The idea of using caffeine to improve workout performance is hardly new. Considered the most widely used drug in the world, scientists have for many years, studied the way the compound affects athletes.

You don’t need a lot to get a good response. Early research had athletes taking up to 13 mg/kg of body mass, where new studies show you’ll get a boost from as little as 1-3 mg/kg of weight. Even at that level, research shows performance during endurance exercise can improve by 20 to 50 percent compared to a control group. And among world-class cyclists (where as little as 1 percent improvement in performance can be the difference between winning and losing) a 100-mg dose improved performance by 4 percent; a 200-mg dose improved it by a total of 8 percent.

It works for lots of different types of athletes—but not all. Hundreds of studies document the speed and endurance benefits of caffeine for cyclists, runners, and rowers. Even tennis players were found to improve hitting accuracy, speed, and agility when they caffeined up before hitting the court. But there’s been little evidence that caffeine can help sprinters, and in fact some research shows that with very-high intensity sprints (20-30 seconds) there’s actually a decrease in performance.

It’s an awesome painkiller. Experts used to think using caffeine somehow spared muscle glucose but now the evidence points squarely to its effect on the nervous system. “It’s as if you snipped the fibers in the muscles that tell the brain how tired you feel”. Numerous studies show caffeine also lowers perceived exertion, or how difficult an exercise feels—so you can work longer and harder without feeling as worn out.

It works even if you’re already addicted to your morning Joe. The effects between users and nonusers is really quite small. If you want to maximize the response, you can consider skipping your a.m. coffee.

It’ll give you a bigger boost if you take it mid-way through your race. The classic caffeine dosing used to be 45 to 60 minutes before an event, but that’s not always the rule. Since many athletes are pumped with adrenaline at the start of a race, getting that caffeine jolt isn’t quite as important early on. If you take it half- or midway through, it can help get you through those last few miles.

It can be taken in many forms. For athletes, the simplest way to get caffeine pre-event is usually in a beverage (like coffee or tea) or 100% caffeine tablets. For a caffeine jolt mid-event, products like energy gels, chews, bars and tablets are easier go-to’s.

But avoid energy drinks during your workout or race.  Not usually recommend because of their high level of carbohydrates, which can interfere with how efficiently water gets absorbed into your system. A drink like Red Bull, for example, is typically 12 percent carbs, while a beverage like Gatorade is only about 6 percent. The minute you start adding carbs you slow down hydration, and ultimately that will have a much bigger effect on performance than caffeine.


It’s not for everyone. In some people, even small amounts can cause headaches, dizziness, GI distress, nervousness and anxiety. And in high doses almost all of us will get these side effects. Some people can only take a little and some a lot—you have to experiment to see what’s right for you. It’s extremely personal.

I often get asked about weightlifting shoes. Are they really worth the investment? I always reply the same way- Would an avid runner wear shoes that are made for hiking? Probably not. Shoes are designed for specific sports and activities. Running shoes have an inbuilt cushion to absorb impact with each step you take. Although this is great for running, it’s not so great for weightlifting. Rather than absorb force, you need a shoe that will help you use all the force your body produces to help you move weight. The more force you can produce, the more weight you can move. This is especially important in Olympic Lifts.

Weightlifting shoes have a raised heel. This is a massive advantage, as it allows you to squat into a deeper position through increased ankle range of motion. This will help you to improve your overall position too, as you’ll find yourself sitting more upright. A more upright torso means more chance of keeping hold of the barbell and sending it in the right direction-up.

Weightlifting shoes are also extremely stable, not just underfoot, but around your foot. This ensures a strong and consistent base to land on, push through and push into- exceptional for performance and injury prevention.

Weightlifting shoes are more stable than your typical barefoot or minimalist shoe. The concept of these shoes shoes having little or no padding is definitely in the right direction ( and I had personally rather wear this type of shoe when performing the Deadlift, ensuring maximal force through the ground ), but while performing other major lifts (C&J, Snatch and Squat), I think weightlifting shoes are more beneficial.

