Interview by Marguerite Ogle with Cory Holly ND: Natural sports nutrition and fitness expert

MO: Pilates is considered moderate strength training. Can you give us some nutritional guidelines that can help us make the most of the workouts that we do? What and when should people eat before a workout?

CH: I have competed as an athlete my entire life and have worked professionally with thousands of recreational and competitive athletes engaged in all form of sport and exercise training. My best advice based on research, safety and experience is to prepare a pre-workout protein shake 1-2 hours prior to each workout. The concept is called Shake & Take and it works like a charm.

Use clean filtered water as a base. Blend your shake with 1-2 T. omega-3 rich sport oil (flax, chia, fish), 1-2 servings of whey, hemp or fermented soy protein isolate, ½ - 1 cup of low-glycemic organic fresh fruit such as berries, cherries, pear, peach or apple, and additional performance ingredients such as ribose, creatine, glutamine and spirulina (½ - 1 tsp of each). The objective is to enter the workout with glycogen rich muscle, stable blood sugar and a positive nitrogen balance. Energy reserves should be high. Running on empty increases risk of injury, limits exercise performance and stifles progress.

Take a good multiple vitamin and mineral pak with the shake. Choose one that also provides enzymes and CoQ10. The pak provides the body with essential nutrients and antioxidants that are depleted during the workout. Enter the war against resistance, gravity and oxidation with full armor. Protect your cells and tissue from free radicals generated during exercise. Shake & Take!

When you consume adequate high-quality lean protein throughout the day, you rev up your metabolism and protect muscle from injury and damage. You become a fat burning machine, not a fat storing machine. Protein literally means “To come first”.

MO: What about in the post workout period?

CH: Repeat the Shake & Take process immediately after training, while the window of opportunity is wide open for repletion and restoration. Liquid nutrition is rapidly absorbed. Add some medjool dates or eat a slice of manna bread with the shake. After a good workout insulin and glucose are low. Spiking insulin with high-glycemic carbohydrates after exercise results in faster glycogen repletion and better recovery. The body is looking for optimum nourishment and can’t respond to the workout stress until glycogen and ATP levels in the muscle cells are completely restored.

Before skeletal muscle can adapt, heal and remodel itself in response to vigorous exercise, the immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems must fully recuperate. This process takes time and demands rest, whole organic food and solid biological support. Great workouts are one of the keys to feeling and looking great and maintaining physical strength.

During the workout, sip on cold filtered water reinforced with electrolytes and vitamin C. Hydration is a huge factor in health and performance.

MO: What if someone wants to lose weight? Do your recommendations change, other than cutting calories?

CH: No. I don’t count calories. I count food quality and ensure the diet is biologically compatible for each individual. “Weight” is an outdated term. Body composition is what really matters. Weight is the influence of gravity on body mass. What body mass? Do you need to lose bodyfat, gain lean mass or improve muscle tone? Are your upper and lower body and especially your core in good shape? Are you well developed from the inside out?

As we age we tend to lose functional lean mass (this includes everything but fat) and gain non-functional bodyfat. This phenomenon is called sarcopenia. Slowly but surely this undesirable change in body composition increases risk of morbidity and mortality. The good news is that we can prevent what many think is inevitable by manipulating our genes with progressive exercise and optimum nutrition.

The objective of exercise is to get fit, not lose “weight”. Body composition is modified best through nutrition, meaning careful manipulation of macronutrients (fats, carbs and protein). You learn to supply your biological demand in relation to energy requirements, physical activity and individual body type. This is the CHI Prime Directive of nutrition.

Over consumption of refined carbohydrates, denatured protein and damaged non-essential fats disrupts our neurological and endocrine control centers. Damaged food damages the brain. Aging is accelerated. To live lean we need to think lean, live clean and get in touch with reality. Everyone should have a complete fitness assessment once a year that includes a test for muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, aerobic capacity and body composition (not BMI). Performance is where the rubber hits the road!

MO: Lots of people wonder what the optimum ratio of cardio and strength training is for general fitness. What do you think?

