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Obesity in America

 Obesity is a problem. It's a real problem. Today, 34% of the US adult population is obese and roughly 18% of US youth aged 2-19 years are obese. It is well established that children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults, putting them more at risk for health problems such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, c...

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Cold Season: Are You Winning the Battle for your Immune System?

 "It's cold season." How many times have we heard that saying? Yes, we are approaching the time of year when most of us are more susceptible to coming down with a cold or the flu. But, I'll let you in on a little secret – there is no "cold season". Rather than figuring out a strategy to keep our immune system working at it's peak potential, it...

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The Gut-Brain Connection

About the Author: Kristin Gallagher has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is currently a first-year student in the Physician Assistant program at Baldwin Wallace University. She has a special interest in dermatology, food allergies, GI disorders, and understanding the role gut health plays in health and ...

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Health and Sport Performance Improved in 5 Simple Steps

An interesting dynamic has been developing in youth sports. The dynamic has been generated by the current nature of greater focus placed upon competition rather than athlete development. This is evident by the increasing number of games played at the youth level, commonly seen within travel or club organizations. Now, while this trend is not a favorable one and can actually be detrimental to youth athletic development, it has seemed to be the driving force for another trend.

The trend being the greater awareness and proactive nature some parents and young athletes are taking to become more educated on proper nutrition and training. The reality is, at the youth, club, and high school levels of sport, there is a competitive advantage to athletes who not only improve their athletic qualities (strength, speed, power, stamina, etc.), but also become healthier by making better food choices or finding ways to improve recovery.

When it comes to athletic development and preparation, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach. There are far too many individual differences to account for. However, there are some basic principles or guidelines that most any aspiring athlete can implement and see results.

That said, here are five tips that can put you on track to experience better health and more consistent sport performance:

 When shopping for food, stay on the perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find the best in whole food selection such as beef, chicken, fresh produce, and other food that should be the foundation of quality nutrition. The middle aisles mostly consist of processed foods. Sure they may taste awesome, but they do little to support the nutritional demands of young athletes.

 The importance of reading food or ingredient lists cannot be stated enough. It's important that you know what you are consuming. Food labels can be misleading. For example, items can read “Low Fat” or “Non Fat” in an attempt to appear as a ‘healthier’ choice. However, if you read the label closely, you will find that these foods often have added sugar and/or artificial flavors. As we discussed in this article, fats, such as saturated fat are not the bad guy. Sure, you should avoid foods with trans fat, but the over-consumption of sugar and other processed foods will do more harm to your body than quality, healthy fat ever will.

Focus on selecting foods with a short ingredient list. Food manufactures appear to be taking notice, as they are producing a greater selection of foods with few and familiar ingredients to appeal to the consumer demand for healthier, natural foods.

 When it comes to meals, you can find plenty of people who will advocate breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Others will say dinner. Some may even say lunch. Regardless of opinion, it’s more important to be consistent with your nutritional intake during the ENTIRE day. As a growing and developing athlete, simply focusing on nailing one meal won’t cut it.

It’s important to consume food at adequate levels throughout the day to replenish energy stores and promote an environment within your body that is essential for growth and repair.

 Strength and weight gains occur during the offseason. During the season, athletes need to focus on maintaining what they have built during their offseason.


With the abundance of practices and games during the season, athletes do not have the energy reserves and time to make strength or weight gains and recover in time for competition. Plus, many athletes can be banged up during the year, thus limiting what you can do with their training. This makes having a trainer or coach who understands how to work around minor injuries of tremendous value.

Establishing an in-season maintenance program can keep athletes healthier and performing at more consistent levels during the season. It also allows them to step into offseason training with greater ease and ahead of the game.

 This is contrary to what almost every athlete hears at some point in their career. Athletes are told to train hard, work hard, etc. While hard work is necessary and valuable, there comes a point when being smart about your training is even more valuable.

