Top 10 Gifts Ideas for Athletes & Fitness Fanatics (+ 1 Extra!)

There is SO much to love about the Holidays: delicious food, the much-needed break from work or school, and time with family and friend. With the Holidays may come the pressure to get the perfect gifts for your friends and loved ones.

While we may not be able to force you to hit the gym over the winter break or keep your hands off the cookies, we can ease the stress of finding a gift for your fitness-fanatic girlfriend, beer-loving brother, CrossFit-obsessed buddy, and new-to-it-all parent!

Check out our Holiday Gift Guide to help make your loved one’s workouts awesome this year!

1. Foam Roller 

Foam rollers are great for EVERYONE on your fitness gift wish list. Self-myofascial release (the technical name for ‘rolling’). Is a safe, inexpensive and VERY effective technique that involves applying sustained pressure into the body’s connective tissue to help improve flexibility, recovery, and athletic performance.

Foam rollers, roller strips, rumble rollers, roller balls, peanuts are all inexpensive and make GREAT stocking stuffer!

2. Bands

Strength bands, minibands, bands with handles, ALL THE BANDS!!Bands are inexpensive a great addition to any athlete’s gym bag.

Bands are a great way to take your dynamic warm-ups to the next level. Bands allow you to warm-up sport specific muscles groups and movements like pitching arms before you throw, glutes before you hit the ice, hip flexors before you hit the track. They are light-weight, inexpensive, portable and great in a Christmas morning stocking!

3. Better Nutrition

Athletes are no different from anyone else—eating properly is tough. It’s a never-ending battle to keep ourselves fueled up and eating well, while also doing our best to fight off temptation.

Better nutrition impacts athletes in a number of ways—improved energy levels, a stronger immune system, faster recovery, and of course, better performance.

While nutrition fads come and go, the basics of good, solid nutrition remain. Investing in nutrition counselling, meal prep supplies, recipe books, and even cooking classes is a great way to help your athlete performance their best!

4. Supplements

Supplements are essential to any athlete or individual looking to get the most out of their workouts and bodies. Protein, weight gainer protein (for those who need it), BCAA’s,

electrolytes, creatine and omega-3 fish oils are the supplements that will give you the best results, have the  scientific backing and will aid in performance and recovery.

Come into SST Mississauga to check out our AWESOME Holiday Supplement bundles and deals! (Sorry, shameless plug!)

5. Shaker Bottle

Shaker bottles do not just have to be for the gym , I use mine every day, everywhere I go! They are great for supplements and your daily water intake at work, gym, or on the go!

Some great feature to look for are separate compartments to store supplements, blender lids, and clips that make it easy to attach to your gym or work bag.

6. Lifting Straps

Lifting straps are a great addition to any athlete’s gym bag. As an athlete gets stronger they may begin to find that the strength of their legs or arms starts to surpass the strength or endurance of their grip. Straps are used to support grip and allows an athlete to hold more weight than their grip can handle or can assist when grip has been exhausted in previous working sets.

Personally, I prefer a Lasso style strap made of a strong cotton or nylon. Leather, figure 8, single loops, and hook straps are also options available.

7. Bluetooth Headphones

If you have EVER done a workout in silence you know how awful and unmotivating it can be. Music is a way to shut the world out and get you focused on what needs to get done…LIFT!

Bluetooth headphone are a great innovation for any gym goer as it keeps the pesky cord out of your way while you are trying to lift, run, stretch and even bust the odd move!

8. Music Streaming Subscription

A great addition to those awesome headphone your already have wrapped and under the tree is a music streaming subscription. Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play are all great options to bring some excitement and motivation to your loved ones workout AND everyday life!

9. Fitness/Workout Journal 

A workout journal is a great way to help your loved one set goals, keep them accountable, track their progression, and help them reach their goals. A workout journal does not need to be complicated, a lined notebook can work great.

 

But if you’re looking to get them something a little more detailed there are great athlete and fitness specific journals on the market. They help track sleep quality, nutrition, workouts and more.

10. Gym Bag

Now that you have outfitted the athlete on your list with the great gear above they are going to need something to store and carry it to the gym in! A gym bag is essential to hold an athletes workout gear, recovery tools, supplements and water, pre/post-workout food, extra socks, headphone, training journal, etc.

