Monday, June 28, 2010


  "The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage." ~Thucydides
"In this country we are very lucky.  Sure we all bitch and complain about the powers that be, which in my opinion is warranted, but bottom line is we are very very lucky.  We all have the freedom to do as we please.  To be who we want to be, to say what we want to say, and to become whatever we want to be.  Sure there are always obstacles to surmount but those are mostly in our heads.  Every person in this country..."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nutrition Series: The Basics - Cholesterol

It's finally here! Sorry this one took so long guys, but I had to do a lot of researching on some subjects on my own to get a better understanding of them before writing.


Cholesterol is a waxy lipid that acts as the starting material for the production of steroid hormones, bile acids and salts, and vitamin D synthesis. It also is an important molecule used for the repair and maintenance of cell membranes, where it helps maintain membrane fluidity.

Hormones are very important chemicals in our bodies, altogether they form a system of intercellular communication. Hormones are very powerful, and required only in small amounts to induce their effects on the targeted area. Hormones regulate everything from digestion to electrolyte levels, to brain function, to tissue repair or breakdown, and everything in between; hormones are how the complex system of organs and tissues that is our body communicates and functions properly.
(Above - the pathways for synthesis of some important steroid hormones)

Steroid hormones include: glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, androgens, estrogens, and progestagens.

Glucocorticoids are hormones, secreted in the adrenal cortex, and have two main areas of influence, the immune system and metabolism, but they also play a role in arousal/cognition, and fetal development. Their effects on the immune system include an up-regulation of anti-inflammatory proteins, and a down-regulation of pro-inflammatory proteins. The net effect is a reduction in inflammation. Glucocorticoids have a catabolic effect on the body’s metabolism, which means that rather than storing energy, tissues are broken down to be used for energy. The specific mechanisms glucocorticoids stimulate are: increased gluconeogenesis, mobilization of amino acids from extrahepatic(other than liver) tissues, inhibition of glucose uptake by muscle and adipose tissue, and stimulation of fat breakdown(lipolysis). The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol.

Mineralocorticoids regulate electrolyte and water balance in the body primarily by acting on the kidneys. The primary mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, though progesterone and deoxycorticosterone also exhibit mineralocorticoid effects.

Androgens are generally known as the male sex hormones, in that they stimulate the development of male characteristics. They still do appear in females, but to a much lesser degree. The particularly well known androgens include testosterone and dihydrotestosterone(DHT).

Estrogens are steroid hormones that stimulate the development of feminine characteristics, as well as play an important role in regulating the estrous cycle. They are created by enzymes that convert androgens to estrogens. The primary estrogens in women are estradiol(most present in non-pregnant females), estriol(produced during pregnancy), and estrone(produced during menopause).
Progestagens, along with estrogens, act to regulate the menstrual cycle and estrous cycles.

Bile salts and acids are produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. The term bile salt refers to a molecule that is composed of a bile acid and either glycine or taurine. Their main function is to facilitate the formation of micelles, which helps the body process dietary fat. Because fat and water do not mix, micelles are necessary for lipids and fat-soluble vitamins to dissolve in aqueous(water based) solutions.
(Above - cross-sectional view of structures that can be formed by phospholipids in an aqueous solution)

Vitamin D3(cholecalciferol) synthesis occurs in the skin, where 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted into cholecalciferol. Cholecalciferol is then carried through the blood to the liver, where it is converted to calcidiol, which in turn may be converted to calcitriol(the active form of vitamin D) by monocyte-macrophages or the kidneys.

The repair and maintenance of cell membranes requires cholesterol. Cholesterol typically makes up about 20% of the mass of the cellular membranes, with smaller amounts included in the organelles inside of cells. Cholesterol lends some structure to cell membranes, allowing them a certain degree of rigidity. Without cholesterol, the membrane would be much too fluid, and would be much too permeable to certain molecules. In addition to providing structure to cell membranes, cholesterol also keeps them fluid, by helping to separate phospholipids and keeping fatty acid chains from merging and crystallizing.
Lipid raft organisation, region (1) is standard lipid bilayer, while region (2) is a lipid raft.

Cholesterol,  along with sphingolipids, also plays an important role in anchoring functional proteins in the cell membrane. These two substances form lipid rafts, These proteins perform many functions such as controlling the travel of substances in and out of cells, attaching to other cells, communicating with other cells, or responding to hormones from other cells. Lipid rafts form a more solid area in which these proteins reside.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nutrition Series: The Basics - Lipids

Here's the third part in the ongoing Nutrition Series! I realize there are a lot of links contained in each article, and these can help, but are not required, to further your understanding of the material. I encourage you to click on the links whenever slightly curious, they contain interesting and pertinent information relating to the information being presented. Enjoy!


