Whey protein – The Basics

Whey protein – The Basics – by Emil

I have talked in the past about my love for the timed-release protein blends and how they fit in with my hectic lifestyle, however, whey protein is still the biggest player when it comes to protein and training and for good reason. It is a complete and balanced protein with a high branched chain amino acid (BCAA) content and importantly, it is fast digesting, getting vital amino acids to where they need to be around the body rapidly. This makes it ideal around the work out, both before and after, or as a meal replacement where it produces rapid and sustained muscle protein synthesis.

Who and why?

Whey protein is an extremely useful tool for anyone who needs a convenient source of good quality protein. A lot of people incorrectly believe that drinking a protein shake will automatically cause them to gain muscle and become bulky or that if they consume shakes and don’t train that the protein will turn to fat. Both of these misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

As many know, for people who train hard, whey is a prime candidate for convenience and can provide that perfect blend of amino acids to create an optimal muscle building environment. What’s more, it promotes recovery and repair of damaged muscle fibres when taken immediately after gruelling sessions, whether they are weights, cardio or training for sports.

What people may not realise is that whey protein can be used by anyone, including people who are just starting out in their exercise activities in any age group. Even people who perhaps don’t train or are injured can take advantage of whey protein to increase their protein intake day to day or as a low calorie, highly nutritious meal replacement.

There is also a huge trend at the moment for whey protein to be used in cooking and recipes for it can easily be found with a simple Google search. Using whey protein can reduce the calories of a recipe as well as adding that all important protein hit and all of the benefits that come with that. Using different flavours of whey can add a twist to otherwise bland or boring recipes and because whey protein is milk based, it is perfectly safe for children to drink and can make a healthy alternative to sugar and fat laden milk shakes.

What to look for in a good protein supplement?

An effective protein supplement should be complete and balanced with a high proportion of BCAA’s. If the leucine content is low then it is more or less pointless when it comes to muscle maintenance and growth. Whey protein fits the bill perfectly and generally speaking beats most other sources of protein, particularly soy protein. Soy protein is used a lot in the supplement industry and is whey proteins’ cheaper, poorer quality alternative.

On top of this, when buying protein, you want a powder which mixes easily and which you enjoy drinking. My personal favourites at the moment include Raspberry Delight and Chocolate Mint Perfection as they are versatile and taste great whether I mix them with water, milk or almond milk and work really well in both oats or stirred in with yoghurt as well.

When?

The best times to use whey protein can include:

  • First thing in the morning is a perfect time for a shake when it may be difficult to get protein in or if you’re in a rush. This applies to anyone, whether you’re dieting, trying to build muscle or just need a convenient tasty snack before work. For myself, I am rarely hungry in the mornings and ALWAYS in a rush but muscle retention is a priority for me so a shake with unsweetened almond milk and some fruit hits the spot perfectly.
  • Immediately post workout is the traditional time to use whey protein as you want a fast digesting, good quality protein with a complete amino acid profile to optimise the effects of the training session. It’s also hugely convenient and it means you don’t need to rush home or think about your next meal for a few hours.
  • At any time when you want to replace a meal, whether it is for convenience on the road for example or if you want to reduce your daily calories when dieting. Whey can be more filling and better at holding off hunger than other more traditional snacks such as crisps or fruit and will again increase your daily protein intake.

When wouldn’t you use whey protein?

Although whey is an incredible all round protein, when it comes to choosing your supplement there are a few scenarios when you might want to choose a different blend or source.

  • If you want a slower release option for example before bed or when you know you won’t be eating for extended periods of time, either a protein blend or a slow release protein such as casein may be a better option.
  • If you are vegan then whey isn’t appropriate as it is sourced from milk and an alternative option such as pea protein may be a better choice.
  • If you are intolerant or get GI symptoms such as bloating when you drink whey then it may be worth trying a whey isolate (e.g. Micro Whey). Often the symptoms can be caused by other ingredients present in whey protein supplements and not the whey itself so by using a more refined source of whey you may avoid most, if not all of them. Alternatively, you may need to look to a non whey source of protein, depending on the nature of your intolerance.

