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What's the best protein powder for triathletes?

Jul 21, 2022

 A number of people have mentioned protein powders to me lately – as if it was the best thing in the world.   I’m going to dive a little deeper into protein powders (and try not to offend supplement companies in the process!!)

FIRSTLY – I have a food first philosophy. It is extremely easy to get enough protein from food without the need to supplement.

As a supplement, that’s exactly what they should be used as: an addition to a balanced diet when you can’t get enough protein through real food for whatever reason.

Reasons we might advise using a protein powder:

  • For convenience – if you have a busy lifestyle and seem to be always on the run!
  • To meet protein needs directly after a heavy strength-specific session – where we are trying to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (building new muscle). 
  • To make sure your recovery meals still tick all the boxes when you’re in a location where...
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What is a Hydrogel? Does it improve endurance performance?

Jun 23, 2022

Hydrogel technology is making a wave in the sports nutrition scene with products like Maurten hitting the market.

But what is a hydrogel? And is it beneficial to endurance performance?

I asked Andy King, exercise physiologist at the Australian Catholic University, to join me on a recent podcast episode. Andy co-authored the review paper on all of the research to date on hydrogels and their effect on endurance exercise performance. So there was no one better suited to answer these questions for us! 

What is a hydrogel?

  • Basically an amped-up carbohydrate drink

How does a hydrogel work?

  • Delivers sugar through the stomach and intestine into your bloodstream to your muscles
  • In gel form, it moves the carbohydrate mixture through to your intestine quicker - approx. 40% faster

Are there any negative effects of using a hydrogel compared to regular sports drinks and gels?

  • May negatively impact some athletes with gut issues
  • Athletes may need gut training to be able to absorb more...
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Do You Need Salt Tablets?

Oct 28, 2021

Many endurance athletes take salt tablets, but do we really need them? I spoke with the sodium and hydration master aka Alan McCubbin to break down everything you need to know about sodium, hydration and endurance exercise.

Here’s what we discussed:
 

Why is sodium is important for sports like triathlon?

  • When we sweat during exercise, sodium is the main mineral we lose along with chloride
  • The main electrolyte in our blood is also mainly sodium, and this plays a big role in moving water around the body

 Are there currently any guidelines around sodium replacement?

  • The guidelines are currently very vague
  • There aren’t really any specific guidelines around sodium replacement during exercise apart from a broad statement from the American College of Sports Medicine indicating that people should replace sodium when large losses occur, but they don't define what a large loss is

What research is currently underway to find some answers?

  • A study to survey what...
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Is caffeine beneficial for Endurance Performance?

May 27, 2021
 

Today on Coffee & Questions I answered your question - Is caffeine good for endurance performance?

  • Where can you find it?

  • Is there evidence for the use of caffeine?

  • What are the effects of caffeine?

  • How much do you need to take? More is not better

Below is a brief summary but please watch the replay to get all of the gold nuggets on caffeine use!

Caffeine is a widely used, socially acceptable stimulant.

Where can you find caffeine? 

Find it in tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, chocolate and supplemented sports foods like gels and bloks/chews.

Caffeine content varies widely

Here are some examples: 

What does the evidence say?

There is a solid body of evidence that supports caffeine use to enhance endurance exercise performance, with studies dating back to the 1970s.

It was removed from the WADA doping list back in 2004

In the AIS supplement framework, it is a group A supplement with evidence-based protocols

Caffeine's Effects

Major benefits achieved...

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The AIS Supplement Framework

Apr 22, 2021
 

Today on Coffee & Questions    I gave a brief overview of the...

It is an EPIC, evidence-based resource from the great minds of Sports Nutrition. As a globally recognised framework, I think it's important to showcase. 

You can check it out HERE

Before you reach for your supplements though, I want to share with you my philosophy.

My philosophy

As a Dietitian, my philosophy is always “food first”. Focus on eating unprocessed, real foods as the foundation of a good evidence-based sports nutrition plan. It's not until you've nailed the foundations that you would consider adding supplements. They should be used as a supplement to a great diet. Not the first point of call. 

