When you’ve been around the fitness and nutrition industry as long as I have, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re body’s been put to the test, over and over again. After all, if I’m going to recommend a specific workout or diet plan to someone, you better believe I’ve tried it on myself first. I guess you can say I’m kind of a human guinea pig—or lab rat—I guess it depends on the day.
So when I came across the PRISE protocol from Dr. Paul Arciero, an exercise physiologist and Director of the Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory in the Health and Exercise Sciences Department at Skidmore College in New York, I knew it deserved a second look. And how could it not? The research alone was fascinating. In fact, I found myself spending hours reading study after study (google it and you will see what I mean). This highly specific “protocol” incorporates science based information on both performance nutrition and exercise training in a nurturing and caring approach.
PRISE is the acronym Arciero came up with to clearly represent the major components of the lifestyle strategies his team has scientifically proven to enhance health and physical performance. Arciero’s motivation to develop PRISE resulted from his frustration caused by the confusion, complexity, and excessive nature of our nutrition and physical activity/exercise recommendations/guidelines—which he feels strongly are some of the reasons the majority of people fail to meet the recommended level of exercise and nutrition recommendations. “I was determined to develop a simple, easy to follow and enjoyable lifestyle program with scientifically proven results,” he explains.
Arciero and colleagues reported proven benefits of consuming moderate amounts of protein regularly throughout the day (protein-pacing) combined with a multi-dimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching and endurance exercise. Based on Arciero’s studies, when followed for 12 weeks or more, individuals show improved fitness, decreased total and abdominal fat, increased lean body mass, and optimal metabolic and heart health.
P = Protein pacing: 4-6 evenly spaced meals/day each containing 20-40 grams of protein.
R = Resistance functional training: full-body, intense strength training that should cause muscle fatigue in 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets (should be an hour long).
I = Interval high intensity training: think HIIT (high intensity interval training), with each session lasting around 35 minutes.
S = Stretching: think yoga and pilates sessions, which should last about an hour.
E = Endurance training: aerobic activity such as running, cycling, swimming, performed at 60 percent of maximal effort for one hour.
Arciero says one of the reasons his program is so different than all the others is that it’s easy to remember. “Keep your eye on the PRISE,” is the phrase he often says to help people turn this program into a lifestyle. “It’s also easy to follow,” says Arciero, because this program is based on four types of exercise with each on performed one day per week, along with providing the body the right nutrients at the right time to improve body composition and performance. For example, “protein pacing (P) is your dietary foundation for each meal and then just perform one of the exercise routines (R.I.S.E) one time per week, and you’ve successfully completed PRISE,” he explains.
Makes sense, right? So, what makes this program different from all the others we’ve tried? According to Arciero, “it’s the robust scientific validation of it’s proven effectiveness among both women and men of all ages, health status and fitness level, that makes PRISE so unique and different from just about all the other lifestyle programs available.” And after reading all of the research, I would have to agree.
Already fit? No problem. This program has been tested on sedentary, overweight women and men and very fit women and men—and the results are equally impressive (regardless of your fitness and health status). “In fit/trained women and men, PRISE significantly increases physical performance and hearth health to a greater degree compared to a group of fit women and men who followed RISE but not protein pacing,” explains Arciero.
As I said before, I test everything on myself before writing about it or recommending it to anyone. When I first read about PRISE, it immediately made sense—especially as someone who is already fit. But what was equally impressive, is the concepts are designed in a way that I could use the PRISE protocol right along side my friend who is not as fit.
For me, the protein timing (P) had the greatest impact on my health and fitness level. I have always eaten plenty of protein, but I can get lazy when it comes to spacing it out and making sure I’m eating it throughout the day, rather than large amounts a few times a day. Focusing on getting 20-25 grams per meal, at least five times a day, helped keep my energy levels up and I noticed the quality of my strength training session improved, while also adding miles to my weekly runs.
One thing I should point out is that I did add extra workouts to my week (for a total of six days of working out). I kept with the guidelines of RISE, but I completed two endurance sessions, and an additional full-body strength training session. BUT, most people will get great results sticking to four distinct workouts per week. After all, it can get really tricky and tiring trying to cram several components of RISE into one workout.
If reading research and trying to design a program has you shaking your head and quitting before you even start, Arciero has developed an app that can take the guesswork out of PRISE. The GenioFit app can help users navigate the ins and outs of the program and get the maximum benefits this unique program has to offer.
Pete Springer, CC-BY
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness and wellness.