Apart from the points above, whey protein is an all-round, comprehensive protein supplement and can be used by any one of any age with any training background or history. There are a few specific medical conditions that preclude the use of whey and higher protein diets but these are few and far between and your doctor can advise on these. In these cases, alternative options are always available.

Women & Protein – the 5 facts

women-and-protein-facts

There is a misconception amongst women that protein will make them look bulky, or somehow create unwanted muscle mass.

Let me start with some education on the basics of ‘protein’ before getting to some myth busting…

What is protein?

Proteins are macronutrients, chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. There are 20 amino acids, nine of which are referred to as ‘essential’. These essential amino acids cannot be manufactured in the body and have to be obtained through food. Common animal sources of these are meat, fish, eggs, dairy, with incomplete vegan sources coming from foods such as whole grains, pulses, legumes, soy, leafy greens, and nuts. Whey protein in particular has been noted as the most bioavailable complete source of protein, meaning it is the most easily digested and utilised source of all essential amino acids.

Why is it especially important for women?

Any woman with functioning hormones will be no stranger to cravings. These tend to lean towards more sugary, low-protein foods. Whilst carbohydrates and fats are needed for energy, protein is essential for stabilising energy levels, as well as the growth and repair of cells within the body such as neurotransmitters and hormones- not just muscle cells! Unlike carbohydrates & fats, your body does not store protein so there is no reservoir to draw from when running low. This in turn puts muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood under threat from insufficient protein uptake.

Why protein could mean the difference to your fat loss goals

If you find that you’re constantly hungry throughout the day, chances are you may not be consuming enough protein in your meals. Protein takes a lot longer to digest than carbohydrates, meaning you’ll stay fuller for longer if you base a large portion of your meal around protein. It is also the hardest to digest of the three macronutrients, or in other words- has the highest ‘Thermic Effect of Food’ (TEF). The body actually requires energy to break down and utilise protein, so essentially you burn calories during the digestion process. Therefore those on a high protein fat loss diet could potentially see faster results than those on a low protein diet.

Back to the myth busting…

Why protein will NOT make women look bulky

Even when consuming sufficient amounts of protein paired with a heavy and intense weight training program, it is still extremely difficult for women to build large amounts of muscle mass. We simply do not possess the amount of testosterone needed to stimulate large amounts of muscle growth. As mentioned before, protein helps the growth and repair of muscle cells. The body is only capable of developing a certain amount of lean muscle mass per day. Any excess protein consumed through your diet gets converted and used as energy, or excreted. If anything, consuming protein will simply make us women look and feel stronger, leaner, and healthier!

The ‘bulkiness’ which most women tend to confuse with muscle gain is usually a result of one consistently consuming too many calories in general, in turn resulting large amounts of fat mass developing on top of muscle. Provided a woman is sticking to a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle, becoming ‘bulky’ is the least of anyone’s worries!

Who benefits from protein?

In simple terms- All of us! However for those who are active, breaking down muscle tissue becomes inevitable. Therefore protein becomes an even more essential macronutrient to repair and protect muscles, as well as supporting bones and joints from breakages, strains, and sprains.

Given that whey is the most bioavailable source of protein, whey protein shakes can be a great supplement as a means of providing the muscles with an instant dose of protection. Whey protein also contains an immune boosting tripeptide called ‘glutathione’, so whether you’re undergoing intense exercise or not, supplementing with it could provide you with the immune boost you need to keep those colds at bay!

DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

The benefits of whey protein have been researched heavily and include promotion of muscle growth, decreasing blood pressure, aiding recovery from exercise and reducing inflammation, but what happens if we are unable to effectively absorb the protein? Unfortunately modern lifestyle and diet choices mean that our ability to utilize whey protein is sometimes diminished, however there is a simple way to ensure our muscles can optimally use whey to support their repair and growth.