Some features to look for are easy to use zippers, external pockets to for easy access and storage options, over the shoulder strap, light weight and durable material, and size big enough to hold everything they need!

Plus one Extra AWESOME gift for those on your list

An SST Gift Card

Shameless plug alert!! If your loved one looking for an advantage to their athletic performance or is new to the whole workout thing, an SST gift certificate is a great way to get them started or push them to their potential.

We have programs for every age and every fitness level. Gift certificates can be used for SST memberships, supplements, assessments, nutrition consultations, Butts and Guts, FAST Camp, and even personal training sessions.

Get yours before December 25th and get a FREE one-on-one personal session with one of our incredible SST Coaches; that’s a $120 value!

Check out our Facebook & Instagram pages for the latest SST news and more great Holiday & New Year deals!

Courtney Plewes BSc. Kin, CSCS

Director of Sport Performance /

Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach 

Sports Specific Training Mississauga 

1081 Brevik Place

Mississauga, ON L4W 3R7

P: (905) 624-6240

 

‘SMART’ Goal Setting – Part 1

Goal setting is one of the most important skills an athlete can have, in order to help them achieve optimal performance. The goal-setting process helps athletes understand where they are currently and also where they want to go. But how do you set a goal?

Setting SMART goals is a great place to start:

S- Specific

A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. It is hard to achieve a goal such as ‘get faster at running’ or “eat better”. It should be very clear what your goal is, such as “run 5km in 25min” or “eat 120g of protein per day”. Knowing EXACTLY what it is you want to accomplish will give you better direction in achieving it.

To make sure you goal is specific try answering these six questions when setting a goal:

o   Who – is involved

o   What – do you want to accomplish

o   When – establish a time frame

o   Where- a location

o   Which – what are your requirement and constraints

o   Why – Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal

 

M- Measurable

Establish some criteria for measuring your progress. When you measure progress, you are more likely to stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the satisfaction of progressing towards your goal.

If you start with a 5km run that takes 35 minutes and 1 month later it takes 30 minutes you know you are making progress. If you have not made progress or very little that is okay too because it allows you to make adjustments in your training.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

 

A- Attainable

Setting an attainable goal can be tricky. If you set a goal to low and it is easy to accomplish it does not push past your limits. However, if you set goals too high you may never accomplish them.Goals should be within the realm of physics and plausibility for you but should also make you pee you pants just a little bit!

For me running faster is challenging but if I said I want to qualify for the Olympics for running (while that would be amazing!) is completely unrealistic for me. You want you goals to push you past your comfort zones and what you currently think you are capable of but not push you into a place that you are not able to succeed.

 

R- Realistic

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective which you are both willing and able to work towards. Make a ‘to do’ list of sorts that will act as stepping stones towards your goal. To use my running example: run 30-minutes 3 times a week, do 2 interval runs per week, etc.

Consider your job, family, social life and make sure you choose steps that are realistic within your lifestyle. If I were to say I would get up at 6am 4 days a week to run I would be flat out lying (I am not a morning person).

You need choose things that you will ACTUALLY do (even on the days you don’t want to) in order to reach your goal.

 

T- Timely

A goal should have an end-date. A goal with no time frame is one with no sense of urgency. If I want to run 5km in 25 minutes when do I want to accomplish that by?  “Soon” does not work. Be specific and give your self a date, this will unconsciously set you in motion to begin working towards your goal, help you prioritize and hold yourself accountable for your training!

 

Here are a couple other tips that can help you set your goals and stick to them!

  • Tell EVERYONE you know about your goal. The more people you tell the more you will be accountable for that goal
  • Write them down
  • Write them in a positive terms, i.e.. “I will run 5km in 25 minutes or less by June 30th 2017”
  • Write down goal in as much detail as possible
  • Post your goal somewhere you can see it daily

 

Now, go set your goals and get to work! The results are SO worth it!!

Check back for part 2 of this blog where we discuss the three type of goals you can set; Outcome, Performance and Process goals.

If you need help setting your goals contact SST Mississauga to set up a personal goal setting session!

