How do the Womens’ Products benefit Post-Menopausal Athletes?
There is very limited research on post menopausal athletes but there is quite a bit on the changes of body composition and muscle integrity with the menopause and the transition into menopause (I’m still pursuing this angle of research so stay tuned as I get more data!).
What we DO know:
A few key points to remember when the hormone flux is taken away (aka menopause)-
1) Blood vessels are less compliant (meaning blood pressure changes are slower)
2) There is less core temperature flux tolerance (meaning you can’t handle hot very well)
3) You sweat later in activity and vasodilate longer (i.e. your body tries to get rid of heat by sending more blood to the skin instead of relying on sweating to cool you off for a longer period of time)
4) There is greater sensitivity to carbohydrate (more blood sugar swings and less need for carbohydrate overall)
5) The body uses protein less effectively (meaning that the type and quality of protein you eat and when you eat it becomes very important for building lean mass and holding onto it)
6) Less power production (thus train for power, not for endurance!- on the bike and in the gym!)
Although I discuss the way the women’s products help with the menstrual cycle issues, similar issues still exist post-cycle. The one key thing to remember is muscle function and the quality of the muscle (aka integrity). Without maintaining muscle integrity, you can’t hit intensities, you can’t produce power, and you gain body fat (in particular around the abdominal region).
Solutions/How the OSMO Women’s products can help:
There is still a focus on hydration to maintain blood circulation, especially with the increased initial reliance on vasodilation and the lack of heat tolerance. The women’s active hydration is formulated to increase glucose availability at the small intestines to really work with the glucose co-transportation of fluid; less stress means less cortisol (aka the belly fat hormone). Preload will also help with the blood circulation and thermoregulation aspects with regards to hyperhydration but the key ingredient in the women’s preload for you is the branched chain amino acids- this helps reduce cortisol and adrenaline release (less body fat stimulus, less muscle breakdown stimulus) as well as do all the things I’ve stated for the cycling woman- reduces central nervous system fatigue, increases circulating amino acids for a jump start to recovery.
Then recovery! This is the most important aspect of all in a post-menopause/peri menopause woman! Trying to maintain muscle integrity and really adapt depends on dropping stress hormones and really “bathing” the broken muscle fiber in essential amino acids. You do not want soy at all!!!! (soy may help stop cortisol, but it does nothing to help with muscle synthesis and maintaining the quality of the muscle!). The whey+casein and glutamine in the women’s acute recovery is key for the amino acid profiling for muscle synthesis and repair, and the glutamine is key for immunity as well as glucose metabolism.
Okay.. now, sleep!
Hot flashes (or flushes..) are more than a nuisance, they interfere with sleep, the key time for repair and recovery. What I’ve found that really helps with the hot flashes in several of my athletes (both menopausal and stage racing!) is 15g whey with 400-600mg valerian. Since we took the goodnight off the market, I’m recommending 1/2 dose of Women’s Acute with 2x400mg Valerian tablets. This helps with overnight total body reparation, keeping cortisol low (to keep the stimulus for belly fat low), helps maintain a lower core temperature so the signalling of a hot flush is reduced.
My goal is to help all women train, recover and perform at their potential; I hope this helps shed a bit of light on how our bodies change when the hormones stop cycling.
“Isn’t Green Tea a powerful antioxidant? Why is it in Acute if you say stay away from antioxidants?”
Yes, green tea is a powerful antioxidant, but there are different compounds which can be sourced as “green tea extract”. (This is why you need to be very careful in choosing pill/liquid extract forms of green tea instead of just drinking it). We’ve source a 5:1 green tea that is higher in the alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) and has just residual catechins– it is more akin to black tea with regards to the antioxidant properties vs caffeine. – i.e.well below the least effective antioxidant dose.
Food in the Pocket- what can I make? Recipes to try…
Here are some great recipes for making “on the go” food for your pocket!
What is the difference between eating solids and drinking liquid calories, won’t they all just mush up in the stomach anyway?
