vitamin d

Ruthless Performer Q&A – Elite Sports Nutrition with Jesse Rodriguez R.D.

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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.**

 

Want to learn more about Jesse or our various nutritional programs and consultations? Fill out the form below to get started!

 

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto

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**Editor’s Note: In a previous post, the various benefits of adding mushrooms to your diet was discussed. Find more here about what mushrooms can do for your immune, digestive, and cognitive function.**

 

Mushroom Risotto

Prep Time – 10 minutes. Cook Time – 25 minutes. Total Time – 35 minutes.

Vegetarian dish. Makes 6 servings.

mushroom dish

  • 1 lb Mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp choice of Parsley or Chives, chopped.
  • 2 Shallots, roughly diced
  • 6 cups Bone broth
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp Kerrygold Butter
  • Parmesan cheese to taste
  • 1 tbsp Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Directions

  • In a saucepan, warm the broth over medium heat.
  • Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet to high heat. Add mushrooms to dry skillet and stir as the mushrooms release their juices. Turn heat to medium-high and continue to stir until juice starts to be absorbed and mushrooms are browned.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and continue cooking until the rest of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Stir in the shallots. Cook about 1 minute or until shallots begin to soften. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.
  • Return heat to medium-high and using a mug or measuring cup add between ½-3/4 cup broth to the rice (I added ¾ cup), and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding the hot broth one scoopful at a time, stirring continuously, making sure the liquid becomes absorbed before adding more broth. When you’ve got almost all the broth added, begin turning the heat down to medium if necessary. After about 20 minutes or so, the rice will be al dente.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. (At this point, if you want a vegan meal, this is done and perfectly tasty.)
  • Add the butter, parsley or chives and parmesan.

 

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.

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function

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Adaptogens are phytonutrients that have the ability to help your body adapt under physiological stress. These phytonutrients are herbs that contain phytochemicals. Adaptogens can also be defined as a pharmacotherapeutic group of herbal preparations used to increase attention and endurance during fatigue. Furthermore they can help to prevent, mitigate or reduce stress induced impairments and disorders related to neuroendocrine and immune systems (Bagchi, et. al., 2013)

Stress, especially chronic stress, is associated with increased inflammation, and other body responses, all of which are adversely related to cellular aging. Mushrooms have been studied numerous times for their adaptogenic abilities during times of stress and immune system stimulation. Mushrooms have a long history of treatment for a number of ailments. The benefits are endless but as adaptogens, they help the body maintain proper balance. This may help those who are in a high stress environment or facing other complications such as sleep deprivation or fatigue. Mushrooms come in many forms but some of the most beneficial ones are: Reishi, Shitake, Moral, Maca and Cordyceps.

  1. Reishi, Shitake

Reishi is known for its immune stimulating properties by way of increasing production of leukocytes (white blood cells), thus strengthening the immune system. Reishi is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which promote longevity and resilience. In addition to that, other benefits include reducing viral infections and anxiety. Shitake have some similar benefits to reishi that enhance immunity and slow aging; it is also an excellent source of Vitamin D2 and has capabilities to adapt to stress form work or other daily life activities.

  1. Maca

Maca is one of the most powerful mushroom types because of its proven health benefits. This adaptogen contains phytochemical power to help relieve anxiety and tension. Maca is also a great source of calcium, vitamin C, amino acids, and healthy fats. It is typically sold in powder form, and can be easily added as a topping to yogurt and smoothies. Maca greatly benefits those who are lacking sleep and is very accessible for those looking to add into their diet.

  1. Cordyceps

Cordyceps are considered one of the best herbs for their ability to regulate homeostasis. This herb dates back to old Chinese history, where it was commonly eaten with soups. It’s most known for its antioxidant effects, reducing infections, fighting off stress, and increasing energy levels. Some studies have shown that it can prevent the growth of tumors in addition to reducing fatigue. (Zhen-yuan, et. al., 2012)

  1. Morel

Morel is widely hunted for because of its excellent taste. Similar to reishi, morels have a significant content of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which support the immune system. Moreover, morels have been shown to benefit respiratory function and promote a healthy GI tract. Additionally, they also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Those are in a high stress environment should consider adding morel to reduce cortisol levels (stress) and increase overall health benefits.

With the addition of proper sleep, exercise, stress-reducing techniques, and a balanced diet, we can optimize the quality of our life. Cordyceps as mentioned earlier can be advantageous for athletes. Supplement forms of different types of mushrooms are available. Furthermore, Laird Superfood has a mushroom blend in capsules and other forms of mushroom supplements for easy access.

In sports performance, athletes deal with physiological and physiological stress every day. Minimizing this can help improve performance.  A recent study has shown that adaptogens taken 1 hour prior to endurance exercise may increase lipolysis (breakdown of fat), reduce heart rate, reduce lactate concentration while maintaining good health (Wong, Bandyopadhyay, & Chen, 2011). These powerful phytonutrients are able capable of helping your body adapt to increased stress and reduce mental and physical fatigue. According to the University of Michigan Health Library, Cordyceps dosage of 3 to 9 grams taken twice daily as a liquid extract, as food, or as powdered extract, may support sports performance.

 

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.