Essential Sports Nutrition


Foods I like!

Seeing that is it 2008, 2007 has past and we can all reflect on the good and bad. With most people resolving to lose weight or get in control of better eating habits, I thought I'd provide my insight on some of my favorite foods and why I eat them. As far as dislikes, I believe everything should be eaten in moderation. I always think about my heart and what my body needs to be an active, healthy women and I don't enjoy having trans fat, processed, high fructose corn syrup, high fat, sugar alcohols and high calorie foods in my diet. I eat in moderation and if I want something, I just eat a little of it..very occasionally.

1) Bread-YUM!!! The perfect carb for me. I stick with high fiber, whole grain and low calorie breads. My favorite is Nature's Own which is low in calorie and offers a good helping of fiber. I suggest going low in calories for bread because when making sandwiches, eating toast, etc. the calories in bread can add up. There's nothing wrong with bread but I live by the theory a little of everything is better than a lot of one thing. Therefore, rather than having 1-2 pieces of 120 calorie bread, I'm better off making French toast with 3-4 pieces of 50 calorie bread. I suggest eating a little protein before and with your bread, especially if you are eating from a bread basket at dinner. In order to prevent a fluctuation in blood sugar, have a piece of cheese, a few nuts or a small glass of milk before eating a meal. Insulin will be released from the pancreas at a much slower rate than by just eating bread alone. Same thing applies when finishing a workout. When you are in need of carbs for refueling, help yourself to some protein immediately after the workout to help you from overeating at the next meal, while preventing a rise and drop in blood sugar.
2) Nuts- Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts and cashews. Those are my favorites. Again, I love nuts to help stabilize the blood sugar between and with meals. Nuts offer great nutrients and are packed with good fats. I'd avoid the macademia and pecans which can be a little higher in fat and calories than the other nuts. Either way, portion control your nuts and avoid eating directly from the bag/jar. Grab a handful (or pick out the almonds like I do) and enjoy. I also like to eat nuts and raisins w/ my yogurt, oatmeal, salads and fruit. Again, combine protein w/ carbs to stabilize the body. Also, combining a little good fat (mono/poly unsaturated fat) with your meals will keep you fuller longer.
3) Fruit-Of my favorites, ripe bananas (less sugar than brown or bright yellow), honeydew, strawberries, oranges, pink lady apples and nectarines. And my #1 favorite are blueberries!!!! I could guzzle a container of berries in a second. When I buy fruit, I wait to wash it until I'm ready to eat it. Be careful when keeping fruit out in a bowl because some fruit spoils if it is left to react w/ oxygen in the air or if it touches other fruit. Same goes for veggies, wait to wash when you are ready to use. Usually when I buy fruit, I wash and cut it up into small slices right away. I make a big fruit salad and divide the fruit into two Tupperware containers. I put one in the fridge to be eaten fresh anytime and the other I put in the freezer. Frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies but they are always great in the evening for a sweet frozen desert. Just put a bit in the microwave (remove container from freezer for 5-10 min. to help thaw before scooping) for 10-15 sec. to melt a bit. As far as fruit which can be sliced (apples and pears), cut up fruit and put in baggies. Fibrous fruit works great to eat on the way home from work or after a non-exhaustive workout. Eating a little (50-100 calories) before dinner will help you from grazing the pantry and from overeating at your meal.
4) PB-yes, I eat PB. I stick with organic or natural brands which have very few ingredients. Have you seen the label on some brand-named PB's??? SO much in there, including high fructose corn syrup and/or hydrogenated oils which are two ingredients I try to avoid in my foods. Even if a food lists 0 trans fat, check the label and see if hydrogenated oils are in the ingredients. The FDA allows .5g trans fat in the food to be listed as a zero trans fat food. Therefore, go to the label and see where hydrogenated oils are listed. The ingredients which are in high quantity are listed first and get smaller as the list goes on. I suggest a PB which has omega's or flax seeds added. I don't do 100% organic but PB is one which I have debated about saving a buck or two. But when I compare labels (which I do for everything I buy and eat) there is no question that I always want a food which has few ingredients. Ever check out the label on fresh veggies and fruit??? Trick question..there isn't one!! Enjoy foods which are fresh and natural, rather than processed and loaded with additives.
5) Egg whites, cottage cheese, light soy milk and yogurt- I love my protein! As a vegetarian athlete, I'm very strict on my protein. First with the egg whites, I have nothing against an occasional yolk. There are great nutrients in the yolk but just one yolk has your daily recommendations of cholesterol (200 mg). Because I eat at least 4-6 eggs a day, I try to limit my yolks because I consume eggs on a daily basis. If you only eat eggs 1-2 times a week, no big deal to eat the yolk. I always suggest 3 egg whites to one yolk when cooking. Therefore, if you are making scrambled eggs, throw in some yolk. I do that just to give some extra nutrients, fat and color to my eggs. If you are wondering about brown eggs and health benefits, the egg is brown due to the chicken. The egg has no extra nutrients unless the label reads "added w/..." and it is usually added with omegas. You can buy egg beaters but I suggest looking for a discount on the egg substitutes. But then again, I'm pretty frugal with my money and food. Always looking for the healthy option and at a good price. I also suggest shopping at a fresh market for fruits and veggies. Great discounts too! OK, cottage cheese is a must. The casein in cottage cheese is very slow digesting so just like whey protein, it is perfect for rebuilding tissues and muscles. I suggest a reduced fat or fat-free cottage cheese but there is hardly any difference in the low-fat and fat-free kinds. I am picky when it comes to cottage cheese so I love my Breakstone Cottage fat-free cottage cheese. This is where I draw the line on saving for an off-brand. Karel doesn't mind the generic brand so we each have our own cottage cheese :) hehe. Cottage cheese is another great protein to have for snacks and before meals. My mom likes chocolate chips and pineapple w/ her cottage cheese. I like fresh peaches and cinnamon. I love my soy milk and since Silk has a light option, I can save on sugar and calories. Therefore, I can have the same amount of protein (what milk is best for, with the calcium) as regular milk and save on calories. Milk is perfect for a post workout drink and it is great for meeting protein recommendations. Try skim or soy milk and keep your milk less than 90 calories a serving. As for almond milk, there is only 1-2g protein so you are better off with soy milk if you are choosing a lactose free or non cow milk version. As for yogurt, always choose a low sugar, low calorie yogurt. Check out the labels of yogurt and get ready to be shocked on the sugar in yogurt. 20,30+ grams of sugar!! OUch. Sugar is a big thing to watch when looking for healthy foods for an athlete. BEcause we ingest so much sugar when we are training (and after) when we are in need of quick energy, it is very important that you control your blood sugar levels in the body. have your sweet treat immediately after a hard workout and be sure to combine protein with carbs during the day. You hear of all the pros eating super clean and healthy before a big race and although I think they are trying to stay at a healthy weight weeks before the big day, it is more so because the body needs to be clean and regulated. You have to think of the body as a machine and it requires the best fuel on a daily basis in order to perform the best. When it comes to yogurt, which has great healthy bacteria and a good source of protein, I suggest keeping your yogurt less than 80 calories. You can opt for a 80-120 calorie yogurt after an exhaustive 1 hour workout but otherwise, keep those yogurt calories low to reduce your sugar intake. The body will appreciate it. I also suggest low sugar and sugar free items. However, be careful not to overdo your intake of sugar alcohols. I avoid bars and diet water/fruit juices as much as possible. I don't do sweeteners but when it comes to sugar alcohols, you may experience GI distress and bloating if you try to eat everything sugar-free. Also, you might be better off with several reduced sugar/low sugar items for fullness rather than eating sugar-free foods and always being hungry. Sugar-free will generally be lower in calories but you will have to decide which foods are worth eating with more calories.
Well, there's my list of my staple foods. The one thing I didn't mention is whey protein which is a must for my endurance and high-intensity athletes out there. My fingers are tired so I'll save that LONGGGGG blog for another day. Protein is my area of expertise (so I believe) so I'll leave you waiting until another blog one day.....


