Essential Sports Nutrition


Multisport Myths Explained - Compression

So, who registered for an upcoming race on Dec 1st??? This is a popular day for many races to open registration with affordable racing fees! It's likely that you are starting to set goals for 2012 so be sure your race schedule works in your favor and allows you to race to your fullest and live a balanced, healthful and active life.

Here's my latest article from the FREE Iron Girl newsletter. Did you wear compression today??? I DID...My CEP socks were on ALL DAY LONG! LOVE THEM!!!

Multisport Myths Explained - Compression
Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Believe it or not, there was once a time - not long ago - when runners trained without a Garmin and simply ran by time or by "feel." Dare we think about the days when online race trackers (and chip times) did not exist and we actually had to wait for results, rather than anxiously refreshing the computer screen for instant updates? And how about training without music? Yikes!

Perhaps you have given no thought as to how an altitude sleeping tent, endless swimming pool and anti-gravity treadmill will benefit you as an athlete - let alone fit into your training and racing budget. But it's likely that you have participated in a conversation or two about compression, strength training and electrolytes. So, when it comes to spending a little extra time or money on the latest trends and fads in competitive sports, it's important to keep an open mind when adding something new to your current training routine.

Should I wear compression?

For the last few decades, compression apparel has been well-recognized in the medical field as an effective way to improve circulation, increase venous return and reduce swelling. It wasn't until recently that athletic companies recognized the practicality of compression clothing designed specifically for athletes, in order to improve performance and reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). By enhancing circulation and stabilizing muscles, compression garments are quickly becoming one of the most popular must-have items in order to reduce soreness both during and after exercise.

Among the most popular companies,
110% Play Harder, CEP Compression and Zoot Sports have dedicated a great deal of time, money and research into providing athletes with a variety of quality pre, during and post-training and competition sport wear. As a result, athletes are seeking compression clothing to help improve performance and recovery. In other words, compression wear is not limited to professional and elite athletes.

Disbelievers argue that there are few laboratory-derived, scientific research studies demonstrating significant improvements in performance while wearing compression. Although there are only a handful of recent laboratory-controlled studies showing the positive effects of compression during and after exercise, do not let ongoing research detour your decision to train, race and recover in compression (1,2). While research may not prove that compression will reduce lactic acid during training and will reduce the risk for injury (3), athletes will often agree with research, demonstrating that compression is highly effective in reducing perceived exertion while training and racing. Thus, athletes believe in compression as an easy way to help reach personal best times and recover from chronic injuries (4). It should be noted, however, that in order to improve performance, it takes more than an expensive bike, a new pair of shoes or a high-tech piece of clothing.

Research does not take into consideration diet, periodized training, current fitness, stress/sleep management, sports nutrition and family/job obligations; however, it does control variables that may positively or negatively affect performance during controlled testing in a lab. As an athlete, there's no doubt that you experience direct force and trauma to your muscles, tendons and bones every time you engage in weight-bearing exercise. Because training-induced stress initiates physiological adaptations, athletes trying to balance training with a busy lifestyle should not overlook the importance of compression as one of the easy ways to accelerate recovery and to feel more relaxed during activity.

In the quest for the right compression wear, proper sizing is essential. Graduated compression (tighter in the ankle, looser in the calf) will ensure the most optimal performance and recovery gains by encouraging blood to quickly propel to the heart, rather than pooling in the legs. According to Ali et al., athletes wearing graduated compression stocking around 23-32 mm Hg reported more pain when running, compared to athletes wearing graduated compression stockings less than 21 mg Hg (2). Because comfort is important both during and after training and racing, it is important to note that one-size does not fit all.

Compression should be of high-quality, thus it is important to purchase compression clothing from a reputable company that invests in medical and scientific testing. Additionally, take into consideration the purpose of your future compression clothing. Is your compression designed for recovery, active-wear, for cooling/thermal regulation? Calf sleeves, socks, shorts, bibs, tights, ice shorts and tops are all created for different purposes. Speak with a professional either online or at your local tri/bike shop in order to find the best product(s) to meet your individual compression needs.

Athletes progress over months and years, not weeks or days. Therefore, it is important to recognize that only "putting in the miles" may ultimately result in an increase risk for injury, fatigue, illness and possibly burnout.