The body is not linear and doesn’t follow an algorithmic method of digestion. Our bodies are inherently lazy- in this vein, pulling water into the stomach to help digest solids is a no-go, There are mechanisms in place to deal with the solids in the stomach- first of course, you have stomach acids/bile that breakdown the fat, protein. carbohydrates into smaller parts. But, because each of these macronutrients are different lengths, they breakdown at different rates (oxidation rates). Once into the smaller parts, these molecules signal rate limiting feedback mechanisms to allow a certain amount of energy (in the form of fat, pro, carb) to titrate out per hour.
A straight dump of carb (aka a gel or concentrated drink) doesn’t work in the same fashion as mixed macronutrient- (the macronutrients in a sense help breakdown each other through the feedback mechanisms)- the straight dump of carb overloads the signalling and the body “freaks out” saying- holy crap, I don’t know what to do with this sudden change in osmotic pressure and this concentration of carbohydrate- thus the response is to “dilute dilute dilute!” until it can slowly release the carb via rate limiting response above.
Because it is a chemistry equation and the whole is more effective at causing “panic” than the sum of the parts, fluid with the physiological components to maximize fluid movement across the intestines is not mitigated by this same feedback mechanism.
Sugar(s): What about Maltodextrin and Fructose?
The liquid calorie choice is easy, but not ideal- it may not necessarily cause GI distress, but it does contribute to avoidable body water loss.
The composition as well as the osmolality of the fluids you consume are critical for water balance. The body’s physiology is one based on feedback systems and pressures. When you drink liquid calories, the osmotic pressure in the stomach goes up- thus the fluid hangs out for a while, as the body tries to dilute and breakdown into smaller parts to reduce the pressure. This is why a low osmolality is important- there isn’t a significant pressure change, and it allows rapid gastric emptying.
The second, critical factor, is the composition of what you are consuming. Yes, you can consume a drink of maltodextrin and achieve low osmolality, but in the small intestines, where 95% of water absorption takes place, the maltodextrin increases the segment osmotic pressure (as it isn’t glucose, the only sugar that is passive uptaken and pulls water with it)- with this increased pressure, the body dumps water into the intestines to try to bring the pressure down = effective dehydration so to speak.
Fructose also can cause issues- small amounts of fructose can be tolerated (e.g. if it is cleaved from the sucrose molecule- you will have glucose and fructose; the glucose is then passively uptaken with water; then the fructose is pulled to the liver via the hepatic vein- all normal and good). When you consume a fructose-glucose or fructose-glucose-malto mix you “dump” too much fructose into the small intestines and the body responds like it does with malto- pulls more water into the small intestines, out of the blood. (When you have maltodextrin and fructose, it becomes a physiological disaster for trying to keep blood volume up).
The liquid calorie scope has all been formulated to maximize carbohydrate uptake, with small amounts of fluid uptake– this is because everyone is afraid of “bonking” from low calories– you can come back from low blood sugar pretty rapidly 10ish minutes. but it takes hours/days to come back from dehydration.
This is the basic concept of keeping food and fluid separate. You want something that works with your physiology to maximally absorb fluid– so glucose, with sucrose (two sugars exit the stomach faster than one), with sodium- as sodium works in the intestines in a gradient to pull fluid across; and potassium, magnesium, calcium- for fluid balance and maintaining integrity of contractile tissue (you need mag and calcium for the activation of a muscle contraction).
How do the Womens’ Products help me if I’m on Birth Control?
There are several kinds of birth control pills (OCP), localized drugs such as the ring, and the IUD. OCPs are monophasic (steady level of estrogen and progestin across the three active weeks), biphasic (steady estrogen, increasing levels of progestin the second 2 weeks of active pills), and triphasic (increasing levels of estrogen and progestin across the three weeks of active pills), and the “mini-pill”- progestin only. The “ring” (NuvaRing) is a localized (unlike pills which are systemic), contraceptive option that releases estrogen and progestin during placement. An IUD is also localized with small doses of progestin released during placement.
With the changing hormones of pills and localized devices, how does this affect my body? OCPS invoke 6-8 times the estrogen and progesterone levels that a naturally cycling woman has. Thus all the negative effects of estrogen and progesterone are elevated. Moreover the “low hormone” week aka sugar pill week is actually NOT low hormone as the body rebounds to estrogen levels similar to the first trimester of pregnancy. The progestin only aspects of the Ring and an IUD are not as impactful as they are more localized doses of progestin, but this introduced hormone still affects muscle integrity and recovery.
