Essential Sports Nutrition


Good nutrition reads

Opps - this may be very misleading but the title of this post is not geared to "diet" books.
My collection of professional journals, newsletters and magazines is growing and it's hard to keep up at night. I try to read a little, every night before bed, for it's important to me to keep up with credible research to better serve the public.

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Sept 2012, Vol.30, Number 7.
(I include bits and pieces of each article. For more info and references, send me an email)

Salad Oil Choice affects nutrientsThe type of oil you use in your salad dressing might make a big difference in how well your bodyutilizes the nutrients in those leafy greens and other fixings. Monounsaturated fats, like those found in higher amounts in olive and canola oil, are most effective at liberating the fat-soluble nutrients in salad and veggies, according to new Purdue University research published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. Salads dressed w/ 3g monounsaturated fat promoted as much carotenoid absorption as those with 20grams of te other typesof fat (polyunsaturated and saturated). The findings also raise a caution about low-fat salad dressings suggesting that you may be losing ut on nutrients as well as cutting fat.

A good night's sleep improves food choices
To eat right tomorrow, get a good night's sleep tonight. Sleep-deprived subjects show brain changes that affect decision making and predispose them to poor dietary choices. When subjects were well rested the scans showed greater frontal-lobe activity in areas indicative of decision making. When sleep deprived, subjects responded to fatty, sugary foods with brain activity much like that in studies of the obese.

Almonds have 20% fewer calories than expected
Snacking on 1 ounce of almonds might add only 129 calories to your diet -24% fewer than previously thought. The recalculation by the USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, published in the American J. of Clinical Nutrition, may have implications for the calorie counts of other nuts as well as whole grains. The rigid structure of cell membranes in almonds (and possibly other plant foods) may lock in some fats and keep them from being digested. That would explain why, when almonds were fed to 18 volunteers, an ounce didn't deliver the expected 168-170 calories. If some fat in almonds never gets digested, the actual calorie impact would be lower; applies to whole almonds, while ground nuts may be more completely digested. Pistachios contain 6% fewer calories than thought.

Calcium pills linked to heart attacks
A new study linked calcium supplements to an increased risk of heart attackes. Published in Heart journal, those taking calcium supplements were almost twice likely to suffer heart attacks as people taking no calcium supplements of any kind. Participants were studied for 11 years, during the time, 354 suffered heart attacks from 23,980 germans, ages 35-64. Though the observational study couldn't prove that calcium pills contributed to heart attack risk, the findings were enough to conclude that getting calcium in larger dosages from supplements "is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food. The evidence is also becoming steadily stronger that it is not safe, nor is it particularly effective." "I'd be cautious about drawing firm conclusions with so few cases" says Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD "however, it is another reminder to play it safe - by using calcium supplements only to fill the gap between calcium intake from food and the requirement. Calcium pills have also been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. A balanced diet is the best and safest way to make sure you are getting enough calcium for your bones. Use supplements as the name impies - to supplement what you are getting from food, not as your first line of defense for bone health. Calcium can be found: dairy products, fortfied milk alternatives (soy), fortified cereals, canned sardines, salmon, spinach, kale, beet grens, beans, okra, soybeans, canned crab, clams and trout.

Protein on your plate:
Protein comes in a wide range of foods, and your best guarantee of getting adequate protein with all essential amino acids is to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Lamb (3 ounces braised) - 30g
Beef round steak (3 ounces braised) - 29g
Soybeans (1 cup broiled) - 29g
Ricotta cheese (1 cup part skim) - 28g
Cottage cheese (1 cup low fat) - 28g
Chicken breast (3 ounces roasted) - 27g
Turkey (3 ounces light meat roasted) - 25g
Tuna (3 ounces, canned in water light) -22g
Trail mix (1 cup) - 21g
White beans (1 cup) - 19g
Lentils (1 cup) - 18g
Pinto beans (1 cup, cooked) -15g
Chickpeas (1 cup, cooked) - 15g

Smart sources of vegetable protein: pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh, soy.

