The Digest - March 24

Quite a few interesting articles & studies this week:  

  • The debate continues to rage on in the sports science community regarding the effects of hydration (and dehydration) on performance in endurance sports. Some studies have shown no adverse relationships between hydration status and performance, while others linked dehydration to poor performance. Another study just came out from the US, revealing that hydration status did impact mood and perceived fatigue in cyclists. This is interesting because while dehydration may or may not affect the “physiological” performance of endurance athletes (I have yet to see conclusive studies on that), it apparently “does impact perceived fatigue”. As endurance athletes, we all know the critical importance of the “rate of perceived exertion” on performance.^


  • Leptin is commonly referred to as the “hunger hormone”: it’s secreted by fat cells in the body and controls your hunger: it sends a message to your hypothalamus to shut down “hunger”. However, just like insulin, people can develop “leptin resistance”, where leptin gets ignored and the “I’m full” message never gets to the hypothalamus, so you’re constantly hungry. That’s one of the main causes of obesity. Recent research, like this study from Denmark and Sweden, has shown that gluten (even digested gluten) inhibits leptin’s ability to bind to its receptors, and therefore renders it unable to send the “I’m full” message to your hypothalamus to control hunger, leading to overeating and weight gain.^


  • It’s the little things we don’t think about that often affect our well-being the most: numerous studies have shown that chemicals from common household items seep into our blood through skin or digestion and have dramatic effects on our physiology. Some affect our hormones (especially women), while others affect our immune system, and some even trigger changes to our DNA, increasing risk of cancer. Here’s a list of the 20 most toxic things we use every day. Each one of them is toxic on its own, but most of us use every single one of these products daily, so imagine the “accumulated” effect of using all of them in a single day.^


  • I won’t talk too much about this recent study except that it provides further evidence of something we already know: high intensity interval training is far superior to “steady moderate cardio training” when it comes to improving cardiovascular disease risk factors.^


  • Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? It’s shocking how many people do and even more shocking how many just “put up with it”. Over 80% of IBS is caused by an imbalance in the gut microbiome (composition of bacteria living in your digestive system). As someone who suffered from IBS for over 2 decades, I now keep it under control by manipulating the macronutrients in my diet, and specifically carbohydrates, which are THE main trigger for IBS. As a matter of fact, this new study coming out of Japan revealed that certain foods are particularly associated with IBS:  rice, bread, pasta, and buckwheat.^


  • This is not just relevant for athletes but also for absolutely anyone living a “modern” life: A common mobility restriction seen in athletes today is the inability to properly perform an overhead squat (squat while holding a pipe or barbell overhead with arms locked out). In the case of power and Crossfit athletes, addressing this problem is critical to avoid injuries and to improve performance. For everyone else however, it’s also critically important because the inability to perform an overhead squat highlights an underlying restriction in the mobility of your thoracic spine, which is one of the main causes for shoulder pain, back pain, neck pain, nerve impingement, and so much more. This article contains mobility drills you can do at home to help increase mobility in your thoracic spine.^


  • Find the time to watch this video, it’s worth it: a whole neighborhood in Istanbul learns sign language to communicate with their deaf neighbor. It’s really something…^


  • My quest for maximizing productivity has extended beyond office & home to the kitchen! I’m not a big fan of the microwave (you can’t be if you read as much research as I do!), but I do occasionally use it as an oven to grill things. Unfortunately,  grilling things in a “small” oven will cause a big mess, as my wife frequently reminds me while handing me the brush and soap! So I searched and discovered this tip on how to easily and rapidly clean your microwave! It works like a charm!.^