peri-workout nutrition scheme

Peri-workout nutrition - part 1.
What to eat before workout?

Authors / KLAUDIA BUCZEK, MICHAŁ MIŚTA

To eat, or not to eat? That is the question...that you often ask yourself before your workout. On the one hand, you don’t want to be knocked out by hunger and a rapid drop in energy during workout, but on the other hand, you also don’t want to feel heavy and sluggish. You've also probably heard of people who run on an empty stomach to lose weight faster... What should you choose to achieve the workout results you hope for, or your best performance at competitions, and at the same time maintain your well-being?

Contents

  1. The most common mistakes when eating before training
  2. The goals of pre-workout nutrition
  3. Carbohydrates before training
  4. Glycemic index - what is it and how does it translate into training effevtiveness?
  5. Hypoglycemia - what is it, symptoms, how to avoid it?
  6. Pre-workout meal and gastrointestinal discomfort
  7. Pre-workout meal timing
  8. Protein before training
  9. Fats before training - an inexhaustible source of fuel?
  10. Pre-workout hydration
  11. Summary - how and when to eat before training - tips

The most common mistakes when eating before training

To begin with, you need to realize that it takes no less than 2 or 3 hours to digest, absorb and metabolize food. Foods which are difficult to digest, such as fatty meats, mushrooms, legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans), smoked and canned fish (tuna in oil) or cream-based cakes can literally stay in the stomach for hours! Being aware of this will help you avoid two basic mistakes:

1. Avoid products are often very hard on the stomach in your pre-workout meals.
Before exercise, the foods which are difficult to digest should be avoided at all costs in favor of easily digestible (low-fat and moderate-fiber) meals that provide you with a natural energy boost, especially carbohydrates (as we discuss it in more detail below).

2. There is no point in eating a full meal immediately before your workout
Consuming an abundant meal activates the parasympathetic part of your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation, rest, increased blood flow through the gastrointestinal tract area, pancreas and liver, higher secretion of saliva, gastric juice, bile, insulin, but also slower heart rate and bronchoconstriction. This will make you feel tired and drowsy soon after the meal. These physiological reactions are exactly the opposite to what you want to achieve during your workout! If you work out immediately after eating a hearty meal, you won’t be able to use up the calories you have just consumed. Obviously, a full belly can be pretty uncomfortable when you exercise.

However, this does not mean that you should skip the pre-workout meal! If your body doesn’t get energy from food, you risk losing your muscle mass, decreased energy levels and poorer performance during the workout! If your goal is to lose weight, you don’t have to exercise with an empty stomach to accomplish this goal! All you need is an energy deficit during the day which will fit your individual needs. According to research, no change in fat loss was observed between individuals who exercised without or after a meal.

A pre-exercise meal that is properly balanced and consumed with the optimal timing will help you achieve better athletic performance, especially if you plan to work out longer.

The goals of pre-workout nutrition

The main goal of your pre-workout nutritional strategy is to stay hydrated, to replenish glycogen in your muscles and liver, and prepare the body for increased demand for energy. It is also important to keep your gastrointestinal comfort.

A proper pre-workout nutrition and hydration strategy is particularly important in the following cases:

  • prolonged physical activity (for workouts that last more than 60 minutes)
  • high-intensity training
  • exertion in high ambient temperature
  • limitations in the supply of energy and fluids during exercise
  • propensity for hypoglycemia
  • a history of gastrointestinal discomforts.

Carbohydrates before training

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy during high-intensity training, both anaerobic and aerobic. Carbohydrates can be quickly used by your body for energy so you can exercise long and hard. Make room for carbohydrates on your plate before the workout, and you will benefit from improved endurance of your muscles and the nervous system, better performance and increased concentration.

If you exercise, eat 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrase per kilogram of body weight 1-4 hours before the workout. Feel free to adapt these recommendations to your individual needs and preferences, and your gastrointestinal function. A diet rich in carbohydrates is especially recommended for endurance sports (running, cycling, triathlon) or those in which the supply of carbohydrate is crucial to maintain high intensity levels of your training (team and racquet sports).

Glycemic index - what is it and how does it translate into training effevtiveness?

Foods rich in carbohydrates differ in how quickly the blood sugar (glucose) levels rise when a particular food is eaten. Glycemic Index (GI) is a rating system of blood glucose increase within 2 hours after consuming a specific amount of a product containing 50 grams of available carbohydrates. The general perception is that simple sugars cause a sudden but short rise in blood glucose levels, while complex carbohydrates provide stable glycemia. This claim is not entirely true. To provide an example, fructose, a simple sugar contained in fruits, causes a gradual rise in blood glucose levels and has a low GI. When choosing your meals, use a table of glycemic indexes (GIs).

Is the GI of pre-workout meals important? According to research, it is more beneficial to choose products with a low glycemic index to perform better during a workout, especially during long-term endurance activities. This applies specifically to the sports activities where you have a limited ability to supply your body with carbohydrates during the exercise. If you can eat snacks when you exercise, meal selection based on the glycemic index has a negligible effect on your performance. However, we do recommend products with low or moderate GI to help your body maintain stable blood glucose levels (euglycemia).

Hypoglycemia - what is it, symptoms, how to avoid it?

Do you sometimes feel a sudden plunge in energy after starting a workout? This can be caused by a sudden drop in blood glucose levels, or hypoglycemia. There are two main factors that can contribute to this condition: a pre-workout meal high in carbohydrates, which leads to excessive insulin release, or the easier uptake of glucose by muscle cells after the start of the workout.

Some people may experience symptoms such as fatigue, decreased concentration and dizziness. These symptoms usually subside after some time and usually do not affect your performance, but they can be unpleasant, especially if you are a beginner, to the point that you may feel discouraged and discontinue your workout.

To avoid hypoglycemia, a slightly reduced intake of carbohydrates before the workout is recommended (about 1 g/kg body weight). You should also choose foods with a low glycemic index, which will promote euglycemia. Try different meal times to find the timing that is best for you. It is generally believed that the risk of hypoglycemia is the highest if you consume a meal rich in carbohydrates 45-75 minutes before your workout. If you are prone to hypoglycemia, try to avoid eating lots of carbohydrates during this time window. Rather, choose a carbohydrate snack that you consume immediately before your workout. You can also eat sugars during the workout – a sports drink is a perfect choice.

Pre-workout meal and gastrointestinal discomfort

Some active people experience gastrointestinal discomforts during or after a workout. Competitive stress can make such discomforts worse. If you experience gastrointestinal problems before during or after a workout, or you are likely to suffer from this condition, limit the amount of fat and fiber in your meal as these nutrients slow down digestion. It is also important to reduce the amount of products rich in FODMAPs, which is an acronym that stands for: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, as these nutrients absorb water in the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine, which can exacerbate intestinal discomfort.

