Essential Sports Nutrition


'Tis the season of Fresh Produce!

According to Karel, I made the best salad "EVER". Pretty exciting, especially coming from my hubby who has tasted many of my salad creations.

In the 2011 May issue of Today's Dietitian, there was an excellent article titled "Fruitful Endeavor: adopting a plant-based diet may offer a bounty of benefits"
By: Sharon Palmer, RD

As you know very well, I am a 17 year vegetarian (lacto-ovo) and a firm believer in plant-based eating. However, as an endurance athlete and lover of exercise and physical activity, I believe that my plant-based diet should be balanced in order to support my energy needs and lifestyle requirements. As my training changes, so does my eating. More specifically, the importance of recovery nutrition increases as the intensity and duration of my workouts increase. But none the less, I always emphasize whole, unprocessed foods on a daily basis in order to provide my body with a plentiful amount of nutrients to support metabolism and bodily processes.

From the article:
Although the term "plant-based diet" has not been officially defined and is often considered to be vegetarian, the DGAC (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) calls the plant-based diet one "that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds." It's a manner of eating that allows animal food sources to give way to more plant food sources. Thus, it might have different meanings to different people. Clinton's (Bill Clinton) plant-based diet geatures primarily legumes, vegetables and fruit. For others, following a plant-based diet might be a more gradual process of including more plant foods and shifting away from the traditional Western diet that is high in meat, fat, saturated fat, and sodium and low in fiber. It's a simple idea that doesn't require complicated instructions to promote good health- people just eat more whole, unprocessed foods that come directly from plants.
The newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlights vegetarian eating patterns, including vegan diets, lacto-ovo vegetarian diets and diets that include small amounts of meat, poultry and seafood. The guidelines state, "In prospective studies of adults, compared to non-vegetarian eating patterns, vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes - lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure. On average, vegetarians consume a lower proportion of calories from fat (particularly saturated fatty acids); fewer overall calories; and more fiber, potassium and vitamin C than do non-vegetarians. Vegetarians generally have a lower body mass index. These characteristics and other lifestyle factors associated with a vegetarian diet may contribute to the positive health outcomes that have been identified among vegetarians."

I hope you enjoy my latest "Fruit-inspired" salad creation!
Fruitful Salad
Purple Onion
Red Vine tomato
Hard boiled egg
Swiss cheese (sliced)
Cottage cheese
Green apple
Dried dates (chopped)
Balsamic dressing


Exercise to eat?

A few posts ago I discussed an article in Nutrition Action (May 2011) titled "Under the Influence". On pg 5 of the article, the topic covered exercise and how exercise can influence what we eat.
I suppose that every individual (athlete or fitness enthusiast) has a love/hate relationship with food when it comes to eating for fuel. Because we all love a great sweat, a post-workout meal either complements the workout (specifically, restores muscle glycogen, encourages tissue repair/re-building, enhances immune system functioning) or the meal is seen as a "reward" thus often bringing on feelings of guilt and shame (specifically, due to improper timing/quantity of food/nutrients thus leading to shifts in hormones either during or after exercise and consequently, lending its way to overeating/overindulging).

I'd like to share the article topic with you as a way to get you thinking about how you view food and whether or not you eat to exercise or you exercise to eat. Which ever way you choose, we should eat to support hard workouts, in order to enhance athletic performance. Regardless if you are training for an Ironman, 5K or you enjoy a brisk walk on a daily basis (walking IS exercise!!!), a body that is forced to exercise/train but is undernourished is nothing more than a beautiful car with no gas to move it from destination to destination.

Think about it. You are not weighed at the finish line of a race/event in order to receive your finisher medal or t-shirt. While weight gains/loss has been shown to positively and negatively affect performance, there is a bigger picture to why you choose to exercise or train. Although weight is just a number, many people believe that a number on a scale defines oneself. Well, let me tell ya... "healthy" is a feeling that is indescribable. Keep that in mind when you are running, biking, and swimming miles around the person that is concerned about a 5 lb weight gain or not being able to eat "carbs" for the next few months. So while you are eating your balanced meal and developing a healthy relationship with food, be sure to tell your weight/food-obsessed friend that you "only" ran 6 miles today because it was an easy day. And then let him/her know that your dog joined you for most of it :)

But of course, always be kind to those who may be struggling with eating for fuel. For food is a sensitive topic and should be discussed with a trained/qualified professional who is experienced in motivational interviewing, counseling and understanding the human body and all that is capable of during exercise.

From Nutrition Action (May 2011, pg 5)
Q. How does exercise influence what we eat?
We found that exercise can have an opposite impact than we might expect.
In one study, we showed people normal ads for washers and dryers and such before a meal, or we showed them exercise ads. If people saw the exercise ads and they were reasonably active exercisers, the ads dramatically decreased how much they ate.
We think the ads bring to mind how much you have to do to work off a certain amount of calories. So it's a pretty dramatic reminder. The ads have much less impact if people aren't exercisers. so if you're a pretty good exerciser, it might be a pretty good idea before dinner to think about your next workout.

Q. Does the Exercise itself matter?
Yes. Every June we have consumer camp for anyone from anywhere in the country who's been involved in one of our studies. At one of these, we said "We're through for the day but dinner isn't ready yet so we're going to take a one-mile walk around Beebe Lake".
The students who set the pace told them that it was either an exercise walk or a scenic walk.
On the exercise walk, the students would say, "We're a quarter way through," or "We're halfway through, keep your heartbeat going, keep it high". On the scenic walk, the students would say, "Here's the stone bridge that was built in 1922," or "Look, there's an island and three kinds of birds live on the island.". And it was an easy walk but the same pace and distance in both cases.
When they got back, they were given dinner, and they ended up eating more calories if they had been on the exercise walk. And most of the increase was from dessert. The exercise group estimated that they had burned more calories, and they ended up eating more calories.
Q. They figured that they deserved a reward?
A. Exactly.

