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Precision Engineered Whey Protein – Yay or Nay?

precision engineered whey protein

In the world of whey protein, there’s a lot of debate over which one is the best. Source of protein, amount of protein per serving, and costs are amongst the main topics for consideration.  Let’s take a closer look at one company today and complete a Precision Engineered whey protein product review. A quick internet search will help you see that Precision Engineered products have mixed reviews. As a dietitian, I’ll be focusing on the nutrition facts of the product and ignore commenting on taste profiles and palatability. You can be the judge on that front.

 

Nutrition Facts Breakdown, on average:

 

Precision Engineered Whey Protein Isolate (Hardcore Series, vanilla)

– 1 scoop, 36grams, Protein 30g; Carbs 3g; Calories 140

 

Precision Engineered Whey Protein (vanilla)

– 1 scoop, 24grams Protein 18g; Carbs 2g; Calories 93

– 1.5 scoop, 36grams Protein 27g; Carbs 3g; Calories 140

 

You’ll notice that the hardcore series offers a minimal amount of added protein when the amount is adjusted between the two products. Don’t let sneaky marketing with the use of words like “hardcore” get to you. If there is a huge price difference between the two products, get the cheaper one because nutritionally, they’re practically identical.

 

How Much Protein is in Common Foods?

Here is a list of common foods and their respective protein content:

Food Group Food Protein Content
Meat and Alternatives Beef sirloin steak, 75 g 26 g
Tofu, firm, raw, 75 g 21 g
Pork tenderloin, 75 g 21 g
Chicken, skinless breast, 75 g 20 g
Tuna, canned light, 75 g 19 g
Eggs, whole cooked, 2 large 13 g
Kidney beans, boiled, 175 mL (¾ cup) 12 g
Lentils, boiled, 175 mL (¾ cup) 13 g
Almonds, 60 mL (¼ cup) 8 g
Peanut Butter, 15mL (1 tbsp) 4 g
Milk and Alternatives Cottage cheese, 125 mL (½ cup) 15 g
Cheddar cheese, 50 g (1¾ oz) 12 g
Milk, 250 mL (1 cup) 8 g
Yogurt, 175 mL (¾ cup) 8 g
Grain Products Whole-wheat pasta, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 4 g
Whole-wheat bread, 1 slice 3 g
Brown rice, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 3 g
Oatmeal, prepared, 175 mL (¾ cup) 3 g
Vegetables and Fruit Potato, with skin, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 5 g
Broccoli, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 2 g
Butternut squash, cooked, 125 mL (½ cup) 1 g
Banana, raw, 1 medium 1 g
Apple juice, bottled, 125 mL (½ cup) 0 g

 

Some reviewers of Precision Engineered Whey Protein complain that this product doesn’t have enough protein and concludes that hence, the product is less effective for building muscle. I offer an example to look at this from a different perspective:

  • 180 lb (81.8kg) male athlete that trains intensely almost daily requires about 1.2-1.5g protein per kg body weight per day = 98 to 123g protein per day
  • 3-4 scoops of the hardcore series or 4.5-6 scoops of the original provides this amount

 

Alternatively, the same amount of protein can be easily achieved through regular food intake:

  • Breakfast: ¾ cup Oatmeal + 2 Eggs + 1 cup Milk = 27g
  • Morning Snack: ¾ cup Yogurt + 1 medium Banana = 9g
  • Lunch: 2.5oz Chicken Salad Sandwich (2 slices bread) = 26g
  • Afternoon Snack: ¼ cup Almonds + ½ cup Apple Juice = 8g
  • Dinner: 5oz steak + 2/3 cup Mixed Vegetables + 1 cup Rice = 58g
  • TOTAL PROTEIN INTAKE = 128g

 

There is no evidence to support that protein intake above 1.7grams per kg body weight per day is beneficial or necessary to support training (unless you’re a growing adolescent athlete, then up to 2.0g/kg is acceptable). If too much protein is taken, there is a risk that not enough other nutrients such as carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals are taken. It’s a common misconception that more protein helps build more muscle, but in fact, additional calories coming from any source gets stored as fat. Hence, I think this product has sufficient protein.

 

In fact, my concern lies in the low carbohydrate content. Current research tells us that the optimal recovery food post workout is a combination of protein and carbohydrate. This product has barely any carbohydrate. Post exercise recovery is optimized when approximately 20grams of protein is taken, regardless of body weight.

 

One solution is to mix the Precision Engineered whey protein powder (1 scoop provides 24g protein, 2g carbs) with 1 cup milk instead of water. This would bump up the nutrition to 32g protein and 14g of carbohydrates to promote better recovery since the carbohydrate can be used for fuel, reserving the amino acids from the protein for rebuilding muscle.

 

Alternatively, you could eat a sandwich made with 2 slices of bread and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, with 1 cup of milk which would provide a total of 22g of protein, 45g carbohydrate.

