Category Archives: Nutrition

The Coconut (Nature’s multi-tasker)


 

20150227_095738by Tia Kamaris

Coconut

The hard, brown coconut found in the produce section of the supermarket is actually the stone of a mature coconut fruit, similar to a peach stone. When the coconut is cracked open, there’s a thin coating surrounds the inner flesh, then the white, coconut meat. This fiber-rich coconut meat aids in digestion and provides iron and other minerals to your diet, but be aware that it is high in fat.

 

One medium-sized coconut weighing about 397 grams (little less than one pound) has 1,405 calories. For a 2-inch piece, the calorie count is 159 per piece. The total fat in one coconut is about 133 grams. One 2-inch piece has approximately 15 grams of total fat with 13 grams of saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, if you follow a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, you can eat up to 78 grams of total fat each day, but no more than 16 grams of these fats should be saturated fat.

Iron and Other Minerals

A serving of coconut adds almost 2 milligrams of iron to your diet, which is about 11 percent of the recommended daily intake. Your metabolism uses iron to help carry oxygen through your bloodstream to all parts of your body. Coconut also provides 160 milligrams of potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat, and 51 milligrams of phosphorus for strengthening your teeth and skeletal system.

Coconut Oil

Both expeller-pressed and cold-pressed coconut oil are good options for your health, but the one that’s best for you depends on what you’re using it for. Cold-pressed coconut oil is made in a heat-controlled environment and processed at temperatures that never exceed 120 degrees, according to “Coconut Oil for Beginners” by Rockridge Press. This results in a high-quality oil. Expeller-pressed coconut oil is also good quality but is processed at higher temperatures, typically around 210 degrees. By comparison, refined coconut oils are processed at upward of 400 degrees, which degrades the quality of the oil and requires further processing methods such as bleaching and deodorizing.

There are also slight differences in nutritional value of the oils. Coconut oil is comprised mostly saturated fat, along with some unsaturated fat and trace amounts of vitamins E and K, as well as iron. It also contains phenolic compounds, which are antioxidant substances that neutralize potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. Because cold-pressed coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures, it contains a higher phenolic and nutrient content than expeller-pressed oil, according to “Coconut Oil for Beginners.”

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Make Your Own Cold Pressed Coconut Oil

As an alternative to mechanical pressing in an expeller press, you can first shred fresh coconut copra straight from the shell with the testa removed. While this is not a very efficient method of extraction, it is simple. Place the shredded coconut into a large piece of cheese cloth. Twist the cheese cloth to press the shredded coconut. Gather the liquid in a clean bowl. Pour the liquid into a jar and allow the oil to separate from the coconut milk. Place the jar in the freezer and allow the milk to freeze completely. Then, simply pour the coconut oil off into a bottle for storage.

coconut-oil

 

 

 

 

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HOW TO CALCULATE HOW MUCH WATER TO DRINK


water

Lots of people don’t realize the true importance of drinking enough water everyday and how it can impact both your health and your weight loss efforts. According to experts in a recent study, drinking just 2 cups of water, which is smaller than the size of a bottled soda, before meals helped dieters lose an extra five pounds yearly and help you maintain your weight loss. Additionally drinking the right amount of water daily can actually speed up your metabolic rate and help to curb overeating when your body confused hunger and thirst. But how much water is enough? Here is how to calculate how much water you should drink a day for both health and weight loss benefits.

Your weight: The first step to knowing how much water to drink everyday is to know your weight. The amount of water a person should drink varies on their weight, which makes sense because the more someone weighs the more water they need to drink. A two hundred pound man and 100 pound woman require different amounts of water every day.
Multiply by 2/3: Next you want to multiple your weight by 2/3 (or 67%) to determine how much water to drink daily. For example, if you weighed 175 pounds you would multiple that by 2/3 and learn you should be drinking about 117 ounces of water every day.
Activity Level: Finally you will want to adjust that number based on how often you work out, since you are expelling water when you sweat. You should add 12 ounces of water to your daily total for every 30 minutes that you work out. So if you work out for 45 minutes daily, you would add 18 ounces of water to your daily intake.

To make it a littler easier to calculate how much water to drink everyday, here are the recommended amounts for a range of weights. Remember to adjust for your activity level.
Weight                    Ounces of Water Daily
100 pounds               67 ounces
110 pounds                74 ounces
120 pounds               80 ounces
130 pounds               87 ounces
140 pounds               94 ounces
150 pounds              100 ounces
160 pounds              107 ounces
170 pounds               114 ounces
180 pounds               121 ounces
190 pounds               127 ounces
200 pounds              134 ounces
210 pounds               141 ounces
220 pounds              148 ounces
230 pounds              154 ounces
240 pounds              161 ounces
250 pounds              168 ounces

Tips for Reaching Your Daily Water Goals

So now that you know how much water you should be drinking everyday, let’s talk about how to make sure you actually get enough. Drinking over 100 ounces of water may seem impossible at first, but with these easy tips you can reach your goal in no time.

Drink 2 cups (16 oz) of water before every meal: Science has proven that drinking 2 cups of water before every meal helps you to eat less during meal time and lose weight. If you do this three times daily – at breakfast, lunch, and dinner – you have already consumed 48 ounces of water.
Morning and Night: Get into the habit of drinking one glass (16 oz) of water when you wake up and another 8 oz glass before you go to sleep every night. This will add another 24 ounces of water to your daily intake. The easiest way to do this is to keep a glass or container of water at your bedside, that way as soon as you wake up and start your day, you can begin drinking water.
Keep Track By Your Container: One thing that has proven to help people consumer enough water daily is to buy a special container for their water, like this one or this one, and set a goal of how many times they will fill an finish the container. For example, if you buy a 16 oz container and need to drink 80 ounces of water a day, your goal would be to drink 5 of those daily. Need to drink more water? Try a larger container.
Infuse Your Water With Flavor: Water doesn’t have to be boring and infusing your water with fruit, herbs, and other flavors can make it much easier to reach your daily goal. Try adding cucumber, strawberries,lemons, limes, and fresh herbs to create flavorful water. This fruit infusion water pitcher is a great way to always have great tasting water on hand.
Bubbles: Consider carbonated and sparkling water in addition to regular water. Many people find that adding sparkling water and 0 calorie flavored water makes drinking water throughout the day more fun. Find yourself drinking lots of expensive sparkling water? Consider buying a sodastream and make your own delicious sparkling beverages at home.

Lastly – DO NOT FORGET ABOUT SALT. A pinch of salt per 10lbs of body weight.

21 DAY PALEO CHALLENGE


21 DAY PALEO CHALLENGE

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I am challenging you to take a new aggressive Paleo Challenge. This one will break you but piece you back together where you need to be – healthy, lean, and sexy. Sugar including fruits are now going to be cut down to a halting (2) fruits a day unless specified. Sugar is our enemy and is the caused for diabetes and other health related issues. So this month we will limit them.
Here are the rules. You must choose your proteins, complex carbs, fats, and fruits before challenge. You will need a measuring container to eat from or to use to measure your food. The ideal size is the size of your fist. If you can put your fist in a container with minimal space left it’s perfect. The appropriate container are 9.5 oz lunch/snack containers.
canteen_lunch_box_tableware_food_container_9_5oz

Food0244

Phase 1:

Standard version will have 3 day cycle between >>
Regular days (3 protein, 1 high Carbs, 2 fats, 2 fruits).
Fat days (4 fats, 1 carb, 2 fruit).
High Carb day (3 high carbs, no fats, 2 fruits)
**Veggies can be unlimited throughout the three cycles.

Phase 2:

Same set-up as above but half the amount of fruits and fats.
Ask Mickel if you want this one. You will need to be monitored.

FOOD LIST
– Protein(s):

    Here are the protein values:

Men: 3 proteins a day
Women: 2 proteins a day

– Chicken
– Eggs (6 with yolk total during the week/unlimited egg whites)
– Turkey
– Seafood
– Lean beef (83% and up lean)
– Legumes (for Vegans)

Complex Carb(s):

Complex carbohydrate foods are basically those in wholegrain form such as wholegrain breads, oats, muesli and brown rice. Complex carbs are broken down into glucose more slowly than simple carbohydrates and thus provide a gradual steady stream of energy throughout the day. Natural carbs are also a better choice when losing weight on the GI diet plan.

– Sweet Potatoes
– Brown Rice
– Yam
– String beans
– Oatmeal
– Quinoa (just added)

Healthy Fat(s):

Trans fats and saturated fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

– Avocado
– Coconut oil
– Almonds/walnuts
– Salmon/Sardines
– Olive oil

Vegetables(s):
WHATEVER YOUR HEART DESIRES. GO APE!

Water:
Hydration is crucial. During any diet or any activity you need to replenish your water levels. How do you find out how much to drink? Salt and water will be needed to fully hydrate yourself. So please read this new file I created to understand how much water is enough.
Go here: https://jaggedswords.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/how-to-calculate-how-much-water-to-drink/

Food(s) you are allowed:
– Almond milk
– Coffee
– sea salt (ie. pink or whole sea salt)

– (2) cups of fruit on allowed days – ONLY!!!!!!
– Blueberries
– Banana
– Watermelon
– Oranges
– Coconut

NO-WAY! EAT AND DO 1,000,000 BURPEE LIST:
– Simple sugars (ie. candy, sweeteners, white sugar)
– Diary
– Bad fats (ie. foods fried in canola, vegetable, etc.)
– Simple Carbs (ie. bread, pasta)
– Sports drinks or electrolyte drinks (ie. Gatorade)
– No Sugars

—————————————-

So here is when it gets fun. We will start with Reg->Fat->High Carb and then back to regular again.

Really control your portions within these 9.5 oz containers. Also, ask any questions about condiments, supplements. Also, it’s crucial we watch your health as this diet takes a toll on the body. Are we ready?

So what’s next?
1) Take a pic of yourself. (for your own records)
2) Weigh yourself.
3) Find clothes you have not fit into in years.

and then what?

So here is what I need.
1) Sign up!
2) I need you to post 1 of your meals daily.
3) Be honest with this. There will be no CHEAT MEALS or DAYS. It’s just 21 days. You can suck it up or have to deal with sucking it in all the time. YOU CHOOSE. Make the effort.

ACCEPTABLE FOODS:

Burpee Calculator: Earn those Cheat Meals!


burpee
So it’s always funny how people hate burpees but yet bow down to cheat meals once or twice daily. Well here is a fun calculator of what it takes to burn these yummy comfort food.
WAS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees! At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise. Here is what we found:

calorievsburpee

Calories (kcals)
burpees for 130lb individual
burpees for 180lb individual

1 large French Fries
500
524
349

1 IPA beer
195
204
136

1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza
260
272
182

1 8oz Cheesburger
730
765
510

1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream
270
283
189

1 Cola soft drink
200
210
140

1 Fried Calamari Appetizer
700
733
489

1 Plain Bagel
320
335
223

1 Slice of Cheescake
1000
1048
698

1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich
300
314
210

First we calculated the amount of work being performed during the Burpee. We calculated work as:

– Work (w) = force (f) x distance (d)
– f = weight of the individual in kilograms
– d = distance from the floor to the maximal height of the head during the jump in meters.

