Earth Cuisine for Longevity

**Ancient researchers discovered that the oils in the deep water fish were rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.  These early scientific observations spawned extensive studies that led to the current understanding of how important fish oil is to heart health.  

In the 1980’s, researchers began noticing the native Inuit (Eskimo) populations of Greenland and Alaska had a very low occurrence of heart disease despite a very high fat diet.  The researches discovered the oils in the deep water fish these natives consumed (and continue to do so this very day) are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

While we generally think of fats as harmful, there are fats that have expansive health benefits.  The central objective of this article, is to assist you in sorting through the confusion that has grown from “diets” such as, The Atkins Diet, Sugar Busters Diet and other fads that have bombarded us with profit driven information.  Last week I publish the article entitled, Lipids, which covered fats as a whole, and was rather general.  I believe, it’s paramount to have an understanding of “healthy fats” and more specifically “Essential Fatty Acids” (EFA’s) and their role in cardiovascular health.

All natural fats are mixtures of different types of fatty acids.  Fatty acids are made up of carbon atoms comprised of short or long chains.  Each carbon atom has four bonding sites (think of imaginary arms) where it can attach to other atoms.  When all binding sites are attached to hydrogen atoms, the fatty acid chain is saturated.

When some binding sites on a carbon atom are attached to a neighboring carbon atom, made by a double bond, the fatty acid is unsaturated.  If a fatty acid chain has two or more double bonds, it’s referred to as polyunsaturated.  Polyunsaturated fatty acids are further classified by where on the carbon chain the double bond is located.  Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with the first double bond located at the sixth carbon atom from the omega end; thus, it is an omega-6 fatty acid.  Linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, has it’s first double bond at the third carbon atom from the omega end.  Both linoleic and linolenic fatty acids are essential fatty acids.  These polyunsaturated fatty acids are needed to sustain life.  It is possible for some fatty acids to be made within the body, however, these cannot.  Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must be consumed in the diet and/or through supplementation.

Monounsaturated fats are fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain and all of the remainder of the carbon atoms in the chain are single bonded.  Fatty acid viscosity and melting point increases with the decreasing number of double bonds.  Therefore, monounsaturated fats have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fatty acids.  This makes monounsaturated fats the ideal choice for cooking.  Common monounsaturated fatty acids are palmitoleic acid, cis-vaccenic acid and oleic acid.

Although polyunsaturated fats protect against cardiovascular disease by providing more membrane fluidity than monounsaturated fats, they are more vulnerable to lipid peroxidation (becomes rancid).  On the other hand, foods containing monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.  These are just a few examples of the cardiovascular and overall health benefits that EFA’s and monounsaturated fatty acids provide the body.  One other important thing I feel necessary to note; many more variants of polyunsaturated fatty acids exist, in this article I intended to highlight the specific fatty acids that were studied in the research of Native Inuit Eskimos.  Another objective in regards to the article content was to cover the cardiovascular benefits these fatty acids provide.

**The next logical question you are probably asking yourself is, “so what foods should I eat to incorporate these fatty acids into my diet?”  A full categorized list will be up this week….I got you guys!  No worries 😉

Recovery and Therapeutic Techniques- Part 2.

A spinal nerve with its anterior and posterior...

A spinal nerve with its anterior and posterior roots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article/blog post I wrote a few months back entitled, I Have a Message…Go Get a Massage received a good amount of interest, as well as feedback.  I had originally intended to cover several of the therapeutic and recovery techniques that I recommend and employ myself.  After awhile of editing and shortening, I realized there was just far too much info for a single post.  I suppose this could be considered the sequel, so without me rambling on and on (probably going off in a totally different direction in the process) lets get into some of the other therapy practices I believe in.

