Essential Sports Nutrition


Sweet potato fries

Nature's candy...The sweet potato. Not sure if it is better as a side, meal or dessert? If you have been following my blog for the past few years, you probably know my favorite pre-race meal. I find the nearest Outback before my long races and order a sweet potato (toppings on the side), bread and salad (w/ chopped eggs and pecans) for a comforting and well-practiced pre-race meal.
Sweet potatoes contain SO many great nutrients! As an anti-oxidant rich veggie, you will get Vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B vitamins, potassium, calcium and iron in every sweet potato you eat. The Sweet potato could be one of the most healthiest vegetable on Earth! Due to it's fiber content, this beautiful vegetable is known as a low gylcemic carb (acceptable for diabetics).
Nutrition facts:
Serving size: 1 large
(DV is based on a 2000 calorie diet)
Calories 162
Calories from Fat 0g
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 65mg
Total Carbohydrate 37g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Sugars 12g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A 692% (DV)
Vitamin C 59% (DV)
Calcium 7% (DV)
Iron 7% (DV)

Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato (or two medium potatoes)
1-2 tsp olive oil
Cinnamon and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Warm sweet potato (washed) until mostly cooked (about 6-7 min. in microwave - stab a few tips with a fork).
3. Remove skin from hot potato and cut into fries (you may need to wait until potato is cool before cutting).
4. Place fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil.
5. Place fries on baking sheet (lined with tinfoil) and sprinkle with your choice of seasoning (I used pepper for half and cinnamon for half).
6. Bake for 25-35 min or until the fries begin to "burn". Switch to broil for 5 min and remove from oven.


Strawberry Smoothie

My Two favorite protein powders:
Body Fortress Whey protein (Wal-mart or Target)
Hammer Nutrition Whey

(I'm a vanilla girl but every now and then I'll tough it up and get chocolate)

We go through a lot of whey protein (at least 1/2-1 scoop a day for me and 1 scoop for Karel) in an effort to properly recover after our workouts. I rarely have a smoothie for a "meal" (ex. breakfast smoothie) but if I do, I always add in some type of carb choice like cooked oatmeal or toast w/ a little PB to go along with my nutrient-filled smoothie. Since I add lots of ingredients to my smoothie (ex. fruit, yogurt, milk, flax, dark chocolate, etc.) sometimes I just top my smoothie with a handful of dry cereal for an extra crunch.