Preload: How to implement and use effectively
Preload. It is a sodium PLUS fluid load. It is not about replacing sodium but about the fact that the combination of sodium WITH water works in the body together to expand plasma volume. The different compounds of sodium- bicarbonate and citrate- are additional benefits; where the buffering component comes into play. Remember, PRELOAD IS AN ERGOGENIC AID. In this vein, it should be trialled in training first! (All of you good, intelligent souls out there realize that you should never implement something new on race day…).
How to start using Preload? First, start small. The night before dose is more for the buffering effects as the hyperhydration effect is transient (i.e. the body is really good at regulating fluid compartments, thus the plasma volume expansion you experience with Preload lasts a few hours [remember hyperhydration is beneficial for slowing the rate of plasma volume loss, it doesn't stop it]). The morning of dose is more for the hyperhydration aspect with some buffering component.
Start by using one dose. If it is for high intensity, try the night before. If it is for long and/or hot sessions, use it before you head out (ideally finishing the Preload 30 min before you go. Drink it cold, this helps mask some of the saltiness if that bothers you).
If you find one dose a bit to strong, back it down and use 1/2 strength. If you are fine with one dose, then trial two.
Because it is a transient sodium+fluid load, it is fine to use for stage racing (one dose in the morning before racing is enough for consecutive days).
A reiteration here: If you have any history or current diagnoses of kidney or blood pressure disorders, DO NOT USE. It is a sodium+fluid load, thus expands blood volume (slightly increases blood pressure) and because the kidneys filter fluid and sodium, your kidneys need to be healthy too!
What does it mean that Osmo products have all been developed based on “peer-reviewed science”?
The recipes for all Osmo products are based on published scientific research conducted by leading nutrition scientists, including our Chief Research Officer, Stacy Sims MSc, PhD, Exercise Physiologist-Nutrition Scientist. These findings have been published in leading scientific journals and have been reviewed and vetted by peers in the scientific community prior to publication. Osmo relies on this established, cutting-edge research to advance the performance of athletes in the fields of hydration and recovery. Key published articles that underpin Osmo products can be found in the archive section on the science page of this website.
This rigorous use of established science is rare; most sports nutrition products were developed by emulating others, or simply based on hunches.
Why is the Osmo product line better than competing products?
The shortest answer to this question is that Osmo products are better because they work better; Osmo products enable athletes to feel and perform their best. They also don’t cause common side effects of other sports drinks, including bloating, diarrhea, thirst, and cramping, among other issues.
Osmo Active Hydration is a great example of superior performance. Osmo Active uses a combination of sucrose, glucose and electrolytes, in a specific ratio that has been shown to result in the fastest rate of fluid absorption. For Osmo Active, we also use a lower concentration of sugars (3.5% rather than the typical 6–8%) so you don’t get residual “slosh” in the stomach from delayed gastric emptying. We chose specific electrolytes needed to maximize fluid absorption, delay fatigue, reduce the rate of core temperature rise, and help maintain the water in your blood (your plasma volume). We also chose a sodium compound that doesn’t contribute to leaky gut and boosted the overall sodium and potassium content to maximize fluid absorption and help with electrolyte losses through sweat. Each of our products is based on peer-reviewed science to ensure that we deliver improved performance and an ideal experience for athletes.
If I want to try just one of the four Osmo drink mixes, which one should I start with?
We recommend starting with Osmo Active Hydration. This is the product we developed for use during exercise and it is a great way to experience the Osmo difference.
The key difference between Osmo Active Hydration and other products you may find on the market is that Osmo Active truly promotes hydration, and in turn boosts performance. When you try Osmo Active during a workout or in a race, you will quickly see an improvement in your performance, as fluid will go where it is needed to help with thermoregulation, metabolism, and circulation. This also reduces gastrointestinal distress and “sloshing” in the stomach. By contrast, when you start exercising with low body water, you are already compromising your performance, and as you exercise and lose body water, your performance drops off further. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already ~2% below optimal body water, which can translate to as much as an 11% reduction in max power. Osmo Active maximizes fluid absorption, delaying power decline and fatigue.
