Not all Proteins are Created Equal

6 04 2011

New research has indicated that the amino acid, Leucine, is a key nutrient in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.  This is key to building new muscle and repairing any muscle damage present.  It appears that to maximize this muscle protein synthesis, people should eat 2-4 grams of leucine 3-5 times per day.  The following foods have leucine:

1 scoop of CytoSport Whey Isolate = 3.5 grams
1 cup of Cottage Cheese = 2.9 grams
3.5 oz Pork Loin = 2.5 grams
3.5 oz Lean Beef = 2.4 grams
3.5 oz Chicken Breast = 2.3 grams
3.5 oz Salmon = 2 grams
3 oz Canned Tuna = 1.7 grams
16 oz of Milk = 1.6 grams
2 Eggs = 1 gram
3 Egg Whites = 0.9 grams
6oz Yogurt = 0.9 grams
1 piece String Cheese = 0.7 grams

Bottom Line: It takes planning to maximize protein synthesis. We should try to get at least 2 grams of leucine multiple times during the day.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, 2011.

 

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Eggs as a Protein Source

16 02 2011

It is no secret that high-quality protein may help active individuals build muscle strength. One egg provides 6 grams of protein. Eggs provide the highest quality protein found in any food because they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need in a near-perfect pattern. While many people think the egg white has all the protein, the yolk actually provides nearly half of it.  Consuming eggs following exercise is a great way to get the most benefits from exercise by encouraging muscle tissue repair and growth.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS

 





Common Mistake #5: Inadequate fluid intake

9 06 2010

Water is the largest single component of the body.  Approximately 75% of muscle is made up of water.  Besides oxygen, it is the most important nutrient in our bodies.  Water plays an important role in nearly every major bodily function: it aids in digestion and absorption, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature, removes waste, cushions joints and protects organs and tissues.

Water is the most important supplement we have:  USE IT!

Hydration is overlooked by most athletes, with more than 50% living in a state of dehydration.  Try not to wait until you are thirsty.  By this time, you have already lost ~1% of your body weight.  Losing as little as 1% body weight can impair performance and make it difficult for your body to cope with exercise and warm weather.  A loss of 2-4% of your body weight causes a 20% decrease in strength and a 40% decrease in aerobic capacity.

Dehydration can be prevented!  Drinking the proper amount of fluid before, during, and after exercise will keep you well hydrated.

Tips for Proper Hydration:

  • Pre-Hydrate – Drink 16–20oz of water 2–3 hours before practice/competition.  Drink 8oz of water or Gatorade 10–20 minutes before practice/competition.
  • Hydrate – Drink water or Gatorade during practice/competition, not waiting until you feel thirsty.  One simple strategy is to drink 4-8 oz during every break.  On gulp is approximately an ounce.
  • Re-Hydrate – Drink 20–24oz of water or Gatorade for every pound of weight lost.

Plan ahead and carry a water bottle with you.  To calculate approximately how much water you need daily, divide your weight in half.  This is the minimum amount of fluid in ounces you should strive to drink daily.  Alcoholic beverages do not count.  In fact, you need to drink additional water for every alcoholic beverage you have.  The more you sweat, the more you need to drink in addition to this amount.  Also, remember that muscle is 75% water.  So, if you are trying to gain muscle, you need to drink additional water to aid in building that new muscle.

Bottom Line: Carry a water bottle with you and drink often throughout the day.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Common Mistake #3: Skipping Breakfast

2 06 2010

We’ve all heard it – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This saying holds true because of the length of time that you go without eating prior to breakfast.  It is called breakfast because you are “breaking a fast”.  Assuming that you get the 7-8 hours of sleep that you need, you will most likely go 10-11 hours without eating.  Your body is still burning calories while you are sleeping.  So, where are these calories coming from?  Most come from carbohydrate stores in your liver and muscle.  You will also get calories from the breakdown of muscle and a little fat.  When you wake up, you start burning more calories.  You will have used all of the carbohydrates from your liver by this point, so the process of breaking down muscle speeds up.  Eating breakfast will stop this process and start refueling and repairing muscles. But skipping breakfast sets you up for losing muscle.  In addition, by skipping breakfast, you are more likely to be overly hungry later. And thus, you are more likely to overeat at lunch and/or dinner.  “Backloading” or eating more at the end of the day than the beginning is associated with less muscle mass and higher amounts of body fat.

