Peanut Butter Protein Bites

This is a great snack to keep in your freezer at all times., minimal prep time and it is gluten/ refined sugar free.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cup of oats, blend into flour
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp natural smooth peanut butter (substitute: almond butter)
¼ cup maple syrup, or agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup almond flour
2 tbsp mini organic dark chocolate chips

  1. In a blender, blend oats into fine flour, set aside. Do the same with the almonds. In a standing mixer combine coconut oil, peanut/almond butter, vanilla and agave nectar/maple syrup, until smooth.

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  2. Add the almond and oat flour and beat again until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips after.

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  3. Roll dough into small balls, about 1 tbsp of dough each. Place the finished bites in a container that is freezer safe. You can enjoy our protein bites as soon as 10 minutes of freezing. Store in your freezer for up to a week. ENJOY!

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Open Scissors and Your Lifting

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This is a very common sight: a sweaty intense looking guy cranking out pushup after pushup on the floor. It looks impressive at first glance, but on second glance, you notice a big “C” shaped arch in his low back, so much in fact that his belly button almost touches the floor each rep! Then wait, you realize that only half of his body is moving – the top half. Is this really a pushup you might wonder? Does this position do our pushup friend any good? Today we answer these questions and more!

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The horrible open scissors position; notice the poor low back and head position here.

This excessively arched low back position has been referred to as “open scissor syndrome”. Low back position that is compressed like this may be linked with increased muscle activation in this area. Why would this be? Most likely, something else, often the glutes are weak, so the low back takes over the mobile role of the hip extensors. The low back is supposed to be a stable joint, so this can lead to injury, muscle imbalance and pain over time. Often times, those with low back pain exhibit excessive back muscle activation and low abdominal activation. The lats or the serratus anterior could also be inactive, and the muscles of the upper back can be overactive. This restricts the mobility up top and once again the low back is forced become hypermobile.

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Normal positioning is seen on the left; overarched “open scissors” is seen on the right.

Open scissors not just makes you look like you are weak and have no idea what you are doing, but it stalls your training results. Without proper closed scissor position, your ability to activate the right muscles at the right time and breathe under load is impaired. This means you will not progress to lift bigger weights or lift for longer sets very fast in any exercise! Training the midsection muscles and improving body awareness here is key.

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The dead bug exercise. Creative name aside, it is one of the best core training exercises out there.

Midsection training exercises should focus on keeping strong closed scissor position. You may notice that as you fatigue the scissors want to open up. Don’t let them. Either make the exercise a bit easier or take a break. The deadbug, the bird dog and the plank are the most basic of these exercises for improving lumbar stability and midsection strength. Take as long as it takes to get the low back flat and hold it there with normal breathing. Once mastered, progress to sitting exercises and hold the closed scissor position. Breathe. Once that is mastered, go on to standing and then full on dynamic exercises. By now, keeping the scissors shut should be second nature!

References:
Kolar, P., Kobesova, A., Valouchova, P., & Bitnar, P. (2014). Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization: assessment methods. Recognizing and Treating Breathing Disorders, 93.

O’Sullivan, P. B., Phyty, G. D. M., Twomey, L. T., & Allison, G. T. (1997). Evaluation of specific stabilizing exercise in the treatment of chronic low back pain with radiologic diagnosis of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Spine, 22(24), 2959-2967.

Radebold, A., Cholewicki, J., Panjabi, M. M., & Patel, T. C. (2000). Muscle response pattern to sudden trunk loading in healthy individuals and in patients with chronic low back pain. Spine, 25(8), 947-954.

Banana Nut Loaf

 

Today’s recipe is quickly made, easily stored and a definite comfort food for many.

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup spelt flour (or any other type of flour)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup vegan butter (or regular unsalted butter)
1 cup of organic cane sugar/coconut sugar
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork
½ cup of walnut pieced
½ cup of pumpkin seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and start by mashing the banana.

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  2. In a standing mixer cream together the coconut/cane sugar and vegan/regular butter.

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  1. Add the eggs, vanilla and bananas to the fluffed butter. Mix until well combined. Now add the flour, salt and baking soda. Lastly fold in the nuts.

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  1. Prepare a baking pan, line with parchment paper and fill the batter into the pan.

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  2. Bake the banana nut loaf for 45 minutes. Let it cool on a cooling rack for five minutes before serving it either warm with a scoop of your favourite ice cream or fruit. You will find the loaf to be even more delicious the next day. Simply store in an airtight container. ENJOY!

 

Protein & Your Kidneys

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Protein rich foods are one of the more basic ingredients in an athlete’s kitchen. Too often, people have been misinformed and misunderstand protein intake. How many times have others expressed concern for the amount of protein an athlete eats? In mainstream media, we are often told that a high protein diet will lead to kidney problems. As a strength athlete myself, I am used to hearing these claims, and was at first appalled by this. In the end, I decided to dig into the evidence and then bombard these concerned “health experts” with some cold hard research evidence.

Below we have part of the filtration system in a kidney. The kidneys are responsible for regulating fluid balance in the body. High protein intake, in this case 35% of total calories, increases the glomerular filtration rate. Supposedly, consuming excess amounts of protein increases filtration pressure in the kidneys, which is claimed to “strain” the kidneys and lead to renal damage.

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A simplified look at glomerular filtration in the kidney.

This is an adaptation that is exactly comparable to getting stronger muscles as you lift heavier weights in the gym. Once you eat less protein, your kidneys will adapt and again slow the filtration rate. In healthy people and athletes, there is no evidence to support a “straining” of the kidneys. Strength athletes in particular have higher protein needs, especially during short periods of weight loss. Consuming more protein in the diet gives the body the building blocks it needs to rebuild and as preserves lean muscle mass.

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In some research, different diets have been tested on various clinical populations. It was found that only in those who already had kidney issues was high protein intake an issue. Those who saw detriments to their kidney function with high protein foods, already has kidney diseases.  Because a higher work rate is imposed on the kidneys, it makes sense that those with kidney pathologies do not do well on a high protein diet. The protein intake in research subjects did not cause the malfunction, rather diet in this population needs to match the lower work capacity of the kidneys. This does not leave athletes or those looking to lose weight in the clear to load up on protein. As always, quality sources are key and good lifestyle habits are also important. If you are not taking good care of your health and are training hard, you may be overloading your internal organs and putting yourself at risk for future pathologies.

References
Martin, W. F., Armstrong, L. E., & Rodriguez, N. R. (2005). Dietary protein intake and renal function. Nutrition & metabolism, 2(1), 25.

Mettler, S., Mitchell, N., & Tipton, K. D. (2010). Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42(2), 326-37.