How long will it take me to notice a difference in my performance after I start to drink Osmo products?
We believe you will see a change in your performance the first time you use any Osmo product, but you will certainly experience the benefit by the time you reach the bottom of the bag. There is no need to experience Osmo products over a long period of time to see how they change your performance. For some, change comes quickly because they no longer experience cramps on long rides or runs. Others who normally exercise in a continually hypo-hydrated state will find that Osmo Active Hydration consumed during exercise allows them to perform better. For those who never use recovery products, Osmo Acute Recovery will help them recover from exercise more quickly.
Does what I drink when I exercise really affect my performance? If so, why is this?
Yes. Optimizing hydration before and during exercise has a direct correlation to performance, Osmo takes the guesswork out of what you should be drinking. Being just 2% below optimal body water can result in as much as an 11% reduction in max power. The most important factor in optimizing your hydration regimen is drinking enough of the right thing to slow the effects of dehydration. Drinking plain water isn’t ideal because you need a small amount of sodium to help the water reach the fluid compartments of the body. The specific ratio and concentration of glucose, sucrose and electrolytes in Osmo Active results in the fastest fluid absorption possible. Traditional sports drinks contain too high a carbohydrate concentration to maximize fluid absorption, as they are geared towards supplying carbohydrate as a fuel, not for hydration. Remember, “hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket”.
How much do I need to drink to stay hydrated?
Baseline needs: Unfortunately a specific recommendation isn’t appropriate, as fitness status, environment, training history and plan, as well as sex differences all influence how much fluid you need. Generally, if your urine first thing in the morning is relatively pale yellow, you are off to a good start. Throughout the day, eating watery fruits and veggies, drinking tea, water, low carbohydrate electrolyte drinks will help keep you hydrated. The afternoon (~3pm) tiredness often is due to low body water and a drop in core temperature, thus drinking a warm drink (tea, coffee) will help hydrate and bring up the core temperature, reducing the fatigue.
Before training: in the 90 minutes leading up to your training session, you need to drink as much as comfortable (~2 cups) of low-carbohydrate fluid. This is a good place for using Osmo PreLoad and to sip on Osmo Active Hydration to maximize body fluid and sodium stores.
During training: Similar to baseline needs, what you drink during your ride depends on several factors: temperature/environment, time of day, intensity of training, sex differences. It is important to go into a race or training situation hydrated; it is much easier to come back from a low sugar ‘bonk’ (a few minutes after a bit of food) than it is to come back from dehydration (several hours for the kidneys and hormones to kick in for fluid balance)! Your fluid intake during training should allow you to maintain power towards the end of your ride! We recommend drinking Osmo Active and basing your minimum fluid needs on body weight and temperature. Scientific guidelines recommend 0.154 ounces per pound of body weight for lower intensity and cooler weather; scoping upwards to 0.185 ounces per pound of body weight for hotter and/or more intense rides (View Chart). Remember this is based on generalized guidelines; the best way to tap into what you specially need is to objectively measure your hydration status using the Whiz Wands.
After Training: For maximizing recovery, you have a 30 minute window to ingest protein with a bit of carbohydrate, followed up with a real meal within 2 hours of finishing your ride. After you exercise, as a general rule, you need to drink the equivalent of 1.5 times the amount of body weight you have lost to restore fluid balance; here a combination of Acute and Active will maximize rehydration and recovery.
What is a good way of knowing whether I am properly hydrated while exercising?
A good way to gauge whether you’re properly hydrated is to examine the color of your urine FIRST THING IN THE MORNING and to monitor the level of your thirst before, during, and after you exercise. When gauging urine color, the rule is generally the clearer the better. Dark yellow urine is a telltale sign of dehydration. When you are thirsty, this indicates that you are already below optimal body water and you need fluids. While optimal fluid consumption rates vary from individual to individual, monitoring and tracking your urine color and perceived thirst in conjunction with exercise intensity, exercise duration and weather conditions will enable you to gauge your optimal rate of fluid consumption in different situations.
