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Gary Roberts: The importance of nutrition in hockey

By Gary Roberts / The Hockey News / July 5, 2011

Eating well sets the tone for a player’s performance both on the ice and in life. Sounds simple enough right? While that common sense advice has been around forever, many in the hockey world only began taking proper nutrition seriously in the past five-to-10 years.

Personally, it took me too long to figure out that what I ate affected my performance. Unfortunately, I had to retire first. At 30 years old, after I lost my career to two neck surgeries, I started to take an active interest in nutrition and training. I realized just how much the food I ate affected the way I performed.

Now it’s become a lifestyle for me to eat healthy. I realize how important it is to my energy levels. As an athlete, it’s all about preparation. The food ingested before a game or practice can directly affect performance. It’s also about recovery, the food consumed post-game. It’s what creates an edge for a young athlete. If a player wants an edge over the summer to improve performance, strength and overall conditioning, nutrition is a huge part.

I can’t say enough about it. At a young age, getting that nutritional edge is going to be what separates a player from the pack. Even in the NHL, there are still a surprising number of guys who aren’t eating the right way.

It starts with the parents. I’m a hockey dad now, so I certainly appreciate that it’s important to reward kids for a job well done. We all like those rewards and they’re important to keeping young kids motivated and having fun. But when I’m in a minor hockey dressing room, it makes me cringe when I see cupcakes and chocolate bars going around after the game. Imagine how that affects performance, especially when the kids are in a tournament and playing four or five games over a weekend.

Young players just can’t go five or six hours without fuelling the body properly. Athletes need to understand and learn more about the importance of eating for proper recovery. I think post-game nutrition is one of the least appreciated pieces of the nutritional puzzle.

After I retired, I began to think about how I could share what I learned over my 21 years in the NHL. I began to work with young players who were beginning or about to begin their professional careers, but I knew this information was for everyone. The more time I began to spend around minor hockey parents, the more I realized these families weren’t getting the information they needed from a trusted source. So this season, I teamed up with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to help create fitness and nutrition content for a website they’ve created as part of a new hockey mentorship program called Allstate All-Canadians.

It’s no secret nutrition can be intimidating for a lot of people because there’s a lot to learn. The main message is to get started with a few steps in the right direction. For example, I have a simple oatmeal recipe that became a cornerstone of my diet for much of my career. I ate it for breakfast and as a pre-game meal. It gave me long-lasting energy and it was a great source of nutrients.

I wish I ate better when I was developing as a young player. I know it made a huge difference to me as a professional once I figured all this out. There’s no doubt about it, I would be thrilled if better nutrition became part of every Canadian’s routine for hockey. But it goes beyond the game: This should be part of everyone’s routine for life.


Feed the machine
Eat three meals per day plus snacks to maintain a high metabolism and energy level. Although this is difficult when travelling to games, NHLPA players know, it pays off in the end.

Eat a high-carb, high-calorie meal to last throughout the game. Avoid heavy meals like steak as they will only slow players down. Try spaghetti and meat sauce, chicken or salmon and rice before a big game.

Post-game or workout
After practice, a game or a workout, athletes need to eat within the hour to restore the calories lost on the ice. Flax and essential oils, vegetables, carbs and protein provide critical benefits.

Healthy eating, like exercise, is still important in the off-season. Add more fruit and an occasional treat to your diet.

Get motivated
Nutrition has become a vital part of the modern hockey game. Today we have a greater knowledge of the affects different nutrients have on the body and mind and that means young hockey stars have a chance to improve their game in another way.

Gary Roberts is 21-year NHL veteran and a former NHL All-Star who played for six teams including the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 career NHL games. Gary won a Stanley Cup with the 1989 Flames and he currently serves as a player development consultant for the Dallas Stars. Gary is also a hockey dad with a deep commitment to passing along his knowledge of fitness and nutrition to the next generation of young Canadian hockey players.

M.Ed (Coaching)
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Brayden Schenn the latest NHLer on Gary Roberts program

James Mirtle - Toronto - Globe and Mail Blog - Monday, August 8, 2011

Last season was a bit of a tough introduction to the NHL for Brayden Schenn.

The fifth overall pick in 2009 was bounced around a bit by the Los Angeles Kings, who put him into eight NHL games but, not wanting to burn a year of his contract, also had him on a conditioning stint in the minors - an extreme rarity for a 19-year-old prospect.

Finally the organization pulled the plug on the experiment and sent him back to junior, where he had 57 points in 29 games and was a force for the Canadian world junior team that won silver in Buffalo.

On June 23, he was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers with Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick for Mike Richards, ending what had been a frustrating couple of years in the Kings organization.

Now he's considered one of the potential Calder Trophy candidates for the coming year.

Schenn has been in Toronto recently to work with Gary Roberts and take part in the NHLPA's all-Canadian mentorship camp. I sat down with him briefly to talk about his summer and next season:

Q. Is there a sense of excitement heading into this year knowing that there’s likely a spot on the NHL team this time around?

BS: Hopefully I get a good opportunity this year. I’m feeling pretty confident, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s a good team in Philadelphia, nothing comes for free, so I’ve got to go in there and earn my spot just like any other guy would.

Q. It does look like there’s maybe some room for you to break in though whereas last year there ultimately wasn’t with the Kings.

BS: Hopefully that’s the case. Like I said though, there’s a lot of good players competing for a spot like I am so it’s going to be based on how my camp is.

Q. Was seeking out Gary Roberts a big part of your off-season plan?

BS: Two summers ago me and my brother were both thinking about it and it just never happened. For me, this year, I felt that I need to get in better shape and not only learn about lifting weights but everything else, too. Nutrition and the value of being as good as you can be and Gary teaches that. With the weight training, I feel pretty good right now, and with a month to go, still have room to improve.

Q. Have you been in Toronto with him all summer?

BS: I spent a little over a month at the beginning of the summer [in Toronto], then I went to Kelowna with my brother for a bit, then I’m back home [in Saskatoon] for a bit, too. I’ve kind of pinballed all over the place but at the same time I’m still doing Gary’s program. I enjoy doing it. He teaches me great stuff and the most important thing is I’m feeling good about it.

I had an MCL problem at the end of the year and I just wanted to get treatment and rehab that and he did a good job and it’s feeling good.

Q. Do you look at a guy like Stamkos and what he did with Gary and that’s what you hope to get out of it?

BS: Obviously Steve’s a good player on his own. Gary helped him a lot, too. Stammer is a guy who did well before he got to Gary, but once he got to him, took it to the next level. Not only him, but Jeff Skinner – there’s lots of guys he was training who have good results.

Q. Did some of your friends in the program warn you how tough it was going to be?

BS: No, I already made the decision I was going to be there. I knew he expected a lot and he preaches a lot but that’s what you want to go through if you want to be a good player.

Q: Was there anything in particular that you benefited from that will help you out next year?

BS: Nutrition. He’s all about organic food, lots of veggies – there’s so many things that he preaches. He gives you a postworkout meal, at the gym, and an example would be a salad with zucchini and cucumbers in it and the dressing would be like olive oil and lemon, that’s it. He doesn’t let you have any salad dressing. It’s his way of teaching things.

There’ll be organic wild salmon, and veggies and rice and pasta. Stuff like that. You eat lots, but it’s the right things. It’s not about eating three meals now; it’s about eating six or seven. Not huge meals, but just making sure you’re putting the right things in your body.

