MCT Oil 101

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Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are medium length fatty acids. The term “medium” refers to the length of the chemical structure of the fatty acid. MCTs are most often derived from coconut oil and sometimes made from palm oil.

Before we talk about MCT Oil it is important to understand what a fatty acid is and how to classify fatty acids.

Fatty acids are chains of carbons linked together, surrounded by hydrogen. These chains have a Methyl end (often known as the Omega end) and a Carboxyl group (acid end) at the other end.

The acid end is hydrophilic, meaning that it is water-soluble, while the rest of the fatty chain is hydrophobic, meaning that it is insoluble in water, and requires a water-soluble transporter to travel in the bloodstream.

These chains can vary in three ways. The number of carbons, the extent to which the carbons are saturated with hydrogen, and how the chain is shaped.

Fatty acids can be classified according to the number of carbon molecules in their structure:

  • Short Chain: Less than 6 carbons;
  • Medium Chain: 6-12 carbons;
  • Long Chain: More than 12 carbons.

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
The following fatty acids that are classified as MCT:

  • Caproic acid (with a chemical structure of C6:0);
  • Caprylic acid (C8:0);
  • Capric acid (C10:0);
  • Lauric acid (C12:0).

How do MCTs work
MCTs are commonly known for providing you with ready to use energy and better brain function. They’re absorbed quicker than other fatty acids and are easily converted into energy.

Although all four can be categorized as MCTs, only C6, C8, and C10 bypass your digestive tract and go straight to your liver where they’re broken down into energy-packed ketones, then sent out to the rest of your body via your bloodstream.

C12, on the other hand, behaves much more like a long chain fatty acid, going through your stomach, breaking down in your small intestine, then absorbing into your blood to get converted into energy.

Whole Food Sources
The following foods are the richest in medium-chain triglycerides, shown as the percentage of fatty acids that are MCTs:

  • Coconut oil: More than 60%;
  • Palm kernel oil: More than 50%;
  • Grass-fed dairy: About 15%.

Although the sources listed above are rich in MCTs, their compositions will vary. For example, coconut oil contains all four types of MCTs, along with small amounts of long chain fatty acids.

In coconut oil, MCTs consist of greater amounts of C12 and smaller amounts of C6, C8 and C10. In fact, coconut oil is about 50% C12, making it one of the best natural sources of this fatty acid.

In comparison to coconut oil, grass-fed dairy sources tend to have a higher proportions of C6, C8 and C10 and a lower proportion of C12.

Benefits of MCT Oil
With their unique structure and the way that MCTs are metabolized in your body give them a host of benefits that you won’t find in other fatty acids:

  • Antibacterial and antiviral properties that may help balance gut flora and support immune health;
  • Easier to digest than most other fats;
  • They may help you lose excess body fat;
  • Appetite suppression;
  • Provide quick, clean energy, especially brain energy;
  • May reduce lactic acid build up in athletes and increase the use of fat for energy;
  • May improve insulin sensitivity.

MCT Oil v Coconut Oil
The coconut oil industry loves to market the idea that coconut oil is a great source of MCTs because it’s about two-thirds MCT Oil.

Although just about all of the cheap and abundant oils in coconut oil are good for you, the problem is that the science shows that you just can’t get enough of the really useful MCTs from eating coconut oil alone.

Pure MCT Oil will usually consists of just C8 and C10 and is approximately six times more effective that coconut oil.

Some MCT Oils are diluted with large amounts of C12, which is a cheaper and more abundant part of coconut oil that is sometimes marketed as a MCT Oil. This may not be a concern for most people, however these oils are only about twice as effective as coconut oil.

C12 is most well-known for its antimicrobial properties, since it’s the precursor to monolaurin, an even more powerful antimicrobial agent that is able to fight viruses and bacterial infections.

While C12 itself has disease-fighting abilities, monolaurin from C12 is even more capable of inhibiting the growth of pathogens due to having stronger antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

If you’re after large amounts of C12 for its own health benefits, go for it. Just eat some coconut oil. You can get a fair amount of it from eating just a tablespoon or two.

If you’re after optimizing your brain function and overall performance, have a look into some quality MCT Oil.

