Tuesday, July 06, 2010
We all know the basic choices when it comes to protein: chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, yogurt, etc. But how can you mix things up for a little variety and maybe even make better choices, or maybe some of the basics simply donít appeal to you what so ever (not everyone loves salmon), or maybe you canít tolerate some food choices. Here are a few ideas to perk up your protein choices.
First letís make our good friend Liquid happy and check out the dairy aisle. Why would that make our friend Liquid happy? We get to sing the praises of Greek yogurt. It comes in low fat varieties and packs way more protein than the regular variety. In fact when I compared one brand of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt to a 0% fat regular yogurt, the Greek yogurt provided 18 grams of protein per 100 calories while the other yogurt can in at 5 grams of protein per 100 calories. A good deal in terms of calories per gram of protein!
But donít leave the dairy aisle just yet. Low fat cottage cheese is another great choice since it provides nearly 17 grams of protein per 100 calories. Now some people find the sodium content too high for their diet needs, another alternative is low-fat ricotta cheese. This cheese provides 8 grams of protein per 100 calories but has only one quarter of the sodium content (406 mg for low fat cottage cheese and 125 mg for ricotta).
The good news about all of these dairy choices is that they provide casein protein, a slow digesting protein that means it will fuel your body with protein longer than other sources. This is ideal as a pre-bedtime snack (if youíre going to have one) to help avoid the body slipping into catabolism and breaking down muscle protein as your sleep progresses.
Iíll be checking more aisles in the store for protein sources soon!!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
In another position statement published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M. et al. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int.Soc.Sports Nutr, 4, 6.) they listed a number of persistent myths about creatine, including:
1. All weight gained during creatine supplementation is due to water retention.
2. Creatine supplementation causes renal distress.
3. Creatine supplementation causes cramping, dehydration, and/or altered electrolyte status.
4. Long-term effects of creatine supplementation are completely unknown.
5. Newer creatine formulations are more beneficial than creatine monohydrate (CM) and cause fewer side effects.
6. It's unethical and/or illegal to use creatine supplements.
Bottom line of the article was that these are indeed myths that have been refuted in numerous scientific articles. In fact it is one of the most extensively studied nutritional supplements for athletes (and us sub-athletes as well). Consistently the findings have been very positive for creative supplementation, yet these myths persist. In fact I was recently a recipient of one of myth number 1. In a visit to a sports injury clinic this winter I asked about creatine as a supplement to aid in building muscle. The response was all it did was store water in your muscles. So I never looked into creatine until recently when I started conducting some more systematic research into sports nutrition. Iíll summarize the findings of this review of the research by the International Society of Sports Nutrition. But you can just read the Creatine Coles Notes below and save yourself the longer read.
Just as a caveat, Iím not a trained nutritionist, medical expert etc. Since I donít claim to be an expert in any of this so Iíd suggest you use the information to stimulate ideas, but check things out for yourself. I always provide references to the material Iím using for that people can help inform themselves.
Creatine Coles Notes:
1. Creatine monohydrate (CM) is the most effective nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and
lean body mass during training.
2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is safe and may have benefits in terms of preventing injuries.
3. There is no rigorous evidence to suggest short-term or longer-term negative effects of CM supplementation.
4. CM supplementation is safe for young athletes (but proper coaching and training is necessary to ensure ethical use of all forms of supplements in this age group).
5. CM is the most studied from of creatine supplement although others have been tested (e.g. creatine ethyl ester and creatine with cinnulin extract) their superiority to CM is not clearly established. Probably more research is needed before on should consider switching to newer creatine products. Even if shown to be superior, CM is cheaper than most alternatives so for those of us who arenít elite athletes this may be just fine. There is evidence, however, to suggest that adding B-alanine to CM may result in greater gain in strength, lean mass in addition to delaying muscle fatigue. You can add this yourself to your nutritional supplement strategy.
Creatine Ė The Longer Version
Now first a few basic facts. Creatine a natural non-protein nitrogen (it contains nitrogen but is not protein). By natural I mean that it is produced in the body by the liver and panaceas from amino acids and it also is found in foods such as meats. Virtually all of the bodyís creatine is stored in muscles Ė about two thirds is stored as phosphocreatine (PCr) and the remainder is just stored as creatine in the muscle. When we exercise the energy provided to our muscles comes from ADP and ATP and both are dependent on the amount of PCr stored in the muscles. As PCr is depleted from intense exercise it becomes more and more difficult for the body to resynthesize ATP needed for the muscles to function.
So basically PCr, the stored form of creatine in our muscles, is essential for the energy to undertake intense exercise.
