Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Energy Drinks: America, Land of the Caffeinated

I stopped by 7-Eleven the other morning to grab a cup of coffee/ hot chocolate to aid in my alertness, after spending a night of intermittent sleep with my almost 1 month old daughter. I noticed that of the 8 people in line with me, only 2 opted for non-caffeinated sources of energy. Three of the patrons held coffee, while the other three opted for very large cans of Red Bull, Rock Star and Full Throttle respectable. Hey, I get it, caffeine is an integral ingredient in the American diet, but more and more folks are turning to “energy drinks” today and not just to aid in their alertness, but also to boost libido, athletic performance, and ability to “party.” Energy drinks are frequently marketed to individuals interested in athletics and an active lifestyle. From 2001 to 2008, estimates of energy drink use in adolescent to middle-aged populations ranged from 24% to 56%. Most energy drinks feature caffeine (100 - 400mg) and a combination of other components, including taurine, sucrose, guarana, ginseng, niacin, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin.

Energy Drinks are not Sports drinks

If you get anything from this blog, please understand the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks.
Sports Drink – Help to replace lost electrolytes, sodium, and potassium. Many also replace carbohydrates (Body’s main source of true energy) to help maintain energy before, during and after exercise/competition. They do not contain stimulants.
Energy Drink – Aide in stimulating and individual by the use of stimulants. These products usually lack carbohydrates, thus do not provide energy. They do not help to hydrate an individual or provide additional energy. They do contain more concentrated sugar, and herbal ingredients. Many are regulated under DHSEA, which means contamination is a possibility.

Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Caffeine has been combined with alcohol for a very long time (i.e. rum and coke), but the caffeine content has traditionally been much lower than what is found in a number of the leading energy drinks today. Why do club and bar goers chose to mix drinks with energy drinks? Many believe they will increase their enjoyment while reducing the symptomatic lethargy and physical impairment associated with drunkenness. Many don’t know that combining the stimulant effect of caffeine and the depressant effect of alcohol may lead drinkers to underestimate their level of intoxication, with potentially lethal consequences. A study done at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, found that students who mixed caffeine and alcohol thought they were capable of driving more often than those who drank non-caffeinated alcoholic drinks 1. November 17, 2010 the FDA issued warning letters to a number of alcoholic energy drink manufactures, and informed them that their products are a public concern. The concerns included a rise in college campuses across the nation experiencing injuries and blackouts due to ingestion of these drinks. The 6-12 % alcohol by volume may have contributed to this…

Tips to staying alert without caffeine:

• Eat for performance pre and post exercise (this includes, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between)
• Hydrate
• Schedule time to eat, hydrate, practice, socialize, and most importantly, REST.
• Remember - No supplement is harmless and free from consequences.
• “All natural,” does not constitute safe for human consumption, even “all natural” products may have short-term or long-term negative health risks.
• Food first is always your best bet.

Additional information:

 9 of 10 Americans consume caffeine
 200-300 mg. day usually not harmful
 500-600 mg. day = harmful
 Amount depends on body mass, med history, stress
 Interferes with antibiotics, bronchodilators, ephedrine
 Acts as diuretic - dehydrates

1. Event-level analyses of energy drink consumption and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons
Gatorade Sports Science Institute, http://www.gssiweb.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Minerals: Macrominerals and Trace Elements

Minerals are naturally occurring substances, chemical elements, that the body needs to carry out its processes. The are macrominerals, those that are found in body in amounts greater than 5 grams, and trace elements, those found in amounts less than 5 grams. Minerals help the body to maintain fluid balance and acid-base balance (pH). Each mineral has a specialized role in this process.


Calcium is the body’s most abundant mineral and is stored in the bones and teeth. It is an important part of bone structure and this stored calcium can release into the body if a drop in blood calcium concentration occurs. Calcium is important in nerve transmission, helps maintain blood pressure, aids in blood clotting, is needed for muscle contraction, allows secretion of hormones, digestive enzymes, and neurotransmitters, and activates cellular enzymes. Deficiencies cause bone loss or stunted growth; toxicity interferes with the absorption of other minerals and risk of kidney stones.

DRI: Adults 19-50 yrs old 1,000mg/day
Food sources:
1c milk 300mg
1.5c broccoli 93mg
1.5 oz cheddar cheese 306mg

Phosphorus is found mostly in the bones and teeth and helps to maintain acid-base balance, assists in energy metabolism, and forms part of cell membranes. Phosphorus needs are easily met by most diets. Deficiencies cause muscle weakness and bone pain; toxicity causes calcification of soft tissues.

DRI: 700mg/day
Food sources:
1c cottage cheese 341mg
3oz sirloin steak 208mg
1c milk 235 mg

Magnesium is used in building protein, helps the body use energy, and plays a role in immune function.

DRI: Men 400 mg/day; Women 310mg/day
Food sources:
½c black beans 60mg
1c yogurt 43mg
½c spinach 78mg

Sodium maintains fluid and electrolyte balance and is essential to muscle contraction and nerve transmission. A sodium deficiency in an athlete can lead to cramping. Most diets in the US are extremely high in sodium and if you look at food labels you will quickly see how much sodium is in many of your favorite foods. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure. DRI recommended intakes for sodium is 1,500mg/day. Tolerable Upper Intake Levels are set at 2,300mg. Try to stay below the UI by monitoring your daily sodium intake, eating less processed foods, and cooking without salt.

Potassium plays a role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte imbalance, cell integrity and heartbeat. Dehydration leads to a loss of potassium . Potassium from foods is safe, but when injected into the vein, can stop the heart. Please check with a physician before taking potassium supplements that may deliver a large dose causing muscle weakness or vomiting.

DRI: 4,700mg/day
Food sources:
1c orange juice 496mg
1 baked potato 844mg
1 banana 422 mg

Chloride helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. No known diets lack chloride, and the principal food source is salt.

Sulfate is used to synthesize sulfur-containing compounds such as hair, skin, and nails.

Trace Minerals

Iodine is part of thyroxine, the hormone that influences energy metabolism. It is an additive in milk and bakery products as well as being found naturally in seafood. The DRI is 150 micrograms.

Iron carries oxygen in the blood and muscles. It is required for energy metabolism. The amount absorbed increases when the body is deficient and decreases when iron is abundant. Iron deficiencies can cause anemia, weakness, fatigue, impaired immunity, and other health issues. Iron fortified foods can help individuals avoid deficiency.

DRI: Men 8mg/day; Women 18mg/day
Food sources:
½c black beans 1.8mg
½c spinach 3.2mg
3oz beef steak 2.6mg

Zinc assists enzymes in cells associated with hormones, taste perception, synthesis of genetic material and proteins, reproduction, wound healing and transport of vitamin A. Too much zinc from supplements can block copper and iron absorption. Zinc from foods is nontoxic.

DRI: Men 11mg/day; Women 8mg/day
Food sources:
1c yogurt 2.2mg
3oz pork chop 2mg
3oz shrimp 1.5mg

Selenium works to help prevent oxidative harm to the body’s cells and tissues. Selenium is abundant in unprocessed foods such as vegetables and grains grown in selenium rich soil, as well as meats and shellfish. DRI: 55micrograms/day

Fluoride is beneficial to the diet because it helps stabilize bones and prevent tooth decay. It is found most often in drinking water. DRI: Men 4mg/day; Women 3mg/day

Chromium works to control blood glucose concentrations. It can be found in unrefined foods and whole grains. DRI: 50 micrograms/day

Copper is needed to form hemoglobin and collagen and also plays roles in the body’s handling of iron. Water, seafood, nuts, and vegetables are all sources of copper. DRI: 900micrograms/day.

Molybdenum (DRI: 45 micrograms/day) and manganese (DRI: Men 2.3mg/day; Women 1.8mg/day) work with enzymes within the body.

All trace minerals can be toxic in excess, which is usually a result from high levels taken in a variety of nutrient supplements.

Supplementation of antioxidants does not improve exercise performance and athletes can obtain sufficient intakes of natural antioxidants by eating a well-balanced diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables. There has not been evidence that supplementation of minerals can act as an ergogenic aid, although some athletes may need to pay attention to sodium and potassium levels if exercising for long periods of time or in hot, humid environments. Sports drinks include these minerals to help replenish losses due to sweat during exercise.

