Friday, August 15, 2014

Phone Apps you Might Want to Add

         mobile app
Now day and age, the majority of us have a cellular phone, most probably a smart phone. Besides staying connected all the time and using social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook, the smart phone can also be used as an effective tool to help us eat healthfully and stay on track. Here are just several free apps that can help:

  • NSF Certified for Sport® - NSF is an independent tester that examines multiple supplements. This specific app is for tested supplements that are safe for sports. NSF tests for presence of banned substances, verify label claims against product contents and protect against adulteration of products. If you decide to take a supplement, make sure it's on this list!
  • The Dirty Dozen - Every year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the most and the least vegetables and fruits that contain pesticide residues (the dirty dozen and clean 15). If a vegetable or fruit appear on the dirty dozen list, it is recommended to buy organic so that you avoid the pesticide residue. However, if they appear on the clean 15 list, you can buy conventionally grown. Since organic tends to be more expensive in many cases this allows you to minimize the expenses.
  • Seafood watch - This app helps you to decide which ocean friendly seafood to eat regionally and nationally. There is a list of "super green" seafood that's good for you and the ocean. You can also find restaurants and establishments in your area that sell "best choice" or "good alternative" seafood. Both common market names and Japanese names can be found in this app.
  • Fooducate - This app can help you lose weight as well as make better food choices. You can track your calories easily by using their bar-code reader. Moreover, products are given a nutrition grade based on their ingredients (A, B, C and D) which allows you to choose better options of the foods you like. Fooducate has a very large product database and allows you to personalize it based on your preferences such as gluten free, non-processed, vegetarian etc.
  • Food Tripping - GPS based app that allows you to find healthy sustainable food options while you are travelling and on the road. It will find eateries that have vegan/vegetarian food, juice joints, farmers market, organic coffee shops, etc.
  • Allthecooks recipes - This app is great if you have no clue as to what to make with the ingredients you have at home. You can tailor it to your preference (vegan, vegetarian, milk free, etc). This app is made by regular people that just post their recipe and a picture (which means not all recipes are healthy). You can also upload pictures of your own creation. There are multiple forums you can use to discuss recipe ideas. Calories and nutritional information is available for most recipes.
  • Seasonal Food Fruits and Vegs - This app allows you to find what fruits and vegetables are currently in season in your area. The app provides a description of the produce as well as it's nutritional value. Moreover, there is a web-search for recipes in the app so you can know what to do with a fruit or vegetable you have not tried before.  
Whether you're on the road or just at your local grocery store, whether you want to lose weight, fuel for performance or eat healthier, these apps got you covered. So next time you're on iTunes or Google Play make sure you download these free apps. 


Friday, August 8, 2014

Protein for Performance

Athletes literally brutalize themselves during workouts and training sessions. This makes nutrition extremely important for optimal performance, recovery and muscle rebuilding. Both hydration and carbohydrate are important for exercise adaptations and recovery, but it is also important to recognize protein.

Protein recommendations for athletes are in the range of 1.2 - 1.7 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight a day (1 kg = 2.2 lbs) or 0.54 - 0.77 g/lb a day. Recommendations for endurance athletes would be on the low end at 1.2 - 1.4 g/kg (0.54 - 0.64 g/lb) of bodyweight and 1.5 – 1.7 g/kg (0.68 - 0.77 g/lb) for strength and power athletes. For example, an endurance athlete weighing 160 lbs (72.7 kg) would need approximately 87 - 102 grams of protein per day, whereas a 200 lbs (90.9 kg) bodybuilder may require 136 - 170 grams of protein per day. These recommendations may change as some current and emerging research suggests protein requirements may actually decrease in well-trained individuals due to a greater efficiency of dietary nitrogen utilization.

