Essential Sports Nutrition


Twilight Fun

This morning I woke up without an alarm (long awaited!) and went for a beautiful bike ride around Athens and ended with a relaxing walk with Campy. I must say that our little furry one just loves traveling and seeing new places. He has no shortage of energy likely due to me carrying him around with large crowds to prevent him from barking at every fast-moving object and dog that he sees. And believe me, there are MANY fast moving objects here in Athens with a gazzilion bikes between college students and cyclists.
Karel warmed up this morning and watched the Master 35+ race and we had lunch at our favorite Taco restaurant in downtown Athens. I just LOVE the tofu burrito and nothing beats a local restaurant. Last night we had Italian and I enjoyed my artichoke and mushroom pizza while Karel enjoyed his angel hair pasta with chicken (and some of my pizza). Thank goodness for outdoor seating because what's a trip without Campy joining us for every meal and activity.

Now the waiting begins until the BIG race tonight at 8:45pm (although, they never start on time). 2 hours of craziness filled with speed, adrenaline and crashes. Sadly, the corners are tight and with 150 riders fighting to stay on a wheel, the "hot" corners are not where I like to watch.

I think this is the link for LIVE action:

*Good luck all St. Anthony athletes and anyone else racing this weekend (St. Croix, Fl state cycling race)


Best Feeling of my LIFE!

Since 3pm on Thurs April 24th, my life changed and a HUGE weight was lifted off my back, head, shoulders, legs and body. After an incredible amount of time, dedication, hard work, sacrifice and tears, I finished the last part of my internship by receiving a passing grade on my 2-hour cummulative final (which counted for 90% of my final grade, not to mention that a B- was needed in order to pass the internship!!). After completing the pre-reqs and accredited classes for my dietetic verification statement, applying and getting into a very competitive internship and completing dozens of objectives for my 3 binders for 3 seperate rotations, passing 3 final exams, taking LOTS of quizzes and participating in 1200 min interning hours, I am now eligible for the RD exam!!! However, it isn't 100% until I see my certificate that I completed the internship but as of now, my director at Marywood University is in the process of gaterhing my paperwork to send to the CDR (Commission on Dietetic Registration) which will take a few weeks until I receive my statement of verification from the CDR telling me that I can register for the RD exam at a testing center.

In order to celebrate this amazing accomplishment, I am joining Karel for Speed Week as he participates in 8 races in 10 days. This is my favorite time of the year as I become a cycling groupie (with Campy) and surround myself with die-hard professional cyclists in GA, South Carolina and North Carolina. We will be traveling until next Sun and visiting lots of towns for lots of exciting races. Tomorrow is the BIG race of the week which is the Athens Twilight Criterium. With a invite-only registration protocol, 150 cyclists will be racing at max for 90 min on a 1K course in downtown Athens....oh yeah, at 8:45pm!!!

Right now Karel is warming up in the hotel room on the trainer and building up a little lactic acid for his 3:45pm Computrainer heat. The Computrainer finals provide each rider with a number based on ranking (they ride 3K of the Athens Twilight course on the trainer) which will be used for the corrals tomorrow night.

Campy and I are looking forward to exploring Athens and what a great way to relieve the stress that I have carried with me for the past 3 years. YIPPE!!!

Doesn't this look exciting????

(The end of this video is the Grid Qualifier finals)


Tried Whey lately?

As you know, I just LOVE my recovery protein....WHEY!!! Depending on the day, my workout and upcoming meals, I often go for a big glass of skim milk post workout. However, for long workouts and days when I need a boost in protein, WHEY is just a scoop away.
Here is a great link to answer all your questions about WHEY in your active and healthy diet.

Here's an email I received from SCAN (SPORTS CARDIOVASCULAR and WELLNESS NUTRITION)and wanted to share it with you:

As a health professional, you understand the importance of including high-­quality protein in a healthy diet to help the body function properly.1,2,3 While most Americans meet the Institute of Medicine’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein—0.8g/kg of body weight/day—sub-­populations, such as active adults and the elderly, may benefit from higher protein diets.4,5 Despite common beliefs that most Americans over consume protein, on average, Americans’ protein consumption hovers at the lower end of the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR), which is between 10% and 35% of total daily calories for adults 19 years and older.6 In fact, data indicate the average protein intake for men and women is 16% of calories.6

A growing body of science supports the benefits of consuming a higher protein diet - especially for managing weight and recovering after exercise. Whey protein is a complete, high-­quality protein that is naturally found in dairy.

