6/17/16

Your Ideal Recovery Meal



Are you under the impression that protein powder is the only way to recover after a workout?
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Athletes who train consistently hard on consecutive days are the ones who are able to get stronger and perform better in races. The key to this isn't just a loud alarm clock or superhuman willpower, however, it's recovering quickly from training so you can train hard, day in and day out. Nailing your post-workout nutrition promotes quick recovery, reduces muscle soreness, builds muscle, improves immune system functioning, and replenishes glycogen—all key building blocks in setting you up for tomorrow's session.

When we consume meals or snacks as soon as possible post workout (ex. within 30 minutes), our muscles become primed to accept key nutrients that can replenish glycogen and encourage protein synthesis. As a reminder, recovery includes everything that happens between two workouts which theoretically means that your recovery nutrition "window" is open all day.

Together, carbohydrates, protein, and fats are essential to maximize recovery, and thus, training. When athletes load up only on protein or carbohydrates—two of the usual suspects in most recovery meals—athletes will likely fall short of meeting dietary fat needs, which play an understated but important role in overall health, as well as promoting feelings of fullness.

The day to day foundation of an athlete's diet should be made up of real foods—wholesome by nature and rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Whereas the purpose of recovery nutrition is to help an athlete refuel, rehydrate, and repair (and eventually build), athletes often fall short on recovery nutrition due to a rushed lifestyle, poor planning, loss of an appetite, or the tendency to reward or restrict food (for a variety of reasons). Coupled with a body that is mentally and physically exhausted, it's not a shock that athletes find it easier to make time to train, but not to plan healthy recovery meals.

Although recovery nutrition has evolved into a precise and complicated science, taking into consideration age, gender, environmental factors, fitness level, workout intensity and duration, endurance athletes should recognize that a real world setting may not allow you to eat perfectly after every workout. Thankfully for us, recovery nutrition is quite simple. 

Check out my latest Ironman article with a detailed 4-step guide to building the perfect post-workout recovery snack or meal.
Proper recovery nutrition is at your fingertips.

CLICK HERE to read the article. 


And in case you missed it:
Learn more about: 
Explore Cuisine Gluten-free pastas

And check out these recipes: Explore Cuisine recipes

6/16/16

Clif Bar Nut Butter Filled Bars - YUM!


In case you missed the breaking news, this isn't too good to be true.

Clif Bar has added a new organic energy bar to their line of products and yes, it's filled with a variety of nut butters.

Can we all yum together now?
YUMMMMMMM



Back in March, Clif Bar sent me a box with all four flavors (peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut butter and coconut almond butter). Each bar was wrapped in white paper with no ingredients listed as they were in the intro phase of making these bars (all pictures below are from my box received in March).

Clif Bar did not ask me to write a blog post (this isn't a paid sponsored post) but instead, they sent me the bars to try for some feedback. This isn't the first time they have sent me a new product or flavor.

This happened a few months before the launch of the bars (which are available now) so that is why I am just now writing about them as I wanted to see and learn about the product (on the website) before posting and sharing.
I'm very selective about what I share with you, my readers.

You'll notice that the picture above only has three bars in the box and that is because I ate the chocolate hazelnut butter bar before I took the picture. My tummy couldn't wait to try it!


Although I am now a Clif Bar ambassador, I actually fell in love with the company before incorporating their products into my active lifestyle. Although Clif Bar has been around for a very long time, it wasn't until I was invited to attend an RD Summit at the Clif Bar Headquarters in 2014 that I learned about the company - and that is what made me fall in love with the Clif Bar company.

"At Clif Bar & Company, we are a private, family and employee-owned company guided by five “bottom lines” or what we call our Five Aspirations: Sustaining our Business, Brands, People, Community and the Planet. These aspirations help us consider decisions from multiple perspectives that we value, and we choose the word “aspiration” in recognition that we’re on a journey and can always do more in each of these areas."


Not to mention that the employees get paid to race an event of their choice each year, paid to workout (having a well-equipped gym at the headquarters helps!), they are encouraged to walk or bike to work, they get paid to volunteer and you can bring your dog to work.

There's an in-house chef preparing healthy and nutritious farm-to-table like meals for the employees and there are RD's overseeing the product development.




So back to these delicious nut butter bars.

Seeing that this is the first of it's kind on the market to stuff a bar with nut butter, I think you will immediately find that the nut butter bar, compared to the original bar, is less sweet. This can be a major turn-on for athletes who primarily use sport drinks when training (or racing) on the bike but need to offset the constant sweetness of a drink with a more savory solid food option to nibble on throughout a ride. 