So while you can find creatine in foods such as fish and meats a large amount needs to be consumed to obtain even a single gram of creatine, hence the search for a means to supplement creatine stores (and the desire to make huge profits I suspect). Creatine monohydrate (CM) is one of the most inexpensive and most researched forms of creatine supplement available. Based on several hundred peer-reviewed research studies the benefits of CM, 70% of the studies reported a significant increase in exercise capacity. For example, short-term supplementation increased maximal power during weight sets by 5 % to 15%, sprint performance increasing in the same range. Longer-term CM supplementation also increased strength and performance gains by 5% to 15%. Nearly all studies show increased in body mass by about 1 to 2 kg in the first weeks. Longer-term supplementation shows CM results in twice as much gain in lean body mass in the range of 4 lbs within 4 to 12 weeks compared to subjects who exercise but take no CM supplement (placebo). Sure there are studies showing no significant gain but a large majority show substantial improvements. Those familiar with the concept of statistical power in a research design know that sample sizes will often be too small to find a statistically significant result even when there is real impact. So a non-significant study result only means the researchers cannot reject the null hypothesis that there is no difference between two groups. It does not mean one can definitely claim there was no impact. Repeated studies showing no impact would lead one to that conclusion but in the case of the CM research much the opposite occurs, the large majority of research finds a significant and positive benefit of CM supplementation.
There are many new forms of creatine in the marketplace that claim to be superior to CM. Most have been shown to be no better than the old school CM in terms of strength of performance enhancement. More research is required on creatine ethyl ester and creatine with cinnulin extract before any reliable conclusions can be reached. There is evidence to suggest that adding B-alanine to CM may result in greater gain in strength, lean mass in addition to delaying muscle fatigue.
The article points out that the only clinically significant side effect in the literature is weight gain. The literature does report anecdotal occurrences of dehydration, cramping, liver damage, muscle injuries, but this evidence is from athletes who are often undergoing intensive training and the evidence shows no difference with or with CM supplementation. These problems will arise in a certain percentage of athletes regardless of their nutritional habits. In fact some of the literature showed a lower risk of these symptoms with CM supplementation.
On the negative effects of CM on renal function, this apparently arose from early case studies with no scientific validity. Later research supporting these concerns is based on increases in serum creatinine levels in urine. But carefully controlled studies suggest no difference between groups with CM and control groups without CM supplementation in healthy individuals.
What about the longer term impacts? What do we know? This has been a concern often raised. So far there has been no long term impacts on athletes monitored over five years. One study tracked a group of individuals since 1981 who had been taking 1.5 to 3 grams of CM per day. No significant side effects were reported (compared to comparable groups without CM supplementation). On the contrary, some research suggests benefits of creatine supplementation for some patient groups.
Keep it away from children? Despite what you may have heard, the studies of CM among younger population shows no adverse effects in children/adolescents, although admittedly there are fewer studies researching the impacts of CM in these age groups. However, as will all forms of supplementation with younger athletes, proper coaching and training is necessary to ensure ethical use of supplements, including CM.
Based on the research reviewed in this research article (Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M. et al. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int.Soc.Sports Nutr, 4, 6.) I think one can be more confident about what known about CM than most modern food additives we see in our food every day.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
A recent article in Consumerís Reports caused quite a stir, for example see blog link below:
The issue was the amount of heavy metals found in supplements. Just for the record, it seems that the ďculpritsĒ were supplements that included not only whey proteins but other ingredients to provide a supplement mix. I didnít see any mention of products just with pure whey/proteins as being problematic. This doesnít mean there was a serious problem with the products cited since there have been challenges to the methodologies used for that research.
What I found more interesting was the other buzz around the article implying that too much protein was bad for your health and nobody needs extra protein in their diet. I may be over simplifying but I believe the overall message most people would take away from the article is avoid protein supplements and avoid eating too much protein Ö both are bad for you.
Consumer Reports arenít alone in the belief that too much protein is bad for you, a 2009 article cited a long list of statements in educational materials warning of the dangers of excessive protein (Lowery, L. M. & Devia, L. (2009). Dietary protein safety and resistance exercise: what do we really know? J Int. Soc. Sports Nutr, 6, 3). These ranged from kidney damage, liver damage, loss of calcium from bones, dehydration, to plain old weight gain. Of course too much of anything is likely to have undesirable effects but does one have to be very careful not to exceed recommended daily allowances? What is safe?
So here is the Coles Notes Version of What I Learned:
1. This topic has been around for some time back, as far as 1865, even the League of Nations (1936) came up with a recommended daily amount.
2. The recommended daily amount for health adults is 0.8g/kg or just under 0.4/lb (1kg = 2.2 lb).
3. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, this amount is not sufficient for people who are engaged in regular exercise or sports Ė an amount of 1.4g to 2.0g/kg (0.6g to 1.0g/lb) is safe and may have desirable benefits.
