Essential Sports Nutrition


Perfecting your morning eats around early AM workouts

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and can set you up for a successful (and controllable) day of eating with great mental focus, alertness and energy. 

One of the common struggles I come across with athletes/fitness enthusiasts is how to fuel in the morning with early morning workouts. 

Common concerns:
-Will I gain weight if I eat before my workout?
-I feel like I'm always snacking in the morning and never feel full?
-I have GI upset if I eat before my workout.
-I can't seem to recover from my workout.
-I do well until mid afternoon and then I can't stop eating!

-I'm always rushing to get my workout in in the morning and then get to work (take care of family).

Here are a few of my recommendations for timing your nutrition with your workouts for the early morning workouts (remember - tweak for your own individual needs and goals - log your lifestyle to reflect on what's working/not working):

-I recommend to have a breakfast meal after your workout if you are working out within 90 min of waking.
-I recommend a small snack (if tolerated) before your workout, around 20-60 min before. Water is recommended to help with digestion (8-12 ounces) and coffee/tea is fine as well.
-During your workout, if around 60-90 minutes, water should meet your fluid needs, electrolytes may be needed if you are working out vigorously. There's nothing wrong with 20-25g of carbohydrates if you feel it will help your workout.
-I recommend a small snack post workout, primarily protein (ex. milk, yogurt, egg, protein powder) of around 10-15g before your "real meal".

By prioritizing your nutrition around your workout in the morning you may find that you are more satisfied throughout the morning until your lunch. I recommend to plan a mid afternoon snack. Typically, most people go more than 5 hours between lunch and dinner meals and thus, will benefit from a planned "mini meal" snack mid afternoon to help with overeating at dinner or late-night snacking/cravings. 

Here's a sample of my morning eats on Wednesday morning: 

-5:30am - Wake-up, walk Campy, drink Coffee and glass of water.
-5:50am - 4 ounce organic skim milk w/ 1/2 cup cheerios and 1 spoonful chia seeds (or my other staple pre workout snack is 1-2 WASA cracker w/ 2 tsp natural PB w/ 4 ounce milk for shorter workouts)
6:45am - 3000 yard swim (1000 warm-up. MS: 6 x 300's. Odd swim Desc. Even paddles/buoy recovery. Rest 45 sec in between. 200 cool down). Water during workout.

7:45-8:15am - strength training. Water during workout.
8:15am - 8:45am - get ready for work. 

8:45am - Driving to hospital - 4 ounce skim milk + 8 ounce water + 10g whey protein powder + 1 WASA cracker + smear of nut butter (prepared in morning)
9:30am - At hospital, working. Oatmeal creation which satisfied me until 12:45pm (lunch). I am not one to watch the clock so when I feel like my body is biologically hungry (whether 11:30am or 1pm) I eat. 

This may look like a lot of eating (not complaining :) but Karel and I both make fueling around our workouts (and during) a priority and then once that's checked off, it's time to focus on nourishing our body for immune system protection. We really emphasize making balanced meals and enjoying those meals.
Some of the other benefits of nutrient timing (that we experience and are common for the athletes I work with)
- We are not late night snackers
-We don't experience any type of uncontrollable cravings later in the day or in the evening
-We recover well post workouts
-We don't struggle with energy during workouts (or rapid fatigue)
-We don't experience GI upset during training/racing because of teaching the gut how to tolerate nutrition before/during workouts

FYI: This routine was not developed overnight. It took a lot of tweaking, reflecting, research and trial and error to find what works for me, my goals and my lifestyle. As an athlete and health conscious individual, my goal is to adapt to training and keep my immune system healthy as I live a busy life helping others. When I work with other athletes/fitness enthusiasts, I always focus on the "lifestyle" first and the individual goals. Also, I'm a real food enthusiast as you know but "sport nutrition" has its place. My body recovers best with whey protein and as a high biological protein, it offers more to my body and health than just 'recovery'. Also, for workouts over 90 minutes, I always have a sport drink with me providing at least 25g of carbs and during my IM prep I train with around 250-300 calories per hour during cycling and always run with some type of liquid fuel off the bike (as you may know, I only use fluids/gels with my IM training and racing - no solids). 

