Essential Sports Nutrition


T or F: Healthy Living answers

I hope you enjoyed my blog  from yesterday as well as the video on my HeartWise TV segment with News4Jax. Since four-minutes leaves very little time to talk about all my helpful tips for healthy living, here is the extending version for your reading pleasure....

1) T or F: You have to exercise 1 hour  a day to have a healthy heart?
2) T or F: To lose weight and to be healthy you have to avoid sugar and salt?
3) T or F: You have to eat only whole grains on a healthy diet?
4 T or F: To help your heart, eating, body composition and sleep habits you need to manage stress?
5) T or F: You have to be a vegetarian to be healthy?
6) T or F: Portion control is the most important thing in a healthy eating plan?

Research says that all you need is ~150 minutes of moderate intensity activity  a week to improve health and quality of life (Yes triathletes/runners - that is per week, not one workout). However, because of our very sedentary lifestyle, I encourage people to move as much as possible. 10 minute segments add up throughout the day so just try to move your body as much as you can. Because consistency is key to exercise benefits, perhaps breaking it up throughout the day may work best for you depending on your fitness level, time restraints, energy and workout.

No need to be extreme as we do need salt and sugar in the diet. However, where it is coming from will make the difference as to how much you can/should eat. Focus on a more whole food diet and you will find yourself involuntarily reducing added sugar and salt in the diet. Read food labels to be a more educated consumer as the hidden sources of food (Ex. bread, cereals, cheeses, processed meats, frozen foods, canned foods, etc.) can add up throughout the day. Add flavor (and antioxidants) with herbs and spices and when you find yourself consuming primarily real food, a little salt is fine and will go a long way for flavoring food. As for sugar, again you need to read the labels as you can find added sugar in everything from cereal and granola bars to yogurt, marinara sauce and peanut butter). Emphasize natural sugars which also have fiber and the body will have an easier time digesting them to keep you satisfied. For women, up to 25g a day of added sugar (35g for men) is fine so prioritize where your added sugar is coming from and of course, enjoy it!

The best part about whole grains (besides being yummy) is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. An easy way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet is to aim for ~3 servings of whole grains a day as a minimum. A serving counts as 1 whole grain slice toast, 1 cup whole grain cereal, 1/2 cup grains (ex. brown rice, quinoa, barley). 

4) TRUEStress can be good or bad. We want to reduce stress to help with blood pressure and to help with immunity. The key is not just minimizing stress but managing stress. Because we can't live a stress-free life, we need to recognize our major stressors and then have an action plan as to how we will (in a healthy manner) manage/deal with the stress.

5) FALSERather than following a branded diet (aside from religious, ethical or health reasons), create your own diet that is plant strong. We want to create a diet that is filled with fruits and veggies (nature's medicine) along with whole grains, quality protein (animal and primarily plant protein) and healthy fats.

6) TRUE AND FALSEPortion control is a great way to manage your calories in vs your calories out but most importantly it is a way to be sure that you are giving your body enough vitamins and minerals and nutrients to meet your individual needs. But besides portion control, think about your lifestyle in terms of food. Try to be a better meal planner, eat slowly, make time to eat, eat with your utensils and a napkin, eat behind a table (not behind a computer screen or in the car) and learn to develop a healthy relationship with food. Appreciate the food that you choose to fuel your lifestyle and don't forget that prevention is cheaper than medicine.


Strong is the New Skinny

Ladies - Strong IS beautiful! #oakleypbc
Strong is the New Skinny

True or False: Healthy Living

It's kinda interesting how a LIVE TV segment is very similar to someone who is wanting to make lifestyle changes. 
On TV - it is very rushed. You just never feel like you have enough time and you can't cover every topic as planned. There are delays and things can go wrong but yet you just have to carry on and make the best of everything.
I really enjoy being on TV for that very reason....I just have to do the best I can with the time available, hoping that it was enough to allow at least one person to feel like they can walk away with something practical and realistic in terms of info to change their lifestyle. 

When I was becoming a RD, I quickly learned that it is not my job to tell people everything I know. First off, experience is key in my field and I can't tell you how awesome it is to be a clinical RD. I learn so much every time I work and although I feel more and more comfortable at the hospital every time I am there, I still have a long way to go...just like nurses, MD's and other health professionals. Even in my specialty field of sport nutrition and exercise physiology, the human body is so complex that I can't go a day without learning something new. Having said all that, it is not my responsibility to act as if I know everything but instead provide information to individuals that is case-appropriate and to keep on learning throughout my career as a RD/Exercise physiologist.