If you have another type of protein that you enjoy, I recommend that you get at least 18-24g of protein per scoop in your protein powder. To use your protein powder as a recovery drink, I recommend that you add in other yummies to a smoothie (or as a side to protein + water/milk) to give your body a good mix of carbs and protein (I suggest at least 40-60g of carbohydrates as an estimate). Although this would be a great recovery snack after an intense or long-ish workout, I still encourage a "real" meal to add in more nutrients to your diet and properly refuel.
Because whey protein is a complete, quality protein, providing your body with the essential amino acids that you may be missing in your diet and to support performance/fitness gains, you can add it to your daily diet (ex. mixed with water/milk with your morning or afternoon snack) to help meet protein recommendations of 1-1.4g/kg/d for active individuals).
Although there are other great protein sources out there (eggs, milk, fish, lean meat), whey protein will give the body the necessary building blocks (amino acids) that are used for building muscle tissue. Because exercise puts your body in a catabolic state (especially intense/endurance exercise) it is most important that you look for a quick and easy-to-digest protein (in addition to carbs) to help your muscles recover.
Because I believe in having a "real" wholesome meal after a recovery drink, I only recommend a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of Carbohydrates (grams) to protein for your recovery drink. No need to have a 52g protein drink alongside 150g of carbohydrates. I strongly encourage low fat protein and healthy fat to be added to a recovery meal, rich in complex carbohydrates, which should follow the recovery snack.
Of course, a recovery drink is most advantageous after an intense workout when your body is in need of repair but because of the length of an endurance workout, it is not necessary to gorge yourself with thousands of calories following a recovery drink. Whereas intense workouts are short, thus quickly depleting stored carbs, you may find it more beneficial to have a 3:1 (carb:protein) recovery drink. For longer workouts, when a balanced meal is on the menu, a 2:1 (carb:protein) drink will help you quickly recover as well as help you prevent overeating when the "real" meal is served.
In my opinion, real food is going to give your body a wide range of nutrients, more so than a pre-mixed "recovery" drink. However, a recovery drink in the form of whey protein, immediately following a workout, is going to jump-start the recovery process much more so than having a coke and power bar after a workout and then an hour later having a turkey sandwich w/ chips. Because the timing of nutrition is most important in ensuring proper recovery after workouts, the athlete who tends to over or undereat following a workout (in addition to not "craving" the most healthiest food options) may miss a vital opportunity to repair and refuel. Considering that the most beneficial time to recover is within the 45 min. immediately following the end of the activity (to stimulate the transport of glucose and glycogen synthase activity thus promoting faster muscle glycogen resynthesis), combining high-quality protein with the carbohydrates, will result in more stored glycogen as well as providing the muscles with the necessary amino acids needed to rebuild muscle tissue and build a stronger immune system.
Although fruits and whole grain foods are rich in carbohydrates and can be used for recovery, I find that many athletes tend to crave "sweets" following a workout. In this case, rather than having a 400 calorie sugary recovery drink and a high sugar treat/breakfast, my recommendation is to start with 1 scoop whey protein mixed with water/milk (or as a smoothie mixed with fruit, milk, yogurt, etc.) and have your sweet treat (ex. 20-30g of carbs from the sweet treat) alongside a more nutritious carb (ex. watermelon, banana, granola) with the protein. This way you are able to curb your cravings all while controlling blood sugar with the protein. Sure, fruit would be a more nutritious choice but if you find yourself indulging in a large bowl of ice cream or enjoying a chocolate cookie on the evening of a morning long bike/run/brick, your body will have an easier time "using" the sugars immediately following the workout as opposed to late in the evening before bed.

Strawberry Smoothie
1 scoop vanilla Whey protein (Body Fortress)
1 tbsp wheat germ (I'll be writing about this in a later blog post)
Cinnamon (I probably use a tsp or two)
3 ounces low fat strawberry yogurt
3 BIG strawberries (washed, top removed - best if fresh and then frozen ahead of time)
1/4 cup skim milk
4-6 dark chocolate chips
Ice (5-7 cubes)
Water (about 1/4-1/3 cup)

1. Put all ingredients in blender, except water. Pulse until ice cubes are crushed.
2. Slowly add water as you blend on low and stop blending until the smoothie meets your consistency needs.
*I like my smoothies like a milkshake so I don't add a lot of water.

Depending on my workout length/intensity, I love warm oatmeal with a cold smoothie (while my oatmeal is cooking I put my smoothie in the freezer).

Apple-pie oatmeal:
1/2 gala apple (chopped)
1/4-1/3 cup oats
Spoonful of peanuts and raisins
Small spoonful of wheat germ
Optional topping: drizzle of honey or a little chopped dark chocolate when oatmeal is warm


Crunchy Potato Chips

As you try to create healthier meals, never eliminate. If you have been eating Doritos with your sandwiches for the past 10 years, don't just assume that you will instantly be able to go chip-free at lunch time. Think of a crunchy & heart-friendly substitution that would go well with your sandwich to fulfill your crunchy need. Some people may be able to swap the chips for fruit or veggies whereas others may need to find a similar taste or texture in order to feel satisfied with the swap. Perhaps you satisfy your afternoon cravings with a sweet treat like a frappe or cappuccino and a candy bar (or a handful of portioned controlled bite-sized chocolates). Well, dark chocolate (70% cacao or more is recommended) is certainly on my list of heart-healthy treats so how about having a piece of fruit AND 1/2 ounce dark chocolate. As you work on improved meal preparation (many afternoon cravings are due to unbalanced breakfast and lunch meals, lack of healthy snacking) as well as better sleeping habits (so that you wake up rested on most days of the week) if you still need your "caffeine" have a tall glass of water and a 12 ounce decaf coffee w/ a little skim milk.
My other suggestion for changing habits is to look forward to something with all meals.
As you know, I am not a big fan of veggies from the Brassica oleracea family (Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, Kale and collard greens). I like broccoli the best out of this family but I can't admit that I "crave" these foods like I do with my other staple veggies. However, if I know that I am having chickpeas w/ Kale or Tofu with Cauliflower, I am much more likely to want to prepare those "not crave-able" foods because I crave the other parts of my meal. I have found that after a few times of preparing foods that I once didn't enjoy, I really learned to appreciate them in my diet and now I eat them all of the time!
*I find that many people who create healthier habits tend to gravitate to healthier foods for a lifetime and think "How did I ever crave x-food? Now I couldn't even imagine eating it!". Certainly I am not saying there are "good" and "bad" foods but I believe that there are foods that should be emphasized in the diet for weight loss/maintenance as well as performance gains and foods that should be de-emphasized because they are limiters in personal weight and performance goals. I believe the diet should be built off foods with little to no ingredients and rich in whole grains, healthy fats, lean/low fat protein, water and LOTS of veggies and fruit.