Perhaps the most polarizing of all “mainstream” healthcare practitioners’ are Chiropractors.  I’ve heard so many varying opinions when it comes to chiropractic care it’s mind boggling. The sentiment towards Chiropractors, at least from what individuals I’ve worked with over the years, ranges from, “Dr. Chiro allowed me to walk again” to “it’s all Dr. Chiro’s fault I’ll never walk again.”  I think this originates from a misunderstanding of what a Chiropractor intends to accomplish through his or her manipulation and adjustments to the effected area of the body.  Your nervous system controls and coordinates all functions with-in the body, when the signals being sent through the system get interfered with, parts of the body will not receive proper messages.  Therefore, impairing proper movement patterns, these impairments are not isolated ONLY to the directly affected area of the body.  That’s only the beginning, remember, the body is a kinetic chain working in harmony like a well conducted orchestra.  Just like an orchestra, the human body is harmonious until just ONE of the numerous possibilities is off tune or misaligned.  This can dramatically alter the sound and flow of the entire orchestra or human body.

A subluxation refers to an incomplete or partial dislocation of a joint or organ.  More specifically a vertebral subluxation is when one or more of the bones of the spine move out of position and create pressure of irritation of spinal nerves.  Spinal nerves are the nerves between each of the bones in the spine.  The pressure or irritation causes these nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over the nerves.  It’s the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations and reduce or correct them.  This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine.  A study conducted by Drs. Anthony Lauro and Brian Mouch, published in The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation(1991) indicated chiropractic care might improve athletic performance by 16.7% over a two week period.  Like I always say 1% of something, is better than 100% of nothing.  The report also concluded that subluxation free athletes react faster, coordinate better, and execute fine movements with improved accuracy and precision, amounting to an overall better athlete.  In closing, when the body is aligned properly, your nervous system is tuned allowing the kinetic chain to fire in unison.  This leads to peak performance, fewer injuries and faster recovery.

One practice in particular that I’d like to mention is acupuncture.  Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain for therapeutic purposes.  According to traditional Chinese acupuncture theory, the acupuncture points lie along meridians along which Qi (chi or ch’i) the vital energy flows.  Some of the benefits of acupuncture include a quick reduction in inflammation, as well as, releasing pressure form trigger points which greatly accelerates the healing process.  The importance of reducing any inflammation is that it prevents blood stagnation via release of osmotic pressure away form the injury, again creating a more efficient healing process.  Additional benefits form acupuncture include increased circulation, a boost to the immune system, many patients claim increased energy and serenity, and it has been found to be especially effective in treating ligament and tendon strains which are quite common among training athletes.  Regular acupuncture enthusiasts claim that it helps significantly in their training and performance.  A number of avenues such as building muscle mass, increased glycogen storage, improvement in fast twitch muscle fiber activation and overall energy which are paramount for a great performance.  To give you an idea of the athletic influence that acupuncture has take the 1993 Chinese National Games where a total of 9 women broke world records and claim to have only used legal Chinese herbs and the constant use of acupuncture treatments.  Acupuncture is becoming so respected that for the first time ever it was offered during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, for all athletes and officials to incorporate into their recovery, healing, medical and whatever other forms of treatment they desired (within the parameters of IOC guidelines of course).

Lastly, I want to briefly discuss TENS therapy which stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.  This type of therapy is performed by placing electrodes on a desired location of the body, either directly on an effected area, or at key points along the nerve pathway.  A small battery powered generator emits a milli-amp of electricity through wire leads to the electrodes.  TENS therapy is often used in pain management protocols as well as physical therapy, however I intend to discuss what I believe to be the benefit of TENS therapy for a high performance athlete.  As I discussed when we train we breakdown the muscle fibers and repair them through proper nutrition and so on.  Over the course of these processes we develop micro scaring in the muscles and I believe a TENS unit is great in assisting in the break up of the scare tissue.  One of the reasons for the excellent healing properties of TENS therapy is the increased circulation it brings to the area where the electrodes are placed.  In my experiences, I notice that TENS therapy tends to “open” the muscles fibers, what I mean is, I simply feel there is more volume to the muscle bellies after this type of a therapy session.  I wouldn’t say that there’s a time limit on transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, but I find thirty minutes to be sufficient.  If you plan on having any longevity in your sport of choice it’s imperative that you put just as much effort into recovery and healing your bodies as you do to training and practice.  Being at your absolute best is a 24/7 job, attention to detail is a must in order to achieve Ultimate Human Performance.

