HPN 13: Seasonal Eating Guide Pt 1, Why B12 May Not Just Be About Diet and How To Maintain Healthy Levels, Collagen vs. Whey Protein, and More
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Welcome to episode 13 of Holistic Performance Nutrition (HPN) featuring Tawnee Gibson, MS, CSCS, CISSN, and Julie McCloskey, a certified holistic nutrition coach who you can find over at wildandwell.fit.
On this episode:
A Followup “Thanks” From HPN 11
Tawnee & Julie thank you so much for this episode. The last few months I’ve gone to fasted workouts, high fat, lower carb lifestyle. So far I had been able to do bike training sessions of about 2-2.5 hrs on just some coffee with collagen, mct oil, and ghee and taking in a bottle mix with EEAs and felt great. However I’m training for IMSTG in May and I know this fueling will not be enough to get me through the race. This podcast gave me some ideas to play around with so I’ve got Tailwind, Ucan, Fbomb, and Justin’s Nut butter on the way.
Our Seasonal Eating Guide – Part 1, Winter:
Eating with the seasons is one of the best things you can do for your diet. Our aim with this list is not to say that these are the only vegetables and fruits you should eat, but rather to inspire you to expand the foods that land on your plate and *when* you eat them — by choosing certain foods when they’re at their peak! Julie and Tawnee share some of the best fresh seasonal foods to buy this coming year; five for each season.
- Two different types depending on the shape of their leaves (curly or straight)
- From the chicory family along with radicchio
- Grown in conditions without light which deprives them of chlorophyll
- Tastier with cooler temperatures
- Lasts in the refrigerator for up to a week
- Pairs well with: garlic, lemon, chilies, anchovies, and all cheeses
- Cooking methods:
- Nutrition profile:
- Loaded with vitamin K (72%), most B vitamins, and C
- And inulin (a type of soluble fiber)
- Similar to broccoli rabe
- Best consumed within 3 days of purchase; tends to get more pungent and bitter the longer you keep it around
- The stem is tough; trim the base of the stock by an inch and peel the first few layers to cook
- Pairs well with: pork, creamy cheeses, white beans, and anchovies
- Cooking methods:
- Saute with olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes
- Nutrition profile:
- Vitamin A, C, and K
3. Hardy Kiwi
- Originated in China, brought to New Zealand in the 1940s, and was introduced to the US in the 1960s.
- Now, it is mostly grown in California or imported from New Zealand and Chili
- It is not as sustainable as other fruits because it takes a lot of water to grow (something to consider when buying)
- Loaded with Vitamin C (141% in one large kiwi); Julie likes to eat them when she feels like she is getting sick
- Doesn’t have the fuzzy skin like regular kiwis
- There are different variations of the kiwi (i.e., in the dormant season, the Arctic Beauty kiwi can survive in -25 degrees)
- The “cabbage turnip” (German)
- Cruciferous or brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), but a little more hearty like a root vegetable (potato + turnip or radish) with a light sweetness.
- Sweeter with cooler temperatures
- Stores well to make it fresh and available throughout the winter (Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr)
- Nutrition profile:
- Vitamin A, Bs, C, and K
- Copper, manganese, iron, potassium, and calcium
- Dietary fiber
- Prefers colder climates
- Good shelf life
- Mild taste
- High in vitamin C and a good source of fiber
- Greens are nutritious too (antioxidants, vitamin K, folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium)
Collagen protein vs. whey protein – what’s the difference?
Summary: whey and collagen have a different nutritional profile; it is good to have a variety. Collagen can be a good supplement and complement to an athlete’s routine.
- Collagen – the main and structural protein in the body including muscles, tendons, bones, skin, digestive system
- Whey – complex water-soluble protein
- Collagen – animal cartilage, bones, and skin
- Whey – 20% of the protein in cows milk
- Collagen – gut health, muscle development, joint and skin health, quick recovery post-workout
- Whey – muscle building, fat-burning, increase metabolism, and craving control
- Collagen IS different
- The amino acid profile is different between collagen vs. regular protein powders (whey, etc)
- High in non-essential amino acids including glycine and proline; does not have BCAAs
- Glycine is a precursor to glutathione, creatine; acts as neurotransmitter in central nervous system and it has many roles such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cryoprotective, and immunomodulatory in peripheral and nervous tissues.