Why are the sugars found in the Osmo product line better than maltodextrin or just glucose?
Osmo hydration products are specifically developed to optimize hydration. Though it may seem simple, the sugars in a sports drink have a big impact on how fluid is absorbed. Two sugars are better than one, and the combination of glucose and sucrose in the proprietary ratio found in Osmo Active is shown to be the best for maximizing fluid absorption.
The rate of fluid absorption into the bloodstream is determined by two things: the combined rates of gastric emptying and intestinal absorption. These responses are directly influenced by the composition of the drink ingested. Of key interest from a formulation standpoint is that too much carbohydrate in a drink will delay gastric emptying. Also, the combination of glucose with sucrose has been shown to stimulate sodium and fluid absorption in the intestinal cells. Studies have shown that glucose-only solutions slow the rate of gastric emptying; whereas maltodextrin promotes the most carbohydrate absorption, with low fluid absorption. So, with the goal of rapid gastric emptying and intestinal fluid absorption, we developed the ideal ratio of the best sugars to promote fluid absorption and subsequent plasma volume increase.
What is the difference between Osmo Active Hydration and other sports drinks on the market?
To start, Osmo Active works. All Osmo products are based on leading, established, and published science and use natural and organic ingredients, which is unique in the sports drink arena.
Another difference is that unlike other sports drinks, Osmo Active Hydration is optimized to maximize the rate of fluid and electrolyte absorption into the body. The rate of fluid absorption into the body is determined by two things: the combined rates of gastric emptying and intestinal absorption. These responses are directly influenced by the composition of the drink ingested. Of key interest from a formulation standpoint is that too much carbohydrate in a drink will delay gastric emptying.
Most powdered drink mixes that people put in their bottles are designed to be a source of significant calories, which results in slow gastric emptying, thus slowing hydration.
Our goal is to educate athletes about “hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket.” It is a paradigm shift to separate the fueling and hydration needs.
This focus on optimized hydration is why we use sucrose and glucose with sodium. This sugar and sodium combination has been shown to maximize fluid absorption. We also have a lower carbohydrate percentage (3.5% compared to most drinks at 6–8%), which keeps the osmolality low for faster emptying of the gut and greater fluid absorption. Having fluid that actually reaches the blood allows for a slower core temperature rise, and the ability to maintain blood-flow to the muscles. It is important to remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already 2% dehydrated, which equates to a decline of 6–11% max power. Osmo products also have higher sodium content per serving; this is to improve the balance between water, sodium and other electrolytes across all vascular spaces during exercise, thus helping to reduce hypo- or hypernatremia.
Can you explain what you mean by “food in the pocket, hydration in the bottle?”
This phrase is a key part the Osmo Nutrition project and the specific blueprint for developing Osmo Active Hydration. What we mean is that an athlete should not rely on liquid calories for their fuel source. Calories should be eaten and one should drink for hydration.
Even though this is common sense and proven effective by science, “hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket” is a revolutionary concept. The fitness/athletic/performance industry has a reference framework that liquid calories are the best way to hydrate and fuel for a race. Our goal, in contrast, is to educate and implement “hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket.” It is a paradigm shift to separate the two.
By relying on solid food for energy and liquids for hydration, both blood sugar and hydration can be optimized and uncomfortable side effects like bloating, sloshing and GI distress can be avoided.
Basically, drinking Osmo Active Hydration and eating real food is the ideal way to hydrate and get the calories required for endurance sports. Although you can come back from low blood sugar in a few minutes by eating, it takes hours to recover from dehydration.
What kinds of “real food” do you suggest that I consume with your products?
Real food is just that—stuff your grandma can pronounce and identify! We like to recommend starting with solid foods and working your way to semisolid options. By this we mean, start by eating something like salted potato cubes, sandwich bites, pretzels, lowfat muffins, and/or mini cookie bites. If you need to have “engineered nutrition,” we suggest protein-oriented bars, such as Clif MOJO, uncoated Luna, or MacroBar. Semisolid foods are your favorite childhood gummy-type candy, such as jelly beans, Swedish Fish or Mike and Ike. They may not be “real food” per se, but they are mighty tasty. Click here for a schematic of fluid and good intake recommendations for up to 6 hours of riding.
