Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maximizing your REAL food intake

By Meredith Terranova of Eating and Living Healthy:

As I continually research to find the latest and greatest for my clients, I always come back to the same staple concept: Real Food Nutrition is the best! No matter your diet preference: carnivore, vegetarian, or vegan you can get the nutrients you need from the foods you eat.

Some great information is seen in studies done on the diets of elite Kenyan runners. (below are direct from an article on the research)

"Yannis Pitsiladis of the International Centre for East African Running Science in Glasgow, Scotland, along with Mike Boit (the Olympic bronze-medal winner from the 1972 Games), Vincent Onywera, and Festus Kiplamai from the Exercise and Sports Science Department at Kenyatta University in Nairobi and the Department of Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics at Egerton University in Njoro, Kenya, recently monitored everything that went into the mouths of 10 elite Kenyan runners over a seven-day period at a training camp near Kaptagat, Kenya.2

This group of Kenyan athletes was truly top-level, including several Olympic medalists and also first-place finishers from the Paris and Athens World Championships.

Dietary intakes were measured each day for seven consecutive days in December, when the athletes were reaching peak condition for the Kenyan cross-country season. The Kenyans followed their normal diets and weighed and recorded everything that was consumed (both food and drink); food weighing was accomplished with digital scales. The elite Kenyans were given as much food as they wanted, and they ate five times a day, according to the following plan:



Breakfast at 8:00 a.m.
Mid-morning snack at 10:00 a.m.
Lunch at 1:00 p.m.
Afternoon snack at 4:00 p.m.
Supper at 7:00 p.m.



Kenyan runners tend to eat a limited variety of foods, and that was certainly the case with these elite athletes. Most of their nutrients came from vegetable sources, and the "staple" edibles were bread, boiled rice, poached potatoes, boiled porridge, cabbage, kidney beans and ugali (a well-cooked, corn-meal paste that's molded into balls and dipped into other foods for flavoring).

Meat (primarily beef) was eaten just four times a week in fairly small amounts (about 100 grams -- 3.5 ounces a day). A fair amount of tea with milk and sugar was imbibed on a daily basis.

If you're thinking about heading to a nutritional-supplement store to purchase some performance-enhancing supplements (or you already purchase on a regular basis), bear in mind that the Kenyan runners were not taking supplements of any kind. There were no vitamins, no minerals, no special formulations or miracle compounds, nada. The gold-medal-winning Kenyans adhered to the odd philosophy that regular foods could fuel their efforts quite nicely.

About 86 percent of daily calories came from vegetable sources, with 14 percent from animal foods. As you might expect, the Kenyan-runners' diets were extremely rich in carbohydrate.
Protein intake amounted to 75 total grams daily. About two-thirds of the protein came from plant foods."

Here is where things get interesting:

"Ugali furnished about 23 percent of the runners' daily calories; after all, it's the national dish of Kenya. There were some surprises in the dietary data, however. For example, just behind ugali in second place for calorie-provisioning was plain sugar, which provided about one out of every five calories (20 percent) consumed by the Kenyans over the course of the day.

That's right, the vitamin-free, mineral-free, "bad," "simple" carb from which Americans are fleeing was consumed in rather prodigious amounts, about 133.5 grams (534 calories) per day. Similar levels of sugar consumption are sometimes blamed for the rising tide of obesity in the U.S., particularly among young people, but in fact sugar intake provides some key advantages for athletes involved in intense training on a daily basis: After all, the stuff re-stocks muscle-glycogen stores very quickly and effectively.

As long as the rest of the diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants (which is the case with the elite Kenyans), and as long as regular exercise is carried out and caloric intake doesn't exceed caloric expenditure (also the case), sugar isn't a bad thing at all. In fact, it can be argued (from the quick-glycogen-replacement standpoint), that sugar is a rather-desirable nutrient."

In addition to taking in slightly more than the recommended amounts of carbohydrate and protein for athletes, the Kenyans also used another fundamental principle of sports nutrition to enhance their abilities to train and perform well: They always ate within one hour after workouts. This post-workout period when glycogen re-synthesis rates can be maximized, as long as adequate carbohydrate is provided in the diet (as was the case with the Kenyans). When carbohydrate ingestion is delayed after a training session, lower total intramuscular glycogen levels are often the result. Those Kenyans are smart!

And, my favorite quote from the article:

"With their high carbohydrate intake, adequate protein ingestion, and perfect timing of meals, the top Kenyan runners are eating optimally -- doing the things at the dinner table which are necessary for them to perform at the world's highest level. We can certainly learn from them and eat in ways which give our muscles the fuel they need to carry out the high-quality workouts which represent our true path to performance improvement."

(Anderson, PhD, Running Research News)




For more information or questions, please contact Meredith Terranova.


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1 comment:

Marv said...

Love the article. I have been on a similar eating regimen minus the sugar. In thinking about it though, it makes perfect sense.
Thanks,
marvin


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