3/19/09

Athlete and Vegetarian...can you be both?

It's my turn!

This topic is close to my heart because, well, I am a vegetarian (Lacto-ovo). I have been living a meat-free life since I was 12 years old, which makes almost 15 years that I have been a competitive athlete, getting stronger on non-meat protein. Everyone knows my love for animals and that is how it all started at such a young age. Now I live a life of healthy eating in order to keep my body clean and well-fueled. I can say it took me a good 10 years to find out how to eat like a vegetarian athlete rather than an athlete who loves eating carbs to fuel workouts(ex. high school and college swimming years). It's not always easy (ex. traveling) to eat healthy on a budget, as a vegeterian, but I am always learning about what to feed my body as an athlete and I think being a vegetarian just makes life a bit more fun...and interesting.
When I was in graduate school, many of my professors and researchers in the field told me that I wouldn't succeed as an athlete because I don't get enough protein in my diet. During this time, I was just about to do my first marathon and at the time, I would probably have to agree with them that I was not getting enough quality protein. However, times have changed and now my poor recovery days are a thing of the past.
I never preach vegetarianism to people and seeing that my family, my husband and most of my friends eat meat, I don't judge people by what they eat. Although it takes a little effort to read menus ahead of time to check for "Marni-friendly" foods (as Karel would say), I know what food my body needs on a daily basis and I love giving my body the right fuel to help me get stronger, healthier and faster as an athlete.

I hope you enjoy the article...

Athlete and Vegetarian..Can you be both?
Marni Rakes, B.A., M.S., CISSN

Have you ever considered going green? According to FamousVeggie.com, you may recognize some of the following names; Carl Lewis* (track star), Murray Rose (Olympic swimmer), Pat Reeves* (Power lifter), Billy Jean King (Tennis Pro), Ed Moses (Olympic athlete) and Sally Eastall* (marathon runner). Uncertainly, you’ve heard of Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Bob Barker, Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, Isaac Newton and Upton Sinclair. Of the list mentioned, including myself (Marni Rakes), all are vegetarians.

Since many individuals, both young and old, are choosing vegetarianism for the reason of animal rights, religion, ethics or health, it is becoming more common for an athlete to choose a diet free of meat. (*Vegans)

Training requires protein

Despite the comments from the non-vegetarians, not everyone requires meat, fish or products from animal origin to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Besides, gaining muscle mass and building strength requires exercise, training and a balanced diet, not just a high consumption of protein. If you are a vegetarian looking for a more active lifestyle or a competitive athlete seeking a change in the diet, do not allow a skeptic to convince you that you can’t be an athlete and a vegetarian.

If you took a look at the stereotypical protein-rich diet of a non-vegetarian, food choices probably include milk, eggs, fish and meat. However, as our carnivore friends are under the belief that their daily intake of animal products offers plenty of protein, let’s consider what the meat-lovers are most likely consuming.

Typical eating habits of non-vegetarians

Searching for the most affordable milk in the dairy isle of the grocery can be overwhelming, but 1% or 2% milk in addition to high fat creamers, high sugar yogurt and fatty cream cheese appears more appetizing to the average dairy consumer than light, watery skim milk or fat-free cottage cheese. Need I mention the look you receive when you tell a non-soy drinker that you actually enjoy soy milk in your cereal. And although egg whites provide one of the highest biological values of protein, some athletes continue to choose 3-4 sunny-side up eggs with bacon, ham and cheese for a morning sandwich. Fish is filled with heart-healthy, omega fatty acids but when fried and soaked in butter, you have one heart unhealthy catch when eating out at your favorite local restaurant. And not to mention the poor nutritional value of “protein” bars for a recovery snack, here comes the burger with fries which tops off the list for the non-vegetarians who claim that a vegetarian diet can’t be healthy...especially if you are an athlete.