Grain products are often baked, and are rich s...

CARBOHYDRATES:

Carbohydrates (Carbs) are the primary source of energy for all body functions and muscular exertion.  Carbohydrates are the chief source of fuel for anaerobic activity (weight training, activities which raise heart rate above 60-70%).  It’s widely believed that in the absence of carbohydrates that the body will use fat for its fuel source.  While that is true, remember, only if you’re performing activity at a fat burning heart rate (aerobic- up to 60-65% VO2 Max).  Since carbs are our chief source of fuel, this leads to depletion of available and stored carbohydrates (glycogen) and creates a continual craving for this macronutrient.  Carbohydrates also help regulate the digestion and utilization of proteins and fats.

**Note: I intentionally refrain from using the term “cardio” in reference to lower intensity activity that targets body fat as a fuel source (as it’s so often used out of context).  I opt to use the term “aerobic” because by definition the word means simply, “with oxygen” or to oxidize fat for energy!  Whereas, cardiovascular activity is intended to train just that, cardiac tissues (of the heart), while this type of exercise is an absolute necessity for health, it’s not the focus of this particular article.  

**The depletion of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) does NOT occur within one workout or activity for the majority of individuals.  Mainly because the amount of glycogen the body can store is a relatively large amount.  The above statement in the first paragraph relating to this is made with individuals whom are consuming a restricted carbohydrate nutrition program, and are beginning their training sessions in a state of “carb depletion.”  Also, a state of depletion is relative, or at least dependent upon the type of activity being performed (e.g., long distance hike vs 45 min. weight training session).  Based on feedback from what you, the readers following this blog want, this article is intended to target those trying to reduce body fat levels and positively improve body composition.  I felt it necessary to clarify before continuing :))! 

The principle carbohydrates present in foods occur in the form of simple sugars, starches and cellulose.  Simple sugars, such as those in honey and fruits, are easily digested.  Double sugars, such as table sugar, require some digestive action but they are not nearly as complex as starches, such as those found in whole grains, rice and potatoes.

Starches require prolonged enzymatic action in order to be broken down into simple sugars (i.e., glucose) for utilization.  Cellulose, commonly found in the skins of fruits and vegetables, is largely indigestible by humans, but does play more then one very important role within the body.  The indigestible “roughage” is essentially just fiber(s), soluble and insoluble, fiber provides bulk for proper intestinal function and aides elimination.  Fiber is necessary for a number of other essential functions in the body, which I’ve discussed in previous articles.

All sugars and starches are converted by the body into simple sugars such as glucose or fructose.  All sugars must become glucose before the body can use them for energy.  Some glucose or “blood sugar” is used as fuel by tissues of the brain, nervous system and muscles.  A small amount of the glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles, any excess is converted to fat and stored throughout the body as a reserve energy source.  When total calorie intake exceeds output any extra carbohydrate, fat or protein is stored as body fat.

Carbohydrate “snacks” (Ugh, I can’t stand that term!) which contain large amounts of refined sugars and starches, typically promote a sudden rise in blood sugar levels, thereby providing the body with an immediate source of energy and few nutrients.  The “insulin spike” which shortly follows this reaction rapidly lowers the blood sugar levels resulting in uncontrollable cravings for more sugary foods and potentially causing fatigue, dizziness, nervousness and headaches (varying levels of hypoglycemia).