Liquid or semi-liquid meals can also remedy this problem. This form of meal will also work well for people who experience stress-related lack of appetite.

Pre-workout meal timing

You now know that you should preferably eat a meal no later than 60 minutes and no earlier than 4 hours before your workout. But which variant is better?

A meal 3-4 hours before the workout – this is the perfect timing for a pre-competition meal, especially if you compete in endurance activities, and for those struggling with gastrointestinal discomforts. You should opt for an easily digestible meal rich in complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. Your meal should be solid. If you're facing intense exertion during a competition or if you struggle with gastrointestinal discomforts, reduce the content of dietary fiber in your meal. For example, you can choose basmati rice as a source of carbohydrates. If you plan to exercise for more than 90 minutes, eat an additional carbohydrate snack (a ripe banana, dried fruit or s sports drink) within 30 minutes before your workout.

A meal 2 hours before the workout – this is the best option in the majority of cases, especially if you train regularly. Your meal should preferably be composed of complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates in a 1:1 ratio. Reduce the amount of fiber, particularly if you plan to have an intense workout or when you are concerned about possible gastrointestinal discomforts. Your meal should be solid or semi-solid. We recommend a rice meal or an oat meal with an addition of some fresh fruit.

A meal 1 hour before the workout – unless you have the time to eat your meal earlier, this is the last moment for a balanced meal. Your meal should be preferably liquid or semi-liquid and low in food fiber – a smoothie or shake will be a perfect choice. Avoid fiber-rich foods, such as whole-grain cereal products, which prolong the digestion. You should opt for simple sugars, such as fruit.

Protein before training

High-intensity resistance and endurance training increases the secretion of creatine kinase, which is associated with increased muscle catabolism. To protect muscle fibers, it is recommended to consume 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight no later than 60 minutes before the workout, as long as this amount of protein is well tolerated by your digestive tract. The supply of proteins reduces muscle damage and soreness. Protein should provide your body with all essential amino acids, in the correct proportions, and the best choice is to eat lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy or soy. Vegans can get the essential amino acids from foods, by combining several sources of protein in one meal, such as legumes and cereals.

Fats before training - an inexhaustible source of fuel?

In general, fats are not the best choice for your pre-workout meal as it takes a long time to digest them (as mentioned above); however, obtaining energy from fat oxidation may be an option for some people practicing endurance sports. This is especially true for ultra-endurance exercise. During long but low-intensity exercise (<70% VO2max), the process of fatty acid oxidation prevails, and if you switch your body to get energy from fats, you may be able to extend your workout. Obviously, this does not apply to a single meal, but rather your diet as a whole as your body needs to learn how to use fats for energy. You should pay special attention to products such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, eggs or fatty fish. With a high-fat diet, your body finds it easier to adapt to exercise that continues for a very long time. However, limited exercise intensity is the price you have to pay when choosing a high-fat diet. Some people will improve their performance on a high-fat diet, but for most people, this type of nutrition will be an obstacle rather than a facilitator in boosting their performance. For high-intensity training, preferably choose a high-carb diet.

 

Pre-workout hydration

You can stay properly hydrated by drinking water and other fluids contained in food. There is plenty of water in fruit and vegetables. If you eat wholesome meals, make room for fruit and vegetables in your diet and hydrate your body regularly throughout the day, you should be sufficiently hydrated before the workout.

However, there are times when the risk of dehydration during workout increases significantly, in which case a proper pre-workout hydration strategy is very important for your well-being, health and performance. Take extra care when:

  • you have no or only limited ability to drink fluids during your workout to replace fluid loss from sweating,
  • if you are sweating profusely, most often when it is hot.

In these cases, rely on a specific hydration strategy and monitor your hydration. You may use this plan to replenish your body fluids:

4 hours before workout – drink 5-7 ml of fluids per kilogram of body weight.

2 hours before workout – drink 5 ml of fluids per kilogram of body weight, especially if you feel thirsty or if your urine becomes darker.

Directly before your workout – drink additional 300-400 ml of fluids.

To make sure that you start your workout properly hydrated, pay attention to the following:

  • thirst
  • urine color and volume
  • urine specific gravity (if possible)

Based on these factors, you can easily find out whether you have consumed the right amount of fluids or if perhaps you need more. If your urine becomes darker, if you urinate less, or if your urine has a higher specific gravity (> 1.035 g/l) or you simply feel thirsty, make sure to drink more fluids. Hydrate yourself with medium or high mineralized water before the workout. To rehydrate your body quickly, grab an isotonic drink, whose osmolality is similar to that of the fluids of the body, and is quickly absorbed in the intestines and effectively hydrates the body.

You can easily estimate your level of hydration based on the color and volume of your urine. This is especially important during hot weather and high-intensity workout and/or high ambient temperatures. Straw-colored or slightly yellow urine combined with a large volume of urine indicate normal body hydration. The darker your urine, and the less you urinate, the more dehydrated you are.

 

Summary - how and when to eat before training - tips

Let's answer the question: to eat or not to eat before training? We hope that the answer is simple – you should definitely eat your pre-workout meal. However, the timing, consistency and composition of your pre-workout meal are highly individual. In order to develop an optimal nutritional strategy, try testing different options and see what works best for you. You can also consult a sports nutritionist to help you choose the optimal nutritional strategy tailored to the type, time and intensity of your physical activity, in addition to your individual preferences.

 

 

 

 


carbohydrate loading

Carbohydrate loading, or how to outsmart fatigue?

carbohydrate loading

Text / KLAUDIA BUCZEK, MICHAŁ MIŚTA

Endurance sports, such as marathon, cycling, triathlon, cross-country running, long distance swimming, kayaking, rowing or cross-country skiing are highly popular. These activities require selection of an adequate type of training and complex preparation. One of its pillars is development of an individualised nutrition strategy, which not only enables the body to handle intense training, but also ensures optimal regeneration, prevents gastrointestinal problems or helps maintain well-being. Adequately selected nutrition, especially in the period around the event, will also have a great impact on performance.

Contents

  1. Wall
  2. Energy for working muscles
  3. Phosphocreatine
  4. Glycogen
  5. Use of glycogen in various types of muscle fibres
  6. Two phases of glycogen resythesis
  7. Glycogen hypercompensation
  8. Carbohydrate loading - what it is?
  9. Classsic model of carbohydrate loading
  10. Contemporary model of carbohydrate loading
  11. Carbohydrate loading - when and for whom?
  12. Carbohydrate loading in non-endurance disciplines
  13. Carbohydrate loading and sex
  14. Carbohydrate loading - use in practice
  15. Carbohydrate loading in advance
  16. Do not test anything during competition!

