Don't opt out: click here to learn more about our work.

Healthy eating, active living: Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise

Walk your dog daily, even if you don’t have one

Healthy eating, active living: Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise

The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) hosted leading experts at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport on March 5 to present in the Optimizing Nutrition Through Exercise panel to discuss the relationship between physical activity and nutrition.

The event presented a combination of time-efficient exercise strategies with simple evidence-based dietary changes that can help busy professionals and active individuals improve their health and performance.

Assistant Professors Daniel Moore and Jenna Gillen of KPE translated their research insights into practical strategies that you can use to improve your health.

Moore said that as your day progresses, the most efficient way to stimulate your muscles is to eat moderate protein-containing meals, at around 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of your body mass. Additional levels of protein do not build muscle further.

To determine the right amount of protein to consume in a meal, Moore said that “animal-based protein might be the size of your palm,” or, for plant-based protein, he recommends “half a cup or about half your fist.” If you consume more dense protein-containing meals, the excess protein will instead be stored as an energy reserve for later.

Where Moore’s research focuses on “how physical activity improves our body’s ability to use dietary protein,” his “Move It to Use It” principle suggests that muscle diminishes with inactivity and grows with exercise.

It’s important to “engineer more physical activity and less sitting into your lifestyle to keep your muscle sensitive.” For example Moore suggests walking your dog daily — even if you don’t have one. This means you should get outside and be active.

Gillen’s research, on the other hand, is focused on carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Gillen has three take-home strategies for optimizing blood sugar with exercise. The first two revolve around eating habits; she suggests exercising “after eating carbohydrates to lower the post-meal rise in blood glucose [and] perform[ing] repeated exercise ‘snacks’ to lower blood glucose throughout the day.”

Exercise “snacking” means incorporating short yet frequent bouts of physical activity throughout your day. Studies presented by Gillen show that two-minute walks every 30 minutes is an effective way to break up prolonged periods of sitting and more effective than a 30-minute morning walk for young adults.

If you’re someone who sits a lot at work or school and can’t get up to go for frequent walks, try activity break squats — no equipment or gym membership required. Gillen and Moore are currently testing this strategy in the lab, which includes 15 repeated chair stands in the span of one minute.

The third and final strategy Gillen recommends is to “maintain an active lifestyle to help manage blood glucose on days you don’t exercise.”

These strategies are not just useful to those with diabetes. Gillen said that “seemingly healthy adults can have spikes in blood glucose following meals, too.” Besides, you can never be too healthy, can you?

Toronto Raptors and Gymnastics Canada performance nutritionist and sports dietitian Jennifer Sygo also spoke at the event. She discussed orthorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food. This unhealthy fixation on righteous eating can be destructive to health and wellbeing.

Sygo compared the nutritional habits for elite athletes versus the general population. Elite athletes make up “0.00018% of the world’s population,” according to Sygo’s presentation.

Sygo explained that nutrition can be converted to speed in two ways: aerobic metabolism, which “produces more energy, but does so more slowly,” and anaerobic, which “produces less energy, but does so quickly.”

Athletes often struggle to eat enough calories to meet high energy needs. For example, Tour de France cyclists require between 5,000–7,000 calories per stage, which is why they need low-nutrient, dense foods to ensure good energy availability and support the high demands of training. For the general population, Sygo said that a high-fibre and less-processed foods is optimal.

Tri-campus Gym Breakdown: Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport

How to stay active at Goldring.

Tri-campus Gym Breakdown: Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport

The Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport looks like a cross between a cartoon villain’s lair, and a charred, over-sized diamond. While the $58 million building’s bold, sleek appearance lures students inside, it also begs the question: what exactly could be inside?

Housing FIBA-certified volleyball and basketball courts, a strength and conditioning centre, fitness studios, research and teaching laboratories, and a sport medicine clinic, the gym has something for every aspect of exercise, and can guide you through physical training, host varsity games, and help you treat sport-related injuries. Goldring is open seven days-a-week from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, allowing students to workout before, after, or between lectures.

In many ways, the interior of the building is just as mysterious and unusual as its exterior. For one, weights are on the metric system, so you’ll be lifting kilograms instead of pounds. In addition, the floorplan is organized in tiers; each tier has different machines, equipment, and weights. The top tier is often reserved for varsity athletes or kinesiology students. The lower three tiers are for everyone. 

The bottom tier has cardio machines, a patch for doing sprints and other high-intensity exercises, and free weights. The middle two tiers include lifting machines, as well as squat and bench racks. Staff are always present if you need a spot or assistance using a machine. During the few times I’ve been, music — usually modern hip-hop, was playing softly over the speakers.

