Essential Sports Nutrition


Athlete's Plate

I want to give a big thanks to Jason for 1) creating a wonderful blog with an amazing concept and 2) for giving me the opportunity to post a few of my yummy creations.
Check out his Athlete's plate....perhaps you will feel inspired to plan a healthy daily diet for yourself. All it takes in a little planning for a few weeks and before you know it, you will be listening to your body and knowing exactly what it is (or close to it) that you need to fuel for your workout routine as well as the rest of your life.

Athlete's Plate


Making changes

I can't believe I have only 1 week left in my food service rotation! Wow...time is flying by! When I am finished with this rotation (as well as taking my final) I will ONLY have 1 more rotation to go plus 4 weeks of Staff Relief (I play "dietitian" for my last 4 weeks!!). I am really excited for my clinical rotation (7 weeks long term care and 7 weeks acute care) and all of the information that I will learn. This internship has been extremely time consuming but it will all be worth it. I can't wait til I see the RD behind my name (right next to the MS for my master degree in Exercise Physiology) and I know I will be grateful that I earned those credentials through a lot of hard work and intensive education.

When I was studying for my final today, I came across an interesting page in the food service domain (the material for my final exam helps me prepare for the national Registered Dietitian exam). The topic was on Additives and the functions associated with those additives.

As you know, I am a believer in wholesome and natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals. I don't believe that food is good or bad and certainly there are no off-limit foods. I can't stress this enough because I believe in forming a healthy relationship with food. If you think about it, our society is overwhelmed with food-related topics and food can be a very stressful, emotional and sensitive topic for many people. In the Sumbal household, food is a happy topic and a feel-good topic. As my sweet-tooth hubby would say "chocolate makes me feel good" :)

I don't think the words "never" or "can't" should be associated with food. Certainly, there is a time for everything and a little of everything is a lot better than a lot of one thing. I would never say that you "can never have an oreo or a doughnut" or that you should never have high fructose corn syrup or trans fat. As we all know, we eat for fuel and we eat for heart health. Triathlons, running, or your sport/exercise of choice is a lifestyle and not your life. You must learn to eat in an effort to perform and to gain fitness as well as learn how to maintain weight and reduce risk for disease.

I believe that due to the overwhelming amount of processed food, we (as a society) have forgotten what it feels like to eat and to feel satisfied. People no longer know how to listen to their body when it comes to eating a meal, snack or eating before and after a workout. I think many people have absolutely no idea why they eat, how much they should eat and what they are actually eating. With boxed, frozen and fast-food conveniently located at the end of every road (and in between stop lights) eating is no longer a controlled action. People eat sweets at 9am because there are sweets in the morning office meeting. People gravitate towards sugary snacks in the afternoon because the vending machine is close and healthy options are not available. People eat cereal or hummus and chips for lunch because they are in the pantry. People forget to eat throughout the day yet overeat in the evenings. Considering the number of processed options on the market, I think our society has forgotten how to listen to the body and plan out a daily diet. I guess the idea of planning for fresh foods throughout the day would be silly considering the number of fast, cheap and well-marketed foods, bars, drinks and snacks at a hands-reach.

