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My research has been published!

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Click the link below to read the research conducted by me, M. Murphy, and my colleagues.

CollegeAthleticsResearch

Does it fit with your Micros?

Checkout my latest article on Physical Therapist, Zach Long’s site, the Barbell Physio: Does It Fit With Your Micros?

food-desert

Happy & Healthy 

cake

Happiness is a piece of cake….or is it? This dual meaning packs a powerful punch.

The holidays can easily be a season where there is a lack of control due to the desire to tune-out and either enjoy or escape. Self-indulgence can quickly gain rapid speed, promoting a cycle that is hard to break free. For Americans, this translates to around 150-170 lbs. of extra sugar eaten yearly. You may think sugar doesn’t apply to you but check your salad dressings, flavored yogurts, grandma’s recipe for sweet potato casserole or a favorite holiday dip.

Q. Why is it so easy to over-indulge with food, especially sugar?

A. Elicits a dopamine release, like cocaine and heroin and highly addictive

Neuroscientists have shown, using fMRI to scan the brain‘s activity in real-time, that sugar leads to dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens – an area associated with motivation, novelty, and reward.  This is the same brain region implicated in response to cocaine and heroin.

Q. How can you enjoy the holidays without losing control?

  1. Know your Triggers

Boredom, excitement, tradition, environmental or social factors, sadness

  1. Focus on relationships
  • Do enjoy a treat or drink with the people you love
  • Don’t enjoy treats alone (just like it’s not good to drink alone)
  • Don’t eat treats as a snack between meals- this will elevate blood sugars, increase your sugar cravings and give you the big “drops” after the spike
  1. Actively pursue rest and restoration
  • Rest is not: being glued to the couch for days with endless access to the kitchen
  • Rest is not: over-doing the alcohol to enjoy or escape
  • Rest is not: falling into the rhythms with everyone else’s bad habits around you
  • Rest is: Maintain a loose routine during the holidays to promote optimal sleep and feelings of well-being
  • Rest is: gentle exercise, “living foods”, being outdoors, setting aside time for reflection
  1. Cleanse the palette

Break free from the sugar cravings with a pure vegetable juice drink first thing in the morning or in-between meals. AIM’s Garden trio is a MUST on my road tips to visit the fam- pure, whole-food ingredients, easy to travel with, easy to shake-up and enjoy!

Gardentrio

Click here to order Garden Trio- Whole Food Nutrition

For questions or help with making the most of your holidays, email me at Melissa@performstrong.org

References:

Ahmed, SH, Guillem, K., Vandaele, Y. Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit. Current Opinion Clinical Nutrition Metabolic Care. 2013. 16(4): 434-439.

Greenberg, Melanie, Ph.D. Why Our Brains Love Sugar- And Why Our Bodies Don’t. Psychology Today. 2013

Shilling, R., PhD. From Inflammation To Heart Attacks, Strokes and Arthritis. 2014.

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WHAT IS TRUE?

We live in the age of information, yet when it comes to health, we are inundated with far too many fad diets, “promising” programs, and “magic” nutrition products.

What Is True?

Feeling overwhelmed and misinformed is normal and sadly many can to the extensive efforts yet lack of  results. How does anyone know what is true? What will actually work in regards to personal goals that will promote wellness in EVERY area of health ? (This is shout-out to my paleo community who may look great but feel less-than-energized and my meat-head bros who have put up great PRs on their lifts recently but have liver enzymes out the roof due to the composition of their “performance” products). 

To assess the validity of a nutrition message, (this does not apply if you have not been diagnosed with a disease or condition), does the message emphasize:

  1. Individualization
  • Not one human being has the same genetic code of another person. Therefore, what produces results in a specific population, group or individual cannot be applied to EVERY group or individual.
  • Key: What foods give you energy and do not produce any type of GI distress? What foods do not? Keep a food journal for 1 week, chronicling your food intake at meals, before or after training/competition, and how you felt.