We can measure how well a protein source is absorbed and utilized by the body, we call this it’s biological value (BV). The BV of whey protein is fairly high, up to 104 for a whey isolate formula such as Instant Whey; compare this to the BV of meat 80 and milk 91, we can easily see why whey protein is deemed as one of the best post workout sources of protein. However just because it has a high BV does not mean that 100% of it is absorbed and utilized. This is because digestion of protein is reliant on proper digestive enzymes which are released by the pancreas.

The majority of the protein consumed is digested in the intestines. In order for this digestion to occur the body must be able to break down protein into peptides and then further into amino acids which can be absorbed through the small intestinal wall; and in order for that to happen the body needs enzymes called proteases. These enzymes alongside, lipases which breakdown fat and amylase which breakdown carbohydrates are released by the pancreas.

Once the proteins have been broken down into amino acids they are absorbed into the blood stream where they are circulated to the muscle tissue and other cells. When the amino acids reach the cells they can start repairing and rebuilding the tissue damaged from exercise training to make it stronger and bigger.

However, if the body cannot break down whey protein then it cannot reach the muscles and start the repair process. Symptoms of low levels of digestive enzymes include bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhea.

Although diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis and brush border diseases such as coeliac disease are known causes of decreased digestive enzymes, diet and lifestyle choices also have a huge impact; which is why abdominal complaints are becoming more common.

There are a few potential causes of enzyme deficiency; these include low grade chronic inflammation in the digestive tract- this can be caused by food intolerances, infection or nutrient deficiencies. Chronic stress is probably the most common reason for low enzymes, when our adrenalin is high and we are in “fight or flight” mode. This can be triggered by needing to get to school or work on time, an important meeting, a deadline or just generalized anxiety; the body reduces digestive function, including enzyme output. This is due to fight or flight mode being an essential function in prehistoric times for physical survival – the body would increase adrenaline, increasing the heart pumping and directing the blood away from non-essential organs (such as the digestive system) and towards the legs to keep them running. Ageing can also decrease enzyme production.

In modern life many people may suffer from either a nutrient deficiency, which could impair digestion or chronic stress (which can also impair digestion). This means our digestive enzyme production is low and our ability to absorb amino acids is low; causing a decreased recovery from training, reducing the chance of increasing muscle strength and size.

However, this does not mean supplementing with whey protein is useless, as it is important in the recovery process due to its BV, especially if training twice per day; it simply means we need to supplement with a digestive enzyme to assist the digestion process. Ideally combining a digestive enzyme with whey protein will yield the best results to ensure absorption and maximally support recovery.

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

In this post, the latest member of #TeamReflex, Juggy Sidhu, goes over the macronutrient basics and shows how to calculate your macros according to your personal goals.

 

What are Macronutrients?

 

Macronutrient

Key Facts

Protein

4 calories per gram;
Composed of amino acids (‘essential’, which the body attains through diet and ‘non essential’ which the body can assemble itself);
Used in our body for growth and repair of cells, increasing muscle mass and in enzymes, hormones, antibodies and neurotransmitters;
Aids with satiety, immune function, metabolism, weight management and performance;
Protein has a thermogenic effect and can also liberate fat from stores around the body to be utilised as energy.

Carbohydrates

4 calories per gram;
Carbs can be classified as simple and complex;
Simple carbs are faster to digest and absorb compared to complex carbs;
Carbs are the primary source of energy for your bodies cells.

Fat

9 calories per gram;
Three distinct categories, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated which can be found in unprocessed and wholefoods;
Trans and hydrogenated fats are industrially processed, usually found to preserve foods and increase shelf life of products;
Dietary fat supports metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients;
Improves satiety, body composition, mood and can offer cardiovascular protection.

 

Calculating your Macros

When calculating your macros a good place to start would be to understand exactly how much energy in calories your body would need to maintain at rest- this is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). To create a more accurate figure of your BMR, it would be wise to understand your body composition and body fat percentages. Body fat percentages can be calculated using skin callipers, although these are more likely to be correct if performed by a trained professional.

