MIKE: [00:00:01] Yes. So, 2010 was when ground broke and they started building the Institute which is in a cool location. So, on an academic campus, there’s usually the athletic side and the academic side. And FSU is no different but they built our lab in the athletic side. So, we actually attached to the track and field facility that’s at our university. So, our offices are there, we get to step out and be in this nice athletic environment, which I think is, for me, encouraging and motivating to be around that.
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JESSE: [00:01:13] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today has his Ph.D. in Bioenergetics. He’s currently an Associate Professor at Florida State University where he is also the associate director for FSU’s Institute of Sports Sciences and Medicine. He played ice hockey in college and has over a decade of experience in insurance competitions. Welcome to the show, Dr. Mike Ormsbee.
MIKE: [00:01:37] Thanks, Jesse. Looking forward to chatting a little bit today.
JESSE:[00:01:40] Yeah, thanks for hanging out. I know, you got a busy schedule as before we got going you were talking about, you got meetings, you got kids, you got people under you working with you and your lab, all kinds of things going on. So, I know you probably have even a busier schedule than I do. So, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to just hang out with me a little bit.
MIKE: [00:02:01] Yeah, you’re welcome. You’re welcome.
JESSE: [00:02:03] So, I have to ask, so if you’re not on the YouTube version, you’re missing out. You don’t know what I’m talking about. But I have to ask about your hat, Mike. What’s the deal with the hat? What’s the acronym going on?
MIKE: [00:02:17] Yeah, so these are — we try to do something to get the labs motivated and excited. And everybody likes a swag bag. So, this is just swag from the lab that’s the Institute of Sport Sciences and Medicine. You know, year that we are established, 2010. And we do try to do shirts and hats and stuff for my team so everyone stays into it.
JESSE: [00:02:39] Yeah. You bring up a good point, which I don’t think about so much. But there’s something about a team uniform. You know, like, everybody’s got the same thing that really unifies a group of people, which it’s so — on the surface of it, you think it’s kind of silly, right? Like, oh, just put on the same hat. It’s like, no this is our thing. This is our group. I don’t know, there’s something, I’ll say magical about it. But just, maybe I’m reminiscing, having a little nostalgia for college and that whole thing, but there’s definitely something to that.
MIKE: [00:03:18] Yeah, it’s just a fun thing that we like to do. But I think it’s everywhere. If we have someone show up to our facility, and we’re branded and look nice and have some of our logos around the facility, it just creates an atmosphere that people like to hang out in and aren’t afraid to come into. And you feel part of this organization that we’ve created with the Institute of Sport Sciences and Medicine over the last 10 years. So, we try to do it and I think it works pretty well.
JESSE: [00:03:46] Yeah. So, you’re telling me, you’re running a lab, I assume that’s under the umbrella of the Institute. So, how does that whole thing get going? Did you start the institute or were you there 10 years ago? Did you come on board afterwards? How does that story develop?
MIKE: [00:04:05] Yeah, yes. So, 2010 was when ground broke and they started building the Institute, which is in a cool location. So, on an academic campus, there’s usually like, the athletic side and the academic side. And FSU is no different, but they built our lab in the athletic side. So, we actually attached to the track and field facility that’s at our university. So, our offices are there, we get to step out and be in this nice athletic environment, which I think is, for me, encouraging and motivating to be around that. Yeah. So, that’s where we were built.
[00:04:45] And so there were some donations from various companies and FSU sponsors. And matching gifts and things like that just started the finances to build the Institute. And I came on board the exact same time. I didn’t start it or have the seed for it. But the year I came, it was being built. So, I came to FSU in 2010 right when the facility was underway.
So, it was nice to be in from the grassroots level. And at that point, I was just starting in this world of academia and so I was there, but not a, not a leader in what we were doing. And then in 2014, four years later is when I took over as Interim Director of the Institute, from 2014, to 2016, and then full-time Associate Director from 2016 till now.
JESSE: [00:05:38] So, I guess, what are you doing day to day? Are you still in the lab? Are you just directing people around and seeing what’s going on?
