Essential Sports Nutrition


Top Chef

I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old. I swam in HS and in College and started running my senior year of college (2000). For 13 1/2 years I have been learning how to eat like an athlete. I would say that the first 10 years of being a vegetarian were really hard. At first I cut out the meat for animal reasons but kept my normal diet. Therefore, cheese on everything, salads w/ ranch dressing, cheez-its, chips, a few veggies every now and then (like carrots w/ ranch and celery w/ PB) and lots of pasta and pizza. Although I had no idea what my insides looked like with much of my diet being filled with carbs and fat, I was kinda bulky, but strong, due to all my days of swimming. From HS to the end of college my life was swimming. I swam 6 days a week and with most of the weekdays being two-a-days (especially in college), I probably averaged 10,000-12,000 yards a day of swimming. I was burning A LOT of calories in those days! However, I was eating like a teenage/college athlete and we all know what the kids today are looking like (sedentary and active) from unhealthy eating patterns like my own back in the days. After reading a library of nutrition books and devoting my education to understanding the body and exercise, I learned how to eat like an athlete. During that time, I also developed a LOVE for cooking.
Now I wouldn't say that I could open a gourmet restaurant but I love watching the food channel and creating my own dishes...with a little healthy twist. Since I don't eat meat, I have to be very creative in squeezing in the protein and not overwhelming my meals with carbs. Even though I am not crazy about pasta, I love carbs especially from thin crust pizza and bread. My main goal with my cooking is combining protein w/ carbs in order to stabilize the blood sugar. My other twist is creating meals that people may think are high in calorie but presenting the dish in a way which you get a little of everything and not a lot of one thing. Oh, and when it comes to presentation, a plate w/ food has to look beautiful before you can eat it. The other night Karel came home and I told him to not come into the kitchen for 2 more minutes cause I was still working on the presentation :) I come up with recipes all the time from watching shows on TV. I like to incorporate good nutrients into the meal so that the meal is not only delicious but filling. I posted a few pics of some things I made in the past couple of weeks.

This is a chicken meal I prepared for Karel. Since I can't taste the chicken and test for seasonings, I buy frozen chicken strips and leave the seasonings to Karel. I used egg whites and a little corn meal and "breaded" the chicken and cooked it on a non-stick pan. I also scrambled the eggs and added in a little rice pilaf to the eggs. I then laid spinach on the rice/egg mixture and topped it with the chicken. I always prepare more food than I plan on us eating so that we have leftovers for another meal. That night I had the extra eggs, rice and spinach and served my dish w/ cottage cheese.

This was one of the best deserts I have made! We actually had this after I made Karel's chicken dinner (above). I must of had a little extra time that night (Most of meals only take around 15-40 min. to prepare. I like to be fast in the kitchen!) I found a recipe for an apple struddle and what is better than hot apples w/ cinnamon and brown sugar. I cooked the apples on the stove (I could have used the oven) and topped it with a little brown sugar. I used a tbsp of Smart Balance Omega fortified butter as the apples were cooking.
I then cooked 1/2 cup instant oatmeal for about 45 min. Just enough for the oatmeal to stick together. I added a little cinnamon and put the oatmeal on the apples. I then spooned the oatmeal all over the the the apple and brown sugar (I use light, not splenda. If you look at calories and ingrediants, there is really no difference)and pressed it down. I cut up a few more apples (not cooked) and placed them in a rectangle cooking dish. I then spooned the hot mixture into the dish and topped with a little more brown sugar and cinnamon. WOw...this was a yummy dish. I had a some vanilla Lit n' Fit yogurt on top and I was amazed on how healthy (and yummy) my desert came out!

This was lasts nights dinner. I made "pizza potato skins"!!! And veggies. I microwaved a white potato (I prefer sweet potatos but Karel enjoys the white ones) for about 10 minutes until semi-soft. I then cut it in half and scooped out the inside like a twice baked potatoe. I added a little oregano to the insides and stirred it up in a bowl. I then put a little less than half of the potato/oregano mixture back into the potatos. Karel can now have mashed potatos another night and we saved a bunch of calories from the inside and kept the good stuff on the outside. I preheated the oven to 345. On the potato, before going into the oven for around 5-10 min. I spooned mushroom/green pepper marinara sauce on the potato and topped with part-skim cheese and a little parmesean. When the potato came out of the oven, the cheese was melted and the outside was crispy. And, since i cut the potato into slices, I made 1 potato go along way. I also prepared fresh cooked veggies (I usually have veggies w/ every dinner meal, either w/ eggs, cooked or in a salad) and a side of scrambled egg beaters. Sorry about the spoon on the plate and bad presentation with my veggies. Karel was super hungry and he wouldn't wait for me to take a picture!


The heart!

