Book Review: Fat Chance

Looking for a good book? This is one MUST READ book! I enjoy listening to podcasts while working sometimes. My favorite podcast is Vinnie Tortorich, America’s Angriest Trainer. I HIGHLY recommend you listen to his podcast and then go out and buy his bestselling book, Fitness Confidential. I will be doing a book review of that very shortly. Vinnie has always recommended Dr. Robert Lustig’s Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease on his podcast and after IMLP I finally had some free time to pick it up and finish it.

Source: Amazon

Source: Amazon

I’ve read a lot of books within the past month and Lustig’s is by far the best one to read. I think this book should even be a required reading book in high schools and college. That’s how much I think everyone needs to read this book. Go buy it. Now!

Who is Dr. Lustig? Well, he is an internationally renowned pediatric endocrinologist who has spent the past 16 years treating childhood obesity at some of the top hospitals in the world, such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Sooo… I would say that he knows his shit better than those Jillian Michaels and Dr. Oz characters.

Dr. Lustig became famous for his at-the-time, very controversial you-tube video called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” And, yes, I think you should watch that too. Fat Chance documents the science and politics that have led to the current obesity pandemic that no longer just affects the United States, but the entire world. I went on a medial mission to Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 2011 and I was surprised beyond belief the number of overweight and obese people and the number of fast-food joints in those countries. Hell, Costa Rica has a Denny’s!

Lustig reveals and outlines all the bad research that has been conducted over the years by the government and big food. Personally, I think a lot of those scientists who were involved in many of those studies should have their PhD’s removed. It’s rather disgusting how many people will sell-out to the food industry and politicians. Ok, end rant.

The book begins by setting up a valid argument why the government’s view of “calorie in, calorie out” is bullshit. I hate that term. When discussing food with my clients I always ask them “what is a calorie?” No one has yet to answer correctly. It’s because we have been brainwashed over the years to think of food as calorie in, calorie out. That’s how you’re suppose to lose weight, right? Wrong! Believe me, I was one of those people for a long time too, but the more I read (from reputable and educated sources!!) the more I learn that I have been completely duped all my life. Lustig is an endocrinologist meaning that he is a specialist in hormones and the biochemistry of the human body.

Lustig talks a lot about hormones, ya know, since he gets hormones. Hormones have a profound effect on our metabolism and how we view food. Fat Chance outlines ways to readjust our key hormones that regulate hunger, reward, and stress. That is done mainly by eliminating sugar. Sugar is an addictive toxin to our bodies. We live in a society today that thinks dietary fat is bad. Low-fat this and low-fat that. Well, guess what happens when you remove fat from food products? The food tastes like crap and the manufactures pump it full on sugar. Read the book and find out why sugar is bad for you. I’m serious, do it.

The evolution of nutritional science is what really fascinates me. Back in the early to mid-1900’s we got the science right. And then big food and some idiots got involved. The leading cause of death today in the United States is heart disease, but in the next decade or so we will see that shift to diabetes and other metabolic-related diseases, which heart disease can be considered one. In 1957 John Yudkin, a British physiologist and nutritionist, postulated that a dietary component caused heart attacks. By 1964, through natural observation studies he theorized that the consumption of sucrose was associated with heart disease. Yudkins published numerous papers on the biochemistry of sucrose and was the first person to warn us that excessive consumption could lead to heart disease, diabetes, GI diseases among other diseases.

Now, back in the United States we have Ancel Keys, a Minnesota epidemiologist. In the early 1950s Keys spend some time in England where we witnessed a large rise in heart disease. The typical English diet consisted of high fat and high cholesterol items, such as fish and chips. He noticed that those who are well fed in both the US and UK were those who could afford meat, but also seemed to suffer the most from heart disease. In the 1960s and 1970s Keys published numerous studies indicating that heart disease patients had higher cholesterol levels than non-heart disease patients. In 1980 Keys published his “Seven Countries” study, a 500-page paper that concluded that dietary fat was the single cause of heart disease. Which, the United States government and medical community has since run with. However, there are four major problems with his thesis.

The first being that his Seven Countries study started out as a Twenty-two Countries study. The seven countries he used in his study were: Japan, Italy, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, and the US. The relationship between dietary fat and heart disease looked quite convincing when the data was plotted. However, when he plotted the other countries (Austria, Ceylon, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland), the correlation was almost non-existent. He also actively chose not to include indigenous tribes, such as the Inuit, Tokelau, and Maasai and Rendille, who eat only animal fat and have the lowest prevalence of heart disease on the planet. How’s that for science? Second, the role of dietary fat in heart disease is complicated by trans fat, which has signficant scientific studies to link it to metabolic syndrome. The use of trans-fats peaked during the 1960s and most likely were not considered a variable by Keys.

Third, if you look at the correlation itself, it is a problem. Japan and Italy eat the least amount of saturated fat and have the least amount of heart disease. But, they also eat the least amount of dietary sugar out of all the countries included. How do you know if it’s the sugar or the fat causing heart disease? Fourth, Keys admits that he correlated sucrose with saturated fat, but it was not important enough to him to remove sucrose from the equation. When one completes a multivariate correlation analysis, a common statistical tool that determines whether A causes B regardless of the impact of C, D, and E, one has to do the calculation both ways. In other words, Keys would have had to hold sucrose constant and show that dietary fat still correlates with heart disease. Basically, Keys used bad science. And then the government took it and ran with the idea.

This is just one of the studies Lustig discusses in his book. He discusses many more that are just as interesting. The end of the book concludes with two sections. One is on the personal solution and the other is on the public health solution. I absolutely loved the public health section because I am a public health professional. In society today we have this notion that obesity is an individual problem. That person eats too much, doesn’t exercise and it’s their fault they are fat. Lustig will tell you that’s rarely the problem. The public health section discusses ways as a society that we can conquer the impending obesity pandemic.

Overall, you will be crazy not to read this book. Out of all the books I have read this year, this is by far one of the best ones out there. It will change your view of nutrition and the obesity epidemic. Lustig gives you the science that backs up his claims. This isn’t a diet book written by some bimbo Hollywood trainer on how to lose 10-lbs in 10 days. It’s a real book based on real science that will open your eyes and mind to the current nutritional crisis in the United States.

What are you waiting for? GO BUY THE BOOK! 🙂

~ Happy Training!

2012: A Year in Review Part II

In case you missed yesterday’s part I then click HERE to read.

As I said yesterday, 2012 was a big growing year for me physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. As you all know by now that I love school and I love to learn. However, I think that many important lessons in life are not taught in textbooks and lectures, but through real world experiences. I have a tendency to learn the hard way. We all make mistakes in life. No one is perfect. Or perhaps, our imperfections are what make us perfect?

