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Laura W. (Wellness) >
Case Studies v
Randall A. (name changed for confidentiality)
Naval Special Warfare
Improve physical performance to earn a SEAL contract through qualifying PST scores & prepare for success at BUD/S training (drop rate 75-80%)
History of athletic performance, understanding of basic sports nutrition, dietary habits generally supportive of recovery/performance, high motivation
Optimization of pre- & during-exercise nutrient timing/composition
Contract earned, drastically improved PST scores, improved power output & endurance mid-workout, elimination of upset stomach mid-workout, reduced soreness & quicker recoveries, dietary self-sufficiency
500yd Swim: 8'17*
Push-Ups (2-min): 81*
Sit-Ups (2-min): 93*
Pull-Ups (2-min): 19*
1.5mi Run: 9'15*
out of 115
for BUD/S class 300**
**provided by SEAL+SWCC
500yd Swim: 8'03*
Push-Ups (2-min): 96*
Sit-Ups (2-min): 101*
Pull-Ups (2-min): 22*
1.5mi Run: 8'39*
out of 115
for BUD/S class 300**
projected w/out ViTL***
***based on pre-ViTL trends
500yd Swim: 8'05
Push-Ups (2-min): 84
Sit-Ups (2-min): 96
Pull-Ups (2-min): 21
1.5mi Run: 9'10
out of 115
for BUD/S class 300**
Nutrition can be a tough sell for many because it doesn't always provide immediate results... reduced risk of injury or changes in body composition take time to notice. That is not the case here. Optimization of pre- and during-exercise nutrition can have immediate and drastic impacts on performance - increasing time to fatigue and power output, reducing feelings of nausea, the list goes on. Yes, there were many other changes made to Randall's diet, but he needed quick results so this is where we started.
Pre-ViTL, Randall's high energy needs led him to a high(er)-fat diet. He also tended to eat plenty of vegetables. These are two things that are not necessarily poor habits, but, consumed in the hours and minutes leading up to near-maximal exercise, they can slow energy utilization and increase the chance of stomach upset as fat and fiber slow gastric emptying. Fatigue or a brick in your stomach when you are sprinting, after just having put out as hard as you can for 20-30 minutes, is not a fun experience.
We came up with a pre-exercise plan to emphasize carbohydrates and lean protein in pre-exercise meals, as well as pre-exercise snacks with quick-digesting carbohydrates. Timing was adjusted from general sports nutrition guidelines for Randall's needs as he tended to be a 'quick digester' with higher than predicted energy needs, which often caused him to get hungry towards the end of workouts or fitness tests. Portability, adaptability, and quick preparation of meals/snacks was crucial because of Randall's schedule. To meet these needs, some cooking skill development in our nutrition kitchen and significant education regarding better packaged foods + nutrient timing/composition was key (in addition to planning pre-exercise eating). Pre-exercise coffee intake (caffeinated, of course) of 2-3 cups, 40 minutes before important physical test days also proved extremely beneficial given the nature of the demands.
Not only did Randall report increased energy during the middle and end of workouts, he also reported a huge appreciation for the confidence in showing up for physical tests, knowing that he was fueled for optimal performance and didn't have to worry about the stomach upset that most of his other peers experienced.
From the client:
"I felt like I had the nutrition side of things down, but I was plateauing in my training. After working with you, I'm blown away at how much faster I'm recovering after workouts and how much quicker I'm gaining strength. I eat food that tastes great AND supports my training. I have a strong grasp on what good nutrition really is. I don’t care what people do for a living - if they aren’t working with you, they are falling behind… they are not performing at their best."
And as we obviously have to state: results are not guaranteed and these cases should not be used for medical advice, treatment, diagnosis, etc.
