Essential Sports Nutrition


Pumpkin-illa Smoothie

I am really enjoying the change of seasons...especially the cooler temperatures in Florida.
I am approaching my 2nd week of unstructured exercise, simply choosing what I want to do and listening to my body.
The first week after Kona was simply to catch up on sleep, use sleep as a way to recover from my 140.6 mile adventure, to loosen my body with daily movement (walking, easy swimming, bike riding), to honor my body with fresh foods and to respect my body if it craved something different than what I typically put into my daily diet. Although I don't believe in being restrictive with the diet, I feel strongly that "sugar" cravings after a hard workout or race should not always be rewarded with ice cream and sugary treats. This time around, I believe that my plant-based diet and emphasis on WHOLE foods curbed a lot of my typical post-race "carb" cravings and I found myself gravitating to wholesome carbs such a whole grains as well as lots of healthy fats and quality proteins. I simply found a way to combine foods at meals and snacks in order to satisfy my cravings post-Kona (ex. pancakes w/ eggs) as well as continuing to provide my body with heart-healthy quality foods. I strongly believe that my ability to go into this race feeling "hungry" to race (aka - not overtrained) and fueled by plants was the best way to have a great race, put my training to the test and recover quickly. Now almost 2 weeks since Kona, I believe Kona worked to my advantage as a way to get stronger (with minimal training since the race) as my body is now healed from 11-hours of damage and my mind is in the right place to resume structured training for a few upcoming running races.
Also - thinking back to what helped me post-Kona, I was strict in taking 1 Hammer FIZZ (a day) on the 3-4 days after the Ironman. I believe that there is no other product out there that compares to Hammer FIZZ as a way to replenish electrolytes, in addition to providing the body with vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies.

Now that the tri-season has ended, I avoid saying that it is "running" season for it is simply a time to enjoy some running a triathlete. I will continue running ALWAYS off the bike for all my specific run workouts. My bike workouts will not be as long, when the emphasis is run-training, however, I will continue to bike and swim to break up things when I plan to run 4-day a week throughout the next few months.

I also plan to dedicate 3 days a week to strength training for the next few months. Giving up strength training in my 2-week Ironman taper was tough for me. Although I only strength train full body (sometimes emphasizing upper body and sometimes lower body, but always including core, glute, lower back and hip exercises) and only for about 15-20 min at a time, I find it a necessary part in training (for all sports) as well as for body composition changes.

Lastly, now that I have ended a fantastic and enjoyable 14-week Ironman training journey, it is time to work on my mind. For a 30-mile ride is now "long" and that is OK. There is no reason to feel guilty or say that I "only" ran for an hour or biked for 90 minutes or swam 4000 yrds for that is all OK....because I am not training for an Ironman. This is often the hardest part for athletes when the Tri-season comes to an end. Feeling guilty that they are not doing as much training OR that there is a lack of control when it comes to food because the training volume no longer supports overeating. I believe this is the best time to work on the daily diet in order to understand what it is your body needs to maintain (or lose) weight as an active individual. Because recommendations are that to be healthy, we only exercise 30 min a day or 2.5 hours a week, for most of us - we really exceed recommendations for daily exercise and health benefits.
My suggestions: After you give yourself a little needed recovery from your event (I encourage to sleep in and to give yourself an hour a day of movement for the first week post race), try to get back into a structured routine at least 3 days a week for the 2nd week post workout (ex. exercise at your "normal" exercise time every other day in week 2 post workout but keep the exercise fun and different. For example, I water jogged and did the elliptical twice in my 2nd week of training for 30 minutes as my "exercise" for the day). In week 3 post race, try to get back to structure, but still keep the exercise fun and different. Get back to exercising when you feel the best and allow yourself to be OK with around an hour/day of exercise. Feel free to do more on the weekends but continue to keep it fun and be OK with Only x-amount of miles or yards. I recommend not using a garmin/GPS, power meter or heart rate monitor in the first 2 weeks post-race so that your focus is just on moving your body and you don't put pressure on yourself to be fully recovered and to be able to swim, bike and/or run as fast as you did during (or before) your event. If done properly, you should find yourself bouncing back from your race quicker than ever and a lot stronger...with a new outlook and desire to set new training goals.

