Can EGCG Enhance Exercise Performance?

Filed under :Green Tea - EGCG

In recent years, the chemical composition of green tea has been determined.
EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is viewed as the most significant active component.
There has been a lot of research looking at the effects of green tea and numerous medical conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular health.

In the search for strategies to enhance athletic performance, researchers began looking at EGCG in the last decade.

There have been several studies done on the effects of EGCG on mice, but only one study done with humans.
  • One study looked at the anti-obesity effect of EGCG in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity – control animals gained twice as much body weight during a 4-week treatment as animals supplemented with 1% EGCG in the diet (International Journal of Obesity, 2005).
  • Another study conducted on mice investigated the effects of long-term intake of EGCG in combination with regular exercise on the development of obesity in mice – This study had found that long term intake of EGCG together with regular exercise decreased body weight gain by 33% on a high fat diet (International Journal of Obesity, 2006)
  • A study done on male cyclists investigated the effects of EGCG consumption on fat oxidation at rest, during sub maximal exercise, and on endurance performance – the study found little benefit in consuming green tea extract on fat oxidation or cycling performance (International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 2009).

It has been determined that it is safe to consume ~800mg of the green tea extract EGCG per day.  Some side effects that are reported are considered very mild events which include: excess gas, upset stomach, nausea, heartburn, stomach ache, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, and muscle pain.  More research is needed though for higher dosages, and long term consumption.

The bottom line is that many studies done on mice show positive results for Green Tea-EGCG supplementation, while the only study conducted on human subject showed little to no results to enhance endurance performance.  Currently there is no data investigating the effect of EGCG on resistance training. In conclusion, more research is needed to investigate the effects of supplementing with EGCG and exercise performance.


Timing of eating and working out…

Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting

Exercising in the early hours of the day – There are many benefits to exercising in the morning.  In the morning your body and mind are fresh, after a long day at work you are more likely to find excuses or make other plans rather than exercise.  By working out in the morning you will wake up faster, and be more mentally alert for the rest of the day.

The big question here is whether you should eat breakfast before a morning workout or is it better to go on an empty stomach?

It is supported by many research studies that consuming a pre-exercise meal is the right way to go! The goals of a pre-exercise meal are to supply the body with glucose for use during exercise, and to minimize fatigue during exercise. It is recommended to consume the pre-exercise meal 2-4 hours before the exercise; yet it can be safely eaten as late as 1 hour before exercise.

The meal should be small, easy to digest, and familiar to the individual.  The pre-exercise meal should be: high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, low in fat and fiber, and moderate in size.  People engaging in early morning activities may want to schedule a very early morning snack or carbohydrate beverage (e.g. fruit juice) instead of skipping everything all together.  The timing and amount of food consumed depends on individual preferences and on the type, intensity, and duration of the workout.

Exercising in the afternoon – Research suggests that your maximum body temperature occurs between 2 – 4 pm, therefore the muscle strength is at its peak and you are going to be less likely to injure yourself. It’s also a time when people are most awake and alert.

You should eat a low glycemic meal 2 – 4 hours before the workout.  You can also consume a high glycemic food about an hour before the workout with some water to maximize energy stores and energy during the workout (refer to my previous post “Sugar Rush” for explanation about glycemic foods).

Exercising in the evening – Research suggests that exercising in the evenings will produce better sleep as well as lower daytime sleepiness for the whole day!  Here again, it is recommended to eat a low glycemic meal 2 – 4 hours before the workout.

***

Whether you exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening; you must eat after the workout to replenish muscle glycogen and refuel the body.  It is important to consume both carbohydrates as well as proteins post-exercise.  Many believe they should consume only proteins after a workout which is incorrect; protein and carbohydrates are equally important.

Carbohydrates help replenish the muscle glycogen stores, while protein helps rebuild muscle tissue.  Carbohydrates actually help protein absorption.  It is recommended to eat small frequent meals throughout 2 hours post-exercise (rather than one big protein shake, or one big meal.)

So, what is the best time of the day for a workout? It depends on the individual!  Do you need an extra push in the morning to wake up, do you have your energy peak in the afternoon, or do you need a better sleep and need to reduce fatigue during the day – choose the best time for you.  Always remember to eat before and after the workout! This is a very important part of being physically active, which many tend to ignore or just uncertain about.

If you have any additional questions, concerns, or comments – please let me know 😉


Exercise and Brain Health!

Filed under :Exercise

It is immediately recognized that exercise promotes good health of the cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems; however the field of exercise and cognitive function is not as familiar.

