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Nutritional All Time Greats

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In academic settings the valedictorian is the highest ranking student amongst his or her peers. In entertainment the best actor or actress is unrivaled. In the Olympics, win the gold and you’re the best of the best. If you’re a really good politician you may one day become a president. If you happen to reach the pinnacle in any of these areas, you may one day be mentioned in a conversation of “All Time Greats”

Well when it comes to your nutrition, that standard of striving for the best should be no different. We all consume food but do you consume the best foods possible to help your body function at it’s best. Ultimately it comes down to foods vs. “superfoods”. A superfood is a food that goes on to be considered an “All Time Great” amongst foods and should become a regular part of your nutrition. Today is about breaking foods up into macronutrient food groupings and examining my choices for of the best in each grouping. These foods not only give you the macronutrients you desire but also does it better than other foods in it’s group and provides a host of other benefits. Nutritionally these foods will give you the most bang for your buck. The macronutrient categories we will look at are: 

         Protein

         Carbohydrate

         Fat

         Fiber

         Antioxidants

         Hydration

Protein-

While protein may be viewed a gold standard by the bodybuilding, fitness, and power communities, it is often undervalued and overlooked by the general populous. Protein and amino acids are the building blocks of life. Protein is involved in hundreds of chemical processes in the body. Don’t even think of trying to build muscle without supplying it with good amounts of protein. Hair, skin and connective tissues are all mostly protein based. Protein makes 16-18 percent of our overall bodyweight. Unlike fat and glucose however, the body can not do a great job at storing protein so if the body is not receiving adequate amounts of protein, muscle tissue breakdown will begin. Well now that you know a little more about the importance of protein, the question is which is one of the best protein sources you can place in your diet?

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One of the all time best solid food sources of protein, you could add your diet is the egg. When it comes to protein bioavailability the egg ranks the highest amongst all foods. Protein bioavailability is the amount of protein that the human body can use from a given protein source. The egg rates 100 percent on the scale and is the standard of which all other protein sources are measured. One egg provides 6 grams of 100 percent usable protein, a good source of fat, B Vitamins, Iron, and Cholesterol. Despite what you may have been taught or heard, the human body does need some cholesterol and eggs are a good source of it.  Be when your adding eggs to your diet make sure that you’re using whole eggs. Because of fear of fat and cholesterol, a lot of people tend to ditch the whole egg for only the whites.  Egg whites are a great source of low fat low calorie protein. The problems with egg whites are the overall protein is actually less and the bioavailability is also less. If you’re looking to add some high quality protein to your diet, stick with the best whole food protein source you can get.

Carbs- 

First off let me start off by saying carbs are not the evil nutrient that they have been painted as for years. What give carbs the bad rap is the overindulgence of the wrong type of carbs. The main benefit of carbs is they are an easy energy source that can be quickly broken down into glucose. When carbs are in supply this helps prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue in an effort to find glucose. Not all carbs are created equal though, the quicker a carb can be broken down the higher a person’s blood sugar will spike. Blood sugar spikes are due to the body releasing insulin to help with carb breakdown. Over time this can lead to insulin insensitivity causing things like weight gain, increased body fat, and multiple health risk.

One important thing for people to understand is, when choosing carbs to eat, stick to carbs that get broken down in the body at a much slower rate. The slower carbs are broken down, the more stable blood sugar levels will remain. My all time whole food pick in this category is oatmeal.

While there are a few carbohydrates that could have arguably fought for the top spot on the list, oatmeal jumps the pack for a few reasons. Here are a few benefits that oatmeal offers:

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         Oatmeal stabilizes blood sugar better than most carb sources

          Oatmeal is not only a great complex carb but also provides a good amount of fiber and even some protein.

           Oatmeal helps remove bad cholesterol with little to no effect on your good cholesterol

           Oatmeal contains plant lignans that have anti cancer properties

           Oatmeal is very convenient and easy to make

Fats-

Fats should be an important part of any nutritional plan. Fats often get a bad rap because people tend to eat too many bad fats. The truth is fats not only are helpful for a proper diet but are essential. Fats help with brain development, growth, vitamin absorption, healthy skin and many hormonal processes.

Most western diets consume too many omega 6 rich fats when they actually should be consuming more omega 3 rich fats. Omega 3’s are often called ‘good fats” because of all the benefits they offer the body. Omega 3 fats are anti inflammatory, heart healthy, brain healthy, and help reduce body fat. My all time whole food choice here is wild salmon. Wild salmon is an incredible source of omega 3 fatty acids. The important thing to do when choosing salmon is to make sure you choose wild salmon over farm raised salmon. Here are a few reasons why:

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         Wild salmon has more usable beneficial omega 3’s than farm raised salmon

         Wild salmon is exposed to less pesticides and contaminates than their farm raised counterparts

          Wild salmon has a lower amount of pro inflammatory omega 6’s than farm raised salmon

          Wild salmon has a higher amount of protein and vitamin D, two vital nutrients used in conjunction with omega 3 fatty acids for hormone production and balance

Fiber-

How many times have you heard “You need to eat more fiber!”? Well in most cases it is probably true. The daily recommended amount of fiber is 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 to 35 grams per day for men. On average most people will barely get about half of the daily fiber they need. Fiber plays a huge part in intestinal health. Fiber helps clean the intestines, keep a person regular, and remove waste and toxins from the body.  The better your digestive health, the better it is for removing waste and toxins and also the better it will be for the body to be able to absorb nutrients from foods.