2. Moderation

  • DO NOT LIVE IN extremes- this is unsustainable (i.e. carbs are BAD, fat is BAD, etc. – all “living foods” have their purpose, time and place (non-processed foods that were alive at one point: meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.)
  • Key: Do you know the difference between a carb, fat, protein? Do you know your daily intake proportions? How well do you consistently live a “balanced” life?

3. The Internal

  • Our society focuses on the external, how you look. However, you are ONLY AS WELL as you are on the inside (mind, body, spirit).

 

iceberg1

  • This iceberg gives an example how critical the unseen component is- Chronic inflammation is our enemy, not the lack of a defined 8-pack
  • I promise if you pursue foods that nourish the body, daily stress-management practices, sleep well, exercise, and read your Bible (if you don’t have one email me, I’ll send you one) the “look” you want will happen.

Confused about what your next steps should be on your health journey? email me at melissa@performstrong.org 

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Simple, Daily Nutrition Checklist

  1. I ate breakfast today ______
  2. I ate 3 balanced meals ______
  3. I ate 2-3 pieces of fruit ______
  4. I ate 3-5 servings of vegetables ________
  5. I ate a lean source of protein at each meal ________
  6. I ate a source of carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains) in meals & snacks _______
  7. I chose a healthy source of fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish) and had 2-3 servings ____
  8. I chose water over soda, sweet tea and/or fruit juice _________
  9. I ate something for the health components, not the taste ______
  10. I drank water to start my day and regularly throughout the day ____________
  11. I refueled within 60 minutes following workouts ________

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The True Scoop on Protein Powders

Q. Should I use protein powder shakes in my diet?

A. Yes, IF:

  • You are looking for easy ways to get raw vegetables and fruit into your daily diet- I throw all kinds of veggies into the blender, and with a little fruit and protein powder, the texture and taste are wonderful and full of essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • You won’t be eating a meal within 1 hour of training– it’s important to consume protein after exercise within this time domain
  • You are on the go and do have no time to sit down for a meal– I am usually coaching athletes during the breakfast hour, so it’s an easy meal replacement. Thank you YETTI cups for keeping my shake cold.
  • You are going to workout within 2 hours of a meal time and do not want anything heavy sitting on your stomach.
  • You have been eating heavy meals and just want to give your stomach a break from working super hard to digest and absorb meals high animal protein and fat.

Q. How do I navigate all the protein powder products on the market?

 A. First, you need to decide what source your protein will be derived from. Here is what you need to know about the 3 Most Common Protein Powders: Whey, Casein, and Soy

 Whey

  • Many whey protein supplements are not whey in pure form but include chemical sweeteners (like aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin or sucralose), artificial flavorings (e.g. MSG) and fillers in their products. Ingesting some of these chemicals (such as aspartame) for extended period of time could cause a variety of health problems. According to a July 2010 report by Consumer Reports, some whey protein supplements are also found to contain higher than permitted levels of heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium.
  • When cholesterol in food is exposed to oxygen and treated with high heat over a long period of time or prolonged storage, oxidized cholesterol is formed. Powdered dairy products, i.e. whey protein powder, contain some amounts of oxidized cholesterol. A study conducted by Molecular Nutrition Research suggested that consuming oxidized cholesterol from food may contribute to the development of heart disease.

Casein

  • Often covered in toxic residues, casein affects the immune system and can stimulate mucus production, worsening allergy symptoms.
  • According to research conducted by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, casein has the ability to turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by adjusting the level of intake of that protein. This was determined through years of clinical trials, experiments, and tests. His findings show that when casein is consumed in large quantities, cancer cells increase in size, and when casein is no longer consumed, cancer tumor cells decline.

Both whey and casein are dairy based = inflammation 

SoyHigh in isoflavones — phytoestrogens, substances that behave like weak forms of the hormone estrogen. Obviously excess “estrogen resemblers” in the body is good for no one. Enough said.

