvirate. It is absolutely critical, just like the other two elements of the Big 3, that proper sleep is attained if optimal recovery is the goal. 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended but some people may need more depending on the level of activity (e.g. High level competitive sports).

Why is sleep so important though? Sleep is essential for the cellular, organic, and systemic functions of an organism, with its absence being potentially harmful to health and changing feeding behavior, glucose regulation, blood pressure, cognitive processes and some hormonal axes (2).

Let’s put this another way in case there was some confusion there. Along with the dietary protein requires to aid in muscle repair and new muscle growth, your body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, including human growth hormone (HGH). During the N3 stage of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, blood flow to your muscles increases, and tissue growth and repair occurs. During REM sleep, the muscles relax, which can help relieve tension and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. In fact, many of the critical restorative functions in the body—like tissue repair and muscle growth—occur mostly or only during sleep (3).

PAUSE. Read that last sentence again.

I know proper sleep can be hard to come by sometimes. Trust me, I have an infant. But it’s something we have to stop excusing away and ignoring.

So how do we figure out what our proper “bedtime” is and get on a good schedule? Sleep.org has a simple method of figuring it out that just requires some trial and error on your part. First, take what time you need to wake up in the morning. Subtract 7 to 9 hours from that time. Somewhere in those times is your proper “bedtime”. Then take that two hour window and if you try to go to sleep and are still awake after 20 minutes or so? That is probably too early. Inversely, if you find yourself struggling to stay awake, you may have gone just past that magic proper bedtime. Like I said, it will take some trial and error, but you will figure it out. After that, it’s all about consistency and sticking with that time no matter the day.

You are what your muscles eat.

Next is the super fun, tricky, and monotonous nutrition talk. I will do my best to give you some helpful information without being too vague. Recovery nutrition comes down to protein, carbohydrates and hydration. A lot of these suggestions are largely variable and please consult a certified nutritionist to learn more about your proper quantities for nutrients.

Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, Renaissance Periodization suggests protein intake for proper recovery will be somewhere between 0.3 to 1g/lb of body weight. This is largely dependent on activity levels and your biology. Higher levels can be consumed, this is just a range. The primary purposes of protein in recovery are: 1) to promote training-induced adaptations to muscle fibers and 2) facilitate the replenishment of energy stores.

As “evil” as they are perceived by many to be, carbohydrates play an important part in structural recovery as well. Carbohydrates restore glycogen levels, provide nutrients to the body, and assist in tissue repair. Renaissance Periodization suggests that carb intake levels will be anywhere between 0.3 to 5g/lb of body weight. I know that is a huge range so I am going to simplify it to somewhere between 0.8 to 1.5g/lb for active adults. Remember, all of these are extremely variable based on the individual, so reach out to us for more information or consult a nutritionist if you have questions.

Drink up, buttercup!

Hydration is the ugly duckling of the “Big 3.” What I mean by that is that hydration is largely ignored and forgotten about on a day-to-day basis. The main purposes of hydration are to regain fluid lost during the day, making sure the cardiovascular system is being as efficient as possible, and to remove toxins from the body. A little fact to keep in mind when you are glazing over as I am telling you to DRINK MORE WATER is that muscles are around 79% water. So just think about where some of that water is going, which is making those muscles of yours look good and function at a high level. The Mayo Clinic suggests 3.7 liters a day for men and 2.7 liters a day for women. Now this means total hydration, but it should be largely water (4).

I like to move it, move it! You like to move it, move it!

Movement is the last, but not least, when it comes to the “Big 3.” It is very important to keep moving, even if you are sore for a day or two after your workout. This will help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness by promoting blood flow. Restoring and improving range of motion should definitely be an emphasis. This can mean yoga, general stretching, or something along those lines.

Mobility (dynamic stability through a range of motion) should always be a focus of recovery. Our bodies are designed to move and to move frequently. They are not designed to handle stresses, in or out of the gym, and then go sedentary. Sometimes full rest is very necessary for recovery, but I have found that only applies to about 10% or less of the time. The simple act of going for a walk or engaging in a leisurely performed recreational activity can be a great way to help promote blood flow without causing tissue damage. As a side note and benefit, this can work as a little boost to your caloric burn for weight loss/management purposes.

