The Importance of A Needs Analysis For Nutrition

daniel debrocke nutrition Apr 25, 2022

I commonly get questions like this:

“Should I increase my carbs to help with my performance”

“What do you think of the keto diet”

“I’m eating 190g of protein per day, is that too much”

In every example listed above the thing that’s missing is context. Without enough context I have no way of knowing what any of these people should do. It’s like going to the mechanic and saying “My car isn’t working, should I change the spark plug”? Without a proper needs analysis the mechanic will have no way of knowing what the issue is, and therefore any suggestion they make will be purely based on speculation. 

As coaches and athletes, we can and should do better than speculation. So where do we start? Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions that will help clarify the objectives and subsequent intervention:

  1. What is your age?
  2. Are you male or female?
  3. What is your bodyweight?
  4. What is your occupation?
  5. Rate your daily...
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The Nutrition Hierarchy

daniel debrocke nutrition Apr 25, 2022

 Many lifters struggle with nutrition. Often lacking the knowledge and experience to implement a winning strategy. A common question I get is “where do I start”? Often, the first place to start is understanding the nutritional hierarchy and its practical utility. The availability of information is both a blessing and a curse. You basically have unrestricted access to information, but without the right filtration system, it can be difficult to appraise information and know where to begin and what the next progression will be. But by taking the time to understand the conceptual framework of the nutrition hierarchy you can navigate the murky waters of nutrition science with greater success. 

The graphic below was taken from the muscle and strength pyramid and is a good general depiction of the hierarchy. Notice that all of these levels exist on the backdrop of adherence. Without proper adherence, no plan is going to be effective. Below I’ll discuss each...

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Nerds Vs Bro’s And Why Science Matters

daniel debrocke Jun 03, 2021

The scientific method is one of the most important tools we have in the pursuit of maximal strength and muscular development. As research in the sports science field elucidates the various mechanisms and methodologies involved in athletic development we can derive more effective protocols and further enhance the results of our athletes. However, there are several criticisms of the literature and more accurately scientists themselves. Often there’s a dichotomy within the fitness industry where it’s the nerds vs the bros. In my opinion this polarization is entirely unhelpful and based on false assumptions about what each demographic actually represents.

However, with increased availability of information I have seen misapplication of the evidence which has at least in part contributed to the development of this polarization. Let’s take MRV for example. MRV is an acronym for “maximum recoverable volume” which was coined by Dr. Mike Israetel along with...

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Optimizing Hydration For Athletic Performance

daniel debrocke May 05, 2021

Most people are aware that our body mass is composed of roughly 50-70% water (1). Yet very few people pay direct attention to their individual hydration requirements. Here are a few facts that should make you reconsider the significant role of hydration in athletic performance.

  • 1% reduction in hydration can result in up to 10% reduction in strength (2)
  • 4% reduction in hydration can result in 20-30% reduction in physical work capacity (2)
  • 50-90% of people fail to meet water consumption guidelines (2)


Based on the above figures, it’s easy to see the strong association between hydration and athletic performance. And probabilistically, it’s likely you fall into the category of not meeting the water consumption guidelines. But I want to be clear about something, proper hydration is not about water consumption alone. Although that is an important part of the equation, there are several other components that determine whether or not the water you...

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Does Hip Height In The Deadlift Affect Strength?

daniel debrocke May 05, 2021

The deadlift is commonly used in resistance training for a variety of reasons including high potential for loading, functions as a full body exercise, high transference to various sports etc. However there is still considerable disagreement as to what the optimal technical execution is for the conventional deadlift. In this short article we’ll cover how hip height in the start position affects strength expression, and how variations in technique can elicit meaningful changes in force production.

In a 2010 paper by Hales, he touched on the significance of environmental contributions to deadlift performance beyond genetic predisposition. “These genetic values suggest that approximately 50-75% of the overall deadlift performance could be attributed to environmental factors such as training methods, lifting styles, and individualized program parameters” (1). This should not be misinterpreted to suggest that genetics are insignificant. Even on the extreme end if we...

