Archives for category: Health

Introduction

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Hello,
My name is Kevin Beasley and I’m a performance nutritionist. I have worked with inter-county Gaelic football teams (male and female) at both senior and underage levels for the past eight years. I also have vast experience of working with clients from a variety of different sports.
If you are someone who enjoys working out but can’t get to the gym now because of the current lock-down, you may be fretting over your nutrition. You may be unsure over what you should be eating due to reduced training intensity or frequency. However, there are some easy steps you can take to remain in good shape, maintain a good body composition and most importantly remain healthy.

Calorie Intake

Before we start on the nitty-gritty, we will take a moment to discuss calories and calorie balance. One of the reasons we eat food is to fuel all our bodies activities throughout the day. These calories provide energy for our metabolism, helps our bodies to digest and process food, and help us to carry out all the activities we do throughout the day.
In order to maintain our current weight, we need to eat the same number of calories that we’ve burned over a 24 hour period. If you eat 2500 calories in a day and you also burn 2500 calories then you should maintain your weight. If you eat less calories (e.g. 2000 calories – calorie deficit), you will lose weight. If you eat more calories (e.g. 3000 calories – calorie surplus), then you will gain weight.

energy-balance-diagram

(Image courtesy of First Rate Fitness)

This weight loss or gain can come from many different compartments in out body. These can include:

  1. Body fat
  2. Muscle
  3. Water
  4. Bone
  5. Muscle and liver fuel stores

We normally don’t eat the exact number of calories we need every day. Sometimes we can eat more, sometimes we can eat less. These figures normally balance out over several days. We have inbuilt systems in our body that ensure we compensate if we under eat over eat calories on a given day.

Daily Energy Requirement Calculators

If you would like to calculate how many calories you need to eat on a given day to maintain calorie balance, there are lots of different online calorie calculators available online.
One of the easiest ones to use can be found here .
This calculator will give you an estimate of how many calories you need to eat in order to maintain your weight based on your age, gender, height, weight and activity levels. Whatever number is calculated is just an estimate.

Use this number as a starting point and based on your weight fluctuation over a 7 day period, you can adjust your calorie intake up or down depending on your body composition goals. Add more calories if you want to gain weight, remove calories if you want to lose weight.

Avoid Large Calorie deficits

If you decide that you want to lose body fat over the next several months, I will issue a word of caution. Having a large calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time can lead to:

• Weight loss – either muscle mass, fat mass or a combination of both
• Reduction in your metabolism – this may lead to yo-yo weight loss and weight gain
• Lowered immunity – making your body more susceptible to infections
• Lowered hormone levels</p>
These effects are not desirable, from a performance and a health perspective. It’s normally recommended to keep your calorie deficit within 20% of your maintenance calories.

Example: if your recommended calorie intake to maintain weight is 2000 calories, then you shouldn’t eat less than 1600 calories per day (80% of maintenance calories – 20% deficit) if you’re trying to lose weight.

A good rule of thumb is to try and lose weight while eating as much food as possible.

Food Diary

While it’s not necessary, some people like to record their food intake in order to balance their calorie intake. A free app that many people use is called MyFitnessPal. You can download this app for free. This app will give you accurate measures of how many grams of carbohydrate, fat and protein, as well as calorie, vitamin and mineral intake for a given day. However, you will have to pay for some of the more advanced features on this app.
More simpler measures include writing down your food intake for a given day on a notebook. Other people like to take photos on their phone. Choose whatever method fits with your temperament and lifestyle. The goal is to have a record of what you eat in a given week so that you can make adjustments for subsequent weeks based on whether you’ve achieved your body composition goals or not.

Weekly Weigh-in

It is advisable to weigh in once per week to track changes in weight. The best time to weigh yourself is first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom and before eating breakfast. Weigh yourself on the same day and at the same time every week. Friday morning is generally the best day to weigh-in.

Macro-Nutrients

Macro-nutrients are the nutrients that we need to eat in large quantities. In the following sections I will go through the three main macro-nutrients, their functions and the types of foods we find them in.