Q. Do you get a chance to cheat at all? Head over to a pizza place or McDonalds or anything like that?

BS: (laughs) I wouldn’t say that. But the one thing I like is ice cream, once in a while. I know it’s not good for you but frozen yogurt. Other than that though my meals are healthy. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I was eating McDonalds. I just don’t do that really.

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Health Canada stalls over regulating caffeine-loaded energy drinks

PostMedia.com Sarah Schmidt August 12, 2011

OTTAWA — Brandon Stephenson and Shane Stephens blend in perfectly at the Sand Del Lee race track, their summer stomping ground as amateur motocross riders. On this special August weekend, the motocross park on the outskirts of town is teeming with teenage boys who, like these kids, are sporting gear that carries the logo of their favourite energy drink as they watch a round in the Monster Energy Motocross Nationals.

“When you’re racing, an energy drink gives you the extra boost to get you to the front of the line. Pop is good, but there’s something they put in Monster,” Brandon, 15, says of his habit of downing a can or two during his weekend practice runs. “It’s not like a drug, but it’s good,” chimes in his cousin Shane, 13.

Back in 2004, when Health Canada approved the sale of another energy drink, Red Bull, as a natural health product for adults — the first in Canada — the regulator may not have anticipated this scene.

Red Bull’s elevated levels of caffeine meant the Austrian company could make a health claim that its drink provides an energy boost or, in the words of its tagline: “gives you wings.”

Applications from other energy drink makers, such as the Monster Beverage Company, started flooding Health Canada’s natural health products directorate. Each sought approval to sell its own therapeutic drink, relying on high-caffeine content to make the same claim: The product temporarily restores mental alertness and wakefulness if you’re feeling tired or drowsy.

By 2005, Health Canada had acknowledged the growing popularity of energy drinks, and explained it was trying to figure out if the department needed to revisit how it regulated the drinks, given the product’s attraction for teenagers and children. Today, six years later, Health Canada is struggling to sort out what to do about energy drinks, now dubbed internally as one of the department’s “hot issues.”

After approving the sale of nine energy drinks and allowing another 157 products such as Rip It Energy Fuel, Monster Nitrous Killer-B and N.O-Xplode Igniter Shot on the marketplace, Health Canada has spent the past 20 months wrestling with whether to rein in the fastest-growing category in the beverage industry.

Caffeine, a main active ingredient in energy drinks, isn’t illegal. But it is a stimulant that, in high doses, can have serious side effects, such as seizures, heart problems and changes in mood and behaviours. Children and teens with underlying health problems, or those taking certain kinds of medications, can be especially susceptible to high amounts of caffeine.

Health Canada won’t talk about its plans for dealing with the issue of energy drinks and children and teens, or discuss the recommendations of an expert panel convened last year by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. But thousands of pages of internal records released under access to information legislation offer a glimpse at the conundrum in which the federal regulator finds itself.

Are energy drinks simply getting a bad rap based on public pressure rather than science, as the beverage industry says? Or are there enough signs of health risks for young people to warrant new warning labels on the cans and perhaps even more drastic restrictions considered by Health Canada?

The stakes are high. Even though carbonated soft drinks continue to dwindle in overall sales, pop still thumps energy drinks in terms of market share. For every case of energy drinks sold, an estimated 36 cases of carbonated pop are sold, according to the U.S. trade publication Beverage-Digest.

But editor and publisher John Sicher said the value of energy drinks comes in profit margins, not in the number of cases sold.

“Energy drinks are important because they are premium priced. They are very profitable for the beverage companies and for the retailers,” Sicher told Postmedia News.

Young people form an important segment of the energy-drink market, even though the industry says the beverages are formulated and recommended for adults only. Canadian data are unavailable, but according to U.S. research, children under the age of 12, teenagers and young adults ages 19 to 25 make up half of the energy-drink market.

Health professionals have become increasingly vocal about energy drinks, with a particular focus on how young people are drawn to them. The drinks are sold in flashy cans as big as 550 ml loaded up with 235 mg of caffeine.

For comparison purposes, a regular 355 ml can of cola contains 44.94 mg of caffeine. A tall cup of brewed coffee at Starbucks contains 260 mg of caffeine.

Marketing slogans such as “Amp Up,” “Unleash the Beast, and “Bigger. Better. Faster” are complemented by energy-drink companies’ high-profile sponsorship of motocross, skateboarding, and wakeboarding competitions — always big hits with younger people.

“They’re where the kids are,” says Dwayne Killeen, who attended the August motocross championship sponsored by Monster with his three children, ages 12, 10 and six.

Last year, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial, saying “caffeine-loaded energy drinks have now crossed the line from beverages to drugs delivered as tasty syrups.”The editorial called for more prominent labels listing total caffeine content and an end to advertising targeting children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics went farther in June, when it published a clinical report, saying energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain. The products should never be consumed by kids and teens, the report concluded.

“We wouldn’t tell kids, ‘Why don’t you just drink two large cups of coffee because you have a test today and you need energy, or have a couple of cups of coffee so you can play better at soccer,’” said Dr. Holly Benjamin, co-author of the U.S. academy’s report and professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago, in an interview.

“The bottom line is it’s a stimulant drug. It’s addictive and it can have serious side effects.”

It’s unknown whether Health Canada finds these arguments persuasive because the department has declined multiple Postmedia News requests to interview departmental experts about energy drinks.

What is clear from internal records is the file is very active and senior departmental officials have been fully engaged in it, including the minister’s office.The records also indicate significant measures have been on the table, including product recalls, but Health Canada has so far stopped short of implementing any of them as it considers feedback from the beverage industry and weighs the recommendations of its own expert panel.

For example, in February 2010, senior officials met to discuss the “potential for recall, stop sale vs. sending of Section 16 notices,” according to a senior adviser to an assistant deputy minister in health.

Section 16 of the natural health products regulations, which has only been used nine times and never for an energy drink, is a tool used when the health minister “has reasonable grounds to believe that a natural health product may no longer be safe when used under the recommended conditions of use.”

Once notices are issued, manufacturers are required to provide any adverse reaction and consumption data within 15 days to illustrate the products “are indeed safe” when used properly.

Aglukkaq agreed to issue Section 16 letters in June 2010 on the recommendation of departmental staff, but Health Canada opted instead to make the request on a voluntary basis, a measure with which companies complied.

Justin Sherwood, president of the Canadian Beverage Association, said the request yielded very few reports, emphasizing this is an indication of the product’s strong safety record.

Health Canada had also planned to announce new cautionary labelling rules by March 2010, requiring energy-drink makers to add a risk statement on cans about how “irregular heart rate or rhythm have been known to occur, in which case discontinue use and consult a health care practitioner.” (Companies are already required to state on cans sold in Canada that the drink is not recommended for children, pregnant nor breastfeeding women, nor caffeine sensitive persons, and that it is not to be mixed with alcohol.)

The labelling proposal, considered alternately as “high priority” and “extremely high priority” in internal correspondence, is now stalled after the industry group questioned the scientific basis for the cardiac statement.

The association provided two reports commissioned by independent experts challenging Health Canada’s analysis of 59 adverse reactions reported to the department. The list includes 32 incidents classified by the department as “serious,” of which 15 involved the cardiac system.