Ryan B. 17yo M
light weight rower, Seattle Rowing Center
u.s. junior national Development team
Learn how to manage weight throughout the year (especially for Spring Lightweight cutoff of 150lbs), increase strength/speed
Strong cooking skills, passion for learning
Energy intake and macronutrient composition/quality/timing to optimize performance & weight control; safe & effective weight management strategies for elite rowing
Ability to control weight gain & weight loss as needed, increased muscle mass, reduced body fat, dietary self-sufficiency
First appointment with ViTL: 9/23. Notice weight variability from 9/23 to 11/23 as Ryan begins to make changes and optimize diet in an effort to put on lean body mass. Diet habits and intake ‘clicks’ and Ryan is able to consistently gain lean body mass from 11/23 to 1/29, until it is time to begin to cut weight for spring season. Linearity of weight gain (11/23 – 1/29) and weight loss (1/30 – 5/2) is further evidence of Ryan’s ability to control weight.
Many athletes struggle to control their body weight, lean mass, and strength-to-weight ratios because they lack a solid foundation of dietary habits and knowledge that would support these outcomes. They either don’t consider nutrition a factor (hah!) or they follow vague, piece-meal nutrition plans that yield sub-maximal (and temporary) gains, often provided by teammates, internet articles, coaches, trainers, or doctors who don’t have the training or the time to help athletes make lasting changes.
Ryan came to ViTL with the foresight that his diet would be a limiting factor to his weight management and rowing performance within the next year and beyond. His weight was erratic week to week and he had not consistently gained weight in the previous 3 months. Given that he had no weight restrictions in the Fall and Winter (and was below maximum cutoffs anyway), we needed to teach him how to gain lean mass as we laid a foundation of eating for performance. Every pound of lean body mass reduces 2000m rowing times by about 5 seconds, so competing at a weight any lower than the maximum would be unreasonable.
Sufficient calorie intake, feeding frequency, and protein intake were major barriers to effective weight and strength gains. Instituting quick, simple breakfasts and portable snack ideas that fit Ryan’s nutrient needs were key strategies to helping him overcome these barriers. Limiting sources of excess saturated and trans fat, improving protein & carbohydrate sources, and optimizing pre-exercise carbohydrate timing were some of the major factors enabling a leaner weight gain with improved performance along the way.
The knowledge, strategies, and food habits that Ryan gained throughout his first weeks with us made his reductions in weight (and body fat) much simpler when needed. Preservation of lean mass and safe weight loss time-frames and protocols were achieved through strategies to maintain calorie intake above BMR, eliminate sources of excess fat, ensure protein intake at 2g/kg with proper frequency, concentrate carbohydrates more closely around workouts, and increase vegetable intake. Consistent with current research, HMB and omega-3 supplements along with leucine-rich protein sources also proved beneficial in meeting these ends. Finally, hydration monitoring and conservative manipulation of hydration status around competition also proved beneficial for achieving desired weight while allowing Ryan to train and compete at the highest weight possible.
Jeff K. 37yo M
Summit Mt. Baker & Mt. Rainier within 30 days of each other
Understanding of nutrient function/biochemistry, passion for food/cooking
Pre- & mid-climb nutrient timing & hydration, food portability; considerations for muscle cramps & GI distress
Succesful summits of Mt. Baker & Mt. Rainier, elimination of cramps & GI distress
Climbing at altitude places unique physiological stresses on the body that must be met with the appropriate nutritional strategies. Not to mention those stresses are in addition to food weight and access limitations, bathroom availability limitations, and abnormal sleep patterns that are mainstays of climbing.
As the partial pressure of oxygen is reduced with increases in altitude, the body relies more heavily on anaerobic glycolysis and thus muscle glycogen and carbohydrate for energy. Thirst sensations and appetite are depressed, while dehydration occurs more rapidly.
High calorie, easily digestible foods that transported well were planned according to Jeff's macronutrient and micronutrient needs. Hydration and electrolyte strategies along with drinkable calories were instituted to compliment food intake and aid optimal muscle/GI function. BCAAs and multiple transportable CHOs appeared to be of benefit in this case. Better brands for hydration and some packaged foods also helped to ease digestive woes.
