Yoga Walks The Talk – Just 20 Minutes Significantly Improves Brain Function

Researchers report that a single, 20-minute session of yoga significantly improved participants’ speed and accuracy on tests of working memory and inhibitory control, two measures of brain function associated with the ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information. Participants performed significantly better immediately after the yoga practice than after moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time.

Emotions such as anger may have a significant impact on the body’s physiological response to the situation that elicits the emotion which affect memory and focus. Few activities can alter that state better than meditation and yoga. (more…)

What To Eat Before Cardio

One dilemma facing athletes is whether to eat anything before cardio, and if so, what. A recent study sheds some light on this and suggests the best option. (1).

The rationale for cardio on an empty stomach is obviously to increase fat burning. When carbs are taken in before exercise the carbs are preferentially used for fuel, sparing fat. On the other hand exercising on an empty stomach elevates cortisol levels which break down not only fats but muscle for fuel.

The other option is ingesting protein before exercise. This may spare muscle, but does it inhibit fat burning? Surprisingly, according to the study, it depends on the type of protein.

Rats were exercised under 4 different conditions. (1) Fasting. (2) Glucose meal before exercise. (3) whole milk protein before exercise (4) lactalbumin enriched whey before exercise.

At the end of the study, the glucose and milk protein fed rats gained fat mass, showing that these diets blunted the fat burning from exercise. The fasted rats lost both muscle and fat, whereas the whey fed rats lost just as much fat as the fasted rats, but gained muscle.

The moral is to burn fat and actually build muscle while doing cardio, ingest whey protein beforehand.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2002 Sep;283(3):E565-72

A preexercise alpha-lactalbumin-enriched whey protein meal preserves lipid oxidation and decreases adiposity in rats.

Bouthegourd JC, Roseau SM, Makarios-Lahham L, Leruyet PM, Tome DG, Even PC.

Unite Mixte de recherche de Physiologie de la Nutrition et du comportement alimentaire, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, F75231 Paris, France.

caffeine and recovery

Caffeine acts through multiple mechanisms by acting on receptors and channels in the cell membrane as well as acting on calcium and cyclic AMP pathways. The principal mode of action is as an agonist at adenosine receptors in the brain as its structure is similar to adenosine. This results increased activity of dopamine. Caffeine also increases release of acetylcholine in the prefrontal nucleus resulting in increased wakefulness and locomotor activity. Caffeine also increases levels of epinephrine and adrenaline as well as levels of serotonin, resulting n positive changes in mood. (more…)

Dehydration and Athletic Performance

Proper fluid balance is a requirement for not only athletic performance, but proper functioning of the human body. Dehydration is a condition that can and does affect a great many people and may cause many undesirable effects. One study found that about 15,000 episodes of dehydration and/or heat illness occurred during a two year research period in high school athletes, which led the athlete missing from 1 day to 1 week of practice or competition (Hoffman, et al). This article will attempt to talk about some issues related to dehydration and provide some strategies to avoid and correct dehydration before, during and after athletic competition. (more…)