If you compete in a sport such as wrestling, gymnastics, or dance, where weight may be restricted or kept low, talk with a sports nutritionist or registered dietitian for suggestions on foods you need to include to get adequate nutrients.

Poor diets are the most common reasons for nutrient deficiencies in athletes. A well balanced diet including all food groups (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains) can provide all the minerals the body needs. The increase in calories needed to fuel performance and maintain energy, increases the intake of minerals and satisfies the needs of athletes. Supplements do not make up for a poor diet.

Bonci, L. Sports Nutrition for Coaches. 2009.
Jeukendrug, A. and M. Gleeson. Sport Nutrition: An introduction to energy production and performance, 2nd ed. 2010.
Sizer, F. and E. Whitney. Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, 10th ed. 2006.
Skolnik, H. and A. Chernus. Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance. 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Fat Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K

The fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, are stored in the liver and fatty tissues of the body until they are needed. They are found most often in the fat and oil of foods. The body can survive weeks without consuming foods that contain these vitamins as long as the diet as a whole provides average amounts that approximate DRI recommended intakes. Because these vitamins are stored by the body, toxicity is easier to reach if you take in too much.

Vitamin A (retinol): Vitamin A is a versatile vitamin that has a role in gene expression, maintenance of body linings and skin, immune defenses, bone and body growth and normal development of cells. The role of vitamin A in vision is probably the most familiar, helping to maintain a healthy cornea.

Vitamin A deficiency is a worldwide health problem because of poor nutrition and starvation. Researchers are close to developing a Vitamin A rich rice to serve to the world’s children who lack the vitamin. On the other side, Vitamin A toxicity, over 3000 micrograms/day, can pose health problems such as skin rashes, hair loss, birth defects, liver failure, and death.

DRI: Men 900 micrograms/day; Women 700 micrograms/day
Food Sources:
1c fortified milk 150 micrograms
½c carrots 671 micrograms
3 apricots 100 micrograms

Vitamin D (calciferol): Vitamin D is unique in that the body can get the amount it needs by synthesizing sunlight. This sounds simple, as being in the sun each day would mean you would not need to consume Vitamin D in food. However, research has shown many people are deficient in this vitamin. To counter this, many foods are being fortified with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps to regulate blood calcium and phosphorus levels to help maintain bone integrity. Vitamin D also plays a role in the functions of the brain, heart, stomach, pancreas, skin and reproductive organs.

Too little Vitamin D can cause rickets, an abnormality in the bones. Too much Vitamin D can cause too much calcium to be deposited in soft tissues and organs causing them to malfunction. More is not always better, especially in children and young adults.

DRI: Adults (19-50yr) 5 micrograms/day
Food Sources:
3oz salmon 4.3micrograms
1c fortified milk 2.5micrograms
3oz shrimp 3.0micrograms

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): Vitamin E is an antioxidant and serves as a defender against damage to cell components and membranes. This action is very important in the lungs. White blood cells also depend on Vitamin E. Excess Vitamin E from supplements can increase the effects of anticoagulant medications.

DRI: 15mg/day
Food Sources:
Widespread in foods, especially those containing oils.
2tbs sunflower seeds 9mg
1tbs canola oil 2.4mg
1tbs mayo 3.0mg

Vitamin K (menadione): Vitamin K helps to clot the blood by synthesizing proteins. It is also needed for synthesis of some bone proteins. It is important to know that Vitamin K may interfere with blood thinning medications. Some bacteria in the intestines can synthesize Vitamin K for the body’s use.

DRI: Men 120 micrograms/day; Women 90 micrograms/day
Food Sources:
½ cauliflower 20micrograms
1c lettuce 60micrograms
1tbs canola oil 19micrograms

It seems that athletes may need more of Vitamins A and K, than their non-athlete counterparts. Typically, the higher needs are met by the increased number of calories required for in an athlete’s diet to power performance and maintain energy levels. There have not been conclusive studies showing that supplementation can actually increase performance.

Next week, we will focus on the minerals needed by the body.

Bonci, L. Sports Nutrition for Coaches. 2009.
Sizer, F. and E. Whitney. Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, 10th ed. 2006.
Skolnik, H. and A. Chernus. Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance. 2010.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Water Soluble Vitamins: Vitamin C and the B Vitamins

Water soluble vitamins, Vitamin C and the B Vitamins, are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and travel freely. For the most part, these vitamins are not stored in tissues to a great extent and excesses are excreted from the body. This also means that these must be ingested each day. While these vitamins seldom reach toxic levels, high amounts in some supplements can cause levels in the body to reach toxicity.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Vitamin C works to maintain connective tissue and assists enzymes in performing their jobs, in particular enzymes involved in formation and maintenance of collagen. Collagen helps heal wounds, mend fractures, and support capillaries, preventing bruises. Immune system cells maintain high levels of Vitamin C as well. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption in the intestines.

A popular belief is that Vitamin C will prevent colds. Studies have shown that taking extra Vitamin C does not actually prevent a cold, although it may shorten its duration and lessen the severity of the symptoms.

Too much Vitamin C can be dangerous for people who have an overload of iron in their system or for those on medications to prevent blood clotting.

DRI: Men 90mg/day; Women 75mg/day
Food sources:
½ c red pepper 142mg
½ c orange juice 62mg
½ c strawberries 43mg
½ c sweet potato 20mg

B Vitamins: B Vitamins work together, and as a whole, help the body use fuel from carbohydrates, fat and proteins. Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Biotin and Pantothenic Acid support energy metabolism in every cell of the body.

Thiamin (B1) also aids nerve function.
DRI: Men 1.2mg/day; Women 1.1 mg/day
Food sources:
½ whole wheat bagel .19mg
¾ cup enriched cereal .38mg
1 baked potato .22mg
½ cup green peas .23mg

Riboflavin (B2) also supports normal vision and skin health.
DRI: Men 1.3mg/day; Women 1.1mg/day
Food sources:
1 c milk .45mg
1 c cottage cheese .32mg
½ c spinach .21mg
3 oz pork chop .23mg

Niacin (B3) contributes to skin health and nervous and digestive system function.
DRI: Men 16mg/day; Women 14mg/day
Food sources:
3 oz chicken breast 8.9mg
3 oz tuna 11.3mg
¾ c enriched cereal 5.0mg
1 baked potato 3.3mg

DRI: 30 micrograms/day
Food sources: Meat, milk, egg yolk, legumes, most vegetables

Pantothenic Acid
Food sources: meat, eggs, most vegetables, whole grain cereal products

Folate helps the body make new cells.
DRI: 400 micrograms/day
Food sources:
1 c spinach 58 micrograms
½ c avocado 45 micrograms
½ c pinto beans 145 micrograms

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps to convert folate to its active form and helps maintain the sheath around nerve cells.
DRI: 2.4 micrograms/day
Food sources:
3 oz sirloin steak 2.0 micrograms
1.5 oz Swiss cheese 1.5 micrograms
1 c cottage cheese 2.0 micrograms

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is needed in protein metabolism and helps convert one amino acid to another.
DRI: 1.3mg/day
Food sources:
1 Banana .66mg
3oz chicken breast .35mg
½ c spinach .22mg

Athletes may need more of some water soluble vitamins than their non-athlete counterparts. Typically, the higher needs are met by the increased number of calories that an athlete already needs to power performance and maintain energy levels, as long as the calories come from a combination whole grains, vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy, and not from an extra bag of chips. There have not been conclusive studies showing that supplementation of the B Vitamins or Vitamin C can actually increase performance.

Next week, we will discuss the fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Bonci, L. Sports Nutrition for Coaches. 2009.
Sizer, F. and E. Whitney. Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, 10th ed. 2006.
Skolnik, H. and A. Chernus. Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance. 2010.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Introduction to Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals are nutrients the body needs to carry out its processes. Often, the REC receives questions regarding the supplementation of different vitamins and minerals. There are many products on the market, including multivitamins, that boast positive health affects and an ability to help athletic performance. Many athletes, and even the general public, aren’t aware of their needs when it comes to vitamins and minerals, or what food sources they come from.

