December 2012
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Caffeine for Performance & Weight Loss

Coffee ImageCaffeine is an alkaloid that acts as a central nervous system stimulant and is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world. Found in coffee, tea, chocolate, soda and other food sources, approximately 90% of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine on a daily basis.[1] The research on caffeine as an athletic performance enhancer  has been fairly extensive, and it is believed that caffeine acts as an ergogenic aid by blocking adenosine receptors, which causes an increase in epinephrine.[2]

One study examining the effect of caffeine on anaerobic exercise had 18 male athletes complete a leg press, chest press and Wingate test after consuming caffeine (5 mg/kg body weight) and again after consuming a placebo. The moderate dose of caffeine resulted in more total weight lifted for the chest press and a greater peak power attained during the Wingate test. [3]   In another study measuring the effect of caffeine on aerobic exercise, subjects were tested on a cycle ergometer 10km time-trial.  The subjects performed several 10 km time trials and ingested either a placebo drink or a drink with 5 mg/kg caffeine drink prior to each trial. The subjects improved their times by up to 2%, and level of displeasure was reduced when supplementing with caffeine. [4]

The relationship between caffeine and weight loss has been widely studied, however the results are mixed. A study on obese subjects examined the combined effect of caffeine and ephedrine on weight loss. Subjects were given a hypoenergetic diet, along with a placebo, caffeine only, ephedrine only, or caffeine and ephedrine (C+E) combination supplement. All subjects lost a substantial amount of weight from baseline, but the subjects taking the C+E supplement had significantly greater weight loss than the placebo group. Subjects that voluntarily took the C+E supplement did not experience any weight relapse as of 24 weeks after the study.[5]

Although caffeine does appear to have some performance and weight loss promoting properties, it can also lead  to problematic side effects in some individuals, including dizziness, headaches, insomnia, dependency, and effects on mood. Keep caffeine consumption at a moderate level, and reduce intake if any negative effects are noticed.   
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Nutritional Spotlight Header
Apple ImageAn Apple a Day...

We’ve all heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” These words of wisdom may have some serious merit when you consider the apple’s impressive nutritional profile and health promoting properties. Apples are fat free, very low in sodium, an excellent source of fiber, and contain a high amount of antioxidants, which can prevent cellular damage and reduce the risk of certain cancers.  Regular consumption of apples may also help lower cholesterol levels.  A recent study showed that when postmenopausal women ate 75 g/day of dried apples, they significantly lowered their total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels.[6]  These changes occurred in only 3 months, but continued to improve for up to 6 months.  Apples should be refrigerated or stored in a cool dark place. Apples give off a high level of ethylene, a gas that can cause some fruits to ripen prematurely, so they should be kept away from other foods.
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ActiTrainer ImageHigh Intensity Interval Training

Finding time to fit exercise into your busy schedule can often be a challenge. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an effective way to reduce your total exercise time while still seeing both aerobic and anaerobic improvements. HIIT alternates periods of short intense anaerobic exercises, such as weightlifting, sprinting or jumping, with less-intense recovery periods.

In a study of professional soccer players, all subjects participated in their regular soccer practices, but the experimental group also participated in a strength and HIIT program two times a week. The HIIT program consisted of 16 intervals of a 15 second sprint followed by 15 seconds of rest. After 8 weeks, this group significantly improved in 10m and 30m sprint times, maximal aerobic speed test, maximal aerobic speed, and distance covered in the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test.[7] Another study on college students compared HIIT with a high volume training (HVT) program. The HIIT group trained for 12 - 14 minutes during each session, performing 6 - 8 sets of 30 second sprint intervals on a stationary bike, followed by 1 minute of rest. The HVT group performed 30 minutes of cycling at 75% of their heart rate max. After 12 training sessions, there were no differences between the groups, but both groups improved VO2max, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, perceived exertion, absolute mean power, and relative mean power. This shows that the HIIT group trained for half the amount of total time as the HVT group, but achieved the same results.[8]

1) Lovett, Richard (2005-09-24). "Coffee: The demon drink?". New Scientist (2518). Retrieved 2009-08-03.
2) Fredholm BB. Adenosine, adenosine receptors & action of caffeine. Journal of Pharmicology & Toxicology. 1995. 76: 93.
3) The effect of caffeine as an ergogenic aid in anaerobic exercise. Woolf K, Bidwell WK, Carlson AG. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Aug; 18(4):412-29.
4) Astorino TA, Cottrell T, Lozano AT, Aburto-Pratt K, Duhon J. Effect of caffeine on RPE and perceptions of pain, arousal, and pleasure/displeasure during a cycling time trial in endurance trained and active men. Physiology and Behavior. 2012. 106(2): 211.
5) Astrup A, Breum L, Toubro S. Pharmacological and Clinical Studies of Ephedrine and Other Thermogenic Agonists. Obesity Research. 1995. 3(4): 537.
6) Chai SC, Hooshmand S, Saadat RL, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K, Arjmandi BH. Daily Apple versus Dried Plum: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 112(8): 1158.
7) Wong P, Chaouachi A, Chamari K, Dellal A, Wisloff U. Effect of Preseason Concurrent Muscular Strength and High-Intensity Interval Training in Professional Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010. 24(3): 653.
8) Bowen P, Neil L, Norton A, Padgett K. Effects of high intensity interval training vs. high volume training on VO2max, power, and body composition of college-age students. 11th Annual Celebration for Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance. 2012.

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