* Consuming whey protein may help:
o Promote muscle repair and recovery after exercise;7,8 and
o Build more lean muscle, when combined with regular resistance exercise, compared to resistance training alone or resistance training combined with carbohydrate consumption. 9,10
* Consuming whey protein, as part of a diet higher in protein, can help people:
o Feel fuller longer than carbohydrates or fats;11,12,13 and
o Lose more fat and/or maintain more lean muscle, as part of a reduced-calorie diet.14,15

1. IOC. International Olympic Committee Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition, 2010. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2011.
2. Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, et al. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1-­8.
3. Paddon-­Jones D and Rasmussen BB. Review : Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Cur Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009;12:86-­90.
4. Kim J-­S, Wilson JM and Lee S-­R. Review: Dietary implications on mechanisms of sarcopenia: roles of protein, amino acids and antioxidants. J Nutr Biochem. 2010;21(1):1-­13.
5. Gaffney-­Stomberg E, Insogna KL, Rodriguez NR, et al. Increasing dietary protein requir ements in elderly people for optimal muscle and bone health. J Am Geriatrics Soc. 2009;57(6):1073-­9.
6. Wright JD, Wang C-­Y. Trends in intake of energy and macronutrients in adults from 1999-­2000 through 2007-­2008. Available at Accessed April 6, 2011.
7. Howarth KR, Moreau NA, Phillips SM, et al. Coingestion of protein with carbohydrate during recovery from endurance exercise stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009;106:1394-­1402.
8. Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida BW, et al. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol. 2009;107:987-­992.
9. Tang JE, Manolakos JJ, Kujbida GW, et al. Minimal whey protein with carbohydrate stimulates muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise in trained young men. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007;32:1132-­8.
10. Hulmi JJ, Kovanen V, Selanne H, et al. Review: Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: a case for whey protein. Nutr Metab. 2010;7(1):51.
11. Beasley JM, Ange BA, Anderson CAM, et al. Associations between macronutrient intake and self-­reported appetite and fasting levels of appetite hormones: results from the optimal macronutrient intake trial to prevent heart disease. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;169(7):893-­900.
12. Leidy HJ and Racki EM. The addition of a protein-­rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in 'breakfast-­skipping' adolescents. Int J Obes. 2010;34:1125-­1133.
13. Smeets AJ, Soenen S, Luscombe-­Marsh ND, et al. Energy expenditure, satiety, and plasma ghrelin, glucagon-­like peptide 1, and peptide tyrosine-­tyrosine concentrations following a single high-­protein lunch. J Nutr. 2008;138(4):698-­702.
14. Krieger JW, Sitren HS, Daniels MJ, et al. Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-­regression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83:260-­74.
15. Westerterp-­Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tome D, et al. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:21-­41.


Sweet spinach wrap and cooked cabbage

There are no off-limit foods in my place. I don't like the word "bad" when it comes to food. When it comes to other words I like to avoid in my vocabulary, skinny and fat also come to mind. I like positive words like lean or healthy, as well as foods that I like to emphasize and de-emphasize.

I saw a deal for 2 for 1 Flat Out wraps at Publix and those wraps have been sitting in my freezer for some time now. I wondered if the Light Garden Spinach wrap was packed with food colorings (as are most "brightly" colored foods/candies) but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't see a host of food dyes in the ingredients. Also, with 9 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber, at 90 calories, this may be a great option for individuals who love simple carbs but don't quite get enough protein and fiber in the diet.

Although I de-emphasize foods with more than 5-ish ingredients when shopping, I didn't see anything wrong with packing a processed wrap with lots of wonderfully nutritious foods.

I hope you enjoy my latest creations!!