Do you recommend eating gels while drinking Osmo products during exercise?
No. Gels are not a good thing to consume during exercise because they are part of the “liquid calorie” camp; they are a concentrated carbohydrate that goes into a dehydrated gut.
When you eat a gel, you change the osmotic pressure in your digestive track, which in turn stimulates the body to shift fluid out of the plasma and other spaces to dilute the gel in order for it to be absorbed. This is a process that leads to effective dehydration.
A follow up to the gel question is usually, “What about chomps, blocs, and jelly beans? These are all straight carbohydrates, too.” True, but blocs, chomps, and jelly beans are all okay because they are consumed at a slower rate than gel and they deliver a smaller amount of carbohydrate per bite (e.g., one sleeve of blocs has less than 200 calories, which is about the same as two gels. It takes little time to gulp down two gels and more time to eat blocs, so you get a continuous input and a smaller dose of carbohydrate than when you swallow a gel).
What’s this about “no antioxidants” in the Osmo Acute Recovery drink?
After-exercise recovery is a key part of getting stronger and more efficient; however, introducing antioxidants right after exercise has been shown to inhibit adaptation.
One critical step in exercise stress is the oxidation process. The body has its own feedback system for overcoming oxidation within the muscle cells. If we introduce antioxidants close to the conclusion of exercise, however, we inhibit this feedback system and significantly reduce the adaptations that athletes train for. Basically, when you ingest antioxidants close to the conclusion of exercise, your muscle cells (specifically mitochondria) don’t change or adapt as much in response to the exercise stress.
When should I use Osmo PreLoad Hydration and why?
Osmo PreLoad Hydration is best used the night and morning before hot-weather efforts or intense workout conditions.
Osmo PreLoad Hydration is a specific pre-exercise hyper hydrator and buffer. It has been formulated with two different sodium compounds, citrate and bicarbonate, to do two things: expand your plasma volume (the watery part of your blood that is essential for thermoregulation) and provide buffer agents to the anaerobic and aerobic metabolic pathways. It is beneficial to use Osmo PreLoad Hydration before hot races or training, as well as before high-intensity events such as time trials, track events, cyclo-cross races, criteriums or circuit races, and sprint-distance triathlons.
(fluid in ounces)
(fluid in ounces)
|Timing||Hydration||Food||Caffeine or other supplements|
|Throughout session, every 20 mins.||Stay on top of hydration with Osmo Active||Peppermint gum with sugar as often as needed.
(Aiming for 4.5-6 calories per kg per hour)
|First 20 mins.||Minimum of 250ml||None||None|
|At 40 and 60 mins.||Minimum of 350ml per feed||Protein-oriented bar (MOJO, uncoated Luna, MacroBar), and/or salted potatoes or sandwich bites
(20-22g of carbohydrate at 60 mins.)
|2nd–3rd hours (6 feeds total, 3 per hour)||Minimum 350ml per feed
(1 liter per hour)
|Protein-oriented bar (MOJO, uncoated Luna, or MacroBar), and/or salted potatoes, sandwich bites, pretzels or minicookie bites
(20-22g carbohydrate per feed)
|4th-6th hours (9 feeds total, 3 per hour)||Minimum 350ml per feed
(1 liter per hour) At 20 and 40 mins. of hour 4: One cold bottle of Active with 1 tablespoon PreLoad (This is a fluid+sodium load to eliminate any need for electrolyte tablets)
|Protein-oriented bar (MOJO or uncoated Luna), and/or salted potatoes, sandwich bites, pretzels, lowfat muffin, dark chocolate, and mini cookie bites. Also consider semisolid foods—jelly beans, Swedish Fish, chomps/blocs
(20-22g carbohydrate per feed)
|At hour 4: ½ of one 5-hour Energy and/or 100mg green tea extract for a caffeine boost if needed. (If session will be longer than 5 hours, then at hour 5, another dose of caffeine is recommended)|