Protein is made up of essential and non – essential amino acids. A chain of amino acids is called a polypeptide. The human body can make the non – essential amino acids, whereas the essential amino acids must be ingested through food. Protein is found in food, and is most highly concentrated in animal sources than other sources. It is digested by the human body, and broken down into its amino acid components, beginning in the stomach. An enzyme disassembles the protein polypeptide chains into smaller components, which are broken down again and again in order to facilitate the digestion process. Once the protein has been broken down sufficiently, it can be absorbed and stored for the body to use. Protein can be inefficiently used as energy by converting amino acids to glucose, but it is primarily used by the body to build and repair tissues. If too much protein is taken in, the excess may be stored as fat.

How much protein should an individual eat? Are protein supplements necessary? Much hype exists about protein and its importance. “Mix one part fact with several parts ignorance; season with advertising, sprinkle on a need for that all-important competitive edge, and you have a recipe for protein supplements”. This statement generally reflects what physicians and well educated authorities on diet and sports medicine believe. Most Americans consume a 12% protein diet and most body builders a 25% to 30% protein diet. Many athletes commonly believe that they must take in more protein than the recommended intake. The health industry recognizes this, and thus a plethora of fitness magazines and health food stores boast advertisements for protein supplements and amino acids. These advertising campaigns suggest that protein supplements and amino acids are perhaps a legal, healthy, substitute for anabolic steroids. The fact is that gargantuan amounts of protein intake is not going make a world class athlete; training builds endurance and muscle, not protein alone. The average sedentary adult needs to consume only 30 to 60 grams of dietary protein per day to replace amino acids used by the body. It is true that as an athlete exercises, more amino acids and protein are used by the body than a sedentary person, thus the need for dietary protein may increase. However, one must keep in mind that protein contains calories, and any excess calories that are not burned are stored as fat, and protein is an inefficient source of energy for the body to use.

What evidence is there to support or disprove claims that high intake levels of protein help build muscle mass and better athletes? Muscles are made mostly of protein, so logically one would think that the more protein in the diet, the more muscle one should have. Certain types of exercise, weight lifting for example, do stimulate muscle growth. So, a combination of weight training and large amounts (the more, the better) should be beneficial, right? Not exactly. The most recent indications are that dietary protein in excess of the current recommended dietary allowance (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day) is likely needed for optimal muscle growth. “The current recommended dietary allowance doesn’t seem to be enough for elite athletes who are training every day, who are growing, or who are training especially hard right before an event”- However, the benefit appears to plateau at intakes well below the levels typically consumed by many athletes. Thus, for best results, a diet high in protein is beneficial for muscle growth, but only to an extent. Once a certain intake level is reached, any additional protein taken in will not help build muscle mass any more.


A study done by Fern et. al (1991) showed that greater gains in body mass occur over four weeks of heavy weight training when young men consumed 3.3 versus 1.3 grams if protein per kilogram of body mass. In addition a study done by Meredith et al. (1992) found that a daily dietary supplement containing 23 grams of protein combined with weight training can enhance muscle mass gains relative to similar subjects who trained with out the supplement. Both of the studies show support for the belief that increased protein in the diet can help increase muscle mass, but it should be noted that these effects were found with a combination of intake and training. These two studies further indicated that a protein intake of about 1.7 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, when combined with weight training will enhance muscle development compared with similar training with an intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day- However, it is important to note that there is little good evidence that the very high protein intakes (more than 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) typically consumed by strength athletes are beneficial. Moreover, it is possible to obtain this quantity of protein without special supplementation assuming a mixed diet containing sufficient energy is consumed.

Endurance athletes differ from strength training athletes because they do not develop the muscle mass that weight training athletes do. Endurance athletes, nevertheless can benefit from protein intakes over the recommended dietary allowance because the exercise they participate in does still alter protein metabolism, in a different way. In weight training glucose is used for energy and because weight training is intense, fat and protein cannot be use for energy production. The protein intake increase for strength athletes is to supplement and help tissue and muscle rebuilding, after the exercise. Because endurance athletes exercise for long periods of time, (2 – 5 hours at a time) they can use protein as a source of 5% – 10% of their total energy expended. This protein needs to be replaced as well as protein that is used for tissue repair, thus an elevated level of intake can be beneficial. The same applies to endurance athletes as strength training athletes – a point exists at which any more protein taken in is no longer beneficial.