However, you want to look at it… it doesn’t really matter. I certainly learned some tough life lessons this year, but also a great deal about myself that I will bring into the new year and beyond. I like to think of my life as a fine wine… it gets better with age. Each year, each experience, each moment I grow as a person. Never stop growing and learning.

Here are some of the important life lessons that I learned throughout the year…

In Triathlon, sports, and fitness:

  1. Recovery is key! I’ve always been under the impression that we make physiological gains during our workouts, which is false. Our bodies make physiological gains from exercise during the recovery period after workouts. Recovery is the time that our bodies, more specifically muscles, repair damaged tissues and build new tissues. Recovery can come in many forms, ice baths, compression tights, fancy pneumatic compression devices (NormaTec), rest, etc. However, the most important aspect of recovery is nutrition. Consuming a protein-emphasized drink/food within 30 minutes or so after a workout is important to repair and build tissues damaged from exercise.
  2. Powermeters can be your greatest enemy friend! I will fully admit that I have a love/hate relationship with my powermeter. However, out of everything that I have purchased for my triathlon lifestyle (besides working with a coach and personal trainer) I would say that my powermeter was my best investment. It is the best way to monitor and pace myself during training and especially during races. Speed and heart rate can greatly vary due to physiological stress, temperature, terrain, etc.; however, the powermeter doesn’t lie! I’m still working on my perfect VI, which is why I have the hate relationship with it, but it shows me that I have a lot of work to do on the bike to make myself a stronger cyclist.
  3. Fancy gidgets, gadgets and race wheels may make you look badass and slightly faster, but the only way to truly become a faster and stronger athlete is working hard and creating a stronger and more efficient engine (aka, your body)! This past year I made the expensive investment in hiring a triathlon coach and personal trainer to help me strengthen my weaknesses and create an individualized plan that would help me reach my growing list of goals. I know every triathlete really wants the fancy Zipps wheels, but seriously, if you’re carrying around an extra 10-20lbs then those $3000+ wheels are really worthless. Invest the money in hiring a personal trainer, coach or nutritionist to reduce extra body fat, put on more lean muscle mass, and create a more efficient metabolism. Not only will it make you a better athlete, but you will overall be healthier. Last year I was able to lose close to 20 extra pounds that I was carrying around and it certainly made a HUGE difference in my performance this year. It’s worth the investment… trust me!
  4. Learning to pee on your bike is tough. I have still yet to master it and it will be one of my main goals in 2013. However, I have mastered the whole piss and run thing. Yes, I know this is gross…
  5. Strength training is a necessary thing! This goes hand-in-hand with number 3 on this list. Most triathletes tend to skip the strength/resistance training part of training. Certainly the swim/bike/run components are the most important, but having a strong body is very important too. A strong core is extremely important. You didn’t have to lift super heavy. If you focus 2-3x a week for 15-20 minutes on simple bodyweight exercises then you will develop a strong core, which helps in preventing injuries and also building lean muscle mass! Don’t skip! I did a lot of strength training this past year up till late spring and then didn’t do much during the competition season. Big mistake! I think if I had kept up with my strength training at least 2x a week then I probably would not have been injured as long or even at all this past fall. As a fitness professional now, I see the value of strength training in any good training plan. Take it from me… DO IT!

In Life:

  1. Don’t settle! I was actually talking about this with my boss at the gym on Saturday. He told me not to settle in life, whether it’s in a relationship or life in general. I’m not the person to just settle for mediocrity. I’ve always been an extremely ambitious and goal-driven person. I can also be very confident and sometimes it comes across like I’m a bit cocky. I’m fully aware of it, but as my boss told me that it’s one of my good traits. To get anywhere in life, especially in the fitness industry, you need to be confident. He also said that a lot of men (and women) are intimated by a strong and confident woman, but for those who are, don’t worry about it because they aren’t worth it. He said don’t settle for someone who isn’t your equal or someone who will only hinder your true potential in life. Don’t settle for a job that leaves you dissatisfied at the end of the day. If you have dreams then go for it. Don’t settle for mediocre. Reach for greatest.
  2. Ignore criticism. This one is still a major work in progress. I understood that when I started my blog that I was putting my thoughts and feelings out to the world for judgement. I’ve always been a bit sensitive to what people think of me (but I hide that fact) so I knew this would be a huge risk. However, I really enjoy writing and I actually do have a few people who follow my blog (Thank you!) so I think it’s a worthwhile investment for me in the end. However, I have learned in life that people will either love you, hate you, or just plain don’t care. Often times it isn’t you. Usually it’s that person who has the issue. I have gotten some criticism and judgements from some people, mostly from my father, that have bothered me. In the past I would just let it get me down, but the past couple of years at me realize that I’m better than that and I need to be confident in myself. We live in a society today where just about everyone is judged. It seems to be human nature to judge people and be constantly comparing ourselves to someone else. You know the phrase… keeping up with the Joneses. I have certainly judged people in the past, but I’ve been consciously trying not to judge people and accept them for who they are. Most of the time people have more going on than other people realize.
  3. Body image issues suck! Very few people (I mean like I could count the number of people on a single hand) know that I have body image issues. It’s not something that I talk about often because it brings up old wounds and also I don’t want people to judge me… but I used to have an eating disorder. From about age 16-21 I struggled with an eating disorder. Very few people know about it because I hid it well. It’s not something I like to talk about. However, my 2nd year of college I realized that enough was enough and I finally got help at school. And then, after my mom died I gained a bunch of weight because I used food to deal with the pain and my metabolism was so messed up from years of starving myself that I put on a bunch of weight. Earlier this year I changed up my nutrition and started eating more food at the correct times and also focused on a lot of strength training. The extra weight that I put on fell off rather easily and quickly. However, people (who I know were just be nice and awesome) would say things like you look great or you’re so skinny now. Those little comments would actually affect me negatively because of my past issues. Coupled with the fact that body composition does matter in the endurance world, I started to fall back in my old patterns with food. I recognized this relapse pretty quickly and have been working on not falling in those patterns. I will continue to work on improving my body composition this coming year, but I will do it the healthy way. It’s very tough. Eating disorders are very prevalent in endurance sports and just like in outside world, it’s a rather taboo subject. Be aware of them and if you see someone struggling with food/body image issues then reach out. They will probably deny it, but it’s worth the effort to care.
  4. Be a life long learner! Never stop learning! Whether its reading a new book, taking a college course, or simply sitting down and talking to someone… never stop learning new things and broadening your horizons.

With that being said… I will leave you with a great analog my boss gave me on Saturday. Life is like a bucket of crabs. There will always be a couple of crabs that will try to claw their way to the top of the bucket to get out. However, just as that crab is about to make it out, all the other crabs will grab his leg and pull him back down. Now, who do you want to be? I want to be the person carrying the bucket of crabs.


Choose to be the person who carries the bucket of crabs in 2013. Happy New Year!

