If you are among the many people who take calcium supplements, think again. While any calcium is better than no calcium, a calcium-rich diet is the best bet for bone health. Here's some info to help you keep your skeleton strong.
• You have a life-long need for calcium because your bones are constantly in flux, remodeling by releasing and then redepositing calcium.
• After menopause, the balance between bone breakdown and formation shifts, resulting in bone loss and therisk of osteoporosis—particularly if you are not eating adequate calcium-rich foods.
• The body’s ability to absorb calcium declines with age. That’s explains why the recommended intake of calcium goes from 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day for women over 50 and men over 70.
• Calcium depends on stomach acids to be absorbed, so consuming calcium as a food (as opposed to a supplement) enhances calcium absorption. Plus small doses of calcium are absorbed better than 500 mg doses. Hence, eating a calcium-rich food at each meal is preferable to the unnatural consumption of one big bolus of calcium via supplement.
• Yogurt (not Greek) offers more calcium ounce for ounce, than milk, plus the active cultures in yogurt increase the body’s absorption of calcium.
• If you are counting on spinach, collards, and Swiss chard for calcium, heads up. Those foods have a high level of oxalic acid, which binds calcium so you absorb less than the nutritional numbers promise. If you eat a wide variety of foods, this is of little significance, because the DRIs take into account dietary factors that effect absorption. But if veggies are your main calcium source, think again.
• Be sure to get adequate vitamin D (800 IUs daily) to make use of the calcium you consume.
The ads suggest coconut water is the perfect sports drink. What do ya' think?
Coconut water is marketed as being “100% pure” and “all natural.” Almost true. It has only two ingredients: coconut water (the watery liquid inside a green coconut) -- but also quite a bit of vitamin C that has been added to the drink. Not "all natural."
Coconut water is naturally rich in potassium (good) but has a high price tag (about $3 for a 17-ounce carton; bad).
Here’s how it compares (in portions commonly consumed by thirsty athletes) to Gatorade and orange juice:
Because serious athletes have a higher need for sodium than potassium during sweaty exercise (and you will simply flush the excess vitamin C down the toilet), I’d suggest you choose a higher-sodium sports drink during endurance workouts and spend your money on orange juice and other natural foods afterwards. That is, unless you happen to prefer the taste and digestibility of coconut water, which research suggests is not always the case (1)
1) Kalman, D, S Feldman, DKrieger, R Bloomer. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolytesport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance inexercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012; 9:1
Q. Help! What’s the solution to intestinal problems during long runs?
A. Upset stomachs, nausea, cramping, and urgency to take a pit stop are common problems among long distance runners. Because each person has his or her personal response to long runs, I can only ask you lots of questions, but perhaps they will help you find an answer. Here goes...
• Are you running too far, too fast too soon and your body is telling you it isn’t ready for that distance?
• Are you stressed and anxious on long-run days, and your nerves are creating the problem?
• Do you eat too much food the night before? If so, try having your big meal at brunch the day before and eat lighter at night.
• Do you eat too much breakfast before the long run? Try eating part of the breakfast the night before, at bedtime, so you’ll be less hungry in the morning.
• Do you eat fatty, heavy foods (like a sausage, egg ‘n cheese biscuit) before the long run?
• Do you drink too much pre-run coffee?
• What do you use for fuel during the long runs? Gels sometimes cause GI problems. So can commercial sports drinks or candies with the wrong kind of sugar for your gut.
• Are you chewing sugarless gum? The sweetener (sorbitol) can cause GI distress such as gas and diarrhea.
• Do you eat yogurt, kefir, or take probiotics? They can help resolve bowel issues.
• Do you get dehydrated? Lack of fluids contributes to diarrhea.
• Do you eat a high fiber diet? “Healthy” diets with abundant whole grains, fruits and veggies can become problematic for some runners.
• Is the problem limited to during runs or do you have intestinal issues at other times of the day? Perhaps you have latent Irritable Bowel Syndrome that gets aggravated during long runs?