Since it is getting close to v-day I thought I would talk about the heart. Last night in my medical terminology class we discussed the cardiovascular system. As my teacher was lecturing about the chambers, path of blood flow and heart problems I was brought back to graduate school. My cardio phys class was 4 hours long (6-10pm) on monday evening. It was my first semester of grad school and the class was intense! However, I really started enjoying my marathon training (not a triathlete at the time) when I started taking that cardiovascular physiology class. I just think it is so cool how the heart responds to exercise and with training. There are so many physiological changes with training! I think we (me included) often forget the meaning behind training. Too often we train to get faster, get stronger, lose weight or gain power. But in our task of trying to reap the benefits quickly and becoming disturbed and bothered if we don't see those changes over night, we forget that the heart is undergoing stress on a daily basis in order to give us our desired results. Therefore, when expecting so much from the heart, do we give it the love that it deserves?
For example, think about your nutrition. You exercise every day but you may indulge in high fat foods. Nothing like real ice cream, cheese on everything, fatty meat and processed treats to replace those calories burned during training. Although a little of a healthy version of your treat is recommended, some people choose a high fat diet because of the way they look on the outside. Since you look slim and lean on the outside, there is nothing wrong with choosing high fat food on a daily basis, right? WRONG! Even if you watch your calories to control your weight, but choose high fat foods which keep you full and satisfy your cravings, you have no idea what is going on in the inside of your body. Foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat may contribute to heart disease. Although your exercise routine is strengthening your heart, there is plaque forming on your arteries which is decreasing the blood flow and increasing your chance for a heart attach or embolism (clot which travels). Although fat is necessary, be sure you are incorporating good sources of fat such as olive oil, nuts (choose unsalted, almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts or soy nuts), avodados, olives, part-skim cheese, low-fat (skim or soy preferred) milk, peanut butter (natural), lean meats, veggie meat and fish-to name a few. Also try to choose healthy butter options (Smart Balance) and try to cook w/ olive oil when cooking veggies (absorb vitamins). I wouldn't be surprised that there are many fit athletes out there who look great in spandex and a wetsuit (can't get any sexier than that!) but choose to have a high fat, calorie controlled diet which increases cholesterol levels (bad LDL increases, good HDL decreases) and clogs the arteries. You may not notice any benefits now but by incorporating a heart healthy diet to your healthy exercise routine you will increase your longevity..and time in triathlons/multisport (the real reason why you focus so much on your nutrition, right? :). If you cook at home you can 100% control what you are eating and you are aware of your nutrition at each meal and snack. I eat out 3-4 times a month, with maybe 1 of those being a restaurant and the other times being Moe's (I love the salad w/ beans, lettuce and tofu), Panera (I love the Orchard Harvest salad, dressing on the side w/ a whole grain baguette) and Village Inn (omlette and whole grain pancakes after a hard workout w/ Karel). Even though I am busy, I find foods which are natural, wholesome and easy to prepare. When I have time I cut up veggies and keep in the fridge and when I am short for time, I can never go wrong with an omelete, stoup (I make my own soup/stew and throw everything into a bowl w/ water and seasonings), a hearty salad or veggie burger sandwich.
I came across two sites on fast-foods which would be great reading. Remember that FAT is GOOD for you. Be sure you are choosing the right kind and you can greatly improve the health of your heart, in addition to staying full throughout the day.
  • Cleveland Clinic Fast Food and the Heart

  • Learn about fats from the American Heart Association
  • 2/6/08

    Busy in school

    I am getting ready for my last test of the week. I had an examine mon and tues and I am ready for this week (of school) to be over with!! I think I am doing really well in my classes but the studying is getting the best of me. I just want to watch reality shows, ride my bike and go to bed at 9:30. ahhh, what a life I had before I enrolled in school :)
    In my global marketing class we discussed the super bowl commercials. My professor had a great website link that I wanted to share. You can check out the interest of people during the commercials, based on a study. Of course, seeing that I am so analytical, I really enjoyed the commercials so much more after seeing how other people viewed the commercials. That's not to say I agree with the subjects in the study however. I had a few favorites, which involved the Pepsi head banging, the Budweiser dog and horse (who didn't love that!) and the Tide stain. I can't stop laughing at that stain! Oh, and when will farrell did his commercial, I was laughing out loud. I just love to laugh and I will probably laugh at anything.

  • Superbowl commercial study

  • But then we started talking about commercials which weren't aired during the superbowl. There have been great commercials out during the last year, specifically the Burger King commercials where they took away the whopper. I didn't realize that this was a real situation and wait til you see these commercials. Do not watch the second commercial if you are at work or around kids. It has very bad words. I couldn't believe we watched it in class! The beginning is probably the funniest but then it gets bad...maybe they started acting. Gosh, I feel sorry for all those whopper lovers! I guess I would be mad if the stores stopped selling bread, eggs and nuts. What would I do!!???!!!
  • Whopper freakout

  • Whopper freakout-Rated R
  • 2/3/08

    Happy Super Bowl!!!

    One of the only times I can't wait for the commercials!!! I have a global marketing assignment to watch the commercials..I get a grade for taking notes during the superbowl!! I hope everyone has a great super bowl sunday!!!
    Just a quick update..I had a super morning. Ran 9 miles and felt so fresh. I was daydreaming about my wedding, being on Ellen one day and future articles and I ran 2 miles and didn't even know it! Has that ever happened to you? I know it happens sometimes when you are driving but I was literally running on a familiar road and before I knew it I was 2 miles away from where I started zoning out! Now if I could only do that in EVERY race I do!!! Actually, I like zoning out just as much as I like the self-talk to keep me going. After the run I jumped on my bike for a 25 mile bike ride. The weather was humid but comfortably cool and I didn't want to get off my bike. The rest of the day was studying for my exam tomorrow (I have another exam on tues and wed). Karel had a super hard 5 hour ride in San Antonio today. He rode hard and made a lot of attacks. Next week "officially" starts his season and I can't wait to see what he is capable of this year! I am helping out at Gasprilla next sat from 7-1 (come visit the RacePlace booth!) to work the expo so I won't be able to see Karel's first race. But the following weekend he is racing in Dade City and San Antonio (SA on sat for the road race and DC on sun for the crit) and I can't wait to see him then. Well, time to get off and start paying attention to the commercials, in between the football game :)