 

If you ask me, the food option is a more natural and cheaper option that provides an amount closer to what post exercise protein needs are without going over as well as additional carbohydrates to reserve the amino acids for muscle building instead of being used up as fuel.

 

References:

Jeukendrup, A. (2010). Sports Nutrition From Lab to Kitchen. In A. Jeukendrup, Sports Nutrition From Lab to Kitchen (pp. 78-79). Aachen: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.

Health Canada. Canadian nutrient file (CNF) , 2007. Accessed June 28, 2010.

www.MyFitnessPal.com

Photo courtesty of www.vitaminworld.com

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Nutrition for Runners – Just in Time for the Vancouver Sun Run

female runner

Nutrition for athletes has been researched and explored since the origin of the Olympics. Athletes of this generation benefit from years of scientific explorations and the wisdom and experience of athletes and trainers who have worked hard for their own (and now our) benefit.

Healthy Foods for Runners

There isn’t really a specific diet for runners to follow. The key is to enjoy a balanced diet that includes three meals a day with snacks in between meals if you need them. In this case, ‘balanced’ means having three out of the four food groups present at each meal.

Examples of Balanced Meals

  • Salmon with Roasted Vegetables on Brown Rice
  • Lentil and Vegetable Stew with Whole Grain Roll & Skim Milk
  • Asian Beef and Vegetable Stir-fry over Japanese Noodles
  • Classic Tomato Meat Sauce Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Green Beans

asian-stirfry Nutrition for Runners - Just in Time for the Vancouver Sun Run

Whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruit, and lean protein are preferred to keep the cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal system healthy. Lean protein provides the amino acid building blocks required to build and repair muscle tissues, especially since running involves the largest muscle groups in the body – leg muscles. Healthy fats such as vegetable oil, soft margarine and those from nuts, seeds, and avocado are required as part of a healthy diet.

However, keeping the total amount of fat (from animal and plant sources) to less than thirty percent of your daily calories is best. Runners benefit from maintaining a healthy weight because it improves their efficiency and overall performance. When meal planning, keep in mind that eating foods high in fiber and fat before runs can cause digestive issues or lethargy because they take longer to digest.

Nutrition for Runners Marathon

For those who have or are thinking about signing up for a marathon, half-marathon, 10K or 5K walk or run, you need to be a bit more specific about your food intake than the recreational runner who isn’t training for a planned event.  The following guidelines will help you schedule meals so you minimize undesirable side effects during your runs such as dehydration, cramping, and nausea.

 If Eating Two Hours or More before Running

Balanced meal with grains, vegetables and protein. This can be a lighter meal if you find two hours isn’t long enough for you to digest everything prior to your run.

If Eating One Hour before Running

Liquid meals such as a meal replacement drink or fruit and yogurt smoothie will be best because fluids digest quicker. This will reduce your risks of cramping, and nausea during your run. If you have what I like to call an “iron stomach,” you may tolerate a regular meal of solid food, but don’t leave it until race day to try something new.

If You Run First Thing in the Morning

Have a balanced meal the night before with grains, vegetables and protein. This is very important to help you build some glycogen stores. In the morning, drink either diluted sports drink or fruit juice (or if you prefer, water and an energy gel or shot bloc gummy). This will prevent low blood sugars (even if you’re not diabetic) and keep you from feeling lightheaded during a 30 to 45 minute run.

Hydration for Runners

 water-fountain-1024x768 Nutrition for Runners - Just in Time for the Vancouver Sun Run

The general guideline for fluid intake:

Timing Amount of Fluid
2 hours before running 2 cups
10-15 min before running 1 to 2 cups
Every 15-20 min during run 1/3 – ½ cup
Immediately after training 1 – 3 cups

 

However, you may require less or more depending on your sweat losses, tolerance for fluid intake and body size. The key is to drink enough, but not too much or too little. Over hydration can cause a condition called hyponatremia, where the salt level in your blood becomes too low, causing symptoms of nausea, fatigue, and muscle cramps. Dehydration increases your body temperature and your overall risk of heat stroke and heart related illness. Rehydration will improve post-exercise recovery so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids after your run, especially after long runs or when running in hot weather.

Vitamins for Runners

If you’re eating balanced meals and snacks and don’t have pre-existing health conditions that require isolated supplements for treatment, you should be fine with just a one-a-day multivitamin/mineral.

Vitamin D supplementation may be useful for runners who live in climates that don’t get much sun exposure or if they wear sunscreen or clothing that covers most skin surfaces when outdoors. Adults generally require 600 IU per day, unless additional therapeutic doses are required to treat a deficiency or osteoporosis.

Calcium will be important if your diet doesn’t provide enough. One convenient way to check whether you need to eat more calcium containing foods or take a supplement is to use the BC Dairy Association’s Interactive Calcium Calculator (see “references”).

