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Super Basic Nutritional Vocabulary 101
- From Wikipedia: Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth
- Nutrients come in 2 forms:
- Macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates & Fat
- Micronutrients: vitamins and minerals
- "Essential" Nutrients are nutrients required for normal body functioning that cannot be made by the body at all, or cannot be made in amounts adequate for good health, and thus must be obtained from a dietary source. Think about that. The body can't make them. You must eat them. If you don't your body will not function properly. That then begs the question, What are the essential nutrients that we must eat?
- Fatty Acids:
- a-Linoleic acid (ALA) is an Omega 3 fatty acid. ALA is not used in its present form by the body. It is broken down into two long chain polyunsaturated fats called EPA and DHA. The most widely used source for these essential fatty acids is deep cold water fish and fish oil.
- Linoleic acid (LA) is an Omega 6 fatty acid. LA is not used in its present form by the body. It is broken down into three long chain polyunsaturated fats called GLA, DGLA and AA.
- NOTE: Omega 9 fatty acids are not essential
- NOTE: The typical American diet has an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 30:1. Optimal health is said to be at a 4:1 ratio. The takeaway here is that we need well more Omega 3 than Omega 6 if we are going to be fully optimized.
- Amino Acids:
- Isoleucine, Lysine, Leucine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine & Histidine
- Not essential because they can be made from amino acids and fatty acids
- A, Bp, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E, K
- Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Selenium, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc
By understanding what is essential and what is not a person can better determine what ratio of fats to carbs to protein is optimal. Clearly carbs are the least important (non essential) so it makes sense to deprioritize them. If you choose to prioritize fats over proteins I would encourage you to aim for fats containing Omega 3's in a very high proportion to Omega 6's so you can move closer to that optimal 4:1 ratio. If you choose to prioritize proteins over fats I would encourage you to buy the most natural sources of protein possible such as wild game, grass fed beef, pastured chickens & eggs, pastured pork, wild fish and raw nuts & seeds.
At this point I think its important to step away from the nutrition and take a look at the economics of a healthy diet. Most people will profess that it is just too expensive to buy healthier choices when a combo meal is $10 or less. That is a myth that is easily passed amongst those who either wont cook at home or feel like they don't have time to cook meals. The myth is wrong and the excuse is weak. Read this paper published on the website Society of Teachers of Family Medicine entitled Cost of Eating: Whole Foods Versus Convenience Foods in a Low-income Model by Andrew J. McDermott, ENS, MC, USN; Mark B. Stephens, MD, CAPT, MC, USN
- Calories are a measure of heat. You can measure the amount of calories you burned in a workout or measure the amount of energy in food.
- The traditional calories in/ calories out advice has been debunked. See my write up on it below.
Basic Popular Diet InformationMost diets are characterized by which macronutrient is included and which is restricted. Others exclude entire food groups for various reasons ranging from health benefits to spiritual benefits.
- LCHF for beginners: This is a great article that not only explains the basics but even gives shopping lists and meal ideas.
- In Sweden where they have government sponsored health care they have now recommended the LCHF diet in fighting obesity. This diet must give them the most bang for their buck or the Swedish government made a deal with the butter industry. Read about it here.
- The Low Carb diet idea was massively popular under the name Atkins Diet around the late 90's and into the early 2000's. Most would agree that the downfall of the Atkins Diet was that it did not differentiate between commercial meats and wild game/ grass fed meats. My own observations on those who did the Atkins Diet was that they did not actually read the book or study the particulars of this diet at all. Instead people just dumped all carbs and ate massive quantities of meat and said "I'm on the Atkins diet!" This led people to initially drop weight only to gain it back later. My advice to those who choose this diet is to pay attention to the quality of your meat and rotate between as many proteins sources as possible so as not to consume massive quantities of poor quality bacon or beef.
- Another diet that was similar to the Atkins diet was the South Beach Diet. The differences between the two were minor and can be read about here.
- If your carbs are really low and your fats are high quality you are likely on a Ketogenic style diet. Read my article on Ketosis here . Many diets with slightly differing criteria champion the use of nutritional ketosis such as NSNG (No sugar No grains), The Bullet Proof Diet, Paleo Diet & the Primal Diet. For help in determining what ratio of fat to protein to carbs will best work for you on a keto style diet I have found this handy calculator.
- Vegan 101: This article explains the difference between vegan and vegetarian and answers questions on protein and calcium. It even provides advice on eating at restaurants and dealing with negative comments.