Here's my take on Crunchy Potato Chips. Perfect with a salad or sandwich, as a substitute for processed chips or french fries. Also, this would be a great appetizer or snack w/ a sprinkle of shredded cheese, hummus or salsa.

Crunchy Potato Chips
2-3 medium potatoes (softened so that the inside of the potato is slightly hard but slice-able. Typically around 4-5 min.)
2-3 tsp of olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel potatoes and thinly slice.
3. Spread on baking sheet (lined with tinfoil) and drizzle with olive oil (measure before you drizzle). Sprinkle with pepper and any other no-salt seasonings (ex. paprika, basil, cumin).
4. Bake for 30-40 min or until potatoes turn brown and begin to puff.


Getting ready for a healthy dinner

One of my tips of healthy eating is to never go into a meal starving. Whether you are eating a snack 2-3 hrs prior to a meal or eating a snack 20-30 min. before a meal, both options can set you up for a portion, calorie and craving controlled meal. Not to mention, the ability to eat (or order if dining out) consciously and to feel in control of what you put into your body. The key to snacks is to think of them as mini meals. Aim for balance so that a snack is another opportunity to fill your body with healthy nutrients - think about: healthy fats, low fat/lean protein, complex carbs, fruits, veggies.
Here's my idea of a filling afternoon snack or a healthy appetizer as you are preparing your meal:
Hummus, Celery, Carrots, Part-skim Mozzarella cheese, nuts

I got a little creative with my salad and topped my beautiful veggie selection with a Chickpea Ball. It was super delicious!

Chickpea Ball

1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup green pepper (sliced)
1 clove garlic
No-salt seasonings
1 tsp olive oil

1. In a medium pot, add olive oil and chopped garlic. Heat to medium heat.
2. Add chickpeas and cover for 5-10 min. Stir occasionally.
3. When chickpeas get soft, add peppers and seasonings and mash/crush with a spatula (or fork).
4. Continue cooking for 2-4 more minutes and turn off burner.
5. Take a few spoonfuls and form into a ball.
(you can also use this as a spread/substitute for hummus

Beautiful Salad
Egg whites (hardboiled with a little yoke added to the salad)
Sunflower Seeds
Shredded cheese (a little pinch)
Romaine lettuce

Vegetarian diet and Gluten-free

My mind is working overtime and my fingers are staying busy I have received several emails from FB and blog friends regarding the following topics:
Vegetarian diet
Gluten-free diet
Whey protein supplementation
Creatine supplementation