 

References:

http://sportmedbc.com/article/nutrition-tips-beginner-runners/

http://bcdairy.ca/nutritioneducation/programs/interactive-calcium-calculator/

 

Is There Such a Thing as Best Multivitamins For Men?

men

One trip to your local drug store and you’ll realize that there are countless options for multivitamins. But what would be the best multivitamin for men’s health? What are the factors to consider? Most importantly, remember that a multivitamin is like any other supplement, you only require it if you’re not meeting your vitamin and mineral needs through food.

If you think your diet is not balanced – meaning you’re not meeting Canada’s Food Guide’s recommended number of servings for grains/alternatives, meat/alternatives, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, it’s probably not a bad idea to consider a one-a-day multivitamin.

One word of caution – Be careful not to use supplements unless you absolutely need them. There’s a tendency for people who live busy home and work lives to use supplements as a replacement for eating a balanced diet (which is a more healthful way of getting your vitamins and minerals). Time and time again, research tells us that the greatest health for men and women alike are to adopt sustainable healthy habits that incorporate eating well and daily physical activity in order to enjoy a energetic life full of vitality.

Also, sometimes multivitamins may NOT be a good idea if you have underlying medical conditions that may cause a build-up of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K  or if you have high levels of minerals built up in your blood, in particularly iron, phosphate, magnesium, calcium and zinc.  In such cases, always consult your doctor prior to starting a multivitamin or any other supplement.

Depending on age, a man’s nutrient needs vary slightly. Here’s what you should aim for when choosing the best multivitamin for men’s health.

The best multivitamin for men aged 19 – 70+ would ideally have:

Nutrient Recommended Amount Food Sources & Additional Information
Vitamin A 3000 IU  or 900 mcg Animal foods, fruits, vegetables
Vitamin D 600 IU or 15 mcg800 IU (20 mcg if 50+ years old) (made by your body with exposure to the sun)
Vitamin E 15 mg Seed oils
Vitamin C 90 mg Most fruits and vegetables
Vitamin K 120 mcg Found in green vegetables. multivitamins contain little or none because it helps blood clot
B Vitamins:Thiamin

Riboflavin

Niacin

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

1.2 mg

1.3 mg

16 mg

1.3mg (1.7 mg if 50+ years old)

2.4 mcg

 

Found in many foods.Multivitamins with more than the recommendations are not a concern.

Folic Acid 400 mcg or 0.4 mg Found in leafy green vegetables and fortified flour, grain and pasta products.
Pantothenic Acid 30 mcg5 mg Found in many foods. Not always in multivitamins; if they are absent this is not a concern.
Calcium 1000mg (1200 mg if 50+ years old) Most multivitamins have 150 mg to 400 mg; extra calcium may be important if you do not eat dairy or calcium-fortified products often.
Iron 8 mg Found in meat, fish, poultry; less in plant foods.
Magnesium 400mg (420mg if 30+ years old) In green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts.
Phosphorus 700 mg Found in almost all foods. Look for a multivitamin with as little as possible.
Zinc 11 mg Found in meats and alternatives.

 

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Plant Sterols Lowering Cholesterol – True or False?

plant sterol yogurt

Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are compounds that can lower “lousy” LDL cholesterol levels and improve heart health as a result. Plant sterols foods include fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Health Canada has approved the addition of plant sterols to certain products, such as yogurt and margarine.

How do they work?

Research shows that plant sterols have a structure that is very similar to cholesterol. When they are in the body, plant sterols partially block cholesterol from being absorbed in the gut. The less cholesterol gets absorbed, the lower the blood cholesterol level, which is good news for your heart.

How much should be taken?

Current research suggests that taking 2 grams of plant sterols per day can lower LDL cholesterol on average by 10% starting within 3 weeks without making changes to eating habits. An additional 5% decrease can be achieved by making dietary changes toward healthier eating.

Please Note:

Take 2 grams of plant sterols consistently on a daily basis. More is not better.

It is very difficult to meet the 2 grams from foods containing plant sterols because the amount of plant sterols found naturally in these foods is minimal. Your best bet would be choose food products fortified with plant sterols or plant sterols supplements.

Which products are fortified with plant sterols?

  • Becel Proactiv® Margarine
  • Danacol Drinkable Yogurt
  • Astro BioBest with Plant Sterols
  • President’s Choice Blue Menu Yogurt Drink with Plant Sterols
  • And others…

Plant Sterols Supplements (i.e. Plant Sterols Pills)

Plant Sterols sources are not limited to that which can be found naturally or in fortified food products. While fortified foods can be a convenient choice for some individuals, others may prefer to ‘just get the plant sterols’ for their benefit, without needing to take in extra calories from margarine or yogurt.  If you feel the same way, try a plant sterol supplement, such as Centrum Cardio Multivitamin – 2 tab daily (total 1 gram of plant sterols). Alternatively, you can seek a dietitian’s advice to choose another appropriate plant sterols pill to achieve the clinically effective 2 gram dose for the proven heart health benefits.

