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Nutrition and Well-Being At EliteFTS

Posted Sep 13 2008 1:18am

Nutrition and Well-Being

By Eric Talmant for www.EliteFTS.com

I've been using nutrition as a successful weapon in such
athletic endeavors as powerlifting, running, swimming, sprint triathlons,
special operations military training, and then back to powerlifting. Has it made
a difference for me? Unequivocally, yes. How? Primarily by increasing my ability
to recover from and be prepared for the next workout. I can also say that the
quality of life that I experience today is directly related to how well I took
(and continue to take) care of myself nutritionally. Is it easy? It does take
work, and it is an ongoing process. The foods that I currently eat are different
from the foods that I was eating six months ago. Not entirely different, but the
ratios (protein/carbs/fats) have changed, and I have changed some things that
suit my metabolic rate and metabolic type for my current situation.

Over the course of several articles, it's my objective to teach
you what I've learned along the way, how to properly identify your metabolic
type, and how you can apply these things to yourself and those around you. Some
of this may sound a bit unconventional, hokey, new age, or just too troublesome.
However, if you at least read what I have to say, I assure you that you?ll take
away at least one principle that you?ll apply for the rest of your life.

In order to achieve optimal health, we must first see how strong
our foundation is. Just like any good workout template, we must first have the
basics in place. I believe there are three indicators that you can use to
accurately assess your own level of health. Yes, we have all heard of these
factors before, but if I did not believe that they were important enough to call
our ?health foundation blocks,? I would not have included them.

These three indicators are your insulin level, your ideal blood
pressure, and your cholesterol level or cholesterol ratio. These three
indicators can tell you so much about your own state of health and how
aggressively you need to change your dietary and exercise habits in order to
maximize yourself in (training) and out (recovering) of the gym to improve your
quality of life. Did everybody read Dave's article about taking his kids to the
zoo? Enough said.

Before we determine how we will go about testing insulin levels,
let's first discuss insulin. The small intestine is responsible for separating
glucose (sugar) from the dietary carbohydrates that we ingest. Once the glucose
is free, it enters and is absorbed into the blood. Most adults have close to a
gallon of blood in their bodies and roughly only a teaspoon of sugar. If your
blood sugar level were to rise to a tablespoon, you would go into a coma and
certainly die. Our bodies work very hard to prohibit this from happening by
producing appropriate amounts of insulin.

Insulin acts on the cellular level in our bodies to stimulate
the uptake, use, and storage of the glucose (sugar) that we just ate from the
carbohydrates. This action keeps us from dying when we ingest sugar. However,
high (inappropriate) levels of insulin are bad for us. Whenever we decide to eat
grains and sugars, we end up increasing our insulin levels. Increased insulin
levels can lead and help contribute to diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood
pressure, and obesity.

There are two types of diabetes?insulin dependent (type 1) and
non-insulin dependent (2). Here, I'll be referencing the most common type, type
2. In type 2, the insulin receptors fail to respond the way that they should to
the insulin that our bodies secrete from eating carbohydrates (sugar).
Therefore, we continue to secrete more and more insulin. This is bad news.

The best way to find out what our insulin levels are is to
request a fasting blood sugar test (FBS) from a doctor. It is a simple blood
withdrawal after a fast of at least six hours. Personally, I prefer and
recommend at least eight. It is a relatively inexpensive test that should not
require much of your time. Normal levels for a fasting blood sugar test are
around 87mg/dL, but anything below 90 is fine.

Clinically, type 2 diabetes is not diagnosed until levels reach
or exceed 126mg/dL, but you should be very concerned with anything at or
slightly above 100mg/dL regardless of what is considered ?normal range.? This is
a direct indicator that you are becoming increasingly insulin resistant (your
receptors are failing, as we discussed above) and that it's becoming harder and
harder for your body to control your blood sugar. Blurred vision, excessive
hunger, excessive thirst, excessive urination, and difficulty with would healing
are all symptoms that may indicate that you are insulin resistant. Now do you
see why controlling insulin levels are so important?

