Sleep Will Make You Leaner and Faster – Here is the Proof!

To those of you out there struggling with fatigue, weight loss, anxiety, sleep disorders and/or performance plateaus, consider sleeping more to allow your body to recover and rebuilt naturally. There are no short cuts. High intensity and high volume will destroy you unless you have the time to sleep and eat enough to ABSORB what you do – plain and simple.

Sleep Project Overview
For the last 20+  years, I have asked all my clients to train with a heart rate monitor to keep them from training too hard on their easy days leaving them fresh for their high quality days.

This methodology has been challenged by many coaches and athletes for many reasons: “grey zone”, “wattage”, “perceived exertion”, etc. I have personally watched clients leave to go to a another program with more volume, more intensity, calorie restriction, etc. only to become injured (sometimes career ending), have a performance regression and/or become exhausted mentally and physically resulting in creams, injections or oral supplementation to turn their “symptoms” around. Sad but true.

In addition to having my clients train with a heart rate monitor I have required all my clients to maintain a Body Analysis spreadsheet to evaluate their body’s feedback to training volume, intensity and frequency along with ensuring that they are consuming enough quality calories and fluids to support their training loads and life’s other stress sources (work, family, etc.).

To prove my theory I conducted a sleep study over an eight month period where I asked 10 clients to wear their Garmin strapless heart monitor for every workout as well as when they sleep. With the permission of one of these clients, I have documented her sleep data averages and performance results below.

Parameters
Sleep goal: 9 hours (difficult but necessary)
Food: raw fruits, vegetables and clean fats; eaten every 2 hours
Training: 7 Hours a week
1 hour per day Mon-Friday
1 complete rest day per week – Saturday
2 hours on Sunday
Training Intensity:
2 hours anaerobic
5 hours aerobic

Sleep Log Observations/Take Away
Hours of sleep: increased from 6 to 9 hours
Deep sleep average: increased from 23 min avg to 1 hour 40′
Light sleep average: increased 3 hour avg to 5 hours 17′
Note:
Deep sleep allows the body to rebuild NATURALLY
Light sleep allows the brain to rebuild NATURALLY

Performance Results
Swim Time Trial: 17 seconds faster
Bike Time Trial: 36 seconds faster / at a lower HR of 8 beats
Run Time Trial: 18 seconds faster / at a lower HR of 5 beats
Body Fat Percentage: decrease of 4%
Note: body fat, not muscle or dehydration

Numbers don’t lie.

How to Stay Cool While Training and Racing in Hot and Humid Conditions

As we exercise, our bodies burn the calories that that we consume (i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and fats).  It is the breakdown of these calories and muscle movement that causes heat to build up and raise our core body temperature initiating the demands of the body to maintain its ideal body temperature of 98.6 degrees.  There are several ways that the body dissipates heat (skin and exhalation for example); however, the most complex system involves your ability to sweat.

Simply put, water molecules evaporate from your skin removing heat energy from inside your body, water molecules on your skin making you feel cooler.  The (endothermic) process of converting liquid to a gas is beyond the scope of this article; however, the ultimate goal is to maintain your body’s ability to efficiently dissipate heat during exercise.  What makes this process difficult is dealing with elements that we don’t have any control over – heat and humidity.

On hot days when there is little difference between the skin’s surface temperature and the ambient air temperatures, the skin provides only small cooling benefits – increasing the importance of sweating to rid your body of internal heat. In fact, when the temperature rises above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you lose no heat at all from your skin – evaporation must to all of the work.  Humidity decreases your body’s ability to evaporate sweat because the air is already saturated with water vapor, reducing (and in some cases eliminating) the evaporation rate.  Though you and your gear/clothes may be saturated, it is not helping you in your cooling process – sweat must evaporate to remove heat from your body – plain and simple.  It is this concept that makes hydration so important; if you don’t have enough fluids to produce sweat you will over heat guaranteed (along with the negative side effects – performance and health wise).

On average, racers lose approximately 30-35 ounces of fluid per hour of exercise (the actual amount varies by body size, intensity & duration levels and heat/humidity levels).  There are numerous formulas floating around in the sports performance world regarding ideal food and fluid intake; however, keep in mind that there are three things that we need to evaluate regarding ideal performance nutrition: fluid intake (sports drink & water), electrolyte balance (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium) and calories (sources & amount).

5 Tips for Training and Racing in the Heat and Humidity

  • Wear gear that facilitate the evaporation process (avoid cotton at all costs)
  • Train at times that are relevant to your race (i.e. if you are going to be racing at 2:00 pm, then practice at this time “teaching” your body to acclimate to the heat & humidity
  • Avoid over-hydrating on plain water; drink a sports drink that has a 4-6% concentration rate for optimal hydration levels. If the concentration rate is too high or too low, your body will not absorb your fluids and you may become nauseous
  • Consume cold fluids; they absorbs faster than warm fluids; use insulated bottles to help you keep your fluids cold
  • During hard training intervals in the heat, back off of the intensity for 30 seconds; it is like shaking your hands over a jump

Be sure to pay attention to external signs of heat stroke sequence:

Stage 1: Dry skin (indication that you have stopped sweating). If this occurs, stop the workout. You have hit a point where your fluid levels are dangerously low.

Stage 2: Cold chills (visible goose bumps) – Your body is attempting to capture your attention; you  crossed the danger line; performance is irrelevant.

Stage 3: Become lightheaded, get a headache or feel queasy –  You are so dehydrated that your core body temperature has reached a critically dangerous point; bodily functions are being negatively affected.

Stage 4: The top of your head feels like someone has put a hot skillet on your head; your head feels “hot” – You are literally “cooking” yourself from the inside out.  Long term problems could result if you continue.

How to Fuel Properly for Optimum Performance

Proper nutrition is such an instrumental component of performance, yet is overlooked by 90% of the racers at the starting line. A few years back, a research project associated with human performance (equipment, altitude training, endurance training, strength training, etc.), revealed that the most powerful influence on performance was attributed to hydration and nutrition habits.  Nail your nutrition and the results were stellar; miss your nutrition (even by a little) and the results were devastating.

After spending the last six to eight months training for your big race, the last 24 hours should be quite simple – exercise lightly, hydrate properly and eat correctly (quality & quantity).

Fighting Fatigue

With proper nutrition, you can offset the negative effects of fatigue in three ways:

Muscle Glycogen Depletion

Muscle glycogen is the major energy source during training and especially racing.  When your sugar storages (in your liver and muscles) are depleted, your ability to go fast for any period of time will be diminished.

Decreased Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar is the major fuel for the brain (from your liver) and muscles during training and racing; the higher the intensity, the quicker your body depletes itself of sugar.