Diets (Lifestyles) that are high in refined carbs are usually low in vitamins, minerals and cellulose.  Foods such as white flour, white sugar, instant potatoes, etc. are lacking in B vitamins specifically, as well as other nutrients.  Overindulging in starchy and/or sweet foods gives you calories without the nutrients and robs you of the essential nutrients to metabolize these foods.  **I realize this really isn’t ground breaking new information for most of you, but so often the basics of the basics are overlooked or at best assumed to be understood.  For some it may be very well understood, however, it’s the others (the majority) that this article is targeting…this is not meant to be a criticism to anyone what so ever, I myself need regular reminders to stop overanalyzing and get back to the basics!  I hope this can be that reminder for some of you!!

Glutamine & Creatine

Glutamine: The benefits may surprise you!

Glutamine is a common supplement found in many supplement stores, gym bags, protein shakes and a plethora of other nutritional products.  Yet, ironically it’s considered a non-essential amino acid…and in my opinion, the greatest benefits of glutamine rarely get recognized!  This is a disservice to all of you, hence the goal of this article is not to change anyone’s opinion or sell you on a glutamine product.  The goal is simply to teach you, to the best of my abilities, why glutamine is widely considered a staple in many training athletes supplement arsenal.  As well as, why glutamine should have more universal appeal to those outside the “bodybuilding/fitness” arena.

What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is classified as a non-essential amino acid, since it can be readily synthesized by various tissues such as skeletal muscles, liver, and adipose tissue.  glutamine is the most abundant single amino acid found in the bloodstream, which comprises 61% of the free intracellular amino acid pool (most abundant amino acid in skeletal muscle tissue), while Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA‘s) comprise 8.4% of the pool.  Glutamine’s unique structure, containing two nitrogen side chains, consists of 19% nitrogen- making it the primary transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cells.

Over the years people begun to recognize the benefits of glutamine (each will be discussed further), such as:
1) Enhances the Immune System
2) Enhances glycogen storage
3) Improves Intestinal and Gastric health
4) Prevents Muscle Tissue breakdown (Catabolism)
5) Promotes Muscle Tissue growth and repair (Anabolism)

What Does Glutamine Do?
During exercise or other times of metabolic stress such as diet, severe injury, illness, etc. the demand for glutamine in your blood matrix (Plasma) markedly increases.  For instance, various cells of the immune system such as lymphocytes and macrophages depend on glutamine as a primary fuel source, and thus the demand for glutamine increases when and immunological response is mounted.  Macrophages and lymphocytes are the primary virus and bacteria fighter in your bloodstream.  As glutamine travels through the body, the enterocytes of the small intestines are the largest consumers of glutamine accounting for about 40-50% of glutamine consumption.  Also, glutamine is required for the synthesis of nucleotides.  Thus, a sufficient supply of glutamine is particularly important for rapidly dividing cells such as enterocytes and the immune cells.  Therefore, the synthesis of glutamine may be insufficient to meet the physiological demand during times of severe metabolic stress when the amount of free glutamine is rapidly depleted.  Therefore, it may be beneficial for people who continuously place themselves in infectious areas or commonly get sick, to supplement with glutamine to aide virus and/or bacteria fighting cells.

Glutamine supplementation may also promote nitrogen retention (a positive nitrogen balance) and prevent the loss of muscle protein.  A decreased ratio of testosterone to cortisol is believed to be directly responsible for losses in muscle mass since cortisol promotes the synthesis of glutamine.  By maintaining intracellular concentrations of glutamine within the skeletal muscles, the synthesis of glutamine may prevent the loss of intracellular nitrogen.

Therefore, it may be beneficial for people who continuously place themselves through strenuous workouts to supplement with glutamine to aide when glutamine stores are depleted.  Furthermore, by enhancing plasma concentrations of glutamine, the demand for free form glutamine by other tissues and cells (i.e., small intestines and immune cells) is attenuated and thus the release of glutamine from muscle tissues is reduced.

