Fat is a more concentrated source of dietary energy than carbohydrate and protein. Fats concentrated source of energy is about 9 kcal/g (carbohydrates and proteins provide only about 4 kcal/g). Fatty acids from meat and dairy products are relatively saturated. Fatty acids from plant sources are generally more unsaturated. Then there are essential fatty acids (needed from diet) such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) – omega-6 (linoleic acid) and omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) fatty acids.
- Omega – 3 (grain, fresh fruits, veggies, fish, olive oil, garlic, wine) – help reduce inflammation, highly concentrated in the brain
- Omega – 6 (meat based, vegetable oil) – promote inflammation
We need fats because of its good source of metabolic energy (carbon oxidation) and its preferred choice of energy storing (2 to 3 weeks’ storage). Fats also plays many roles in body making it essential for health and wellness. Some roles include:
- Increased absorption of Fat-Soluble Vitamins (A, D, E, K) – Vitamin E also playing a role as antioxidant.
- Formation of steroids such as:
- Cholesterol, the most abundant steroid in the body, is widely distributed in all cells and serves as a major membrane component
- Bile salts aid in the digestion of fats
- Ergosterol, a yeast steroid, is converted to vitamin D by ultraviolet radiation
- Adrenal cortex hormones – involved in metabolism
- Sex hormones – testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone
- Anti-inflammatory properties – aiding in recovery
- Efficient energy source in long duration exercises such as marathons/triathlons.
Fat gets a bad rap but it is crucial for our health. It is true that fat can be harmful for our bodies if excessively consumed, especially by trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils – think chips, donuts, fried foods, etc. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommends that between 20 percent and 35 percent of calories should come from dietary fat. Include a variety of different fats and oils into your diet for optimum health. Incorporate plant based fats for added benefits such as walnuts, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds which promote anti-inflammatory properties.
Gropper S. Sareen and Smith L. Jack, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (7th edition)
By Jesse Rodriguez
Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
**Editor’s Note: Enjoy learning more about nutrition or interested in a personalized meal plan from a Ruthless Performance Nutritionist? Fill out the contact form at RuthlessPerformance.com/contact for more details**
Some of my favorite meats are chicken breasts, turkey, and fish. If you happen to have meats with fat, simply remove the fat to make it “lean”.
Flax and chia seeds
Flax and chia are great toppings to add on such as oatmeal, smoothies, and yogurt. Both are high omega 3 fatty acids to help fight inflammation. Our diets mostly consist of omega 6 fatty acids but we need to complement these with the aforementioned omega 3’s to avoid negative, pro-inflammatory effects.
Tart cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice has been trending for some time now in sports nutrition but for a good reason. This can be the ideal drink, when paired with a protein source to maximize recovery. Tart cherry juice contains antioxidants to fight inflammation along with melatonin to aid in sleep, on top of carbohydrates, which are needed to refuel the tank.
We need fat in our diet, however most consume too much unhealthy fat such as trans and saturated fat. Avocado is a good source in mono and poly-unsaturated fat. This helps lower Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels and raises our good levels of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
The most common recovery drink we see still stands because of its carb-to-protein ratio for absolute recovery. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, simply switch the milk for soy or any other lactose free milk. Just be aware that some may only contain a few grams of protein.
These select foods are either anti-inflammatory to aid in repair from further muscle damage or contain complete protein for more efficient muscle rebuilding. Add them in your recovery meals or shakes to make the most out of your workouts and to maximize health and wellness.
To incorporate this in your diet, a good example after a workout would be to chug a cherry juice and a chocolate milk. Then, have a balanced post-workout meal. Make sure to compliment your meat (or other protein source) with some avocado, vegetables, and whole grains. Serving sizes vary and can depend on your goals. If you decide to consume a protein snack before bed, don’t be afraid to add chia or flax seeds with it.
Consuming alcohol has been a tried and true means to bring people together to come together in a time of enjoyment and relaxation. In moderation, alcohol can be a good way to relieve stress from high intensity sports or exercise, and can bring teams closer together through group bonding; yet sports performance and recovery has been shown to be inhibited by a number of reasons.
There are numerous statements and opinions out there in the public that bash alcohol in regards to athletic performance. But is there evidence that supports this? The literature says yes.
