Infinit Nutrition Canada - Premium Sport-Specific Nutrition

Friday, March 31, 2017

Decoding Your Protein Label

So you have a favourite protein powder to take post workout. 25+ grams of protein per serving and low carb, sounds great right? But do you really know what you should be looking for on a nutritional label for a strength recovery drink?

A number of the popular whey protein drinks on the market today are filled with non-essential ingredients, like artificial sweeteners and flavours, gums, thickeners and more. Learn to decode your nutrition label so you can ensure optimal gains with no side effects.


Above is the nutrition label for a popular strength recovery drink you can find at most supplement stores. We've decoded the label for you so you can get a better understanding of what you should and shouldn't be looking for in a protein supplement.

Carbohydrates
Most people shy away from carbohydrates due to a fear of weight gain. However, carbohydrates are essential for your post-workout shake in order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, or growth and repair of muscle. A good protein recovery drink will have a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, like Rescue.
"Don’t be fooled and think that protein alone is enough to recover from your workouts. I often see clients mixing just whey protein with water. However, you need some carbohydrates in your post workout nutrition to repair muscle. After a strength workout, a ratio of 3:1 or 2:1 grams of carbohydrates to protein is recommended. Whey protein is a good choice and is a convenient option. Whey protein is rapidly digested and absorbed by muscles, and is high in the branch chained amino acid leucine. 2-3 g of leucine post workout has been shown in research to stimulate protein synthesis and promote muscle growth. This amount of leucine is found in a serving of whey protein..." - Andrea Docherty, Registered Dietician

If your protein recovery drink doesn't have at least double the amount of carbohydrates as it does protein, you best look for a better alternative so your hard work in the gym doesn't go to waste.

Whey Protein
Not all proteins are made equal. This topic is a whole other topic in itself, but for the sake of this post, we will provide you with a rundown of what whey proteins you should be supplementing with.

There are three main proteins you will see on a label - whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and whey protein. Each has a different level of purity that can affect the way the protein tastes and mixes, as well as the amount of protein you will get per serving. An isolate is the purest form of protein you can find being >90% pure. Infinit Raw is a whey protein isolate that is sourced from New Zealand, which holds the highest standards for dairy production in the world. A serving of Infinit Raw at 21.5g contains 20g of protein, ~93% purity.

Whey Protein concentrates are the second most pure source of protein, but they are only between 80-90% pure protein. Whey protein by itself, without the addition of concentrate or isolate to the name, is less than 80% pure. You want to try to avoid these two proteins, and invest in a pure isolate, ideally sourced from grass-fed, GMO free cattle in New Zealand.

Artificial Sweeteners and Flavours
Many people shudder at the thought of sugar, or sucrose. But are the sweeteners in your favourite drink a better alternative to sugar? Most often not, especially when carbohydrates (sugars) are necessary for growth and repair of muscle tissue.

At Infinit we use two products to sweeten our drinks, either sucrose or natural stevia. But many companies will plaster their website and packaging with phrases and buzz words such as "No Added Sugar!" or "Sugar Free" but their blends are still very sweet. What do they turn to? More often than not - artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame potassium, to name a few. Some studies say that artificial sweeteners are actually worse for you than sucrose, and can even lead to adverse health effects.

At Infinit, we value natural, quality ingredients which is why we choose to use sucrose and natural stevia to sweeten our products, and only use natural flavours.

Infinit RESCUE Nutrition Label
The FDA defines natural flavours as:

""Natural flavor is the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."


The FDA's definition of an artificial flavor is any substance that does not meet the definition of a natural flavour." - Business Insider

So why use artificial flavours? Cost is the main reason. It is generally cheaper to use an artificial flavour over a natural one. However, there are a number of health effects that can result from the use of artificial ingredients. Just a simple google search will bring up loads of information on the side effects of artificial flavours. 


Gums and Thickeners
Gums and thickeners are often used in food products to enhance the mouth-feel of a blend - improving texture and thickening the product. Most of these additives have no nutritional value and some had some relatively bad press, like guar gum. Read more on this gum here. Another popular thickener is xanthan gum. Gums and thickeners can also interfere with the very nutrients we are trying to ingest. We recommend avoiding additives whenever possible, as they are generally just that - an additive to improve the texture or mouth feel of a product, when this can be achieved by using the right raw materials in the first place.

Enzymes 
There are 3 main enzymes you will find in your sport nutrition drink - protease, bromelain, and lactase.


