Articles tagged as performance nutrition (view all)

The Fats of Life

15 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

By: Jason Riley


  • Eating good fats and higher percentage of your calories from fat can actually help you lose weight and obtain a better body composition… You get leaner!
  • Consuming good fats can actually produce more muscle mass by stimulating a better hormone balance after intense exercise
  • When you consume fats that contain essential DHA, your brain processing speeds, reaction times and moods will be enhanced
  • There is an intricate balance between fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and K and bone mineral strength. You want strong bones? You need to eat fats!
  • Oxidized fats can sabotage your hard work, so be very cautious of oil manufacturing and storage techniques, this includes supplementation.

Fats Avocado Chia Seeds Olive Oil

     Have you ever heard the saying that you are the sum of the people that you surround yourself with? We tend to adapt traits, behaviors and mannerisms of the people that are closest to us. Nutrition is no different! When we consume food, the environment that we place the food in helps determine whether that food becomes an asset or a liability to our bodies. Does it use them for energy for performance, or the expression of disease and decreased quality of life?

     So why is it that we have been told that eating fat will make us fat? Before answering this question, we must understand that not all fats are created equal. Some fats are good for you and will actually help you lose weight, while others will continue to add to that visceral fat that we are all so fervently trying to get rid of. Whether a particular fat is healthy, depends on how that fat communicates with your cells and genes. Bad fats will turn off your fat burning genes, making it harder for you to shed the weight.

     There are numerous studies that will disprove this theory of eating fat makes us fat. One particular study examined women who ate a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet until they felt full. These women actually lost twice as much weight as compared to women who ate a restricted low fat diet. Not only did they lose weight, but their risk factors associated with disease states also diminished. We must then ask the question, how does a decrease in carbohydrate fueling and a subsequent increase in fat consumption help us lose weight? There are numerous answers to that question, but it looks as if 3 main processes are involved: Improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation and the fats help to support your basal metabolic rate. Therefore, eat the right kinds of fat and you ramp up your fat burning potential. Eat the wrong kinds of fats and you gain weight and slow down your metabolism.

     We know that fats are important in many different metabolic processes. It aids in optimal absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as the synthesis of cholesterol and steroid hormones that are critical to your performance and survival. If we become deficient in essential fatty acids, we can limit our ability to utilize our fat-soluble vitamins. In one study, the subjects eating moderate fat exhibited higher testosterone levels than the subjects eating low fat. This finding confirms the results of previous studies, demonstrating that dietary fat is positively linked with testosterone levels. We can ascertain that increased consumption of good fats, more specifically good saturated fats like coconut oil, can positively impact your testosterone levels.

      When looking into fat consumption, you’ve probably heard of mono and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil, palm oil, nuts and seeds are examples of good fats with high amounts of polyunsaturated fats; however, if not stored or manufactured properly, these oils can actually cause harm to your body. When a molecule gives up an electron to another molecule, it is called oxidation. Oxidation occurs all the time within our bodies creating a multitude of roaming free radicals that cause our cells to age prematurely. We all have seen oxidation at work outside the body when you bite into an apple, leave it out on the kitchen counter, and the brown that starts to grow around that bite mark is an example of oxidation.

      The question becomes, is oil that has become oxidized from air, light or heat dangerous to consume. There are numerous studies that fed oxidized oils to animals and showed increased systemic inflammation, damage to brain cells and a multitude of other negative symptoms. So, could consuming these oxidized oils be a threat to our quality of life or athletic performance? Well, we believe that inflammation can be one of the major causes of non-contact injuries like muscle strains and pulls. Consumption of oxidized oils is definitely not helping your body control inflammation.

     The question becomes how do we protect ourselves from the possible ill effects of consuming oxidized fats. We have listed the following guidelines to help you take control of your health and performance:

  • Store oils that you use for salads, foods and even cooking in a cool, dark place away from light and heat in an airtight container. Examples include:
    • olive oil, palm, canola, corn, avocado, safflower and sunflower
  • Refrigerate nut and seed oils to limit oxidation. Examples include:
    • Almond oil, walnut, hazelnut, flaxseed, macadamia, etc…
  • Choose oils that are packaged in dark glass containers to help keep light away from the oils and preserve its freshness
  • Make sure to place the cap back on the bottles of oil as soon as you finish using the oils. Every second the bottle is left open is inviting more oxidation into the oil.
  • Check expiration dates on the bottles of oil
  • Limit deep-fried foods and do not re-use cooking oils
  • Buy whole, raw nuts that have not been exposed to the roasting process and have not been broken into smaller pieces, which will accelerate the oxidation process.