Wall

Watching reports of athletes approaching the finish of a marathon we often see moving scenes, when staggering athletes unexpectedly fall down. With no strength to continue the race, they cover the last meters on all fours, and cross the finish line with the utmost effort. This phenomenon, manifested as extreme fatigue and sudden energy cut-off, accompanied by slowing the pace during exercise, is defined as “hitting the wall”, “bonking” or “blowing up”. The term originates from cycling, but it equally refers to other endurance sports. The causes of “hitting the wall” are complex, but one of the most important causes is undoubtedly depletion of body energy reserves.

Energy for working muscles

Adenosine triphosphate, known as ATP, is a direct substrate supplying energy to the working muscles, and playing a role of a universal energy carrier. ATP reserve accumulated in the muscle cell is very small and allows for only a few contractions. In spite of this, even during intense exercise, its resources are depleted only by 20% to 30% of the initial content. The body does not allow depletion of ATP resources, since that would cause permanent connection of actin and myosin threads, i.e. protein filaments, whose physical interaction enables the function of a muscle cell (myocyte). This condition occurs after life processes are stopped, with resulting rigor mortis.

However, let us return to ATP. As already mentioned, its resource in the cell is very limited; therefore, it must be constantly regenerated. This process happens constantly with surprising efficacy: a working muscle cell recovers its all ATP pool in less than a minute, and the total amount of ATP undergoing recirculation in 24 hours is approximately equal to the body weight! This effective ATP regeneration certainly requires significant amounts of energy. In cell muscles, this energy is derived in the first place from another high-energy compound, called phosphocreatine.

Phosphocreatine

The phosphocreatine supply in the muscle cells enables maintenance of high rate of ATP regeneration within several seconds of the start of exercise. Although this is a key energy source for athletes practising disciplines where the energy demand is immediate and short-term, e.g. weight-lifters, in the case of runners, the phosphocreatine pool stored in the muscles is sufficient for a 100 metre sprint. In order to continue exercise, the body would have to reach for other energy substrates, which may come from intramuscular sources (endogenous substrates -glycogen and triacylglycerols) and from blood (exogenous substrates, such as glucose, free fatty acids, plasma lipoproteins, ketone bodies or some amino acids). The degree of consumption of particular energy substrates depends on the type of muscle fibres, and on the intensity and duration of exercise. The awareness of their diversity, and the ability of their optimal regeneration is crucial for the selection of an optimal nutrition strategy. This will also affect the effectiveness of the exercise. In the case of endurance sport disciplines, one endogenous substrate is of special importance, i.e.…

Glycogen

Glucose is a basic and very productive source of energy for body cells. Suffice it to say that complete oxidation of one glucose molecule results in the formation of about 30 ATP molecules. For a certain type of cells, such as red blood cells (erythrocytes), glucose is the only available source of energy. Brain and nerve cells are especially sensitive to glucose absence. In the light of the above-mentioned information, it seems surprising that the total amount of circulating glucose of a person with a body weight of 70 kilograms is only 4 grams. This amount corresponds to a flat teaspoon, and its caloric content is only 16 kilocalories.

Glucose cannot be stored in an unchanged form, since its high concentration would disturb the osmotic balance of the cells, causing their damage. For this reason, human body has developed a complex system based on e.g. antagonistic activity of two hormones – insulin and glucagon, which maintains a relatively constant, standard blood glucose level of 4.0 - 5.5 mmol/l, which corresponds to 70 – 100 mg/ 100 ml (dl), and is defined as euglycaemia in scientific literature. Glucose reserves are stored in the form of osmotically inactive and easy-to-use polymer - a polysaccharide called glycogen. Glycogen is a large molecule, whose core contains protein (glycogenin) surrounded by a high number of branched chains composed of glucose residues (monomers). Their ends form a complex surface of a glycogen particle, which, if necessary, may be quickly degraded, leading to effective release of required amounts of glucose.  A two-dimensional model of a glycogen molecule is presented in the picture below.

A vast majority of glycogen is located in muscle cells - approx. 500 g on average (1% - 2% of the myocyte volume) and hepatic cells - approx. 80 g on average (5% - 6% of the hepatocyte volume), where it forms numerous granules of various sizes dispersed in the cytoplasm and containing different amounts of glucose monomers. The primary role of hepatic glycogen is to maintain constant blood glucose level and to react to the glucose need of the body, as a whole. And muscle glycogen is used only as a local glucose reservoir, available for the needs of a given muscle fibre (constituting a single, multinucleated cell). Due to physiological conditioning, glucose originating from glycogen accumulated in a given muscle fibre cannot be released to blood becoming a source of energy for other cells (or even for the neighbouring muscle fibres). This makes glycogen remain in the muscles for a longer time, and this fact may be used in practice, which will be discussed further in the text.

Muscle glycogen is mainly distributed in three specific regions (compartments) of the cell, in close proximity to the sites where energy supplies are required. It should also be added that glycogen granules are not only “containers” of condensed fuel, like glucose molecules, but have also another significance. To make it simple, they may be said to have a role of “sensors”.  Among other things, glycogen causes transmission of impulse leading to a muscle twitch (release of calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum) and takes part in the regulation of metabolic pathways related to the processes of exercise adaptation. Moreover, it is a part of the system regulating the intracellular osmotic pressure. Due to this varied role of glycogen, its decreasing resources during exercise may not only disturb energy transformations, but also complex signalling and regulatory processes. From the athlete's point of view, it is important that they impair generation of muscle strength. This is probably why, during highly intense exercise, when the amount of muscle glycogen is much depleted, the body does not decrease its contents below 10% in relation to the initial amount.

Although the amount of glycogen accumulated in the liver and muscles is only 4% of the total energy reserves of the body, it is muscle glycogen that is a basic source of energy for working muscles in the case of exercise of moderate and high intensity.  This results from the involvement (recruitment) of various types of skeletal muscle fibres which have various structural, functional and metabolic characteristics, depending on the type of exercise, which is illustrated in the table below.

Use of glycogen in various types of muscle fibres

Skeletal muscles are built of three types of fibres: type I fibres, i.e. slow-twitch or oxidative, and type IIa and IIx fibres, i.e. fast-twitch, called oxidative-glycolytic and glycolytic fibres, respectively.