Plant Sterols Side Effects

According to Health Canada, , there are “no safety concerns with intakes of plant sterols up to 3g (as free phytosterols) per day in adults and 1 gram per day in children.”

Should I take them?

If you have concerns regarding your cholesterol levels, it is always best to discuss with your doctor, who may run tests to check your blood cholesterol levels. Depending on your current health status, risk factors for heart disease, and/or past heart health issues, you may not need to supplement your diet with plant sterols.  However, if plant sterols are appropriate for you, you can always meet with a dietitian to ensure you’re on the right track with meeting the 2 gram per daily intake level.

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Best Prenatal Multivitamin – What to Look For

prenatal multivitamin

I think I’ve mentioned before that looking at the supplement section of a pharmacy or grocery store overwhelms me. There are SHELVES AND SHELVES of multivitamins, isolated vitamins and minerals, combinations, countless brands, not to mention the ever growing protein powder and meal replacement drinks.

When it comes to pregnancy, things to be kept simple. For heaven’s sake, there’s enough going on in a new mom’s life than to spend a lot of time worrying about whether she’s making a good choice for her prenatal vitamin. For new moms especially, there’s so much information out in cyberspace these days that it can paralyze any level headed woman’s decision making capacity. However, it’s also the BEST time to be a new mom because companies that make prenatal vitamins now have all their nutrition information online, making it easier to do research before you hit the stores.

What To Look For In a Prenatal Multivitamin

As per the Canadian Dietary Reference Intake Table from Health Canada:

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) – The average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. The RDA is the goal for usual intake by an individual.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) – The highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given life-stage and gender group. The UL is not a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

When choosing a prenatal multivitamin, make sure that it meets your pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, or breastfeeding RDA without going over the UL. The following figures are based on females between the ages of 19 to 50 years old.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 400 mcg 1000 mcg Daily multivitamins usually contain 400 mcg.
During Pregnancy 600 mcg 1000 mcg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 1000 mcg.
Breastfeeding 500 mcg 1000 mcg Upper limit for folate applies to amount taken via supplements and fortified foods only, not folate found naturally in foods. Learn more.

Vitamin D

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most adult multivitamins contain 400 to 800 IU.
During Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most prenatal multivitamins contain 400 IU
Breastfeeding 600 IU 4000 IU There’s about 100 IU of Vitamin D in 1 cup of cow’s milk.

Calcium

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 175 to 400 mg.
During Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 250 mg.
Breastfeeding 1000 mg 2500 mg There’s about 300 mg of Calcium in 1 cup of cow’s milk.

Iron

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy  18 mg  45 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 4-10 mg.
During Pregnancy  27 mg  45 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 27 mg.
Breastfeeding  9 mg  45mg Iron may cause constipation and gas. Ask your doctor about alternatives.
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Folate and Folic Acid Before, During, and After Pregnancy

peas

What is Folate or Folic Acid?

Folate and folic acid are (almost) the same thing. Folate is a B vitamin (B9) found naturally in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) form of folate that you find in fortified foods and vitamin supplements. In Canada, folic acid is added to white flour, enriched pasta and enriched cornmeal. Other foods that may contain added folic acid include breads, buns, cookies, crackers, pasta, and ready-to-eat cereals. Folate and folic acid share the same function in the body, so you can get your daily requirement either naturally or via fortified foods and supplements without needing to worry that one is superior to the other.

Why Should Women Take Folate and Folic Acid Before, During and After Pregnancy?

Folate and folic acid is used by the body to make healthy blood cells to cell to help you and your baby grow. It is an extremely important B vitamin during the first four weeks of pregnancy to ensure that the baby’s spine, brain, and skull develop normally. Inadequate intake of folate and folic acid leads to an increased risk of the baby developing neural tube defects (NTDs), which in severe cases can lead to stillbirth or early infant death postpartum.

The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of BC reports that 1 in every 750 children born each year in Canada are born with a NTD. The most common type of NTD is spina bifida, a condition where the baby is born with paralysis in one or more of their muscles (in the legs, bladder, and/or bowel). Babies born with spin bifida will require medical care their entire lives as the condition is irreversible.

The reason why Health Canada recommends that all women who can become pregnant  take daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms (may also be written as “mcg” or with the symbol μg or as 0.4 mg) of folic acid in it is because some women may not realize they are pregnant until after they’ve missed their period for one to two weeks. Since NTDs occur in the third and fourth week after conception, it’s highly possible that a pregnant woman (without knowing they were pregnant) did not take enough folate in their diet to meet the increased demands of their developing baby and as such, increased their risk of NTDs. Therefore, despite widespread folic acid fortification in common food products in Canada, it is still suggested that women of childbearing age (14 to 50 years old) take 400 mcg of folic acid per day on top of any folate they’re getting through food.

