Archives For Nutrition

There is no doubt that nutrition and exercise performance go hand in hand. And in the information age, there’s a lot of confusion regarding nutritional guidelines for athletes. The amount of nutrients needed is usually based on the recommendation for the general population that may not be appropriate for the athletic population. Sufficient amounts of energy, carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are essential to the optimal performance and condition top athletes desire.

Additionally, false advertisements and health claims are everywhere. Massive bombardment of ads and information about nutrition flood the media. Are carbohydrates evil? Do we have to take supplementation for every nutrient out on the market? Does more protein intake mean greater muscle mass? Also, there are too many web-sites telling us what to eat. Are they relevant? This handbook will hopefully lead top athletes in the right direction with up-to-date nutrition recommendation based on science and research.

New and emerging science has been consistently investigating the “right” amount of nutrients for high performance training and other competitive demands. There are three main energy sources in our diet: Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat.

Why do we care about nutrition so much?

  • Obtain maximum gains from training
  • Enhance recovery for optimal conditioning
  • Maintenance and reaching weight goals
  • Less accidents and illness
  • Consistent achievement of goals
  • Maximal Performance

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the predominant and most efficient fuel source for training and performance. The muscle and the liver are the main places to store dietary carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. When the stored glycogen is depleted, exhaustion and weakness may be established. Carbohydrate supplements during exercise may contribute to prolonged exercise performance. Supplying the carbohydrates immediate after the exercise is to make sure there are enough carbohydrate sources in the body for recovering. Thus, it is recommended to take carbohydrate and protein together for the optimal recovery after exercise. During the day, it is important to replenish muscle glycogen stores that are depleted throughout the day to condition your body for the next day’s trainings or competitions.

The recommended amount and timing of carbohydrate intake:

Activity Type Amt of Carbohydrate
Immediate recovery after exercise (0-4 hrs) 1g/kg BM/hr in intervals
Daily Recovery from moderate duration/ low intensity 5-7 g/kg BM/day
Daily recovery from Moderate-heavy endurance exercise 7-12 g/kg BM/day
Daily recovery from extreme exercise program (>4-6 hr/day) >10-12 g/kg BM/day

Modified from IOC practical nutrition guideline

It is also recommended to take nutrient-rich carbohydrate source (ex. fruits and vegetable, Brown rice and other whole grains, 100% whole wheat bread) than low-nutrient containing foods (ex. White rice and bread, sports drinks and soft drinks, jam, honey, sugar).

Carbo-loading:

Some athletes, especially those who compete intensely for more than 90 minutes, load up their muscle glycogen stores to maximum levels before competitions. This is achieved by eating large amounts (8-10g/ kg) of carbohydrates 2 to 3 days prior to competitions. Not enough scientific evidence supports the efficacy of such method, however. New and emerging research supports ample carbohydrate (as outlined above) and adequate calories (eating for energy balance) as the proper way to maximize glycogen stores for an event.

The Basics “All Carbohydrates are Sugars”

Carbohydrates provide fuel to our working muscles, brain, and organs. Carbohydrates are not “essential” to life, however we function a lot better when we do have them in our diet. People usually classify carbohydrates into “simple sugars” or “complex carbohydrates.”  However these are not the way athletes should view their carbohydrate sources. A much better way is to ask the question: “What am I getting for this carbohydrate source.”

What We Want In a Carbohydrate Source

  • High Fiber – aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, keeps us “regular,” and high intakes (25 grams/day women 38 grams/day men) is associated with increased overall cardiovascular health and a much lower risk of chronic disease. This means every meal should have 6-8 grams of fiber.
  • High in Micronutrients – Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients are found in abundance in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as unprocessed whole grains such as steal cut oatmeal and brown rice. Many of these micronutrients are essential to life such as Vitamin C, while others such as the polyphenols in olives are associated with increased heart health.
  • Straight from the ground to your plate – The closer you choose your carbohydrates to the way they looked growing on the farm the better off you will be. This way the food naturally has all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fats, and all the other great stuff scientists have not yet discovered in them.