Why Does Your Body Need Glutamine?
To fully understand why glutamine is beneficial to the body, we must continue this biochemistry lesson.  The body uses glutamine to shuttle ammonia around in the body, so blood levels of glutamine try to maintain constant.  Glutamine is craved by the digestive tract and the immune system as fuel.  Most people eat more than enough protein from the supermarket, but they do not get enough glutamine through the digestion of meats and other proteins.  Under certain pathological circumstances the body’s tissues need more glutamine than the overall amount supplied by the diet and natural synthesis such as during a strenuous workout.

During catabolic stress, for instance, intracellular glutamine levels can drop more than 50% and plasma concentrations can fall by 30%.  It’s under these circumstances that supplemental glutamine becomes necessary.

Skeletal muscle contains the greatest intracellular concentrations of glutamine, comprising up to 60% of total body glutamine stores, and is considered the primary storage depot of glutamine, and thus the primary exporter of glutamine to other tissues.  In times of metabolic stress, glutamine is released into circulation, where it is transported to the tissue(s) in need.  Intracellular skeletal muscle glutamine concentration is affected by various assaults including injury, sepsis, prolonged stress, and starvation.  Besides skeletal muscle, the lungs are the next largest producer of glutamine.
Glutamine is especially useful post workout when nutrients are at a low until recovery.  In this condition research shows glutamine levels are significantly reduced, taking up to one month (in extreme cases) to return to baseline.  In athletes, glutamine has been used as a marker to indicate overtraining.  This fall in glutamine is catabolic to muscle tissue.  In a catabolic state, glutamine is the first amino acid used to correct that deficiency.  Glutamine drives protein into the muscle cells where it is synthesized for growth  This means that additional glutamine is necessary during periods of stress, resulting in bigger, stronger muscle cells.

Research Findings
In a recent study of glutamine’s role enhancing the immune system, glutamine demonstrated that increased levels of glutamine leads to greater amounts of virus and infection fighting cells, T and B Lymphocytes.  Cells of the immune system including the macrophages and lymphocytes depend on glutamine as a primary fuel source.  In addition, it has been hypothesized that a high rate of glutamine consumption by these rapidly proliferation cells is required for sufficient nucleotide synthesis.

Research indicates that low levels of glutamine within the body may result in the increased susceptibility to infections and illness due to a suppressed immune system.  The ability to reproduce and the activity of immune cells in vitro have reportedly been suppressed in trials lacking glutamine.  Tests also demonstrated that the increased rate of infection and illness (particularly infections of the upper respiratory tract) has been reported among athletes participating in intense, long duration sports (i.e., marathon racing).
It has been suggested that a decline in plasma glutamine concentrations may be one of the factors responsible for this increased rate of illness.  Specifically, the activity of natural killer cells, a reduced number and proliferate ability of lymphocytes, and a reduced ratio of T-helper to T-suppressor cells may be the result of prolonged, exhaustive exercise.

Glutamine as a GDA (Glucose Disposal Agent)
In another study of glutamine’s role on glucose and glycogen formation, the importance of glutamine was also emphasized.  The human carbon based skeleton of glutamine can serve as a gluconeogenic precursor and may regulate gluconeogenesis, which is basically the production of glycogen, independently of the insulin/glucagon ratios.  Because glutamine may serve as a precursor to glucose independently of glucagon regulation, glutamine supplementation may also enhance glycogenolysis and thus increase muscle glycogen stores even when insulin levels are low.  So basically glutamine helps regulate glycogen in your body when levels are low and may even increase them, which would result in better performance and growth.

Use of Glutamine
Glutamine and L-Glutamine can be purchased in powder or capsule form.  Glutamine containing products are protein shakes, protein powders and protein drinks.  Additional glutamine can be added to protein powders and shakes.  However, glutamine is relatively unstable in solution, and thus glutamine powders must be consumed shortly after being mixed into solution.

Glutamine Side Effects
It is completely safe.  There are no known side effects.