Training should produce results. You should be getting something out of it rather than just being exhausted. It’s not difficult to make someone tired. Anyone can make you tired. Those trainers and coaches are a dime-a-dozen. What athletes need is someone that will produce results. There should be measurable gains in strength, speed, and power. If you are not seeing gains and simply becoming more and more tired, you need to start training smarter.

For additional reading on the difference between training smart vs. training hard, check out this article.

Cold Season: Are You Winning the Battle for Your Immune System?

“It’s cold season."

How many times have we heard that saying? Yes, we are approaching the time of year when most of us are more susceptible to coming down with a cold or the flu. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret – there is no “cold season”.

Rather than figuring out a strategy to keep our immune system working at it's peak potential, it's as if some of us just throw in the towel and accept that we will be sick, as if there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

Reality is we are constantly under attack by pathogens, viruses or bacteria that want to infect us. We are constantly exposed to pathogens and we are either winning or losing the battle. What is likely to blame for the “cold season” has more to do with what our body’s internal environment lacks than what is attacking us.

There's the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I'm not saying cold season is completely preventable, but what I am trying to communicate is that we all can take steps to reduce our likelihood of getting sick and possibly prevent it.

Aside from proper exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle choices, what are some simple prevention steps you can take (any time of the year) to keep your immune system firing on all cylinders and help it win the battle against the "cold season"?

1) Sleep. The most powerful tool that you have to keep your immune system running high is sleep. Research demonstrates that lack of sleep compromises the immune system, thus predisposing you to sickness. There’s a reason why you sleep a lot when you are sick. Don't underestimate what proper sleep habits can do for your health. Are you getting enough sleep? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my eyelids feel heavy in the afternoon?
  • Do I use caffeine as a “pick me up”?
  • Do I sleep extra hours on the weekend?
  • Do I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow?
To promote deep, restful sleep try to keep your room as dark and cool as possible. Ideal room temperature appears to be 65-68 degrees. Calming agents like magnesium, valerian root, chamomile tea, or a warm bath used before bed can also promote more restful sleep. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and exercise before bed as these can interfere with our normal sleep rhythms or make it more difficult to settle.

Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Athletes may need as much as 9-10 hours per night.

2) Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a global issue, which is disturbing as poor vitamin D status is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, and many other chronic conditions. Not only does Vitamin D have a critical role in immune system support, it also has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral effects.

According to James Cannell, MD, of the vitamin D council, most of us will need to take in 5000 IU per day to obtain healthy vitamin D blood levels and avid exercisers should shoot for as high as 10,000 IU per day. In comparison, the current RDA is set at 600 IU for individuals 1-70 years of age and 800 IU for those 71 years of age and older. Clearly there is a large gap between what is considered adequate and what is considered necessary for optimal health.

In determining appropriate vitamin D intake, it's important to know your vitamin D levels first. A simple test can be run by your doctor with blood work. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

3) Vitamin C. Vitamin C's role in immune system support is well established and less of a discussion is needed here. To maximize vitamin C's immune system boosting effects, It's best to consume a vitamin C supplement or vitamin C rich foods every 2-3 hours when sick as blood levels take 2-3 hours to peak, thus you will ensure blood levels remain high.

4) Zinc. For as much evidence as there is to back vitamin C’s ability to support the immune system, there is stronger evidence for zinc. However, zinc's role in immune system support is not as widely known. Zinc plays a central role in the immune response and zinc-deficient individuals are more susceptible to a variety of pathogens. While consuming whole foods rich in zinc should be standard dietary practice, directed use of products like Zicam, zinc lozenges, or highly bio-available zinc supplements at the early signs or symptoms of a cold has proven to be beneficial.

5) Glutamine. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in skeletal muscle, making it critical to the health and function of our muscular system. However, glutamine is also integral to the function of our digestive and immune systems. The health of our digestive system is critical to the health of our immune system as the GI tract uses a tremendous amount of glutamine to feed the mucosal cells. When needed, glutamine supplementation is a great way to support the immune system. Aim for 5-15g grams, three times a day. Make sure a dose is taken upon rising, mid day, and before bed. The dose before bed is important as the immune system is highly active during sleep.

6) Probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria for our gut and they also have the ability to support the immune system. Simply stated, a healthy digestive system feeds a healthy immune system. Research has supported the ability of probiotics to reduce the occurrence of colds and gastrointestinal infections. Be sure to consume more probiotic foods or take a quality probiotic supplement. Foods such as yogurt, raw cheese, raw apple cider vinegar, and kombucha tea are just a few examples of foods rich in probiotics.

Wrap Up
Prevention is the key when it comes to staying healthy. We either make time for prevention or we make time for illness. Take the steps to support your immune system and win the fight during cold season.

More related reading:

The Gut-Brain Connection

About the Author: Kristin Gallagher has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is currently a first-year student in the Physician Assistant program at Baldwin Wallace University. She has a special interest in dermatology, food allergies, GI disorders, and understanding the role gut health plays in health and disease. This paper has been reproduced with her permission.
Over 2,500 years ago Hippocrates had stated that “all disease begins in the gut.” It has been in the last several decades that this connection has been explored in great detail and proven that the gut serves a much bigger role than just nutrient extraction. In fact, this topic has gained popularity especially within in the past couple years. There have been several connections established between the gut and the brain and the ways in which they communicate with one another through the nervous, immune and endocrine systems (Patel).

So the question becomes: how exactly does our gut microbiome influence our brain health? By controlling our gut microbiome, how exactly can we affect our brain health and in what ways?

This topic is of great interest because of the correlations found between certain conditions and how the microbiome influences the development of them. If what Hippocrates hypothesized is true, it is of the greatest importance for one to understand how exactly they can influence their own gut microbiome because of the clear correlation seen between the gut and the development of different diseases. This is of clinical significance because of the influence it can have on recommendations and treatment options for certain diseases. If you were given the option to increase the wealth of your future, wouldn’t you want to explore how?

The Pathways Established
First it is important to understand the mechanisms behind how the gut and the brain are believed to interact and communicate with one another. The biggest influence in their communication involves the permeability of the gut. It should be noted that activity between the two systems via the vagus nerve has also been acknowledged as an influence (Stilling). Intestinal permeability has been established as the most important factor influencing microbial interactions with the rest of the body. It has also been established that having normal gut microbiota is essential to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing. When normal gut microbiota is changed, by antibiotic therapy for example, it is noted that this allows pathogenic organisms to colonize the gut epithelium which leads to toxin production and thus focal inflammation, causing an increase in gut permeability. So what happens when gut permeability increases? The increase leads to more gut bacteria being translocated across the intestinal wall, resulting in the activation of inflammatory cytokines and the vagal system, both of which modulate the activity of the central and enteric nervous systems. These systems control the development of our cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes which would make sense for the various abnormalities seen with abnormal gut microbiota. Increased permeability also leads to the translocation of metabolic products such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or neuroactive peptides, also affecting the activity of the central and enteric nervous systems (Yarandi).

So, how do we control gut permeability?

Research has revealed that a large influencer of gut permeability is stress, be it acute or chronic in nature (De Palma). It has been observed that stress reduces water secretion and increases ion secretion in the intestine, which affects the physical barrier of the gut. Stress not only directly affects the permeability of the gut but it also directly changes the content of the gut microbiota itself. Controlling stress, as well as other factors that have been seen to change gut permeability as well as the gut microbiota itself, may in fact directly control the extent of gut permeability (Stilling).