Intermittent Fasting 101

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Intermittent Fasting (IF) is more of a dietary pattern than a diet. Simply put it is an eating pattern that cycles between feeding and fasting. Sounds simple?

There is no real specificity to which foods are to be eaten and which are to be avoided, with the focus being on when you eat your food. In this respect, it is more accurately described as an eating pattern.

Common methods of IF involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, once or twice per week.

Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Our ancestors didn’t have access to supermarkets or fast food outlets, and at times food wasn’t even available for them to hunt or gather.

As a result, the human body was able to adapt to be able to function optimally bothe physically and cognitatively without food for extended periods of time.

In fact, sporadic periods of fasting is more natural than eating 3 or 4 meals per day.

Common methods of Intermittent Fasting
There are many ways to conduct a fast, all of which contain a period of eating and a period of fasting. During a period of a fast, you eat very little or nothing at all.

However, Paul Jaminet, the author of the Perfect Health Diet has a valid argument for the consumption of coconut oil and bone broth during a fast.

Here is a list of the most popular methods

  • The 16/8: Also known as the Leansgains protocol. It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your caloric intake to 8 hours, such as 12-8pm, then fast for 16 hours.
  • Eat. Stop. Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice per week.
  • The 5:2 diet: This method, you can consume up to 500 calories on two, non-consecutive days, then eat normally the other five days.

By reducing the total caloric intake over a period of time, all of these methods should lead to weight loss, so long as you’re not over compensating by overeating during your eating periods.

This can be avoided by eating natural whole foods such as, meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, with some fruits and nuts.

Most people find the 16/8 method the easiest, most sustainable method to adopt. It is also the most popular.

How intermittent fasting affects your cells and hormones
During periods of fasting, several things happen to your body on a cellular level. For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible as an energy source.

At the cellular level, certain cells initiate important repair processes and change the expression of some genes.

Here are just some of the changes that occur in your body when you fast:

  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH): HGH levels increase up to 5 times, this provides benefits to both muscle growth and fat loss.
  • Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels allow stored body fat to be more readily accessible.
  • Cell repair: When in a fasted state, cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
  • Gene expression: Certain changes occur in the function of genes in relation to longevity and protection against disease.

These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for many of the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

Health benefits
There is a lot of science backed evidence showing the health benefits related to optimising weight control, the health of your body and brain. There are even some studies that suggest it may help you live longer.

Intermittent fasting and weight loss
Conventional wisdom discourages skipping meals, which is often associated with eating disorders and unsustainable crash diets. However, deliberately practiced IF, can be a powerful tool for weight loss.

Fasting involves caloric restriction. Sometimes, it easier to fast than to count calories.

Hormonal changes involved in fasting also promote weight loss, even if you don’t restrict calories. Fasting lowers the body’s levels of insulin, a hormone that prevents the release of stored body fat. With lower insulin levels, your body turns to stored fat for energy.

Here are some of the health benefits to intermittent fasting:

  • Weight loss: As mentioned above, when performed correctly, it can be a healthy weight loss tool.
  • Insulin resistance: This study showed that IF can reduce insulin resistance,  which could prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduced inflammation: A key driver of many chronic diseases.
  • Heart health: IF may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. All risk factors for heart disease.
  • Brain health: IF may protect against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Cancer. Animal studies suggest that IF may prevent certain cancers.
  • Anti-aging. Animal studies suggest that IF may extend lifespan.

Intermittent fasting and athletic performance
Initially, training in a fasted state might seem a bit contradictory. How can the body perform with fuel? Provided you’re not fasting for too great a period, IF can actually improve your athletic performance.

For endurance athletes, the benefits of fasting come from a two-pronged approach: training in the fasted state, and competing in the fed state. Fasted training can improve performance by forcing your body to adapt to lower glycogen stores and use glycogen more efficiently. Essentially, training in the fasted state adds another stressor, forcing your body to compensate and become stronger. This sets you up to get a huge boost from competing in the fed state.

Short-term fasting is also useful for power athletes. While fasting for several days at a time will hurt your progress, intermittent fasts less than 24 hours will not cause muscle loss or send your body into “starvation mode,” as long as you consume adequate calories and protein when you do eat.

