Monday, August 31, 2009

Carbohydrate: The Most Important Energy Source for Exercise

Carbohydrate supplies approximately 45-55% of the body's total energy (calorie) needs. Carbohydrate is also an essential fuel for prolonged sports. Exercise at high altitudes and in very cold temperatures also increase carbohydrate use. During very light exercise, fat is an important energy source. As exercise becomes more intense, carbohydrate becomes the preferred energy source as muscle glycogen (sugar) and plasma oxidation rates increase with every increment in exercise intensity. As the muscle glycogen is being used during exercise, blood glucose enters the muscle tissues. In turn, the Liver will release some of its glucose to help maintain or elevate blood glucose to prevent hypoglycemia.
As you initiate an exercise program, a major portion of your energy will be derived from your muscle glycogen stores. Lactic acid, a byproduct of glycogen metabolism produced in the muscle during intense exercise, may be released into the blood and carried to the liver for reconversion to glucose. The glucose may then return to the muscles to be used as an energy source or stored as glycogen. This is referred to as the Cori Cycle, or the working metabolism with-in the muscle cells. Lactic acid results from limited oxygen to the muscle cells during exertion; accumulation results in muscle fatigue, cramping or pain. To help relieve the pain, relax the muscles frequently to help the circulating blood carry the the lactic acid back to the liver for "recycling." Proper breathing during exercise is important to help prevent lactic acid formation. Beverages containing caffeine have shown to help relieve muscle soreness after exercise, and some athletes claim that Coenzyme Q10 has helped prevent lactic acid buildup, as it helps supply needed oxygen to the muscle cells.
A diet rich in complex carbohydrates not only have several major health benefits, but also help guarantee optimal energy sources for daily exercise training. There is no evidence that diets which restrict carbohydrate ( such as the Zone Diet) enhance training.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nutrition Tips for Athletes

Protein is one of our most essential nutrients. Many high school and college athletes believe that athletic performance is improved by a high-protein diet. Companies that market nutritional protein supplements for athletes have capitalized on this belief. It is true that a sufficient amount of dietary protein is required by all individuals, however, advertisers imply that additional protein in the form of protein powders or amino acid supplements is necessary for optimal athletic performance. The National Academy of Sciences has historically indicated that the RDA provides adequate protein to everyone, including athletes.
Some recent studies recommend that athletes in training need to increase their protein intake, however, they also recommend that the protein be derived from natural food sources. Complete proteins are obtained primarily from animal foods; meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. Complete protein means it contains the type and amount of the essential amino acids necessary for maintaining life and promoting growth. They are high-nutrient-density foods, especially if fat content is low to moderate. Because animal protein is of high content, you do not need as much of it to satisfy your RDA. One glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein; about 20% of the RDA for the average male. Eggs are also an excellent source, as they provide 6 grams of protein and produce less nitrogenous waste for the kidneys to process.

To calculate your protein needs, find your weight in kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.2.
Ex: 165 # / 2.2 = 75kg.
Multiply the kg of body weight by the RDA of 0.8 - 1.0 . (75 x 0.8-1.0 = 60-75 grams protein/day)

Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Assoc. recently concluded that very active individuals and resistance athletes require 1.6-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Endurance athletes need approximately 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Notice that the increase is not as drastic as some supplement labels or muscle magazines claim. Hormones build muscle, not protein.
Most scientists and sports nutritionists recommend a high carbohydrate diet for athletes, particularly endurance athletes. Increased activity levels require more overall calories, in the form of carbohydrates. From the standpoint of of both health and athletic performance, dietary carbohydrate is one of the most important nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates provide energy to hungry muscles; in the form of glycogen. The brain and nervous system rely primarily on glucose for their metabolism. All body stores of carbohydrate are important for energy production during various forms of exercise.
For more information on nutrition for fitness and sport go to:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Make Good Health Your Goal

Achieving and maintaining a healthier weight will contribute to your overall health and well being. Develop a plan for life long health, not just short term weight loss. By putting more emphasis on overall health, experts agree that you can raise your self esteem, resulting in healthy eating, weight loss, and over all improved health.
Set realistic goals and a step-by step plan. Track your progress with a food and activity log. Start with two or three specific or small changes at a time. When you've turned a healthy change into a habit, reward yourself with a fun activity; not ice cream!
Created by a Registered Dietitian, Weight Watchers provides assistance with goal setting, calorie counting, and the right steps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight Watchers is not a diet, it is a lesson in how to eat right for life. The program is available on-line for your convenience, and is also featured on Applebee's menu. Weight Watchers has the seal of approval by the American Dietetics Association.
If you have special dietary needs, consult your healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian for a customized plan.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Is Cholesterol?

