Essential Sports Nutrition


Fruit Finds

I'm absolutely loving this Florida weather. I find is super easy to get out the door and train. Most of all...NO more looking at the ceiling while swimming!! I am often reminded of my high school swimming days where it seemed like I lived in the water. I swear I was born to be a fish.
Currently, I look forward to my afternoon/early evening swims every Tues, Thurs and Sunday and it feels so nice on my body and brain, especially after a morning workout and a full day of studying. I also decided to give my car a break this afternoon, so I took my road bike on a short spin as I biked to the Y for my recovery swim late this afternoon. I am all about keeping the body moving and not feeling the need to "train" every time I "work out". Sometimes I just want to run like a kid (without a garmin), swim for time (not yardage) and spin my legs (without a bike computer).

Speaking of summer, I think I am not alone when I mention my love for summer fruit. The colors, flavors and textures of fruit make me smile (and my tummy happy). I just finished off a beautiful Cantaloupe which was a perfect complement to my post workout smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt parfait. Strawberries are beautiful and I have a feeling that the price of blueberries will continue to drop as we approach July (peak season). If I had to pick a favorite fruit, I think blueberries would be at the top of my list, followed by pineapple and strawberries (tied) and then all of the melons and apricots. What's your favorite fruit?

In my latest issue of Nutrition Action June 2011 the article Fruit Finds really caught my eye. I just love the opening paragraph (written by Bonnie Liebman and Jayne Hurley):
The problem with fruit is that it's not forbidden. If fruit were loaded with calories, bad fat or salt, we might feel a more intense longing for the juicy sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the crisp crunch of a just-picked apple. "if I could only have another slice of watermelon," we might sigh. We take fruit for granted. That's partly because no big advertisers have an incentive to plug fresh fruit - except when it's an ingredient in a profitable brand-name item like McDonald's McCafe Real Fruit Smoothies.

For some reason many people fear fruit as if the natural "sugars" will cause weight gain. Too much of anything may encourage a fluctuation in weight but with fruit you receive a wonderful supply of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals and carotenoids.

As you know, I am not a proponent of counting calories but I do believe in being aware of what you are putting in your body. Use the following list as a guideline when preparing balanced meals so that you can consume a little of everything rather than a lot of one thing. You may surprised that a serving or two of a fruit is a lot more filling than the equivalent (in calories) of a processed snack.

(From pg 14 of Nutrition Action)
*Although the serving sizes are listed, it is not evident whether or not the fruit is large, medium or small so if you are interested is a helpful website for portions)
Fruit - Serving size: calories
Watermelon - 2 cups diced: 80 calories
Kiwi - 2: 90 calories
Grapefruit - 1/2: 70 calories
Orange - 1: 70 calories (Did you know that a 131 gram orange has 3 grams of fiber!!)
Cantaloupe - 1/4: 50 calories
Strawberries - 8: 50 calories
Mango - 1/2: 80 calories
Raspberries - 1 1/4 cup: 70 calories
Blackberries - 1 cup: 60 calories
Pineapple - 2 slices or 3/4 cup: 60 calories
Apricots - 4: 70 calories
Grapefruit (white) - 1/2: 50 calories
Pomegranate - 1/2: 120 calories
Apple - 1: 130 calories
Honeydew - 1/2: 50 calories
Banana - 1: 110 calories
Plums - 2: 70 calories
Blueberries - 1 cup: 80 calories
Pear - 1: 100 calories
Cherries - 1 cup: 90 calories
Figs - 2: 100 calories
Nectarine - 1: 60 calories
Peach - 1: 60 calories
Grapes - 3/4 cup: 90 calories
Prunes (dried) - 4: 100 calories
Dates (dried) - 6: 110 calories
Avocado - 1/4: 50 calories
Cranberries - 1/2 cup: 30 calories
Raisins - 1/4 cup: 120 calories
Applesauce, unsweetened - 1/2 cup: 50 calories


Chilled pasta salad

Every experience those salty cravings after an intense or long training session? With the temperature approaching 90 degrees, here in warm Florida, I am often at a loss for words when I see/hear the foods/drinks/concoctions that athletes create when dealing with salt cravings during and after exercise (beef jerky anyone?)