Some women are at a higher risk of having a baby with a NTD. This applies to women who:

  • have a family member with a NTD
  • have a medical history of diabetes, obesity or epilepsy
  • have already had a baby with a NTD or a pregnancy affected by a NTD

Women who fall under this category of increased risk should talk to their doctor or midwife to discuss whether a higher dosage of folic acid supplementation is necessary.

How Much Folate Does a Woman Need?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Folate (Daily)
All women
(Age 14 to 50)
400 mcg
Pregnant women 600 mcg
Breastfeeding women 500 mcg

 

Most prenatal multivitamins contain 1000 mcg, which is the upper limit for folic acid supplementation (more details below). Most daily multivitamins contain 400 micrograms (also written as mcg or μg), which is equal to 0.4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid. This is sufficient for women before pregnancy without additional folate taken from the diet. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, continue taking  a multivitamin with 400 mcg folic acid and increase the dosage if you’re not getting enough folate through your diet to meet the recommended amounts of 600 mcg and 500 mcg respectively.

Do not exceed the daily limit of folic acid of 1000 mcg unless you’ve been advised by a physician to do so. Over-supplementation of folic acid can lead to other health problems. The upper limit of 1000 mcg applies only to supplements and folate fortified foods. According to HealthLinkBC, the amount of folate in enriched foods is given as a percentage of the daily value (DV) and the standard used is 220 mcg. For example, if a serving of cereal has 15% of the daily value, it has 33 mcg of folic acid (0.15 x 220 mcg = 33 mcg). It’s estimated that 100-200 mcg of folic acid is taken daily from fortified foods.

Naturally occurring folate does not have a upper limit as it has not been shown to have adverse effects.

Those who have folate deficiency from malabsorptive conditions such as Celiac Disease or inadequate intake of folate (such as in chronic alcoholism) should speak with a physician about how much folic acid supplementation is appropriate. According to Merck Manual, folate deficiency is usually treated with supplemental 400-1000 mcg of folate daily.

When choosing a multivitamin, choose one that also has vitamin B12, which works with folate to make DNA.

Good Sources of Folate in Foods

Good sources of folate include:

  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils
  • edamame (green soybeans)
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • romaine lettuce
  • beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • green peas
  • gai-lan (sometimes called Chinese kale)
  • bok choy
  • oranges
  • orange juice
  • wheat germ
  • sunflower seeds
  • yeast extract (such as marmite)
  • peanuts
  • liver (do not eat more than 75 grams of liver per week because it is very high in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your developing baby and cause birth defects and/or liver toxicity.)
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Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women Need More of This Nutrient

omega 3

Many people have heard about the heart healthy effects of omega-3 fats. but not everyone knows that they also play an important role in a baby’s brain and eye development. For this reason, it is suggested that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume more omega-3 fats than those who are not pregnant or lactating.

There are three kinds of omega-3 fats: ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is found in plant foods including vegetable oils (such as flaxseed oil and canola oil), walnuts, flaxseeds, and soy products. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but the conversion rate is not very high. This is why the recommended intake level of ALA is much higher than that of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood, and fish oils. Just two servings of fish per week (total 150 grams or 5 ounces) would provide 0.3-0.45 grams of EPA and DHA per day, which is the general recommendation given to adults. For those who don’t enjoy fish, however, make sure you get enough ALAs for your baby’s healthy brain and vision development.

Recommended Intake Levels of ALA Omega-3 Fats

  • Women 19 and older – 1.1 grams per day
  • Pregnant Women 19 and older – 1.4 grams per day
  • Breastfeeding Women 10 and older – 1.3 grams per day
  • There is no upper limit established for ALA. (i.e. there is no maximum dose limit that has been set)

Getting Enough Omega-3 Fats

As mentioned earlier, not everyone likes eating fish and seafood, so it’s helpful to know plant based omega-3 fats (ALA) are available in many foods, including:

  • Walnuts
  • Flax seeds (Grind whole flaxseed or buy it ground so you absorb more of the omega-3 fats in flax. The seed as a whole is very hard to digest by the body and as a result, very little omega-3 fat is actually absorbed.)
  • Chia seeds (doubles as a great source of soluble fibre that helps alleviate constipation, especially if you’re taking iron supplements during your pregnancy)
  • Soy products
  • Vegetable oils (such as canola and flaxseed oil)
  • Omega-3 fortified foods: margarine, eggs, yogurt, juice, soy beverage

As with any nutrient that’s good for the  body, if you’re able to get it through food first, do so. Save supplements for when you absolutely cannot get it any other way. When nutrients, omega-3 fats included, are taken in it’s whole food form, it’s “packaged by nature” to contain other vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that may play a synergistic role in improving overall health than what an isolated supplement can offer. Food first, supplement second.

