Monthly Archives: February 2013

Nutrition Science or Science Fiction?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyu42JQ9dJw&w=425&h=350]

Here we go again. Yet another nutritional “scientist” claiming that carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body and a required macronutrient. Sigh.

In this incredibly frustrating and full-of-baloney video, we hear scientist Bridget Benelam say, right from the get go:

I’m going to talk about carbohydrate and why it is an important nutrient for our bodies.

Important? Really? Are you sure there Bridget?

Let’s take a look at what the DRI’s (dietary reference intake devised by the National Institute of Health) have to say about carbohydrate:

The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.

This is a very biased and convoluted statement.

But before I explain that, we can see carbohydrate is NOT an important nutrient since we don’t need any of it at all.

It would on the other hand be correct to say that fat and protein are important nutrients since we need a certain amount of both to live. But how can carbohydrate be an important nutrient when we can do without it? Important = required. Unimportant = not required. Am I wrong?

As I mentioned, the statement is deeply biased to begin with. Since adequate amounts of protein and fat must be consumed to survive and thrive, in their absence a boat load of carbs won’t do you much good. You still need the fat and protein. So why say “provided that…”?

The next sentence reads:

However, the amount of dietary carbohydrate that provides for optimal health in humans is unknown.

It is also unknown what “optimal health” is in the first place. The bias in favor of carbs appears to be everywhere.

I posted a comment on the You Tube page of the video (as did a few other well-educated folks that I know) and they have yet to post them. They won’t of course. It’s not nice to ruin pretty stock-notions with cruel and ugly facts.

OK I can hear what your thinking – there are exceptions to this Fred! Some people need dietary carbs. Yes, it appears that athletes who deplete their stores of muscular glycogen very rapidly and deeply (high intensity efforts like sprinting, mixed martial arts, etc. can do this) require some dietary carbs in order to rapidly replenish their intramuscular glycogen stores so that they can continue to train like maniacs.

Most of these athletes are, in my opinion, wildly over training. But far be it from me to tell them or their coaches how to train (ahem). BTAIM (be that as it may),  for the vast majority of people who are performing high intensity resistance training and other sports to improve their strength and health, there is no need to worry about too low muscle glycogen levels. Nuh uh.

Rather than focusing on carb intake as the USDA and other organizations would have you do, focus instead on getting in your protein requirements which can be found here. Always add a nice array of green, leafy, non-starchy vegetables and/or seasonal fruits to your proteins. Eat like this and you’ll be lean, strong, energetic and you’ll sing good too!

My Post Workout Strength Potion

There is some pretty convincing evidence that post workout protein intake improves muscle recovery and growth. This is just one of many research studies that support the notion of taking in a good protein potion before and after your workouts.

I’ve certainly seen and felt a difference in my body doing so.

Over the years I and my blender (bought for me by my loving troupe of trainers) have been best buds. We’ve mixed and blended all sorts of concoctions to see what sort of he-man building brew we could come up with. But more than just my interest in muscle growth and recovery, I have also been interested in reducing systemic inflammation.

My laboratory

My laboratory

As many of you who read my blog know, I have had the unfortunate luck of intermittent but often terrible arthritic knee pain which resulted in a partial knee replacement two years ago which I am happy to say, was a total success. But the process was something I never want to go through again.

So in my efforts to keep the other knee free from such medieval butchery (as Dr. McCoy would call it), I’ve tested and tried all kinds of anti-inflammatory agents. Some worked, some didn’t.

Anyhow, I thought I’d share with you my current muscle building/recovery/anti-inflammatory concoction. And don’t worry – there is no wolves-bane or eyes of a newt included. And it’s only mildly flammable. But to be safe, keep it away from your Bunsen burner.

Here’s how to make it:

Fill a blender with 18 ounces of water. Mix in:

  • 1 scoop (30 grams) of your favorite protein powder. I use a product that contains both whey and casein for immediate and long term protein uptake. I weigh 170 pounds. Use more or less depending on your size. Refer to my last blog Protein: How Much You Need and Why.
  • 1 tsp glutamine powder. Glutamine is good for the gut lining and for facilitating nitrogen metabolism which is essential for building muscle.
  • One scoop (5 grams) of creatine. I’ll be honest – the research is mixed. Some research shows that creatine monohydrate aids strength production and recovery and some say it doesn’t do diddly. Nowadays its pretty inexpensive so I include it.
  • One scoop of Critical Aminos (berry flavor). It adds all the essential amino acids and offsets the yucky flavor (to me at least) of…
  • A dropper full of tumeric. Tumeric has been used for billions of years as an anti-inflammatory agent. OK not billions but thousands. And while there is not a lot of convincing scientific evidence, I can tell you it helped me when I started to use the liquid form of it in my shakes. And it’s not expensive.
  • A teaspoon of cinnamon. Makes the shake taste super yummy and is considered an powerful anti-inflammatory/anti-viral agent.  Also cheap.
  • A 1/2 teaspoon of leucine. Leucine is an essential amino acid that is thought to aid muscle recovery and growth. My co-authors Drs. Eades discuss this in their book The 6 Week Cure for the Middle Aged Middle. (NOT an affiliate link).
  • A tablespoon of MCT oil or coconut oil. Fat helps the absorption of nutrients.
  • A drop (1,000 IUs) of vitamin D liquid.
  • A dropper (serving size) of green tea liquid extract).  It is thought that the polyphenols in green tea might be able to prevent inflammation and swelling, protect cartilage between the bones, and lessen joint degeneration.
  • 1 scoop of collagen peptide. This product is great for achy joints. Read the description on the link and you’ll probably want to bathe in it.
  • 1 scoop MSM powder. MSM is for, well, read here. Good stuff.

Mix it up and drink it down after a short but sweetly intense Slow Burn workout.

I’d love to hear your experiences with this.

NOTE: This elixir is intended for people who are weight training. It may also be beneficial for those who are not but it’s probably overkill on the amino acids. I’m not saying its dangerous. It just might be a waste of your hard earned cash.

And since I have to say it, consult with your doctor before taking these products because your head might pop off and you might wake up with tentacles and flippers where you once had arms and legs.

Protein – How Much You Need and Why

Protein is the major structural component of every cell in the human body. The word “protein” is thought to come from the Greek word proteios which means “the first quality.” Protein is a very important dietary nutrient and many people do not eat adequate amounts of it or the most nutritious forms of it on a consistent basis. This is not such a good idea as you’ll learn shortly.

Of all the foods that contain protein, animal protein (like those pictured above) are the only sources that provide all of the essential amino acids (EAA) and in their proper ratios. This is not a debatable issue. It is a fact.

Essential Amino Acids
EAAs are used throughout the body to repair and build muscle as well as other cells and tissues. They function as enzymes, and hormones that control and regulate many of the body’s critical functions. These little powerhouses cannot be synthesized (created) by your body and therefore must be supplied in the diet.

While non-animal protein foods like beans, broccoli, etc. contain protein, they do not, as I stated before, contain all of the essential amino acids or in their proper ratios. Because of this, it is vitally important that you make sure you are getting your daily protein minimums to meet your EAA needs from animal sources. If you don’t eat enough protein, your body will eat its own muscle tissue to make up for the shortfall – the heart muscle too!

The Protein Intake Chart

WEIGHT

PROTEIN

EAA MIN

PROTIEN

GNG MAX

Ounces EAA Meat/Equiv

Ounces GNG Meat/Equiv

350-plus

125g

160g

18

23

340

123g

154g

17

22

330

120g

150g

17

21

320

117g

146g

17

21

310

114g

142g

16

20

300

111g

138g

16

20

290

108g

134g

15

19

280

105g

130g

15

19

270

102g

126g

14

18

260

99g

122g

14

18

250

96g

118g

14

17

240

93g

114g

13

16

230

90g

110g

13

15

220

87g

106g

12

15

210

84g

102g

12

14

200

81g

98g

11

14

190

78g

94g

11

13

180

75g

90g

11

13

170

72g

86g

10

12

160

69g

82g

10

12

150

66g

78g

9

11

140

63g

74g

9

10

130-less

60g

70g

9

10

Take a look at the chart above. It gives you your daily protein needs in grams and ounces to help you figure your individual minimum (EAA) and maximum (GNG) protein needs by body weight. This chart is designed specifically for those people who are over fat or obese and not exercising.

For example, if you are a 160 pound man or woman, you should aim to take in about 69 to 82 grams of protein which equates to 10 to 12 ounces from whatever choice of animal protein you prefer. If you look at the protein sources list below, you’ll see it’s pretty easy to accomplish this. Remember that animal protein sources contain all the EAA’s and in their proper ratios, so if you eat the minimum protein for your weight (EAA column) from animal based foods (meat, poultry, game, fish, eggs, cheese), you’re off to a good start.

If you perform strength training exercises (and you should be!) and especially if you want to build  a good deal of muscle,  you’ll need a bit more protein but not much more. If you have, say,  10+ more pounds of muscle than the typical person or want to build it, bump yourself up to a higher body weight level. So if you weigh 160 pounds, follow the recommended protein intake for a 170 pound person. Best thing is to shoot for one gram of protein per pound of body weight if you’re lean.