     Whether your goal is vanity and just wanting to tone up and lose weight, increasing your hormone producing capabilities, balancing your mood or improving your athletic performance, fats play an important role in your daily life. So grab that bottle of coconut oil, handful of nuts and seeds, or oil based dressing and reap the rewards of feeding this all-important macronutrient to your body.



  1. Brehm, B. et al: A Randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2003 Apr; 88(4):1617-23.

  2. Sallinen, J. et al: Relationship between diet and serum anabolic hormone responses to heavy resistance exercise in men. Int J Sports Med 2004 Nov; 25(8):627-33

  3. Volek, JS, Forsythe, CE. The case for not restricting saturated fat on a low carbohydrate diet. Nutr Metabolism (Lond) 2005; 2;21.

  4. Volek, JS. Et al: Testoterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J Appl Physiology 1997;82;49-54


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09 November, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

By: Jason Riley

  • They contain up to 100% of your daily vitamin A intake
  • Rich in fiber and help provide steady energy for prolonged periods of time
  • Positively impact your immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory food which can directly affect non-contact injuries
  • Play an essential role in athletes fueling strategies

Not only do they taste sweet as pie, but they provide some amazing health benefits to athletes. Sweet potatoes are a very potent fueling option for athletes to consume, regardless of sport. They are rich in slow digesting carbohydrates, which will provide a steady energy state over a long period of time. The bright orange color displays its rich beta-carotene content, and sweet potatoes supply the body with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and even Vitamin B.

When describing other potential performance benefits, other exotic fruits and vegetables often steal sweet potatoes thunder. However, a large sweet potato can contain up to 100% of the daily intake of vitamin A, and are therefore one of the best foods to consume for vitamin A. Vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables is considered “pro-vitamin A”, and must be converted by the human body into the usable form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse and plays a vital role in bone growth, immune system health, and helps the skin and mucus membranes effectively repel bacteria and viruses. It is also critical in maintaining healthy eyesight. Some other sources of beta-carotene are carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, pumpkin and butternut squash.

Among the other performance enhancing benefits of sweet potatoes are their anti-inflammatory properties and blood sugar regulating properties. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many disease states as well as many non-contact injuries in sports. Inflammation is one of the cornerstones of the bodies healing processes, as seen in many injury states with redness, swelling and pain. These symptoms are the body’s way of flooding the site with more nourishment and more immune activity. Stress, too much exercise, injury states, poor food choices and exposure to environmental toxins can all create inflammation within the body, and if not rectified, will wreck havoc with your health and performance.

Carbohydrate foods also influence this inflammatory process. You can control inflammation by keeping blood sugar levels low and stable. Education on how foods impact the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing non-contact injuries and disease states. Eating less processed foods, breads, white potatoes, pastries, sweetened drinks and by avoiding fast foods and products made with high fructose corn syrup we can keep inflammation at bay.

The glycemic index measures how quickly certain foods release carbohydrates into the body. High glycemic foods cause blood sugar levels to spike, while low glycemic foods release glucose slowly into the bloodstream. A surprising fact about sweet potatoes is their ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. Research has confirmed that sweet potato extract can increase blood levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone produced by your fat cells, which regulates the way your body metabolize’s and even lower’s insulin levels. The truth is, carbohydrates play an essential role in an athletes fueling strategy because they are a key source of energy and provide the glucose necessary to replace the glycogen lost during training and competition. So if your looking for a super-food that you may have overlooked, try giving sweet potatoes another shot in your fueling strategy for performance and quality of life measures.

Here are 3 ways that you can enjoy this nutritious food in your meal plans:

 Baked Sweet Potatoes                             Sweet Potatoes with                                     Baked Sweet Potatoes                            with Rosemary & Garlic                        Fried / Scrambled Eggs                               with Greek Yogurt & Chives   

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic                 Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs                   Baked Sweet Potato with Goat Cheese and Chives

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Breakfast Briefs

21 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment



Do you still need to eat Breakfast?


Do you tend to over-indulge at lunch?

Are you having trouble losing those extra pounds?

Are you sluggish throughout the day?

Are you having trouble maintaining or increasing muscle mass?


If you said yes to any of the aforementioned questions, then you may not be eating breakfast.  The health benefits behind eating breakfast should be enough to convince you to make it a priority.  However, before addressing the benefits, let's prepare a quick overview of your bodies metabolism during sleep.  

