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.

Plant Based Diets

Plant based food protein alternative


Plant based eating has grown in popularity lately and is widely regarded as one of the healthiest approaches to fueling your body. Our resident dietitian, Rachel Hobbs, explains the benefits and practicalities of replacing meat with two veg.

 

What is a Plant Based Diet?Plant based - rice, beans, advocado and seeds

Plant based diets are a bit of trend in the nutrition world at the moment. The media claims they can do anything from cure cancer, to prevent heart disease and reverse diabetes; but what is all the fuss about and do they actually benefit us at all?

As a dietitian I define a plant based diet as a diet that aims to maximise the consumption of … you guessed it, plant foods, whilst minimizing processed foods, oils and animal produce. Sounds identical to a vegetarian or vegan diet? Similar, yes but the main difference is that often individuals choose to become vegetarian out of ethical or environmental reasons. Meat, fish and animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs are not banned from a plant based diet, but they are minimized.

A plant based diet encourages individuals to consume lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts and is generally low in fat; this can seem impossible and confusing for many, especially as for the past 10 years the fitness industry has hammered into the general public they should be eating chicken breasts, tuna and other high protein foods to be healthy.

 

 

What are the Benefits?Plant based - oats, raisins, seeds and nuts

There are many benefits of a plant based diet if it is followed correctly; science says that they are better than meat heavy diets for weight management and fat loss. This is hypothesised to be because they are higher in fibre and therefore make us feel fuller for longer; but also they are more nutrient dense, therefore contain more vitamins and minerals, allowing our bodies to work more efficiently. Research also shows they may prevent heart disease and diabetes too. Due to the increased fibre intake of a plant based diet, scientists suggest that they decrease the risk of getting some cancers, especially those associated with digestion such as colon and stomach cancer.

The jury is still out as to whether it is the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables that decrease disease risk or the reduced intake of meats and processed foods, personally I believe it is a combination of the two.
When discussing a plant based diet with my clients there are a few questions which are commonly asked; I will answer these now.

 

 

“Where will I get my protein from?”Plant based - vegetables, peppers, cabbage, green beans, chick peas and advocado

Many of my clients come to me with elevated protein levels in their diets without a balanced consideration of the role of other nutrients, often carbohydrates

Instead of focusing so strictly on grams of protein per day, I ask my clients to focus on food quality- if they consume foods of high quality or nutritional density, they will automatically meet their protein needs.

The only concern is to ensure adequate essential amino acids are consumed, these are amino acids which cannot be produced by the body. This can easily be achieved by pairing foods with differing amino acid sequences such as beans and rice or hummus and pitta bread.

 

 

 

 

“What does a typical day’s food intake look like?”Plant based - oats, almond milk, soya yoghurt, nuts and fruit

To meet average requirements, a typical day could look like:

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with almond milk and yoghurt, topped with nuts and fruit

Lunch: Falafel, hummus and avocado wrap with spinach and rocket.

Snack: Peanut butter on toast.

Dinner: Lentil dahl with rice and peas.

Sometimes it takes a little while for the gut to adapt to the higher fibre intake so a pea protein shake such as Reflex Nutrition’s Vegan Protein would be a great supplement to take. This would also be ideal post workout or to add into a breakfast smoothie.

 

 

“Should I not eat any meat now?”

A plant based diet is exactly as it sounds, it is based around plants, which doesn’t mean all meat and animal products are banned. I actually recommended my clients to have two portions of oily fish a week such as salmon or mackerel to ensure they consume adequate Omega 3.

 

Plant based salad

 “Where do I start?”

I think it is important to take a step by step approach when making dietary changes, so I often prescribe my clients to just start with a “Meat Free Monday” and to experiment with different meal choices every week so they can increase the variety of plant based foods in the diet and feel more confident to try two days of plant based eating.

So, all in all, I think plant based diets are positive for many individuals. They increase fibre intake, they increase vitamin and mineral intake and they decrease processed food intake. So next week, why don’t you give “Meat Free Monday” a go?

 

 

 

 

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.

Your Guide to Winter Health

As the weather is getting colder it is so important we make an effort to take care of our heath over the long winter months.

The common cold and flu are more likely to catch us between March and November; the flu otherwise known as influenza is actually based on an Italian phrase translated as “influence of the cold”. The fact that more people suffer with illness in the colder months is thought to be due to more people staying inside, which means it is far easier for a virus to spread.

However, there are many ways that we can prevent illness over winter and even improve our health and wellbeing over the cold months.

Here are my top five tips:

1. Get Active

Try to do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day; this activity can flush bacteria out of the lungs and the airways which can reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu. Exercise also causes beneficial changes in our body’s white blood cells, which make our immune system stronger and better able to fight off virus’ and infections. Try to find an activity that you look forward to, anything that gets your heart rate up and a little sweat dripping down you face. Try a spin class, netball club or even an aqua aerobics to mix things up.

If you struggle to find the energy to train after work, try sipping an espresso before training or try Reflex Nutrition Pre Workout.

2.Get Enough Sleep

A lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on the immune system making it harder for our bodies to fight off colds and illness. Ideally we should aim to sleep for eight hours per night.

Following a pre-bed routine will help get to sleep quickly; try a warm bath with lavender oil, listen to relaxing music, sip on a hot milky drink and switch off the TV and instead have a read of a good book.

3.Scrub Up

Colds and virus’ are spread through human contact, therefore to avoid these germs spreading it is vital that we focus on washing our hands well and ensuring we wipe down our exercise equipment with anti-bacterial spray too!

4.Get Your 5-a-Day

In the cold months it is less appetizing to tuck into a big salad so it may become harder for us to consume enough vitamin and minerals through food sources.

Try experimenting in the kitchen with different soups to increase vegetable intake; give these a go;

  • Carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato
  • Broccoli, leek, potato and pea
  • Tomato, roasted pepper and spinach

Or perhaps experiment with cooking fruits and adding them to breakfast or desserts to increase vitamin intake;

  • Baked apples and raisins with natural yoghurt
  • Cinnamon grilled peaches on porridge
  • Stewed pears with sultanas

To make sure that we are not deficient in any vitamins and minerals it is a good idea to take a daily high quality vitamin and mineral supplement such as Reflex Nutrition Nexgen Pro.

5.Avoid Comfort Eating

Colder weather and longer nights can increase our temptation to snuggle under a blanket and eat warming mince pies and drink hot chocolates with cream, however this is not going to beneficial for our health. This means it is important to have healthy food choices in the house, plenty of vegetables – frozen are fine, different fruits, stock the cupboards with lentils, beans, chickpeas and wholemeal rice and pasta and have good quality meats and fish in the fridge and freezer. Having healthy ingredients in the house means we are less likely to give into our cravings and order a takeaway to comfort us.

Some warming comfort meals without the extra calories include;

  • Chunky vegetable soup with wholegrain rye bread
  • Sheppard’s pie made with lean turkey mince and topped with sweet potato and butternut squash.
  • Chicken, mushroom and pesto pasta with spiralised courgette as a pasta substitute

 

If you are looking to drop some body fat for the New year make sure you have an adequate intake of omega 3 from salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. Omega 3 helps the body utilise food for fuel instead of storing it. If you don’t manage to eat oily fish three times per week try purchasing a good quality supplement such as Reflex Nutrition Omega 3.