Workout Reward?
Can you afford 580 calories for a Venti White Chocolate Mocha and another 490 for a slice of Banana Walnut Bread after the gym?


Asian Tofu Slaw

I don't mean to toot my own horn but this meal is FABULOUS!! While in Pitt, I did my share of eating out (combined with 9 days on the road for Speed Week the week prior). Inspired by many affordable and costly meals, I could not wait to get home to my little galley kitchen (my kitchen is super small but my creativeness is never limited when it comes to preparing tasty and healthy meals!).

Although I am in need of a trip to the grocery store, I had several of the following items in my freezer. Karel did a quick stop at the store on Monday after he picked me up at the airport so with a little creative thinking, I was able to pull together one of my most-favorite meals that I have prepared to-date!
Hope you enjoy!!

(feel free to use as much/little of the following as you like. You can't go wrong with too many veggies!)

Firm tofu (cubed) - I typically use about 1/4th container per person
Broccoli Slaw Eat Smart (I bought mine at Publix, but you can probably find it in veggie section with pre-chopped/packaged veggies)
Red Onion
Garlic (2 cloves, chopped)
Dry Whole Wheat Spaghetti (or you could use Ramen noodles or your favorite noodle/pasta)
Olive oil
Seasonings - chili powder, paprika, pepper, sea salt (a pinch)
Ginger Soy Sauce (recommend low sodium)

1. Preheat large skillet pan to medium heat. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil.
2. Add all veggies and tofu to skillet and stir (lightly) occasionally.
3. Cook for 10 min (or until veggies begin to soften and turn light brown).
Add soy sauce (I used a few "shakes" of the bottle, probably around 1/2-1 tbsp) seasonings around 5 min (I used about 2-3 tsp of chili powder and paprika), a few dashes of pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
4. Turn off heat when veggies are soft.
5. Take pasta (about a dime size) and crack into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to slaw and give a light toss.
6. Cover and let sit for a few minutes.


Proud Sis

What a fabulous time in Pitt. The weekend went by super fast and I considered staying in Pitt, searching for a job and starting a new life in Pitt. But of course, with year-round beautiful weather in Florida, I decided to pass on the hills and urban city-life and return back to Jacksonville. Also, not sure if my furry best friend would enjoy the winter months...and of course, my life revolves around my lovely chihuahua :)

My brother kept me and my family super busy during our stay in Shadyside. As a fabulous tour-guide, there was very little time to sit and relax. But that's ok, I like to be on my feet and see new sights, get inspired by local eats and of course, enjoy life to the fullest.

While sitting in the Posner Auditorium for the Tepper School of Business commencement, thoughts of my graduate commencement ceremony at Florida Atlantic University came to mind. It seemed like yesterday that I was stressed from so many exams, projects and papers as well as my many thoughts of "I can never do this!". Despite my brother being exceptional smart (ok, I have to brag about his 3.82 GPA at Carnegie Mellon, business school), he is part of the elite 50-finest of Pittsburgh as well as a Big Ten High Bar champion and overall, amazing brother. I am so proud of my brother who will be earning a hefty salary at Ernst and Young (starting in August). Most of all, we are both thankful for our amazing parents who have supported us in all our academic endeavors as well as being our number 1 fans for our sport(s) of choice.

My brother and myself have always been motivated by higher learning, mostly because we love to learn and help others. While we both have different fields, I think we share similarities in that we are both type-A individuals who never give up what we start. We both spent our college years as student-athletes and will always enjoy a healthy dose of exercise as a way to stay healthy and stress-free.

After graduation on Saturday, we all woke up super early to head to downtown Pitt for the Pittsburgh marathon and half marathon. I suppose from the pics, you can guess that this was a rainy race! This was my brothers 3rd half marathon (all being at the same race) and the secret was out that my brother had hopes to beat my PR of 1:32.
Well, I didn't doubt him for a minute as I watched my brother all over the course.
My parents and myself saw my brother at mile 1 and 3 and then I cut the course and headed over to mile 9 to catch up once more before the finish. Slightly ahead of the 3:10 marathon pace group at mile 9, I knew my brother was pushing to beat his older sister.
I also cheered on my friend Kim who had a stellar race after an intense IM training week.

I had a great time cheering and running all over the course. I made it to the finish just in time to see my brother at mile 12 1/2, yelling at him to pick up if he wanted to beat my time.
Well, he sure did cut it close. 1:31 was his finishing time, less than a minute faster than my time. Way to go Aaron!! I guess I have some training to do!

We finished our Sunday with an amazing, over the top, performance of Cirque Du Soleil Totem. If you have the opportunity to see this is amazing! This is my 2nd Cirque show and I am just amazed by the human body. Simply amazing.
This was the tent where the show was performed.

My last out-to-eat meal of the weekend was at Mad Mex mexican restaurant in Shadyside. YUMMMM. A mushroom on top of a bed of lettuce with avocado, corn, chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers (green and red) and cucumbers. Served with a tortilla and cilantro lime and spicy ranch dressing. DELICIOUS..I could have licked the bowl! I can't wait to re-create this salad!