What you need as an athlete-regardless of eating status

Regardless of vegetarian status, if you asked the typical athlete, he/she probably doesn’t consume enough protein to meet the demands of training. Ultimately, as a competitive athlete, your number one concern is a high percentage of daily quality proteins and complex carbohydrates, with limited calories from simple sugars and unhealthy fats. In order to gain strength, increase lean muscle mass, increase metabolism and decrease weight, all athletes should be conscious of the best sources of protein for the diet- regardless if it comes from an animal. Therefore, choosing to eat tofu instead of a chicken will not sabotage your performance!

Ultimately, a vegetarian diet emphasizes the most advantageous sources of protein for your active lifestyle. Many vegetarians go out of their way to emphasize heart-healthy protein as oppose to the meat-eater who often eats fatty and heart unhealthy meats. If you choose to eliminate animal protein from the diet, which contains a high amount of protein and often, a high amount of fat, you must look for ways of replacing those foods with a healthy protein-alternative to foster performance gains.

Regardless if you are a long-time vegetarian or an athlete thinking of making the switch to a diet free of meat, all athletes should consume a balanced diet with around 25-30% of their daily calories coming from food rich in quality protein (15-20% fat, 55-65% carbohydrates). Likewise, athletes should aim for atleast 1.4-1.8 g/kg body weight of protein per day.

No matter what type of diet you prefer, vegetables and fruits, carbohydrates high in fiber and low in sugar, healthy fats and high quality protein are the best foods to emphasize in a heart-healthy diet. If you consume the best protein sources at the right time, it doesn’t really matter what you choose to call yourself when you are feeling confident with your active, healthy diet.

Emphasize variety in your protein source

Because plants and fruits contain far less quality protein (in terms of amino acids) and iron compared to animal protein, you must have a variety of meat-free foods for your protein-rich, vegetarian diet. If you think eating a protein bar will increase your daily intake of protein, you’re only receiving a small amount of protein listed on the label after absorbing and digesting that bar. Rather, drink your soy milk or whey protein drink, eat your nuts or enjoy a cup of cottage cheese. With all meals and snacks, seek quality protein, high in amino acids, to complement foods rich in fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

Types of Vegetarians:

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – No meat or fish, consumes dairy products and eggs.
Ovo Veggie – No meat or fish, consumes only eggs.
Pesco Vegetarian – No poultry, beef or pork, consumes only fish.
Vegan – Omits all foods (and usually products) of animal origin and consumes only raw or plant-based food.
Semi Vegetarian – Eliminates red meat or occasionally omits meat, fish and/or eggs from the diet. Usually the first step of becoming a full-time vegetarian.

Foods rich in protein:

• Grains (Barley, Millet, Oatmeal, Rye, Wheat, Buckwheat)
• Tofu
• Veggie meat
• Beans (black, garbanzo, soy, navy)
• Legumes (lima, lentils, peas)
• Couscous, Brown Rice or Quinoa
• Whey or soy protein powder
• Hemp (seeds, powder, flour)
• Milk (soy, skim)
• Nuts and seeds
• Dark, leafy green vegetables (spinach, romaine, kale)
• Fortified cereal
• Peanut butter
• Eggs (whites contain most protein)
• Cottage Cheese
• Yogurt
• Cheese
• *Veggies (Broccoli, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Peppers, Watercress, Beets, Artichokes, Eggplant, Okra, Tomatoes)
• *Fruits (Blueberries, Blackberries, Grapefruit, Pear, Banana, Orange, Strawberry, Papaya, Grapefruit, Cherries)
• Potatoes and Yams

*Due to the small amounts of quality protein content, fruits and vegetables should be combined with quality protein-rich foods. Ex. mushrooms with egg whites, beans and veggies or blueberries with cottage cheese.


Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a Registered Dietician Degree. Marni completed the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and is currently training for IMKY in August. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing. She has several published articles including monthly articles on Irongirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com and in Hammer Endurance News, Shape magazine and Triathlete Magazine.