Summary

Recovery is not just the act of coming back to homeostasis but coming back stronger than pre-activity/pre-workout levels. It should be treated as an essential part of your wellness routine. The impact of properly planning your “Big 3” will be felt cognitively, hormonally, and structurally. Notice that at no point did I mention ice or anti-inflammatories as part of this process.

With proper management, our bodies will undergo what is called supercompensation. This is the peak of recovery where we are at our highest level of performance. This level cannot be maintained for long, but can be very easily accessed with the proper focus on training and recovery.

So to summarize a little, treat your recovery with at least the same level of attention that you do your training.

I hope you enjoyed this quick dive into workout recovery and I hope that you tune in to our other reader response articles we have coming up!

Check out this infographic for a breakdown of what we just went over:

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Director of Education for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

References

1. Kuhland, J. (2019, October 17). 7 Essential Elements of Rest and Recovery. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/7-essential-elements-of-rest-and-recovery.

2. Dattilo, M., Antunes, H. K. M., Medeiros, A., Mônico Neto, M., Souza, H. S., Tufik, S., & de Mello, M. T. (2011, August). Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21550729/.

3. How Sleep Adds Muscle. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-sleep-adds-muscle/.

4. Water: How much should you drink every day? (2017, September 6). Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.

5. Walker, O. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.scienceforsport.com/post-exercise-stretching/

Core Concepts: Part III

Programming for Performance

By Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

This is the third and final part of our series on trunk stability. If you haven’t read the first 2 parts, this is the time to go back and do so. It would be like watching Return of the Jedi before you watched A New Hope, or reading The Return of the King before reading The Fellowship of the Ring, or… well you get the point, go read the first 2 parts first.

This final article in the series will be focused on programming your workouts to optimize your trunk strength/health. It’s important that I put in the disclaimer that there are A LOT of exercises that, when done properly, train the trunk. I’m not writing this to say that one way is better, this is more of a guide in how to think about programming to strengthen those areas in the beginning, middle, and end of your workout.

Application

The first part of your workout should be focused on warming up the trunk for the physical activity that you are going to be participating in. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is one of the more butchered parts of a workout that I see. If I am going to be doing heavy deadlifts, squats, cleans, or anything else involving external load, my warm up is not going to be 10 minutes on the bike/treadmill/elliptical. This time spent doing something like a low-intensity aerobic exercise isn’t specific in terms of substrate needs, range of motion, or muscle contraction speed.

A proper warm up should be focused on achieving optimal range of motion, getting the body ready to be loaded, and increasing core temperature. Ways to do this include pushups, hip airplanes, kettlebell swings, dead-bug variations, sprints, etc. I personally like to warm up by doing whatever lift I’m focusing on that day with a lighter weight. For example, doing squats, RDLs, pressing variations, bent over rows, cleans, snatches, etc. with an empty bar. These exercises can be done individually or as a circuit. Just keep in mind that part of a proper warm up is increasing core temperature in the body. So don’t move too slowly.

The rep scheme is going to be anywhere from 2-3 sets of 5 to 15 reps and will be dependent on load and skill level. What I mean by this is that the higher the skill level of the movement and the higher the load, the less reps that you will perform. If i am going to be warming up with hang cleans, I am probably going to do closer to 5 reps per set rather than closer to 15. Below is an example of how I might warm up if I am focusing on deadlift that day.

Examples

Part 1- (minimal rest between sets)

  1. Hip Airplanes 2×10 each side
  2. Straight Arm Pulldowns 2×10 each side
  3. Empty Bar RDLs 2×10
  4. Empty Bar Bent Over Rows 2×10

Part 2- (no more than 60 seconds between sets)

  1.  Deadlift with 40-50% of 1RM 2×5
  2. Dynamic stretch for whatever feels tight in the movement 2×10

Again, I will state that this is NOT a statement of what you have to do for your warm-up. I wanted to provide and example of a safe and effective way of preparing your body for load.

Meat and Potatoes

Next comes the fun part. The meat and potatoes of your workout, or for you non-meat eaters out there, your beans and rice. This is where you load/challenge the core through dynamic movement. The trunk functions to transfer force by limiting movement.

