Essential Sports Nutrition


Dream big, success will follow

In less than 24 hours, athletes from around the globe will be anticipating the start of the 34th Ironman World Championships. And then there are the athletes who are actually competing in the 2012 Ironman World Championships. Every athlete who has earned his/her place to be at the starting line  will discover his/her inner strength as the Big Island will likely not hold back with fierce winds and heat for 140.6 miles of swim,bike and run.

For the athletes experiencing their first Kona, this will be an unbelievable experience. Nothing can describe what it feels likes to be at the center stage of Ironman. For many, October 13th 2012 is a day that many have dreamed of for 5, 10, 15+ years....finally earning a spot to race amongst the best in the world.

For the athletes who are veterans to the Ironman World Championships, it is the positive energy that radiates from every person on the island, that keeps athletes inspired and determined to return, year after year.

I wasn't able to come up with an inspiring blog post or provide words of advice for the athletes who are racing tomorrow at the Ironman World Championships. I didn't feel like putting together a list of last minute nutrition to-do's or pacing suggestions.

I think we can all assume that the athletes who are approaching their last sleep before the biggest Ironman event of their career/year, are excited for the big day.

But believe it or not, negative thoughts, comparing yourself to others, lack of confidence, fear or feeling unprepared, can ruin great performances..... no matter how lean you are, how many miles you swam/biked/ran or how many past races you have won. Regardless if you are walking your first 5K or participating in the Olympics (or anything in between), the person who dreams big will find success no matter the day, so long a positive attitude, a strong mind and a trained (yet rested and well-fueled fueled) is part of the equation.

After I train in the am, I will be glued to the computer from 12:45pm EST until my eyes can no longer stay open. I will wake up early enough to see the last hour of finishers cross the finishing line from 6-7am EST. I know I am not alone when I say that watching the Ironman World Championships on NBC for the very first time, sparked a fire that made me dream big. I believe that no matter who is reading this blog right now, success is within your reach.

Dream big and get excited for the success that will follow.

As I reflect, here's a little from my Kona 26.2 run recap:

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

As a coach, exercise physiologist, dietitian, 5x Ironman finisher and 2x Ironman world championship finisher, I respect the human body for all that it allows me to do on a daily basis. Throughout this Ironman journey, I have developed a deep relationship with my body and with the right balance of my lifestyle of triathlon with my passion for living my life to the fullest and helping others, I feel I was able to enter this Ironman in the best mental and physical shape of my life.
What I find so amazing about the body is that for many of us, we have a gift. Regardless of finishing time, those of us who reach an Ironman starting line have a gift, comprised of mostly perseverance. This is a gift that many people don't recognize and for others, that many people would love to have, but lack the desire, motivation or means of wanting to train for a 140.6 mile event.

For most of us, we are age-groupers. The Ironman event series gives us a challenge, a way to feel successful and a way to see the body become something that we never thought was possible. We surround ourselves with people who support us, believe in us and are inspired by our decision to sign-up, train and compete in an Ironman but then there are those who are in our lives, that call us "crazy" for putting our body through such pain and torture. When it comes to race day, our reasons for getting to the finishing line include a raffle of thoughts and ideas. While we shoot for personal bests and an inner strength to dig deep, we also consider the time, money and personal and emotional investment that we contributed to the last x-months in training for this Ironman event.

Although I feel the 140.6 mile Ironman distance fits my body and personality the best, out of the many available triathlon distances, I do not take for granted that anything can happen on race day. Sure, anything is possible on race day, but I see my body as this amazing machine that should be taken care of as if it was glass.

This Ironman journey included much more than "training hard and long". Actually, I feel as if the training was beyond hard because it forced me to break down the sport and focus on the little things that would make for a great race day performance. With only 1 ride over 100 miles and my longest run of 16 miles off the bike, my goal with my training was to develop the confidence that I needed to believe in myself that I could put my training to the test.