Healthy Cooking and Homemade Meals

My last dietetic professional is my friend Laura Rellihan. I listed her bio at the end of the article so you can read all about her experiences in the dietetic world. I knew Laura and I were meant to be friends when she showed up to Master swimming in a bathing suit with a healthy food print. Seeing that I have swept her under my wings and shared all of my experiences with triathlons, we have lots of fun together (usually chatting in the pool for kick sets) when we talk about anything from her first triathlon (St.A's) to healthy cooking.
I think this article is just what everyone needs to get going on eating right (the motto of National Nutrition Month). She could not sum it up more perfectly of the importance of making your own meals and enjoying what you put in your mouth.
Enjoy!

Healthy Cooking and Homemade Meals
Laura Rellihan RD, LD/N

For some of us, even the idea of cooking stresses us out, not to mention all the slicing, dicing, and sautéing. Fortunately, the idea that we don’t have the time in our busy lives to cook a healthy meal, and the need to be a chef or culinary expert to produce a quality meal using quality ingredients from scratch are simply myths, typically beaten into our brains over time by the food industry. Can healthy cooking really be easy and exciting for some people? Take Rachel Ray, a modern entrepreneur in the world of cooking. She takes a variety of ingredients, making well balanced meals, not always low in fat or calories, but low in preservatives, full of nutrients, and shows us how cooking can be fun, easy, and only "30 minutes". As a registered dietitian, I not only love to teach good nutrition, but the vital role cooking plays, in the world of nutrition, I hope that this article will inspire you to cook healthy meals.

In my childhood years, I used to take pictures of the meals I prepared. I found it exciting that there were so many colors on my plate and the beauty it displayed. Then to find out later that the colors resembled something: vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Now as a registered dietitian, I get to preach the good news about fruits and vegetables and the benefits they have on our health. Fruits and vegetables provide vital nutrients for your health and the maintenance of your body. They can also lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, the number one killer of women today!

It is especially important to include 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving is equal to one cup raw or cooked fruit or vegetable, one cup of fruit or vegetable juice, or two cups raw leafy greens. I encourage my clients to try and make their plate as colorful as they can and challenge them to fill half of their plate with vegetables. I also encourage them to pick out a fruit or vegetable that they have never had and learn about the vitamins and minerals it provides and the benefits they provide on our health.

Take this yummy chicken, carrot, cucumber salad, seen below, for example. It can be used as a snack or a meal with a piece of fruit and is a great source of protein for the training triathlete and for some triathletes constipation may also be a problem, this recipe is also a good source of fiber. Let’s break down some of the ingredients. Carrots are considered what some people would call a super food: foods that contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Vitamins contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals-preventing disease and cancer. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body created by normal metabolism and by environmental stresses such as cigarette smoke, pollution, and charred meats. They can also lead to disease and aging by changing the structure of the body's cell walls, DNA, and protein, disrupting their important functions.

Well balanced, homemade meals can help us all get the nutrients and antioxidants we need, not to mention giving us more control over what we consume, and even save us money in the long run.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates.

Chicken, Carrot, and Cucumber Salad
Makes 4 servings:

• 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound) (may use Tofu in place of chicken if vegetarian)
• 1 1/4 cups chopped seeded cucumber
• 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
• 1/2 cup sliced radishes
• 1/3 cup chopped green onions
• 1/4 cup light mayonnaise or plain yogurt
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
• 4 green leaf lettuce leaves
• 4 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, each cut into 8 wedges
To prepare:
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add mayonnaise mixture to chicken mixture; stir until combined.
Place 1 lettuce leaf on each of 4 plates; top each leaf with about 1 cup chicken mixture. Place 8 pita wedges on each serving.
Nutrition Information:
Calories: 382 (25% from fat)
Fat: 10.4g (sat 2.1g,mono 2.7g,poly 4.3g)
Protein: 40.7g
Carbohydrate: 31.4g
Fiber: 5.1g
Cholesterol: 102mg


Laura is licensed registered dietitian currently working at St. Luke’s hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a proud Gator and graduate of the University of Florida. After graduating with a bachelor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, she went to work for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), in Jacksonville and Bay Pines VA Health Care System in St. Petersburg, Florida. Upon moving to Virginia, she worked with Inova Health System in Fairfax, VA for several years. During that time she initiated the nutrition program at Ida Lee Recreational Center in Leesburg, VA, which consisted of various nutrition classes, personal counseling, and the FitKids Nutricamp. She is also an active member of the American Dietetic Association. In addition to working in clinical nutrition, and teaching about nutrition, she is also very passionate about fitness and the role it plays on health. Laura enjoys swimming, cycling, and running and is currently training for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon.