When we view our carbohydrate sources in this way it becomes apparent that vegetables and fruits, along with unprocessed grain products such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, bread with at least 4 grams of fiber per slice are our best choices. It also becomes apparent that fruit and vegetable juices are an inferior source of nutrients since we lose the fiber content.

Vegetables are extremely important and should be the staple of at least one meal per day preferably two meals in a day. Dark colored vegetables (carrots, spinach, bell pepper, broccoli, pumpkin, tomato etc.) are filled with vitamins, minerals, fibers, antioxidants, etc.

How to achieve your required vegetable intake

• Always have a large Tupperware container of mixed chopped vegetables in the fridge along with a pre-washed bag of spinach or spring greens

• If eating in a restaurant always order a salad

• If you don’t have time for salad then snack on carrots, celery, or green beans

How to choose bread

  • All bread must have at least 3-4 grams of fiber per slice
  • All bread must have “whole grain” on the label
  • Avoid all labels with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients
  • My favorite is Ezekiel 4:9 bread

The “Other Stuff”

There are many other sources of carbohydrates that people do not utilize very often. Here is a list, if you would like a recipe just ask!

Take 45 min to Cook Take 30 min to Cook Less than 30 min to Cook
Brown Rice Quinoa Sweet Potato
Corn Lentils Couscous
Beans Peas Soy Pasta

Here I will outline the basics for a clean and healthy diet and what we stand for here at California Strength for nutrition. The majority of Americans need to make proper food choices first before doing anything else.
First we will start with what NOT to eat.

1. Cut out all regular sodas and processed fruit juice.

2. Get rid of processed carbohydrates. This means cutting out most breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips, candy, and store bought pastries and cookies.
3. Cut out foods high in saturated fat and fried foods. Your body does not need the extra saturated fat.

Next we will outline what to eat.

1. Eat whole foods as often as possible

2. Eat moderate to small meals every 2-3 hours.

3. Eat some lean protein, fat, and unprocessed fibrous carbohydrate at every meal

4. Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal (as fresh as possible).

5. The bulk (size wise) of your food intake should come from fruits and vegetables.

6. Ensure that 20-30% of your energy intake comes from “liquid fat,” with your fat intake primarily coming from unsaturated (ie. flax oil, fish oil, olive oil, raw nuts).

7. Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choice being water and teas.

8. Drink alcohol in moderation.

What about calories, amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, nutrient timing? For most people following these guidelines at least 90% of the time will be all they will ever need. If you are not near 90% then work your way there. Find friends that will do it with you.

IF YOU WANT IT, HAVE IT. “Never say never” to foods you love but that are not in your best interest to eat. There is nothing worse for a person’s health or diet than a built up urge to splurge. There are two main roads one can travel to curb binge eating. The first is to have a little bit everyday. For example my big sweet tooth is chocolate, so I always have a small amount of high quality chocolate around and allow myself one small piece a day. It works very well for me that way. Another is to allow yourself one meal a week where you can enjoy whatever you want. In fact even invite your other friends over that are attempting to eat better and do it together! This “ritual” will become something you look foward to and your friends will too, plus for the rest of the week everyone can hold each other on track. The trick is to find which one of these two works for you.

DON’T LET THE TOUGH TIMES GET YOU DOWN. Everyone’s healthy eating efforts get sidetracked from time to time. The trick is to keep a positive attitude and curb the unhealthy eating as quickly as possible. My trick is to keep a couple of motivational documents around to read in times of need.

That is it! Keep it simple, eat well, exercise hard, and live life to its fullest. Why not?

The Sweet Deal

nuwanee —  July 2, 2009 — Leave a comment


By Nuwanee Kirihennedige

I don’t know why, but many of us have irresistible relationships with that sweet and rich satisfaction of cacao.

Once you taste it, you can never forget.

There is a reason why it is sometimes called “food of the gods.” After all, many of us are in love with it. Some of us have cravings even. Chocolate is somehow related to happiness most of times.