Because the holidays are quickly approaching and body weight and diets are often popular topics with the media, I ask that you stop worrying about calories, carbs and sugars and to start focusing on the foods that you put in your body. When you build off a plant-based diet (ex. salad w/ chicken and avocado instead of a burger w/ a side salad or veggie stir fry with 1/2 wrap instead of a wrap w/ cheese, meat and a few veggies) you are going to eventually learn what it feels like to not have sweet, salty or fatty cravings. You are going to learn what it feels like to feel satisfied and to feel in control of what you put into your body. Nothing happens over night so my best suggestions is to replace don't eliminate. Try to keep the meals and snacks balanced with a variety of foods (from all or most food groups) so that you can focus on what your body needs and not what you think it needs.
My second suggestion to learning how to listen to your body and to find out what it needs, is to journal your foods w/ comments. Looking back at a food journal and when you feel hungry, moody, tired, stuffed, satisfied, etc. can be a powerful thing in making changes. Eating a 200 calorie breakfast with no snacks throughout the day and then feeling "bad" when you crave sweets in the evening is a perfect sample of a diet that can be changed. Certainly, having 100 calories of dark chocolate in in the evening is not a reason to feel like a failure and you don't need to rid yourself of this habit. However, if you feel extremely hungry by mid afternoon or at lunch time, my suggestion is to work on breakfast. If you find yourself ravenous after a morning workout, my suggestion is to focus on what you are consuming before, during or after the workout. Typically, what you eat immediately after a workout (rather than not eating because you "just burned calories") can set you up for a controlled day of eating with few to no cravings (not to mention a body that will quickly repair and get stronger after the workout). And lastly, always look forward to 1 thing if you are struggling with incorporating new foods into your diet. For example, if you don't like veggies, try topping your veggies with your favorite marinara sauce or salsa. If you don't like fruit, try having your favorite yogurt or cereal with the fruit. If you don't like certain whole grains pastas/rice (ex. quinoa, couscous, pasta, etc.), prepare your favorite protein and combine it with a serving of whole grains. If you love chips, make a hearty salad and top with a few crumbled chips or crackers. Eventually, you will find yourself looking forward to the plant-based part of the meal and slowing finding yourself breaking old habits or dietary choices.

So I leave you with another Scam article from Nutrition Action.....

Where's the Veggies

"Every 8 fl oz of Mott's Medleys has 2 total fruit and veggie servings, the powerful antioxidant Vitamins C and E and the bone mineral magnesium," says the bottle of Mott's Medleys Tropical Flavored fruit and carrot blend.
How does Mott's squeeze two servings of fruits and vegetables into one 8 oz cup? Simple. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid food guide says that a serving of juice is just half a cup. So an 8 oz. of any juice is 2 servings. Voila!
But Mott's manages to squeeze a serving of veggies in there, too, right? Not exactly. "Two total fruit and veggies servings" sounds like one fruit and one vegetables. But Mott's doesn't promise a full serving of veggies. And it doesn't deliver one, either.
Each glass has just 6% of a day's vitamin A. If the glass were half carrot juice, it would have 450 percent. So Mott's is selling mostly water plus nutrient-poor apple and grape juice fortified with vitamins C and E and magnesium.
"Tastes just like the fruit juice your family loves!" promised the label. That's because it is fruit juice.
Ocean Spray Fruit and Veggie 100% juice, with "2 servings of fruits and vegetables" combined, also has more grape and apple than carrot or other juices. Judging by its vitamin A content, an 8 oz. glass has at best, 1 oz (2 Tbs) of carrot juice.
Bottom line: You're better off eating fruits and vegetables than drinking them.


Colorful dinner - Creations

Recently Karel and I purchased Road ID's. I got a pink one and Karel got a yellow one. Not sure why it took me so long to get a new Road ID w/ recent info but I highly recommend getting one. Since both Karel and I often train alone, it is really important that we both have some type of ID on our body in the case of an emergency. There are no guarantee's in life and I know that we both bargain with life every time we ride our bikes around Jacksonville.
There is a discount right now (what a bummer that we ordered ours a week ago!) for 15% off! I recommend taking advantage of it! This would be a perfect gift for a friend, training partner/teammate, loved one or for yourself. A big THANKS to my mom and dad for purchasing one for both Karel and for myself!! They know how much we love training but you can never be too careful.

Road ID 15% Discount

When I was at my parents for a little R and R, I made some super yummy meals. It doesn't hurt that the parents have a membership to Sam's Retail Warehouse Club and always seem to buy the most beautiful fruits throughout the year. When I travel, I typically don't gravitate towards salads because traveling doesn't happen a lot and when it does, I like to deviate from my normal eating routine (which includes lots of heart-healthy salads). However, my parents had a lot of colorful fruits and veggies when I was at home so I couldn't help but whip up a few TriMarni creations.

It's been a while since I have made my Carrot Ginger Slaw and with sweet potatoes being super cheap, my mom was looking forward to my creations. My family shares a passion for healthy eating and exercise but as we all know, heart-healthy eating doesn't happen overnight. Having a supportive group of people in your life makes it easy to feel confident in your decision to live life to the fullest.