Additionally, it is important to understand how these changes are relayed to the brain. What serves as the communication between the gut and the brain? As stated earlier, it is under the influence of the vagus nerve but notably, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is also a crucial pathway between the two. The HPA axis is a key stress regulatory system in the CNS and it is noted that gut microbes modulate the stress response and this pathway directly. Most of the studies regarding this pathway that have been completed up until this point have focused on using germ-free (GF) mice. What they have seen is that GF mice have an exaggerated HPA response to stress, but by injecting these mice with B. infantis, it corrects the abnormal response seen (Yarandi). From this information, the general understanding is that the content of our microbiota directly influences the integrity of our intestinal permeability and when this is affected, it allows for more influence of bacteria over the CNS and ENS thus establishing the relationship seen between our gut and our brain. Many other specific organisms, out of the 3.3 million non-human genes found in the human gut, have also been explored as well (Stilling).

The Importance of Infancy
Much of the literature on this topic looks at how the gut is influenced from birth. There are several environmental factors that have been associated with influencing the gut microbiome contents, these factors including: mode of delivery (vaginal or caesarean section), breast-feeding, diet, disease, status of the immune system, age, pharmacological treatments (especially antibiotics) and physical activity. There has been a noted correlation in that babies delivered by caesarean section, a number that has dramatically increased over the past several years, with an increase in autoimmune diseases and allergies being seen as well (Stilling). It has also been observed that babies not delivered vaginally also are seen to have a greater chance of developing allergies, asthma and diabetes later in life. Other findings noted include that breastfed babies show a decrease in harmful gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, as compared to formula-fed babies. Studies reveal that formula-fed babies have an increase in harmful bacteria such as coliforms, Bacteroides and Clostridium difficile (Clarke). It is important to realize that the human intestinal tract is basically sterile at birth. It is then immediately colonized and exactly the way in which it is colonized is essential for the development of the baby. Maternal separation is also noted to play a role in inducing long-lasting hyperactivity of the HPA axis, increasing anxiety-like behavior, visceral hypersensitivity, intestinal permeability and altering the cholinergic activity in the gut (De Palma). Visceral hypersensitivity has been found to be correlated with irritable bowel syndrome and the administration of probiotic therapies has been shown to reverse this in animal and human trials (Stilling). The general idea is that when we are born, there is a window of opportunity for influencing the gut microbiota and that the presence or absence of any specific microbe during this window can have a notable, lasting effect (Yarandi).

The Diseases Correlated
With all this talk about the importance of the gut microbiota for normal pathway functioning and signaling, as well as how important it is in the first few years of life for our future leads us to the question: why should we care? There are a number of diseases that have been correlated with altered gut permeability and gut microbiota. With the increasing number of individuals being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is interesting to note the differences in the gut in these individuals as well. It is seen that they have abnormal gut microbiota (De Palma) as well as increases in bacteria from the Clostridium species and decreases in the Bacteroides species. It is postulated that this is why these patients often benefit from gluten free and casein free diets. It was also seen that ASD patients administered oral vancomycin, to help with their gastrointestinal (GI) issues, not only experienced a decrease in their GI symptoms but had an improvement in their autistic behavior as well (Yarandi). Other diseases that have been associated with abnormal gut microbiota include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, schizophrenia, depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (Foster). There are many specific bacterial associations seen in these different diseases but the foundation of each is dysbiosis, the disadvantageous alteration in microbial composition (Stilling). It is believed that dysbiotic changes in gut microbiota is what leads to disease states, behavioral changes, and changes in brain function (Foster). All of this poses a larger question as to the root of the problem; is it the changes in gut composition that cause diseases or the diseases that cause changes in the composition (Stilling)? The research still seeks to find an answer.

Of all the themes seen throughout the literature, these three were clearly the ones discussed the most. There are many more correlations seen and the evidence for them is still being built upon. The evidence stands clear that a diverse gut microbiome is beneficial to health and that changes in the microbiome directly affect behavior; the microbiome regulates nervous system development, our stress response, anxiety and appetite levels as well as our circadian rhythms. Clearly established in the literature is the obvious connection between the gut and the brain, making clear that a healthy microbiota is necessary to maintain a healthy nervous system (Mu).