Quarterback Vs. Pitcher Vs. Bench Press

We had a great question come in regarding our Blog last week; why we exclude bench press in our Baseball players’ strength programs (if you missed it, check out that Blog here)

The question was: Was having a similar conversation today about QBs and bench press. What do you think?

Here is my response:

While quarterbacks have similar stresses on their shoulders as pitchers, those stresses are a lot less than that of a pitcher. The record velocity for a quarterback throw is ~60mph whereas the highest recorded MLB pitch is ~105mph; they are in completely different ballparks (pardon the pun!). Because of this, throwing injuries are also a lot less common in quarterbacks. If we look at a study by Dodson, C.C; ET. Al  there are only 10 reported cases of UCL tears in NFL quarterbacks between 1994-2008 vs. 36 UCL tears in MLB pitchers in the 2015 & 2016 seasons alone! The majority of injuries NFL quarterbacks sustain occur through direct contact, ~82.3% (according to a study by Kelly, B.T.; ET. Al.) while overuse injuries account for less than 15% of injuries.

Another thing we have to consider is that most quarterbacks take long breaks from throwing in the off-season while pitchers (especially younger ones) have a tendency to jump the gun on their throwing programs and (in my opinion) on average do not let their shoulders recover long enough in the off-season.

What this tells me is that the durability of a quarterback’s shoulder is much higher than that of a pitcher’s and can more than likely sustain higher stresses off the field in the gym. While it may be a good idea to avoid bench press for similar reasons as our baseball players do (exacerbates negative adaptations from throwing, too far away from throwing motion on force-velocity curve, and failure on a heavy rep puts the shoulder in a vulnerable position), having bench press in a quarterback’s program is probably less likely to causes negative performance outcomes on the field. Which is, arguably, the most important thing to look for when choosing exercises for your athletes.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our Bench Press vs. Baseball Blog where we will show you pressing exercises much more suited to overhead throwing athletes, quarterbacks included!

If you have any questions or comments about this or any of our other blogs let us know in our comments section or send our author an email directly (cplewes@sstcanada.com)!

 

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3 Reasons Why Bench Press and Baseball Don’t Mix

Bench Press and Baseball are like Oil and Water; they do not mix.

Working with mainly male, High School and College age, Baseball players, I get a lot of grief about not including Bench Press in programs. Especially, when they see the Football and Hockey players doing it.

When I ask them why they want to bench press so badly I get answers such as; “it’s fun”, “I like lifting heavy” and my personal favourite, “it looks cool”.

It is widely accepted in the baseball world that the reward of getting strong on Bench Press is outweighed by the risk the exercise poses to the shoulders and elbows. My exclusion of Bench Press is not because I want to keep you from ‘looking cool’ at the gym. There are specific and scientifically proven and accepted reasons as to why overhead athletes should avoid this exercise.

Hopefully, this blog will also reach some of the NCAA college programs down south. It BOGGLES my mind when Baseball players in Division 1 Baseball programs come back with Bench Press in their strength programs! No, I am not kidding. It happens…all the time…

Here are 3 reasons Baseball athletes should avoid Bench Press:

  1. It Exacerbates Negative Adaptations Acquired from Throwing

When you throw thousands of baseballs every year there are a few things that typically happen to the body:

  • Increased glenohumeral (shoulder) external rotation
  • Decreased glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation
  • Decreased elbow extension
  • Decreased scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation
  • Decline in the quality of the tissues surrounding the shoulder girdle
  • Abnormal spinal curvature (usually in the thoracic and lumbar areas)
  • Decreased hip mobility

In laymen’s terms:

  • Your shoulder gets loose in the front
  • Tight in the back
  • Elbow doesn’t straighten all the way
  • Your shoulder blade doesn’t move well
  • The tissue around your shoulder is gritty
  • Your spine it hyperextended
  • And your hips don’t move

Not a pretty picture. And how does Bench Press help this situation…

IT DOESN’T!