Infinit RAW Nutrition Label
Protease - there is little to no research supporting the use of supplemental protease as a digestive aid in breaking down protein.  Protease is naturally produced in the pancreas and stomach at a level capable of digesting high quality protein.  Patients who suffer from Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) associated with lower enzyme products could benefit from supplementing with Protease.  This is best prescribed by a physician, no benefit for healthy individuals.

Bromelain is touted to prevent muscle soreness after intense exercise. This use has been studied and the evidence suggests bromelain doesn’t work.


Lactase is another enzyme that you will find added to protein products.  As you may think this enzyme is to help break down the lactose contained in milk or whey proteins.  This enzyme Lactase is only required if you are using an inferior whey protein that has low protein purity and high levels of Lactose.  For every 100g of Infinit Raw (Whey Protein Isolate) there is only 0.3 g of Lactose - this is the lowest on the market.  This means it is easy to digest, no GI distress and it tastes great.

Moral of the story - be aware of what you are consuming. If you don't know how to pronounce or have never heard of an ingredient, odds are you shouldn't be consuming it without more in-depth research. Be aware of buzz-words and phrases, as they often are hiding the use of artificial ingredients, and always ensure you are supplementing with the highest quality protein available and are getting a 2:1 carb to protein ratio in after each intense strength effort. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Welcoming Shane Kroeger to Team Infinit!

We are excited to announce that Shane Kroeger has joined Team Infinit! Shane is an outdoor adventure athlete specializing in mountain biking and backcountry skiing. He has now focused his efforts primarily in the sport of enduro mountain bike racing, but his competitive experience comes from a background of alpine skiing, BMX and whitewater kayaking. In his off season, he works as a Lead Guide/Guiding Manager at Mica Heli Skiing, as well as a guide for international backcountry ski trips to places like Japan and Norway. 

Photo courtesy of James Cattanach
"I originally got into the sport of mountain biking in Saskatchewan of all places.  I raced BMX when I was a kid, then transitioned into a mountain bike at around age 12.  We would ride up and down the Saskatchewan river valley trails and do all sorts or urban riding around Saskatoon.  Through ski racing, I spent a lot of time travelling in the mountains and this was where I first started mountain biking as well.  After many years of riding recreationally and the occasional cross country race, the BC Enduro series was formed, and I tried the new format out.  After the first race, I was hooked on and have been progressing to higher level races ever since.


Photo courtesy of James Cattanach
I also started Alpine skiing in Saskatchewan.  I grew up skiing on a hill called Blackstrap outside of Saskatoon, 300 vertical feet of shear ice!  I raced for the Saskatchewan Ski team which gave me the opportunity to travel around North America, and my first introductions to the mountains.   Once I graduated from school, I moved straight out to the mountains to further pursue skiing and start my progression to ski guiding.

Infinit has helped my performance with different blends for the different activities I do.  In the winter, the Jet Fuel keeps me hydrated during my long ski days.  My custom bike blend helps to keep me going during my high intensity training sessions after the ski day.   I don’t get many rest days during the winter, and it is always a challenge to get the early bike miles in during the ski season.  The repair blend helps me to recover after my bike training sessions, and allows me to be fresh for the next ski day."

We are thrilled to welcome Shane as a Team Infinit athlete and are excited to help fuel him to his potential for the 2017 racing season!



Photo courtesy of James Cattanach

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The End of an Era - Ryan Cochrane's Outstanding Career

9 years ago we began our sport nutrition partnership with Ryan Cochrane, a Canadian swimmer who has had quite the exceptional career. Ryan made his international debut in 2006, and since then has totalled 21 medals, qualified for 3 Olympic Games, and become Canada's most decorated swimmer of all time. Ryan also holds 6 National Records and has been a bright spot and mentor for Canadian Swimming in the last decade, being an exemplary role model and mentor for some of Canada's top rising stars. Ryan, you will be greatly missed.

"It has truly been an honour fuelling Ryan, one of Canada's best swimmers ever!  Congratulations on your incredible journey, Ryan; you have made Canada proud and been the athlete that young swimmers can model themselves after.  Nothing comes easy in the pool and you have been an incredible role model, showing many elite Canadian swimmers what it takes to be their best. Happy retirement!" - Darcy Haggith, CEO Infinit Canada


Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Get Started in Ultra-Running

So you want to get into ultra running?

First, look up the definition of an ultra and realise that to enter this category the shortest distance to conquer is a 50 km. Then reflect on how most marathoners train for a whole year, if not years to be able to accomplish that feat alone. And then realise that a marathon is just the beginning when it comes to ultras. If you are not phased by that, you are the right kind of crazy for distance running. There is no absolute right way…perhaps you will read 50 different blogs, a dozen race reports, try a few different nutritional products, buy two, three, or four different pairs of shoes…one for muddy runs, one for dry runs, one with cushion, and one for rocks and mountain climbing. Then find yourself a very supportive partner, and/or a great babysitter and it’s time to hit the trails!