MIKE: [00:05:45] Yeah, it’s changed over the years. I used to pride myself on knowing the ins and outs of every piece of equipment and how to do every single thing. It’s just morphed. We’ve grown so much over the years that it does turn into more of a managerial position.
But I thought to get my hands dirty, there are some techniques that are complicated or invasive that I need to be present for on every occasion, but a lot of times we’re working on getting grants and money and ideas so that we can fund the lab. And once we get the methodology written up, I’ll be as hands-on, as I need to with each doctoral student or postdoc who’s running the study, until they’re fully capable of running it themselves.
[00:06:31] And then I’m just kind of on-call if they have an issue or something. But typically, for the first, while I’m completely hands-on, and then sort of back away and start the next project then the next project. But we’ve grown a lot over the years, right now we’ve got roughly six Ph.D. students, a postdoctoral fellow, master students, and then volunteer undergrads. COVID sort of changed some of the dynamic, but that’s generally the setup that we’ve got at our facility.
JESSE: [00:06:59] You know, as I was thinking about it, it’s something that it didn’t really strike me, but as I thought about it was like, almost like a duh moment where you’re talking about your Ph.D.s and postdocs doing the work. And it’s like, Okay.
Well, yeah, you’re in charge, and you’re kind of helping direct this. But those people, this is not their first rodeo, this is not the first time they’ve ever been in a lab by any stretch of the imagination. And even though they’re kind of under your direction, it’s not like — I didn’t go through to Ph.D. level, I just did my undergrad, I didn’t end up continuing.
So, just sometimes my frame of mind forgets, hey those people have been in school for probably eight or plus years collegially, they’ve got plenty of training. It’s not like taking like a freshman, undergraduate and putting them in the lab and having to babysit them. I don’t know that I have a point more so just as like, a personal, not quite a revelation, but just, oh, yeah, there’s people that really do know what they’re doing and don’t need all the direction, even though you are there to assist if they need it.
MIKE: [00:08:11] Yeah, we still have that though. Because we do, I mean, ultimately as an academic, you want to help everybody at every level And I had a great, myself, undergraduate experience with research. So, we do take on a lot of undergraduates who don’t know anything about it.
But there’s a long process there. It’s from volunteering and sort of observing what’s going on to generally getting more familiar with how to use some of the equipment to interacting with actual human subjects. And some of the students began as undergrads came along with me as master students.
And so by that point, you’ve trained them up for three, four years before they are fully going with their projects. But that’s one of the fun parts is mentoring all the students through and seeing where they are now. We’ve had almost 10 Ph.D.s graduate from my lab, and move on to other areas. And it’s really rewarding to see you know, where they’ve landed in the careers that they’ve now are running and flourishing with. So, that’s a pretty neat part of the job.
JESSE: [00:09:20] Yeah, yeah. So, this is another like sidestep diatribe kind of thing. But thinking about when I talk to people doing, I’ll say, exercise science as an umbrella term, often we end up with very small sample sizes where it’s like, hey, there’s a case study or we’ve only got 10 subjects. Is there any way around that? Is there any way to gather more people to make a study population larger, or it doesn’t matter? It’s something I always struggle with when it’s like n equals 10. And I’m like, well, can we actually extrapolate this information to a whole population?
MIKE: [00:10:12] Yeah, it’s pretty much context-driven but we can kind of go through some of the context of it. I think it’s important. In exercise science, particularly in performance nutrition, which is where our group tends to specialize, yeah, you’re just oftentimes you have very low end. So, low subject number involved in the studies.
Now, as a scientist, you learn how to statistically, before the project begins, you do what’s called a power analysis, and you use any other old already published research that exists. And you can run this analysis to see how many subjects do I need to have in order to see a difference if one is going to exist? And that’s something you have to do for every single study. And what that’s based upon is the previous work.
[00:11:02] So, if the previous work saw a difference, say, between a supplement or a training program, then that tends to be where you probably need fewer subjects. But if they didn’t see a difference, you probably need more and more and more to actually see something.
The other part of this is, who you’re working with, sometimes, if you’re working with general population, you can get many more people. But if you’re actually trying to work with elite athletes, there aren’t that many. And if they are a lead, chances are they’re not going to want to do some other eating, or supplementation, or training strategy because what they’ve been doing works for them.