Example:

Male Athlete A:

– Height: 71 inches (1.80 meters)

– Weight: 180 lbs ( 81.8 kg)

– Average Vertical jump during 5 minute Burpee test: 5 in. ( .12 m)

– Total vertical displacement from the floor to maximal jump height: 1.92 m (height plus jump height)
– work = 81.8 x 1.92
– work = 157 kg/m
– Given: 1kcal = 426.4 kg/m
– Thus, 0.368 kcals of mechanical work per Burpee

External mechanical work or the work that is being performed does not equal the amount of work that is being produce internally, humans aren’t 100% efficient. Efficiency during running and cycling is about 25%, thus for the body to perform 25 kcals of external work, it must produces 100 kcals of energy internally. That means that the body has to produce 1.47 kcals of internal energy to produce 0.368 kcals of external mechanical work per Burpee repetition.

We can also calculate energy production during the Burpee exercise by measuring oxygen consumption with metabolic cart. We had several athletes perform the Burpee exercise at a constant rate for 3 minutes while wearing a portable metabolic measuring system that continuously measured oxygen consumption. The average Burpee rate was 10 Burpee repetitions per minute and average oxygen consumption during the last minute of exercise was 35 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml O2/kg/min). We found the measured oxygen cost of a single Burpee repetition to be 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee.

To convert oxygen cost to energy expenditure we did the following:

Example same athlete as above:

– Total oxygen consumed during a single Burpee is calculated as the product of body weight (kg) and O2 cost in ml/kg/.min
– 81.8 kg X 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee = 286 mlO2/Burpee or .286 liters (l) of O2/Burpee.
– One liter of oxygen is equivalent to about 5 kcals.
– 0.286 l O2 X 5 kcals/l = 1.43 kcals/Burpee.

As you can see , there is good agreement between the 2 methods (1.47 and 1.43 kcals/Burpee respectively).

Founders Breakfast Stout is one of my favorite beers. If this athlete had 2 beers at 250 kcals per beer he would need to perform 349 Burpees to burn off those calories.

2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals or 419 burpees

Pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough = 980 kcals or 685 burpees.

Use the chart below to figure out your Burpee equivalent of junk food calories.

Energy Expenditure During the Burpee Exercise (kcals/Burpee)

Body Weight (lbs.)
120
130
140
150
160
170
180
190
200
210

kcals per Burpee
0.95
1.03
1.11
1.19
1.27
1.35
1.43
1.51
1.59
1.67

Example – for a 140 lb person:

2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals
600kcals/ 1.11 kcal per Burpee = 540 burpees

You can have your cake and eat it too, but be ready to pay in Burpees!

Hemp Hearts


For those of you that have never heard of this edible seed it has a natural source of proteins,essential fats and vitamins. The most awesome thing about hemp hearts is that it can be added to any food. Add it to any meal, shakes, salads, veggies, and as a snack mix it with some fruit. What I have been doing lately as an evening snack to kill the urge of eating sweets is have a serving of blueberries with hemp hearts. It kills the craving and nourishes your body. Experiment and add the seeds to anything and everything you want.

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COMPARISON OF ENERGY GELS


0A500px-Gels

Energy gels are a useful component of many endurance runners’ training and racing. In marathon distance racing, energy gels can make an important difference – When to eat Energy Gels in the Marathon.

1 Gel Ingredients

Here is an overview of the major ingredients in gels (see The Science of Energy Gels for more details).

  • Maltodextrin is the most easily digested form of carbohydrate, 36% faster than glucose, making it ideal in a gel. More importantly, Maltodextrin requires far less water to be isotonic than glucose or fructose. Maltodextrin has little or no flavor, even at high concentrations.
  • Glucose is easily digested, but requires 6 times as much water as Maltodextrin to be isotonic. Glucose is about three quarters as sweet as sugar (sucrose).
    • Note that 97% of brown rice syrup is a mixture of maltose, which is 2 glucose molecules and maltotriose which is 3 glucose molecules. For practical purposes it can be considered the same as glucose, though possibly contaminated with arsenic.
  • A little bit of Fructose is useful, as fructose is absorbed via different pathways, increasing the total carbohydrate absorption above what is possible with Maltodextrin alone. However, too much Fructose will cause digestive problems and fructose is absorbed at about a forth the rate of glucose. It also requires the same amount of water as glucose to be isotonic. Fructose is 1.7x as sweet as sugar (sucrose).
  • Sugar is a cheap ingredient and is half glucose and half fructose.
  • Fat can make a gel more palatable and is a useful fuel source at ultramarathon distances.
  • Some protein can provide an additional fuel source and help limit the tendency of your body to cannibalize muscle for fuel.
    • Amino acids may help performance, but the evidence is unclear at the levels provided in most gels.
  • Caffeine is great for improving performance and speeding the absorption of carbohydrate, but too much can upset the stomach.
  • Flavor is important, as you won’t want to take an unpalatable gel. Experiment with different flavors, as different people have different tastes.

2 Overview

This table is ordered by ease of digestion, which is a combination of the science of nutrition, personal experience and the experience of many runners I’ve talked to.

Name Calories Carbs Sugar4 Maltodextrin1 Glucose1 Fructose1 Other Carbs1 Protein Fat Sodium Potassium Caffeine Water to
be Isotonic5
Weight6 Carbs/g Cal/g Ease of digestion
(higher is better)
Recommended for
Hammer Gel 90 23g 2g 21g 1g 1g 0g Trace 0g 20mg 0mg 0mg/25mg/50mg 103ml 33g 0.70 2.73 10 Sensitive Stomachs
Gu 100 25g 5g 20g 0g 5g 0g 0g 0g8 50mg 40mg 0mg/25mg/50mg 175ml 32g 0.78 3.13 8 General Use
Gu Roctane 100 25g 5g 20g 0g 5g 0g 1.7g 0g 125mg 55mg 0mg/35mg 164ml 32g 0.63 3.13 8 Those looking for every advantage
Gu (Peanut Butter) 100 20g 5g 15g 0g 5g 0g 1g 1.5g 65mg 60mg 0mg 201ml 32g 0.78 3.13 7 A less sweet Gu
Vi Endurance 100 23g 6g 17g 6g 0g 0g 0g 1g 10mg 15mg 10mg 168ml 32g 0.72 3.13 7 Fructose malabsorption
Clif Shot (new formula) 100 24g 12g 12g 6g 6g 0g 0g 0g7 90mg 50mg 0mg/25mg/50mg/100mg 292ml 34g 0.71 2.94 6 A Gu Alternative
PowerBar Gel 110 27g 10g 17g 0g 10g 0g 0g 0g7 200mg 20mg 0mg/25mg/50mg 293ml 41g 0.66 2.68 5 Those needing extra electrolytes
Accel Gel 100 20g 13g 7g 4g 9g 0g 5g 0g 115mg 30mg 0mg/20mg 297ml 37g 0.54 2.70 4 Improved Recovery and Ultradistances
Honey Stinger 120 29g 29g 0g 14g 15g 0g 0g 0g 50mg 85mg 0mg/32mg 572ml 37g 0.78 3.24 2 Not Recommended
Chocolate #9 70 15g 13g 0g 3g 10g2 2g 1g 1g 75mg Unknown 0mg 256ml 30g 0.50 2.33 2 Not Generally Recommended
2nd Surge 90 18g 13g 0g 7g3 6g3 5g3 3g 0g 115mg 15mg 100mg 274ml 30g 0.60 3.00 0 Not Recommended

Notes

  • 1 These values are estimates based on the stated nutrition and ingredients.
  • 2Agave nectar varies in its fructose content between 90% and 55%, so this calculation assumes the average of about 75%.
  • 3The unusual nature of the ingredients in 2nd surge makes it harder to estimate the types of carbohydrates included.
  • 4The sugar value includes sucrose, fructose, glucose and other ‘sugars’.
  • 5This is an approximation based on the amount of sugar, Maltodextrin, sodium and potassium, ignoring other ingredients. The water included in the gel is assumed to be the overall weight less the weight of the carbs, fat and protein. See The Science of Energy Gels for details on the isotonic calculations.
  • 6This is the net weight of the gel; generally the packaging added 2-3g to the gels according to my scales.
  • 7The chocolate flavor has 1.5g
  • 8The chocolate flavor has 2g

1 Hammer Gel

Hammer Gel is noteworthy as one of the easiest to digest gels. It is nearly all Maltodextrin dissolved in a greater volume of fluid than other gels. The low level of sugars and electrolytes makes this far easier on the digestive system, and is recommended for runners who have issues with other types of gel. Note the low level of Fructose, which makes the maximum carbohydrate absorption lower than other gels. Therefore use Hammer only if Gu is difficult to digest.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, Filtered Water, Energy Smart (Grape juice and Rice dextrins), Potassium Sorbate (as a preservative), Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Alanine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine).

2 Gu

For marathon distance racing, I prefer Gu over all other gels I’ve tried. It contains 5g of Fructose, with the rest of the calories coming from the easily digested Maltodextrin. I find that Gu can be consumed without any extra water as long as it is taken a bit at a time and mixed with saliva. Some of the flavors can be a little strong, but the ‘plain’ Gu has a light cola flavor.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C),citric acid, calcium carbonate, vanilla, sea salt, preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), fumaric acid, herbal blend (chamomile, kola nut, ginger), pectin.

3 Gu (Peanut Butter)

The peanut butter flavored Gu is different enough to justify its own section. The peanut butter flavor is far less sweet than the regular Gu flavors, but if you like peanut butter it can be a lot more palatable. It also substitutes a little bit of fat and protein for the carbohydrate, as well as having a tiny bit more sodium and potassium. I find this flavor digests particularly well and I’d recommend trying get if you’re a fan of peanut butter. Obviously, if you hate peanut butter or you have a peanut allergy this is not going to work for you.
Ingredients: Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C), preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), calcium carbonate, sea salt, fumaric acid, calcium chloride, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, herbal blend (chamomile, ginger).

4 Gu Roctane

Roctane is a more expensive variant on Gu, though the price has reduced significantly since its introduction. The main difference is the addition of 1.7g of amino acids, which may help slightly. I’ve not noticed any difference when using it, but if you like Gu and are looking for even a slight advantage, it may be worthwhile. If you are paying hundreds of dollars for a race entry and travel, then the extra cost is minor. If you take 8 gels in a 4-hour marathon, Roctane only adds $4-5 to the cost of the race. Of course, you’ll need to practice with Roctane in your training, so you’ll have to factor that cost in as well.
Ingredients (Blueberry flavor): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Roctane Amino acids (Histidine, Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine), Ornithine Alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), sodium citrate, malic acid, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural pomegranate flavor, natural berry flavor, calcium carbonate, sea salt, caffeine, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.