The bar is compact so this is what I call "energy dense." At 230 calories per bar, this isn't a bar that's going to leave you stuffed (which is a good thing for an active individual). Each bite will likely give you around 50-60 calories which is helpful for the athlete who needs a little substance in the gut when working out for long hours (particularly at low intensities).

This bar makes for an energy dense snack if you struggle to get in "enough" calories on your long workout days (especially if you are prone to losing your appetite but know you need the calories post workout). This also makes for a healthy option for a balanced snack when you just can't access real food (ex. traveling) in the 24-48 hours before a long workout or race.

Compared to the original Clif Bar, there is more fat but less protein, carbs and sugars. Because of this, I find this a more suitable balanced pre-workout snack if you just need something in your belly before a workout that will give you sustainable energy without causing GI issues.

Although I have provided some examples as to how to incorporate these nut butter filled bars into your active lifestyle, this is not a post asking you to stop eating real food. PLEASE (continue to) emphasize a real food diet.

In no way am I asking you to replace a real food option for a sport bar or add in sport bars to your diet just because they taste good. However, for very active individuals, there can be a place for bars as a supplemental form of energy.

There will come a point in an athlete's training regime (particularly for endurance athletes) when a real food diet will no longer give you all the energy that you need to support your workout regime. Not to mention, some real food don't digest the best when working out and we have to select our food options wisely before and after workouts to avoid GI distress. Sometimes the "healthy" foods/drinks consumed around and during workouts are not "healthy" when you consume them when sedentary - and this is why sport nutrition can be fun but also confusing. When you are fueling an active body that seeks performance gains, there are many exceptions to the rules. 



As for the taste, although they are less sweet then the original bars, the inside is creamy and delicious. Your taste buds will be happy as there is no strong aftertaste. Although Clif Bar has never been one for a chemical after taste with their products (like other bars), I think you'll enjoy the simplicity of ingredients found in these bars.
Here's a nutritional comparison of the nut butter filled bars compared to the original bars. 

Nut butter filled


Organic Peanut Butter, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Date Paste, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Rice Starch, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Peanut Flour, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Rice Flour, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Peanuts, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant). ALLERGEN STATEMENT: Contains peanuts. May contain soy, wheat, tree nuts, and traces of milk.

Original Clif Bar

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Rice Flour, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Cocoa, Cocoa Butter, Organic Date Paste, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Soy Flour, Sea Salt, Barley Malt Extract, Organic Vanilla Extract, Soy Lecithin. ALLERGEN STATEMENT: CONTAINS SOY. MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF MILK AND WHEAT.

While you may see Clif Bar as a company that makes "sugar-filled candy bars," I don't see it that way.
Clif Bar is passionate about farming and organic food and fueling your adventurous lifestyle.
I'm pretty sure that Clif Bar would be disappointed if you lived a sedentary lifestyle but ate Clif Bar products on a daily basis.

Why?
Because Clif Bar wants you to be active!

Clif Bar doesn't sell weight loss products or a variety of pills claimed to improve health. Clif Bar wants you to eat real food in your daily diet but when you are going for a long hike, riding your bike for long hours, enjoying nature on two feet, going for a long kayak adventure, rock climbing or doing something incredible with your body, they offer a variety of products with organic ingredients (that you can feel good about) with the help of local farmers, to create a healthier and more sustainable food system, that taste good.

Again, I'm not paid to say this but as a sport RD, I feel it is in your interest to know how and why I select the products that I endorse and use and Clif Bar is one of very few other companies that meets my criteria of "healthy" sport nutrition to help fuel an active lifestyle. 

6/14/16

Nail the basics - recovery nutrition



                                                                                                   (picture source)

Most athletes don't nail their recovery nutrition like they can nail a workout.

Whereas the purpose of recovery nutrition is to help an athlete refuel, rehydrate, repair and build, athletes often fall short on recovery nutrition due to a rushed lifestyle, poor planning, loss of an appetite, or the tendency to reward or restrict food.

Coupled with a body that is mentally and physically exhausted after a hard training session, it's no surprise that athletes find it easier to make the time to train than to make the time to plan smart recovery meals and snacks.