- One of the more popular Vegetarian diets is the Ornish Diet which is now called the Ornish Spectrum because it has evolved into more of an overall lifestyle overhaul rather than just a simple diet. The diet specifically has two paths. The Reversal Diet for those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease and the Prevention Diet for those who do not have heart disease, but whose cholesterol levels are above 150.
- If you aren't 100% plant powered because you still eat seafood your likely on a Pescetarian style diet.
- If you aren't 100% plant powered because you still eat some red meat once in awhile your likely on a Flexitarian style diet.
- Nutrition Articles : Traditional Diet advice written by the most respected of them all, Sunny Blende.
- Which diet is right for a new runner?- A Runner's World article that is worth a quick read
- Supplements- Read this story to find out what supplements you should be taking to pick up the nutritional slack.
- My article on Glutathione
- All calories are not all created equally- This is an excellent article from the InsideTrailRacing website that talks about the Paleo diet and how they may not have it quite right. It is a matter of opinion and this writer provides sound logical advice to support his opinion. Well worth a read.
- Optimize Your Supplements by Dave Asprey: Learn about the 10 supplements that almost everyone should be taking. Dave explains what to take, what form of the nutrient is optimal, what time of day to take the supplement and he gives some brand recommendations.
- Paleo Diet for Athletes: Loren Cordain, PhD and Joe Friel, MS- "By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life."
FOODS TO AVOID: regardless of your diet choice
- Pre-packaged food that makes up the vast majority of the grocery store isles should be avoided. Almost all diets agree that the outer ring of a grocery store where all of the fruits, vegetables, meat and whole grain products are found is the ideal place to start. The chemical compounds that are found in boxed, canned, jarred and factory sealed foods are not food. They are not natural to your body and they disrupt the natural function of your body. Many people already look at labels for disagreeable ingredients and I would challenge you to take it a step further by purchasing the vast majority of your food without ingredient labels. If you must buy food with an ingredient label then keep the rule of 4 in mind. It's just good advice. The label must have 4 or less ingredients. Four ingredients should be a last resort. Three ingredients on occasion. Two ingredients is much more tolerable. Single ingredient isn't the same as fresh but it's as close as you can get without actually being.
Wheat and most other whole grains are being vilified in almost all diets these days except for the Traditional diet which is also known as SAD, Standard American Diet. The reasons sited vary from "whole grains are inflammatory to your digestive system and cardio vascular system" to "whole grains have little nutritional value and are a high glycemic food". The rapid rise in Celiacs disease and its link to gluten toxicity has lead many to stay away from wheat. Lectins, sticky proteins common to all plants for self defense, are a prominent feature of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). In addition to flattening out intestinal villi and causing Celiac, they can penetrate gut linings and create leaky gut. Once lectins get into the blood stream, they can bind to leptin receptors, blocking the leptin sensitivity that lets you know you've had enough to eat, creating a sluggish metabolism, and disrupting insulin balance. In other words, it leads to obesity and diabetes.
Sugar in all of it's many, many forms should be limited. By cutting out pre-packaged food you will likely cut out all HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) which is associated with a host of metabolic and auto-immune disorders. Sugar that you will encounter outside of packaged food will be sucrose, fructose or glucose. Sucrose is the sugar we know as sugar or table sugar, fructose is known as the fruit sugar as its main source in the diet is fruits and vegetables and glucose is known as grape sugar, blood sugar or corn sugar as these are its richest sources. Sugar blocks your brains ability to register the leptin hormone which tells the brain your full. Sugar is also an excitotoxin the has a pleasure response from the brain when consumed. This means you will crave the pleasure and not really know when you are full. Sugar also feeds cancer, triggers weight gain, and promotes pre mature aging.
Top Athletes give their 2 cents!
- Nutrition for the ultra runner- by Marshall Ullrich
- Ultra Eating Tips for Young Runners- by Scott Jurek
- Nutrition Secrets- by Ryan Hall
- Morning & Pre Race Nutrition- by Rich Roll
- Nutrition- by Timothy Olson
- Nutrition- by Mark Allen
- What Elite Runners Really Eat
Must see media!
FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD FULL MOVIE
If you haven't seen this movie, I would highly recommend it. Joe Cross has an amazing story to tell and he unloads tons of great nutritional info along the way.
Documentary: Addicted to Pleasure - Sugar
How sugar cane fuelled a consumer revolution but is now responsible for serious ailments.