• Do other people in your family have intestinal issues, like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or colon cancer? Perhaps you have problems digesting gluten (a genetic tendency) and should be tested to see if you have Celiac Disease?
• Have you kept food logs to track potential culprits so you can pinpoint, or at least narrow down, the problem?
Good luck being a food detective! And don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if all of the above suggestions fail to find a solution. A consultation with a local sports dietitian for a nutrition check-up can be very helpful! See www.SCANdpg.org for a referral network.
Please add your comments if you have found a solution not mentioned above!
NOTE: If you live near any of the workshop locations, please share this announcement with coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers,dietitians, nutrition educators, and yes, serious athletes themselves.
Nancy, which brand of amino acids should I buy? On amazon.com, there are 16 brands, ranging in price from $18 to $40. Help…!”
Answer: What makes you think you even need to buy essential amino acids? You can easily get them in protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, milk, chicken—any animal-based protein has all the essential amino acids your body needs.
The protein supplement industry has done an excellent job of making consumers believe they need to buy essential amino acids. Wrong! If you fuel-up your workouts with a protein+carb combination, such as a yogurt and banana, and then recover afterwards with another protein+carb combination such as lowfat chocolate milk followed by real foods at the next meal, you’ll be doing a fine job of getting all of these building blocks of protein. Rest assured, you could more wisely spend your money on protein-rich foods, not amino acid supplements, and get the results you want from your workouts.
Just to define the “lingo”: Proteins are made from many amino acids, just like words are made from many letters. Some of these amino acids— the essential amino acids—need to come from food, because the body cannot make them.
Here are a few ways to get two of the essential amino acids, isoleucine and leucine. Because pure amino acids taste nasty, I’ll get mine from yummy chocolate milk and real foods at meals any day!
If your skinny high school son is pestering you to buy a weight gain supplement because he’s sure it will create bulging muscles by breakfast, think twice and save your money!
As you can see from the chart below, all weight gain supplements are expensive and offer nothing you cannot get via food. A hefty peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a tall glass of milk aids weight gain at a far lower price tag than an equal amount of calories from Muscle Milk.
Food-home based Calories Price Cost/100 calories
Granola (1 cup) + 500 $1.00 $0.20
8-oz 2% milk
Sandwich: PB & J 650 $0.95 $0.15
(3 Tbsp PB, 2 Tbsp J)
Chocolate milk, 16-oz 300 $0.60* $0.20
Instant breakfast 250 $0.80 $0.32
Grape Juice, 16-oz 280 $1.00 $0.36
Muscle Milk, powder 310 $1.78 $0.57
Drinks-on the run
Nesquick, 16-oz bottle 300 $1.79 $0.60
Ensure, 8-oz bottle 250 $1.75 $0.60
Muscle Milk, 14-oz bottle 230 $3.59 $1.56
As you can see, buying bottles of read-to-drink meal replacements can quickly get expensive.
A money-saving alternative is to make your own weight gain drink:
In the morning, blend 1 quart of 2%-milk with 4 packets of Carnations Instant Breakfast and 1/2 cup powdered milk (1,000 calories total). Toss in a banana or other fruit for more calories. Drink half at breakfast and take the rest with you in a travel mug. Yummier than most commercial products—and no vitamin-fortified taste or smell.
Among my clients, I’ve observed that skinny athletes who have trouble gaining weight tend to be good fidgeters. They twiddle their fingers, swing their legs backand forth while sitting, and seem unable to sit still. All this involuntary movement burns calories. In comparison, the folks who complain about their inability to lose weight generally sit calmly, barely blinking their eyes. They may complain they have a “slow metabolism.” Doubtful. Their metabolism is likely normal, but their propensity to sit calmly is the problem. Compared to the fidgeter, they save themselves a lot of calories!