Sweet spinach wrap and cooked cabbage

Chopped cabbage (about 1 - 1 1/2 cup per person, uncooked)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic (chopped)
3-4 tbsp water

-Cook cabbage in olive oil and chopped garlic in large pot on low-medium heat. Stir occasionally. When cabbage begins to stick to bottom, add a little water and stir. You will smell the sweetness when it is about 5 min away from being finished. The cabbage will begin to soften around 8-10 min.

1 Flat out wrap
1/3 cup firm tofu (cubed), per person
Red onion (sliced)
Green pepper (chopped)
Tomato slices
Greek yogurt
Plum (chopped)
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1. Cook onion, tofu and green pepper in olive oil on medium heat (on skillet). Season with pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
2. Warm wrap for 15 sec, spread with greek yogurt. Optional: shredded cheese on yogurt.
3. Place spinach and tomato slices on greek yogurt. Top with cooked veggie mixture.
4. Roll wrap and hold with toothpicks.


Cauliflower Casserole = Success!!

I was worried about my latest Marni creation. As a person who has not yet learned to appreciate the value of cauliflower in my diet, I was a bit nervous when I cut up an entire cauliflower for our dinner last night...and did not consider option B for dinner. However, as I was putting the ingredients together in my head, I had a feeling that this recipe would turn out better than expected. As the creation came together, I quickly realized that this meal had so many of my favorite foods that I probably wouldn't even notice the taste of the cauliflower. And I was right!!

So what's so special about this cruciferous white vegetable?
Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and K which is great for wound healing/collagen repair and blood clotting, respectively. It is also a good source of potassium, fiber, phosphorus and B vitamins and acts as a wonderful antioxidant which helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells. It is also a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), which can also aid as an anti-inflammatory. Cauliflower also contains fiber to keep your GI system healthy. Of course, with cooking we will loose some of these vital nutrients but in my opinion, eating your fruits and veggies in their natural form (cooked or raw) is better than not eating them at all.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation. I promise, it is YUMMY!!!

Cauliflower Casserole
1 stalk Cauliflower (cut off the stems and cut into smaller pieces)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion (sliced)
1 medium green pepper (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 vine tomato (larger, chopped)
3 eggs + splash of milk
~ 1/4 cup marinara sauce
Shredded cheese
Spices: pepper, paprika, curry powder.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Oven Cooking time: 30 min.

1. Steam cauliflower in large pot w/ a little water on med heat (cover to speed cooking time) for about 5-8 min.
2. When you can easily smash cauliflower with wooden spatula, turn heat to low and add olive oil, garlic and onions (water should be gone, if not, drain water from pot prior to adding olive oil, garlic and onions).
3. Give a few tosses and add curry powder. Cauliflower should be smashed and chunky.
4. Turn off heat, add tomatoes and green pepper and combine.
5. In a non-stick glass square casserole dish (sprayed with non stick spray, especially around edges), add cauliflower mixture.
6. Scramble eggs with milk and add marinara sauce, pepper and paprika to egg mixture. Combine well.
7. Slowly pour egg mixture over cauliflower mixture until evenly covered.
8. Bake for 25-30 min or until top is firm and golden brown around the edges.
9. Turn off heat and sprinkle with cheese and place casserole back in oven until cheese is melted (a few minutes).


Anti-inflammatory drugs

I wish you could smell the yummy-ness in my kitchen right now. I have a cauliflower casserole cooking away and I hope it tastes as good as it smells. I will be posting the recipe and final product tomorrow..pending the results of my last Marni creation.

