Gluten’s a vague term

Its used to categorize things that are bad…

Alright, let’s get real. The battle of Gluten vs the World has gotten a little out of hand. It is really hard to have grown up with the USDA Food Pyramid and believe the “6-11 Servings of Grains” can possibly be bad for you. I say we stop living in the rear view mirror. We don’t allow smoking on a plane anymore, gays have the right to get married. unprotected sex with multiple partners can lead to HIV, and yes…in 1992 the USDA put out some really bad advice on nutrition. I enjoy pizza, wings and beer as much as anyone, but it is absolutely clear Gluten is something to be very mindful of. Eliminating it from your diet will likely make you significantly heather.

Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.

The most common grain in the western diet, by far, is wheat… and wheat can cause a host of health problems, both minor and serious. Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it.

Eating gluten can damage the intestinal lining, cause pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten consumption has also been associated with schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia, both serious disorders of the brain.

From the Experts:

A fantastic (and long) description of the problems Gluten presents in people who don’t have Wheat Sensitivity or Celiacs. 

The American Journal of Gastroenterology determines Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity is a real problem. 

BMC Medical discusses in ridiculous detail the gluten issue…in very specific and dry terms. 


Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems.



30 Day Challenge Winner is…

Trevor Wetzel is the winner of our very first 30 Day Challenge!

Before I go any further, let me give a huge shout out to Jen Shaffer and Mallory Zimet. They both gave a great effort all month with both nutrition and dedication to fitness. They are both great examples of what it means to be an Autonomist!

photo1Trevor works out at 7am most days. He joined CFA just before the challenge began, and showed up with a medical file the size of the Chicago Yellow Pages! (Kids, ask your parents what that means). After playing football like a boss for Stevenson, Trevor left for college at Mich St like an old war horse. Surgeries on most major joints already in his past…and seemingly his best athletic years as well.

Trevor graduated last year, and like most college students today…had heard of CrossFit while at school. After being bugged for months, he walked in with the perfect attitude. “I’m gonna be at this for awhile. I have a long way to go, and its gonna hurt…but I’m excited!”

Over the past 30 days, Trevor has lost weight and improved performance…but so did a lot of people. What set him apart is a few things. He not only ate perfectly clean the entire month, but he cooked nearly all of his own meals. In a house where he is the “kid”, he helped his whole family learn about nutrition and eat cleaner. Amongst his peers, all in their early 20’s…he took the strange looks and ridicule and stayed the path. No alcohol, wings or pizza on the weekends for Trev!

Photo1The payoff for Trevor is he know has significantly better range of motion and less pain in all of his joints. His recovery is faster, and his ceiling is higher. And yes…Trevor earned a Free Month at CrossFit Autonomy! In case you’re wondering, did Trevor enjoy his first weekend off the wagon? Yes, so much so…he was “sick” on Monday and missed class! That’s what gluten will do for ya. Congrats to Trevor and all the other athletes who walk around more fit today due to the 30 Day Challenge.

If you are interested in doing your very own 30 Day Challenge, please contact me directly to get all the guidance and accountability you need!

Protein Schmotein

By Autonomist Nicole Green RD/LDN

In the past couple weeks, we reviewed multiple roles of protein in the body. We clearly know that protein is an essential macronutrient in the body. So what happens when we consume an inadequate amount of protein?

Lack of protein can cause fatigue and decreased energy. The amino acids in protein are responsible for oxygen transportation throughout the body. Thus, lack of protein can reduce the amount of oxygen in your system. Furthermore, protein can help us sense satiety, that feeling of fullness. Research has proved that inadequate intake of protein can result in increased hunger and desire to eat.

Alopecia, or hair loss, is another symptom of inadequate protein intake.  Our hair is composed of keratin. When our body is not getting enough protein, it tries to conserve whatever is left by limiting protein output. This explains why hair loss is a warning sign of some eating disorders.

images 251610-israel-bans-too-skinny-models Speaking of looks, decreasing protein in our diet leads to decreased muscle mass. A whole article was dedicated to the role of protein in muscle building. Clearly, a lack of protein can result in muscle weakness and loss of lean muscle mass. If we are not getting enough energy from other sources along with protein, our body will start breaking down our muscles for energy.