3/18/09

Good versus Too Good

My next dietetic professional is Ryan Andrews. Ryan has more credentials than I can dream of, but maybe I'm just jealous :) I met Ryan at my first ISSN conference in New Orleans (same one where I met Cass from the previous post). Ryan really got me interested in sports nutrition and from his bodybuilding background I was really intrigued how nutrition can play such an important role in the physique of the human body. Because I was just starting my graduate program and not yet a competitive triathlete, I had no idea that one nutrition conference would start a lifetime of wanting to know everything about sports nutrition.
I think this article by Ryan is just great for all of us. We can all relate to the topic of foods that are good and just too good. This article makes me think of the several times that Karel orders something when we travel and when I try it I say "that can't be healthy..it tastes way too good!"

Good versus Too Good
Ryan D. Andrews, MS, MA, RD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, ACSM-HFS, CISSN


I like food that tastes good.
I DO NOT like food that tastes too good.
Food that tastes too good kind of freaks me out.

I remember early in high school when I would frequent fast food joints, that stuff tasted too good. I didn't want to stop eating it. I would physically be full, but for some reason I would want to keep eating it.
You know what I'm talking about.
Now I eat foods on a daily basis that are good, and I enjoy them. But the foods I regularly eat definitely aren't too good.
Yes - a difference exists.
Foods that are too good don't have a place in my weekly food rotation. Why? I don't want them there. They scare me. My appetite regulating systems go knucklehead and nothing positive happens.
Now - we aren't brain dead. We can be smart when eating some of the foods that fall under the too good category. However, I'll warn you, it may require your willpower and cognitive eating skills to kick in. Uh oh.
I've noticed some trends over the years (in clients, via societal observation, my own habits, in kids, etc.) that have led me to decipher between foods that are good and foods that are too good.

Are you ready to see my list? Let's do it.

Good:
Raw, unsalted, nut butter (simple, satisfying and tasty)
Too Good:
Salted, sugar added peanut butter (too much stimulation for my taste buds)

Good:
Brown rice, veggie stir-fry made at home (after one plate, I'm good)
Too Good:
Rice and veggies stir-fry from the local Chinese take-out (after one plate, I'm ready for 5 more - can I hear it for salt, oil and MSG)

Good:
Raw, unsalted nuts/seeds (a few handfuls and I'm content)
Too Good:
Roasted, salted, and sweetened/flavored nuts (can you eat the entire Costco wholesale container?)

Good:
Plain, homemade popcorn (a couple bowls and I feel great)
Too Good:
Oil added, salt added, sugar added popcorn

Good:
Baked potato/sweet potato (tasty and satisfying)
Too Good:
French fries, baked potato/sweet potato with Earth Balance, potato chips (don't want anymore, yet still want to eat them)

Good:
Sprouted grain bread (a slice of this stuff with hummus or nut butter and I'm good)
Too Good:
Regular flour/enriched breads (too light, too fluffy, too unsatisfying)

Good:
Fruit (if I eat two pieces of whole fruit, I'm feeling good about my food intake for the day)
Too Good:
Dried fruits (that was only a 5 pound bag? Gosh....)

