Posts Tagged ‘healthy living’
The Connection between Glycogen, Carbs, Energy & Endurance
Exercise requires energy, pure and simple. But where does it come from? The answer is glycogen. But what is it?
When we digest food we’ve eaten, the carbohydrates are broken down by our bodies into glucose, and then the glucose is stored in our muscles . . . as glycogen. During periods of exercise, this process reverses, and glycogen converts to glucose once again, so that is may be used for energy. How long we “last” is greatly influenced by how much glycogen we have stored in our muscles.
Exercise that lasts less than 90 minutes is typical for most of us. Carbs typically provide 40-50% of our energy in the beginning stages of moderate exercise. What the body naturally stores will sustain you through a workout of this length.
But as the intensity of physical activity increases, the body’s carbohydrate consumption increases too. For events over 90 minutes, eat a heavy-carb diet for 2-3 days prior.
Picture the muscles like porous rocks. The more glycogen is filling all those crevices, the more energy reserves we have to draw upon. This is why cyclists, marathoners, triathletes, soccer players and other endurance athletes excel when they’ve pre-loaded for 2-3 days with about 70% carbs. Glycogen is the fuel which sustains the body in highly physical situations.
Have you heard the term “hitting the wall?” This refers to an actual event in the body, the depletion of glycogen. Once stores are gone, energy is truly kaput; you have no way to generate more.
Don’t assume you should eat a high-carb diet all the time, though, even if you exercise heavily. Once glycogen fills all the areas where reserves can be stored, any extra that is produced is stored as body fat. Eating too many carbs causes this excessive glycogen production.
Another danger of overdoing carb consumption: you can unwittingly “train” your body not to utilize essential fatty acids that come from fat. Not only does fat transport cholesterol and play a role in blood clotting, it helps us absorb vitamins and produce hormones.
Conversely, eating too few carbs forces the body to use protein for energy. The body will actually start to break down protein – the building blocks for muscles, bone, and other tissues – meaning you put yourself into a sort of self-cannibalization. Your body starts to feed on its own muscles and you lose muscle mass. This is also tough on kidneys. Not a pretty thought.
So strike a happy balance between protein, carbs and fat, and remember lean protein, high fiber and unsaturated fats as your first choice. It’s all about balance and timing: my 80/20 rule. Athletic training is 80% nutrition, 20% training. Get the food right, you have a bonafide mega-advantage over the competition.
Michelle Ciuffetelli, a Certified Personal Trainer in Fort Myers, Florida, says her favorite carbs are oatmeal (filling and a good source of fiber); sweet potatoes; fruit (a great snack); Arnold Sandwich Thins (good fiber); and Flat Out wraps (taste great, can wrap anything).
Now get moving. That’s a wrap!
Weekend Warriors Prevent Injury with Preparation
Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.
Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.
I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.
Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.
If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.
The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.
Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.
Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.
Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.
Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.
I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.
So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!
Extra Protein Benefits Most; Liquid Collagen my Choice
In my last column, I explained that whey protein is often a problem for lactose-intolerant people who are using a protein supplement. It’s easy to assume that a protein supplement is beneficial for only extreme athletes such as bodybuilders, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Protein has many uses and supplementation is beneficial for a wide variety of users. They include the elderly; those with joint or degenerative diseases, or orthopedic conditions; the overweight; people who do heavy manual labor in their work, sport or hobby; those going through growth phases; people in physical rehab; men and women doing intensive training for a sport or competition; adults who work out on a regular basis; teen athletes who are trying to build muscle and strength; people taking symptomatic treatment for pain relief or inflammation; and anyone with pain resulting from excessive joint stress. Hardly anyone you know doesn’t fit onto that list somewhere.
The trick is getting that extra protein without absorbing a lot of extra calories, fillers or dairy products (as in the case of whey protein powder).
Collagen is a great way to get added protein. Did you know that collagen is the second-largest component of the human body after water? It’s a protein, and one found in muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and more.
Historically, physicians have used collagen to treat skin trauma, such as burns and wounds. But collagen also affects the hair, nails and overall healthy appearance of skin, which is why you see it advertised in high-end skin care products.
As we age, our bodies stop producing collagen protein, and sadly, it’s collagen that gives our skin elasticity. So the appearance of dry, wrinkled skin is really the lack of collagen. Supplementing your diet with a natural source of collagen protein doesn’t just make you more youthful looking, however. Collagen builds lean healthy muscle – the muscle of youth – as well as healthy joints and bones. Can you think of a better supplement to give the special elders in your life?
