Archive for the ‘Nutrition & Fitness’ Category

Lipids (Fats).

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


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)

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.”


Posted: June 21, 2012 in Nutrition & Fitness

Great reference tool…I read over this at least once a month as a simple reminder!

jasoncroce- Ultimate Human Performance

Motivation & Visualization through Thoughts

I certainly don’t know it all…matter of fact I don’t know much!  None the less, the following is a compilation of what I DO know, test the techniques out and if they work, Awesome!  If they have no business in your quest to attain Ultimate Human Performance…forget’m!  Use and apply what works for YOU!

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”  ~Albert Einstein

I Think!  Therefore I am…

– Thoughts can be measured.

– The skull is by no means solid…look at a human skull, eye sockets, nasal openings, mouth, ears, etc…

– Bone under a microscope resembles a honeycomb structure.

– It’s naive to think our thoughts stay with-in the confounds of our skulls.

– Whether you realize it or not you receive outside thoughts.  Don’t think so??…Ever have a bad vibe about something?  Ever get good vibes?  Ever say…

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    •    Michael Jordan had one!

    •    Tiger Woods has one!

    •    Albert Pujols has one!

    •    Peyton Manning has one!

Okay, so what’s the “ONE” thing great athletes, CEO’s, World Leaders, and basically all successful people have in common?…A Coach!  As this blog grows (A special thanks to you guys who have been a part of that growth!) I believe it’s necessary to provide a clearly defined purpose.  It’s safe to say most successful people have a coach or coaches even, for different areas of their lives.  You all know what this blog is about (read the “About” if not) and I have a challenge of sorts which I hope you’ll embrace, and in doing so, I truly believe your life can improve dramatically….overnight.  The purpose of this blog is to coach, coach who?… Coach YOU!!  The following is the description Anthony Robbins gives in regards to what a coach is, and does.  I think it’s brilliant, yet simply worded and I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂 and btw, that “challenge” is issued in the last sentence of the following description.   

What do coaches do?  Well, first, they care about you.  They’ve spent years focusing on an area of expertise, and they’ve continued to make key distinctions about how to produce results more quickly.  By utilizing the strategies your coach shares with you, you can immediately and dramatically change your performance.  Sometimes, your coach doesn’t even tell you something new, but reminds you of what you already know and then gets you to do it…. This is the role, with your permission, that I’ll be playing for you.”  ~A. Robbins

So that I may coach you to the best of my abilities, I encourage you to subscribe by entering your email address in the provided space to the left.  By subscribing you’ll be able to receive articles as they’re posted and improve you’re results that very day!  As I myself, am in constant search of ways to refine and perfect such abilities through research and the never ending quest for knowledge, as human performance is not just a passion of mine, I feel it’s my life’s purpose.  Thus, providing YOU the BENEFITS of applied knowledge, structured guidance, and continuous motivation.  

Thank you, I appreciate all of you!!
~ Jason Croce

What the heck is a snack anyways? How many calories is it outside today?.

What the heck is a snack anyways?  How many calories is it outside today?

    I must begin by referencing a pet peeve of mine…after all, it is the reason I’m writing this article!  I highly dislike the term “snack!”… I mean really, define a snack.  I’ll define a meal in a moment…I have yet to hear a legitimate definition of a snack!  Here’s my take on what a snack is… A comfortable excuse to be lazy and/or a chance to be very liberal in deciding one’s food choices.  While I’m on this soap box of pet peeves I have with fitness terminology, here’s another term that really bothers me, “calorie!”  Here’s my problem with the word calories, it’s totally misused!… A calorie is simply a unit of measurement…heat to be specific.  So basically, lets pretend the chicken and rice you’re going to consume as your next meal renders 450 calories, that’s really saying the body will produce 450 units of heat in order to metabolize that meal of chicken and rice.  One other thing about a calorie, in the context 99.9% of us use the word…in no way shape or form is “a calorie a calorie!”   A more accurate way of thinking of it could be in terms of the bodies physiological response to a calorie from carbohydrates, a calorie from protein, from fats…it then becomes quite obvious that a calorie is certainly not a calorie (in the common context it’s use in today) by any stretch.  By true definition, yes, a calorie is a calorie, it’s a measurement for heat as I previously mentioned.  However, the age old question, or statement rather…”a calorie is a calorie”
is a mute topic in my opinion!  Let’s move on…    
    Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, allow me to define a meal; A meal is a combination of macro and micronutrients in ratios or amounts based on the individual consuming that meals goal or goals.  Yes, it’s a rather vague and general definition of the word…allow me to take it a step further and get into some specifics based on performance vs cosmetic nutrition principles, which are discussed in detail in a previous article (I encourage everyone to read it).  

