Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

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You put a lot of effort into your workouts, always looking to perform better and reach your goals. Chances are you’ve given more thought to your pre-workout meal than your post-workout meal. However, consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before. Below, is a detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.

Eating After a Workout Is Important

To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity. When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout. Doing this helps your body:

  • Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
  • Restore glycogen stores.
  • Enhance recovery

BOTTOM LINE: Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.

Protein, Carbs and Fat

Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle

These powerful macronutrients are involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process. As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown. Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.

It is recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout. Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise.

Carbs Help With Recovery

Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them. The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training. For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.

Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen re-synthesis. Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time. Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis. Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein). For example, 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs.

Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.

Fat Is Not That Bad

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat may slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits. For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk. Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected.

It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.

BOTTOM LINE: A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.

The Timing of Your Post-Workout Meal Matters

Your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise. For this reason, it is recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising. Although the timing does not need to be exact, many experts recommend eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes. In fact, it’s believed that the delay of carb consumption by as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis. However, if you consumed a meal before exercising, it’s likely that the benefits from that meal still apply after training.

BOTTOM LINE: Eat your post-workout meal within 45 minutes of exercising. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal.

Foods to Eat After You Workout

The primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout. Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption. The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:

Carbs:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chocolate milk
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Protein:

  • Animal- or plant-based protein powder
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Protein bar
  • Tuna

Fats:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)

Sample Post-Workout Meals

Combinations of the foods listed above can create great meals that provide you with all the nutrients you need after exercise. Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:

  • Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
  • Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast
  • Salmon with sweet potato
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Tuna and crackers
  • Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds
  • Cottage cheese and fruits
  • Pita and hummus
  • Rice crackers and peanut butter
  • Whole grain toast and almond butter
  • Cereal and skim milk
  • Greek yogurt, berries and granola
  • Protein shake and banana
  • Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans
  • Multi-grain bread and raw peanuts

Make Sure to Drink Plenty of Water

It is important to drink plenty of water before and after your workout. When you are properly hydrated, this ensures the optimal internal environment for your body to maximize results. During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout can help with recovery and performance.

It’s especially important to replenish fluids if your next exercise session is within 12 hours. Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink is recommended to replenish fluid losses.

BOTTOM LINE: It is important to get water and electrolytes after exercise to replace what was lost during your workout.

Putting It All Together

Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential. It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery and enhance performance during your next workout. If you’re not able to eat within 45 minutes of working out, it’s important to not go much longer than 2 hours before eating a meal. Finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes can complete the picture and help you maximize the benefits of your workout.

Adapted from: Arlene Semeco, MS, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Chill out! Frozen foods, particularly fruits and veggies, can be just as nutritious as fresh produce and, in some cases, they may be even better.

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Can Carb Cycling Help You Lose Weight?

Carb cycling for weight loss is gaining popularity; however, there may be a healthier way to reap the same benefits! 

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You’ve heard plenty of mixed reviews for low-carb diets, but what about carb cycling? The trendpopular with body builders and some athletesis generating buzz as a weight loss method. Here’s the lowdown on how carb cycling works; its potential benefits; and a more simple, less strict alternative.

What is carb cycling, exactly?

While there isn’t one standard protocol, carb cycling typically involves alternating lower-carb days with higher-carb days. Typically fat intake increases on lower-carb days, and decreases on higher-carb days; while protein intake remains consistent. Many advocates recommend this regimen: On days when you do strength training, consume a higher amount of carbs (say 200 grams), a low amount of fat, and a moderate amount of protein. On days when you do a cardio workout, eat a moderate amount of carbs (about 100 grams), protein, and fat. On rest days, eat fewer carbs (30 grams), a higher amount of fat, and a moderate amount of protein.

Another approach involves keeping both protein intake and fat intake fairly consistent, and modifying only your carbohydrates. With this method, lower-carb days are also lower-calorie days.

What are the benefits?