Milk Scams

In the October 2010 issue of Nutrition Action I couldn't help but quickly turn to page nine. I guess the title "The Latest Scams" caught my eye. You know how passionate I am about wholesome food with little to no ingredients and that we should build our diets off a plant-based foods. I am certainly not against processed foods and I would be a hypocrite if I said I don't buy, have or eat processed food. However, the bulk of my meals are made from foods straight from the earth (or with very little processing). More than anything, I am 100% over food claims and fancy marketing especially when a company tells me that a processed food is a must in my diet for x-reason(s).
Since my last post was on milk, I wanted to share two of several food scams that were featured in the article.

Almond Non-Milk
There's a new milk in your dairy case. And it sounds perfect. Silk Original Pure Almond milk has "60 calories per serving" is "rich in antioxidants" and is "lactose-free and soy free", according to the label.
Silk's Web site gives almonds all the credit. "A serving of almonds provides an excellent source of vitamin E (a natural antioxidant) and a good source of protein and fiber. In fact, almonds are higher in protein and fiber than any other tree nut."
Maybe so, but a 1oz. serving of almonds (about 2 dozen) has 6 grams of protein (and 165 calories). A cup of almond milk has just 1 gram-far less than the 8-9 grams of protein in a cup of cow's milk (or the 6-8 grams in a cup of soy milk). How come?
It turns out that almond milk doesn't have many almonds. Judging by the 2 1/2 grams of fat in every serving, a cup of almond milk is made from about 4 nuts. The "milk" is mostly water and enough evaporated cane juice to supply about 2 tsp of added sugar per cup.
(That's for the Original. The 90-calorie Vanilla has about 4 tsp sugar per cup and the 120-calorie Dark Chocolate has 5 1/2 tsp).
And Original and Vanilla Pure Almond are "rich in antioxidants" only because Silk adds vitamin E to them. The company also tosses in vitamins A and D, potassium and calcium to make them equal to cow's milk.
Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze milks are similar to Silk's, except that the Breezes come in 40-calorie unsweetened versions. Both brands may appeal to vegans (who eat no dairy foods) or to people who are allergic to dairy.
If that's you, here's a tip: Odds are, you're better off with protein-rich soy milk.

Smart Corporate Bank Balance
"Tastes rich and creamy like 2% milk!" boasts the label on Smart Balance Fat Free Milk.
It's got "antioxidant vitamins C & E, 25% more calcium and 25% more protein" says the large print. More than what? "Than whole milk," notes the smaller print.
Gosh, that sounds good. It must sound good enough that some people are wiling to fork over $4.50 for a half gallon, even though ordinary milk is only about $2.50 per half gallon.
Well how does thissound. The extra vitamins C and E don't lower your risk of heart disease or anything else. In fact, in some studies, people who took more than 400 IU a day of vitamin E had a slightly higher risk of dying (Smart Balance Fat Free has 50 IU per cup).
Smart Balance does have extra non-fat milk solids, which gives each 8 oz glass 35% of a day's calcium, marginally more than the 30% in ordinary milk. The extra milk solids also supply 10 grams of protein, slightly more than the 8 grams in most kinds of milk.
But many store brands of fat free or low fat milk also have extra milk solids. And they don't charge an extra $2 per half gallon.
The company that sells Smart Balance is smart, all right. All the way to the bank.

-As an athlete, I couldn't feel more compelled to put the best foods possible in my body. It is a responsibility to me and to my success in the sport of triathlons that I give my body a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to support metabolic processes. Calorie-counting is a thing of the past. Considering that many athletes struggle with weight loss and/or maintenance, despite training for marathons and Ironman's, it is clear to me that an athlete can not just focus on calories in and calories out. For me, I focus on the timing of my nutrition and more importantly, what's in the foods that I am eating. And when I do indulge in something not in my daily diet, you better believe I enjoy every bite of it with no guilt or remorse. With 365 days in a year, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a little treat every now and then.
Regardless of my love for triathlon training (which is my lifestyle, not my life), I eat to fuel my body so that I can live to see another day. I hope to live a quality-filled life and I am pretty confident that I can prevent the risk for disease and illness's through a wholesome and balanced diet. I know I can't prevent everything but I hope I am reducing my risk. In my diet, no foods are off-limits. However, as an athlete, I like to emphasize and de-emphasize certain foods and time my nutrition with my training. Therefore, I make the most out of every workout....and every eating opportunity.