I believe that anyone who sets out to do an Ironman, needs a solid base. Once that endurance base is built, he/she must focus on quality training, in addition to focusing on a goal with the right attitude. I believe that Ironman training should be fun, but it isn't without its up and down moments. Because we often question the reason for participating in the most self-fulfilling, one day endurance triathlon event, we must have a goal. This goal allows us to be consistent with training, to rest when the body can no longer perform at an optimal level and to go into the race with a practical plan.
With every training session in my 14-weeks B4KONA training plan, I saw myself in the Kona race...I could see myself crossing the finish line with a specific time and every interval in Jacksonville took place - in my mind - in Kona, on the Ironman course. I was not afraid to "RACE" Kona because I had believed in myself that I could race my plan. I recognized that obstacles would be thrown my way on the amazing BIG ISLAND of Kona but I always plan to race within my stretchable limits.

The Ironman is an indescribable accomplishment because it is more than just a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because we can't compare race to race, season to season, event to event, you are always forced to put your current training to the test and be one with your mind and body on that given day. The deciding factor on race day isn't how far you swam, biked or ran or how much money you spent on gear or how much body fat you have on race day. When it comes to racing or participating in an Ironman, you have to want it....bad Although many people want that finish or best time...."PR or ER" as some may say, I believe that the Ironman should explore our boundaries of what we are capable of achieving.

One thing I have learned in my triathlon and Ironman career is that athletes are not made in season, nor are they defined by one race. Many people look at results, rather than what happened within the race.

On October 8th, 2011, I did not have the race that I dreamed of having. On paper, my time did not reflect what I had trained my body to do. But after relishing in my accomplishment of finishing another Ironman over the past few days, I have done plenty of reflecting to decide that this was the best race of my life. This was a true test of my ability to overcome obstacles and this is what will drive me, motivate me and will allow me to succeed in the future. This race forced me to use the most significant training tool that I had included in my 14-week training journey. For if it wasn't for my mind and ability to listen to so many conversations in my head, I would have left KONA as a DNF athlete.

"Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation."


Does your daily plate fuel you?

I can't believe one year ago, I was checking myself in at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Hopefully one day I will earn my way back to the Big Island for Kona #3.
Karel enjoyed his vacation by exploring on his bike, finding the steepest mountains on the island. Perhaps one day he will be racing in Kona on a tri bike?

Last year, I had the opportunity to write a piece for LAVA online, taking your plate to the big island.

I asked my editor if I could take a break from my monthly Plate Not Pills Column and dedicate an article specifically to fueling the body for an Ironman. But, my intent was not to write an article specifically for Ironman athletes.
I hope you enjoy my article that will inspire and motivate you to create a plate (3 a day) that will fuel your lifestyle. Keeping in mind that it is the synergy of nutrients that helps improve overall health and provide fuel to the body, never overlook the importance of emphasizing a real food diet.

Eat smart now for your best day on the Big Island

The 34th IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, this Saturday will be an exciting day for athletes around the world. As the top age group, professional, and lottery athletes put their arduous training to the ultimate test, envious triathletes from near and far will have the opportunity to volunteer and spectate on the big island of Kona or watch the race on IronmanLIVE on
Over the past few decades, very little has changed in the world of sport nutrition before, during and after competition. Consistent intake, nutrient timing and experience are the keys that unlock great performances. There’s no novelty in the importance of a well-planned approach to fueling our races. Fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and calories should never be overlooked by the athlete who wants to perform well race day. We all know that having a well-planned sport nutrition plan is a critical component to racing strong.
To execute our most solid performances, however, our daily diets also ensure that we’re receiving the right amounts and types of macro and micronutrients to support the metabolic processes that get us to the start line healthy. Not specific to the injured, over trained or burnt-out athletes, the daily diet is the cement and the core of consistent training. In between obsessing about the miles accomplished in training, don’t forget to pay a little respect to the body with real food, thanking it for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.
Training for an IRONMAN is no joke. Excessive oxidative stress, a weakened immune system, a foggy brain, lethargic muscles and frail bones can often trump the positives of a stronger cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular system. Over the next few days, choose to fuel your body not only for race day’s unique demands, but for longevity and overall health.

