Essential Sports Nutrition


Happy Birthday Campy!!

You have been with us for 2 years and today we celebrate your 3rd birthday here on Earth. We aren't quite sure what happened to you when you were born and why you ended up on the street, but we are grateful that you were found behind a building and finally rescued. Not knowing what we were getting ourselves into when we found you on, we couldn't resist this dog named "Sparky" and his long, long legs and cute, cuddly face. Turns out, you have changed our life. We wake up every morning excited to start the day and coming home from work is always a happy time for us. Seeing your expression when we walk through the front door, and hearing you from our 3rd floor bedroom window, is absolutely priceless. You'd think after 2 years you would get tired of jumping up and down and kissing us when we come home but of course not. You remind us every day how much you love us and how thankful you are to have a roof over your head, a yummy meal twice a day and a freshly made bed to sleep in every night.
Every day is the same for you, yet you wake up every morning loving life and wanting to make the most of a brand new day. A new day to do everything the same as yesterday but with no less energy than the day before. Every day is an adventure for you and we often remind ourselves that we can't take life for granted. We only have one life and we must make the most of it.
Campy, if you only knew how much you have changed our life. I suppose we can only show you with affection and lots of love but we just want you to know that you are the best thing that ever happened to us. Nothing seems to bother you and the worst day of your life is when we leave you alone. You make it very clear that you don't care what we do as long as you are with us. You never complain during car trips and you always seem to brighten our spirits when our day just doesn't seem to go as planned. Somehow, you always seem to remind us that there is always tomorrow....always another day to wake up feeling fresh and ready to make the most out of life.
We love you Campy and we can't wait to celebrate many, many, many more birthdays.
Love, Marni and Karel (your mommy and daddy)


Hawaiian Quinoa Pineapple Tofu Salad - Creations

Back in October 2007 I was about to participate in my 2nd Ironman...the Ironman World Championships. I was injured, scared and overwhelmed but somehow, I did it....and managed to keep a smile on my face for most of the 140.6 miles. I've started and finished every Ironman I have signed up for because at the end of the day, my heart is set on finishing what I started. As of now, I have some unfinished business on the magical island that is Kona.
I never wanted to relive that painful experience of racing injured in Kona but somehow my stubbornness got the best of me. Ever since Sept 2007, I raced and trained some-what injured. Sure, I set some PR's and had some good races but overall, it hasn't been fun to want to improve my performance and have a physical limiter.
Fast forward to 2010 and I am 100% injury free, healthy and 365 days (give or take a day or two) away from racing in my 5th Ironman...the Ironman World Championships....did I mention I am 6 1/2 months away from being finished with my dietetic internship!! The other day I "officially" registered for Kona on and smiled when I put "registered dietitian" as my profession.
I am filled with emotions and I want to be there NOW! I can't contain my excitement for the race this coming weekend and like every year (since I started training and racing Ironman's) I will be glued to my computer for the entire day...I can't miss a minute of the most amazing Ironman coverage you will ever witness...well, except being there in person.


Nutrient dense meal planning

The last FREE online Iron Girl newsletter was filled with great articles! I am so excited to see the new 2011 Iron Girl race schedule!! Online registration opens for all events (except 1) on December 31st!! If you are thinking about doing your first triathlon or are looking for a top-notch all-women triathlon/duathlon/running/walking event....I highly recommend registering for one of the many events in the Iron Girl event series. Two of my favorites are Iron Girl Clearwater 15K and Iron Girl Atlanta (triathlon).
I hope you enjoy my latest article in Iron Girl!!

Nutrient Dense Meal Planning
"The best strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk for chronic disease is to choose a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods," according to the American Dietetic Association (1). However, living in a nation filled with processed food - and very good marketing - means very little meal planning and plenty of calorie-dense options. Now-a-days, there is nothing unusual about putting a "meal" in the microwave or placing a food order through a car window. Although you know you should prioritize wholesome ingredients to fuel your active and healthy lifestyle, without proper time-management, cooking at home can feel quite burdensome.

It is unreasonable to believe that you can never enjoy a meal outside of your home. However, relying on an 'on-the-go' diet may not provide your body with an ideal quantity and quality of nutrients. Without a doubt, the most powerful nutrients are found in foods that contain little to no ingredients. Although there are many boxed, frozen, packaged and canned foods that claim to protect your body and mind, the most advantageous way of keeping your body strong is through a plant-based diet, balanced with lean or low fat protein, complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

The foundation of a heart-healthy diet should be supported by a colorful diet, filled with fruits and vegetables. Based on a meta-analysis compilation of cohort studies evaluating fruit and vegetable consumption, researchers F.J., He and colleagues established that an increased consumption of fruit and vegetables from less than three servings a day to more than five servings a day is related to a 17 percent reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) (2). Considering the severity of vitamin and mineral deficiencies around the world, it should be a no-brainer to take every advantage of the abundance of accessible fruits and vegetables in your local grocery store or farmers market.

As an active female, you have a lot on your plate. Meal planning should not be tedious or cumbersome. Rather than focusing on calories, carbs and fat, check out the ingredients of your daily food choices. As a start, seek out wholesome foods, with around five ingredients or less. Rather than eliminating foods from your diet, make replacements. For example, rather than snacking on a Special K protein bar (with 40-plus ingredients), choose a glass of milk. Secondly, take a few minutes each morning to plan out what you are going to eat that day. It may also help to plan your grocery list for the upcoming week. Because there is a strong correlation in the rising number of overweight and obese individuals and the ever-increasing number of processed food options available to consumers (3), it is suggested to steer clear of the well-marketed "healthy" options, which contain a paragraph full of ingredients.