Performance Based Meal: High protein (animal based is ideal); Moderate starchy carbohydrates (approx. 30g is a good reference for men, 20g is a good place to start for women); Fibrous carbohydrate- eat liberally, the American diet grossly lacks fiber, possibly a contributing factor to expanding waist lines, hmm??; Essential fats- I find for both men and women a good starting amount is 1/2 tbsp of quality oil, with most oils that renders approx. 6-7.5g of EFA’s (adjust accordingly); water should be consumed AFTER the meal, give yourself about 20 minutes before consuming any significant amount of water, you don’t want to dilute the digestive enzyme secreted within the gut during the digestive process; Multi Vitamin/Mineral (chelated) supplement is a good idea to maximize nutrient utilization, also many vitamins and minerals improve macronutrient uptake, also many are fat soluble and are best to take with fats, a meal is a great time to optimize both of those aspects.

Cosmetic Based Meal:  High protein (again, complete protein sources are ideal); Low carbohydrates or what I consider Trace carbs, the trace amounts found in other food sources (i.e. greens, nuts, nut butters, other fibrous carbs as well); Fibrous carbs- should be consumed w/ each meal, whether obtained through food sources or via supplementation…it’s critical for countless reasons, especially on a low starch carb diet (SPECIES nutrition makes a great fiber supp. called FIBERLYZE and I highly recommend it); Moderate EFA’s- similar to that of Performance nutrition…allow adjustments due to energy requirements, w/o the starch carbs the body will rely on fats more so as an energy source.  **Note: I’m a big fan of the conservative use of MCT oils, most specifically Coconut oil…without getting into an entirely new topic I would like to make clear that my personal belief is that MCT’s (in moderation, I do not advise more than 3 tbsp’s MAX per day) are a great addition to low carbohydrate diets simply due to the energy it provides the body…I like coconut oil best for it’s high concentration of lauric acid and the intestinal health and internal healing benefits it provides.  I do however believe there’s definitely a line between incorporating a reasonable amount into the diet for energy requirements and/or increasing one’s total caloric intake and going entirely overboard!!  While I myself am not up to par with other experts on this subject, I am smart enough to know who is!  Dr. Morrow Di Pasquale wrote a fantastic article on some of the enzymatic signaling and hormone secretion/signaling processes that MCT’s can impede!  I encourage people to read anything you can get your hands on by this man, he’s simply brilliant and a trend setter in the field of nutrition to which we have yet to see the totality of the legacy this man will ultimately leave!!

Post Script: Food for thought…pun intended!

    Starchy Carbohydrates are the main variable that will fluctuate for both men and women dependent upon several factors such as, body type, goals, insulin resistance, activity level, caloric expenditure, family history, etc etc.  So long as there’s consistency in the amount of carbohydrates consumed it’s really a matter of paying attention to how you feel, look, perform, and all the other aspects that come into play.  Even if you know very little about the science of this stuff, anybody can be consistent, make an adjustment…see how they respond!  Repeat process till the ideal formula is reached!  Then you’ll need to manipulate the number again…and again, and well you get the idea.  It’s an ever evolving process for every single person from soccer mom to Mr. O…if a bodybuilder trains hard all improvement season (those who are familiar know I stick by the phrase, “there is no offseason, only improvement season”) to gain 5 lbs. of lean muscle…well now doesn’t that change the amount of calories he or she burns just at rest?  It does, and it should be taken into consideration along with the aforementioned variables when making adjustments…particularly in manipulating the starchy carbs with in the nutrition program!  Note: As a rule of thumb give any adjustments you make about 10-14 day before deciding to continue on that path or that another adjustment is needed…unless something was just a complete mistake in hindsight, fix the issue immediately or consult a reputable nutritionist, someone you trust!