Bench Press actually causes stresses to the body that are extremely similar to those found during a throwing motion:

  • Spinal extension
  • Scap retraction and depression
  • Humeral (upper arm) movement without scaps
  • Heavy loads placed on the shoulder girdle

In any sport we use the off-season to re-establish proper movement patterns and mobility, give our arm/shoulder time to rest and correct instabilities and dysfunctions. So why would we want to perform an exercise that does not allow this to occur and can actually exacerbate these dysfunctions?!

Much of exercise selection for athletes comes down to a risk vs. reward. Is the reward (strength gains) worth the risk the exercise places on my athletes? When it comes to Baseball players and Bench Press the risk FAR outweighs the benefits.

  1. There is Little Direct Transfer to Playing Baseball

Another factor in exercise selection is specificity to the sport. Does this exercise mimic anything the athlete is doing while they are playing? To decide this we need to look two things:

  1. The plane of movement of the exercise
  2. Where the movement falls on the force-velocity curve.

Research shows us that power development is highly plane-specific. Meaning that many traditional sagittal plane power movements (vertical movements such as; jumps, sprints, cleans, snatches) have little transfer into throwing. Frontal and transverse plane movements (lateral and rotational) have much more correlation (skaters, medball throws and banded rotations). So, while Bench Press may be a great exercises for an athlete in shot put or kayaking it has little use for a Baseball athlete.

Thanks to our hunting ancestors, humans have mastered the throwing motion. And it has been widely recognized that pitching is the fastest articulated motion a human can produce! This puts throwing a ball at the velocity end of the force-velocity curve. It is a very light load moved incredibly fast. Whereas the Bench Press movement is at the other end; a heavy load moved slowly. The movement is too removed from any movement that occurs in Baseball and therefore, will have little impact on performance.

 

  1. The “Meat Head” Factor

Let’s go back to the reason’s my Baseball athletes give for wanting to Bench Press:

  • It’s fun
  • I like to lift heavy
  • It looks cool

People (especially young, hormone driven males) have a tendency to overestimate their strength capabilities while Bench Pressing. I have done it myself and I have seen countless others do it as well.

 

If my number one goal as a Strength Coach is to keep my athletes healthy and second goal is to improve their performance then I need to choose exercises that are going to keep their inner meat head at bay!

Bench Press done with heavy loads and poor technique can put their most prized possession, their shoulder, in a very vulnerable position. Yes, people will argue that any exercise done with high load carries risk. However, a failed rep in a Push-up has less risk than Bench Press. Risk vs. reward!

“So, watch your athletes and make sure they use proper technique”.

Okay, valid point. However, have you ever tried to coach multiple athletes at one time? Even on my best day it is impossible to see EVERYTHING on the gym floor. And any coach that tells you different is lying.

As a coach I have to pick exercises that are self-limiting, safe and effective, whether I am watching them every second or not. This can mean different things for different sports, positions and individuals. Hence, why I may program Bench Press for a Football athlete versus a Baseball athlete. Have I mentioned risk vs. reward yet?!

The exclusion of the bench press in our baseball programs goes beyond “it’s dangerous for your shoulders.” Even if coached and performed perfectly, our athletes won’t get as much transfer from it as they would from other pressing exercises.

Check back for Part 2 of this Blog where I discuss pressing exercises that are much better suited to baseball players and other overhead athletes!

If you have any questions about this blog series or any of our other series contact Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com) at SST Mississauga [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

10 Foods Staples to Throw Out From Your Kitchen NOW!! – Part 4

Every household needs pantry staples; they are essential for easy meals and an on-the-go lifestyle! But there are some staples that are not worth their convenience. Here is our final installment of our #pantryoverhaul! If you missed our first three installments check them out here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 .

9. Microwave POPCORN

microwave-popcorn

Microwave popcorn is one of the worst snacks to be keeping in your pantry. The chemicals used in the artificial butter flavoring – diacetyl- has been linked to sever respiratory disease or ‘popcorn lung’. Diacetyl is thought to be harmless when consumed, but when heated to high temperatures, diacetyl vaporizes and becomes toxic. While ‘popcorn’ lung is usually only seen in those who work in packaging factories do you really want to be consuming and inhaling this chemical in any amount?!