Dehydration

When a muscle becomes dehydrated by as little as 3%, that muscle can lose between 10-20% of its contractile strength and also incurs an 8% loss of speed.

Nutritional Timing

Proper nutrition is all about topping of your body’s natural fuel tanks (muscles and liver) to ensure that you have enough stored energy to finish your race strong.  By choosing the correct foods at the correct times, you can delay the onset of fatigue on race day (as outlined below).

Day before a Race (8 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight) –  Consume six to eight small meals distributed throughout the day approximately two hours apart.  Choose items made from high quality carbohydrate sources: real food smoothies, brown rice, pasta, quinoa and dark breads.  Convenient snacks include fresh fruit and high quality energy bars (the Paelo Ranch Protein bars are ideal!)

Morning of the Race (75-150 grams of carbohydrates depending on your body size) – Consume your last meal two hours before your race start time to allow for complete digestion and purging in a relaxed environment.  Food items should be easily digestible and of the highest quality: real food smoothie, almond butter on a bagel or toast, slow cooked oatmeal with raisins, 2-3 egg omelets with a bowl of brightly colored fresh fruit.

After the Race – Liquid calories  are the easiest to consume and are converted quickly to “feed” the body’s needs: protein for muscle regeneration and sugar for the muscles and the liver.  

By implementing these nutritional tips and hitting proper hydration levels, you will see your body produce new levels of speed and a new level of performance! Work Smart, Not Hard! 

Eat Your Way to Your Potential

New research suggests that changing the way you eat could result in your body being able to adapt to the stress of training – especially hard training!

We all realize that nothing causes the human body to adapt to training and racing except sport specific training and racing. However, through proper eating – quality, timing and quantity, you can improve your ability to adapt and absorb hard, interval type workouts.

Between food and sleep, you have THE two key elements to improvement – sleep allows the body to rejuvenate and the food provides the vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fat) to rebuild the torn down muscle tissue, hormonal system and the cardiovascular system.

I always have my clients focus on health and wellness first and then performance. I utilize several tools to ensure that my clients are recovering adequately and consistently improving. You are either getting healthier, stronger and faster or you are not – there isn’t any middle ground. It is just a physiological fact.

What is Adaptation?

When you train, one of the adaptations is an increase in the development of mitochondria within your muscle tissue. Mitochondria are the cellular power plants which are responsible for producing a majority of the energy you use during endurance training and racing. Through consistent training, your body naturally produces chemicals that tell your body to produce additional mitochondria. This concept is not a new one, but is intriguing because we have become acclimated to the idea that training improves endurance by enhancing the production of mitochondria within the muscle tissue. But what if I told you that eating fruits and vegetables may produce the same effect? Let’s take a look.

Food to Help You Train Harder and Faster

While trying to determine the true source of obesity and develop that “wonder pill” that will help offset the negative health issues associated with obesity, research has tripped upon some intriguing results associated with endurance training and racing.

The area of research has stemmed around polyphenols and flavonoids. Please don’t get caught up with the big words and become intimidated, the concept is what I want you to take away, not the actual pronunciation! Both of these nutrients are found in fruit and vegetables and are available to the human body in many different types, but with similar functions within the body.

Resveratrol is one type of polyphenol which is found in red grapes (and also red wine!). In a 2006 edition of the science journal Cell, mice that were supplemented with Resveratrol had a 33% higher peak oxygen uptake and lasted nearly 50% longer before exhaustion.

When researchers took muscle samples of the mice, there was 2.5 times greater mitochondria within the muscles. Also increased was Citrate Cynthase, a key enzyme to producing energy within the muscles, along with additional triggers telling the muscle to produce more mitochondria.

Here is an interesting observation on behalf of the researchers. The mice that were supplemented with the resveratrol, were also able to complete more exercise on a consistent basis which in turn improved the fitness level of the mice which allowed them to longer and faster. This is a huge observation when you consider an athletes ability to get fitter involves being able to go both longer in duration (active recovery workouts) and faster (high quality interval workouts). An additional health benefit to consuming polyphenols is an improved immune system which will keep you from becoming run down, sick and away from training – hence improving your consistency. Another key factor within the world of health, wellness and ultimately performance.

Research completed here in the US has been researching another polyphenol called Quercetin. Mice that were supplemented with quercetin showed significant increases in the molecular triggers within the muscle tissue, indicating that their bodies were preparing to produce more mitochondria. After only seven days of supplementation, the mice were able to run 40% longer before becoming exhausted.

This research has validated that this supplementation has benefited individuals “less fit”. However, when you consider most athletes are running deficient in micro and macro nutrients within their bodies, this research validates that when these nutrients are present within the body, athletic performance improves.

Quercetin is found naturally in onions and apples – so maybe that saying that an “apple a day keeps the doctor away” may not be far-fetched. Research provides overwhelming evidence that quercetin can help reduce the stress of high intensity training and support the immune system. So this falls right in line with my desire to have my clients healthy first, then fit and fast!

Fruits and Vegetables Aren’t The Only Source of Improved Speed!

All natural herbs and spices are an excellent source for polyphenols as well. For example, research is validating that cinnamon has shown to stimulate the production of mitochondria within muscle tissue.

Before you Overdose on Supplementation

It is imperative that you realize that this research on quercetin and resveratrol is just that – research. As I mentioned earlier, the realization of these mitochondrial production levels within the muscle tissue came as a byproduct of researching obesity at a chemical and muscular tissue level. With this in mind, the improvements associated with physical performances cannot be overlooked. Factor in the all-natural source of these elements: fresh fruits, vegetable, herbs and spices, and you have another way to improve your immune system and make you more resilient to high intensity training.

Four Tasty Sources of Polyphenols

Blueberries – one of the highest polyphenol contents of all foods; benefits include enhanced aerobic function and off-setting the development of cancer. Add blueberries to your salad and top off your Greek full fat yogurt for additional nutrients, fiber and flavor.
Cinnamon – not only loaded in polyphenols, it helps reduce the insulin response to high glycemic meals, which helps you stabilize blood sugar levels and burn carbohydrates more efficiently. Add cinnamon to your all natural oatmeal.
Dark Chocolate – look for chocolates that have over 75% cocoa. In addition to having high polyphenol content, it has been shown to improve blood flow to working muscles. Consume high quality, dark chocolate as a mid-day snack (unless you can have a glass of red wine instead!).
Nutritionally Green Smoothies – these products are derived from real fruits and vegetables and provide a hefty dose of vitamin and minerals per scoop. They are easily absorbed by the body because it isn’t broken down through the digestion process in the gut. A scoop can easily be added to soups, broths, and smoothies to add to the nutrient value.