Q. What is my suggestion?

 A. I use a pea protein that is Non-GMO, allergen-free and contains no artificial sweeteners or additives. Besides the health benefits, this product keeps me satiated, which is an enormous feat for my voracious appetite. I love ProPeas! (click on “ProPeas” for more info)

protein

Lastly, become savvy with reading labels of the products you use- if your product contains more than 10 ingredients and if you have never heard of some of the ingredients, good chance there may be some danger in what you are consuming.

More questions? Email me, Melissa@performstrong.org

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What do Athletes Need?                                                                                                              

The competitive edge: if you are serious about your sport, you want it. What will help you soar past your competition and truly excel? Do athletes have different needs than the general population?

GOAL #1: Establish a baseline of health

Whether you’re an athlete or not, it is extremely important to have your physician evaluate your blood work at your yearly checkup to check for any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. If your health status elicits concerns, know that your body is designed to prioritize health over growth. If our internal state is unhealthy, growth, such as muscle growth and physical adaptation to training, will be stunted in order for the body to heal what may cause a serious illness or disease.

GOAL #2: Choose High Quality Fuel for Optimal Performance

Although increased training will your increase caloric needs, this is not a license to eat whatever. The type of food is extremely important. Intense exercise and training causes a stress reaction, initiating an inflammatory response. Even for my golfers, 10+ hours a day on the course or a 36-hole match is like running a marathon mentally and extremely taxing on the body. But don’t be alarmed, acute inflammation that causes the break down of muscle is how muscles actually grow and your body adapts to a training stimulus. However, if the body stays in an inflammatory state due to chronic stress- a poor diet, lack of adequate and consistent sleep, and continuous anxiety from adverse circumstances in life- the body will be unable to recover properly for muscle growth, weight gain or loss and physical adaptation.

Have you ever gotten a cold or sick during the height of competition? Do you suffer with low energy or chronic injuries? Track your dietary intake for a week to look for potential causes: high amounts of sugar, caffeine, fast food, and/or foods found in packaged bags or boxes. In the last week, how much water did you drink and how many different fruits and vegetables did you eat?

Foods that combat inflammation and provide the nutrients and minerals for optimal health are foods that are what I call “live foods”. Think about what grows and the earth produces: vegetables, fruits, animals, nuts, and seeds.

plate

Goal 3: Learn Your Body and the Best Timing of Food

There is not a blue print for the “athlete diet” due to the extremely diverse metabolic needs and requirements among individuals. However, you can take note of the affect various foods have on you: decrease or increase your energy, GI distress, and mental clarity.

The timing of food for an athlete is important but will be a separate blog post. In the meantime, if you are reading this hoping I offer a few supplements or specific foods that will “cure” a less than adequate diet, you may be disappointed. If you truly want to maximize your potential, the call is for adopting a lifestyle of health. Small, slow changes over the course of time.

Tips:                                                                                                                                                              1) Make your favorite snacks more nutritious- I absolutely LOVE guacamole because it’s delicious and high in nutrients and fat.

gauc

  • Cilantro– contains essential oils, vitamins and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL levels
  • Raw onion and garlic– both contain prebiotic components that nourish the GI tract- important for digestion and absorption
  • Tomato – when eaten with fats, like avocado, the body will absorption of the powerful antioxidants can increase by 2- 15 times according to a study from Ohio State University.
  • Occasionally I will even add finely chopped fresh spinach

2) Find ways to get veggies in at breakfast

I make an vegetable, egg frittata every week because it’s quick and easy and I can eat off of it all week when I’m in a rush. This one contains:

  • Leeks– contain an array of vitamins, minerals and Omega-3
  • Red pepper and spinach
  • Cast iron skillet provides a small source of iron- important for production of hemoglobin and red blood cells and supports energy levels

3) Vary your protein sources

shake

Your protein intake should not come solely from animal foods. I use AIM’s Propeas (pea protein powder) in my breakfast or snack shakes.

  • Watercress- weight for weight, contains more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than milk
  • Chia seeds– contain fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, iron

4) A colorful plate ensures variety of nutrient intake and take ownership by learning how to cook your food. It takes HARD WORK to excel!

 

References:

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrients-health/inflammation

http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/food-power-for-athletes