Foods to fuel a … 2.4 mile swim

As soon as you enter the water at Dig Me Beach your well-fueled body will experience a quick jump in heart rate. Blood vessels will begin to dilate and your body will flood with emotions. Body marked and lathered in sunscreen, your previously calm belly may become unsettled as your legs tremble down the stairs to enter the water.
For the next 2.4 miles, swimmers quickly realize how much they value oxygen and the freedom to breathe for the next 138.2 miles. Because muscular strength and respiratory endurance are required to overcome the resistance in the water, every swim training session starts to pay off. Consider including the following swim-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Nitrates – to dilate blood vessels choose arugula, choose beets, spinach, rhubarb, and dark chocolate
L-arginine – to improve blood vessel functioning, choose watermelon, beans, and tuna
Probiotics – to aid in a healthy gut, choose plain low-fat yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea
B12 – to help with the production of red blood cells choose oysters, chuck steak, and swiss cheese
Fiber – to help with digestion choose lentils, bran, and pears
Chromium – to help maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels choose bulgur, oatmeal, brewer’s yeast, and potatoes
Water – despite being surrounded by it, swimming causes your body to perspire. To also help with digestion before a race, be sure to focus on a healthy hydration strategy on the days leading up to a race

Foods to fuel a … 112 mile bike

As swimmers exit the water to prepare for one of the most physically and mentally draining, yet beautiful rides of their life, it’s time to focus on the next leg of this exciting journey.
Enter the lava fields and the out-and-back bike route becomes anything but boring. You’ll battle the blazing heat, the legendary taxing climb to Hawi, and the persistent cross winds. For many, this is the most overlooked energy-costing portion of the race. At no other time in your cycling career will you be forced to show off your exceptional bike handling skills and never will your body beg for so many fluids, electrolytes and energy-boosting carbs as it will here. Consider including the following bike-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Chromium – plays a key role in neurotransmitters involved in memory and muscle function; choose eggs, chicken, dried parsley, Brussels sprouts, skim milk, flax seeds
Folic acid – to help with red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis and repair, prevention of anemia and cellular growth; choose spinach, asparagus, papaya, pinto beans, avocado
Magnesium –to help with heart rhythm, muscle and nerve functioning and bone strength; choose brazil nuts (1 per day), quinoa, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans
Potassium – playing a role in fluid balance, blood pressure and cardiac functioning choose bananas, sweet potatoes, crimini mushrooms, prunes, milk, salmon
Sodium – important for fluid balance; visit your favorite Big Island pizza or pasta restaurant for a delicious sodium-rich pre race meal
Vitamin A – needed for optimal vision, healthy skin and to boost the immune system; choose paprika, carrots, kale, dried basil, butternut squash
B1 – to help the body metabolize carbohydrates and for a better mood; choose wheat germ, lean pork, pecans, brown rice, tuna
Vitamin C – to protect cells from oxidative stress and help the body form collagen; choose yellow bell peppers, thyme, broccoli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries
Water – to help regulate temperature, loosen joints, transport nutrients, help with digestion and move waste throughout the body, water is the essential component of the foundation of fueling (fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates, calories)