Grocery Shopping For Better Speed

Stock up on these items the next time you head to your grocery store:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red kidney beans
  • Blueberries, Strawberries
  • Acai berries
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Cherry juice
  • Green tea/coffee
  • Cinnamon, Sage, Rosemary, Spearmint, Thyme, Tumeric
  • Cloves, Dried Mexican Oregano, Basil, Curry, Celery Seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Black Elderberry

Top 5 Nutritional Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Over the last 33 years, I have seen nutritional mistakes that have resulted in weight gain rather than weight loss. Here are the top five mistakes and how to correct them.

Not knowing your sweat rate

You may ask how your sweat rate relates to nutritional mistakes; the reason is associated with how your body stores water relevant to what you eat. Fruits in vegetables are high in vitamins & minerals, but they are also high in water and natural forms of electrolytes (what you lose in through sweat). Also, for your body to store one gram of sugar for energy, it stores 2.5 grams of water. If you want to improve your pre-hydration levels, eat more raw fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to sweating, your goal is to lose between 1-2% of your body weight in a given workout – no more or less. If you lose more than 2% of your body weight you are officially dehydrated, if you lose less than 1% you are over hydrated. This is a very fine line that needs to be evaluated on a regular basis with the following variables being factored in: air temperature, humidity, intensity and duration.

To help you calculate your personal sweat rate, please email me at robb@coachrobb.com and I will send you a simple to use Sweat Rate Calculator. It will provide you insight into your sweat rate along with inform you if you’re eating habits are helping or hurting your weightloss efforts.

Not eating enough high quality calories

As mentioned above, fruits and vegetables are high in water, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. However, fruits and vegetables are not high in calories. This means that you must eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (along with lean protein sources) for your body to perform at an optimal level.

To determine if you are consuming enough calories to fuel your exercise,  you need to evaluate exactly what and how much you have eaten, when you have eaten and then evaluate the quality of your workouts. This is very simple to do by maintaining a daily food log (Note: if you don’t have a simple to use food log, please email me at robb@coachrobb.com and I will send you a copy of our food log that is easy to use and maintain on a daily basis).

There are two typical realizations that come from maintaining a food log; one is the quantity of food that comes out of a box and/or a can; the amount of total calories consumed on a daily basis is not enough to fuel your efforts. By maintaining a daily food log and evaluating your energy levels/performance results you will develop a personalized nutritional plan in less than two weeks.

Not eating enough high quality fat

Fat has gotten a bad rap in the media, but the fact of the matter is that your body needs high quality fat on a daily basis for your body to perform at an optimal level. Typical symptoms of insufficient fat intake include: fatigue, delayed recovery, depression, over eating, constantly hungry and more.  It is imperative that you consume the following unsaturated fats on a daily basis: extra virgin olive oil, avocados and fish oil.

These fats are either used by your body as energy or passed as waste – which means no stored body fat! This is a win-win situation for you: improved performance and decreased body fat. When you increase your clean fat intake, there are two things you will notice within two weeks: improved endurance and not hungry all of the time. The reason for this is because most individuals don’t consume enough high quality fat – simple fix with huge benefits.

Not eating immediately after a workout

When you work out your body gets the majority of its energy from stored sugar from your muscles (your brain gets its sugar from your liver); the longer and more intense your workout the more you “empty” your stored muscle sugar. When you are finished with your  workout you have a 20-30 minute window to replenish these depleted stored sugar levels optimally. During this short post exercise window, you have an enzyme (glycogen synthase enzyme) that is highly activate within your muscles cells that helps increase the replenishment of sugar within the muscles (and liver).

The longer you wait to consume high quality food after your workout, the less effective your replenishment will be and your recovery window will take longer as a result. Ideally, you want to consume food in a 4:1 ration between carbohydrates and lean protein. Simple solutions include fruit smoothies made with Greek yogurt or chocolate milk.

Not drinking enough water

The average human body contains 96 pints of water – 64 of these are found inside the body’s cells. Your brain is 75% water, your blood is 85% water, muscle is 70% water, and you see how important being hydrated is literally from the inside out. Please don’t confuse hydration levels with sweat rate discussed earlier; hydration levels are strictly relevant to maintaining proper fluid levels within your body for optimum health and ultimately performance. Your sweat rate is relevant to how much perspiration you are creating as your body attempts to rid itself of internal heat.

As a general rule of thumb, your need to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water – for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to consume 75 ounces of water on a daily basis to maintain proper hydration levels. Any activities that you perform on a daily basis: exercise, work, leisure, etc. has to be factored in addition to your daily needs.

There are two simple indicators of proper hydration levels: urine color and urination frequency. Regarding your urine color, the lighter your urine the more hydrated you are. Please note, if you are taking a multi vitamin that contains B vitamins, your urine will be a tad darker as a result. As your body absorbs and purges the B vitamin, the color of your urine will become lighter in color. In regards to your urination frequency, you should be visiting the restroom once an hour. Though this can be an inconvenience at time, the health and performance benefits are definitely worth it!

Creatine Supplementation & Dehydration

The Effects of Creatine

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the effects of creatine. The truth of the matter is – creatine does do exactly what it claims to do: FOR SOME ATHLETES. However, before we discuss if creatine supplementation is beneficial as an athlete, it is imperative to evaluate its role in your everyday health.

First, the human body produces creatine daily to sustain the demands associated with exercise. Creatine is regenerated through your body’s normal bodily functions (assuming you are eating a sufficient diet and complementing this with 7-8 hours of sleep daily). However, if your body senses the presence of creatine on a regular basis, it will stop producing it within your body. This internal evaluation system cannot be “tricked”.

Second, creatine has been shown in endless amounts of research to cause dehydration among athletes of all sports backgrounds. Muscle cramping and spasming along with feelings of nausea are not uncommon with an athlete that reacts negatively to the supplementation of creatine. Keep in mind that even the slightest level of dehydration causes the contractile strength within the muscles spindle cells to diminish – not an ideal scenario for athletes. To make the situation worse, athletes that are training and racing in hot parts of the country are at a disadvantage in regards to dissipating the negative effects of internal heat (created by working muscles and internal body systems like digestion and respiration.) The scientific term for this is the Endothermic Process: your body’s ability to rid itself of heat. The only way that your body can rid itself of heat is through sweat at the skin level.  If you happen to be riding or racing in a highly humid environment, your ability to cool down is hampered again because water can not evaporate against another molecule of water. This causes you to overheat internally which ultimately slows down your internal bodily functions which manifests itself in the form of slower speed.