Think it can’t get worse? Well, it can. Lack of protein causes a low immune function. Remember, antibodies, which fight infections, are proteins. While you are dealing with being ill, you will also be feeling bloated. Protein helps keep water inside the cells. Inadequate protein can cause bloating of the extremities and stomach, also known as edema or ascites. Sometimes, this can be several liters of water!

The summary of all these articles are that YOU NEED PROTEIN. Protein is used for several functions, so make sure you eat enough!

Protein Super Powers

By Autonomist Nicole Greene RD, LDN

Generally, when we think of protein, we think of muscle. Last week, we discussed the role of protein in muscle building. Muscle building is not the only reason we need protein. We will continue reviewing several other roles of protein throughout the body and why protein is such a crucial macronutrient.

spzWe can start by addressing contractile and structural proteins. Contractile proteins, such as myosin and actin, provide movement in muscles and movement within single cells. Structural proteins are frequently long and fibrous, such as silk, keratin in hair, and collagen in tendons and ligaments. We are constantly using both of these proteins throughout our vigorous workouts.

Antibodies are also proteins that are produced by the body’s immune system to attack antigens (foreign invaders), such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and more. By binding to foreign proteins they can help neutralize them and tag them, facilitating their engulfment and removal by defensive cells. Considering the fact that it is flu season, we can thank these antibodies for working around the clock for us by keeping us healthy and free of illness.

Even enzymes are proteins! Enzymes catalyze specific biochemical reactions. They facilitate reactions and speed them up tremendously, making them as much as a million lauren-plumeytimes faster. There are thousands of enzymes, and each type facilitates a specific biochemical reaction. In other words, a given enzyme only acts on specific reactant molecules (substrates) to produce a specific end product or products. An example of this would be the digestion of lactose: enzymatic cleavage of the disaccharide lactose (the substrate) gets broken down into the monosaccharides galactose and glucose. Another key function of enzymes would be the series of reactions by which glucose is metabolized to create energy.

There are hormonal proteins, which act as messengers. Some examples include insulin, oxytocin, and somatotropin. Insulin regulates out blood glucose metabolism while somatotropin is a growth hormone that stimulates protein production in muscle cells. Additionally, protein plays an important role in signaling, transporting, and recognition. For instance, hemoglobin, which transfers oxygen throughout the body, is protein!

Overall, protein is essential in our body and we would be pretty worthless without it!


Muscle Hypertrophy and Protein

By Autonomist Nicole Green RD, LDN

Being an athlete causes us to put a lot of stress on the body.  Believe it or not, nutrition plays a crucial role in providing our body with energy, muscle building, and more. Last week, we reviewed that protein is an essential macronutrient .Considering that about 45% of the human body is protein; protein plays several important functions in the human body. Without it, our bodies would be unable to repair, regulate, or protect themselves. The next couple weeks, I will be discussing protein’s role in the body. Today, I will discuss what many athletes care about: muscle hypertrophy.

notthathardpeopleMuscle hypertrophy is a term for the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells, generally occurring as a result of physical exercise. There are many biological factors such as age and nutrition that can affect muscle hypertrophy. For instance, during puberty in males, hypertrophy increases. An adequate supply of amino acids (refer to last week’s article) is essential to produce muscle hypertrophy and the consumption of carbohydrates and amino acids can transiently increase anabolism within the muscle cells.

There are 2 types of muscular hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is when the volume of the sarcoplasmic fluid in the muscle cell increases with no accompanying increase in muscular strength. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is when the myofibrils increase in the number and add to muscular strength as well as a small increase in the size of muscle. Strength training can cause both of these hypertrophies by increasing the neural drive stimulating muscle contraction.  When the muscle continues to receive increased demands, it causes upregulation with a second messenger system which includes phospholipases, protein kinase C, tyrosine kinase and more. These activate genes that dictate the contractile protein gene response. The message filters down to alter the pattern of protein expression, leading to protein synthesis.

camilleOverall, for protein synthesis to occur, may variables must exist. There must be an exercise-induced micro-injury as well as naturally occurring hormones, including testosterone and growth hormones. Additionally, you need a diet containing sufficient protein. Remember that protein is the basic building block of all of the body’s tissues, especially muscle! Next week I will continue to touch on more reasons why protein is vital!