When ethanol, the main type of alcohol found in beverages, is broken down through metabolism, reactive oxygen species have been found in the liver. These reactive oxygen species promotes inflammation around the body, which shows the body’s response to harmful products in the body. This indicates that alcohol does have negative effects on the body. In regard to sports performance, alcohol stimulates many inhibiting processes, such as inhibiting calcium uptake. With a lack of calcium uptake, muscle contractions and strength output are impaired. Dehydration is widely recognized as a possible effect following alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been shown to inhibit an anti-diuretic hormone, thus promoting a loss of fluid through urination. Alcohol also has been shown to be a vasodilator as well, which increases fluid movement around the body, and thus can be another complication in dehydration through evaporation.
For recovery, the big inhibitor is protein synthesis. Alcohol suppresses the pathways that synthesize protein in the body, resulting in depleted muscle growth. Another inhibitor is glycogen reuptake. After a workout, the muscles are depleted of glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose, and the alcohol consumed can take the place of the carbohydrates being broken down to glucose. Thus, muscles are not able to recover to their full potential for the next workout, and they are not able to grow to their full potential through a lack of protein synthesis.
There is a level at which a majority of these inhibitors commence. A drink here or there won’t necessarily promote a drastic drop in performance, but consistently reaching that intoxication level around 0.10 BAC will show drops in performance.
Vella, L. D., & Cameron-Smith, D. (2010). Alcohol, Athletic Performance and Recovery. Nutrients, 2(8), 781–789. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu2080781
By Daniel Goebel
Daniel received his Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College. Daniel played baseball at Westmont. Daniel currently works at UCLA as a Performance Nutrition Intern assisting in distributing planned meals and recovery snacks, body composition evaluation as well as creating education material. Daniel is working towards his Register Dietitian license. Daniel is a member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
Of the various hormones in the human body, there are two hormones whose primary responsibility is regulating hunger, these are:
- Ghrelin – Which signals that you’re hungry
- Leptin – Which signals that you’re full
Some people are hungry after a workout while some are not. Typically, hunger won’t kick in until a few hours or so but there are several factors that can cause hunger in these situations. Here are some reasons why you’re hungry and how it can be fixed.
Not eating enough before workout
It’s common for some individuals to fast before a workout in order to achieve weight loss. However, by going this route, one is could end up going a good number of hours without any fuel. As a result, one is going to experience mild to severe hunger after workout.
Fix this by fueling with a small high energy snack or combine with protein depending on your goal.
Some ideas include:
- Apple sauce
- Energy gel
- Piece of fruit
- Energy chews
- Carb + protein (liquid)
Not drinking enough fluids
Staying hydrated is imperative for performance but many don’t hydrate properly. At times, one may feel hungry but it can be mistaken for thirst, so don’t be afraid to drink a cup of water. During more intense workouts or workouts lasting longer than 1 hour, a sports drink is suggested. Coming into a workout dehydrated or relatively close to it, ghrelin will kick in telling you that you’re hungry during and/or after workout.
- Weigh yourself before and after workouts – For every 1lb lost, drink 16-24 oz. of water.
Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
EPOC is the oxygen uptake above resting values used to restore the body to the pre-exercise condition. Some of the elements during EPOC are the re-synthesis of ATP, glycogen, protein and restoration of oxygen levels. These elements are refueled from nutrition. After workouts, our energy substrates are low which causes a need for refuel leading to hunger.
Baechle Thomas R., Earle Roger W., Essentials of strength and conditioning, National Strength and Conditioning Association; Third edition.
By Jesse Rodriguez
Jesse is a nutritional science major with an emphasis in sports nutrition. Jesse swam for the El Salvador national team and competed at the international level. Jesse is currently working towards a CSCS and registered dietitian license. He currently works at UCLA as a sports nutrition intern assisting both dietitians with meal plans, body composition, and education materials. Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
By Daniel Goebel
As athletes, we are always pushing ourselves to new limits, and putting our bodies in constant forms of exertion. The more we exert ourselves, the more our body is being tested. For major repetitive sports such as football, rugby, and long distance running, the body is repetitively exerting forces on the joints and incurring fatigue as the exertion grows. As this prolongs, musculoskeletal injuries arise. But what can be done to try and help prevent these injuries from occurring? What better way than to reduce injuries and prepare you better for prolonged and sustained exercise with a simple gelatin enriched with vitamin C? Researched conducted by Shaw et al. shows how repetitive stress exercises coupled with gelatin enriched with vitamin C prior to exercise helped build tendon and ligament strength, which thus promoted injury prevention and tissue repair.