Proponents of carb cycling claim that the eating pattern helps increase muscle mass, decrease body fat, and improve fitness performance. However, research on the diet is limited. One 2013 study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at the effects of intermittent carb and calorie restriction in 115 overweight women aged 20 to 69, all of whom had a family history of breast cancer. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups for three months. The first group consumed a calorie-restricted, low-carb diet two days per week. The women in the second group followed the same diet, but were allowed to eat unlimited amounts of protein and healthy fats (such as lean meat, olives, and nuts) on the low-carb days. The third group followed a standard, calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet seven days a week.

Researchers found that the women in both low-carb groups had better results: They lost roughly 9 pounds on average, compared to about 5 pounds in the Mediterranean group. Insulin resistance also decreased by 22% percent among the standard low-carb dieters; and 14% percent among those allowed extra protein and fat on low-carb dayscompared to just 4% among the Mediterranean dieters. (The results were particularly significant for the study participants, as losing weight and lowering insulin resistance may help prevent breast cancer.) While this study didn’t involve the same carb cycling approach used by body builders and athletes, it does offer some insight into the potential benefits of limiting carbs part-time, but is doing so practical? Slashing carbs, even a few days a week, needs to be sustainable in order to generate lasting results.

The authors of that 2013 study also found that a higher percentage of women on the low-carb diets experienced constipation, headaches, bad breath, light-headedness, and food fixation. These unpleasant side effects parallel with many who severely restrict their carb intake. The side effects also result in many low-carb dieters, giving up the diet or wind up binging on forbidden foods.

Is there a more sustainable approach?

One of the main philosophies behind carb cycling is limiting carbs when the body doesn’t need them as much. In a nutshell, carbs serve as fuel (like gasoline in your car) to help cells perform their jobs. Eating a large amount of carbs on days when you’re not very active doesn’t make much sense, because your body requires less fuel (much like how your car needs less gas for a ride across town compared to a road trip). Carbs that are not burned for fuel create a surpluswhich can prevent weight loss, or lead to weight gain.

On the flip side, a carb limit of 30 grams is very low, even on less active days. That’s the amount of carbs in one cup of broccoli, one whole apple, and five baby carrots. For a better balance, practice “carb matching, “or aligning your carb intake with your energy needs, which may vary from day to day, or morning to afternoon. This approach essentially involves eating larger portions of clean, whole food carbs to support more active hours; and curbing carbs when you expect you’ll be less active. For example, if you’re planning to do a morning workout, have oatmeal topped with a sliced banana for breakfast beforehand. However, if you’re headed to the office to sit at a desk for several hours, a veggie and avocado omelet with a side of berries would be a more appropriate a.m. meal.

Carb matching helps with weight loss and improves fitness performance, while supporting all-day energy and a wide range of nutrients, so it makes sense. Many pro athlete, who train or perform several hours a day, require more carbs than “office” athletes, who may fit in a morning workout, then sit in meetings the remainder of the day. Carb matching also involves aligning your carb needs with your age, height, ideal weight, sex, and occupation. After all, a young, tall man with an active job and an ideal weight of 185 pounds is going to have a higher carb requirement than an older, petite woman with a sedentary job and an ideal weight of 135 pounds.

While carb cycling involves drastic shifts, carb matching is all about creating balance; not too little, and not too much. If you’ve tried carb cycling, and it either hasn’t worked for you, or doesn’t seem like a strategy you can stick with, try moderating your carb intake based on your activity level instead. Regardless of which approach you try, stick with these two important rules of thumb:

1) Always make quality a priority by choosing fresh, whole foods. (And remember not all carbs are created equal.)

2) Listen to your body! It’s cues are pretty good at guiding you toward a “just right” balance.

Adapted from: Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Shake the salting habit! Replace salt with lemon, herbs and spices.

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Taking a break from dieting may improve weight loss

Research showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a 2-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. 