Happy New Year!

It was a great 2007 but I have a feeling 2008 will be filled with lots of exciting events. I hope everyone enjoyed New Years and I would like to admit that I did stay up until midnight to see the ball drop on TV. I applaud Karel and I for keeping our eyes open until the late hours of the night and sleeping in until 7:30am was a blessing. After several late nights and sleeping-in, I am trying to get back to a routine of going to bed before 10pm and waking up at 5am with a good solid workout. My leg is better but sadly I haven't ridden my bike since Sat. A good couple days of no riding has really done the trick. I hope this is the last time I have to write about my leg and I can get back into a training routine. New years morning was a typical day for Marni who has no training plan. Although I create my own plans w/ me being my own coach, if I'm not training for something I am just clueless on what to do each day. I love exercising but it takes a little extra motivation if I don't have a goal or an upcoming race. I didn't sign up for any races this year because I didn't want to put any stress on the healing of my leg. Trying to make my leg heal for kona was so stressful and I'd rather enjoy my recovery and just keep my heart healthy and jump into a sprint tri when I'm ready. As for now, swimming has been great and I'm able to run/walk (still don't want to run too long w/ the fear of feeling the endorphins and running through the hidden injury). I always tell people to just walk if you don't know what to do or you have no motivation to train. It is the easiest thing to do to get your body going. And I must admit I did just that on New Years.Funny story...Karel planned on riding easy for 90 minutes on Tuesday. As for me, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My leg was so-so but the day prior it had been bothering me. I told Karel I was going to take it easy for a couple days, but you know how that goes when you live with someone who is so passionate for training and pushing hard. As Karel was getting ready I knew I couldn't just sit at home. I called the Y to see if they were open and I planned on swimming a good 2-hour swim workout. Well, I put my suit on and as I'm walking around with a bathing suit and my running shoes (I looked silly) I really felt like running. The bathing suit came off and I decided to walk on the treadmill. Karel told me I could ride with him since he was going easy but I know how that goes...hum, his easy or my easy??? Well, I decided that would be fun to ride together so the running gear came off and the bike jersey and shorts were on. Now I'm walking around in my cycling shoes and I just look at my bike. The one thing I told myself not to do for a couple days in order to rest my leg. I looked at Karel and told him I would just stay at home. What a morning! I dressed for a triathlon in less than 15 minutes and changed my mind at least 3 times on what I would do that morning. I ended up walking and jogging on the treadmill for 90 minutes and luckily, no pain and still feeling good. Thanks goodness I made the right decision!
The weather is cold right now and the wind is blowing. I think tomorrow morning will be another day on the treadmill. Or maybe I'll swim indoors? Oh jeez. I guess I new an injury-recovery, motivation training plan for the New Year! If anything, I'm living vicariously through karel who is training his butt off right now. I'm so excited to see him race this year!
I hope everyone can reflect on last year and look forward to the upcoming year with new goals and aspirations. Have a plan but carry your road map. Always prepare for setbacks and have alternatives for obstacles along the way. And most of all, don't ever give up!


