What Others Are Saying...

  • " Not only is Sean a great nutritionist, but he's an excellent strength coach. I've coached athletes with him on multiple occasions. The most impressive attributes I've seen in him is his integrity, work ethic, ability to work with athletes and desire to be the best coach possible...."

-Luke Richesson. Head NFL Strength & Conditioning Coach for Denver Broncos



Webster has nothing on us…

1/2 Life or Half life: The amount of time it takes for 1/2 of a given substance to be broken down (ie – metabolized). For instance if we have 10 grams of compound "X", which has a 1/2 life of 2 seconds, after 2 seconds 5 grams would remain, after 4 seconds 2.5 grams would remain, after 6 seconds 1.25 grams would remain, etc

1RM: Common abbreviation for 1 rep max; ie – maximum amount of weight you can push 1x. On a similar line of thought 3RM, 5RM,etc = 3 rep max, 5 rep max, etc

Amino Acids: The fundamental building blocks of a protein

Anabolic: The building of tissue (ie-muscle) or a product (ie-glycogen)

Androgen: A steroid hormone (ie- testosterone, etc) that is responsible for developing/maintaining masculine features

Anthropometric measurements: refers to the measurement of physical characteristics such as height, weight and body composition

Apoptosis: The destruction of a cell carried out by the body to prevent it from harming the rest of the body. It can be thought of as “cellular suicide.”

Area Under the Curve (AUC): A way to analyze data over a given time period. For instance rather than reporting blood levels of glucose every minute for 60 minutes, the area under the curve will give you the cumulative response observed over the 60 minutes. In mathematical terms, this is referred to as an integral. CLICK HERE if you need a visual representation to help you understand AUC.

ATP-PC: stands for ATP- phosphocreatine energy system. It is the quickest source of energy production. The purpose of taking creatine supplements is to increase this form of energy

Baseline measurements: Measurements taken at the very beginning of an experiment, prior to being exposed to the treatment/placebo protocol. Baseline measurements are then compared to measurements obtained at other points in the trial

Body Composition: Refers to the % fat and % lean body tissue that makes up one’s body frame

Branch Chain Amino Acids: A specific type of amino acid that have more anabolic potential than the other amino acids. They include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Of these three, leucine appears to have the greatest effect on muscle growth

Cardiac Output: In simple terms, cardiac output refers to the amount of blood the heart can pump during a given amount of time. It's a product of Heart Rate X Stroke Volume.

Carbohydrate Loading: A technique used to maximize your body’s carbohydrate stores (glycogen). It's commonly used by endurance athletes to maximize their glycogen (ie-glucose) stores, allowing one to train/compete at a higher intensity level. One will often hear about marathoners "bonking", when they run out of their glycogen stores, forcing them to slow to a much slower pace relying solely on fat for energy). Bodybuilders have also been known to carb load prior to a stage show as filling their muscles up with glycogen tends to make them "pop out" more.

Catabolic: The breaking down of a tissue (ie- muscle protein —> amino acids) or product (ie- glycogen—>glucose).

Collagen: Proteins found in connective tissue.

Concentric Muscle Contraction: Muscular contraction in which the muscle shortens as it contracts. An example would be the lifting portion of a bicep curl

Cytokines: Chemical messengers in the body that regulate various processes (ie-inflammation) in the body

Creatine Kinase: A protein that is stored in muscle tissue. When a muscle is stressed via exercise, micro-tears occur, allowing this protein to seep into the bloodstream. Thus, it's commonly used as a marker of muscle damage.

Crossover Design Study: Study in which participants are tested 2 or more times, serving as their own controls. In one of the trials, they take a placebo or act as a control group and in the other trial they take the supplement. For instance, if someone was testing the effects of creatine on muscle performance in a crossover designed study, each participant would take creatine+exercise as well as repeat the trial except taking placebo+exercise. That way, researchers can better evaluate the role that creatine had on muscle performance.

Eccentric Muscle Contraction: Muscular contraction in which the muscle lengthens as it contracts. An example would be lowering the weight slowly during a bicep curl

Effect Sizes: This is a statistical measurement that examines the magnitude of differences in between 2 groups (or within the same group). In other words, how important are the results of a study in "real world" application. This differs from statistical significance which simply measures the likelihood of completing a given experiment and getting similar results. In other words effect sizes measures "magnitude" of the results in a study whereas statistical significance measures "repeatability" of an experiment. CLICK HERE for further discussion on the subject. Also refer to definition of statistical significance below.

Electromyography (EMG): measures the electrical activity of a muscle when it contracts. Higher electrical activity correlates with greater muscle tension. To read more about EMG's and how they're used in studies, please read Training Muscles Before Movements

Enterocytes: The cells that line the walls of your small intestines. They are responsible for absorbing food and water from ones digestive track (ie – that which is passing through your intestines) into the body.