As an endurance athlete, my perspective on these topics may be a bit different than other health and wellness professionals. As you know, I have been a vegetarian for a little over 16 years. I am not gluten-intolerant and I am not a big supplement user. I believe food is my "medicine" and my "fuel". The foods I eat are beneficial for my heart, health and performance (as a competitive athlete) and I strive for balance in my life. Too much of one thing is never a good thing and if I eat well most of the time, I don't have to worry about the rest of the time. I want to live a quality-filled life and make the most of my days here on Earth.
Just like any professional, I have my own opinion of diets and products, both based on personal beliefs and research. However, regardless if I use x-product or abide by a certain diet (for personal reasons and not "weight" reasons) I try to answer questions on a case-by-case basis. I don't believe any two people are alike and I think that is the beauty of working with someone on a one-on-one basis....I can help people find exactly what works for him/her based on personal life commitments, athletic/fitness ability, racing/training goals and dietary preferences/restrictions. Sure, writing articles and speaking to large groups provides individuals with a template and the right tools of living a healthy and active lifestyle but when determining what will work for you and your daily requirements, it is all about individual experimentation.
As you read my responses, please bear in mind my philosophy's of living a healthy and active life, that I practice what I preach and that I am not yet a Registered Dietitian. Because I am not at the point in my education to provide medical information to treat, diagnose and cure disease, my answers support the idea that living a healthy and active lifestyle is all about balance and supporting your daily routine with the best nutrients possible.

Question 1: Vegetarian Diet

I've decided to try to eat vegetarian for a month. I'll see how it goes and then decide whether to keep at it. I've partly been inspired by you - you seem to have great results as a vegetarian athlete! I've thought about doing this in the past but have been concerned about getting enough protein. So my question is, can you give me advice on getting more protein while eating vegetarian? Especially when traveling - it is hard to find healthy veg options sometimes (lots of cheese!).

Congrats on embarking on a 1-month vegetarian trial!
It is always fun to try new ways of eating, especially when they are heart healthy. If you feel as if your diet is healthy and balanced, making the change to 100% vegetarian shouldn't be so hard. Perhaps you may get bored at times through the lack of variety in your protein choices but you can always vary up the other parts of your diet. Then again, the average meat eater tends to gravitate towards the same sources of protein on a daily/weekly basis.
Eating out when traveling can be hard so I try to eat well during all others days and enjoy something new when I eat out. It is almost impossible to get a "healthy" vegetarian meal because they are generally high in sodium, fat (cheese) or calories. I also don't trust the cooks to ensure that my meal is 100% vegetarian (ex. tofu may be cooked on the same grill/pan as meat or beans/soup may have chicken or bacon fat in them) so generally I get a filling salad or veggie wrap (where I can see my items being made). I rarely go to vegetarian-only restaurants but if I can find one, that is a good place to start. Also, if you can find places that have eggs (I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian) that is a great way to get some protein when you travel. Whether it is a hard boiled egg or an egg omelet (although a yoke a day is healthy, I would ask for egg white omelets so you don't end up with a fatty/cholesterol-filled omelet), diner's and breakfast-all-day places are great. You can check online nutrition guides and menu's when you travel to see where and what to eat when you travel.
As for not feeling hungry when you travel (due to not as much protein as you would eat on a daily basis), this is my #1 concern. It is really hard for me to "fill up" on salads so that is why I don't only eat salads when I eat out, unless it is a filling salad worth the money. However, salads (especially at a salad bar restaurant) can be a great healthy choice when you travel. I try to always bring along PB and nuts as healthy fats (although it contains protein I don't really see it as my primarily protein source) to snack on throughout the day. I always use my helpful nutrition tips of eating prior to a meal, not going long hours without eating (this is super helpful when traveling), knowing what I will eat before I will eat it (this helps when planning meals), starting my day with a filling (fiber/protein/fat/complex carbs) breakfast and eating balanced meals. Those are just a few of them but I take my daily habits with me on the road so that I can be conscious of what I am eating.
I try to buy/bring fruits and veggies because they can be really hard to find in restaurant meals (well, a healthy version of them). I don't have a big travel budget when I travel so I have to be a bit frugal when I eat out. I don't like to spend $1 on a banana at the airport or $14 on a salad, so I try to bring whatever I can when I travel.
Here's a few good sites of getting protein from food:

The key is getting in quality protein in the diet to meet obtain essential amino acids so I would bring along whey protein powder so you can at least get in 18-23g a day of quality protein (you don't need to overdo it on whey protein since the key is balance in the diet, so 1-2 scoops a day on high-active days is fine but if you aren't working out like normal when you travel, 1 scoop a day is fine).
Here are my fav. protein foods:
(I don't have a big grocery budget but I try to do my best to vary my proteins. My best sources of protein are those that don't have a lot of ingredients)
*some of them have fat in them so they serve as a filling-food, not necessarily as a food that will help me recover after my workouts)
Skim milk
Whey protein
Wheat Germ
Part-skim cheese
Eggs (mostly whites but up to 1 yoke a day)
Fat-free cottage cheese
Low-fat yogurt
Greek yogurt
Veggie burgers (usually 1-2 boxes a month)
Cereal (usually as a topping to smoothies or oatmeal)
Natural PB
Tofu (Firm or extra firm for cooking, silken for smoothies)
Veggies and fruit (although small protein content, but fruits and veggies are a must in my diet to give me the nutrients I need to recover and perform)
Whole grains

Question 2: Gluten-free diet

Hi Marni!
While I've been saving recipes from you that you post on your blog, I started wondering if you have any ideas for racing (and training) with gluten free products. I recently realized I have at the very least a gluten intolerance (waiting for official test results to come back). With this latest and greatest change I've had to rethink all my nutrition which isn't easy. More frustrating really.
Do you by chance have any suggestions or ideas?

I wrote a blog about Gluten-free from the perspective of a "craze" that many people are considering. However, in your case, with a true gluten intolerance, it is important that you learn what foods are beneficial in your diet and what foods should be eliminated (those with gluten). However, in my blog you can understand my p.o.v. of why many people notice great results by going gluten-free.">Blog on Gluten-free

When you go gluten-free, you still need to read labels to check for sodium, carbs, fat, protein, sugar, etc. To start, look at the food label serving size, then look at the percentages on the side of your gluten-free labels to see how much you are actually getting of each nutrient (check the vitamins on the bottom as well). Then look at the ingredients. You will then be able to make the healthiest choice when comparing products such as gluten-free pasta or cereal. As far as bakery goods or other gluten-free sweets, these should still be minimized in the diet because gluten-free or not, they still have sugar and can affect your blood sugar. My suggestion is to always pair protein with carbs in an effort to balance blood sugar. Fruits and veggies should be consumed as snacks and with meals (as often as possible during the day) to give your body a wide range of vitamins and minerals. As an athlete, you will need to focus on quality sources of protein since gluten is a protein. Oats are allowed in some gluten-free diets so long as the oats have not been mixed with wheat during processing. Based on research, oats in a gluten-free/celiac diet is based on individual-cases where some people can tolerate them (3/4ths cup at one sitting) and others can't.
Hammer products are gluten-free so this is where I would go for your training fuels. I use Hammer and recommend them for my athletes. I would find a gluten-free protein powder so you can quickly recover from workouts and obtain quality protein in your diet.
Here are some resources to help you out in learning more about gluten-free products:

A healthy and balanced diet will support your active and healthy lifestyle so keep that in mind as you make a few substitutions in your diet to live a gluten-free life but never neglect the value of low fat protein, healthy fats and fruits and veggies.

Whey protein and Creatine

Question 3 and 4: Whey protein and Creatine supplementation:

My best friend is in the coast guard and well, works out all the time. She is all into the whey protein shakes and creatine shakes. They scare me... so you have any advice about all that stuff?