On the contrary, when you lift in a fasted state, your body uses protein more efficiently afterwards, boosting muscle growth.

Weightlifters seeking to gain lean mass without also gaining fat should look into Martin Berkhan’s Leangains program, which specifies an eight-hour “feeding window” and a sixteen-hour fast every day.

Is intermittent fasting for everybody?
Like just about everything else in human nutrition, there is no one size fits all. This certainly applies to intermittent fasting.

For example, if you’re already underweight, pregnant, under heavy stress or have a history of eating disorders, a medical or health professional should be consulted prior to commencing a fast. In these scenarios, IF could actually have disastrous implications rather than be a benefit.

Some people just love food. There is nothing wrong with that. Enjoying traditional dishes from around the world can be a great experience. Bonus points if you’re sharing that experience with family and friends.

If you’re already eating a whole food diet, are generally more fat adapted, exercise moderately, have good sleep patterns, limit chronic stressors and are generally doing the things that make you happy then you’re probably in a good place to start playing with some fasts.

The bottom line
Basically, if you’re hungry, eat. Starving yourself only will cause additional stress.

If you’re already stressed, don’t IF. You don’t need another stressor.

If you’re completing high intensity training everyday, don’t IF. Unless you’re genetically gifted, you will need plenty of fuel to prevent overtraining.

If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.

Listen to your body. Try not to eat just because it’s midday and it is generally lunch time. At the same time, don’t feel guilty if you’re supposed to be in the middle of a fast and you’re reaching for a handful of macadamia nuts or some beef jerky. Try it out, skip a morning meal, sneak in a workout or go for a walk and see how you feel.

If you’re not ready, your body will tell you pretty quickly. Feeling lightheaded, reduced performance in workouts, cognitive decline or a general reduction in energy are all makers that you might need to fix a few things (food, sleep, stress, etc.) for a few weeks and try again.

In a perfect world, we’d all have an excellent metabolism, with a job we love and plenty of time to spend with friends and family. But unfortunately, it’s not and we don’t. We can, however, make the most of the world that we live in today.

Eat real food. Be active. Enjoy life.

All about Resistant Starch

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What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch (RS) is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon intact.  Simply put, it “resists” digestion. This explains why we do not see spikes in either blood glucose or insulin after eating resistant starch, and why we do not obtain significant calories from resistant starch.

There are four types of resistant starch:

  • RS Type 1 – Is found in grains, seeds and legumes and resists digestion because it’s bound within the fibrous cell walls;
  • RS Type 2 – Is found in some starchy foods, including raw potatoes and green (unripe) bananas;
  • RS Type 3 – Is formed when certain starchy foods, including potatoes and rice, are cooked and then cooled. The cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches via retrogradation;
  • RS Type 4 – Is man-made and formed via a chemical process.

However, this classification is not so simple, as several different types of resistant starch can co-exist in the same food.

Depending on how foods are prepared, the amount of resistant starch changes. For example, allowing a banana to ripen (turn yellow) will degrade the resistant starches and turn them into regular starches.

Where to find resistant starch
Resistant starch occurs in a number of natural foods. Some legumes, many tubers such as potatoes, and many fruits, especially unripe bananas and plantains.

There are several supplementary sources such as raw potato starch, plantain flour and tapioca starch. Raw (not sprouted) mung beans are also a good source of resistant starch, so mung bean starch (found often in asian grocery stores) can also work.

Food for your gut
Just like anything other living organism, your gut bacteria requires a food source. They need to eat to survive, and certain food sources are better than others. Simply put, resistant starch is a high quality food for your gut bacteria. This is the very basic, but most important function of resistant starch.

How does it work?

A healthy human gut has hundreds of bacterial species, outnumbering all other cells approximately 10 to 1. The overall balance of these bacteria has an important effect on health and wellbeing. Resistant starch resists digestion until it reaches the colon where it feeds your good bacteria.

The good bacteria feeds on resistant starch and produce short chain fatty acids, with butyrate being the most significant due its beneficial effects on the colon and overall health.  Butyrate is the prefered energy source for the cells lining the colon, it also has a role in increasing metabolism and decreasing overall inflammation.

Below are just some of the health related benefits backed by science to consuming resistant starch.

