Essential Sports Nutrition


Hello from Pitt!

After 3 days of unpacking, cleaning and catching up on emails, I re-packed and got on a plane to head up to Pittsburgh, PA to spend some time with my brother, checking out the Pitt area. Already, I love it here and suprisingly, I could see myself living here. Who would have thought???
Today is a very exciting day for my family (who is here with me) because we get to celebrate the graduation of my exceptionally smart and talented brother.
On Thurs evening my brother had plans for us to go to the Pirates baseball game but we ended up having a delicious dinner near the stadium due to a rained-out game.
My veggie wrap with sweet potato fries was delicious!
It has been great to catch up with my brother who I have yet to visit in Pitt since moving here in 2007.
My brother will be running the Pittsburgh half marathon on Sunday (likely in a post-celebration state of my mind) and should do quite well. As a Big Ten High Bar Champion - turned recreational runner, my brother is hoping to break his PR of 1:35 (I think secretely wanting to break my PR of 1:32, gotta love simbling rivalry).
Yesterday I had a fantastic workout at Urban Active
and had a hard time leaving the facility after my workout. I absolutely LOVE it here and want to move ASAP!! I love the feel of the city, the urban-feel and of course, the amazing gym facility. My elliptical + run + strength + swim was a breeze and I am super pumped to go again today. Since I won't be running on Sun (in order to cheer on my brother and all the other fabulous runners) I will be running along the course on sun and passing on the indoor treadmill. The half and full marathon course looks amazing and hope to add it to my list one of these days.

While at the expo for the marathon, I had the honor of meeting Jeff Galloway who is a great minded-individual who invented the run/walk strategy of completing distance events. As you may know, I am a supporter of the run/walk strategy for training and my athletes have had great success in improving performance as well as reducing risk for injury. I told Mr. Galloway about my experience in run/walk, specifically with training for IMWI (and qualifying for Kona) as well as having a 4-min PR in a half marathon by training and racing run/walk. We chatted for a while and I thanked him for providing athletes with a great philosophy which encourages a love for running all while reducing risk for injury and burnout.

Well, today is the big day. My brother will be graduating from Carnegie Mellon with his MBA. I am super proud of him as he finishes this journey in his life. After 4-exciting years at University of Michigan as an all-around gymnast (on a full-ride scholarship), graduating with a business degree, to then working for PPG and going to school part-time, to taking an internship in Missouri, to then quitting PPG and going to school full-time, I couldn't be more excited for him as he will be part of the Ernst & Young team in August. Congrats AARON on all your achievements!


Under the Influence

I couldn't WAIT to share this great article with you, my blog readers. Over the course of 2000+ miles of driving, I had the opportunity to brush up on my many nutrition magazines and journals. I threw in a few triathlon and running magazines but neglected to bring my RD exam study materials. I suppose I needed a break from the serious learning just for a bit. But now it's time to hit the books as I am currently interviewing for clinical dietitian jobs and hoping to take the RD exam before July.

In the May 2011 issue of Nutrition Action the cover story was titled "Under the Influence - how external cues make us overeat".
I found this article very interesting, specifically as it pertains to athletes. I find that athletes tend to "excuse" unhealthy eating after hard or intense workouts. While an athlete has every right to consume a different quantity of food than his/her sedentary counterpart, I believe that we should all choose similar food choices, but in different portions.
For example, when it comes to Karel and myself (say, over this past week) we ate almost every dinner together. Whereas Karel would have two portions of pasta and several slices of bread, I would help myself to more salad and tofu but still enjoy a Marni-size portion of pasta. I don't believe in "off limit" food when it comes to couples (or families) eating together. By focusing on your daily lifestyle and activity routine you should find yourself feeling in control of your food choices. By planning ahead and thinking of your individual needs, you should find yourself planning your meals and snacks to support your energy needs and not fearing food which is used for fuel. Also, by planning ahead you should also find yourself controlling your food intake so that you don't go into meals starving (which is often the cause of overeating and "excusing" foods which may limit performance). Ultimately, when an athlete plans ahead and focuses on his/her individual dietary needs on a daily basis, a healthy relationship with food is formed and an occasional treat or indulgence does not sacrifice weight or performance goals. For when an athlete eats for fuel, performance gains are most noticeable as well as an improvement in health and immune system functioning.

Pg 3 of the article:
Q. Why do people overeat?
A. we should be pretty well calibrated to know how much to eat to fill us up. We eat three times a day every day of our lives. Yet when we asked people, "when was the last time you ate to the point of regretting it?" almost everyone could think of a time. Then we asked, "why did you eat so much?"
What we found is that roughly 12 percent said, "I overeat because of something emotional," or "I had a terrible day," or "I was feeling down," or "I was bored." About 51% said they overate because they were really hungry, and 37 percent said they overate because the food was spectacular.
So we asked ourselves what happens if the person is not hungry and the food is terrible. That led to our stale popcorn study.