Looking back to my question of inquiry, the literature proves that our gut microbiome does in fact influence our brain health as well as disease states and behavior. The research that has been done so far on this topic has just barely scratched the surface and further research on it is a necessity, especially honing in on studies in humans because most research up until now has been done utilizing mice and rats. There is much more to be said on this topic and I could only expose just the beginning of some of the findings to this date. This is just the beginning of a topic that holds a bright future for potentially changing medicine in a drastic way. Someday soon, we may be able to prove Hippocrates hypothesis to be true indeed – that all disease does in fact start in the gut.

Works Cited
Clarke, G., O'Mahony, S. M., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2014). Priming for health: gut microbiota acquired in early life regulates physiology, brain and behaviour. Acta Paediatrica (Oslo, Norway: 1992), 103(8), 812-819. doi:10.1111/apa.12674
De Palma, G., Collins, S. M., Bercik, P., & Verdu, E. F. (2014). The microbiota-gut-brain axis in gastrointestinal disorders: stressed bugs, stressed brain or both?. The Journal Of Physiology, 592(14), 2989-2997. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2014.273995
Foster, J. A., Lyte, M., Meyer, E., & Cryan, J. F. (2016). Gut Microbiota and Brain Function: An Evolving Field in Neuroscience. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 19(5), pyv114.
Mu, C., Yang, Y., & Zhu, W. (2016). Gut Microbiota: The Brain Peacekeeper. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 345.
Patel, K. (2016). What have we learned about nutrition in the past 5 years? Retrieved November 13, 2016, from
Stilling, R. M., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2014). Microbial genes, brain & behaviour - epigenetic regulation of the gut-brain axis. Genes, Brain, And Behavior, 13(1), 69-86. doi:10.1111/gbb.12109
Yarandi, S. S., Peterson, D. A., Treisman, G. J., Moran, T. H., & Pasricha, P. J. (2016). Modulatory Effects of Gut Microbiota on the Central Nervous System: How Gut Could Play a Role in Neuropsychiatric Health and Diseases. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 22(2), 201–212.
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Nutrition for Faster Recovery from Injury

As an athlete, injury is unfortunately part of sports. Athletics have varying degrees of both assumed and inherent structural risk to the human body, arguably making many sports we love to compete in “dangerous”. However, injury is not simply unique to sport. Frankly, injury seems to be part of life. Sure, there are preventative measures one can take to minimize or reduce the risk of injury. The reality is, there is no such thing as complete injury prevention. Similar to the weather, an honest professional will tell you we cannot forecast injury with absolute certainty. Yes, there are athletes who carry higher or lower “chances” of injury based on their movement quality and must be managed accordingly to minimize exercise-related or non-contact injuries. In some circumstances, such as collision/contact related injuries, injury is something we have little control over. Despite the lack of control we may have when it comes to injury, we do have the potential to influence the recovery and healing process for the better. This is good news since getting back to sport or living a "normal" life as quickly as possible is something most people would sign-up for in a heart beat.
Understanding the Healing Process
When you suffer any form of injury, the site of injury enters a traumatic state and inflammation occurs. For most people, inflammation brings negative thoughts to mind and their initial reaction is to stop it in its tracks. I mean, isn’t that what we’ve been told for years? But, is inflammation really unwanted or should we consider that it is part of our body’s process responsible for healing? The truth is, the right amount of inflammation is a good thing and necessary to initiate the healing process from injury. Inflammation provides signals to the body that something is wrong with certain structures or tissues. The body responds by kicking your immune system into high gear to start repairing damaged tissue.

When injured, the body needs to recover and you must supply it with the raw materials needed to promote optimal recovery. These raw materials come in the form of calories, protein, dietary fats, vitamins, and minerals from whole food or supplement sources. Ideally, nutritional strategies for injury recovery must be customized to the individual for optimal response. However, applying some general considerations can be beneficial in speeding up your return to play.

Nutritional Strategies for Injury Recovery
1) Calories
When injured, there is an increase in what is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is essentially the energy (or calorie) expenditure while your body is at rest. When recovering from injury, BMR has been demonstrated to increase by 15-50% since your body is using more energy to repair and regenerate damaged tissues. The rise in BMR means you must increase your caloric intake accordingly to ensure optimal recovery.