Improve gut integrity and overall gut function
As mentioned earlier, resistant starch improves the overall quality and functionality of your gut bacteria. It also inhibits endotoxins from getting into circulation and can reduce leaky gut, which could have a positive effect with regards to allergies and autoimmune conditions.

Improved insulin sensitivity
Consuming Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity, even in people with metabolic syndrome.

Lowers the blood glucose response to food
A popular reason people avoid even minimal amounts of  dietary carbohydrate is the blood glucose response. It’s too high. Resistant starch lowers blood glucose spike after meals. This reduction may carry over to subsequent meals.

Reduces fasting blood sugar
This is one of the most commonly mentioned benefits of resistant starch. With a reduction in blood sugar levels, resistant starch may help you avoid chronic disease and improve your quality of life.

Increases satiety
In a recent human study, a large dose of resistant starch increased satiety and decreased subsequent food intake.

Enhanced magnesium absorption
Most likely because resistant starch improves overall gut function and integrity, resistant starch increases dietary magnesium absorption.

Consuming resistant starch may also have the following benefits:

  • Improved body composition;
  • Improved thyroid function;
  • Improved sleep.

Adding resistant starch to your diet

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In a modern diet a person may only consume about 5g of resistant starch daily, compared to many traditional diets where 20g or 30g was consumed per day. You can add resistant starch to your diet by either consuming it from a food source or through supplementation.

Several commonly consumed foods are high in resistant starch. These foods include, raw potatoes, cooked and then cooled potatoes, yams, green bananas, various legumes, lentils and raw oats.

These foods are commonly high-carbohydrate foods, making them out of the question if you are following a low-carbohydrate nutrition plan. However, even if you are eating a low-carbohydrate diet, you can still see some benefit from consuming some resistant starch.

You can add resistant starch to your diet without adding any dietary carbohydrates. This is where our supplements, such as raw potato starch come in to the equation.

Raw potato starch contains approximately 8g of resistant starch per tablespoon and almost zero digestible carbohydrate.

It is cheap. It does have a fairly bland flavour, but it can be added into your diet in a variety of ways, such as by adding to foods, smoothies or mixing it with water.

Four tablespoons will give you about 32g of resistant starch. Like most supplements, it is important to build up, as too much too soon may have disastrous results.

There doesn’t seem to be any reason to consume much more than that anyway, as excess amounts seem to pass through your body when you reach about 50g per day.

The benefits of bone broth

As we enter the cooler months of winter, the need to take good care of our health becomes more of a priority, as colds come and go quite often. Most people try very hard not to end up with the sniffles each year, without much luck. Regularly adding a cup of bone broth to your diet just might be the solution?

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What is bone broth?
Bone broth, which is nothing new to home cooks around the world, is the strained stock that results from boiling animal bones, usually with attached meat, herbs, and vegetables to add flavour.

Bone broth is an ingredient than can be used to create or flavour all kinds of dishes. It contains parts of the animal we typically like to discard (like cartilage and bone marrow), all nicely broken down so we get the full dose of nutrients.

The importance of Collagen
Collagen is a group of amino acids making up 25-35% of our body. It’s found in our bones, skin, joints, tendons, and ligaments. As we age, we lose collagen. This contributes to age-related joint issues, not to mention the loss of skin elasticity.

Glycine is the primary amino acid found in collagen. And it’s a pretty significant amino acid in terms of what it does for the body.

The human body requires about 10 grams per day for basic metabolic processes, so we have a pretty significant daily requirement that we need to get through dietary or supplemental means. Most of us these days aren’t eating ligaments and tendons and rougher cuts of meat containing glycine.

Bone broth contains approximately 27 grams of glycine per 100 grams of protein. Therefore, it makes for a great source of this amino acid. Rather than taking an isolated glycine supplement, bone broth contains glycine with other amino acids and minerals, which act synergistically with each other. 

Some other benefits include:

  • Improve overall gut health;
  • Improves immune system;
  • Improves joint health;
  • Keeps the skin supple;
  • Restores Glutathione levels;
  • Improves sleep quality;
  • May improve cognitive function.

How to make bone broth
Here is a simple recipe on how to make a bone broth at home using beef bones.