The Katch McCardle method for working out BMR is:

P = 370 + (21.6 x LBM), where LBM is the lean body mass in kg.

To workout LBM:

LBM= Body Mass in KG x (100 – Bodyfat %) / 100

 

Let’s take a 100kg athlete with 10% body fat.

LBM= 100 x (100-10) / 100

LBM is 90kg.

 

BMR= 370 + (21.6×90)

BMR = 370 + 1944

BMR = 2314 Kcal

 

Now you know your BMR, you need to factor in a few calculations based on your daily activities and of course your training!

 

Average activity multiples

1.2 Sedentary job (desk job and little exercise)

1.3-1.4 Lightly Active (Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week)

1.5-1.6 Moderately Active (Moderately daily Activity & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)

1.7-1.8 Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)

In the above example our athlete with a BMR of 2314Kcal has desk job but trains intensely 5-6 days a week.

If our above 100kg athlete works in a sedentary office job (category 1.2) but then trains hard 5 days a week (category 1.8), it would be sensible to put him in a mid range of around 1.5.

 

TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure) = 2314 x 1.5

TDEE= 3702 kcals

 

The TDEE is an estimate of your maintenance calories, which would effectively allow you to retain a constant weight, in order to create a deficit, you can decrease the overall calorie intake, or increase activity levels.

 

Knowing Your Body Type

There are other considerations when working out your preferred macronutrient intake. The following table will outline the characteristics of three body types, ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.  When setting up a nutrition plan, it is important to know your body and understand some key traits that tie into developing an improved physique.  For example, if you are an endomorph, starting at a higher body fat percentage and a slower metabolic rate, you may find it useful to understand that due to impaired insulin response or beta cell dysfunction, your ability to utilise carbohydrates may be significantly lower than an ectomorph.  Having said that, if you are a trained individual, it could be that your carbohydrate tolerance is actually quite good! These tables are approximates only and in no way should be considered the key to success when creating your own nutrition plan, as you will surely realise by now, what works for one person will not necessarily be right for another.

 

Somatotype
Characteristics
Approximate macro % split for each somatotype

Protein        Carbs            Fats

Ectomorphic
• Naturally thin with skinny limbs
• Endurance Exercise
• Fast metabolism
• High sympathetic nervous system activity
• Higher carb tolerance
27.5%
52.5%
20%
Mesomorphic
• Naturally muscular and athletic.
• Bodybuilding/ Strength
• Testosterone and growth hormone dominant
• Moderate to high sympathetic system activity
30%
40%
30%
Endomorphic
• Naturally broad and thick set.
• Strength Exercises/ Powerlifting
• Insulin dominant
• Slow metabolic rate
• Low sympathetic system activity
• Low carbohydrate tolerance
35%
25%
40%

 

 

Our 100kg, 10% body fat example could fall into the mesomophic range.  Therefore to calculate protein, carbs and fats you will calculate the following:

Protein= (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 277g protein

Carbs = (3702*0.4) = 1480.8 kcals = 370g carbs

Fats = (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 123g fats

If you are unable to categorise your body type clearly, there is another simple approach to working out your macros.  Consuming between the range of 2-2.2g protein per kg and fats at around 1g per kg body would be within normal ranges for an individual that trains.  The rest of the daily calories can be consumed in carbohydrates.

Therefore protein would be 2.2*100= 220g (880kcals)  fats 1×100= 100 (900kcals) and carbs would be set at (3702-1780)= 1922 kcals (480g).

 

Timing and considerations

While cutting, your goal should be to retain a positive nitrogen balance and stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS).  This can be achieved through consuming between 20-30g of high quality sources of protein every 3-4 hours. MPS offers a protective effect against muscle loss, as body fat levels reduce.  By retaining a high level of protein in your diet there will be an increased thermogenic effect (calorie output will increase to digest the protein,) muscle protection and offer greater satiety.

