Sorry for the delay between posts. I’m currently in the middle of a *huge* project. I can’t give details about it right now, but I’m halfway through the first of two major phases. It’s probably eating 4ish hours a day right now, so in addition to training, school (midterm week), time with Lyndsey, and admiring my beard every time I walk past a reflective surface, I haven’t had time to write as much as I’d like to. Hopefully that’ll change soon, but I really do appreciate everyone who reads my blog, so I wanted to give you guys a heads up as to what’s been going on. Sorry I neglected to do so on the front end.
Now that that’s out of the way, I have three pretty exciting nutrition topics to touch on today. I’d guess all three of them affect most of you on a daily basis.
A recent study questions the importance of hydration for performance. Old research suggested that even minor dehydration could have a major negative impact on performance. However, the researchers in this new study suggested that the old research had some flaws: it was performed indoors without any breeze (which would aid in thermoregulation), and the participants weren’t blinded to their hydration status (the ones who were dehydrated knew they were dehydrated and would therefore expect to perform poorly). They corrected for these methodological errors by using IVs to control hydration, and by having some air blowing over the participants to mimic a breeze.
The result: mild dehydration had no effect on performance.
So, this means that we can all just forget about hydration now, right? Not at all! If you’re worried about long-term performance and not just short-term performance, you still definitely need to consume your liquids. When I asked Adel Moussa, the guy who runs the Suppversity blog, about this recent study, he sent back two other studies showing how hydration and Angiotensin II (a hormone your body produces to maintain blood volume and blood pressure when you’re dehydrated) can affect protein metabolism. The less hydrated your cells are and the more Angiotensin II you produce (which inhibits IGF-1, the hormone that mediates most of Growth Hormone’s effects), the less protein you synthesize and the more you break down.
I won’t wade into the mechanisms (I think I understand them, but I’m a coach, not an microbiologist or an endocrinologist – not my area of expertise), but the verdict seems to be that a little dehydration may not screw you too badly in the short term, but keeping well-hydrated is necessary for long-term optimization of health, protein synthesis, and muscle growth.
If you haven’t checked out Examine.com‘s page on garlic, you need to do so. Not only is it my favorite seasoning to add to food, it also improves your cholesterol profile, increases nitric oxide production, and (eat your heart out, Vitamin C) decreases how often you get the common cold by 60-70%. Some anecdotes suggest it also protects against vampires, although research is currently inconclusive about that claim. Go get some, consume it daily, learn to love it, and always keep breath mints on hand.
Caffeine and Creatine
After protein, I’d wager the most popular supplements in the strength world are creatine and caffeine (either in preworkouts or energy drinks). However, most people don’t know that caffeine may actually counteract the effects of creatine on force of muscle contraction. In one study, creatine outperformed placebo, but creatine+caffeine did not.
However, creatine and caffeine combined may be synergistic for high intensity (125% VO2max) running, with caffiene+creatine outperforming placebo and creatine alone.
So, whether caffeine lessens the effects of creatine, it’s hard to say for sure. Just something to keep in the back of your mind, though.