From a physiological perspective, if you are seeking an easy (and comfortable) way to help improve blood flow, stabilize working muscles and to enhance recovery after exercise, it is highly recommended to consider adding compression to your training, racing and recovery gear collection. As you focus on the other areas in your life that can affect performance (sleep, stress, nutrition, periodized training, recovery days, weight training, etc.), keep in mind that no amount of literature will prove that compression is the magic remedy in creating personal best performances and avoiding injuries. For success as an athlete is more than looking the part....with a nice new pair of compression socks.

Stay tuned in February for another common training question explained......

Do I really need to strength train if I am a runner or triathlete?

1) Ali, A., Caine, M.P., and Snow, B.G. (2007). Graduated compression stockings: physiological and perceptual responses during and after exercise. J. Sports Sci. 25(4): 413-9.

2) Ali, A., Creasy, R.H. and Edge, J.A. (2011). The effect of graduated compression stockings on running performance. J. Strength Cond Res. 25(5); 1385-92.

3) Ali, A., Creasy, R.H., and Edge, J.A. (2011). The effect of graduated compression stockings on running performance. J. Strength Cond Res. 25(5): 1385-92.

4) Duffield, R., Cannon, J. and Kind, M. (201). The effects of compression garments on recovery of muscle performance following high-intensity sprint and plyometric exercise. J. Sci Med Sport. 13(1); 136-40.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. By now, you are likely finishing up the leftovers and had your "clean" start on Monday. If I could offer any advice to jump start heart-healthy eating habits as you welcome the last month before 2012!!, think small and don't try to do everything at once.
My 3 easy suggestions to help you out for this week....
1) Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast (balanced meal, emphasizing protein)
2) Plan your meals and PLAN for wholesome "REAL" food snacks (ex. celery w/ PB, hummus with veggies, hard boiled egg w/ veggies, fruit w/ non fat yogurt) rather than grabbing processed "foods".
3) Turn 1 meal (or sandwich) a day, into a salad. Focus on balance, prioritizing plants as the base of the meal, then complimenting your color-foods with quality lean/low fat protein, whole grains (1 serving, 3 servings whole grains/day) and healthy fats.

After the Subaru Half Marathon on Thursday, Karel and I took our time and relaxed in the early part of the morning. The compression tights went on immediately and we were quick to prepare a recovery protein shake and stretch. Rather than hitting the couch (which looked very inviting), I took Campy on a long walk to keep my body from getting too tight. Then...the couch called my name.
Around 1ish we had a light snack and I cooked for about an hour and we ate around 3:30. It was just Karel and myself for Thanksgiving but I can never pass up an opportunity to make a traditional homemade meal.

Early afternoon snack: pomegranate seeds, non fat Dannon plain yogurt, sliced almonds, banana slices

Homemade Cornbread:

1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup cooked corn
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tbsp raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs (1 egg white, 1 whole egg)
1 cup skim milk
1 shredded apple (without skin)

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.

1. Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sea salt.
2. Mix egg whites, honey, milk and apple with a wire whisk until smooth.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients stirring until just combined.
4. Pour batter into non-stick baking pan or cake pan (sprayed with a little non stick spray).
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with warm honey.

Cooked spinach:

1. Spinach in a little olive oil, cooked in a skillet on low heat.

Cooked cabbage:
(Karel's mom's recipe from Czech)

Salt, pepper
Olive oil
All spice

1. Cook sliced onions in a little olive oil in large cooking pot, on medium heat.
2. Add chopped cabbage, a pinch of salt, cumin and all spice, pepper to taste and a little balsamic.
3. Combine and cover. Stir occasionally.
4. Cook for around 30-40 min. When cabbage is soft, add a pinch of sugar and chopped apples.

Potato casserole
(Thanks to my friend Kelly who posted a pic on facebook and Karel said "I have to have this!"

2 potatoes (cooked)
non fat plain yogurt
Grape Nuts flakes cereal

This is the recipe I kinda followed..but I am not very good at following recipes since I always like to make my own creations.

I modified this recipe with the above ingredients.

My VEGETARIAN Thanksgiving plate!
(I didn't buy a large turkey so Karel made his dinner from Turkey Breast chops)

Mashed Sweet potatoes
Grilled tofu (made in the oven while everything else was cooking)


Last day of MOVEMBER and an appreciation for veggies!

This morning while I was weight training and then swimming at the Brooks YMCA, I couldn't help but think how strong and healthy I feel. A bit sore and tired but nothing worth worrying about as I am always focusing on the small components of the bigger picture.

At the age of 29, I feel better now than ever before. Always focusing on what I can do today in order to make for a better tomorrow, I believe my journey with food, exercise/fitness and goal setting has allowed me to improve my quality of life.

