Monthly Archives: March 2012
From USA Today: ‘Pink slime’ maker halts production at some plants
“The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.”
That processing just sounds terrible. Bleh. I like my meat from Durham Farmers Martket…fresh off the farm! :oP
On Blast: Exercising Your DNA
I have to share this article that I read in TIME Heartland. It’s about a study in which they showed a change in DNA through exercising…seriously. Exercise keeps us lean, lowers heart disease/stroke/diabetes risk, and (as if you need more convincing to work out), now it’s great for our DNA.
In this study, researchers were measuring the activity of a compound called a methyl group. Methyl groups are sticky and love to attach themselves to other compounds. The problem in our bodies is that if you change the structure of something, you change the function. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not so much. Here is one example of why they are important in exercise: these groups prime your muscle cells to ready themselves with energy and nutrients for the impending work they are about to do. One downside to methylation? When a methyl group fixatates itself to a DNA molecule, the alteration to the structure limits gene activity in the molecule. The study describes one example of a cell’s ability to specialize into an eye cell or a liver cell, depending on the amount of methylation to that cell at a given time. Scary.
Researchers here found that the more intense the exercise, the more methyl groups were out and about, rather than settling and fixating immediately. So what else happens with intense exercise? With intense exercise, the more intensity, the more oxygen is consumed to keep up the aerobic work. Oxygen consumption is increased until your body hits its max threshold. This is called the VO2max. Generally, the higher your VO2max is, the more you can sustain high-intensity aerobic work.
Verdict: Project Gym Rat shall commence!
On Blast: The Skinny on Blood Glucose
Did you know that stabilizing blood sugar is the key to maintaining muscle mass, weight loss, and reducing fatigue?
On maintaining muscle mass: Glucose (often referred to as your blood sugar) is the main fuel source for your body during physical performance. As your body requires more fuel, its sources in your body begin to deplete. As you continue your performance, your body eventually can have blood sugar low enough to trigger a “starvation” phase. During this phase, an amino acid named alanine is sent from your muscle tissue to the liver in order to be converted into more glucose. Therefore, in an effort to preserve muscle tissue, it’s a beneficial to maintain your blood glucose (see previous entries on sports beverages and whole grain food choices).
How often we eat can also be important, as shown in previous research. Numerous studies have shown a benefit of consuming smaller meals throughout the day with a set number of calories. Through this practice, insulin response levels were reduced, and blood glucose levels were maintained (when glucose goes up, insulin goes up…so if blood glucose is kept at a healthy level, you see few insulin spikes). Blood sugar tends to rise and fall every 3 hours. By maintaining a 3 meal/day pattern with small snacks in between, a better blood glucose is maintained, and improvement is seen in mental acuity and enhanced athletic performance.
Verdict: Stay sweet! Remind yourself to sip on a glucose source (Gatorade?) every 20 minutes…even if you are not thirsty.
Turns out the RDs were right alllllllll along. Stop meat binging and add some whole grain fiber!
On Blast: Vita Coco vs. Gatorade Smackdown
One coconut water product, Vita Coco, received some bad press last week. Evidently, the company has been marketing its product as a superior sports drink for its “super hydrating” and electrolyte-dense properties claim. A class action has been filed against them for “misrepresentation and omissions.” Yikes!!
So let’s gather the facts and analyze the evidence. We know (from a previous post under “Hot Topics”) that our ideal carbohydrate concentration for an athlete’s sports drink is 7%.
- 46 calories
- K+, Mg+, Vit C
- Na+ 30mg
- CHO 9g
- 50 calories
- K+, Mg+, Vit C
- CHO 14g
If we do the math, Vita Coco provides only 3.75% CHO per 8 fl oz cup, compared to Gatorade’s 5.8%. That is also an incredibly low amount of sodium to consume while exercising. Under the worst circumstances (think hot Houston, Texas sun in late July or August), an athlete loses 15g/2hrs. To do the math, that is 6000mg in 4 hours. You would have to drink 200 cups of Vita Coco to replace that, which is just unsafe and unrealistic. Especially for an athlete, 30mg of Sodium per cup (about the size of a female’s fist) is not going to help you replenish what you’ve lost.