Nutrition Notes: Nutrition for Althletes

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

We all need food as a source of nourishment to grow and stay healthy. Food also gives us energy to perform and play; and helps rebuild and repair injured tissue. So think about our Olympic Athletes. What do you think they’re eating? Nutritional needs can vary based on the type of sport being played and individual needs of athletes. Although you may not all be ready to make your Olympic debut, you can properly fuel for whatever exercise you choose to do!

Here are some tips to stay nourished while playing, as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Hydration: It is important to keep yourself hydrated while playing, especially in long duration sports like tennis and soccer.

Carbs: Eating carbs will help fuel your workout. If you’re partaking in sustained exercise over 1 hour like cycling or long-distance running, foods like bananas, high energy bars, gels and drinks rich in carbs are important to provide energy boosts during your exercise.

Electrolytes: Electrolytes may be lost with sweat during endurance sports and must be replenished along with fluids and carbs.

The International Olympic Committee’s 2010 Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition recommends eating high carb foods before and after sports to store and replenish sufficient energy reserves, and that timely protein intake helps build muscle tissue. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet high in quality carbs (like whole grains, fruits and vegetables), moderate in healthy fats (like avocados, plant-based oils, nuts, tahini and fish), and adequate in protein (beans, lean meat, seafood, fish, tofu, milk, yogurt and cheese) for endurance training and racing. You can also find useful tips for nutrient needs to build and maintain muscle mass, and eating well before working out at eatright.org and usaswimming.org.

References:

1. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/training-and-recovery/races-and-competitions/sports-dietitians-prep-athletes-for-olympics

2. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/training-and-recovery/endurance-and-cardio/eat-right-for-endurance

3. http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=0&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&ItemId=15777&mid=11780

Nutrition Notes: Coconut Oil – The Good, Bad and Ugly

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

Recently, coconut oil has been hailed as a “wonder-oil” with many health benefits. It has been touted as a cure for eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders, aiding weight loss, increasing immunity and fighting infections. Coconut oil contains about 44% lauric acid, which has been known to have some antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. While it has been known to increase good cholesterol (HDL), it also increases bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

Coconut oil has a sweet, nutty flavor and is obtained from the mature fruit of the coconut tree. Vegan diets use coconut oil instead of butter or shortening as it is solid at room temperature. It contains approximately 91% saturated fat. Higher consumption of saturated fats has been associated with increased risk of heart disease. Due to its high saturated fat content, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming coconut oil in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat intake to about 5-6% of total daily caloric intake for persons who need to lower their cholesterol levels.

Moderate intake of saturated fat, less than 10% of the total daily calories – approximately 15 grams, is considered safe. To get an idea, there are about 10-12 grams of saturated fats in half a cup of ice-cream, 1.5 tablespoons of butter or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

It is a good idea to substitute some saturated fats in the diet with mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) as these fats can increase good cholesterol levels while decreasing bad cholesterol levels. Using a combination of MUFA (10-15% of total daily calories), PUFA (10% of total daily calories) and saturated fats – in moderation, is the current recommendation. Olive oil, avocados, sesame oil, canola oil, almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts are good sources of MUFA. PUFA-rich foods include sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil and soybean oil.

While coconut oil is not a nutrient superhero, it isn’t a nutrient “supervillain” either. Consuming it in reasonable amounts may be safe, but as of now, there is no scientific evidence showing its need as a supplement or super food. A good rule of thumb to follow, as with anything food-related, is to eat and enjoy foods in moderation!

References:
1. http://www.nutrition.org/asn-blog/2009/07/coconut-oil/
2. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11746-014-2562-7

Nutrition Notes: Feijoada – Black Beans the Brazilian Way

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

The 2016 Olympic Games are about to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And we are celebrating too – with feijoada, which is considered Brazil’s national dish.

Feijoada is a delicious stew made with pork and black beans, served with rice and orange slices. This stew is traditionally served on Saturdays and is meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace with family and friends. Feijoada is slow-cooked for about 24 hours using pork (including ears, feet and tail) that add flavor to this dish. Here is an easy and tasty version of feijoada:

Recipe: Feijoada in a Jiffy

Preparation time: 40-50 minutes | Number of servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

- 1 can black beans
- 4 oz dry, cured chorizo
- ½ lb. pork or beef ribs
- 2 oz smoked bacon for flavor
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Salt and chili powder to taste
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar

Directions:

1. Heat a pan and fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove from pan.
2. Sear the ribs and chorizo with ½ tbsp. oil, and add salt and chili powder. Remove from pan.
3. Add ½ tbsp. oil to the pan and sauté onion and garlic until mixture is golden brown.
4. Add beans, stock, meat, cumin powder, salt and vinegar.
5. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the stew comes together.
6. Serve with rice and orange slices.

So how about giving this Brazilian chili a try?

References:
1. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Celebrate-Brazil-with-Emerils-Feijoada-180951699/?no-ist
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feijoada
3. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-foods-try-brazil