- Well digested for most people
- Complete protein with BCAAs for MPS
- Whey/dairy gets a bad rep but can actually improve leaky gut and intestinal permeability
- Meat, eggs, fish are higher in methionine and sulfur
- Overabundance in methionine can lead to problems with homocysteine and inflammation, possibly some gut health issues
- Collagen has 8/9 essential amino acids; lacks tryptophan which helps control sleep & mood
- Where’s the tryptophan?
- This study showed that even though collagen peptides do not contain tryptophan and are low in cysteine and methionine, the average US diet contains a surplus of these amino acids that allows for the substitution of the total protein intake with 36% to 54% collagen peptides, while maintaining a “good” or “high” dietary protein quality (PDCAAS equals 0.75–1.0).
- Summary: if you do half of your protein from collagen peptides, and the other 50% is coming from a good-quality protein source, you will get tryptophan, and you will meet your amino acid needs for the day. If you’re only relying on collagen as your protein source, you will not meet all your needs.
- Whey has all of the amino acids
Jessica M. asks:
Recovering from low B12 levels
I was wondering if you could shed a little light about returning to activity and how training can be affected by very low B12 levels.
A little background…I’m a 30 year old female, ultrarunner, vegetarian, from the great state of MN. After a few events clustered together on the calendar in 2019 (50 mile, R2R2R, 100K then a marathon within about an 8 week span), I began to feel a deep tiredness–one that felt different and that I had not felt before. I began to feel very worn down and was having a hard time recovering. Everything was just hard–I could barely complete my usual routes at a much slower pace and eventually I could manage only a few miles at a time before having to walk and calling it a day. I feared I had ventured into overtraining territory, so I took a week off of running all together to reevaluate my training. I also had a visit with my Primary Dr to discuss my symptoms just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. II assumed overtraining was the cause and that my body had just had enough and I needed a break. What I learned after a few blood tests was as that I was anemic with severely low B12 levels. I don’t yet know the cause (although my Dr suspects it’s byproduct of long-term vegetarianism), but we are looking into this. For the time being I am receiving B12 injections weekly for 4-6 weeks, then switching to oral supplementation to see if my body can maintain a normal level of B12.
All of this of course occurring while in the midst of training for a 100 miler in September. I’m not ready to pull the plug on that yet, but I feel like things need to turn around fairly soon for that to be a possibility. I was averaging 65-70 mile weeks, and planning on building up to a max of around 85 or so before the race, but the last 5 weeks or so I have been only able to manage between 10-15 miles/week. Is it worthwhile to keep training at a much slower pace (even though it just feels real hard), or am I better off cutting the cord all together and resting until iI can get my B12 levels back in line, then thinking about reintroducing running?
I am really struggling trying to get back into training. I want to run and it’s just so defeating to head out the door, only to come back walking and defeated miles later. It’s been 10 days since my first B12 injection (so I have had 2 thus far), and I am not yet back to any “normal” pace or normal feeling. I think I feel a little better overall generally but it’s hard to tell if I am just overthinking it now to be honest.
Am I doing harm by trying to run thru this with the assumption that in a few weeks I’ll start to feel better? Since I don’t think overtraining is playing a role here anymore, is doing what I can do beneficial at all? Even if the effort still feels much harder than usual? There are lots of research/papers on iron deficiency and anemia in athletes, but hardly any I could find on B12 deficiency so I am struggling to find a protocol to follow while trying to get back to it. I really want to find myself on that start line on Sept 14, but it’s hard to overlook 5 weeks of inconsistency and really no beneficial training in some of the prime buildup weeks. I’m looking for a little love and guidance to restart the journey.
What the Coaches say:
What’s so important about B12?
- Synthesize DNA and red blood cells (with folate)
- Assists in the production of myelin sheath for nerve function
- Neurotransmitter & cognitive function/health
- Behavioral disorders, cognitive impairment, depression, brain fog, anxiety, etc.