[00:11:41] And so when I see research that’s on very high-level athletes, yeah, the first thought could be, oh, my goodness, there’s only six or seven of these people. But then you have to think that’s very difficult to even get those folks to commit to working with you. You might be able to do it for an acute study in the offseason.
But if you’re doing a training study, or anything that requires weeks of time, or months or years, that’s really difficult to do. We’ve actually morphed a lot of our work over the years to try to get elite athletes in one way or another. And oftentimes, we use trained athletes, but it’s so hard to get that elite group, there are very few people that actually work with the elite people.
JESSE: [00:12:29] Yeah, yeah. I know, I remember — I wish I remember who I was talking to. It escapes me at the moment. But I do recall — I like to ask this question from time to time, I was talking with him about a study he was putting together on 10K runners. And for his subjects he wanted, it was either sub 32 or sub 30 runners, like pretty quick 10K runners, not world-class, but moving.
And I think one of his professors, not directly over him, but in another subject was like, “Don’t you mean, like sub 35?” And like, that’s kind of where his professor was in college and that’s kind of the mark at that time. He’s like, “No, that’s not what I mean at all.”
[00:13:15] So, it just makes you think about like, the goalposts move with those elite people, and then those elite people are — they’re a special group. I mean, it’s like, I think about the genetics involved. And in some ways, even if you have, say, 10 of them? Well, if there’s only 100 of them available, like you have a pretty large grouping of the available population.
So, I kind of wonder, even though your N number is still low relative to general population, if just because it is a large section of that subgroup if that makes it easier to say this change or wherever the study was, was statistically significant. Am I on track here?
MIKE: [00:14:08] Yeah. It makes you think about how you interpret research in general because a lot of people don’t care to read it. And they’ll, in today’s world, you can get a summary fairly quickly from someone you follow on Instagram or whatever. And you get these snapshots. You get a — basically, someone’s put together and add a picture of the abstract. We call those abstract scientists. So, you get some information from that, but it can be misleading, especially if you’re trying to generalize it to everybody.
So, that’s important. You said statistically different, so there’s a problem with that in performance research sometimes. So, the chance of me seeing a statistically different race time between two different nutrition interventions is extremely, extremely difficult to see because it could be seconds. And if it’s only picking up seconds, and you only have eight people in your study, chances are that’s not going to be statistically different.
[00:15:08] However, as an athlete, you know that two seconds is the difference between winning and losing, the difference between first and eighth place in some cases. And so we really need to work on — I think, and our lab tries to do it is developing people who understand the research book and translate it to the human population in a way that’s understandable and friendly, and open and honest, because we talk about statistically significant versus [inaudible 00:15:37] or practically different.
There’s a lot of really good research that someone might read, say it’s not statistically different, it didn’t work, and throw it under the rug. Whereas if I see it and it’s a 1.5-second difference, and I there’s other ways to look at it like effect size, or all these stats terms. But if I see seconds, one or two seconds difference, and that’s what I would talk about with athletes that we work with, or they’ve been in a study or that we’re revising in some way.
JESSE: [00:16:16] I think it’s a matter of trying to figure out the best way to translate that to the general population, as — I don’t know what I was gonna say. It’s like it’s a good mission to have. And it’s in part, kind of mission of this show is to kind of give academics a platform, and in some ways try to help have me be a little bit of a filter to bring it from — to bridge from where you are to where the general populace is.
Although, you probably do a better job at it than I do, because you’re kind of used to doing it. But I think you’ve made a good point in terms of, I’m trying to be — what was I gonna say? I’m trying to be very strict with that definition of statistical significance. Because that’s kind of like the holy grail, right of research of like, “Hey, we saw it, like, the math backs it up.” And I’m from a math background. So, I lean that way.
[00:17:21] But it’s fair when we’re talking about, especially elite athletes, right, where to have a difference for them, just what they’re physically capable of. Let’s go back to like my 10K runners. If you’re a sub 30 guy, that’s what you’ve been running for four years. And then Mike comes in and gives you supplements of some kind, you’re not going to suddenly go 28 minutes. Like, it physically isn’t going to happen. So, I think that’s a fair point that maybe it’s not statistically significant, but it leans towards, there’s a positive impact of whatever the intervention is, whatever that thing is.