There are a lot of great resources out there supporting creatine and whey protein in the diet. Whey protein is a staple of my diet and I buy Body Fortress at Wal-Mart because it is affordable and provides my body with just what I need post workout. I love Hammer Whey protein as well so I usually have that on my order-list whenever I buy my Hammer products. However, as you can imagine, Karel and I go through Whey protein really fast. As for creatine, I do not believe in a loading phase but I feel as if 2-5g/day is beneficial to athletes performing strength exercises on a weekly basis. Just like with any supplement, if your diet is lacking or if you are putting your body under great stress, supplementing the diet with nutrients that you are lacking (or are in great need in your diet) may be beneficial. No supplement will oversee an unhealthy diet so if you want to improve your health and fitness, it is most important that you focus on your daily diet to provide you with a wide range of nutrients to support your active and healthy routine.
I have to admit that research shows that total creatine is generally lower in vegetarians at baseline than nonvegetarians. Vegetarians who supplement with creatine typically have a greater increase in total creatine, plasma creatine, strength and whole-body lean tissue levels compared with both vegetarians and nonvegetarians on placebo. Also, be mindful that with creatine supplementation you will have responders and non-responders. Karel used creatine (on a 3 week on, 1 week off) cycle throughout the past 5-6 months when he was doing a lot of plyometrics. He noticed dramatic results and still adds creatine into his smoothies a few times per week (about a tsp or two).
There are a lot of misconceptions/myths with creatine (bloating, water retention, stress on kidneys) and whey protein (bulking up, fear of milk proteins). But based on the research (I suggest just looking up "what is creatine" "What is whey protein" to understand more) of these two supplements, the evidence supporting whey protein is outstanding whereas a diet filled with processed food, fast-food, trans-fat, high sodium and added sugar is worth considering if you want to live a more healthy lifestyle.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Here are three great articles that will give you some insight on creatine and whey protein. Although research changes, these 2007 articles (written by my good friend Cassandra and the other, by myself) may fill in the gaps if you have been hesitant to use or be consistent with either supplement.

Understanding creatine

Creatine for Women

EGGS, MEAT, & MILK…Whey too many proteins!


New research

I love reading on road trips. As you can guess, I've done a lot of reading in the past few weeks.
I really enjoy reading new research from credited publications and researchers. I don't find myself on forums but there are several websites that I like to check out every now and then which also keep me updated on the latest health and nutrition trends.
I always keep an open mind when I read health-related articles and I don't feel as if I have to trust, believe and/or try out everything that I read. However, as a professional in the wellness, dietetic (1 year from this month, hopefully!) and exercise physiology field, I believe it is very important for me to stay up-to-date with groundbreaking research as well as knowing where to find the best resources whenever someone has a question or concern. I belong to many organizations so that makes it really easy to know where to find publications and how to properly digest them.
Certainly, I never aspire to know everything but I do want to know enough to feel confident in my recommendations and advice. As you can believe, it is hard to stay current with research when every day there is a new research study telling you to eat this, don't eat this, drink this and exercise this much. It can be very overwhelming trying to know everything so I believe that the best road to knowledge is keeping myself educated and keeping an open mind. Of course, more than anything, I enjoy being able to "practice what I preach". Although I don't expect others to live my vegetarian, endurance athlete lifestyle, I feel I can relate to so many people when it comes to eating healthy and living and active (and competitive) lifestyle.
Because I love teaching just as much as I love learning, I will share some research with you from my favorite newsletters.

Source: Environmental Nutrition: 33(5) May 2010

*Just In: USDA Tightens Up Organic Pasture Rules
When you buy a gallon or organic milk, it's hard to tell how much time the cow it came from spent grazing on pasture. That's due to the opaque National Organic Program pasture regulations, which don't specify the frequency or amount of feed that should come from pasture. But that's about to change. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that clearer standards governing organic ruminant livestock (dairy, cattle and sheep), pasture will take effect in mid-June 2010. The main rules producers will be required to follow:
1) animals must graze pasture during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days per year
2) animals must obtain a min. of 30% of their total animal feed requirement from grazing pasture during the grazing season
3) pasture must be managed as a crop to meet the feed requirements for the grazing and to protect soil and water quality.

*Soft drinks linked with increase in pancreatic cancer risk:
Data from Singapore Chinese Health Study, which included more than 60,000 Chinese men and women who were observed from up to 14 years, revealed that those who consumed two or more sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages per week had an almost 87% percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not consume any.

*Omega-3 fatty acids may help young people at risk of developing psychotic disorders:
A randomized, placebo-controlled trial that included 81 people (13-25 yrs) at ultra-high risk of psychotic disorder found that during a one year study period 1.2g/d of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorders. The trail was conducted in Vienna, Austria.

*Whole grain oat cereal lowers cholesterol and waist size:
That's what researchers discovered in a study of 200 overweight and obese adults who were randomly split into two weight-loss groups consuming 500 fewer calories per day. One group at 2 portions of whole grain oat cereal daily and the other group ate a low-fiber breakfast food equal in calories. The oat cereal group had larger reductions in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and waist circumference at the 4-week point.