Side note, in clinical studies, creatine has been documented to increase the contractile strength of a muscle; however, the additional lactic acid (a by-product of burning carbohydrates) that is produced due to the higher levels of output has resulted in larger than normal levels of blood lactate. This surplus of lactic acid can not be effectively cleared from the circulatory system through the blood vessels and, in turn, becomes counter productive.

Bottom line: should athletes supplement with creatine: NO. Instead, they need to spend more time developing a comprehensive training and nutritional program that will provide the human body the elements it needs to perform at an optimal level.

Avoid Becoming Sick and Weak Through Clean Eating

To the surprise of many, strength training (kettle bells, free weights, medicine balls & stretch cords) and cardiovascular exercise (Concept 2 rowing, cycling, swimming, etc.) doesn’t make you fitter and faster! In fact, there are only two things that you can do to improve your speed & endurance: sleep and good nutrition. We will discuss the importance of sleep in the near future, but within this article, we will discuss why proper protein intake on a daily basis is not only necessary to reach your full athletic ability, but also important to your long term health (specifically low percentage of body fat and high percentages of lean muscle).

The use of interval training & strength training to build muscle and burn fat is only beneficial if your body receives the necessary type and amount of amino acids to rebuild the torn down muscles. Most imperative is the body’s ability to absorb what it consumes.

Lets take a look at when to eat, what to eat and determine how much to eat for optimal health and performance

PROTEIN INTAKE – BEFORE EXERCISE

The purpose of having protein before you exercise is to prevent muscle protein breakdown and to promote muscle protein synthesis. This is fancy talk for preserving the muscle you already have, and helping to promote the growth of new muscle tissue.

According to Bariatric Registered Dietitian, Derek Helderman , recent research has shown that consuming protein before exercise can decrease, or at least prevent the increase of, markers of muscle damage (myoglobin, creatine kinase and myofibrillar protein degradation) more than groups who consumed just carbohydrates or placebos. This is one of the key reasons to have protein before you train, as reducing the damage to the muscles can improve recovery time and cause better adaptations to training over the long-term. In addition, protein consumed before training will  flood your blood stream with amino acids as your body needs them, beginning the process of creating new muscle while you are training!

Aim to consume about 15-40 grams of protein within 30-90 minutes before training, depending on your size and needs. This can be consumed either in a shake or a mixed meal.

 

PROTEIN INTAKE – POST EXERCISE

When you are finished with your workout, you have two priorities relevant to recovery. First, is to replenish depleted stored sugar levels (glycogen) in the liver and muscles and second is to rebuild the muscles, tendons and ligaments stressed during exercise.

The period of time at which you consume protein following a workout is also important. According to a review published in the February 2008 edition of “Strength and Conditioning Journal,” sport nutritionist Dr. Jose Antonio concluded that protein cell turnover, or the process by which your body begins to synthesize new protein cells and rids itself of old ones, occurs at an increased rate within one hour following exercise. This is the most effective time for consuming a post-workout supplement.

On the flip side, waiting too long can compromise the beneficial adaptations to training, and decrease your results. So while you don’t have to slam down a shake immediately after training, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to wait for three hours either.

Aim to consume about 15-40 grams of protein within 30 minutes after training, again depending on your size and needs. Whether this is consumed as a shake or a solid meal is solely dependent on what best fits your needs

 

PROTEIN SOURCES

You can consume protein from whole foods, protein supplements or amino acid supplements. Whole foods include basic dietary sources such as milk, snack bars and meats. Protein supplements come in powder form and are generally extracted from milk, soy, wheat or eggs. Extracting specific essential amino acids, the building blocks of all protein molecules, can be an effective post-workout supplementation method as well. Your body is also at an increased need for fluid and carbohydrates following a workout because of losses in water and electrolytes through sweat and depleted glycogen stores. A beverage that contains about a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein appears to be ideal for post-workout recovery.

As outlined by Physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, a fast-assimilating protein, such as whey protein is one of the easiest and most nutritionally rewarding food to consume pre and post workout. He writes,

” … in terms of current recommendations it appears that consumption of ~ 20–25g … of a rapidly absorbed protein may serve to maximally stimulate MPS after resistance exercise in young healthy individuals. Ideal candidates to fulfill such criteria appear to be whey or bovine milk.”

As research has documented, whey protein is superior to other milk proteins for building muscle because the amino acids found in bioavailable whey protein activates certain cellular mechanisms (mTORC-1), which in turn promote muscle protein synthesis, as well as boost thyroid and also protect against declining testosterone levels after exercise.

Researchers stress that high-quality leucine-rich proteins, such as whey, may be particularly important for the elderly to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Leucine is part of branched-chain amino acid that serves multiple functions in your body, one of which is signaling the mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) mechanism to increase protein synthesis and build your muscle.

The review noted that adding free leucine to meals did not appear to be an effective strategy to enhance muscle mass or strength over a 12-week period, and you should be aware that taking leucine as a free form amino acid supplement can be counterproductive and wrought with side effects.

To reap the associated benefits without the side effects, make sure you get your leucine from food only. The typical requirement for leucine to maintain body protein is 1-3 grams daily. However, to optimize its anabolic pathway, you need an estimated 8-16 grams of leucine daily, you only need three ounces of high-quality whey to reach the eight-gram requirement, compared to 1.5 pounds of chicken, or about 16 eggs, or half a pound of raw cheddar cheese!

 

IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT HIGH-QUALITY WHEY

There’s no shortage of whey products on the market, but unfortunately most of them will NOT give you the health benefits associated with high-quality whey. First of all you want to use a whey protein concentrate, NOT isolate.

All whey protein isolates are devoid of nutritional co-factors including alkalizing minerals, naturally occurring vitamins, and lipids, which are lost in the processing. This renders them deficient and overly acidifying. Unlike whole protein food concentrates, which do not acidify your body due to their alkalinizing minerals, whey protein isolates are over acidifying. I would strongly avoid ALL whey protein isolates just as you would avoid trans fats as they contain putrid proteins that some experts believe to be worse than trans fat.

If chronically consumed in large amounts (such as with bodybuilders or athletes) without alkalizing foods, it can acidify your body and over time may lead to metabolic acidosis with consequences that include wasting of muscle and bone tissues, total metabolic shut down, and increased vulnerability to degenerative disease.

So if you want to use whey protein, PLEASE do not use an inferior whey isolate. Look for a high-quality concentrate instead. These are the factors you need to look for in order to ensure you’re buying a high-quality product:

Organic (without hormones) Grass-fed Made from unpasteurized (raw) milk
Cold processed, since heat destroys whey’s fragile molecular structure Minimally processed  Concentrate

NO Isolates

Rich, creamy, full flavor
Water-soluble Sweetened naturally, not artificially Highly digestible—look for medium chain fatty acids (MCTs), not long chain fatty acids

 

Some of the best whey protein you can get today is derived from raw milk cheese manufacturing. They have very high-quality controls and produce great-tasting whey, with optimal nutritional content. Raw dairy products, such as raw milk or raw milk cheese, are another alternative.

