Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Creatine Use: Hype or Help

Collegiate athletes often ask their athletic trainers for their opinion regarding the use of creatine for muscle gains. While we do see a correlation between the use of creatine and muscle development, we also see a strong relationship to its use and muscle cramping. The trends seen also raise concern for muscle strains associated with creatine use, particularly during the "loading phase." Over the years, the need for a loading phase has largely been disspelled as a way to get the consumer to buy more product. With the use of creatine, we now know that more is not better.

The following news story came from research that was done by Assistant Professor Mike Powers of the University of Florida while studying at the University of Virginia.

UF Researcher Unlocks Secrets of Popular Supplement Creatine
March 23, 2000

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A new study by a University of Florida professor finally helps explain some of the side effects associated with the popular muscle enhancer creatine.

Muscle cramping, heat illness and even kidney problems have long been rumored to be associated with taking the supplement, but previous studies couldn't explain these problems.

Now, in a study funded by one of the largest grants ever awarded by the National Athletic Trainers Association Research and Education Foundation, Michael Powers, an assistant professor in UF's department of exercise and sport sciences, shows for the first time that creatine increases both the body's overall water content and its ratio between intracellular and extracellular water.

The finding is important because it explains how the body's natural balance is thrown off by creatine consumption....

To continue with this story, click on the website below:

Reference: Science Daily, Writer- Kristin Harmel, March 2000

Friday, November 9, 2007

Food Label Confusion

Nutrient Content Claims

Under regulations from the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the food label offers more complete, useful and accurate nutrition information than ever before.

With today's food labels, consumers get:

  • Nutrition information about almost every food in the grocery store distinctive, easy-to-read formats that enable consumers to more quickly find the information they need to make healthful food choices
  • Information on the amount per serving of saturated fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and other nutrients of major health concern
  • Nutrient reference values, expressed as % Daily Values, that help consumers see how a food fits into an overall daily diet
  • Uniform definitions for terms that describe a food's nutrient content--such as "light," "low-fat," and "high-fiber"--to ensure that such terms mean the same for any product on which they appear
  • Claims about the relationship between a nutrient or food and a disease or health-related condition, such as calcium and osteoporosis, and fat and cancer. These are helpful for people who are concerned about eating foods that may help keep them healthier longer.
  • Standardized serving sizes that make nutritional comparisons of similar products easier
  • Declaration of total percentage of juice in juice drinks. This enables consumers to know exactly how much juice is in a product.
The regulations also spell out what terms may be used to describe the level of a nutrient in a food and how they can be used. These are the core terms:
  • Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or "physiologically inconsequential" amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, "calorie-free" means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and "sugar-free" and "fat-free" both mean less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for "free" include "without," "no" and "zero." A synonym for fat-free milk is "skim".
  • Low. This term can be used on foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Thus, descriptors are defined as follows:
    Low-fat: 3 g or less per serving
    Low-saturated fat: 1 g or less per serving
    Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
    Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
    Low-cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving
    Low-calorie: 40 calories or less per serving.

Synonyms for low include "little," "few," "low source of," and "contains a small amount of."
Lean and extra lean. These terms can be used to describe the fat content of meat, poultry, seafood, and game meats.

  • Lean: less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g or less saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
  • Extra lean: less than 5 g fat, less than 2 g saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
  • High. This term can be used if the food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient in a serving.
  • Good source. This term means that one serving of a food contains 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient.
  • Reduced. This term means that a nutritionally altered product contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the regular, or reference, product. However, a reduced claim can't be made on a product if its reference food already meets the requirement for a "low" claim.
  • Less. This term means that a food, whether altered or not, contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the reference food. For example, pretzels that have 25 percent less fat than potato chips could carry a "less" claim. "Fewer" is an acceptable synonym.
  • Light. This descriptor can mean two things: First, that a nutritionally altered product contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. If the food derives 50 percent or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of the fat.
    Second, that the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, "light in sodium" may be used on food in which the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent. The term "light" still can be used to describe such properties as texture and color, as long as the label explains the intent--for example, "light brown sugar" and "light and fluffy."

A more complete list of the regulations that pertain to food labeling can be found at the following address:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How To Read A Label

If you are having some difficulty in understanding what each category means on a food label, use this post to help clarify your questions.

Serving Size
The nutrition label always lists a serving size, which is an amount of food, such as 1 cup of cereal, two cookies, or five pretzels. The nutrition label tells you how many nutrients are in that amount of food. Serving sizes also help people understand how much they're eating. If you ate 10 pretzels, that would be two servings.
Servings per Container or Package
The label also tells you how many servings are contained in that package of food. If there are 15 servings in a box of cookies and each serving is 2 cookies, then you have enough for all 30 kids in your class to have one cookie each. Math comes in handy with food labels!
Calories and Calories From Fat
The number of calories in a single serving of the food is listed on the left of the label. This number tells you the amount of energy in the food. People pay attention to calories because if you eat more calories than your body uses, you might gain weight.
Another important part of the label is the number of calories that come from fat. People check this because it's good to limit fat intake. The calories in a food can come from fat, protein, or carbohydrate.
Percent Daily Value
You'll see percentages on food labels that are based on recommended daily allowances - meaning the amount of something a person should get each day. For instance, there's a recommended daily allowance for fat, so the food label might say that one serving of this food meets 10% of the daily value. The daily values are based on an adult's needs, not a kids' needs. These are often similar, but kids need may need more or less of certain nutrients, depending on their age and size. Some percent daily values are based on the amount of calories and energy a person needs. These include carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Other percent daily values - like those for sodium, potassium, vitamins, and minerals - stay the same no matter how many calories a person eats.
Total Fat
The total fat is the number of fat grams contained in one serving of the food. Fat is an important nutrient that your body uses for growth and development, but you don't want to eat too much. The different kinds of fat, such as saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat, will be listed separately on the label.
Cholesterol and Sodium
These numbers tell you how much cholesterol and sodium (salt) are in a single serving of the food. They are included on the label because some people need to limit cholesterol or salt in their diets. Cholesterol and sodium are usually measured in milligrams.
Total Carbohydrate
This number tells you how many carbohydrate grams are in one serving of food. Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy. This total is broken down into grams of sugar and grams of dietary fiber.
This number tells you how much protein you get from a single serving of the food. Your body needs protein to build and repair essential parts of the body, such as muscles, blood, and organs. Protein is often measured in grams.
Vitamin A and Vitamin C
These list the amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C, two especially important vitamins, in a serving of the food. Each amount is given as a percent daily value. If a food provides 20% of the RDA for vitamin A, that one serving of food gives an adult one fifth of the vitamin A needed for the day.
Calcium and Iron
These list the percentages of calcium and iron, two especially important minerals, that are in a serving of the food. Again, each amount is given as a percent daily value. If a food has 4% of iron, you're getting 4% of the iron you need for the whole day from that serving.