Sceptically Fit


Misogyny and Athleticism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:57

Men are strong, like King Kong… everyone knows men are just better at everything athletic, right? Even the men who don’t do any exercise are going to be better than any woman no matter how hard she works because … penis!

Personally, I’ve not noticed too much of this directed at me. But I realise that’s more a combination of my own anti-social and obtuseness, and luck. I’m also not going to pretend that men don’t have some biological advantages – like the male friends I play squash with who don’t do any other exercise and still have a decent backhand, whereas I’ve been lifting for a couple of years and my two-handed backhand is still pretty poor. Damn that upper body strength.

But that’s not what Caitlin is talking about when looking at the idea of being chicked. Rather the idea that any man must always be better at anything slightly athletic than a woman. An idea that is born of misogyny as much as anxious masculinity. If you can only define being a man as being stronger/faster/whatever than a woman, of course you are threatened.

Fortunately, lots of guys, like Brian, reject this silliness.  (Here’s another one.) Interestingly enough, athletic men tend to be way more accepting of the prowess of their lady counterparts than are non-athletic men (which is something I’ve remarked upon before).  It’s very simple, really – if you are secure in yourself in a human being, you won’t have to boost your self-esteem by dominating people you perceive as weaker than you.

Ahh patriachy, when will you ever end?


Inspiring Women

Filed under: Exercise — Tags: , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 13:37

In both meanings of the phrase.

Caitlin at Fit and Feminist looks back at A league of Their Own. A movie that not only explored the fact that women love to play sport, but also the societal pressures that limit that opportunity.

That tension between love of sport and the demands of femininity plays a big part in “A League of Their Own,” and later in other “women in sports” movies like “Love and Basketball,” “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Girlfight.”   The specifics of each movie do vary, as each has a different cultural context, but the overarching theme remains the same: that a woman who tries to pursue her athletic passions will be seen as failing to perform femininity correctly.

Nia asks all women to Lift Like a Girl

Building a better body comes down to lifting heavy with compound exercises, getting stronger, and eating smart. Bottom line – I lift like a girl. Maybe you should finally give it a try.”

Seattle University profiles powerlifter Paula Houston.

Amber of BodyPositiveYoga asks all women not to postpone their life.

Please don’t wait until you’re thinner or have the perfect outfit. Don’t wait for motivation, just show up. Go outside. Start walking. Get on your bike and pedal. Go to the beginners yoga class. Call the gym and ask for a tour. Text your friend and invite her to go dancing with you. Give the hot guy your phone number. Laugh. Be loud. Louder, please.

When you’re on your deathbed, I guarantee you won’t wish that you did more situps or worried a little more about your fat thighs. Go live your life. You totally deserve it.


Months of thinking – lots of links

Due to a multitude of life stress going on I’ve really feel behind on this site. So in an attempt to catch up I’m going to just link to all the stories that have caught my eye over the last few months.

Vitamin C supplementation may aid recovery from intense exercise in the cold. Is honey even honey any more? Why do we keep messing with our food.   Are our agricultural staples trying to kill us? A look at which nutrients are essential for healthy mitochondria. Can you eat too much liquorice? Yoghurt doesn’t work the way we thought. A look at the effect of a paleo diet on testosterone. The evolution of lactose tolerance and how to use it if you have it. An interview with Dr Loren CordainWholegrain pasta offers no benefit over refined pasta. A look at preparing traditional grains. Are eggs the answer to weightloss? Here’s seven more reasons to eat them.

Meat doesn’t rot in your colon – grains do. Another study shows that grass-fed red meat is healthier. A diet high in fat is not fattening. A ted talk on using diet to stop angiogenesis. And a diet high in carbohydrates is linked to cancer. So while low carb seems better for reducing cancer and heart disease, its best to keep it high in vegetables.

However, is it just a matter of  eating whole foods that’s more important than individual nutrients. The Perfect Health Diet offers a food apple guide, and lifehacker suggests how to begin eating ancestrally

Are you always aware of what you eat – a look at how your subconscious mind affects your diet. The link between  omega3  imbalances and depression and how increasing your omega3 levels can reduce inflammation and anxiety. How to balance your omega 6 vs omega 3 ratios. A guide to cravings and what your body might actually be needing.

Mark Sisson talks about the idea of gateway foods and helpfully provides a delicious sounding recipe for pumpkin pie. How about paleo egg-cupcakes? On the low-carb front – if you’re missing burgers how about a recipe for an oopsie bun. When the winter colds hit – here’s some suggestions for healthy comfort food. And now you’re inspired – here’s a big recipe roundup.

Letting children’s playground be fun results in less accidents then those awful safety playgrounds. A look at the differences of American-European values. Interesting how a respect for individual rights plays out when the people are women. Alas offers a simple primer to evaluate the anti-women’s health arguments. Another reason to damn the development of agriculture. Sam Harris looks at how to be safe in a world with a propensity for violence.

Weightlifting for women is starting to hit the mainstream. A guide to dynamic stretching. Does muscle really burn more calories? Its important to pay attention to muscle imbalances.  Is chocolate milk the best post-exercise drink? Exercising on an empty stomach may not be a good idea. Why cardio is not the best way to lose fat. How exercise can you become more sensitive to feeling full when eating. What ever you do – just stop sitting  down!

Cycling can be dangerous – the Florida Dept of Transport says riding 4-5 ft from curb, not wearing spandex, being a woman all cause cars to move further over in the lane when passing you. And its shown to be cheaper to build cycling infrastructure than not.