~ Like always… Happy Training!

2012: A Year in Review Part I

Well folks, that time has come once again… 2012 is almost over! I’m so over 2012 and ready to ring in the new year!

I’ve reflected on 2012 about a million times by now and I’m sure that you’re all annoyed with me, but one last time! 2012 was a huge growing year for me. Perhaps because I hit that magic number of 25 and suddenly realized that I’m in my mid-20s and a “real” adult. For a long time I was rather unsure of what path I wanted to take in life. Throughout my undergrad years I really thought that medical school and becoming a physician was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. However, the summer I was supposed to apply to med schools I panicked and realized that I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life. I decided I would take a year off from school and try to figure that out. I finished undergrad a semester early in December and during the beginning of one of the worst economic recessions in the more recent years. That coupled with the fact that my mother was just diagnosed with a very rare and terminal disease left me a bit unsure of my future. My mother passed in late March right around the time I got my first “big girl” job. I worked at the large biotech company for 9 months as a temp and finally landed my current full-time job at the small biotech company I work for and have been there for the past 3 years. During those 3 years I started my course work for my Master’s in Public Health with the idea that I would go on to Physician Assistant school to become a PA. Throughout my coursework I became more interested in the obesity crisis plus I started to get more involved with the sport of triathlon. I have some issues with the modern medical system in the United States. I won’t get into details about it because I could easily go on for days on the topic, but in a nutshell, I don’t like how the system treats the disease by handing out pills when we really should focus more of preventing the problem from the start. Enter… the public health field which is more focused on preventative care.

To be completely honest, I get slightly annoyed when people ask me what public health is. It is a very valid question though. The field of public health is extremely broad and really one could do so much with a degree in public health. My interests lie in physical activity, nutrition, and chronic disease prevention. I only came to this realization this past year. That’s the reason that I pursued my certification in personal training. Personal training allows me to help people reach their health goals through exercise and nutrition. I realized as a personal trainer that I can help someone with nutrition needs, but not to the full extend that I wish to do. So, that’s why I want to eventually pursue more education (okay, maybe I just really like school) to become a registered dietitian. 2012 has been a great year in figuring out where my future career path will go. Now, that I rambled on about some things let’s look at 2012 by the months!


January 1st began my first day of training with a coach and an individualized plan to help me meet my goals. Previously I had trained with a wonderful group of women (and if you live in the Southern Maine region I highly suggest you check them out!), but with my goal of my first Ironman in 2013 and my big dream of someday qualifying for Kona, then I knew that I needed to work with a coach to develop an individualized plan based on my strength and weakness, my busy life with work and school, and also my race schedule and goals in mind. It was one of the best decisions I made all year. Certainly, it wasn’t a cheap investment, but it was extremely worthwhile and I made huge improvements in my training and performances throughout the year. January was also the time that I started to get really interested in nutrition and finding the best diet for me. One of the highlights in January was my heart rate test on the bike. You can read about it here!

I also did a lot of winter running and had to break these bad boys out a couple of times!

I also did a lot of winter running and had to break these bad boys out a couple of times!


I began the month with a nasty cold, which completely and utterly affected my 10-miler race early in the month. I have this stupid tendency to race while sick so I ran the Mid-Winter Classic sick. The first 4-5 miles I felt pretty good and was on target to meet my goal. Then half-way through it just went downhill – and downhill fast! I came really close to DNFing the race. It was not a fun experience and it only got worst later in the day when my clutch in my car went and I had to put over $2000 into fixing my car! February was not really a great month to say the lest.

I spent a lot of time creating puddles of sweat on the floor...

I spent a lot of time creating puddles of sweat on the floor…


March was a very tough month for my personally. The end of the month marked the 3 year anniversary of my mother’s passing and it affected more than I thought. I was also having some personal problems with a close friend so March was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. However, I did have a huge 5k PR in March! I also got Azul, my new triathlon bike! That was by far the best part of the month! Who doesn’t want a fancy new bicycle! Happy birthday to me! 🙂

Ready for REV3

Ready for REV3


April was a month of a lot of running breakthroughs for me. I’ve always hated running. I was always under the impression that I just wasn’t meant to be a runner. Either you are a runner or you’re not. However, with some A LOT of encouragement from my coach I finally had that breakthrough run I needed. My inner running goddess broke through that barrier and my running potential was unleashed! Yay! I had a HUGE half-marathon PR, mostly because my first half-marathon I ran sick.

Race the Runways Race Report


I finally got my powermeter for Azul in May! One of the best decisions I made all year. Of course, the first one I received from SRAM was dysfunctional, but because SRAM has one of the best customer service experiences ever, I got my new and functional powermeter within a few days! Later in the month I did my first tri of the season. It didn’t go as well as I hoped. I made a lot of stupid rookie mistakes that I later kicked myself in the butt for. Oh well, the race was really for shaking out the cobwebs for the big half-Ironman in NH a few short weeks later.

Powermeter = LOVE!

Powermeter = LOVE!


June started out with a bang! I had my first Half-Ironman of the year – Ironman 70.3 Mooseman in New Hampshire. I wasn’t going to do this race originally, but the other Half I was going to do sold-out before I could register. I got sent into a panic over it and my coach suggested Mooseman. I was extremely nervous about the race because it’s one of the toughest courses in North America. The weather was sucky and that’s a understandment! Luckily it didn’t rain on race day! I had a decent race. I finished mid-pack in my very competitive age group (several of the podium finishers in my AG finished in the top 10 overall females for the day!) and I was pretty pleased with that result. I finished within a minute of my previous Half time from a MUCH easier course so even though I didn’t officially PR, I felt like it was a PR. At the end of the month I headed out to Ironman Lake Placid training camp with my fellow TriMoxie teammates and also athletes from Personal Best Multisport Coaching. It was one of my favorite experiences of the year. Not only did I get to meet some amazing people/athletes, but also got to interact with some great coaches and really decided if Lake Placid was going to happen or not in 2013. Camp was fun and a great learning experience. I learned some important lessons about Ironman training!

One important lesson = Be ready for thunderstorms with Hail in LP!

One important lesson = Be ready for thunderstorms with Hail in LP!


I started July off with a lovely summer cold, aka snotfest! However, I recovered and was able to race a local sprint tri in Norway. I ended up winning my AG and coming in 12th OA female for the day, even with a horrible run! I also rode the REV3 Half bike course for the first time as a recovery ride. However, I guess a 65-mile bike ride even at a slow aerobic pace is not considered a recovery ride. Sorry Mary! 🙂 The best part of July was volunteering at IMLP and cheering on all my friends and other local Maine/NH/MA athletes as they competed at IMLP and then signing up myself for the 2013 IMLP the next day! Although, I didn’t quite enjoy paying the almost $700 race fee!