Stability in the trunk allows for a platform to force the transfer between the lower and upper body. Basically, the stronger and more stable your trunk is, the better you can exert force throughout the body. We can create a strong platform by doing exercises that involve movement of the whole body without extension of the lumbar spine. Higher skill level would be exercises such as push presses, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, jerks, and can be done with any implement. Lower skill level exercises would be pallof presses, anti-rotation holds, deadbugs, and jumping.

Another function of the trunk is to produce force by creating movement. If you just look at what was covered above, one could easily get the false impression that our trunk musculature only has one kind of a passive role in performance: one where the torso only functions as a stable platform that channels force between the hips to the shoulders vertically, horizontally and/or diagonally. We can create a lot of force in all planes of movement using our trunk, so why not add that into our training? We can do this with exercises such as medicine ball shot throws, medicine ball hip tosses, overhead throws, slams, kettle tosses, band/cable rotations, band/cable chops, landmine rotations and my personal favorite, a landmine exercise that has yet to be named in the video at the end of this article.

The key part in all of this though is that the exercises are done with intent. If the proper load and proper amount of force are not applied, the exercises have significantly less impact on performance.

Now how do we program these movements into our workouts? After properly warming up your body to be forceful, it is time to be just that. Throws are a great way to transition from your warm up into the lifting portion of the workout. Let’s go back to that same deadlifting day for the sake of continuity. Some of these movements we discussed could be added in a couple ways, like this:

(Part 2 of the Warm Up)

  1. Deadlift 2×5 w/40-50% of 1 rep max
  2. Medicine Ball Rotation Hip Toss 2×5 each
  3. Medicine Ball Slam 2×5

We can also add them into our actual deadlift section to create what is called a contrasting superset. That would look something  like this:

  1. Deadlift 4×5 w/ 70-85% of 1 rep max
  2. Medicine Ball Overhead Throw 4×5

Exercises like the one shown with the landmine attachment below can even be used as a primary lift, if proper intent is used. Keep in mind that your spine is one big series of levers – each segment is a small lever. The trunk musculature supports and protects the spine. Understand what you want your spine to be able to do and how to train appropriately for that result.

Addressing Weaknesses

The end of a workout is a great time to pinpoint weaknesses in your trunk and train them. Things to keep in mind when programming this part of the workout is fatigue, skill level, weaknesses, and intent. For example, say someone is semi-new to lifting, is at the end of the workout, and can’t hold a plank for a minute or more? Start with plank variations. Got those down? Awesome! Lets challenge the body in anti-extension a little more dynamically now with rollouts. At the same time anti-rotation can be challenged with holds and paloff presses. Once those are mastered, start to add some slow rotations with a challenging load. My personal favorite trunk exercises are carry variations. They can be done in a myriad of ways and loading patterns and are, for lack of a better term because i hate this term, highly “functional.” At the end of the workout we are looking to improve our trunk with lower skill level exercises that puts our spine at minimal risk and challenges weaknesses that we possess in our trunk strength/stability. After the deadlifting and throwing fun we had earlier in the workout and did some other exercises in the middle, the end of the workout might look something like this:

  1. Overhead Carry 3×20-40 yards (or 30-60 seconds if you prefer/need to use time)
  2. Anti- Rotation Hold 3×20-30 seconds each side
  3. Bear Crawl 3×20-40 yards (or 30-60 seconds if you prefer/need to use time)

Summary

What can be summed up from all of this? By this I mean ALL 3 of the articles including this one. Our trunk is very important to how we move as human beings and we should make it a priority to add safe, effective programming into as many of our workouts as possible. Trunk strength/ stability programming doesn’t have to consist of boring and monotonous planks and sit ups. I actually strongly urge against staying that simple. The word I used earlier was intent. The trunk is made up of many key pieces, the more varied the load and movements, the healthier our trunk will be.

Thank you all for reading this series on trunk strength and stability. I hope you enjoyed it and were able to get something useful out of it. If you didn’t? Well I tried and you should reach out to us and I want to see if there is any way that I can be of help! 

Exercise Examples

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance, LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Director of Education for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

Core Concepts: Part II

Moving With Your Core

By Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

This is the second part of a three part series on trunk stability. In the first part we discussed the importance of bracing the right way through your trunk by using the diaphragm. The second part will revolve around dynamic stability of the core through bracing and movement.