Karel often tells me that he doesn't feel his age. With a very competitive drive and the energy of a teenager, I often wonder if Karel is really 35 years of age!

In the November issue of Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Vol. 29, Number 9, there were two excellent articles explaining the benefits of consuming a more plant based diet. You will never hear me tell a person that he/she must stop eating meat in order to live a more healthful life. Despite the large amount of research demonstrating the benefits of consuming a vegetarian diet, the focus is not on what you can't eat but rather what you CAN eat.

Over the past decade, there has been a large emphasis on processed foods geared for weight loss or weight control. Thus, resulting in little emphasis on (or cravings for) fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and quality protein. In other words "pre-packaged" processed, calorie controlled snacks, foods and meals have taken precedent over wholesome and natural foods that the body actually knows what to do with when consumed.
So as you approach the new year and open your ears to the latest diet fads, trends and products to help you "quickly drop and shed those unwanted pounds", I ask you to de-consider a lunch of a Special K bar and Special K Protein drink, a breakfast of egg whites and hot sauce, a 100-calorie granola bar for a snack or a dinner of steamed broccoli and spray butter and open your mind (and mouth) to consuming real foods.

Rather than focusing on the calories, focus on the foods that you are emphasizing in your diet in order to help reduce risk for disease, improve performance/fitness and improve your relationship with food.

According to Tufts (Nov 2011 issue), too much meat or too little fiber in the diet have been shown to contribute to diverticular disease (painful inflammation of abnormal pouches in your intestines). In a recent study quoted in the newsletter, vegetarians were 31% less likely than meat-eaters to develop the disease and less likely to develop the disease and less likely to be admitted to the hospital or die from the condition. "While not calling for a wholesale conversion to vegetarianism, Crowe and colleagues concluded that their findings "lend support to public health recommendations that encourage the consumption of foods high in fiber such as whole meal breads, whole grain cereals, fruits and veggies." "

According to the article, consuming lots of vegetables and fiber helps hold on to water and prevent constipation. Crowe and colleagues suggested that by speeding passage of food through the gastrointestinal system, these foods could reduce internal pressure in the intestines, reducing the risk of forming pouches or bulges (diverticula) in weakened intestinal walls. Eating lots of meat, the researchers added, might also alter the metabolism of colon bacteria in a way that weakens the intestinal walls.

In a separate article (same newsletter), substituting nuts, whole grains or low-fat dairy such as yogurt for one daily serving of meat can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%-35%, according to the largest and most comprehensive study to date of meat eating and diabetes risk. On the other hand, the study reports that eating just four ounces of red meat daily boosts your risk of developing diabetes by 19%. Processed meat was linked even more strongly to added risk, with a daily serving of two ounces - about one hot dog or sausage, or two strips of bacon - associated with a 51% greater likelihood of diabetes.

Because the diet is a very personal and individual component of a large scale equation, it doesn't take a lot to start changing habits overnight. However, if you feel you have clinical concerns relating to the diet, I highly recommend seeing a trained professional, such as your physician and a Registered Dietitian to diagnose, treat or assess medical conditions. Unbeknown to many, according to state law, only a medical doctor or registered dietitian may treat medical conditions through the diet....however Registered Dietitians have the proper education, which is solely dedicated to evidenced based practice. So, if you continue to read facebook posts, blogs or articles from authors other than those who are legally qualified to provide nutritional advice, and are encouraging you to give up x-food or to stay away from x-food because it will "cause cancer" (as an example), consider a more balanced approach to eating by working with a trained professional who will help you meet your personal needs and goals.

In other news.....
Today left to donate before Karel shaves off his 'stache!!! I am so proud of Karel for wanting to raise money for a wonderful cause...rather than just growing a stache because it is MOVEMBER. Karel has raised over $500 and would love to get to $600 by the end of today. If you can spare a few $$ (even just $5!), please
Donate here!
ALL proceeds support prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives.
*Feel free to check out the page to see the progress of Karel's 'stache!


Strawberry whole wheat pancakes

With cooler temps, interval runs, fun times at master swim and longer miles on the bike, it was about time that I welcomed a new pancake recipe/creation. It's been a while since I made pancakes and after 93 miles on the bike Sunday, with Karel and dozens of other cyclists for the Penny Farm LSD ride (..will explain in a later blog), Karel had the look of "I NEED Pancakes!".