Studies in ageing humans show that endurance exercise is protective against cognitive decline; especially in planning and memory.

It was once believed that the adult brain was incapable of producing new neurons. It is now known that neurogenesis (the process by which neurons are generated) is continuous in adults as well. Moreover, now it is believed that exercise stimulates the production of new nerve cells in the brain.

Research suggests that aerobic exercise in children is associated with higher measures of responsiveness, faster cognitive processing speed, and better academic performance (Medical Science and Sports Exercise, 2008).  Even though level of physical activity can be confounded by other factors such as IQ, social, or economic statues, these finding are very consistent and convincing.

Exercise has also been recently shown to increase brain volume in healthy exercising adults.  In one study researches used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine brain volume.  People aged 60–79 were randomly assigned to aerobic or non-aerobic exercise groups (1 hour three times a week for 6 months). Adults exercising aerobically showed increased brain volume in frontal lobe regions implicated in higher order processing, attention control and memory (Journal of Gerontology, 2006).

It is believed that in most societies today people are less active than in previous generations.  This could affect the next generations’ cognitive development.  Much research suggests that exercise has an affect on cognitive development, and improvement.  Physical activity during childhood may optimize cognitive development promoting lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Just another great reason for you to exercise; for overall body and brain health!


“Health Logic”

Filed under :Health promoting

In this post I will reverse from my scientific knowledge and focus on the psychological, as well as sociological aspects of lifestyle (as they are equally important).

For instance, there are many different reasons why people eat. Some reasons may be: you might have smelled something cooking that stimulated your appetite; or saw an advertisement of a food that you like; could be of social reasons; maybe you looked at the clock and decided it’s time to eat; and finally perhaps you are actually hungry?  There are many possibilities… If fact, we have so many different motivations for eating that it is easy to forget that the ultimate reason – obtaining nutrition – is a biological necessity (Food is our sole source of energy and raw materials from which our bodies are made.)

Although, our need for food is driven by biological necessity our eating patterns vary and are influenced by other factors (social, emotional, daily routine, etc).  Other behaviors such as smoking and physical activity may be influenced in the same manner.

Recently I have come across an interesting article, “Health logic and health-related behaviors.” The author of this article emphasizes the concept of the “Health logic”, which he defines as the judgmental way that health-related behaviors in everyday activities are understood.  In his article the four behaviors: smoking, eating, drinking alcohol, and exercise are classified as health-behavior related. It is so because they can enhance or damage health as everyday activities, since they are practiced by people as they go about their day-to-day lives.  In other words, people are responsible for their own health in the way they behave on everyday basis.

This takes into account the psychological aspect of eating as well as the other three factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, and exercise).  Many people may focus on “science based” factors of gaining weight or exercise such as: metabolic rate or the genetic aspect of weight gain. Many do not consider the psychological aspect of this issue, which in my opinion plays a very important role in our daily lives.

It is important to take a step back in our day-to-day lives (that are very much a routine for most of us) look at what we are doing right and wrong and maybe ask ourselves some questions – e.g. why am I eating right now? Am I really hungry? Why do I even smoke? By making small modifications for a healthier lifestyle we can make great impact in the long run, and even as soon as tomorrow!


Lactose Intolerance…

Filed under :Health promoting

Most nutrient molecules in our body must be broken down by enzymes in the digestive system before they can be absorbed.

Lactose, “milk sugar”, must be broken down into glucose and galactose (refer to my previous post “Confusion over sugar”) in order to be absorbed in the small intestine. The enzymes that perform this task are found on the surface of the small intestine, they are called lactase.

In certain individuals with a condition known as lactose intolerance, however, this is not the case.  Lactose intolerance develops when the body stops producing the enzyme lactase.  When this occurs a person begins to have trouble digesting lactose and thus, cannot absorb it.

The problem with this is that lactose remains in the intestine, serving as a nutrient for bacteria that normally live there.  Lactose stimulates bacterial growth and the resultant production of gas and other waste products.  These substances irritate the lining of the intestine and cause bloating, discomfort, and diarrhea.

Lactose intolerant individuals experience these symptoms after drinking milk or eating other daily products and therefore eventually learn to avoid them.

Lactose intolerance has a genetic basis and is more prevalent among certain people.  It has been estimated that this condition affects over 50% of adults worldwide.

Although there is no cure, new commercial products that allow affected individuals to indulge their taste for dairy products include pills containing enzymes that can break down lactose, as well as lactose-free milk.