Today’s Q&A guest is our own sports nutritionist Jesse Rodriguez. Jesse has his own prolific history as a national-level swimmer for El Salvador and here in the United States competing in college and post-graduate for the University of Southern California. This all makes Jesse a world-class resource as not many people have competed at this level at any sport. With this background, plus his vast time spent in academia studying nutrition, interning with top sports teams, and the clinical work necessary for his Registered Dietitian status, we’re glad to have him on-board.
1. There are lots of people working with nutrition in some capacity, what sets you apart?
Firstly, I’m a licensed registered dietitian which means I went though extensive schooling and professional training. Secondly, I was an athlete for the majority of my life and I began studying/applying nutrition since I was 16. Lastly, I continue to read and study a lot! Mostly on clinical, biochemistry and sports nutrition research articles. Overall, I’ve been in this game for a long time and still aiming to be well-rounded in all elements of nutrition. (Editor’s Note: You read more about the difference between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian here)
2. Given your personal and prolific history as a swimmer, you’re uniquely qualified to critique high-level sports nutrition, particularly in swimming. What are athletes doing right with their diet? What are they doing wrong?
Nutrition in sports has gained more popularity over the years and many athletes found the benefits of fueling appropriately. I’ve noticed that more athletes know about nutrient timing, and the importance of including carbs as fuel and protein for recovery. I think that many athletes know how to fuel around training times but during other times (i.e. dinner at home or restaurant), they tend to lack in nutritional knowledge. A lot of athletes still eat junk food throughout the day, maybe because they feel they can get away with it or something, but that’s our job as sports dietitians to correct. Additionally, building the appropriate plate according to their goals (i.e. body composition, better recovery) seems to be a problem along with maintaining hydration. Here’s an article I’ve written on RuthlessPerformance.com on this is.
3. Supplement must-do’s… What supplements (if any) are generally worth taking? What supplements are a scam?
Supplements for athletes typically aren’t necessary since athletes are eating more than the general population but it all depends on the athlete. Supplements would be necessary if an athlete is deficient in a nutrient like Iron or Vitamin D. Athletes following special diets like the vegan diet may need to supplement as well. As far as supplements for performance, the most studied and useful would be: Caffeine, Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Nitrates, and Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). It’s hard to say which supplements are a scam because they’re so many in the market and it can vary due to individual responses to them. With that being said, it’s important to make sure if you’re going to take supplements, that they’re 3rd party certified by organizations like the NSF.
4. You’ve gone pretty far in your journey through academia… With the emphasis of studies, objectivity, and research in academia there is still surprisingly lots of room for subjectivity and interpretations of results and outcomes. What are your thoughts on this? What can be done to fix or improve nutrition science?
Correct, I think there is always room for development in the field so it’s my job to follow along and stay up to date with the latest research. This for me is actually fun because I enjoy reading research papers and learning to new things. The science of nutrition can be very complex and as of now, I don’t have any solutions. I think that the correct messages (evidence-based results) need to be sent out to the general public so myths can be debunked. It’s more about nutrition education than anything at the moment.
5. From a more general standpoint, the headlines regarding nutrition are changing on a damn near daily basis. What elements of sports nutrition do you think are firmly established? What rules of nutrition have outlasted the scandalous and salacious headlines?
Hydration, nutrient timing, and recovery nutrition seems to be the foundation. There will always be a new thing that comes out, but those three are firmly established. Individualized nutrition is fundamental in sports nutrition and I think that will outlast any headline or diet (i.e keto diet, intermittent fasting, etc). I also think that sticking to the basics, such as nutrition from food rather than living off smoothies and supplements for example, will always have the edge. Of course, going back to supplements, this will depend on the individual’s status.
6. Where does sports nutrition go from here? What do you think we’ll be seeing in the coming years regarding nutrition? Gut health seems to be a hot topic as of late, what are your opinions on this? What should nutrition scientists place more emphasis on?
The basics of sports nutrition will remain the same and to be honest, I don’t see anything revolutionary coming soon. However, they’re new things coming along such as nutrigenomics and the importance of gut health, antioxidants, and periodizing nutrition which looks promising. Gut health has been popular lately and for good reason. Because of the gut and brain connection, I feel it’s important to treat your gut right just like most want to treat their blood sugar levels right. I think emphasis should be placed on education and sending the correct messages to athletes and the public. Researchers are doing a great job in nutritional science but there hasn’t been anything lately that can change the whole world of nutrition and its effect on humanity. If we can do this, that will be the next revolutionary thing.
**Editor’s Note: Jesse will also be featured on ‘Healthy Habits with Dr. T’ on Wednesday, Oct. 17th at 7:00 PM EST, we’ll post all of the details for event pre-registration and where to view it on our Twitter and Instagram.**
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This post marks the first in our new Ruthless Perfomer Q&A series. Throughout this series we’ll be talking with various health and fitness influencers regarding their specific niche and how it effects the world of health and wellnessa at-large.
Today we’re joined by Dr. Touchinsky who established Blue Mountain Family Chiropractic in 2005. His early focus was helping people suffering with pain and injuries utilizing hands on chiropractic care. Within the first few years of practice, he realized that many of the cases seen required more than just physical treatment. People were dealing with issues caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and other lifestyle related factors. However, due to a variety of reasons, none of their health care providers were addressing these issues. This lead Dr. Touchinsky to study and become certified in Functional Medicine.