I am a huge advocate of using carbohydrates within your diet, if you are able to utilise them effectively.  Carbohydrates will fuel your sessions, your recovery and also improve your sleep. Carbs have had a bad reputation, because most people tend to either over eat them or tend to consume refined or processed forms, whilst also misunderstanding optimal timing of consumption.  I tend to use slower digesting carbohydrates pre workout or through the day and faster digesting carbs post workout.

For some reason dietary fats got a bad rep, then a great rep and then people thought that it would be better to just replace all carbs with fats.  Nutrition can be a minefield.  Therefore keep it simple, if you have moderate amounts of each macronutrient you will cover all basis for optimal health and function.  I keep a healthy level of fat intake in my diet throughout a cut, as they play a huge role in mood, energy provision, increased insulin sensitivity, fat loss and hormone production.

I always start a cut on around 4 litres of water, which for me is quite easy.  Others struggle to drink plain water, therefore mixing in Reflex Nutrition Amino Fusion can have a great effect on not only hydration, but also providing your body with a constant stream of essential amino acids. Consuming enough water can aid in the blood flow from tissues and improve the ability to oxidise fat on a cellular level.

The Hungry Man’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

The Hungry Man's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

In this special guest blog, strength and conditioning coach, Alex Backhouse, who has over 10 years industry experience, talks us through the basics of Intermittent Fasting; What it is and how you could benefit from this tried and tested eating approach.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. You may be even experimenting with it already. The world seems to love things that have got technical sounding titles, especially when it comes to health, fitness and weight loss.

High Intensity Interval Training? We could just call that sprints. But it doesn’t sound as good. Intermittent fasting- sounds ten times better than skipping breakfast doesn’t it?

So to take the mystique out of fasting, let’s give it a better definition.“Non-sequential extended periods without calories.” From time to time, you don’t eat – at all.

There are several different ways to apply this caloric restriction, including the 5:2 method which involves 2 days of the week with severe calorie restriction. There are some that favour the occasional 24-72 hour fast, where you only drink water and other calorie free drinks.

I’ve found the ‘windowed eating’ approach easiest to use personally, and the one I’ve had great success with my clients with. You eat all your food within a timed window: usually 8 hours or less. The easiest way to do this is to skip breakfast, and carry on your day as if nothing happened.

 

How does Intermittent Fasting work?

“But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” I hear you cry.

For me there’s a massive disparity with the type of things we were eating, 20, 50 or 100 years ago compared to the plethora of calorific delights at our disposal these days. Let alone the difference in lifestyle: transport, jobs, exercise, and recreation. My point is this: A day of working hard in the fields and coming home to a meager portion of meat and potatoes before bed is very different to how we live our lives today.

At some point, maybe breakfast really was the most important meal of the day. But not any more. I’m not even going to go down the route of whether Mr. Kellog invented that phrase as a marketing slogan and got the whole world hooked on carbs for breakfast. But it’s definitely a possibility.

So lets look a bit more at what happens to your body when you don’t eat. If you don’t believe in fasting, technically you’re already doing it every time you go to bed- this is where the magic happens. We recover from the day’s grind, the day’s workout. We soak up all the calories and nutrients we’ve absorbed from our food. Cells repair. We grow a little bit. We get older.

We burn fat too, because after a while, all the calories we’ve eaten have been assigned to different storage areas – muscle, liver, fat stores, and we enter the fasted state aka the post-absorptive state. We’re no longer digesting and absorbing calories, we’re now using them and burning them. So when we wake up, we’re burning fat. I’m pretty sure most of us would be happy with that.

“But my metabolism will slow down if I don’t eat small regular meals”

Allow me to paraphrase Kaiser Soze when I say “The greatest trick the food industry ever pulled, was convincing people they had to eat more food in order to lose weight.”

I’m well aware that in extreme cases this may be true, but I think most of us would agree that if we’re overweight, it’s because we eat too much in general. And a consistent, mild caloric deficit is essential for weight loss (I’ll come back to this bit later). Then there’s this phrase “stoking the metabolic fire”- implying that you need to eat to increase the rate at which your metabolism burns calories.