Fat choices also affect the brain
New findings on 6183 older women participating in the Women's Health Study show that saturated fat may contribute to decline in cognition and memory, while healthy monounsaturated fat could actually protect your rain.
"When looking at changes in cognitive function, what we found is that the total amount of fat intake did not really matter but the type of fat did," explained lead author Olivia Ikereke, MD. "These findings have significant public health implictions since substituting the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory."
Consumption of polyunsaturated fat was not associated w/ cognitive change one way or the other, nor were total fat or trans fat intake. "There is a lot of evidence tat consumption of unsaturated fat as opposed to saturated fat is better for both your heart and brain." says Tammy Scott, PhD, a scientist at Tufts' HNRCA Nutrition and Neurocognition Lab. The best recommendation is to replace saturated w/ unsaturated.

Is there any difference in nutritional value of golden flaxseeds vs brown flaxseeds?
Both contain 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, primarily ALA in a 3-tbsp serving, the form of omega-3 in plants that has been touted for its health benefits.
While the jury is still out on ALA's own possible benefits, be aware little ALA converts into DHA and EPA, the omega-3s found in fish oil that have been shown to have positive cardiovascular effects.
Flaxseeds are a good source of dietaryfiber. Golden flax have 9grams in 3tbsp while brown flax has 7grams. The brown contains slightly more potassium and calcium, however, golden have 160 calories per 3 tbsp and brown have 140 calories.

From Nutrition Action Healthletter - July/August 2012
Cancer Rx: Exercise
Exercise may raise your odds of surviving brest or colorectal cancer. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute reviewed 23 studies that tracked 37,500 breast cancer patients and 4000 colorectal cancer patients for 3-13 years. Those who got regular exercise were less likely to die, even if they didn't start exercising until after their diagnosis. Exercise may help by lowering insulin levels, curbing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.
"Adequate physical activity should be standard part of cancer care" - Edward Gioannucci of Harvard Scool of Public Health.

More HDL questions
The HDL (good) cholesterol story isn't as simple as researchers had thought.
Numerous studies have found a higher risk of heart disease in people w/ low HDL levels (under 40 in men and under 50 in women). However, last year a trial that raised HDL evels with niacin (2000mgday) failed to lower the risk of heart disease in people who had low HDL and were also taking statins to lower their bad LDL cholesterol.
Two other HDL-raising drugs - fenofibrate and torcetrapib- also failed to protect the heart in earlier studies (Torcetrapib never reached the market). In May, dalcetrapib (HDL raising drug) trial was halted after it found no evidence that the drug was curbing the risk of heart attacks.
Researchers at Harvard found no loer risk of heart disease in people with HDL raisng versions of an endothelial lipase gene. Danish researchers found no lower risk in people with HDL raising versions of lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase gene.
"This may suggest that low HDL cholesterol levels per se do not cause" heart attacks. But everyone is not convinced.
What to do: losing excess weight and getting more exercise can raise HDL. HDL or not, there's plenty of reason to do both.


Nutrition on "rest" days

Campy helping me recover after my long run on Monday morning. What a successful, fun and performance boosting 3-day training load over the long weekend. Nine and a half hours of training in three days all thanks to proper training structure during the week and well fueled bodies for the planned weekend. With 5.5 hours during the week -1 day off (mon), 1 active recovery day (swim tues), 2 swim workouts (wed and fri, light strength on wed) and 1 hard track run + recovery spin (thurs), the focus was body training stress over the weekend (not during the week) in order to adapt effectively to boost fitness. Certainly, this was not possible without special attention to recovery days - over the past few months (as you have been reading in my training recap blogs).

When I start gathering thoughts for my monthly Iron Girl column, I keep my eyes and ears open as to what athletes are discussing. With no plans as to what I will write about each month, I try to provide practical, effective and useful information for all fitness levels and ages.

When it comes to nutrition on rest days, I feel this is an overly-emphasized topic and perhaps too much attention is on the topic of "rest" days. Logically, we all know in order to get stronger, the body needs to be stressed but must recover. For you don't get lean, lose weight or change body composition immediately after a workout but rather when the body starts to refuel and recover in order to get heal itself in order to do it all over again.

It could be that athletes don't trust their diet/appetite on off days and excuse eating because they trained/worked out/burned calories so they struggle w/ taking a day off. This struggle often turns into an overly tired body that struggles to keep up with the training plan. Sadly, no amount of nutrition can undo a broken down body, in a short amount of time.