Moreover, scientists have found that the ratio between protein and carbohydrates is critically important, especially as you age. Many make the mistake of eating too many carbs in relation to protein and fat. Research shows that high-carbohydrate diets fail to build muscle, even in younger people due to their detrimental effect on insulin. Again and again, it’s the high-protein/high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet that proves the most effective both for muscle building and weight loss.

 

AMINO ACIDS – ESSENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS TO STRENGTHEN MUSCLES

As mentioned earlier, the amino acid leucine is one of the most important for fitness. It’s part of branched-chain amino acid found in certain foods, and serves multiple functions in your body, one of which is signaling the mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) mechanism, which signals protein to be created and builds your muscle. But that’s not all.

Founder of Defense Nutrition and author of numerous publications, Ori Hofmekler explains:

“Leucine has shown to promote the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 15 (IL-15), which has been regarded as the most powerful fitness promoting protein produced by your muscle. IL-15 acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, muscle-regenerating signaling agent with unmatching effects on body transformation and anti-aging.

Furthermore leucine along with calcium blocks the obesity promoting effect of excess Vitamin D calciferol in adipose tissues (excess of vitamin d in fat cells induces central obesity which can be blocked by calcium/leucine intake such as from dairy, particularly whey protein). Finally, leucine/IL 15 anti-inflammatory actions have been linked to mitochondrial biogenesis, increased thermogensis, and increased energy utilization efficiency probably via activation of the longevity gene SIRT-1.”

Leucine also indirectly promotes the increase of glutathione in your body, as its anti-inflammatory actions can help spare glutathione molecules that would have otherwise be recruited to counteract inflammatory processes.

However, in order to be effective, you need far more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of leucine. The reason for this is because even though leucine is relatively abundant in our food supply, it does not appear in high concentrations, and is often wasted as an energy substrate or used as a building block rather than an anabolic agent. This means that to establish the right anabolic environment, you need to increase leucine consumption beyond maintenance requirements.

That said, keep in mind that using leucine as a free form amino acid can be highly counterproductive as when free form amino acids are artificially administrated, they rapidly enter your circulation while disrupting insulin function, and impairing your body’s glycemic control. Food based leucine is really the ideal form that can benefit your muscles without side effects. The highest concentrations of leucine and other branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are found in dairy products; particularly whey protein. and quality cheese.

Based on nitrogen-balance measurements, the requirement for leucine to maintain body protein is 1-3 grams daily. To optimize its anabolic pathway, you need an estimated 8g – 16g of leucine daily. The following chart presents leucine content in common foods. As you can see, whey protein is ideal for getting sufficient amounts of leucine in your diet. You only need three ounces of whey protein, compared to a pound and a half of chicken to get 8 grams of leucine:

Leucine Content in food / per 100g

Whey Protein Concentrate 8.0g
Raw Cheddar Cheese 3.6g
Lean Beef 1.7g
Salmon 1.6g
Almonds 1.5g
Chicken 1.4g
Chick Peas 1.4g
Raw Eggs 1.0g
Egg Yolk 1.4g
Sheep Milk 0.6g
Pork 0.4g
Cow Milk 0.3g

 

HOW MUCH PROTEIN TO CONSUME FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE

A protein supplement is only effective if you already consume adequate dietary protein. Most adults need to consume about 0.4g of protein per 1 lb. of body weight. Highly active adults and athletes have increased protein needs. Athletes who consistently perform strength training exercises should consume about 0.7 to 0.9g per 1 lb. of body weight. Endurance athletes should consume about 0.6 to 0.7g of protein per 1 lb. of body weight each day.

REFERENCE: “Performance Training Journal”; Protein Requirements for Athletes; Debra Wein, MD et al.; February 2011

The Power of Protein

The Importance of Protein

Because of the numerous responsibilities of protein in the body (from muscle regeneration to energy production) consuming the proper amounts on a daily basis are imperative for both health and performance. Your body continually makes new cells for your muscles, organs, glands and bones on a daily basis. All of these are built on the foundation of protein, their main building block. Keep in mind, the longer and/or harder you exercise the higher your protein intake on daily basis needs to be.

The Role of Protein

Before we get into how much protein your need on a daily basis, let’s discuss the role of protein. In addition to growth and repair of muscles and other tissues, some protein is used for energy. Per Dr. Phil Maffetone, the amount of energy contributed by protein may be as high as 15% in some individuals. Protein is also necessary for enzymes important to metabolism.

Protein is essential for maintaining neurotransmitters – the chemical messengers used by the nervous system to signal proper function throughout the body. Additionally, oxygen, fats and vitamins are transported throughout the body with the help of proteins.

Protein also plays an instrumental role in making natural antibodies for your immune system. Those who lose muscle mass through reduced protein consumption have a weakened immune system. Additionally, those who consume inadequate protein may not get enough of certain nutrients necessary for proper immune function. For example, the amino acid cysteine  contained in whey protein can improve immune function. This amino acid is necessary for your body to make its most powerful antioxidant, glutathione.

How Much Protein?

The argument about how much protein is needed for optimum health and performance has become so convoluted, it has been revised by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowence) 10 times since 1943! The RDA’s current recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has been declared too low by many doctors and nutrition experts. Some of these professionals believe that the gram per kilogram needs to be increased by 3 – 4 times this amount to maintain proper lean muscle mass, recover from exercise and keep the blood chemistry healthy.

As clearly declared by Dr. Phil Maffetone, the issue of protein needs dictated by body weight is very distorted and inaccurate. These inaccuracies are created because if you are going to use grams per kilogram of body weight, it needs to be calculated off of body mass (total weight minus your body fat). It is your muscle that needs protein, NOT your stored fat. Keep in mind that over 50% of the dry weight of your body is protein.

As you can see, this can get complex and consuming quite quickly. It is for this exact reason that I don’t want you to count calories, calculate grams or weigh your food. Why? Because you can determine your personal needs by listening to your body, document your mental clarity and performance results and capture eight simple body measurements to determine how your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake is affecting your health and wellness.

Importance of Protein

All bodily functions, from breathing to muscle movement to new muscle development is controlled by thousands of different enzymes – and you guessed it, enzymes are made from protein as well. Even the hemoglobin, that carries the oxygen in your blood, is manufactured out of protein. The structure of your genes and your brain cells are totally fabricated from protein.

