Thursday, April 28, 2011

moving to wordpress

Yep,  blogger is a little to underpowered for me, so I'm moving my blog to wordpress.  see the link above to move over there, please register again, now you should receive updates when I post a new blog.

this is my new address:

Monday, April 25, 2011

A primer on Protein

What is protein?
Protein is a biological compound found throughout the earth consisting of amino acids held together by chemical bonds in specific patterns. In terms of human biology, protein is one of the 3 main sources of nutrients (called macronutrients) used as a building block for tissue bone and plasma, it is also used for energy in certain cases, lastly protein can also be used to create enzymes that facilitate chemical reactions in the body.
Different types of dietary protein important to humans
There are many amino acids, but there are 20 that are vital to humans and required for proper nutrition and health. Of these 20 there are 8 amino acids that cannot be synthesized from base components already in the body. These 8 amino acids are called essential amino acids, and must be acquired through diet and/or supplementation. Aside from the amino acids, different nutritional elements provide different “types” of protein (whey, soy, casein, hydrolysate …). Some proteins are delivered faster to the systems that need them than others, and some proteins are closer to a usable state and require less break down from digestion, the less time and energy required to break down proteins and rebuild them, the quicker they can be used in the body for things such as muscle building, enzyme creation, and muscle contraction.
How we use protein
Generally speaking, protein metabolism consists of ingestion of protein from a plant or animal source, breakdown of the protein into component amino acids in the digestive system, transport of the component amino acids to their desired location, and rebuilding of the right protein structures in the cells at the site needed. When protein levels are sufficient and of the right type, extra protein is used as an energy source, either through Gluconeogenesis or the Krebs cycle, and eventually either being used for energy creation or storage (storage meaning after the breakdown of the protein it is then passed further along the metabolic process and participates in lipogenesis and fat storage similar to excess carbohydrates).
It is important to note that the human body does not see protein as a primary fuel source, rather carbohydrates, and in the absence of carbohydrates, fats are both considered better fuel sources than protein. In general there are two main situations where protein will be tapped as a primary fuel. The first being lack of incoming calories, and the inability of the body to make up the fuel shortage with fat. Our body can only draw so much fat at any one time; chemical limitations mean there’s a cap, if the deficit seen is greater than that amount, then protein can be tapped as a reserve fuel source. Please note that this reaction will also trigger other, less beneficial changes in the body if allowed to continue for extended periods. The second situation where proteins are used as energy is when more than enough protein is being consumed. The body will not store extra protein in its main form. Any amino acids that have no immediate use will be broken down by the processes stated above and used as either energy if necessary, or stored as fat.
Benefits of protein
Protein as a nutrient is important because it helps keep muscles healthy, is required to have adequate muscle contraction, and important for many body functions. When we exercise our muscles beyond their normal capacity, the body recognizes the need to increase work capacity of muscles, this means growth. Muscle growth requires amino acids to build current muscles, and repair muscles that have been overworked, this is a slow process, and you don’t gain pounds of muscle in weeks (in fact, 1 pound per month of muscle growth is considered aggressive over the long term). A complex series of chemical reactions need to occur in the body in order to facilitate wide range muscle growth, while the body will always attempt (and prioritize) repair of existing muscle, building new muscle will only happen if there is both need and available resources. This is why persons in a prolonged, significant caloric deficit will generally not build new muscle mass. While there are very specialized situations where it CAN happen, it is not the normal process.
Drawbacks of protein
The breakdown of dietary protein can have adverse effects on the body. Protein that is not used for muscle growth, repair, or other direct amino acid uses is broken down into component carbon chains. This breakdown releases chemicals into the body that need to be flushed and removed because the body considers them poisons. Much of the breakdown and rebuilding of amino acids is done in the liver and Kidneys. Eating large amounts of protein, over and above the requirements of the body for building blocks will trigger the liver and the kidneys to “work” harder. Because these two organ sets are the main filters for un-wanted chemicals in the blood, they are the primary concern when ingesting large amounts of protein for long periods. For those with blood disorders, family history of liver and/or kidney problems, and other filtration related issues, protein consumption should be very closely monitored.
Suggestions and conclusions
Over the last 20 or so years, there’s been a large push to increase protein intake, especially among high intensity athletes (body building, strength related sports, weight lifting), but in most industrialized nations, protein consumption is well within requirements to maintain optimal health. Most nutrition organizations recommend approximately between 1 and 2 grams per kilogram of protein (about .4 to .9 grams per pound). There’s very little credible evidence that any amount above that is used for muscle growth and other amino acid direct delivery. The range is generally determined by age, sex, activity level, and exercise types and level. Please note that these levels apply to fully developed adults, teens and children and people of advanced age require different quantities of macronutrients.
Vegetarians are especially susceptible to protein deficiencies and need to make sure they “complete” their protein intake (by taking in foods with all the essential amino acids required by the body for protein synthesis). Vegetable sources of protein quite often only deliver some of the essential amino acids required to build specific proteins. While many times the body will have the remainder of those amino acids available to combine with them and complete the proteins, with vegetarians, this is not always the case. For vegetarians, research into which amino acids a protein source has and what other plant based sources to combine with them is vital to remaining healthy. While the sources are not difficult to find and combine, often vegetarians fail to do so, and thus can develop problems as a result.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Placeholder, no post this week

just an update here guys. I'm working on a bigger post, that's taking a while, it's on protein, so I don't have one for you this week. I'll only say this, eat healthy, eat enough, and exercise like crazy! When you're tired and don't want to exercise, visualize yourself 3 months from now 2 or 3 sizes smaller!