Lipids include a variety of molecules that are either hydrophobic(water fearing - these molecules repel water) or amphiphilic(both water and lipid loving - these typically have both a hydrophilic side and a lipophilic side). Lipids include a broad range of molecules, but the groups that are most pertinent to the discussion of nutrition are triglycerides.
triglyceride molecule is composed of three fatty acid chains connected to a glycerol molecule. Triglycerides make up the majority of animal fats as well as vegetable oils.
(A saturated fatty acid, myristic acid, notice the lack of double bonds)
(A monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, notice the single double bond that creates the bent shape)
Fatty acids are characterized as either saturated or unsaturated, based on the presence of double bonds in their structure. If the molecule contains no double bonds it is said to be saturated, otherwise it is unsaturated to some degree. Double bonds reduce the number of hydrogens on each carbon. These different structures provide different chemical properties such as melting point, lipid peroxidation potential, etc. In general, the more double bonds(the more unsaturated) a fat has, the greater its tendency to oxidize and the lower its melting point.
Lipid peroxidation is the oxidative degradation of lipids, and results in a chain reaction that continues creating free fatty acid radicals until either two radicals meet, or the cycle is terminated by an anti-oxidant. Free fatty acid radicals can cause significant damage to cell membranes, as well as create end products that may be mutagenic and carcinogenic.
Saturated Fatty Acids(SFA) - These fatty acids contain no double bonds, and as such are fully saturated with hydrogen. Saturated fats have a relatively high melting point, and are resistant to oxidation, making them preferable for high-heat cooking. SFA’s include: Lauric acid, Myristic acid, Palmitic acid, Stearic acid, and Archidic acid. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.
(above is shown the change that occurs during hydrogenation of a MUFA to a trans fat)
Trans-Fatty Acids(TFA) - These unsaturated fats with the characteristic “trans” configuration. Trans-fatty acids include both natural and artificial fatty acids. The two natural trans fats, found mostly in grass-fed beef and dairy, are Vaccenic acid and Conjugated Linoleic acids(CLA). These two fats are highly anti-carcinogenic(against cancer), in fact, CLA(specifically rumenic acid) is one of the most potent anti-cancer compounds known to man. Vaccenic acid is converted to rumenic acid by enzymes within the body. These two fats also have antiatherogenic(against atherosclerosis) effects, and positive effects on body composition. Artificial fatty acids, such as Elaidic acid are created by the process of partial hydrogenation, and have been associated with cancer, heart disease, and a myriad of other negative effects. Artificially created trans fats are solid, but malleable, at room temperature.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids(MUFA) - these fats contain a single double bond, and have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fats(PUFA), but a lower melting point than saturated fats. Likewise, they have a lipid peroxidation potential in between PUFA’s and SFA’s. Oleic acid is the most prominent MUFA found in olive oil and also in human adipose tissue. These fats are considered generally healthy. At room temperature, these fats are liquid, but they will solidify at refrigerator temperatures.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids(PUFA) are those that contain 2 or more double bonds. These fats have the lowest melting point, and are the most susceptible to lipid peroxidation. They are liquid even at below 0°C. The main types of PUFA are omega-3’s and omega-6’s, but there are also some PUFA’s in the Omega-9 fatty acid group. Both omega-3's and omega-6's are essential fats, and must be obtained in sufficient amounts through our diet. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our diet influence the level of inflammation in our body by their effect in the production of eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are signaling molecules that are made from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they play a large role in regulating inflammation and immunity.
Important Omega-3 fatty acids include: Alpha Linoleic acid(ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid(DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids tend to produce less inflammatory eicosanoids than omega-6’s do. It should be noted that EPA and DHA are the active forms in which our body uses omega-3’s, and conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA is very inefficient (~5% for EPA); EPA and DHA can interconvert. Some rich sources of these fatty acids include: flax seed oil(ALA), fatty fish(EPA/DHA), and algae(DHA). Below is a diagram of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid structures.
Important Omega-6 fatty acids include: Linoleic acid (LA) and Arachidonic acid(AA), . Omega-6’s tend to produce more inflammatory eicosanoids than omega-3’s do.  Some rich sources of these fatty acids include: Grains, seeds, nuts, grain-fed meat, and vegetable oils. However, Gamma Linolenic acid(GLA) and Dihomo-Gamma-Linolenic acid(DGLA) play a role in reducing inflammation. Borage oil, primrose oil, spirulina, and hemp seed oil are good sources of GLA.