Some people operate on the assumption that if vitamins and minerals are good for you, then it can’t hurt to take more than you need. This isn’t necessarily true. Vitamins and minerals can be toxic at certain levels and may also interfere with medications an individual is on or with the actions of other vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat. If you eat well and have a balanced diet, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, supplementation is not necessary unless you have a specific deficiency. Remember as an active athlete, your caloric and nutrient needs may be higher than non-athletes. This makes it even more important that you consume a diet that includes all food groups. We will give you examples of foods and their nutrient levels to show you how food can help you reach the amount of nutrients your body needs.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is a nutrient intake goal for healthy individuals (no nutrient deficiencies) in certain age and gender categories. The Adequate Intake levels are set for nutrients when there is not enough scientific evidence to support an RDA value. Daily Reference Intakes recommended intakes (DRI) will be used to describe nutrient intakes as there is no need to distinguish between them for our purposes. DRI recommended intakes are different from the Daily Values that are listed on food labels. Daily Values allow consumers to compare nutrient and energy contents of packaged foods and are percentages based on certain caloric intake levels. The DV does not take into account different needs for different age and gender groups and are intended to help compare nutritional value of foods.

This month, we will take a look at different vitamins and minerals and their functions, DRI recommended intakes, and what food sources supply them. We will start next week by focusing on the water soluble vitamins. Then we will explain fat soluble vitamins and their actions within the body. The final post of the month will focus on minerals.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sports nutrition part 2: Foods that = success and when to eat them

We understand that time is at a premium for most student-athletes. Lack of time is the number one reason many people give for failing to eat sensibly. Don’t let your on-field shortcomings be a result of a poor diet; time does not need to dictate your diet. Proper planning, educating yourself on performance enhancing foods, and working with a sports nutritionist are all ways to fuel your body and reach your peak athletic goals while meeting your own personal health goals.
If you must eat on the go, eat on the go with a plan! Develop a weekly menu with the “basics,” things are constantly changing so be prepared for change. Include, whole wheat breads, lean meats (vegan alternative), and plenty of produce. Find a cooler that can fit in your bag, and include portable foods and snacks; sliced fruit, low sugar yogurt, string cheeses, and protein bars and nuts make great travel buddies.

Breaking Your Fast
Eating breakfast every morning is key; the level of glycogen in your liver can be substantially lower in the morning, so you need to refuel your body to replace the energy it used while you slept.
• Student-athletes who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom than those who skip. A lot easier to think when your body has energy fuel.
• Eating last night’s left over’s is okay (i.e. pizza, Chinese food with rice or even cheese and crackers)
• Traditional breakfast food choices:
o Instant grits/bowl of cereal
o Fruit or yogurt smoothie
o Egg and cheese sandwich
o Waffles with fruit
o Hard- boiled eggs

3-4 hours before practice, workout or competition keep these tools in mind:
• Consider choosing foods with lots of carbohydrates, such as
o Rice
o Pasta
o Potatoes
o Yogurt
o Fruit smoothies
o Vegetables
o Muffins
o Crackers
o Bread
• Drink tons of water and sport drinks!

1 hour before a practice, workout or competition keep these tools in mind:
• Have a snack:
o ½ a bagel
o Granola bar
o Large banana
• 12 ounces of sport drink

• Halftime/timeouts
o Drink water and/or your favorite flavor of sport drink.
• Post-workout
o Drink approximately 24 ounces of sport drink or water for every pound of body weight that is lost during competition/practice.
o Monitor you urine color. Apple juice color = dehydration and you need more fluids. Lemonade color = hydrated.
o Eat something within 30 minutes of competition/practice.

What about fast food?
• Pizza with thick crust, vegetables, and Canadian bacon, instead of “meat lover’s”
• Single burgers, instead of “double” or “Monster” with bacon and cheese
• Grilled chicken sandwiches or grilled chicken salads instead of fried chicken
• Stir-fried veggies and steamed white rice, instead of meals with large portions of meat or fried egg rolls.
• Grilled meats verses fried meats
• Waffles, pancakes, grits, scrambled eggs, or grilled ham, instead of bacon, sausage or biscuits.
• Avoid these sandwiches: tuna salad, chicken salad or salami. Try turkey, chicken or roast beef and load up on the veggies.
• Avoid the pasta dishes with large amounts of meat, cheese and cream. Opt for lots of pasta and red sauce.
Remember: Aim to be consistent in your eating habits, go for quality foods and remember timing of meals will impact your performance. Know your schedule and plan ahead by bringing or purchasing appropriate foods and beverages. Try to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to maintain energy levels but don’t have a large meal right before an event. Good eating habits are important at all times (before the game, after the game, and during the off-season)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sports nutrition part 1: Does your food = success?

Superior athletic ability comes from genetics and training. However, witout good food choices and the correct timing of meals, your training and performance will suffer. You need a fueling plan that includes the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, enough vitamins and minerals, and the correct amount of fluids.

Nutrition is one of the corner stone’s of athletic success, combined with training, skill set and rest. You cannot train harder to make-up for a poor diet, or sleep, less and expect to compete at an elite level. Eating for performance equals eating on a schedule; this does not mean you have to clock in for meals, but it does mean that you should get a better understanding of what, how much, and when you eat for optimal performance.

Eating for Performance Goals:

1. Keep a high energy level throughout workouts

2. Repair and strengthen muscles

3. Avoid illness, infection, or any outside force that could suppress immune
system during training

4. Recover from training and prepare for practice, or event

Athletes must fuel the body with calories and nutrients from “healthy” foods. Sports scientists generally recommend a high-performance diet – in moderation – consisting of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates and fats provide the raw material that creates ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that is the true energy source inside the cell. Your daily food intake must contain adequate amounts of calories and nutrients to meet this demand.

Carbohydrates – Play a vital role in many functions of the body, but one of the main functions is to provide energy for the contracting muscle. The storage form of carbohydrates is called Glycogen; found mainly in muscle and the liver. Muscle glycogen is a readily available energy source for the working muscle. Athletes require Carbohydrates in all phases of working out and competition. The brain is highly dependent on glucose as a fuel, so remember carbohydrates are not the enemy.

Fats – Contrary to belief fat is a contributor to health and performance for athletes. You need fat for energy,and to move substances in and out of cells, and it helps keep your brain and nervous system healthy. Lastly, fat helps your body to use some vitamins as well as plant chemicals known as "phytochemicals."

Protein – Major functions include build, repair and maintain your body’s muscle tissue and provide energy, if necessary. Protein is also responsible for healthy blood cells, Key enzymes and strengthening the immune system. Protein cannot build muscle alone, it requires carbohydrate calories to provide the body with energy.

•Vitamins and Minerals - do not give you more energy, but they help to unlock the energy stored in food so your body can use it as fuel.

•Fluid - Water is the most important nutrient; be sure to replace the fluids you lose through sweat when you are active.

Aim to be consistent in your eating habits, go for quality foods and remember timing of meals will impact your performance. Know your schedule and plan ahead by bringing or purchasing appropriate foods and beverages. Try to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to maintain energy levels but don’t have a large meal right before an event. Good eating habits are important at all times (before the game, after the game, and during the off-season)

Part 2 will focus on foods that = success and when to eat them, stay tuned!

Helpful websites:
NCAA Nutrition and Performance

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The “Other” Stimulant: 1,3, Dimethylamyaline (Geranium Oil)

