Essential Sports Nutrition


2016 USA Cycling National Championships

We could not be more excited to welcome another cycling event to Greenville, SC this weekend!

This weekend at the Bikeville ClassicProfessional men and women will be competing for the Stars and Stripes National Championship Jersey in the team time trial and criterium. 

Elite amateur racers are also competing both days, as well as a fun ride on Saturday on the Southern Connector.

If you are in or around the area, we highly recommend that you attend this event! We hope to see you at the Crit on Sunday as we will be cheering on the pro cyclists in downtown Greenville.
(after the event, enjoy a walk in Falls Park or enjoy our awesome downtown and shop and dine at one of our many awesome restaurants).

Professional Team Time Trial National Championship
The Bikeville Classic Weekend kicks off Saturday, April 16 with the Team Time Trial National Championships on the Southern Connector (I-185). The winning team will be the one who records fastest time over the 20-mile course. Teams must have a combination of strength and coordination as each rider take a turn at the front, creating a draft for their teammates who are following just inches behind.

Professional Criterium National Championship
The Criterium National Championships will take place on Sunday, April 17 in downtown Greenville. America’s best men and women cyclists will be vying for the stars & stripes jerseys on a closed loop of less than a mile. The racing is going to be intense!

Southern Connector Ride
Before the pro and elite racers compete in the Team Time Trial National Championships on Saturday, the Southern Connector (I-185) is closed in the morning to traffic and open to the public for a unique riding experience.


Performance-focused nutrition

As an athlete, you have special nutritional requirements compared to your fellow exercise enthusiasts.
You do incredible things with your body on a daily basis and you have high expectations for what your body will do on race day. And unlike research laboratory studies, you are not exercising to see how long you can go but instead, you train to see how fast you can cover a specific distance on a specific date.  

As an athlete, you probably experience many challenges when it comes meeting your extreme training needs through the daily diet because you are not like other people who must only meet basic nutritional needs - you must have great nutritional habits on a day-to-day basis but you also have an extra responsibility to your body to ensure it has the right foods, at the right times to give you extra energy, to delay fatigue, to promote recovery and to keep your body in good hormonal and metabolic health.
First off, if you are reading this right now, I want you to own-up to your "athlete" status.
If you are training for an event, you are an athlete. If you are taking a break from training for an event, but you have completed an event in the past, you are still allowed to call yourself an athlete as nobody took away your past accomplishments - you just may not be able to eat like you use to as you are no longer in need of the energy that helped you train for your events.

 For this very reason of being "an athlete" you are not like other people who can afford to make drastic changes in the diet (like restricting specific food groups for 30 days or excessively cutting back on carbs or calories) or experiment with different diet fads or exercise programs.
At the same time, just because you are an athlete, you can not abuse food because you will burn it off in training.
If you bring poor past dietary habits to your new training regime (or pick up on poor habits as you find that you have less time for meal prep because you need to train longer), you will learn that a dietary change is needed. 

Even though you are training for an event, your extreme active lifestyle should not compromise great health. And for this very reason, performance focused nutrition is your style of eating. 

It is important that you understand that nutrition is very important in your development and in order to achieve personal success in your sport, you need to stay on top of your daily and sport nutrition. 
Far too many experts provide plans for eating which are not practical or feasible at this phase in your nutrition journey. Sure, they may be what you need to kick-start a new style of eating but gaining control over "healthy" eating is more than simply following a plan. You must learn how to eat as an athlete, without feeling deprived, denied or low in energy. 
It boggles my mind that athletes think it's ok to follow the same diet as someone who is not active or has serious clinical health issues. And if a significant amount of weight loss is a necessary goal, training for an event alongside dieting may be a challenge as losing weight through a diet while trying to train the body for an event comes with risks if not done carefully with great supervision by a professional.
As an athlete, you have high energy costs to ensure that you can stay healthy and consistent with training.  If you do not meet these needs, your body begins to fatigue, your motivation for training subsides, your hormones/metabolism change and you may increase risk for injury. 

As an athlete, you must spend more time than non-athletes to strategically plan your meals and your snacks and learn how to time those meals and snacks around workouts.  Busy schedules can interfere with normal eating (and healthy eating) but do not let this be an excuse as to why you are unable to eat well and fuel smart. 