Maybe even more concerning are the chemicals sprayed on the inside of your microwavable bag. perfluoroalkyls, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate are all used to prevent the grease and oil from soaking through the bag, when heated these chemicals fuse onto the popcorn. These chemicals have been found to interrupt the endocrine system, causes thyroid issues, and may be linked bladder cancer.

If all that wasn’t enough to turn you away from this toxic snack a typical bag can contain upwards of 25 grams of fat, 500+ mg of sodium and 600 calories!

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Whole Kernel Popping Corn

Do not fret popcorn lovers! Popcorn can be a relatively healthy snack as long you prepare it the right way. Air-popping is the best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your popcorn, avoid all the toxic additives, and you can add your own flavours! A small amount of melted coconut oil, fresh dill and a little bit of salt is my favourite!

BONUS! What staple to throw out of your fridge…

10. MARGARINE

The main ingredient in margarine is usually a vegetable oil. The problem with vegetable oils is that they are liquids at room temperature so they must go thorough hydrogenation in order to harden the oils. To do this the oil is subjected to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst (typically nickel) this forces the oils to become saturated with the hydrogen and in-turn firming it up. However, the final product is a lumpy grey mess that needs to be processed even further. Emulsifiers are added to remove the lumps, bleach is added to move the grey colour, the mixture is then steamed in order to remove the chemical smell, and finally synthetic vitamins, artificial flavour and colouring is added.

The process of hydrogenation also produces trans-fat, which raise bad cholesterol levels, decrease insulin responses, and are associated with heart disease.

 

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Organic Grass-fed Butter

benefits_of_grass_fed_cows

Butter has had a bad-rep for many years because it contains large amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. However, recent research has shown that saturated fats actually can help improve lipid (Cholesterol) profiles. Eating small amounts of saturated fats actually raises your good cholesterol (HDL) and helps reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels.

The health effects and nutrient levels of our food depend largely on what the animal ate. Cows who eat grass produce much more nutritious by-products which contain more vitamin K, Omega-3’s and other heart healthy vitamins.

Thanks for tuning into this blog series! Be sure to share with a friend and help spread the #pantryoverhaul

If you have any questions about this blog series or any of our other series contact Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com) at SST Mississauga

10 Food Staples To Throw Out NOW!! – Part 3

Welcome back to our pantry overhaul series! If you have missed the first 6 pantry items to trash check out Part 1 & Part 2 of this series.

Quick and easy meals and snacks are great and almost essential for our sanity and schedules. Sometimes, however, seemingly healthy options can be our worst enemies.  Our next two items can be very tricky…

7. CANNED SOUP

Soup can be a great healthy quick option for meals, however, a lot of canned soup should be re-labelled as canned liquid sodium! Some varieties can contain upwards of 800mg of sodium per cup. That is over 1/3 of your daily recommended intake in one cup of soup!!

Many canned soups are also packaged with plastic linings that often contain BPA’s, are flavoured using MSG, and all those veggies in there are left pretty much nutrition-less after the high heat and pressurization from the packaging process.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Sodium-free Chicken or Vegetable Stock

Alton Brown's Garden Vegetable Soup as seen on Food Network

Soup is one of the easiest and quickest meals you can make! Keep a few boxes of low-sodium broth in the pantry and throw whatever you have lying around in the fridge into a pot – corn, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic, celery, green beans. Blend it to make a creamy soup or don’t to have a clear broth soup. Add chicken, meat balls, or shrimp. Add your own salt, hot sauce, or fresh herbs. The possibilities are endless, delicious, and nutritious!

8. GRANOLA BARS

Bars can be a great on-the-go or emergency snack but be cautious! While the word granola may make you think of whole grains, whole nuts, fruit all wrapped up in a convenient bar most granola bars have suffered the same fate as trail mix.  Many are made more like candy bars containing sugar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, marshmallows, chocolate, artificial flavours, any many chemicals that cannot be pronounced. Some Bar can contain upwards of 30+ grams of sugar in a single bar; spiking your blood sugar and actually making you hungrier in the long run (check out this post to see how).

