Essential Sports Nutrition


Unselfish ME time

Every morning, Monday through Friday, my alarm wakes me up at 5:45am.
You probably have a similar routine.

First thing in the morning, BEFORE my workout, I have my ME time.

Even though I do not start my morning workout until 7-7:15am, I intentionally get up early so that I have at least an hour to myself before I train.

No matter how tired I feel, I need that one hour. Even though my bed is cozy, I really look forward to me ME time.

Seeing that I spend my entire day, every day, taking care of my coaching and nutrition athletes and Campy, I look forward to the opportunity to do something in the morning that makes ME feel good.
I feel it is important for everyone to have ME time everyday.
You will work, function, think, love and take care of others better if you give time to yourself.
But ME time should be more than just carving out time for a workout each day.

ME time should also include time to tune into your thoughts, goals, interests and emotions.
ME time should not be interrupted or rushed, it shouldn't be spent thinking about other tasks that you need to accomplish or be filled with guilt because you are taking care of yourself, instead of taking care of others.

ME time is the time that you intentionally give to your yourself because you deserve to be high on your priority list.

How will you enjoy your ME time today?


Avocado and Edamame salad

Do you ever make a dish, question whether or not it will be tasty and then find yourself non-stop yumming over it? 

Earlier this week, I found myself doing just that. 
Yumming with every single bite.

I love it when that happens.

This avocado edamame creation started before a bike-trainer workout on Tues evening.
I often find myself preparing meals in the 30 minutes that I have to spare before an evening workout because prepping a meal and then waiting for it to cook after a workout isn't the most fun when you are hungry, tired and ready to eat.
(plus, many times, a hungry and tired body isn't very good at making "healthy" post-workout food decisions).

Because I had a very, very, very soft avocado, I wanted to do something with it besides smashing it up or chopping it on a salad.
I decided to get creative in my kitchen with a big bowl and a few simple ingredients in my refrigerator and here is what I came up with....

I think you will yum over it too!

Avocado and Edamame salad
1-2 cup shelled edamame
1 small red bell pepper (chopped)
1-2 cup corn
~1/2 cup chives (chopped)
1 avocado (chopped)
Salt to taste

1. Cook edamame and corn until soft (steam or microwave)
2. When corn/edamame mix is room temp (not hot), add edamame.
3. Add pepper and chives and mix together. It's ok if the avocado gets smashed during mixing.
4. Add salt to taste.
5. Refrigerate for an hour and then yum!
(feel free to adjust the ingredient amounts to your liking)


The great thing about this recipe is that it is a multi-purpose recipe. Oh and it is super duper yummy.

Here are a few ways that you can incorporate this satisfyingly nutritious and delicious recipe into your diet.

-Combine with your favorite grain (ex. Quinoa, Jasmine rice, couscous etc.)
-Pile on top a bed of shredded or topped greens
-Serve with cold noodles
-Use as a topping on scrambled eggs (or an omelet)
-Spoon on toasted bread
-Spoon inside a pita or tortilla
-Serve with chips as a dip at your next party/event
-Enjoy as a snack, in between meals
-Have it as a side dish to a meal


Dietary protein options - take your pick

We have all heard the question that starts the age-old vegetarian protein debate "Where do you get your protein from if you don't eat meat???" If adequate energy and an assortment of plant foods, rich in essential amino acids, are consumed throughout the day, physiologically processes shouldn’t be compromised in a plant-based diet.  For all athletes, diet variety and adequate energy consumption are both key to ensuring that your body stays in great health. This includes eating a variety of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Depending on your dietary protein choices, consider a variety of animal and/or plant protein sources in your daily diet as each protein source has more than just protein to offer to your body. Vegetarian athletes should make an extra effort to consume nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3, vitamin D, B12 and niacin, particularly if the diet is lacking in food variety. 
Understanding that many essential nutrients are required in the countless metabolic pathways that support a body in motion, a chronic nutrient deficiency (or absorption issue) may result in health and/or performance complications. Although a real-food approach should be prioritized over nutrients found in a pill or powder, supplements and engineered fortified foods are an option to protect against (or to fix) a nutrient deficiency. If consuming 1 scoop whey isolate or vegan (pea/brown rice) protein powder (25-30 grams) per day helps you meet your protein needs more easily, that's what supplements are designed for - to supplement what you can not consume (or properly digest/absorb) in a real-food diet.
In addition to meat, eggs and fish, here are some additional plant-based protein sources below. You don't have to call yourself a vegetarian to eat plant-based proteins.
And for vegans, check out this link.


Are you eating enough protein?

(picture source)

As an endurance athlete, you should not overlook the importance of protein in your diet.

Sadly, in our society, we tend to go from one dietary extreme to another when it comes to eat this, don't eat that. Therefore, when one macronnutrient is heavily emphasized or de-emphasized, it's easy to overlook other important nutrients that are necessary to optimize health and athletic success.

In the wake of some pretty extreme, unhealthy and unrealistic eating habits among endurance athletes, it's important for athletes to understand that a low energy and/or low carbohydrate diet is not healthy or performance enhancing.
Certainly "low" can be defined differently among athletes and nutrition experts.

Seeing that protein supports muscle and tissue growth, assists in immune system health, helps with tissue structure and supporting enzymatic reactions and fosters healthy endocrine functioning, without sufficient protein in your diet, your active body can suffer.