Good:
Oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, wild rice, most any plain, steamed whole grain (one bowl and I'm good)
Too Good:
Standard cold breakfast cereals with added sugars and salt (I spent way too many days after junior high eating massive bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
or
Crackers, pretzels (you know the drill)

Good:
Homemade raw cookies with dates, walnuts, and coconut (dense - I am satisfied after one or two)
Too Good:
Standard flour based cookies with margarine, oil, sweeteners, and processed grains (the combo of oil, flour and sweetener is taste overload)

Good:
Beans/chickpeas (one of natures perfect foods)
Too Good:
Beans with lard in a huge flour tortilla with salt and cheese from your local restaurant (Taco Bell gives beans a bad rap)

A lot of this makes sense, doesn't it?
I mean, when you look at the list, the common theme is that the too good foods have been altered. They are man-made products (or a whole food with added man-made ingredients). Too good foods aren't true to what you would find in nature.
Food companies want to alter foods so that we, the consumers, eat too much of them. When we eat too much, we buy more, and we keep coming back for more. That means more profit for them and more disease and body fat for us.
All of us are a bit different. Some people may classify a particular food too good, while someone else may consider it good.
Have you found any foods that are good and too good? What makes them different?


Ryan's bio:
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/
A nationally ranked competitive bodybuilder from 1996-2001, Ryan trained and worked at The Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, one of the most recognized and awarded research institutions in the world.

Throughout his time in university, Ryan was trained in Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, and Dietetics. As he has gathered together a huge breadth of knowledge and experience, Ryan was a natural fit for the position of Director of Education here at Precision Nutrition.

Educational Background
Johns Hopkins Bayview - Medical Center Dietetic Internship
Kent State University - MA; Exercise Physiology & MS; Nutrition
University of Northern Colorado - BS; Exercise Science w/ Nutrition Minor

Certifications
ADA-Registered Dietitian (ADA-RD)
ACSM-Health and Fitness Instructor (ACSM-H/FI)
NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS)
ISSN-Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN)
NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)
ServSafe Certified

Research Experiences
Andrews RD, Gasier HG, Riechman SE. Body composition changes inconsistent with classic energy balance models: a case report. Maryland Dietetic Association Annual Meeting. March, 2006.

Andrews RD, Riechman SE, MacLean DA. Protein intake for skeletal muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in seniors. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Aug 2006;16:362-372.

Bowman JM, Hammer SB, Andrews RD, Giguere SA, Riechman SE. Blood pressure responses to resistance training in 60-69 year old men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (abstr) 2005.

Riechman SE, Andrews RD, MacLean DA. Dietary and blood cholesterol and statins increase hypertrophy with resistance training. FASEB J. 2005.

Andrews RD, Riechman SE, MacLean DA. Optimal protein intake for skeletal muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in 60-69 year old men and women. FASEB J. 2005.

Fascione J, Michel DA, Riechman SE, Hammer SB, Andrews RD. The Association of foot arch height and running performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (abstr) 2005.

Andrews RD, Lowry Gordon D, Burzminski N, Riechman SE. The influence of food groups and micronutrients with resistance exercise training on bone mineral changes in the elderly. International Society of Sports Nutrition. June 2005. JISSN 2(1);106-107.

Gearhart RF, Lagally KM, Riechman SE, Andrews RD, Robertson RJ. Assessment of relative strength pre- and post-resistance training using the omni resistance exercise scale. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (abstr) 2006.

Gearhart RF, Lagally KM, Riechman SE, Andrews RD, Robertson RJ. Strength tracking using the OMNI resistance exercise scale in older men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. In Press. 2007.

Andrews RD. Protein and skeletal muscle hypertrophy. AgroFood Industry Hi-Tech. 2007.

Riechman SE, Andrews RD, MacLean DA. Dietary and Blood Cholesterol, Statins and Sarcopenia Prevention. Journal of Gerontology Medical Sciences. 2007;62:1164-1171.


Thanks Ryan!!

3/17/09

Athletic Amenorrhea


Cassandra and I at the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) conference in New Orleans

To start the week I will dedicate this to all the ladies out there (don't worry boys, there are more articles to come which relate to everyone). I think this is a popular topic that doesn't get much attention in magazines. Perhaps you have discussed it with people on a forum or you just keep it to yourself. It is also important that males understand the female body requirements and the struggles that we go through in order to be active and strong women. Remember, the human body does wonders for us everyday and we must give it the right fuel on a daily basis.
If you have any questions please email me or post on my blog. If you would like to give your opinion or story, just email me and let me know if you'd like me to post on my blog w/ or w/o your name.