At least once a day, and in most cases, a very large amount of times during the day, we perform activities that require trunk stability. We bend down to pick things up, we carry something, we reach across our body or overhead to pick up a useful item. Without the muscles involved in those movements being trained regularly, we can develop either acute or chronic injury.

 The trunk both braces and moves in several different ways using a variety of muscles. In the second part we will examine what these movements are and what muscles make them happen. For the sake of time we will highlight the most important details of these muscles as they relate to trunk stability.

Flexion/Extension and Anti-Flexion/Anti-Extension

 Probably the most recognized form of trunk movement is flexion/extension and the counter movement which is anti-flexion/anti-extension. This movement involves either allowing the trunk to flex or extend at the thoracic or lumbar spine. Bracing would be the trunk preventing those movements from occurring.

The primary muscles involved in this are rectus abdominis, the erector spinae, and the multifidus. The Rectus Abdominis is a long muscular strap extending from the ventral lower sternum to the pubis. The main action for rectus abdominis is flexion of the trunk (flexion of thoracic and lumbar spine), while it works by drawing Symphysis and Sternum toward each other.[1] The Erector Spinae is often described as a group of different muscles called Iliocostalis, Longissimus and Spinalis. They are the chief flexors of the vertebral column. They straighten the flexed vertebral column and can also bend it posteriorly. They also release during its flexion so that the movement is slow and controlled. You can see through its description how important these muscles are to keeping your spine healthy through both movement and bracing.

The last muscle, the Multifidus is a series of small muscles which travel up the length of the spine. It is an important muscle in the rehabilitation of lower back pain and can have an extraordinary impact on your body. It allows for the proper distribution of body weight across the spine and activates even before any action is carried out to help protect the spine.

Think of bending down to pick something up or reaching up and grabbing something off of a shelf, these muscles that were discussed will help keep that precious spine of yours nice and safe. This is probably the most commonly practiced type of trunk focused movement in everyday life and in the gym. Unfortunately, too much of our time is spent training this movement in the wrong way. More time should be spent preventing flexion/extension than performing it.

Examples
Anti-Extension – Extended Plank
Flexion – Reverse Sit-up

Rotation and Anti-Rotation

The next movement/countermovement is rotation/anti-rotation. This is the act of rotating the trunk or preventing said rotation. The primary muscles involved are the obliques and the transverse abdominis. Both sides of the obliques, the internal and the external both included, flex the vertebral column by drawing the pubis towards the xiphoid process. Unilaterally (one side) it results in side flexion and contralateral rotation [2]. Basically it helps facilitate and prevent rotation. The transverse abdominis wraps horizontally from the back of the body to the front. The Transverse Abdominis function is to maintain tone of the abdominal organs; when one side works it bends and rotates the body to the side. [3] When you reach across your body to grab something or you get pulled quickly to a side you are using these muscles to facilitate and also to stop these movements.

Examples
Anti- Rotation – Pallof Press
Rotation – Lateral Chop

Lateral Flexion and Anti-Lateral Flexion

 The last movement/countermovement is lateral flexion/anti-lateral flexion. The primary muscles involved in this include a lot that we have already covered like the Rectus Abdominis, the Obliques (internal and external), and the Erector Spinae. The other major muscle(s) are the Quadratus Lumborum. The Quadratus Lumborum fixes the 12th rib to stabilize diaphragm attachments during inspiration. It also laterally flexes the vertebral column and extends the lumbar vertebrae. It forms with the contralateral Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) and Gluteus Medius a lateral myofascial sling which aims to maintain frontal plane stability of the pelvis [3]. So next time you successfully carry a bunch of groceries in one hand, thank your Quadratus Lumborum for protecting your back. This movement/countermovement requires a lot of interconnecting parts between the legs, hips, and the back. Due to its high frequency of usage in everyday activity, this should be a staple in your programming.

Example
Anti-Lateral Flexion – Suitcase Carry
Lateral Flexion – Dynamic Side Plank

Summary

These movements and countermovements make up way too large of a part of our daily activities to ignore. We must be able to move and to brace. They must each be trained consistently and intelligently in order to protect ourselves both in every day life and in our physical activities from compound lifting to walking/running, bike riding, hiking, etc.

Join us for the last part of the series where will discuss how to program these exercises throughout your workouts.