1st AG W25-29

1st AG W25-29

Officially registered for 2013!

Officially registered for 2013!


August was a great race month for me. I ran my first 10k and first Beach to Beacon race. The race was executed exactly how my coach planned (which I totally didn’t believe her when she first gave me my pace goals) and I felt great overall despite the hot and humid weather conditions that left a lot of fellow runners on the sideline with heat exhaustion. At the end of the month, I raced my “A” race of the season – the REV3 Maine Half. I had a good race and finished 8th in my age group and finished top third-ish overall females. I’m slowly climbing myself towards the top of my age group, but I know that I have A LOT of work and improvements that I need to make over the years if I ever want to have a go at Kona and/or Vegas in the future. REV3 was my first real race – meaning that the goal of this race was to race for time and place and not just to finish. I think I did a pretty good job of that at this race; however, the race did show me where my weaknesses are in racing that I will focus on improving in 2013.

Beach to Beacon Finishline Sprint!

Beach to Beacon Finishline Sprint!

REV3 Maine Run

REV3 Maine Run


I entered the off-season in September. My plantar fasciitis and right hip problems came back after REV3. Honestly, I knew it was starting to come back before the race, but I continued to truck on my training and hoping that my body could hold out long enough to have a strong race. My original plan for September and the Fall months was to focus on running. Obviously, that didn’t happen with rehabbing my injuries. I spent a great deal of time focusing on strength training and yoga. September was a bit of a weird month for me. If you have been reading my blog for a while and/or know me in real life then you know that Bike Shop Boy was a big part of my life. However, somethings happened between us and we have gone our separate ways. I was really upset at the beginning because he was really a huge support system for me in my training and life; however, in retrospect, our parting was really a blessing in disguise. Of course, I truly wish him the very best in life.

Getting custom orthotics...

Getting custom orthotics…


Most of October was spent focusing on school finishing up my last class for my MPH and also writing my thesis paper. My advisor at school had warned me that working a full-time job and a part-time job and then taking 9 credits would probably be a bad idea. Of course, I have this little tendency to try to do everything at once and also do it well so I went about doing all 3 things. In the end, she was totally right that it was extremely tough, but I got an A in my last class and also on my thesis! Training wise I was still focusing on strength and yoga. I did get out for a couple of short bike rides and oh yeah, the Dempsey Challenge. That was a rather wet and cold 50-mile ride. I was suppose to ride the 100-miler, but due to the fact that my feet were completely frozen (despite the fact that I had worn heavy socks, plastic bags, and a set of toe covers and full booties!) my feet still got wet and cold. I also got a tattoo! 🙂

From the first class. I'm the second one in in the white shirt. Nothing fancy here...

From the first class. I’m the second one in in the white shirt. Nothing fancy here…

Hmm... looks like I need a pedicure...

Hmm… looks like I need a pedicure…


I began my new job as a personal trainer (and my third job!) on the 1st. I quickly worked up to having 7 clients at a time. When I began I wasn’t certified; however, I had been studying all year knowing that I did want to pursue becoming a personal trainer. When a trainer position opened at my gym I jumped on it and was quickly hired. I signed up to take my test and passed on the first time (which is rare for most people)! I also was focusing on finishing my thesis paper and working on my epidemiology project for my internship. November was a very busy and stressful month and unfortunately I know my own training suffered some.




Biggest accomplishment – I finished grad school summa cum laude and now have a MPH! One of the highlights of December was meeting Craig Alexander, aka “Crowie,” in Boston at his book signing. I’ve also been gearing up for some major changes in the new year, which you’ll all hear about in a couple of weeks!


So, that’s enough for today. Part Two will come tomorrow with some of the biggest highlights of my race season and also some of the biggest life lessons I learned throughout the year.

~ Happy Training!

Running Injuries & November Goals

Yesterday was the first of November. Gasp! Where did the time go?! Before I know it, it will be January 1st and the beginning of Ironman Lake Placid Training! Honestly, I’m glad October is over. I’m going into November being done with my official classes for my MPH (I just have to finish my internship and thesis paper), a new job (actually a third job) that I’m super excited about and will help lead me to where I want to be in life, and without the baggage of jerk. I love a fresh slate!

November Goals:

1. Study and pass a very important test coming up! I’ve been taking a bunch of practice tests so I know my weak areas and now I just need to focus on those topics so I can pass this darn test! Let’s just say that it is related to my new job 🙂

2. Along the same line, FINISH my damn Masters Thesis so I can officially add the MPH behind my name! I’ve been lacking the motivation to work on my thesis and I’m behind. A lot. Opps! :-/ But, now that I’m done my health policy class I can focus on writing and crunching a bunch of epidemiology data so I can be done by the end of December.

3. My nutrition has been really bad lately. Some old issues with food have become a problem lately so I need to focus on that and fix the problem before it becomes an even larger one. I made the decision to work with a nutritionist to ensure that I am eating and fueling properly for my workouts, especially when I resume structured training in January with my coach.

4. I need to work on my time management skills and organization. I’ve always been very good with time management and I’m a fairly organized person. Although, my supervisor at work would disagree because my desk is a mess. It’s an organized mess, I swear! 🙂 I do well with balancing work, school, and training. Last spring I did all three and still retained a 4.0 GPA. However, as I go into January I need to be extremely organized because I know my schedule will be crazy and busy. I need to start preparing meals in advance, make sure I have clean clothes to wear for my various jobs and workouts and make time to get my workouts in! And, also have time for fun things!

5. Expand my network. I’m working on broadening my horizons and meeting new people. I’ve decided to try classes and attend events that I would not have done in the past. Thus far I have been having fun and I think I have met a few good new training partners and also I hope to make connections for when I do eventually launch my future business I can be successful at it.

And now, for something completely different…

For the past couple of Fall seasons I have dealt with Plantar Fasciitis and it sucks. Being injured sucks.

I came across this video on Facebook  the other day and it is by far one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. I hope no one takes offense to it… but so worth the watch. I was in tears by the end.

~ Happy Training!

Nutrition Tuesday: Protein Supplement Types

There are many different types of protein supplements available on the market today. Some are better than others, but all ultimately do the same thing. So what’s the difference between them all?