Alligga Flaxseed Cooking Oil

Here’s a quick and simple way to add more omega-3s (ALA) into your diet.

 

Omega-3 Fat Content of Common Foods

(Courtesy of Dietitians of Canada website)

Food Serving size ALA (g) EPA/DHA (g)
Vegetables and Fruit Not a good source of omega-3 fats.
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.29-0.34 0
Radish seeds, sprouted, raw 125 mL (½ cup) 0.42 0
Winter squash, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 0.18 0
Grain products Products made with flax, soybean or canola oil provide ALA. Some grain products are now enriched with EPA/DHA.  Check food labels for details.
Wheat germ cereal, toasted 30 g 0.24 0
Milk and Alternatives Some dairy products now provide omega-3 fat. Check food labels for details.
Milk, fortified with DHA * 250 mL (1 cup) 0 0.01
Omega-3 soy beverage with flax and algal* 250 mL (1 cup) 0.67 0.03
Omega-3 yogurt * 175 g (¾ cup) 0.46 0
Soy beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.19 0
 Meat and Alternatives
Egg Products
Eggs, cooked 2 eggs 0.06-0.28 0.07
Omega-3 eggs fortified with DHA* 2 eggs 0.50-0.54 0.16-0.27
Fish and Seafood
Anchovies, canned with oil 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.54
Arctic char, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08 0.68
Carp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.26 0.56
Caviar (black, red), granular 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.96
Clams, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.21
Cod, Atlantic, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.11
Cod, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04 0.79
Crab, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.36
Eel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.42 0.14
Halibut, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.06 0.35-0.88
Herring, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.11 1.6
Lobster, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.42
Mackerel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.08 0.90-1.39
Mackerel, salted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.12 3.43
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.59
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.13
Oysters, Eastern/Blue point, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.05 0.33-0.41
Oysters, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 1.04
Pollock, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.40
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08-0.11 1.48-1.61
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.22-0.28 1.08-1.38
Salmon, Chinook, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.08 1.31-1.47
Salmon, Coho, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.05 0.33-0.98
Salmon, pink/humpback, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.06 0.96-1.26
Salmon, sockeye/red, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.07 0.87-1.06
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17-0.37 0.74-1.05
Scallops, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.27
Shrimp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.24
Snapper, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.25
Sole or plaice, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.37
Tilapia, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.10
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.14 0.65-0.87
Tuna, light, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.21
Tuna, white, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 0.65
Whitefish, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17 1.20
Meat Alternatives
Beans (navy, pinto), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.17-0.24 0
Peas, black-eyed, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.11 0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.76 0
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 0.27-0.48 0
Meatless (fish sticks, chicken, meatballs), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.39-0.78 0
Nuts and Seeds                  
Almonds, oil roasted, blanched 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.15 0
Chia seeds 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.9 0
Flaxseed, ground** 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 2.46 0
Hickory nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.32 0
Pumpkin seeds, without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.06 0
Pecans 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.25-0.29 0
Soy nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.42 0
Walnuts, black 60 mL (¼ cup 0.64 0
Walnuts, English, Persian 60 mL (¼ cup) 2.30 0
Fats and Oils
Canola oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.42 0
DHA-enriched Omega-3 margarine made with fish oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.28 0.03
Flaxseed oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 2.58 0
Omega-3 margarine made with canola oil * 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.34 0
Soybean oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.31 0
Walnut oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.48 0
Other                                        
Herring oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.04 0.48
Salmon oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.05 1.44
Sardine oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.06 0.96
Almond beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.10 0
Oat beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.30 0

Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2010”

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php    [Accessed Dec. 2012]

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Is it Okay to Use Protein Powder?

egg

Before I answer the question, allow me to start off by saying that I strongly believe in getting our nutrients from natural food sources as much as possible. Our bodies require energy from three macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Protein provides both calories and amino acids to help build and repair muscles and is an essential part of our daily nutrition. There are excellent protein food sources including lean chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, soy-based vegetable protein, nut butters, eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese.

 

Most people eat way more protein in a day than Canada Food Guide’s recommended 2-3 servings meat and alternatives and 2-3 servings of milk and alternatives for adults aged 19 years and older. However, there are reasons why someone may not being getting enough protein:

  • Too busy to prioritize meal planning and grocery shopping for healthy protein foods
  • Work schedule impacting eating habits causing skipped and missed meals
  • Those struggling with low appetite due to illness or chronic disease
  • Cancer patients dealing with side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both
  • People who experience low appetite from intense physical training and exercise

 

In such cases, protein supplements can come in handy because of its versatility. Flavorless protein powders as as Beneprotein can be added to sweet and savory food and drinks both hot and cold, making it a good “Plan B” kind of pantry item for those who struggle to get enough protein from food sources alone. For those who prefer to make smoothies and shakes for a quick “meal on the go,” flavored protein powders may be preferred unless you dislike the conventional choices of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. This is especially true for you deal hunters out there. Buying bulk protein powder is going to be your best bet since it has a long shelf life when kept in a cool dry location, and it stretches much further than buying meal replacement drinks sold in 4 or 6 packs.