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance, LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Head Coach for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

References

1. Helen J.Hislop Jacqueline Montgomery,Muscle Testing,2007,8th edition.

2. Drake RL, Vogyl AW, Mitchell AW. Gray’s anatomy for students. 3rd edition. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstion Elsevier; 2015. 286p

3. Cheng J, Jarvis M. Quadratus Lumborum . http://radiopaedia.org/articles/quadratus-lumborum. Accessed August 9, 2019.

Core Concepts: Part I

The Key to Training Trunk Stability

By Josh Kruhm, CPT, USAW-1, WLS, PES

This will be a 3 part series focused on trunk strength and stability and its impact on human performance. The beginning of this 3 part series will be  focused on what stability is, the dynamics of trunk stability and how to properly brace your core. We will discuss the “core” (pun definitely intended) components of the trunk and why it is important to train for a stable trunk.

What is Stability?

First, we must understand what stability is and which muscles are key in trunk stability and their functions as a part of the whole. Stability is the ability to maintain a desired position (static stability) or movement (dynamic stability) despite motion, force, or control disturbances (1). The foundation or “keystone” of stabilization of the body is pressure within the abdomen, or as it is commonly called intra- abdominal pressure (IAP). This pressure stabilizes the spine, pelvis, and ribcage, creating a solid fixed point from which muscles can pull in order to create, control, or even prevent movement. The amount of pressure in the abdomen at any given moment is dependent on the stability requirements for the task being executed (2,3,4,5,6).

The major muscles involved include the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm (Fig. A).

While all of these muscles are very important when it comes to protecting our internal organs and the spine, for the sake of time I will only focus on a few at a time based on the movement(s) that they assist. This article, the first in this series, will focus a lot on the impact of the diaphragm. 

The Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscular partition separating the thorax from the abdomen in mammals (Fig. B). It plays a major role in breathing, as its contraction increases the volume of the thorax and so inflates the lungs.

From this you can gather that this muscle would be extremely important to exercise. Most people will try to breathe through their chest so to speak, but that only allows us to get so much oxygen. When we breathe the diaphragm contracts downward creating a vacuum which brings fresh air into the lungs. By becoming more effective at diaphragmatic breathing, we can breathe much more fully which is important when bracing. It is also critical in recovery. However, that is a different topic for a different day.

How does it work?

 So what does all of this have to do with trunk stability? Think of the diaphragm as an air bag in your car. When we inflate the diaphragm, it creates a cushion or “air bag” for the spine. So all of those spine compressing exercises that we love to do? By breathing through the diaphragm we can protect our spine so much more than the typical cue of “tighten your core”. Usually this cue, while activating our core, also creates a larger compressive force on our spine. Think of this method of bracing your core as trusses on a ships mast. Everything is pulled tight and secure, but there is a lot of compressive pressure on the mast (your spine). So to sum all of that up simply, diaphragmatic breathing/bracing=air bag for spine=good and “tighten your stomach/abs/core”= increased spinal compression=bad.

Application

Below is a way to practice diaphragmatic breathing before you attempt to pull your 1rm deadlift or lift that super heavy rock out of your garden. 

1. Lie on the floor face up with knees slightly bent.

2. Place a small pillow under the head if that is more comfortable for you.

3. Place your hands lightly on your stomach.

4. Concentrate on breathing using the diaphragm, not using the chest, and feeling the stomach rise as the lungs fill from the bottom.

5. Let the stomach fall naturally when breathing out by relaxing the diaphragm.

6. Progress by placing a small weight on the stomach, such as a small book, and do it all again.

7. The next stage is to stand up and place your hands on your stomach again, feeling how you breathe. Surprisingly, you may find this step requires some concentration initially. (7)

Examples

Beginner Version
Advanced Version

These exercises are a good starting point for learning how to breathe and brace your core properly. If you want to learn more about diaphragmatic breathing or trunk stability, please contact us at: info@madlabperformance.com.

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance, LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Josh has experience with anything and everything, from prenatal and postpartum care to coaching high school athletes as they prepare for high-level DI careers. He specializes in getting the most out of whoever he is coaching. Josh is the Head Coach for MadLab Performance and manages the company’s personal trainers. He also is a frequent contributing writer for MadLab’s continuing education articles. Josh may be contacted by email at: josh@madlabperformance.com

References

1. Reeves, NP, Narendra, KS, and Cholewicki, J. Spine stability: The six blind men and the elephant. Clinical Biomechanics 22: 266- 274, 2007.