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Avoiding continuous dieting may be the key to losing weight and keeping the kilos off, according to the latest research from University of Tasmania. In findings (published September 2017) in the International Journal for Obesity, School of Health Sciences researchers showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a two-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, investigated the body’s ‘famine reaction’ to continued dieting and its impact on weight loss in men with obesity. During the study, two groups of participants took part in a 16-week diet which cut calorie intake by one third.

One group maintained the diet continuously for 16 weeks while the other maintained the diet for two weeks, then broke from the diet for two weeks eating simply to keep their weight stable, and repeated this cycle for 30 weeks in total to ensure 16 weeks of dieting. Those in the intermittent diet group not only lost more weight, but also gained less weight after the trial finished. The intermittent diet group maintained an average weight loss of 8 kg (17 lb) more than the continuous diet group, six months after the end of the diet. Head of the University of Tasmania’s School of Health Sciences Professor Nuala Byrne, who led the study with a team of collaborators from Queensland University of Technology and the University of Sydney, said dieting altered a series of biological processes in the body, which led to slower weight loss, and possibly weight gain.

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ — making weight loss harder to achieve,” Professor Byrne said. “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.” Professor Byrne said while researchers in the past had shown that as dieting continued weight loss became more difficult, this latest MATADOR (Minimising Adaptive Thermogenesis And Deactivating Obesity Rebound) study looked more closely at ways to lessen the famine response and improve weight loss success. However Professor Byrne said while this two-week intermittent diet proved to be a more successful means of weight loss compared with continuous dieting, other popular diets which included cycles of several days of fasting and feasting were no more effective than continuous dieting.

“There is a growing body of research which has shown that diets which use one to seven day periods of complete or partial fasting alternated with ad libitum food intake, are not more effective for weight loss than conventional continuous dieting,” she said. “It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach. “While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.”

Adapted from: University of Tasmania. (2017, September 18). Taking a break from dieting may improve weight loss: Research showed in a randomized controlled trial, that taking a 2-week break during dieting may improve weight loss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918222235.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Take time for tea! Tea contains polyphenols, it’s good for your bones and it provides a soothing cup of comfort in any season. It it also a good plant fertilizer!!

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14 Foods That Fight Inflammation

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Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response; without it, we cannot heal. However, when it’s out of control, as in rheumatoid arthritis, it can damage the body. Additionally, it is believed to play a role in obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Other foods may curb inflammation so be sure to add these items on your next grocery list.

Fatty fish

Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation. Aim to eat fish several times a week, using healthy cooking methods: In a 2009 study, men who consumed the most omega-3s each day from baked or boiled fish (as opposed to fried, dried or salted) cut their risk of death from heart disease by 23 percent, compared with those who ate the least. Women had a less dramatic drop but were also protected.

Not a fan of seafood? Try a fish oil supplement. They have also shown to help lower inflammation. Also, reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids (found in processed foods and some vegetable oils); a healthy balance between omega-3s and omega-6s is essential.

Whole grains

Consuming most of your grains as whole grains, as opposed to refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta can help keep harmful inflammation at bay. That’s because whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood. One caveat: Not all products labeled “whole grain” are necessarily healthier than their refined counterparts. To be sure you’re getting the good stuff, look for foods in which the total number of carbohydrate grams per serving is fewer than 10 times the number of fiber grams.

Dark leafy greens

Vitamin E may be key in protecting the body against pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. One of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies, such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and broccoli. Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables also have higher concentrations of certain nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and disease-fighting flavonoids, compared to other veggies with lighter-colored leaves.

Nuts

Another source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats is nuts. Almonds are particularly rich in fiber, calcium and vitamin E, and walnuts have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. All nuts are packed with antioxidants that can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation. Nuts (along with fish, leafy greens and whole grains) are also a big part of the Mediterranean diet, shown in one study to reduce markers of inflammation in as little as six weeks.