MIKE: [00:18:10] Yeah. And we call that meaningfully significant. So, a lot of people in sports sciences and exercise science, and performance nutrition, are starting to report their data in more than one way. And so they’ll do the traditional way with obviously, the P values and statistically, significant differences are not, which is sort of the cut and dry. But there are plenty of papers that suggest that’s either too rigid, especially for performance reasons. Or just doesn’t provide enough information. And so now, a lot of folks are saying, we should also include effect sizes, So, maybe it’s not statistically different, but it’s got an effect that essentially is meaningful or large.
[00:18:55] So, you can have small effect, medium or large effect. And that’s where you sort of get into something called [inaudible 00:19:01] statistics, where you start to say, it’s leaning a direction, it’s moving a direction, that’s positive, but it’s not statistically different. And people have argued about this, academic club argue about silly things. And in my mind to just report all of it because then it’s completely transparent. You give the raw data you give the different methods of reporting it, and then everyone has all the information. And to me, that’s the best way, you just complete transparency and you can show what you found.
JESSE: [00:19:25] Yeah, yeah. Thinking about things that people arguing about and this is one of the reasons I’m happy to talk to you about nutrient timing, which I think you’ve done some work on. Can you tell me a little bit about that? What should and shouldn’t I be doing as a, I’ll say a runner? I’ve kind of moved back to running versus triathlon now. You know, there’s lots of well-meaning advice out there. So, I guess I’d like to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, what you found, the things you’ve seen, that kind of stuff in regards to when I should be eating what.
MIKE: [00:20:17] The nutrient timing opens up a whole other world of discussion. And I think over the last, probably five or six years, some different thoughts have come out on nutrient timing. The original thought was that it’s so critically important that as soon as you finish, let’s talk about post-exercise. As soon as you finish the session, I mean, you needed to have food immediately on board to refuel, and sort of get ready to perform again the next day, or a few hours later, or what have you. Elites trained that way, multiple sessions or different intensity sessions in a day.
But for the general populace, you’re lucky if you’re training once a day. And so in that scenario, where it’s once a day, all the newer research is that they’re calling it the garage door of opportunity, rather than the window of opportunity. It’s just bigger than we thought. It is a good time when your body sort of primed to absorb and take in nutrients and would use them appropriately to maybe optimize body composition as well as the next type of performance.
[00:21:24] But we don’t have to be hyper-concerned about it. There’s quite a large range. In fact, even like, glycogen replenishment in your muscle, like let’s say you purposely depleted it super low. If you eat immediately, it will get higher faster, which makes sense. And that holds true up until about eight hours. And then once you get after eight hours, no matter how you ate, it still is normal the next day. So, if you’re just training once a day, and it’s 24 hours later, it’s really not as important, as we thought.
With that said, there’s other reasons to do it besides glycogen replenishment. And even if you are sort of middle of the road, at former athlete like me, it’s, I know, there’s a small advantage in at least in some parameters. So, I tend to do it, because it’s easy, there’s no disadvantage to doing it. It just might not be as big as we originally thought. So, for those reasons, I still sort of prioritize time in that post-exercise nutrition.
[00:22:31] Another thing that sort of complicates it is what you ate before your session. And so if you came into that session, underfed purposefully or not purposefully, then the post-workout meal would be more important. But if you came in and you fed properly, and you didn’t do that fasted workout, the post-workout meal would be less important because you already had nutrients on board. There’s some really good work that Brandon Ruby did is from Montana, excellent researcher, Ironman triathlete, etc. And his research study was looking at like sports products and what to eat, and how that worked with replenishment and glycogen stores and performance and such.
[00:23:15] And they compared it to identically max calorie-wise of all meals from fast-food restaurants. And they looked at these sports gels and sports drinks compared to a condition where they just matched it from these fast-food restaurants. And they found no difference between the outcomes. And so the media picked that up and put it out there as, “Hey, you should eat fast food.” And that wasn’t his point. His point was, you don’t have to be as concerned about it particularly if you’re not an elite athlete.