5 Vi Endurance

Vi Endurance has no fructose, so it’s ideal for those that suffer from fructose malabsorption. It has a little fat in the form of Medium Chain Triglycerides, as well as some Taurine, which I think are good things, but probably the amount is not significant enough to make much of a difference. There is a little caffeine, intended to increase the carbohydrate absorption rather than to improve performance. I found the Vi Endurance very easy on the stomach and a worthy alternative to Hammer Gel, though it’s only from the manufacturer and so it a little more pricy ($1.64 with shipping.)
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, water, dextrose, Vi Endurance Formula (MCT Oil, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), citrulline malate, magnesium aspartate, sodium citrate, potassium aspartate), pure vanilla flavor, potassium sorbate, sea salt, caffeine

6 Clif Shot (new formula)

The new formula Clif Shot uses Maltodextrin like other Gels and is similar to Gu. However, it has slightly more sugar making it a little more difficult to digest. One nice thing about Clif Shots is their ‘litter leash’, which is a thin strip that holds the top to the body of the packet so that you’re less lightly to drop the top. I found in practice that I often break the leash when opening the gels, but the idea is a noble one.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate.

7 PowerBar Gel

PowerBar Gel is noteworthy because of its higher sodium content that may help alleviate Hyponatremia and Cramps. I found the flavor stronger than Hammer, Gu or Cliff, but still quite pleasant. The level of fructose is higher than I’d like to see for digestibility. You may need to drink some water near the time you take PowerBar Gel due to the extra electrolytes.
Ingredients (vanilla): Carbohydrate blend (Maltodextrin, fructose), water, electrolytes (sodium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium chloride), natural flavor, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.

8 Accel Gel

I like the 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio of Accel Gel, and I often use it in ultramarathon races. There is more sugar than I would like at 13g and the thin consistency makes it harder to eat slowly and mix with saliva.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Water, Fructose, Sucrose, Whey Protein Isolate and Hydrolysate, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Acetate, Soy Lecithin.

9 Honey Stinger

Honey contains only simple sugars rather than the Maltodextrin that other Gels use. This makes Honey Stinger much harder to digest than other Gels, and much sweater. This is the one of the few Gels I’ve tried that has given me digestive problems when taken slowly. I also found the sweetness overpowering and unpleasant, though the honey aftertaste was quite nice. I would not recommend Honey Stinger Gels.
Ingredients (Gold flavor): Honey, Water, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Natural Flavors, Vitamins & Minerals, Niacinamide (Vit B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit B5), Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride (Vit B6), Riboflavin (Vit B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit B1), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12)

10 Chocolate

The only ingredients in this #9 are Agave and Cocoa, and Agave is predominantly fructose (55% fructose to 20% glucose). This amount of Fructose is slow to be absorbed and can be difficult to digest, making it a poor choice for most runners. The Agave makes this gel intensely sweet, which I did not like and the ‘processed with alkali‘ means that most of the antioxidants are destroyed. This gel may be suitable for runners that suffer from a blood sugar drop after taking more conventional gels prior to exercise (see The Science of Energy Gels for more details).
Ingredients: organic agave nectar, cocoa processed with alkali

11 2nd Surge

The ingredients in 2nd Surge are rather grim, with Agave providing Fructose and Brown Rice Syrup providing glucose (as disaccharides and trisaccharides). While this may sound better than simply using all sugar, it’s chemically not an improvement, especially as Brown Rice Syrup has a bitter aftertaste and unfortunately may contain arsenic. I found that 2nd surge was overly sweet, with a slightly bitter undertones and rather gritty in texture. 2nd Surge has a higher dose of Caffeine than most gels. It’s unlikely that you’d want to take a 2nd surge every 30 minutes, but if you did, you’d have 800mg of Caffeine during a four hour marathon, which is rather high. (For a 150 pound/75Kg person, that would be nearly 11mg/Kg, far more than seems prudent.) The ratio of carbohydrate to protein can have some benefits, but it’s a 6:1 ratio, rather than 4:1 which the manufacturer claims is ideal in their Accel Gel. Overall, there seems nothing to recommend these gels.
Ingredients (chocolate flavor): Agave syrup, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, water, whey protein isolate, glycerin, pea protein isolate, cocoa, natural flavors, green tea extract, d-alpha-tocopheryl, salt, grape, pomegranate, mangosteen, goji berry, blueberry, chokeberry, cranberry, apple and bilberry extracts.

12 Vespa Gel

Main article: Vespa Gel

Vespa Gels claims to improve endurance performance by improving fat burning rather than providing fuel like other gels. The science does not seem to back this up, and they are remarkably expensive ($6.75 each).

Nutrition: How antioxidants can help your training


Nutrition: How antioxidants can help your training

By Dr Kevin Currell, Triathlon Plus
Monday, Mar 21, 2011 4.00pm

Antioxidants seem to be everywhere these days. They’re the ‘in’ thing in nutrition and if you believe the hype they can cure every disease, help you go faster and even live forever. Let’s take a look at the science behind the hype and see if there’s any evidence that as a cyclist you should be including these in your diet.

Antioxidants act by counteracting something called oxidative stress, which causes damage to the body. During day-to-day living your body produces things called reactive oxygen species that attack the body. Think of it as oxygen on a rampage around your body. You naturally produce antioxidants to protect your body from this attack, so think of this as your body’s police force. However, you need to get extra antioxidants from your diet to support this police force – think of these as the riot police.

There’s a huge body of research looking into the effect of antioxidant intake on health. With the advent of processed food a lot of the antioxidant capacity of our foods has been removed. It’s quite clear from the research that antioxidants can help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer and help you live a long life.

The health benefits of a diet high in antioxidants is clear, but the performance benefits are less so. We know that exercise, particularly hard training, increases oxidative stress, but we also know that the body responds to this by increasing the size of its police force. However, when you train hard, the body can’t increase its natural antioxidants enough, so you need to make sure the riot police are ready to go.

Stress reduction

A recent study from the University of Newcastle in Australia looked at restricting fruit and vegetable intake on exercise performance and how the body responded to the training. Fruit and vegetables are probably the most important source of antioxidants in the body. The study showed decreasing your weekly fruit and veg intake from five a day to one a day caused performance to be impaired by two percent and the stress of the exercise was greatly increased. So there is a performance benefit to a diet high in antioxidants.

As we’ve seen, fruit and vegetables are the most common food source of antioxidants. They contain nutrients such as vitamin C and E as well as other antioxidant compounds. Nuts and seeds as well as wholegrains (as opposed to refined grains like white bread and pasta) also contain high amounts of antioxidants.

There are also many supplements on the market that may help improve your antioxidant capacity, although these aren’t proven by science. The antioxidant system is very complicated and food is always going to be more effective, as nutrients work in interaction. A good example is a recent study showing high doses of vitamin C actually inhibited the adaptation from training.

What to eat

So how can you increase your antioxidant capacity? Sources of antioxidants can be found in all kinds of common foods, so make sure you get enough:

The good

You know these foods are good for you, so make sure you:

  • Eat five portions of fruit per day
  • Eat five portions of veg per day
  • Steam your vegetables rather than boil them

The bad

You might try to avoid these, but in moderation they help provide powerful antioxidants:

  • Red wine: a glass a day is plenty
  • Dark chocolate: stick to two or three small squares a day
  • Espresso

The ugly

You might think these things wouldn’t make much difference, but they do:

  • Add herbs to your food
  • Add extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to meals
  • Look for foods which are dark in colour such as berries

TOP 6 Anti-inflammatory Foods


Dear GT,

I been sore a lot lately and realized that my body needed two things – 1) an SMR (self myofascial release) session after my WODs 2) Better foods that can help with the inflammation.  I know potassium should be high but guess what it was not working.  I know omega-3 helps so I started eating a lot of fish and slowly it got better.  While doing research I found this awesome article by Mark Sisson.  It list the 6 top foods he believes are great foods to help alleviate the soreness and muscle inflammation post-workout.  It does not hurt to try.  So read, learn, and evolve!

My Top 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

sardinesBefore I begin, let me preface this post with the identification of a simple confounder for everyone to consider as they read: context. Any discussion of a concept as nebulous, multifaceted, and confusing as inflammation must integrate the question of context. Inflammation itself is highly contextual – as I’ve discussed in previous installments, there are times when inflammation is a good thing and times when inflammation is a negative thing. There are also times when anti-inflammatory actions, drugs, or foods are negatives, even though “anti-inflammatory” has a positive connotation. If you blunt the post-exercise inflammatory response with an anti-inflammatory drug, for example, you also run the risk of blunting the positive effects of that workout.

 

We must also pay attention to acute and systemic inflammation when discussing the desirability of an “anti-inflammatory” food. Eating a big meal tends to raise inflammatory markers in the short term. If you’re overeating every single meal, this is problematic; the acute will become the norm – the chronic. If you’re eating big after a massive workout session, or because you’re celebrating at an amazing restaurant with your dearest friends, or because you’re coming off a twenty-four hour IF, it’s fine. Context.

Eating high glycemic foods, namely refined carbohydrates that digest quickly and represent a big, instantly-available caloric load, tends to raise inflammatory markers in the short term. Again, if you’re pounding bags of chips or white bread while sitting on the couch and the only walking you’ve done all day is to the pantry, those high glycemic foods will be inflammatory (to say nothing of the antinutrients in the bread or the rancid vegetable oil in the chips). And if you do the same thing on a regular basis, they will induce systemic inflammation – or at least continuous acute spikes that mimic systemic inflammation. If you’re eating a fast-digesting, high-glycemic white potato after your glycogen-depleting sprintworkout, you will refill your insulin-sensitive muscles and the subsequent inflammatory spike will be either nonexistent or nothing to worry about. Competitive athletes probably thrive on high glycemic foods, couch potatoes develop metabolic syndrome eating the same things. Context.

Many people find dairy to be inflammatory. I’m (sort of) one of them. I’ll readily eat butter, put cream in coffee, slice quality cheeses, and have a cup of Greek yogurt, but a tall glass of store-bought milk doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t have to run to the toilet or anything; I just don’t feel as good as I did before the glass of milk. Is milk, then, “inflammatory”? It could be, for me (though perhaps a glass of raw A2 cow, goat or sheep milk would have a different effect). It may not be for you. Dairy certainly wasn’t inflammatory for this group of adult men with metabolic syndrome, nor for this group of pregnant women. For both groups, the inclusion of dairy had an anti-inflammatory effect. That doesn’t mean dairy is inherently anti-inflammatory; it might just mean that dairy was better than whatever it replaced. Context.

So when I begin to rattle off my list of anti-inflammatory foods, keep these confounders in mind. Realize that what’s good for the chronically-inflamed, vegetable oil-guzzling goose may not be as crucial for the sprightly, sardine-slurping gander. If you’ve got a casein allergy, even the Maasai-iest dairy will be inflammatory. But what follows is a list (plus scientific references where applicable) of foods I’ve personally found to be anti-inflammatory. Since I don’t carry around a CRP-ometer, I’ve tried to include references if available.

Wild Fish Fat

Whether you get it through molecularly-distilled oil, deep-red wild sockeye, raw oysters, or by exclusively eating pastured animal products, omega-3s are required for a healthy inflammatory response. I feel off when I haven’t eaten any fish for a week or so, but eating salmon more than three days in a row doesn’t really work, either, because too much omega-3 is similarly problematic (shoot for between a 3:1 and 1:1 ratio of omega-6:omega-3). I can tell I’ve gone too long without fish fat when my arthritis starts to sneak up on me. The advice for reducing omega-6 across the board holds steady, of course, but everyone needs some form of fish fat. Another bonus is that it usually comes with healthy fish flesh, skin, bones, and sea minerals.

