In today's digest:
- Why adding an egg to your salad is recommended (no, not just for protein & fat)
- Skipping carbs at breakfast helps keep blood sugar under control the entire day
- Adding protein to your marathon nutrition can improve your performance & recovery
- Fasting Blood Sugar: a key indicator for heart disease
Why adding an egg to your salad is recommended (no, not just for protein & fat)
I often top my salad with a freshly poached free-range organic egg. I normally do for the commonly known benefits of eggs, including choline, Vitamin D, minerals, healthy fats, protein, etc (eggs are a super-food after all!).
However I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this new study from Purdue University, giving me yet another reason to eat eggs with my vegetables.
According to this study, the consumption of eggs with raw vegetables significantly increases our absorption of Vitamin E from those vegetables.
If you've been a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that Vitamin E is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants we have, and virtually every single one of us "under-consumes" Vitamin E. So we could all use a boost in our ability to absorb Vitamin E from food.
This is even more important since Vitamin E supplements have notoriously low absorption rates.
Skipping carbs at breakfast helps keep blood sugar under control the entire day
If you've been a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I advocate avoiding carbs at breakfast, and only including it post-workout and / or at dinner time (no carbs at dinner don't make you gain weight, contrary to non-scientific popular belief).
This new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides further evidence that skipping carbs at breakfast helps in 3 ways:
- It reduces the total amount of carbs eaten during the day ("carb-skippers" don't end up over-eating carbs during the day).
- The "peak" blood sugar levels during the day are lower for those who skip carbs at breakfast vs. those who don't.
- The amount of time spent with a blood sugar above 180mg/dl (that's really high!) was reduced by 22%.
I've written a lot about carbs in the past, including which to eat and which to avoid, the best/worse times to eat carbs, and more. You can find them all here.
Adding protein to your marathon nutrition can improve your performance & recovery
One thing that athletes I coach have heard me say over and over again is this: when it comes to race-day nutrition for any endurance event longer than 2 hours (marathon, triathlon, etc), protein becomes a critical success factor.
For races longer than 1.5/2hrs, our muscles start to break down at a very fast rate. This leads to a combination of fatigue (from broken down muscles) as well as reduced efficiency (as muscle cells start to produce lactic acid at an increasing rate). This increases acidity in our muscles/blood, activating our immune system.
This "perfect storm" of events leads to reduced performance as well as longer time to recover post-race.
However, easily digestible protein taken during the workout/race can significantly slow down the muscle breakdown process, offsetting many of these detrimental effects.
This study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine provides further insight into this: they compared 3 groups of women over a half-marathon distance. One group consumed carbs+electrolytes, another consumed carbs+electrolytes+protein, and the 3rd consumed electrolytes only.
The study concluded that there was NO difference in performance between the 3 groups: so neither protein no carbs made any difference.
HOWEVER: the study did show that the "protein" group had a much lower level of lactic acid in their blood after the race! This is CRITICAL, because this means that their muscles broke down less.
Remember that this study used trained marathon runners and had them run for around 90min. The increase in lactic acid and the impact of muscle breakdown starts to show after the 2-hour mark. But since the "protein group" showed less lactic acid build-up, they would have performed better had they continued to run beyond the 21km mark.
I recommend using easy to digest protein. In fact, my "go to" formula is 5g of full spectrum amino acids per hour.
Fasting Blood Sugar: a key indicator for heart disease
I'll keep this one short.
- hs-CRP is a measure of inflammation (you can get from your blood test).
- hs-CRP is one of the best indicators of cardiovascular disease (heart disease).
- Ideally, you want hs-CRP at 0.
- This study from the European Journal of Clinic Nutrition looked at the impact of a variety of metabolic factors on hs-CRP.
- The factor MOST associated with elevated hs-CRP was fasting blood glucose.
In other words, diets which push your blood glucose up (e.g. high carb) could significantly increase risk of hs-CRP (inflammation) increasing risk of heart disease.
Bottom line: keep your carbs in check, and focus on the quality of food you're consuming.
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