Protein

Protein is a very important nutrient and protein supplements have increased in popularity over the last 10 years. Protein is very important from a sports perspective – it helps to build and repair muscle after a training session, helping to make us stronger and reduce risk of injury. It also plays an important role in strengthening our immune system.

We can get protein from many common foods. The table below gives you examples.

ANIMAL SOURCES OF PROTEIN PLANT SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Fresh and tinned fish Tofu
Lean red meat Tempeh
Poultry (chicken & turkey) Chickpeas
Dairy including high-protein versions (milk, yogurt) Quorn/Mycoprotein
Eggs (egg white is protein source) Lentils
Whey protein supplement Quinoa
Whole nuts and seeds

You should eat a portion of protein with breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday (regardless of whether you’re training or not) and include extra protein snacks on resistance training days. One of the benefits of protein is that you can over-consume protein and it will not lead to increased body fat. Over-consumption of carbohydrate and fat can lead to an increase in body fat.

The recommendations for protein intake is between 1.5 – 2g/kg BM/day (read as 1.5 – 2 grams per kg of body mass per day).

Taking an 80 kg person as an example, protein intake would equate to:

80 x 1.5 = 120

80 x 2 = 160

Therefore, an 80 kg person should be eating between 120 and 160 g protein per day.

Carbohydrates

Our bodies use carbohydrate for energy, especially when we are moving at a higher intensity like when completing a training session. Healthier carbohydrates also contain fibre which is great for our digestive system health.

We have a fixed capacity for carbohydrate storage in our bodies. The average person can store approximately 450 g of carbohydrate in their muscles and liver. High intensity exercise will deplete these carbohydrate stores, so it’s important to re-fill these stores before our next training session. When choosing your carbohydrates, try and choose “natural” over “processed” carbohydrates.

EXAMPLES OF NATURAL CARBOHYDRATES EXAMPLES OF PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES
Whole fruits Breakfast cereals
Grains (brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa, cous-cous, oats) Fruit juices
Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes) Biscuits
Legumes (beans, lentils) Cakes
Brown bread Desserts
Chocolate
Soft drinks

As a rule of thumb, natural carbohydrates contain more nutrients, more fibre and give a more sustained release of energy compared to processed carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates usually have less fibre and also contain ingredients that may be less beneficial for our bodies (e.g. salt, sugar, artificial colouring’s and flavouring’s).

I am not telling you to never eat processed carbohydrates, just to consume less of them. View them as occasional treats rather than as a part of your everyday diet.

The recommendations for daily carbohydrate intake are based on your activity levels. Given the current situation we are in, the recommendations below will be suitable for most peoples activity levels.

ACTIVITY LEVELS RECOMMENDED CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE

(g/kg BM/day)

Low Intensity or Skill based activities 3 – 5
Moderate exercise program (approx. 1 hour per day) 5 – 7
1 – 3 hours per day or moderate to high-intensity exercise 6 – 10

The amount you eat depends on the duration and intensity of a session. The harder and/or more intense the training session, the greater the intake.

I would recommend eating a carbohydrate containing meal approximately 3 hours before commencing your training session and eating another meal within two hours of finishing to promote recovery and re-fueling.

If your training session lasts longer than 1 hour I would also advise drinking 30 g carbohydrate per hour (500 ml bottle of sports drink contains 30 g carbohydrate).

Fat

Fat is the most misunderstood nutrient. It has gained a lot of bad publicity over several decades, being implicated in heart disease and high cholesterol levels. However, this in part can be blamed on processed foods which contain unhealthy combinations of sugar, salt and fat. If we get our fat from natural sources, it is very beneficial to our health and performance.

Fat is used to repair cell walls, make hormones, dampen inflammation, provide the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). We generally only need to consume small amounts of fats with our meals to hit the recommended amounts.

HEALTHY SOURCES OF FAT
Extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil
Milk, cheese, yogurt
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring
Whole nuts and seeds
Avocados
Eggs
Dark chocolate

The recommended intake of fat is 1g/kg BM/day.