Basic ingredients:

  • 1 to 1.5 kg beef bones. Any type of bones will do, but for the richest, most gelatinous beef broth, add some collagen-rich knuckles, tails, feet, or neck bones;
  • 2 carrots, chopped;
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped;
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered;
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar;
  • Water (about 4 to 6 quarts/4 to 6 L).

Cooking instructions:

Browning the bones before simmering gives the broth a deeper, richer flavor, but this is optional. Preheat oven to 375 °F / 190 °C. Spread the bones out on a large roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.

Place the bones in a large stockpot or slow cooker. Add the vinegar, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the bones by an inch or two.

If you’re using a stockpot, simmer on very low heat, with a lid, for a minimum of 8 hours, or up to 24 hours to extract the most nutrients and flavor, occasionally skimming foam and fat from surface.

In a slow cooker, cook on low for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

The broth is done when it has a rich, savory flavor and deep reddish-brown color.

Pour broth through a strainer to remove any solid ingredients, and you’re done. Enjoy.

Apple Cider Vinegar

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What is apple cider vinegar?
People have used apple cider vinegar (ACV) for thousands of years. Everyone from the ancient Babylonians to the Greeks used it as a cure-all for all kinds of health ailments.

Like coconut oil and grass-fed butter, ACV is enjoying a comeback among people who care about their health.

Vinegars are a product of fermentation. This is a process in which sugars in a food are broken down by bacteria and yeast. In the first stage of fermentation, the sugars are turned into alcohol. Then, if the alcohol ferments further, you get vinegar. ACV comes from pulverized apples.

ACV contains is acetic acid, which helps get rid of harmful bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract. This helps the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food in the intestines.

10 reasons to use apple cider vinegar

  1. It helps the body maintain a healthy pH level. You would think it would be acidic but in fact it helps bring your body into a more alkaline state;
  2. The alkaline effect of ACV also helps detoxify the liver, which makes it a great tonic when detoxing;
  3. It can help you lose weight. ACV works by correcting acid issues. It acts as a buffer in the body – the acetic acid reacts with base or acid compounds to form an acetate, therefore rendering them chemically bioavailable for the body’s utilization;
  4. It’s great for your lymphatic system. It helps break down mucus throughout the body and cleanse the lymph nodes. This also means it’s great when fighting a blocked nose or sinus infection;
  5. It helps improve gut flora and aids digestion. It is also said to clear up chronic acid reflux when taken with each meal;
  6. ACV is full enzymes that can help rid your body of Candida due to the malic acid and acetic acid (mentioned above);
  7. It makes a wonderful tonic for bad breath (halitosis). Dilute in warm water and gargle it morning and night;
  8. It boosts your immune system due to its antibacterial properties;
  9. It is great for your skin. Apply it topically for immediate benefits: dilute ACV with water and using a cotton pad apply as a toner or dab directly onto blemishes to dry them out; and
  10. Thickens your hair and makes it shine: Fill an old shampoo bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of ACV and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week.

Hot tip
Heartburn and digestive issues are two of the most common health complaints today. They are some of the standard symptoms that result from the modern westernised diet, which can result in not enough stomach acids being produced by the body (ie: hydrochloric acid).

By adding raw ACV to your diet, you can help your stomach create enough acid to start the digestion process and kill off harmful microbes.

Giving your digestion a boost is easy. Just add ACV to your salad dressings or drink some raw, unfiltered ACV diluted with water about 20 minutes prior to meals.

Why you should be eating cauliflower

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Cauliflower, like broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family, contains an impressive array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals.

Antioxidants are nature’s way of providing your cells with an adequate defense against attack by excessive amounts of reactive oxygen species. Without an adequate supply of antioxidants to help suppress excess free radicals you raise your risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage.

Why it’s a superfood?

  • High in Vitamins C and K;
  • Good source of Vitamin B6, folate, fiber, manganese, potassium, sulforaphane and omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy evidence
Numerous studies have linked sulforaphane to reduced cancer rates in humans. A study in the Journal of Nutrition reported that treating liver cells with compounds contained in cauliflower reduced the production of lipids that increase heart disease risk when present in high levels in the blood. Other studies have reported that high intake of cauliflower was associated with a lower risk of an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Here are some of the science backed health benefits of cauliflower:

  • Fights cancer;
  • Heart health;
  • Lowers inflammation;
  • Supports detoxification;
  • Improves digestion.