30 Day Challenge Starts Next Week!!


It is time to dial in our nutrition. I would like you to participate in our Inaugural 30 Day Challenge. We will spend Sept 15th-Oct 14th eating “clean” or Paleo. A full e-book guide will be given to those who are fully participating. The person who excels with performance and aesthetics the most will receive a Free Month at CFA, but there will certainly be no losers in this challenge. I will 100% guarantee you will gain strength and endurance while getting leaner and most importantly…you will look better naked.

To participate fully, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Donate $30 for our official charity. (War Dogs-Making it Home)
  • Submit “Before” Pictures. This will not be made public, without your specific permission. (Men in shorts, no shirt/ Women in sports bra and shorts) Front and Side shots required.
  • Log your nutrition including hydration throughout the 30 days

30-day-challengeOnce you submit pictures and pay the $30, you will be forwarded the E-book which will include meal plans, recipes, an explanation of what exactly the Paleo Diet is and why/how it works. I will also be available to answer your questions and give you guidance throughout the month.

We will finish the Challenge with a Night Out as a gym to celebrate and enjoy a drink together in real clothes…not that always seeing each other in gym clothes and sweaty is a bad thing!

If you have family and friends who would like to compete, please encourage it. They must meet the same requirements as above.

An exerpt on the Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf-

a077d052426208066c261e986431b40d_20110808“The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Oph- thalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility . Our Paleo- lithic ancestors were largely free of these diseases, and you can be too! When we eat according to our genetic heritage, weight loss, improved energy, and optimal health are fun and easy to accomplish”.

All About Protein

Over the next few weeks our Nutritionist will be helping us all understand what protein is and how to use it to ensure we recover and build muscle to ensure we get the body of our dreams.

As the temperature starts to drop and the days get shorter and shorter, we all must accept it…Summer is over. I know a lot of you are whispering to yourself about how you should get in the gym and work your butt of so next summer you can have the body you’ve always wanted. Well don’t whisper, shout it out! Make this the year you actually do it.

Very few people look at the body of elite marathon runners, and don’t want to be that skinny. Most want some muscle tone when they imagine their perfect body. And this…is where protein come in.

CrossFit in Highland ParkBy Autonomist Nicole Green, RN, LDN

Proteins are organic compounds that contain nitrogen as well as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Proteins are a very diverse group of biologically important substances. The translation from the Greek root word means “first place,” which emphasizes all the vital roles protein plays in the body. For instance, skin and muscles are composed of proteins, antibodies and enzymes are proteins, some hormones are proteins, and proteins also take a role in digestion, respiration, reproduction, end even vision.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different types of amino acids that join together to make different types of protein. Essential amino acids can’t be made by our bodies, which mean we have to get it through our diet. The nine essential amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, and histidine. These can all be found in protein foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy. Nonessential amino acids are arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.  These don’t need to be obtained in the diet because our body synthesizes them from either essential amino acid byproducts or the breakdown of other proteins in the body. Despite the name, these are all required for good health and are extremely beneficial to the body.

Running Club Highland Park. IL

Decisions, Decisions

Most proteins can be found in animal sources, but protein can also be found in nut and nut butters, seeds, beans, quinoa, and even a little in vegetables. Many of these sources are incomplete proteins. This means that the source is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Complimentary proteins are 2 or more incomplete protein sources can provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.

Coming up:

What is protein’s role in the body?

What are good sources of protein powders?

Will protein make you bulky?

Is eating too much protein dangerous?

To Vitamin B-12, or not to be…

By Autonomist Nicole Green, RD, LDN

Many of us take vitamins without even knowing what their purpose is in the body.  Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods and added to others. Since B-12 is naturally in several foods and fortified in others, a B-12 deficiency is rare.

B12 is used for many processes throughout the body. It is required for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.  It functions as a cofactor for methionine synthase and L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, which is essential for the biochemical reaction in fat and protein metabolism.


B12 is bound to protein in food. Therefore, it can be found in fish, beef, dairy, and eggs. It is also fortified in several cereals and soy products. It is released by the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach. Many of the synthetic forms of vitamin B12 found in supplements and fortified foods have the free form, which doesn’t require the separation step. Free B12 combines with intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein secreted by the stomach, and then is absorbed in the ileum.  B12 can be stored in the liver for about a year or more, reducing the risk of anemia.

Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the gastric mucosa and results in gastric atrophy. This causes a failure to produce intrinsic factor, resulting in B12 malabsorption. Many people with gastric surgery also may not be able to produce intrinsic factor. Untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia and neurologic disorders. People at risk for B12 deficiency include vegetarians and people who have undergone gastric surgery.

Getting adequate levels of B12 is essential.  A deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness. Moreover, the neurological damage from a B12 deficiency is permanent. Your B12 levels can be checked by getting a blood test.  If you consume adequate amounts of protein, you are probably getting enough B12 in your diet.

White Rice vs Brown Rice

By Autonomist Nicole Greene, RN, LDN

Whether we are eating Chinese food or a burrito, rice is common staple in many people’s diet. Rice is a seed of the monocot plants.  Generally, white rice accompanies our meals, but there are actually more than 40,000 different varieties of rice. Some examples are black, jasmine, and brown rice. Today I will address the 2 more common versions of rice: white rice and brown rice.

images   We can examine several differences between brown and white rice by evaluating the structure. White rice is a refined grain; therefore, the bran and the germ have been stripped away during the milling process. This prolongs the shelf life of the rice and gives it a finer, less gritty texture. Moreover, white rice cooks faster. Without the bran and germ, white rice loses some of its nutrition value. Fortunately, white rice is generally enriched or fortified with B vitamins and iron.

Brown rice still has the bran and the germ, which contains most of the nutrition and fiber of the grain.  The body takes longer to metabolize brown rice than white rice because the grain is more complex.  Basically, high fiber content makes the body do extra work to convert brown rice to glucose.

The nutrition data for both brown rice and white rice are pretty similar.  Generally, one cup of both brown and white rice is about 200 calories and low in cholesterol and sodium. White rice has less fat than brown rice, but brown rice has more nutrients since it is less refined.  Brown rice is a greater source of selenium, a vitamin that can repair DNA, regulates the thyroid hormone, and boosts the immune system. Brown rice also has a greater percentage of magnesium, which is good for bone health and muscle cramps. Additionally, brown rice is a great source of manganese, an essential mineral that helps the body form connective tissue, bones, sex hormones, enzymes, assist in the metabolism or fats and carbohydrates, absorption of calcium, as well help utilize thiamin and B-1. Since phytonutrients are found in the bran and germ, white rice also tends to lack in phytonutrients.  On the contrary, white rice does beat brown rice in B –vitamin content, which is used in the body for a variety of functions including: growth, energy, blood cell formation, fat synthesis, DNA formation, and mental function.

Choosing the type of rice to eat can also depend on the situation. If you want rice that is absorbed quickly post workout, white rice is your answer. Additionally, it is generally cheaper and cooks a lot faster. If you want something that will keep you fuller and digests slower, I recommend brown rice. Brown rice has more natural fiber and nutrients compared to white rice. Don’t feel limited to only brown and white rice; there are several varieties to choose from!

Want to read more on rice? Click Here!

To soy or not to soy…

By Autonomist Nicole Green RD, LDN

soyfoods3Soy  finds its way in many products on the market.  From protein bars to chicken nuggets, you may be surprised to find soy on the ingredient list.  The news will broadcast contradicting information from the health benefits of soy, such as reducing cholesterol, to the complete opposite: the possible link of soy and cancer.  So what is soy and is all soy created equal?

Soy is a plant in the pea family, which has been a common food in Asian diets.  In most American diets, soy is used as a food additive. Soybeans are the high protein seeds of the soybean plants that are also known for containing isoflavones, a phytoestrogen.  Traditional soy foods include edamame or tofu and soymilk derived from whole or dehulled soybeans. Many foods contain soy concentrates, soy isolates, isolated isoflavone mixtures, soy flours, and textured soy protein.  In addition to these food additives, there are also soy supplements.

There is an extensive amount of soy protein products and the list continues to grow, but the chemical composition of them are not the same. For instance, in soy isolate there is more pure protein and less carbohydrates and fiber than in soy concentrate. soy-proteinSometimes the processing  for soy products include alcohol washing, which can remove some or all of the isoflavones and alter the protein matrix and structure. In fact, studies were performed on the isoflavone and protein isolate content of 40 different soy milk products and they were all different.

It should be no surprise that the processing of soy products alter the composition. So what soy products are the best to choose from? My advice would be to stick to the whole sources of soy: edamame anyone? Most of the other soy products are found in highly processed foods. It is best to stick to your whole foods, anyways.