It is natural to crave salt during and after training, especially if you are sweating profusely. Salt cravings may be due to mild (or severe) dehydration but I find that they are often secondary to athletes not adequately replacing lost electrolytes during exercise. From my own experience, I often crave salty foods at the end of a long weekend training session but I find that with the right recovery nutrition, adequate fluids and a little creativity with meals, I am able to subside those cravings all while replacing lost electrolytes.
Because we lose more than just sodium when we sweat, it is important that we don't just reach for table salt during and immediately after exercise as a way to compensate for cramping during exercise or replacing lost sodium post exercise. Table salt is 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride and 1 tsp salt = ~2000 mg sodium (recommendations are less than 2500 mg of sodium/day). Because eating salty foods will only temporarily relieve cravings (often making you feel extra thirsty, which may be confused with hunger..thus causing you to overeat after exercise when you are truely thirsty) it is important to monitor your hydration throughout the day and ensure that you are focusing on liquid calories as your primary source of fuel throughout exercise.
A little about sweating...
A well conditioned athlete will sweat early into exercise as a way to reduce core body temperature. However, as an athlete sweats (regardless of fitness status), sodium is lost and extracellular sodium levels begin to fall (Na has an average concentration of 140 mEq/L. Above 140 would classify hypernatremia or a sign of dehydration whereas less than 140 would show signs of overhydration or hyponatremia)
As sodium levels fall, the body will increase the level of aldosterone (hormone that is controlled by kidney function) in order to slow sodium loss. However, as exercise continues and sodium is lost at a rate beyond repletion, blood pressure will begin to fall. The body will then produce the hormone vasopressin to help maintain blood pressure. But as exercise/racing continues, with more water and electrolyte losses (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, sulfate) performance may begin to suffer and the body may begin to experience fatigue, GI upset (often due to the athlete trying to postpone feelings of fatigue with added nutrition which is not being absorbed) and cramping (although, I believe that much of cramping is due to pushing at an untrained level, not necessarily due to sodium loss). Depending on whether or not you can tolerate food/drink when you are losing electrolytes and sodium in the blood, your body will gradully move water from the blood and into the spaces around the cells of the body, often bringing on swelling/edema.

Certainly, it's hard for an athlete to ignore salt cravings, especially if you are practicing and working on your race day nutrition, during training. Therefore, athlete or fitness enthusiast, it may be necessary to supplement with a sport drink (non-high fructose corn syrup drink) during all intense training sessions in order to provide your body with necessary electrolytes while minimizing fatigue and tissue breakdown.

For when you are finished with training and are still experiencing those salt cravings, how about trying my delicious chilled pasta salad to satisfy your taste buds on a warm summer day. Enjoy!!

Chilled Pasta salad
Pickles (chopped)
Celery (chopped)
Chickpeas (rinse before using)
Cucumber (chopped)
Purple onion (chopped)
Condiment of your choice (I used hummus but you can use light Mayo, reduced fat sour cream or greek yogurt...a few spoonfuls just to thicken the texture)
Pasta noodles (cooked until soft, then drained and rinsed with cool water)
Lemon Juice (about 1/2 tbsp)

1. Combine all ingredients and chill.


What's New?

While I am trying to manage my time between training for Kona, studying for the RD exam (which I plan to take near the end of next month), coaching/nutrition and giving myself a little free time (although, I am not sure I have found that yet), I am slowly developing a routine again and it feels absolutely wonderful. For the past 10 months, I have sacrificed a lot for my education and it was stressful and exciting, all at the same time.
For the past 3 years, however, my life has been consumed by all things "nutrition/dietetics" and I have welcomed so much fascinating and educational material with an open mind. I have developed a great philosophy for eating for fuel as a health-conscious, vegetarian, endurance athlete and I have been able to apply all my dietetic information to real life settings (with real athletes), thanks to my intensive 6 year education in exercise science and physiology. It is funny that in life, things often come full circle when we least expect them. So, as I end this chapter of my life, I welcome new opportunities, adventures and experiences. What an exciting summer this will be!

I always enjoy providing my blog readers with the latest in the world of nutrition and sport. I love knowing what's new before the rest of the world and the ADA TIMES (Spring 2011 issue) never disappoints.

Here are a few research briefs and industry news that may get you thinking...before the media starts telling you about them.

1) Cost of heart drugs leads to patients skipping pills - According to a study in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the cost of heart medications is one of the main reasons patients fail to take the drugs they're prescribed, putting themselves at greater risk of hospitalization and even death.

2) Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Intake associated with reduced risk of age-related Macular degeneration - regular consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration in women, according to a report posted online that will appear in the June Archives of Ophthalmology

3) Walnuts are top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants - Walnuts have almost twice as many- and more potent-antioxidants than any other nut, according to an analysis of nine different types of commonly consumed nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans) presented in March at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting and Exposition.