Making the most of Cauliflower
The best way to eat cauliflower is raw in fresh salads, as this will retain the vitamin C and other water-soluble nutrients. Cauliflower can be used as a great substitute for potatoes in low carbohydrate nutrition plans.

Steaming cauliflower better preserves the anti-cancer compounds rather than boiling. Better again is a healthy saute. This is done by bring either some bone broth (beef or chicken) or water to boil in a pan then lightly saute the cauliflower florets for approximately five minutes.

Why you should be eating broccoli

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Vegetables have an impressive way of offering a widespread benefits to your health. Broccoli is no exception. When you’re eating broccoli, you’re getting dozen, maybe even hundreds, of super-nutrients that support optimal health and performance.

Why it’s a superfood?

  • High in Vitamins A, C and K, along with fiber and folate;
  • Good source of magnesium, manganese, potassium, sulforaphane, quercetin and other antioxidants.

Healthy evidence

Broccoli contains phytochemicals. It is high is the flavonoid quercetin and in sulforaphane, both protect the body against cancer. Potassium and folate also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Other antioxidants provide anti-bactierial and anti-viral activity.

Here is a short list of some of the science backed health benefits of broccoli:

  • Arthritis;
  • Cancer;
  • Blood pressure and kidney disease;
  • Anti-aging and immune system health;
  • Heart health, especially for diabetics.

Making the most of Broccoli

Broccoli’s phytochemicals and heat sensitive nutrients such as folate are best retained by either not cooking, steaming or lightly sauteing.

Boiling Broccoli reduces the level of active anti-carcinogenic compounds, with losses of approx 20% after 5 min and 40% after 10 min.

Another way to enjoy the many health benefits of broccoli is by eating its sprouts. Fresh broccoli sprouts  are FAR more potent nutrient dense than mature broccoli. They have about 50 times the amount of cancer fighting power of mature broccoli. This means more bang for buck.

Broccoli sprouts can be grown at home quite easily. They don’t have to be cooked and can be added to salads.

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The Paleo Diet for Athletes

Traditionally, Paleo type diets are much lower in carbohydrate than the average modern-day athlete diet. Our ancestors seldom did 2 hour runs and 6 hour bike rides. Certainly, they had periods of intense activity, but these where relatively brief and spaced apart.

Endurance athletes require a higher intake of carbohydrates in order to replenish fuel stores after long and intense workouts. As such the program for athletes makes changes to the basic program to allow the intake of some foods that are not included in a Paleo Diet.

The major adjustment to the diet is that certain high glycemic index carbohydrate foods are included during the immediate post-workout period. For the remainder of the day the dietary pattern is the same as a typical Paleo Diet program. This is required to satisfy the need to quickly replace glycogen stores after exercise and will help speed up the recovery process for repeated efforts.

I did not write the article below, however it is an excellent summary of The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel.

A QUICK GUIDE TO
THE PALEO DIET FOR ATHLETES © 2005 Loren Cordain, PhD and Joe Friel, MS

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The Paleo Diet for Athletes was released in October, 2005 from Rodale Press. Written by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet, and Joe Friel, M.S., author of numerous bestselling books on training for endurance athletes, the book applies the concept of eating as our Stone Age ancestors ate to the extraordinary demands of training for serious endurance sports. Although it is now the 21st century, athletes still have Old Stone Age (Paleolithic) bodies. There has been no significant change in the human genome in the past 10,000 years. Physiologically speaking, we are still Paleolithic athletes.

THE PALEO DIET
The basic premise of Dr. Cordain’s research on paleolithic nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans and others are non optimal. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time on Earth—more than 4 million years. Only in the last 10,000 years, a mere blink of the eye relative to our species’ existence, have we been eating non optimal foods. Unfortunately, these foods comprise the bulk of what western society eats today and include such foods as grains, dairy and legumes. Given that our bodies have not changed, we are simply not well adapted to these non optimal foods and they moderate health and peak performance. On the other hand, we have been eating optimal foods – vegetables, fruits, and lean animal protein – for hundreds of thousands of years and we are fully adapted to them. Science tells us that these foods also best meet our nutritional needs. Eat these and you will thrive. Avoid or strictly limit them and your health and performance will be compromised.