I think somewhat I’ve just said would change if you’re elite. Because in that case, every single thing matters if you’re at the top of the top. But for most of us, it’s important but it’s not going to make or break anything. You shouldn’t let the stress of not eating or not having the right foods at the right exact time mess you up.
JESSE: [00:24:11] You know funny enough that that makes me think about — and you’ve probably seen this because you’ve done triathlons. It makes me think about the 45-50 year old guy who’s coming out for, I’ll say his first triathlon, but maybe it’s his first season. He’s got this like $10,000 bike, and he’s going 10 miles an hour. And I’m like, you’re worried about the wrong thing.
Like you need to work on your legs, not getting the $10,000 bike. I mean, granted, the $10,000 bike is probably going to help shave a little time off for him, but there’s a significant amount more time he could get just by improving fitness compared to worrying about that. It seems like a similar mentality where it’s like that magic pill idea where it’s like, if I just do this thing, then I’ll be X amount better.
MIKE: [00:25:07] Well, let me give you an example. I work a lot with our local triathlon club and speak to them occasionally. And we had one time where I came in and gave a talk on the topic of why am I a fat triathlete, which got a lot of attention. And this was for mostly the age grouper type individual.
And we just gave a scenario where people get so complicated and make it so complicated and get bogged down in the details of nutrient timing that — The example as you get home from work, you say you’re going on a two hour bike ride. So, the first, you have a two hour block. So, the first bit of that you’re pumping up your tires, you’re trying to get food on board, so you’re eating, you’re getting your helmet on, you’re getting your directions going, and then you have to go meet a group.
[00:25:57] And so you stop at stop lights and stop signs along the way. You wait for your group for 10 minutes, and you go on your ride, moderate pace, and the whole time you think you should be eating. So, you’re taking goos and gels and sports drinks for this hour and a half slow ride. And then you finish and get home and you just had a two hour ride, so you have a huge replenishment meal.
And all of a sudden you’ve eaten far more than you expended [inaudible 00:26:23]. And so while they thought they were doing nutrient timing pre, during, and post appropriately, which could be potentially elite type recommendations for a really hard training session. And they end up just having way more calorie intake than they expended and they don’t lose any weight.
[00:26:42] And then they end up calling and say I’m gooing and everything. I’m cycling two hours a day. And I’m only eating this much and it’s not working. And so we found that it’s pretty common for folks to do that. In fact, a paper just came out last week, which emphasized it and said that we overestimate our exercise and underestimate our calorie intake each almost by 50% in the general population. So, by 50%, we say we’re doing more exercise than we actually did, more intensity than we actually did.
And we’re pretending we ate 50% less than we actually did. And so that combination, obviously, is trouble. And it’s no blame on those individuals. That’s common. There’s some psychological reasons that people do that. Particularly if you think someone’s looking at your food record, you’ll write down what you think they want to see, which complicates research [inaudible 00:27:36].
But for those reasons, I think nutrient timing gets over complicated. And it gets more important, the more elite you are and the more dialed in with your nutrition. Like it really depends like how advanced are you in your nutrition knowledge before I would start going with the nutrition and timing bit in any more detail than I just did?
JESSE: [00:27:59] Yeah, yeah. Well, that makes me think too is I think it’s common for I’ll say, average Joe, but even up into collegiate level or high amateur competitive, that it’s like, whatever the elites are doing, that’s what I need to do. Like they’re elite, they’re performing at a high level. Therefore, if I do what they do, then I’ll get the most out of me. And it’s like, I mean, kind of, maybe, but it depends. And that’s always the catch-all. Like, I have this other show, just on running on the YouTube channel.
So, if you’re on the YouTube channel, you can see that, if you’re on the podcast, you’ll have to search that out. But I don’t know how many times I start videos, because I answer questions and stuff and I just say, “Well, it depends.” And I don’t go on to enumerate. Because when we seek out answers when we’re getting on Google, and we’re like, should I eat this? Should I not? Should I run this way? Should I — like, all these things. We want a concrete answer.