  • Whey protein – Whey protein is the component of milk that is separated out when making cheese and other dairy products. It is perhaps the most common form of supplement protein available in market today. It is considered a high quality protein because it contains all the essential amino acids that the body requires from diet and is a rich source of the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are important in muscle building. Whey protein is soluble and easy to digest and is often referred to as a “fast” protein because it quickly gets to the muscles(1) whey protein can come in several different forms:
    • Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) – The amount of whey protein can vary between 25-89%. Most nutritional store products have about 80% of whey protein in the product along with lactose (4-8%), fat, minerals, and moisture (2).
    • Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) – Is the purest form of whey protein available and contains between 90-95% protein. It contains no to very little lactose and is safe for most lactose intolerant people. WPIs are also very low in fat. The cost of WPI is slightly higher and thus products containing WPI might be priced higher than those with WPC (2).
    • Hydrolyzed Whey Protein – The long amino acid chains in the whey protein have been broken down into shorter peptide chains. This makes the protein more easily digested and absorbed by the body. Hydrolyzed whey is most commonly found in infant formulas and medical nutritional products (2).
  • Casein – Casein is another protein found in milk. It is considered to be a “slow” digesting protein because it helps prevent muscle breakdown. Often times recovery drinks or protein drinks will have both casein and whey ingredients because they work well together to prevent muscle breakdown and stimulate protein building, respectively(1).
  • Soy Protein – Soy is another popular choice of protein sources, especially for those who are severely lactose intolerant, vegetarian, or vegan. Like whey protein, it is considered to be a “fast” protein and can promote increases in lean body mass. Soy isolate contains about 90% protein, whereas a concentrate only contains about 70% protein. Studies have indicated that when soy protein has been compared to milk protein, milk protein leads to greater muscle mass gain. However, soy protein is still an effective option. Some people also worry about the nature of the soy in the product. The soy bean is one of the most genetically modified plants in the world. If you’re worried about the nature of the product then check for the organic seal of approval. Many products do use organic soy bean.
  • Albumen – Albumen is the high-quality protein found in eggs. It is easily digested and high in BCAAs. Egg protein is absorbed more slowly than whey, but faster than casein. It supports muscle building and contain be obtained through real food – eggs!
  • Hemp Protein – Hemp protein has recently come into the popular media due to vegan diets becoming more mainstream. Hemp protein contains all the essential amino acids . Hemp protein is comprised of two globular molecules, albumin and edestine. These proteins closely resemble several proteins naturally produces in the body and thus is easily digestible and absorbed by the body. Hemp protein is also a good source of iron and magnesium (3).

So what protein is right for you? It really depends on your goals, nutritional needs, and personal choices. There are many formulated protein mixes out there in the market to choose from too. Many of these are favored and contain other ingredients so read labels carefully. What works for your friend might not work for you. Consult with a medical or nutritional professional if you have questions or concerns.

1. Ryan M. Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd Ed. Boulder, CO: Velo Press; 2012.
2.Whey Protein institute. Types of Whey Protein. Available at: Accessed on July 31, 2012.
3. Young D. Hemp Protein Nutritional Facts. Livestrong. Available at: Accessed on July 31, 2012.

    Nutrition Tuesday: Proteins!

    Protein. My favorite topic. You want to see me get my panties all in a bunch. Let’s talk about protein. If you went out right now and asked 10 people why you eat protein and what it does for your body, I bet all but perhaps a couple people will get the question wrong…. 
    Protein is one of the three macronutrients; however, protein is not a sufficient source of energy used by the human body. However, under certain circumstances, dietary protein and/or certain amino acids can have very important roles in muscle metabolism and exercise performance(1). Proteins are similar in molecular structure to fats and carbohydrates, expect for one defining characteristic – proteins contain nitrogen atoms. The word amino literally means “nitrogen containing(1).” Structurally, proteins consist of various lengths and combinations of amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds. 
    Proteins have many functional roles in the human body: 
    Specific Role in Human Body
    After a protein is degraded (broken down), some amino acids can be changed structurally to form glucose
    Growth and maintenance
    Proteins are found in numerous body structures, including hair, skin, tendons, muscles, organs, etc.
    Some hormones are classified as proteins, such as insulin, glucagon, prolactin and growth hormones
    Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions
    Antibodies are proteins produced by specific immune cells to help fight infections
    Acid-base balance
    Hemoglobin (a protein) not only carries oxygen, but serves as a blood buffer to help regulate pH
    Fluid balance
    Albumin and globulin (blood proteins) help draw fluid into capillary beds 
    Some proteins carry specific substances (i.e. hemoglobin carries oxygen)
    The human body begins to digest protein in the stomach. The enzyme pepsin cleaves the peptide bonds that hold amino acids together creating smaller peptides (short chains of amino acids) and some free amino acids. Once the contents of your stomach reach your intestines, enzymes from the pancreas and intestines will finish cleaving the peptide chains to absorbable amino acids(1). Amino acids are then absorbed by the small intestine into the bloodstream. Studies have suggested that about 95% of ingested animal proteins and about 85% of ingested plant proteins are absorbed by the body from one meal, but no one is really certain for sure(1). Before amino acids can be used for energy by the body, it undergoes a reaction to remove its nitrogen-containing compounds. 
    There are 20 unique amino acids that make up various proteins. Nine are called essential amino acids, meaning that the human body does not produce these amino acids and we must obtain them through our diets. The remaining 11 are considered nonessential because the human body can synthesize them. 

    Much of the debate surrounding protein involves how much should you consume and what types. Traditionally, only animal proteins, such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish, have been considered “complete” protein sources (containing all the essential amino acids). Plants are considered “incomplete” because they lack specific essential amino acids. However, soy is considered a “complete” protein(1). Any vegetarian or vegan can obtain an adequate amount of protein (and all the essential amino acids) through their diet by consuming various food choices throughout the day. Interesting enough, greens have the highest percentage of amino acids per ounce of any food, but since they don’t weigh much, they need to be eaten in greater amounts(2). 
    The amount of daily protein intake is much debated. It really varies depending on your weight and what your daily activities are. Currently, the RDA for protein in healthy adults is 0.8 g/kg body weight per day(3). The International Society of Sport Nutrition suggests the exercising individuals ingest protein ranging fro 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg/day(3). They suggest that endurance athletes consume 1.0 to 1.6 g/kg/day depending on the intensity and duration of the endurance exercise. Recommendations for strength/power athletes typically range from 1.6 to 2.0 g/kg/day(3). 
    To figure out your protein requirements is quite easy. It’s just a simple math equation. I will use myself for an example. I currently weigh 125 pounds or roughly 57 kg (1 lb = 0.45 kg). I am an endurance athlete with a fairly intense and long training schedule, although it varies day to day. I am going to use 1.3 g/kg/day as my goal protein consumption.
    57 kg X 1.3 g/kg = 74 g of protein per day
    One relatively new development in sports nutrition is the knowledge that nutrient timing influences the physiological responses to exercise(1). Studies have shown that after exercise a 4:1 or 5:1 carb to protein ratio food or recovery drink is optimal for resynthesis of muscle protein and maintenance of other physiological structures that rely on amino acids, such as the nervous system(4). (This is a topic I plan on discussing in more detail in the future
    I’m not a huge fan of the Paleo Diet, but I did read The Paleo Diet for Athletes. One interesting section I found in the book was about why our ancestors chose to eat 6- to 8-ton elephants when they could have easily eaten prey like rabbits, partridges, and fish. Well, it’s because if you eat just protein and way too much of it, it can kill you. Laboratory studies have found that the maximum amount of protein humans can consume on a daily basis is about 40% of our daily calories(4). Anything above that, you become sick. Our earliest settlers learned that the hard way in what they referred to as “rabbit starvation.” Apparently, after eating enormous quantities of very lean meat, they would become nauseated and irritable, lose weight, develop diarrhea, and eventually die(4). What a way to go, huh? Have you ever wondered why you eat lobster with lots of melted butter? It’s because lobster is extremely lean (84% of its energy is protein) and could easily cause poisoning if that’s all you ate! So break out that tub of butter! 
    Don’t worry, I will be talking about protein and amino acids in much more detail in the future so stay tuned for some good posts coming up!
    1. Antonio J et al. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008.
    2. Brazier B. Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press; 2007.
    3. Campbell B et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007; 4:8.
    4. Cordain L, Friel J. The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Rodale; 2005. 
    (Disclaimer: Like always, this is for your information only. If you are concerned about your health and diet please seek out professional help from your medical provider and/or registered dietitian.)