Important! The address of this blog will be changing soon, probably to "". I'll keep you guys updated on facebook.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nutrition Series: The Basics - Amino Acids, Proteins, and Enzymes

(pictured is a space-filling model of myoglobin, a protein found in muscle tissue)


Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They connect to each other in long chains to form proteins, which take the form of very complex shapes, with many bends and folds.
There are 22 amino acids that comprise the proteins in our cells.
These can be subdivided into
Essential/non-essential - there are 8 amino acids considered essential, in that they can not be produced by our bodies and must be obtained through the diet. However, certain essential amino acids can be synthesized from certain non-essential ones. Also, in certain populations, non-essential amino acids become essential because of some type of disease or disorder; these amino acids are considered conditionally essential.
Essential Amino Acids: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine
Non-essential: Alanine, Aspartate(aka aspartic acid), Glutamate(aka glutamic acid), Pyrrolysine*, Selenocysteine* (*unclassified)
Conditionally Essential: Histidine, Tyrosine, Arginine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Asparagine.
Amino acids can also be characterized as either glucogenic, ketogenic or both. Glucogenic describes those amino acids that can be converted to glucose through gluconeogenesis. Ketogenic amino acids are those that can produce ketones through the process of ketogenesis
Glucogenic Amino Acids: Glycine, Serine, Valine, Histidine, Arginine, Cysteine, Proline, Alanine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Aspartate, Asparagine, and Methionine.
Both glucogenic or ketogenic: Isoleucine, Threonine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, and Tryptophan.
Ketogenic Amino Acids: Leucine and Lysine.
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze(or increase the rate of) chemical reactions. Most enzyme reaction rates are millions of times faster than comparable un-catalyzed rates.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nutrition Series: The Basics - Carbohydrates

Hi guys, over the next few months, I will be going through a nutrition series that will hopefully cover much of the important stuff in nutrition. I will be basing the format on Mat Lalonde's lecture, explaining it, and adding to/modifying it where needed. We'll begin with the basics, going over the fundamentals of nutritional science, and next we'll get into two theories of nutrition: the fat hypothesis and the carbohydrate hypothesis. Let's get started!


There are two basic categories of nutrients: macronutrients, and micronutrients. Macronutrients are further categorized into carbohydrate, protein, and fat and are what our body derives energy from. Micronutrients are what we know as vitamins and minerals and do not supply any calories.
Essential nutrients are substances which are required by for normal body functioning, but which can not be synthesized by the body at all, or in sufficient amounts, and thus must be obtained from the diet. Essential nutrients include: vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. Oxygen and water are also required.
Non-essential nutrients are those that are not required to obtain through diet, but that may have significant impact on health status. Carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals fit into this category. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, the body can synthesize carbohydrates as needed in the body through a process called gluconeogenesis(this will be discussed in a later post). Dietary fiber may be beneficial in the digestive process, and phytochemicals are being increasingly looked at for treating various ailments and for their other health benefits.
Carbohydrates are what we commonly refer to as sugars and are generally divided into 4 categories: Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, Oligosaccharides, and Polysaccharides.
A monosaccharide is a single isolated carbohydrate molecule, that is not linked to any other carbohydrate. They are often referred to as simple sugars. Examples include: glucose, fructose, galactose, xylose, and ribose. 
A disaccharide is two carbohydrate molecules linked by a glycosidic bond. Some common examples are sucrose(glucose+fructose; also known as table sugar), lactose (glucose+galactose; found in milk), and maltose (glucose+glucose; commonly formed when brewing alcohol).
Oligosaccharides generally contain anywhere from 3 to 9 carbohydrate molecules, though the exact number at which it should be called a polysaccharide really doesn’t matter. Oligosaccharides can only be partially digested by humans, and play a role in maintaining gut flora, which is why they are commonly used as prebiotics. The two common oligosaccharides used as prebiotics are: fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. FOS are found in various vegetables and fruits, but is found in highest concentrations in the Jerusalem artichoke. Inulin is found in many of the same plants as FOS, but is not found in fruit to a large extent.
Polysaccharides are chains of carbohydrate molecules composed of 10 or more monosaccharides. Common examples include storage forms such as starches and glycogen, as well as structural forms like cellulose (aka insoluble fiber). Starch is composed of long chains of glucose molecules, and are the found in all plants, albeit with radically varying degrees of carbohydrate density. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate in animals, and is stored mainly in the liver and muscles, and to a very small extent, in the kidneys.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Paleo Diet Newsletter