[00:29:01] But the fact of the matter is, it depends on you, it depends on your training history, it depends on how fast you are, it depends on when you’re doing something. Like it depends on so many things it’s almost impossible just to be like, carte blanche, this is the thing everybody should be doing. You know, and I think that mentality is really pervasive, especially as companies push products, and they want to sell things. And they’re like, “Yeah, this is the thing for you.” And then you get convinced like, this is the thing for me. It’s kind of this cycle.
MIKE: [00:29:32] Yeah. It’s really easy to get into that. I mean, so many people do, and they struggle with it. And yeah, it’s unfortunate. That’s just part of what everybody deals with, really. It’s easy to get sucked in, there’s really good marketing. You described a few examples. There’s others, just documentaries that people watch. They look, they sound so convincing. You can watch one and be convinced to do something completely different that you’ve ever done. But there’s another side of the story in most cases, those are meant to make people watch, not to tell you the science. And you find that kind of across the board no doubt.
JESSE: [00:30:06] Yeah. That makes me think about, you know, gosh, when did that book came out — Born to Run, maybe it was 2008-ish, somewhere around there. But I mean it changed. It was like everybody and their mom was taking their shoes off and running barefoot and running barefoot on pavement.
And you know, I worked at a shoe store fitting shoes for people, both for runners and people with medical conditions for a few years after college, as I kind of pursued my own athletic endeavors, and I would have like, very overweight people come in and be like, I want the most minimal shoe I can get that was basically similar to Vibram FiveFingers. And it’s like, “Okay. Well, where are you running?” “I’m running down the street on the pavement.”
[00:30:55] It’s like, Okay. “Well, you’re overweight,” like it’s not trying to be mean, but just the physicality of somebody who’s overweight, the amount of pressure they’re putting on their joints, the lack of forgiveness in like a concrete cement environment, it’s like — and the complexity of all the bones in your foot, I feel like this is a recipe for injury. And there would be a couple people that come in and they were very successful with it. And it’s kind of the same thing like with the elites.
Like, my friend John did it, he lost a bunch of weight, he swears by it so I’ll do it. And I always try to caution people. Though, I think because of that, I don’t make very convincing arguments. Because I’m not solidly like one way or the other. I’m not like, this is absolutely the thing. I’m like, “Well, let’s think about it.” And so I think that gets thrown out the window.
MIKE: [00:31:57] Well, that’s kind of the rational approach. I mean, as a scientist, or someone at least who’s into science and reading it, it’s almost every paper ends with it depends and more research is needed. And it’s not just a scientific cop out. It’s because we’re willing to understand that we’re using a very specific population and a very specific protocol. It’s all laboratory based.
And so we control every single variable we can, so it’s really like looking at one thing. If you get half the work we do in our lab, it works or doesn’t in the lab, but as soon as you get in an environment where you have people cheering for you, and you’ve got other factors in there, like wind and sun, like we have a temperature controlled environment. And there’s other factors at play, like nerves are up, and all of a sudden, you’re digesting food differently than you did before. You know, these things change in the real world.
[00:32:52] Some of the work that we do is in the field. We’ve done a lot of work with these ultra distance races and such. And that’s really a different beast, because you’re actually working with athletes during a race, as opposed to them coming into your lab and controlling every bit of it. And it’s, believe it or not, it’s hard to publish those papers because you don’t control every factor.
And our counter arguments like, yeah, but it’s real life. Like this is exactly what they’re doing. This is the place we need to be focusing on. Until we have a good mix of that in what we do, we’re probably — well, good mix, we’re probably 90% lab-base and 10% field-base in the stuff that we work on. But those are fun studies.
We take our whole team down, we take our vehicles down, we’re plugging in centrifuges to the back of a truck and having headlamps on to pipette blood samples. And they’re different real world experiences and research lingo that’s called ecologically valid.
So, okay, you found a result. It’s statistically different, maybe it’s also meaningfully different, but this doesn’t happen in real life, so it’s not ecologically valid, someone wouldn’t actually do what you told them to do. And so that’s another complicating factor that we have to deal with a lot with our study design.
JESSE: [00:34:10] So, when you’re doing stuff I’ll say in the field, like over the ultra runners, are you trying to quantify everything? Are you going, okay, well, this is a 50K, and we’re on gravel, we’re on pavement, we’re on trails, like — and then saying there’s an average grade change of this over this; are you taking all that information? Or is it just a matter of let’s talk in similar terms as we would in the lab, but we also are at this particular ultra?