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So what foods should you be eating it improve our fiber uptake you ask? Right away most people will say some sort of bran. What if I was to tell you that is not necessarily the best option? Most types of bran offer 5-6 grams of fiber per cup. No bad but did you know a cup of raspberries offer 8 grams of fiber per cup?

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Thing is raspberries are not even the winner here. The best whole food source of fiber a person can receive is from the split pea. My all time great here is the split pea. One cup of split peas offers 16 grams of fiber per serving! That is almost of the daily recommended fiber for women and almost of the daily recommended fiber for men.  The split pea also is a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates, and potassium to go along with all the fiber it offers. While eating bran is great for improving your fiber intake, if you really want to bump things up add split peas to your diet on a regular basis.

Antioxidants-

Getting an abundance of antioxidants in your diet will have one of the most dramatic impacts on your state of health. Antioxidants help fight of sickness and colds by boosting the immune system. Antioxidants help keep the body younger by protecting and helping recycle cells. The most important job of antioxidants however is their ability to protect the body against free radical damage. Free radicals damage cells by breaking down a cell’s protective layer or by stealing what it needs from healthy cells. Unchecked, cell damage leads to organ damage which can lead to some serious health issues even death.

For years people were told the best way to boost your antioxidant intake is to eat more fruits, specifically berries. As a matter of fact blueberries wild and cultivated are two of the top five foods when it comes to antioxidant rich foods. Do you know the foods that make up the other three riches antioxidant foods? The answer to the question is beans. This brings us to our pick for number one all time antioxidant foods. When it comes to antioxidants small red beans take the title. Small red beans have the highest concentration of antioxidants per serving of over one hundred foods tested. The small red bean not only tested as the food richest in antioxidants but also showed the ability to aid in cholesterol lowering, heart health, and being protective against some forms of cancer. One study even showed that eating small red beans a few times a week was associated with reduced breast cancer risk. 

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Hydration-

When it comes to overall health, hydration is overlooked way too often. As a matter of fact most people are in a constant state of  slight dehydration and don’t even know it. A hydrated body is able to function a lot better than a dehydrated body. When a body is dehydrated several things can happen:

  • You get thirsty( usually if you are thirsty it is generally too late and you already are in a state of dehydration)
  • You become very tired
  • Doing simple task like lifting something becomes harder than it normally would be because it is harder for your muscles to contract
  • Your skin begins to dry out
  • Your body looses precious vitamins and minerals that are important to keeping it functioning normally
  • You sweat less
  • You may experience headaches and or dizziness
  • You may pass out (In extreme cases)
  • Normal heart functions may be interrupted (In extreme cases)

The first thing some people would do to rehydrate is grab some water to drink.

While I am a huge advocate of drinking plenty of water for all of its benefits, when it comes to hydration water may not always be the best option. When a person is thirsty they tend to drink a lot. Drinking too much water however does not rehydrate the body but once a body goes over a certain amount, will actually cause fluid loss. When a person drinks water in excess the kidneys get a signal to start excreting more water through sweat and urine. Knowing how to hydrate the body really depends on how dehydrated the body is. The more you stress the body, the more detailed your rehydration process should be. Water makes a great option for non-super strenuous activities like a light jog. Heavier workouts need a heavier load of replenishment nutrients. Think in terms of “The more you sweat the more replenishment you should get!” The main reason is the heavy electrolyte loss with strenuous exercise. Electrolytes are vital nutrients that help keep the body working in proper balance. Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Chloride, and Bicarbonate are all important electrolytes for rehydration.  These electrolytes are also the main ones lost in dehydration, so proper replenishment of them is vital When you are rehydrating also look to replace vitamins and glucose. Sugar often gets a bad rap cause we tend to eat too much of it but post exercise is a great time to reintroduce simple sugars to the bloodstream. Some electrolytes like Sodium help the body hold onto water. This is vital because water and nutrients can get to the places it needs in the body quicker and more effectively.  My all time hydration drink here is the sports replenishment drink.

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I won’t get into specific brands but when looking for a good replenishment drink make sure it is loaded with electrolytes and has a sodium to potassium ratio of about 3 to 1. This means for every gram of potassium it should have about three times that in sodium. Look for a drink that also contains the other vital electrolytes like calcium, chloride, and bicarbonate. The more electrolytes the drink contains the better job it will do at replenishment. Usually any of the standard sports drinks will do but read your labels cause some are slightly better than others.

Filling The Plate-

For the body to run optimally it needs optimal food choices. Not only foods that provide the macronutrient that it is supposed to but does a better job at providing those macronutrients or helping with the bodily function that it is supposed to better than other foods in it’s category. If you want your body to perform at it’s all time great capacity then it needs all time great foods to help with that task.

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All articles on this site are authored or co-authored by Jarueba Taylor. They are the copy written property of Taylored Nutrition.