To keep your tummy happy during the fall months, I hope you enjoy my NEW creation. Although you may be adjusting your pre and during training nutrition due to less volume and a slight decrease in intensity, be sure to always focus on your recovery nutrition....this is where the performance and body composition gains are made!


Pumpkin-illa Smoothie
1 scoop Vanilla whey protein powder
11 ice cubes
1/2 cup skim milk
1 stalk celery
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned - no sugar added, NOT pie mix)
1/2 - 1 cup water
5 cashews
1 tbsp flax seeds (ground)
dash of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ginger
small piece of dark chocolate (optional, but perhaps necessary :) )

1. Mix all ingredients in blender - max ice crush speed.
2. Add more/less water or more/less ice to meet your consistency needs. The above recipe makes a smoothie similar to the consistency of a milkshake(Pending your blender - I have Oster Fusion blender)
3. Recommend to place smoothie (in glass) in the freezer for about 10 min to thicken up the smoothie.

A few substitutions depending on your dietary needs:
(may need to adjust recipe)
-Vegan - use tofu instead of milk, use hemp or soy protein instead of whey protein
-For kids - use non-fat plain yogurt (or greek yogurt 0%) instead of whey protein powder
-For dairy-free - use soy milk instead of skim milk, use hemp or soy protein instead of whey protein
-For lactose-free - use lactose-free milk instead of skim milk, may opt for soy protein however whey protein isolate has less than 0.1 gram of lactose per tablespoon (20 grams).


Never go into a meal starving

There's nothing wrong with being hungry for a meal. However, as athletes and fitness enthusiasts, meal-time is often a confusing time for many. As you continue your quest to develop a healthy relationship with food as well as appreciate the "fuel" that you put into your body, my number one tip to prevent overeating at meals (regardless if a workout preceeds the meal) as well as to prevent cravings after the meal, is to have a pre-meal snack. If you do workout before the meal, you have no excuse to go into the meal starving because as athletes, seeking performance gains (or body composition changes) from our training/exercise sessions, we want to be sure that we focus on nutrient timing, specifically the post-workout recovery snack.

I believe that one of the missing links in weight loss, weight maintenance and performance gains is that people are too concerned with calories in vs calories out, especially around workouts. For having a glass of milk or a scoop of whey protein post-workout should not be seen as "extra" calories but rather the continuation of your workout. While quality, easy-to-digest protein-rich foods will provide the essential amino acids necessary to help repair damaged tissues, a "light" workout can be completed with a small 100 calorie or less snack - emphasizing "real" food rather than consuming bars (as an example).

It's important that you have a plan (a "menu" if you will) to help as you learn the strengths and weakness's in your current eating routine that will help fuel your lifestyle and workout routine. On that plan, don't forget to include post training snacks OR pre-meal snacks. Depending on your exercise/training routine, be sure to plan for an opportunity to slow down digestion, prevent overeating, prevent cravings and ensure proper fuel storage of food, by planning for a pre-meal snack. Easy pre-meal snacks would be veggies and hummus, cheese and apple slices, nuts, a little yogurt, a few triscuits w/ PB. You'd be surprised that a less than 100 calorie snack can be the saving grace when it comes to feeling little control when it comes to eating after workouts or when you get home from work.

For some people, there is an opportunity to make meals before workouts. Perhaps you have never thought of this before but preparing dinner (or your lunch for the day) prior to a workout can also help you out as you continue your nutrition journey. For after a late day workout, something quick, fast and comforting is likely on your mind. Although a salad takes around 5 minutes to prepare, my next suggestion is to prepare your meal BEFORE working out. If you have no idea as to what you want for dinner, make a quick salad so atleast you have something to "go-to" that is filled with vitamins and minerals, when you return from your workout...after your recovery protein snack.