Monday, April 11, 2011

When you have a large amount of fat to lose

When you have a lot of weight to lose, and specifically a lot of fat to lose, there are some things you should keep in mind. I wanted to quickly go over these things with people and maybe give a heads up on what to expect as you drop weight and return to better health.

First thing to remember, if you have a good deal of fat to lose (fifty pounds or more as a range), it’s all about the diet. Yes, I’m a personal trainer, and yes, I always encourage everyone to exercise as much as possible, but I’m not a dummy, I know what it takes to lose weight, hey, I lost close to 60 pounds myself, so I know where you’re coming from. It’s often stated that losing fat is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Losing the fat means cracking down on the nutrition; this is especially true at the beginning. I’ve seen many folks who lost upwards of half the fat just by learning how to eat healthier. You don’t have to be a clean eating superstar to become healthy, you can be reasonable about your eating habits and still be in very good shape. But it does mean cutting out most of the saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, simple and processed carb treats, and making most of your meat choices as lean as possible. It’s the little things you need to do to become healthy, order that fish baked instead of fried, choose mixed veggies instead of the French fries, eat more vegetables at every meal, ask for dressings on the side, avoid the fat and sodium laden glazes, and watch your condiments. You do all these things and you’re well on your way.

The second thing to remember is that as the weight comes off, you need to adjust what your calorie deficit is. If you’re obese, then you can probably afford a 2 to 3 pound per week deficit. That’s plenty for anyone IMHO, but you may notice yourself losing weight faster than that at the beginning, that’s ok, but recognize that as you lose the fat, your weight loss will slow down. This is expected and natural, don’t worry about it, and just keep going.

Third thing to remember is that plateaus happen. Your body isn’t mechanical, it won’t follow your well laid plan exactly all the time. Sometimes your body will stop and adjust, this can take a few weeks, even up to a few months in extreme cases, don’t let that stop you, just take it as part of the plan. Don’t even worry about this until you’re up over a month, and at that point, if you’re still not losing, examine what you’re doing and decide whether you’re making the right choices.

Lastly, exercise may not be the main ingredient in losing weight at the beginning, but it’s what will help you stay healthy at the end. Exercise is vital to staying healthy. Exercise promotes muscle strength, bone health, immune system function, cardiovascular health, correct sleep patterns, and removal of excess fat. Exercise is a great stress reliever and releases endorphins in the body making you feel better the rest of the day. Exercise shapes your body, making you look better and have higher self-esteem, which can manifest itself in many aspects of life including relationships, work, social gatherings, public speaking … etc. For all these reasons, it’s vital that you include exercise in your journey. And I don’t just mean walking or using the elliptical. Don’t get me wrong, cardio is fine, but it’s only part of the process, exercise should include resistance, stretching, AND cardiovascular activity. Include at least one day of each every week, with multiple days of at least one for at least 30 minutes and at least a moderate level of activity for optimal health, more if you can fit it in.

-best wishes


Monday, April 4, 2011

Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation

Nutrient supplements come in many different forms. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll only be speaking on vitamin and mineral supplements. Muscle strength based “stacks” as they are commonly referred to are a different topic, and one I am not as well versed on and I won’t try to sway you one way or another on that particular subject.

When discussing vitamin and mineral supplements (hereafter referred to as VMS), there are a multitude of factors to keep in mind. Firstly we must understand how these VMS are manufactured and the form in which they are presented. Next we must understand how VMS are broken down in the body and are dissolved; and finally we must understand how the delivery forms interact with our bodies and what happens when we deliver massive doses of VMS to the body in a relatively short period.

In the USA, there is no formal FDA requirement for VMS other than truth in labeling. Even in labeling, there are certain “fudge factors” that the government allows for manufacturing variances and shelf life degradation. Many VMS are manufactured using processes and techniques that can leave the vitamins and minerals unable to be used by the body, or a portion thereof. Generally, the cheaper the VMS, the lower the quality control of the manufacturing process. This does not take into effect the inert substances used to bind the VMS particulates together and the various substances used to help the products with delivery into the system, namely things like bile salts and/or amino acids that can help deliver vitamins and minerals to their proper places in the body. Lastly it should be noted that better quality products also often rely on a “coating” to keep them from dissolving in the stomach acid before they can reach the small intestine where they are designed to be absorbed.

VMS that are taken orally in pill form are designed to pass through the stomach and be dissolved in the intestines. Many multivitamin and multimineral supplements have components that are susceptible to the acids in the stomach. Without some kind of coating, much of the desired effect of this type of VMS will be blunted or completely destroyed before being of any benefit to the person taking them. Many of the more expensive and better MVS offer a coating that will protect the pill from stomach acids, and are stripped of when they enter the duodenum, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed as they enter the small intestine. Another concept to understand is that vitamins and minerals can talk multiple molecular forms, some of which are less bioavailable or completely unavailable to the human body. So while the label may say 100% of a specific vitamin, the usable amount may be far less.

Lastly we must remember that the body has evolved to digest and break down foods over relatively long periods of times (hours generally), which means that the vitamins and minerals in food are released gradually to the body, allowing the body to use these in a more controlled manner. For many vitamins and minerals, there is either no storage mechanism in the body, or the process to store the supplement is slow to account for the gradual uptake. When we deliver massive volumes of a micro-nutrient to the body, we risk toxification in the body which in very high doses can have negative effects, or elimination which means that much of the nutrient can be neither used nor stored, and is thus eliminated as a waste product.

In conclusion, my main point is to use caution when supplementing your nutritional intake. As a general rule (one I myself follow) I usually say, supplement as little as possible, and through the best, most credible providers you can afford. Remember that there’s really very little regulation in the supplement industry, and manufacturers can make some pretty outrageous claims with little or no backlash.