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Posts tagged ‘Nutrition’

Functions of Nutrients

Nutrition is the science of the food we eat and how our bodies use it.

There are 6 Essential Nutrients. The six essential nutrients include the 3 macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and the 3 micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and water.

The Principle of Nutrient Interaction states that no nutrient works alone and that nutrients have many roles.

There are three broad functions of nutrients; to build and repair tissue, regulate metabolism and to provide energy.

Carbohydrates are the body’s “high intensity” energy source.  This is the primary function of carbs.  Carbs come from plants (grains, fruit, vegetables).  Our bodies store carbs as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue (excess can be stored as fat).  The RDA of carbs per day is 45% – 65% of our daily intake.

Protein is the body’s “back up” for high intensity work.  The building blocks of protein are amino acids.  Protein is stored in the body as muscle tissue. Excess protein is stored as fat.  The RDA of protein per day is 10% – 35% of our daily intake.

Fat is the body’s endurance fuel and is used for low intensity energy.  Fat is stored as adipose tissue.  The building blocks of fat are fatty acids.  The RDA for fat is 20% – 35% of our daily intake.



High-Protein is easy mo peasy.

High-protein foods are abundant. Most of us never think about protein and get plenty. We are eating protein foods like chicken, turkey, lean meats, fish, eggs, beans nuts, and MILK! I went to’s website and found a cornucopia of information about high-protein foods and diets.

"High Protein Foods"  Photo © Malcolm Romain

"High Protein Foods" Photo © Malcolm Romain

On this page, it details the protein count for meats; beef, chicken, pork, and fish. It also mentions beans, soy, nuts/seeds, and dairy, which included eggs.

As I’m learning every day studying sports nutrition, there are many ways to get all the nutrition our body needs. Vegans in fact are not teetering on the edge of death as I assumed and worried about for so long. High-protein foods are available to the majority of carnivores, err, I mean omnivores as well as vegetarians and vegans! Whoa, I know. It’s hard to believe.
The vegan food choices below are marked with “V”, not for “Visitor”, but for Vegan. I pulled this information from’s Jolinda Hackett’s write-up on high-protein recipes:

High-protein breakfasts
• Breakfast Burrito with Vegetarian “Sausage” (28 grams protein)
• Homemade Vegetarian Protein Shake (26.5 grams protein)
• Spinach Tofu Scramble(25.6 grams protein)V
• Low-Carb Breakfast Scramble(24 grams protein) V
• Easy Tofu Scramble(24.2 grams protein) V
• Vegetarian Egg Casserole(21 grams protein)
• Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach (21 grams protein) V
• Vegetarian “Sausage” Quiche (20 grams protein)
• Tempeh and Potato Hash Browns (19.6 grams protein)
• Peanut Butter Granola Wrap (19 grams protein)
• Vegan Chocolate Banana Protein Shake (12.9 grams protein) V

High-protein Salads and Sandwiches
• Feta and Edamame Tabbouleh Salad (23.3 grams protein)
• Vegetarian Deli Sandwich on Whole Wheat (20 grams protein)
• Whole Grain Apple and Cheese Sandwich (18 grams protein) (Pictured)
• Three Bean Salad with Eggs (17.9 grams protein)
• Quinoa and Pecan Salad (14.1 grams protein)
• Tex-mex Bean Wraps (14 grams protein) V
• Black bean and hummus wrap sandwich (13.7 grams protein) V
• Quinoa and Feta Salad(12.6 grams protein)

High protein vegetarian entrees and mains:
• Vegetarian “Pepperoni” Burritos (35 grams protein) V (pictured)
• Black Bean Enchilada Casserole (34.9 grams protein)
• Whole Wheat Vegetarian Lasagne (33 grams protein)
• Sweet and Sour Tempeh (21.8 grams protein) V

• Vegetarian “Meat Loaf” with Gimme Lean (20.4 grams protein) V
• Crockpot Spinach Tofu Lasagna (20.1 grams protein) V
• Vegetarian “Pepperoni” Pizza (20 grams protein)
• Vegetarian Mock Meat Fajitas (17 grams protein) V
• Spinach and Bean Pasta (17 grams protein)V
• Black Bean Burgers (16.8 grams protein) V
• Spicy Seitan “Buffalo Wings” (16.4 grams protein) V
• Vegan Low-fat Eggplant Lasagna (16.3 grams protein)V
• Kid-Friendly Tofu “Nuggets” (16 grams protein)V
• Barley and Feta Cheese Stuffed Artichokes (15 grams protein)
• Garlic and Parmesan Quinoa (14.9 grams protein)
• Curried Rice and Lentils(14.6 grams protein)V
• Walnut Penne Pasta (13 grams protein) V

Hackett, Jolinda. “High-protein Vegetarian Recipes – Vegan Protein Recipes.” Vegetarian Food – Vegan Recipes – Vegetarian Cooking – Raw Food Recipes – Easy Vegetarian Recipes – Vegetarian Diets – Vegan Meals – Vegetable Dishes. Web. 16 Jan. 2011. .

