Hello and welcome to the climber nutrition series! I will be your nutrition guide for this monthly journey to optimal health. I have spent many hours over the last month reading and analyzing some of the latest nutrition and athletic performance research. I have found some really fascinating and eye-opening information that I am excited to share with you.
First a little about me… I am a life-long nutrition advocate and a few years ago obtained my master of science degree in clinical nutrition. I work with clients on many varied health issues such as digestive problems, mood issues and anxiety, physical performance, cardiovascular health and much more.
I am a true believer in the power of food and nutrition for optimal health and well-being. I have witnessed some amazing transformations over the years from using healing foods, diets and supplements in some cases and am very thrilled to be given this opportunity to share some of this info with all of you!
Some things we will cover over the course of the monthly lessons:
Basic as well as more advanced general nutrition
Increasing anaerobic threshold
Increasing oxygen utilization efficiency
Increasing glycogen storage
Utilizing stored energy and fuel more efficiently
Probiotics and prebiotics and their effect on physical performance
- Free downloads and cheat sheets
- and much more!
To begin this week I would like to address some basic and some slightly more advanced nutrition info to get you started on your optimal health journey. In addition I have included several free PDF downloads for you to use that will help you implement changes.
Surprising Nutrition Facts
Not all sugar is created equal!
Various sugars have varying effects on the body and physical performance.
For example most processed sweeteners such as white sugar and corn syrup have had the nutrients removed from them in order to give them a consistent taste and appearance and to decrease the amount needed to sweeten a product, thus reducing costs. Various vitamins and minerals that were contained in the whole plant are needed to properly process the sugar in the body, so because they are lacking in the sugar, they are taken from the bodily stores instead, thus leading to depletion and nutritional deficiencies.
In addition to creating nutritional deficiencies, these sugars also contribute to the overgrowth and promotion of harmful bacterial species. One of the topics we will be covering in depth during the series is the effects of the gut bacteria on the ability to utilize oxygen effectively and on overall athletic performance.
If you are sucking up the corn syrup in sports drinks and various carbohydrate foods, you will be contributing to an imbalance in the microflora in your digestive tract, thus blunting your athletic ability in the long run, even if you experience a temporary gain in energy.
Also it is well known that high fructose corn syrup is very bad for the liver and contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Fructose bypasses the regulatory mechanisms that glucose is confined by and can thereby accumulate unimpeded in the liver and increase triglyceride levels indefinitely.
Although you may obtain energy from refined and processed sweeteners and burn it off immediately when taken during training or performing, the long term metabolic and systemic effects are not anything to ignore. Here is a recipe for a healthy sports drink made from natural ingredients:
Here is a healthy sports drink made from natural ingredients. Click below to download the recipe!
If looking for alternatives that will have a less negative impact on your health, consider these alternatives:
- raw honey
- blackstrap molasses
- whole, unrefined sugar
- maple syrup
- coconut sugar
Download my free guide to healthy sweeteners below to learn more!
Chewing The Fat
Saturated fats are actually an important part of the diet. They are a great source of energy and are essential to many bodily functions. Some important functions of saturated fat include cell membrane structure and brain health. They were vilified in a 1958 study by Ancel Keys which has since been debunked, although it has taken a while for mainstream nutrition to catch up! The study was poorly done and purposely left out information that proved the opposite of their theory. Many other studies done around that time and today actually show that dietary sugar intake is a main contributor of heart disease.
Medium Chain Triglycerides
Medium chain triglycerides are very easily absorbed into the body and can be found in coconut oil and also a concentrated form known as MCT oil. These types of fats are also very good for brain health and have been shown to help with Alzheimer’s patients and those with cognitive deficits. MCTs are a good source of long-burning energy for use during longer training sessions and workouts. Just be aware that the concentrated MCT oils that are popular at the moment can cause digestive distress if taken in excess. It is best to go slow and start with a very small amount and work your way up to a full dose if you want to try the concentrated form or just stick with coconut oil.
Long chain fats, polyunsaturated oils, are generally very fragile in that they go rancid easily and can cause free radical damage to the body if consumed regularly. It is best to keep these to a minimum in the diet. Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil is a healthy vegetable oil but may not be great when heated. Avoid cheap vegetable oils at all costs as they contribute to inflammation and metabolic issues in the body, overall diminishing athletic ability and performance. Oils to avoid at all costs are corn, soy, safflower, canola, sunflower and other similar oils.
Omega 3 oils are long chain fatty acids that are important to health. The standard American diet generally has an overabundance of omega 6 fatty acids due to the large consumption of grain products, baked goods, cheap vegetable oils and feedlot meats. It is important to focus on consuming more omega 3 oils than omega 6 oils in order to reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health and performance and maintain a sharp and clear mental focus.
Omega 3 fats are mainly found in wild caught sea food but can be taken in supplemental form. Some studies show that meat raised solely on pasture and grass, such as grass-finished beef, is closer to the fatty acid profile of fish than that of grain fed and finished meats. Some studies have shown that omega 3 fats help to convert dietary protein in to muscle after workouts.
Important Note About Cholesterol
Cholesterol has many important functions in the body. It is needed for making cell membranes, insulating neurons, metabolizing fat soluble vitamins, producing bile for digestion, and synthesizing hormones. Dietary cholesterol does not clog arteries! It is the small very dense lipoproteins that are created from high sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption that cause the increase in cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is used by the body to repair damage to arteries from consuming a poor, processed food diet!
Healthy Fats and Foods Containing Them:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- Fats from pastured animals
- Egg yolks from pastured poultry
- Wild caught seafood
Click below to download my macro-nutrients guide for a list of healthy sources of protein, carbohydrates and fat!
Long term health is just as important if not more than short term energy boosts during workouts. Consuming refined and processed sugar and foods will damage your cardiovascular health in addition to your gut microbiome, leading to a reduced ability to perform athletically. Quality fats will increase your cellular health, brain health and energy levels. Unhealthy, cheap vegetable oils will contribute to inflammation and oxidative damage. Your efficiency in burning energy, storing glycogen and utilizing oxygen are all greatly affected by the foods you consume on a regular basis. Begin replacing the less healthy sugars and fats with higher quality alternatives mentioned in the article. Download the handouts and print them out as reminders. We will delve into these topics in more detail in the months to come. For now begin replacing the unhealthy sugars and cooking oils in your diet with the health-promoting versions.
Please feel free to post any questions in the comments or contact me directly.