On Wednesday, Campy and I were super excited to join a few runners from the Jacksonville Running Company. The group was meeting at Tijuana Flats, which is about 1.8 miles away from where we live. After my morning swim + strength session, plus a busy day at the hospital, I took Campy on a quick walk and it was time to catch up on emails until it was time to make dinner. Around 5:15 I started the oven (450 degrees), sliced a potato, tossed it in olive oil and sprinkled it with paprika and pepper. Into the oven....done in about 20 minutes.

I then sliced firm tofu and started grilling it on a pan (medium heat) in olive oil and heated frozen broccoli and corn in the microwave. Once the tofu was a little golden brown and ready to flip I added the broccoli and corn and flipped tofu to the other side. I added some sliced onion, chopped garlic and bell pepper and by the time the potatoes were done, it was time to turn off the stove and get my dinner ready.

I waited until my dinner cooled (which I shared with Karel) and then put it in the fridge. I covered the potatoes and also put them out in the fridge.

At 6:15, Campy and I ran to meet the runners and then ran back home. A total of almost 4 miles...the longest run for both me since Kona and the longest run for Campy since last May.

By the time I got home around 7, I felt no rush as to what I will eat. My dinner was ready and I was able to do my stretches, have my glass of milk and feel great about what I was about to put into my body after my fantastic run with Campy.

Sometimes we don't have the opportunity to prepare a meal before a workout but by planning ahead and thinking about previous meals, you'd be surprised that you have a lot of control over your body both in what you choose to feed it and what it says to you when it's time to eat.


Consumer Reports on Health

I feel as if I am finally caught up on my reading..aka journals, newsletters and magazines. Thanks to 24 hours of flying and over 8 hours of hanging out in airports, I am finally up-to-date wit the latest and greatest in the nutrition world. As for exercise, I'm excited to announce that the American Dietetic Association (which is soon to be called by a new name:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) has created a nutrition care manual dedicated entirely to sports!
I use the care manual A LOT in the clinical world, especially when I receive a consult by a doctor or nurse to give a patient education on a certain topic. Most of our consults involve CHF (congestive heart failure) and diabetes (typically newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic) but we also get consults for renal diets (with or without dialysis), vegetarian/vegan diets (typically the doctor wants us to educate on more protein and calcium in the diet based on lab work) as well as weight loss.
What I love about the care manual is that it contains a lot of research, compiled into an Evidence Analysis Library filled with ADA position papers and info regarding the Nutrition Care Process. Because the manual contains so much research- and evidence-based nutrition care information (for more than 100 diseases, conditions, and topics), it is the go-to source when I have questions (or someone emails me a question) in regards to nutrition. I get a lot of my sports nutrition information from the International Society of Sports Nutrition as well as the
Sports Nutrition Insider.
So while it is super easy to google any topic or pass along information from a blurb on TV or in a magazine, it is important that your source of information is credible and to not always read too deep into research. Always keep an open mind.

In the November 2011, Volume 23, Number 11 issue of Consumer Reports On Health, there was a lot of great information in the HEALTH WIRE and SAY YES?, SAY NO? section.
Here's some great info that you may want to digest....

1) Calorie info on menus: According to a study in a July issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers surveyed 8,489 adults leaving fast-food restaurants in NYC in 2009 after a calorie-labeling law took effect at chain restaurants. Overall, 15% of the customers said they used the calorie counts to select their lunch. On average, they bought food that had 106 fewer calories than people who didn't use the information.
*this information is very interesting because in my October 2011 Volume 29, Number 8 issue of TUFTS University Health and Nutrition letter, there was a large article on "Can you trust restaurant Calorie Counts?" Tufts nutrition scientist Lorien E. Urban, PhD, lead author of the study, aid "we can't expect restaurants to be spot-on all the time with calories, but there needs to be guidelines to what a reasonable range of accuracy is." The researchers measured the actual caloric energy in 269 foods from 42 restaurants, including seven fast-food and seven sit-down eateries, in three states. Overall, results showed the 40% of the foods contained at least 10 more calories than claimed on restaurant menus, while 53% actually contained at least 10 fewer calories than stated. Sit-down restaurants' calorie counts were more likely to be off, which the researchers ascribed to poorer control of portion size.
According to Susan B Roberts "Typically, the foods that were stated as low-calorie on the menu contained more calories than they should, which is really bad for dieters". Percentage-wise, some dishes far exceeded their stated calorie counts. For example:
-Olive Garden's chicken and gnocchi soup had nearly double the listed 250 calories and the minestrone soup more than doubled its 100-calorie claim, totaling 265.
-Bob Evans' cranberry-pecan chicken salad with dressing listed at 672 calories had 315 and 551 EXTRA calories in two tests.
-P.F. Chang's healthy-sounding brown rice measured 477 calories, more than double the menu number of 190.
-Four tests of On the Border's chips and salsa found more than triple the claimed 430 calories, up to 1,511 actual calories.

