Coconut Milk

We have been experimenting with coconut milk recipes around the house for the last month and I’m excited to share the health benefits of it and an easy recipe for you to try at home.

First, what is coconut milk?  Coconut milk is made from the coconut by grating the “meat” of the coconut and squeezing it through cheesecloth.  The milky white fluid it creates is about 90% fat and the rest is protein and carbs.  The fats are healthy, medium-chain fatty acids, and are known to be highly beneficial.

Some benefits of coconut milk may include:

1. Prevents Anemia – Iron deficiency is a very common nutritional problem throughout the world.  A cup of coconut milk contains approximately a quarter of the daily value of iron.

2. Relaxes muscles – Magnesium is known to calm over-active nerve cells in the body.  It is a common ingredient in sleep aids and coconut milk is rich in it.

3. May relieve arthritis – Coconut milk contains selenium, an important antioxidant that controls free radicals.  Low selenium is often the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

4. Helps lower high blood pressure – The Potassium found in coconut milk will help in lowering blood pressure.

5. Fortifies the Immune System – Coconut milk provides the immune system with a large dose of vitamin C to help ward off colds and other illness.

Here are two recipes to get you started:

Coconut & Fruit Smoothie
1 Can Cold Coconut Milk
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1.5 Cups Frozen Strawberries
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Squares Cold Dark Chocolate

Blend until smooth.  Add water to thin if necessary.  Serves 2-3.

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Coconut Curry
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2-3 Tsp Mild Curry Powder
2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (Cut into bite-sized pieces, could also use chicken thighs)
2 Medium-sized Sweet Potatoes (Peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 Medium-sized Onion (Cut in eighths)
1.5 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Can Coconut Milk (14 oz. can)

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, stir in the curry paste, and fry for 1 minute.  Add the chicken and sweet potatoes, and stir to coat in the paste.  Pour in the stock and coconut milk.  Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes.  Season to taste before serving.  Serves 2-4.

(Recipe taken from paleofood.com)

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Athletes in the News

The 2012 baseball and softball awards have been released.  We’d like to return to blogging by congratulating all of our 2012 athletes receiving accolades:

2012 MLB Draft:

1st Round – Tyler Gonzales (Madison HS), Toronto Blue Jays
20th Round – Mike Garza (MacArthur HS/Georgetown U), Milwaukee Brewers
21st Round – Jacoby Almaraz (Johnson HS/Angelina JC), St. Louis Cardinals

All-District Awards

First team:
Joseph Dimaline, 1B, soph.
Zane Gurwitz, IF, jr.
Jason Serchay, OF, jr.
Johnny Whalen, DH, jr.
Eric Garza, IF, jr.
Tyler Gonzales, utility, sr.
Geno Encina, P, sr.
Michael Agis, P, jr.
Matt Ramirez, P, jr.
Eduardo Salas, SS, jr.

Second team:
Justin Kelly, 3B, jr.
Ben Brookover, 3B, soph.
Andy Morales, C, jr.
Troy Garcia, 1B, soph.
J.J. Avalos, 3B, fr.

Superlatives:
Utility Player of the Year: John Gamez, South San, soph.
MVP: Cody Richey, Comfort, jr.

All-Area teams
Infielders
Zane Gurwitz: Churchill, junior (Super Team 2012)
Outfielders
Johnny Whalen: Churchill, senior
Matt Ramirez: Burbank, junior
Cody Richey: Comfort, junior
Utility
Tyler Gonzales: Madison, senior (Super Team 2012)

Softball Awards

First team All-District and All-Area
Maddy Rosas, OF, sr.

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Supplement Guide: Creatine Monohydrate

We are faced with an excess of misinformation and hype when it comes to supplements.  In the case of Creatine, one of the most researched sports supplement in history, it isn’t hype.

According to the position statement of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/?tool=pubmed):

“Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”

Phosphocreatine (PCr) is naturally stored in muscle, up to 160 grams at any given time, and the body relies on these stores for energy production during intense bouts of training.  PCr stores are diminished during these high-level sessions, as does the ability to resynthesize ATP.  Increasing the level of PCr in the body allows for a prolonged re-synthesis of ATP during high-intensity training.

The improvements due to these higher levels of PCr makes it a “must-have” for all athletes.  Creatine’s myriad benefits include:

  • Improvements in maximum power
  • Increase in work capacity
  • Improved sprint performance
  • Improved ability during repeat sprint efforts
  • Improved ability to gain lean body mass
  • Cognitive benefits

The supplementation protocols given on most creatine containers require a short period of high dosage (a “loading” phase); up to 25 grams consumed 5-7 days straight; and then a longer period of maintenance where the athlete will consume about 5 grams per day for 4-6 weeks.  It’s been shown that reloading every 4-6 weeks is effective in maintaining muscle creatine content.  The low cost of the monohydrate brand of creatine makes this an easy option for all athletes.

Recommendations:
Purchase a flavorless brand of Creatine Monohydrate and add the recommended dosage to any drink or swallow with a drink of water.  Creatine is also found in meat and fish sources in small concentrations.

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Supplement Guide: Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)

As athletic performance coaches, we are constantly looking for the best way to ensure success for our athletes.  To us, it revolves around having an intense work ethic and consistency with your workouts, nutrition, and recovery.  Intense workouts to challenge your body and improve your performance, a healthy diet of real food to feed and repair the body, and a variety of recovery modalities (like foam rolling, sleep, and, again, nutrition) to consistently progress in your training.  Once all of those things are in place, we can then add supplements into the mix.  Keep in mind that supplements do not replace any part of your healthy diet, but will instead supplement your diet with nutrients you lack due to the nature of today’s foods.

It’s no secret that there has been a sharp decline in the nutrient density of our foods over the last half-century.  It is for this reason that the multi-vitamin has become so popular, and necessary, in our diets.  I’ll get to the multi-vitamin in another installment, because today I’m talking about Omega 3 fatty acids.

So what’s the big deal about Omega 3’s?  Fifty years ago we could find them in all of our protein and fat sources.  We could find them in grass-fed cattle, farm-raised eggs, wild salmon, sardines, and even in some vegetable sources.  Now, as livestock are raised on feedlots and stuffed full with corn, the Omega 3 content is diminished and the Omega 6 profile is raised.  Although both fatty acids can be good for you, we have reached the point where our Omega 3 to 6 ratio is so heavily unbalanced toward the 6’s that we are getting more than 10 times the proper amount of Omega 6’s.  Although there is still some discussion as to the proper ratio of 3’s to 6’s, the research shows a marked benefit in cardiovascular health with higher levels of Omega 3’s in the diet.

Omega 3’s come in 3 different forms; ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).  The first is found in vegetable sources like flax seeds, walnuts, beans, broccoli, and some dairy products.  The latter two are the marine forms found in salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and other cold-water fish.

Our recommendations: Take a high-potency fish oil daily to improve your fatty acid profile.  Look for a pill that has a high concentration of EPA and DHA’s, preferably higher than 50% of the pill size.  For a 1000mg pill, look for a potency of up to 90%.  The GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil contains 900mg total omega-3 fatty acid in each softgel.  Athletes should attempt to take ~1-2 grams EPA and DHA each day (or about 2 pills from GNC’s product).  If you can handle the liquid form, then Carlson The Very Finest Fish Oil Liquid has you covered in just 1 tsp per day.

Benefits of Fish Oil Supplementation:

  • Improvements in cardiovascular function
  • Decreased inflammation and joint pain
  • Linked to improved body composition
  • Linked to a reduced risk for cancer, heart disease, and psychological disorders
  • Improved emotional status
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