The History
In the ever changing world of supplements that offer miracles with little to no hard work, we are seeing the resurgence of methylhexaneamine (Forthane), which was first patented in 1971 by Eli Lilly as a nasal decongestant. In 2006, Patrick Arnold, under Proviant Technologies and Ergo Pharm released, Ergolean AMP with methylhexaneamine as one of the main ingredients. He claimed that, “AMP gave dieters and athletes an alternative to ephedrine with fewer negative side effects. AMP was touted to have “adrenaline properties” and be “the most powerful weight tool you can purchase without a prescription,”
Methylhexaneamine is now included in a variety of nitric oxide (N.O), pre-workout and weight loss supplements on the internet and in nutrition stores across the country. Companies claim its advantages include powerful energy stimulation, increased metabolic rate, triggering of fat release and capacity to reduce weight, as well as ephedrine-like properties and those of general CNS stimulants.
Don Catlin was one of the first to discover methylhexaneamine on the supplement market back in 2006, when he tested the AMP product by request of the Washington Post. Catlin noted, "The chemical structure is similar to amphetamines and ephedrine." He also stated, "In this class of drugs, everything depends on the dose. Take enough of it and your heart rate and blood pressure will go up and you can die."
What is Methylhexaneamine?
Methylhexaneamine is a stimulant derived from geranium plant oil and is usually mixed with other substances, including caffeine and/or synephrine in dietary supplements as well as “party pills”. Stimulants often speed metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure and the increased activity in the body produces extra heat (especially in hot and humid conditions). Under these conditions the blood vessels in the skin constrict, preventing the body from cooling itself efficiently. By making the user feel more energetic and less fatigued, stimulants keep users exercising longer. This can set the stage for heat illness, heat stroke and sudden death in certain situations. Large amounts of any stimulant can have side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and nervousness.
Other names (synonyms) of Methylhexaneamine used by dietary supplement companies:
1,3, Dimethylamyaline (Most common)
Dimethylamylamine (DMAA)
Dimethylpentylamine (common)
Geranamine (common)
Geranium Oil (common)
Geranium Extract (common)
Forthane (not to be confused with the anesthetic)
Pentylamine, 1,3-dimethyl-
2-Hexanamine, 5-methyl-
Pentylamine, 1,4-dimethyl
The REC has found this substance in many dietary supplements that we are commonly asked about by student-athletes. One of the most popular supplements that lists this ingredient is Jack3d by USPLabs. Jack3d lists 1,3 Dimethylamylamine, along with caffeine, on its label in what USPLabs markets as a pre-workout and nitric oxide boosting supplement. If you are using this product, we recommend that you discontinue use immediately, as 1,3 Dimethylamylamine will cause a positive drug test for banned stimulants.
Other commonly submitted products that contain 1,3 Dimethylamylamine:

USPLabs OxyElite Pro
Cellucor - M5 Extreme
Nutrex - Hemo Rage Black
Nutrex Lipo 6 Black Hers
BPI - 1M.R. (both capsule and powder)
VPX - Anarchy Covalex
BioRhythm - SSIN Juice
PrimaForce - 1,3 Dimethylamylamine
Serious Nutrition Solutions - Adrena-G
PharmaFreak Technologies – Ripped Freak
Nutrabolics – Hemodrene
MAN – Swagger
Neogenix – Velocity
SciVation – Quake 10.0
Muscle Gauge Nutrition – Trim Down
Beast Sports Nutrition – AmphetaLean Extreme
No Limit Labs – NL-Octrain
Muscle Fortress – Muscle Spike
Applied Nutriceuticals – Black Cats
MuscleMeds – Code Red
CTD Labs - Noxipro
And many more
If you are using any of these supplements, please be aware that the presence of this ingredient will cause a positive drug test. As the discovery of the resurgence of this ingredient is relatively new, please submit all supplements to the REC before using the. The REC does not recommend the use of any dietary supplement and encourages athletes to turn to food first for their dietary needs.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Male Enhancement Supplements: Are you willing to risk your career? Or your life?

Male enhancement products are everywhere; on the radio, in the newspaper, and online. Dietary supplements marketed as “a male enhancement” pose a risk to your health and eligibility if you are an athlete. A web search for “male enhancement products” will yield hundreds of hits including many products containing unlisted, and potentially life threatening, ingredients.

Multiple recalls of male enhancement products, often for containing undeclared drugs or ingredients, have occurred in 2010. Recent recalls include a large group of products from Novacare LLC (Stiff Nights, Size Matters, Erex, Mojo, etc.). These products were found to contain an analogue of Sildenafil, an approved FDA drug, that was not listed on the product labels. This could be dangerous as the drug interacts with certain prescription drugs used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. A few days prior to this recall, Revivexxx Extra Strength was recalled for containing the undeclared drug Tadalafil, another FDA approved drug that can interact with prescription medications.

There are countless more male enhancement products that have been recalled over the last 2 years, most for containing undeclared drugs. (To find the FDA releases on these products, visit the REC Facebook page. "Like" the page to stay updated on new supplement recalls.) The FDA has issued many warnings to consumers regarding all male enhancement products because of the high probability that they contain unlisted or dangerous ingredients.

Male enhancement products have often been blamed for positive drug tests. Recently, a USATF Olympic hurdler noted he had taken ExtenZe prior to his drug test. ExtenZe lists DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone); DHEA is an anabolic agent that is commonly found in testosterone boosting products. The NCAA also recently sent out a memo specifically warning member institutions of the possibility of positive tests related to the use male enhancement products and asking that this info be passed on to student-athletes.

The REC encourages athletes to be careful when taking male enhancement dietary supplements. Many of these products pose health concerns and claim to increase your testosterone levels. In the NCAA, high testosterone levels can cause a positive drug test. The REC recommends that you do not use these products, as the risk is not worth the perceived reward.

Be aware, when considering dietary supplements: If someone can gain from your decision, check it out thoroughly before you use. Research the product you are considering and look for any peer-reviewed research that proves it can have the results it says it can. Remember, the product manufacturer is trying to market and sell their product and will use images and words that prey on your insecurities to do so.

WebMD suggests opening up to your doctor about any persistent concerns. Not only are most non-medication methods for male enhancement untested, but some are downright dangerous. Also, some problems are early warning signs of serious health problems; share your concerns with your doctor. They may be able to prescribe something that can really help or give you perspective on what “normal” is.

BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS WHEN CONSIDERING MALE ENHANCEMENT PRODUCTS. The REC recommends that you steer clear of all dietary supplements, but be especially careful of those categories that are recalled often or have been known to contain banned ingredients.

Recent recalls:
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available
FDA MedWatch Reference Available

The FDA advises consumers who have experienced any negative side effects from sexual enhancement products to consult a health care professional and to safely discard the product. Consumers and health care professionals should report adverse events to the FDA's MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online. You can also contact the REC and we will submit your adverse reaction.

Check out the special PDF document on male enhancement supplements released by the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048386.htm

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Remember To Hydrate and Refuel as Fall Sports Report

Fall sports are starting up, bringing thousands of collegiate athletes back to campus for early morning workouts and hot two-a-days. With temperatures in the 90’s, even in the early morning, there is a serious risk for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Even in a gymnasium, high temperatures can still affect athletes. Staying hydrated is essential to combat these serious dangers, as well as aid in performance. Dehydration has other negative effects on health and performance such as: increased heart rate, impaired ability to regulate body temperature, fatigue, increased perceived effort, and decrease in attention.

Many student-athletes arrive at the field or gym already dehydrated. Student-athletes may be dehydrated for many reasons, including: stomach fullness they associate with drinking too much, accessibility to beverages, drinking sugary beverages, taste preferences, and many more. Mistakenly, many believe they only need to drink when thirsty, however this amount of fluid intake is not sufficient to meet most student-athlete needs, especially during physical activity.

Student-athletes should be aware that alcohol acts as a diuretic and even consumption after workouts can have a negative effect on hydration levels. They should avoid drinking alcohol as this contributes to dehydration. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can be especially dangerous if consumed in high temperatures close to or during exercise. Both of these liquids should be avoided, especially when excessive heat is a factor.

Weight loss supplements also typically contain one or more stimulants. Stimulants often speed metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure; the increased activity in the body produces extra heat (especially in hot and humid conditions). Under these conditions the blood vessels in the skin constrict, preventing the body from cooling itself efficiently. These products should be avoided as well.

How does a student-athlete know if they are hydrated or not? Urine color is a good indicator of hydration level. A light yellow color is an indicator of proper fluid levels; a dark color is a sign of dehydration.

What can athletic trainers, coaches, and other athletic staff do to make sure student-athletes are hydrated? First of all, the staff needs to be committed to keeping student-athletes hydrated. This means encouraging frequent water breaks, having water and sports drinks readily available on the sidelines, and educating student-athletes about proper hydration.

In her book, Sport Nutrition for Coaches, Lesli Bonci suggests the following rules to keep your athletes hydrated:

Rule 1: Players must drink 20 ounces of fluid, one hour before practice or games, so that fluid has time to be absorbed into the body and the student-athlete doesn’t feel full or bloated once practice begins.

Rule 2: Players must drink 14-40 ounces of fluid (depending on sweat rate) per hour of exercise. Be sure athletes are drinking the fluids and not pouring them on their heads or swishing and spitting them out.

Rule 3: After exercise, players must drink 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise. To find out this number, have student-athletes weigh themselves before and after practices for a few days to find out approximately how much weight they lose in sweat during exercise.