Seven of these cardiac-related incidents involved teens ages 13 to 18, all within the recommended use. But Health Canada’s own assessment could only make a “probable” link to the energy drink in one of these cases, the records show.And in the two most serious cases — involving the deaths of teen boys in 2006 and 2008 — Health Canada classified the cause as “unclassifiable” — meaning the information was insufficient or contradictory, and could not be supplemented or verified.

“The levels of caffeine in energy drinks are generally equal to or less than the amount found in a typical serving of coffee. There is no effort being made by the federal government (or anyone else) to regulate the labelling of coffee- and tea-based beverages, or other sources of caffeine. Energy drinks should be addressed in a non-discriminatory manner,” the industry association wrote to Health Canada in March 2010.

Raising the spectre of a likely challenge at the World Trade Organization, the association also accused Health Canada of being “completely out of step with the way these products are labelling in rest of world, and will result in total lack of harmonization with other major regulatory jurisdictions that are also Canada’s major trading partners.”

Labels aside, the industry could have bigger problems coming down the pike, even though it says energy drinks are already more tightly regulated in Canada than in any other country.

The energy-drink sector is fretting about what Health Canada’s expert panel report recommended to Aglukkaq in November.

Health Canada is mum on both the panel’s membership and its recommendations, but the group tackled the idea of placing strict parameters on how energy drinks can be displayed and sold at convenience stores.

Companies say they only market their products to adults, but kids such as Brandon and Shane have certainly taken note of the marketing campaigns for energy drinks, often placed next to soft drinks, juices and sports drinks at corner stores.

“It’s a pretty cool-looking design and it’s got a nice taste to it,” Brandon, sporting his Monster T-shirt, says of the Monster brand at the Monster motocross competition.

For Jim Shepherd, he just wants to see some progress on the energy-drink file at Health Canada.

Shepherd’s 15-year old son, Brian, died in January 2008 after competing in daylong paintball tournament at which a RedBull representative came and handed out samples of energy drinks. Witnesses reported seeing Brian drink one of the samples during the company’s noon-hour visit. Around 7:20 p.m., while waiting for the awards ceremony, Brian collapsed and later died in hospital.

The coroner ascribed Brian’s death clinically to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), but offered no plausible explanation for the cause of that arrhythmia, given he had no genetic markers demonstrating a pre-disposition to an arrhythmic event.

Health Canada reviewed Shepherd’s adverse reaction case, but concluded it was “unclassifiable” because “the time and amount of Red Bull ingested could not be confirmed.”

“We didn’t know what an energy drink was. We had conversation with the kids about alcohol, cigarettes and sex. But we never had a conversation about energy drinks, and that’s just as important,” Shepherd told Postmedia News.

He’s equally adamant that Health Canada step up and do its job to protect families. In addition to his concerns about marketing and labelling, Shepherd said energy drinks should not be regulated as natural health products.

“Truly, if you look at the definition of a natural health product, it’s to mitigate disease, it’s to improve a condition. I don’t think you’d find any doctor that would take the recommended dosage of this product over the years and expect to be healthier.”

At the Monster Energy national motocross competition, Brandon offers his own words of wisdom. “Everything in moderation. There’s a limit to everything,” says Brandon, who has his own energy-drink rule during his weekend riding day.

“Usually one, but if two is needed, two or three.”

M.Ed (Coaching)
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Habs forward Mike Cammalleri feeling fitter, predicts best season ever

The Canadian Press 2011-08-23

TORONTO - What Mike Cammalleri lacks in stature, he makes up for in strength.

The five-foot-nine Montreal Canadiens forward pushes himself to a level during gym sessions that few of his peers can match. In fact, Cammalleri's off-season trainer believes he's one of the most powerful players ever to play in the NHL.

"I would say that pound for pound he's definitely one of the strongest guys in the league," Matt Nichol said Tuesday. "And maybe one of the strongest guys in the league ever, pound for pound."

Cammalleri is among 30 players currently participating in the BioSteel strength and conditioning camp under the watchful eye of Nichol and Gary Roberts. The week-long gathering combines on-ice and off-ice sessions and is designed to get players prepared for the start of training camp.

It's still more than three weeks before the Habs players are scheduled to report, but Cammalleri is anxious to get going after an excellent off-season of training.

"It's been good this summer," said Cammalleri. "The last couple years I've had to do a lot of rehab just to correct some chronic stuff and repattern some stuff that was going on in my body. It's been long, tedious work—not getting a chance to really work on my power and speed and strength, which are more fun for me to work on. ...

"Of the last three years, this is the best my body's felt."

Come October, he thinks it will be reflected in his performance.

"I expect this to be my best season ever," said Cammalleri.

The 29-year-old was just a teenager when he first crossed paths with Nichol at a local gym. The trainer can only shake his head in amazement while recounting the type of exercise routines he saw Cammalleri doing at that time.

"I can tell you that 12 years ago when not a lot of guys were doing real true speed training—track training, doing heavy lifting, plyometrics, watching what they eat—he was," said Nichol. "He's absolutely committed and dedicated to it."

Cammalleri got a head start thanks to track coach Charlie Francis, whom he refers to as "one of the greatest power speed minds of our time." As a teenager, he spent time learning from the man who once coached sprinter Ben Johnson and developed a routine that was ahead of its time.

In the years since, Cammalleri has earned a reputation as a fitness nut, but it's not something that bothers him.

"I think it's becoming more the norm," he said. "I just enjoy it, I try and learn as much as I can about it. Like anything you might be passionate about, you probably tend to talk about it more than other things. That's maybe where the reputation comes in."

It also comes from those who have seen him in action.

Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano has spent much of the summer working out alongside Cammalleri and describes his demeanour in the gym as being fairly intense.

"He's very fit, he takes it seriously," said Cogliano.

Nichol believes the ability to go from joking around one minute to focusing on an exercise the next one is a key to Cammalleri's success. As a strength coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs years ago, it was the type of thing he saw regularly from Roberts and Mats Sundin.

"As soon as they're under the bar, as soon as they're in the starting position for a sprint, as soon as it's time to get the job done and get to work, they get it done," said Nichol. "It's a whole different kind of focus."

The rewards that come from elite off-ice training aren't just physical.

Despite being one of the shorter players in the NHL, Cammalleri can skate around the ice with confidence knowing that he doesn't give up anything in strength.

"When you see a guy like Mike come in here, (he's) lifting with or sometimes outlifting bigger guys," said Nichol. "That gives him the mental boost that he knows: 'Hey you know what? That guy might be bigger than me but it doesn't mean he has to be stronger than me.'

"Guys like Mike, they take great pride in beating those bigger guys. Theydon't want to keep up with them, they want to beat the big guy. It's a real mindset."

It goes even further than that for Cammalleri. He sees it as a way of life.

"I enjoy learning more about living a healthier lifestyle and feeling good," said Cammalleri. "It brings me some happiness. At the end of the day we're all searching for happiness. ... For me, usually the better I feel, the better I play, the more happy I am, the better I treat people in my life.

"It's all kind of a positive thing."

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Move over Gatorade, there’s a new fuel for NHL players

JAMES MIRTLE Globe and Mail Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

It’s one of those hidden little secrets of the NHL these days: What exactly is in all of those many green Gatorade bottles on the players’ benches during games?

Because it’s often not Gatorade. And it’s not water either.

More and more, players are filling those sponsored bottles with a new drink called BioSteel, which was developed by trainer Matt Nichol, championed by Montreal Canadiens star Mike Cammalleri and is now being used by nearly half of the league.