As documented by Dr. Michael Colgan, research using radioisotope techniques show that over 98% of the molecules of the human body are completely replaced each year. Bits and pieces of all your structures are constantly being replaced with new proteins. Research has proven that every six months your muscles, blood, enzymes and even the structures of your genes are completely replaced. Think about this, the body that you have today is the result of what you have eaten for the last six months. Garbage in, inferior health, wellness out!

Dangers of Inadequate Protein Intake

Signs of low protein (or low quality) intake includes:

  • Muscle Weakness
  • Low Energy Levels
  • Easily Broken Bones
  • Slow Recovery after Exercise

In a study completed by Dr. Gontzea at the Institute of Medicine in Bucharest, he demonstrated that exercise causes increased demands on the body’s need for protein. During this study (and most studies on protein synthesis) he evaluated the nitrogen balances in urine and feces. A positive nitrogen balance means that the body is obtaining sufficient quantity and quality from the diet. A negative nitrogen balance means that the body is not receiving enough quality or quantity of protein from the diet. A negative nitrogen balance means that the body is not receiving enough quality and quantity of protein so the body literally “eats” muscle and other protein structures in the body for its daily needs.

Dangers of Taking in Too Much Protein

Many people are afraid of eating too much protein – and justifiably so; excessive protein intake is harsh on your body with painful side effects (i.e. kidney stones). However, if your body needs 100 grams of protein per day, then 100 grams is not too much but rather your personalized protein needs!

On a quick side note, many times kidney stones are a result of chronic dehydration, not excessive protein intake. If you are consuming half of your body weight in ounces of water and calculating your sweat rate during exercise, you will minimize your risk of dehydration and the development of kidney stones.

Protein Intake to Build Muscle

One of the big misconceptions of building muscle is that you can accomplish this task by eating tremendous amounts of meat, nuts and protein shakes. The truth about building muscle has little to do with the amount of protein you take in, but rather the demands of the body to “need” more protein to rebuild stressed muscle tissue. If you consume more protein that your body needs (and your liver processes), the excess protein is broken down into carbohydrates and passed as urea waste.

The key to building more muscle mass is to stress the tendons, ligaments and muscles in a systematic manner to break down the muscle tissue without tearing it. This is a big problem with athletes who try to grow too fast, they overstress the system and instead of developing new muscle (natural anabolic growth mode) they put their bodies in a tear down mode (catabolic mode).

As you incrementally add more load and stress on your tendons, ligaments and muscles, consuming high quality protein will result in increased muscle mass as the body “absorbs” the much needed amino acids which build new muscle (in addition to repairing the torn down existing muscle tissue).

Amino Acids

Like everything we eat, it isn’t just what you consume but also what you absorb that improves your health and performance. The important component of protein is an element called amino acids. Think about amino acids as the “building blocks of muscle”. Amino acids must be digested in the intestine and broken down into amino acids for absorption. Once absorbed, the amino acids are used either as individual products or recombined as proteins. For example, the amino acid tryptophan is used to make certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, recombining many amino acids provides for the manufacture of new muscle cells.

Experts say that there are at least 20 amino acids necessary for optimum health and performance. While some of these amino acids can be made by the body (non-essential), others must be taken in through the diet (essential). The following table lists both types:

Essential Amino Acids Non-Essential Amino Acids
Arginine Alanine
Histidine Asparagine
Isoleucine Aspartate
Leucine Cysteine
Lysine Glutamate
Methionine Glutamine
Phenylalanine Glycine
Threonline Proline
Tryptophan Serine
Valine Tyrosine

One topic that pops up when discussing amino acids is “complete amino acids” and “incomplete amino acids”. Animal protein sources such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs contain all amino acids, and are what we consider complete amino acids. The only non-animal product that is a complete protein is tofu. Vegetables foods contain only some of the amino acids. With this in mind, combining various vegetable foods can produce a complete amino acid profile. Keep in mind that it is NOT necessary to eat all of them in one meal. For non-meat eating individuals, the combination of whole grains and legumes will provide a complete amino acid profile. Simple examples are brown rice and beans or almond butter and whole wheat bread.

Protein Sources for Optimum Speed & Endurance – The Nutritional Cell, the Egg!

 

We previously discussed the importance of protein and the dangers of not consuming enough protein as it relates to your immunity, strength and endurance. If you haven’t had a chance to read that article, please do so before continuing to read (otherwise, this article may not make much sense).

Now that you know the importance of protein in your diet, you need to make good decisions regarding where you source the protein that you eat. For individuals that eat meat and dairy products, getting enough protein should not be a problem. However, there are many health choices to consider if you’re going to eat meat, dairy and eggs for your protein sources (which will be discussed below). For vegetarians, getting enough protein can be a challenge; soy and certain combinations of legumes and grains can supply all essential amino acids.

Consuming a variety of foods from real sources such as eggs, meat, fish, whey or soy improves the potential of your body getting adequate protein and more specifically, amino acids on a daily basis. In addition to consuming a variety of lean, high quality protein, it is important that you strive to consume only high quality protein whenever possible. However, for some individuals, high quality protein may not be readily available. For instance, it’s not often that you’ll find organic steak or eggs on the menu at your local restaurant. Likewise the chicken you buy from the grocery store may not always be free range and you may have to settle for a farm raised salmon the next time you want grilled fish.

The worst thing you can do is not eat protein foods at all. The best thing you can do is make the best decision most of the time. If your body is healthy, eating some less-than-perfect foods from time to time will have less negative effect on your health wellness and performance.

Healthy aspects of animal foods

Humans have been consuming animal food for centuries – specifically meat, fish and eggs. Despite what some mainstream media outlets may report, the human G.I. (Gastro Intestinal) tract is well adapted for consuming food from animals with a history of mankind eating high quality protein, low carbohydrate diet with varying amounts of raw fruits, vegetables & nuts. As described by nutritionalist Dr. Maffetone, the media trend has been towards the misconception that meat consumption is unhealthy. However, there are variety of unique features of an animal food diet that are vital for health, wellness and performance:

  • Animal foods contain all essential amino acids
  • Vitamin A is found only in animal products
  • Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found only in animal foods
  • Iron deficiency is prevented by eating animal foods which contain this mineral and in its most bio-available form
  • EPA, the most powerful fatty acid and the one most preferred by the human body, is almost exclusively found in animal foods
  • Animal products are considered dense protein foods with little or no carbohydrates interfere with digestion and absorption
  • People who consume less animal proteins have greater rates of bone loss that those who need larger amounts of animal protein.

The Egg – A Nutritional Cell

Eggs can be called the “perfect food all wrapped up in one single cell”. Yes that’s right – an egg is an individual cell. In this single cell contains the most complete and highest protein rating of any food containing all essential amino acids. Additionally, eggs also contain many essential nutrients including significant amounts of vitamins a A, D, E, B1 B2 B6 folic acid and especially vitamin B12.