Conclusion
Hopefully this article has opened you up to the topic of glutamine supplementation.  Supplementing with glutamine can result in measurable gains in strength, muscularity, and immune function.  Taking glutamine before and during a workout will increase performance and delay fatigue.  This amino acid is needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue during physical stress and intense exercise and plays a crucial role in the fight against sickness.  From the perspective of athletes, glutamine functions as an anabolic/anti-catabolic agent, which allows the body to burn fat and not muscle.  Therefore, glutamine is crucial in your quest to achieve Ultimate Human Performance!!

Body Fat meter

The following is a hypothetical situation!  The beginning statistics are made up to create a scenario in order to give you an example of how and why, Why The “Typical Diet” Can’t and Won’t Work.  However, the example is a very common, or typical situation many people have suffered through many times over.  Although the initial statistics for the example “dieter” are not that of a specific individual (if it happens to be so, I assure you it was unintentional), the correlating results are exact in regards to this particular dieter and the example scenarios.

Starting Stats: Body Weight– 160 lbs.
Body Fat- 32%
Hunger Level- Satisfied
Current caloric intake to maintain body composition– 2,000 calories daily
Goal Weight- 125 lbs.

Diet Begins: Starting calories- 1,500 (500 calorie deficit); individual reduces calories to lose weight.

Body must now adjust to survive on 1,500 calories daily.  Internal survival mechanisms- Activated

Body adapts by getting rid of tissue that used calories- Muscle

The body now has less muscle to feed, therefore it can survive on 1,500 rather than 2,000 calories daily

Body no longer loses weight because it’s no longer in a caloric deficit.  The body now receives and burns only 1,500 calories daily.

Individual must drop to a new energy deficit to continue to lose weight (cut more calories)

Diet Adjustment: New Maintenance- 1,500 calories
New diet- 1,000 calories daily; 500 calorie deficit

Body must repeat cycle of muscle and fat loss until it’s able to function on 1,000 calories per day as it did consuming 1,500 calories

Weight Loss
Starts Again: Now able to run on 1,000 calories, the body is closer to starvation and therefore activates energy saving tactics- Endocrine system
slows, more then 50% of weight loss is muscle tissue which leads to lethargy.  Decrease in energy levels leads to decreased
activity.  Fewer calories are burned due to lack of activity and loss of muscle tissue.

Final Plateau:  At this point there’s nowhere else to go.  Calories can’t continue to decrease; a significant loss of fat burning tissue has been lost
(muscle); slowing the Endocrine system slows;decreased energy.  Weight loss is virtually impossible and weight gain is inevitable
because the hunger is uncontrollable.

Temporary Results: Gross weight loss- 25 lbs.;  
Muscle loss- 15 lbs.; Fat loss- 10 lbs.

Final Stats: Body Weight-  135 lbs.
Body Fat- 30%
Hunger Level- Insatiable

Current caloric intake to maintain new body composition- 1,000 calories daily.  Basically, this person is a smaller version of his/her
former self, has a lower metabolic rate and is incurably hungry.

The body has adapted to 1,000 calories to maintain current body composition and activity.  As a result, and additional calories are
unnecessary and will be stored as fat.

Weight/Body Fat Gained: Continual hunger and new cravings will eventually will eventually result in an increase in caloric intake.  Body fat will increase to the original set point, or higher, in order to prepare the body for another bout with starvation (“typical diet”).

End Result
1 Year Later: 165 lbs.
38% Body Fat
Caloric intake necessary to maintain body composition- 1,500 calories daily; “Dieter” shops for another diet plan or magic formula.

It’s not difficult to see why people in general, albeit with only good intent, are not successful at maintaining prolonged changes in body composition.  On the surface, the original plan looks to be sound, consume less calories loss weight.  While I’ll never criticize a person for trying to lose weight, let’s look at why a “Lifestyle Plan” is a much better scenario then a “Typical Diet Plan.”

