Friday, August 12, 2011

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

I’m sure you have all heard that you should eat some form of protein after a workout, whether it is whey, a lean meat, or other sources.  The reason for this in simple is to restore the muscle after it has been broken down via exercise. Protein is made up of chemical units a.k.a building blocks called amino acids. When protein is broken down into these constitutes the body uses them to build specific proteins it needs. Thus it is the amino acids that are essential rather than the protein. In addition to the variety of amino acids there are three (isoleucine, leucine, and valine) that are called branched-chain amino acids. These particular amino acids are used to provide energy directly to muscle. Branched-chain amino acids are valuable for athletes due to their ability to enhance energy, increase endurance, and aid in healing and repair of muscle tissue.
Each of the three BCAAs (isoleucine, leucine, and valine) has different roles in the body especially in skeletal muscle.
Isoleucine: is needed for hemoglobin formation and stabilizes/regulates blood sugar and energy levels.
Food Sources: almonds, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat, rye, most seeds, and soy protein.
Leucine:  works with the other two AA to protect muscle and act as a fuel. It fosters muscle growth, lowers elevated blood sugar levels and aids in increasing growth hormone production.
                Food Sources: brown rice, beans, meat, nuts, soy flour, and whole wheat.
Valine: has a stimulant effect. It is needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and proper maintenance of nitrogen balance in the body.
                Food Sources: dairy products, grains, meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy protein.

As you can see BCAAs play an important part in an immaculate pre, during, and post workout nutrition regimen. Research has shown ingestion of at least 5g of BCAAs before resistance training reduces muscle soreness and fatigue for several days after exercise. With all of the benefits Branched-chain amino acids reap they are ideal for any fitness regimen. So before, during, or after an intense workout why not load up on BCAAs
Have a Happy Healthy Day!
Krystal Goodman

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sip Your Way Slim: Green Tea

We all know how much we depend on caffeine to get us going in the mornings; however it can be a metabolic booster as well especially when paired with polyphenols called catechins. This combination has been said to promote fat loss and reap tons of other health benefits. Caffeine itself is a xanthine alkaloid compound which acts as a psychoactive affecting brain function and stimulating the central nervous system. It is present in all coffees and teas. To get the combo of caffeine and catechins, tea is the best way to go.

There are three types of tea to chose from; black, green, and oolong (white tea) and are derived from the  same plant, the Camelliasinesis but, the leaves are processed differently with each type. Green tea is minimally and rapidly processed so the leaves do not undergo fermentation. Oolong is partially fermented, then dried. Lastly, black tea is the most processed and leaves undergo enzymatic oxidation.

So as you can see green tea has the least amount of processing which means it has the most polyphenols responsible for health benefits. These polyphenols include; epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epicatechin (EC). These are all of which give green tea the reputation of being a booster of caloric expenditure and fat oxidation through the activation of sympathoadrenal system. British researchers found that ECGC in green tea increases fat utilization by 17 percent during 30 minutes of exercise. This also led them to believe that the combo of this and caffeine produces a fat burning effect.

Biochemically the combo of the two work on several enzymes ,whether separately or together, to promote an increase in energy expenditure and fat oxidation. In addition, some studies have found catechins increase fat-metabolizing enzymes. Its mechanism of action is the inhibition of the enzyme  Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase (COMT) which degrades norepinephrine a neurotransmitter that is a part of the sympathetic nervous system. Thermogenesis and fat oxidation are largely controlled by the SNS which explains why catechins and caffeine prolong the lipolytic effect.

So if you are looking to burn calories and ramp up fat oxidation look for a combo of caffeine and catechins found naturally in green and oolong teas. Drink up!

Have a Happy Healthy Day,

Krystal Goodman

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Powerfoods 101: Kale

In the cruciferous vegetable family, kale packs a powerful punch of nutrients in its leaves. Nutrients in these leaves include antioxidants, macronutrients, and phytonutrients. This superfood has been said to assist in cancer prevention, efficiently lower cholesterol, promote good eyesight, and fight against the common cold and flu. Some of its most valuable nutrients are Vitamins K, A, and C, Manganese, and Fiber.

Phytonutrients in many healthful foods are known to work as antioxidants to disarm any free radicals within the body before they cause damage to cells. According in to recent research, phytonutrients found in kale work at an even deeper level by signaling our genes to increase production of the enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process in which the body eliminates harmful toxins.

As if being packed with these powerful phytonutrients isn't enough kale also manifests the ability to prevent cancer. The ability lies in its rich sources of organosulphur compounds known as glucosinolates which are broken down into the anticancer compounds called isothiocynates. Isothiocynates then induce cancer-destroying enzymes and inhibit carcinogenesis.

In addition to organosulphur compounds, kale displays a great deal of carotenoids, vitamin A compounds. As we all know Vitamin A is beneficial in that it promotes good eyesight. Two main carotenoids in kale are  lutein and zeaxanthin, which work as a filter to aid in  preventing damage to the eyes during exposure to ultraviolent rays.

Last but not least kale has a cholesterol lowering effect with its abundant source of fiber. These fiber components bind easily to bile acids which makes it easier for them to be excreted and results in  lower cholesterol levels.