But in all honesty, learning to run distances that are considered ultra will be just as hard and individual a journey as likely the race will feel when you finally toe the line. But know that there are so many resources out there, and eventually you will find what works for you.

To run an ultra, I personally have found it easier than running a marathon. However, I’ve never actually completed an official marathon, so that’s to be tested. But most ultras (at least the fun ones) are in remote places with challenging terrain, new scents, indescribable views and experiences that last a lifetime. It also helps if you are a glutton for punishment. Ultras are meant to test you in ways you’ve never imagined; physically, mentally, and emotionally. You grow through learning to run these distances, and each race you grow more through the experience.

Here’s what I recommend: Listen to your body, always. Going gung-ho and overtraining is going to get you nowhere. Choose quality over quantity. It’s one thing to be able to run long distance of flat terrain, and the complete opposite to be running the hardest terrain you can find over the same distance. Challenge yourself and you’ll be more prepared for whatever gets thrown at you. But you must listen to your body’s needs. Rest is required, and not merely recommended. You will burn out and that can drain all desire, or lead to slow or worsening results which further aggravate. Your body has needs, so take care of it. Fuel your body accordingly and with nutrition that sustains. If you had asked me three years ago if I would have ever considered chiropractic services to be beneficial I probably would’ve shrugged. But now, I use chiropractic, acupuncture and massage services to have a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach to my body’s care, not just for running but for everyday activities. I have found a great provider for my nutrition needs in Infinit Nutrition, which has allowed me to customize the blend for my high metabolism and dietary needs; but also that is flexible to adapt with me as I progress.

The simplest advice though, that I could give, is don’t underestimate yourself. If you’re going to do this, do it right. Don’t fear failure. Aim high with your goals. I went from a 21km Spartan race to a 100km race with the mentality “What’s the worst that could happen?” I made it 66km before I pulled the plug on my first try at an ultra. I did another 100km race less than 3 weeks later and I finished and won. Yet I learned more from the race I failed to finish than any book or blog I’ve ever read, and any training run I’d done to date. You will never know what your body can endure or what you may come up against until you try and face it head on. So dream big, don’t sell yourself short, and work on believing that you can do it. It means putting in the work, having dedication, taking care of yourself, and allowing yourself to grow. You can read about others’ success and listen to advice and take what you can from it, but in the end it is you who will toe that line and ultimately, you are the only one who can make your body keep going all the way to the finish.

I hope you find what works for you, and I wish you luck on your individual journeys. Now strap on those shoes and get out there!

- Jason Kinsella


Friday, March 10, 2017

Can a Vegetarian Diet Meet the Nutritional Needs of Athletes?

Are vegetarian diets able to properly fuel your training? Based on the latest position paper on Vegetarian Diets from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the nutrition needs of an athlete.  Studies on the athlete population comparing the differences in performance between vegetarians and non-vegetarians are limited. With that said, more studies are needed in this area. So while it may or may not give you a competitive edge, vegetarian diets can be nutritious and still give you all the nutrients you need as an athlete as long as you replace meat and animal products with the appropriate foods. Vegetarian diets often contain more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes. This means, this diet contains more antioxidants and phytochemicals to help you recover and reduce inflammation, more fibre and less saturated fats.

Based on the number of health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet, which include the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases and achieving a healthy weight, more people are adopting this type of eating. Keep in mind, a great start to improving your health is incorporating more well-balanced vegetarian meals into your diet and starting to decrease the amount of meat you consume.

So how exactly do you go about planning a well-balanced vegetarian diet? Below I will talk about some key nutrients you will want to pay attention to and where to get them.

Firstly, it’s important to keep in mind that vegetarian diets vary greatly! There are a variety of subtypes ranging from those that just exclude meat and poultry but include eggs, dairy and/or fish and vegans who will exclude all animal products.  The more limited your diet, the more you have to be concerned about the following nutrients and even potentially looking into supplements.

Protein

Most vegetarians meet the recommendations developed for the general population, but athletes have greater needs. The protein recommendation for vegans are even higher than non-vegans in orders to meet requirements for all the essential amino acids.

Even if you are meeting your total protein needs, in order to maximize the use of protein for muscle growth and repair it is crucial to spread protein intake evenly throughout the day. Aim to include a protein rich food at each meal and snack. Several studies suggest having 0.25g/kg of your body weight of protein at meals and snacks, as this is the maximum your body can use at one time.