Simple Facts about eggs:

  • An extra large egg contains approximately 75 calories; 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • Eggs also contain port minerals including calcium magnesium potassium zinc and iron. Choline and biotin, also important for energy production and stress management, are contained in large amounts in eggs. Most of these nutrients are found in the yoke of an egg.
  • The fat in an egg yolk is also nearly a perfect balance containing mostly mono unsaturated fats and about 36% saturated fat.
  • Egg yolks contain linoleic and linolenic – both essential fatty acids.
  • Eggs have almost no carbohydrates less than 1 g making them the perfect meal or snack for the millions who are carbohydrate intolerant.
  • Eggs come in many sizes and colors, not just white and brown. The color is dependent on the type of chicken, where the egg is laid and when the egg is laid.
  • Eggs should always be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Because of the egg shell is porous, there is a slight amount of evaporation of moisture from the inner egg which changes its flavor and freshness.
  • If you’re not using your eggs quickly, then store them in a sealed container to prevent loss of moisture.
  • Never store eggs next to highly favored foods such as onions and fish because they will absorb these strong flavors.
  • Always store eggs with the large side up which spends the yolk effectively within the egg.

Most people love taste of eggs but many people are concerned about eating them because of cholesterol. Ironically, the cholesterol in eggs is not something to be feared but rather embraced in to an attempt to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

As outlined by Dr. Maffetone, “while eggs are one of nature’s most perfect foods, they’re only as healthy as the hens that lay them, since the nutritional make up of eggs, especially the fat, is dependent on what the chickens eat. For this reason you should avoid run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs that have been produced in chicken factories. The healthiest eggs are those that come from organic free range hens. This means that the chickens are raised on land that has been certified organic, free range hens. Free range means that the hens are allowed to roam and in doing so they generally will eat bugs and vegetable matter thus the eggs yield a better fat profile with more mono unsaturated fat and more essential fatty acids”.

If you can’t find organic-free range eggs, most grocery stores carry either one or the other: organic or free range. While organic and free range may cost a bit more than regular eggs, they remain a protein bargain. And if you can’t find organic or free range eggs, regular grocery store eggs are better than no eggs at all.

Before you buy your eggs, make sure that they are relatively fresh by looking at the date on the package. Another way to check for freshness is to shake them close to your ear. If you hear a sloshing sound, it is evident that the egg has lost a significant amount of moisture and there’s a big airspace within – avoid these eggs. Eggs also contain a natural barrier and invisible protecting coding which keeps out bacteria, never wash the eggs you’re going to store because you remove this natural protection.

Protein Sources for Optimum Weight Loss & Endurance – Beef, Chicken, Fish and the Vegetarian

In previous articles we have taken a look at how important protein as it relates to health and ultimately performance. In this article we will continue to outline and discuss the various protein sources as outlined by well known nutritionalists Dr’s Maffetone & Michael Colgan. By choosing a variety of protein sources from the healthiest possible: eggs, beef, poultry, fish and other meats, as well as cultured dairy products, and soy in whey, you will obtain a wide variety of other nutrients from these foods. Four instance, eggs contain the important nutrient choline; beef contains L glutamine; Wade contains bio files; and soy contains I.c.e. flavonoids. Additionally, these foods also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Beef – Nutritional Powerhouse

Look at the nutritional facts of a 3 ounce lean porterhouse:

  • At least 70% water, contains 20 g of protein
  • 6 g of saturated fat and balanced by 7 g of monounsaturated fat
  • Rich in B vitamins, glutamine, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other nutrients that are lacking in many diets

Organic and natural beef have not been treated with antibiotics growth hormones or fed any type of animal source protein common in most other animals.

With the threat of mad cow disease, it is especially important to buy beef that has not been given feeds that contain animal by-products. Organically raised beef cattle are fed only certified organic feed and graze on organically certified land.

When cooking beef keep it on the rare side. Studies show that beef cooked medium, medium well or well is associated with higher rates of stomach cancer. This is due to the production of carcinogens from naturally occurring creatinine during cooking. Heat sensitive nutrients such as the amino acids glutamine are also significantly reduced in the cook beyond rare.

Chicken

Recently the poultry industry decided to stop adding antibiotics for poultry feed. This action was based on evidence that bacteria in chicken and turkey were becoming resistance to the drugs. The result is that when humans become infected with bacteria, antibiotics prescribed to them mat be ineffective. This actually follows a measure in the 1950s banning the use of growth hormone and poultry.

While these actions are certainly steps in the right direction, there are still some concerns when it comes to eating chicken or turkey. The poultry industry has done a good job telling you on paper how healthy chicken is over other meats, but few people really look at the way chickens are raised. Typically more than any other animals, chickens are raised in very unhealthy environments. The chicken houses are really a city containing hundred thousand birds or more, cooped up in tiny boxes and very crowded conditions.

Most turkeys, like chicken, are raised in unhealthy environments of poultry factories and are managed for quick growth rather than healthy table fare. In addition, some birds are injected after slaughter with unhealthy substances for flavor and color it to tenderize the meat.

All this does not mean that chicken and other poultry is not a good source of protein – you just need to find a good source. The best for the table is organic raised. This means that the animal has not been treated with or fed any chemicals or drugs, and has only been fed certified organic feed. This is the safest of all poultry. If you can’t find organic poultry, free range bird that have not been treated with pesticides, and which have been fed a diet that does not include animal byproducts such as chicken parts are your best option.

Fish – The Power of Omega 3

Many people turned his fish as a healthy protein source. Fish are a good source of protein and some also contain significant amounts of essential fatty acids especially omega-3 fats. However just as with other protein foods, some fish are healthier choices than others. For instance if you’re eating farm raised salmon or other fish, your catch of the day may include antibiotic’s, pesticides, steroids, hormones and artificial pigments. Additionally, pollution of waterways and oceans has increased the potential danger to eating all fish and seafood.

As outlined by Dr. Maffetone, farm raised salmon, which make up 95% of the salmon on the market, and the bulk of fish purchased by consumers, are raised in aquatic pens – the undersea equivalent to cattle feedlots and chicken factories. Since these fish are raised in confined crowded and unsanitary conditions, the threat of disease and parasites is great. To combat disease and parasites, some fish farms add antibiotics to salmon feed and treat the salmon and their pens with pesticides. Some salmon are also treated with steroids to make the fish sterile and growth hormone to speed them to market size and reduce production costs. In addition, since farm raised salmon do not naturally eat crustaceans, which makes the flesh pink or orange, salmon growers often feed color additives to pigment the flesh.