During low intensity exercise, even such lasting a few hours, the use of glycogen is relatively low and primarily affects well vascularised and fatigue-resistant type I fibres, which are recruited by the body first. These fibres are naturally poor in glycogen and their chief source of energy is degradation of lipids (triacylglycerols). Lipids are a high-energy form of energy storage, although the process of ATP production therefrom is slower than the production of ATP from glycogen. This fact, combined with low transmission rate of axons innervating type I fibres, translates into their low speed of contraction. That is why they are called slow-twitch fibres. The presented characteristics predispose this type of fibres to be involved in long-term exercise, such as running a marathon or maintaining an extended body position.

Increased burden involves recruitment of glycogen-rich type IIa fibres (oxidative-glycolytic), which may derive energy from both aerobic and anaerobic processes. This results in an increased consumption of glycogen, which is a basic source of energy for these fibres.

In the case of the highest burden, type IIx (glycolytic) fibres are recruited last. They are characterised by “power burst”, typical of sprints or weight-lifting. Their primary source of energy are anaerobic processes. These fibres are able to generate the highest amounts of energy, but they use much of their glycogen reserves for that purpose, rapidly showing fatigue.

It is interesting that in the case of oxidative (type I) fibres, the use of glycogen during intense exercise is reduced with an increased burden. For example, after stopping exercise of very high intensity (due to complete fatigue), there is almost complete glycogen utilisation in type IIx fibres, 70% decrease in the glycogen content in type IIa fibres, and only 25% decline in glycogen in type I fibres.

The proportions in which particular types of muscle fibres occur in a given muscle are genetically determined. Indeed, the proportion of type I fibres in the vastus lateralis muscle (constituting the strongest element of the quadriceps femoris) may range from 5% to 90%! This phenomenon partially accounts for natural predisposition of a given person to a specific type of activity. Therefore, it should not be surprising that athletes prepared in terms of endurance disciplines show a particularly high proportion of type I fibres, while groups of muscles crucial for sprinters and weight-lifers are primarily composed of type IIa and IIx fibres. There is an exception, however, the soleus muscle of the calf, which, regardless of an individual, is characterised by a high content of type I fibres, which is a great example of adaptation to the function it serves.

Traits Types of muscle fibres
Type I
(SO, ST)
oxidative
Type IIa
(FOG, FTA)
oxidative-glycolytic
Type IIx
(FG, FTX)
glycolytic
Structural Diameter Low High Medium
Vascularity High Medium Low
Fibre colour Red Reddish White
Mitochondrial density High Medium Low
Metabolic Type of metabolism Aerobic Aerobic
and anaerobic
Anaerobic
Glycogen content Low High High
Fat (triacylglycerol) content High Medium Low
Myoglobin content High High Low
Functional Order of recruitment 1 2 3
Speed of contraction Low High High
Twitch strength Low Average High
Resistance to fatigue Very high High Low

Two phases of glycogen resynthesis

The recovery of glycogen resources utilised during training takes place in two phases.  A rapid phase of glycogen resynthesis lasts 30-60 minutes after stopping exercise, and is related e.g. to transfer of glucose transporter type 4 proteins (GLU4) on the myocyte mucosa without the participation of insulin, which fosters glucose absorption by the muscle fibre. Glycogen resynthesis is then the fastest. In the subsequent slow (insulin-dependent) phase, glycogen resynthesis is much slowed down to approx. 10 – 30% of the initial value.  Available studies clearly indicate that consuming a portion of absorbable carbohydrates (with high glycaemic index) immediately post training initiates the process of rapid glycogen recovery, lasting for the first 2 hours post exercise. During this time, the so-called “garage door of opportunity” is closed. These data show that if we wish to achieve quick recovery, we must not delay carbohydrate consumption after the training. In this case, the sooner, the better! If we then have a high-carbohydrate diet, i.e. such where carbohydrates constitute at least 70% of the caloric value, a complete glycogen resynthesis occurs within 24 hours.

Glycogen hypercompensation

Continuation of a high-carbohydrate diet in the next 24 – 48 hours significantly increases the glycogen level in relation to pre-exercise content, but one must remember than any muscle injuries suffered during training may prolong this process. If the training volume is significantly reduced during this period, or, even better, complete rest is introduced, this may lead to a phenomenon called hypercompensation (or supercompensation) of glycogen. It has a very practical use in sport.

Carbohydrate loading - what it is?

Carbohydrate loading, also called glycogen loading, is a nutrition strategy to maximise the storage of glycogen in the muscles. This is a simple and well examined method, which is one of the standard elements of pre-event preparation, widely used especially in endurance sports. The optimisation of glycogen resources delays the moment of fatigue and prolongs exercise time at a constant level of intensity even by 20%.

Classic model of carbohydrate loading

The practice of carbohydrate loading dates back to late 60's. A classic model was developed in 1967 by Swedish researchers led by Björn Ahlborg and Jonas Bergström, who conducted histopathological examinations of muscle specimens collected from a group of healthy men. The participants underwent biopsy before and after exercise leading to complete exhaustion. Then, a glycogen content in the collected material was compared. These pioneer studies revealed a positive correlation between the level of muscle glycogen and exercise capacity of athletes, and the loading regimen developed on the basis of these studies have become the most popular method to increase the muscle glycogen for a long time. Let us have a closer look at this.

A classic cycle of carbohydrate loading lasts seven days and begins with a three- or four-day glycogen depletion phase. This is reached by combining a low-carbohydrate diet with training that favours depletion of muscle glycogen. This is followed by the proper three- or four-day carbohydrate loading phase involving the use of high-carbohydrate diet. In order to support glycogen storage, the training volume is reduced in that period, or complete rest is introduced.

This method, however, has serious drawbacks. For athletes practising endurance sports, whose everyday diet is typically rich in carbohydrates, the glycogen depletion phase is particularly burdensome. It could be said that it turns the nutrition upside down. During the depletion phase, there often occur uncomfortable complaints, such as: mood swings, irritation, worse well-being, weakness with drowsiness, headache or gastrointestinal problems. This phase is also associated with an increase in the catabolic cortisol level and higher risk of injury, and the following above-average consumption of carbohydrates in the loading phase exposes the body to a great burden. This naturally raises some concerns as to its use.

Contemporary model of carbohydrate loading

A series of studies conducted a decade later on a group of professional runners by American researchers led by W.M. Sherman revealed that well-trained athletes were able to increase their storage of muscle glycogen without the necessity to use the burdensome depletion phase. The athletes could achieve the same result preceding long-term exercise with a 3-day carbohydrate loading phase, during which they delivered 8-10 g (in extreme cases even 12 g) of carbohydrates per kilogram body weight, resigning from training during that period, or using training of much lower volume. This observation was a kind of breakthrough in the nutrition strategy. Elimination of the unpleasant glycogen depletion phase made the loading method shorter and much easier to use in practice. This model is currently the most popular.