For example, if your caloric intake is 3,500 kcal/day, your new caloric requirements could range from 4,025-5,250 kcal/day (15%-50%) during the recovery process.

2) Protein
Protein is an essential component of our cells, bones, muscles, organs, connective tissues, and skin. Protein is made up of individual amino acids. Amino acids are important for the repair and remodeling process that injured bone, muscle, or connective tissue undergoes during the healing process. The amount of protein the body utilizes for injury repair is significant and your daily protein intake will need to increase accordingly. To gain an understanding of how your protein intake should be adjusted during the healing process, let’s consider the following:

The average, sedentary individual may require an intake of 0.8g/kg of protein per day.  Athletes and highly active individuals can often require 1.0-1.5g/kg of protein per day.

          Example:  200 lb athlete = 91-136g of protein per day
That same athlete, when injured, may need 1.2-2.0 g/kg of protein per day.

          Example: 200 lb athlete = 110-182g of protein per day.
3) Dietary Fat
Dietary fat consumption should be devised to promote tissue healing and minimize unwanted inflammatory responses. It is well known that trans-fats and omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body. During the initial stages of healing, it is important to consume an appropriately balance of omega 6:omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming more omega 3 fatty acids helps to keep inflammation at adequate levels.

Rather than putting on number on dietary fat consumption during the recovery process, focus on making better food choices. This means increasing the consumption of quality, healthy fats such as coconut oil, butter, fish oil, avocados, and olive oil while doing your best to minimize or avoid eating foods high in omega 6 fatty acids such as fried foods or food sources that contain safflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, and soybean oil.

4) Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required by the body in relatively small amounts, but are critically important for a number of metabolic reactions essential in allowing the body not only to survive, but also to thrive. The process of recovering from injury only places a greater importance on key vitamins and minerals to ensure that metabolic processes involved in cell proliferation and tissue remodeling occurs appropriately.

Micronutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D, K and the B vitamins along with minerals such as magnesium, copper, and zinc can enhance the function of the immune system, assist in inflammation control and collagen synthesis, improve the production of red blood cells, and improve healing rate. Supplementation recommendations will depend upon appropriate therapeutic doses, as well as the individual and the extent of injury.

5) Herbs, Spices, and Tea
Certain herbs and spices have demonstrated impression abilities to manage inflammation during the acute phases of recovery. Some of the herbs and spices can even help reduce dependency of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some examples of herbs, spices, or teas that can assist in inflammation/pain control as well as tissue regeneration are turmeric, ginger, garlic, bromelain, and green tea.

Concluding Thoughts
It’s important to help your patient, clients, or athletes understand sound nutritional habits and patterns during the injury recovery process since it brings special considerations to the forefront. Consuming adequate calories to provide enough energy and sufficient amounts of building blocks (both macro and micronutrients) for tissue repair and regeneration is critical to appropriate healing. When it comes to inflammation, remember the name of the game is inflammation control not inflammation suppression. Inflammation is needed for healing, but must be kept to sufficient levels. Both too little and too much inflammation can interfere with and delay the healing process.

Allow these nutritional strategies to work for you. Not only will they promote a faster return to sport and competition, but also ensure more comprehensive healing while reducing associated risks of re-injury.

More related reading:

Magnesium for Better Health, Athletic Performance

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is an essential part of over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. It plays an essential role in energy production, proper muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, and blood pressure regulation to name a few. However, literature suggests that 54-75% of the population is deficient in magnesium. And for those that exercise regularly, especially resistance training, your requirements may be higher than what is recommended. Also, daily requirements may be higher for those that are heavy sweaters or experience symptoms of low magnesium such as arrhythmias, muscle spasms, or unexplained fatigue and weakness during exercise.