Hey guys, recently, I've been receiving some very interesting and pertinent information about the consumption of nightshades, which includes various plants such as potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. I've been receiving this free of charge from The Paleo Diet Newsletter, by Loren Cordain, one of the foremost experts on the paleo diet. I highly recommend you guys subscribe to his weekly newsletter. It's free, and there are often quite interesting articles sent out. Sometime in the future, I'll write up a piece on nightshades, combining the information from Dr. Cordain's article, as well as knowledge from the Nutrition Seminar with Mathieu Lalonde. I would also highly recommend Mat Lalonde's seminar, for those of you who would like to get into the finer details, as well as those who simply want a good basic understanding of why the paleo diet works so well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vitamin D

Tuesday WOD

10 rounds for time of:
5 Tire Flips
100m Run

Post times to comments.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monday WOD

21-15-9 for time of:
95lb Thrusters

Well guys, this is it! Finals week! We'll be training on Monday and Tuesday, but I'm leaving for the summer on Wednesday. Good luck with all of your final exams!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sports Drinks - The Good, The Bad, and The Sugar

Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are used in athletics at almost any level in an effort to replace carbohydrate, electrolytes and other nutrients, and generally come in three varieties : Isotonic, Hypertonic, and Hypotonic. Isotonic drinks, the most common, have concentrations of electrolytes and sugar at levels found in the body, whereas hypertonic and hypotonic have levels above and below, respectively.

Sports drinks can be useful for preventing water intoxication, which occurs when too much water is consumed and the electrolyte concentration of the blood drops. This is a potentially lethal condition, but it takes very large amounts to reach dangerous levels.

New research has also revealed a bit about how our brain keeps a throttle on how hard we can push. After bicycling to exhaustion, participants in the study were given a mouthful of a sugar or artificially sweetened solution then spat it out. Compared to controls, they were able to ride for quite a bit further immediately. It seems as though the brain may limit energy output by what the body's perceived energy status is. Sports drinks may have a place in reducing fatigue during exercise.

There are however some inaccuracies about sports drinks that need to be addressed. The claim that they prevent cramps by way of electrolyte replenishment is not substantiated by science. In fact, this review of the studies looking at cramps in runners found no connection between cramping and electrolyte status. They concluded that neurological changes associated with fatigue and often over-reaching by athletes may be a more likely cause.

The requirements of athletes differs greatly by sport, and not all athletes will benefit from sports drinks during competition. Sports drinks should only be used during competition or very hard training for athletes in glycogen dependent sports. Regular use of sports drinks outside of these scenarios can lead to insulin resistance, fat gain, and other manifestations of metabolic derangement. Athletes that perform in relatively high intensity sports for long or medium duration may require more carbohydrate to fuel training than pure endurance or strength athletes. Rather than sports drinks though, they should strive to consume their carbohydrate in the form of nutrient and antioxidant dense sources like yams, sweet potatoes, other root vegetables and squash. Even these athletes will likely do well with carbohydrate comprising 40% or less of their caloric intake. They will do better to keep carbohydrate levels moderate, then very low 5 days out from competition, then carb-load the last 2 days before competition, resulting in extremely full glycogen stores.

Strength athletes have relatively little need for full glycogen stores, and so do not need sports drinks, though protein shakes MAY be of some benefit. Ultra-endurance athletes will do best to be fat adapted, and so may benefit from a relatively low carbohydrate diet, except in the few days prior to competition. Sports drinks can benefit your performance in competition, but use them sparingly, as the costs often outweigh the benefits.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thursday WOD


AMRAP in 10 min of:
200m Row
10 Pushups
20 Pullups

Post rounds completed to comments.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wednesday WOD - Bacteria can make you smarter and happier?


Back Squat:
5 reps at 65% max
3 reps at 75% max
1+ rep at 85% max

2 X 10 Overhead Lunges
2 X 10 Front Squat
2 X 10 Overhead Squat

For the 1+, complete as many reps as you can for that weight.
Post loads and reps completed to comments.

A recent study done on rats shows that certain bacteria can actually influence the brain and make us smarter and happier. These bacteria, naturally occurring in the soil and carried through the air, can improve cognition and mood, another great reason to get out and enjoy nature in the great state of Washington!