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.


Healthy Fat Choices

23 02 2011

Research has shown the benefit of adding nuts to our diets.  Here are five nuts you should consider eating.

1. Almonds: Probably the most-studied nut for heart health.  The protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fatty acid components of almonds can improve cardiovascular function. The fiber in almonds can also block some of the fat calories from being absorbed.

2. Hazelnuts: Research shows that it is best to consume hazelnuts whole because many of its antioxidants are located in the hazelnut skin.

3. Pecans: Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (June 2004) found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity.

4. Pistachios: Pistachios are suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties according to a recent study.

5. Walnuts: In addition to antioxidants and essential ALA/omega-3 fatty acids, a handful of walnuts are also a good source of magnesium (45 mg) and phosphorus (98 mg) – both important minerals involved the body’s processes and necessary for achieving optimal wellness.

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


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


Have Eggs Unfairly Gotten a Bad Rap?

14 02 2011

Decades ago researchers found that the cholesterol we eat really has no effect on the levels of cholesterol in the blood of most people. Yet, you will still hear people say that we should limit how many eggs we eat because of the level of cholesterol in them. Even if you are closely watching the amount of cholesterol you eat, one large egg only has 185mg of cholesterol. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people should eat less than 300mg of cholesterol daily. The two main nutrients that impact blood levels of cholesterol are Saturated and Trans Fat. It’s recommended that we eat less than 2 grams of trans fat and less than 10% of our calories from saturated fat daily. For most people, this averages to be less than 18 grams of saturated fat daily. The good news is one large egg only has 1.8 grams of saturated fat.

Bottom Line: You can safely enjoy an egg a day without worrying about your cholesterol.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2011.

Steroids found in products sold on

19 01 2011

It has been a little over a year since the FDA raided for selling products with steroids.  Last month, they issued a warning letter to manufacturers regarding the sale of supplements that contain pharmaceutical ingredients and steroids.  The number of these products are decreasing, but they are still available.  This post is to serve as a reminder to athletes to be careful what they buy.

The Washington Post reported today that products sold on were found to contain steroids.  Two of the steroids found were methasterone and maldol (desoxymethlytestosterone).  Maldol was one of the designer steroids discovered during the BALCO doping scandal.  Products like these have been tied to health complications such as liver failure.

Two of the products named were Competitive Edge Labs M-Drol & Competitive Edge Labs P-Plex.

Bottom Line: Know what you are putting into your body.  Discuss supplement use with a Sports Dietitian and look for products that are tested by a third party, such as NSF, BSCG, or Informed Choice.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS

Cranberries: Not Just for the Holidays

15 12 2010

Cranberries have compounds called phytonutrients that impart antimicrobial benefits. The six main phytonutrients in cranberries are proanthocyanidin, tocotrienols, quercetin, anthocyanin, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. These phytonutrients are what give cranberries the ability to help protect against urinary tract infections. However, these nutrients do so much more. They are all powerful antioxidants that help protect the body free radicals. In addition to that, studies have found these phytonutrients:
1. Improve heart health.
2. May protect against some forms of cancer.
3. Act as a natural anti-histamine.
4. Act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
5. Strengthen our immune system.
6. Increase endurance capacity.

Bottom Line: There are multiple reasons to eat cranberries throughout the year.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS


Cold Rx: Chicken Noodle Soup

13 12 2010

Winter is officially here, bringing with it cold and dry air. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions. This is one reason colds are more common in the winter. I was reading a newsletter from the Mayo Clinic about cold remedies and it discussed why chicken noodle soup works. Chicken noodle soup has been used for decades to treat sick children. Now scientists have found two ways that it may work to relieve cold and flu symptoms. First, researchers at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, found that the soup acts as an anti-inflammatory specifically affecting immune system cells. Second, it helps maintain hydration. This will speed up the movement of mucus; possibly relieving congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.

Bottom Line: Your mother was right. Chicken soup can make you feel better.