Although recovery nutrition appears to have evolved in a precise science (not to mention that everything related to nutrition has become far more complicated than it should be), taking into consideration age, gender, environmental factors, fitness level, workout intensity and duration, endurance athletes should recognize that in a real world setting, you can not eat perfectly per "scientific recommendations" after every workout.


Seeing that many athletes have an all or nothing approach to nutrition ("if I can't be perfect, why bother?"), here are a few simple tips basics on scientific recommendations to help you apply basic recovery nutrition tips to your crazy, busy and stressful life.
Ultimately, when you recover well, you can train more consistently and when you train more consistently, you improve your fitness.

And who doesn't love an improvement in fitness?


HYDRATION

Science: 

For every 1 lb weight loss (pre workout weight minus post workout weight), replace it with 16-20 ounces of fluid.

Nail it tips: 
-Your total amount of fluid consumption to replace post workout should be spread out throughout several hours, not consumed all at once.

-Be mindful that you are also losing glycogen from the muscles and liver when you train long, which affects post workout weight. Don't overthink the drink - just drink.

-If you are losing more than 4% body weight during a workout or gaining weight post workout, you need speak to a sport RD regarding your sport nutrition fuel and hydration intake during workouts.

-Be aware of the mental and physical signs of dehydration.
-On a daily basis, it's recommended to consume 3.7L for men and 2.7L for women each day for adequate hydration.
-Adding additional sodium (start with ~1/8 tsp salt) to your pre and post workout snack/drink can help with rehydration if you are an excessive sweater, as well as curbing salty cravings that may appear post workout or later in the day. A glass of OJ after a sweaty intense or long workout (with 1/4 tsp of salt) is one of my favorite rehydration beverages.

-Every long workout is an opportunity to understand your hydration needs. Don't wait until race week to guess how much/little you need to drink during your race to perform well. This should have been figured out months in advance and tweaked throughout your peak training.
Consult with a RD if you struggle to understand your hydration needs - a board certified sport dietitian who specializes in your sport can help you out.
-Adding ~1/8-1/4 tsp of salt or 190-380mg sodium (I use pink Himalayan salt) to each 24-28 ounce bottle of sport drink/water may help you retain more fluids of you are a heavy and salty sweater. You may also need to increase your overall fluid intake (not calories) to 28-32 ounces of fluid per hour.
-If you are not a great water drinker, add fresh lemon or lime to your drinks, opt for seltzer or mineral water or add a splash of juice to your water. 

CARBS

Science: 

It can take up to 24 hours or more to completely restock muscle glycogen stores after an intense or long workout.

-Aim for 1-1.2 g/kg of carbs, every 90 minutes in the 4-5 hours following a workout.
Nail it tips:
-If you are working out for 1-2.5 hours (ex. typical "weekly" workout), it's best to consume a recovery meal with protein and carbs (and some fat) within 60ish minutes post workout. Although some exceptions will apply that a recovery snack then meal is encouraged, most athletes can go right for a meal post workout.

-Understand the best foods that will digest the best after your workout when you do the following workouts: intense workout, long workout, early morning workout, late evening workout, mid day or lunch time workout, EZ workout. 

-If you are recovering from a 2.5+ hour long workout (ex. typical "weekend" workout), the next few hours post workout are key for optimizing recovery. Carb and protein intake are critical for recovery and repair.

-Avoid being the one meal a day post workout type of athlete (ex. minimal food post workout and then one big meal in the evening or the opposite, one huge meal post workout and then no appetite the rest of the day). Frequent meals, low in fiber and fat, along with mini meals/snacks are key to recovery without affection digestion.

-If you find yourself with no or little appetite post workout, opt for foods that will sit well like a glass of OJ, a handful of granola, rice, applesauce or fruit for carbohydrates. 

PROTEIN
Science: -Dietary protein ingestion immediately post workout can assist in the skeletal muscle adaptive response to training. Regardless of the workout, your recovery protein can also help meet your daily protein needs.
Many athletes fall short on daily protein intake.  Protein intake should be around 1.3-1.8g/kg/bw a day for athletes and around 25-30g of protein per meal. 

Nail it tips:
-Aim for 25-30g of protein within 30-45 minutes post workout and additional 15-20g protein every 2-3 hours for the next 6 hours (with carbohydrates) to maximize recovery.

-Plan your favorite go-to protein options for immediately post workout as well as for the hours post workout. Be mindful that the heat, the intensity of the workout and your overall appetite (or lack thereof) can affect your ability to tolerate and crave/want protein post workout.