Chocolate, especially the darker kinds, has gained a good reputation regarding their antioxidants and flavonoids contents. The positive effects of antioxidants are world known: trapping the free radicals that may damage the cells and tissues, and antioxidants prevent platelet aggregation in arteries. Flavonoids are also found in grapes (red), green tea, many fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are believed to have disease preventive properties. The darker the chocolate is, the more antioxidants and flavonoids content would be.

Us girls, find ourselves having intense cravings just before that once-in-a-month thing. The study conducted by Bruinsma and Taren on the correlation between Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and magnesium deficiency. It suggested that the magnesium content in chocolate does increase the level of chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is known to responsible for feeling of euphoria and satisfaction. Eating chocolate may satisfy the low level of dopamine at pre-menstrual stage, and the brain remembers it at some degree. Of course, the degree of magnesium deficiency varies from people to people. Some women have no cravings at all.

But as a side note, ladies: I just gave you a perfect scientific alibi. Use it!

One thing that we have to remember, however, is that chocolate has calories (lots of it). So we can’t overdo it.

Chocolates have added fats and sugar. If we simply want the antioxidants and flavonoids, we would be better off getting them from fruits and vegetables with lower calories and with many other nutrients. A lot f us still like chocolate, which is not a bad thing. But we can always enjoy such delicacy in moderation.

Resource:

“For Chocolate Lovers”. ADA’s Public Relations Team, February 14, 2005

http://eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/home_4528_ENU_HTML.htm

“Chocolate Bunnies = a Healthy Heart?” ADA’s Public Relations Team http://eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/home_3978_ENU_HTML.htm

Christiane Abouzeid, “The Lure of Chocolate” Berkeley Scientific. Vol 9 Issue 2, Fall 2005

Big Fat Lies

nuwanee —  June 25, 2009 — Leave a comment

By Nuwanee Kirihennedige, Nutritionist

Don’t we always go crazy about that “F” word? The word “Free.” Especially when it is combined with another “F” word like “Fat,” as in “Fat Free?” Every year, food industries come up with favorite, traditional food items branded with sinless naming: fat free, light, no cholesterol, low sodium, sugar free, etc. But do we really understand the terms used for food labeling? Do food industries really mean what they say on their labels? There are so many confusing terms and wordings on food labels that cause confusion and disregard to us consumers.

The truth is that there are FDA standards for foods label used by companies to market their goods. Such standards regulate what companies can and cannot put in regards to nutrient content in food labels. In a way, this is good news because food industries cannot just put irrelevant information and terms on the labels to confuse consumers; however, those terms can be used for semi-misleading messages to the some food products.

There are common misconceptions especially in the word “free.” The term “free,” “no,” “zero,” or “without” can be used on food products that are containing less than 0.5g of fat or sugar per serving. This means that if we eat 5 servings of fat free potato chips which may contain 0.4g of fat per serving (remember, anything less than 0.5g of fat can be labeled as “fat free,” etc), we have consumed 2g of fat (0.4g x 5 servings) from the supposedly “fat free” potato chips. Two grams of fat contributes to additional 18kcal to your total calorie intake. The same concept goes with labels like, “zero trans-fat” or “no sugar” that you see on the shelves in grocery stores.

For calorie labeling, companies can claim that if there is less than 5 kcal, again, per serving, they can label it “calorie free.” Let us assume that we drank a calorie free drink that contains 4.9 kcal per serving and we also had 6 servings (2 servings for each meal) throughout the day which means that we added another 29.4kcal to our total energy intake. If we continue doing the same thing for the whole week, we end up adding extra 205.8 kcal (29.4kcal x 7 days) per week. Do the calculation for a month, and you’ll see how such labeling can mislead the way consumers think about the so-called “risk-free foods.”

It’s the same thing in regards to “light or reduced fat” dressings on dairy products. We’ve seen some people eat twice as much just because it says “reduced fat” or “light” on the bottle of ranch dressings. If they eat more than what they used to eat, choosing a reduced fat item might not be working as it supposed to be.