4) Analysis explores levels of cancerous compounds in ready-to-eat meat products - A study published online Dec 23 in Meat Science examined eight types of ready-to-eat meat products to determine levels of heterocyclic amines, or carcinogenic compounds found that in meat that is fried, grilled or cooked at high temperatures. Focusing on beef-only hot dogs, beef/pork/turkey hot dogs, deli roast beef, deli ham, deli turkey, fully cooked bacon, pepperoni and rotisserie chicken, the study showed that pepperoni had the least HCA content, followed by hot dogs and deli meat. While fully cooked bacon and rotisserie chicken meat contained all five types of HCAs tested, the skin on rotisserie chicken had significantly higher HCA levels, perhaps because chicken skin contains more fat and protein and less moisture, and HCA levels tend to increase as moisture decreased, the researchers said.

5) Frito-Lay pledges natural ingredients - pepsiCo says half of Frito-Lay products will be made with "all natural" ingredients - specifying no artificial or synthetic substances, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives, or ingredients such as monosodium glutamate - by the end of 2012, including three of its biggest brands: Lays potato chips, Tostitos tortilla chips and SunChips multigrain snacks.

6) Commutes are most popular times for convenience stores - A.M. and P.M. commutes are a peak time for "super heavy" users of convenience stores, according to NPD Group's Convenience Store Monitor which tracks the purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. Super heavy users purchase coffee, carbonated soft drinks and newspapers or magazines in the morning and are more likely to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products, lottery tickets and alcoholic beverages in the evening. "Heavy" users tend to buy sweet snacks in the morning and cigarettes and alcohol in the evening. Dairy products also are popular with heavy shoppers.


It's all about Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes that an athlete/fitness enthusiast can make is not recovering after exercise/training. In my opinion, you can't go wrong when recovering after exercise because it is an opportunity to reward your body for the prior session of muscle catabolism and to to compensate for glycogen depletion and to return exercise-induced hormonal changes back to normal.

The last issue of Triathlete Magazine got me thinking about my own recovery routine. In the June 2011 issue of Triathlete there were a few pages dedicated to recovery as well as several other tips, tricks and tools to keep you healthy and race-day ready.

I find that many athletes get the "summer-training bug" and believe more is more. For me and my athletes, less is more. I believe in the process of training and developing a body that can handle the demands of training. For with periodized training, the body is more efficient at using fuels. Also, because every athlete is psychological and biochemical unique, it's important to take into consideration current fitness levels (through heart rate and power tests) as well as daily life (, diet, psychology, sleep and stress). It is easy to say that you want to train x-hours a week/weekend and perhaps some days you are better fueled and motivated than others, but in the long run it is all about consistency. While I do believe in active recovery, rest (for both the body and mind) is a necessary part in training. When I hear that athletes haven't taken a day off in x-weeks, that is a concern for possible injury or burnout. Typically, athletes will begin to add in unplanned rest days more and more often, because the body is tired and extremely fatigued. While it is great to listen to your body, a well-designed program will provide opportunities for proper recovery in order to gain strength, power and speed. For it isn't about the workout itself but how you recover from the workout.

Before you start changing around your training schedule, I provided my typical recovery routine which has worked very well for me. I also provide similar tips for my athletes, who have all learned the importance of the recovery period.
After 12 weeks of diligent strength training and stretching (and an x-ray and orthopedic apt that showed that my pelvis/hips are as healthy as can be) and 3 patient weeks of my own walk/run program to transition back into running (after not running for 10 long weeks), I am becoming one with my body again and becoming very aware of its needs during exercise. I am starting from a slow, clean slate and very happy to have a new, strong body. While I may be a bit slow right now, this is a great time for me to listen to my body (but during and after exercise) and design the best nutrition and training plan to support my performance goals. With Kona in around 20 weeks, I have plenty of time to not feel rushed and just enjoy my body in motion.
With no special gadgets yesterday, I did a 50 mile bike followed by a 50 minute run. There was no stopping during my run and I just ran by feel (which felt great, although, hot at 11am!). Well hydrated with my sport drink, I just kept on trucking along, step after step and paid attention to my form and breathing.

I hope you enjoy my typical recovery routine. Let me know if you have any questions :)

1) Come home, wake Campy up from his nap, and take him for a 10 min. walk (while sipping on very cold water)

2) Make a recovery smoothie and stick in freezer after blended.
(1 scoop protein powder, 2 large strawberries, 1 stalk celery, 4 chunks pineapple, small handful blueberries, small slice of ginger root, dash of cinnamon, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 spoonful low fat plain yogurt, 4-6 ice cubes, water as needed.)

3) Quick shower.

4) Do 15-20 min of hip stretches while sipping on recovery smoothie. (stretch #1 and #2 - there are also other stretches that you may find helpful)

5) Put on 110% Play Harder compression ice shorts (Karel is modeling them after his speed week race in Rosewell. What's great is that the ice packs stay cold for around 4 hours in an insulated bag so that you can use them immediately after racing/training while on the road!)

6) Make my "real" breakfast while wearing compression ice shorts.