Rule 4: Have athletes figure out their sweat rate so they know how much to drink per hour during exercise and have them bring a water bottle. To figure out hourly sweat rate, take weight before exercise-weight after exercise+fluid intake during exercise and divide it by number of hours spent exercising. This will give the hourly sweat rate and the amount of fluid the student-athlete should intake per hour of activity.

Share information on hydration with your student-athletes, warn them of the dangers of exercising dehydrated, and make a commitment as a team to watch for any signs of heat exhaustion before it turns into heat stroke. Most importantly, always encourage student-athletes to drink during practices and games.

Many times, heat workouts cause student-athletes to be less hungry. It is equally important for student-athletes to refuel with food following workouts as well as eating before workouts. The increase in workout frequency and intensity will require that athletes eat plenty as they are burning more calories. If athletes do not eat enough, they will end up feeling fatigued. Remind your athletes that proper nutrition and hydration have an effect on energy levels and performance.

Also, as student-athletes begin reporting for fall sports, remind them to check all supplements with the REC.

Source: Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD. "Sport Nutrition for Coaches." 2009.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Introducing myPlaybook: Web-Based Drug and Alcohol Education for Student-Athletes

Drug Free Sport has partnered with Prevention Strategies to bring myPlaybook to colleges, universities, and high schools across the US. myPlaybook is a new, web-based, interactive drug and alcohol education program created specifically for student-athletes.


Prevention Strategies is a research company devoted to providing online education products that aim to prevent alcohol and drug-related harm among teens and young adults. With the support of the NCAA, PS created a program specifically for student-athletes. Over 5,000 current student-athletes have already completed myPlaybook, giving PS data showing the program works to change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to alcohol and drug use.

Because of our involvement with drug testing and the NCAA, Drug Free Sport partnered with Prevention Strategies to make myPlaybook available to institutions across the country.

The Program

myPlaybook is an evidence-based program designed to prevent alcohol and other drug related harm. This interactive, web-based program engages students using state-of-the-art instructional design. There are two separate programs for college and high school. The collegiate program was created specifically for student-athletes. The high school program is designed for the general student population and also includes an extra component for those participating in athletics.

Pilot studies have shown that the program works, with student-athletes demonstrating immediate gains in knowledge of NCAA drug testing procedures and banned substances, negative alcohol expectancies, and negative marijuana expectancies. Over 83% of students felt they benefited from taking myPlaybook.

The core program covers:

• NCAA Banned Substances & Drug Testing
• Alcohol
• Marijuana
• Performance Enhancing Drugs/Dietary Supplements
• Tobacco
• Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drugs

Booster sessions are offered for students who have completed the core program. The boosters contain content that is new and applicable to student-athletes along with content that reinforces the core program. The REC will help choose booster topics based on the questions student-athletes are asking the most.

Want to know more?

You can learn more about myPlaybook by visiting the website (click here) or by signing up for a Webinar to learn more about the research behind the program and ways to fund the use at your institution. Click here to sign up. Drug Free Sport can set you up with a full user account so that you can see the program the same way student-athletes see it or you can choose to receive a one-on-one tour from a DFS staff member and ask questions as you learn about the program.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heat Illness (Muscle Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke)

"Heat illness was the third leading cause of death amoung high school athletes in 2004.”

Summer is in full swing and the temperatures are rising. By 7:00a.m. the sun is already out and the thermometer can read 80 degrees, with 70% relative humidity. Workouts in the heat can be challenging and dangerous if you don’t take steps to help your body adjust. You could suffer some form of heat illness that could lead to heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke. Heat edema, heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are the five common types of heat illness typically associated with strenuous activity in hot, humid weather (Marsh and Jenkins (2002)). Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It's one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe (Mayo Clinic). Heatstroke, a result of the escalation of heat cramps and heat exhaustion, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher.

Many people comment that workouts in hot conditions are tougher, they get tired faster, and they can’t last as long. Much of this can be attributed to the increased work the body has to go through to cool itself while you workout. These are early symptoms of heat exhaustion. When you exercise, your body temperature rises. To help cool itself down, your body sweats. You will notice in heat, that your body begins to sweat more and sooner than when you exercise in cool weather. To help keep yourself cool, wear lighter fabrics and lighter colors. Also, use a hat, one that has breathable fabric, to keep your head and your face cool.

Your body also looses more water due to the increase in sweating. As a result, you may experience heat cramps. Signs and symptoms of heat cramps usually include heavy sweating, fatigue, thirst and muscle cramps. Immediate attention usually prevents heat cramps from progressing to heat exhaustion. Be sure to hydrate, drinking 6-8 oz of water or sports drink every 15-20 minutes. (If you are working out for less than 80 minutes, you can just drink water, but it is recommended that you do a mixture of sports drinks and water). You can carry a bottle with you or plan your routes so that you are passing by water fountains frequently. If you will be working out in the same place for extended periods of time, bring a cooler to keep water cold. Be aware that even with these precautions you may experience muscle cramps.

Ways to avoid heat illness:

• Always wear sunscreen, even underneath clothing and remember to reapply if you will be outside for an extended period of time.
• Wearing sunglasses will help reduce damage to your eyes and keep you from squinting.
• Stay hydrated. Dehydration impedes your ability to sweat.
• Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol can result in dehydration, along with other adverse effects on performance.
• Be smart. Reducing the intensity of your workout, or easing into workouts in heat, can also help your body regulate and get used to the higher temperatures. Don’t expect to be able to do the same workout in 85 degrees that you could in 40 degrees.
• Avoid stimulants before workouts. Stimulants often speed metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure. This increased activity in the body produces extra heat (especially in hot and humid conditions). Under these conditions the blood vessels in the skin constrict, preventing the body from cooling itself efficiently. By making the user feel more energetic and less fatigued, stimulants keep users exercising longer. This can set the stage for heat illness, heat stroke and sudden death in certain situations.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very dangerous conditions. If you start to feel dizzy or nauseated, stop what you are doing and move to a shaded, cool area or head inside. Use cool towels and washcloths to cool your skin slowly.

Ultimately, both exercise related heat illness and sunburn are preventable injuries. Consequently, it is the responsibility of those caring for athletes, the parents, coaches, trainers, and team doctors, to ensure that athletes are educated in preventative strategies and are properly monitored during training or competition in the heat.

Coris EE, Ramirez AM, Van Durme DJ. Heat illness in
athletes: the dangerous combination of heat, humidity and
exercise. Sports Medicine. 2004; 34(1):9–16.

Wendt D, van Loon LJC, van Marken Lichtenbelt WD.
Thermoregulation during exercise in the heat: strategies
for maintaining health and performance. Sports Medicine.
2007; 37(8):669–682.

Marsh SA, Jenkins DG. Physiological responses to the
menstrual cycle: implications for the development of heat
illness in female athletes. Sports . 2002; 32(10):601–614.

Noakes TD. A modern classifi cation of the exercise-related
heat illnesses. J Science and Medicine in Sport. 2008;

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recognizing Risky Supplements

Millions of people around the world rely on dietary supplements because they believe they are not capable of consuming enough nutrients through a proper diet. Athletes in particular believe the claims made by supplement companies; that their products will increase muscle, speed recovery, and help athletic performance. Americans, including athletes, spent 23.7 billion dollars in 2009 on scientifically unproven dietary supplements.

Every day, the Resource Exchange Center is asked about a new product or a new company. Athletes are presented with a multitude of information about supplements, from the manufacturer, online, at a gym, or through friends and family.

How do you decide which ones to try? While the REC does not recommend the use of any supplement because there is no guarantee that they are safe or effective, we want to give you some RED FLAG indicators to watch out for when you are considering the use of a product.

RED FLAG 1: Natural testosterone booster that increases testosterone levels.

• Legal steroid
• Alternative steroid
• Test Booster

REC Stance: Elevated testosterone levels can be the cause of a failed drug test. We most often see this statement made with products that contain tribulus. Tribulus has not been scientifically proven to have the capability to increase testosterone levels.

RED FLAG 2: Natural estrogen reduction. (aromatase inhibitor, estrogen blocker, anti-estrogens)

REC Stance: Anti-Estrogens can cause a positive drug test. Anti-Estrogens are often times used by anabolic steroid users to offset the adverse reaction know as Gynecomastia (man boobs).