Foods to fuel a … 26.2 mile run

So you thought electrolytes were important on the bike? It isn’t until you step onto the hot pavement on Ali’i drive that you are thankful that you have fueled consistently. All the liquid calories will have helped with hydration status and blood pH to support nerve, cardiac and muscular functioning. With the volunteers and spectators giving you more energy than can be found in a cup of cola, you find yourself buzzing with emotion on this, the final leg of your 140.6 mile journey. As you shuffle your way up Palani Road, the rolling hills on the Queen K appear much longer and taller than they did on the bike. Questioning your energy with each step, you finally make a left turn toward the Energy Lab, which sucks the energy from even the well-fueled athletes. Not once in training has your body had to battle central and peripheral fatigue like it will for the last six miles of the marathon. Overcome with mixed feelings, your body is screaming as you make your way back to town. Nevertheless, the amazing volunteers keep you going, despite every muscle group wanting to surrender.
With less than two miles to go, the crowds are two and three rows deep and Mike Reilly is waiting for you on that notorious white line. Suddenly, your weak body perceives an unfamiliar amount of energy and you sprint (so you think) the last 100 meters in the finishing chute.
As you high-five the children who aspire to be you one day, you raise your hands in the air to signify that you are now an Ironman World Championship finisher!
Two volunteers support your sweat, gel and sport drink-covered body to the massage and food tent and, with a well-earned medal around your neck, you thank your body for taking you on this indescribable journey.
After the pain fades, you are asking yourself “what is next?” As you set your sights on another thrilling race season, never forget that a diet filled with energy producing, immune-system boosting and important vitamins and minerals will allow your body to maintain this life-changing lifestyle for the rest of your life. Consider including the following run-supporting foods in your daily diet as you approach the race:
Iron – a key component of red blood cells and energy production; choose sardines, lean meat, pumpkin seeds, tofu, baked potato, and molasses
Calcium – essential for bone growth, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals; choose soy milk, hard cheeses, yogurt, almonds, and figs
Copper – important for the metabolism of iron, reduce oxidative stress and help with bone and connective tissue production; choose cocoa powder, tahini paste, sundried tomatoes, marjoram, barley
Phosphorus – to help regulate calcium and for making ATP (energy); choose rice bran, edamame, pine nuts, halibut, mozzarella cheese, wheat and rice bran
Niacin (and tryptophan) – to assist in the conversion of foods to energy choose turkey, spelt, peanuts, and soybeans
Zinc – playing a role in digestion, energy metabolism, eye health, insulin sensitivity, wound healing and appetite,a choose beef chuck or shank, oatmeal, chickpeas, and sesame seeds
Water – making up about 60 percent of your body weight, every system of your body requires water; never overlook the importance of liquid calories during training and racing
Marni Sumbal is a clinical dietitian, writer, and public speaker who specializes in sport nutrition. She is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC, a five-time IRONMAN finisher, and a two-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher. Earlier this year, she won the amateur race at Branson 70.3 and the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon. Enjoying an active and healthful lifestyle, she enjoys vegetarian cooking and running with her furry best friend, Campy.

Read more: Fueling Kona: Your Daily Plate : LAVA Magazine
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Halloween Nutrition Tips - keeping balance in mind

Halloween Nutrition Tips - keeping balance in mind


Pump, Pump, Pump It Up! Uses of pumpkin other than carving this fall

Oakley ambassador Carly shares her spooky tips on being creative w/ pumpkin! Greatt tips!
Pump, Pump, Pump It Up! Uses of pumpkin other than carving this fall

Tempeh and black bean stir fry

Every time I work at Baptist Medical Center Beaches (where I work as a clinical dietitian, as needed), I bring my lunch.

I love it when people ask "what creation did you make today?" as it gives me great joy to share with others what I am enjoying. Maybe I smile too much when I eat?

Key word: ENJOY

Because I make my lunch the night before (typically leftovers), I am always so excited to see how it tastes the next day. I have yet to be disappointed and my meals leave me super satisfied because I am making meals that fit my needs. I am not out to impress others as to how "low carb, low fat, low calorie" I can eat for I don't believe a diet should be low in anything. Bad, off-limit, won't find me ever saying those words when it comes to my diet or the food I am eating. I want a meal to leave me satisfied so that I have energy later in the day and to be productive, alert and so my mood stays happy all day. It's so much fun to describe the ingredients in my meal and of course, eat it w/ silverware rather than w/ my hands.

When I work w/ individuals who are trying to change dietary habits and feel the pressure to "give-in" as to what others are sharing/eating or feel like an outsider, I remind them to keep in mind that you have the ability to inspire others w/ your creations, so long as you trust yourself that what you are eating is working for you. Everyone is on his/her own journey but when it comes to food, it has to work for you to fit your lifestyle (and activity) needs.
No need to tell others that they need to eat like you but rather, inspire others to enjoy real food. I don't believe there is a perfect way to eat and certainly, some progress is better than no progress.

Whether you are making a 100% homemade creation, bringing mixed raw veggies to go along w/ a PB&J on whole grain bread or bringing a salad from home to enjoy w/ your lunchtime fast food hamburger, keep in mind that the foods you eat should make you feel better after you eat them, than before. Be proud of what you are eating...even when you indulge every now and again on those 'occasional' eats.

I think when people look at my creations at work, they think my recipes are complicated, time-consuming and difficult. If they only knew.....