Tendons and ligaments respond to exercise in much different ways than muscles do. For muscles, there is a large amount of blood flow that continuously circulates to the muscle, specifically following a high intensity workout. For tendons and ligaments, it’s a little different. Tendons are essentially avascular, with no blood flow coming to them. As Baar mentioned in his podcast on Sigma Nutrition with Danny Lennon, tendons are like a sponge. Nutrients in the blood flow don’t go directly towards tendons, but tendons need to receive nutrients in some way. When you squeeze all water out of a sponge and you put the sponge back into a liquid environment, the sponge expands and sucks all of the nutrients, or excess materials, from the environment. That’s essentially what happens in the cartilage of your ligaments and tendons. Every time you impact the ground or exert a load against a tendon, water is squeezed out. As the tendon recovers, that water is sucked back into the extracellular matrix and with it comes with any nutrient that’s in the blood at that moment. That’s where the nutrient intervention comes into place. In order for the blood and extracellular matrix to have the collagen and necessary nutrients in place for that tendon recovery phase, intervention needs to take place about an hour before the workout.
Collagen is a protein found in our bodies that is the most abundant fibers in our connective tissue. Collagen binds our cells together, to create the strongest form of connective tissue possible. As we increase our collagen by nutritional or exercise intervention, the connective tissue strength is improved. The role of vitamin C in the production of collagen is to interact with amino acids within collagen cells. It adds hydrogen and oxygen. Baar noted that 50 mg of vitamin C was all that needed to be given prior to exercise in order to promote the interaction between amino acids in collagen cells.
Selected Food Sources of Vitamin C
|Food||Milligrams (mg) per serving||Percent (%) DV*|
|Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup||95||158|
|Orange juice, ¾ cup||93||155|
|Orange, 1 medium||70||117|
|Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup||70||117|
|Kiwifruit, 1 medium||64||107|
|Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup||60||100|
|Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup||51||85|
|Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cup||49||82|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup||48||80|
|Grapefruit, ½ medium||39||65|
Gelatin was shown to have an almost doubling effect on collagen synthesis when 15 g of gelatin, a natural byproduct derived from animal skin, bones and tendons, was used. Bone broth, an example of gelatin, creates gelatin when boiling bones. The collagen is getting broken down, when cooled it forms jello.
This is extremely helpful in recovering from injury, as when gelatin is intervened into the diet prior to a workout and then exercises are loaded to the area of the injury, the nutrients will be guided towards that area of the body. For baseball pitchers, they would ingest gelatin prior to exercise, then throw or do resistance band work to activate the ligament through this fatigue-based damage to then promote the uptake of nutrients. For long distance runners, jump roping for five minutes will activate the tibial stress fractures, hip stress fractures, Achilles problems or plantar fasciitis in order for the cells to get a response.
Adding vitamin-enriched gelatin is an easy and effective way to promote tendon and ligament health.
 Baar, Keith. “SSE #142 Training and Nutrition to prevent soft tissue injuries and accelerate return
to play” Gatorade Sports Science Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
 “Vitamin C and Collagen.” A Moment of Science – Indiana Public Media. N.p., 27 Sept. 2003. Web.
 “Vitamin C.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web.
 Murphy, Pam. “Sources of Gelatin.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 18 Nov. 2015. Web.
Daniel Goebel received his Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College. Daniel played baseball at Westmont. Daniel currently works at UCLA as a Performance Nutrition Intern assisting in distributing planned meals and recovery snacks, body composition evaluation as well as creating education material. Daniel is working towards his Register Dietitian license. Daniel is a member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
By Jesse Rodriguez
An apple a day keeps the doctor away right? Not quite since dietary guidelines recommended us to consume ~3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Vegetables, specifically, are overlooked but they shouldn’t as they are superfoods. Mom was right when nagging us about eating our veggies at the dinner table.