Soy

Studies have suggested that isoflavones (compounds in soy that the body converts into estrogenlike chemicals) may help lower CRP and inflammation levels in women. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Inflammation found that soy isoflavones also helped reduce the negative effects of inflammation on bone and heart health in mice. Avoid heavily-processed soy whenever possible, which may not include the same benefits and is usually paired with additives and preservatives. Instead, aim to get more soy milk, tofu, and edamame (boiled soybeans) into your regular diet.

Low-fat dairy

Milk products are sometimes considered a trigger food for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, because some people have allergies or intolerances to casein, the protein found in dairy. However, for people who can tolerate it, low-fat and nonfat milk are an important source of nutrients. Additionally, yogurt contain probiotics, which can reduce gut inflammation.

“Foods with calcium and vitamin D, such as yogurt and skim milk, are good for everyone,” says Karen H. Costenbader, MD, associate professor of medicine and rheumatoid arthritis doctor at Harvard Medical School. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, she says, “it is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D for bone strength, and possibly reduction of cancer and other health risks.”

Peppers

“Colorful vegetables are part of a healthier diet in general,” says Dr. Costenbader. “As opposed to white potatoes or corn, colorful peppers, tomatoes, squash, and leafy vegetables have high quantities of antioxidant vitamins and lower levels of starch.” Bell peppers are available in a variety of colors, while hot peppers (like chili and cayenne) are rich in capsaicin, a chemical that’s used in topical creams that reduce pain and inflammation.
Peppers, however, are nightshade vegetables, which some doctors and patients believe can exacerbate inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. “What helps one person may be harmful to another,” says Dr. Zashin. “You just need to pay attention to your diet and your symptoms, and stick with what works for you.”

Tomatoes

Tomatoes, another nightshade veggie, may also help reduce inflammation in some people. (Of course, Dr. Zashin’s advice about what works for you, individually, applies here, as well.) Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which helps reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the rest of the body. Cooked tomatoes provide even more lycopene than raw ones, so tomato sauce works, too. A 2013 Iranian study found that tomato juice consumption was also beneficial for reducing systemic inflammation.

Beets

This vegetable’s brilliant red color is a tip-off to its equally brilliant antioxidant properties: Beets (and beetroot juice) can not only reduce inflammation but may also protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their generous helping of fiber, folate, and powerful plant pigments called betalains.

Ginger and turmeric

These spices, common in Asian and Indian cooking, have been shown in various studies to hold anti-inflammatory properties. “While the evidence in terms of RA inflammation is not very strong, they are vegetables—and part of a healthy, vegetable-rich diet,” says Dr. Costenbader. Turmeric, the pungent, golden spice used in curry, appears to work in the body by helping to turn off NF-kappa B, a compound that’s integral to triggering the process of inflammation, research shows. Turmeric’s cousin ginger, meanwhile, may cut inflammation in the gut when taken in supplement form.

Garlic and onions

There’s good reason these pungent vegetables are considered anti-inflammatory superstars. Organosulfur compounds derived from garlic may lower the production of substances in the blood that boost inflammation. Quercetin, a flavonoid in onions, helps inhibit inflammation-causing agents at play in arthritis. For the greatest benefits, eat garlic raw, or let crushed or chopped cloves stand for 10 minutes before cooking, and opt for red or yellow onions or shallots instead of white or sweet varieties.

Olive oil

Anything that fits into a heart-healthy diet is probably also good for inflammation, and that includes healthy, plant-based fats, such as olive oil, says Dr. Zashin, author of Natural Arthritis Treatment. In fact, a 2010 Spanish study reported that the Mediterranean diet’s heart-health perks may be largely due to its use of olive oil. Oleocanthal, the source of olive oil’s distinctive aftertaste, has been shown to have similar effects as ibuprofen. A 2014 study found that higher blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E in olive oil, was linked to better lung function; more gamma-tocopherol, a KIND of vitamin E in corn and soybean oils, was associated with higher rates of asthma, possibly due to vitamin E’s role in inflammation.