Well, metabolic rate is king when it comes to daily caloric expenditure. If we can be burning more calories at rest, or throughout the day in general, then this is our most powerful tool in the battle to drop some fat. But we do not significantly increase our metabolic rate by eating. We increase it through exercise and by having more muscle mass.

You can fast for up 72 hours before experiencing any drop in metabolic rate, providing calories are kept above BMR before and after the period of fasting

 

What are the benefits?

So we’ve established that a fasted state is safe for our hard earned muscle, and that we probably don’t need to be topping up our glycogen levels to 100% to go about our day- unless we were mid-way through Royal Marines selection. We can now come back to your daily calorie allowance and how much we need to restrict this by to lose weight.

As a regular exerciser weighing 92kg, my basal metabolic rate is around 3400 calories. If I subtract 500 off this (the accepted sensible amount for consistent weight loss,) I get 2900. Following a windowed eating approach, breaking my fast at noon, I now have 8 hours to consume nearly 3000 calories. Which is nice.

However, if I divided this into 5 meals of 600 calories each, the first of which I ate at 7am, I’m just going to feel hungry, deprived and grumpy for pretty much the whole day.

Are you starting to see the appeal?

Fasting is not for everyone and not for every situation. Adding muscle mass would favour being in a fed state as well as a reasonable (500) surplus of calories per day. But for weight loss, maintenance or even a simple system to enjoy food without obsessing over macros and calories, a windowed eating approach can be a valuable tool.

It’s not ALL about weight loss though is it?

Human Growth Hormone, a favourite of Hollywood celebrities as a ‘fountain of youth’ substance has been shown to increase during periods of fasting. Insulin levels get reset to a healthier level by restricting any rises in blood sugar.

And there are the ‘non scientific’ benefits…

You have more energy. Strange but true. You’re not constantly craving food or worrying about where you can get some protein- you learn to survive with a slight hunger pang in my belly. Personally, I’m actually more productive on it.

 

To summarise, hopefully my fresh perspective on 21st century life, coupled with the biological processes involved in fasting have allayed some your concerns about experimenting with what is probably the easiest method of reducing your daily calories and feeling better throughout the day.

Wake up.

No breakfast.

Black coffee or black tea is fine.

Plenty of water.

Your lunch is when you’ll ‘break your fast’.

Easy.

 

Try it tomorrow!

 

Note: Please seek advice from your doctor if you are on any medication or have any medical issues, prior to attempting to follow or trial any of the above advice.

Why we have incorporated Digezyme® Enzyme Complex into our products for over a decade

DigeZyme-Multi-Enzime-Complex

The Digezyme Enzyme complex is a high quality enzyme product made by one of our longest standing ingredient partners, Sabinsa Corporation. The very special complex consists of gluten free and GMO-free broad acting enzymes, including amylase, lactase, cellulase, lipase and protease.

The activity of Digezyme® is as follows

  • Enzyme
  • Enzyme activity (Units/g)
  • Amylase
  • 24,000 DU/g
  • Cellulase
  • 1,100 CU/g
  • Lactase
  • 4,000 ALU/g
  • Lipase
  • 200 FIP/g
  • Neutral protease
  • 6,000 PC/g

 

Reflex Nutrition’s use of Digezyme® has largely revolved around its use as an aid to help digest milk sugar (lactose), especially important for those individuals who experience difficulties digesting it.

However its role extends beyond aiding the digestion of lactose. Digezyme® consists of 5 enzymes which in addition to aiding the digestion of lactose can also digest carbohydrates, protein, fibre and fat. You will find Digezyme® in a variety of Reflex Nutrition’s products, the common dosage being 40mg-50mg per serving.

Interestingly with regard to sports nutrition Digezyme® has recently been the focus of a double blind placebo controlled study relating to delayed onset muscle soreness which can be seen in the OMICS Group – Sports Nutrition & Therapy website.

You can also download the research article Multienzyme complex for the management of delayed onset musclesoreness after eccentric exercise a randomized double blind placebo.