Vitamins are our main focus here and how it can help performance. There are two types of vitamins:
- Water soluble – Vitamins B and C
- Fat soluble – Vitamin A, D, E, and K
*Vitamins A, C, and E have antioxidant effects
The difference between the two are the elements of metabolism. Some water-soluble vitamins require digestion while some don’t, however, they are all absorbed in the small intestine then transported through the blood to their target areas. Similarly, some fat-soluble vitamins require digestion while some don’t. In order to get absorbed, it must be incorporated into a micelle with the help of bile. The micelle then gets absorbed into the intestinal cells by passive diffusion in the small intestine. Those with diseases or complications may have trouble absorbing vitamins or producing the necessary enzymes for metabolism.
Vitamins help performance in many ways such as serving as antioxidants to reduce inflammation or working with minerals such as calcium to promote bone strength. Furthermore, some fruits can serve as a pre-workout packed with carbohydrates with a low glycemic index providing a steady dose of carbs throughout the workout. Additionally, fruits contain fructose, a simple sugar, that is digested quickly aiding in glycogen replenishment. Because vitamins have various benefits, I will cover only a handful of fruits and vegetables that can help your health and performance.
- Fish, Beef, Yogurt, Milk, Chicken – Vitamin B12
- Helps formation of red blood cells
- Maintain brain function
- Create and breakdown protein and fat
- Pears – Vitamins C, K, B3, B6, B9
- Increase energy levels
- Aids in digestion
- Decrease blood pressure
- Cucumbers – Vitamins C, K, B1, B7
- Aids in protection of brain
- Increase digestive health
- Decreases stress
- Freshens your breath!
- Milk, Eggs, – Vitamin D
- Increase bone strength
- May increase musculoskeletal health
- May improve muscle efficiency
- Oranges, Carrots, Milk – Vitamin A
- Aid in vision and cellular differentiation
- Promotes eye health
- Antioxidant effects helping in muscle recovery
To summarize, vitamins are imperative to our health and can aid in performance. Add a banana or apple to your mid-day snack. You can also try things like carrots with hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter or steamed broccoli with your dinner. Eating your servings of fruits and vegetables doesn’t have be boring so mix it in with your daily foods. Eating a balanced diet includes all food groups containing vitamins which are important for different functions in the body
Jesse Rodriguez is a nutritional science major with an emphasis in sports nutrition. Jesse swam for the El Salvador national team and competed at the international level. Jesse is currently working towards a CSCS and registered dietitian license. He currently works at UCLA as a sports nutrition intern assisting both dietitians with meal plans, body composition, and education materials. Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
By Jesse Rodriguez
Gut bacteria has been a trend lately, and there is a good reason why its talked about but what is gut bacteria? And why is it good?
Let’s talk about the bacteria in our gut. Our bodies contain about 100 trillion bacteria living in our gut, also known as Microbiome. Microbiome synthesize neurotransmitters that communicate to the brain impacting our immune system, brain, weight, and mood. It’s also important to know that one’s genetics, diet, and environment influence these microbes.
Many people have heard about prebiotic and probiotic but what are they? Both are found in supplements but there’s no need to cash in on these supplements when they’re readily available in our everyday foods.
- Prebiotic – “nondigestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, thus improving host health”
- Probiotic – “live microorganisms (i.e bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) intended to promote health benefits”
Simply put, prebiotics promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut while probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut; prebiotics are the food for probiotics. They work together to improve GI health, enhance calcium absorption, boost immunity, and overall health and wellbeing. As a result, they may positively impact your health which then affects performance ultimately affecting your goals. Because prebiotics are fiber, adequate intake has been shown to:
- Control appetite
- Control development of Type II diabetes
- Regulate body weight
- Alleviate inflammation, typically irritable bowel syndrome
Because these are found in many foods, here is a list of common foods containing prebiotics and probiotics or containing both, called synbiotics:
- Green Peas
- Kefir products
- Dark Chocolate
- Yogurt + Honey
- Yogurt + Banana
- Oats + Dark Chocolate
- Legumes + Pickles
- Miso Soup + Garlic
Incorporate these meals into your diet as a snack or dinner to increase your overall wellbeing.
(2016) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitaminsand-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/prebiotics-and-probiotics-the-dynamic-duo
Ho, N., & Prasad, V. (2013). Probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and naturally fermented foods: why more may be more. Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology, 26(3), 277–278.
Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417– 1435. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu5041417