Interestingly, well-trained athletes are able to increase their glycogen storage in the muscles even in one and a half day or two days (36 - 48 hours) only by completely resigning from training in this period and using a diet with an adequate amount of carbohydrates and calories.

Carbohydrate loading - when and for whom?

The strategy of carbohydrate loading will find best use in endurance sports, characterised by a constant level of intensity and duration over 90 minutes. It is especially well explored in such disciplines as marathon or cycling. It will work very well for triathlon and water sports - long-distance swimming, kayaking or rowing. In the case of mountain sports, glycogen loading is beneficial e.g. during cross-country skiing, mountain runs and ski-tours. Potentially, it may also be useful for climbers taking part in social bouldering competition, which are characterised by a long elimination round, lasting typically about 2.5 h -3 h, during which the contestants must climb several dozen boulders. High intensity and interval nature cause high usage of muscle glycogen. What is problematic in climbing sports, however, is the importance of the athlete's body weight. Unfortunately, due to increased amount of glycogen and water bound thereto (1 g glycogen binds 3-4 g water), the body weight increases by 2% - 3%, which may outweigh the benefits of using this nutrition strategy. Nevertheless, it is worth testing under training conditions and assess its effects on an individual basis.

Carbohydrate loading is useful for both amateur and professional athletes, but the higher training level, the larger benefits. It should also be noted that people who do not train regularly are much less capable of storing glycogen than well-trained athletes. This is best illustrated by the fact that the contents of muscle glycogen in trained athletes may reach 900 g, as compared to the above-mentioned mean contents of 500 g.

Glycogen supercompensation, like any other nutrition strategy used in sport, should be tested under training conditions, e.g. for a week weeks before an important event. It is worth consulting a sports dietician, who will help to plan the hypercompensation process with regard to individual needs of a given athlete. Employing this strategy, it is easy to make mistakes which will negate the effort put into this. Such mistake include, e.g.: selection of too fatty, thus stodgy products (French fries, chocolate, pizza), excessive spontaneous physical activity or intense training. They may lead to the utilisation or significant depletion of the accumulated glycogen reserves. Energy deficit is another factor impairing glycogen synthesis. It is a frequent cause of unsuccessful strategies of loading among women.

Carbohydrate loading in non-endurance disciplines

Disciplines that may also show benefits from glycogen hypercompensation include team and racket sports. In these sports, phases of very intense exercise are interchanged with phases of much lower intensity (interval character). Although the time of activity is typically 60 - 90 minutes, they use significant amounts of muscle glycogen. A significant increase in the muscle mass and volume resulting from a higher glycogen content increases the attractiveness of carbohydrate loading also among bodybuilders.

Benefits from using carbohydrate loading in strength sports seem to be limited, although this has not been well explored. As mentioned above, explosive exercise as the main source of energy uses ATP and phosphocreatine; nevertheless, in the case of this type of disciplines, small glycogen reserves may promote disorders in generating muscle strength. While it is worth providing a diet rich in carbohydrates ensuring an adequate glycogen level, it is not necessary to perform glycogen loading.

Carbohydrate loading and sex

Dear ladies, unfortunately, most studies on carbohydrate loading were conducted on men, since the researchers thought that the results would translate into subjects of the other sex. Unfortunately, this was not confirmed by the initial tests. This probably resulted from the fact that women applied energy restrictions which prevented effective storage of glycogen. Subsequent studies conducted with the participation of women confirmed the capacity for glycogen supercompensation provided that a normal-calorie diet was used. Moreover, there are certain observations regarding the effect of the menstrual cycle on the effectiveness of glycogen storage. It appears that supercompensation may be more effective in the luteal phase of the cycle, as compared to the follicular phase.

Carbohydrate loading - use in practice

Carbohydrate loading is performed two or three days before an important event or long-term effort. This is a strategy combining rest or significant reduction of training volume with a diet involving high carbohydrate intake. During this time, the diet should cover the total energy requirement and deliver carbohydrates in the amount of 8 - 10 grams per kilogram body weight (maximum 12). The loading time may be shortened to one and a half day or two days, taking larger amounts of carbohydrates, i.e. approximately 10 -12 grams per kilogram body weight. The shorter regimen will better suit well-trained athletes, who are accustomed to high amounts of carbohydrates in the diet. A diet with high glycaemic index is recommended, since it promotes faster carbohydrate digestion and absorption and, consequently, a more effective glycogen storage. Protein intake should be reduced to a physiological demand (about 1 gram per kilogram body weight), while fats should be reduced to minimum.

A more frequent meal consumption enables a more effective glycogen storage. Even from a practical point of view, it would be very difficult to deliver such high carbohydrate contents only in two or three meals a day. Therefore, five or six meals a day should be planned for this period. Regular consumption of smaller portions gives a lower burden to the gastrointestinal tract, which is a very important factor before the event. It must be mentioned here that high amounts of carbohydrates may cause gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it is recommended that the diet be light, low-fat, with low fibre content and limited content of high fodmap products.

Fodmap means fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols, whose digestion in the gastrointestinal tract is limited. Their presence in the small intestine facilitates water accumulation (due to osmotic effect) and favours fermentation in the large intestine. In some people, this may be manifested as bloating, gases, abdominal pain, overflowing, and even diarrhoea or constipation. Popular products high in fodmap content include e.g. garlic, onions, legumes, broccoli, cauliflower, apple, lactose-containing products (especially milk), and popular sweeteners, such as xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol. If there are no health complaints, it is not necessary to completely eliminate fodmap; restriction or careful usage would be enough.

One must also remember that it is impossible to employ the strategy of carbohydrate loading only with the use of healthy (low-processed, wholemeal) products, such as e.g. buckwheat groats, brown pasta and wholemeal rye bread, due to excessive fibre content. As far as these products are a good choice in everyday diet, they constitute excessive burden for the gastrointestinal tract during the loading strategy. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce highly-processed products with high glycaemic index, such as sugar, jam, fruit juices, dry fruits, ice creams, white bread, white pasta, white rice or potatoes. Both the solid and liquid form of carbohydrates has a similar effect on glycogen synthesis; therefore, the issue of consistency is not of much importance. Nevertheless, having regard to digestibility, liquid or half-liquid forms may turn out to be more convenient.