 

But what is the best protein powder? What’s the difference between cheap protein powder vs expensive? Is cheap protein powder in bulk form okay to use? Forget the price tag of the protein supplement for a second (okay maybe 5 minutes) and just focus on the ingredients to help you make a decision:

 

Protein Source – Whey versus Soy

Research shows that animal proteins result in greater gains in muscle mass and strength when compared againt protein from plant sources. Whey protein is an animal protein derived from milk. Whey protein is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on its own. It is also fast acting and easily absorbed by the body which may improve muscle recovery post work out.

 

Soy is the only plant based protein that is considered complete and offers unique benefits including being low in saturated fat, and high in antioxidants. It has cholesterol lowering effects and a positive influence on heart health. It’s also a great alternative to animal protein supplements for vegetarian or vegan athletes.

 

How Much Protein?

For everyday people who exercise about 30 minutes a day, an adequate amount of protein would be about 0.8-1.0grams/kg body weight/day. (Note: 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds) For adults that are very physically active, protein needs are only slightly elevated. Recommended protein intakes for endurance athletes is 1.2.-1.4g/kg/day and for strength/resistance training athletes is 1.5-1.7g/kg/day.

 

For example: 60 kilogram male or female

30 minutes of exercise per day: 0.8-1.0g/kg body weight equals 48 to 60 grams protein per day

Endurance athlete: 1.2-1.4g/kg body weight equals 72 to 84 grams protein per day

Strength or resistance athlete: 1.5-1.7g/kg body weight equals 90 to 102 grams protein per day

 

How much protein is in common foods?

 

Food

Amount

Grams of Protein

Animal Sources    
Beef, lamb, pork or veal, or poultry, cooked 3 ounces (90 grams) 25

 

Eggs, large 2 eggs 12
Canned Fish (170g net weight, 120g drained) ½ can 14
Fish and Shellfish, cooked 3 ounces (90 grams) 18
Vegetarian Sources    
Lentils, beans or peas 1 cup cooked 15
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons (30mL) 10
Tofu (regular curd) ½ cup (125 grams) 10
Soy milk 1 cup (250mL) 7
Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnut, and pistachios) ¼ cup (1 ounce) 6
Seeds (pumpkin, squash, sesame, and sunflower) ¼ cup (1 ounce) 7
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked 1 cup (250mL) 15
Milk & Alternatives    
Cheese hard 1 ounce (28 grams) 7
Cottage cheese & ricotta ½ cup ( 115 grams) 14
Milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole or chocolate) 1 cup (250mL) 8
Pudding (made with milk) ½ cup (125mL) 4
Yogurt ¾ cup (175 grams) 6
Skim milk powder 2 tablespoons (30mL) 5
Grain Products    
Cream of wheat 1 cup (250mL) 4
Oatmeal ¾ cup (188mL) 4
Bagel, 3 ½ inch diameter 1 7
Bread 1 slice 2
Pasta, cooked 1 cup (250mL) 7
Pita, 6 ½ inch diameter 1 6
Rice, cooked 1 cup 6

 

Helpful Hints:

  • 3 ounces (90 grams) of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards

 

Keep in mind that the increased amount of protein for athletes can easily be met through food with careful planning of meals and snacks. For those who struggle with getting enough protein through food, figure out how much protein you’re taking in a typical day, and supplement the difference with protein powder. More protein in not always better, so don’t overdo it unless you have a medical reason to do so.

 

So the question should no longer be “where can I find cheap protein powder online” or is “wholesale protein powder” okay? Rather, start asking how can I get enough protein through food sources. If not, then ask whether the protein powder you’re buying has the type of protein in the amounts needed to supplement your food intake? If yes, and it’s cheap? GREAT.

 

Bottom line: Food First, then Supplement if needed.

 

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Do Foods That Burn Belly Fat Really Exist?

foods that help you lose weight

Popular claims such as “foods that burn belly fat and increase metabolism,” “32 foods that burn belly fat fast,” and a personal favourite, “shocking foods that burn belly fat” are easy to write, but so far, there is no research to support these bold statements. Burning fat is hard. It takes commitment and determination. Think you got what it takes? Read on…

 

Key principles that facilitate burning fat:

  1. You need to burn more calories than you’re eating. This is also known as negative energy balance and it’s based off of the fact that 3500 calories equals 1 pound of body weight.

     

    If you eat 500 fewer calories per day, you’ll lose about 1 pound a week, since…

 

500 calories x 7 days = 3500 calories = 1 pound body weight

 

However, this can be done in combination through diet in exercise.