Source: Nutrition Action - May 2010

Pg.8 and 9 - 5 overrated and underrated foods -
(I will only focus on three)

Overrated: SMOOTHIES
It's fine to make your own smoothies at home with low fat yogurt or milk and fresh or frozen fruit (although it's better to eat, rather than drink, your calories if you're watching your weight).
But commercial smoothies are a different story, thanks largely to added sugar and giant servings of juice.
At Smoothie King (with 600 locations worldwide) the "Trim Down" smoothies typically range from 250-350 calories in a small (20oz) to (gulp) 500-700 calories in a large (40oz). A large "Stay Healthy," "Get Energy" or "Snack Right" has 500-1,110 calories.
Yet people think smoothies are diet food. And some fold fall for-and pay extra for-Smoothie King's supplement scams like "2-week weight loss Acai Berry Cleans and Flush" or "Super Boost Green Tea Fat Burning."
At Cold Stone Creamery, a small sinless Smoothie (juice, fruit, and Splenda) can have as few as 110 calories. But Cold Stone's Lifestyle Smoothies pack about 200 calories for a small ("Like it") to 600 calories for a large ("Gotta have it"). And Baskin-Robbins' Fruit Blast Smoothies range from roughly 400-850 calories, depending on the size. They're "made with real fruit"...and a load of sugar.

Overrated: Vegetable Juice
"2 full servings of Vegetables" announces the V8 label. Big deal.
V8 is reconstituted tomato juice. How do we know that its other juices are scarce? The most abundant non-tomato vegetable juice in V8 is carrot (then come celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach). One cup of carrot juice contains 900% of a day's Vitamin A. One cup of V8 contains 40%.
And unless you buy Low Sodium V8, you get 600 mg sodium in every 11 1/2 oz. can. (Low Sodium has 200mg). Granted V8 used to have more sodium. But 600 mg is still 40% a day's worth.
Also overrated: V8 V-Fusion, which promises a serving of vegetables plus a serving of fruit. The "fruit" in a flavor like Pomegranate Blueberry is mostly apple and grape juice. The "vegetables" include sweet potato and carrot (and tomato) concentrate, but not much, since a cup of Pomegranate Blueberry V8 V-fusion has just 15% of a day's Vitamin A.
Bottom line: Once you strip away the advertising, V8 isn't much better than watered- down tomato sauce.

Overrated: Energy Bars
"More energy to Muscles with C2 MAX", boasts the Performance Energy PowerBar label. C2 MAX was found to "improve athlete's cycling time by 8%".
In fact, C2 MAx (A "dual source energy blend") is just a mixture of fructose and glucose (like ordinary sugar and high-fructose corn syrup but in different proportions).
Apparently, trained cyclists did slightly better (in their 3rd hr of cycling) after drinking 860 calories of the two sugars than after drinking 860 calories of glucose alone (Med Sci. Sports Exer. 40:275, 2008). You'd have to eat 8 1/2 PowerBars - at $2 a pop-to get that much sugar.
Clif Bars also claim to be "energy bars". The have more nuts and oats than Performance Energy Power Bars but they're still glued together with 4-6 tsp sugar. And don't think that Clif Luna Bars ("The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women") are any better. Since when is "whole nutrition" a mix of soy protein isolate, rice flour and sugar?
Energy means calories, according to the FDA. If you need some, eat some real food, not a vitamin-fortified, soy-spiked cookie or candy bar.
Bottom line: All bars (cereal, fiber, whatever) are overrated foods.

Happy doggy

Is this just too cute?


Happy Mother's day!

To all of the soon-to-be mothers, mothers and grandmothers I hope you have a wonderful day!
I think 70% of my friends are pregnant or have babies so I have a lot of Mother's day wishes to send!
To my mom - I have no idea how I could be where I am now without your guidance, support and realistic/practical advice. I love you!
On Sat we wished Karel's mom a happy mother's day (yay for Skype!). I know Karel and I wish that we could visit her in Czech but hopefully one day (sooner than later) we will get over there. If only money grew on trees!

And for all of the animal mommy's out there...Have fun with the furry (or slimy) little ones :)