MIKE: [00:34:45] Everything changes. We have a lab mindset, that’s how all of us were trained. So, we’re still trying to measure lab outcomes. And before we go, obviously, we have a research question we’re trying to answer. The work we did most recently has been with the Ultraman Florida race. And so we collected data in 2015 and 2017 at these races, and had been there a couple of years just to sort of, you almost have to go to see how it works and how it unfolds.
For example, we learned a lot there. We originally were trying to see what they were eating, over the course of this race, and did it measure are stacked up against sort of energy expenditure. But we learned quickly that the best laid plans don’t always come through. In this race, there’s a crew, following the athlete for three days straight. And so it’s like great, the crew can keep track of the food and just write it down for us. And then we came into issues that we just didn’t anticipate.
[00:35:50] So, the athlete has a number of bottles, they know exactly what’s in them, like this is perfect. But one falls off, they drink half of one. Or they’re being nice, and they give it to another athlete who needs something. How much did you drink? I’ve got no idea. Or what they had in the truck spills and all of a sudden, now we have no idea what you ate. And we came into that over and over and over. So, we couldn’t actually use any of that data. And then we, luckily we had blood data.
So, before the race, and after the three days, we took another blood sample to see what was changed in terms of inflammation and any kind of muscle leakage or breakdown that might be occurring over that race. And then we just didn’t know when we could get the samples. Some people would finish the race and they were so dedicated, they were amazing. They literally come across the finish line, walk over to our little tent, flop on the ground, throw out an arm, and we take a blood sample. And then they go on to eating and celebrating and things.
[00:36:52] But other people didn’t. It was their time to finish with their families from all over the world. And they start celebrating and then we have to go like, “Hey, can you leave your family and like come over here and get a blood draw?” They’re like, “No. This is the best thing I’ve ever done my whole life. I’m not going to stop.” So, we run into all of it. And it’s been a real pleasure to work with those folks. But it’s changed our design and we have to really think about what’s feasible in that type of an atmosphere.
JESSE: [00:24:11] Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, as you’re saying that the best laid plans, you always, always, always, always try to plan out your race, it doesn’t matter. I mean, you’ve done 70.3 so you know it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 5K, or a 500K, you’re gonna plan it out the best you can. And often something’s going to go wrong, something’s not going to work out, you’re not going to feel it. It’s going to be too hot, too cold, you need this, like, and you have to adjust.
And then I think especially, we’re talking about ultras, your brain’s just not going to keep track of all that stuff. Like it’s working at 100% capacity just to keep you moving, and eating and doing all those things, let alone memorizing, “Oh, yeah, I drink half a bottle, and then I throw it at mile 30. And then I picked up a banana instead of having the gels I promised myself I’d have. And then I drink a cola instead of having Gatorade or whatever you’re like the whole thing out the window.
MIKE: [00:38:25] Yeah. Exactly. One of the years I was in a van, in one of the vans following type one diabetic athlete. And the plan was every two hours, I would jump out of the van and take a finger stick to get his blood levels and hop back in the van and keep following him. And it worked fairly well, but I mean, there’s a few times where he would say we’d stop and what’d you eat? I looked at everything and I was doing it. So, like oh, I’ll definitely get this. No, drop the bottle. I was feeling tired. So, someone handed me a Monster Energy Drink on the side of the road. I’m like, “Oh my goodness.”
So, all these different shifting variables came into play. And even when I was doing it, I couldn’t keep track of it with everything going on and trying to keep up with them on the race and the driving route versus the actual route were different. So, those things are complicated, but they make it so much fun. It’s a really cool area. I know, you said like what’s that thing you can do? You want to finish [inaudible 00:39:26], maybe give some advice to somebody.