Berries

All fruits can help fight inflammation in the body, because they’re high in fiber and antioxidants. However, berries have especially strong anti-inflammatory benefits, possibly owing to the powers of anthocyanins, the antioxidant flavonoids that give berries their rich color. Studies have demonstrated, for example, that red raspberry extract helps prevent animals from developing arthritis; that blueberries can protect against inflammatory intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis, as well as lower blood pressure and heart attack risk; and that women who eat more strawberries may have lower levels of CRP.

Tart cherries

Tart cherries contain the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food,” according to a 2012 presentation by Oregon Health & Science University scientists. Research has found that tart cherry juice powder can reduce the inflammation in lab rats’ blood vessels by up to 50%; in humans, it helps athletes recover faster from intense workouts and decreases post-exertion muscle pain. Experts believe that eating 1.5 cups of tart cherries or drinking 1 to 1.5 cups of tart cherry juice a day may yield similar benefits, and YES, the cherries have got to be tart, sweet ones do not seem to have the same effects.

Adapted from: Amanda MacMillan

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Tap into your dark side! Dark chocolate has been shown to have heart-healthy benefits and it can certainly boost your mood. Be mindful of portions, though, to help keep yourself feeling happy.

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Food allergy diagnosis by oral food challenge is safe, says study

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A new study concludes that medical procedures known as oral food challenges, which are used in clinics to test people for food allergies, are very safe and rarely cause severe reactions. A report on the study, led by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, and Texas Children’s Hospital, also in Houston, is published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Lead author Dr. Kwei Akuete, a practicing allergist and member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), says, “Oral food challenges are a very important tool for anyone who wants to know if they have a food allergy.” Food allergy is a serious medical condition that arises when the body’s immune system reacts to a harmless food protein, or allergen, as if it were a disease-causing germ.

The reaction is often unpredictable and ranges in severity from person to person, as well as over time in the same person. It can range from minor abdominal pain or hives on the skin to a severe and potentially fatal condition called anaphylaxis, accompanied by low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Up to 15 million people in the United States are affected by food allergy. Research also suggests that food allergies affect around 4 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S., where prevalence among children went up by 18 percent between 1997 and 2007.

Oral food challenge

As yet, there is no cure for food allergy, so the only way to prevent reactions is to avoid the foods that cause them. In the U.S., 90 percent of severe allergic reactions are caused by eight food groups: crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. Food allergy is not the same as food intolerance, and its symptoms can be mistaken for other medical conditions. It is therefore important that any diagnosis is confirmed by a qualified allergist who can then advise a food plan that is tailored to the patient’s specific allergies.

The new study concerns a type of noninvasive medical procedure called the oral food challenge (OFC), or feeding test. During an OFC, a board-certified allergist invites the patient to eat increasing amounts of a food very slowly and monitors them very closely for any reaction. OFCs are usually performed because other allergy tests, such as blood and skin tests, together with a careful medical history, have been inconclusive. OFCs are performed in two modes: open and blinded. In open OFCs, (more common in clinical practice) both the patient and the administrator know which food is being tested. Blinded OFCs are more common in research.

OFCs found to be safe

For their study, Dr. Akuete et al. investigated the results of 6,327 open OFCs that were carried out between 2008 and 2013 in five food allergy centers across the U.S. The majority of the OFCs were carried out in patients under the age of 18. They used a statistical method called meta-analysis to pool and analyze the data, and to determine rates of food allergy reactions and anaphylaxis. The results showed that only 14 percent of the patients that had OFCs experienced any reaction, and only about 2 percent experienced anaphylaxis.

The reactions that were not anaphylaxis only occurred on one part of the body, for example, hives on the skin. These were classed as mild to moderate reactions, and most of them were treated with antihistamines. Of the more severe reactions, the authors note, “19 OFCs resulted in patients being placed in hospital observation, and 63 were treated with epinephrine.