What is Functional Medicine and why is this something you’re so engaged in?
Conventional medicine usually seeks to identify a problem, an injury, or an illness. Diagnosis and treatment of that diagnosis is their forte. They are the doctors of “what”. They want to know what is wrong with you, and then they apply the treatment designed for that problem.
The best way to describe functional medicine practitioners is we are the doctors of “why”. Why are you sick? Why do you have an autoimmune disease? Why do you have chronic fatigue? This “why” can vary… it may be poor gut health due to frequent use of antibiotics in the past, or nutrient deficiencies due to an inadequate diet, or excessive stress from work, overtraining in the gym, or lack of proper sleep and recovery. The “why” can vary from person to person so we look at each individual’s “why” so we can develop a plan for that person and not their disease.
Teach us something… What is something within health that you think many physically active, healthy individuals may be ignorant to (i.e. I am always sure to teach clients about the relationship between the lymphatic and muscular system)?
Gut health is supreme. “You are what you eat” is a common saying. However, it’s not that simple. It’s what we eat, digest, assimilate, and excrete. Our digestive system helps manage what our body takes in to help build muscle, health and repair all sorts of tissues including our vital organs, make neurochemical and hormones, etc. It also helps us get rid of the toxic by products of doing all of that. It’s both the fuel injector system and the exhaust system. If the gut is chronically inflamed it’s going to affect nutrient absorption. If there’s constipation, it’s like plugging up the exhaust pipe in your car or the chimney in your house. This affects health more than most people realize.
If you doubt that or this is a new concept to you, google “gut” and <insert health problem or disease name here> and take a look at what shows up.
What do you think is the easiest thing individuals already engaged in a fitness program can change about their daily routine to further improve their health?
Most people can benefit from eating less meals per day and eating within a 12 hour time period per day, with earlier being better. An example might be at 7am, 11am-1pm, and 5pm-7pm. Eating food disrupts normal equilibrium and places the body under stress. It’s a necessary function, but triggering that stress every few hours is not good. It’s beneficial to give the body plenty of time between our meals and then one long period per day of 12 hrs or more. There even some interesting research showing that more than 12 hours can be even more of an advantage. This is called intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding. This can be taken even a step further by doing full water fasting or a Fasting Mimicking Diet on occasion. For more information on that, search for fasting and Dr. Valter Longo.
As someone within the field, what do you think about the current state of chiropractic care? What are some common myths or concerns that you come across regularly? Are these concerns warranted?
Chiropractors practice methods that are the most effective means of addressing muscle, joint, and many nerve issues in my opinion. We have extensive training and spend our career seeing people with injuries and pain. Not only are we trained in treating these issues, but diagnosing them as well. This makes us a great first option when someone has something wrong. If it turns out it’s a more serious issue that requires a surgeon, or if there’s doubt and more testing needs to be done, we can refer or order testing such as blood tests, MRIs, and CT scans. Most of the time we can start treating immediately and begin providing patients relief on day one.
Some common myths that I see are we only treat the spine. That might be how we got our start over 100 years ago, but we now are trained on evaluating and treating a wide variety of issues. We’re not just “bone setters” either. I work just as much on the muscles as I do the bones and joints. Another common myth is that once you start going, you have to keep on going. There may be some cases of permanent injuries or those that have very demanding jobs where it makes sense to see someone once every few months to keep them in good shape, but in most cases my goal is to get the person out of pain, show them what they can do for themselves to prevent the problem from recurring, and then discharge them from care.
Most forward-thinking individuals working in healthcare admit it’s a rather flawed system. What do you think is the most troubling aspect of modern healthcare in America? What do you think is the easiest problem within healthcare to fix?
It’s a very flawed system. Health insurance dictates care and most providers end up treating to the insurance. Insurance payment to providers is based on what is done to a patient. It’s procedural based. That means that the more “stuff” that we do to patients, the more we bill, and the more we get paid. If you do less “stuff”, you get less payment. This only promotes overutilization of certain services. Additionally, an officer visit where your doctor diagnoses a common cold gets paid the same as a visit where they diagnose and (attempts to) manage diabetes. The latter is way more complicated and requires much more attention and expertise to handle. I could really go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that.
The easiest problem to fix is to take away the middleman. Take away insurance. That sounds horrible because it’s the only way most people can afford to see a doctor, but by taking away the middle man we would lower the costs for everyone. If people had to pay for everything out of pocket (at least up front), then they would help, along with the doctor, if a procedure or test is really necessary. If you doubt this, ask any provider, “do you tend to order more testing on people with or without insurance?” For those that truly can’t afford care, we can take the money we use to subsidize health insurance and set up free and reduced clinics. At least this would put money directly into communities and building facilities and paying providers, vs. sitting in the coffers of insurance companies to selectively dole out as they wish.
**Editor’s Note: John Matulevich of Ruthless Performance will be appearing on Dr. Touchinsky’s Podcast “Healthy Habits with Dr. T” this wednesday night. You can preregister to listen to the podcast at the address here or watch it live on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/doctortouchinsky/ **