Just like writing an article, I have to know my audience, the perceived/wanted goals (or outcome) of my talk/article/presentation and what take-aways will be valuable to the audience. I have really enjoyed being part of Baptist Heartwise for Women and helping women change their lifestyle to improve heart health and quality of life.



Here are a few questions for you (seeing that I didn't have time to cover everything during my "long" 4 minute segment):

1) T or F: You have to exercise 1 hour  a day to have a healthy heart?
2) T or F: To lose weight and to be healthy you have to avoid sugar and salt?
3) T or F: You have to eat only whole grains on a healthy diet?
4 T or F: To help your heart, eating, body composition and sleep habits you need to manage stress?
5) T or F: You have to be a vegetarian to be healthy?
6) T or F: Portion control is the most important thing in a healthy eating plan?

Answers will be posted later..... or you can watch the segment and stay tuned on my blog for more details about the answers.

If you knew the answers, ask yourself where you found out the correct information? Was it common sense, from a website, from a friend, from a health professional? Bottom line, healthy living and eating does not require a degree or extreme program to follow. Think about a few changes you can make today to help you prepare for a better tomorrow. If you put off changes and keep doing the same things, you can expect the same results. You know the answers as to how you can start living a healthier lifestyle - it doesn't require a diet book, a magazine subscription or a trainer. Sure, a health scare from your MD or a wake-up call in your personal life may convince you it is time to change some habits but for the most part, everyone can make a few changes in their personal life (diet, exercise, lifestyle) to improve quality of life.


Quick update...

A few updates since my mind and muscles have been staying busy lately....
Campy is still cute as those ears!

What a yummy creation! Grilled eggplant with mixed veggies (corn, onions, spinach) and  topped with grilled tempeh and pistachios. Delicious!

Karel just got a new toy! The Garmin 510 which replaced his Garmin 500 Edge. I love the edge on my bike but just hearing about the features of the 510, I'm hoping that with a few more yummy creations, I will have a 510 on my bike as well :)
What's great about the 510 is that the touchscreen Garmin 510  is compatible with your smartphone for instant uploads to Garmin Connect and live tracking. Once Karel plays around with it for a while, I will write a review on it.
Speaking of Karel, he joined thousands of runners (and 4 of my amazing Trimarni Coaching athletes) in Jacksonville for the Donna 26.2 Half and Full Marathon. Karel ran the half marathon and placed 9th overall male and 2nd age group!!! He had a PR and missed first age group by 3 seconds. Finishing time 1:21:37 (6:14 min/mile pace). Karel enjoyed running with the Elite marathon females for half of the race, on his way to run a 1:18 half marathon but the wind was tough and the last three miles, along with the bridge and sand throughout the race, made it a tough race for consistent efforts. However, Karel made sure no girl would "chick" him before the finish line. I guess Karel is really enjoying his new multisport lifestyle! Karel is incredibly talented but he also works hard. He trains and races very smart and hopefully I can get a race report about his race on this blog in the next few days. I'm so proud of him and all my amazing athletes..and all the runners who raced for a great cause!

A little social media......yay for 110% Play Harder for making it into this month's Fitness Magazine!

And I'm LOVING Oakley Women new ads! Are your comfortable sweating in your cute workout clothes? Oakley has stylish gear that is made for working out.
Also - need a good race-prep, 1 hour swim workout? Here's my workout, featured on Triathlete Magazine online:
Workout HERE

Time to go finish up my prep for my final segment with News4Jax and the Baptist HeartWise for Women program. I'm really excited to be part of this program and to see how Melanie has made some amazing changes in her overall health. I'll post the link when it is available online.


My secret fueling strategy: gel flask

It's really no secret as I have been using a gel flask for the past few years and if you read my race reports you will notice that I keep my fueling regime as simple as possible. Simple so that I can properly digest and absorb my liquid sport nutrition which is planned based on my racing duration and intensity. Above is me running the fastest run split of the day at Branson 70.3...fueled with 2 gels in my gel flask, topped with water and then consuming water at aid stations. On the bike for longer races and training, I have 3 cages (2 on my frame and 2 in the rear but 1 cage is used for my tubular tire and CO2) with 3 bottles of sport drinks. Because I plan to refill my bottles with water or powdered sport nutrition (Hammer) I like to carry  a gel flask with 1-4 gels topped with water for sipping as needed. In both scenarios (bike and run) I stay hydrated with 20-28 ounces of water but use my sport drink and/or gel for carbohydrates and electrolytes.