A common misconception about excess protein in the diet is that it can cause kidney damage; excess protein cannot cause kidney damage even though it does make the kidneys work harder. When protein is metabolized nitrogen is a by – product; the kidneys work to remove the extra nitrogen from the body. As of yet, no studies have found an high rate of kidney problems in strength athletes as would be expected if too much protein caused kidney damage. Also, Zaragoza et al. (1987) studied animals with very high protein intakes for more than half their life span and found no serious adverse effects.

High intake levels of protein can lead to increased water loss because the body excretes water to dispose of urea, a substance formed in the breakdown of protein. Water loss coupled with the fact that most athletes loose a great amount of water through sweat, can lead to dehydration if fluid intake is not properly monitored. An excess of purified protein can, however, take calcium away from bones, thus predisposing one for osteoporosis.

Although protein is seldom used as an energy source, and despite the fact that the average American diet far exceeds the recommended daily allowance for protein, many athletes still believe that supplementary protein can enhance athletic performance. Athletes do need additional calories for energy, but too much protein intake will be stored as fat. Most protein supplements provide a lot of calories as well as protein. A balanced diet can easily provide enough protein for an athlete, and protein supplements are not necessary. Again, the average athlete cannot be turned into a champion simply by altering their diet or specific nutrient intakes. The most important determinant of athletic prowess is something over which we exert no control: our genes. Most experts rank physical training next; good nutrition comes in third. Of special importance to remember is the fact that enough protein to meet needs can be obtained from a balanced diet and the fact that a protein intake of more than the recommended dietary allowance can only be potentially beneficial (to an extent) for elite athletes.


REFERENCES (1) Aronson, Virginia. (1989). Protein and Miscellaneous Ergogenic Aids. Physician and Sports Medicine, 14, 199-202. (2) Clark, Nancy. (1991). How To Pack a Meatless Diet Full of Nutrients. Physician and Sports Medicine, 19, 31-34. (3) Henderson, Doug. Nutrition and the Athlete. FDA Consumer, 21, 18-21. (4) Houston, Michael. (1992) Protein and Amino Acid Needs of Athletes. Nutrition Today, 27, 36-38. (5) Lemon, Peter. (1996). Is Increased Dietary Protein Necessary or Beneficial for Individuals with a Physically Active Lifestyle? Nutrition Reviews, 54, S169-S173. (6) McCarthy, Paul. (1989). How Much Protein Do Athletes Really Need? Physician and Sports Medecine, 17, 173-175. (7) psychology and health

Dehydration, which occurs when the body has insufficient water and other fluids to function properly, can lead to blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal complications. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have adverse effects on mood and energy. That’s why it’s so important to catch dehydration early on, but the signs aren’t always obvious ones like thirst and fatigue.


Here are six surprising indicators that you might be dehydrated.

1. Bad breath. Saliva has antibacterial properties in it, but dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva.

If you’re not producing enough saliva in the mouth, you can get bacteria overgrowth and one of the side reactions of that is bad breath from chronic dehydration.

2. Dry skin. A lot of people think that people who get dehydrated are really sweaty; but as you go through various stages of dehydration, you become very dizzy and you don’t have enough blood volume so you get very dry skin. Because the skin is dry and not evaporating as well, you can also experience flushing of the skin.

Think you can’t get dehydrated in cooler seasons or climates? Think again. Symptoms may be milder or come on slower, but it’s still possible to be dehydrated in cooler weather.

3. Muscle cramps. The hotter you get, the more likely you are to get muscle cramps, and that’s from a pure heat effect on the muscles. As the muscles work harder and harder, they can seize up from the heat itself. Changes in the electrolytes, changes in the sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramping as well.

4. Fever and chills. It might sound counterintuitive, but if your body is severely dehydrated you may experience fever like symptoms or even chills.

5. Food cravings, especially for sweets. When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for some nutrients and organs like the liver which use water to release some glycogens and other components of your energy stores, so you can actually get cravings for food. While you can crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack, cravings for sweets are more common because your body may be experiencing difficulty with glycogen production.

If craving something sweet, reach for a snack that has high water content. Most fruits and vegetables have high water content and will help you stay hydrated. In fact, some fruits and vegetables are more than 90% water; including cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, cucumber, celery, lettuce and leafy greens, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

6. Headaches. The brain sits inside a fluid sack that keeps it from bumping against the skull.  If that fluid sack is depleted or running low because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.