Perhaps athletes focus on nutrition on rest days because they really do want to get stronger and they want to make sure they are fueling for upcoming workouts. But from what I hear, I feel the main reason why athletes struggle with the day off nutrition is because they don't have confidence in the daily diet (ex mindful eating) or in their training.

I feel I could have taken many different directions with this article but my goal is to provide advice that you can use today to set yourself up for a better tomorrow. I believe everyone is different and everyone recovers and trains differently. This is an area that I love when it comes to working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts. There's nothing more rewarding than helping an athlete w/ "sport nutrition" or the daily diet and having him/her train harder and smarter for quicker and consistent performance gains.
Of course, I'm an athlete too. I get it. I have goals and I love to train. It's important to me, however, that I use my education wisely and not just use it on myself. Knowing how great it feels to train injury free, feel fueled and healthy throughout the day (and never get sick) and feel my body getting stronger, I want us all to enjoy this journey together.

If you have any questions,or concerns, feel free to email or comment.

Nutrition on "Rest" DaysBy Marni Sumbal

Athletes consistently place stress on the body in order to reap optimal performance gains. Here lies the difference between training and exercise. The moment you set your eyes on an event finish line, you are titled as an "athlete" and no longer exercising "to burn calories". Ultimately, to reach fitness goals, the body needs to rest and recover in order to train harder.

To train consistently and reduce risk for injury and illness, focus on ~5-6 days of weekly structured training, with one or two voluntary rest (or active recovery) days. By rewarding your body with at least 4-8 days a month to repair the body and mind, the most important question should be, "how are you eating on the 27 days a month that you are placing stress on the body?"
As a general guideline: consume ~ 120-200 calories pre-workout (30-50grams(g) carbs before a workout + a few grams protein and/or fat - ex. whole grain bread + peanut butter, milk and oats/cereal) and ~200-400 calories (around 15-25g protein + 30-60g of carbs - ex. 8-12 ounces low fat chocolate milk or homemade protein smoothie) post workout, (and a sport drink during the workout as needed, generally if training is >1hr). Gearing up for a rest day? Simply remove the pre, during and post training nutrition and resume your "normal" balanced diet.

You don't have to be a mathematician when it comes to fueling for sport. Consider estimating your daily caloric needs (adjust pending your current BMI - body mass index) by using either the Mifflin-St Jeor, Ireton-Jones or the most commonly used, Harris Benedict equation, to understand your needs as an athlete, depending on your training routine. Here's a simple link to get you started: BMI calculator

It's very easy to overthink the diet when you are active. For if you consume a recommended 55-60% of daily calories from carbohydrates (or 3-7g/kg/body weight) in a 2000 calorie diet and try to decrease to less than 45% on an "off" day, you are merely reducing your daily 275g total carb intake by 50g. In other words, there's no need to eliminate 50g of carbs (200 calories) from nutritious carb-rich meal and snack options like fruit, veggies, whole grains and low fat dairy from your "normal" diet. Just remove the "sport nutrition" and consider re-arranging the composition of meals/snacks to help with fuel storage, hunger and cravings. 

 Restricting heart-healthy foods is never warranted during rest days or taper weeks. Keep in mind that even if you choose to decrease caloric intake to accommodate the occasional day of rest, you are still fueling to prep for another week of quality training.

If you struggle with inconsistent training, injuries, unhealthy food/body relationships, body composition or nutrient deficiencies, it's recommended to consult with a qualified sport registered dietitian to help you fuel and perform like an athlete.

Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.



100-calorie whole food snacks

Cheese and crackers.
I remember the day when this was the definition of a "snack"

Now a day, it seems like people are snacking more than ever. Certainly effective to honor hunger, control blood sugar and to nourish the body but snacks can turn into look-a-like meals, often nutritionally inadequate and calorically dense.

Cookies, chips, bars and cereals now come in individual 100-calorie servings but these "healthy" looking processed, convient foods may provide calories but often leaving you wanting more. Now, fast food establishments are advertising "snack" items just in case you happen to feel hungry while driving (or during work).

In learning to develop a healthier relationship w/ food to fuel my lifestyle, I've really learned to appreciate, enjoy and savour my meals. I love meal time for the yummy-tasting foods that I provide to my body as well as for the enjoyment I find in preparing my meals. I enjoy spending more energy around meal time in order to feel more satisfied throughout the day.