While you are sleeping, you enter a fasting state, in which your body does not receive any fuel for six to eight hours.  Even though you aren't physically exerting yourself throughout the night, your body still utilizes carbohydrates and energy stores for life functions (heart, brain, neurons, etc...). Therefore, upon waking, your body goes into a state of conservation; conserving fat and burning what your body deems as expendable.  Your body will start to produce more energy from the very muscle tissue you have worked so diligently to develop.  

Lets look at this cascade of events a little deeper.  The longer you go without adding fuel in the morning, the greater the stress the body perceives.  This causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can cause a multitude of negative consequences on your body.  Increased cortisol stimulates the breakdown of muscle into amino acids, or the building blocks of protein, which can be used for energy.

This increase in cortisol can make gaining or even maintaining your muscle mass that much more difficult.  Cortisol levels can also affect the hormones, which influence hunger.  Once you eat breakfast and lower your cortisol levels, your body will slow the production of these hormones, making you not feel as hungry.  This can help prevent you from over-indulging before or during your next meal.  

Breakfast is an integral meal in everyone's lifestyle, whether you're a high performance athlete or a business executive preparing for a meeting.  A healthy, well-balanced breakfast is essential not only stimulating your energy levels, but helps keep a low cortisol level to aid in decreasing the risk of obesity while aiding in weight maintenance.  





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Performance is a Choice: Nutrition

08 August, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

 How important is nutrition in attaining peak performance? We asked a few pro athletes to give us their take on it.

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Don't Let Muscle Cramps Take You Out of The Game

22 June, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

First off congratulations to the Miami Heat for winning the NBA championship. What an exciting few weeks to watch the best basketball in the world. Now it's time to rest up and get ready for the Olympics in London. 

One of the featured story lines after game 4 of the finals was LeBron's leg cramps at the end of the game. He actually had to be taken out of the game and had to watch much of the deciding moments on the sideline. Miami was able to pull through and win the game, but if couple of plays go the other way it becomes at different series and the Heat all of a sudden are not celebrating their championship so soon.

 Game 4 NBA Playoffs -

That's why proper nutrient intake is so important. We have worked with numerous pro athletes and have seen first hand how debilitating mineral deficiencies can be. Durring the Sarasota Open, one of our tennis pros was cramping after the second set. He took our 2oz Mineral Complex and his cramps instantly went away. He went on to win the match. We have seen these type of results over and over again and make sure that every athlete is taking the minerals before they workout as well as during their workout if needed. 

No matter what sport you are playing, make sure you can perform at your peak in every situation. 

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Let's Talk Nutrition: Jason Riley

12 April, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

Co-Founder of Elementz Nutrition Jason Riley was interviewed by Michael Garko of Let's Talk Nutrition.

You can listen to the full interview here: Link

Hope you enjoy it, if you have any questions leave a comment.

About Let's Talk Nutrition:

Let’s Talk Nutrition is Tampa’s only interactive, health talk radio show.  Known as LTN, the show is heard every weekday from 2 – 4 pm online and on AM 1250 WHNZ in the Tampa area.  For showtimes in your area, visit the Our Stations  page.  The program features Michael Garko, Ph.D. and focuses on health and nutrition experts with extensive knowledge of complementary, alternative, and traditional medicine.
His personal philosophies have carried over into his show where Dr. Garko says, “The goal of Let’s Talk Nutrition is to inspire you to take charge of your health, and in turn, better your life.”  In fact, he has reviewed the literature on health and nutrition for over three decades, and has devoted extensive study to scientific advances in anti-aging and life extension, as well as the use of nutrition, physical conditioning, supplementation and life-style strategies in fighting disease.
Academically, Dr. Garko earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University, and has over 25 years of experience teaching and consulting.  He is also currently enrolled at Clayton College where he is pursuing another advanced degree, a Doctorate in Naturopathy.

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12 April, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

With the US Open now upon us, we have fielded numerous questions about our philosophy on multivitamins. Tennis, like many sports, requires frequent travel across many states and continents. Most of these athletes are road-bound for nearly 40+ weeks per year, so we have to prepare them with a high quality multi-vitamin that helps stimulate energy production, focus, recovery, immune function and nutrient delivery. Vitamins need to be viewed as a supplement to healthy eating, never as a replacement. Most vitamins cannot even be utilized without energy derived from the macronutrients in food.

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11 April, 2012 0 comments Leave a comment

Being a successful athlete requires tremendous discipline in all facets of life.  Athletes spend vast amounts of time and energy trying to improve athletic performance, but often miss key components that are critical to success in sports.  Proper nutrition and rest will ensure that athletes are meeting their performance goals.   If the fuel in the tank is inadequate, the performance will also be inadequate.  Nutrition should focus on an athlete achieving the greatest benefit from the foods they consume.

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