This is from my good friend Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD intern, CISSN, CSCS. Author, researcher and nutritionist.

Are you an active woman that has lost her period for more than 6 months in a row and it’s not due to pregnancy or another hormonal alteration? If so, you may be one who is experiencing a phenomenon known as athletic amenorrhea. Amenorrhea basically means loss of menses for > 6months. Women who have lost their periods for no other reason than increased energy expenditure with exercise, are actually putting their health at risk. Did you know that loss of your period is your body’s way of telling you that you’re not eating enough and your estrogen and progesterone levels are too low? Although we have a love and hate relationship with estrogen and progesterone (can we say PMS?), estrogen in particular is necessary for normal bone reformation, and normal cardiovascular function. Women with very low estrogen levels have increased risk for bone fractures due to decreased bone density. They also have heightened risk for heart disease due to dysfunction in the way their blood vessels are designed to work. If these conditions persist, they can lead to the worse bone state possible, osteoporosis, and fatal cardiovascular disease. Yes, even though being active is good for your health, if you don’t eat enough to support your activity, you can and will put your health at risk.
If you have experienced this state, the first thing you need to do is assess whether or not you’re eating enough to meet the demands of your activity. Some women think they’re eating enough, but if you’ve lost your period, there’s a 99% chance that you are not. Inadequate food energy intake will lead your body to divert energy from non-essential functions, like menstruation. One of the primary macronutrients women don’t get enough of when they exercise is dietary fat. Contrary to popular sports nutrition recommendations, women’s bodies use fat very well as a fuel source and when it’s not consumed in adequate quantities, your body may respond by stopping menstruation. Thus, eat an egg yolk with breakfast, snack on nuts and seeds, add nut butter to your favorite sprouted grain breads, eat salmon for dinner, and add avocado and olive oil to your salads. Carbohydrate and protein are also important nutrients as they help your body meet its overall energy needs. Don’t underestimate what your body needs to function normally, because if you do, the first thing to go is your period, and the health of your bones and heart will quickly follow.

http://www.cassandraforsythe.com/
Cassandra is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut studying exercise science and nutrition. Originating from Northern British Columbia, she received her MS in Human Nutrition and Metabolism in 2004, and her BS in Nutrition and Food Science with distinction, in 2002 from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She will graduate in 2009 and will become certified as a Registered Dietitian (RD) in 2009. Her main research interests are low-carbohydrate nutrition, dietary fatty acids, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight-loss, female-specific nutrition and training, and the female athlete triad. Her PhD dissertation project is exploring the ideal fatty acid composition of a weight-maintaining low-carbohydrate diet though a highly-controlled feeding intervention.
Cassandra has written two books that I'm sure you've seen in the stores: "The new rules of women lifting" and "women's health perfect body diet"


THANKS CASSANDRA!!!! :)

3/16/09

National Nutrition Month

From http://www.eatright.org (American Dietetic Association website)
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Registered Dietitian Day, also celebrated in March, increases awareness of registered dietitians as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

I'm honored to be so close to being apart of this great organization. Everyday I learn more and more about nutrition I get more and more excited to obtain my RD credential and get more involved with dietetics.
My passion will always lie with sports nutrition. I live and breathe sports nutrition and I love helping people with sports nutrition. I love reading research, studying and comparing products and helping athletes with their own daily and training nutrition plans. Perhaps one day I will be able to work with elite and pro athletes on a national or world-wide level, but for now I enjoy working with age-groups and primarily, newbies.