4. The amount of protein required varies by the type of exercise. For endurance exercise the recommended range was 1.0 to 1.6g/kg (0.5g to 0.7g/lb), for intermittent sports like soccer, basketball, mixed martial arts recommended level was 1.4g to 1.7g/kg (0.6g to 0.8g/lb) and for strength/power exercise the range was 1.6g to 2.0g/kg (0.7g to 0.9g/lb). Note the amounts recommended in the magazines for bodybuilding/power lifting tend to be in the 1 to 1.5 g per pound range.
5. Protein intakes at these levels for active individuals are not harmful to kidney functions or bone density.
6. You can get all the protein you need from whole foods, but protein supplements can help ensure you get all you need.
7. Protein doesnít hang around so distribute intake during the day to ensure an adequate supply for your needs. Of course more is needed around training times/post-training.
8. Whey powders donít taste like chicken!
The above points are based on a position statement published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (Campbell, B., Kreider, R. B., Ziegenfuss, T., La, B. P., Roberts, M., Burke, D. et al. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int.Soc.Sports Nutr, 4, 8). A similar finding conclusion that there was no concrete evidence that protein at these levels was harmful is also included in the Lowery and Devia (2009) article, but with less certainty about the safety.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
A number of my SP friends found the last blog a bit dense, others enjoy the details. But it is always a good practice to provide a summary up front so in the future I will do so. Thanks to all for your input, it is much appreciated. So here is what Iíve learned from the research for the last two blogs:
1. The harder and longer you workout the more you deplete your bodyís energy stores (glycogen) and start breaking down muscle for fuel.
2. The optimal time for replenishing your glycogen and putting the brakes on the breakdown of your bodyís protein is within 30 minutes of your workout.
3. Speed is important so you want to ingest food that creates a spike in insulin which will then help transport glycogen and other nutrients to feed muscles in need of glycogen and protein, creating an anabolic process from a catabolic process.
4. The carbs ingested at this time wonít be stored as fat Ö unless you overdo it of course!
5. While I now know what Maltodextrin and waxy maize are and know what they do when I see them listing in ingredients for various sports drinks and bars, I really have no great burning need to use them, simple carbs are definitely my preference and all most of us need.
6. Avoid fructose. I didnít get into this last time but all the research Iíve read puts fructose at the bottom of post-workout recovery carbs. It is absorbed more slowly and is slower to prompt the release of insulin. The good news is it doesnít mean avoiding some forms of fruit Ö especially the dried variety. The list of good sources of glucose includes foods such dates, dried apricots, raisins, plums/prunes.
7. Donít lose sight of the big picture. Just because eating carbs after a good workout is a good time to ingest carbs doesnít mean they donít count. Your post-workout meal/snack should be part of an overall plan and not a free pass. Ideally you should already know how many calories you are targeting given your goals (maintenance, loss, muscle gain) and the amount of exercise you are doing on various days. Your calorie intake and balance of protein, fats and carbs should all be based on these considerations. Then take a good portion of your carbs and have them post-workout. Donít add to them, just distribute them differently on days when you have a good hard workout. No need to be having carbs late in the day when you can nicely consume them post-work out and have them go to your muscles rather than your hips. Carefully monitor you goals to make sure you are consuming the right amounts of carbs/calories given your exercise levels and fluctuations in activity during the week. Adjust your intake of carbs overall and post-workout accordingly.
8. Courses for horses. This old racetrack is applicable to so many situations. Basically some horses run great on short tracks, other on longer tracks, some love muddy tracks, etc. Pick your horse according to the track conditions. Post-workout nutrition will vary from person to person and day to day. I used to hunt for nutrition bars that were low carb and high protein. That was probably a good plan for days when I was stuck at the office and needed a snack to boost protein without overloading on calories. But now I have a new admiration for a bar like Labarar bars like Peanut Butter Cookie that I avoided previously because it was relatively low protein and high carb. Now on days when Iím doing a lot of cardio I now look at it as a near perfect food with very simple pure ingredients Ö dates and peanuts packing 23 g of carb and 7 grams of protein. But for someone pumping heavy iron, bigger guns may be necessary. But donít overthink this. Honestly, if you are doing a moderately intense workout than just about any snack out of the fridge with a bit of protein and carb will be sufficient.
9. If you are ever in urgent need of glucose fix and are craving a Haribo gummie bear fix, just drop by Woodyís house.
10. Chocolate milk rocks and I love bananas. Neither have a lot to do with the blogs I posted but both are true.
And finally, this website rocks Ö
Right now it is aimed at the top 200 sources of glucose but you can pick a wide range of nutrients and find the best sources very quickly. For example the mouse and I were working on figuring out how to get more potassium into her diet. Before I knew 200 ideas were at my fingertips. I havenít verified the accuracy of this site in detail (I checked a couple of items out and they were indeed very acurate) but when in doubt you can always go to USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference:
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