Nichol touts his “high-performance sports drink” as being superior to others on the market, and he has some numbers to back it up, with 18 NHL teams placing orders last season.

And this week at BioSteel’s annual camp in Toronto, 20 NHLers and 16 top prospects are all training under Nichol and using his supplements, in part to get ready for the season and also to help spread the word about the work he’s doing.

“I use it the entire year,” Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. “Even off-ice training, before, during and after workouts. On-ice sessions. It’s a product we love, and it’s something I’ll use for a long time.”

“I’ve been using it all summer and it’s been good,” Phoenix Coyotes tough guy Paul Bissonnette added. “I’m on board. Anything that Matt Nichol says is pretty legit.”

What started as a “little pink drink” – a mix of amino acids and electrolytes that Nichol cooked up when he was the Toronto Maple Leafs strength and conditioning coach – finally began to catch on in a big way after Cammalleri first tried it three years ago.

He liked it so much he connected Nichol with a friend with a background in sports marketing, John Celenza, who came up with the name and eventually became the president of what’s now BioSteel Sports Supplements.

Originally just for pros, it’s now available to anyone in a few stores and online. More teams are now ordering it than ever, and the camp – in its third year – is having to turn players away.

The company has, in short, become a little known Canadian success story, taking on giants like Gatorade and Powerade and beginning to gain interest from players in the NBA and other sports.

“When you compare it to a traditional sports drink like Gatorade, that’s basically sugar water,” Nichol said. “It’s not particularly effective and I don’t think it’s particularly healthy.

“This gives athletes a performance benefit while still promoting good health. … I think at the time [it was created], Gatorade was cutting edge, but it’s not that time anymore. Things have progressed. Guys don’t use wooden sticks any more.”

Nichol is a bit of an unlikely success story himself, as the Waterloo, Ont., native didn’t play hockey at a high level and was instead a football and track star at McGill University.

He became a teacher but found his heart was in training and supplements more than lesson plans, and he took a full-time job working with athletes before going into business on his own.

After experiencing some success with several future NFL and CFL players, Nichol landed Steve Staios as his first NHL client 11 years ago.

Word of mouth then spread from there to the point Nichol was hired by the Leafs, at only 27, to be their strength coach, a role he filled for seven years until Brian Burke came in and cleaned house in 2009.

Since then, Nichol has concentrated on training players privately, gaining a reputation for being one of the hardest working people in the business.

BioSteel’s profile, meanwhile, began to rise dramatically at the same time, culminating in an endorsement from Gary Roberts on Hockey Night in Canada during the 2010 playoffs, after which Celenza’s inbox flooded with more than 600 e-mails in a few hours.

Getting their name on all those water bottles, however, probably isn’t in the cards just yet.

“Gatorade’s got a league-wide deal and a lot more money than me,” Nichol said. “They’re pretty smart. But I think you could probably drink a vodka soda out of the Gatorade bottle as long as it’s in the right bottle.”

M.Ed (Coaching)
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Game Intelligence Training

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Teens, young men way over limit on sugary drinks: U.S. data

Susan Kelly and Alina Selyukh, Reuters, September 1, 2011

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON -- About half of the population drinks a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day, with teens and young men consuming way more than recommended limits for staying healthy, according to new government data.

The survey results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show how far consumer habits must change to help fight the nation's obesity epidemic, with nearly two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese.

Coinciding with the data, city health departments from Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Seattle announced plans for a new campaign to encourage cutting down on sugary beverage consumption.

"We're concerned about sugary drinks because they are the only foods and beverages that have directly been linked to obesity ... Reducing their consumption is the perfect place to start to reduce the epidemic," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) that is spearheading the campaign.

The CSPI is working with city officials on the new campaign, along with the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

CDC researchers interviewed 17,000 Americans about their diets. The average male in the survey consumed 175 calories in a day from drinks containing added sugar, while the typical female consumed 94 calories from such drinks.

Boys aged 12 to 19 consumed 273 calories a day from sugar-sweetened drinks, or the equivalent of about two 12-ounce cans of carbonated cola -- more than any other group. Men aged 20 to 39 consumed 252 calories a day from beverages containing added sugar, the second-highest amount.

The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 450 calories a week from sugar-sweetened beverages, or less than three cans of soda. They include sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports and sweetened bottled waters.

"This is one area that people can look to if they are trying to limit their consumption of added sugars," study author Cynthia Ogden said in an interview.

The survey also found that non-Hispanic black children and adolescents obtained 8.5 per cent of their daily calories from sugar-sweetened drinks, higher than the 7.7 per cent among non-Hispanic white children and teens and 7.4 per cent for Mexican-American youths.

For adults 20 and over, the percentage of daily calories obtained from sugar drinks rose to 8.6 per cent for non-Hispanic blacks and 8.2 for Mexican-Americans but declined to 5.3 per cent for non-Hispanic whites.

The study also found that lower-income children and adults consumed more daily calories from sugar-added drinks than those with higher incomes.

The new campaign in cities, dubbed "Life's Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks," aims to limit consumption to about three cans a week by 2020.

Such campaigns have attracted legal attack by leading beverage makers, who have also been resisting efforts to propose taxes on sugary drinks. New York City, which has been at the forefront of public awareness campaigns on the ills of drinking too much soda, was sued in July by the American Beverage Association (ABA).

In response to the CDC's new findings, the ABA argued that sugar-sweetened beverages are just one contributor, and at that small and declining, to Americans' poor state of health.

"Contrary to what may be implied by the introductory statement of this (CDC) data brief that reaches back 30 years, sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving health issues like obesity and diabetes," the ABA said in a statement, highlighting the declining of both sales of full-calorie drinks and U.S. consumption of added sugars.

Close to 26 million Americans have diabetes, and most have Type 2, the kind linked to poor diet and lack of exercise.

"If you wouldn't eat 22 packs of sugar, why are you drinking it?" said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, public health director in Los Angeles, highlighting the question from his city's own campaign launching next month.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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‘Scary Gary’ Roberts becomes diet guru for young NHLers

JAMES MIRTLE Globe and Mail Aug. 28, 2011

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Brayden Schenn was standing in his local grocery store recently, uncertain of what he could buy to fit in with his radical new training regimen this off-season.

So he snapped a picture of a questionable deli meat with his smart phone, sent it off to a Toronto-area number and added a brief message: “Can I eat this?”

Which is when Gary Roberts, hockey’s diet guru, leapt into action.

“I spend half my time on the phone – that’s the kind of texts I receive,” Mr. Roberts said. “Can I eat these cold cuts? Can I eat these beans? It’s pretty funny.”

Since his retirement from the NHL two years ago, the 45-year-old Mr. Roberts has become almost legendary for his ability to train and pump up young prospects. His first disciple, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos, is the perfect example: He added 15 pounds of muscle after his rookie season and led the league in goals with 51 as a sophomore.

Ever since, players have been lining up at Mr. Roberts’s door – 42 pro-level players are training with him this summer – but few realize that the most extreme part of his strategy involves the kitchen instead of the gym.

Players are assigned a diet that has no wheat, no sugar, no soy and no processed or packaged foods. Everything must be organic, from deli meats on up, and the 26-item list of what players should eat includes goat’s milk, sunflower sprouts, mung beans, salba, chia and hemp.