Omega-3 status is inversely associated with CRP in men. The higher the omega-3, the lower the systemic inflammation.

Daily fish oil for six months reduced inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome and especially those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Delivering a “fish-fat” emulsion intravenously to patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome had anti-inflammatory and liver-protective effects.

Pastured Animal Fat

I was going to list grass-fed dairy, grass-fed beef/lamb, and pastured egg yolks as separate categories, but reconsidered. As I mentioned in my post on human interference factor, the unperturbed animals raised in relative harmony with their ancestry make the best, healthiest, least inflammatory food, while stressed-out animals raised in evolutionarily-novel conditions and on evolutionarily-novel feed make unhealthier and more inflammatory food. The important factor is that your animal fat comes from pastured animals who ate grass, that the chickens who laid your eggs ate grass and bugs and grains/seeds lower in omega-6. Pastured ruminant and dairy fat contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (PDF), an anti-inflammatory trans fatty acid, and pastured eggs contain more micronutrients and more omega-3 fats.

In one study, people with the highest levels of dairy-derived CLA in their tissues had the fewest heart attacks.

Eggs from chickens on a high-omega-6 diet were higher in omega-6, and they increased oxidized LDL in people who ate them.

Read this post to learn why getting CLA from dairy and animal fat is better than getting it from supplements.

Red Palm Oil

After treating red palm oil as more of an intellectual curiosity than a culinary tool for years, it has really grown on me. Lately, I’ve been tossing cubed, steamed butternut squash with red palm oil, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne, and turmeric. It’s an interesting taste, but it definitely works (and it’s a good dish for vegetarians, too). Roasting veggies in it is good as well, as is a spoonful on top of those white Japanese sweet potatoes (the starchier, not-so-sweet ones). Enough about taste, though – red palm oil is incredibly dense with antioxidants. Full spectrum vitamin E, CoQ10, vitamin A, and vitamin K, all incredibly important in maintaining antioxidant status, all make appearances.

When compared to the treasured monounsaturated fat, palm oil (high in saturated fat) greatly reduced oxidized LDL in humans. And that was refined palm oil. I suspect unrefined red palm oil, with all nutrients intact, would perform even better.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Pretty much every list of “Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods” contains broccoli or cauliflower or kale or cabbage, but I thought I’d one-up those writers and include them all. I probably eat cruciferous vegetables five, sometimes seven times a week, mostly because they taste good but also because they contain helpful compounds like sulforaphane.

Broccoli lowered colonic inflammation in mice.

Red cabbage reduced oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.

Sulforaphane reduced inflammation in arteries.

Berries

Although blueberries top most anti-inflammatory food lists (I’ve even seen Kaiser Permanente ads on the sides of buses that feature massive photos of glistening blueberries), and for good reason, I think the other berries get left out. Let’s face it, though – there isn’t really a bad berry out there. I don’t put a lot of faith in the superfruit phenomenon (though I’m sure goji berries are perfectly healthy), but berries are just solid guys to have in your diet. They’re delicious. They’re low in sugar. They’re high in surface area, which means lots of skin and all the antioxidants and phenolics that come with it (but go organic for that same reason). They’re colorful, which means lots of bioactive pigments.

In men and women with metabolic syndrome, blueberries improved the related biomarkers, including markers of inflammation like oxidized LDL and serum malondialdehyde.

Preliminary evidence suggests that blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries can ameliorate metabolic syndrome through modulation of inflammation.

Turmeric

If you haven’t developed a taste for turmeric, I suggest you get on it. It is a potent anti-inflammatory spice, which protects against oxidation of dietary fats during cooking and against oxidative stress in the body after being eaten. You could go straight for the powerful stuff and simply take curcumin, the most active component of turmeric, but I’d suggest using the whole spice itself. That’s how it’s been used for thousands of years, and you’d miss out on the incredible flavor and color it provides otherwise. Somehow I doubt crumbling up curcumin pills would have the same culinary effect.

Turmeric beat both ginger and an anti-inflammatory drug for treating arthritis (I’ve had similar results).

Turmeric also upregulates LDL receptor activity. If you remember from past posts on inflammation, poor LDL receptor activity can leave LDL particles open and vulnerable to oxidation from inflammatory processes.

But how can you tell if you’re inflammed? and what causes it?

How to Tell If You’re Inflamed: Objective and Subjective Inflammatory Markers

inflammedIn the comments section of last week’s post on inflammation, many of you expressed a desire for a post explaining how to know if one is actually suffering from systemic, chronic inflammation. I thought that was a great idea and decided to put the other followups on hold so I could tackle this one. Obviously, it’s easy to tell if you’ve got some acute inflammation going on – swelling, pain, heat radiating from a part of your body that’s suddenly assumed a rosy hue, and throbbing open wounds are all blatant indicators of the inflammatory process at work – but tests for markers of inflammation are not yet standard across most medical practices. With that in mind, I’ll be giving info on both objective markers for which you can test, as well as on the subjective markers I use on myself that you can “test” and use to evaluate your own level of inflammation.

Let’s get to it.

CRP, or C-Reactive Protein

CRP is a protein that binds with phosphocholine on dead and dying cells and bacteria in order to clear them from the body. It can always be found (and measured) in the bloodstream, but levels spike when inflammation is at hand. During acute inflammation caused by infection, for example, CRP can spike by up to 50,000-fold. CRP spikes due to acute inflammation peak at around 48 hours and decline pretty quickly thereafter (post acute-phase inflammation CRP has a half life of 18 hours). Thus, if the incident causing the inflammation is resolved, CRP goes back to normal within a few days. If it persists, the infection/trauma/etc. probably persists as well.

CRP elevates in response to essentially anything that causes inflammation. It’s highly sensitive to many different kinds of stressors. This makes it valuable for determining that inflammation is occurring, but it makes it difficult to determine why that inflammation is occurring – because it could be almost anything. But if you’re looking for confirmation that you are chronically, systemically inflamed, an elevated CRP in absence of any acute infections, injuries, burns, or stressors is a useful barometer.

“Normal” CRP levels are supposedly 10 mg/L. Absent infection or acute stressors, however, ideal CRP levels are well under 1 mg/L. You want to stay well below 1; you don’t want “normal.” Between 10-40 mg/L (and perhaps even 1-9 mg/L, too) indicates systemic inflammation (or pregnancy), while anything above that is associated with real acute stuff. Note that exercise can elevate CRP.

IL-6, or Interleukin-6

T cells (type of white blood cell that plays a huge role in the immune response) and macrophages (cells that engulf and digest – also known as phagocytosing – stray tissue and pathogens) both secrete IL-6 as part of the inflammatory response, so elevated IL-6 can indicate systemic inflammation.

Tissue Omega-3 Content

This is a direct measurement of the omega-3 content of your bodily tissue. It’s not widely available, but it is very useful. Remember that anti-inflammatory eicosanoids draw upon the omega-3 fats in your tissues and that inflammatory eicosanoids draw upon the omega-6 fats. People having a higher proportion of omega-6 fats will thus produce more inflammatory eicosanoids. Now, we absolutely need both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids for proper inflammatory responses, but people with high omega-6 tissue levels make way too many inflammatory eicosanoids. Studies indicate that people with the highest omega-3 tissue levels suffer fewer inflammatory diseases (like coronary heart disease).

Research (highlighted and explicated here by Chris Kresser) suggests that omega-3 tissue concentrations of around 60% are ideal, which is a level commonly seen in Japan – seemingly paradoxical land of high blood pressure, heavy smoking, and low coronary heart disease rates.

Omega-3 Index

This measures the EPA and DHA, the two important omega-3 fatty acids, as a percentage of total fatty acids present in your red blood cells. It doesn’t correlate exactly to tissue amounts, but it’s pretty good and a powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. The omega-3 index doesn’t measure omega-6 content, but those with a low omega-3 index are probably sporting excessive omega-6 in their red blood cells.

Anything above 8% corresponds to a “low risk,” but levels of 12-15% are ideal and roughly correspond to the 60% tissue content mentioned by Chris’ article. 4% and below is higher risk and can be viewed as a proxy for increased inflammation (or at least the risk of harmful systemic inflammation developing from normal inflammation).

Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Score

There’s the systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which is incredibly serious and has four criteria. If you have two or more of them at once, congratulations: you qualify – and should probably see a health professional immediately. This isn’t relevant for low-grade systemic inflammation, like the kind associated with obesity or autoimmune disease.

  • Body temperature less than 96.8 F (36 C) or greater than 100.4 F (38 C).
  • Heart rate above 90 beats per minute.
  • High respiratory rate, 20 breaths per minute or higher.
  • White blood cell count fewer than 4000 cells/mm³ or greater than 12,000 cells/mm³.

Of these objective markers to test, I’d lean toward CRP and one of the omega-3 tests. CRP is pretty comprehensive, and, while omega-3 tissue or blood cell content doesn’t necessarily indicate the existence of systemic inflammation in your body, it does indicate the severity of the inflammatory response you can expect your body to have. Taken together, both tests will give you an idea of where you stand.

And now, some subjective markers that I’ve picked up on over the years. These are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for. They may be harmless artifacts, but they may indicate that something systemic is going on.

Flare-up of Autoimmune Conditions You Haven’t Heard from in Ages

Sore joints, dry, patchy, and/or red skin, and anything else that indicates a flare-up. For me, this is usually mild arthritis.

Water Retention

As we discussed last time, acute inflammation is often characterized by swelling at the site of injury. The same effect seems to occur in states of systemic inflammation, although they aren’t localized, but rather generalized.

Stress Load

If you feel stressed, you’re probably inflamed. I’m talking about the kind that has you rubbing your temples, face palming, sighing every couple minutes, and pinching the space between your eyes very, very hard.

Persistent But Unexplained Nasal Congestion

Could be allergies, sure, but I’ve always noticed that when I’m under a lot of stress and generally in an inflamed state, my nose gets clogged. Certain foods will trigger this, too, and I think it can all be linked to a persistent but subtle state of inflammation.

Overtraining

If you fit the bill for the eight signs of overtraining listed in this post, you’re probably inflamed.

Ultimately, though? It comes down to the simple question you must ask yourself: how do you feel?

I mean, this seems like an obvious marker, but a lot of people ignore it in pursuit of numbers. If you feel run down, lethargic, unhappy, your workouts are suffering, you struggle to get out of bed, you’re putting on a little extra weight around the waist, sex isn’t as interesting, etc., etc., etc., you may be suffering from some manner of systemic, low-grade inflammation. Conversely, if you’re full of energy, generally pleased and/or content with life, killing it in the gym, bounding out of bed, lean as ever or on your way there, and your sex drive is powerful and age appropriate, you’re probably good.

And really, isn’t that the most important health marker of all?

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Systemic inflammation is a pretty nebulous state, and pinning it down can be tough, even with the help of actual objective lab markers. And because inflammation and all the maladies associated with it are so intertwined and feed off each other and have so many different effects, we often feel helpless. Well, try not to pile too much on your shoulders. Get some markers tested if you can, but ultimately it’s going to come down to eating better, moving better, sleeping better, relaxing better, and avoiding too much stress. And if you feel great, I wouldn’t really worry. Don’t be the guy or gal who chases “inflammation,” and don’t go looking for a drug that reduces the liver’s production of CRP. Instead, be the one who eliminates the ultimate cause, or causes (because there are always more than one) of the chronic inflammation. Revisit the list from the end of the last inflammation post and make sure you’re not omitting anything that you should be including or including anything that you should be omitting.

Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy…ZzzZzz


Dear GTfitters,

I was reading an interesting article about sugars and affects on the body.  I love carbs especially before a run or cardio session but never for just casual eating.  One of my good friends Kenn who is a great vegan chef always makes these sweet treats he calls “super fuel”.  They are great before and during a run.  I like eating them but not often due to the fact it makes me feel like I did not utilize them for what they were meant for.  I feel like food has to have a purpose.  Thus my quote “EAT TO TRAIN; NOT TRAIN TO EAT”.  Some of my friends tell me to enjoy life a little and eat what I love.  But to be honest I love eating healthy and clean.  I actually feel like crap when I eat bad food like cakes and now I noticed fried foods.  So it’s a matter of preference.  This time around I promised myself I won’t deviate from my new lifestyle habits.  This one is for the long run.

John Updike, in his short story “Plumbing,” summarized human nature thusly: “We think we are what we think and see when in truth we are upright bags of tripe.” This is a tragic fact that we spend most our lives trying to forget. Although we like to imagine ourselves as the driver – our consciousness is in full control – that belief is a lovely illusion. In reality, we are mere passengers aboard the body, strapped to a fleshy engine that is driving us.

Consider the orexin system. Secreted by a small cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus, orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates an astonishing array of mental properties, from sleepiness to hunger. People with chronically low levels of orexin suffer from narcolepsy and obesity; many also have cataplexy, which occurs when the experience of strong emotions triggers a sudden weakening of skeletal muscles. (Laughter makes them go limp.) Studies have shown that injecting mice with orexin increases metabolism, largely because it makes the animals more active. The reverse is also true: low levels of orexin make people feel rundown and tired. This helps explain the mechanics of sleep deprivation, as keeping monkeys awake for extended periods all but silences their orexin cells. (However, studies show that the exhaustion can be quickly cured with an injection of the peptide.) In many respects, orexin acts like an internal gas pedal, as even slight twitches in the system can dramatically shift levels of activity.

The reason the orexin system is so important is that it links the needs of the body to the desires of the mind. Several studies have demonstrated that the intake of sugar can decrease the activity of orexin cells, which is probably why we want to nap after a carb heavy lunch. This phenomenon also begins to explain the downward spiral of obesity triggered by our warped modern diet. Because we eat lots of refined sugars, washing down Twinkies with cans of Coke, we continually reduce levels of orexin in the brain, which then reduces levels of physical activity. In other words, we get fat and sleepy simultaneously.

However, not every food has such perverse consequences. It’s long been recognized that meals high in protein are both more filling and less exhausting, which is why we’re always being told to snack on almonds and follow the Zone Diet, with its balance of carbs, protein and fat. (This study, for instance, found that protein rich breakfasts significantly improved cognitive performance.) Although the biological mechanism behind this dietary wisdom has always been unclear, that’s beginning to change – we finally understand why consuming protein can be an effective weight loss tool. The answer returns us to orexin.

According to a new paper in Neuron led by scientists at the University of Cambridge, consuming foods high in protein can increase the activity of orexin neurons. This, in turn, leads to increased wakefullness and bodily activity, helping us burn off the calories we just consumed. Furthermore, eating protein in conjunction with glucose – adding almonds to Frosted Flakes, in other words – can inhibit the inhibitory effects of sugar on orexin. The sweetness no longer makes us tired.

The researchers demonstrated this effect in a number of ways. They began in situ, showing that clumps of orexin cells in a petri dish got excited when immersed in a solution of amino acids. (Neighboring cells in the hypothalamus revealed no such effect.) Then, they moved on to in vivo experiments, studying the impact of an egg white slurry of live animals. This protein meal not only increased orexin activity in the brain, but also led to a dramatic surge in locomotor activity, as the animals began scurrying around their cage. The effect persisted for several hours.

The last sequence of experiments explored the impact of different nutrient combinations on the orexin system. Although the scientists assumed that the inhibitory presence of glucose would more than compensate for the excitatory influence of protein, that hypothesis turned out be incorrect. Instead, consuming even a little protein canceled out the curse of sugar, especially when the foods were consumed simultaneously. (When the animals ate protein first, and then swallowed a chaser of glucose, orexin neurons still showed a decrease in activity. So make sure your dessert has some protein in it.)

The importance of this research is that it reveals how the details of a meal – and not just the sheer amount of energy consumed – can dramatically influence the response of the body and brain. Not all calories are created equal; our mental gas pedals are controlled by factors we’re only beginning to comprehend. As Updike surmised, we really are just big bags of tripe, seeking sustenance.

These experiments also document, at a biochemical level, why the modern American diet is such a catastrophic mess. The typical supermarket is filled with processed foods where the only relevant “nutrient” is some form of sweetener. (So-called “added sugars” – they are injected into food during manufacturing – now account for 16 percent of total caloric consumption. That’s 21.4 teaspoons of sugar and corn syrup every day.) While such snacks are unfailingly cheap and tasty, they also lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar and a reduction in orexin activity. We eat them for the energy boost, but the empty calories in these foods make us tired and sad instead. (There’s some suggestive evidence that chronically low levels of orexin can increase the likelihood of depression.) And so we keep on swilling glucose, searching for a pick-me-up in all the wrong places.

Plain an simple – sugars may give you a short term boost but there is nothing like a protein boost.  So next time when you are trying to pick up snacks, put down that candy and pick up a fruit or munch on raw almonds with cranraisins.

LIFT,

Mickel

Nutrition: Fuel for the body


Dear GTfitters,

So a lot of people asked, “whats your diet like?” Diet? More like eating plan to fuel my training.  I honestly follow my eating plan of 80/20 – I eat mostly 80% fruits, veggies and 20% protein from fish, nuts, beans, and some chicken and pork.  Protein is crucial for building muscles.  The repair happens when you fuel your body the proper foods and vitamins.  You train hard, why not eat hard to support your newly evolving muscles?  Don’t shy away from solid proteins.  A hamburger is not clean protein however, but a grilled chicken is.  I no longer eat a lot of starchy, simple carb, simple sugar filled foods.  Even rice and bread are 98% out of my diet.  It’s rare to see me eating those items.  I drink water as always, cold water actually helps burn more calories – fact! I believe in the Paleo diet due to the simplicity and try to understand the concept of eating like a caveman.  Which in simple terms mean “eat clean food”.  Everything we consume now are process meats, vegetables grown with hormones, everything is no longer natural.  Find a local store or when you shop take a second to understand what it says on he label.  What you put in your body determines how you will feel and look.  Believe me I did not get to where I am at by training like a beast and eating like an obese human.  Nutrition is crucial so take it seriously.  Below is an article also for my vegan friends and family.  Read up and fuel your brain with knowledge.  Do not wait until your body is hungry.  By that time it’s already eating up your muscles for fuel.  Your fat is above muscles so the more fat increase the lean muscle decrease.  EAT LEAN PROTEIN to help boost your muscles – more muscles – your metabolism increase – FACT!

Protein is found abundantly in plant foods. Vegans should consume a variety of protein sources, including legumes and foods made from them (e.g., beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk, and faux meats), nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, and whole grains. It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together in order to get their full protein value, but current research has shown that this is not the case; a varied diet of nutritious plant foods provides all the protein that you need. Unlike animal protein, plant-based protein sources usually also contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates. Animal products are also full of artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat, and consumption of animal protein has been linked to some types of cancer. Plus, its suspected that the high sulfur content of animal protein weakens people’s bones. (For example, a study by researchers at the University of California found significantly less bone formation in meat-eating women than in vegan women.)

LIFT,

Mickel

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of An Athlete’s Day


By Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD
Active.com Without question, breakfast is the meal that makes champions. Unfortunately, many active people follow a lifestyle that eliminates breakfast or includes foods that are far from champion-builders.

I commonly counsel athletes who skip breakfast, grab only a light lunch, train on fumes, gorge at dinner and snack on “junk” until bedtime. They not only rob their bodies of the nutrients needed for health, but also lack energy for high-quality workouts.

A satisfying breakfast tends to invest in better health than does a grab-anything-in-sight dinner. Sarah, a collegiate athlete, learned that fueling her body’s engine at the start of her day helps her feel more energetic and also able to choose better quality lunch and dinner foods.

That is, when she has granola, banana and juice in the morning, as well as a sandwich and yogurt for lunch, she stops devouring brownies after dinner.

Excuses to skip breakfast are abundant: “No time,” “I’m not hungry in the morning” and “I don’t like breakfast foods.” Weight-conscious athletes pipe up, “My diet starts at breakfast.”

These excuses are just that, excuses; they sabotage your sports performance.

Here’s a look at the benefits of eating breakfast. I hope to convince you that breakfast is the most important meal of your sports diet.

Breakfast for Dieters

If you want to lose weight, you should start your diet at dinner, not at breakfast! For example, do not eat a meager bowl of Special K for your “diet breakfast.” You’ll get too hungry later in the day and crave sweets.

A bigger breakfast (cereal + toast + peanut butter) can prevent afternoon or evening cookie-binges. An adequate (500 to 700 calorie) breakfast provides enough energy for you to enjoy your exercise, as opposed to dragging yourself through an afternoon workout that feels like punishment.

If you are trying to lose weight, you should target at least 500 to 700 calories for breakfast; this should leave you feeling adequately fed.

To prove the benefits of eating such a big breakfast, try this experiment:

1. Using food labels to calculate calories, boost your standard breakfast to at least 500 calories. For example, add to your english muffin (150 calories): 1 tablespoon peanut butter (100 cal.), 8 oz. orange juice (100 cal.) and a yogurt (150 cal). Total: 500 calories.

2. Observe what happens to your day’s food intake when you eat a full breakfast vs. a skimpy “diet breakfast.” The 500+ calorie breakfast allows you to successfully eat less at night and create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight.

Remember: Your job as a dieter is to fuel by day and lose weight by night. Successful dieters lose weight while they are sleeping; they wake up ready for another nice breakfast that fuels them for another high-energy day.

Breakfast for the Morning Exerciser

If you exercise first thing in the morning, you may not want a big pre-exercise breakfast; too much food can feel heavy and uncomfortable. However, you can likely tolerate half a breakfast, such as half a bagel, a slice of toast, or a banana before your workout.

Just 100 to 300 calories can put a little carbohydrate into your system, boost your blood sugar so that you are running on fuel, not fumes, and enhance your performance.

You’ll likely discover this small pre-exercise meal adds endurance and enthusiasm to your workout. In a research study, athletes who ate breakfast were able to exercise for 137 minutes as compared to only 109 minutes when they skipped this pre-exercise fuel.

After his morning workout, Jim, a banker, felt rushed and was more concerned about getting to work on time than eating breakfast. Using the excuse “No time,” he overlooked the importance of refueling his muscles.