The technical term for the spontaneous movement often seen in skinny people who have difficulty gaining weight is Non-Exercise ActivityThermogenesis or N.E.A.T. NEAT includes not only fidgeting but also pacing while you talk on the phone and standing (not sitting) while you talk with a teammate. If you overeat, activation of NEAT helps you dissipate excess energy by nudging you to putter around the house more, choose to shoot some hoops, or (yikes!) feel motivated to vacuum and clean the house. If your body’s ability to activate NEAT is low, then you likely gain weight easily. NEAT can predict how resistant you'll be to gaining weight.
If you are overfat, the next time you start to complain about your slow metabolism, think again. Maybe you should start fidgeting and moving more throughout the daytime?
If you are skinny, the next time you complain about being unable to gain weight, think again. Can you try to stop fidgeting and pacing?
Most people on weight-reduction diets believe that having a salad for meal is a low calorie option that’s preferable to eating a Whopper or a Big Mac. Not always the case. Many salads come loaded with dried fruits, nuts, avocado, corn, and beans. Nutritious ingredients, yes, but caloric—especially if lots of cheese is sprinkled on top.
Salad dressing can be a real calorie-killer. Even a little bit of dressing on a big salad can become a LOT of dressing! Perhaps that’s why I’ve observed that people who eat salads for meals tend to be heavier than people who eat sandwiches. As for myself, I’ll take my sandwich with a small (but colorful) side salad.
For athletes interested in bulking up, creatine is commonly a topic of discussion. While I typically recommend hard work and smart nutrition over taking a creatine, here is some information about creatine, to help you determine if you want to make it a part of your sports supplement program. The information is taken from a recent article in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
• Your liver and kidneys (and to a small extent, your pancreas) produce about 1 gram creatine per day and store it in your muscles. Your body will produce less creatine if you start taking creatine supplements, but this soon changes when you stop taking the supplements.
• Creatine is found in meat. Hence, meat-eaters consume about 1 gram creatine per day but vegetarians (and others who do not eat beef, chicken, fish or other meats) have lower amounts of creatine stored in their muscles.
• The average 154-lb (70-kg) man stores about 120 to 140 grams of creatine; taking creatine supplements can increase creatine levels inthe body.
• Higher creatine allows for more rapid ATP regeneration between resistance training sets. This allows athletes to maintain a higher training intensity and stimulates greater muscle strength and size.
• A typical supplementation protocol is: Loading phase: four 5-gram doses taken throughout the day (20 grams total/day) for five days, followed by 3 to 5 grams creatine per day to maintain.
• Some athletes have no response to creatine supplements. Perhaps these non-responders already had initially high creatine levels? If so, this suggests a maximum size for the creatine pool.
• Some athletes show an 8% to 14% improvement in 1 Repetition Max (the heaviest amount of weight a person can lift)—but not everyone experiences such a response.
• Vegetarians who take creatine tend to have a larger increase in lean muscle mass compared to non-vegetarians—5.3 lbs vs. 4.2 lbs (2.4 kg vs. 1.9 kg) respectively. Note: That's only one pound more ... not much!
•Although creatine has been shown to be most effective with anaerobic intermittent exercise such as lifting weights, it might also help athletes such as sprinters who do intense aerobic exercise that lasts more than 150 seconds (2.5 minutes)—but creatine’s effects diminish as the duration of the exercise increases over 150 seconds. Creatine’s benefits may be related to improving one’s anaerobic threshold.
•Creatine combined with high intensity or long duration exercise and a high carbohydrate diet can contribute to higher muscle glycogen stores.
• Creatine can act as an effective antioxidant after intense resistance training sessions.
• Post-exercise creatine can favor an anabolic environment and improve the recovery process.
• Because creatine gets stored with water, it increases intracellular water content. This can result in water-weight gain, increased muscle stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
• Creatine has not been well-tested in athletes younger than 18 years of age. Some speculate taking creatine might be a stepping-stone for kids that leads to more dangerous products like steroids (though this is just speculation).
• Creatine Guidelines for teen athletes include:
-Only recommended when the athlete is a serious competitor and is post-puberty.
-The athlete is eating a well-balanced sports diet that optimizes performance.