      Nutrition Tuesday: Overview of Macronutrients and Micronutrients

      Last week we discussed the basics of metabolism. Now it’s important to discuss what nutrients fuel the body to not only get us through exercise, but our day-to-day activities for survival. Our bodies require two different types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. 
      Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which ultimately provide the energy necessary to maintain body functions at rest and during physical activities and maintain the body’s structural and functional integrity1
      Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. As their names imply, macronutrients comprise most of a person’s dietary intake, while micronutrients are essential in much lower quantities. With the deficiency of micronutrients, athletic performance in addition to normal physiologic function will suffer. However, with a well-balanced diet, a person should not have to worry about any imbalances. 
      Today’s post will give an overview of each type of nutrient required by the human body. The next few days this week I will post a more in-depth look at carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Next week I will discuss vitamins and minerals.
      The Macronutrients
      Carbohydrates often get a bad name, but without question, wholesome forms of carbohydrates are the best choices for fueling your muscles and promoting good health. Carbohydrates, as their name suggests, are carbon-, hydrogen-, and oxygen-based molecules that are abundant in most plant foods, especially fruits and grains1. Not all forms and sources of carbohydrates are alike. The carbohydrate family includes both simple and complex carbohydrates2. Simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides (structurally the simplest form of carbohydrates) and disaccharides (two monosaccharides). Glucose, fructose, and galactose are monosaccharides or sometimes referred as the simple sugars2. The three most common disaccharides are sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose (malt sugar)2
      Complex carbohydrates are formed when sugars link together to form long complex chains, similar to a string of pearls. Plants store extra sugar in the form of starch, which is a complex carbohydrate. Humans store extra glucose mostly in the form of muscle glycogen and liver glycogen. This glycogen will become available for energy during exercise. 

      The main functions of carbohydrates are:
      • The primary function is to provide energy to the cells of the body, particularly the brain
      • Facilitate the body’s metabolism of fat
      • Spare muscle protein
      Lipid is the collective name given to a vast variety of water-insoluble chemicals, including fats and oils. Fat or lipids are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The ratio of oxygen to carbon and hydrogen is much lower in lipids than in carbohydrates, and thus lipids are a more concentrated source of energy1. There are three major types of fatty acids that can be distinguished by their molecular bonds and number of hydrogens. Fats can be saturated (the maximum number of hydrogens), monounsaturated (having one carbon-carbon double bond), or polyunsaturated (having two or more carbon-carbon double bonds)1

      The main functions of fats:
      • Fats provide many of the body’s tissues and organs (including the heart) with most of their energy. Fat is the ideal fuel because it contains almost twice the energy as glucose, weighs less, and is easily transported and stored1.
      • Essential for the transmission of nerve signals that generate muscle contraction.
      • Serve as a transporter for vitamins A, D, E, and K.
      • Provide cushioning for the prevention of vital organs and insulation from thermal stress of cold environments.
      Proteins are essential nutritionally because they are comprised of amino acids, which the body needs to synthesize its own proteins and nitrogen-containing molecules that make life possible1. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 amino acids. Of these 20 amino acids, 9 are considered to be essential because the human body cannot synthesize these amino acids. The remaining 11 amino acids are considered nonessential because the human body can synthesize them. 

      The main functions of proteins:
      • Produce antibodies for the immune system
      • Produce enzymes that are required for various chemical reactions in the body
      • Component of structural hormones:
        • Contractile proteins for muscle tissue (i.e. actin and myosin)
        • Fibrous proteins in connective tissues (i.e. collagen, elastin, and keratin)
      • Component of transport proteins (i.e. hemoglobin)
      • Component of peptide hormones (i.e. insulin, thyroid hormone, etc.)
      • Source of fuel when muscle glycogen levels are low due to prolonged intense exercise 
      The Micronutrients
      Vitamins are metabolic catalysts that regulate biochemical reactions within the body2. They are found in plants that we eat and are created by the plants themselves. Vitamins are categorized into either water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are found in the fluid portion of our bodies and do not accumulate to a large degree in the body1. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the lipid (fat) portion of our bodies and can accumulate in the cells1. Some vitamins include: Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A.
      Minerals are natural substances that plants must absorb from the soil2. The human body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones, and regulating the heartbeat. There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals3. Macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur3. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium3

      1. Antonio J et al. Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Totowa NJ: Human Press, 2008.
      2. Clark N. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
      3. MedlinePlus. Minerals. Available at: Accessed May 28, 2012. 
      (Disclaimer: This is for your information. If you need help with your diet and developing healthy lifestyle choices then I suggest seeking out professional help from your medical professional or registered dietitian. If you see any errors, please let me know!)

        Nutrition Tuesday: What You Need to Know About Human Metabolism

        NOTE: I have decided to start a series of blog posts on Tuesdays called “Nutrition Tuesdays.” My goal is to educate more people on the importance of proper nutrition and also dispel common myths that plague the health and fitness industry. I would like to point out that I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist (although I hope to be in a couple of years!) and thus if you have any serious concerns or questions about your health please seek professional advice. My goal here is to share information as I learn it through my studies.