While their workouts at Mr. Roberts’s High Performance Centre gym north of Toronto get most of the outside attention, players find that it’s what they eat that’s the most important part of the program.

“It’s nutrition, then body maintenance – treatment or yoga – and then it’s the training. If you don’t do the first two, the third one’s not going to work out that well,” says Mr. Roberts.

The diet has earned a few grumbles from NHL players, with some saying it’s bland or hard to follow – never mind the cost for those not yet making millions. But those concerns never reach the ears of the man who became known as “Scary Gary” throughout his career.

Most players buy in simply because it’s Mr. Roberts giving the advice, and they all know the story of how he resurrected his career using the radical diet and exercise plan after chronic neck pain had forced him to retire at age 30. Mr. Roberts went on to play 11 more seasons for five NHL teams, carrying his various organic trail mixes and snacks with him everywhere he went – and getting curious looks from teammates for it – before he finally retired on his own terms as one of the oldest players in the league.

“The only way I was going to be able to come back and play was through a change in lifestyle,” he said, crediting trainers and nutritionists he knew at the time for pointing him in the right direction. “I didn’t change anything about the way I played. I just had to change my body to be able to take the pounding I took every night.

“Through guys like Lorne Goldenberg, Charles Poliquin and Sam Bock, they changed the way I looked at nutrition. And I feel better today at 45 than I did at 30 when I retired.”

Fifteen years later, Mr. Goldenberg chuckles when asked about Mr. Roberts’s fanatical level of commitment to the diet. He’s quick to point out, however, that the average person can take away a lot from what Mr. Roberts is preaching.

“He’s on another planet with this stuff,” said Mr. Goldenberg, who still trains NHL players out of the Athletic Conditioning Centre in Ottawa. “It is a high-performance diet more than anything, but many of the principles we use at the training centre involve nutrition that everyone should be following.

“People need to eat the right fruits and vegetables, the right balance of protein. It’s very easy during the day to just grab a granola bar, which is just packed with sugar and additives. … A more optimal snack might be some raw almonds with organic cranberries, for example.”

For Mr. Roberts, passing along what he learned about nutrition to a new generation of players has become his personal passion, one he will continue during the season by beginning to work with minor hockey teams in addition to the 16 junior players he already has under his wing.

So many pros are now turning to him, meanwhile, that Mr. Roberts has had to turn players away. A considerable portion of the league’s young players will be on the diet this season, with potentially as many as 10 per cent of NHL regulars 25 and under eating the Gary way.

In addition to Mr. Schenn and Mr. Stamkos, Jeff Skinner, James Neal, Jordan Staal and Cody Hodgson are among the more high-profile players who have bought in.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Mr. Schenn said. “I’ve always tried to pay attention to nutrition the past three or four years, but this is another level.

“I thought if it was working for the other guys, I would try it out as well. You see what they do and you push yourself to their level. That’s what I wanted.”


In conjunction with Nature’s Emporium health-food store, NHLer-turned-fitness-guru Gary Roberts has come up with a menu plan and shopping list for young players . Here’s what he tells followers of his plan to incorporate into their diet:

- Full-fat yogurt, pressed cottage cheese, goat’s milk (3.5% MF), organic cream cheese, raw or cured parmigiano

- Organic steak, natural sausage, organic chicken, wild-caught canned tuna, wild salmon

- Kale, baby greens (Asian mix, root mix, mache), sprouts (sunflower, pea, arugula), avocado, chickpeas, mung beans, lentils

- Quinoa, brown rice, brown-rice pasta, salba, chia, hemp, sunflower seeds

- Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, coconut

- Extra-virgin olive oil (and coconut oil)

- Variety of other fresh fruits (including goji berries) and vegetables

- Stay away from processed and unhealthy packaged foods

Below are four of his many recipes, as well as what he tells players to buy at the grocery store:


Chicken cacciatore

Place naturally raised chicken breast and thigh in baking dish. Add fresh oregano or basil, two chopped tomatoes, a chopped onion, a chopped garlic clove and 1/4 cup black or green olives.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until done.

Serve with spelt pasta or brown rice or roasted Italian vegetables (zucchini, pepper, onion, garlic).


Roasted red pepper mayonnaise

4 red, yellow or orange peppers, a garlic clove, 4 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt

Bake peppers in half the olive oil at 400F until soft. Remove burnt skin. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until chunky or smooth (depending on preference).

Use to marinate meats, as a vegetable dip, with pasta or as mayonnaise for sandwiches and wraps.


Gary Roberts’s Molten Chocolate Mousse

1/4 cup of cacao powder, four bananas and a little water. Blend until extremely well mixed.

Steve Stamkos’s Mango Mousse

1 large mango, 1 tablespoon salba or chia seeds, 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional).

Blend until extremely well mixed

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Why exercising on an empty stomach can mean a better workout

ALEX HUTCHINSON Globe and Mail May. 15, 2011

The question

What happens if I work out on an empty stomach?

The answer

For decades, sports nutritionists have been devising ever more sophisticated ways to ensure your body is perfectly fuelled before, during and after every workout. With gels, bars and belt-mounted drink bottles, you can have calories within reach no matter where you are.

But what if quaffing fewer carbs and calories – or even none – resulted in a better workout?

At a recent sports nutrition conference at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, researchers and coaches were buzzing about an emerging practice they refer to as “train low, compete high.” The idea is to do some of your workouts in a carbohydrate-depleted state – the nutritional equivalent of training while wearing a weighted vest – then race with a full tank of carbohydrates.

With initial research showing the technique boosts fat-burning, as well as other metabolic responses to exercise, elite athletes aren’t the only ones taking note. It remains a controversial approach – but it’s relatively easy to give it a try.

There’s no doubt that being properly fuelled, particularly with carbohydrates, allows you to go faster and farther during sustained exercise. The philosophy behind “train low” is that attempting to make your workout easier is counterproductive: The whole point, after all, is to stress your body so that it adapts and becomes stronger.

“The idea is driven by new interest in ‘cell signalling,’ ” explains AIS sports nutritionist Louise Burke. Exercise stimulates the production of specialized proteins that signal your body to adapt to new demands. These proteins are locked up in your body’s carbohydrate stores, and released as those stores are burned; starting with low carbohydrate stores means the proteins are already free to do their signalling as soon as you start exercising.

Researchers have experimented with different protocols to empty out your carbohydrate stores. One is to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes at 70 per cent of maximum effort, rest for an hour or two without ingesting any calories, then proceed to your “real” workout.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” admits John Hawley, an exercise metabolism researcher at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

A more practical approach involves doing your workout first thing in the morning, before breakfast. The overnight fast won’t fully deplete your muscles, but it will leave your liver – the other key location for carbohydrate storage – about half-empty.

Researchers in New Zealand recently put 14 cyclists through a four-week training program with half training before breakfast and the other half after breakfast, five mornings a week. The “fasted” group increased the amount of carbohydrate they were able to store in their muscles by 54.7 per cent, while the “fed” group only increased it by 2.9 per cent.

Another study, from the University of Birmingham in Britain last year, used muscle biopsies to show that “training low” taught the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrate. But in a test of actual performance (a 60-minute cycling time trial), the subjects failed to show any improvement compared with controls.

“There’s often a disconnect between changes in cellular, ‘mechanistic’ variables and real-world athletic performance,” Dr. Hawley says.

