Archive for January 27, 2011

Performance Nutrition vs. Cosmetic Nutrition

By:  Jason Croce

The way I assess an individual’s goal is to first determine which category of nutritional guidance best suits that person’s needs.  Generally speaking I feel nutrition can be broken into two main categories: Performance Nutrition & Cosmetic Nutrition.  That’s not to say that there aren’t people who have to find a balance among the two, most notably MMA fighters come to mind.  Not only do they have to be performing to maximum abilities but there is also the obstacle of meeting the weight requirement for their class.  Yes, some will argue that proper nutrition is proper nutrition anyway you slice it… however, based on my experiences working with professional athletes and bodybuilders as well as the proverbial “soccer mom” I can say with absolute certainty that each of the aforementioned examples had a vastly different approach to reach maximum results in minimal time!

Allow me to backtrack for a moment and describe to the best of my abilities exactly what I mean when using these phrases (Performance/Cosmetic Nutrition).  Although the names mostly speak for themselves, I want to definitively characterize the objectives of each.  During an intense game or activity lasting multiple hours, involving both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers there is a far greater need for glucose/glycogen as this optimal energy source for the body is used rapidly due to the anaerobic nature of the activity.  Anaerobic exercise (65% or higher of max target heart rate) requires glycogen as the primary energy source, if the body does not have enough present it will manufacture glucose from elsewhere in the body, typically at the cost of valuable muscle tissue (never a good thing).  This doesn’t mean simply eat a bowl of pasta or a couple baked potatoes the night before the big game.  Complete glycogen saturation in the muscle can take up to 72 hours depending on the state of depletion.  As a side note, I don’t want to discount the importance of proteins and essential fats in any diet plan, as they both play critical roles in an infinite amount of processes constantly at work in the human body.  However, I am focusing more on carbohydrates because this is where the biggest debate and the majority of disagreement lies even among top nutritionists and contest prep coaches alike.  Due to the constantly changing variables among every individual, I feel it’s irresponsible to give a “cookie cutter” diet plan without first getting as much information as possible pertaining to you, the client, before making any nutrition recommendations.

To summarize, a Performance Nutrition program focuses on maximizing ones ability to perform at their best on the field of play while simultaneously providing the body building blocks to achieve maximum recovery for the next game or practice through nutrition and supplementation.

My philosophy regarding Cosmetic Nutrition can be viewed with an “as needed basis” approach.   This will be very different for everyone.   I feel that first and foremost caloric breakdown should be based on the individuals Lean Body Mass (LBM), NOT total bodyweight which I refer to as “feeding the fat!”  By providing the body with a below maintenance caloric intake, we essentially force the body into a situation where stored energy (i.e. Body fat) must be used as ready energy.  While this may sound simple enough in theory, the real challenge becomes losing body fat without the expense of muscle tissue loss.  The application of these principles can vary widely depending on the individual as well as their goals.

Supplementation can prove to be a critical part in maintaining or even building muscle while in a sub caloric state.  I hear all too often phrases like “I’m going to lose my belly before I start weight training,” or “once I start lifting weights my fat will turn into muscle.”  Sorry to burst your bubble folks but body fat and muscle tissue are 2 completely different things.  It’s physiologically impossible to convert one into the other, however, I do believe through proper nutrition and supplementation coupled with attention to detail one CAN lose unwanted body fat while simultaneously building lean muscle mass.

Stop driving yourself nuts sifting thru heaps of information trying to find what may or may not apply to you and your goals.  By choosing one of our nutrition programs that best suits YOUR needs, you will save hours of precious time and energy that could be used far more efficiently and immediately put you on the fast track to the physique and optimal performance you always wanted.  Don’t waste another minute confusing your self with all the contradicting nonsense and allow me to design a program that is tailored specifically for you!


Stuffed Red Peppers- Low Carb/High Protein w/ fiber…Perfect for Diabetic’s
Servings- 4…Prep time- 30 minutes…Bake Time- 1 hour

12 ounces 90% or leaner ground beef
1/4 C drained cooked orzo pasta
1/4 C fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 C crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP snipped fresh thyme or 1 TSP dried thyme, crushed
4 medium red sweet peppers
3/4 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine beef, orzo, bread crumbs, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, and thyme.

2. Cut tops off ea. sweet pepper; remove seeds and stems. Trim the bottom of ea. pepper so they stand upright, but don’t cut into the inside of the pepper. Divide beed mixture among peppers. Stand peppers in a 2-quart baking dish; pour broth around them and cover dish w/ foil.

3. Bake 1-1 1/4 hrs or until the peppers are tender and an instant thermometer inserted into the center of the beef mixture registers 160 degrees F. If you’d like sprinkle the tops of the pepper w/ an additional 1 TBSP feta or parmesan.

4. Let peppers stand for 5 minutes…serve and enjoy!

Per Serving: 271 calories, 12g total fat, 16g carbs, 3g fiber, 24g protein