Competition season

Summer is approaching and the big competitions are on the horizon.  For some this is the Aqua Sprint Finals and the Community Games event, but for most of our club athletes it is the Division 2 National Championships and for some others it will be the Division 1 and Irish Open .  For others it will also include the Triathlon events.

So to be ready to compete we must focus on the critical elements of training. These include technique, sleep, hydration, nutrition and training like you intend to compete, i.e. FAST. The following short article gives you the reason why you as an athlete need to be motivated, be resilient, be ambitious, and not afraid to PUSH (Poem that says it all on the notice board).

The distribution of fast-twitch fibres is actually fairly evenly distributed between our muscles at birth. Most of us will possess somewhere between 45-55% fast-twitch and 45-55% slow-twitch fibres.  The reality is, fast-twitch fibres are quite lazy. They need to be prodded into action by considerable mental input. This increases the flow of electrical impulses to the motor units and literally ‘switches them on’.

For the majority, our speed and power depends on the way our sporting experiences are shaped and crucially, how we train our muscle fibres throughout our sporting career.

The key to unlocking maximal speed lies in training. Without training we will be neither super-endurance, nor super-fast, strong or powerful.

Training fast-twitch fibre correctly and consistently is the key to improved strength, speed and power. And that training comes in three parts.

The enhancement of speed relies not only on training

  1. The muscles, but also
  2. the mind – and, as recent sports scientific studies prove,
  3. the central nervous system as well.

Last week we were asking..

1.      What exactly do CHO’s do?

Answer – They provide a high intensity energy source

  • Provide energy for all nutrients to be shuttled into cells
  • Switches off fat oxidation
  • Spares protein

They can effect Cortisol levels

  • A powerful catabolic hormone

They have satiating effect so athletes also need to curb potential Carbohydrate addictions (e.g. sugar).

2.     What is the job of Protein?

Answer – Growth, repair of muscles and develops bone strength

  • Boosts immune function
  • Stimulates protein synthesis – Controls the release of insulin
  • High Thermic Effect (see explanatory article on club website).
  • Satiating to athletes

3.     What is the role of Fats in a diet?

Answer – Some good, some bad!

  • ‘Protection and insulation’
  • Stimulate muscle growth
  • Slow energy source

Necessary for:

  • uptake of fat soluble vitamins
  • Production of recovery hormones
  • Can increase metabolic rate

What is the Thermic Effect of Food?  The thermic effect of food, also known as diet-induced thermogenesis or postprandial thermogenesis, is a reference to the increase in metabolic rate (i.e. the rate at which your body burns calories) that occurs after ingestion of food. When you eat food, your body must expend some energy (i.e. calories) to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients in the food you’ve eaten. Therefore, as a result of the thermic effect of food, by consuming calories you actually increase the rate at which your body burns calories.

Implications of the Thermic Effect of Food on Metabolic Rate:  So how does the thermic effect of food affect your overall metabolic rate? Based on the definition provided above, we already know that the thermic effect of food will increase your metabolic rate, but the real question is “How much calorie burn does the thermic effect of food account for?” Well, the general consensus in the scientific community is that the thermic effect of food accounts for roughly 5 to 10 % of the energy content of the food ingested. This would mean, for example, that if you eat a 400 calorie meal, you can reasonably expect somewhere between 20 to 40 calories to be burned in the process of digesting, absorbing, and storing the nutrients from the meal. Or, as another example, if you eat 2000 calories per day, roughly 100 to 200 calories will be burned each day as a result of the thermic effect of food.

Factors that Influence the Thermic Effect of Food:  There are many factors that influence the magnitude of the thermic effect of food. These factors include things that are under your control, such as meal size, meal frequency, meal composition, meal pattern, and body composition, and things that are not under your control, such as age, gender, hormone levels, and genetics. For the purposes of this article we’ll put aside discussion of the thermic effect of food factors that are not under your control, and focus on those that are.

Influence of Meal Size on the Thermic Effect of Food:  There is a direct correlation between meal size and the thermic effect of food. The more calories there are in a meal, the greater the thermic effect of food will be as a result of consuming that meal (assuming that the relative proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates remain the same in each meal). This is no surprise, since the thermic effect of food is caused by the digestion, absorption, and storage of consumed nutrients. If you consume more nutrients, it follows that your body will need to expend more energy to process them.

Keep in mind that if you are trying to lose weight it does not make sense to increase your meal sizes to augment the thermic effect of food. Given that your weight is ultimately dependent on your caloric balance, increasing your meal sizes will ultimately result in an overall greater calorie consumption despite the slight increase in calories burned through the thermic effect of food. For example, if you were to eat a 500 calorie meal, 50 calories (or 10%) would be expected to be burned due to the thermic effect of food, so you would have a net calorie consumption of 500 – 50 = 450 calories. If you double the size of the meal to 1000 calories, 100 calories (or 10%) would be expected to be burned due to the thermic effect of food, so you would have a net calorie consumption of 1000 – 100 = 900 calories. In the end, you might have doubled the thermic effect of food from 50 calories to 100 calories, but you have also doubled your net calorie consumption from 450 calories to 900 calories, so you will still gain weight.

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