To reap the benefits of training and to keep myself healthy, I really enjoy seeing food for fuel and for health.

1/2 cup dy oats
Handful chopped strawberries and blackberries (local)
1 tbsp unsweet coconut shredded
1 tbsp ground flax

1 spoonful chopped almonds
1 tbsp raisins

10g protein powder (the other half of the scoop of protein from the morning recovery)

(I typically measure my pre-training snacks to perfect it for race day as to what works/doesn't work but the rest of my meals I just eye ball portions. I provided measurements for you to help you create a good fueling template and then tweak with your individual needs)

This wasn't my lunch today but a delicious creation I made the other night and I thought you'd enjoy it.

1 can tomato basil soup

Additions: A few handfuls kale, 1/2 container firm tofu (cubed) and 1 small package mushrooms. Add 1 can water and your choice of starch or grain (I used basmati rice 1 cup cooked) and cook on low heat for 20 minutes in large pot, covered. 

Top with cheddar cheese and yum....


Pre and post sport nutrition - fuel smart, perform better

Let's be honest, if you enjoyed this video (and can relate), it's likely that you call yourself a triathlete, runner, cyclist or swimmer. Why? Because you love what you get to do and you enjoy the people who "get you."

But in order to keep up this awesome voluntary active lifestyle that takes you to start and finish lines, you have to be sure to properly fuel your workouts so that you can function well in life.
Everything you do with your body requires energy.

Did you know it takes energy to digest and process different macronutrients in your diet (thermogenesis). About 10% of your energy expenditure each day may be related to the Thermic Effect ...of Food (TEF). Protein has the greatest TEF and fat has the lowest TEF, whereas carbohydrates are in the middle.

I recommend a small carbohydrate-rich snack before your workout to boost energy and to improves fat oxidation. The benefits of food consumption—particularly of carbs—far outweigh any perceived benefits from fasting pre-workout from my experience in working with athletes (and as an athlete myself). After training, the TEF goes up drastically and more of the energy is lost as heat with carbohydrates so combine carbohydrates with your post workout protein snack.

REMEMBER: Time your nutrition around your workouts for this is the time when your body is under the most intentional physiological stress. You are burning hundreds of calories in a 1+ hour workout so the least you can do to respect your body is nourish it before, during and after the workout to ensure that you adapt to training stress.

Example: Before a 60-90 min workout (~30-60 min before) - 1 small banana + 1-2 tsp PB or 8 ounces milk + 1/2 large banana + 1 tsp PB
Glass of water + optional coffee/tea

During 1 hour workout: water or if needed electrolyte tablet and/or carbohydrates (20-25g)

Post workout - this is where the magic happens. There's great benefit to consuming protein soon after you finish a workout to enhance recover of damaged muscles and to stimulate protein synthesis. What else is happening when you properly refuel post workout?
You are also experiencing muscle fiber generation, increasing mitochondria, capillarization and metabolic changes. The idea recovery nutrition is around 20-25g protein in the post-workout period where the key amino acid to boost recovery appears to be leucine (essential amino acid).

You'd be happy to know that your recovery window is open more than 30-60 min post workout and instead 24-48 hours you are still recovering! This is why it is really important to keep refueling post workout and to not have one big meal post workout but instead to have repeated small doses of protein (20-25g) throughout the day post workout. 

But to repair quickly post workout, it's ideal to consume a high-quality protein (ex. dairy - which offers a mix of casein and whey OR vegan protein OR soy as a complete protein) as soon as you can post workout (and this will also help with overeating later in the day as well) as carbohydrate (either with recovery snack or with your post workout meal) to replenish muscle glycogen and to maintain stores throughout your training week.

An easy recovery snack could be 8 ounce cow's milk (or 10g vegan protein powder + 8 ounce almond milk) + handful of Cheerios (~20-25g carbs). 12-16 ounces water + optional coffee/tea.

Then real meal when you are ready.