Another benefit of eating breakfast is increased mental awareness.  Numerous studies have examined students who regularly eat breakfast vs. those that regularly skipped this meal.  Those who ate breakfast consistently outperformed those who skipped.  These results are explained by the fact that breakfast provides fuel for the brain.  Your brain runs on glucose.  All carbohydrates that you eat are converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.  This provides the energy your brain needs.  It allows your brain to function optimally, making it easier to concentrate, comprehend, and remember what was discussed in class.

Bottom Line:  Eat breakfast daily.  Include carbohydrates (fruit, cereal, or bread) to fuel your brain and refuel your muscles.  Also include protein (eggs, milk, yogurt) to repair muscle.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Common Mistake #1: Recovery after training and competition is not taken seriously

24 05 2010

I would like to take the 5 mistakes mentioned in my previous post from May17th, 2010 and expand on each one.  The first mistake concerns not focusing on recovery.  One definition of recovery is returning to a normal and better condition.  For athletes, this is getting their body back to how it was prior to the training session or competition.  The quicker someone recovers, the sooner they can train or compete at an optimal level again.  What changes occur during training and competition that bodies need to recover from?

First, carbohydrates are stored in the muscle in the form of glycogen.  Your body uses this glycogen for energy during activity.  Think of this as refueling your muscles.  One analogy I hear used all the time is comparing our bodies to cars.  Think of carbohydrates as the gasoline you put in your cars.  One role of eating carbohydrates after a workout is refueling – like putting gas in a car after a long trip.  Another role of carbohydrate is limiting the damage caused by exercise.  Exercise can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle.  Eating carbohydrates will decrease the amount of cortisol in our blood, thus decreasing the amount of muscle that is broken down.  Depending on the intensity and length of exercise, you should multiply your body weight by 0.4 to 1 gram to calculate the amount of carbohydrates needed.

Second, but no less important, is protein.  Our bodies also need protein after workouts and competitions to repair the damage that occurred.  Exercise puts our body in a catabolic state.  This means that our bodies are breaking down muscle.  If we don’t get the right food in after a workout, we won’t gain all the benefits from the hard work just completed.  People make the false assumption that exercise builds muscle.  Instead, it is the combination of exercise and proper fueling that stimulates our body to repair and build muscle.  The type of exercise and your body weight dictate how much protein you need.  A good target to aim for is at least 20 grams of protein.  Generally, I recommend multiplying your weight by 0.2 grams for optimal recovery.

Third, we need re-hydration.  This is simply replacing the water used during the exercise.  To know how much you should replace, you should weigh yourself in minimal clothing before and after the exercise bout.  This weight loss represents the water loss that needs to be replaced for your body to function optimally.  General guidelines are to drink 20 oz for every pound you lose.  This can be water, a sports drink to provide the necessary carbohydrates, or a drink that contains protein.

The last thing I would recommend is having some food that has anti-inflammatory properties.  This can also allow for quicker recovery.  Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties include cherries, berries, pineapple, and foods that contain Omega-3 fats (ex. salmon and walnuts).

By focusing on these four areas after workouts, you will optimally recover from your workout and see the improvements you desire.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Vitamin D, Muscle, and Fat

13 05 2010

Most people realize that vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium.  This assisting role helps the body have strong bones.  What most people don’t realize is that this role only represents 15% of what vitamin D does.  There are over 200 genes in our body that have vitamin D receptors.  This means that having adequate vitamin D levels allows our body to function correctly at the genetic level, enhancing many things from immune function to muscle strength.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at the relationship between vitamin D status and fat content of muscles.  Our muscles naturally store fat as an energy source.  But a higher muscle fat content is associated with lower levels of strength and performance.

This current study measured blood levels of vitamin D and, using a CT scan, measured the amount of fat in muscles.  What the researchers found was an inverse relationship between the two measurements.  The lowest vitamin D levels were associated with the highest amount of fat in the muscles.  A reasonable assumption is that vitamin D insufficiency is associated with a decrease in muscle strength.

I always encourage people to get their serum Vitamin D levels checked.  Once you know that number, you will know how much vitamin D is best for you to take.  I generally recommend between 1500 and 2000 IU per day.  It is very difficult to get this amount from food.  And although it is possible to get such a level from sun exposure, I don’t recommend forgoing sunscreen.  So personally, I take 2000 IU per day combined between my multivitamin and a vitamin D supplement.  I typically recommend the Nature Made brand to clients because they submit to strict quality testing by the United States Pharmacopeial; this way you know you are getting exactly what is on the label.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.