Still, athletes have been experimenting with this type of approach for decades, he adds. Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic marathon champion, and five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain are two famous examples rumoured to have experimented with long, hard training sessions in a depleted state.

For those of us who are more interested in getting fit or losing weight than racing, the findings about increased fat-burning suggest we should pay less, not more, attention to fuelling our workouts.

For example, a University of Massachusetts study found that overweight subjects who walked on a treadmill for an hour a day improved their insulin sensitivity by 40 per cent – unless they replaced the calories burned with a sports drink after the workout.

The lesson here is not that you shouldn’t eat – that’s a tactic doomed to fail – but that making a special effort to fuel your workout with extra calories from sports nutrition products may backfire unless your workout is particularly intense.

And if doing the occasional workout on an empty stomach seems to make things a bit harder – well, that’s the point.

Pros and cons of “training low”

It’s unclear whether the apparent benefits of training with low carbohydrate stores outweigh the disadvantages, says Louise Burke, a nutritionist at the Australian Institute of Sport. Here are some of the factors researchers are debating:


- Building more endurance without increasing training could reduce stress on joints and minimize injury.

- Reduction in body fat.

- Teaching the body to rely less on carbohydrate during exercise could mean consuming less sports drink or gel and experiencing fewer gastrointestinal problems during long races.


- You can’t train as hard or fast as you would with full fuel stores.

- Training in a depleted state may increase the risk of injury and illness.

- Teaching the body to rely less on carbohydrate during exercise could make it harder to respond to surges and finishing sprints.

Practical tips

- Training after fasting puts extra stress on your body, so it’s not something you can do every day. At most, try it twice a week at first.

- The time between meals isn’t enough to deplete your carbohydrate stores, so first thing in the morning is generally the only practical time to “train low.” Eating a low-carbohydrate dinner the night before may enhance the effect.

- Training low may help boost endurance, but it interferes with your ability to develop speed and power, so athletes should “periodize” their nutrition. Try training low several months before an upcoming race, but switch to fully fuelled training as your competition approaches.

Alex Hutchinson blogs about research on exercise at sweatscience.com. His new book, Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?, will be published this month.

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Eating habits rest on plates of the parents

Michael Platt ,Calgary Sun, September 24, 2011

There are those who believe banning condoms and sex-ed from high schools is the secret to keeping kids safe from STDs and teen pregnancy.

Of no surprise, it’s in those places, including many southern U.S. states, where disease and unwanted birthrates tend to soar — because you can’t teach responsibility by avoiding an issue.

Ignorance is no cure, and it makes for a pretty poor excuse when your child starts piling on the pounds, whether it’s from carrying a child, or from eating like Julia Child.

The latter is apparently a problem in Calgary, given the decision to ban low-nutrient junk food from public schools, starting in 2012.

It’ll probably feel like the end of the world for some kids, but as of next year, sweet, salty and deep fried snacks will no longer be sold on school property.

The list is long, and unarguably tasty: French fries, potatoes chips, chocolate bars and instant noodles are gone, along with pretty much anything with high-fat, high-sugar ingredients.

“Children spend much of their day in our schools and therefore we must model, in all the ways we can, how to be health-conscious citizens,” Naomi Johnson, CBE chief superintendent, told the Sun last week.

“Our standards will equal the highest standards for students in Alberta and we are really excited about that.”

And that’s all very admirable, to set an example to students by making healthier food the norm on school property.

But the problem, as always, is what’s happens off the school grounds — and more importantly, what isn’t happening at home, where the root of this issue really lies.

No one can be naive enough to think yanking pop and chips from the school vending machine is going to stop kids from consuming crap when they get a junk food hankering.

Corner stores and the food students tote from home will more than fill the gap left when carrots finally replace cheezies in the school cafeteria.

The deep fryers may be gone, but an abundance of fast food outlets means a craving for grease and salt is never more than a few blocks from being satisfied.

And satisfy the cravings, Canadians kids do.

Just hours after Calgary’s school board announced the junk food ban, Statistics Canada had released a very timely report on eating habits, showing Canadians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar every day.

That amounts to one in every five calories stemming from sugar.

In youth ages 9 to 18, the top source of that sugar is from soft drinks.

Ban junk food in our schools, and it sets a good example, but it won’t improve eating habits.

That lesson isn’t for our education system to teach — it’s for the parents at home.

Rather than expecting the school system to babysit their kids through snacks and lunch, parents need to take responsibility, by teaching their offspring about nutrition and healthy choices.

Steering young people away from a life of poor eating and future heart attacks isn’t the job of teachers and school staff, who have more to worry about than what kids are nibbling between classes.

To ban junk food might be a sound gesture, but the only way this move will have any impact — other than on vending machine sales — is if parents also take the time to encourage healthy eating at home.

To judge by the number of children headed towards an early death, too many parents are getting a failing grade on that front by allowing their children to wallow in a poor diet.

The most recent statistics on Canadian flab shows one-quarter of Canadians aged two to 17 are overweight or obese, and are expected to live shorter lives than their parents.

Part of it is the sedentary lifestyle marked by hours of couches and computer games, but plenty of blame can be placed on the same foods which will soon vanish from Calgary schools.

When parents fail to explain to their children the consequences of poor choices, you end up dealing with the repercussions — but unlike pregnancy, this fallout will take years to manifest.

Thus, the junk food may be gone from public schools, but the poor eating habits continue, so long as ignorance remains.

That problem is still very much on the plates of parents.

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Caffeine use extended despite health warnings
Non-cola drinks such as IRN-BRU are finding a market in Canada thanks to Health Canada's change.

Diana Swain, CBC News, Sept 26, 2011

Health Canada extended the use of caffeine to non-cola soft drinks last year, even as it was being warned that children are already consuming too much of the stimulant, CBC News has learned.

How much caffeine?


mg/100 ml


Coke, Pepsi 10

Red Bull 32

Tims coffee 33

Canada's blocking of IRN-BRU, the leading non-cola soft drink in Scotland, was "a longstanding trade irritant," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The drink contains caffeine, so it couldn't be sold in Canada, though the manufacturer had tried for years to get into the Canadian market.

"For decades, Canada was one of the few places in the world that insisted caffeine couldn't be added to those non-cola drinks," CBC senior investigative correspondent Diana Swain reported Monday on The National.

"But last year that rule was quietly dropped by Health Canada — not because caffeine was suddenly good for kids … but because it was good for trade."

Health Canada's own internal research cautioned about the tradeoff.

"The current intake of caffeine from cola-based beverages for certain subsets of the population such as children … already exceeds H.C.'s recommendations," Health Canada's internal research said.

In the next line, it warns that that letting more companies add caffeine to soft drinks will only lead to more kids getting too much of it.

No one from the Health Canada would agree to talk to CBC News on camera, but the department did send a written response: "Health Canada's decision to permit the addition of caffeine to non-cola soft drinks was based solely on health and safety considerations."

'If I don't have my monster … I'm going to be tired,' says one student. 'If I don't have my monster … I'm going to be tired,' says one student. CBCFor Canadian parents, keeping their children away from caffeine has never been tougher. At one time, steering kids toward non-cola sodas was was the way to go.

Now with caffeine in non-cola drinks, the task has become less straightforward — and caffeine appears to be growing more popular among students.

Last year, a panel reporting to Health Canada said that energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster should be renamed "stimulant drug-containing drinks" and only be sold under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.