As a vegetarian endurance athlete, I am always searching for ways of bumping up my protein. I feel really comfortable with my choices of protein in my diet and depending on the day, I'd say that all 3 of my main meals have some type of vegetarian protein, high in amino acids.
I am a big fan of milk. Right now, Karel and I consume a gallon of skim milk every 6-7 days. We both drink at least a cup a day and some days being more depending on the workout for the day (high intensity workouts call for milk or whey protein to quickly repair damaged tissues) or if milk is in the meal (ex. mashed potatoes, eggs, french toast, oatmeal, smoothie, etc.). I would prefer to buy organic milk so whenever there is a deal at the grocery store (I like to shop around) I will buy organic milk instead of skim milk. I do believe that organic milk is a better choice (in terms of nutrition) than skim milk but for the time being, I regularly buy skim milk because it fits into our budget.
Aside from the protein, one thing I love about milk is the calcium content. With 1, 8-ounce cup of milk containing around 30% of daily calcium (in a 2000 calorie diet), there is no reason for athletes to not consume milk. As the cheapest, quickest and most reliable recovery drinks, plain milk (not chocolate with loads of added sugar) is a perfect choice post-workout. Although milk is only 20% whey (80% casein, which is a slow digesting protein also found in cottage cheese), it is a great source of protein and carbs (lactose) to aid in tissue repair. If the workout is high intensity or over 2 hours, I do suggest whey protein powder as your choice of recovery drink, combined with a healthy source of carbs (to increase amino acid absorption into the bloodstream) due to the high amino acid leucine content (higher than in milk) that stimulates protein synthesis.

In the past year or so, there has been a lot of hype about almond milk. For some reason, individuals (and athletes) just love almond milk as an alternative to skim or soy milk. Almond milk contains a bit more carbs and sugar compared to skim milk because almond milk adds sugar (cane juice) to the product. And by the way, the first ingredient in almond milk is not's filtered water and then evaporated cane juice. Compared to 16g of carbs and 15g of sugar in almond milk, skim milk contains 12g carbs and 11grams sugar because milk is a sugar (hence the -ose behind lactose)....a natural sugar. Almond milk is fortified so it does contain 30% calcium in an 8 ounce cup (similar to skim milk) but you only get 1g of protein in almond milk (compared to 6-8g in skim or soy milk).

Calcium is a must in the diet of athletes because it helps with bone strength and muscle contractions. When I work with athletes (men and women) who struggle with cramping, I rarely blame sodium as the culprit. Typically, I find that cramping is due to not properly fueling during training/racing (ex. not prioritizing liquid calories or taking in too many calories), overworking the muscles (not allowing time for relaxation either due lack of proper training, pushing harder than you trained to push, weather, or terrain) or not enough calcium in the diet. As the most abundant, essential mineral in the human body Calcium is needed to form bones and teeth and is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells, and muscle contraction. So in addition to eating sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables, cottage cheese, yogurt and tofu, I strongly encourage everyone to pick up your favorite wholesome milk (less ingredients the better) and to aim for at least 1 cup a day of milk. If you workout , 8 ounces right after your workout is a great way to help with muscle repair.

If you are concerned about 20-30 extra calories in a regular version of organic or soy milk, make your own "light" milk so that you can bypass the extra ingredients in a processed "light" version. My suggestion, take 6 ounces regular milk (organic or soy) and add 2-4 ounces of water for a "light" option without the unnecessary added ingredients.