OFCs ‘improve quality of life’

“Food challenges improve the quality of life for people with food allergies, even if they are positive,” says senior study author Dr. Carla Davis, who is also a practicing allergist and ACAAI member. Dr. Davis explains the importance of having the test sooner rather than later, saying, “When an OFC is delayed, sometimes people unnecessarily cut certain foods out of their diet, and this has been shown to lead to increases in health costs to the patient. A delay risks problems with nutrition, especially for children.” It is important to seek an accurate diagnosis so that a clear recommendation can be made about which foods to avoid, she adds.

Adapted from:

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Pick plants! Protein derived from plant sources such as seeds, nuts, tofu and tempeh, as well as grains, can help lower cholesterol, improve your heart health and add a satiating blend of flavors to extend Meatless Monday to the rest of the week.

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And for one more gobble day!

 

 

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

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Protein is incredibly important. If we do not get enough from our diet, our health and body composition suffers. However, there are vastly different opinions on how much protein we actually need. Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, studies show that it is far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition. It turns out that the “right” amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors… including activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health. So, what amount of protein is optimal and how do lifestyle factors, such as weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in? Let’s find out…

Protein – What Is It and Why Do We Care?

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body. They are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions. Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible.

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together similar to beads on a string. The linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes. Some of these amino acids can be produced by the body; however, others must come from the diet. The ones we can not produce and must get from our foods are called the “essential” amino acids.

Protein is not just about quantity but also about quality. Generally speaking, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them (only makes sense, since animal tissues are similar to our own tissues). If you’re eating animal products ( meat, fish, eggs, or dairy) every day, then you’re probably already doing pretty well, protein-wise. If you do not eat animal foods, then it is a bit more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs. Most people do not really need protein supplements, but they can be useful for athletes and bodybuilders.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein is a structural molecule assembled out of amino acids, many of which the body cannot produce on its own. Animal foods are usually high in protein, with all the essential amino acids that we need.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight (and Prevent You From Gaining it in The First Place)

Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight. As we know, to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. Eating protein can help with that, by boosting your metabolic rate (calories out) and reducing your appetite (calories in). This is well supported by science.

Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets. However probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss, is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs. In a study in obese men, protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for late-night snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.

In another study, women who increased protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding more protein to their diet. However,  protein doesn’t just help you lose, it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.

In one study, just a modest increase in protein from 15% of calories to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%. A high protein intake also helps to build and preserve muscle mass, which burns a small amount of calories around the clock. By eating more protein, you will make it much easier to stick to whichever weight loss diet (be it high-carb, low-carb or something in between) you choose to follow.

According to these studies, a protein intake around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

More Protein Can Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

Muscles are made largely of protein. As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down. In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body. For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy things, of course!!!).

It is well documented that a higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength. Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs with dieting. When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds). A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions.

Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound has no benefit, while others show that intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best. Although it is hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate. If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.

BOTTOM LINEIt is important to eat enough protein if you want to gain and/or maintain muscle. Most studies suggest that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass (1.5 – 2.2 grams per kg) is sufficient.

Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs

Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, people who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary. If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg.

Elderly people also need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight. This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly. People who are recovering from injuries may also need more protein.

BOTTOM LINEProtein requirements are significantly increased in people who are physically active, as well as in elderly individuals and those who are recovering from injuries.

Does Protein Have any Negative Health Effects?

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems. It has been said that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis. However, none of this is supported by science.

Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people. In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease. If protein really does have some detrimental effect on kidney function (which has never been proven), it is outweighed by the positive effects on these risk factors.

Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, which is strange because the studies actually show that protein can help prevent osteoporosis. Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.

How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products. They have all the essential amino acids that your body needs. Plant protein options include quinoa, legumes and nuts.

All of this being said, there really is not a need for most people to actually track their protein intake. If you’re just a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating quality protein with most of your meals (along with nutritious plant foods) should bring your intake into an optimal range.

What “Grams of Protein” Really Means

This is a very common misunderstanding. Grams of protein indicate the grams of the macronutrient protein, not grams of a protein containing food, such as meat or eggs. For example, an 8 ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams, but it only contains 61 grams of actual protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams, but it only contains 6 grams of protein.