        Metabolism is essential to sustain life. A majority of people do not understand human metabolism and thus give out bad advice or misinformation. Human metabolism is a very complex topic and one that best needs a degree in biochemistry to fully understand. As someone with a biochemistry degree I free comfortable and qualified to give you the basic understandings of human metabolism to help you better understand the importance of proper nutrition in sports and life. 
        Metabolism is a series of chemical reactions that occur at the cellular level in your body that convert fuel from food into the energy your body needs to do everything from moving to thinking to growing and even sleeping. Metabolism is a constant process that begins when we’re conceived and ends when we die. At any given time, there are thousands of metabolic reactions happening throughout your body that keeps your cells healthy and working!
        Metabolism actually begins with plants! Through photosynthesis, plants take energy from the sun and create sugars from water and carbon dioxide. 
        6CO2 + 6H2O + light energy -> C6H12O6 + 6O2
        When people and animals eat plants they take in energy in the form of sugar along with other important vitamins and minerals. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables are important in your diet! Once food is digested it must be broken down in order for the body to absorb it and use it to fuel its cells. 
        Molecules in our digestive system called enzymes break foods down into their building blocks, or simplest forms. Proteins are broken down into amino acids, fats are broken down into fatty acids, and carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars. These “building blocks” can then be absorbed into our bloodstream and distributed to cells throughout our bodies. 
        There are actually two forms of metabolism and the body has to perform a balancing act between the two. Anabolism (constructive metabolism) involves changing small molecules into larger, more complex molecules of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Catabolism (destructive metabolism) is the process that produces the energy that all cells require to function. Cells break down large molecules to release energy. This energy provides fuel for anabolism, heats the body, and enables the muscles to contract and in return move your body! 
        Now for the really fun stuff! As a biochemistry major in college I had to memorize the various cycles of metabolism, but I’m just going to give you a general overview because you really don’t need to know the specific enzymes and substrates that are involved in the processes. Carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins constitute the majority of foods we eat. As mentioned above, carbohydrates are broken down into monosaccharides, or simple sugars. Glucose is the main source of fuel of the body; however, it is not the sole fuel for metabolism! Lipids or fats are broken down into monoacylglycerol and long-chain fatty acids. Proteins are broken down into small peptides and amino acids.   
        Adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP) is often called the “molecular unit of currency” of intracellular energy transfer because it transfer chemical energy within cells for metabolism. There are two forms of ATP synthesis: oxidative phosphorylation and substrate-level phosphorylation. 
        Oxidative Phosphorylation
        Oxidative phosphorylation is the main mechanism of ATP synthesis in most human cells. If you think back to your high school chemistry class you remember that all atoms, and thus all molecules are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. The exchange or sharing of electrons between two or more atoms is the main cause of chemical bonding. You may also recall reduction-oxidation, or redox reactions. Oxidation is the loss of electrons and reduction is the gain of electrons. You can remember this as LEO (lose electrons oxidation) says GER (gain electrons reduction). During oxidative phosphorylation, electrons are transferred from electron donors to electron acceptors. These redox reactions release energy that is used to form ATP. In humans, these reactions take place in the mitochondria of cells, or commonly referred to as the “cellular power plants.” These redox reactions are carried out by a series of protein complexes in the mitochondrial walls that is ultimately called the electron transport chain (ETS). The energy released by electrons flowing through the ETS is used to transport protons (the positive charge) across the mitochondrial walls to generate an electrical potential across the wall. The protons are allowed to cross the wall through a large enzyme called ATP synthase. This enzyme uses the energy from the protons to generate ATP from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) by adding a phosphate group through a phosphorylation reaction. 
        This ETS is actually in a plant cell because of the Photosystem, but it is pretty much the same pathway as in an animal cell. Note: This is a simplified verison of the real pathway.
        Substance-level Phosphorylation
        In aerobic (with oxygen) respiration all product’s produced by the degradation of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats converge to a central metabolic pathways called the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle (TCA Cycle). It is also called the Kerb’s Cycle or the Citric Acid Cycle. Through the catabolism of sugars, fats, and proteins, a two carbon product called acetyl-CoA is produced. In the TCA Cycle, acetyl-CoA is oxidized to CO2. The cycle consists of 8 reactions that ultimately produces ATP and reducing agents that will donate their electrons in the ETS. For each molecule of glucose, two ATPs are produced indirectly from guanine triphosphate (GDP). However, the number of ATPs and amount of reducing agents will depend if fat or protein enters the TCA cycle. All of the molecules that enter the TCA cycle must be converted to acetyl-CoA before any reactions can occur. 
        Here is a good animation of the TCA Cycle: How the Krebs Cycle Works

        Glycolysis is the breakdown of carbohydrates, either glycogen stored in the muscle or glucose delivered in the blood, to produce ATP. During glycolysis, one glucose molecule is degraded into two pyruvate molecules. During the initial phase of glycolysis, two molecules of ATP molecules are actually consumed to active glucose and another molecule, called fructose-6-phosphate. The end result of glycolysis is 2 ATP molecules and two pyruvates, which are transported to the mitochondrial matrix to be converted to acetyl-CoA. 
        Fat Oxidation
        Fats are broken down to fatty acids where they can circulate and enter muscle fibers. Free fatty acids enter the mitochondria, where they undergo beta oxidation, a series of four reactions that break fatty acids down and form acetyl-CoA. 
        Amino Acid Oxidation
        Proteins are not a significant source of energy, but can be degraded into amino acids by various metabolic processes. Before amino acids can be metabolically useful, the nitrogen must be removed. Also, 20 different amino acids exist and each one has its own unique degradation pathway. The major amino acids that are oxidized in skeletal muscles appear to branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine).  
        Here is a summary of Human Metabolism
        Metabolism is a complex, multistep biological system that is essential to life. It is important to understand that energy stored in the chemical bonds of ATP is used to power muscular activity. The replenishment of ATP in human skeletal muscle is accomplished by three basic energy systems: (1) oxidative phosphorylation, (2) glycolysis, and (3) oxidation via the TCA Cycle. All three energy systems are active at any give time, but, the extend to which each is used depends primarily on the intensity of the activity and secondarily on its duration. I will discuss that more in future weeks. 

        (Author Note: If you actually read through this and didn’t think “What the heck! I thought this was suppose to be a triathlon blog!” Then congratulations! I wrote this post to provide an overview of the metabolism system your body uses to make fuel while you are at rest, doing your daily activities, and working out. I tried to make this blog post super simplified for non-science people, but it was hard to leave out certain terms. This information is important to at least understand the basics on because it will help you to understand my future posts and nutrition in general. If you have any questions or notice an errors in any of the information please leave me a comment! Enjoy!)

        1. Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry, 6th Ed. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2007.
        2. Da Poian AT, El-Bacha T, Luz MRMP. Nutrient Utilization in Humans: Metabolism Pathways. Nature Education. 2010; 3(9):11. Available at  Accessed May 18, 2012.
        3. Coburn JW, Malek MH. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, 2nd Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012

        Three Things Thursday

        Once again I don’t have a ton of time to post due to my two classes that end next Friday! Time to get all that homework done, but here are a few interesting and maybe not so interesting tidbits currently going on.