The GNG column on the chart is the maximum amount of protein you should eat if fat loss is your primary goal. GNG stands for gluconeogenesis which is the process of converting digested proteins into blood sugar (glucose). All humans require about 150 grams of glucose per day for a healthy, functioning nervous system. You can get this by eating 150 grams of carbohydrate per day or via gluconeogenesis (GNG) or a combo of the two.

On a properly formulated low carbohydrate diet (see the menu below) which is shown in numerous research papers to be a smart approach for shedding excess fat and for improving overall health, GNG supplies you with all the glucose your brain and nervous system needs. So strive to take in enough protein to meet your GNG requirements. If you exceed GNG, that’s OK. It’s certainly nothing to worry about. However, falling under your EAA needs is a whopping no-no for everybody.

Here’s a list of animal foods that will give you an idea of the choices you can make to eat to meet your protein requirements:

Beef
• Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
• Steak, 6 oz – 42 grams
• Most cuts of beef – 7 grams of protein per oz

Chicken
• Chicken breast, 3.5 oz – 30 grams protein
• Chicken thigh – 10 grams (for average size)
• Drumstick – 11 grams
• Wing – 6 grams
• Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz – 35 grams

Fish
• Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 ½ oz (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per oz
• Tuna, 6 oz can – 40 grams of protein

Pork
• Pork chop, average – 22 grams protein
• Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz – 29 grams
• Ham, 3 oz serving – 19 grams
• Ground pork, 1 oz raw – 5 grams; 3 oz cooked – 22 grams
• Bacon, 1 slice – 3 grams

Eggs and Dairy
• Egg, large – 6 grams protein
• Cottage cheese, ½ cup – 15 grams
• Yogurt, 1 cup – usually 8-12 grams, check label
• Soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert) – 6 grams per oz
• Medium cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss) – 7 or 8 grams per oz
• Hard cheeses (Parmesan) – 10 grams per oz

Below is a sample day’s menu (hat tip to the brilliant Regina Wilshire for this) for an average sized person (160 pounds). It contains ALL of the micronutrients you need and in their proper ratios. Smaller people would reduce the amount of eggs, chicken, and shrimp in the meals. Again, refer to the protein chart to determine your specific needs.

Breakfast: Florentine Omelet made with 2-3 large eggs, 1/4 cup cooked spinach, 2 slices bacon and 2 tablespoons feta cheese, cooked in butter.

Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad made with 2 cups shredded romaine, 6 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 sliced medium cucumber, 1 cup grilled chicken breast diced, 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, 1 ounce macadamia nuts chopped (in place of croutons for the crunch), 1/2 avocado sliced and creamy Caesar (wheat and flour free) dressing.

Dinner: Salad made with 1 cup shredded romaine, 3 cherry tomatoes, 4 sliced cucumber, 1TBS shredded carrots, 1TBS shredded red cabbage, topped with creamy dressing. Shrimp Scampi made with 6-ounces cooked shrimp, sautéed in butter, garlic and herbs (oregano, basil and parsley), with 12 sliced baby zucchini and a side dish of 3/4 cup cooked spinach. Healthy additions to salads are sea vegetables like Nori, dulse, etc.

The above menu is just a sample of course. Make substitutions to the food choices listed using the types of foods that you prefer. That said you shouldn’t substitute your lamb chops for spinach or vice versa. You must make substitutions using the same types of foods – meats for meats, veggies and fruits for veggies and fruits.

Don’t Fear Fat
And in case you’re worried about how much fat and cholesterol there is in this diet, don’t be. Cholesterol and saturated fats are actually essential to your good health. There is virtually no scientific evidence to support the idea that saturated fats and cholesterol are detrimental to your health or that when you eat fat and cholesterol they make a beeline directly into your arteries and stick there. In fact the opposite is true – we need these very important substances. All the negative information you hear about saturated fat and cholesterol spewing from the mouths of experts like Dr. Oz, Dr. Ornish and others of their misinformed ilk are largely unsubstantiated.

In fact, a 2010 meta-analysis (meaning a compilation of many studies on the subject) conducted by Ronald Krauss M.D. (one of the country’s leading nutritional researchers) and his team titled “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease,” concluded the following:

“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

Not only did the researchers not find any direct evidence, there wasn’t even an association! The idea that animal fats are unhealthy is baloney (I just had to say that). It’s hype and marketing to scare you into buying loads of fake, non-fat, low cholesterol foods – the real contributors to heart disease. Don’t buy it or buy into it.

So to sum it all up, to maximize health, fat loss and muscle and bone strength, make sure you at least meet your minimum protein requirements via animal sources and try your darnedest to take in all the protein you need.

Popeye was wrong – that should be meat coming out of that can!

Contact Information

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New York, NY 10024

212.579.9320
info@seriousstrength.com

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Montclair, NJ 07042

973.233.1013
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