We gave people popcorn that was either fresh or five days old. The stale popcorn had been kept in a humidity-controlled entomology lab. On a scale of 1-10, people rated the taste a 3. It tasted like Styrofoam.

Q. And you gave moviegoers either medium or large bags?
A. Yes. And we gave them to people who had eaten dinner within 20 minutes of arriving at the theater. So we gave them bad food when they weren't hungry, and people ate 34% more from the bigger bucket. If the popcorn was fresh, they ate 45% more from the larger bags. When people left, we said, "Gee, you ate 34% more. Do you think the size of the bucket had anything to do with it?" And to a person they said, "No, how could it?"

What is extremely amazing about this study is that it is easy to eat for no reason or to feel no control when eating. I find that many athletes are hungry, often bypass the feeling of hunger in order to encourage weight loss and forgo necessary snacks which will help maintain blood sugar levels and boost metabolism and tissue rejuvination. This situation often leads athletes to be underfueled prior to workouts even though there may be adequate muscle glycogen, low blood sugar levels often lead to a feeling of fatigue and extreme hunger during workouts which ultimately sabotage the workout. Thus, this leads to an athlete "trying to get through" a workout, feeling extremely hungry after the workout and then giving the "ok" to eat a lot of whatever they are craving...thus missing a vital opportunity to refuel.

Starting tomorrow, try planning out your day by focusing on your workouts. Plan pre, post and possibly during training fuels (if more than an hour, I recommend training with a maltodextrin sport drink, at least 100 calories) first. Then workout around the workouts so that you plan your three meals during the day. Then, fill in snacks. To make sure you aren't missing vital nutrients, use snacks as an opportunity to add in fruits and veggies which may be hard to consume at meals.



On our last evening in North Carolina, I created a yummy pasta dinner for Karel and his teammate, as well as for myself and my good friend Christi. All for $32 at Harris Teeter (including a case of Yuengling for Karel). One of the great things of having a kitchen when traveling is being able to prepare your own meals. Knowing that a meal for two at a restaurant would cost a lot more than what I spent for dinner for four (including LOTS of leftovers), I find it comforting knowing exactly what I am putting in my body and when it will be served. No waiting for food, no concerns of how the meal was prepared and no waiting for the final check.
Since Karel and myself travel a lot for races, I have become very familiar with eating on the road as well as making sure we are both well-fueled before races.
If you are like me and like a little control when it comes to fueling your body before a race, I suggest finding hotels such as Extended Stay which come with a full kitchen (except an oven). If you are staying in a hotel for a race, I suggest passing on the host hotel and the nice amenities like fluffy pillows, a coffee maker and a down comforter. Although the hotel may be close to the race venue, the price of an expensive host hotel typically doesn't include a microwave (for heating your pre-race oatmeal), a refrigerator (for keeping your food and drinks cool), free internet and free parking.
At some race venues you can find a condo which would be great, but for most races, I would call ahead and request a microwave and/or refrigerator just to put you at ease when it comes to preparing your pre race meal(s). Of course, you can be really creative and heat water in the coffee maker but just don't forget a spoon and bowel for your oatmeal.
Whenever my athletes have an upcoming race (at a new distance), I find it very helpful to send them a pre-race nutrition guide with my suggestions of how to fuel before a race. Many athletes believe that race day nutrition must be perfect in order to reach the finish line but in fact, proper race day nutrition depends on what you do on the days leading up to a race.

I hope you enjoy my latest carb-load creation. Pasta, marinara sauce, asparagus w/ garlic butter, steamed broccoli, sauteed tofu, fresh bread with poppy seeds and sesame seeds and angus beef meatballs for the meat-eaters.

Campy and his best buddy Milo really enjoyed the leftovers at the pasta dinner.


Diner-style dinner

Home at last!! I have several pics and updates from the past 9 days and 2000+ miles of traveling which I will be posting in the next day or two. Just catching up on emails, coaching/nutrition work and getting back to a normal schedule. But I have to say, what a fantastic time to spend with my wonderful husband and cute-cuddly, furry BFF.
I also received news today that my information is currently within the hands of the CDR (commission on dietetic registration) and I should be receiving my application handbook within 7 business days. YAHOO!!! I can't believe that last week I was stressing over my final exam and now I am eligible for the RD exam!!

Before we left on Fri morning, I made a fabulous dinner of leftovers in my kitchen. Knowing that we would be away for over a week, I wanted to make use of all food in my place.

I really didn't have a concept when starting dinner on Thurs evening but one thing lead to another and a fabulous Marni-creation was created. With a bag of fresh veggies (bought from Publix, which I then steamed), a few eggs, skim milk, shredded cheese, corn, tomatoes, greek yogurt, two potatoes and garlic, I made the best-tasting that reminded me eating in a diner. However, this meal was cooked at home and I didn't have to wait for my food or the check. Enjoy!!

For the potatoes, slice thinly and toss in olive oil and paprika. Bake for 25-30 min on a baking pan (lined with tinfoil) at 450 degrees, or until golden brown.