Here are some ways to include vegetarian proteins into your meals in place of meat:

Beans and Legumes
  • Replace ground meat with lentils in pasta sauce, lasagna, and tacos
  • Mash chickpeas or black beans to use in a wrap instead of deli meat

Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
  • These are all made from soybeans and are complete sources of protein. You can use tofu to make an "egg" scramble, add either of these to stirfrys and eat edamame as a snack

Protein Powder
  • You may need to look at including a dairy or soy protein powder post workout for adaptation and growth

Nuts and seeds
  • Have trail mix as a snack, add to salads or pair nut butters with apples


Leucine (Essential Amino Acid)

Leucine is one of the branch-chained amino acids (BCAAs) that is associated with muscle growth. If you are looking to build lean muscle mass and you are a vegan, your diet may not be as high in this essential amino acid since it is mostly found in animal products compared to plant foods. Aside from meat and chicken, dairy (milk and Greek yogurt), whey protein, soy and soy protein powder are good sources of leucine. For vegans, a BCAA supplement may be necessary.  

Carbohydrates & Total Energy Intake

Vegetarians tend to better meet their carbohydrate needs compared to non-vegetarians. We know how important carbohydrates are for fuelling and performance, so this can be beneficial.

It’s important to note that when choosing more plants based foods while eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, fibre content may be quite high. This can increase feelings of fullness and make if difficult for those with very high training volumes and young athletes undergoing growth and development to meet their needs.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Long chain Omega 3 Fatty Acids come in the form of EPA and DHA, which is found in fatty fish (the highest sources being salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring and trout). We also consume ALA from plant foods, which our body will then convert to EPA and DHA. Because this process is not very efficient, it is important for vegan and vegetarian athletes to get more ALA than the recommended 1.6g/day. 

You can get ALA from flax seeds, chia seeds, hemps seeds, walnuts and their oils. More info about Omega 3 Fatty Acids and how to include them in your diet can be found in my previous blog about Anti-InflammatoryNutrition

Studies show that in healthy individuals, Omega 3 needs can be met with ALA intake. However, some people have greater needs and may not be able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA as efficiently. In that case, there are vegan algae based Omega 3 supplements. Speak to a doctor or dietitian whether this is required and will be beneficial for you.  

Vitamin B12

Lack of Vitamin B12 is more of a concern for vegans because B12 is primarily found in animal products, like meat and dairy. Adults over 40 should also pay attention to B12 intake since our ability to absorb B12 decreases as we age. Nutritional yeast is a great vegan source of Vitamin B12.  It has a cheesy flavour and can be used to make cheese sauces, or sprinkled on salads and stirfrys.  I have a recipe on my blog for a Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo that you can find here. Fortified milk alternatives like soy, almond and cashew milk can also contribute to your needs.  

Iron 

Athletes, especially runners, have greater iron needs. Our ability to absorb iron from plant foods is less than that from animal sources. Because of this, vegetarians tend to have lower iron stores. When you do consume foods with iron, increase the absorption by pairing these with iron enhancers. Iron enhancers are foods high in Vitamin C such as oranges, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red peppers, strawberries and kiwi. Great sources of iron for vegetarians and vegans include cereals that have been fortified with iron, legumes and beans, TVP (texturized vegetable protein), nuts, apricots and cooked spinach.

Zinc

Zinc, a mineral important for growth and development, wound healing and our immune system, can be found in foods like soy products, legumes, grains, cheese, seeds, and nuts. Similar to iron, the zinc from plant foods may not be as easily absorbed as zinc from animal products. However, certain preparation methods like sprouting grains (such as sprouted grain bread) or soaking nuts and seeds can improve this.

Calcium

Calcium from plant sources is not as readily absorbed because of the oxalate content. Some lower oxalate food sources of calcium that vegetarians and vegans should aim to include in their diet are kale, turnip greens, Chinese cabbage and bok choy. Calcium-set tofu, fortified milk alternative beverages, white beans, almonds, figs and tahini (ground sesame seeds) are other good options.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is mainly found in animal products like salmon, sardines, egg yolks and milk. You can read much more about this Vitamin here. I recommend many of my clients to take a supplement because most people have difficulty meeting their needs through diet or sun exposure. 

Everyone’s needs are individual but these are some key nutrients to consider. Contact me if you would like personalized nutrition recommendations, meal plans or a detailed diet & nutrient analysis. I can look at your current intake, analyze which nutrients you may be lacking, and provide personal recommendations to fix this.


Andrea Docherty is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist and Owner of Andrea Docherty Nutrition in Windsor, ON.  To learn more about her and her practice, visit www.andreadochertyrd.com