CH: Strength (resistance) training comes first. Ratio depends on what kind of a body you have and what you’re goals are. There is no assemblyline one shoe fits all approach in natural medicine. Both cardio, especially high-intensity intermittent cardio (also known as interval training) and strength training are essential for health and wellness, as well as stretching, core and balance work. Total fitness requires a holistic well-rounded approach.

A common mistake is to perform cardio first, thinking you need to “burn off” the fat. No way Jose! You warm-up, then hit the weights to strengthen and build your skeletal muscle. Muscle is the health engine where the fat is burned. Lose your muscle and you lose your strength, power and fatburning capacity. Functional muscle and the immune system are tied together. Muscle produces the glutamine antibodies (white blood cells) require for reproduction. Lose one and you lose the other.

Weight-training stimulates growth hormone release and raises testosterone (this is essential for woman too). It improves insulin sensitivity. Except for sprinting, cardio isn’t anabolic, it’s actually catabolic (muscle wasting). You use muscle but you don’t build muscle when you run long distance. After hitting the weights (anaerobic) your glycogen levels are depleted. Now you’ll oxidize fatty acids more efficiently with cardio (aerobic), especially interval training. Comparatively speaking, low to moderate intensity cardio is not an effective way to lose bodyfat or improve cardiovascular health.

Aerobic exercise performed after weight-training converts the lactic acid produced during resistance training into reusable energy and prepares the body for a good stretch routine. Cardio improves oxygen uptake and strengthens the heart. Do cardio after the weights and watch the fat peel off. This is probably the opposite of what you’ve been told. 4

MO: Are there particular supplements (vitamins, minerals, etc) that you recommend for basic fitness folk?

CH: Absolutely! Medical science has confirmed that no diet, no matter how whole, organic, fresh or raw, can sustain the human body with every known essential nutrient. Our requirements change dramatically due to exercise, injury, infection, stress and aging. For example, chromium (Cr) is an essential trace element required in glucose and lipid metabolism. It’s present in organic beets but not in beet or cane sugar (sucrose). How much chromium have you obtained in your diet lately? Do you know?

We all take it for granted that we’re getting everything we need from our food, but when is the last time we had our diet analyzed to confirm this assumption? Dietary analysis goes hand-in-hand with a complete fitness and health assessment. The facts speak for themselves. Ideally, our training and nutrition program should be based on science and evidence gathered from a personal evaluation of our diet, lifestyle and exercise capacity.

Half the women in the US are anemic. Why? They simply don’t eat enough of the right food to provide them with reliable sources of B-12, folic acid and iron. Vitamin D has recently been shown to be commonly undersupplied, as well as vitamin A and many minerals important for adrenal and thyroid function, such as potassium and selenium. If the female population obtained optimum amounts of essential nutrients there would be less need for medical intervention and prescription drug use (abuse).

Don’t take vitamins to compensate for shortages and disordered eating. Add essential vitamins and minerals to the best diet you can eat. Think positive. Be liberal with your health. As we age we need more essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals to compensate for damage but less food energy (calories) to compensate for the decline in our metabolic rate. As we burn up in the fire of time, we ALL experience a reduction in mitochondrial function, metabolic enzyme activity, hormones and organ reserve.

To compress morbidity and increase our health span we need to exercise correctly for life, consume a highly nutritious diet and take dietary supplements like clockwork. We need to use nature’s pharmacy, emoducate our minds, study nutrition science and pursue health. Everyone is an athlete engaged in the Sport of Living!

Marguerite Ogle, About.com's Guide to Pilates started doing Pilates way back when it was still the special secret of dancers and elite athletes. Marguerite has studied and taught various types of exercise and dance for more than 30 years. Her experience includes Pilates, modern dance, yoga, and many kinds of bodymind integrative therapies. She teaches private Pilates mat sessions with a focus on modifications for those who are beginning Pilates or have special physical concerns.

As a holistic health counselor, Marguerite incorporates Pilates into the physical wellness aspect of her work. She is the author of the Abundant Nutrition Cleanse Handbook, and her website can be found at www.compassionatewellness.com Marguerite has a BA in dance and movement arts from Naropa University, where she also did graduate work in Buddhist psychology. She is certified as a Pilates mat instructor, group exercise instructor, movement therapist and hypnotherapist. Marguerite is a member of the American Aerobics and Fitness Association and The National Association of Nutrition Professionals.