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Alerts

FDA warns consumers about caffeine powder. 

FDA advises consumers to stop using any supplement products labeled as OxyElite Pro or VERSA-1. Please see the following advisories: FDA -10/08/13, FDA - 10/11/13 and CDC - 10/08/13.

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Announcements

New article on reporting side effects of supplements
Just published in The New England Journal of Medicine: A recent article brings up dietary supplement issues you need to be aware of and discusses how dietary supplement side effects could be monitored better. A PDF of the April 3rd article is available free online.

3rd International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance
August 18-21, 2014
The ICSPP delivers innovative scientific programming on soldiers’ physical performance with experts from around the world.

DMAA list updated for April 2014

Fueling Performance Photo Campaign
Share photos of how you fuel your performance and be featured on our Facebook page!

Dietary supplement module
Earn continuing education credits (if eligible) for this two-hour online module.

Operation LiveWell

Performance Triad

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HPRC Blog

Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness

“Infographic” on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from Military Pathways

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Tactics, Total Force Fitness
This colorful sheet engages readers in learning about key statistics and tips on getting help for PTSD.

Military Pathways presents an “infographic” (a graphic fact sheet) that highlights basic information on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sheet includes are statistics on PTSD in both the general population and military to help put this syndrome in perspective, as well as possible causes and outcomes of not getting help for PTSD, and identifies prevention and treatment methods that you can use to help avoid or minimize the occurrence and effects of PTSD.

Back in motion: Can swinging a kettlebell improve back and shoulder pain?

Exercises with strength-training equipment known as kettlebells may provide relief from back, shoulder, and neck pain.

Kettlebells have been used in Europe for years in strength training, and now they’ve become a popular workout tool here in the United States too. The benefit of kettlebells is that they provide the user a wider range of motion than dumbbells do. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once, making them a great option for getting a whole-body workout in a short time.

Interestingly, the January 26 edition of the New York Times Health Section reported on a Danish study that suggests kettlebell exercises are a promising musculoskeletal therapy for low-grade back and neck pain.

The study involved middle-aged women with low-grade back, shoulder, and neck pain who were randomly assigned to either a regular kettlebell workout or a general-exercise control group. The study did not include those with chronic pain.

According to the Times article, at the end of the study, the group that did the kettlebell exercises reported less pain, as well as improved strength in the trunk and core muscles, compared with the control group. Overall, the study showed exercising with kettlebells reduced lower-back pain by 57% and neck and shoulder pain by 46%.

For those with core-muscle instability or weak core muscles, kettlebells can be a great way to strengthen those muscles (back, abdominal, glutes, quads, hamstrings) and improve posture. However, along with exercise it is imperative to stretch the hamstrings, since this tends to be a major contributor to lower back pain or discomfort.

It’s important to start slow when using kettlebells and seek professional guidance. Like any other exercise equipment, if used improperly, kettlebells can cause serious injury, and their swinging motion can be difficult to control.

How dangerous is too much training?

Too much training with not enough down time and less-than-optimum nutrition can lead to “overtraining” needing weeks or even months of recuperation.

Getting in the best shape of your life requires you to push your training regime to the limit. However, without appropriate rest periods and diet, this can lead to serious conditions known as “non-functional overreaching” (NFO) and “overtraining syndrome” (OTS). What occurs is that your performance begins to decline, even though you are training as hard as ever, and you start to feel tired and “stale.” Read HPRC’s Overview “Overtraining—what happens when you do too much” to learn about the serious implications of these conditions for Warfighters.

Working out with babies

An Army base in Germany includes babies in their workouts!

At the U.S. Army Garrison in Kaiserslautern (Germany), the base is trying to find more ways to include families in physical fitness. They are providing classes— called “Binkies and Babes” —that spouses can do with their babies. These classes are great ways for spouses to workout with their young children, socialize with other military families, and get a great individual workout!

Overseas military families can sometimes find it difficult to both exercise and manage child care. This is one way overseas bases are moving towards Total Family Fitness. Renee Champagne, the Fitness Coordinator for the Army bases in Germany (and a military spouse herself), sees how “working out and staying physically fit may help a spouse cope during a deployment… which in turn could provide peace of mind to the military member downrange.”

For more information, see the article and video on Stars and Stripes.

Add stretching to your fitness warm-up

Although the value of stretching prior to physical exercise is still in question, the consensus seems to be that it is a good idea to include some—done correctly.

The scientific jury is still out on whether stretching prior to vigorous activity really helps prevent training-related injuries, but the scales tip in favor of doing some as part of your warm-up, just in case. HPRC has just added an in-depth review of the research literature and now offers information to help you decide the best way for you to incorporate stretching into your own fitness program. Check our our new Question from the Field, “Stretching during warm-up,” which also offers a link to even more detailed information.

Announcing a new section on family nutrition

HPRC's Family & Relationships domain has a new section on family nutrition. Check it out!