I pulled the following from the “Skinny’ Vegan Diet” website advising allowable foods for the vegan diet:
• Organic fruits and veggies
• Soy products, beans, and nuts
• Organic canola, olive and sesame oils, and coconut oil
• Whole-grain cereals and bread, whole-wheat pasta, vegetable pasta, tortillas, brown rice, barley, quinoa, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
• Organic corn chips; tofu ice cream; and desserts sweetened with cane juice, maple syrup, raw sugar, or other natural, unrefined products
• Water, decaf green tea, and organic red wine on occasion.

A typical meal plan might look like this:
• Breakfast: mango, banana, kiwi, and soy yogurt
• Lunch: organic salad with lots of raw vegetables
• Snack (a small serving from the approved list and only if necessary): exotic vegetable chips
• Dinner: vegetarian Pad Thai

“‘Skinny’ Vegan Diet – What You Can Eat, How It Works, and More.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. Web. 16 Jan. 2011. .

What role do you believe nutrition plays in the life of an athlete? Are good training habits enough to overcome poor nutrition? Is good nutrition enough to overcome poor training habits?

Have you heard the saying, “Calories are calories.” before? This implies that numerical value is applied to the calories without consideration of the source, 100 calories is 100 calories. Now, beyond weight loss and activity (burning calories) different sources do provide different quality of calories. It’s like pumping your car full of bad gas instead of high-octane clean fuel. I mention this to begin to address the question of what role nutrition plays in the life of an athlete.

Nutrition is very important to the athlete. The source of the food is important. If the athlete ingests empty calories, void of quality carbohydrates, protein and fat, the athlete will surely pay the price through degraded or weak performance. We know that glucose is used for energy. Consistently eating quality carbohydrates is important to maintaining the levels of glycogen stores within the muscles. Carb-loading is important to anticipated prolonged activity (eating a lot of carbs 2-3 days before an event.) On the opposite side of what to do, eating a candy bar or sugar before an event isn’t necessarily a good idea and may degrade performance. Sugar needs water to be assimilated within the body. What do we need water for while being active? To perspire and cool down the body. Eating sugar before activity will tend to steal away the water from the body and causes an insulin spike. After the spike, the blood sugar is lowered and the athlete will certainly feel the side effects.

Good training will not overcome poor nutrition. Good nutrition will not overcome poor training. Also, I don’t think nutrition and training are directly correlated. The two are symbiotic per se, but not directly consequential. Training the muscles and the brain are important to technical performance, speed of completion, accuracy, and cerebral tactician (smart choices against opponents.) To an ultimate extent, what you eat doesn’t affect this. And how you eat is not enough to overcome poor training habits or schedules. The symbiotic nature of the two is such that each must be conducted correctly in order to produce the best results. Eating right will keep your innards functioning properly which is helpful to your muscles and body. Training right will keep your body fluid and regular; just like over-training can over-task your digestive and recovery systems.

What you eat affects the functions of the body; it also affects our moods. I know for certain I’m much more stable in mood when I am not hungry. If I’m in a bad mood, before the end of the meal I’m laughing and joking. Getting good food in our body is important from our toes to what we know. I tell people that carbs are brain food. Someone once retorted, “So, people on Atkins are dumb?” What can I say to that one? Eating a balanced diet supports a balanced disposition. It just makes sense that the chemicals in the food you eat will cause the chemicals in your body to respond.

I work as a massage therapist and I never assume the same techniques that I’ve used in the past will work on others or even the same person. As a martial artist, I also share the same perspective with martial arts techniques. People are different, even the same person is not the same person they were as the they were the last time you met them. People change and we are all changing at different rates affected by different environments and happenings. About bodybuilders… having unhealthy habits. You know how unhealthy it is for a bodybuilder preparing for the day of the event, right? Man, most people do not realize the bodybuilders don’t walk around at 0% body fat. Some people say that high carb makes them sluggish. I might tend to agree, but mostly based on the combination of their carb diet with other foods. Everything has a part in our body and how our body performs or functions. Heck, even holding to go to the bathroom too long can have detrimental effects. Right? We can only try to consistently do our best. If we slip and fall, we heal and then keep going doing our best again.

Carbohydrates are important, but the properties of water are what makes water the essence of life. We all know the three states of water; gas, solid and liquid. The fact that water expands as a solid is unique and is what causes it to float. If it didn’t float, what would happen to the marine life? Humans contain more water than any other substance and also run on water. Without a fresh supply of water humans die in about 3 days. Most of the body’s water resides in the muscles. Because of water’s resistance to vaporization humans are able to maintain a relatively constant body temperature. And the release of water through sweating allows for rapid cooling. Carbohydrates have a role of conserving water in the body.

I’ve worked on/with athletes also; the pros are funny sometimes. Working with athletes it’s important to understand their sport (training regime, primary muscles) as well as their diet. It’s good for us to know how they are keeping themselves healthy or wrecking their bodies. Also, massage therapy is applied differently during different times; pre-workout, during workout, post workout and then the consideration of massage therapy before, during and after competition. The athlete’s body chemistry is going to be different during each different phase. Even sleeping patterns become important when dealing with athletes. Then if we throw in injury and edema just for fun … whoa, we just don’t know when to stop do we?

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