I have been fueling with Hammer Nutrition for years (picture is from Hammer Nutrition) as my no-fail sport nutrition company but no matter what sport drink or gel you want to use, the gel flask makes it super easy to take in gels (or sport drink powder) consistently during training and racing to meet your electrolyte and carbohydrate needs. There are many strategies to obtain your fluid and energy needs in racing (Ex. aid stations) so whether you are training or racing, it's important that you prioritize your fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates to keep your nerves firing to contract and relax your muscles and to keep your liver from emptying stored carbohydrates in order to keep the muscles consistently fueled and energized. Oh and to keep your brain focused and alert.

I got this idea from Karel who was using a gel flask for his cycling races (when races as a Cat 1 a few years ago) as it was hard for him in crits or road races to handle gels due to all the acceleration and attacks. Also, he needed something calorie dense to just take a swig of with his sport drinks as neither of us like to take in solid food during training to meet our nutritional fueling needs. Karel introduced me to the gel flask and then when I found out Hammer had a flask that was easy to hold I knew it was a no-brainer to help me with my fueling regime in triathlons and running races. Thankfully, the gel flask has kept me from bonking and feeling well-fueled without GI distress for many years.

Here are a few great benefits of a gel flask:
-it makes it easy to stay hydrated and fueled when running off the bike in training, even for those 20-30 min "Short" brick runs.
-it is a nice way to supplement additional calories to your sport drink regime, especially on the bike.
-it eliminates wrappers during training and racing which can help you properly fuel without having to spend a few minutes with only one hand on your bike.
-it is easier to take a swig of gel (or sport drink) every 10-15 minutes to help postpone fatigue from a flask than to consume 1 full gel every 40-50 minutes.
-you always have nutrition with you and you can easily refill in training and racing.
-the GI system will find it easier to tolerate a little gel or sport drink every 10 minutes especially in the case of experiencing a high HR in certain parts of training and racing.
-if you don't find a fuel belt comfortable (although I recommend trying to get use to it as I find it a very helpful way to stay fueled/hydrated during long runs or in races with your own nutrition) this can be an easier option to carry with you during training/racing.
-you don't have to worry about wrappers and losing gels from pockets (but always plan back-ups!).

It's also convenient, easy to use, makes training more flexible to meet your consistency needs with the taste of gels (ex. diluting with water), you have less waste and things to carry on the bike and during running (and travel) and less mess.

My favorite Hammer gel is Huckleberry - I was a looooong time vanilla fan but when Huckleberry came out I thought it would be too sweet but I love the taste!

I feel that the best strategy for consistent energy, to control blood sugar and to help reduce risk for injury, burnout and fatigue is to consume sport nutrition at consistent intervals during training and racing. Certainly your ability to tolerate, absorb and digest sport nutrition will affect this strategy but you should not convince yourself that your body can not tolerate sport nutrition as this is a necessity and not a negotiable when it comes to being an athlete. I consider it disrespectful to the body to not consume fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates with well-formulated sport nutrition drinks/gels when the body is under extreme intentional stress.

Still not convinced you need sport nutrition or feel that consuming just 1 gel an hour or eating a few jelly beans during a long race is enough for your body?

Consider your daily diet. Do you eat at 3pm because you feel tired? Do you eat a snack right after dinner? Do you feel shaky or lethargic when you go several hours without eating and then end up overeating because you went too long without food? Now ask yourself how often you prioritize sport nutrition during training? To give yourself a dessert after a meal or to wake yourself up with a snack around 3-4 in the afternoon but to not feel you need consistent energy intake during a workout or race makes no sense. Fuel your body throughout the day with nourishing food and give a little respect to the body by fueling consistently to keep the body in optimal condition during training and racing.

Any questions - send me an email @

I was not paid or encouraged by Hammer Nutrition to write this blog. However, I work with many athletes (including my own Trimarni athletes) on training and nutrition and I have found great success with myself and other adopting a more realistic and easy fueling regime. I am always excited to share with others what has worked (or hasn't worked) with me......if you are interested, Hammer Nutrition has a special going on until 3/21/13. Mention code HG13 when you buy a Hammer Gel jug to receive a free gel flask. For additional products, email me if you have questions on any sport nutrition products and if you are ready to order Hammer Nutrition, feel free to use my product code for a discount on your first order (see link on right of blog page).