There are days when I am more hungry than other days around late afternoon so I simply adjust my dinner intake (if needed) to account for a larger afternoon snack. I don't feel guilty or upset at my body for requesting more food at a different time but I make sure to honor my hunger. I also find it important that rather than feeling "bad", it's important to see if there was anything I could have done differently (or did differently) that made me feel a little "off" with my appetite or food choices for the day. I believe we always need to work on the diet as we age but it should never be with a "dieting" mentality or to include an off-limit, forbidden food list. As an athlete and lover of life, I believe in the power of mindful and intuitive eating.

In the past, I have found that not having a pre training snack has lead to extreme hunger in afternoon as well as going too long between meals, without having a snack, has lead me to overeat at dinner and through the evening. I always eat breakfast but I often have to tweak it depending on my current training routine for as my training changes, so does my diet.

In recognizing these things, I've addressed my eating/food choices in a positive way, which has allowed me to further my positiv relationship w/ food and has allowed me to train better as well. Never feel as if you are "bad" when it comes to eatng. Reflect and don't be afraid to try new things to make for a better tomorrow.

I'm not into counting calories. Most of the foods in my diet are without food labels and long ingredient lists so rather, I try to identify notable nutrients instead. Although it may work for many to count, measure and weigh, I feel there is some freedom in freeing yourself from being a mathematician when it comes to food and instead, addressing the nutritional quality of the diet and how food makes you feel around meal time and how it enhances your life.

The reason why I find it beneficial to share the following 100-calorie Whole Food Snacks (found in my September 2012 issue of Environmental Nutrition newsletter) is to encourage you to see snacking as an opportunity to fill in any nutritional gaps in the diet.

Additionally, with wholefoods as snack options, it is much easier to feel satisfied with nutrient-dense calories. Address the composition of your meals so you are left satisfied afterward, because you were hungry going into the meal. Think of snacks as a way to control hunger so you don't go into meals starving. If it helps, rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10 throughout the day. Consider feelings of starvation, stuffed, low blood sugar or bloated to help tweak the diet so your food choices help to fuel your lifestyle and training routine.

So next time you consider the following 400-calorie "snack" of a "super fruit" greek yogurt parfait and 2 fig newtons
Check out the following 100-calorie snacks:
Environmental Nutrition, Sept 2012 issus pg 2.
1) 17 almonds - 102 calories, 4g protein, 9g fat. Star nutrients include vitamin E, Manganese
2) Avocao (1/4 cup mashed) w/ sliced red pepper (1/2 small) - 104 calories, 1g protein, 9g fat. Start nutrients inclde fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate.
3) 1 Banana  (Medium) - 105 calories, 1g protein. Star nutrients include fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese
4) Edamama (1/2 cup) - 95 calories, 8g protein, 4g fat. Star nutrients include fiber, vitamin K, Thiamin, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Manganese
5) Figs (2 large) - 94 calories, 1g protei. Star nutrient include fiber
6) Hardboiled egg (1 jumbo) - 90 calorie, 8g protein, 6g fiber. Star nutrients include: riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium.
7) Kiwi fruit (1 cup sliced) - 108 calories, 2g protein, 1g fat. Star nutrients include fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, potassium and copper.
8) 1 cup non fat milk - 86 calories, 8g protein. Star nutrients include riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
9) 1.5 oz part skim mozzarella cheese w/ 1 fresh tomato - 110 calories, 11g protein, 6g fat. Star nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and phosporus.
10) Popcorn (air popped) 3 cups - 93 calories, 3g protein. Star nutrient includes fiber.
11) Raspberry smoothie (1/2 cup nonfat milk, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1 tsp honey) - 97 calories, 4g protein. Star nutrients include fiber, protei, vitamin A,vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus and manganese.
12) Sunflower seed butter (1 tbsp) w/ apple slices (1/4 cup) - 107 calories, 3g protein, 8g fat. Star nutrients include vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.
13) Salmond (canned pink 2ounces) w/ light mayo (1 tbsp) - 108 calories, 12g protein, 4g fat. Star nutrients include vitamin D, niacin, calcium, vitamin B12 and selenium.
14) Whole wheat mini pita (2) w/ hummus (1 tbsp) - 101 calories, 4g protein, 2g fat. Star nutrients include manganse and selenium.