I reminded him: Muscles are most receptive to replacing depleted glycogen stores within the first two hours after the workout, regardless of whether or not the athlete feels hungry. I encouraged Jim to be responsible! Just as he chose to make time for exercise, he could also choose to make time for breakfast.

One simple post-exercise breakfast is fluids. Liquid breakfasts take minimal time to prepare and very little time to drink, yet they can supply the calories, water, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals you need all in a travel mug. (You can always get coffee at the office.)

Because Jim felt thirsty after his morning workout, he found he could easily drink 16 ounces of juice or lowfat milk. Sometimes, he’d make a refreshing fruit smoothie with milk, banana and berries.

Later on mid-morning, when his appetite returned, Jim enjoyed the rest of his breakfast: (instant) oatmeal, multi-grain bagel with peanut butter, yogurt with granola, a banana or any other carbohydrate-rich foods that conveniently fit into his schedule.

This nutritious “second breakfast” refueled his muscles, abated hunger and curbed his lunchtime cookie cravings.

Breakfast for the Noon-time, Afternoon and Evening Exerciser

A hearty breakfast is important for people who exercise later in the day. It not only tames hunger but also provides the fuel needed for hard workouts.

Research has shown that athletes who ate breakfast, then four hours later enjoyed an energy bar five minutes before a noontime workout were able to exercise 20% harder at the end of the hourlong exercise test compared to when they ate no breakfast and no pre-exercise snack. (They worked 10 percent harder with only the snack.)

Breakfast works! Breakfast + a pre-exercise snack works even better!

What’s for Breakfast?

From my perspective as a sports nutritionist, one of the simplest breakfasts of champions is a wholesome cereal with lowfat milk, banana and orange juice. This provides not only carbohydrates to fuel the muscles, but also protein (from the milk) to build strong muscles, and numerous other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, vitamin C, iron (if you choose enriched breakfast cereals) and fiber (if you choose bran cereals).

Equally important is the fact that cereal is quick and easy, requires no cooking, no preparation, no refrigeration. You can keep cereal at the office, bring milk to work and eat breakfast at the office. Breakfast is a good investment in a productive morning.

The Bottom Line

Breakfast works wonders for improving the quality of your diet. That is, eating breakfast results in less “junk food” later in the day. Breakfast also enhances weight control, sports performance, daily energy levels and future health.

Breakfast is indeed the meal of champions. Make it a habit no excuses!

Sample Grab-and-go Sports Breakfasts

  • Bran muffin plus a vanilla yogurt
  • Two slices of last night’s left-over thick-crust pizza
  • Peanut butter-banana-honey sandwich
  • Pita with one to two slices of lowfat cheese plus a large apple
  • Baggie of lowfat granola with a handful of raisins (preceded by 8 oz. lowfat milk before you dash out the door)
  • Cinnamon raisin bagel (one large or two small) plus a can of vegetable juice

    Copyright: Nancy Clark 2002

Nutrition: “What To Eat When Your Friend Visits?”


Dear Team,

So today I want to discuss about nutrition.  While doing a review with my wife about nutrition and learned more about the benefits of each vitamin and mineral I realize a lot of my clients were women.  I wanted to help educate them more especially when that time of the month comes.  People have to understand the fuel you put in your body is important especially if you have any health issues or deficiency.  So I did my own research and put together a helpful list for all my Lady GT members.  Also, notice the super foods on the list that shows up in every list.  Take note of those so you can get the benefits of one item with multi-purpose.

Here are some basic dietary guidelines for you to follow during your period to help control your PMS and for better overall health:

Be sure to get enough calcium. Women need at least 1,200mg of calcium every day. Some good sources of calcium include:

low-fat milk
yogurt

broccoli
kale
okra
red kidney beans

cheese
almonds

salmon
sardines

orange
figs
apricots

Tofu
omelette with cheese

If you do not drink milk, you can increase your calcium intake with soy or rice milk, tofu or kale. Look for fermented soy products as certain soy products contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic the natural estrogen found in your body, leading to reproductive health difficulties. Your fertility is significantly compromised if you have too much or too little estrogen in your body.  Eat more complex carbohydrates. If you are hungry, try eating whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Keep well hydrated. Women lose up to 80 millitres of blood during a regular period, so you need to keep drinking water to replace your body’s loss of fluid.

Increase magnesium in your diet. Foods rich in magnesium, like

beans
brocoli
spinach
potatoes
tomatoes
chickpeas
squash

tofu
peanuts
almonds

tuna

banana
figs (dried)

Magnesium rich foods are thought to reduce bloating in menstruating women. Women should strive for 200mg per day.

Reach for the vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to eliminate some PMS symptoms as well as aiding the circulatory system. Women need 8mg a day. Food with lots of vitamin E include:

avocado
kale
mustard greens
broccoli
red bell peppers

Almonds
egg yolk
liver
wheat

olive oil

Eat foods rich in vitamin B6, which aids in the metabolism of proteins and red blood cells and has been cited in numerous studies to relieve depression. Some vitamin B6 rich foods are:

Chicken
Turkey

Cod
Salmon
halibut

potatoes
bell peppers
spinach
green peas
broccoli

bananas
oatmeal
whole wheat
wheat germ
peanuts
hazelnuts

soy
kidney beans
lentils

Women should try to get 100mg a day

Make sure to get vitamin C and zinc, as these support the health of a woman’s eggs and reproductive system.

Vitamin C:

orange
grapefruit
peaches
mango

peppers
kale
broccoli
tomatoes
cabbage
potatoes

Zinc:
oysters
flounder
sole

wheat germ
dark chocolate*

lamb
pork tenderloin

peanuts
almonds
baked beans
kidney beans

yogurt
milk
mozzarella cheese

Let’s review now so plan out your shopping list with getting great foods to help you through your “friend” visiting as well as surviving GT.  Like I said there are consistencies in this list so shoot for those foods and save money as well as to live healthier.  Guys need to be aware of this especially during this time to understand the hormone changes.  All the guys can benefit from this list as well.  Learning is growing.

LIFT!

Live Life,

Mickel

Nutrition: Foods That boost BRAIN POWER


FOODS THAT BOOST BRAIN POWER

Prevention

Can your diet make you smarter? You bet. Research shows that what you eat is one of the most powerful influences on everyday brain skills, plus it may stave off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, says Cynthia Green, PhD, founder and director of the Memory Enhancement Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and author of Prevention’s new Brainpower Game Plan book.

The program is based in part on rounding out your meals with key nutrients that (along with exercise and daily brain games) keep brain cells healthy and prevent brain-damaging inflammation.

“Your memory, attention span, and ability to learn will benefit from the healthful foods you’ll be choosing,” says Green.

See the top foods and beverages that can make you smarter.

Fatty Fish

Seafood like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, powerful and versatile nutrients that are essential for a healthy mind. About 40% of the fatty acids in brain cell membranes are DHA, one of the main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. Experts believe it’s probably necessary for transmitting signals between brain cells.

In a 2006 study, researchers at Tufts University found that people who ate fish 3 times a week and had the highest levels of DHA in their blood slashed their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 39%.

Eat it: At least twice a week (limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week to minimize mercury exposure).

Leafy Green and Cruciferous Veggies

Pile salads, stir-fries, and side dishes with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and brussels sprouts. They’re filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, which are particularly powerful brain protectors.

Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals, which are waste products your body makes when cells use fuel to create energy. Your brain is especially vulnerable to damage from free radicals because it uses a lot of fuel (it’s only about 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy). Since your mind makes a lot of these toxic by-products, ample antioxidants help to disarm and defuse them.

While all antioxidants (from a variety of plants) are good for your brain, these cruciferous veggies are especially effective. A Harvard Medical School study of more than 13,000 women found that those who ate the most lowered their brain age by 1 to 2 years.

Eat it: Daily, as part of a well-rounded mix of other colorful veggies.

Avocado, Oils, Nuts, and Seeds

They all contain another important antioxidant: vitamin E. In one study, researchers found that people who consumed moderate amounts vitamin E—from food, not supplements—lowered their risk of AD by 67%.

Eat it: Frequently; shoot for 15 mg of E a day, the equivalent of 2 ounces of almonds.

Chocolate

Sweeten your brain-boosting diet with the dark kind (at least 70% cocoa); it contains flavonoids, another class of antioxidants that some research links to brain health. Other flavonoid-rich foods include apples, red and purple grapes, red wine, onions, tea, and beer.

Eat it: Frequently, as part of a healthy total calorie intake. Up to half an ounce daily has also been shown to lower blood pressure.

Curry

Go for Thai or Indian takeout; these cuisines often use the potent spice known to fight inflammation. Animal studies have shown that curry’s active ingredient, curcumin, actually clears away Alzheimer’s-causing proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques (though more research is needed in humans).

Eat it: As an ingredient in pasta sauces, salad dressings, or meat marinades.

Berries

Research indicates these antioxidant powerhouses may protect your brain, although the mechanism isn’t fully understood. Some scientists think they help to build healthy connections between brain cells.

Eat them: Daily, added to yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Whole grains

Fiber-rich oatmeal, oat bran, brown rice, and so on help stabilize blood glucose (sugar) levels, compared with refined carbs like white bread and sugary foods. Your body digests these simple sugars quickly, so you have a sudden energy spike—and subsequent plummet.

Since glucose is the brain’s main source of fuel, it’s important to keep levels steady; during a crash, you’ll feel tired and crabby and have trouble concentrating.

Eat them: Daily, aiming for 25 grams of fiber; fruits, vegetables, and beans are other good sources.

Water

Every cell in your body needs water to thrive, and your brain cells are no exception; in fact, about three-quarters of your brain is water. A small Ohio University study found that people whose bodies were well hydrated scored significantly better on tests of brainpower, compared with those who weren’t drinking enough.

Drink it: Throughout the day; aim to sip 6 to 8 glasses total.

Alcohol (in moderation)

While chronic, heavy drinking can cause serious dementia, research shows that imbibing lightly may protect the brain. In one JAMA study, people who had one to six drinks a week were 54% less likely to develop dementia than teetotalers. Experts aren’t sure why, but some doctors point out that moderate drinkers have reduced rates of heart disease too. Small amounts of alcohol may protect both the heart and brain by preventing blockages in blood vessels.

Drink it: Once a day or less—and have no more than one drink. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor.

Coffee

Caffeine is another substance wherein the dose makes the poison: In excess, it can cause brain fog, but in moderate amounts, caffeine can improve attention span, reaction time, and other brain skills. A 2007 French study found that women over 65 who drank three or more cups of coffee a day were better able to recall words than women who consumed little or none. Another review showed that coffee drinkers may cut AD risk by up to 30%.

Drink it: Daily, limiting caffeine intake to 300 to 400 mg; an 8-ounce cup of coffee has around 100 mg.