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Understanding Metabolic Adaptation

daniel debrocke Apr 20, 2021

The term metabolic damage has gained lots of traction over the years. Researchers initially observed a reduced metabolic rate in subjects who had lost a substantial amount of weight. This is far from shocking, since reducing an individual’s body weight will simultaneously reduce their energy demands. What was unique in this case however was the metabolic rates of some individuals were far lower than what the researchers projected.

These findings became popularized within various fitness circles and were quickly labeled as metabolic damage. However, at the moment there isn’t any convincing evidence to support the existence of metabolic damage within this context. What researchers were observing is more accurately defined as metabolic adaptation and adaptive thermogenesis (1).

During a period of caloric restriction accompanied by a reduction in body weight, your body undergoes several physiological changes to adapt to the changing environment – both internal and...

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Sleep Extension Techniques To Enhance Muscle And Strength

daniel debrocke Apr 20, 2021

Most of the literature on sleep is regarding restriction and its impact on health and performance. However, there is a growing body of research on sleep extension and the potential implications it may have on athletic performance in particular. It’s fairly well understood that sleep is a primary contributor to recovery and performance. In spite of this, it’s estimated over of the american population is underslept (1). The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine recommends individuals aged 18-60 sleep a minimum of seven hours a day (1). Failing to meet this requirement has been associated with various chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, along with various other deleterious health and performance outcomes.

One paper looking at the effects of sleep deprivation on resistance training performance found significant reductions in strength in bench press, deadlift, and leg press. Additionally the researchers observed increased...

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Does Fish Oil Supplementation Impact Recovery?

daniel debrocke Apr 20, 2021

Fish oil supplementation has gained a lot of attention for their health benefits. Specifically supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids have demonstrated positive effects on blood pressure, triglycerides, and heart rate (1). Additionally, they’ve been shown to improve arterial dilation, possess antiarrhythmic and anti-inflammatory properties. All of which has been shown to have protective effects against the development of cardiovascular disease (1). But less is known about the role of fish oil supplementation in recovery from resistance training. A 2020 paper by VanDusseldorp et al. set out to examine the effects of fish oil supplementation on various markers of recovery following a strenuous bout of eccentric exercise (2).

A paper by Heileson et al. found that the minimum effective dose for fish oil supplementation to elicit a positive response on recovery was 2g supplemented for at least four weeks (3). However research has been conflicting regarding what...

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Preventing Weight Regain After a Diet

daniel debrocke Apr 24, 2020

Contrary to popular belief, dietary interventions to produce weight loss are quite efficacious. However the rate of recidivism is high at roughly 85%, with research demonstrating a substantial portion of weight lost being regained within just a few years (1). This is not simply a result of lapses in adherence, and in fact has strong genetic, biological, environmental and psychological influences. Given the audience this article will be seen by, the focus will revolve around strategies to optimize body composition both from a muscularity and leanness standpoint. The objective of this article is to understand why weight regain is so prevalent by exploring the various mechanisms (both direct and indirect) involved. From there we can compile a series of recommendations and strategies to bypass or at least minimize negative repercussions associated with dieting and the feared rebound. Although this article is not specifically geared toward bodybuilders or physique competitors, the...

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Optimize Your Recovery For Maximal Strength Gains

daniel debrocke Feb 26, 2020

Recovery and athletic performance is an important topic, and one that gets a fair bit of attention. However, information disseminated about recovery modalities often prioritize cumbersome methods with a poor return on investment. As is often the case the fundamentals take a back seat to elaborate strategies to improve athletic performance. When in reality optimization must start with and always prioritize the fundamentals. The objective of this article is to compile all relevant information on recovery and present a comprehensive analysis on the various strategies. From there we can develop a hierarchical structure to offer pragmatic recommendations for athletes to get the most out of their training and recovery and avoid prioritizing variables that generate a small magnitude of effect. 

Recovery and athletic performance is an important topic, and one that gets a fair bit of attention. However, information disseminated about recovery modalities often prioritize cumbersome...

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