N.O. BOOSTS YOUR BENCH PRESS


Nitrates and other nitric oxide supporting ingredients are popular components of many sports nutrition supplements. What can they do for your weight room workout? A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research put nitrates to the test using a dozen recreationally active men on the bench press.

Some subjects were given 400 mg of nitrate while others got a placebo before performing 3 sets to failure using 60% of their one rep max. All got 2 minutes of rest between sets. Even though there were no real differences in ratings of perceived exertion or lactate buildup, nitrate supplementing subjects did significantly more reps to failure and lifted a greater total amount of weight.

MEAL FREQUENCY IMPACTS DIET QUALITY



Most people sit down to 3 standard meals a day, but many active adults chasing fitness and physique goals divide those eating occasions into smaller, more frequent meals. An Australian study published in The Journal of Nutrition looks into associations between meal frequency including snacking and the nutritional quality of your diet.

Analyzing data from 5,242 adults who provided 24-hour food consumption recalls for the 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, researchers found that a higher frequency of eating occasions was associated with better food variety along with greater consumption of fruit and dairy options. More frequent snacking was associated with higher consumption of added sugars. Read today’s Performance Blog to see how portion size impacts satiety.

EATING OATS CAN REDUCE CHOLESTEROL



Back in 1963, researchers found that substituting while bread with bread containing 140 grams of rolled oats lowered LDL cholesterol. Now a meta-analysis of 58 controlled trials published online in the British Journal of Nutrition attempts to get more specific on the cardiovascular benefits of eating oat fiber.

Analyzing the diets of 4,000 subjects from around the world, researchers estimated that daily supplementation with 3.5 grams of beta-glucan fiber from oat could lower LDL cholesterol by an average of 4.2%. Working some into your diet isn’t likely to tip the scale too much. One cup of cooked oat bran amounts to just 88 calories.

FEWER CARBS CUTS INSULIN RESISTANCE



Insulin sensitivity is a condition where insulin can’t effectively regulate blood levels of the glucose the cells in your body use for energy and other functions. Since a couple hours of moderate intensity exercise actually increase blood sugar levels, a University of Michigan study published in the journal PLOS ONE looks into the impact of diet.

Thirty two healthy women were fed meals where either 30% or 60% of the calories came from carbohydrates. After the 3rd meal, subjects in the low carb group showed a 30% reduction in insulin resistance. There was no reduction in the higher carb group, and the amount of carbs they consumed was within the range of Department of Health and Human Services recommendations…

LOSE WEIGHT & BOOST TESTOSTERONE


Low levels of testosterone can lead to fatigue as well as decreased muscle and bone mass. Fortunately, your body’s natural production of this hormone can be altered through diet and exercise. A study presented at the Integrative Biology of Exercise 7 meeting in Phoenix, Arizona measured the effect of 12 weeks of aerobic exercise on 16 normal eight and 28 overweight men.

Researchers had subjects walk or jog for between 40 and 60 minutes per session performed 1 to 3 days per week. At the end of the program, overweight subjects had lost weight and significantly increased testosterone levels. Results were best in subjects who exercised vigorously. Normal weight subjects did not see such a dramatic testosterone increase.

TAPERING FOR POWERLIFTING COMPETITION


In the weeks leading up to a competition, many athletes reduce their training intensity and volume. When to start and how much to cut back is a matter of debate. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research offers these tips from open-class Croatian power lifting champions.

Most athletes reduced training volume in steps, reaching a 50% reduction between 8 and 5 days prior to the event. Training frequency was also cut in half in the week before competition, limiting the work to competition specific movements and equipment. This helped competitors maintain strength while reducing fatigue.

ENERGY DRINKS FOR 5K PERFORMANCE


Most studies on the performance enhancing benefits of caffeine are done with experienced athletes. A new one published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research uses recreational runners and popular caffeine-containing energy drinks. Let’s see how much time it cut off their 5K effort.

Thirteen men and 8 women in their early 20s consumed a 500 ml energy drink or non-caffeinated sugar-free placebo an hour before running 5 km on a treadmill. Subjects switched drinks and repeated the race 7 days later. There were no differences in rate of perceived effort, but the energy drink helped runners finish an average of 10 seconds faster.