Nutrition: Water vs Sports Drinks


Ok.  Here is the battle between which drink can help you sustain your energy and your momentum during your workouts.  For many years I battled against drinking any sports drink during workouts thinking it’s nothing but a kool aid drink in a fancy bottle.  Last year was the first year I really got into drinking sports drinks.  I started drinking Gatorade’s G2 which is 60 calories of pure energy.  At first I was a skeptic but after many months of using it I am sold of it’s true potential.  It gives you a subtle energy boost that is consistent.  It surges through your blood and slowly but surely keeps your momentum at a good pace without breaking down too quickly.  I use to be a big water drinker until I started Gatorade.  I mean your body is made up of water so why not? Well here’s the deal water has empty calories.  During your workout your sugar and carb source depletes.  Guess what, without an electrolyte source your body will cramp and tire out quickly.  As oppose to a drink like Gatorade where it will keep the power and energy longer.  I am also sharing a recently article I read about this battle between the fluids.  Please read with an open mind.  If you are just a casual fitness person than you should just stay with water.  But if you are doing HIIT and Plyo and want to see better performance.  Than you should consider drinking any low calorie electrolyte filled drink.

By Matt Fitzgerald
For Active.com Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably seen those television advertisements in which a leading sports drink maker claims its product “hydrates better than water.” The fact that the message of these ads hasn’t changed in many years suggests that a lot of athletes aren’t buying it. But it’s actually true.

 

Why do sports drinks hydrate better than water? There are three reasons. First, fluids are absorbed through the gut and into the bloodstream faster when their osmolality closely matches that of body fluids such as blood.

Osmolality is the concentration of dissolved particles in a fluid. Sports drinks contain dissolved minerals (sodium, etc.) and carbohydrates, whereas water doesn’t, so water doesn’t reach the bloodstream as quickly.

Sodium and other nutrients also play important roles in regulating fluid balance in the body. In other words, they help determine how much fluid enters into muscle fibers and other cells, how much remains in the blood, and so forth. Again, because sports drinks contain these nutrients, they do a better job of allowing the body to maintain optimal fluid balance, which is an important aspect of hydration that few athletes consider.

A third advantage of sports drinks over water with respect to hydration is that the sodium content of sports drinks stimulates thirst, so athletes usually drink more when they have a sports drink than when they have plain water.

Choosing the Right Sports Drink

Not all sports drinks hydrate equally. Those that contain higher amounts of sodium are preferable, because they are absorbed quicker and maintain fluid balance in the blood and muscles better. Choose a sports drink that contains at least 15 mg of sodium per ounce.

New research suggests that sports drinks containing a small amount of protein may also hydrate better than conventional sports drinks. Protein is an often-overlooked nutrient that affects osmolality just as minerals and carbs do. Therefore the addition of protein to a sports drink has the potential to increase its absorption rate.

This was demonstrated in a recent study by exercise physiologists at San Antonio Catholic University in Murcia, Spain, and published in the Spanish Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Twenty-four well-trained cyclists participated in the study. They were fed either of two sports drinks at rest and during a workout. Drink A was a conventional sports drink containing 15 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml. Drink B contained 10 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml plus proteins.

After 60 minutes of exercise, the researchers found that a significantly greater amount of drink B, containing carbs and protein, had been absorbed than drink A. These results indicate that a carb-protein sports drink may hydrate better than a conventional sports drink.

The addition of protein to a sports drink appears also to aid fluid retention. When a beverage is too dilute, it tends to pass quickly through the bloodstream to the bladder so it doesn’t “water down” the blood and other body fluids.

New evidence suggests that the right amount of protein in a sports drink, in combination with the right amount of carbs and electrolytes, may boost fluid retention and help you hydrate better during exercise.

In a new study from St. Cloud State University, cyclists exercised until they lost two percent of their body weight and then consumed one of three beverages: a sports drink containing carbohydrate and protein in a 4:1 ratio; a conventional sports drink containing carbs and electrolytes but no protein; or water.

Over the next three hours, the investigators measured how much of each beverage was retained. Only 53 percent of the water was retained, versus 75 percent of the conventional sports drink and an amazing 88 percent of the carb-protein sports drink.

Other Advantages of Sports Drinks

Sports drinks have other advantages over water for athletes and exercisers that go beyond better hydration. Specifically, the calories in sports drinks have been shown to increase energy and endurance, limit the immune system suppression that sometimes follows hard workouts, reduce exercise-induced muscle damage, and promote faster recovery.

Water is by far the most popular fluid choice during exercise. However, sports drinks actually do a better job of hydration, while also providing other benefits that water does not. Water is a great drink choice outside of workouts, but during exercise you’re much better off with a sports drink. In this case, there’s truth in advertising.

Nutrition: Battle of the Foods: 14 Winning Nutrition Picks


By Matthew G. Kadey, M.Sc., R.D.
Runner’s World

As a health-savvy runner, you try to toss nutrient-packed foods into your grocery cart. But when you’re deciding between similar-seeming nutritious items (say, turkey or chicken?), you may not know the superior choice. “Food is your fuel,” says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., co-author of The All-Pro Diet. “Selecting the most nutritious options will improve your diet and give you a competitive edge.” While you can’t go wrong eating both quinoa and brown rice, choosing the nutritional champ may give your running the boost it needs. In a healthy-food smackdown, here are our winning picks.

STRAWBERRIES vs. BLUEBERRIES

Both are health all-stars, but a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that blueberries (particularly wild ones) showed the most antioxidant activity of all the fruits tested. “These antioxidants help keep your immune system strong,” says Dulan, “and reduce muscle-tissue damage from exercise.”

HEALTHY CHOICE:
Mix blueberries into lean ground beef for burgers. The juicy fruit will help keep the meat moist.

CHICKEN BREAST vs. TURKEY BREAST

Both breast meats are free of saturated fat, but turkey has three additional grams of protein per three-ounce serving, plus more iron (which helps deliver oxygen to muscles) and selenium. “This mineral functions as part of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase,” says sports dietitian Suzanne Girard Eberle, R.D., author of Endurance Sports Nutrition. This enzyme works as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radicals that may contribute to cancer and heart disease.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Make your own lunch meat to avoid the excess sodium in much deli turkey. Bake turkey breasts, slice them thinly, and add to sandwiches.

PEANUT BUTTER vs. ALMOND BUTTER

Almond butter has more calcium and magnesium, a mineral that’s often lacking in runners‘ diets and is important for muscle contraction. While the two nut butters contain about the same amount of fat, the almond variety has 60 percent more monounsaturated fat. “When consumed in place of saturated fat,” says Dulan, “monounsaturated fat lowers harmful LDL levels to help decrease heart disease and stroke risk.” Almond butter also has three times more vitamin E, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer risk.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Use almond butter instead of PB on your bagel. Blend it into a postrun smoothie, or stir it into oatmeal.


SPINACH vs. KALE

Kale’s nutritional might would win over even Popeye. Gram for gram, kale contains four times more vitamin C, and one and a half times the amount of immune boosting vitamin A and vitamin K. “Vitamin K ensures that blood clots properly,” says Eberle, “but it’s also needed to make a bone protein essential for strong, healthy bones.” Kale contains three times more lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants deposited in the retina that work together to protect eye health.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Make kale “chips”: Spread bite-sized pieces on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil, season with salt, and bake for 15 minutes (until crisp).

COW’S MILK vs. GOAT’S MILK

When Spanish researchers compared cow’s and goat’s milk from animals raised under similar conditions, they found that both have the same amount of essential amino acids needed to repair and build muscle. But goat’s milk contains a larger percentage of omega-3 fats, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA). Studies suggest CLA has a number of effects, including lowering cancer risk, improving bone health, and helping reduce body fat.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Use tangy, slightly sweet goat’s milk (found at health-food stores) the same way as cow’s milk—on cereal, in smoothies, and when baking.

WHEAT BREAD vs. RYE BREAD

According to a study in the Nutrition Journal, researchers in Sweden found that participants who ate rye bread for breakfast experienced less hunger later in the day compared with those who ate wheat bread. Hanna Isaksson, the lead study author, believes that rye’s ability to quell hunger is due to its high fiber count. Rye can have up to eight grams of fiber per slice—even more than whole wheat.

HEALTHY CHOICE: Rye bread often contains some refined wheat flour, so to get the most fiber, buy “100 percent rye” loaves or make sure whole rye flour or meal is the first ingredient.

FAT BETTER: Earthy, rich-tasting extra-virgin olive oil contains more anti-inflammatory compounds than canola oil. Use it when you make dips, pesto, and vinaigrettes.

Quick Hits

Can you pick the best runner’s staples?


Quinoa beats brown rice
WHY: Quinoa has three extra grams of protein per cooked cup, plus more fiber, iron, and magnesium.

Greek yogurt beats regular yogurt
WHY: The Greek variety has about twice as much protein as traditional types.

Green tea beats coffee
WHY: It’s bursting with antioxidants (such as EGCG) that help ward off diabetes and certain cancers.

Pork tenderloin beats beef tenderloin
WHY: The pork version has less saturated fat, more B vitamins, and is cheaper.

Goat cheese beats feta cheese
WHY: Goat cheese has nearly half the cholesterol and a third less sodium.

Orange beats apple
WHY: They have similar amounts of calories and fiber, but oranges have 12 times as much vitamin C.

Red pepper beats green pepper
WHY: It boasts eight times the vitamin A, which keeps your immune system strong.

Flaxseed beats flaxseed oil
WHY: The seeds have lots of magnesium, potassium, selenium, and fiber.

Nutrition: 14 SUPER FOODS


By Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS
Women's

The truth is you can lose weight eating just about any food. A nutrition professor at Kansas State University famously demonstrated this when he lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies alone.

Although it’s possible to lose weight eating almost anything, some foods make it really difficult. Why? Because these foods create self-sustaining cravings. (A fact you’re familiar with if you’ve ever consumed three too many bowls of cereal in one sitting). Processed carbs—like cereal, desserts, potato chips, pasta and bread—wreak havoc on your blood sugar, the appetite centers in the brain, and, ultimately, your waistline.

Some foods, however, do just the opposite. The following items pack a ton of nutrition into a relatively small number of calories while filling you up at the same time. Plus, every one of them has the added advantage of stabilizing your blood sugar, making it far less likely that you’ll go on a waist-busting binge.

Rather than focusing on what not to eat, try building your diet around foods like the ones below. The only “side-effect” of this weight-loss plan is a major improvement in your overall health and well being.

Beans: Fiber is the secret weapon in weight-control. It fills you up and prevents the blood sugar spikes that frequently lead to further hunger. No food on the planet supplies as much fiber as beans, typically 12 to 17 grams per cup. Beans are also a great source of protein and antioxidants. Research on the four areas of the globe (called “Blue Zones”) where people routinely live to 100 in good health shows that beans are a staple in all of their diets.

Pumpkin: You may only know this vegetable for its central role in Thanksgiving celebrations, but it’s also a fabulous weight-loss food. Plain old canned pumpkin is absolutely loaded with fiber (a whopping eight grams per serving). It’s filling, it’s delicious and it’s one of the easiest foods in the world to prepare.

Grapefruit: Turns out there may be a grain of truth to the infamous “grapefruit diet.” In a recent study at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, researchers found that eating half a grapefruit before every meal helped people drop weight. As an added benefit, grapefruit contains cancer-fighting compounds, and red grapefruit has been shown to help lower triglycerides. Half of a grapefruit has only 39 calories. What’s not to love?

Grass-Fed Beef: Meat is a great weight-loss food, but for a nutritionist, it’s difficult to recommend, as it’s so often loaded with antibiotics, steroids and hormones. Get grass-fed and avoid the unhealthy additives while reaping all the benefits. Higher protein diets are associated with weight loss for a variety of reasons: protein stimulates the metabolism, helps you feel fuller longer and decreases the desire to overeat. Additionally, grass-fed beef has higher levels of anti-inflammatories, a big plus for runners.