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Bars made with whole foods, short ingredient lists and high in fibergranola bar

While any type of bar may not be the healthiest option (always try to eat your food as close to its natural state as possible) their convenience cannot be matched and there are some options that are healthier. Make sure to look at the nutrition label, your bar should contain at least 5 grams of fiber. This will help moderate your blood sugar levels and keep you full. Look at the ingredient list, it should be short, all ingredients recognizable – Oats, whole nuts, fruit – and sugar, or any derivative of it, should be as far down the list as possible.

Thanks for tuning in this week! Check back next week when we look at pantry items 9 & 10. One of which is probably the MOST toxic food item almost every household has and needs to throw out now!!

If you have any questions or comments about this post make sure to ask in our comments section or email SST Mississauga’s Lead Strength Coach, Courtney  ( cplewes@sstcanada.com ).

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10 Foods Staples to Throw Out NOW!! – Part 2

nutnHere we are with our second installment of food staples that you need to rid your pantry of ASAP!

And of course what to replace them with!

Click the link in case you happened to miss Part 1

3. WHITE OR “MULTI-GRAIN” BREAD

White bread, and even deceivingly, multi-grain breads contain zero whole grains, are made with enriched white flours, and little to no fiber. Meaning these breads will spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry again soon after eating.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – 100% Whole Grain Wheat Bread

whole grain bread
Look for breads with ‘whole grain’ as the first ingredient on the ingredient list. The first ingredient on any nutrition label means it is proportionately the most used ingredient in that particular product. Whole grains are not only great for keeping you satiated but can also help protect against many diet-related chronic diseases; such as diabetes.

 

4. GENERIC PEANUT BUTTER

While peanut butter on toast or fruit may seem like a smart snack choice, generic peanut butter is full of sugar, trans fats and little useful nutrients. Generic peanut butters (such as Kraft, Jif or Skippy) are usually highly processed using a technique called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen atoms to the molecular structure of fat in a product in order to make it more spreadable, creamier, and shelf-stable. This process actually lowers levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body and increases levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Hydrogenated oils should be avoided as much as possible.nutrition fat loss,

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Natural Nut Butter
Now a days there are SO many nut butters to choose from! Almond, cashew, walnut, the choices are endless. When choosing a nut butter to keep your pantry stocked, read the ingredient list, there should be 3 or fewer ingredients and the first one should always be nuts.

nut butter

5. TRAIL MIX

Trail Mix is another tricky snack dressed up and disguised as a healthy one. Pre-made trail mixes now contain chunks of chocolate, M&M’s, and dried fruit. Making this, could be healthy, staple more like a bag of candy.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Homemade trail mix

The best trial mix is the one you mix yourself! You can customize them to your own preferences and goals. Cut out the unwanted sugar and look to add ingredients such as 90% dark chocolate, almonds, and walnuts. Be sure to store them in air-tight containers to keep your mixture fresh!

 

6. WHITE PASTA

White pasta has the same problems as white rice or white bread, it has been stripped of all its useful nutrients, is highly processed, and is a simple carbohydrate. It will spike your blood sugar levels as well as leave you feeling hungry again soon after your meal.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Garbanzo bean, Quinoa, Black Bean or Veggies Based Pastabean pastas

The one upside to the ridiculous gluten-free craze that hit the supermarket shelves was the introduction of vegetable based pastas! These ‘pastas’ contain more fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. These options are going to keep your blood sugar levels steadier and keep you feeling full long after your meal. Granted they do not taste as bland or neutral as regular pasta but once you try these options you will not want to go back to tasteless pastas ever again!

Have you tried any of new food staples?!? Let us know how these new staples are fairing in your kitchen down in the comment section.

Check back next week for Part 3!

If you have any questions or comments make sure to ask in our comments section or email SST Mississauga’s Lead Strength Coach, Courtney  ( cplewes@sstcanada.com ).

10 Foods Staples to Throw Out NOW!! – Part 1

With busy schedules of work, school, kids, training, housework – the list can go on and on – pantry staples can be a great time saver in preparing your meals, avoiding the drive-thru and keeping your nutrition on track. However, there are many everyday staples in your pantry that are doing more harm than good and need to be thrown out immediately!

healthy pantryHaving healthy, nutrient dense pantry staples on hand will help keep you full longer, aid in lean muscle growth, increase your energy and help the waist line shrink!