PALEO FOR ATHLETES
Serious athletes, however, when it comes to immediately before, during, and directly after workouts, need to bend the rules of the Paleo Diet a bit since we’re placing demands on the body that were not normal for our Stone Age ancestors. Hour after hour of sustained high energy output and the need for quick recovery are the serious athlete’s unique demands. This requires some latitude to use non optimal foods on a limited basis. The exceptions may best be described by explaining the athlete’s 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise.

Stage I: Eating Before Exercise
In brief, we recommend that athletes eat low to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates at least two hours prior to a hard or long workout or race. There may also be some fat and protein in this meal. All foods should be low in fiber. Take in 200-300 calories for every hour remaining until exercise begins. If eating two hours prior is not possible, then take in 200 or so calories 10 minutes before the workout or race begins.

Stage II: Eating During Exercise
During long or hard workouts and races you will need to take in high glycemic index carbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids. Sports drinks are fine for this. Find one that you like the taste of and will drink willingly. Realize that events lasting less than about an hour (including warm-up) don’t require any carbohydrate. Water will suffice for these. A starting point for deciding how much to take in is 200-400 calories per hour modified according to body size, experience and the nature of the exercise (longer events require more calories than short).

Stage III: Eating Immediately After
In the first 30 minutes post workout (but only after long and/or highly intense exercise) and post race use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 45:1 ratio. You can make your own by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3-5 tablespoons of glucose (such as CarboPro) depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg or whey sources and two pinches of salt. This 30 min window is critical for recovery. It should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race.

Stage IV: Eating for Extended Recovery
For the next few hours (as long as the preceding challenging exercise lasted) continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein at a 45:1 carb/protein ratio. Now is the time to eat non optimal foods such as pasta, bread, bagels, rice, corn and other foods rich in glucose as they contribute to the necessary carbohydrate recovery process. Perhaps the perfect Stage IV foods are raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.

Stage V: Eating for Long Term Recovery
For the remainder of your day, or until your next Stage I, return to eating a Paleo Diet by focusing on optimal foods. For more information on the Paleo Diet go to The Paleo Diet website or read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN, CARB AND FAT SHOULD I EAT?
The macronutrient requirement changes with the demands of the training season and so should be periodized along with training. We recommend that athletes maintain a rather consistent protein intake year round. As a percentage of total calories this will typically be in the range of 20-25% for athletes. This is on the low end of what our Stone Age ancestors ate due to the athlete’s increased intake of carbohydrate in Stages I to IV which dilutes protein as a percentage of daily calories.
On the other hand, periodization of diet produces significant and opposing swings in the athlete’s fat and carbohydrate intake as the training seasons change. During the base (general preparation) period the diet shifts toward an increased intake of fat while carbohydrate intake decreases. At this time in the season when a purpose of training is to promote the body’s use of fat for fuel, more healthy fat is consumed – in the range of 30% of total calories – with carbohydrate intake at around 50%. During the build and peak (specific preparation) periods the intensity of training increases placing greater demands on the body for carbohydrate to fuel exercise. At this latter time of the season Stages III and IV become increasingly critical to the athlete’s recovery. Carbohydrate intake increases accordingly to around 60% of total calories with fat intake dropping to around 20%.
During times of the year when training is greatly reduced (peaking/tapering and transition periods) the athlete must limit caloric intake to prevent unwanted weight gain.

WHY IS THE PALEO DIET BENEFICIAL?
Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, many athletes are fit but unhealthy. Frequent illness, injury and overtraining reduce performance potential.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes significantly improves health long-term. Compared with the commonly accepted athlete’s diet, the Paleo Diet:

  • Increases intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Benefits muscle development and anabolic function. Also counteracts immunosuppression common in endurance athletes following extensive exercise.
  • Decreases omega-6:omega-3 ratio. Reduces tissue inflammation common to athletes while promoting healing. This may include asthmatic conditions common in athletes.
  • Lowers body acidity. Reduces the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with aging.
  • Is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health and long term recovery from exercise. The most nutrient dense foods are vegetables and seafood. On average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient density of grains.