Through a well-chosen, varied diet it's important that you put an extra emphasis on providing your body with the nutrients that will most used (and needed) around workouts. 

As your season progresses, you have many opportunities to fine-tune your nutrition strategies to help you prepare for your upcoming events but you must be consistent for a specific period of time to ensure that what you are doing is working or not working. If you are training harder or longer, don't believe that food restriction and elimination will help you get through your workouts better.

As an athlete, you need the opportunity,  desire AND appetite to consume adequate nutrients and fluids in recommended amounts around workouts and throughout the day. This makes it rather hard for some athletes to easily meet nutritional needs whereas for others, there is lack of passion, awareness or knowledge. 

As you continue to train and advance your fitness, understand that loss of appetite, fatigue, poor access to suitable (or healthy foods) and distractions from proper eating can all negatively affect your ability to train consistently. If your nutrition is keeping you from meeting your training expectations, it's time to reach out to a professional to help. 

Remember that there are no magic bullets or quick fixes when it comes to keeping your body at a healthy body composition, meeting your energy and hydration needs around workouts and staying healthy as an athlete.
The same healthy living strategies that apply to the "normal" population apply to you as well.
Don't assume that you can just out-train poor lifestyle habits and still be a healthy athlete. 

As a performance focused athlete, you must apply the basic healthy living and more specific sport nutrition fueling principles to your active lifestyle on a consistent basis and be sure to learn what works best for you as you slowly create your own performance-focused nutrition plan. 
If you are willing to push your body to new limits and make the investment in every other area of your life to be the best athlete you can be, consider the importance of taking the time learn how to eat and fuel like an athlete.


Healthy eating - getting started

Most athletes will come to me for nutrition help with the goals of:
-Improving performance
-Improving their relationship with food and/or the body
-Changing body composition

All three goals require dietary changes (in some capacity) and depending on the athlete, he/she may want to achieve all three goals listed above, or just one or two.
Oddly enough, sometimes changing body composition can improve performance but so can improving the relationship with food and the body. And sometimes focusing on nutrition limiters and strengths in order to improve performance, with a great relationship with food and the body can change body composition. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dietary changes as every individual is on his/her own nutritional journey.

Furthermore, every athletes may have his/her own personal limitations when it comes to the "best" approach to changing the diet - this can be anything from lack of healthy food options, unrealistic eating/body/performance goals, disordered eating or body image dissatisfaction, training routine/fitness level, motivation, family support, self-confidence, etc. 

Similar methods and ideologies may work for the masses but ultimately, every athlete is in his/her own journey.

Healthy eating for one person may be making homemade almond milk, grinding his/her own nut butter, picking produce from an at-home garden and never using sport nutrition because no workout exceeds 70 minutes in length.

Whereas for another person, healthy may be better portion control and controlling the emotional eating.

And for another individual, healthy eating may be not restricting calories from the daily diet and learning how to use sport nutrition properly to help adapt to endurance training while preparing for a half or full Ironman.

Or, healthy eating could be making changes so that cancer doesn't return for a second time.
Or, healthy eating could be overcoming years of disordered eating (ex. orthorexia) or an eating disorder.

As you can see, you may have a goal of improving performance or changing body composition but in order to eat "healthy" it's important to create healthy eating patterns which work for you....right now in your life.

The goal of "healthy eating" is to not try to eat like someone else who may be more along in his/her nutrition journey.

Healthy eating doesn't mean buying food that you have no idea how to prepare (or you hate).
Healthy eating doesn't mean eating “perfect” like what you read and see on the internet nor does it mean eating food that doesn't make you feel good inside your body.

And healthy eating doesn't mean feeling the need to eat differently, at any/all costs, because you hate your body image.

Healthy eating means setting yourself up for good eating patterns - eating patterns that are sustainable, realistic, healthy and performance enhancing.

As you progress in your individual journey, be mindful that your definition of healthy eating will/may change overtime. You may go from being extremely rigid and strict in your diet to allowing more food freedom and food flexibility. Or you may be proud that you are "at least" eating breakfast now and eating a few veggies throughout the day and you may find yourself learning how to plan a more balanced breakfast and even eating a hearty salad as a meal. 