The panel, whose report was obtained by Postmedia News, said stricter control of energy drinks is important in order to address consumer confusion, especially among young people who can now purchase the caffeinated beverages at convenience stores alongside sports drinks, juices and pop.

"This would more formally signal to the general public that these are drug products, not foods," the November 2010 report said.

At one point in 2010, Health Canada had planned to require energy drink makers to add a risk statement on cans: "Irregular heart rate or rhythm have been known to occur, in which case discontinue use and consult a health-care practitioner."

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Should energy drinks be sold under stricter regulations?

CBC News, September 21, 2011

A Health Canada panel has recommended that energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull should be labelled "stimulant drug containing drinks," the National Post reports.

"This would more formally signal to the general public that these are drug products, not foods," says the report, dated November 2010, that was obtained by Postmedia News.

The report recommends that the energy drinks that contain caffeine be classified as Schedule III under the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities. This would dictate they be sold on pharmacy shelves "operated under the direct pharmacist," but they do not have to be kept behind the counter.

The Canadian Beverage Association disputes the report, saying that under the report's criteria, other caffeinated drinks such as coffee would also have to be labelled as containing stimulant drugs.

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Energy drink labels to contain warnings: Health minister doesn't take expert panel's advice on caffeine products

Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News, Oct 6, 2011

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is directly contradicting the advice of an expert panel and moving to change the classification of energy drinks from "natural health products" to "foods."

The regulation changes announced Thursday do not include banning the sale of energy drinks to young people as the panel recommended; nor do they restrict where they can be sold.

At a news conference in Ottawa on a university campus, Aglukkaq said Canadians think of energy drinks as foods, not health products, and as a result, the government is changing how it regulates them.

The health minister said a wide range of views were considered, noting that some people want the drinks sold by pharmacists while others have been calling for less-stringent rules. She said that the government is taking a "balanced approach" that will allow Canadians to make their own informed choices about what they consume.

"I firmly believe it is up to individuals as well as parents to make their own decisions when it comes to what they eat and what they drink. That's why our focus is on giving people the information they need to make good, informed decisions," she said.

She rejected the notion that she didn't go further with the new rules because of pressure from the industry.

"If I was afraid to annoy the industry, I wouldn't be making this decision today," she responded.

The shift from regulating the drinks as natural health products to considering them to be foods means the popular beverages will have to carry labels listing their ingredients, allergens and nutrition information.

Beyond this change, Health Canada is imposing further requirements for the caffeine-filled beverages:

Allowing a maximum concentration of 100mg of caffeine per 250 ml.
Setting a maximum concentration of 180 mg of caffeine in any single-serve beverage.
Requiring labels to indicate total caffeine content and say the product is a source of high caffeine.
Limiting the types and levels of vitamins and minerals that can be added.
Requiring statements on the product saying it is not recommended for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Making manufacturers add a warning that the drink shouldn't be mixed with alcohol.

The shift in regulations from natural health products to foods won't mean major changes for the industry.

According to Aglukkaq's department, most of the products on the market already meet the caffeine limits that will allow them to be sold as foods and the only change companies will have to make is to revise their labelling.

Panel's key advice not taken

In announcing the new regulatory framework and requirements, Aglukkaq rejected key recommendations from an expert panel that reported to her last year.

The eight-member panel wanted energy drinks to be referred to instead as "stimulant drug containing drinks" and for that term to be on the product label. The labels should also say that adverse reactions to caffeine include insomnia, anxiety, allergic reactions, palpitations and withdrawal, according to the panel.

It specifically recommended that the drinks should not be regulated as foods, but should be treated as drugs and sold the same way caffeine in a tablet form is sold — in pharmacies, over the counter.

The panel also wanted a ban on people under 18 years old purchasing the drinks.

Aglukkaq acknowledged the popularity of the drinks is growing among teens and children, who don't give a lot of thought to ingredients.

"I believe today's changes will be especially helpful to parents of teenagers who regularly consume energy drinks," she said.

Change could take 2 years

Health Canada will work with industry to implement the regulatory changes and "minimize market disruption," meaning the drinks aren't likely to disappear from store shelves during the transition period. Companies are expected to meet the new requirements within 18 to 24 months of receiving their market authorization.

The new measures will not satisfy those who have been calling for a ban on the sale of the beverages to young people.

Health Canada says it doesn't recommend the drinks for teens, but it isn't moving to restrict their access. Instead, it is "directing industry to further strengthen its code of practice" when it comes to marketing and promoting the products with young people.

It also says it is using social media platforms to raise awareness among young people about the risks of consuming too much caffeine.

The expert panel said that because energy drinks should be considered drugs, companies should be prohibited from distributing free samples. The panel also wanted a ban on advertising the products to children and youth.

Aglukkaq said the government prefers its "balanced" approach and that more awareness about the risks of too much caffeine will help consumers and parents make informed choices about the products.

The NDP's health critic, Libby Davies, said the new labels are a positive step but she's concerned about the amount of caffeine that is still allowed in the beverages, and, about the marketing of them to young people. She said Aglukkaq should have taken stronger action on the aggressive marketing tactics of some companies.

"She needed to come out and make it clear that the government of Canada does not think that that's an acceptable practice," said Davies. The NDP MP said the government did take some positive steps but overall, caved in to the industry.

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Doctor's advice? Cut out all wheat products
U.S. cardiologist says destructive dietary ingredient causes rashes, diabetes, colitis and more

Tracey Tufnail, Vancouver Sun, November 14 2011

Modern wheat is highly addictive and worse for diabetics than pure sugar, Davis says, but the most startling of his conclusions is that the destructive immune response caused by gluten sensitivity also affects your brain.

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

By William Davis M.D.

(Rodale books, $29.99)

Like many cardiologists, Wisconsin-based Dr. William Davis has restored good health to thousands of his patients with his advice on dietary changes to improve the wellbeing of their hearts. Unlike most cardiologists, the diet Davis recommends doesn't comply with any official stamp of nutritional approval.

Yet he seems to get some startling results, not only with the heart and circulatory conditions his patients see him for but also a wide variety of other health complaints, including skin rashes, diabetes, colitis, joint pain and insomnia.

His dietary advice is simple: avoid wheat. All wheat, even that wholegrain or organic stuff everyone tells you is superior and heart healthy. Davis says the world's most popular grain is also the world's most destructive dietary ingredient.

The reasons why are not so simple, however, and rooted in the development of wheat since the middle of last century, and the commendable desire to find a solution for world hunger.

Davis's theory begins with the development of hybridized dwarf and semidwarf strains to increase yield (shorter stalks eliminated the buckling found when fertilizer increased head size). More than 99 per cent of wheat grown worldwide is now from these strains, and the hybridization of two wheat strains was never seen by agricultural scientists as a problem.

After all, you cross a tomato with another tomato and you still get a tomato, right?

Davis says 'wrong;' analysis of hybrid wheat compared to its parent strains shows 95 per cent of the proteins in the offspring are the same, while five per cent are unique and not found in either parent.

It is these unique characteristics that Davis links to what he says is endemic wheat sensitivity (Davis says 70 per cent of those who suffer from wheat sensitivity have no digestive symptoms, scarily enough).

Modern wheat is highly addictive and worse for diabetics than pure sugar, Davis says, but the most startling of his conclusions is that the destructive immune response caused by gluten sensitivity also affects your brain.

Davis links wheat to seizures, dementia and even brain damage.