I read a great article in the May 2011 issue of Consumer Reports of Health, pg 8 and 9. The article was titled Choosing and using pain relievers and discussed the popularity of anti-inflammatory drugs as well as the risks. I am sure that no athlete is immune to the benefits of ibuprofen and Aleve. I know for myself I had a few ibuprofen with me during my first IM. Not knowing what "it" would feel like to participate in an IM, I forgot to take the ibuprofen and learned (after 3 more Ironman's) that no pain reliever is going to alleviate pain during an IM hurts no matter what and taking pain relievers are not practical solutions to reducing inflammation and soreness during the race. When it comes to anti inflammatories, some athletes have resorted to powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, such as glucoroticoids (prednisone, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone) which strongly inhibit the inflammatory response. However, prolonged glucocorticoid use may have adverse side effects such as immunosuppression, fluid shifts, brain changes, and psychological changes. Not to mention an increase in blood glucose levels (often causing a person to be temporarily diabetic) and may suppression in calcium absorption.
One thing athletes may want to consider when reaching for glucocorticoids for inflammatory purposes (ex. a few weeks prior to a race or in the peak of training for an event) is that they may interfere with the tissue building, anabolic processes. Not to mention a reduction in bone density, weight gain due to increased visceral fat deposition (central obesity), appetite stimulation and immunosuppression.

Now I'm not saying that a person should not take take anti-inflammatories but I think we should be careful when we consider drugs as the immediate cure-all to preventing and reducing risk for injury. Sometimes we need to sit back and look at the bigger picture of training and racing for health, longevity and fitness rather than for an immediate endorphin-boost or because of the feeling of lack of control when it comes to eating for fuel.
Although 2 daily Aleve's were part of my daily routine for the first 10 days of my hip flexor strain, it was important that I focused on the reason behind my injury and not just trying to rush the healing process and not solve the issue behind the problem. I did not attempt to do anything during those first few days which would make my problem worse so I was sure that the Aleve meds were not masking pain so that I could "push through" pain. Whereas I was once a stubborn athlete, I no longer train with pain. I NEVER want to get through a workout but rather, make the most out of my workout.
I believe that it's perfectly acceptable if you want to take an anti-inflammatory every now, especially if you are extremely inflamed or if your problem is disrupting daily functions of life (sleeping, work, family time). But of course, you want to get to the root of your daily problem for wanting/using the pain reliever and then seek out the MANY other ways to reduce inflammation (epson salt baths, compex muscle stimulator, foam roller, stretching, massage, active recovery, good nutrition) which you may find useful on a daily basis. As for reaching for the pills, I don't know what I would do without Tissue Rejuvinator from Hammer as part of my daily build/peak season training routine.

How do NSAIDs work?
(from the article)
They fight pain by targeting one or both of two enzymes COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes are crucial for the production of hormones called prostaglandins that trigger inflammation, which in turn sends pain signals to the brain. At high enough doses, NSAIDs can inhibit inflammation and thus thwart pain.
But blocking COX-1 also leaves the stomach vulnerable to ulcers and bleeding, since the enzyme makes prostaglandins that help protect the lining of the stomach from acid. In fact, 5-10% of NSAID users experience ulcers or bleeding in a given year.
Newer "selective" NSAIDs such as Celebrex (celecoxib) were developed with the aim of reducing gastrintestinal side effects by blocking COX-2 more than COX-1. Celecoxib does appear to cause less stomach discomfort than other NSAIDs, and a few studies of short-term use found it caused fewer serious ulcer complications. But a major study that compared Clebrex with two older NDSAIs -ibuprofen (Advil and generic) and diclofenac (Cataflac and generic) - over a year found that it was no less likely to cause serious ulcer complications. And there's no conclusive evidence that Celebrex carries a lower long term risk of serious stomach problems in general.
What's more blocking COX-2 over time can lead to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, though why this remains unclear. Higher than acceptable rates of those events led to the withdrawal of two COX-2 inhibitors, rofecoxib (Vioxx) and valdecoxib (Bextra) in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

There is no evidence that any NSAID relieves pain more effectively than others at equivalent doses. But some people get more relief from one NSAID than another, so if one doesn't work for you, try another. Based on cost and effectiveness, Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs recommends that people who need a prescription NSAID start with either generic ibuprofen or generic naproxen. They can cost as little as $4 for a month's supply at chain stores like Target and Walmart, and possibly even less per a month if you get a 90-day supply.
With any NSAID, take the lowest dose that brings relief, don't exceed recommended doses (especially if you take it regularly), and don't take it for long periods without consulting a doctor. Stay alert for signs of stomach ulcer: burning stomach pain and bloody, black or tarry stools. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about other medication or supplements you take, since NSAIDs can interact with other treatments.