RED FLAG 3: Your friend recommends a product, or you buy a product before researching it, but you can’t seem to find this particular product on the manufacturer’s website or the website at all.

REC Stance: We often get asked about products that companies no longer list on their websites or claim they do not produce. We see this when a company has been asked to pull their product from the market “voluntarily” by the FDA because of post market analysis. The product may also have been pulled by the company but distributors failed to pull it from their shelves. Lastly, your product is produced outside the US or is being sold illegally through third party shippers.

RED FLAG 4: You can’t find Supplement Facts and label information on the manufacturer’s website.

REC Stance: What are they trying to hide? If the manufacturer doesn’t want to list the label information on their website, they may have reasons to keep this information hidden or difficult to find.

RED FLAG 5: You see these listed ingredients or anything that resembles them:
7-Keto (DHEA)
ma haung
Colostrum (bovine)
Anything that is the purposeful misspelling of any of the above or any steroid, plus many more.

REC Stance: These are all ingredients that can be found in many nutritional supplements. Many sport governing bodies ban all of these substances including the NCAA, MLB, NFL, PGA TOUR, etc…and you will fail a drug test if you consume a product containing one. A number of health risks can be associated with many of these substances as they are related to anabolic steroids.

RED FLAG 6: You see any of these endings or prefixes:

REC Stance: If a product starts or ends with any of the above, you have a chance of testing positive on a drug test. You will want to avoid any products with ingredients containing these.

RED FLAG 7: If the product has been recalled by the FDA in the past or present including:
Products recalled on BodyBuilding.com
Weight loss supplements
Ephedra products

REC Stance:
It was recalled because it posed a threat to the general public. The majority of these products can cause a positive drug test and adverse reactions.

Common Myths about Dietary Supplements

If a substance is natural, it must be safe. NOT TRUE
If a substance is natural, it must be healthy and beneficial. NOT TRUE
More is better. ALMOST NEVER TRUE
Athletes are deficient in important compounds. ALMOST NEVER TRUE

Remember: Athletes should consume a diet that includes a variety of foods to optimize vitamin and mineral intakes rather than dietary supplements. (The American College of Sports Medicine’s stance on dietary supplements)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Adderall: Performance Enhancing Drug for the Brain?

The use of prescription stimulants as a study and test aid for students is an increasingly popular trend. The most common of these drugs is Adderall, a stimulant of the central nervous system that is used as a medication for those with ADHD. It increases alertness and concentration, overall cognitive performance, and decreases fatigue. Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act because of its potential for abuse and dependence and yet many college students are using this drug as a study and test aid unworried about the potential consequences.

60 Minutes featured a story on Adderall, focusing on how healthy students use the drug to boost their brain power. The use of what scientist call cognitive enhancers is becoming more common among college and high school students. One study estimated that 6.4% of college students are using stimulants non medically, a number that the Partnership for Drug Free America believes is closer to 25%.

Student interviews and a study at the University of Kentucky-Lexington seem to support these higher numbers. In an interview with Katie Couric, students stated that it was very common to see other students using the pills when they needed to turn out a final paper or cram for an exam. Students commented that taking the drug made them more focused, more interested, and more detail oriented when reading and studying material. A study at the university suggests that around 34% of students are using a stimulant to help them academically.

The big question is; is using Adderall or Ritalin to focus and study longer using a performance enhancing drug for the brain? About 43% of these students think they are increasing their overall grades by at least one letter. Does that mean these drugs are an unfair advantage for students who do not need them medically?

We can draw parallels to the debate against the use of PEDs in sport. There is a pressure for students to get good grades and there is an air of competition in collegiate academics. Students want the best internships and jobs and being the top of the class can give them an extra edge. If half of students improve their grades using drugs, will the other half be forced to use as well to keep up? Will the demand for non-prescription stimulants increase, causing them to become more expensive and to be sold and traded on the black market?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, students who use Adderall nonmedically are more likely to be binge drinkers or heavy drinkers and use illicit drugs when compared to their non-Adderall using peers. This is consistent with what we see with students who use steroids as well.

And of course, like steroids, there are potential consequences that are related to the use of the drug. Side effects of taking Adderall include loss of appetite, insomnia, abdominal pains, temporary increase in blood pressure, weight loss, mood swings, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, increased heart rate, fever and infections. Psychosis is also a side effect of the drug. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that these stimulants can be addictive and can lead to heart and blood pressure problems. The long term effect on people without attention disorder is also an unknown.

There are arguments that it comes down to a moral belief. Should we use drugs to enhance the abilities of otherwise healthy individuals? What about those who need Adderall because of attention disorder? This drug is supposed to help them function like everyone else. If someone who isn’t afflicted takes Adderall, they again have an advantage.

It is clear that education on the use of drugs needs to be expanded beyond the traditional drugs of abuse (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc.). Those students who believe they are taking a harmless drug that will improve their cognitive abilities need to be aware of the side effects. Also, Adderall is not a miracle drug and cannot replace time in a classroom, or attending lectures.

There is no such thing as a magic pill.

A word of warning: There are serious consequences if you are in possession of the pill without a prescription or if you are caught selling Adderall. It is illegal and can result in jail time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

Fad diets, weight loss supplements, and quick fixes have been promising fast, easy weight loss for years. The reality is, taking a pill or eating one special food will not magically transform your body into the one you have always dreamed of. It is even simpler than that. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise to shed unwanted pounds. Sure, it may take a little longer but the weight loss will last, along with your new healthy habits that can affect you in more ways than just what the scale says. Before you decide to try a weight loss program, talk with your team physician, sports nutritionist and athletic trainer (or your regular physician) to make sure that weight loss is a smart choice for you and that you are healthy enough to exercise.

Before considering weight loss, please remember there are things about our bodies over which we have no control, or that we cannot change like height, body frame, and body shape. On the other hand, there are variables like fluid content of the body, muscle mass, and body fat, that you can change with a goal to positively affect performance and health. If you still choose to start a weight loss program, make sure you are doing it for yourself and not someone else. Set realistic and achievable goals that you can maintain over your lifetime.

Tips for healthy weight loss:

One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. To lose a pound a week, you need to create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day. It seems pretty simple when you look at it this way, but most people grossly underestimate the calories they take in each day or the amount of calories they need in a day.

To estimate how many calories you are currently consuming, eat as you have been normally and keep a food journal, writing down everything you eat or drink for a whole week (including the weekend). Be sure to include even very small snacks, like a handful of pretzels or a cookie. Use an online calorie counter, like the one at MyPyramid.gov, to help you find your calorie intakes for each day. Get an average of your calories over the seven day period. Use that as your current caloric intake.

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by cutting calories and adding in exercise (Athletes DO NOT need additional exercise on top of their current workout or practice routine). Small changes in your dietary habits can help you cut 500 calories a day. Here are some tips for cutting back calories while still eating plenty of foods:

1. Be aware of portion sizes. Measure out your portions for awhile until you get used to their look and feel. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
2. Eat slowly to allow your body to process the feeling of being full. Get rid of the “clean your plate” mentality.
3. Try to only get 250 calories from beverages a day. This may mean cutting down to one soda, coffee, or juice a day. Drink more water.
4. Eat a vegetable with every meal and eat it first, before meat and dessert.
5. Pack dried fruit and oranges, apples, or bananas in your work or school bag each day. Between meals, snack on these instead of going to the vending machine.
6. Choose a salad instead of French fries for a side at fast food restaurants.
7. Eat breakfast; this will help you eat more successfully the remainder of the day. Research has shown that people, who eat breakfast, manage their weight better than those who do not eat breakfast.
8. Eat whole grains such as whole-grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, etc. They offer essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.
9. Eat healthy fats (olive oil, vegetable oils, avocados and nuts) that are more heart healthy in small amounts.
10. Alcohol provides empty calories. If you are trying to lose weight, cut back your alcohol intake.

Keep a food journal as you start to change your eating habits. This will help ensure that you are making good choices most of the time. You don’t have to cut out your favorite foods, just eat less of them and balance them with other foods throughout the day. Can’t get enough cookies? Place servings in separate bags and grab one serving out of the cupboard. Better yet, don’t keep sweets in the house so that you have to leave the house to indulge. You will still have your favorite foods, just less often.