[00:39:27] And a big component of what my lab does is we focused on the time of day of pre-sleep, like right before bed, what to eat. And particularly focusing on protein intake at that time of day. And we found it to be a highly successful way to overall, get more protein in your day. So, if you’re someone who just doesn’t eat enough at that, during the day, it’s a great time, you’re typically home, have access to all kinds of foods and it’d be easy enough to use that as a strategic time to get more protein in your diet to help with recovery. And perhaps muscle regeneration to fuel the next day, or to feel less sore the next day maybe or over time add muscle mass or maintain it if you’re a heavy endurance runner.
[00:40:17] So, we’ve found that strategy to be pretty useful. And also, we’ve found it to add no fat. So, we’ve done a number of different ways that no one’s gaining fat from this. There’s not even any changes in the way we free fat from our fat cells. So, you would think if you eat before bed, it might stop that process. It didn’t and it hasn’t. And we’ve done it in a number of populations over 10 years. And it seems like a pretty universal way to do it.
Some people artificially put these cut offs like, “Hey, stop eating at this time or this time.” And for an athlete that can be dangerous because you train at all different times a day. We have to think about a 24 hour cycle of nutrition for an athlete. Because it’s not just about those things like weight and such, it’s about feeling your next day, or your next race or your next training session.
[00:41:07] And so for athletes, we recommend it highly to use that as a time, the pre-sleep period as one last feeding strategy to put some protein on board so that while you’re sleeping, you can repair and regenerate through the evening. So, that’s been a strategy that’s been pretty good almost universally. We haven’t seen any issues with it, with the exception of women who are already on the verge of diabetes.
And they had some issues handling anything else at that time of day. It was totally ameliorated when they started exercising three times a week. But when they were sedentary, there was a small rise in blood glucose that they didn’t — that group didn’t want overnight. But if there’s a strategy to help in everything, I feel like that’s some low hanging fruit to go after.
JESSE: [00:41:56] Yeah. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. Mike as we’re rolling down on time, I know you got to go here soon. There’s a question, I’m asking everybody this year, you may have seen my previous season’s question. But it changes every single year. So, this year, I’m asking everybody, how do you stay motivated after you fail to reach a goal?
MIKE: [00:42:22] You know, it’s funny, you ask that. I’ve just read this great book called Grit. You probably have read it. Angela Duckworth, right. It’s a good book.
JESSE: I know. I haven’t read it, though.
MIKE: Yeah. It’s maybe not something you haven’t heard before. But it’s about developing grit with long term motivation, perseverance, the stick to it ability, how to keep fighting when you get down. For me, I’m lucky in a number of ways that a very general interest and exercise and sport personally, ultimately turned into this passion for it that I just love. And so I’ve been lucky that I have that ability to just have a grittiness about always stepping up and standing back up and continuing on.
So, I feel like there’s something sort of inherent with that. But I practice it. As a researcher, you fail daily, you don’t get a grant, your paper gets rejected, over and over and over. It’s funny, because you highlighted some successes that we’ve had, and that’s what we’re known for. But they are far fewer than the failures that we’ve had.
[00:43:35] And so, yeah, getting back up, I think it’s part of a leadership mentality. It’s trying to show my students, my staff, my children, that that’s the right way to go is you just keep trying and get back up and keep going. But certain this passion that I’ve got for what I do, and a perseverance that’s just driven by wanting to put my lab on the map to be the best at what we do drives me each day.
JESSE: [00:44:04] I appreciate the answer. Mike, if people want to see the research you guys are up to, is there any way to get in touch with you, any of that? Where can people kind of keep up with what’s going on?
MIKE: [00:44:17] Yeah, thanks for asking. So, the institute has a website, you can just Google like FSU, Florida State University and then ISSM, Institute of Sport Sciences and Medicine. You can see the lab, see pictures of what we have, the videos, the staff and everybody who’s working there. Most of our research, we put out on — Well, you can obviously find it on PubMed or Google Scholar, just search for my name, Ormsbee would get you a whole bunch of hits there. And then all the social media stuff.
We have a pretty good following at the ISSM handle which is @FSUISSM. And then my personal one, I put a ton of research out on upcoming events, things that we’ve been working with on it’s generally good to follow on Instagram or on Twitter, which is just at Mike Ormsbee. You can find it pretty easily there.
JESSE: [00:45:09] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Mike.
MIKE: [00:45:11] All right. You got it. Take care. Thanks for everything.