Friends, I'd like to talk today about cholesterol. Whether or not you are currently at risk of high cholesterol, this can be an important article for you, as it relates to your long term health.
What is it? Cholesterol is a molecule produced in your body that is found in every cell. A "sterol" is a sub group of steroids, cholesterol being the most important of this group as it is in every cell of the body, and helps build hormones and manufacture vitamin D. Therefore, without cholesterol, you wouldn't be alive!
Today, I've come up with 3 new plateau-busting diet rules. They are particularly for active people. If you are doing a Beachbody DVD program, you are active, so that means you! The first one is kind of a no brainer, but is so important I had to include it. For 2 and 3, I tried to think of unconventional things, or at least things that aren't often framed this way. My hope is something in your brain will click and you can make changes going forward! You'll notice a theme: active people shouldn't think about cutting things from their diet without adding healthy things back into it.
A lot of people have been asking me recently specifically about issues with working out first thing in the morning, how soon to workout after eating, etc. so I thought "pre-workout nutrition" would be a pertinent topic for a blog post. I just have to say before I start that unfortunately information about diet and nutrition seems to always be changing. For example if you read two consecutive editions of Men's or Women's Health magazine, you will probably see articles that contradict each other. From my own research, and some of the latest scientific studies I have read in journals and heard on NPR for example, I'd like to claim what I'm going to say today, to the best of my knowledge, is up to date and will help you achieve results!
I recently watched a couple episodes of The Weight of the Nation on HBO. I was fascinated that so much research is being done on obesity, yet people in this country are still extremely overweight and it's getting worse. How can this be? What I have come up with is a bunch of what I call, "Yes! But...s" which take some overly simplified generalizations about weight loss and dissect them a little bit further. The truth is, almost everything you have read about weight loss online, or in magazines is probably true on some level, but utlimately we have to look back at anatomy and metabolic functions - the EMPIRICAL data - to figure out how to lose weight. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but all of them relate to one-on-one conversations I've had with several people over the past couple of months. Will this article help you? Yes! But...you actually have to read it. Ready?
The simplest answer that requires no organic chemistry is "the building blocks for...well...everything." Your skin, hair and nails, muscles - it is an important part of every cell of your body. It is considered a macronutrient, which means, like fat and carbohydrates, your body needs a relatively large amount of it daily to continue its functions. Unlike fat and carbs, protein doesn't make an efficient source of energy, though as you'll read on you'll realize that it can be burned for energy.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are basically the building blocks of proteins. One could say when you ingest protein, you deliver amino acids to your body. AA's are in two basic categories, essential and non-essential. By definition, "essential" means your body cannot produce it, and it must be ingested from food. I've always been a little unclear as to the distinction between the two categories to be honest.
Amino Acid Structure: amino group, side chain, and carboxylic group
This is one of the age old arguments. First of all a definition: vitamins are organic compounds needed in small amounts to ensure health. They cannot be naturally made in the body. Often deficiency in certain vitamins can lead to disease.
Vitamins are found naturally in organic compounds - the plants and meats we eat. Most doctors would say that you can get enough of your vitamins from eating whole foods. The problem is, most of us don't eat enough whole foods to deliver enough vitamins. So decades ago, vitamins began to be produced synthetically, i.e. in pill form. Through a chemical process, vitamins are distilled and extracted from organic compounds, including food sources or in some cases compounds like coal tar, to give us the vitamins you can buy on the shelf. A lot of the foods you eat contain added synthetic vitamins, from breads, to cereals, to clif bars, to health shakes (Shakeology does NOT have synthetic vitamins, more on that later). Since many synthetic vitamins are extracted from real foods and are chemcially identical to natural vitamins, they should interact exactly the same in our body. But some people disagree.