Collagen protein also helps aid in the repair of muscle tissue. Because a good workout or physical exercise is actually breaking down the body’s muscles, collagen protein assists in the rebuilding process. Collagen makes it possible to heal faster, simultaneously building leaner muscle, following a workout. Some will even find they sleep more soundly when taking collagen protein. Sounds better all the time, doesn’t it?
You may wonder why a person can’t just eat more protein and gain the same benefits. It’s about bioavailability. Protein in food form has calories, of course, and a healthy daily diet only contains so many. The bioavailability of the protein also comes into question. By the time your body works to chew and digest the food, you’re not getting nearly as much protein as the amount you started with on your plate.
A powder form can provide extra protein without as much work for the body, but comes with the added calories of what it’s poured into. A liquid protein is your best bet. Find one that’s small in calories, and better yet, hydrolyzed – or “predigested” – which simply means that you ingest it in its smallest form, with no extra work for the body to break it down.
I encourage you to join me – and my husband and my teenage son – and add a low-cal collagen protein supplement to your diet. You could be amazed at the changes you experience. See the developing abs on the teen in the photo? That’s my son Cody, who drinks a liquid collagen protein supplement and works out regularly.
- Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian, sports nutrition authority, and and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers, Florida. She can be contacted at Elaine@eatrightRD.com or by visiting Associatesin Nutrition.com.
Collagen Great Protein Substitute for Dairy-based Whey
If you’re going to mess around with whey, there are some things you need to consider. And recent news makes the topic even more important for those adding supplements to their shakes.
Remember Little Miss Muffet? Nobody ever told us, but she was lactose tolerant. How do we know? Because she was happily eating her “curds and whey.” Those of us not raised in Wisconsin are less likely to be familiar with these two words but they’re both dairy products.
Curds are made by curdling milk with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice. The liquid portion which is drained off is whey. Whey is also a liquid by-product of cheese production. After childhood poems, the most popular exposure to whey is in “Whey protein,” commonly added to shakes by athletes, exercisers, body builders and people trying to gain muscle. It might surprise you to learn that whey is often hiding in our food products, even “non-dairy” items which are processed and prepared.
This is part of what makes trying a dairy-free lifestyle so difficult. To help sort through the nutrition labels, use this comprehensive list of the most common dairy ingredients present in foods. Whey is present in a variety of processed and prepared food products. Whey protein is composed of lactalbumin and lactalglobulin, and is found in both food products and health supplements. Other common forms of whey present in food products are sweet whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein hydrolysate.)
Here’s some great news for active adults. Even if they’re lactose intolerant, athletes, exercisers, body builders and people who want to gain lean muscle can still consume protein by using collagen instead of whey. It can be taken before and after activity: to pre-load before a workout, or to help with recovery after exercise.
Check the label and be sure the collagen protein you are choosing contains NO added whey. Some “newer” collagen proteins, such as AminoRip, contain NO lactose, NO dairy, NO carbs, NO fats, NO sugar, NO high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), NO sorbitol, NO gluten, NO soy, and NO whey.
Here’s another reason to pay attention to your choice of protein supplement. Consumer reports testing found that due to contamination, some “protein shakes” exceeded United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards for exposure to heavy metals when three or more servings were consumed a day. Failing the heavy metal test were some of our most popular protein shakes, including EAS’s Myoplex and Cytosport’s Muscle Milk.
It’s easy to forget that whey protein is a dairy product, and important to remember that collagen is an alternative protein. If a person is, in fact, lactose intolerant, then ingesting whey protein can cause him or her to experience great discomfort with symptoms like abdominal discomfort, belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, itch or watery eyes, and even possible asthma attacks. The more you consume, the more severe the symptoms would be.
Whey protein doesn’t cause the problem, but because you’re taking large amounts in a shake, symptoms can manifest themselves for the first time in people who generally are capable of handling small amounts of lactose. Lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy, but people often confuse the two because the symptoms can be identical (bloating, stomach pain). These two conditions are not related, however. It’s the immune system which is reacting to a milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is all about the digestive system. Lactose intolerant folk don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the sugar in milk. Amazingly, it’s estimated that 75% of all people decrease in production of lactase during adulthood. The intolerance really ramps in during childhood, though, particularly for Mexican Americans who jump from 18% at age two to a whopping 47% by age 10. That’s a lot of potential tummy aches.
Non-dairy products may also contain lactose. If you know – or even suspect – that you’re lactose intolerant, then spend some time reading product labels. Any of the following ingredients mean the product has lactose: dry milk solids, nonfat dry milk powder, milk by-products, curds, and whey. It’s also good to know that dairy products which are “fat reduced” or fat free” generally present higher lactose, as do low fat foods, which often incorporate dairy solids.
I think I’ve milked this topic for all it’s worth and now I have a stomach ache. See you again next week.