22 Fitness and Nutrition Tips From the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science organization. At the 2010 ACSM annual meeting in Baltimore, more than 6,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few of the nutrition highlights. More highlights are available at www.acsm.org (click on "media").

1. What are four keys to weight loss success? In a study with 65 overweight or obese men, the keys were choosing smaller portions, cutting back on sugary soft drinks, eating fewer high-fat snack foods, and consuming less alcohol.

2. Is marathon training a good way to lose weight? Likely not. Among 64 participants in a three-month marathon training program, only 11 percent lost weight, 11 percent gained weight and the rest remained stable. Of the seven who gained weight, six were women. In general, 74 percent of the women reported eating more while training, as compared to only 48 percent of the men.

3. Fatigue is associated not only with depleted muscles but also a tired mind. Inhibitory mechanisms in the brain can contribute to a 25 percent reduction in muscle contraction. Caffeine might be able to help counter that fatigue. During rest, caffeinated drinks (with or without sugar) contribute to 12 percent greater ratings for mental energy compared to plain water.

4. Walking up stairs can burn about 10 calories per minute; taking the elevator burns only about 1.5 cals/min. Motivational signs that encourage people to take the stairs instead of the elevator increased stair usage from 51 percent to 60 percent. More signs, please.

5. Consuming protein before lifting weights may enhance recovery better than consuming a protein recovery drink after a workout. Enjoy that pre-exercise yogurt as a part of your recovery plan.

6. Cyclists and triathletes who consumed 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrate per hour (240-320 calories/hour) performed better than those who consumed 10-50 g or 90-120 g carb/hour. By experimenting with different doses of carbs during training, you can learn the right dose for your body.

7. Fat-free chocolate milk is an excellent recovery drink. It stimulates muscle-building and reduces muscle breakdown. Chocolate milk also replaces glycogen faster than a protein-free drink.

8. When compared to a placebo, anti-oxidant-rich pomegranate juice improves recovery and decreases muscle soreness after muscle-damaging exercise in trained men. The same likely holds true for other colorful, antioxidant-rich juices such as grape, blueberry and cherry.

9. Is coconut water preferable to a sports drink in terms of replacing sweat losses? While it does replenish body fluids as well as a sports drink, it lacks taste appeal. The athletes in this study preferred the standard sports drink.

10. During one hour of simulated bike racing, Ironman triathletes lost about 1.5 liters of sweat and they drank about half a liter too little to replace that loss. While they were able to perform well for the one-hour exercise test, if they were to exercise for 14 hours with a similar deficit, they'd get into medical trouble. Endurance athletes should learn their sweat rate by weighing themselves naked before and after an hour of race-pace exercise. One pound of weight lost equates to a deficit of 16 ounces of fluid.

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