If you are concerned about your calcium intake, check out the foods in your house and in the grocery store for calcium....on the bottom of the food label you will see the percentages for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. This percentage is per serving and based on a 2000 calorie diet. Keep this in mind so that if you only use a dollop of yogurt or a splash of milk you are only receiving a minor amount of calcium. In my opinion, I'd rather enjoy the "real" foods that make up the majority of my diet and not worry about calories in those foods. Then when I do enjoy the processed foods on occasion, I likewise don't have to worry about calories because they only make up a minor part of my diet. With a wholesome and plant-based diet, it always seems like a win-win situation when it comes to food for fuel.


Life on Wheels

With 7 more interning days left in my food service rotation, I was in need of a little break. The next 2 weeks will be really time-consuming so it was best that I got away to tackle my to-do's. Thankfully, my parents are less than 4 hours away and for me, that is a jump and skip away...or a 200 mile bike ride :)

Karel and I always enjoy time at my parents. We love our friends in the Tampa bay area and if it weren't for the Gearlink cycling team, Karel and I would not have met. They really are family.

I couldn't wait to watch the 70.3 World Championships. The turn around on the bike was just 7 miles from my parents house. I have only missed 1 world championships as a spectator so it is kinda tradition that I watch the race for the last year in Clearwater.

Karel decided to ride with the Gearlink group on sat morning so me and my road bike made our way down to Clearwater while watching the pro's on the bike course. How cool!!! Despite racing in plenty of Ironman and 70.3 races, I have never been so close to a professional triathlete...while on my bike. In no other sport can you be so close to professionals while you are racing. I just can't explain how much I love being able to call myself a triathlete.

After 30 miles, I made my way to the Clearwater Causeway to do a little more spectating. I met up with one of my athletes (Gary) who always makes me smile. His determination and excitement for triathlons is really contagious and I can't get over how strong he is as a 60+ year old athlete. What an inspiration and it's been a fun ride as his coach for the past few years. Who would think that a person over the age of 60 could be racing faster, stronger and more efficient than in his early 50's? Not to mention consistently winning his age group.

After cheering on the pro men and women, I made my way back to my parents house. Rather than heading back on the race course, I took my favorite roads through Clearwater, Dunedin (where Karel and I moved in together) and Tarpon Springs. So many wonderful memories were rushed into my head and despite the wind being super strong, I just didn't want to get off my bike. So many thoughts of not being able to ride with groups because I was unable to draft or keep up. So many thoughts of running on the Pinellas trail while training for my first ever Ironman Distance triathlon (IMFL). The sights and smells reminded me how much I just love living life and how important it is for us all to give a little time, every morning, to relieve some stress and keep the body healthy and strong. 66 miles later, I was home.

Later in the evening we attended the Gearlink cycling party. Once again, we felt like it was just yesterday since our wedding. With a selection of fabulous catered food, it was great to catch up with everyone. There is no group like the Gearlink team and we are so happy to have so many wonderful people in our life. It's kinda funny because there are so many stories about Karel and myself from when we both started riding with the Gearlinkers (Karel started riding with them about a year or so before I attempted to hang on during warm-up, during the group rides). I guess they have enjoyed seeing us progress from boyfriend and girlfriend to engaged couple to married couple....with a dog.

Sunday morning Karel and I made our way to San Antonio/Dade City for some hill riding. Although 40 minutes away from my parents, there is no better riding in Florida than in the hills of San Antonio. My good friend Jennifer joined me as Karel took us on a 61 mile ride with a few new roads and some beautiful sights. Thinking back to the times when I couldn't keep up with Karel for an easy ride, I could help but push a bit harder than normal in an effort to not let Karel drop me during our ride. Jennifer and I stayed on his wheel for all of the ride (well, a few climbs Karel made it look super easy as our legs screamed for a break) and it was a really challenging morning. I told Karel that the lactate was just spilling in my legs and that it wasn't any getting easier to ride in the hills. His answer "it never gets easier".

What a great weekend. I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the next 2 weeks because I am on the home stretch for this rotation. It's not that the rotation itself is difficult but there is a lot to soak in for an 11-week rotation. Finding balance with exercise and school and well, the rest of life is tough but I know I am a better person because I reward my body with good food and a healthy dose of exercise as often as I can.