The dosage used in the study was 50mg three times per day which can be quite easily achieved through use of a number of Reflex Nutrition’s products.

We included this range of enzymes in the Reflex Nutrition range well over ten years ago because of their completeness. They offer all of the enzymes needed via a very clever fermentation process which results in enzymes which are completely GMO free. We’ve had nothing but praise for Digezyme® over the years as greater numbers of consumers understand more about their function and application.

The following products in the Reflex Nutrition range contain Digezyme®:

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

In recent years dietary fats have been pushed aside and carbohydrates seem to be public enemy number one. It only takes a quick search on the internet to be informed by a self-proclaimed nutrition expert that pasta will make us fat and sugar will give us cancer; whilst another nutritionist will tell us that we need carbohydrates to keep our metabolism healthy and lose fat. It is no wonder we are confused as to whether these little molecules of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are friend or foe.

So what’s the truth?

All carbohydrates are derived from plants; which means in their natural state, think sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, dates, raspberries and wheat- they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. All of which protect us from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, when we take a natural carbohydrate and refine it, process it and add fats and artificial chemicals to it, that’s when it can be unbeneficial (detrimental) to our bodies. So potatoes dug up from the ground and boiled until soft are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate vitamin B and iron; but when we peel, slice and fry a potato in rapeseed oil then add salt and preservatives to it to make crisps, we remove the nutrients and fibre whilst increasing the fat and salt content. Effectively the crisp making process turns a nutrient dense food into a nutrient sparse one. The same goes for bread, we automatically associate it with making us gain fat; but a minimally processed wholegrain loaf is rich in fibre and B vitamins, only when we play with it – for example refine it and remove its fibre to turn it into white flour then roll it thinly and top it with cheese, tomato and pepperoni does it turn into something that can easily cause excess fat storage.

So, if we eat carbohydrates in their most natural state, they provide us with nutrients essential for optimal health. That does not mean we can eat as much fruit, vegetables and potatoes as we like though; we must consider the type, timing and amount we consume in order to ensure healthy body composition, good energy levels and our best sporting performance.

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are split into two main types. The first is starchy carbohydrates often referred to as slow release, which include foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and wholegrain bread. These foods are often high in fibre which is great for gut health and broken down into smaller particles of sugar and slowly absorb into the blood stream to provide a regular trickle of energy to the body.

The other type of carbohydrates are simple sugars, often referred to as fast release. These are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an almost instant source of energy- although this energy does not last for long. Simplesugars are found in table sugar, jelly sweets and fruits. Both starches and sugars have health and performance benefits for us.

Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, which is less than half of dietary fat; however, we still have to consider the amount of carbohydrate we consume, especially if we are looking to lose weight. Put simply, if we consume more calories than we expend, even if we get them from vegetables, we will put on weight.

Carbohydrates raise our blood glucose levels- this triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role is to decrease blood glucose to safe levels by directing glucose into muscle cells and the liver. We do not want continuously elevated insulin levels as this can prevent fat breakdown, so if weight loss is our goal we need to ensure are carbohydrates only take up a quarter of our plate at meal times and choose higher fibre options.

Using Carbohydrates Effectively

If we are training frequently and looking to improve our strength or endurance performance, then we need a higher amount of carbohydrates to fuel our training and support our recovery. At all meal times we should be choosing starchy carbohydrates, however immediately after a training session we would benefit from choosing quicker release to start the recovery process quickly. If a training session, especially endurance, is over 60 minutes then our performance would benefit from a very fast release carbohydrate during our workout to keep our body fueled.

A typical day could look like;

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with milk, pecans and raspberries
  • Snack: 1 pear
  • Lunch: Avocado, feta and quinoa salad
  • Snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Immediately post workout: glass of milk, handful of dried dates
  • Dinner: Bean and vegetable curry with wholegrain rice

The take home message is that we should be nourishing our bodies with natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to lose fat and improve our health and our performance; we need to simply consider the time, type and quantity we are consuming. It’s time to end our carb-phobia for good.