Getting good sleep!

This last weekend was really relaxing. However, I didn't feel very rested. Fri and saturday night didn't make out for a good nights rest but thank goodness I could lounge around during the day. Sunday morning Karel rode with some of his non-Gearlink cycling buddies and felt strong on the bike. He did 100 miles, starting at the suncoast trail and 54 and rode up to San Antonio and did the sunday morning San Antonio ride as well. What a workout for him and I thought he would be exhausted. I guess his training plan from his coach Adam B. (from the NTC) is working out great cause he said he is feeling really good on his new Cervelo. I had pancakes ready for him when he came home and we spent the rest of the day watching a movie. We watched Crash which was excellent. A great movie to really make you think about how crazy life is sometimes. The movie is so real and features stereotypes and how you can hate one person one minute and honor them the next moment. I really recommend it if you haven't seen it. I also watched Ratatoulii the other night...and as a fanatic cooker, I totally recommend that one! I love animated movies! Sunday evening Karel and I went over to our good friends' condo in Innisbrook. Roberta and Steve were the initial fixer-upers of Karel and I's relationship and they are just great people to be around. Roberta is a crazy strong cyclist and triathlete and Steve rides with Karel and the other Gearlinkers. Just great people. There were 6 of us for dinner and it was so yummy! A special thanks to roberta who cooked a vegetarian plate for me. We told lots of funny stories and it was great to just hang out and socialize. I wasn't too tired when I got home so I watched TV for a bit and ended up falling asleep around 11pm. Yes, that's 11PM! Totally late for me and I knew I was in need of some sleep. I woke up with my internal clock at 5:50am but after getting out of bed I decided that I wasn't ready to get up yet. Back to sleep and before I knew it I heard my cell phone alarm go off. Usually on Mondays I don't set an alarm so that I can actually sleep in (which is normally 6:30am for a sleep-in days). Last night I set an alarm reminder on my phone that I needed to leave at 8:30am to go personal train someone. Well, the alarm was set for 8:15am and that is when I woke up! I can't tell you the last time I slept in that late! I have always mentioned that I am a morning person and I love getting up early. I get up at 4:40am on tues, wed and thurs and never think anything of it. However, I am pretty strict about going to bed when i start to feel tired, which is usually around 9:30pm. Sadly, sometimes Karel beats me to bed if I decide to stay up past 9:30pm. I guess the last two nights kinda caught up to me and I was in need of some good solid sleep. I know sleeping is really important to a healthy body, but for athletes so many good things happen while you are sleeping. You release hormones which help you rebuild and heal and you also control your cortisol levels which help you from overeating. You should get enough sleep to wake up feeling rested. In my opinion there is no set number of required hours of sleep per night but I would recommend around 6-7 hours of continuous sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and try not to eat within 1-2 hours of going to bed. Beyond the claim that eating late will cause you to gain weight (because most people are less active during the late evening hours compared to during the day), it is important to properly digest food by sitting upright, as appose to laying down and having non-digested food sitting in your GI system. It is good to take a nap on the weekends or a little rest for the eyes during the day, but be sure that when you go to sleep at night that you are actually sleeping through the night. The more you wake up during the night, the more you stop your REM cycle which causes you to feel groggy and tired in the morning. So the sleeping thing isn't my expertise in my academic background but hopefully I've expressed how important sleep is to your body. And if you think you need more sleep, skip a workout one morning and give yourself an extra hour or two of rest. Your body will thank you and you will really enjoy having an extra boost of energy during your subsequent workouts.
And speaking of sleep, I'm not much of a late-nighter so I will try my best to stay out until 11pm tonight, in honor of New Year's Eve. Karel and I are heading to a party tonight with all the Gearlinkers which should be a lot of fun. And as usual, the youngest ones at the party (Karel and I) will probably be the first to go. Oh so sad, but at least I can laugh about it :)
Have a happy new year everyone! Be safe, happy and healthy!