Sport Nutrition Tip: Nutrient Timing

Wow - I really didn't think I had it in me for another day in the hills of San Antonio FL yesterday morning. After a very challenging ~2:45 ride (challenging in that staying on Karel's wheel for almost three hours on flat ground can be tough - but the ups and downs of hills have me releasing my inner Jens Voigt "Shut up Legs") and a brutally hot almost 1 hour run, I was beat all day on Saturday. I was in bed by 9:30am although I think I could have called it a day around 4pm.
We woke up early on Sunday so Karel could join the group in San Antonio for a little to see if he still had any surges left in his category 1 cycling legs.....while on his tri bike.
When we arrived to the famous San Antonio parking lot (if you are there after 8pm, good luck finding a parking spot as it is filled w/ bike racks and mdot stickers on cars) I was worried about my energy during the ride.  We had an endurance bike on the schedule - almost 4 hours and I was really concerned about my mind and body working together. I hate that foggy feeling in my head during long rides but I kept reminding myself that within the past year and a half - since really focusing on my nutrition before, during and after workouts - I have not experienced that feeling, nor have I struggled w/ recovery, energy or getting sick.
I trusted my fueling and I trusted my mind and before I knew it, I was on Karel's wheel for his warm-up and feeling great. 2 hours and 20 minutes later, I met up with Karel after he pulled me around for about 90 more minutes for an almost 4 hour ride in the hills.
Amazingly - I felt amazing. If you would have asked me to anticipate my energy post ride, at 5:30am that morning, I would have likely said I would be suffering.
After the ride, we did a quick 2.5 mile run and legs didn't feel heavy as I was able to average a steady 7:29 min/mile for 2 miles and then cool down.
A quick stop at the gas station for a chocolate milk and I was shocked as to how good my body felt - considering the possibility of residual fatigue from Saturday.
I felt much better  on Sunday compared to could that be??
Oh - the beauty of nutrient timing.
I've been diligent about my nutrition during workouts (as well as fueling pre workout to help control hunger and help w/ recovery and energy during workouts) considering the constant reminders from Karel "It isn't a contest as to how little fuel you can take in before, during or after a workout" when I consider whether or not I need that swig of gel in the last 20 minutes of a bike before the run, bringing liquid calories w/ me during all runs off the bike or if I need to add 50 calories per bottle during my long rides. Now, it's a no brainer. The better I fuel, the harder I train, the quicker I recover and the easier it is to do it all over again the next time/day in order to get stronger. I don't aspire to be lean...I want to have a strong body that will perform well.

Do you focus on nutrient timing as an athlete? I started to appreciate this topic while in grad school for exercise physiology but it wasn't until I started applying scientific principles to my own training routine, that I started to recognize the vital importance of "eating for fuel". Now I can help others prolong training/reduce fatigue, boost immune system, quicken recovery and improve insulin sensitivity. Here's a little insight in the topic of nutrient timing around workouts:
-During exercise catabolic (break down) hormones (ex. epinephrine, cortisol, glucagon) prepare the body to use glucose (from muscle and liver glycogen) for fuel. They also increase heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac functioning, blood redistribution and respiration rate to withstand stress during training. It is the anabolic (build up) hormones that support muscle growth (hypertrophy), repair tissues, reduce inflammation, regulate macronutrient metabolism (carbs, protein, fat) which include IGF-I, insulin, testosterone and growth hormone.
-Of importance to you as the athlete, especially if you struggle w/ recovery, feel run-down a lot (or get sick a lot) or feel extreme hunger or mood changes post workout: During prolonged exercise, cortisol levels continue to increase, muscle glycogen is gradually decreasing and insulin sensitivity decreases. By focusing on your pre, during and post training nutrition you can boost nutrient transport to muscles (ex. carbohydrates and amino acids), reduce the loss of glyocgen and protein during exercise, enhance recovery (for more consistent training) and reduce muscle damage while strengthening the immune system. 
-Keep it simple:
Pre training: Toast, banana or plain cereal (ex. shredded wheat) w/ PB, milk or an egg.
During: Sport drink, consistently every 10-15 minutes - liquids, calories, carbohydrates, electrolytes.
Post - Whey protein brown rice + Pea (vegan) smoothie, cow's milk (low fat) or chocolate milk (low fat)