Although I feel there is a place for sport drinks to meet electrolyte, fluid and carb needs during training, I am a big proponent of real food before and after training. Remember that whole foods will not only nourish your body to protect your immune system and reduce risk for disease/illness but will also provide your body with vitamins/minerals and other nutrients that you will use for energy during a workout and to help with recovery.

As athletes and fitness enthusiasts, it's important to think about food for fuel so that you can maintain your active lifestyle and reap the benefits of swimming, biking and/or running x-miles/hours per week.

There are way to manipulate the time of training w/ meal time (or the other way around) as well as modifying workouts/eating to meet energy requirements for body composition changes. But the bigger picture is to focus on performance if you are training for a start/finish line. If you struggle with your daily or sport nutrition for fueling or body composition, contact a RD who specializes in sport nutrition to help you tailor your nutrition based on your individual needs and goals.

Happy Training!!!

IMWI - 2010 (Enjoying my delicious post-IM breakfast while receiving my paperwork for my 2nd IM world Championship).


5 tips to boost fitness motivation

Weight loss and exercising more among the most common resolutions every New Year day. And surprisingly, statistics are not all that bad – about 60% of people who make a resolution will stay consistent for around 6 months!

But since we all know that exercising comes with a host of mind/body benefits, it's important that exercise is part of your lifestyle. You don't have to run a 5K or do a triathlon to be healthy or even join a gym. You just have to move your body and do so daily (and often). 

On Monday 1/6/14 I did a segment with WJXT4 The Local Station on "Tips to maintain exercise motivation in the New Year.  

If you are interested, you can WATCH HERE

TIP: TRACK YOUR PROGRESSThe best way to reach a fitness goal is to be consistent. We don’t want perfection, we want progress. It’s easy to sign up for a gym membership and then tell yourself that you are going to workout for 1 hour a day, 7 days a week until you reach your fitness goal. But that’s not practical to be superhuman in your first week of working out with a new or improved plan. In order to set yourself up for fitness success you have to adapt to the stress you put on your body and then you have to recover.
I recommend to write down short and long term goals and then have a plan and track your progress in a journal. Start slow. Every two weeks you should be making a small change in your routine to move you closer to your goals

TIP: BE YOUR OWN COACHHaving a personal trainer or coach is great for they help you make the most efficient use of your time and customize a plan to your own goals and lifestyle. But with the help of apps on your phone or tablet, you can be your own coach to keep yourself motivated with purpose to every workout. Also, use social media to let others know about your workouts for accountability or join a group so that your friends can make sure you don't fall behind while others in your group are making fitness gains. 

Before every workout, dedicate 5-10 minutes to warming up your muscles with dynamic stretching or foam rolling, especially if you workout first thing in the morning or after sitting at work all day. Foam rolling is an effective and affordable way to wake up your tendons and muscles. After your workout, light stretching is recommended. Also, to give yourself a little "THANK YOU BODY" time and to slow down, I recommend at least 1 hour of yoga per week to increase range of motion and flexibility. 


Having the right gear is instant motivation. Anytime you are feeling a plateau in your workout routine, by a new outfit or consider using technology to give you instant feedback during your workouts. For clothing, choose moisture wicking material that is breathable and flexible. If you workout in the dark, choose reflective gear. Also, layers are great as your body warms during a workout.  And of course, don’t forget to protect your eyes even in cloudy weather. And to clear up any confusion, your glasses should not give you a headache or hurt behind your ears or on your nose, or slip off your face.  For athletic shoes, several run stores like the Jacksonville Running Company can do a gait analysis to help you determine the right shoe for you. 
Also, music is a great way to improve your mood, just be sure to get a good pair of headphones that allow you to move without the buds slipping out of your ears (especially when you sweat).


After you have damaged your body, it's time to do the serious work...recover! This is where the magic happens. To be consistent you want to adapt to training stress and recover to repeat it all again during the next workout. Cow's milk is a great recovery drink to deliver a nice mix of carbohydrates, protein, fluids and electrolytes to your damaged tissues. Your type of recovery nutrition may vary based on your fitness routine. 

And speaking of instant motivation - NEW GOGGLES to wear at swim practice this evening! (Thanks Karel!)
Speedo Women's Vanquisher Mirrored