-Both athlete and parents understand the effects of creatine supplementation and approve of taking the supplement. No one can guarantee safety.
-Qualified professionals supervise the supplementation of only reputable brands of creatine supplements.
-The athlete does not take more than the recommended dose.
• Creatine supplements come in many forms, including in combination with protein and carbohydrates. More research is needed to determine if one style is the most helpful.
ª Negative health reports associated with creatine are few. The isolated reports suggest the athletes took high doses and had undiagnosed renal disease.
• Creatine is not associated with increased cramps or injuries. If anything, creatine holds more water in the body, and this might decrease the risk of dehydration.
MINNEAPOLIS: Nov 2-3, 2012 at Woodwinds HealthCampus in Woodbury
ST, LOUIS: Nov 16-17 at St. LouisUniversity
CHICAGO: Nov 30-Dec 1 at Rush University
COLUMBUS: Jan 25-26, 2013 at Ohio Health Riverside Campus
INDIANAPOLIS: Feb. 8-9, 2013 at National Institute for Fitness and Sport
NOTE: If none of those dates or locations work, you can attend the workshop online, anytime.
___ ___ ___
Here’s your chance to update your sports nutrition knowledge while enjoying an information-packed workshop with two internationally respected professionals:
•Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD is known for her skills with helping athletes and exercisers enhance their performance and achieve their desired physiques.
•Exercise physiologist William Evans PhD is renown for his research on protein, exercise, and aging—plus his ability to translate that information into “how to” tips.
This 1.5 day program is designed to help both healthprofessionals and serious athletes. You'll find answers to your questions about how to—
--improve athletic performance with a winning sports diet.
--manage weight issues and resolve disordered eating practices.
—invest in lifelong health and longevity
--further your athletic and/or professional career.
Ten hours of education for ACE, AFAA, AND, ACSM, CHES, NATA, NSCA,
“I was surprised to learn new information on a topic Ithought I knew so well.”
--Registereddietitian/personal trainer, Seattle
Please visit www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com for more details.
The workshop is available online as a home study if you cannot attend in person. You'll hear the speaker's voice and see the PowerPoint presentation.
NOTE: If you live near any of the workshop locations, please share this announcement with coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, dietitians, nutrition educators, and yes, serious athletes themselves.
I like to stop at a convenience store during my long runs and buy a cola. Everyone else is drinking water or sports drink. They give me a hard time for drinking soda. Is there anything wrong with drinking cola on long runs?
Soda is sugar water .. . just like a sports drink. To make soda into a sports drink, dilute it in half with water and add a dash of salt (or munch on a few pretzels alongside the soda). The sodium (salt) enhances fluid retention.
Soda such as cola offers 100 calories per 8 ounces; Gatorade offers about 50 calories per 8 ounces. Both have few nutritional merits. Because a sports drink is more dilute than cola, it is easier to absorb and will empty quicker from the stomach. Hence, during intense runs, or in hot weather, when rapid fluid absorption is important, you might want to drink water alongside the cola to dilute it.
The caffeine in cola may be one reason you prefer it over a sports drink. Caffeine, particularly in combination with carbohydrates (i.e.,the sugar in soft drinks), is known to enhance performance. Although once thought to have a dehydrating effect, we now know that it not true.
As long as the cola settles well, without creating belching or stomach aches, you have my blessing to enjoy it during extended exercise. It is just one way to consume the 200 to 300 calories from carbohydrates you need per hour of running. The cola will help you maintain high energy and enjoyment of the run.
Granted, a wholesome breakfast or healthier pre-run snack to fuel the first hour is nutritionally preferable to relying on sugar-water. But during extended exercise, sugar in any form will help keep you from hitting the wall. The guidelines are to limit your sugar intake to 10% of your calories. That's 200 to 300 sugar-calories per day .... that means, one soda during a long run is OK but four sodas for meals and snacks is another story.
How much protein does a weight-lifter need to get an optimal response from exercise? --Is it an absolute amount or grams per kilogram body weight?