My goal for the next week is to teach everyone more about nutrition. Perhaps you will learn something new and maybe you will hear familiar facts that are well-worth hearing again. However, I've got a few dietitians lined up with some great information for everyone! I encourage everyone to read my blog for the next week where I will be posting information from other dietetic professions in this field. Because many people who read my blog focus on a healthy and active life, the next few days are focused on topics that are worth discussing. Please pass around the word to other blog-readers to stop by my blog and contribute to a good discussion on these topics. If you want to comment, ask questions or leave any type of nice remark, please do so!
I would also like everyone to email me (mrakes1@hotmail.com) a question regarding sports nutrition or general nutrition. Next week I will focus my blog on answering your questions. I'd be happy to re-make recipes that you'd like to make healthier, answer questions regarding supplements, talk about general fueling plans or any other concerns you have regarding nutrition. Because I enjoy all levels of athletes and all types of people, being a triathlete, runner or cyclist is not a pre-req to emailing me a question. I won't include names with my answers so when you email me I will be sure to discuss the topic in a way that relates to all individuals. Don't worry if you think your question is weird. Coming from an exercise physiology background, I love the human body and I'm not embarrassed when it comes to the body and nutrition.
Don't forget to email me your questions to mrakes1@hotmail.com and PLEASE contribute to the blog for the next few days. I appreciate your feedback!

To start off this week of nutrition blogs I'd like to talk about misleading products. Never blame yourself when you can't lose weight, even though you feel you are doing everything to eat healthier foods. If you are choosing foods from the perimeter of the grocery store, you will be more successful in losing weight than shopping in the middle aisles where there are more boxed and packaged foods, as oppose to nutrient dense wholesome foods.
The other day I picked up a box of Special K cinnamon and pecan cereal. I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday but I like to use cereal as a topping. I generally mix together 3-4 boxes of cereal in a large Tupperware container. The cereals include a puff cereal (50-60 calories per cup), a bran cereal (fiber one, raisin bran), a whole grain cereal (ex. cheerios) and a free-be. The free-be can be any type of cereal such as granola, special K special brand (ex. pecan, chocolate, vanilla), frosted flakes, Kashi, lucky charms, etc. I like to fill half of the container with the puff cereal to take up more space. Then I add the bran and whole grain cereal and top off the container (about the top 1/4th) with the free-be cereal. I give it a good shake and then I get a little of everything when I want to have some cereal.
I usually eat cereal w/ yogurt, ice cream (on the weekends), as a topping on my oatmeal, with fruit or in my smoothie (I love a crunch in my protein smoothie). Who doesn't love a crunch? I just find that eating a bowl of cereal is not filling in the morning as a bowl of oatmeal.
Now, as a consumer who may read the outside of cereal boxes and look for the healthiest cereals, it isn't uncommon that you will look at calories and possibly, serving size, when choosing your cereal.
When I had the Special K cinnamon and pecan cereal with my yogurt the other day I was instantly reminded of my high school swimming days of eating 1/2 box of cinnamon toast crunch after swimming on sat morning. Oh how I loved that cereal and back then, well, I could get away with eating half a box. Now, not so much!
After I enjoyed my snack of yogurt and cereal, I jumped on the computer to compare products. This is what I found and you might be surprised of the similar ingredients and similar nutritional breakdowns of calories, carbs, sugars, fats, etc....
Cinnamon Toast Crunch


Ingredients
Whole grain wheat, sugar, rice flour, canola and/or rice brain oil, fructose, maltodextrin, dextrose, salt, cinnamon, soy, lecithin, trisodium phosphate, color added. BHT added to preserve freshness.
Vitamins and minerals: calcium carbonate, zinc and iron, vitamin C(sodium Ascorbate), B vitamin, Vitamon b5, vitamin b2, vitamin b1, vitamin 1, folic acid, vitamin b12, vitamin d3.
Special K cinnamon and pecan



Ingredients
RICE, WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SUGAR, PECANS (PECANS, CORN OIL, BHT AS PRESERVATIVE), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, MALT FLAVOR, CINNAMON, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), REDUCED IRON, NIACINAMIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12, VITAMIN D.