While there are several types of protein, whey protein may be the best choice after a workout. According to Dr. Stuart Phillips, whey protein is more effective than both soy and casein in promoting anabolism (muscle growth) in the fed-state or following exercise. This is due to the high leucine content – a branched chain amino acid – which is a trigger for activating muscle protein synthesis. But when it comes to post workout protein needs, more is not always better. In fact, several studies suggest 20 grams of whey protein (8.6 grams of essential amino acids) is sufficient for most athletes to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Older athletes may require as much as 40 grams of protein post exercise (16.8 grams of essential amino acids) to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Protein consumption before or after exercise is important, but consuming high quality protein spaced evenly throughout the day may be just as essential for optimizing muscle protein synthesis. Throughout the day our bodies go through periods of muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis. Only when protein synthesis exceeds breakdown, does the growth of muscle mass occur. Therefore, it is important that athletes consume 4 to 5 equally spaced protein containing meals throughout the day versus the typical breakfast, lunch and supper regimen. It is recommended that each meal contains 0.25 - 0.30 g/kg protein. Using our previous example, our 160 lb endurance athlete should aim for 18 – 22 grams of protein per meal and our 200 lb bodybuilder should aim for 23 -27 grams of protein per meal. A protein containing small meal, such as Greek yogurt, prior to bed is also recommended to improve post exercise overnight recovery.

It is highly recommended to choose lean proteins such as: chicken, turkey, fish, lean parts of beef and pork, Greek yogurt and legumes (beans, lentils and chickpeas). In addition, chocolate milk is a great source of whey and could be used as a recovery drink post exercise (20 oz will provide 20 grams protein).

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to individualized sports nutrition regimens. So always make sure to consult with a sports dietitian to ensure your nutrient needs are met for optimal performance, recovery, and muscle repair. 

Guest blog by: Gavin Van De Walle; SDSU dietetic student and personal trainer

Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrate Blueberries This Month


I would like to dedicate this blog to one of my favorite fruits, blueberries. It really pleases me that it gets a whole celebratory month. I hope you have partaken in eating everything blueberry, if you have not, let me tell you why you should:
Besides being very tasty, blueberries are low in calories, have no fat, are high in fiber and are full of antioxidants (antioxidants help us fight free radicals that are formed in the body and could damage different cells as well as DNA). Blueberries contain polyphenols called anthocyanins which give the fruit its blue color as well as its antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C and manganese. Vitamin C helps with keeping a healthy immune system and manganese helps with bone development and converting macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and protein) to energy. Blueberries may also help with reducing risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

In North America, blueberry season is from April to late September. Season peaks in July (hence July is blueberry month). Thankfully, our neighbors in South America have opposite seasons and therefore, we can get this amazing fruit year round. Moreover, we can get frozen blueberries year round. If you ever wanted to go pick blueberries yourself, make sure you check this link of where.
For more information and plenty of recipes you can check the Blueberry Council webpage.

Here is recipe for a high protein blueberry smoothie (makes 2 servings): 

1 cup 0% Greek yogurt
0.5 cup ice
0.5 cup 100% pineapple juice
1 cup blueberries fresh or forzen
1 Tbsp of chia seeds
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy

Nutrition facts per serving: 175 kcal, 14 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 4.4 grams fiber, 2.5 grams fat, 189 mg calcium and 13 mg vitamin C.

Enjoy this month to it's fullest and don't forget to add some blueberries!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The New Proposed Food Label

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), in order to help the public make healthier food choices, has proposed changes to the nutrition fact and supplement labels. The label was first established in 1993 (more than 20 years ago - wow!), therefore, it is well due for a change! Don't you think?!
The proposed changes include:

  1. Adding "added sugar" to the label. Added sugars have been in the spot light for quite some time now due to excessive intake causing health related risks including: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. The daily recommendations for women are to not exceed 100 kcal/day (6 tsp of sugar) and for men to not exceed 150 kcal/day (9 tsp of sugar).   
  2. Adding potassium and vitamin D to the label due to their public health importance. Potassium has been shown to assist with improving blood pressure. Vitamin D has many health benefits including bone health and improved immunity.
  3. Daily values will be updated for certain nutrients, such as sodium, fiber and vitamin D since their recommendations have changed throughout the past years. 
  4. Calories from fat will be removed from the label because the type of fat is more important than the calories from fat.
  5. The serving size will be changed based on what people really eat vs what they "should" be eating. Lets face it, who eats only half a cup of ice-cream?! most people eat 1 cup.
  6. Foods and beverages that are consumed in one sitting will be labeled as a single serving. Example: Gatorade, has on the 20 oz bottle, nutrition facts for a serving of 8 oz. You would need to multiply the facts by 2.5 to get what you consumed in one bottle. The new proposal states that the nutrition facts should use the whole bottle as the serving since most people will drink it all. Same goes for a frozen dinner, chocolate milk, etc.
  7. Food and beverages that are larger but could be consumed in one sitting will have both calories per serving and calories per whole package on the label. Example: medium size bag of chips, ice-cream pint or 24 oz bottles of fluid.
  8. Design changes have also been proposed. Mainly changing the location of the DV% (daily value percentage) as well as bigger/bolder calories and servings font.
These are the 2 labels one against the other (taken from FDA website) - The left label is the current one and the one on the right is the new proposed label
                  Original Nutrition Facts Label        Proposed Nutrition Facts Label