Seven ideas to improve your running, and how to improve your mileage.


Female Athletes – eat more protein, eat less carbs

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 17:14

I recently came across a study from 2006 looking at the dietary needs of women performing resistance exercises.  This study showed that women were less responsive to glycogen during exercise, less able to utilise carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment and required more protein then men post exercise. The advice from the study is that women should lower their carbohydrate consumption and increase protein and fat.

Nutritional aspects of women strength athletes

  • Less use of glycogen in women during resistance exercises (also sprints – yay HIIT)

For example, a repeated maximal knee extension protocol resulted in significant glycogen depletion in type I and II muscle fibres in trained and untrained men, but this was not found in women.An attenuated reduction in glycogen in women after resistance exercise is consistent with similar observations after sprint exerciseand may result from lower glycolytic enzyme activity in women or a suppressive effect of estradiol.This gender difference in carbohydrate metabolism during resistance exercise may also be explained by the fact that women usually have a greater capacity for lipid breakdown and oxidation compared to men, such that glycogen is spared more in women than in men.

  • Increased fat oxidisation post-exercise when doing resistance exercise rather than cardio. Carbohydrate demands post exercise are lower.

Immediately following resistance exercise in women, the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) significantly declines indicating an increase in fat oxidation during recovery.This significant decrease in RER post‐exercise has been noted by several investigators when resistance exercise was compared against sitting and against treadmill exercise with the same aerobic energy cost.  Elevations in fat oxidation post‐exercise spare exogenous carbohydrate for glycogen replenishment and underscore the importance of IMTG and dietary fat as an energy source.

  • Advice on carbohydrate consumption:

One reason that high carbohydrate diets are not optimal for women strength athletes relates to the finding that women use significantly less glycogen during resistance exercise than menand synthesise less glycogen in response to a given amount of dietary carbohydrate.

carbohydrates with low glycaemic indices should be chosen to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes as observed in women who consume higher glycaemic carbohydrates. Low glycaemic carbohydrates are rich in dietary fibre and contain important micronutrients, such as iron and B vitamins. These micronutrients are commonly found to be suboptimal in diets of women athletesbased on evaluations of self‐reported food intake and some biochemical indices of mineral and vitamin status.Fruits, vegetables, brown rice, enriched whole grain breads, whole grain prepared cereals, rolled oats, beans, legumes, and sweet potatoes are good examples of low glycaemic carbohydrate foods that strength training women should consume.

  • Advice on protein consumption

Although studies are inconsistent with regards to gender differences in protein metabolism,there is some indication that leucine oxidation is greater in men, and women may oxidise less protein during exercise because they derive more of their exercise energy needs from fat.

An area of particular interest in protein nutrition is the concept of timing and the differences that may exist between genders. In contrast to men, women have an attenuated increase in muscle protein fractional synthetic rate when amino acids are provided after exercise, suggesting that women may need to consume more protein after resistance exercise in order to elicit the same anabolic environment.

  • Addressing health concerns of a high protein diet (quoted at length – my highlights)

High protein diets have long been criticised on the basis of deleterious effects on bone due to their greater acid load that requires neutralisation by calcium salts.Women are at increased risk of osteoporosis as they age, so any potential adverse effects on bone health should be avoided. However, the justification to limit protein based on this criticism may not be warranted. Using dual stable calcium isotopes to quantify calcium kinetics in women, Kerstetter et al found that a high protein diet did not have any negative effects on net bone balance. Further, a protein supplement (42 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat) given to young women and men throughout a 6 month strength and conditioning program, increased insulin growth factor‐1 and serum bone alkaline phosphatase (indicating increased bone formation) compared to a carbohydrate supplement of equal caloric value. Dietary unprocessed sources of protein contain both calcium and phosphorus and can contribute to increased dietary calcium and phosphorus intake. High protein intake does not appear to have adverse consequences for bone health in females, but rather, may be beneficial. Another criticism of high protein diets is that habitual consumption in excess of recommended intakes promotes chronic renal disease through increased glomerular pressure and hyperfiltration. On the contrary, the effects of high protein diets consumed by healthy humans were recently reviewed and it was concluded that there is insufficient proof to limit protein intake for the purpose of preserving renal health in healthy adults. The Institute of Medicine has also concluded that there is no clear evidence indicating that high protein diets have other deleterious effects including increased risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease. The final most common criticism against high protein diets in relation to strength athletes is that increasing protein intake beyond the recommended level is unlikely to result in additional increases in lean tissue because there is a limit to the rate at which protein tissue can be accrued. The argument against this statement is that even if there is a limit to gains in lean mass with high protein ingestion, increasing evidence shows that dietary substitution of carbohydrate with protein results in a variety of favourable health effects including enhanced weight loss, reduction in truncal adipose tissue, optimal maintenance of blood glucose, and improved lipid profile.

  • Advice on fat consumption

women seem to rely less on glycogen for resistance exercise than men. Thus, high fat diets may be advantageous for women strength athletes to complement energy production derived from IMTG and circulating lipids while concurrently sparing muscle glycogen

Investigators have demonstrated that women endurance athletes in energy balance need to obtain at least 30% of their energy from dietary fat to ensure rapid replenishment of IMTG following exercise. If fat intake is sub‐optimal, there is continued IMTG depletion following exercise for up to 2 days, which may limit performance in subsequent exercise sessions.

Fat intake greater than 15% of energy from unprocessed sources may help to prevent the female athlete triad as its consumption will help attain energy balance, improve bone health, and avoid depressed sex hormone concentrations.

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