The other side to losing weight the healthy way is adding in exercise. Add exercise in slowly. For example, don’t jump on a treadmill and try to run five miles the first time out. Start with a 30 minute walk and slowly increase speed and time. Most importantly, find physical activity you enjoy doing. Ride bike, elliptical, swim, run, join step aerobics class, etc. Whatever it is, the more you enjoy it the more likely you are to actually do it. Shoot for 30-60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. (Athletes DO NOT need additional exercise on top of their current workout or practice routine.)

Strength training can help speed metabolism by converting fat to lean muscle tissue. This can help you burn more calories throughout the day. Again, don’t overdo it. You should be lifting weight heavy enough to be difficult but not to the point where you are in pain doing the movement. Gains in strength and muscular endurance come slowly. Lift 3-4 times a week but don’t lift the same muscles two days in a row. (Athletes DO NOT need additional exercise on top of their current workout or practice routine.)

If you are not eating enough, and calories expended during exercise are too high, the end result may be a decrease in muscle mass in addition to body fat. This may result in a decrease in strength, speed and endurance. The body needs fuel to support exercise. If you starve your body, it will try to save whatever calories it can as fat in preparation for starvation. Keep this in mind, especially if you are an athlete trying to decrease body fat.

A final word of advice: Set goals for yourself that are more than just a number on the scale. Weight can be deceiving. Keep track of how your clothes are fitting. Set a goal to run a 5K or participate in a Walk for MS. These small goals will shift the focus off of just losing pounds to maintaining a healthier lifestyle and achievement.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The 500 Calorie Diet and HCG - What you need to know

There are hundreds of diets out there promising fast, easy results. Some of these diets are based on point systems while others focus on eating alot of one certain food that will help facilitate weight loss. Recently, we have been seeing more and more diets based on severe calorie restriction. These diets can have serious risks.

Very low calorie diets (VLCD), diets where the individual consumes under 800 calories a day, have been used to jump start weight loss for individuals with a high Body Mass Index (BMI). The Weight Control Info Network, part of the National Institute of Health, suggests that only those who are obese, with a BMI of 30 or more should consider using these diets (candidates need to also have a high body fat percentage), and then only under medical supervision. The goal of these diets is to help individuals lose weight rapidly while also adding physical activity and nutrition guidance. These programs typically last from 4-16 weeks with an average weight loss of 3-5 pounds a week.

The 500 calorie diet is a popular VLCD that is being promoted for its ability to help individuals drop weight fast without exercise. The human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone is being added to these diets as a proposed way to capitalize on the calorie deficiency. HCG is a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in the woman’s ovary. It is often used as a fertility treatment for those who are trying to conceive.

Some companies claim that severely restricting caloric intake along with taking the HCG hormone tricks the body into thinking it is pregnant. Because it is not getting enough calories through food, it begins to feed off the body’s fat for nutrients and fuel. Others claim that the HCG makes the dieter feel fuller therefore helping them stay on the 500 calorie diet. According the the Mayo Clinic, there have been no studies that prove these claims. Facts and Comparisons states that HCG has no known effect on fat mobilization, appetite or sense of hunger, or body fat distribution.

VLCD can cause the individual to feel a loss of energy and be fatigued. Other less serious side effects include constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. Some people experience serious side effects such as gallstones when they drop weight quickly. Adding HCG injections to the restricted diet can cause a number of side effects including blood clots, headache, depression, irritability, swelling, and pain at the injection site. These diets are not suitable for children or teens and can also have an effect on pre-existing medical conditions.

For athletes, HCG is banned by all organizations under the peptide hormone and analogue class. This hormone will cause a positive drug test. The use of this hormone for weight loss is NOT recommended by the REC.

For anyone considering either diet option, there are a number of negatives to consider. First of all, rapid weight loss, such as 1-2 pounds a day, is not recommended. A more healthy and realistic goal is 1-2 pounds per week. In the long run, slow weight loss is more sustainable than is rapid weight loss. Also, research shows that those who limit their caloric intake to 400-800 calories a day gain back the weight they lost within six months. Severe dietary restriction is difficult to follow in the long term.

Diets such as these require constant monitoring as the reduction of calories makes the sources of the calories even more essential. The foods ingested must contain the needed vitamins and minerals along with a good ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Just randomly cutting calories can deprive the body of needed nutrients and fuels, especially for those who are also physically active.

Restriction can also affect metabolism in a negative way, putting the body into starvation mode and causing it to slow down its metabolism. This may also cause the body to eat away at the protein in lean muscle tissue to fuel its daily processes.

Before considering VLCD, consult your physician. There are plenty of other more sustainable and less risky ways to gain control over your weight. Next week, we will suggest strategies to help lose weight without severely cutting calories or using weight loss supplements.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Effects of Alcohol on Athletic Performance

Many of us know that excessive amounts of alcohol can negatively impact our health. The dangers of liver deterioration, dementia and cancers of the mouth, throat and lungs have been stressed to us for most of our lives. Alcohol is toxic to the body and only provides empty calories. For collegiate, professional and recreational athletes, there is also a direct effect of alcohol consumption on performance, often for days after an episode of drinking. This includes not only competition, but effects on practice, strength training and conditioning sessions as well. Still many athletes do not understand the full effect it has on the body. In a survey conducted by the NCAA, over 60 % of student-athletes continue to believe that their use of alcoholic beverage has no effect on athletic performance or on their general health.

Negative Effects on Performance

Generally, alcohol does not increase performance in sports and it has many harmful effects associated with its use. The detrimental effects of alcohol on athletic performance are very well documented and include impairment of the following:

•Complex and fine motor skills
•Balance and steadiness
•Reaction time
•Memory and information processing
•Alters temperature regulation during prolonged exercise in the cold or heat
•Ability to get a good nights rest (Drinking excessively can cause you to toss and turn and wake up tired instead of well rested.)
•Drinking can also delay muscle recovery by reducing the production of growth hormone, testosterone and IGF.

Furthermore, its diuretic effect may lead to dehydration and depletion of key electrolytes (potassium and sodium) as well as minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc, that are vital to nerve and muscle coordination. For an athlete who drinks moderately heavy or heavily one night, dehydration can last a few days, especially since few athletes drink water between alcoholic beverages or drink enough the next day to make up for the water loss. When an individual drinks heavily and does not consume water or sports drinks, they have a good chance of developing a hangover. Hangovers often are characterized by nausea, headache, body ache pain and fatigue following a night or day of drinking. Athletes that experience hangovers have been known to perform poorly on tests, in practice or games, or even injure themselves.

Potential negative Effects on Life

Drinking lowers inhibitions. Decision making is impaired and can cause you to engage in behaviors that you may not do sober, including:

•Beer Pong and other drinking games
•Strip Poker
•Driving while intoxicated
•Going home with a total stranger
•Having unprotected sex
•Fighting (this includes friend and family members)

Some of these can lead to injury (physical and mental), jail, hospitalization and death.

Alcohol and its effect on other nutrients

Alcoholic beverages are high in calories, anywhere from 80-800 calories per drink, calories that you may not consume otherwise. Also, alcohol may promote fat storage in the body as the body stores harmless fat and burns the alcohol as fuel. This can lead to a “beer belly”. After a night of drinking, many people choose to eat high fat foods to excess causing weight gain. Excess fat weight can slow down an athlete.

Alcohol does not contain proteins, vitamins or minerals and it may actually interfere with the absorption of key vital nutrients such as folic acid, zinc and thiamin. These nutrients are involved in the metabolism of fat, proteins and the formation of hemoglobin. The lack of these vitamins can lower energy and oxygen carrying capacity and thus negatively affect endurance sports.

Be responsible

Everyone responds differently to alcohol based on gender, body weight and metabolism. So keep in mind that a 6’4” 325 lb. offensive lineman who drinks regularly, more than likely will drink more than the 5’4” 137 lb. sprinter who drinks occasionally. Don’t be pressured into drinking contests with peers your same size and age, other factors must be accounted for.

Develop rules for yourself inside and outside of competition. For example, choose not to drink in season and always limit the amount consumed in one sitting. Try alternating alcoholic beverages with water when you are out with friends. Don’t drink on an empty stomach and plan out snacks or meals ahead of time to avoid eating high fat foods later on. Refrain from participating in drinking games that increase the speed and amount of drinks you consume.