2. Hodges, PW, Eriksson, AE, Shirley, D, and Gandevia, SC. Intra- abdominal pressure increases stiffness of the lumbar spine. Journal of Biomechanics 38(9): 1873-1880, 2005.

3. Hodges, PW, and Richardson, CA. Relationship between limb movement speed and associated contraction of the trunk muscles. Ergonomics 40(11): 1220-1230, 1997.

4. Kolar, P, Sulc, J, Kyncl, M, Sanda, J, Cakrt, O, Andel, R, et al. Postural function of the diaphragm in persons with and without chronic low back pain. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy 42(4): 352-362, 2012.

5. Kolar, P, Sulc, J, Kyncl, M, Sanda, J, Neuwirth, J, Bokarius, AV, et al. Stabilizing function of the diaphragm: Dynamic MRI and synchronized spirometric assessment. Journal of Applied Physiology 109(4): 1064-1071, 2010.

6. Hackett D, and Chow, C. The Valsalva maneuver: Its effect on intra-abdominal pressure and safety issues during resistance exercise. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(8): 2338-2345, 2013.

7. Kidd, S. (2019) How to Activate Your Diaphragm to Improve Breathing and Performance. [online] Breaking Muscle. Available at: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/how-to-activate-your-diaphragm-to-improve-breathing-and-performance [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].

The Keto Diet for Weight Loss:

The “skinny” on eating fat

By Cayley Kruhm, MS, CSCS

If you’ve set foot in a gym anytime in the past year or so, you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet. You probably know a few people who swear by it. “Keto” is all the rage. As a fitness professional, I am peppered with keto questions whenever someone wants to discuss weight loss. “Does it work?” “What do you think of it?” “Is it safe?” “How does it work?” “Ketones are key, right?” “The keto diet can cure cancer and diabetes, right?” While I do have my own opinions on answers to these questions, I do not think my opinions are always correct.

So, in this 3 part series of articles, I decided to dive into the science of the ketogenic diet. Over the next few weeks, we will look at how the keto diet effects weight loss, if it helps with performance, and the benefits it holds for health and wellness.

This is Part I and addresses how the keto diet effects weight loss. In this (hopefully informative) article, I will answer 3 main questions in regard to the ketogenic diet and its role in weight loss. They are:

  1. What is the keto diet?
  2. Does it work?
  3. Why does it work?

What is the keto diet?

The keto diet originated in 1921 as a treatment for epileptic children when researchers discovered that blocking glucose metabolism suppressed inflammatory genes in the brain. With found success, the ketogenic diet as a prescription for aiding in the control of epileptic occurrences grew in popularity into the early 1980’s, until the development of pharmaceutical drugs phased out the popularity of the diet (1). From there, there’s not much hubbub on the keto diet until a Dateline story in 1994 discussed the benefits of a keto diet for a young boy with epilepsy, for whom prescription drugs were not working. And then the keto fad took off and grew into what we know it as today. The keto diet is now anecdotally claimed to improve the body’s ability to use fat for fuel (decreased reliance on carbohydrates), improve weight loss through ketone formation, be a superior method of weight loss as it “just burns fat”, “cure” Type II Diabetes, improve cholesterol numbers, and increase high-density lipid (HDL) numbers (good fats). And that all sounds amazing.

A true ketogenic diet is comprised of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% or less carbohydrate (2). However, most mainstream ketogenic diets are just really low carbohydrate with an emphasis on fat consumption as the major portion of the diet. The basic idea of this diet is that we can change our bodies from favoring the metabolism of carbohydrates as our main fuel source to instead favoring fat oxidation as our primary energy resource, with ketones being the major fuel source.

Fat is an important but secondary energy source in the human body. Our bodies crave carbohydrates for energy and this is the primary fuel source that our physiology prefers – carbohydrates are key in energy metabolism. In the absence of adequate carbohydrate availability, like what would happen during starvation, at the end of an ultra-marathon, or several months into a low-carb diet, the body has to turn to an alternate source to maintain energy and keep our systems going. Without any dietary restrictions there is an ample supply of glucose which the body readily uses as a primary fuel (6).