I guess the hardest part is just taking the 10 minutes to get off the couch in the evening to make this for the next day. But I promise, the 10 minutes of your day spent in the kitchen to make a lunch, will be worth it when it comes to reaching health-related goals and of course, showing off your creation at work the next day. Oh and never forget leftovers - they make for a 5 minute prep for lunch!
Grilled tempeh (1 block tempeh, sliced into wedges. Cooked in a little olive oil on medium heat until golden).
Canned black beans (Rinsed well under cold water for a minute)
Frozen edamame (without the pods) - placed in Tupperware frozen
Frozen corn - placed in Tupperware frozen
Leftover brown rice (cooked in microwave)
Mozzarella cheese
White onion (sliced)
Seasonings (basil, parsley, pepper, curry)
Large handful spinach

1. Toss everything in Tupperware, except spinach. I don't measure but I do about a large handful beans, corn and edamame. I used about 1/3 brick of tempeh, about 1/2 cup brown rice.
2. Cover with a large handful or two of your favorite leafy green and sprinkle w/ cheese and salsa.
3. Shake, refrigerate and cook in microwave the next day for 2 minutes.
4. Enjoy
Viola! Super easy.
I recently received my latest issue of Environmental Nutrition (Oct 2012 issue). There was a great article on pg 2 titled "Healthy Food Preparation is Everything".
According to the article, here are the TOP HEALTHY FOOD PREP STYLES
1. Don't toss the salad: instead, serve a small amount of light or oil-based dressing on the side. "Put the salad on your fork and then "dip" it into a small amount of the salad dressing."
2. Light saute: quickly sauteing veggies or lean meats, poultry or fish in a small amount of olive oil is a great preparation technique.
3. The fresher, the better: The best way to preserve all of those nutrients in foods is to serve them fresh, such as in a salad or veggie appetizer.
4. Don't toss out the peel: Remember, most of the nutrients in plant foods are found in the skin or directly under the skin. Don't peel your fruits and veggies w/ edible skins like potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples and pears.
5. Crisp steaming: Don't overcook veggies in large amounts of water, which can leach nutrients. Steam then until they are crisp-tender.
6. Slow cooking: Pull out your crock pot to cook meats in slow, moist hat - a cooking style that doesn't promote the development of carcinogens. It is also great for cooking beans and lentils.
7. Try a rice cooker: The best way to cook whole grains, such as brown rice, what berries, barley and quinoa is to place the grain and the recommended amount of water into a rice cooker and push the button.
8. Bake it: Place chicken, fish, potatoes and casseroles in the oven for an easy, light cooking technique.
9. Skip the sauce: Instead of relying on fatty, salty sauces, dips and condiments, serve "clean" whole foods w/ plenty of herbs, spices, tomato sauce and lemon juice for flavor.


Happy 5th Birthday Campy!!

Our life was changed four years ago. Campy came into our life and when I blogged about it (HERE) we never imagined that we would love him more and more, every day.

Every morning, Campy wakes up with energy and smiles, loving the opportunity to live another day. Come evening, Campy is thankful he had another day to make memories.

We are so lucky to have Campy as part of our family. It is a responsibility that I love and I couldn't imagine my life without him. Campy has taught us so many things in life, amazingly, without even saying a word.

Celebrating 4 amazing years with Campy has given me a huge appreciation for life and what it means to live life to the fullest. Not a day passes that I am not grateful for the opportunities I have been given, the memories I have made, the achievements I have worked hard for and the people in my life who love and support me. I smile everyday because I give myself many reasons to be happy and to enjoy the life I choose to live.

One of my favorite reasons, without  a doubt, is my 11 lb four-legged furry-one who has an endless amount of unconditional love to share with the world.

Happy Birthday Campy!!!

Here's to many more years of road trips, chasing birds in the sky, morning/afternoon/evening walks, campy miles, toy destruction's, sleeping in a king size bed (lucky dog!), enjoying food that "accidentally" falls to the floor when I cook, kisses, visiting your grandparents at the "resort", showing off your speed to the other doggies (and humans), sleeping in, sleeping pictures and living the best life ever!