He tells us that wheat consumption is a major cause of the belly fat that triggers inflammation, an underlying indicator of problems like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Other health conditions linked to this visceral fat include dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer. Cutting out wheat can also improve the symptoms of acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.

Davis has an amusingly dramatic and colloquial writing style that most readers will appreciate as making science entertaining, and cites 16 pages of studies to back up his theories.

He provides advice on how to go about removing wheat from your diet - the actual diet he recommends goes further afield than wheat, recommending all grain carbohydrates be treated with caution - and where to look for hidden wheat (if you find you are really sensitive to wheat, girls, check the ingredients of your lipstick).

He also includes some recipes, including for bread alternatives, such as wraps. The recipes are not too exciting, but Davis is a cardiologist, remember, not a chef.

So what if you eat a couple of slices of whole wheat toast every morning? Will you get sick?

The good doctor says 'yes' in answer to that question, recently asked on his blog. "Not sick in terms of vomiting and diarrhea. Sick in terms of knee and hip arthritis, acid reflux, diabetic and pre-diabetic sugars, small LDL particles leading to heart attack and stroke, the phenomena of glycationlike cataracts, neurologic impairment like ataxia, peripheral neuropathies, and dementia.

You will likely not even suspect wheat had a role in your deteriorating health. You will, more than likely, just wither away and spend eternity in the great wheat field in the sky."

"But I couldn't give up wheat," I hear you cry.

In our processed, time-crunched world, it isn't easy, I'll give you that. It takes a mind-shift.

I know. I gave up eating it in July, coincidentally several weeks before I even heard about this book. I have lost 23 pounds and had a marked improvement in my arthritis pain. Wheat-free feels so good I doubt I will ever go back.

Davis isn't a lone voice in the nutritional wilderness; he is just the loudest and latest to question the food pyramid paradigm's relevance to modern health, particularly in relation to the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

It's pretty obvious to me that the ways we have been combating these problems until now are not working, just as I know first-hand that following a low-fat, high-grain weight loss diet doesn't work for me, no matter how meagre the calorie allowance or how many miles I walk.

And I doubt I am unique in that.

Davis doesn't claim all obesity stems from the consumption of wheat, but he provides a compelling explanation of why some people can't lose weight by following official nutrition guidelines.

If you are overweight, feel unhealthy, or simply want to pursue good health, it is worth giving it a whirl.

Davis suggests after five days wheatfree any withdrawal symptoms should disappear and you should start feeling better (for me it only took three).

After all, what do you have to lose except your wheat belly, bagel butt or biscuit face?

Tracey Tufnail is a 46-year-old, obese Vancouver Sun journalist, occasional restaurant critic and diehard foodie who is successfully losing weight by completely ignoring the food pyramid. Follow her nutritional adventures - and misadventures - in The Defiant Dieter blog at blogs.vancouversun.com/defiantdieter


I changed my diet and eating habits in July this year. I also started working out much more regularly (weights and biking). I spoke to a few people who do CrossFit and who abide by the "Paleo Diet for Athletes." I don't buy in 100% but I eat smaller portions, have really minimized the carbs and sugars and have increased my fruit intake (those lower on the glycemic index) and raw (and cooked) vegetable portions. I feel way better. I craved carbs for the first 3-4 weeks, but I don't anymore. In fact, I feel a bit sick when I eat them now. (I used to eat lots of pasta everyday... one of those habits from hockey and cycling... plus they are cheaper to buy and easy to make.) I think there is something to the latest research about wheat, etc. Without totally busting my ass, I have dropped 18 pounds in three months and I feel much better!

M.Ed (Coaching)
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Game Intelligence Training

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Registered: 08/05/09
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Former NHLer Gary Roberts prolonged career thanks to lifestyle change

The Canadian Press, May 1 2012

TORONTO - Gary Roberts looked in the mirror one morning and didn't like what he saw.

Staring back at him was a 30-year-old, retired and unhappy hockey player. It was at that moment he realized a change was needed.

It's a decision that led him to not only a healthier life, but helped him resume his NHL career and play 11 more seasons.

Now, the 45-year-old passes on those same lifestyle choices and fitness routines to a younger generation.

Roberts trains current NHLers in the off-season and will take part in a mentorship program with 42 of the country's top bantam-age players for the second straight summer.

But it wasn't always like that. Roberts thought his career was over after the 1995-96 season—he was a former Stanley Cup champion with a serious neck injury and no future on the ice.

"I was at that point in my life where I was feeling sorry for myself and trying to get through life at 30 years old, going 'Wow if I continue this lifestyle I'm not going to be a very healthy guy when I'm 40 or 50,'" Roberts said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

He says his initial goal wasn't to resume his career, but to get his life back on track.

"I was 30 years old and saying 'OK I don't have to work out anymore and I don't have to play hockey anymore and I can just have a good time,'" Roberts said. "I was having too good a time and just woke up one day and made a decision that I didn't like that lifestyle very much and I changed it."

Roberts, who played 10 seasons with Calgary and won the Cup in 1989, started by going to a chiropractor for his neck injury.

"I thought that I had done everything I could to prolong my career but realized that there was more information out there and more opinions out there," Roberts said. "I started doing research and all of a sudden my neck got healthy and I was able to start training.

After a year off from the game, he returned to the ice 20 pounds heavier and an more able to play his rough style throughout a gruelling NHL season.

Roberts played 21 seasons in all with Calgary, Carolina, Toronto, Florida, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, recording 438 goals and 472 assists in 1224 games. He added 93 points (32-61) in 130 career playoff games.

Although his playing days are done, he now trains many current NHLers, including Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner, Stephen Weiss, Cody Hodgson and James Neal.

"I'm trying to get these young players that information on healthy nutrition, proper training, proper regeneration and giving them the tools," said Roberts, who has also teamed up for the mentorship program for top bantam players put on by the NHLPA and All-State.

He hopes to start passing on information about health living to the youngsters at the camp, which runs from July 17-21 in Mississauga, Ont.

"At (14 and 15 years old) players are ready to start saying 'OK if I want to be a hockey player, whether professionally or to get my education, I need to start paying more attention to the things I do away from the rink,'" Roberts said.

Some of the players at the camp may not know much about Roberts' career, but they've definitely watched his star pupil.

Stamkos has trained with Roberts since the two played together in Tampa Bay during Stamkos's rookie season.

The 22-year-old sniper spends his summer training with Roberts and scored 60 goals this season.

"I enjoy trying to get these players to just buy in. If they buy into just half of what I tell them, they're going to be better off for it," Roberts said. "You talk to these NHL players about the time we spend with them in the summer improving their overall game and a lot of it has to do with lifestyle choices."

Skinner also works with Roberts and won the rookie of the year with the Carolina Hurricanes as an 18 year old.

"(Skinner) was one of the first guys that I know was eating healthy and living right at 14 and 15 and he won a rookie of the year at 18," Roberts said. "When you put the whole package together—the training, the nutrition, the lifestyle with a guy with skill and ability, you get rookies of the year in the National Hockey League.

Although Roberts only trains hockey players, he says the lifestyle choices he preaches can apply to everyone.

He's also living proof.

"Eat healthy and be active," Roberts said. "If that's all you have, it still goes a lot further than any other program that I've seen."

M.Ed (Coaching)
Ch.P.C. (Chartered Professional Coach)
Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

Active Member
Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 2059
Location: Calgary AB Canada
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