Enzymes: Molecules, generally proteins, that increase the rate (ie- catalyze) of at a chemical reaction. Without the presence of the enzyme, the reaction would likely never happen or occur at an EXTREMELY slow rate. For instance, the digestive enzyme lactase is responsible for breaking down the milk sugar known as lactose. If someone is unable to produce lactase, they are unable to break down and absorb lactose in their small intestine.

Epidemiological Studies: Scientific studies that look at ASSOCIATIONS between 2 variables. They do not show cause and effect. For examples read Research 101

Ergogenic: A substance that increases physical or mental abilities. An example would be creatine

et al.: Generally seen when referring to a long list of authors/researchers of a given text or research article. For instance, in many of my articles I'll refer to a study completed by (Name of Primary author) et al. Rather than listing everyone's name, one just mentions the lead investigator/writer and mentions "et al." to let the reader know that more individuals were involved.

Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (aka – EPOC): Also known as Oxygen Debt. Refers to the energy that the body expends in “recharging” itself following an intense anaerobic training session. This energy is spent to replenish ATP stores, Phosphocreatine stores, convert lactic acid (produced via exercise) into glucose and restore blood hormone levels. This phenomena does NOT occur to a significant extent following aerobic training.

Experimental study: Scientific study that shows cause and effect type relationships. For examples read Research 101

Gluconeogenesis: Creating glucose (ie- converting amino acids into glucose)

Glycogen: The form in which glucose is stored in the body

Glycolysis: Breaking glycogen down to individual glucose molecules

Glycosylated Hemoglobin (HbA1C) Test: Test used to measure LONG TERM blood sugar control. The presence of sugar in the blood damages hemoglobin, the red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen in the body. Red blood cells have a 3 month life span. Thus, one can measure HbA1C levels at any time to assess the amount of red blood cells damaged by sugars in the blood over the proceeding three months. A healthy individuals HbA1C will likely be between 4.5-6%. A pre-diabetics HbA1C is 5.7-6.4% and a diabetic will have a HbA1C >6.5%; potentially approaching 8%. For individuals diagnosed with diabetes, the goal is to lower their HbA1C to <6.5-7%

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): refers to running, swimming, cycling, etc, at maximum intensity for 10-30 seconds followed by a 0.5-4 minute rest interval. Recovery tends to be an active recovery. Depending on the goals of one’s training program, this process is then repeated 4-10 times. Click Here For research on HIIT & fat loss. Click Here for research on HIIT and athletic performance. Please be aware that HIIT is more demanding than regular aerobic work and thus, greater risk of injury

Human Equivalent Doses (HED): Human Equivalent Doses represent the estimated supplement/drug dosages that humans would have to take in order to receive the same benefits as animals in "Study X". It is not a simple 1:1 ratio because animals and humans have different metabolic rates. Read more HERE and HERE for more in-depth discussion.

Insulin Sensitivity: A measure of how well your body responds to insulin. The more sensitive you are to insulin, the better your body responds to insulin. Low insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, is a trademark characteristic of Type II diabetes

In Vitro Studies/Experiments: These are commonly referred to as "test tube studies" and take place "outside the body". An example would be adding chemicals, reactants, etc to tissue that has been removed from a living organism.

In Vivo Studies/Experiments: Research that is done in a live, living organism. These are "inside the body" experiments. For instance, if we give someone supplement X to see if he/she experiences changes in their physical performance or body composition, this would be an in vivo experiment.

Isometric Muscle Contraction: Muscle Contraction in which the muscle neither shortens or lengthens. An example would be continuously holding a dumbbell curl with your elbow at 90º for 20 seconds

Lactate Threshold: Refers to the exercise intensity at which anaerobic metabolism, becomes the predominant source of energy. It is characterized by a sharp rise of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Generally speaking, the higher one’s lactate threshold, the farther one can run while still maintaining a fast pace.

Metabolic Energy Systems: Refers to the production of energy via aerobic, anaerobic and ATP-PC systems

Meta-Analysis: A large scientific review study that combines the results of previously conducted research (usually 10+ studies) and relates if the cumulative findings are significant or not

Mitochondrial Proteins: Non-contractile proteins that are found in muscle tissue. They are responsible for extracting energy out of our food. Increasing mitochrondrial proteins within the muscle will not lead to direct gains in strength.

Myofibrillar Proteins: Proteins within muscle tissue that are responsible for the muscle contracting. Increasing amount of myofibrillar proteins makes muscles stronger

Nutraceutical: Refers to a nutritional supplement thought to have positive health effects. However, something can be referred to or marketed as a nutraceutical and still be completely worthless.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): Test used to measure an individuals ability to handle glucose following an ACUTE exposure. Most protocols involve consuming 75 g of glucose following an overnight fast. Every 30 minutes, up to three hours, following the glucose ingestion, blood may be drawn. At the two hour mark, a normal individuals blood glucose levels are <140 mg/dl, an individual with impaired glucose (ie - prediabetic) is between 140-200mg/dl , a diabetic is normally >200 mg/dl