Can you believe the similarities? Now, as far as I know, I haven't seen any commercials of people losing weight on a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch but I've sure seen a lot of promotional materials on Special K cereal and weight loss. Not to mention the protein waters, bars and various products by Special K. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with Special K and having it in your house (even with the high fructose corn syrup), but isn't it odd that you are inclined to buy Special K in order to lose weight, yet Cinnamon Toast Crunch is just as "nutritious" (using the word loosly).
It would take consumers way too much time and energy to read every single food label and compare products in grocery stores and online. Sure, I love doing it but that is my job. As a future dietitian, I am here to educate people on ways to choose the best products for a healthy and well-balanced diet to support health and physical activity.
If you want to lose weight, eat a little of everything. You won't gain weight with eating ice cream, packaged foods, cheese, bagels, etc. every now and then. It is only when nutrient dense foods comprise the majority of your diet and fruits and veggies and lean protein are merely side dishes to your high-calorie meal. I encourage everyone to start eating right by enjoying wholesome foods. Fill up your fruit and veggie drawers in the fridge and minimize the foods you stick in the pantry. Look for different types of protein such as soy milk when you buy skim milk, veggie burgers when you buy lean meat, chickpeas when you buy beans, egg whites when you buy eggs (use 1 whole egg for every 3 whites that you eat) and tofu when you buy...well, try to add tofu to your meals ;)
Eating healthy can be fun and wow does it make you feel great inside! More so, you feel good about waking up everyday and you never feel guilty about what you put in your mouth. And guess what, eating healthy includes all those little treats that you give yourself every now and then. Starting today, go grab a fruit for a snack and try to find alternatives to your "unhealthy" food choices. Start reading food labels and never feel like the more expensive, organic product is the healthier product. The healthiest product is the one that has very few ingredients. Have you ever read the ingredients for an apple, strawberry, romaine lettuce or cucumber??? :) Stop reading those labels on trans-fat free product such as wheat thins, chips ahoy, triscuits and cookies...trans-fat free doesn't mean calorie-free, sugar-free, fat-free. More so, when products take something out to promote being healthier, something non-nutritional (such as additives, perservatives, sweetners, gums/pastes, dyes, etc.) are added to promote sweetness and satiety.
Start buying foods which contribute to longevity, an improvement in energy/performance and health!

3/15/09

Wonderful Sunday

Today was a great day. It was beautiful outside, despite being inside for most of it. However, I did get a bit of sunshine this morning.
Karel and I rode together. Two times in 1 week! I feel faster already! Karel decided to pass on a crit today and since he didn't schedule himself to work, I had him all to myself all day long! So, how else would we spend our morning than a fast 53 mile ride. I say fast because it felt fast for me. I looked at my odometer at 25 miles it felt like 70. My legs were super tired from yesterday but I felt good on my bike. I drafted off Karel for the entire ride and because he is getting stronger by the day, I just can't imagine how my training will progress if I keep riding with him. I did complain a little bit around mile 30 because we were far away from home and I wasn't sure if I would have energy to get back home. However, we slowed down the pace for a few miles and then back up to tempo for the rest of the ride home. It was a quick morning on the bike for a 3 hour ride and I was ready to take campy for his run.
I didn't want to pass up this run because I have noticed I tend to slack when it comes to a run after a hard bike. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity since I did a semi-long bike and my legs were super heavy. Although there are several pee breaks for campy I can still keep my legs moving even if we slow down the pace. It was a fun 27 min. run and we were both super hot when we got back home.
At 11:30 my workout was finished and I was happy that Karel was home to make me breakfast! Crepes!! I ate them all day long. First I had my breakfast/lunch crepes and then I had an afternoon snack of crepes. Yumm!
I spent most of the afternoon reading my Nutrition in the life cycle book for my dietetic course but around 5pm we decided to get out of our place and visit a friend.
Our friend Lynn has two dogs which Campy has never met so we thought we'd wear out Campy once more for the day. What a lucky dog!
After the dogs ran around, sniffed butts and played it was time for Karel and I to head home to watch the Paris cycling race on versus that we recorded at 5pm.
what a great weekend! Now I'm ready for a good night sleep!
Here are some pics of Campy and another lottery-winning day...