Apparently, the diet during carbohydrate loading is much different from standard nutrition recommendations. It should be noted, however, that this strategy is used only at certain times, exclusively by athletes, and for a very specific purpose of increasing glycogen storage and delaying the moment of fatigue during an important event. This is not a nutrition model that can be used every day.

Carbohydrate loading in advance

Interestingly enough, it is possible to perform carbohydrate loading a few days earlier than specified by a standard two- or three-day protocol and date of the event. This is recommended particularly for athletes who fear gastrointestinal complaints related to stress (preventing ingestion of so much carbohydrates) or a long journey. Glycogen granules accumulated in muscular fibres may be stored for a longer time, which we discussed in the part of the text devoted to glycogen. Then, the strategy is used in advance, so that for another one or two days before an important event a diet with standard carbohydrate content could be introduced, unloading the gastrointestinal tract. This method will be successful provided that the stored glycogen is not used, for example during training or increased spontaneous activity before the event.

Do not test anything during competition!

It should be once again emphasised how important it is to test the strategy of carbohydrate loading under training conditions. Introducing anything new in the week before the event can significantly increase the level of stress and uncertainty. On the other hand, choosing well tested methods allows for more peace of mind resulting from optimisation of the energy availability and lower risk of gastrointestinal disorders.

 

 


Stewed apples and crumble topping dessert

Ingredients for stewed apples with cinnamon:

  • 3 apples
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar

Ingredients for crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut sugar

Method:

  • Peel the apples and chop them into small cubes.
  • Simmer the apples in a frying pan with a small quantity of water, cinnamon and coconut sugar.
  • Put the stewed apples into ramekins.
  • Mix flour with sugar and butter. You can use a blender or knead the dough.
  • Place the crumble topping on top of the apples.
  • Place the ramekins in the oven preheated to 160 C. Bake for about 10-15 min.

Nutrition, lifestyle vs. immunity

The immune system is indispensable to our survival. Its primary function is to constantly monitor the organism to identify pathogenic agents (pathogens) and to differentiate between own (host) cells and foreign cells, and also cancer cells. Thanks to its constant activity, the organism is capable of defending itself against infections and diseases.

What we eat affects the functioning of each cell of the human body. Of course, the same applies also the cells forming part of the immune system. Diet is then one of environmental factors that can have a significant impact on our immune system.

It is worth noting that the immune system is not always a salvation to us. It can make errors, e.g. recognise own cells as foreign ones or react in an excessively sensitive way. In such a case, we are dealing with an incorrect immune response, which may manifest itself as allergic, atopic or autoimmune diseases.

Environmental factors affecting the immune system that we can control are:

  • Diet,
  • body nutritional status,
  • circadian rhythm,
  • level of physical activity,
  • stress level,
  • stimulants,
  • medicines.

Thanks to a balanced diet, optimal body weight, sufficient sleep and also its quality, regular physical activity, reducing stress (or learning how to better handle stress situations) and stimulants, we support the functioning of our immune system. At the same time, the efficiency of our own immune system drops if we disregard any of these factors.

Does an immunity-boosting diet exist?

There are many nutritional factors that affect the functioning of our immune system. If I were to respond to this question briefly, a diet with anti-inflammatory properties which boosts our immunity is a diet with an optimal protein intake, rich in vegetables and fruit, such as the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet or even vegan diet (with a well-balanced protein intake). We must however take a broader look at different nutritional and lifestyle factors affecting the nutritional status and the condition of the immune system.

Immunity vs. body nutritional status

Overweight and obesity inhibit the functioning of the immune system. Obesity in particular impairs immunity due to an increase in inflammatory mediators. Chronic inflammation accompanying obesity increases the risk of many diseases and infections which impair immunity.

Malnutrition caused by hunger, lack of food or diseases also negatively affects immunity-related functions. The level of immunity impairment depends in this case on the range of nutritional deficiencies and the age of the person suffering malnutrition.

IMMUNITY VS. AGE

Age is a factor greatly affecting our immunity. From the moment we are born, immunity is shaped by two main factors. These are exposure to external factors and our eating habits. Breastfeeding has a much more positive impact on immunity-related functions and is recommended especially in babies with a family history of immune-related conditions.

The first years of life are a very important period in terms of gaining immunity. Factors affecting the development of the immune system include the presence of pets at home, the existence of siblings, the use of antibiotics, and diet.

With time, the level of immunity in an adult may get reduced. However, in such a case, lowered immunity can be related to nutritional deficiencies. It is especially connected with protein and zinc deficiencies, which have proved to be quite common in elder people. In this situation, intervention aimed at supporting the immune system should focus on supplementing nutritional deficiencies.

Immunity vs. physical activity

Regular and moderate physical activity has great benefits for the organism, including the immune system functions. In turn, intensive physical activity causes a short-term decrease of immunity. According to literature data, such a decrease in immunity persists 3 to 72 hours after finishing intensive workout. It depends in part on carbohydrates intake. In intensive workout routine, immunity can be increased by consuming carbohydrates before and after the workout. Similarly, a low-carb diet will lower the immunity.

Immunity vs. intestines

There is a strong link between intestinal microbiota and immunity. Changes in the intestinal microflora increase the probability of many diseases, including allergy, asthma, autoimmunological diseases and many other disorders. Intestinal microbiota may change as a result of diet and environmental factors.

The factor with a very negative impact on microbiome is antibiotic therapy, thus, taking probiotics during antibiotic treatment is always recommended.

The basic nutritional intervention focussed on strengthening the intestinal microbiome is taking probiotics and prebiotics. The microbiome status is also affected by many lifestyle factors, which must be taken into account when referring to immunity. Such factors include primarily the circadian rhythm, stress level, the level of physical activity, medications taken and consumption of stimulants.

Protein vs. immunity

The deficiency of protein and other amino acids will impair the production of antibodies, and therefore immunity-related functions, in spite of the lack of vitamins and minerals deficiency. At this point, it is worth mentioning vegetarian and vegan diets, which have the greatest benefits for our immune system only on the condition that they provide us with the optimal intake of protein and necessary amino acids. Protein requirement differs depending on the physiological condition, age, health condition, body weight and the level of physical activity. Protein requirement for healthy men and women starting from the age of 19 is 0.9 g/kg of body weight.

Arginine is an exogenous amino acid that is very important for the immune system. According to studies, it has immunostimulating properties. A shorter hospitalisation time was observed in patients receiving arginine supplementation. It is justified by the beneficial effect on the process of regeneration and convalescence. Glutamine and taurine are also believed to have immunomodulating properties.

Antioxidant vitamins: C, E and beta-carotene

Vitamin C deficiency negatively affects the immune system, while no studies exist to prove immunostimulating properties of higher doses. Vitamin C improves immunity only when it is deficient. A good source of vitamin C is rosehip, peppers, blackcurrant and parsley leaves.