Learn how to make healthy choices about nutrition and physical fitness with information you and your family can instantly apply. HPRC's Family & Relationships section has a new area on family nutrition where you can find tips on how to help yourself and those around you—your parents, children, spouse, and friends—build and maintain healthy food habits. Find more information on interactive tools, family meal planning, military resources, and research findings.

Check it out!

DMAA-containing products list updated

HPRC has updated its list of products containing DMAA to help you make informed decisions in buying dietary supplements.

HPRC recently posted a list of dietary supplement products containing DMAA. Since we originally posted this list at the end of December, some changes have occurred that deserve note. Some products are no longer available on the manufacturer’s websites, while others appear to have been reformulated to eliminate DMAA from their recipes. To download the updated list, go to the Dietary Supplements Resources page under the “Resources” tab, or just click on this link to directly access “Dietary Supplement Products Containing DMAA.”

Dietary supplements: What’s in them for you?

HPRC’s new Dietary Supplement Classification System offers information to help you decide whether a dietary supplement can help you reach your performance goals or whether it may have side effects you want to avoid.

What do you put in your body to boost your performance, increase your energy, shed pounds, build muscle, or otherwise supplement your diet? What’s in that drink, pill, or powder? What will it do for you? What will it do to you? Is it worth the risk?

More and more Warfighters are taking dietary supplements, most without being fully informed that some of the ingredients could have harmful side effects. HPRC has just unveiled its Dietary Supplement Classification System to provide this kind of information and help you make informed decisions about a particular supplement. To start exploring this new resource, visit HPRC’s new web pages. If you have a question, contact us via “Ask the Expert.”

FDA Alert: Multiple “tainted’ weight-loss products

Consumers are advised not to purchase or use these 18 weight-loss products, which contain the undeclared drug ingredient sibutramine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers to stop using multiple weight-loss products that contain the undeclared drug ingredient sibutramine, which was removed from the market in 2010 for safety reasons and may present significant risks for those with coronary artery disease and other heart issues. The following 18 products have received FDA Public Notifications advising consumers not to purchase or use any of them:

  • Lose Weight Coffee
  • Dream Body Slimming Capsule
  • Pai You Guo Slim Tea
  • Botanical Slimming
  • Fruit Plant Lossing Fat Capsule
  • Sheng Yuan Fang
  • Acai Berry Soft Gel ABC
  • Tengda
  • PhentraBurn Slimming Capsules
  • Magic Slim Tea
  • Magic Slim Weight Reduction Capsule
  • P57 Hoodia
  • Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee
  • Lishou
  • A-Slim 100% Natural Slimming Capsule
  • Advanced Slim 5
  • Ja Dera 100% Natural Weight Loss Supplement
  • Slender Slim 11

For more information, see the FDA Tainted Weight Loss Products page, and click on a product name under “Public Notifications.”

Runners’ trots


There’s a phenomenon runners sometimes experience that’s commonly called “runners’ trots” – otherwise known as diarrhea – that has risk factors and that can possibly be avoided. Although the “trots” usually don’t last long and are generally nothing to worry about, they certainly can be a major annoyance, causing lost time in training or competition and even embarrassment if there is literally “nowhere to go.”

The most common risk factors cited are for those who are young, female, susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, or lactose intolerant, as well as those who have had a previous abdominal surgery. The things we do to our bodies that reportedly increase risk are high-intensity exercise, dehydration, vertical-impact sports (e.g., running vs. biking), poor conditioning, medication, and diet. Although these are stated in the medical literature as risk factors, a recent study published in the International Sportmed Journal examined the evidence behind each of these risks to see if they hold up under scrutiny – and there’s surprisingly little evidence to support many of the statements about risk factors for developing “runners’ trots.” Most of the evidence was limited and relied on either single studies or multiple studies with varying results but a tendency toward supporting the conclusion.

Here are the conclusions of this evidence-based study:

The only strongly supported evidence was for dehydration to increase the risk of diarrhea. Female gender, younger age, high-intensity training, vertical impact, and medication had limited support and could go either way. Finally irritable bowel, lactose intolerance, previous abdominal surgery, poor conditioning, and dietary factors had very weak support. Keep in mind that little or no evidence does not make something true or false; it just means we have insufficient scientific evidence for any assumption.

So, based on the studies, how can you avoid “runners’ trots?”

  1. The evidence certainly supports staying well hydrated so that the bowel gets an adequate blood supply.

Even though the evidence for doing some things is not strong, they make sense and are not harmful. These include:

  1. Avoid a large meal 3-6 hours prior to running.
  2. Avoid food or drinks that have non-absorbable sweeteners (such as sorbital or sucralose), caffeine, and/or a high fat content.
  3. Don’t ingest concentrated carbohydrates (high glycemic index) before running.
  4. Be aware that energy bars and gels may contribute to the “trots” for some people.
  5. Avoid taking anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide (e.g., Imodium) or Lomotil, since they can affect the ability of the body to tolerate heat.
  6. Wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce irritation.
  7. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, seek medical attention to be sure there is not an underlying cause.

    Enjoy your run!