With the drug companies promoting statin drugs (Lipitor, etc)
more than ever, most people are confused about cholesterol. Actually,
cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on this planet. Without
cholesterol, there would be no life on earth. I would say that's important,
wouldn't you? Cholesterol is also needed to make estrogen, testosterone,
cortisone, and just about every other vital hormone that you can imagine. The
majority of cholesterol in one's bloodstream is manufactured from the liver. The
amount of dietary cholesterol has little to do with your cholesterol levels.
Please read that statement again and repeat it out loud. The cholesterol that
you are consuming in eggs has little to do with your cholesterol levels.

When you go to get your cholesterol levels checked, the total
cholesterol
is measured and expressed in milligrams per deciliter of blood
(mg/dL). HDL and LDL levels are also given. Currently, the most accurate
predictor of cardiovascular health is not total cholesterol, but the ratio
of HDL to total cholesterol. HDL has been referred to as ?good cholesterol? and
LDL as ?bad cholesterol.? These are misnomers, as HDL stands for high-density
lipoprotein, and LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are
proteins that are combined with fats. Therefore, there really are no such things
as good and bad cholesterol. There is just cholesterol. However, all of these
levels are important. Simply put, the lower your LDL levels the better.

More importantly though, lets examine the ratio of HDL to total
cholesterol that I mentioned above. On the ?average,? HDL levels for males
should range from 40?50mg/dL. In women, the levels are 50?60mg/dL. It is
important to note that progesterone and anabolics, specifically exogenous
testosterone, lower HDL levels. In order to determine your ratio, take your
total cholesterol level and divide that by your HDL level. For example, if your
total cholesterol level is 200mg/dL and your HDL level is 50, then 200 divided
by 50 gives you a number of four. The American Heart Association states that the
goal is to keep this number below five, but I believe that the cut-off point
should be four. The lower the number, the better off you are. There is a rare
genetic condition (one in 500) known as hypercholesterolemia where cholesterol
levels are usually around 350 or higher. Obviously if this is the case for you,
immediately contact an experienced natural health care clinician.

Finally, we need to look at blood pressure. As our hearts pump
blood, it is pushed through our arteries and against our arterial walls. Blood
pressure is measured by cardiac output, or the force with which blood is pumped
out of the left ventricle and the amount of resistance that is encountered.
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers. For example, ?normal? blood pressure
is 120/80 mm Hg. The first number is systolic pressure, which measures the
pressure within the arteries when your heart beats. Systolic pressure increases
steadily with age. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when
the heart is at rest between beats and filling with blood. There are many
different opinions on what is considered as optimum blood pressure. If I had to
define it, I would say that it would be less than 120 over 80, but the take-home
point is that it should be as low as possible.

What is not disputable is that when taken accurately, elevated
blood pressure makes the heart work harder, which leads to increasing oxygen
demands and a whole host of other problems that we simply don't want. It's
interesting to note that I have been unable to find, and other prominent doctors
in the field have pointed out, that not a single clinical trial has ever proven
that lowering an elevated systolic blood pressure reduces the risk for death due
to coronary disease. Why is this? Simply, the cause of high blood pressure
cannot always be identified.

When a disease is treated, we first identify and then treat its
cause. The problem with high blood pressure is that there seems to be many
plausible causes. The high insulin levels that we discussed previously are one
of the main factors that contribute to high blood pressure. Insulin resistance
can increase blood pressure by causing the kidneys to retain sodium. Stress,
tension and anxiety, excess caffeine, diet, regular alcohol intake, carrying too
much body fat (but how much is too much?), anabolic use, and fat burners
(yohimbine, ephedrine, guarana, etc.) can contribute to the problem as well. It
is my belief, however, that following a nutrition plan that is correct for you,
such as metabolic typing (which we will discuss in the next article) will go a
long way in lowering and controlling blood pressure. For most, this is going to
mean eliminating grains and sugars.

Finding a way to manage stress that works for you is essential
as well. For some, this may be praying, meditating, or listening to soothing
music. I have some personal things that I do to manage stress that seem to work
very well, but they are beyond the scope of this article. If you would like to
know some of these techniques, I can provide you with the key words to search
under so that you may do your own research, find your own conclusions, and apply
what works for you. I believe that in addition to training on your off days,
walking can do miracles for lowering blood pressure. I recommend working your
way up to one hour of low impact exercise, such as walking, at least three times
per week and preferably every day.