Vitamin E dissolves in fats. It is a strong antioxidant and shows immunostimulating properties not only during disease. Deficiencies of this vitamin are rare. They can appear for example in fat malabsorption disorders and coeliac disease. Good sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, such as, e.g. almonds, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds.

Beta-carotene, i.e. provitamin A, is a substance used by the organism to produce vitamin A. Studies confirm the beneficial effect of carotenoids, and beta-carotene in particular, on lowering the risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases. It is, however, worth noting that high doses of vitamin A may produce an immunosuppressive effect, that is reduce the immunity. In the event of a confirmed deficiency, it is worth using supplementation, while for prevention purposes, it is better to include beta-carotene in diet. Good sources of beta-carotene are, among others, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach.

Vitamin D3

While most people have no problems with antioxidant vitamin deficiencies, the majority of the population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D3 level can be checked by the 25-OH vitamin D test. Exposure to a deficiency of this vitamin, which is of key importance to immunity, increases in the autumn and winter period due to less sunlight. Vitamin D3 deficiency is related to a higher risk of infections and autoimmune diseases. Supplementation of this vitamin is recommended and is safe. Exact recommendations on supplementation can be found in a separate article under this link.

Recapitulation

Our diet greatly affects the functioning of the immune system. A well-balanced Mediterranean diet will be very beneficial, as abounds in vegetable and fruit, which are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is also important to consume sufficient quantities of protein – standard demand is 0.9-1.5 g/kg of body weight and depends on several factors, such as the physiological condition, age or health condition. With increased activity, the protein requirement can be higher, and it should be individually determined. It is important to maintain the right body weight, because either underweight or overweight and obesity will negatively affect the immune system. Nutritional deficiencies are a special threat. An important vitamin of key importance for immunity and which is deficient in a significant part of the population is vitamin D3. Apart from strictly diet-related factors, the following are key to appropriate immunity: regular circadian rhythm, learning ways to deal with stress, moderate and regular physical activity, elimination of stimulants (smoking tobacco, abuse of alcohol).
When taking medication, especially antibiotics, is necessary, they should be taken strictly in accordance with doctor’s recommendations (duration of therapy, dose), without forgetting about the need to use gastroprotective probiotics.


Chocolate red beans brownie

Ingredients:

  • 1 can red beans
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method:

  • Dissolve chocolate in a pan on very low heat, adding coconut oil.
  • Use a blender to mix the ingredients together, adding dissolved chocolate (without cranberries).
  • Mix cranberries with the blended mass and pour it into a baking form.
  • Bake for 25 minutes in the oven preheated to 170 C.


Home-made yeast rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons wheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 25 g fresh yeast
  • 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Himalayan salt

Method:

  • Proof the yeast: crush yeast in a bowl, add 1/4 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 3 tablespoons of wheat flour.
  • Mix the ingredients well, cover with a cloth and leave for 20 minutes in a warm place.

  • Place wheat flour and rye flour in a large bowl, add oil, salt, the remaining milk and yeast.
  • Knead the dough and form 4-5 rolls.
  • Place the rolls on a baking tray and leave them for 20 minutes.

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven preheated to 200 C.


Recommendations on Vitamin D3 supplementation

Vitamin D3 deficiency is an important public health problem in Poland. It is commonly known that vitamin D3 has beneficial effects not only on regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism, but also in the prophylaxis and treatment of many diseases.

WHERE DOES THE ORGANISM OBTAIN VITAMIN D3?

Three sources of obtaining vitamin D3 by human body are known. The first and most important source of this vitamin is skin synthesis, another source is diet, and then supplementation.

  • Skin synthesis of vitamin D3

This is the most important source of obtaining vitamin D3 by the human body. It is estimated that skin synthesis may cover around 80-90% of daily vitamin D3 requirement. We should add here that in Poland, skin synthesis is effective only in spring and summer (from May to September), between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with minimum 15-minute daily exposure to sunlight with uncovered arms and legs. In such conditions, the level of produced vitamin may reach approx. 2,000-4,000 IU. Unfortunately, between October and April, this method of obtaining vitamin D3 has low effectiveness.

  • Diet

Diet is an alternative form of obtaining vitamin D3 by humans. A well-balanced diet may cover approx. 20% of the daily requirement. The most important sources of this vitamin are primarily fish such as wild salmon, herring, and also egg yolk or whole milk. Unfortunately, when skin synthesis of vitamin D3 is insufficient, diet alone is not enough, and optimal supplementation proves to be of key importance.

  • Diet supplementation

For the majority of the population living in Poland, supplementation with vitamin D3 proves to be of key importance in terms of covering the full requirement. The optimum dose of vitamin D3 in the form of a supplement can be determined in two ways. The most important factor in the determination of an individual dose is the knowledge of such parameters as age, body weight, time of the year, sunlight exposure, lifestyle, dietary habits and health condition. Another good way to determine an individual dose is testing the level of 25-OH vitamin D in blood. It is a very good method, however, not always required to select supplementation.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON VITAMIN D3 SUPPLEMENTATION BASED ON AGE AND LIFESTYLE

In the majority of cases, where skin synthesis recommendations are met, additional diet supplementation is not necessary, but it is still safe and recommended.

For children between 1 and 10 years of age, the safe recommended dose is 600-1,000 IU/day.

For youth between 11 and 18 years of age, the safe recommended dose is 800-2,000 IU/day.

For adults between 19 and 65 years of age, the safe recommended dose is 800-2,000 IU/day.

For people between 65 and 75 years of age, the safe recommended dose is 800-2,000 IU/day. Such a dose should be taken throughout the year, regardless of skin synthesis.

For people above 75 years of age, the safe recommended dose is 2,000-4,000 IU/day. Such a dose should be taken throughout the year, regardless of skin synthesis.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is recommended that the concentration of 25-OH vitamin D in blood should be on the level of 30-50 mg/ml.

Obese people with BMI above 30 should use double doses recommended for their age group.

Chronically ill people who permanently take medications, suffering from autoimmunological diseases, hormonal disorders, allergies, metabolic or other diseases should always try to adjust their daily dose of vitamin D3 on the basis of 25-OH vitamin D test.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON SUPPLEMENTATION AFTER TESTING THE LEVEL OF 25-OH VITAMIN D IN BLOOD

The optimum level of 25-OH vitamin D in blood is 30-50 ng/ml. Depending on the test results, an individual supplementation dose is recommended.