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is not a villain lurking in evil foods. It is a compound the body makes and uses. Cholesterol is a component of all animal and human cell membranes, nerves, and brain tissues, and is the precursor of estrogen, testosterone, adrenal hormones (cortisol), bile acids, and vitamin D.
Cholesterol is one of the most famous of the sterols, or compounds found in both plants and animals. Some people, confused about the distinction between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol, have asked which foods contain the "good" cholesterol. "Good" cholesterol is not a type of cholesterol found in foods, but rather the way the body transports cholesterol in the blood.
The blood cholesterol linked to heart disease is LDL cholesterol. The LDL, or Low Density Lipoproteins transport their contents throughout the body for cells to build new membranes, make hormones, or store for later use. Special LDL receptors on the Liver cells play a crucial roll in the control of blood cholesterol concentrations by removing LDL cholesterol from the circulation.
HDL, or High Density Lipoproteins, also carry cholesterol in the reverse way; by returning it from the body back to the liver for breakdown and excretion. This is why HDL cholesterol seems to have a protective effect in regards to cardiovascular disease. Fats and excess cholesterol are passed from the liver into the digestive tract through bile, formed by the Gallbladder, where they then bind to dietary fiber and plant based sterols, and are removed from the body.
Cardiovascular disease begins when the excess LDL cholesterol begins to stick to the arterial walls, which later "calcifies" or hardens, restricting blood flow, and overworks the heart. A surge in blood pressure can cause these calcified clumps to break lose and lodge in smaller arteries, (similar to blood clots), resulting in damaged arteries, aneurysms, organ damage, strokes, and death.
Saturated fats and trans fats have more of an effect on the blood cholesterol than foods containing cholesterol. The liver manufactures cholesterol from fragments of carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Adding plant sterols to the diet is one simple and effective way to manage and lower LDL cholesterol. Plant sterols, sometimes called phytosterols, are naturally found in some vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They raise HDL cholesterol, which, in turn lowers the LDL cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber, such as the type found in whole grains (bran, for instance) vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, are the fibers that work best at binding both the cholesterol that is ingested from the diet and that which is excreted by the liver bile. Mono and polyunsaturated fats support HDL cholesterol production also.
For more information on foods that lower cholesterol visit

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ginger; More Than Just Flavor!

Throughout history, ginger has been used as a natural remedy for gastrointestinal ailments. Research now suggests that the antioxidant found in ginger, polyphenol gingerol, may indeed have medicinal effects. When compared to a placebo, ginger improves symptoms of nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. Ginger has also been found to help manage motion sickness, has natural antibacterial properties, and is a potent anti-inflammitory for arthritis and other inflammitory conditions.
Fresh and ground ginger have distictively different tastes, so they are not interchangeable in cooking. When buying fresh ginger, look for smooth, not wrinkled skin; roots with more knots or branches will be more pungent. Ginger root will keep in the refridgerator wrapped in plastic for up to one week. Freezing ginger will keep for 3 months. For ginger root tea, place a few slices of fresh ginger in a tea strainer and steep in boiled water for ten minutes. Ginger supplements typically contain 500mg. of powdered ginger. For therapeutic use, try these suggested doses:
Indigestion: 2-4 grams per day.
Motion sickness:
1 gram 30 minutes before travel.
Arthritis: 1-2 grams per day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Genetically Modified Foods; Savior or Scourge?

The battle over genetically modified foods continues, though it has simmered down in recent months. The reason is most likely due to the fading health threats and the advances in the technology. It is a good time to take stock of whether or not the advances have helped or hindered the world's food supply.
Genetic engineering has been used to make many staple crops resistant to herbicides or to make them produce their own insecticide. Both advances offer real benefits to farmers by increasing yields or farm income. Though organic farming may be better, it won't be replacing conventional farming anytime soon. Organic farming is very expensive and riddled with regulations.
Consumer benefits fall short, as biotech crops have not made foods more nutritious, cheaper, or tastier. We are still a few years away from a soybean oil with omega 3 fats to replace trans fats.
On the plus side, GM crops currently being grown are safe and cause less environmental damage than their conventional cousins. Most GM crops allow farmers to use fewer chemical pesticides. Others support no-till farming, which protects the topsoil and reduces agricultural runoff into rivers and streams. In developing nations with millions of poor subsistence farmers, GM crops are proving highly popular. Farmers in India and China growing cotton engineered to produce the Bt pesticide benefit because they can use fewer chemical pesticides and enjoy sharply increased yields. That translates into fewer pesticide poisonings. And, with the Rockefeller Foundation's grant, Golden Rice may soon move from the laboratory to fields in Southeast Asia. This particular rice provides beta carotene, which can prevent vitamin A deficiency and blindness in a region where deficiencies are epidemic.
To secure the future of GM foods, Congress should require the FDA to formally approve new GM foods to ensure that they are safe for humans. Consumers can continue to trust the safety of GM foods with stronger, not stifling regulations. ~Center for Science in the Public Interest