Some drinks that can cause dehydration include alcohol, energy drinks, and even caffeine as it has a slight diuretic effect.

How to Check If You’re Dehydrated

Not sure if that sweet craving or muscle cramp is a sign you need to hydrate? Here are two other ways to check if your body is dehydrated.

  • Try this skin test. First, use two fingers to grab a roll of skin on the back of your hand (between where your watch sits and where your fingers start). Pull the skin up about ½ to one centimeter high and then let the skin go. The skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a couple of seconds. If the skin bounces back slowly, you might be dehydrated.
  • Check your urine. If you’re well-hydrated your urine will be mostly clear with a tinge of yellow. Yellow, chardonnay, and orange are the “warning” colors to watch for. When your body is about three percent dehydrated your urine will be noticeably yellow. When your body is about five percent dehydrated, your urine will appear chardonnay-colored. When your body is more than five percent dehydrated – which is considered severely dehydrated – your urine will appear orange.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

  • Keep your water bottle handy. If it’s right next to you, you’ll likely get into the habit of sipping it without even realizing it.
  • Spice up plain water. If you don’t love plain water, jazz it up by adding a splash of fruit juice or chunks of fresh or frozen fruit.
  • Try different teas. Unsweetened flavored teas, are available in lots of different flavors. Sip fruity iced teas during and hot peppermint or chamomile tea at night — they all count towards your daily fluid goal.
  • Makeover your snacks. Swap dry, carby snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers, which have a very low water content, with refreshing  fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, healthy smoothies, celery with peanut butter, and cut veggies with hummus.
  • Pile on the produce. Aim to make half your plate produce at meals. Vegetable and fruit servings will supply water as well as a hearty dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Sip more during meals. Sipping water with meals will help you eat more slowly, pace your eating, and of course stay hydrated.
  • Opt for room temperature or cooler water. When it comes to fluids, steer clear of extreme temperatures. When ice water comes into the stomach it constricts the arteries surrounding the stomach, which help the stomach function properly and help with water absorption. Ice water will just sit in your stomach until it warms up. If you hear water swishing around in your stomach, it means the water is not getting absorbed. Fluids that are cooler or room temperature are better options.

When it comes to total water intake, which includes water gained from foods and other beverages like tea and milk, the Institute of Medicine recommends that most women get about 2.7 liters of water a day (or about 12 cups), and most men get about 3.7 liters a day (or about 15 cups).


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2 medium-sized spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup Natural marinara sauce
1lb prepared meatballs (lean beef or ground turkey)
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce the center of the spaghetti squash several times on all sides with a small, sharp knife then microwave for 3 minutes, flipping once. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a very sharp knife, then remove seeds with a spoon. Lay halves cut side up on a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet then brush with oil and season liberally with salt & pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash meets no resistance. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. While squash is roasting, prepare and bake meatballs.
  3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh every which way with a fork to loosen and fluff strands. Top with 4 meatballs, ¼ cup sauce, and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese each, then broil until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

You have probably seen it at the gym, or have heard someone talk about “foam rolling”, but what benefits do foam rolling have for you.


The foam roll is used for self-massage and can be used on almost all muscle groups but mainly used for the lower body muscles. Foam rolling is a self-massage technique used by many athletes following a work out.  It helps massage and stretch the muscles.  This type of massage can help loosen tight muscles or help release those hard to get to trigger points. The foam roll can be used on all muscles but is mostly used for quadriceps, glutes, IT band, hamstrings, and calves.  This type of massage can help aid muscles with recovery after a grueling weight lifting work out, a long run or just every day tightness.

Most often you hear of people foam rolling their IT, or Iliotibial band. The IT band is a thick band of fascia on the outside part of the knee, extending from the pelvis going over the hip down the side of the leg inserting just below the knee. If this muscle becomes very tight it becomes difficult to stretch on its own.  This is why an IT band is a common area of focus for foam rolling. If you have a tight IT band and choose to foam roll it, you may feel pain as you roll up and down your leg. The pain may even radiate into your hip as you roll over certain trigger points.

Similar to the pain you experience with stretching, think of the feeling as good pain. Why do something that is painful? Releasing this tightness in your muscles will help restore the muscles primary function by breaking up muscle knots and allowing blood flow to the area.Similar to the pain you experience with stretching, think of the feeling as good pain. Why do something that is painful? Releasing this tightness in your muscles will help restore the muscles primary function by breaking up muscle knots and allowing blood flow to the area.

