Our Food Technologist, Danielle Robertson is guest blogging! She is super-knowledgeable as her job is to help formulate Shakeology. Who better to teach us about energy properties in Shakeology than the science girl herself!
Hi! Let’s begin by talking about what an ergogenic aid is — it’s something that increases the output of work in terms of mental or physical energy. While caffeine is the most popular ergogenic aid, it’s not the only one that’s effective. Many reported ergogenic aids (like ginseng) don’t have enough evidence for scientists to know for sure whether or how it works. However, there are several key nutrients that your body depends on in order to get the most energy from the foods you consume. Many of those nutrients are depleted throughout the day, especially after moderate to strenuous exercise. Shakeology can help you restore those nutrients, thus restoring your body’s ability to maximize your energy levels. Let’s take a look at the top 7 energy-essential ingredients included in every dose of Shakeology:
Green Tea Extract
What is it? Green tea extract contains many different phytonutrients (plant nutrients) called catechins, which are potent antioxidants. While green tea extract contains a tiny bit of caffeine, it also contains a powerful catechin called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG for short.
What does it do? A recent study showed that green tea supplements increased fat metabolism at rest and carbohydrate metabolism during moderate exercise. This study gave volunteers either a drink containing green tea extract or a placebo (a drink that looked just like the green tea drink). This study was double-blind, placebo controlled, which means there was very little chance of cheating or bias because neither the participants nor the scientists knew who was getting what until after all the blood samples were collected, tested and analyzed.
B Vitamins: Thiamin
What is it? Thiamin, aka vitamin B1, is a vitamin found in pork products, sunflower seeds, legumes, wheat germ, watermelon and, of course, Shakeology. Thiamin was discovered as the “cure” for the disease Beriberi. Symptoms of beriberi include lethargy, weakness and mental confusion. In Singhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka, beri beri means, “I can’t, I can’t”. Thiamin plays such a huge role in energy and metabolism, that it’s no wonder a deficiency in this vitamin would be marked with such significant weakness and this specific name.
What does it do? Thiamin plays a big role in carbohydrate metabolism. Glucose is the most basic unit of a carbohydrate and it’s the #1 source of fuel for the body. When a glucose molecule is broken down to release energy, it must become pyruvate. Pyruvate cannot go on to the next step in carbohydrate metabolism without help from thiamin. The body does not store thiamin, and a high carbohydrate intake followed by strenuous exercise can rapidly use up the thiamin available. Getting enough thiamin is essential to helping your body convert carbohydrates to energy.
B Vitamins: Riboflavin
What is it? Riboflavin, aka vitamin B2, was discovered as a yellow pigment in milk. Milk products are good sources of riboflavin but other sources include mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.
What does it do? In the movie How to Train Your Dragon, wild dragons steal sheep from the local village and carry them to a massive cave where (spoiler alert) they drop the sheep in a hole to feed a gigantic dragon. Riboflavin is like the wild dragons but, instead of stealing sheep, it collects hydrogen atoms from various reactions in the body. Those hydrogen atoms get passed along not to a gigantic dragon, but to a prominent energy-producing reaction called the Electron Transport Chain (or “ETC”). The ETC is a crucial part of carbohydrate and fat metabolism, so by helping this process, riboflavin is helping your body convert food to energy.
B Vitamins: Niacin
What is it? Niacin is a vitamin found in mushrooms, wheat bran, tuna, chicken, turkey, asparagus, and peanuts. Since our bodies can make small amounts of niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, animal proteins that are rich in tryptophan are also considered sources of niacin.
What does it do? Niacin-containing enzymes participate in at least 200 reactions, most of those used to produce ATP (the chemical form of energy). Like riboflavin, niacin’s role is to collect hydrogens to “feed the dragon” (the electron transport chain) which ultimately results in a release of energy. Despite the similar role, niacin far outshines riboflavin by the sheer number of reactions it participates in. Really, there’s no contest. The sheer number of energy-related chemical reactions niacin participates in is why it’s so important to get enough niacin to optimize your energy levels.
B Vitamins: Pantothenic Acid
What is it? Pantothenic Acid, aka vitamin B5, gets its name from the Greek work pantothen, which means “from every side” or “widespread”. The name is appropriate considering the widespread supply of pantothenic acid in food. Pantothenic acid is so prevalent in the American diet that there isn’t enough data on people with a B5 deficiency to establish the RDA. Instead, there is value for Adequate Intake (AI), which is basically the amount of pantothenic acid needed to replace the amount that was excreted in urine. This may be a good time to point out that scientists are often under-appreciated for their hard and sometimes gruesome work.
What does it do? Have you ever taken a dog for a walk or, better yet, taken a dog to a park? The dog wants to go to the park, but it needs to be brought there. Pantothenic acid is like the person that brings the dog (in this case a molecule named acetate) to the park. Acetate may come from the breakdown of a carbohydrate, a fatty acid, an alcohol or a protein, just like a dog may come from the pet store, the pound, the street, or a neighbor. Regardless of where it came from, a healthy dog wants to go to the park. If you bring it to the park and set it loose to run, you’ll see a huge burst of energy. In a similar fashion, pantothenic acid helps bring acetate to the metabolic process in your body that results in a release of energy.
What is it? Protein is your body’s least favorite type of fuel. It much prefers to use carbohydrates or fats, but some minimal protein does get used as fuel. However, protein’s role in energy metabolism is not as fuel, but as the parts of the machine itself.
What does it do? The building block of a protein is an amino acid, and amino acids come together to make enzymes (a special type of protein), which act as machines that facilitate the chemical reactions in your body. There are some molecules like taurine that are technically amino acids, but the terms “essential” and “non-essential” refer to amino acids that help make proteins. Your body can make the non-essential amino acids, but it’s important to get enough of the essential amino acids so your body can build and repair its enzymes and proteins. As Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan put it, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” In other words, to make sure your body can build the right proteins for energy metabolism, it’s important to eat the right proteins. A serving of Shakeology provides all the amino acids you need to get the job done.
What is it? Water is defined as the basis of the fluids in living organisms. Considering the human body is mostly water, it’s surprising how many people don’t pay enough attention to staying fully hydrated. As it turns out, this has a noticeable impact on your metabolism. Regardless of whether you make your Shakeology with water or a water-based liquid (yes, milk counts), drinking it can help your body stay hydrated.
What does it do? Water serves as the medium for many reactions in our body, and even participates in several reactions. Minimal dehydration (1-2% of body weight in fluids) can slow down metabolism and make you feel thirsty and slightly fatigued. The solution to this fatigue is not caffeine; it’s plain old-fashioned water (or water with cucumber slices in it if that’s more your style). Consuming caffeine won’t quench your thirst, and it could worsen your degree of dehydration, which would make you feel even more tired. If dehydration continues to 4% (meaning a 135 pound woman now weighs about 130 pounds), symptoms include lagging pace, weariness, sleepiness and apathy. Some people might associate sleepiness with a sign they need caffeine, but drinking caffeine instead of water could be counter-productive. Skip the irony – sip water or Shakeology!
Thanks to the Shakeology Team for the opportunity to guest blog and share my science background with the community! Hope you learned something new.