So, as you attempt to eat more wholesome food in your balanced diet (what better than to feel motivated on FOOD DAY on Monday October 24th!), recognize that when YOU prepare food at home, you are responsible for what and how much you eat (not to mention - how it is prepared). I feel very strongly that we should be preparing more meals at home in order to recognize what it is our body wants and needs as well as listening to our body as to how much we should give it. If you think about it, we live in a society where fast-food and restaurants are giving us meals (that YOU choose from a board or menu) and in a way, telling people that 'this' amount (given to you) is how much you should eat. Despite people counting calories and exercising, people have no insight as to how to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. By focusing on a plant-based diet, not only will you learn to understand and respect the body but you will also learn to develop a healthy relationship with food because the emphasis of calories will be removed, and rather a focus on feeling fantastic about the food that you put into your body. Why should you feel restricted, guilty or overwhelmed when it comes to food? Not sure about you, but when I eat I want to feel GREAT and the only numbers I want to watch and count are my miles, speed, power and laps.

Whether it is post-race or an occasional indulgence one or twice a month, the key is to eat well most of the time so you don't have to worry (aka FEAR food or be concerned about your body image) the rest of the time.

(Karel and me eating at Splasher's Grill in Kona, across from the pier/swim start on Monday after the Ironman in Hawaii...enjoying burgers and fries- YUM!! No surprise, I couldn't finish this burger as my appetite was not even close to coming back post-Ironman. However, I did enjoy half of my burger at 12 (the other half a few hours later) which was a veggie burger, topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms and cheese. Karel had a "real" burger - his words describing what he ordered :)

Here's a GREAT ARTICLE I found for BOTH vegetarians AND non-vegetarians. Something to consider as you PLAN your daily meals and snacks.


Love your body day!!

Thanks to my friends/mentors at Preferred Nutrition for telling me about Love Your Body Day!!

When I was interning at Preferred Nutrition for my 8 week community nutrition rotation (July - Sept 2010), I really started to appreciate the human body, as an athlete and as a health-conscious individual. I strengthened my beliefs about nutrition as well as developed new philosophies about how we should view food. I really feel as if my time at Preferred Nutrition was one of the most monumental experiences in my internship as I truely started to develop a passion for helping people with nutrition. I really learned a lot from working with clients with eating disorders and by sitting in on lots of counseling sessions, I really grasped the concept of counseling and helping people, without saying a lot. As a dietitian, my goal isn't to tell you everything I know but rather to focus on the NOW and what you can do today, to make tomorrow even better. I believe the eating is much deeper than calories in/out, carbs and fat. Eating is much more internal and I believe in focusing on as many positives as we can with food, the body and exercise rather than simple focusing on the negatives with the body and bad or off-limit foods.

When working with eating disorder patients, it was very exhausting at times. You really feel for the person who you are trying to help. However, I always looked forward to the next client and the next day. But at the same time, it was so powerful to learn how motivational interviewing can play a tremendous part on healing someone with disordered thoughts about eating.

In honor of Love your body day , I ask that you either write a letter to your body, USE your body, nourish your body or discover a few reasons of why you love and appreciate your body.

As far as writing a letter to your body, I have done it twice and it is a powerful thing. No need to post it on your blog or facebook page (unless you want to) but keep it close to you so that you can always read it in times of negative food vocabulary or when you choose to not respect/appreciate the body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.
Here are my two letters:
Dear body 2010
Dear body 2011

In order to give you a jump start for FOOD DAY on October 24th, here's a delicious salad that covers every taste bud you could imagine. YUM!