  • 0-10 ng/ml – for such a low level, one should verify whether general recommendations were followed at all. The following initial doses are recommended: for children between 1 and 10 years of age – 3,000-6,000 IU/d, while for people above 10 years of age – 6,000 IU/d. 25-OH vitamin D testing should be repeated after 1-3 months of such treatment, until the level of 30-50 ng/ml is reached.
  • 10-20 ng/ml – in the case of deficiencies, one should always verify whether general recommendations were followed. If not, supplementation should be started according to recommendations, and then the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be tested again after 3 months. If supplementation was correct, the dose should be increased by 100%, and the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be tested again after 3 months.
  • 20-30 ng/ml – in deficiencies, one should always verify whether general recommendations were followed. If not, supplementations should be started according to recommendations, and then the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be tested again after 6 months. If supplementation was correct, the dose should be increased by 50%, and the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be tested again after 6 months.
  • 30-50 ng/ml – the optimum level of vitamin D3 in blood. With this result, it is recommended that general recommendations for the age group should be continued.
  • 50-75 ng/ml – if general recommendations were followed, it is recommended that the dose should be reduced by 50%, and the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be tested again after 3 months. If higher doses were taken, it is recommended that supplementation should be discontinued for 1 month and after that time, general recommendations for the age group should be followed.
  • 75-100 ng/ml – for such a high level of vitamin D3, one should check whether vitamin D3 was supplemented and in what dose. It is recommended that supplementation should be discontinued for 1-2 months. After that time, supplementation of minimum doses according to general recommendations can be resumed, until the level of 30-50 ng/ml is reached.
  • >100 ng/ml – if supplementation was used, it should be discontinued immediately, and the level of 25-OH vitamin D should be monitored every month. If it was not used, you should contact your doctor in order to eliminate other causes of such a high level.


IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is IBS?

IBS – irritable bowel syndrome – is a chronic, idiopathic, functional condition of the digestive tract, manifesting itself by discomfort of the digestive tract, abdominal pain, disturbed rhythm of bowel movements, such as diarrhoea, constipation or diarrhoea with constipation. Approximately 25% of the population suffers from IBS, mainly women.

Diagnosing IBS

Disorders accompanying IBS can also be of organic origin (e.g. coeliac disease). Diagnosis of IBS must be preceded by a number of tests to exclude organic disorders. Please remember that IBS can be diagnosed only and exclusively by a physician.

Pathogenesis of IBS

Its aetiology is unknown. The following may contribute to IBS:

  • SIBO, i.e. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,
  • irregularities in microbiome,
  • visceral sensitisation dysfunction and intestinal motor dysfunction,
  • psychological changes,
  • previous intestinal infections.

Multi-level treatment of IBS: diet, supplementation, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy

Depending on an individual case, treatment of IBS often consists in multi-level therapy and collaboration of several specialists. The treatment is primarily based on introducing a special diet. A diet especially recommended in this condition is a temporary LOW FODMAP diet. It is also worth using supplementation, which is a very individual issue, however, probiotics, sodium butyrate and herbal preparations, e.g. Iberogast, are basic preparations that can be the most beneficial. Pharmacotherapy involving muscle relaxants or in certain cases even antidepressants is a frequent element in treating IBS. Psychological therapy is another level in treating disorders such as IBS.

Diet in IBS

A diet especially recommended in the irritable bowel syndrome is LOW FODMAP diet, i.e. diet with low quantities of easily fermenting polysaccharides, disaccharides, simple sugars and polyols. However, LOW FODMAP diet cannot be used all the time.

LOW FODMAP diet is divided into 3 stages.

Stage 1 – consisting in strict diet eliminating products rich in FODMAP:

  • lactose,
  • legume seeds,
  • rye and wheat,
  • fruit containing high quantities of fructose, such as apples, plums, apricots, mango, pear,
  • leeks, beetroot, onions, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, garlic,
  • honey, agave syrup, glucose and fructose syrup, polyols (e.g. maltitol, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol),
  • pistachios, cashew nuts,
  • mushrooms.

Stage 2 – consists in gradual introduction of individual products and monitoring the reaction of the organism.

Stage 3 – consists in creating an individual base of well-tolerated products and maximum personalisation of diet.

Numerous studies show that LOW FODMAP diet seems efficient in treating some patients with IBS. Introducing LOW FODMAP diet and then stepping back gradually from it and personalising the diet should always be supervised by a dietician.


Golden milk – ayurvedic recipe for warming drink

Golden milk or Ayurvedic warming, immunity booster drink 

How did I find out about golden milk? I have been interested in subjects related to yoga and Ayurveda for some time. One day, when browsing the net, I came across this magical recipe. Currently in winter, when it is easy to catch a cold or suffer from frequent infections, this subject should help many people. And then I thought that I should share with you this recipe, which impressed me when it comes to health boosting properties.

Golden milk can be prepared in several ways. The recipe below is for one serving of the drink or turmeric paste which you can use to easily prepare the drink. I personally recommend you preparing the paste. Its preparation requires slightly more time, but it brings out a much better taste.

Recipe for one serving of golden milk:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • Approx. 1-2 teaspoons honey for taste

Pour vegetable milk into a pan and warm it up (without bringing it to a boil). Add spices to the warm milk and mix well. At the end, pour honey. Do not add honey to a hot/boiling drink.

Golden turmeric paste recipe:

  • 1/4 cup ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Approx. 1/2-3/4 cup water (water should be in 1 to 2 proportion with dry ingredients)

Pour water into the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Warm it up while stirring until you obtain a thick paste. Put the paste into a jar and keep it in the fridge.

Recipe for golden milk from paste:

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric paste
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • honey – to taste

Pour vegetable milk into a pan, add the paste and coconut oil and warm it up. At the end, add honey and mix together.

Golden milk has a strong warming effect, it naturally boosts immunity, cures infections and reinforces the immune system. It has also a calming effect and improves the mood, which is especially important during wintertime.

I recommend it to everyone who is prone to infections, has lowered immunity, suffers from autoimmunological diseases, tends to get depressed, and just everyone who wants to take care of their health in a natural way.


Fit Monte – a healthy dessert recipe

Fit Monte

A healthy and nourishing proposition of a milk dessert. This recipe is adequate for people on gluten-free diet.

Contains milk and nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 150 g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon xylitol
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • dark chocolate for decoration
  • several almonds for decoration

Method:

  1. Mix together 1/2 yoghurt with xylitol, peanut butter and cocoa powder. Put it into a bowl or a dessert goblet and leave in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  2. Then, put the remaining 1/2 yoghurt on top of the chocolate layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and decorate with almonds.
  3. Enjoy!