As clearly outlined by Dr. Maffetone, if you choose to eat fish, it is best to buy wild caught fish. However this is not perfectly safe either. One study found that more than 74% of wild fish caught near fish farms contained antibiotics from eating feed that drifted out of the fish farm pens. In addition to feeds from the fish farms, there are other concerns to eating wild fish. Contamination is possible due to infection from bacteria or viruses, heavy metals such as mercury, food additives such as sulfites and histamines, pesticides such as DDT and other chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s).

As a general rule, avoid consuming seafood that includes the so-called bottom feeders, these fish and others see that eat from the ocean’s floor, are extremely dangerous because of the potential of consuming toxic material is at its highest concentration levels. This is especially true for those species that feed close to shore. Flounder, sole, catfish and crabs are some examples of foods to avoid eating regularly. Oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are also sources of potential pollutants.

Clams are perhaps the worst seafood to eat, especially when raw, since they normally filter out and concentrate viruses and bacteria, heavy metals and other chemical pollutants from the waters in which they live.

If you enjoy eating seafood, here are some tips for doing so more safely and more nutritiously:

  • Choose fish and crustaceans caught far away from polluted industrial areas. Some examples are northern Maine lobster, Canadian salmon, sardines and herring.
  • Look for cold water fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and others which contain higher amounts of omega-3 fat and EPA.
  • Eat smaller fish and crustaceans; Trout, bass and shrimp rather than Marlon and swordfish. Smaller and younger fish have not accumulated the toxins found in larger and older species.
  • Avoid pre-cooked fish, and prepared or processed seafood such as breaded fish or seafood, fish cakes, ground fish and imitation crab meat.
  • If you catch your own fish, ask local authorities about the limits of safety. Some regions recommend limiting how much of certain species you should eat any year.

Other Meats

In addition to beef, poultry and fish, other meats are also good sources of protein according to Dr. Maffetone. Pork and lamb are popular meats and recently more exotic meat such as buffalo have appeared in some grocery stores and fresh markets. When choosing these meats, use the same guidelines as with beef and poultry – buy those that are raised naturally, or better yet, organically. A good deal of pork on the market is raising large-scale hog operations just like chickens, so it is advisable to look for better sources of meat.

Wild Game

Including big-game animals such as deer as well as small game such as rabbits and game birds, is also another great source of protein. Wild game meat is generally leaner but higher in essential fatty acids than domestic meats. While hunting your own meat is nearly ideal, there’s a growing concern in some areas like the northeastern United States that the use of pesticides and other environmental chemicals have affected wild animals. But in general, wild game is much safer than store bought meat.

Ground Meat (of any kind)

One of the worst types of meat to consume is ground meat of any kind. Avoid all ground beef, poultry, pork or other meats, unless it has been freshly ground right before you freeze or consume immediately.

Ground meat is a haven for bacteria in can ferment in your intestine much worse than whole meat. If you like ground meat, or have a recipe that requires it, it is better to buy a large piece of meat and have it ground up just before cooking – most butchers, even those in large grocery stores, will do this for you. Also, beware of other meats that have been cut, such as sliced meat, chopped meat and stew meat. Try to buy as large a piece of meat as possible and cut it yourself.

Please Pass the Cheese for Nutritional Power

Cheese, cottage cheese and plain yogurt are dairy products that contain quality protein without many of the problems associated with milk. This is especially true if you can find products made from goat or sheep milk rather than cow milk. Goat and sheep milk are much more compatible for humans than cow milk.

As described by Dr. Maffetone, whichever type of milk they’re made from; culture products such as these are good sources of protein because the lactose, or milk sugar, has been consumed by bacteria in the culturing process. These bacteria literally gobble up the sugar. To be sure that an item is fully cultured, check the nutritional facts on the label; the carbohydrate should be very low. This is also true of yogurt – many popular brands are not fully cultured. Of course you want to avoid the fruit flavored varieties which are always full of sugar, with some containing more than ice cream.

If you use cheese, whole milk cottage cheese or yogurt as protein sources, it’s important to remember that these are also high in B fat. Avoid American cheese, cheese spreads and other processed cheeses. These highly processed products, which outsell natural cheese, are usually several types of unripe cheeses, ground up with added chemical stabilizers, preservatives and emulsifiers. Sheep, goat cheese and yogurt can be found in many supermarkets, health food stores and are also available on the Internet.

Whey Protein

Two proteins found in milk: curds and whey. Whey protein is the thin liquid part of milk remaining after the casein (the curds) and fat are removed. Whey is the part of the milk containing most of the vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Whey is a complete protein. It’s nutritional and therapeutic values are well documented, and this food is often referred to as nutraceutical.

Biothiols are a group of natural sulfur containing substances that promote basic antioxidant activity in your cells, and are contained in high amounts in whey. In providing this vital raw material, whey is a key food for the immune system – one that can help prevent and treat many chronic conditions, from asthma and allergies to cancer and heart disease. It can also help improve muscle function.

The body uses the biothiols in whey as a raw material to produce a substance called glutathione. This substance is at the heart of regulating the bodies antioxidant defense mechanism, and is even more important than vitamin C and E, and others in that group of popular antioxidants.

Those who are allergic to cow’s milk can usually consume whey without problems. Small amounts of lactose are found in whey (much less than is found in liquid milk), but this is usually too little to cause intestinal problems, even in most people sensitive to lactose. In those who are truly lactose intolerant (less than 5% of the population), this amount of lactose could be a problem.

Whey protein is contained in high amounts in certain cheeses, such as a Italian ricotta (check the ingredient label on ricotta to make sure the main ingredient is whey). Avoid highly processed whey products such as those, which contain whey-protein isolate and caseinate.

Myths and facts About Soy

According to Dr. Maffetone, soy is one vegetarian source of a complete protein. Whole green soybeans or edamame are excellent sources of protein and also fiber. Soy products such as tofu also contain quality protein.

When buying products that contain soy it is important to avoid those which have been highly processed. These include soy protein isolate and caseinates and hydrolyzed soy, which often contain monosoodium glutamate (MSG) as a byproduct of processing. This MSG byproduct is not listed in the ingredients.

Soy is acceptable as a food and food ingredient only if it reflects real soybean quantity and quality rather than a highly processed product. Examples of real soy foods include soy beans, tofu and soy concentrates with the same amino acid profile as whole soybeans.

Many people think soy is a wonder food. But like all foods, some people will benefit from soy while others may not. In fact, just as many people maybe intolerant to soy as dairy. In addition, soy products fortified with concentrated isoflavones can pose serious dangers, including an increased risk of cancer, particularly for postmenopausal women, the very audiences products are marketed to by the big companies. This may also contribute to hormone imbalance.