Research has also demonstrated magnesium's ability to increase red blood cell production, thus increasing the availability of both zinc and magnesium to support energy production, muscle contractions, and waste removal during intense exercise. Zinc is also a part of red blood cell production and the release of anabolic and fat-burning hormones during exercise.

How does one ensure they are getting plenty of magnesium in their diet? First, incorporate whole foods rich in magnesium such as halibut, almonds, cashews, spinach, and potatoes to name a few. Second, supplementation with highly bioavailable forms of magnesium such as magnesium glycinate may be needed.

To get an idea of where your magnesium levels are at, it is recommended to have your red blood cell magnesium levels tested as this provides the most accurate reflection of the body's magnesium stores.

Molina-Lopez, J. Molina, J., et al. Association Between Erythrocyte Concentrations of Magnesium and Zinc in High-Performance Handball Players After Dietary Supplementation. Magnesium Research 2012.

3 Reasons Why You Should Skip Breakfast

Breakfast has been coined 'the most important meal of the day'. But is this really true? Sure there are plenty of experts that stand behind breakfast's ability to boost metabolism, improve weight control, etc. But there are some reasons to consider passing on breakfast:

#1 - Breakfast is not required to boost metabolism. Level of energy expenditure (i.e. exercise), amount and composition (fats, proteins, carbs) of calories consumed daily, and genetics are the factors that impact metabolism. Not breakfast. This also means eating small, frequent meals throughout the day is also not necessary to raise metabolism.

#2 - Passing on breakfast can help lower total carb consumption. Most Americans consume far too many carbs and far too little protein and fat. The more we learn, the more we realize that overconsumption of carbs/sugars are a major contributor to many chronic diseases and excessive body fat. Many traditional breakfast foods (cereal, pancakes, muffins) are high in carbs. Your body releases insulin in response to eating carbs which stops your body's ability to burn fat.

#3 - You can get the benefit even if you occasionally skip on breakfast. Intermittent fasting will improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. Plus, growth hormone will be released in higher levels. This all means you preserve lean muscle tissue and burn more fat.

The idea here is that breakfast should be optional. Being mindful of what works best for someone is an essential part of any nutritional program. If you love how your breakfast gets your day started, then stick with it. But for those that wish to pass, there is no harm in forgoing breakfast.

Interested in losing weight and improving their body composition? GP takes a unique approach to your goals. We help you get in tune with your body and work to find what you respond to best.

Who's managing your nutrition program?

Dietary Fat Is Not the Bad Guy

Despite what you may have been told, fat isn’t always the bad guy in the "Battle against the Bulge". Healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats, omega-3s fatty acids, and saturated fats - yes, you read that correctly - all can play a huge role in improving your health, memory, mood, and body composition. Let's take a look.

#1 - Better Health
The human body is about 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, leaving the remaining 3 % to polyunsaturated fats. Half of that three percent is omega-3 fats, and that balance needs to be maintained. Vegetable oils contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats, and these oils have replaced many of the saturated fats in our diets since the 1950s.

The body is in a constant state of rebuilding cells and producing hormones, two processes in which fats have a very important role. Regardless of what we consume through our diets, our bodies use the building blocks we give it. When we give it a high concentration of polyunsaturated fats instead of the ratios it needs, it has no choice but to incorporate these fats into our cells during cell repair and creation.

The problem is that polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and oxidize easily in the body. In fact, they oxidize and become unstable during food processing and even light exposure while sitting in the grocery store. The oxidation of fat creates inflammation and mutation in cells. Inflammation has widespread affects on health and immune function. Inflammation is associated with conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and allergies and is now being identified as a key component in chronic diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to cancer.

Saturated fat is not the enemy. As a matter of fact, saturated fat is essential to optimal health and taking it out of your diet is a disaster waiting to happen.

#2 - Improve Memory, Enhance Mood
If you think fat only affects how you look, you’re in for a surprise. Studies are now demonstrating that staying mentally sharp and maintaing a balanced mood may be largely related to the type of fat you eat. Over the past decade, research continues to link omega-3 fatty acids to benefits ranging from better blood flow to improved mood and memory function.