When you go to get your blood pressure taken, it is recommended
that you get at least two readings before you leave. These two readings should
be divided by as much time as possible, and you should not take the first one
until you have been sitting and relaxing for at least five minutes. It is very
important to know that your arm position can directly impact your reading. Make
sure your arm is perpendicular to your body and supported at the level of the
heart. In other words, pretend like you are doing a phantom Jim Wendler bench
press at your desk but only with one side. You do not want your arm hanging
straight down or parallel.

If this initial reading is high or not pleasing to you, have the
next reading taken while lying on your back. After this reading is taken, go
ahead and trouble the nurse or doctor again by requesting to have one more done
standing to see if there are notable differences. If there are not, then you can
assume that the readings are not influenced by your posture and are fairly
accurate. If you are still reading high or are still displeased, go through the
same drill a week or so later, only this time have all of the readings taken in
the opposite arm as before. Now make a comparison and draw your own conclusions.
It's safe to say that whichever arm is higher is the one that you should
monitor.

Something that often gets overlooked in the powerlifting and
weightlifting community is the fact that most have measurements that are larger
than ?average,? especially in the arms. The width of the cuff should be about
forty percent of the circumference (completely around) of the unflexed arm. For
example, if you have 20 inch arms, then the width of the cuff should be around
eight inches. Yes, I want you to take a tape measure with you and check the cuff
for yourself. If the cuff is considerably smaller than what your measurements
call for and they don't have any that are larger, then simply note to yourself
that this reading may be skewed.

If you believe that the readings you have taken are accurate and
that they are high, then I suggest you buy a reliable automated electronic
device to check your blood pressure at home. Make sure that the one you buy has
the appropriate cuff for your arm. Many quality models will cost between fifty
and one hundred dollars. If feasible, you should calibrate your machine against
the one in your doctor's office. Testing at home allows you to check at various
times of the day and rules out ?white-coat? syndrome, or anxiety at the doctor's
office. You can take as many readings as you would like, but four times per day
should suffice.

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of what to do for an
initial assessment of your health, I urge you to put the wheels in motion?today.
After you have made your determination based on your tests, it's then time to
take the next steps to improve upon these conditions. For some of you, the
process will not be so urgent. For others, we will need to make some immediate
changes. The most efficient and most effective way to do this is through proper
diet. Trust me, when we discuss metabolic typing, you will be very interested to
learn how one man's food can certainly be one man's poison. If you think
broccoli is healthy for everybody across the board, then think again. Metabolic
typing teaches you how to choose the foods that work best with your body and
why. I don't want you thinking strictly in terms of protein, carbohydrates, and
fats. That is seeing the forest before the trees. Metabolic typing will be a
very fun, ongoing journey because it's a self-discovery process. Once you
discover how to apply metabolic typing, everything changes. You will look and
feel better, enjoy better health, and you will be stronger in the gym than ever.
Stay tuned?

References

1. R. Bowen ?The Physiologic Effects of Insulin.?

2. Paul J. Rosch, MD ?Do You Have a Good Blood Pressure.?

Eric Talmant has his bachelors of science in political
science from the University of Evansville (1996) and is currently pursuing a
nutrition educator certification.?In the past ten years, he has been
competitively involved in powerlifting, running, swimming, sprint triathlons,
and special operations training.?His best competitive powerlifting lifts to date
are 683 lbs squat, 375 lbs bench, and 644 lbs deadlift, all done in the 75K/165
lbs class. He can be contacted at

etalmant@hotmail.com
.

?

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength
training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products
and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the
industry.?For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit
us at www.EliteFTS.com.

Copyright? 2006 Elite Fitness Systems. All rights reserved.
You may reproduce this article by including this copyright
and, if reproducing it electronically, including a link to www.Elitefts.com.
This entry was posted on Friday, November 3rd, 2006 at 5:18 pm and is filed under Nutrition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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