Read on to find out what time saving staple need to be kicked to the curb and what you can replace them with!

1. READY-TO-EAT BREAKFAST CEREAL

These are the first thing that need to hit the trash bin!! This staple is quick, easy, LOADED with sugar and not much else. It is easy to be fooled by labels boasting about ‘added vitamins’, and pictures of whole almonds, oats, grains, mountain scenery… But even those cereals marketed as ‘healthy’ are usually loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates and they lack sufficient fiber, protein, and healthy fats to help keep you energized and full for the start of your day. Because of this you are more likely to have a crash in blood sugar levels mid-morning causing more sugar cravings and having you reaching for snacks that contain more sugar and doing so earlier in the day then you should be.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Oatmealoatmeal

Were not talking to Quacker packets loaded with sugar. Stock your pantry with plain oats (steel cut are even better) that can be made on the stove top. They only take a couple minutes to prepare and you can customize them with all your favourites – almonds, cashew butter, fruits, seeds, flax-seed, organic honey, dark chocolate shavings – the possibilities are endless and delicious!

2. WHITE RICE

White rice is about as void of nutrients as a product can get. The heavy processing the rice goes through strips rice of almost all vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Along with that white rice is a refined carbohydrate meaning it is digested and absorbed by the body quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar levels which in turn forces your body to process the sugar quickly and leads to fat conversion and storage.

What to Keep On-hand Instead? – Red, Black or Wild Rice
These whole grain rice options may cost an extra buck or two but they are worth the splurge! Whole grain rices have vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are digested at a much slower rates. Allowing your body to properly prowild ricecess the carbohydrates and using them as fuel instead of converting them for fat storage. These options will also keep your blood sugar levels more stable leading to less cravings and the extra fiber will help keep you feeling full longer.

 

 

 

If you liked this post make sure to check back in a few days for Part 2!

If you have any questions or comments about this post make sure to ask in our comments section or email SST Mississauga’s Lead Strength Coach, Courtney  ( cplewes@sstcanada.com ).

Sports Nutrition on the Road – Part 4: Low & High GI Carbs & Energy Drinks

In case you missed the beginning of this series: PART 1, PART 2 & PART 3

OTRN part 4

In Part 2 of our sports nutrition on the road series we spoke about Low- and High-GI Carbs, but what are there? And why do they matter to you performance?

Carbohydrates are important for athletes because they provide you with your main source of energy for exercise and competition. Without an adequate supply of carbs your performance can be severely limited. The Glycemic Index (GI) is an index of foods with different kinds of carbohydrates; complex, simple, etc. Foods are generally rate as “Low GI” or “High GI” based on the speed at which carbohydrates are absorbed by the body.

Low GI Foods are rich in fiber, and have carbs that absorb slowly and take a longer time to deliver glucose to your blood and glycogen to your working muscles

  • Eat these the night before games and at your pre-game meals
  • Potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes)
  • Pasta (Whole wheat)
  • Beans and nuts (not peanuts)
  • Rice/Grains (wild rice, quinoa, barley)
  • Fruits -apples/pears/cherries/grapefruit/bananas/pineapple
  • Vegetables – carrots/broccoli/mushrooms/peppers/tomatoes

High GI Foods consist of sugars and starches, and have carbs that absorb rapidly and deliver glucose to your blood and glycogen to your muscles quickly

  • Eat these within the first 12 hours after competition to reload the tank quickly
  • Some may also be eaten within the last 30-60 minutes before competition, at halftime, or between innings/periods
  • Baked potatoes
  • Corn chips/rice cakes/pretzels
  • Brown rice/Jasmine long grain white rice
  • Cereals (corn and oat-based)
  • Sweetened fruit drinks/dried fruits/watermelon
  • Sports Bars or Drinks

 

Energy Drinks

Energy drink such as Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Amp, etc. contain incredibly high levels of caffeine, other stimulants, and huge amounts of sugar. They DO NOT provide any kind of sustained energy you need for an athletic competition and can actually have the opposite effect. Energy drinks can actually promote poor sleeping habits, caffeine/sugar crashes, and nutrient wasting by stealing your appetite from healthy foods.