The bottom line is that too much of anything is not good. We cannot abuse and take seriously the marketing labels of most processed foods. Instead, try home-made healthier alternatives if possible. This is one way of taking control of what you are putting in your mouth, as well as, those you care for. If, however, it is necessary to use such processed food items, consume in small amounts.

Table 1 is the summary of the commonly used terms on food labels and the regulations regarding the terms.

Fat Sugar Calorie Sodium
Free, no, zero, without Less than 0.5g/ serving Less than 0.5g/ serving Less than 5 kcal/ serving Less than 5g/ serving
Reduced At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food
Low 3 g or less per serving N/A 40 calories or less per serving 140 mg or less per serving

Table 1: Summary of Common Terms on Food Labels

Reference: Stehlin, Dori, “A Little ‘Lite’ Reading.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/special/foodlabel/lite.html

Big Fat Lies

Don’t we always go crazy about that “F” word? The word “Free.” Especially when it is combined with another “F” word like “Fat,” as in “Fat Free?” Every year, food industries come up with favorite, traditional food items branded with sinless naming: fat free, light, no cholesterol, low sodium, sugar free, etc. But do we really understand the terms used for food labeling? Do food industries really mean what they say on their labels? There are so many confusing terms and wordings on food labels that cause confusion and disregard to us consumers.

The truth is that there are FDA standards for foods label used by companies to market their goods. Such standards regulate what companies can and cannot put in regards to nutrient content in food labels. In a way, this is good news because food industries cannot just put irrelevant information and terms on the labels to confuse consumers; however, those terms can be used for semi-misleading messages to the some food products.

There are common misconceptions especially in the word “free.” The term “free,” “no,” “zero,” or “without” can be used on food products that are containing less than 0.5g of fat or sugar per serving. This means that if we eat 5 servings of fat free potato chips which may contain 0.4g of fat per serving (remember, anything less than 0.5g of fat can be labeled as “fat free,” etc), we have consumed 2g of fat (0.4g x 5 servings) from the supposedly “fat free” potato chips. Two grams of fat contributes to additional 18kcal to your total calorie intake. The same concept goes with labels like, “zero trans-fat” or “no sugar” that you see on the shelves in grocery stores.

For calorie labeling, companies can claim that if there is less than 5 kcal, again, per serving, they can label it “calorie free.” Let us assume that we drank a calorie free drink that contains 4.9 kcal per serving and we also had 6 servings (2 servings for each meal) throughout the day which means that we added another 29.4kcal to our total energy intake. If we continue doing the same thing for the whole week, we end up adding extra 205.8 kcal (29.4kcal x 7 days) per week. Do the calculation for a month, and you’ll see how such labeling can mislead the way consumers think about the so-called “risk-free foods.”

It’s the same thing in regards to “light or reduced fat” dressings on dairy products. We’ve seen some people eat twice as much just because it says “reduced fat” or “light” on the bottle of ranch dressings. If they eat more than what they used to eat, choosing a reduced fat item might not be working as it supposed to be.

The bottom line is that too much of anything is not good. We cannot abuse and take seriously the marketing labels of most processed foods. Instead, try home-made healthier alternatives if possible. This is one way of taking control of what you are putting in your mouth, as well as, those you care for. If, however, it is necessary to use such processed food items, consume in small amounts.

Table 1 is the summary of the commonly used terms on food labels and the regulations regarding the terms.

Fat Sugar Calorie Sodium
Free, no, zero, without Less than 0.5g/ serving Less than 0.5g/ serving Less than 5 kcal/ serving Less than 5g/ serving
Reduced At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food At least 25% fewer than reference food
Low 3 g or less per serving N/A 40 calories or less per serving 140 mg or less per serving

Table 1: Summary of Common Terms on Food Labels

By Nuwanee Kirihennedige, Nutritionist

Reference: Stehlin, Dori, “A Little ‘Lite’ Reading.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/special/foodlabel/lite.html