 

For example, a 150lb individual who plays 1 hour of indoor volleyball burns about 200 calories. By cutting out 2 cans of pop that you may normally drink in a day, that should equate to about 500 calories. Together, you have reduced your calories by 700!

 

The difficulty here is that exercise can make some people work up an appetite and tempt them to eat more. In order for this mathematical equation to play out right in your body, you need to keep your net caloric intake at an average deficit of around 500 calories per day. My advice here would be to not “spend” any of your precious calories on sweet drinks, desserts, and processed snack foods.

 

 

  1. You need to be more physically active. The longer you exercise, the more fat you’ll burn. This is because your body first uses up the carbohydrates in your body before breaking down your fat stores for energy. Also, running seems to burn more fat when compared to cycling, although researchers are not exactly sure why. So stop obsessing over stomach fat burning foods while sitting down at your desk. Put on your runners and work your way up from a steady walk to running with friends or colleagues.

 

 

  1. You may benefit from supplements. There are only two supplements that have research evidence to back up their claims for increasing fat oxidation.

     

    1. Caffeine: At low doses, caffeine can improve fat burning during low intensity exercises. However, the effect would be minimal, particularly if carbohydrate (which suppresses fat burning) is taken at the same time.

       

    2. Green Tea Extract: the active ingredient is epogalocatechin gallate (ECGC). There is some evidence that shows ECGC increase metabolic rate and thus helps with weight loss as well as fat metabolism. Optimal dosage is still being researched.

       

    3. Foods that increase metabolism of fat containing the active ECGC ingredient (i.e. foods that help you lose weight) include: matcha green tea leaves and matcha powder used for traditional tea leaves but more recently in the preparation of cakes, cookies, and other desserts.

 

Interesting Tidbits:

  1. Women are able to burn slightly more fat than men.
  2. There are no specific foods that burn belly fat for men or for women more effectively.
  3. Three conditions decrease fat burning: high altitude, high environmental temperature, very cold conditions.
  4. A diet high in carbohydrates suppresses fat burning. Keep your meals balanced by not having more than ¼ of your meal come from carbs. 
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Is Chlorogenic Acid Safe to Use for Weight Loss?

chlorogenic acid benefits

Recently, I was approached by someone to comment on whether chlorogenic acid (a compound found in raw, green coffee beans) would be safe to use for weight loss. She shared a story with me that I’m sure many of us can echo.

 

chlorogenic acid levels in coffee bean

 

She’s a mother of a beautiful toddler and soon to have her second child. After her firstborn, she noticed changes in her body that she didn’t like. She put on weight during her pregnancy that simply did not go away despite maintaining an active lifestyle of keeping up with her active two and a half year old and doing errands in and outside of the home. As you can imagine, life as a mother and homemaker keeps her very busy and often too tired by the end of her day to make an effort for working out or attending an exercise class to lose the weight she wants to. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

 

 

That’s why when she found information on the internet about chlorogenic acid benefits including weight loss, she approached me for a second opinion because she remembered I’m a dietitian.

 

Here’s what I told her:

 

There are a lot of companies making tons of money selling chlorogenic acid supplements, predominantly marketed as “green coffee bean extract” in huge part because of it’s appearance on the popular television talk show “Dr.Oz.” To be fair, green coffee beans do have a high concentration of this compound, but other chlorogenic acid foods include: apples, pears, eggplant, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, potatoes, bamboo, and hawthorn.

 

The claim is that chlorogenic acid slows the absorption of fat and activates the metabolism of extra fat in our bodies, which together promotes weight loss. Some clinical trials have been reported to be successful; however there’s insufficient evidence at this time to say exactly what dosage needs to be taken in order to achieve weight loss. We also don’t know whether naturally occuring sources work just as well as supplements derived from chlorogenic acid extraction (usually from green coffee beans).

 

Available research tells us that healthy adults aged 18 and over who are overweight may experience weight loss by taking chlorogenic acid supplements, specifically those with the active ingredient: Svetol(r) or GCA(r) (green coffee antioxidant). Overweight is defined by having a BMI of 25-29.9. BMI (which stands for body mass index) is a tool used to screen whether an individual is at increased risk of developing health problems related to their weight for height measure.

 

Those who should NOT take chlorogenic acid supplements are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children, and people with health conditions who may or may not be on medications. There is currently not enough research and evidence to support the use of this supplement in these groups as the potential benefits and/or harm have not been identified.

 

For those wishing to pursue weight loss and who fall under the “should NOT take” category – don’t dismay. The good news is that even Dr.Oz has said on his website, there is no substitution for eating well and maintaining an active lifestyle when it comes to weight loss.

 

So the bottom line is, for overweight adults aged 18 years or older who are otherwise healthy, it’s probably safe to try the supplement. However, if you’re looking for a more natural, tried and true method of effective weight loss, the old school way of a healthy diet and exercise (though hard to commit to) really does have guaranteed results and may be easier on the pocketbook as well.