        1. I have about 5,000 different blog posts all written in my head. I plan on writing and/or finishing writing the ones I started and get them posted here. I have been finding a bunch of interesting articles and factoids that have perked my interest so hopefully I’ll be doing some researching and forming some opinions on the matter here.

        2. This is one of the interesting things I plan on writing about. I found it today on Trainer Thought of the Day. Personally, I don’t believe it, but I’m definitely going to set up my own experiment and test the hypothesis. Anyone want to make some predictions?

        This is a science fair project presented by a girl in a secondary school in Sussex. In it she took filtered water and divided it into two parts. The first part she heated to boiling in a pan on the stove, and the second part she heated to boiling in a microwave. Then after cooling she used the water to water two identical plants to see if there would be any difference in the growth between the normal boiled water and the water boiled in a microwave. She was thinking that the structure or energy of the water may be compromised by microwave. As it turned out, even she was amazed at the difference, after the experiment which was repeated by her classmates a number of times and had the same result.

        3. Training is going well. I’m in recovery week, which I don’t like. I get very antsy by the end of the week, but I fully understand the importance of recovery weeks in any annual training plan (ATP). Today is a rest day and I’m getting a massage! Wahoo!

        Happy Training!

        Proteins: Are you Consuming Too Much?

        Protein is a term thrown around pretty freely these days in the gym, out on a long run with your training partner, in fitness magazines, and on the internet. But, do most people even know what constituents a protein and what and how the body used protein?

        Proteins are considered to be the most versatile macromolecules in living systems and proteins serve crucial functions in essentially all biological processes. Proteins function as catalysts, transport and store other molecules such as oxygen, provide mechanical support and immune protection, generate movement, transmit nerve impulses, and control growth and differentiation1. In other words, proteins have a lot of “jobs” within the human body.

        Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids. The chains of amino acids then spontaneously fold up into 3-D structures that are predetermined by the sequence of amino acids in the protein chain. It’s function is directly dependent on this unique 3-D structure. There are 20 different amino acids that vary in size, shape, and other chemical characteristics. Human can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids and the remaining 10 must be obtained through diet. These 10 amino acids that are supplied via food are called essential amino acids2. Failure to obtain enough of even one of the 10 essential amino acids results in degradation of the body’s proteins, muscles and so forth, to obtain the one amino acid that is needed2. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use.

        Why is protein important to the athlete? Traditionally, athletes seem to fall into two categories: those who eat too much (i.e. bodybuilders, weightlifters, and football players) and those who eat too little (i.e. runners, dancers, and triathletes)3. The current RDI for protein consumption is 0.8 kg/day (0.4 g/day) per pound of body weight. Nancy Clark, MS, RD, gives this examples in her book: a 150 lb recreational athlete who burns about 3,000 calories a day can easily consume 300-450 protein calories (75-112 g). This equates to about 1-1.5 kg of protein, which is more than the RDI of 0.8 kg. Joe Friel, MS, suggests the following protein intake4:

        Training Volume (Hours/Week)

        Protein (g)/day











        To calculate your individual protein need, take the protein g/day number from above and multiple it by your weight in pounds. For example,

        140 lbs X 0.9 g/lb = 126 g protein per day

        Now there seems to be a “fad” going around the fitness world telling you your not consuming enough protein. Personally, I believe it’s in part due to the “feud” between the crossfit vs. endurance sport world and the emergence of the Paleo Diet. So, if people were not getting enough protein than you would think that a protein deficiency is a common problem. True protein deficiency, if you eat at least a somewhat healthy diet, is virtually non-existent, even in highly active athletes.

        Many people have the perception that more protein is better. If I eat this slab of steak 3x a day then I will look like this guy!

        Protein is important for cellular function and muscle repair. However, too much protein can make you sick. When too much protein is consumed, it must be broken down, primarily by the liver, by partly by the kidneys and muscles. Excess consumption overworks the liver and kidneys and can cause accumulation of toxic protein byproducts5. Amino acids, due to their chemical structure, are acidic by nature. Animal proteins are rich in sulfur-containing amino acids and when broken down release sulfuric acid5. In order for the body to buffer these harsh chemicals, bones dissolve to release buffering reagents and can lead to osteoporosis. Animal protein is also linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

        Another myth about protein is that you must eat meat and dairy to obtain enough protein in your diet. That is completely untrue. Animals, including humans, can only produce half of the amino acids that compose proteins. The other half must be obtained through diet. Plants can make all 20 amino acids. Sure, not all plants have each of the amino acids, but that is why you should eat a balanced diet of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Plants are rich in proteins. Plants are so rich in protein that they meet the protein and nutritious needs of the world’s largest animals: elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows. Humans are a faction of the size of these animals and we can deduce that plants will also easily meet our protein needs!

        Eating a well balanced plant-based diet will not only meet your protein needs, but will also meet your daily fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidant, and phytochemical needs. See the chart here of protein contents of some common vegetables, grains, and animal products. Per percent of calories of protein, spinach has more protein than chicken, pork, salmon, and milk!

        Another common misconception is the need for protein powders, shakes, and bars. I’m guilty of this. I use a protein powder in my recovery shakes after a hard workout. I use either soy or hemp protein vs. an animal based product. It is best to eat whole foods rich in protein vs. isolated protein products. Isolated products, such as protein powders, are generally highly processed by a laboratory. Be aware of what you buy and if you really need that extra protein. Can you read all the ingredients on the wrapper? Look at your protein bars, I bet you can’t read half the crap they jam pack into those “healthy” bars. I have eliminated bars from my diet because of that factor. You can easily make your own bars that meet all your nutrient needs at home in your kitchen using whole foods.

        Proteins are an important aspect of your diet, but be careful that your not over-consuming protein. Protein is needed in aiding muscle recovery, but too much of it can be toxic to your body because your body cannot store it like fat and carbs. So next time you reach for you protein bar and shake after a heavy workout, make sure you ask yourself if you really need that extra protein in your diet. Chances are, if your eating a well-balanced diet then your body is already getting enough protein.


        1. Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry, 6th Ed. New York: WH Freeman and Co; 2007.
        2. University of Arizona. The Chemistry of Amino Acids. Available at: Accessed February 12, 2012.
        3. Clark N. Sport’s Nutrition Guidebook, 4th Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2008.
        4. Cordain L, Friel J. The Paleo Diet For Athletes. USA: Rodale; 2005.
        5. McDougall J. Where Do You Get Your Protein? Available at: Accessed February 12, 2012.
        Note: I am not a nutrient expert (although that is my goal in the future). I have a degree in Biochemistry and working on my Masters in Public Health. I am able to read and translate complex scientific concepts to a more reader friendly language. I researched this topic and have included a few of my own opinions. I encourage you all to do your own research and consult nutrition experts if you have any questions regarding protein and your diet. With that said, I can address any questions that you may have, but I am not an expert.