Caloric deficit was 2,000- 500 = 1,500 calories.  The plan was to burn 500 calories from fat tissue.  Let’s dissect what could happen if the body ONLY use fat to reach this caloric deficit.

1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories
500 calorie daily deficit x 7 days per week = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat loss weekly.

The body has 51 lbs. of fat (160 lbs. @ 32%).  If a person stays on this diet for one year (52 weeks) and only loses fat, this person would cease to exist in approximately 10 months.  If this were true, accidently eating below maintenance and depleting only fat stores (without the body attempting to compensate for the loss) would lead to the unintentional inability to exist.  Fortunately the body’s survival mechanisms prevent this from occurring by lowering metabolism (muscle loss).

Research indicates that during a prolonged energy deficit the average person loses muscle and fat until the point at which they have lost enough muscle (which again, burns calories) to exist on the new, reduced amount of calories.  This process is why it is not possible to accidentally cease to exist by simply eating different amounts of food.

A MORE EFFECTIVE FORMULA FOR ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS

The key to achieving cosmetic and/or fitness goals is to direct the body to use it’s stored fat to supply the extra calories needed to build or sustain muscle, therefore, simultaneously reducing fat stores; this is build or sustaining muscle at the expense of body fat.

The increase or maintenance of calorie burning tissue (muscle) increases the metabolic rate and avoids plateaus.

By feeding that muscle additional nutrition without increasing the calories we force the body to continue to use it’s fat stores until the desired body composition is reached.

Lipids (Fats).

English: A salmon rose, part of a sashimi dinn...

Lipids:

Lipids (i.e., fats) are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet.  One gram of fat yields approximately nine calories when oxidized, furnishing more than twice the calories per gram of carbohydrates or proteins.

In addition to providing energy, fats act as carriers for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  By aiding in the absorption of vitamin D, calcium is also available to body tissues, particularly to the bones and teeth.  Fats are also important for the conversation of carotene to vitamin A.

Lipids/Fats are involved in the following:
▪    Cellular membrane structure and function
▪    Precursors to hormones
▪    Cellular signals
▪    Regulation and excretion of nutrients in the cells

Fat deposits surround, protect and hold in place organs (visceral fat), such as the kidneys, heart and liver.  A layer of fat insulates the body from environmental temperature changes and preserves body heat.  Dietary fats prolong the digestion process by slowing the stomach’s secretions of hydrochloric acid, this creating a longer lasting sensation of fullness after a meal (satiation).

Fat in Foods:

The bulk of fat consumed in the diet is ingested in the form of triglycerides.  Triglycerides are made up of a glycerol backbone with three fatty acids attached.  The fatty acids attached to the glycerol may differ from one another in two ways: chain length and degree of saturation.  Saturation refers to the chemical structure.  A saturated fatty acid is one that carries the maximum number of hydrogen atoms, leaving no points of unsaturation.  Unsaturated fatty acids can be divided into two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  Food fats contain a mixture of the three kinds of fatty acids.

When a fat contains predominantly saturated fatty acids, it is said to be a saturated fat.  Similarly, when a fat or oil contains a large proportion of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat, respectively.  Generally, the more unsaturated the fat, the lower it’s melting point and the more likely it is to become liquid at room temperature.

Trans-fatty acids are not generally found in nature.  Trans-fatty acids are created when double bonds are transformed into single bonds through the addition of hydrogen.  This entire process creates trans-fatty acids.  An example of this process is when a poly-unsaturated vegetable oil is transformed into a semi-solid (i.e., margarine, shortening).

Essential fatty acids:

Essential fatty acids (EFA‘s) are just that, essential!  These fats are considered essential simply because they CAN NOT be manufactured by the body.  Furthermore, essential fats CAN NOT be manufactured from other sources within the body, as is the case with essential amino acids.  EFA’s must be provided to the body through one’s dietary intake or via supplementation.  The common essential fats are; Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9.