Avocado and Tofu Salad
(Chicken w/ swiss cheese for Karel - I baked the chicken in oven in olive oil and no-salt seasoning at 425 degrees until it reached 165 degrees)

1/2 container firm tofu (cooked on pan on medium heat in olive oil)
Mushrooms (cooked on pan, with tofu)
Mozzarella cheese
Chopped almonds
Carrots (from farmers market)
Green bell pepper

Take a Dip!

I am excited to share my latest article on the NEW USA triathlon website. Did you know that over 140,000 individuals are members of USA triathlon? It is so fantastic to see our sport growing so quickly. I don't believe that you have to be a triathlete, runner or cyclist in order to live a long and healthy life but I do believe in goal setting and challenging yourself to become a smarter, more balanced, stronger and more productive YOU.

Two of my recipes that I feature in the article contain yogurt which is a great source of calcium and protein. Eight ounces of Plain, low-fat yogurt contains 415mg of calcium and 1 cup of low or non fat milk contains 300 mg. According to the recommended daily allowance of calcium, it is suggested that adults 19-50 years consume 1000 mg of daily calcium whereas people over the age of 50 should consume 1,200 mg and it is noted that women after menopause need more calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Individuals 9-18 years should consume 1300 mg and pregnant and lactating women between 19 and 50 should consume 1000 mg calcium.

I am a big proponent of dairy in the diet, specifically the double bonus of obtaining both calcium and protein from one single food source. There is a lot of hype about dairy being harmful for the body and my thoughts, backed by research, is that much of the GI issues of the average American, is due to lack of vegetable and fruit consumption and too much processed food. Additionally, for those who do consume a wholesome diet, rich in fruits and veggies, my fear is that long-term, individuals who restrict dietary calcium will encourage gradual bone loss, thus increasing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis, much sooner in life. Because calcium is also a wonderful source of protein, the thought to skip on a glass of skim milk post workout or eating yogurt as a snack, may encourage the risk of stress fractures as well as not increasing the change for regular performance gains and encouragement of an increase in lean muscle mass to support physical activity. If you are an athlete/fitness enthusiast who chooses to consume calcium from non-dairy sources, it is encouraged that you meet with a Registered Dietitian and possible get blood work, to assess whether or not you are meeting calcium and protein needs from your current diet. Remember, every time you eliminate a food (for whatever reason) you should not overlook the importance of making sure the diet is balanced and not too heavy (or light) in any one food group.

Regardless of your individual dietary preferences, protein and calcium should not be overlooked as two key nutrients to help our fitness and reach optimal performance gains. Because we never want to "avoid" a food that is proved to improve health and just because a food is good for us, we don't need to overdo-it, recognize that calcium and protein is beneficial not only for our bones (both short AND long term) but for weight loss, health and performance.

Although individuals are recommend to take supplemental calcium if calcium can not be obtained through food, but research is showing that dietary calcium may be more beneficial than pills.
A few popular sources of calcium:
(from Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter: Sept 2009)

Part skim ricotta cheese: 1 cup, 669 mg
Swiss cheese: 1 ounces, 272 mg
Low-fat cottage cheese: 1 cup 207 mg
Part-skim mozzarella: 1 ounce, 207 mg
Cheddar cheese: 1 ounce, 204 mg

Collard Greens: 1 cup, 357mg
Spinach, frozen: 1 cup 277 mg
Soybeans, green (Edamame): 1 cup, 261 mg.

I hope you enjoy my latest article!
Take a Dip: One Way to Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables | USA Triathlon


Food day - Oct 24th!!

(Found this picture on a vegetarian facebook page...LOVE IT!!)

How exciting...a day to celebrate REAL FOOD!!!

According to the Food Day website:
Real food tastes great. Meals built around vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are delicious and satisfying. But far too many Americans are eating diets composed of salty, overly processed packaged foods clad in cardboard and plastic; high-calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth, but have no nutritional benefit; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty grain-fed factory-farmed meat, French fries, and more soda still. What we eat should be bolstering our health, but it's actually contributing to several hundred thousand premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer each year. What's more, the way our food is produced all too often harmful to farm workers, the environment, and farm animals.