Most serious CrossFitters adhere to either the Paleo Diet, the Zone Diet, or some blend of the two. Christina and Jeff Barnett have compiled some information on the Zone Diet to make it easy for anyone to understand. While it is recommend first focusing on the quality of the food by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, balancing your portions and carb/protein/fat intake with the Zone is an incredibly valuable tool for both elite athletes seeking the best CrossFit diet and everyday people seeking weight loss. To take your nutrition to the next level you need the hormonal balance that the Zone Diet provides.  Read on to find out more, and when you’re done use this PDF file to find the block equivalent of most common foods.  It’s even color-coded! Figuring out your perfect 4 block zone dinner couldn’t be easier. crossfit diet

Diet comes from the Greek language and means “way of life”. A diet is a lifestyle–not a set of draconian rules that you blindly follow. The Zone Diet controls gene expression and hormonal balance to give you the longer and better life to which we all aspire.

The zone diet is primarily concerned with controlling your hormones. Hormonal balance affects all important components of your wellness: body composition, energy utilization, blood chemistry, and much more.

The Zone Diet isn’t about eating “low-carb” or “high-protein” or anything like that. It’s a diet balanced in

• Protein (lean, natural meats are preferred)

• Carbs (mostly low glycemic-load fruits and vegetables)

• Fat (one of the most important macronutrients!)

With the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats, you can control three major hormones generated by the human diet – insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids.

Insulin – A storage hormone. Excess insulin makes you fat and keeps you fat.

Glucagon – A mobilization hormone that tells the body to release stored carbohydrates at a steady rate, leading to stabilized blood sugar levels. This is key for optimal mental and physical performance.

Eicosanoids – These are the hormones that ultimately control silent inflammation. They are also master hormones that indirectly orchestrate a vast array of other hormonal systems in your body.



  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into thin slices
  • 10 strawberries, diced into small pieces
  • 3 peaches, diced into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into small pieces
  • 1 log cranberry goat cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place French bread on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until fully toasted.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine strawberries, peaches, and balsamic. Spread Cranberry Goat cheese onto each slice of French bread.
  3. With a slotted spoon, place fruit mixture on each piece of French bread.
  4. Enjoy!


  • Canadian bacon slices
  • Equal amount of eggs


Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a muffin pan, place a piece of Canadian bacon into each hole. Press it down and crack an egg into each piece of bacon. Cook in oven for approximately:

  • Runny Yolk – 8 minutes
  • Semi-Soft Yolk – 10 minutes
  • Hard, Crumbly Egg – 14 minutes

Pop the egg “cups” out of the pan once they’re cool enough to handle.

Chocolate milk has been making headlines for some time now about it being the “athlete’s drink.” But do you really know why?

Before we dive into that too much, let’s review a little what happens when we exercise. In our bodies, protein is constantly being built and broken down. This is called protein turn-over. A side effect of an exercise bout is the breaking down of proteins. Exercise causes some tissue damage and requires a little repair. Not only do you need the protein, but your carbohydrate stores need to be replenished as well. This is why there is a recommendation to eat a carbohydrate/protein snack post-exercise. The term “recovery snack” makes more sense now, doesn’t it?

So what makes chocolate milk so special? Cow’s milk is considered to be a high-quality protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that are body cannot produce and must be taken in through the diet. It also contains more carbohydrates (cho) per serving when compared to regular white milk.

In a study led by the University of Connecticut, they examined chocolate milk consumption with endurance athletes and how it affected protein balance, glycogen, and performance. Runners were asked to complete a 45 minutes exercise. After that, each runner was given either chocolate milk (cho+pro) or a sweetened beverage (cho only).

At the end of the study, they found that the runners who drank the chocolate milk had greater protein synthesis and less protein breakdown than those who drank the sweetened beverage. Both drinks were able to maintain glycogen (cho) storage.

This study, along with others, show that it takes BOTH protein and carbohydrates to properly recover from exercise. Chocolate milk is a convenient (and tasty!) way to get the nutrients your body is craving. Remember- a recovery beverage should be consumed within 30 minutes of exercise to see the full effects.