Today's Modern Food: It's not what you think
This video examines the truth about our Nation's food supply. The food we buy today is the product of a business who's more concerned about their own profits than their customers health and the government regulators are looking out for the interests of the businesses rather than the American people's well being. The complete script for this video, as well as all the links to the articles, websites and videos in this presentation are available here: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/jeffben...
The Men Who Made Us Fat
Around the world, obesity levels are rising. More people are now overweight than undernourished. Two thirds of British adults are overweight and one in four of us is classified as obese. In the first of this three-part series, Jacques Peretti traces those responsible for revolutionising our eating habits, to find out how decisions made in America 40 years ago influence the way we eat now.
Ben Greenfields Fat Loss Secrets
Ben Greenfield is a nationally recognized authority on metabolism, nutrition and fat loss. He runs a free blog and podcast and goes way beyond run-of-the-mill advice when it comes to getting the body you want.
Fat Chance: Fructose2.0- Published in October of 2013- Dr. Robert Lustig, UCSF Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, updates his very popular video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." He argues that sugar and processed foods are driving the obesity epidemic, which in turn affects our endocrine system.
- Calorie Calculator- Calculate your calorie goal
Health & Nutrition Tools on the web
BMI Calculator- Calculate your Body Mass Index
Keto Calculator- This calculator determines your optimal food intake for your personal weight loss goals on the ketogenic diet.
Grass Fed Meat Resources in the Bay Area: This page has it all from buying clubs to restaurants, grocery stores to farmers markets.
Map of Farms & Ranches for Grass Fed Meat and Dairy Producers
Find a California Farmers Market
Map of Farmers Markets belonging to the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association
23andMe.com What use to cost $2000 now costs $99. Find out if your children are at risk for inherited conditions, understand your genetic health risks, arm your doctor with information on how you might respond to certain medications, explore your genetic traits for everything from lactose intolerance to male pattern baldness, find out what percent of your DNA comes from populations around the world, ranging from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and more.
Podcasts can keep you informed and motivated:
Ditch the tunes and talk radio and tune into some really great shows that inform and entertain while you drive around, sit at your desk and workout. I listen to podcasts on my smartphone and my computer with an app called Stitcher. This allows me to set up a list of shows I like and I don't have to download each episode. The app plays one show after another always looking for new episodes and never repeating the ones I have already listened to. It also suggests shows I might like based on what I listen to and from that I have found some really great content. Here is my list of favorite shows in no particular order to help you get started.
If you know of any other diet, nutrition or fitness podcasts that I should be listening to leave a comment below. I love podcasts!
Food for thought & thoughts on food:
- In real dollars, the price of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen nearly 40 percent since 1985. In real dollars, the price of soft drinks has dropped 23 percent. The reason unhealthy foods tend to be less expensive on average than foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables has much to do with American farm policy.
Condensed from "Food without Thought: How U.S. Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity" Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Environment and Agriculture Program, from the presentation, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: Searching for the Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World," by Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, Calif
From the presentation, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: Searching for the Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World," by Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, Calif
USDA" Trends in the United States - Consumer Attitudes and the Supermarket, 2000. From the presentation, "Phytonutrients: Nature's Bonus from Plant Foods" by David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Debunking the myths:
Myth: You burn as many calories walking a mile as you do running a mile
In essence, this myth sounds logical. It takes longer to walk a mile than it takes to run it, so it should equal out in the end, right? Only it doesn’t. In running, you jump from one foot to the other, which requires a tremendous amount of energy and burns more calories than walking. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise proves it: Women burned 91 calories running a mile and 43 calories walking, meaning running a mile actually burns twice the calories of walking.
Myth: Calorie restriction is all that is needed to lose weight.
A very simple to understand article is written on LifeHacker.com on this very subject. If you don't want to go read the full article I will sum it up. Calorie restriction is too simplistic in its approach to weight control. 500 calories of junk food does not react inside the body the same way 500 calories of fresh produce or high quality protein does therefore doing 500 calories of exercise may or may not use up the 500 calories you just consumed. Regardless if the energy consumed is completely used or stored the more important factors are how does your body deal with certain types of food and what side effects take place in the body long after the food is consumed. Calorie restriction can work in some people with an iron fortitude for a short period of time but to do this you must be willing to be hungry and likely under nourished.
If you really want to understand what calories are and what calories do you have to listen to this Podcast with biochemist Bill Lagakos.