Food Day's goal is nothing less than to transform the American diet—to inspire a broad movement involving people from every corner of our land who want healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. In other words, we want America to eat real. We want to get Americans cooking real food for their families again. We want fewer people at drive-throughs and bigger crowds at farmers markets. We want to celebrate fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains—and to support the local farms and farmers that produce them. We want all Americans—regardless of their age or income or geographic location—to be able to select healthy diets and avoid obesity, heart disease, and other diet-related conditions.

On Saturday, after an enjoyable and relaxing 30 mile bike ride, I followed the ride with a fun 2 mile run w/ Campy. The body is feeling amazingly fantastic and I must contribute it to providing my body with wholesome food throughout my entire IM journey, as well as respecting my body with movement, rest and balanced meals and snacks shortly after the Ironman.

I immediately went for a tall glass of skim milk after my workout (so refreshing) and refueled on a delicious post-workout meal of eggs mixed with cheese, broccoli, red beans and tomatoes and complemented my protein selections with a banana and peanut butter. After catching up on emails, it was time to hit the Nocatee Farmers Market which is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

Campy had a great time enjoying the sights and smells at the market and I picked up a beautiful selection of veggies...all for $6!!! I absolutely love supporting local farmers and even in the month of October in Florida, fresh produce looks amazing!
After the farmers market, Campy took me to the dog park where he met a friend...a BIG friend. Campy enjoyed having this 6- month puppy chase him around. Campy had his greyhound legs on him this afternoon because he was a speedy little thing, running all around the fenced-in park.

In honor of Food day, I invite you to a full day of emphasizing wholesome food in your diet. I don't believe in restriction or elimination, nor do I believe that we need to have "off-limit" food. By changing our food vocabulary and learning how to develop a healthy relationship with food, we can really appreciate the food that we put into our body. Later on this week, I will provide some tips and guidelines as to how to incorporate more wholesome food into your diet as I don't believe in having RULES when it comes to providing healthy food and fuel to your food.

The other night I made a yummy scramble for me and "burgers" for Karel.
The ingredients that I used for the scramble were:
Eggs (1 whole, 1 white)
Bread crumbs (about 1/4 cup)
Oats (about 1/3 cup)
Edamame (cooked, then I took them out of their pods)
Red beans (canned and rinsed well)
Chickpeas (canned and rinsed well)
Corn (frozen first, then defrosted)
Cabot cheese (shredded, a small handful)
Green bell pepper
Avocado (chopped/mashed)
Olive oil (drizzling to cover pan)

For the burgers, I took out about 3/4 of the mixture (for Karel) and added chicken (that I made for Karel the night before, reheated to 165 degrees and then chopped) and then formed the scramble into patties (added a bit more oats and bread crumbs to help with sticking - although they still didn't stick like true burgers) and placed them on a pan on medium heat, that was lightly covered in olive oil. I placed each "burger" in a whole wheat tortilla, that was spread with spicy mustard and lettuce.

For my scramble, I poured my ingredients (about 1/4 mixture) on a different pan, coated in a little olive oil on medium heat and scrambled the mixture. I added a little BOCA vegetarian crumble for a little more "Meat" and then topped a large bed of romaine lettuce with my scramble.

In an effort to eat REAL FOOD, the focus is not on what you CAN'T eat but what you CAN eat. Focus on ways to turn a meal into a salad as I did with the meal listed above. By focusing on your individual needs, you will recognize what your body needs, at the best time. The most important thing is that you are focusing on practical changes that you ENJOY and learning to appreciate a different or new way of eating. There is no PERFECT way to eat REAL FOOD, so remove any pressure that you have to be strict. Starting today, start changing the way you see food and eat food in order to live a more quality-filled life, one bite at a time.

Here's some information from the American Dietetic Association on
Vegetarian living
Again, you don't have to be a vegetarian to eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy, quality protein and healthy fats.