Therefore, any athlete who is following a low energy or low-carb diet should take the necessary steps to fine-tune the diet to ensure that dietary protein intake is adequate (otherwise, health and performance issues could arise).

I'm not advocating low-carb or low energy diet but if you choose this dietary route, be sure to not skimp on dietary protein.
Endurance athletes should aim for 1.2-1.7g of protein per kg body weight per day. If you weigh 130 lbs (59kg), this equates to 71-106g protein per day.

Here are a few take-home dietary messages:
  • If you are intentionally trying to lose weight, you will want to focus on the higher end of your protein needs to preserve lean muscle mass as you lose body fat. 
  • On longer duration or high intensity workout days, daily protein needs should be higher to optimize training-induced muscle adaptions.
  • For all athletes, don't miss out on the great opportunity to recover post workout by including protein with your post workout snack or meal.
  • Although the recommendations for post workout carbs/protein will vary based on the individual, workout intensity/duration and fitness goals, here are a few suggestions for post workout fueling:
-If you are eating only a snack post workout, aim for 10-15g of protein and around 20-40g of carbs. As a example, 10g whey or vegan protein + 1/2 cup cow's milk (or almond milk) + water (as needed) + 1 banana.  

At your next meal, aim for around 15-25g protein and 40-60g of carbs.  As an example, 2 eggs + 1 egg white (or 3 ounce lean meat) + 3/4 cup oatmeal + 1/2 cup berries + 1 tbsp maple syrup + 1/2 ounce chia seeds.
If only eating a meal (and no post workout snack), aim for 25-30g protein and 50-90g carbs. (higher end of protein and carbs after long duration or very intense workouts)
These are guidelines, not rules. Certainly, it is important that you find the best combo and nutrient timing that works for your workout and life regime.
  • As an athlete, it is important to get familiar with the best (and easy to find, prep and consume) sources of protein and carbs in your diet so that recovery nutrition is not an afterthought but instead, easy to execute on a daily basis. 

(For the record, I am absolutely not anti-fat but for the purpose of this blog, I am specifically focusing on protein in the athletes' diet).
  • It's important to spread your total protein intake out throughout the day (example 25-30g each meal) so that each meal helps to fulfill your total protein intake needs. Plus, protein (along with fat) increases satiety which can help with overeating and cravings.
  • If your typical breakfast is oatmeal and fruit or toast with avocado and an orange, add 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 20-25g vegan protein powder, 2 egg whites + 1 whole egg or 4 ounce lean meat or fish to your meal for a more balanced meal with adequate protein.


Some of my go-to plant strong protein sources are:
Organic 1% milk
Cottage cheese
Whey protein
Greek Yogurt


I also get protein from nuts, seeds, nut butter, chia seeds, hummus and grains.

Are you eating enough protein in your diet?


Where do you get your protein?

When it comes to a vegetarian diet, there are many critics who believe that meat consumption is a necessary part of a "healthy" diet.  In April, I will be celebrating 24 years of following a meat-free diet. I consider myself to be in great health as a female endurance triathlete but it took time to learn how I can make my vegetarian diet work for my active lifestyle. Clearly, my lacto-ovo vegetarian style of eating is not a fad. I love animals way too much to eat them. As a vegetarian athlete and dietitian, this puts me in a tough situation because it is easy to assume that because I do not eat meat, I will encourage other athletes to not eat meat. Well, Karel eats meat and fish...and vegetables, and fruit, and tofu, and tempeh and grains. I don't lecture Karel when he eats meat because meal time is a happy time for both of us. Thankfully, it wasn't a deal-breaker that I was a vegetarian when Karel and I started dating in 2006. Sadly, because much of the U.S. diet is rich in meat, it's easy for critiques to say that a vegetarian diet is "restrictive" and "unhealthy." The truth is that we can't really call a vegetarian diet “restrictive” because in America, it's very obvious that our society has a very unhealthy relationship with food.....all types of food. In the U.S., we don’t really have a traditional American diet that we can use as a “healthy” reference so how can we confidently say that a vegetarian diet is unhealthy?

As a board certified sport dietitian and triathlon coach, I work with a variety of athletes for a variety of reasons (training, nutrition, sport nutrition, weight loss/body composition changes, etc.).
I'm not one to debate about "where do you get your protein" because I only want the best for my athletes and every athlete has different needs and dietary choices.
With a team approach, I'm going to suggest what I feel will work best for the goals of the athlete that I am working with, but with practical, healthy and safe advice.  
Oddly, in working with so many athletes with all types of athletic and body composition goals, I find that non-vegetarian athletes have similar dietary struggles and health issues as vegetarian or vegan athletes, specifically when it comes to eating "enough" quality protein at meals, using sport nutrition properly, timing nutrition with workouts, eating a varied diet and enough "enough" energy to support metabolic needs. As it relates to endurance athletes (my population of athletes), you should be happy that there are many different dietary strategies that you can follow to keep your body in good health while training. Thankfully, there is no gold standard diet for athletes. Lucky you - you can create a diet that works best for you! Meat or no meat, with all the talk these days with sugar, carbs and fat, it's important that you remember the importance of protein in your diet to support lean muscle mass and to promote muscle and tissue repair.