For more info - FDA website has the full details.
What are your thoughts on the new proposed changes? Do you think it will cause less confusion and allow us to choose better when we go shopping?
If it gets approved, we will surely find out!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nutrition for the Injured Athlete

We talk all the time about nutrition for performance and nutrition for recovery but there is not much talk about nutrition for injury. Is there even a specific regimen for the injured athlete?!
Unfortunately, there is not much research out there on the injured athlete so we don't have a specific regimen, however, we do have some knowledge and recommendations to help heal faster and get back in the game sooner.

Injury has 3 healing phases:

  1. Inflammation - occurs immediately up to 2-5 days post injury
  2. Proliferation -  occurs 5 days - 3 weeks post. During this phase there is rebuilding and repairing 
  3. Maturation - occurs 3 weeks - 2 years (depending on severity of injury). During this phase there is remodeling to a stronger structure
If the injury is serious we may not be able to immobilize which in turn will cause less muscle building, muscle loss, decrease in strength and of course decrease in performance.  
Nutritionally, we divide recommendations to 2 phases
  1. Injury and immobilization - during this phase most of the muscle loss occurs
  2. Rehabilitation - during this phase exercise is re-introduced in the form of therapy and advanced to full practice when able
Nutrition recommendations during Injury and immobilization (= inflammation and proliferation phase of healing):
  • Energy (kcal) - demands of energy are slightly higher in order to assist with the healing processes. If injury is severe, energy expenditure can go up by 20%. If on crutches, energy expenditure can be 2-3 times higher than walking. Sometimes, a small weight gain is beneficial because with out enough calories we can prevent muscle protein synthesis (building muscle)
  • Protein - During the immobilization phase we lose muscle which then causes us to lose strength. Protein helps us build and repair, therefore, are needs for protein are higher. Although we do not have an exact number of grams/lb we need per day, we assume its more than the DRI (dietary reference intake) which is 0.8 grams/kg (0.35 grams/lb). Some research suggests we need close to 1-1.2 grams/kg/day (0.45-0.55 grams/lb/day). Since the majority of us eat more protein than we need this should not be an issue
  • Carbohydrates - When we exercise, carbohydrates are our main source of energy. However, when injured, we don't need as much, therefore, we may decrease carbohydrates slightly to prevent excessive weight gain. Sports beverages, gels, sodas and concentrated sweets are highly discouraged during this time
  • Fats - very essential for healing. What type of fats is most important. Omega 3s (found in fatty fish as well as certain seeds/nuts) have been found to possibly help increase muscle protein synthesis (building muscle) as well as help with recovery and decreasing inflammation
  • Vitamins and minerals:
               * Vitamin C - Helps with wound healing, tissue repair and increased immune function. Foods rich in vitamin C include: citrus fruit, strawberries, red bell peppers, watermelon, etc.
               * Vitamin A - Helps with cell growth and development as well as immune function. Foods high in vitamin A include: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, papaya (orange/red fruits and vegetables)
               * Zinc - Helps with wound healing, protein synthesis and immune function. Foods rich with zinc include: beef, almonds, seeds (sunflower, flax, pumpkin, etc.) and seafood
               * Vitamin D - Important for bone health and immune function. The sun vitamin - get 5-30 minutes of sun between 10 AM - 3 PM (time is based on skin color, the darker the skin the more time you need) or it can be found in dairy products, fatty fish or fortified foods
  • Fluids - fluids are needed in order to deliver the different nutrients to the different organs and tissues. Moreover, its needed to support joints and soft tissues. Roughly, you should be drinking half your weight in ounces, preferably water. 
Nutrition during rehabilitation phase
We treat this phase as we were to treat someone who does strength and conditioning. We put emphasis on enough energy and protein as well as healthy fats and plenty of vegetables and fruits. More on strength and conditioning nutrition in a future blog.