However,when there is not enough carbohydrate present, the body must shift to using fat as the primary energy source. In this case, the body breaks down stored triglycerides, which are bountiful, even the leanest individual. Essentially, the keto diet causes a physiological response carbohydrate restriction that mimics starvation. Because the body has a limited ability to store or produce carbohydrates for energy during periods of starvation, it switches to ketogenesis (6, 7).


Ketogenesis results in the production of ketones, a product of fatty acid break down performed by the liver, in the absence of carbohydrates for fuel use. Three primary ketone bodies are produced; acetone, acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate. Very small amounts of ketones are always present in the bloodstream. However, only during periods of extremely low carbohydrate intake is there significant ketone production. This build-up of ketones in the blood is commonly referred to as “ketosis.”
Hence, the ketogenic diet (5, 6, 7).


The main objective of the keto diet is to sufficiently deprive the body of carbohydrates to the point that the body reaches “nutritional ketosis,” and switches over to using mainly fat for fuel. This “switch over” point is not seamless and it takes time for individuals to become “keto adapted.” In fact, it can take several weeks to several months for “keto adaptation” to occur. The idea is that a body will have very little reliance on glucose for brain function or as a source of energy for exercise, regardless of intensity (6, 7).


So, in summary, the keto diet tells us that we can eat a diet that is predominantly fat and reap health benefits and cause our bodies to function almost completely off of fat. Bring me the ice cream! Sign. Me. Up.

Does it work?

Well… yes, technically. And no. Many studies on the ketogenic diet claim weight loss in their titles. Several studies have dug deeper into the effects of low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets on weight loss. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (8) compared one year of low-fat vs. low-carbohydrate diet in adults with abdominal obesity. Subjects were randomly assigned to diet groups. The only stipulation of the diets was that the same amount of calories and macronutrients were consumed each day in the respective diets. The researchers found that there was statistically significant weight loss in both groups BUT, there was no significant difference in the weight loss between the groups. This means that a low-carbohydrate diet was equally as effective for weight loss as a low-fat diet.

When you unpack the data from this study and others like it, the results do show statistically significant weight loss but they also show an insignificant change in body composition, aka fat loss. Wait, what? What are we losing then?

Unfortunately, most of the weight being lost is either total body water or lean body mass or, in layman’s terms, muscle. In studies conducted on resistance trained men and powerlifters/weightlifters, the resulting loss in body mass after adherence to a ketogenic diet was roughly around 2 kg. 2 kg is approximately the amount of water that your body will hold on to when it is not glycogen depleted (3, 4, 5). This insinuates that the weight lost as a result of being on a keto diet may just be due to the fact that the body is no longer holding on to water. This does not mean that no fat mass was lost in those studies, just that it was not statistically significant.

Other studies found that diets with decreased carbohydrate intake and increased fat intake did lead to increased fat oxidation (3), decreased triglycerides, and increased HDLs (2). However, in these studies there was a very high rate of dropout in the low-carbohydrate groups. This indicates that this type of diet is hard to adhere to, but near complete adherence is necessary for success. Research also says that after 2 years on the ketogenic diet, compared to other diets, the only difference was that the change in HDLs remained; there were no significant differences in body composition when compared to calorie restricted diets (2).

The data of these studies, along with many others, indicates that the keto diet is not a superior method of weight loss or “fat burning”, it’s just another method of weight loss that may work for some people.

Why does it work?

The answer? It has nothing to do with ketones. The amount of fat oxidation that is created through adherence to a ketogenic diet is not enough to yield sustainable weight loss by itself, so the measurement of ketones is not the key to success in changing your body composition with the keto diet. High levels of ketones simply indicate that your body does not have enough glucose to metabolize for energy and thus fat is being used which makes sense since you are no longer eating high amounts of carbohydrates (6).