On sunny mornings, the sun shines right through the large front windows, warming the gym and making an otherwise ordinary workout ethereal. The large windows and natural light are possibly the most appealing feature of the gym and contrasts heavily with the claustrophobic Athletic Centre weight room.

If you want to branch out and learn something new, Goldring also hosts seminars on nutrition, weightlifting, and other related topics. On February 26 at 6:00 pm, Goldring will host a free talk titled “Nutrition for Strength, Endurance and Sports Performance.”

Ultimately, Goldring provides students with a happy medium between the antiquated Hart House gym and the intense Athletic Centre and is conveniently located a short walk from the Bar Mercurio cafe, Robarts Library, and Graham Library. Goldring can serve as a productive pit-stop, a place to gather yourself, warm up, and refocus before heading out into the cold.

Climbing machine? Hell no!

A first-year student reminisces about her disastrous first trip to Goldring Centre

Climbing machine? Hell no!

As a former high school student-athlete, I thought I would be able to confidently stroll into the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and work out without feeling the least bit intimidated or self-conscious. News flash: it’s not that easy, and I was dead wrong.

My first day at Goldring was the third day of my frosh week. I thought it would be a great idea to get in a nice morning workout, but the second I entered the building I soon felt out of place.

Almost everyone around me was wearing Varsity Blues athletic gear, showing it off with confidence. At this point I was anxious, sticking out like a sore thumb, with my bright pink t-shirt and neon green shorts in a sea of dark blue.

I ran on the treadmill — quite slowly, I might add — due to the fear of being looked at for my bad form and awkward stance. I then moved up to the weight racks on the fourth floor, the building’s notoriously intimidating and dignity-crushing area. The weight racks have been known as a place for football jocks and weightlifters alike, and they will now forever be known as the place where my soul died.

I proceeded to find a rack, completely oblivious to this unspoken rule, and prepared to squat. Of course, I could not squat that much, not even close to one plate, so I decided to use just the bar. Bar in hand, preparing to squat, I stared in the mirror, and saw all of the athletes working out their already near-perfect physiques. I couldn’t help but feel all eyes were on me, an inexperienced first-year, even though no one could care less. Cringing from my own thoughts, I proceeded to abort the mission and run back down to the treadmill before I even lifted the bar off the rack.

Phew. I made it back to the second floor, the land of cardio, and in my eyes, an area that I really couldn’t mess up in even if I tried. I thought wrong. My eyes were drawn to a climbing machine that seemed less intimidating. It made me feel comfortable knowing a non-varsity-gear-wearing student was successfully using it. I stepped up and started to climb. This was the all-defining moment where my dignity just completely went out the window. I climbed for a grand total of 10 seconds before feeling every muscle in my body cramp. Then I gladly proceeded to stumble off the machine and fall to the ground. To this day, I have so much respect for that person on the machine as I watched them climb with ease for another five minutes from my very comfortable place on the gym floor.

Panicking as to what I should do next, I found some free weights, hid in a corner, and did some lunges, secluding myself from the judgment that I thought was being projected onto me. Walking, or more like limping, out of my first trip to Goldring was probably the most embarrassingly painful walk I’ve ever had leaving a gym.

Now, nearing the end of my first-year, I have personally conquered the beast that I call Goldring Centre. For future U of T students, or anyone too scared to attempt to go to the facility, I have three tips to help you get over your fears and enter the gym.

Go with friends: going with my friends really helped me feel more comfortable. A gym buddy is a great way to have someone to spot you or to laugh with you when you fail on a machine.

Try one of U of T’s other gyms: Hart House is a great place for gym beginners, with people of all ages using the facility. Most athletes stick to the Goldring Centre, so if you’re afraid of intimidating peers, don’t worry. All U of T gyms have most of the same equipment so you won’t be missing out.

STOP CARING: if you want to enter the beast called Goldring Centre, just do it. People really do not care about how you work out, in comparison to popular belief. Just do you. Wear what you’re comfortable wearing, lift what you can lift, and don’t compare yourself to Varsity Blues athletes. They’ve been training their whole lives for this.

Although I normally workout at Hart House, I enter Goldring once in a while and still feel comfortable doing so. Finding what works for you is the most important thing you can do. I hope that through sharing my embarrassing story, I can help other students realize that, yes, we all have bad gym experiences that make us want to curl up into a ball and retreat, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid working out altogether.

A Tribe Called Red set to perform at Goldring Centre

Free to the public, doors open at 7

A Tribe Called Red set to perform at Goldring Centre

A Tribe Called Red is performing at a free, public event tonight at the Goldring Centre. The event is part of the 6 Degrees Citizen Space 2016 conference that has also brought Naomi Klein and Joseph Boyden to the UTSG campus.



According to the website, the conference aims to “[bring] thinkers, doers, artists, politicians and civil society leaders together to talk about what is really happening in the world.”