For your reference:


Getting my vitamin D

What a beautiful weekend. Finally, I was able to enjoy some of it and not feel guilty. Despite having 1 200 question, 2 hour timed final to take before Wed, I made sure I "celebrated" my last day of interning to the fullest.
After 10 weeks of "no running" (my own orders), I finally "tested" out my legs. With my intense glute/hip/hamstring/core strength training program, I found myself without any pain just 5-6 weeks after straining my hip flexors. I suppose I blame myself for not working on my weakness's early in the year (or perhaps, the past 3 years) but I am not perfect and I do not try to be perfect. I believe in learning and becoming smarter as an athlete and this injury was a blessing in disguise. Without running, I was able to maintain my strength and cardio fitness by water jogging, doing the elliptical and riding 2-3 times (at most) a week (low intensity). I absolutely love swimming so luckily, I was able to keep my 2-3 day/week swim routine.
After a pre training breakfast, I drove to the Y and did an active warm-up for about 10 min in order to loosen my hips and body.
Here is a good video I found which provides a few good exercises to warm-up the body before a run.
This is also a great link

10 weeks is a long time not to run and for me, about 5 weeks ago I was beginning to doubt myself that I was ever going to run again. My Rt piriformis has been tight the past few weeks (3-year ongoing problem) even though my Left strained hip flexor has been healing. The thoughts of re-injury have been in my head so that is why I have been super cautious not to even attempt to "test" out my leg until my interning hours were complete. I just had too much stress and I just couldn't face a re-injury during my last few weeks of interning. Stretching is now part of my "training" routine and I stretch 2 times a day (primarily my hips and hamstrings), and whenever I have the opportunity.

My goal on Sat morning was to complete a run/walk workout without pain. If I felt the slightest bit of pain, I would stop. Of course, knowing what is "pain vs. soreness" was in my head and I was wondering if I was going to be able to differentiate between the two. With the advice of my massage therapist (Marjorie Dickinson) and my mom's pilates instructor (who has also been a saving grace in my recovery process), I decided to remove ALL thoughts of past injury and the thought of re-injury and I went into my run with ONLY positive thoughts. The sun was shining and I was feeling confident about the work that I have done to come back from injury stronger than I was before.

I started with 5 min of of walking. As the minutes ticked away, I approached 4:30 and I found that my HR was increasing. I was getting nervous...omg, here I go.....
Without any difficulty, my body knew exactly what to do and the rush of endorphins came over me as I ran for the first time in 10 weeks. A few minutes later, still no pain and it was time to walk again. 5 more min of walking, following by 5 more min of running. Getting my HR with each 5 min run interval showed me that my body was working a little hard with my weight-bearing activity. But that is ok, I welcomed the high HR with a big smile. I decided that 30-45 min would be enough for my first time back to running and because I have been keeping myself in good shape (if not better than before), I wasn't worried about the length of my run/walk.

As soon as I returned to the car I stretched my hips and texted all my close friends. You have NO idea how amazing it felt to run again, unless you have had an injury and can totally understand where I am coming from :)

I went to inside the Y to finish my "run" on the elliptical, strength training for my hips/glutes (I will provide links/exercises in an upcoming blog) and ended my day with a LONG-AWAITED OUTSIDE swim. I have waited ALL season for my Y to open the outdoor pool and you better believe that I was the first one in! Of course, watching the kiddos do a mini-triathlon before I entered the water gave me extra motivation to swim a bit longer than planned.

This morning I had a wonderful 68 mile ride outside and made a point to ride on A1A just to see the ocean. I am pretty confident to say that I AM BACK!! After 10 months of interning, followed by 2 1/2 years of sitting in classes/studying, it feels SO amazing to have a little freedom in my life. Although my life as a future RD is ongoing until I pass the exam, I am really thankful to my mind and body for allowing me to somewhat feel like a triathlete over the past 3 years and still be able to dedicate all my energy to my education.

And a BIG thank you to all my blog readers and friends who have supported me and have encourage me to keep going and not to give up. You have given me words of advice and I am inspired by your emails and stories. Thank you for reading!