Being aware of how alcohol affects your performance can help you make informed choices on if and when to drink. The next time you plan on going out, think back to two-a-days, summer workouts, the goals you set for the season, and your teammates.

Once you’ve done that take these facts to the bar:

•Consuming 5 or more alcoholic beverages in one night will affect brain and body activities for up to 3 days.
•Two consecutive nights of binge drinking will affect brain and body activities for up to 5 days.

Additional references:

The National Center for Drug Free Sport: www.drugfreesport.com
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America: http://www.drugfree.org/Portal/
Mothers against drug driving: http://www.madd.org/
RADD - the entertainment industry's voice for road safety RADD was( formerly known as Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving): http://www.radd.org/
Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.aa.org/index.cfm?Media=PlayFlash
Teen New Drivers' Homepage provides useful tips for safer driving. www.teendriving.com
For information on peer-based collegiate alcohol abuse prevention programs, see www.bacchusgamma.org
National Motorists Association www.motorists.org
Women for Sobriety Encourages emotional and spiritual growth 1-800-333-1606 www.womenforsobriety.org
United States DUI Laws dui.drivinglaws.org
Sports Nutrition for Coaches, Bonci.
Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies, Sizer and Whitney.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

K2 Bursts Onto the Scene as a Dangerous New Drug

A new player in the street drug portfolio is drawing the attention of law enforcement officials, schools, medical professionals and athletic departments. The new substance, most commonly referred to as K2, is a synthetic compound that mimics the effects of marijuana. Its use is not easily identified. It has also been found under names such as Spice and Spice Gold. Because of its relatively low cost and legal status, this drug has become a popular way to get high.

The ingredients listed on a package of K2 incense are all herbs. The danger lies in the unlisted compounds known as JWH-018 and JWH-073. These compounds give K2 its mind-altering affect. JWH-018 and JWH-073 are synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of marijuana but, as of now, are not detected in routine urine testing. Users like the idea of getting the high of marijuana without being in danger of prosecution for drug use.

The substance initially was sold as an incense in coffee shops and gas station convenience stores but has now moved into herb stores, also known as head shops, according to Jeremy Morris, senior forensics scientist at the Johnson County (Kansas) Criminalistics Laboratory. While sold as incense, it is clearly intended for smoking, he said.

K2 smells and tastes horrible when it is smoked. Because of its unpleasant taste, new varieties such as K2 cherry and K2 grape have appeared. A person under the influence of K2 will appear much as someone using marijuana with characteristics such as reddening of the eyes and lethargy. Some internet forums indicate constant use can be addictive.

“The problem is the JWH compounds. They multiply the negative effects of marijuana three to five times. Symptoms include a racing heart, skyrocketing blood pressure and high anxiety,” Morris said. “They think their heart will explode. Clearly this is not something to fool around with.”

A teen in southwest Missouri experienced a seizure and became non-responsive within less than a minute of smoking K2. He spent about six hours in an intensive care unit and around 18 hours in the hospital. He was on oxygen and was almost put on a ventilator. There have been hospitalizations in Maine, Florida, Kansas, and Missouri.

Both the Olympic Analytical Laboratory at UCLA and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake have samples of K2 where they are developing a plan to analyze the product.

Germany was one of the first places where products containing the JWH compounds were seen. Officials there encountered a large number of cases involving the version known as Spice in 2008 and moved quickly, making those products illegal under the German Narcotics Law in early 2009.

The state of Kansas became the first to outlaw K2 with legislation signed by the governor in early March. Neither K2 nor its ingredients are currently controlled substances in any other state or federal jurisdiction, so use of the drug is not illegal outside of the state of Kansas. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is monitoring JWH-018 and JWH-073 and has listed them as drugs and chemicals of concern. The Missouri legislature is expected to consider a bill in its 2010 session.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is monitoring K2 but their process for adding a substance to the schedule of controlled substances is a long process unless done on an emergency basis. Regardless of the legal aspects of K2, the drug has demonstrated health dangers and is not a harmless drug.

Contributed to by Sally Huggins, Insight Contributor (DFS newsletter)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dietary Supplement Safety

Currently, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of the ingredients in a dietary supplement, but the FDA is not authorized by statute to require data supporting safety (double blind or placebo studies), as is the case for food additives or drugs. The FDA acts reactively to any supplement that is found to be harmful or contaminated. Actions to restrict the availability of a dietary supplement must proceed from a demonstration by the FDA of a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers under conditions of recommended use. Anything labeled as a dietary supplement is not guaranteed to be effective, safe, or legal.

Dietary supplements are widely available through a rapidly expanding market of products that are commonly advertised as being beneficial for health, performance enhancement, and disease prevention. There are hundreds of companies that manufacture and market these products through the internet, radio, magazines, health stores, and more. A search for creatine can bring up literally hundreds of different products made in different parts of the country and the world. The same can be said for a search for daily multivitamins, protein, and “legal steroids”. As a consumer, wading through this information can be overwhelming. Many consumers don’t research the products they are taking at all. They may see or hear something on the internet, TV, or radio that prompts them to buy a dietary supplement without any further thought. With tons of products claiming to “cause rapid weight loss”, “stop joint pain”, or “build large amounts of muscle” it is easy to see why. Behind these claims there is a lack of proof and an unknown risk.

It isn’t that all dietary supplements are harmful to our health; it is however the lack of regulation within the industry that causes concern. A good example of this would be ephedra. It took the FDA ten years to ban dietary supplement products containing ephedra, a weight loss and body building supplement ingredient that was found to cause serious medical risks and death. The evaluation of such products is especially difficult since many contain multiple ingredients, have a changing composition over time, or are used intermittently at doses difficult to measure. Because of these difficulties, it may take a long time for the current system of voluntary adverse event reporting to detect problems. Many dietary supplements have been taken off the shelves because they have been found to be contaminated with steroids that are dangerous and potentially deadly. BodyBuilding.com, one of the largest retailers of dietary supplements, voluntarily recalled 65 supplements that may contain steroids off their shelves in November 2009. Any dietary supplement can be contaminated and there is no guarantee that the ingredients listed on the label are all the ingredients in the product.

We should also note that “all natural” does not mean a product is safe to consume, especially if it is marketed and sold as a dietary supplement. There are plenty of natural berries and mushrooms that are poisonous to humans. Grass is natural but the human body can’t digest it (The cellulose makes it indigestible). Plants hold great power and with that power we have the ability to manufacture compounds for a wide variety of human uses: foods, dyes, medicines, construction materials, paper to name only a few. Whether to make a useful medicine or build the homes that we live in; the plant has to be studied, understood and tested. You wouldn’t move into a home that had the capability of being contaminated with a pollutant or poison, so why would you put something in your body with the same capability?

How do we change the current system?

In February, Senator John McCain introduced the Dietary Supplement Safety Act in an attempt to further regulate dietary supplements that may be harmful to health. The new legislation would require that manufacturers register with the FDA and disclose all ingredients in the supplement on the label. This legislation would also give the FDA mandatory recall authority if a product is found to be unsafe or harmful.

Opposition to this legislation is concerned about the authority of the FDA to ban certain products being sold as dietary supplements. There have been claims that pharmaceutical companies would then try to sell them as expensive drugs. There is also a concern that the inexpensive dietary supplement industry will be forced to raise prices on their products to compensate for the extra overhead of the paperwork and time required to be approved by the FDA.

Remember there are vested interests everywhere. Opponents of the bill will try to convince the public that the FDA is under the influence of large pharmaceutical companies who are trying to market former supplements as drugs at a higher cost. But these opponents also stand to lose a lot of money when required to prove their products are safe and effective. Money is a driving force for either side.

It comes down to health and safety. The products are not proven to be safe or effective. They could be a waste of time or money or they could not be. But before you spend the money and the time to find and use dietary supplements, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the products are safe and effective?

Drug Free Sport is a supporter of Supplement Safety Now, a public protection initiative urging Congress to establish regulatory framework to ensure over-the-counter supplements are safe and effective. Visit SupplementSafetyNow.com to learn more.

For more information and research on dietary supplements, please visit the National Institutes of Health website and PubMed.gov.

** The REC DOES NOT recommend the use of any dietary supplement. Always consult with a doctor before taking any type of dietary supplement.