Remember to build your nutrition cake or pyramid in the right direction. I talked about this in more detail last week. If you missed it, check it out HERE

HOWEVER, some supplements and sports foods can play a small (sprinkles) but valuable role...

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Supplement review: Pycnogenol / Modex

Apr 15, 2021
 

Every week I have clients ask me if they should take a particular supplement. It's a new, sparkly product with unmatched results, "clinically proven" and taken by all the pro's.

But often they're looking for the 1% performance gains without the solid foundations first. They take an expensive supplement, yet don't fuel training properly or under recover or eat crap on the weekends ‍

 

Today on Coffee & Questions I talked about a specific supplement that seems to be prolific in the endurance space at the moment. Modex.

I’ve had a number of people ask me about it recently so I thought it would be useful to share with you in case you’ve got a mate raving about the benefits or you already take it.

I’m going to explain what it is, and walk you through the process I go through when looking into a new supplement/product with the critical eye of an Advanced Sports Dietitian. I don't simply google it, read it's website or a blog. 

On the Modex website,...

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How to Choose the Best Protein Powder

Oct 17, 2018

We have a food first philosophy here at Dietitian Approved but in some instances, protein powders can have their time and place within a healthy and active lifestyle.

As a supplement, that’s exactly what they should be used as; an addition to a balanced diet when you can’t get enough protein through real food for whatever reason.

Here are some of the reasons we might advise using a protein powder:

  • For convenience. If like us, you have a busy lifestyle and seem to always be on the run!

  • To meet protein needs directly after a heavy strength specific session – where you are trying to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (building new muscle)

  • To make sure your recovery meal ticks all of the boxes when you’re in a location where real food isn’t feasible. E.g. Post-racing where your recovery meal gets delayed while you’re waiting for your medal Or if you struggle to eat post-exercise

  • To bump up the protein of a meal...

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How to Beet Your Best Time and Get the Competitive Edge

Sep 16, 2018


Beetroot juice was the secret sauce for many athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lots of countries were using it, but it wasn’t until afterwards that the news about beetroot juice became public knowledge…

Many athletes are looking for that performance edge over their competitors. Most athletes have heard about it, but don’t know how to use it. If you’ve nailed the fundamentals of basic sports nutrition and are looking at taking your racing to the next level, try adding beetroot juice to your race plan.

 

Why beetroot juice?

What is it about this vegetable that gives you a performance kick? The component responsible for the benefits of beetroot juice is Nitrate. It’s produced within our bodies and is also found in some of the foods we eat, particularly green leafy vegetables, beetroot, processed meats and the water supply.

But the nitrate content varies widely even among the same vegetable variety. Freshness and farming practices...

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Turmeric – the next big sports nutrition supplement?

Feb 16, 2017


As the Turmeric latte surges to the front of the trend list, what is it about this spice that’s causing all the hype? We take a look at what it is, the potential benefits and how to include it in your diet. 

Why the hype?

Turmeric is a golden yellow spice that has been used for centuries in Indian cooking. Turmeric contains the bioactive compound Curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s claimed to have a positive effect on heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and many other conditions. Be mindful though that research for these benefits has been done in vitro (in a petri dish) or in animal models (mostly rats) which is difficult to extrapolate to humans. The research in humans is limited and more trials are needed.

How much Turmeric and Curcumin may benefit?

It’s not as simple as adding a little turmeric to your latte or smoothie....

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Sports Supplements

Aug 16, 2016


Sports Supplements are everywhere!  I struggle to keep up with the latest products on the market with new brands popping up every week. As many athletes search for that ‘magic bullet’, sports supplements have become a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, a recent study found that 40-70% of athletes take supplements. 

A nutrition supplement, as the name suggests, is designed to supplement the diet and should never replace it. My approach as a dietitian is always “food-first” as your day-to-day nutrition is where you will see the greatest health and performance benefits long term. Supplements are considered the sprinkles, on the icing on the cake. It’s important to get the foundations of a balanced, healthy diet in training right first (the sponge), before adding the icing and even considering the sprinkles.

Supplements typically fall into three main categories: Sports foods and fluids, Medical supplements and Performance supplements.

Sports...

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