And as you adapt to your training plan, your physiology will likely change, thus allowing you to train harder, longer or stronger. Your body will require additional energy and electrolytes and fluids and you will begin to understand that a well-planned sport nutrition plan is very important to keeping your body healthy. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

-Create an eating plan for what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the week as well as for snacks. When you have a plan, you will find it easier to be proactive and plan ahead. You can keep this extremely simple by eating similar foods each day to get started. Be mindful of your hunger and fullness cues. 

--Don't bring a diet mentality (or off limit food list) to your eating patterns. Allow for flexibility and avoid having an all-or-nothing approach. You have enough education and knowledge to know what foods are "healthy" (hint - prioritize food made in gardens and grown on farms).

-Spend 30 minutes each day planning for tomorrow's eating. Reflect on today and what worked/didn't work and make small tweaks so you feel more control, satisfied and comfortable with your eating patterns. The more food that you have prepped and available, the easier it is to follow through with your plan. 

-Consider your life to-do's so that eating is not too complicated, time consuming or difficult. Never let eating be an afterthought (or pushed aside as something you don't have time for) as a well nourished body functions well in life.

-Give yourself time at time-out to eat a meal (at least 20 minutes) before continuing on with the rest of your day.

-Don't aim for perfect - allow for flexibility.
-Consider how your workouts impact your appetite and food choices.

-Consider how your pre/during/post workout nutrition can positively or negatively affect your workouts as well as your eating patterns throughout the day. 

-Don't try to use willpower, discipline or being strict to initiate a change. Be proactive with your eating patterns so you set yourself up for good behaviors. If you have trigger foods that are too tempting to eat right now in your journey, remove them from your environment.

-Always maintain a healthy relationship with food. Food is not for managing stress or emotions and it is not reward for a great workout or punishment for a bad workout.

If a body composition modification is a desired goal to enhance performance or to improve health, the methods should not be strict, limited or extreme. You should allow for gradual weight loss (not a quick fix), without extreme food restrictions, excessive exercising, unsafe behaviors (starving, purging, laxatives) or use of weight loss or performance-enhancing supplements.   


Healthy eating patterns

It seems like every day there is a new diet telling us what not to eat and a scientific article for reference.
A nutrition expert, doctor, celebrity, professional athlete or personal trainer touting a diet plan.
A book, blog or website telling us what foods are destroying our health. 

And a food company excited to grab the market share by introducing a new “healthy” re-engineered processed food alternative which has the opportunity to be highly profitable.  

And with all this information - people are still confused how to eat. 

Whether it’s lack of confidence, common sense, passion or effort for healthy eating, much of our society relies on diet plans as the easiest or quickest way to lose weight, improve performance or to improve health.

In America, eating habits are unstable. 

When it comes to the mention of food, people are confused. You may have even found yourself grocery shopping and saying "I have no idea what to buy or eat!"

In our society, we have such an unhealthy relationship with food.
Without the use of labels, numbers, measuring cups, grams, apps, spreadsheets and journals, many people experience great anxiety, fear and stress regarding what and how much food should be consumed.

Some people would rather not eat than to eat with the fear of "messing up."

We have a very serious problem with a very simple solution.

It's not high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high protein or low protein.Prioritize real food - primarily prepped at home and consumed with a great relationship with food.

There are many cultures around the world who have been eating similar meals and foods for generations. There's structure to eating as well as in life.
They don’t count calories or follow eating plans yet they live an extremely healthy, active and happy quality life.
They also walk a lot more and limit sedentary time.
Eating means nourishing, not dieting.

In other countries, eating is a pleasure. 
Food is not complex. 

People eat to please their palate. 
People eat with their senses – tasting and smelling food.
They stop their day and slow down to eat. 
And what do they eat? 

Mostly real food..... not factory made food products.
And most of the time, they eat with other people.
Meals are visually appealing and food is locally sourced.
Do you eat this way?

Our society is infatuated with food yet the“off-limit” food list keeps growing every year (especially around the month of January).

Regardless if you are an elite athlete or a fitness enthusiast, eating well provides your body with energy and key nutrients that you need to support metabolism and to keep your body systems working properly and has the ability to reduce risk for disease and improve quality of life.