- Prevent anemia and fatigue
- Homocysteine metabolism
- The body cannot synthesize on its own so must be consumed in food (or supplement form); animal sources only (meat, fish, etc.) not in plants (fruit or veg)
- Liver, mackerel, shellfish, dairy, eggs, salmon roe
How common is a deficiency?
- Framingham Offspring study
- 39% of subjects had plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations <258 pmol/L, 17% had concentrations <185 pmol/L, and 9% had concentrations <148 pmol/L, with little difference between age groups. Supplement users were significantly less likely than non-supplement-users to have concentrations <185 pmol/L (8% compared with 20%, respectively).
- Researchers found no association between plasma B12 levels and meat, poultry, and fish intake, even though these foods supply the bulk of B12 in the diet. They concluded that it’s not about the lack of meat it’s that B12 isn’t getting absorbed.
- How prevalent is vitamin B(12) deficiency among vegetarians? (2013)
- Review of 18 articles found:
- 62% among pregnant women
- 25%-86% among children
- 21-41% among adolescents
- 11-90% among the elderly
- Higher rates of deficiency were reported among vegans compared with vegetarians and among individuals who had adhered to a vegetarian diet since birth compared with those who had adopted such a diet later in life.
- The main finding of this review is that vegetarians develop B12 depletion or deficiency regardless of demographic characteristics, place of residency, age, or type of vegetarian diet. Vegetarians should thus take preventive measures to ensure adequate intake of this vitamin, including regular consumption of supplements containing B12.
- Review of 18 articles found:
Why you could be B12 Deficient:
- There’s not enough in your diet and you’re burning through your stores like crazy
- Eggs and cheese are the only sources that you’re consuming
- Gut dysbiosis/ Reduced intestinal absorption
- SIBO? Bacteria steal it: “Patients with normal intestinal enteric flora rely on gastric intrinsic factor to bind to vitamin B12 to permit absorption in the ileum. An animal model of SIBO demonstrated competitive uptake of vitamin B12 by bacteria (especially aerobes). Human subjects with atrophic gastritis and bacterial overgrowth absorbed significantly less protein-bound vitamin B12 compared to controls, although this was reversed with antibiotic therapy.68 Folate levels can be normal but frequently are elevated due to increased synthesis of folate by small bowel bacteria.69,70“
- Gluten induced GI damage in the area where B12 is absorbed
- Antibiotics disrupting the microflora
- Medications especially acid blockers like PPI’s and even over the counter acid blockers
- Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids
- Birth Control creating nutrient deficiencies
- Pesticides like glyphosate disrupting the gut microflora and absorption sites
- Pernicious Anemia (autoimmune)
- Staging B12 Deficiency in Vegetarians
How to restart the journey:
- More time off
- Looking at the bigger picture, taking a step back and realizing how damaging this lifestyle is to your health. Your body is not fully being supported and it’s shutting down, not to be taken lightly
- She doesn’t say why she’s a vegetarian, but shellfish and organ meats would do the body good
- Working with her doctor or someone else to find the cause, address it, find the correct supplement form, and address diet and lifestyle factors
- After B12 injections transition to liposomal supplement such as:
- B12 deficiency requires ~500 mcg day
- Water-soluble so if you take excess you basically just pee out
- RDA is 2.4 mcg (probably too low for veg endurance athlete with a history of deficiency)
- Serum blood testing may not be enough
Recommended testing includes:
- DUTCH test to have B12 metabolites looked at, specifically Methylmalonate (MMA). On DUTCH if this is high it could signal low B12 status.
- Great Plains Organic Acids test – directly/indirectly can identify nutrient deficiencies as well as state of gut health.
- Could do holo-TC testing, but not as available in the US (catches B12 status earlier).
- Serum may miss it. Even high serum B12 doesn’t rule out functional deficiency (i.e. B12 is too low for OPTIMAL HEALTH – and it doesn’t mean it’s getting into the cells, could have gotten tested when the liver dumped some B12 out to be redistributed and gave you a false reading).
- Also test homocysteine (if high this could signal B12 problems still).
- No higher than about 7-7.5 micromole per L
- Monitoring B12 status – maintain over 400 to 1100 picograms per milliliter. Under 300 pg/mL is where problems and symptoms may start to occur in most.