Omega 3, coconut oil, butter and other healthy fats melt styrofoam

You may have seen the video that has been circulating the internet recently. Its shows a high quality Omega 3 oil from Reflex Nutrition dissolving a polystyrene cup. That’s nothing new to us as there are countless healthy oils which will melt straight through polystyrene including virgin coconut oil, butter, MCT oils, lemon oil and many others, some faster than others. The real irony is that the person who created that video is a huge fan of Reflex products and was actually using the test to demonstrate the product’s quality. Of course, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about videos and whilst we’d prefer not to have had this potentially negative publicity, we’re glad this has come to light because it raises a real issue that you should be aware of;

Polystyrene is not ideal for foods

Polystyrene is made up of long chain polymers and the non polarity of polystyrene therefore makes it excellent for liquids which are highly polar. However that’s about all its good for.
The trouble with polystyrene is once it comes in contact with medium chain fatty acids (e.g coconut oil) or worse still long chain fatty acids (e.g any omega 3 fatty acids) which all are non-polar they will start to dissolve because they are similar in polarity. It’s one reason why water and oil do not mix – they are polar opposites! Guess what is polystyrene made from? You guessed it, it is oil.

Omega 3 ethyl ester fats are generally far more concentrated than standard triglyceride Omega 3s and in addition the ethyl ester structure is even more non-polar and will dissolve polystyrene faster.
But Why Ethyl Ester in the first place ?

Reflex Nutrition use Omega 3 ethyl ester fats in preference to triglycerides for three very valid reasons;

  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are the result of molecular distillation which results in one of the purest Omega 3 products in the world, a tried and tested manufacturing process.
  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are factually the most researched form of Omega 3 in the world today, with nearly all of most highly praised, most positive and health promoting studies conducted used Omega 3 ethyl esters.
  •  Finally it is more cost effective to manufacture Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats and as a result Reflex Nutrition’s Omega 3 offers great value delivering 330mg EPA and 220mg DHA from sustainably sourced fish.

On top of these high quality credentials, Reflex Omega 3 is sourced from a partner that Reflex Nutrition has been working with for over 10 years that delivers both the quality and potency we demand but also the guarantee that the Omega 3 oil comes from fish that are sustainable.

http://www.friendofthesea.org/
It’s safe to say either form will offer benefit because ultimately either ethyl ester or triglyceride Omega 3 will both build up over time in very similar concentrations to deliver the health benefits associated with consumption of EPA and DHA, here are the amounts needed, as per EU Health Claims, for those benefits.
Maintenance of the normal brain function- required daily amount 250 DHA, in theory that’s 2 x Reflex Omega 3 capsules
Maintenance of normal cardiac function– required amount 250mg EPA/DHA, in theory that’s 1 x Omega 3 capsule per day.
Maintenance of normal blood pressure – required daily amount 3,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 6 x Omega 3 capsules per day.
Maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentration of triglycerides – required daily amount 2,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 4 x Omega 3 capsules per day.

Now for something that is worrying;
We all have a genuine duty of care to let the public at large know about this so please share this post.
Bullet proof coffee which has become very popular over the past year or so is coffee made with either the addition of coconut oil, butter or both. Fine when it’s in your favourite mug, not so if you decided to make a takeaway coffee bullet proof that was served in a styrofoam polystyrene cup. AS SOON AS YOU ADD THE COCONUT OIL OR BUTTER THE POLYSTYRENE WILL START TO DISSOLVE INTO YOUR COFFEE AND CONTAMINATE IT.
Very few people realise this and it’s made worse because the coffee is going to be hot which will speed up the reaction. There was an important studied published just last year highlighting this very problem.
See it here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25569333
Whilst it will not dissolve immediately it can and has caused polystyrene fail causing the hot contents to spill! However the most worrying and potentially harmful aspect we can see is the silent and unknowing ingestion of dissolved polystyrene on a regular basis. It’s something everyone should know.
Spread the word on the health benefits of Omega 3 fats, but equally important, please spread the word as regards the potential issues of using polystyrene cups and any oils!