Sweat rate, hydration, and nutrition protocols were all tested leading up to the climbs.
An aside on muscle cramps:
When it comes to electrolytes and muscle cramps many people jump straight to potassium. Yes potassium is an electrolyte that is crucial for nerve signaling and muscle contraction, and it MIGHT play a role in muscle cramps. The true etiology of muscle cramps is still hotly debated and it seems to be multifactorial… Potassium, sodium (especially sodium!), calcium, and magnesium are all crucial electrolytes for performance and muscle function.
You lose them to sweat and urine and need to ingest them in varying amounts. But, water intake, muscle glycogen depletion, energy availability, poor recovery, low protein intake, overtraining, and misfiring of proprioceptive signals (from muscle spindle fibers and golgi tendon organs) all seem to play roles in different cases. Muscle cramps could mean one, some, all (or even none) of these issues. Alleviating cramps typically involves rest, stretching, heating/cooling, hydration with electrolytes & carbohydrates, and even anecdotal reports of ingestion of yellow mustard and turmeric.
From the Client:
"Baker Summit 8am Memorial Day. Rainier Summit at 5am today, baby. Fueled by my specialized ViTL Coconut Balls! Those things are amazing!"
Linda M. 46yo F
Mother, Business Owner
Achieve a healthy, comfortable weight
Determination to change, vegetable garden & egg laying chickens
Defined meal/snack patterns, reduced grazing, increased protein & vegetable intake, altered fat balance & optimized fat sources, increased probiotic intake, increased walking & resistance exercise
Weight loss, improved energy (eliminated need for mid-day naps), psoriasis severity decreased >75%, monthly migraines eliminated, reduced incidence of colds/flus
First appointment with ViTL: 12/29. Client reported weight increase from 160 to 180lbs over 2 years pre-ViTL. Initial weight: 180.4; last measured weight: 158.8 (-21.6lbs).
A great physician once said, "all healing is self healing." The body can do amazing things when the conditions are right and the signals we send it are on point.
Linda's diet was no different than many of the people who come to work with us. But, she was at a place in her life where she felt it was time to make a change. In many ways her increased sensitivity to the food she ate was an advantage that all people are not afforded - many need blood tests or wait until it's too late to make changes.
When it comes to sustainable weight loss, learning to achieve individual vegetable and protein intake needs are often the common denominator, and this was definitely the case with Linda.
Excess adiposity (fat) is pro-inflammatory. Eating too frequently, high added sugar consumption, and blood sugar dysregulation is pro-inflammatory. Low vegetable intake means low fiber and low micronutrient intake... and that's pro-inflammatory. Low omega-3:omega-6 intake is pro-inflammatory. Low/no probiotic intake is pro-inflammatory. Low physical activity is - you guessed it - pro-inflammatory. Inflammation is an immune-mediated, natural response to stress (whether physical or psychological) that helps initiate healing/repair mechanisms... but, too much has been associated with metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disease, you name it. (Underlying mechanisms skipped so as to not put you to sleep.) These are challenges for us all, and they were challenges for Linda.
By focusing on nutrition principles to promote a comfortable weight and healthy lifestyle, Linda saw her weight and other health challenges melt away. Her dogmatic determination to change for the better sped results. Her lack of 'pickiness' and desire for simple, repeatable meals made her life (and our job!) easier; but, this also provided challenges when it came to including enough variety in her diet.
Yes, there are different nutrition considerations and prioritizations when it comes to weight loss, energy, migraines, psoriasis, frequent colds/flus, etc. But, the nice thing is that many considerations overlap, and when individuals are ready for change, more can happen at once. Linda's choice to adopt a more anti-inflammatory diet and increase protein intake and physical activity enabled a lot of change very quickly. She was aided by curcumin, omega-3, Vitamin D, and probiotic supplementation as dietary intake of these nutrients proved challenging for her.
(Linda was able to avoid elimination of gluten and dairy despite these being common triggers for psoriasis. She was not on, and did not start, any medications throughout her time with us.)