Green Tea: Green tea is the ultimate weight loss beverage as it raises the metabolism by speeding up the rate at which fat is oxidized or “burned” in the cells. Added bonuses: green tea is rich in antioxidants, promotes heart health, aids digestion and can even help regulate blood sugar. Green tea also contains a natural relaxant, so it won’t make you as jittery as coffee.

Sardines: These little fish are one of the biggest health bargains of all time, and they’re definitely a boon to anyone who wants to lose weight. Why? First, sardines are loaded with protein. Second, they’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost mood and strengthen the cardiovascular system. (Not to mention making hair, skin and nails look better!) Third, sardines are convenient, easy to find and cheap.

Blueberries: Berries are one food that virtually all nutritionists agree upon; they’re on everybody’s list of super foods. They’re very low in calories, extremely rich in nutrients, high in fiber and best of all, have a minimal impact on your blood sugar. Blueberries, in particular, contain a plant compound shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties, and they boast the highest antioxidant rating of any fruit.

Nuts: Nuts are often given a bad rap as a “fattening” food. While nuts are high in calories and probably shouldn’t be eaten by the fistful, a moderate intake won’t cause weight gain. In the Nurses’ Health Study, frequent nut consumers were actually thinner than those who didn’t indulge. The “magic” amount seems to be five ounces per week. Also, a number of studies have shown that nuts can lower your risk of heart disease dramatically.

Apples: The apple’s reputation for keeping you out of the doctor’s office is well deserved. This fruit is loaded with fiber. Here’s a great trick that will help you keep your weight down permanently: if you’re about to go out to a party or meal where you may be tempted to overindulge, eat an apple with a glass of water half an hour before arriving. It’s one of the greatest natural appetite suppressants on the planet.

Coconut Oil: This superb oil has long been neglected by health nuts because it contains saturated fat. But don’t worry; the saturated fat in coconut is a very healthy kind, which is easily burned by the body for energy. Coconut oil also has a natural antiviral and anti-microbial component to help you stay healthy.

Guava: This tropical fruit is a super-food sleeper. With a taste that’s been described as “part strawberry, part pear,” this vitamin-rich fruit contains eight grams of fiber to aid in weight management and digestion. And in one widely used test of antioxidant power in fruits, guava scored second only to blueberries. Guava also contains the same cancer-fighting ingredient found in tomatoes.

Kale: Kale is a member of the Brassica family, vegetable royalty that boasts cabbage and broccoli among its relatives. It’s rich in potent cancer-fighting substances, and loaded with bone-building vitamin K. Kale helps the liver detoxify carcinogens and other harmful substances. It also has the highest antioxidant rating of any vegetable and is extremely low in calories.

Flaxseeds: Flaxseed oil is one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fats, but the flaxseeds themselves provide the added benefit of weight-controlling fiber. Flaxseeds can be thrown on salads, tossed into smoothies, or sprinkled on vegetables. They also contain nutrients that have been studied by the National Cancer Institute for their disease-preventing properties.

Eggs: Choosing eggs for breakfast helps manage hunger while lowering calorie consumption throughout the day. And feel free to ease up on the egg-white omelets. The yolk is loaded with good stuff that helps support brain and eye function. The small amount of fat in the yolk contributes mightily to the feeling of sustained fullness and satisfaction. Don’t be afraid of it.

Nutrition: Super Food – Iskiate (CHIA SEEDS)


Dear Team GTF,

So on Saturday, Johann gives me in a small container some seeds, apparently this bird food was the runner’s magical super food, Iskiate or Chia seeds.  If you have never heard of them.  Here is a brief info on them.  Chia seeds are best known as the seeds grown on the “Chia Pet.” The chia plant, Salvia hispanica,  is a member of the mint family native to arid regions of Mexico. Chia seeds are the best known plant source of omega-3 fatty acids!  They are also very high in fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Chia seeds have a long and rich history. They were the 2nd most important crop of the Aztecs, second only to corn.  Chia seeds have a mild, delicious flavor, and can be incorporated into many different foods.

Iskiate is the Tarahumara energy drink, they use it to get them through long distances. the bulk, protein and fiber gives the body something to work with, and some slow releasing calories, while the sugar gives you the instant energy.  So yesterday I tested it and decided to do one of my usual 13mile runs.  I mixed it with 16oz of cytomax which is an energy rush and (1) teaspoon of the iskiate.  Your suppose to make the mixture one hour prior to your run since it’s still solid but once in water it start’s transforming to a gelatin like ball (bubble drink!).  It’s pretty good in this form.  Apparently, there is a drink which is called Chia Fresca which is literally a Chia seed lemon drink.

- 8oz of water
- (2) teaspoon of chia seeds
- (1) lemon
- (2) teaspoon of sugar or less

I will try to make that one next.  There have been questions about the longevity of how long your suppose to leave the chia seeds in liquid but I would advice 24hours for the max amount of time.  But if you want you can always mix the seeds with yogurt or any food you make.  This super food is pretty flexible and can be used in many ways.

The run went well and from my stat comparison I did a lot better on this run and still had power to do an extra mile.  To say the least me and Alex Cardenas did 15+ miles.  To me it was because of the company and I was not running alone.  It’s always good to run with a pack.  Even with the distance I am still a skeptic.  My test will be for next week to see if I can do it again.  This time I will create the fresca version.  For now I will keep an open mind.  I don’t notice too much of a physical response.  To me if “there is no secret recipe” it’s in you to believe and make something special or not.  After testing so many products back then I often believe it’s all in my head.

Here is a video as well about it by an author who wrote about it’s powers and some info about it.

LIFT!

Here is the comparison with Runkeeper stats:

in January my first 15 miler was this:
http://runkeeper.com/user/MrYamamoto/activity/22843163

In March two months later is:
http://runkeeper.com/user/MrYamamoto/activity/28338957

Live Life,

Mickel

The Athletes Nutrition Guide


As the training GTfit system get more intense you start noticing your body get’s tighter and lighter.  Yes your body is getting stronger and creating more lean muscle.  However, this feeling goes away once your body recovers and repairs.  Nutrition will either help you with the next days or break you.  It’s key to always follow simple guidelines in nutrition.  As I always say it’s 90% what you do outside the gym.  So it’s proper nutrition and sufficient rest time and recover is key.

Anyway, just follow this simple eating habits below and you will be ok.  Shortcuts will just reverse the potential growth of lean muscle as well as slow your progress down.  This will determine whether a zombie will bite you or not 😉

By Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD
Canyon

As you create a plan for your athletic endeavors, are you also considering how your diet needs to adjust as your training changes?  You don’t do the same workout day in and day out all year long and so you shouldn’t be eating the same way all year either.

Most of us will have one or two ‘big events’ a year and a smattering of other fun, supportive events throughout the year. As your intensity and volume of training changes for each event, your diet should change too. These are three basic eating patterns to consider as you build your training base, increase the volume of your training, and then recover from events.

High-Protein, Muscle-Building Diet

As you build your base of training, you should follow a relatively high-protein diet. Your volume of training isn’t high, but your intensity is, so stave off muscle fatigue and muscle soreness by making high-quality protein foods your dietary focus.

Consider though, that some protein rich foods are pro-inflammatory (red meat, cheese) and should be minimized while you emphasize anti-inflammatory protein rich foods (omega 3 rich eggs and wild salmon). For example:

  • Choose whole omega 3 enriched eggs for breakfast
  • Include grilled chicken or shrimp at lunch
  • Eat wild salmon or organic tofu at dinner
  • Snack on low-fat organic cottage cheese, plain organic yogurt or walnuts

Trying to gain muscle? The beginning of a new training cycle is the time to do it and you’ll need to emphasize pre-workout and recovery nutrition.  Gaining muscle requires a commitment to a vigorous strength training program, coupled with a small increase in calories to build muscle.  Avoid exercising on an empty stomach and get a small but significant boost in calories by:

  • Sipping on a carbohydrate-protein-creatine drink during the workout. Mix creatine monohydrate powder into a natural carbohydrate-protein drink, such as Xood.
  • Recovering from the workout with a carbohydrate-protein-quercetin drink. Quercetin is an antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness associated with exercise. Mix whey protein with a quercetin-rich drink like tart cherry juice.

High-Quality Carbohydrate Diet

As your training volume increases, your need for carbohydrate are high and incredibly essential.  Without adequate carbohydrate intake, your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) will decrease and your performance will suffer. You won’t be able to reach your high-volume training goals (long rides, long runs, brick workouts, etc) and you will be at higher risk for overtraining syndrome.

Your antioxidant needs are also significant and when your diet isn’t up to par, your immune system suffers.  Antioxidants help repair damage in the body and prevent the body from ‘rusting’ from the inside out. Eat plenty of carbohydrate-antioxidant rich foods, such as: berries, plums, peaches, papaya, mango, prunes, dried apricots, black beans, kidney beans, red lentils, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and quinoa.  Other high-quality carbohydrate rich foods to include regularly are oats, wheat berries, millet, barley, hummus and plain yogurt.

Anti-inflammatory foods are also important during high-volume training.  Training is a stressor to the body, which may create inflammation.  Inflammation is felt as sore muscles and achy joints, and leads to slow recovery and increased risk for injuries. Emphasize anti-inflammatory meals that help to reduce muscle soreness, lower the risk for overtraining syndrome, and foster optimal recovery from exhaustive exercise, such as:

  • Flaked wild salmon mixed with canola mayo, curry power, dried apricots, black beans and cilantro
  • Ground flaxseeds mixed into oatmeal with walnuts and dried cherries
  • Organic tofu and diced sweet potatoes sautéed in canola oil with garlic and kale served over brown rice

Calorie Control

After a big event, you will likely take a bit of time off. You may not stop exercise entirely, but hopefully you will respect your body’s need for rest and tone down exercise intensity and duration.  This is a time to be calorie conscious and make every calorie count. Your body needs all the nutrition that it can get after a hard training season.

Your calorie burn has been high and your appetite large; but all that changes now. You must be careful to avoid weight gain, and if weight loss is a goal, now’s the time to lose.  Listen to your body; you should be satisfied with less compared to the height of training season. Make small adjustments to your everyday eating and eat slightly less than you normally would. Find unnecessary empty calories and eliminate them.

Focus on high-quality, unprocessed foods so that your body recovers well with adequate vitamin and mineral intake. If your diet is full of refined, packaged, and processed foods, calorie control may be in place but your body (and your training) will suffer from lack of proper nutrition. You may reach your weight goal, but you will be undernourished and your progress in your next exercise endeavor will suffer. Consider these whole-food swaps:

  • Instead of toast, eat oatmeal
  • Instead of crackers and cheese, eat fruit and cheese
  • Instead of pasta, eat a baked sweet potato
  • Instead of deli turkey, eat grilled chicken
  • Instead of fruit juice, eat whole fruit

As your workouts change throughout the year, consider how you might adjust your diet. Small dietary changes make a big difference in your enjoyment of exercise and your progress towards your exercise goals.