The Digest - Feb 26

A recap of some of the interesting studies and articles I read over the past few days:  

  • I cannot overemphasize how much I love chocolate. It's my go to "cheat meal", even though dark chocolate gets consumed many times a week at this household! Did you know that there are ways to maximize the enjoyment of consuming chocolate? Here's an article in which "chocolate sage" Michel Baud offers tips for savoring chocolate like never before. It's chocolate! Read it!^


  • As much as I love Trainingpeaks (and use their product daily), sometimes they post articles that drive me up the wall… like this one on the "necessity" of doing a 20 mile (32km) run when preparing for a marathon. The author argues that doing 1 or 2 20-mile runs leading up to your marathon will "condition your muscles to keep clicking for whatever length of time". So are we to expect that one single run, just 1 (or maybe 2) in a 4-month training program, is expected to cause a different adaptation in our muscles and completely change the outcome of our marathon? It's like saying: oh I'll go the gym today, but instead of doing 5 sets of bench press, I'll do 20 sets! And my bench press strength will grow from that single training session! It doesn't work that way: muscular adaptation takes time and multiple sessions of stimulus to trigger it, combined with adequate rest and recovery. This in addition to the fact that it takes your body over a week of complete rest to recover (hormonally, immune system, joints, etc) to recover from that single 20-mile run, which means pretty much every training session you do in the week following a 20-miler will be "garbage". Ok, rant over.^


  • It seems that the more you travel, the more you automatically develop skills which help you succeed in all aspects of life. This interesting article identifies 15 reasons why frequent travelers pick-up on such skills. I can personally relate to many of them, especially the "learning patience" skill (have you flown to Beirut lately? You'll know what I mean!).^


  • Cigarettes in the news again! A new study tracking over 200,000 people in Australia revealed that 2 in every 3 smokers have a much higher risk of dying when compared with non-smokers. Smoking 10 cigarettes a day double risk of death, while 20-a-day smokers were four to five times (!!!) more likely to die.^


  • The debate on whether salt or electrolyte supplements during endurance training/racing help with performance and recovery still ranges on. Well this studyis one of the most relevant ones I've seen to-date, since it involved 26 experienced triathletes racing a half-ironman triathlon. The "salt" group took salt supplements pre and during the race, while the control group took a placebo. The results showed that while the "salt" group had a slightly faster overall time (which could be a random occurrence), there was no difference in post-race whole-body isometric strength, max height jump, sweat loss or even sweat Sodium concentration! I'm sure the debate will continue...^


  • I always have Glutathione at home. I don't always use it, in fact, I rarely do. I do however load up on it just before extensive travel, and sometimes I will keep taking it while traveling. What is Glutathione? It's the most powerful antioxidant, naturally produced by your own body. It is probably the strongest weapon your body produces to fight against inflammation, toxic exposure, damage from exercise or extreme stress, etc. Generally, I'm not a fan of taking exogenous antioxidants since your body can produce its own (if your diet is clean enough). However, there are exceptional circumstances when your body is under extreme stress, at levels it is not designed to cope with. Examples of these include radiation exposure from flying for more than 2 hours, environmental pollutants, etc. I bring this up now only because I just came across this study which concluded that glutathione supplementation also improved lipid metabolism and reduced acidification in skeletal muscles during exercise, leading to less muscle fatigue.^


  • Ever wonder what schools serve for lunch to kids in different parts of the world? Well I didn't, not really, until I came across this article which highlighted the differences… Quite interesting to see. We should save it and refer back to it in 20 years... ^