When it comes down to nutritious and balanced eating, keep in mind that a calorie isn't just a calorie. If you are committed to creating a healthy lifestyle, a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods will provide your body with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that aid in the prevention of severe health conditions, help to increase longevity, reduce the need for costly health care, improve physical performance and overall quality of life.

Example of nutrient-dense meal planning:

Breakfast - Oatmeal, nuts and fruit and a glass of skim/soy milk
Mid morning snack - Piece of fruit with cheese
Lunch - Vegetarian or lean meat in veggie-filled wrap and cottage cheese with fruit
Mid afternoon snack - Veggies with hummus and Wasa cracker(s)
Dinner - Brown rice with lentils and spinach and scrambled eggs
After-dinner snack - dark chocolate (1/2 - 1 ounce) wwith a piece of fruit

Grocery list:


Whole grain wrap
Low-fat cottage cheese
Part-skim cheese
Lean meat/vegetarian meat
Brown rice
Skim/soy milk
Dark chocolate (70% - 85% cacao)


1) Marra, M.V. and Boyar, A.P. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrient supplementation. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 109(12): 2073-85.

2) He, F.J., Noson, C.A., Lucas, M. and MacGregor, GA. (2007). Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of cohort studies. J. Hum. Hyperten. 21(9): 717-28.

3) Barr, S.B. and Wright, J.C. (2010). Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: implications for daily energy expenditure. Food Nutr. Res. 2(54): doi: 10.3402/fnr.v54i0.5144.


Art of Recovery: Part II

When was the last time you had an amazing workout....followed by several more amazing workouts?
When was the last time you had a horrible workout...followed by several more horrible workouts?
Do your legs feel fresh or do they feel heavy and tired?
Is your head in the game or are you feeling directionless and without reason to continue training?
Do you feel as if you can never fully give 100% to your workout, as well as giving 100% to the rest of your daily responsibilities?
Do you feel as if you can never gain control over your appetite or perhaps, you don't really have the appetite that you are use to?
Do you feel as if your training is something you "have to do" because you signed up for the event or something that you "want to do"?
Do you have a lingering injury that just never seems to heal itself?
Over the last 4 weeks, how many times have you given yourself a day to sleep in and wake up without an alarm clock in order to ensure a restful night of rest?

And most importantly...when was the last day you had a PLANNED day off from ALL activity in your training plan? And no, taking an 'unplanned/last minute' day off because you were overly tired and extremely sore...doesn't count.

Based on your answers to these questions, it may be time to think about your training plan (or lack of one) and to consider giving your body more rest in an effort to improve performance.

Hopefully you have digested the information in my last post and you are excited to learn how to integrate recovery in your training plan.

In reference to Matt Dixon's article in LAVA magazine, implementing recovery into your training plan does not mean setting aside a day each week and assuming you are good to go.
Here are a few ways to add "recovery" into your training:
1) Recovery day - a day when you aren't aiming to achieve any cardiovascular fitness gains through hard training. Either a complete day off from exercise or low intensity/short duration activity. To be truly effective, it is optimal to keep daily life stressors low on this day so work travel doesn't really count as recovery!

2) Recovery workout - A single workout that you perform to facilitate recovery from a previous workout, or prep for an upcoming hard workout. The intensity is very low and the duration is short, although you may include some very short (7-10 sec) surges to stimulate the central nervous system and stay sharp.

3) Recovery blocks - These are multiple days in a row of lower volume and intensity workouts to allow healing and full adaptation. They last 3-7 days and are normally needed every 10-16 days of training. The traditional approach of 3 weeks of hard training followed by 1 full week of recovery does not provide enough recovery and often leads to the last week of hard training begin lower quality and filled with risk of accumulated fatigue and injury.

4) Recovery phases - At least 2-3 times per year you need an extended respite from hard training, consisting of 10-23 days to allow the body to heal, rejuvenate and recover. The typical off-season is an important part, but it is worth building 1-2 phases into the mid-part of your season as well.

Outside of building in specific training recovery workouts and blocks, there are daily habits that will maximize your chances of bouncing back from tough workouts and staying healthy.

1) SLEEP - This is the single most important component of staying health and injury free, in terms of quantity, quality and consistency. There is simply nothing more productive that consistently good sleep.
2) REST FROM ACTIVITY - Limited or no activity is pure recovery and promotes healing. Plain and simple.
3) NUTRITION - Proper amount, quality and timing of nutrition are imperative. Most triathletes under-consume relative to the energy demands of training and many lack sufficient nutrients (veggies and fruit), fat and protein for proper recovery and health maintenance.
4) FUELING - While it is obviously related to your nutrition, fueling has a different goal. Fueling refers to the calories that you take in during and immediately following training. The primary focus during this time is carb intake with some protein and it is critical to replenish glycogen stores, limit additional metabolic stress and facilitate muscle rejuvenation.
5) MISCELLANEOUS - There are several other factors that help in the recovery process but are secondary to the top four. They include compression gear, massage, and warm/cold treatment. While they can certainly aid recovery, they are nearly meaningless without the support of the primary four.

It takes a bold athlete to truly make recovery a priority in training. Within the triathlon community, we are held in the highest regard for our ability to suffer and train harder than anyone else but seldom do we pay the same respect to the smart athlete who is not only willing to push limits in training and racing but also support those efforts with integrated recovery. Programming recovery into your plan is not laziness; its smart. Any one can train hard; the best know how to recover.

I hope you enjoyed this article, written by Matt Dixon. I find it very rewarding to know that I have been doing something over my last season that is finally getting the attention it deserves. I have implemented recovery into the training plans for my athletes and I think they all find it very comforting to know that they are "allowed" to have days off or just "exercise for fun". Of course, I could not have gotten here without Karel who repeatedly told me that I needed to "REST more and train less"!