There are also foods/beverages that can prevent us from healing optimally, which we should avoid:
  • Fried fatty foods (example: pizza, fried chicken, french fries, etc.)
  • Added sugars and concentrated sweets (soda, candy, ice-cream, etc.)
  • Being malnourished (more common in elderly but applies to people that restrict eating a lot)
  • Less than optimal sleep (athletes should sleep 8-10 hours/day)
  • Alcohol - it inhibits muscle protein synthesis and increases muscle loss 
So, if you or any of your friends get injured, remember to also focus on nutrition to help speed your healing and recovery! Food always comes first and if need be, consult a sports RD or a sports MD for supplement recommendations.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's Eat Your Bean Day

Today, July 3rd, is national eat bean day, so why not celebrate it by adding some beans to your diet.
Beans (a legume) are a great source of protein, fiber, minerals and some B vitamins. They are low in fat and cholesterol. Here is the nutrition information for 0.5 cup cooked beans made from dried beans (taken from "Dietitians Online"):


Although beans do not make a complete protein, when you add them to a grain (example: rice and beans, couscous and lentils, barley and chick peas, etc.) they become a full protein. These combinations can help vegetarians and vegans, that don't eat meat, eggs and/or dairy, to meet their protein needs.
Beans have been shown to help with lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Moreover, they can reduce risk for heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and bone disease (osteoporosis). Since beans are packed with fiber, they help you feel fuller longer as well as help your bowels move and prevent constipation.
There are multiple vitamins and minerals in beans including: potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, thiamine, folate, B6, manganese, copper and more. Beans also contain anti-oxidants that help fight inflammation. On top of all that, beans are also quite cheap.
With all these great benefits, no wonder some people describe beans as a "super food".So next time you go to the grocery store pick yourself a bag of beans.

Not sure what to make?! check this great recipe for soft tacos with southwest vegetables from Mayo Clinic as well as these great healthy salad recipes from Cooking Light.

Enjoy and Happy 4th!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Healthy Options When Eating Out

Many athletes have to travel quite often and may need to rely on fast food restaurants due to money and time constraints. In fact, even when not traveling, we will have days where we are in a rush and looking for something easy and fast. Taking in consideration the main goal, which is fueling for optimal performance and health, with some planning you can easily turn a fast food stop to a healthier choice.
Here are some general rules:

  • Choose grilled and/or baked options
  • Stay away from fried foods. Consider a baked potato or side salad instead of french fries
  • Hold the mayo
  • Do not drench your salad with dressing
  • Have water instead of soda
  • Prefer milk, chocolate milk or 100% juice over soda if trying to gain weight
  • The less legs the better (the less legs the healthier it is for you). Fish then chicken/turkey then cow/pork
  • Don't forget your vegetables and fruits!
Here are some healthier ideas to choose in some of these establishments:

McDonald's/Burger King/Arby's/Wendy's
  • Fruit and yogurt parfait 
  • Fruit and maple oatmeal
  • Egg white Mcmuffin
  • Grilled chicken salad with light dressing
  • Grilled chicken sandwich with BBQ instead of mayo and a side salad with light dressing
  • Veggie Burger (BK) with no mayo, apple slices and milk
  • Regular hamburger and cheeseburger with side salad
  • Sweet chili grilled chicken wrap with apple slices
  • Wendy's large chilly and baked potato/sour cream & chive baked potato
Subway/Jimmy John's/Quizno's
  • Choose whole wheat bread
  • Light on the mayo and dressings
  • Choose lean meats (chicken, turkey, roast beef)
  • Baked chips or fruit as side
  • Load up on the vegetables
Taco Bell/Taco John's
  • Bean burrito
  • Burrito Supreme chicken/steak
  • Any Fresco taco or burrito
  • Gordita Supreme chicken/steak
  • Black beans or black beans and rice
  • Chicken soft taco
  • Santa Fe regular fish bowl (Taco John's)
  • Regular bowl - veg/chicken/beef
Pizza Hut/Domino's/Papa John's
  • Thin crust. If possible whole wheat
  • Veggie pizza
  • Cheese pizza
  • Hawaiian pizza
  • Pizza with veggies and 1 meat (preferably chicken) 
  • Grilled chicken breast with green beans and mash potatoes
  • Chicken littles with no mayo, green beans and corn on the cob

*** Although it may not be the healthiest, these options can fit in any athletes diet. Just don't make it an everyday thing and apply MODERATION.