When it comes to pancakes, it's easy to overdo it on calories..especially if they come from a restaurant like IHOP or Denny's.
For example, 4 Harvest grain n' nut pancakes at IHOP have 920 calories, 49g fat, 11g sat fat, 125mg cholesterol, 1810mg sodium, 95g carb, 10g fiber, 22g sugar and 25g protein. Even if you only have 1 pancake, calories still come to 230, 13g fat and around 450 mg of sodium.

It is likely that you are either in the beginning part of your recovery season or you are starting your base training for the upcoming tri season. Or, perhaps you are currently training for a late winter/early spring running race. Regardless of what you are training for or if you are just working out for fitness, there is no reason to avoid pancakes, so long as you eat them on occasion and with balance in mind.

My suggestion is to use a smaller plate when serving pancakes. Use an alternative to syrup (sugar-free or regular) such as yogurt (greek or plain) with your choice of fresh fruit. Avoid the tendency to feel unsatisfied with only 1-2 pancakes by making protein fill half your plate. For example, 3 egg whites + 1 whole egg make for a quick egg scramble. Depending on your tendency to gravitate toward carbs-only on the weekend, you may want to opt for spinach and tomatoes in your egg scramble to help meet your daily veg recommendations for the day. I personally have no trouble eating a beautiful salad for dinner on the weekend so for this meal I opted for fruit and protein w/ my pancakes.
Also, in order to prevent overeating and to aid in a quick recovery after the workout, don't forget about your immediate recovery protein drink. Do not fear that the extra calories from protein will put you over in terms of "adding calories" after you just worked out. The protein will help you from overeating later in the day as well as control cravings..but most of all, you will increase your chance of experiencing performance gains, after your workout is complete (since that is where the real gains in fitness long as proper recovery is prioritized).
Depending on the workout duration and intensity, options include 1 scoop whey protein in water, 1/2 scoop whey protein in 1/2 cup milk (add a little water to help with stirring), 1 scoop whey + ice and yogurt and fruit (smoothie) or 8 ounces non fat milk. If on the run, 1 scoop Recoverite from Hammer mixed with water.

Strawberry whole wheat pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup non fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large egg
8-10 frozen (slightly defrosted for 1 minute or until soft enough to cut into quarters) strawberries


1. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.
2. In separate bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, oil and eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add a little water if needed to avoid lumps.
3. On a non-stick pan, sprayed with a little non-stick spray, ladle around 1/4 cup pancake batter onto pan.
4. Cook until pancake surface begins to bubble, about 1 - 2 minutes. Flip and cook 1 - 2 minutes more.

*Topping - leftover homemade cranberry "jam".
1/2 cup sugar + 1 bag Ocean Spray cranberries - cook according to package on cranberries.

Nutrition facts per pancake (without cranberry topping)
Per 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup)
71 calories
2.4g fat
2g protein
27mg cholesterol
1.4g fiber
3.5g sugar


Monday Product Review

Saucony Protection Glove

On the morning of the Subaru Half Marathon , Karel and I warmed up around 6:15am. It was a little cool out but nothing that we couldn't tolerate in our race-day clothing. However, I wanted to be sure that our short warm-up, literally warmed up our body so we both warmed up in our new Saucony Protection Gloves . I have the pink ones and Karel has orange.
These gloves are light to wear but do the job of keeping your hands warm when running.
Now, these aren't any ordinary running gloves. The gloves come with a Rechargeable USB_LED light that holds 2 hours of charge. The light is amazing and works great for trying to avoid those cracks and bumps on a dark road. The glove also has a plush cloth wipe as well as reflective detail for walking/running at night. Lastly, each pair of glove comes with magnetic fasteners so you don't have to worry about losing one of them. The gloves are 100% Polyester and the liner is 92% Polyester and 8% spandex.
Although we don't get snow here in Florida, we do get some chilly mornings for running. I highly recommend these gloves for runners everywhere, due to all of the great features that Saucony provides in this protective glove.


I have talked about Road ID in the past but I wanted to share with you some discounts as today is the last day to receive 20% off your purchase at Road ID!!!
Enter the following codes depending on when you order:
20% off through 11/28 - pcSanta220
15% off 11/29-12/6 - pcSanta215
10% off 12/7-12/25 - pcSanta210

I just ordered Karel and myself the Road ID Elite (pink for me, yellow for Karel). I highly recommend adding this purchase to your wish list (for the holidays or cyber Monday). And, if you know someone in your life that is active, perhaps you can purchase an extra one to show that person that you care about him/her and his/her safety.