What About The Average Person?

If you’re at a healthy weight, you do not lift weights and you do not exercise much, then aiming for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound (or 0.8 to 1.3 gram per kg) is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

  • 56-91 grams per day for the average male.
  • 46-75 grams per day for the average female.

Educate yourself on the current research regarding protein intake and your lifestyle! Are you eating enough? Or do you need less? Or do you need more? Be good to your body!

Adapted from:  Kris Gunnars, BSc Authority Nutrition 

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Make a move! Take the stairs, park a few blocks away or anything else you can do to take extra steps to get where you need to go.

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New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer

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In an innovative approach to colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention and treatment, scientists are studying ways to replace missing metabolites in patients prone to gut inflammation and CRC. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology describes how administration of histamine-producing gut microbes to mice lacking the enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC) reduced inflammation and tumor formation. These results suggest that alteration of the gut microbiome with probiotics may become a new preventative or therapeutic strategy for patients at risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated CRC.

“We are on the cusp of harnessing advances in microbiome science to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of human disease,” explained James Versalovic, MD, PhD, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Milton J. Finegold Professor of pathology & immunology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston). “By simply introducing microbes that provide missing life substances, we can reduce the risk of cancer and supplement diet-based cancer prevention strategies.” Researchers conducted a series of experiments using mice that were deficient in HDC, the enzyme required to convert histidine to histamine. Experimental mice were orally administered the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri 6475, which is known to possess the histidine decarboxylase gene (hdc+) and is able to convert histidine to histamine; control animals received a placebo. The probiotic was administered both before and after the mice received a single dose of a colonic carcinogen (azoxymethane) plus an inflammation-inducing chemical (DSS) to induce tumor formation. Fifteen weeks later, the mice were sacrificed and the tissues removed for study.

The probiotic increased expression of bacterial HDC and amounts of histamine in the colons of the mice. Using positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize the tumors, control-treated mice showed evidence of tumors and increased glucose uptake in colon walls. In contrast, mice administered the probiotic had fewer and smaller tumors and significantly diminished areas of glucose uptake.

Inactive L. reuteri strains (those deficient in HDC activity) did not provide protective effects. These mice showed increased numbers of “hot spots” indicative of tumor formation and increased abdominal glucose uptake. However, the active probiotic reduced inflammation induced by the carcinogen plus DSS, as indicated by suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression (i.e., those encoding KC, interleukin (IL)-22, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-1?) and reduced cytokine concentrations in plasma (i.e., KC, IL-22, and IL-6). The active probiotic also counteracted an increase in immature myeloid cells induced by the carcinogen. According to Dr. Versalovic, “These observations are consistent with the conclusion that histamine-generating probiotic L. reuteri may attenuate AOM+DSS-induced colon carcinogenesis, at least in part, via enhanced maturation of circulating myeloid cells and concomitant reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”

The role of histamine in human cancer is still unclear. However, when investigators analyzed data obtained from 2,113 CRC patient samples taken from 15 datasets, results showed better survival in patients with elevated patterns of HDC and histamine receptor gene expression. These findings indicate that histamine-generating probiotics, in the presence of sufficient protein (L-histidine) intake, may improve outcomes for patients with sporadic and IBD-associated CRC.

“Our results suggest a significant role for histamine in the suppression of chronic intestinal inflammation and colorectal tumorigenesis. We have also shown that cells, both microbial and mammalian, can share metabolites or chemical compounds that together promote human health and prevent disease,” said Dr. Versalovic.

 

Adapted from: Elsevier:  (2017, September 13). New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer: Histamine-producing probiotic reduces inflammation and suppresses colon tumors in mice by supplying missing enzyme, according to report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170913084437.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Cut portions! If you think leaving just a little something on your plate won’t matter, think again. It will. Small amounts of uneaten food add up to calories that stay on the plate, not on you.

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