Next time you want to try something new for dinner go for kale. You can cook it many different ways, although the best way to reap the best benefits is to steam it. Other ways you can cook it are stewed, in a salad, sauteed, and baked as chips.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blood Sugar Levels : How to Regulate for Optimal Fat Burning

Depending on the types of foods we eat ,and how we pair them has a lot to do with the way in which our blood sugar acts. The result of this can depend on the way in which fat is utilized in the body. After we eat our body digests food by breaking it down into glucose, and then travels through the blood stream. This is called blood glucose aka blood sugar. After meals blood glucose levels rise and are taken up by cells due to secretion of insulin by the pancreas. Utilization of the glucose is dependent on the types of food we intake and how we pair them.

Throughout the day our bodies can experience different levels of blood sugar which all take a toll on the way our bodies burn fat. Listed below is a summary of the effects different levels of blood sugar has on our body.

Blood Sugar Levels:
  • LOW: Our bodies are in the fasted state and will not burn fat. Instead we store the fat due to the body being in a panic mode.
  • STABLE (burning fat): This is the state you want to be in at the beginning of the day and keep it there the whole day. In this state the body will burn fat and build muscle.
  • HIGH (storage mode): When there is too much glucose in the blood it will be in surplus and will be stored for later use. The result is a spike in blood sugar and an immediate crash thereafter which leaves you feeling no energy.
A solution to the problem is to eat smaller meals throughout the day to maintain the stable state of blood glucose. When choosing meals you should eat a mix of high-quality protein at each meal. Never eat carbohydrate alone because they raise blood sugar some faster than others. When eating carbohydrate with protein it blunts the increase in blood sugar which in turn will keep your body in the stable fat burning mode. Eliminate all processed carbohydrates which raise blood sugars the fastest. Processed foods include; white breads,white pastas, pastries, sugary cereal, and sugar.

Best Carbohydrate Sources:
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains(i.e. rice, quinoa, couscous, oatmeal, etc..)
So instead of experiencing the dips and spikes of energy through your day opt to keep a stable blood sugar for optimal fat burning. Choose small meals with a mix of carbohydrate and protein .

Have a Happy Healthy Day,
Krystal Goodman

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Post-Workout Nutrition: Cherries and recovery

Adequate post workout nutrition is essential to the recovery of our muscles after enduring intense stress during exercise. During exercise your muscles take in a source of energy to generate momentum. With that said think of our muscles acting as electric motors. These motors act biochemically by using a chemical energy source in the body called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). During the process of "burning" ATP for energy your muscles need three things:
  • Oxygen, because chemical reactions require ATP and oxygen is consumed to produce the ATP
  • Elimination of metabolic wastes (carbon dioxide, lactic acid) that are produced in these reactions
  • Elimination of heat that is a by product of working muscle
Now you see the reasoning behind adequate replenishment of energy and recovery due to the bodies inflammatory response post-exercise. There are any essential foods with vital nutrients to aid in the recovery process but one in particular is cherries and cherry juice. These super fruits aid in muscle recovery and reduction of their damage. What makes them so powerful? Their load of antioxidants they are made of especially one in particular, anthocyanins. Typically muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress is seen in long distance and marathon runners. Researches have studied these effects on marathon runners. One study took a group of marathon runners supplied them with adequate concentrations of cherry juice and measured muscle strength and oxidative stress levels. Markers of muscle damage showed that the group given cherry juice had rapid recovery of knee extension strength compared to that of a placebo group. As far as oxidative stresses the cherry juice group had an increased total antioxidant capacity which in turn decrease these stresses.
So next time you work out try drinking some cherry juice, adding some cherries in your protein shake, or even top off your Greek yogurt with a few and take advantage of the beneficial properties cherries have.

Have a happy healthy day!

Krystal Goodman

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Foundation of a Healthy Diet :CLEAN EATING

Eating healthy has been a way of life for me from a young age until now. It wasn't until I came across the idea of "clean eating" that I really noticed a difference in my energy levels and overall health. To begin understanding the concept I purchased the book The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I would tell anyone and everyone to buy this book to get them in the right direction of a true nutrition program. The emphasis Tosca puts on clean eating is to eat foods in their most natural form. I know you all have heard the saying you put gas in a car to make it go so therefore you would put food in your body to have adequate energy. Since this is the case, why not feed your body with nothing but, the cleanest foods?

Eating clean involves eating foods in the most natural state. Unnatural substances that are added to foods are what you would find in boxed foods. These substances include; preservatives, food colorings, added chemicals for baking and adding tastes. Next time you are at the grocery store look on the back of a box of pop tarts, little debbies, or even crackers. You will see a long list of ingredients, rule of thumb is if you cant pronounce them they usually aren't good for you. You would be very surprised at what types of foods have these hidden "bad" guys. Most often you will see these chemicals and preservatives in sauces, baked goods, candy, juices, and even some cereals and crackers. The good thing about the nutrition world is its getting more and more advanced so for those of you that can't live without some of these items you can find them in a more natural state at local earth fares, fresh markets, and whole food stores.

I encourage everyone to start a new way of eating by choosing to eat clean! You won't be disappointed.

Have a Happy Healthy Day,
Krystal A. Goodman