Oxidation: The technical definition for oxidation is “the loss of an electron”. In basic terminology, it usually refers to 1 of 2 processes. First, it may refer to breaking down a macronutrient for energy. For instance, our bodies must oxidize or “burn” fat, carbohydrates, or protein to obtain energy from the foods we eat. The other place where the word oxidation is commonly used is when referring to antioxidants and free radicals. Please refer to my article Understanding Antioxidants, Free Radicals and Oxidative Damage for further discussion on this subject

Oxygen Debt: Please see Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption

Peptide (di-, tri-, mono-): Another name for a protein. However, when the word peptide is used it usually refers to the amount of amino acids in the protein. For instance a tri-peptide contains 3 amino acids whereas a di-peptide contains 2 amino acids. Compared to full intact proteins, di- and tri-peptides are absorbed faster into the bloodstream (from gut) because they do not have to be broken down by enzymes.

Peri workout nutrition: Food/supplements that are taken either right before, during, or following a workout

Phytochemicals: Naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that do not contribute any energy (kcals) to the human diet but still carry out a physiological effect. Examples include antioxidants such as resveratrol, lycopene, lutein, etc.

Placebo: An inert substance given to an individual who believes that it may be a “true” substance. Please read The Almighty Placebo Effect for examples

Posterior Chain: Refers to the posterior muscles of one's body (calf, hamstring, glutes, erector spinae muscles, etc). It's often discussed how these muscles are underdeveloped in most individuals, leading to movement dysfunction and pain.

Proliferants: Substances (ie- molecules) such as dextrose, sodium morrhuate, pumice and other particulates that are used in prolotherapy in order to promote inflammation, and purportedly strengthen connective tissue such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage.

Pronated: Body part of reference is facing downward

Prophylactic: taking/doing something on a daily basis to prevent the development of a condition (ie- disease)

Prospective Study: Study that looks at future outcomes based off what someone is doing currently. For examples read Research 101

Proteolysis: The breakdown of proteins into individual amino acids. An example would be muscle breakdown following resistance training or while in a fasted state

Randomized Clinical Controlled Trial: A type of experimental study in which individuals are randomly assigned to either a control group (receives sham/placebo treatment) or treatment group (receives unique treatment that study is studying). Each group then goes back to their normal every day routine, while completing the specified treatment assigned to them. For examples read Research 101

Respiration: 1.) The act of breathing or B) extracting energy from the food we eat

Retrospective Study: Study that looks at events that have already occurred and how they affect current outcomes. For examples read Research 101

Sarcoplasmic Proteins: Non-contractile proteins that are found in muscle tissue. They are responsible for structure or carrying out normal “housecleaning”. Increasing sarcoplasmic proteins within the muscle will not lead to direct gains in strength.

Serum: another name for blood

Sprain: A tear in connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, etc)

Statistical Significance: A statistical measurement that looks at the likelihood that the study's results can be repeated. In general, for something to be statistically significant, it must have a probability, or P-value, <0.05. This means that if the same study was repeated 100x, you would expect similar results 95 out of 100x. Similarly, if the results are statistically significant at P<0.01, this means that if the same study was repeated 100x, one would expect similar results 99 out of 100x. What a statistical significant value won't tell you is if the difference between 2 groups is meaningful in real world application. In other words, a dietary supplement could lead to a statistically significant 1% decrease in body weight when taken over the course of 1 year, but if an individual weighed 300 lbs, this only means that at the end of the year, he now weighs 297 lbs.

Strain: A tear in muscle tissue (hamstring, bicep, etc)

Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC): Actively stretching a muscle prior followed quickly by a concentric contraction. In doing so, the concentric contraction is stronger due to the "elastic recoil" of the connective tissue that has been stretched. Think of a vertical jump – when you quickly lower your body you are actively stretching the muscles and then when you jump in the air you are concentrically contracting. In turn, when you jump you get higher then what you do vs. simply starting in a low position and jumping into the air (this latter process removes the SSC).

Stroke Volume: The amount of blood that is ejected from the heart during 1 heart beat

Supinated body part of reference (ie- hand) is facing upward

Synergistic Relationship: The sum of 2 variables is greater than its parts (ie- 2+2= 6).

Training Age: The duration that someone has completed a given form of exercise/training. For instance if someone had been a sprinter for 10 years and resistance trained for 4 years, their training age with respect to sprinting would be 10 years. Likewise, their training age with respect to resistance training would be 4 years.

Type I Muscle Fibers: These muscle fibers are considered “slow-twitch”, and are the main fibers used during aerobic activity. They are much smaller than Type II fibers

Type II Muscle Fibers: These muscle fibers are considered “fast-twitch”, and are the main fibers used during anaerobic muscle activity. They are much larger than Type II fibers and are responsible for producing explosive/max strength activities

VO2: The volume of oxygen consumed by the body during a given time period. Higher VO2’s are associated with higher levels of fitness. When one reaches their VO2 max, they shift from an aerobic to anaerobic metabolism

Click Here to find out "Why we do, what we do."

Written on September 26, 2009 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: March 31, 2014

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.