EXCERPT FROM THE PALEO DIET FOR ATHLETES
Training for endurance sports such as running, cycling, triathlon, rowing, swimming, and cross-country skiing places great demands on the body, and the athlete is in some stage of recovery almost continuously during periods of heavy training. The keys to optimum recovery are sleep and diet. Even though we recommend that everyone eat a diet similar to what our Stone Age ancestors ate, we realize that nutritional concessions must be made for the athlete who is training at a high volume in the range of 10 to 35 or more hours per week of rigorous exercise. Rapid recovery is the biggest issue facing such an athlete. While it’s not impossible to recover from such training loads on a strict Paleo Diet, it is somewhat more difficult to recover quickly. By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life.

Basically…
At every level of competition, The Paleo Diet for Athletes can maximize health and performance in a range of sports.

The benefits of coconut oil

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Our body is well designed to run primarily on fat as a source of energy and when it does, it produces ketones bodies, which is perfectly healthy. Ketones are what the body produces when it’s using fat for energy in the absence of glucose. These ketones are a preferred energy source for the brain and heart.

Of the fats in coconut oil, 92% are healthy saturated fats. This makes it highly stable under heat when cooking and solid at room temperatures.

The main fatty acid content comes from Lauric acid (45-50%). Lauric acid is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) with a 12 carbon structure (C12:0). These MCTs are digested and assimilated easily in the body and are transferred directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy, also meaning they are not directly stored as body fat.

Other MCTs of importance found in coconut oil are:

  • Caprylic acid (C8:0);
  • Capric acid (C10:0).

Generally speaking, the shorter the fatty acid carbon length (Cx:0), he faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy.

Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is unique and different from almost all other fats and possesses many health giving properties.

Lauric acid is a powerful virus and negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth!  Capric acid, another fatty acid present in smaller amounts, has also been added to the list of coconut’s antimicrobial components.

Coconut oil has been shown to consistently raise HDL cholesterol levels in humans. Higher HDL is linked to a reduced heart disease risk.

Benefits of Coconut Oil
More than 2,000 studies have been performed on coconut oil, demonstrating a wide range of benefits. Here is a list of some of the benefits associated with the consumption of coconut oil:

  • Enhance immunity and fight infections;
  • Improve your cholesterol numbers;
  • Decrease risk of heart disease;
  • Promote weight loss;
  • Boost metabolism;
  • Boost energy levels and enhance athletic/physical performance;
  • Assist with blood sugar regulation & prevention/treatment of diabetes;
  • Improve digestion;
  • Improve brain health;
  • Improve skin health;
  • Improve hair health; and
  • Improve thyroid function.

Using Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be used both internally and externally. It is an excellent source of energy and when ingested as a food oil or health tonic. It adds both flavour and has therapeutic benefits.

Some of the more popular uses of Coconut Oil:

  • Coconut oil is one of your best cooking alternatives as it is so stable that when heated it will not oxidize or go rancid;
  • Mix it into smoothies, herbal teas or hot water;
  • Mix it into black coffee (instead of milk or other creamers);
  • Use it as a skin and hair moisturizer;
  • A natural SPF 4 sunscreen;
  • Oil pulling (using it as a mouth wash, will help with gum disease and tooth infection); and so much more.

Welcome

Welcome. This blog will be targeting just about anybody who is interested in improving their overall quality of life, is interested in sports performance, improved body composition, weight management or even disease prevention.

All of the above areas can be achieved easily by following simple guidelines that were set out by previous generations. They ate whole foods (both animal and plant based), moved around frequently, had solid social connections and got adequate sleep.

Sounds simple? You would be surprised at how challenging it can be to achieve in the modern world. Fast foods, social media platforms, 24-hour trading are just some of the distractions in modern society.

Most of the information shared on this site will fall under one of the following categories:

  1. Nutrition;
  2. Training; and
  3. Lifestyle.

It is basically  a collection of information and lessons learned with regards to optimising human performance that I have picked up along the way.

Feel free to comment on topics, ask questions and share your own knowledge and experiences. After all, we’re all here to learn, adapt and evolve…