The brain is 60% fat and thrives on smooth signaling between nerve cells — and the body refreshes these connections with a new supply of fatty acids. In a study published in Neurology, researchers found that those who ate fish regularly scored higher on a battery of tests for memory, psychomotor speed, cognitive flexibility and overall cognition. Furthermore, the researchers claimed that consuming EPA and DHA, fatty acids found in fish and fish oil, specifically contributed to the boost in brainpower. DHA has also been linked to decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as overall cognitive decline.

When it comes to mood, studies show omega-3s can improve your mood. Research shows omega-3 fatty acids help nerve cells communicate better. This means feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine can get in and out of cells more easily, translating into a better mood. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health report that omega-3 fatty acids are as effective at treating major depressive illness as commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs.

#3 - Less Body Fat, Leaner Physique
Consuming "good" fats can improve body composition and make you leaner. This comes as a surprise to many people because fat contains a lot of calories and is more calorie dense than carbohydrates and proteins. But not all fats have the same effect on the body.

Studies show that the body processes specific types of fat very differently. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as omega-3s, are not stored in the body. They are used to rebuild cells and make hormones, resulting in an energy expenditure increase in the body. This means that your body will burn more calories. This effect isn't limit to just EFAs either. When consumed in appropriate amounts, monounsaturated fats such as avocado and nuts do not appear to elevate body fat levels and help support hormone production. Saturated fat sources that are rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as virgin coconut oil and grass-fed butter, don't get stored as fat either and promote optimal body composition.

If you would like more detailed information on how fats can help you achieve your health or fitness goals, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Keeping Nutrition and Supplementation Simple

"The amount, composition and timing of food intake can profoundly affect sports performance. Good nutritional practice will help athletes train hard, recover quickly, and adapt more effectively with less risk of illness and injury. The right diet will help athletes achieve an optimum body size and body composition to achieve greater success in their sport."

- IOC Sports Nutrition Consensus (2003)
For athletes and individuals looking to have improved performance and body composition, the number one priority should be eating better. The next step is to then supplement to address any deficiency of essential nutrients and/or target a specific physiological system. Just as important is ensuring that there is research demonstrating real benefit and safety of the supplement.

The FDA does not test the effectiveness, safety, or purity of supplements. There is no guarantee when it comes to accuracy of the ingredient list, accuracy of contents, and safety of contents. A 2001 study tested 634 products, 94 samples were positive for banned substances and 66 were questionable, roughly 25% of all samples. Meaning, chances are 1 in 4 supplements are questionable in nature for banned substances.

It is absolutely critical for athletes, especially collegiate athletes and those subject to drug testing to understand they may be unknowingly consuming a product that could result in them failing a drug test. Equally as important is each individual having a knowledge of what exactly they are putting into their body and potential interactions that may occur.

Below are a list of resources and strategies to help you become an informed consumer:

1. Check with www.wada-ama.org2. Supplement/Food/Drug Interactions and be checked at
3. When purchasing supplements, choose a larger company or look for certificates of Third Party Analysis.
4. Check for accuracy of label claims
5. Select products with few ingredients

GP Nutrition Tip!

GP Nutrition Tip:

It's summer time and if you are like us, we love watermelon. Recent research has given one more reason to get some watermelon in your diet. Researchers studied watermelon juice and it's ability to help relieve muscle soreness in athletes. Now why would they do this? Watermelon is rich in the amino acid L-citrulline. L-citrulline is known for its excellent ability to reduce muscle soreness. The study used natural watermelon juice, l-citrulline enriched watermelon juice and a placebo. Guess what? The natural watermelon juice performed best since the bioavailability was greatest, meaning the body is able to use it best. Not surprising at all.

It is our opinion that watermelon is best served among friends and family with plenty of good old fashion home cooking.

SourceWatermelon Juice: Potential Functional Drink for Sore Muscle Relief in Athletes. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jul 29.