Because these drinks are caffeine laden they also have a significant effect on dehydration as well as raise your heart rate and blood pressure. If you are in a sport in which randomized drug testing is common place these drinks can also exceed the legal caffeine limits set by CESP and WADA.

These are all things you definitely want to avoid on game day!

 

If you found this info useful be sure to share it with a friend!

For more info on this topic email Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com)

Sports Nutrition On The Road – Part 3: Game Day

In case you missed PART 1 or PART 2!

Awareness, knowledge, and preparation are key when wanting to make huge difference in your game day performance.  The benefits of nutrition, in respect to athletic performance, can mean the difference between winning and losing and an optimal vs. subpar performance.

Think about your body like a high performance race car.  Dale Earnhardt doesn’t put regular gasoline in his car before a race he uses Sunoco Green E15-a 98 octane fuel blend specifically engineered for high-performance engines! Basically, the best of the best! You need to approach your game day nutrition in the same manner. By doing so you can maximize gains you have made OTRN part 3from training, increase your energy levels, recover faster and think more clearly.

 

How to Prepare on Game Day

Pre-Game Meal

  • 4-6 hours before game
  • High Complex/Low GI foods; low protein and fat
  • Hydrate well: sports drinks (Aminocore, BCAA’s with electrolytes), water

2-3 Hours before game

  • Moderately-sized snack: more low GI foods; low protein and fat
  • Continue to hydrate
  • No caffeine* (or energy drinks)

1 Hour before game

  • Small snack: easily digestible foods (fruit, pretzels)
  • Continue to hydrate with water or a sports drink such as BCAA drink with electrolytes (like Aminocore or Biosteel)
  • No caffeine* (or energy drinks)

30 minutes before game –“Top off the tank”

  • High-GI carbs that will absorb quickly and deliver glucose rapidly to working muscles
  • Hydrate with water or a sports drink such as a BCAA drink with electrolytes (like Aminocore or Biosteel)
  • No caffeine* (or energy drinks)

*Caffeine has major dehydrating effects, can make you jumpy, and raises your heart rate and blood pressure; all the things you should avoid on game day!

 

Post-Game Recovery

30-60 minutes after competition

  • VITAL PERIOD!
  • Replace every pound of weight lost through sweating with 20-24 ounces of fluid
  • Make sure to fuel your body for recovery
    • Ingest food with a concentration of 4:1 ratio carb:protein blend drink – better than water
    • Carbs should be of the High-GI variety to replenish glycogen stores quickly

60-90 minutes after competition

  • Continue to hydrate

Within 3 hours after competition

  • Mixed Meal – combination of protein, carbs and fat
    • Carbs here should be of the Low-GI variety so as not to spike your blood sugar levels
  • Continue to hydrate
  • NO soda, alcohol, caffeine

Within 24hrs after competition

  • Strictly Limit: Alcohol, Soda, Caffeine in any form
  • Dehydration, lack of sleep, and lack of nutrients are detrimental to recovery

 

Meal Examples:

  • Game day breakfast:
Three soft boiled eggs with a pinch of sea salt and two pieces of
whole grain toast with organic butter, small Greek yogurt & fruit mix with ground flax seeds.
  • Pre-Game Meal:
Grilled skinless chicken breast with brown rice, broccoli and a salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Pre-Game Snack:
Oatmeal with ground flax seeds, walnuts, banana, unsweetened shredded coconut and a drizzle of pure maple syrup!
  • Post-Game Recovery Shake:
Six ounces coconut water, six ounces water, 2 scoops good quality protein and one banana.
  • Post-Game meal: Grilled skinless chicken breast, sweet potato and asparagus
A good blend of lean protein, complex/nutrient dense carbohydrates and veggies. The foods your body needs to repair itself!

 

REMEMBER – Game day nutrition and recovery are vital to successful performance week-in and week-out, but eating well on game day only works if you are eating well all week as well! Don’t wait for the pre-game meal to get everything you need. Approach your nutrition with the same discipline as your training and you will maximize your potential as an athlete.

Keep a look out for PART 4 coming soon!!

If you liked this post be sure to share it with a friend!

If you have questions or would like more info about this topic please email Courtney (cplewes@sstcanada.com)