Conclusion

OK, that’s a lot of information to take in. What can you do to get started? Well, if you don’t want to measure out and weigh your food, here are some simple guidelines to follow:

Non-Training Day

  • Eat a minimum of a palm full of protein with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
  • Eat moderate amounts of healthy carbohydrates with breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
  • Where possible, add in small amounts of healthy fats (e.g. adding nuts or seeds to your morning porridge).
  • Add in vegetables where possible (e.g. onions, spinach, carrots, broccoli etc)

Training Day

  • Add in larger portions of carbohydrates to your meals to fuel-up before training  and re-fuel afterwards.
  • Add in some extra protein containing snacks to help with muscle building and repair.

Please check in next week as I will be posting another blog on sports nutrition.

If you have any questions, please email me at: kevin@metabolise.ie

Check out my website and my YouTube channel which I update regularly with cooking demonstrations and recipes. I also have videos from Kerry footballing greats discussing the importance of sports nutrition.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and get a notification every time I post a new video.

Finally, check out my blog for further posts on sports nutrition related topics.

Stay safe everyone, wash your hands regularly and practice physical distancing!

Kevin

Hello,

It being winter here in the northern hemisphere, and with many athletes getting back into training after the Christmas break, thoughts turn to how to prevent illnesses in this vulnerable timeframe. Athletes are liable to dose up on additional vitamin and minerals in order to boost their immune systems and to help prevent colds, flus, URTIs etc.

It therefore came as a surprise to me to read this review which looked at the effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on illness prevention in athletic populations. The findings will not be pleasant reading for the manufacturers of vitamin and mineral supplements.

The authors concluded that the following supplements have no proven benefits in preventing illness in athletes:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Multiple vitamin and minerals
  • Glutamine
  • BCAAs
  • Fish Oil (N-3 PUFAs)
  • Beta-glucan
  • Herbal Supplements (e.g. ginseng)

The jury is still out on the following supplements:

  • Bovine Colostrums
  • Probiotics

The only supplements that the authors recommend are carbohydrate (which athletes will probably be eating large quantities of anyway), and quercitin, a flavaoid widely found in fruit, vegetables, grains and leaves. It seems that the best way to prevent those winter sniffles is to eat a balanced and varied diet.

Kevin Beasley

This being my first blog post, and the last day of 2011, I would like to begin with a brief review of the most thought provoking nutrition book that I’ve read this year. The book is called “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes.

Taubes builds a compelling case, based on scientific evidence, that everything we thought we knew about how the human body regulates weight is wrong. The basic premise is that all calories aren’t equal, and it is the increase in carbohydrate consumption – and especially refined carbohydrates – that have been the ignition for the obesity crisis. Eating carbohydrates has an inpact on the release of insulin. Chronic consumption of refined carbohydrates results in abnormalities in the release of insulin and our bodies ability to deal with carbohydrates. As a result, chronic elevation of insulin results in increased storage of  carbohydrates in fat tissue and a decreased ability of our bodies to burn fat.

To summarise some of the fascinating insights in the book:

  • Obesity is actually a disease of malnutrition. Our fat tissue takes all the energy for itself, meaning that the rest of the bodies cells are starved.
  • Obesity causes tiredness/laziness and over-consumption of food – and not the other way around.
  • The body has an intrinsic, finely-tuned system that regulates food intake in response to our energy expenditure and needs. This system is disrupted by over-consumption of refined carbohydrates.
  • For sedentary people, the food pyramid is upside down. We should be consuming more fats and protein, and less carbohydrate. This is probably the one single thing that has provoked the obesity crisis.

While this book is aimed at the obesity crisis, and ways of dealing with it, I believe the implications are also relevant for sports nutrition, especially for weight category sports. Strategies can be designed, based on this book, for safe and effective ways of obtaining the ideal physique for your sport. It goes without saying that reduction in carbohydrate intake is the main basis of this strategy.

This book is a weighty tome, weighing in at over 600 pages, and is probably suitable for someone with a scientific background. However, a more basic version of this book, called “Why we get fat – and What to do about it” is available and may be more suitable for the layperson or general public.

Overall, whether you are a scientist, dietitian, nutritionist or Joe Bloggs, I would highly recommend reading this book. It will change the way you view food….

Happy New Year,
Kevin Beasley