Eyes on the PRISE

by Sandy Todd Webster on Mar 15, 2017

Food for Thought

Diet Quality Improves Fitness Among the Fittest

Two recent peer-reviewed studies discuss the proven benefits of consuming moderate amounts of protein regularly throughout the day (protein-pacing) combined with a multidimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance training, sprint interval exercise, stretching and endurance training. Focusing on the quality of both food and exercise rather than the quantity of either seems to be the key.

Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, New York) exercise scientist Paul Arciero, DPE, professor for health and exercise sciences, and colleagues report that their PRISE regimen (which stands for Protein-Pacing, Resistance, Interval, Stretching and Endurance), when followed for 12 weeks or more, boosted fitness, decreased total and abdominal fat, increased lean body mass, and optimized metabolic and heart health in exercise-trained adults.

In separate studies for men and women, Arciero and his team enlisted 30 women and 20 men aged 30—65 who could clearly be described as "physically fit." Before the interventions, subjects reported that they had exercised a minimum of 4 days per week for at least 45 minutes per session, engaging in both resistance training and aerobic training for at least the past 3 years. Combined, these men and women had an average BMI of 25 and an average body fat percentage of 26.

Within each study, subjects were randomly divided into two groups, and for 12 weeks all participants consumed the same number of calories and performed the identical exercise routine that previous Arciero research had shown was beneficial to health (PRISE). However, diet quality differed between groups. One group consumed commonly recommended protein and fitness/sport nutrition products, and the second group consumed a slightly increased protein intake and antioxidant-rich supplements.

The researchers found that although both groups improved on nearly every measure, those who followed the protein-pacing, antioxidant-rich diet showed the greatest improvements in fitness, including gains in upper-body muscular endurance and power, core strength and blood vessel health (reduced artery stiffness) among female participants; and gains in upper- and lower-body muscular strength and power, aerobic power and lower-back flexibility among male participants.

These findings support three earlier studies by Arciero's team which showed that the PRISE protocol of protein-pacing—with either whole-food sources or whey protein supplementation—was effective at improving physical fitness; decreasing total, abdominal and visceral fat; increasing the proportion of lean muscle mass; and significantly reducing blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels.

Arciero would like to see a rethinking of current assumptions about diet and exercise, which he believes place too much focus on the quantity of calories eaten and amount of exercise people do, rather than the quality of the food eaten and the exercise.

"Whether your goal is to improve fitness or heart health, the quality of your diet and a multi-dimensional exercise training regimen (PRISE) can make all the difference," says Arciero. "It's not about simply eating less calories and doing more exercise. It's about eating the right foods at the right time and incorporating a combination of exercises that most effectively promotes health and fitness."

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.