Speaking at a symposium spononsored by PINES (www.PINESNutrition.org), protein researcher Daniel Moore PhD of the University of Guelph in Canada reported that for generalized advice, 20 grams of post-exercise protein does the job for the average athlete. More is not better. In a study that compared 20 and 40 grams, the higher 40-gram dose offered minimal additional benefits for muscle protein synthesis. Don’t waste your money on supplements, and also don’t fill up on protein while ignoring your needs for carbohydrates to refuel your muscles. You want to consume three times more carbs than protein!
For more personalized advice, the best bet is to determine post-exercise protein needs according to body weight. Moore recommends targeting about 0.25 g protein per kilogram body weight (that’s about .11 gram per pound) to maximize muscle protein synthesis. This means:
-- a 50 kg (110 lb) female would need approximately 12.5 grams protein post-exercise
--a 100 kg (220 pound) man, would need about 25 grams protein post-exercise.
Any excessprotein primarily gets burned as fuel or stored as fat.
You want to offer your muscles a continous supply of protein, so enjoy repeated “doses” throughout the day. Most athletes do this naturally with meals and snacks.
For certain! At a recent meeting sponsored by P.I.N.E.S. (an international group of sports dietitians who met at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Convention, June 1, 2012 in San Francisco), Dr. Stuart Phillips, PhD of McMaster University in Canada reminded us that rapidly-growing infants require 1.3 grams protein per kilogram, whereas the RDA for fully-grown adults is 0.8 grams protein per kilogram body weight. Adults need less protein because they simply are not growing as fast as infants and young children.
The same goes for novice athletes who are building muscle; they have higher protein needs than a sedentary person. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), according to Phillips, is really a minimal dietary allowance for athletes. Just as children have higher protein needs during growth periods, athletes also have higher requirements to 1) build muscles and 2) maintain a flow of amino acids for processes that may function at a higher rates in athletes than non-athletes (such as the synthesis of protein, neurotransmitters, and immune proteins).
Phillips supported the ACSM Position Stand on Nutrition for Athletes, citing their recommended daily protein intake of 1.2 g/kg body weight (0.5 g/lb) for endurance athletes and 1.7 g/kg body weight (0.75 g/lb) for strength athletes.
Most elite athletes eat 1.6 grams protein/kg/day, spread over 4 to 5 meals and snacks, so they already meet this higher protein recommendation without the use of supplements. Hence, the real answer to the question “do some people need more protein than others?” is yes, but they likely get that extra amount in their standard diet; they just have less excess. Them ore you exercise, the hungrier you get and the more protein you are likely to eat.
Beets, rhubarb and arugala are nitrate-rich foods.Sports nutrition research indicates the natural nitrates they contain can significantly improve running performance when eaten three-hours in advance of exercise. The nitrates convert into nitric oxide, a gaseous signaling molecule that acts as a critical biological messenger. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, reduces platelet stickiness, and allows a person to exercise at a submaximal pace using less oxygen. This info is helpful for not only athletes but for unhealthy people with lung and circulation problems.
This nitrate-rich recipe is one of many tasty suggestions from the website of food-lover Eileen Behan RD www.ForTheLoveOfFood.org.
6 small red beets (12 ounces, raw or cooked), peeled and sliced very thin
1/2 large pink grapefruit, juiced
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
8 ripe strawberries
1/2 lemon , juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1-cup chopped (1 stalk) rhubarb
4 cups arugula, washed and dried
1. In a medium bowl, toss beet slices (either raw or cooked) with the juice and zest of the grapefruit-half, vinegar, pinch of salt and 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Marinate, at least 15 minutes to 4 hours.
2. Cut the strawberries into quarters. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, and juice from the lemon.
3. Prepare the rhubarb sauce: in a food processor, pulse rhubarb with 2 tbsp water and puree until smooth.
Just before serving, strain the marinated beets. Toss beets with the strawberries. Arrange the greens on a platter and top with the beets and strawberries. Put a dollop of rhubarb purée in the center. Optional: drizzle with a little olive oil.