**Interesting fact: The FDA recently changed the recommended ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids from a 20:1 ratio, to a 3:1 ratio…I’m no math whiz but that’s a tremendous difference!  It’s now known, saturated fats only account for approximately 20% of arterial plaque accumulation.  What happens when Omega-6 fats grossly out number Omega-3’s (i.e., 20:1 ratio)?  We find where the other 80% of arteriolosclerosis comes from!

Essential fatty acids truly deserve the attention of an entire article.  However, you can’t have an article titled, Lipids, without including something about the shear necessity of EFA’s.  If you can afford only one supplement, make certain it be a quality Omega-3 fatty acid supplement!

Protein…The Essence of Existence!.

English: typical structure of an α-amino acid

English: typical structure of an α-amino acid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Protein:
Next to water protein is the most plentiful substance in the human body.  Protein is vitally important to the maintenance of good (optimal) health.  Additionally it’s critical to the growth and development of all body tissues.  It is the major source of building materials for muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails, and internal organs (i.e. heart, brain, lungs).  Protein is need for the formation of hormones, which control a variety of body functions such as growth, sexual development and metabolic rate.  It also acts to prevent blood and tissues from becoming either too acidic or too alkaline.  Protein also helps regulate the body’s water balance.  Enzymes and antibodies are formed from proteins as well, enzymes are substances necessary for basic life functions.  Antibodies help to fight foreign substances in the body.  Proteins plays an integral role in the formation of milk during lactation and in the clotting process of blood.

Protein as Energy:
Protein may also be used as a source of heat (via calories) and energy, as each contains four calories per gram.  However, this energy is spared when sufficient fats and carbohydrates are present in the diet.  Unlike carbohydrates and fat, the body does not have the ability to store protein.  Glucose is stored as glycogen and fats are reserved in adipose tissue, whereas protein is available only through the working molecular and structural components of endogenous body tissues.  When the need arises, the body dismantles it’s tissue proteins and utilizes them for energy.  The tissues of the liver are the first to be broken down, followed by the muscles tissues and then other organs.  Energy deficiency (i.e. chronic or severe dieting and starvation) is therefore always accompanied by the wasting of lean body tissue.
Excess protein that is not utilized as an energy source or for building tissue can be converted into fatty acids by the liver, then stored in adipose tissue.  Excess protein may also be partitioned and excreted through the kidneys in the form or urea.  When protein is used for immediate or stored energy, which occurs when protein intake exceeds recommended amounts (or needed amounts, in the case of trained individuals), the nitrogen portion of the molecule is removed.  As a result, calcium is released into the blood to buffer the acid residue left from the conversion of protein to energy.  Chronic high protein intake may lead to a calcium deficiency and may contribute to osteoporosis later in life.

Protein Digestion:
When protein (from chicken, beef, fish, eggs, etc.) is ingested, the body must alter it by breaking it down into smaller units known as amino acids.  This allows the body to prioritize where the amino acids are distributed to sustain life.  The human body must then rearrange the amino acids into the proper sequence in order to form the necessary protein.  For this reason, “designer” or engineered proteins have little value over other complete proteins.  In some cases, you could consume less of this type of protein to meet your requirements but the structure of the protein before it is eaten has little, if any, significance to well-fed, healthy individuals.

Complete vs Incomplete Proteins:
Foods containing protein may or may not provide all of the essential amino acids.  When a food contains all of the essential amino acids it is termed a “complete protein.”  Foods that are extremely low in, or lack any one of the essential amino acids are deemed “incomplete proteins.”  Foods that are derived from animal sources (i.e. chicken, beef, fish, eggs, etc.) naturally contain all of the essential amino acids and are therefore referred to as “Complete Proteins.”  Conversely, fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, as well as legumes (nuts, beans) generally do not have all of the essential amino acids and are referred to as “Incomplete Proteins.”