So why does the keto diet technically work? Current research shows that the resulting weight loss of a keto diet is from appetite suppression yielding a caloric deficit (2, 5). A recent meta-analysis investigated the impact of the keto diet on appetite and gave us some good answers (9). The meta-analysis included 12 studies which investigated the effect of either a very low energy diet (<800 calories per day) or a ketogenic low-carbohydrate diet (carb consumption of <10% of energy or <50 g/day, but ad libitum consumption of total energy, protein and fat). The studies were anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks long and resulted in total weight loss between 5.0 and 12.5 kg. Nutritional ketosis was confirmed via blood samples in all 12 studies for both diet groups. Both groups reported decreases in appetite throughout the study. This is interesting because even the group that was consuming less than 800 calories a day still reported a decrease in appetite, which should not happen! Those subjects should have been really hungry. In addition to this, the groups participating in the ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets also lost weight and experienced reductions in appetite, even though they were allowed to eat as many calories as the wanted while following their macronutrient requirements. These results provide some support for the idea that nutritional ketosis may have an appetite suppressing effect (9).

Fat is a very satiating macronutrient, weighing in at 9 kcal/g. It does not take a lot of it to make you feel full. This means that, theoretically, you would not need to consume as many calories throughout the day. This is huge for a diet since a large complaint people have while losing weight is that they’re “always hungry.” Weight loss = calories in < calories out. It really is that simple!

Summary

That’s the “skinny” on the keto diet. Research shows that it can lead to a weight loss, reductions in bad fat, increases in good fat, and some changes in body composition. However, it also says that the same results can be garnered from other diets that focus on calorie restriction without restricting carbohydrates since the success of the keto diet likely comes from appetite suppression and definitely not from the mystical powers of ketone bodies.

“Okay, great, but what should I do?”

Well, if you’re someone who struggles with appetite suppression when dieting, the keto diet might just be worth a try. Just remember, for it to work for weight loss, you really need to stick with the appropriate macronutrient recommendations of the ketogenic diet. Or if you’re sick of eating brown rice, broccoli, and plain chicken all the time, the keto diet could give you something new to try. At the end of the day, calories are calories when it comes to weight loss.

No matter what, when you start a new diet make sure that it is the right thing for YOU. Is it realistic for you to stick to the restrictions? Is it safe for your health? How does your body respond to being in a low-carbohydrate state? If you’re unsure of it’s safety for your health, talk to your doctor or registered dietician. If you would like help planning and managing a ketogenic diet, please reach out to us at: info@madlabperformance.com.

This article does not necessarily represent the views/opinions of MadLab Performance, LLC. This article is not meant to recommend health solutions in place of a doctor or other medical professional and should only be used to help those reading it gain more information prior to making their own decision.

Cayley is a strength coach and organizational fiend from North East, MD. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, training to become harder to kill, and being a wife and mom. Cayley works for Mad Lab Performance as Administrative Coordinator and may be contacted at: cayley@madlabperformance.com

References

(1) Livingston S. Comprehensive Management of Epilepsy in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence. Charles C Thomas, Springfield, IL, 1972, pp. 378–405.

(2) NSCA Personal Trainers Conference 2019. The PaleoKetoVeganMacroFasting Diet: Stop the Madness, Baltimore, Maryland: Shawn M. Arent, PhD, CSCS,*D; 2019.

(3) Greene DA, Varley BJ, Hartwig TH, Chapman P, Rigney M. A Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet Reduces Body Mass Without Compromising Performance in Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2019;32:3373–81.

(4) Waldman HS, Krings BM, Basham SA, Smith JEW, Fountain BJ, Mcallister MJ. Effects of a 15-Day Low Carbohydrate, High-Fat Diet in Resistance-Trained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2018;32:3103–11.

(5) Willoughby D, Hewlings S, Kalman D. Body Composition Changes in Weight Loss: Strategies and Supplementation for Maintaining Lean Body Mass, a Brief Review. Nutrients 2018;10:1876. doi:10.3390/nu10121876.

(6) III CRG, Cscs. Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet for Weight Management. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) 2018. https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/ptq/low-carbohydrate-ketogenic-diet-for-weight-management/ (accessed June 15, 2019).

(7) Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2019 Apr 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.

(8) Brinkworth GD, Noakes M, Buckley JD, Keogh JB, and Clifton PM. Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90(1): 23-32, 2009.

(9) Gibson AA, Seimon RV, Lee MY, Ayre J, Franklin J, Markovic TP, Caterson ID, and Sainsbury A. Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews 16(1): 64-76, 2015.