-For a sensitive stomach, choose as soft or liquid as possible. Most athletes will find that liquids will digest easier than solid food, especially in the summer heat after a hot workout. Whey or vegan protein, scrambled eggs (or tofu), yogurt (or a yogurt based drink), milk or cottage cheese (great for salty cravings post workout) are easy go-to options. Always choose your options based on what your body can tolerate the best.

-Be mindful to continue eating protein throughout the 4-5 hours post workout and in your evening meal. 



Nail the basics: 
Be mindful that after a workout, your recovery window is open all day!
That is - everything between two key workout is "recovery".

The best way to nail your recovery nutrition is to plan ahead.

Because most athletes spend more time focusing on the workout itself than on what will assist in helping the body absorb the training stress (ex. sport nutrition and pre and post workout fuel and hydration), I suggest to write down what you will eat in the 2 hours before a workout and in the 4 hours after your long workout.

If you tend to finish your workouts exhausted or starving, it's in your best interest to have your recovery snacks and meals prepared (or easy to prep) ahead of time as you know what happens to your food choices when you don't plan ahead (especially after a long/hard workout).

Here's your get-started recovery nutrition planning guide:
60 minutes post workout: 
Fluid intake: ____________
Carb and protein snack or meal: ______________

1-2 hours post workout: 
Fluid intake: ______________
Carb and protein snack or meal: ______________

2-4 hours post workout: 
Fluid intake: ______________
Carb and protein snack or meal: ______________

6/13/16

Ironman-ready and grateful



With one last weekend of long workouts behind me, I have nothing but thanks to my body for allowing me to successfully train for my 11th Ironman.
It's a really neat feeling to know that my body is fit but also that it has a level of fitness that it has never had before. I'm excited to do something amazing with it on race day at Ironman Austria


 

In the past 10 years, I've started every Ironman that I have registered for and on June 26th, I plan to cross my 11th 140.6 mile finish line - at my favorite race venue, in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Talk about a true race-cation!

Looking back at my very first Ironman (IMFL in 2006), I was excited for the new adventure that awaited my body and mind.

Me and my "boyfriend" Karel - we had been dating for 6 months. Cat 1 cyclist who thought this Ironman thing was crazy!
It was a day of all firsts and I was nervously excited to do something that I had never done before - my first longest open water swim, my first longest bike, my first marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 112 miles and my first time racing for anything longer than 5.5 hours.
I was very respectful of the distance and my body and I just loved every minute of race day as I was 24 years old and doing something insane with my body.

However, after that race, I found myself getting a little greedy with my body.
Rather than staying grateful for the opportunity to train and race for this extreme multisport event, I found myself taking my good health for granted. I always felt like I could do more and I constantly tried to do more.

Like many athletes, I became greedy with my fitness and I became overly focused on getting faster and going longer.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be faster or going longer, it's the narrow lens that many athletes (including myself at one time) tend to look through which only focuses on metrics, miles achieved and the race day final outcome (finishing time).

From 2006 until May 2012, I raced 5 Ironman triathlons (including 2 Ironman World Championships) But from September 2007-early May 2012, I found myself chronically injured and always feeling like I was rehabbing myself to simply get to the Ironman start line instead of just enjoying the journey of training for the Ironman.

Although I was able to race ok throughout those years, now looking back, I know that I wasn't taking a smart approach with my training - I was too greedy with my fitness.

Since May 2012, I have remained injury free. 
Although I've changed a lot with my training approach, bike fit, running gait, strength training, racing schedule and nutrition (daily and sport), I've become much less greedy with my fitness. 

Sure, I still want to get faster and perform amazingly well on race day because I believe that my body is built to "race" the Ironman distance, I never want to compromise my good health just for a one day athletic performance.

Ironically, with this smarter approach, I have finished 5 Ironman triathlons, have made huge improvements in my overall times and paces and have qualified for the Ironman World Championships twice.

My ability to get stronger, faster and more resilient happened not because I trained more or trained harder (actually, it was the opposite!) but because I stopped being so greedy with my body. 

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Sure, every athlete wants to be fast, strong and fit on race day as this looks like the perfect equation of a potentially great, race day performance.

But guess what - if you stay healthy, there’s a good chance that you will excel on race day. Why? Because you will be able to do something amazing with the body that you were able to consistently train throughout your training plan.

Be mindful that if you get greedy with your body image and fitness or try to push through an injury, extreme fatigue or pain in training just to check off a workout for validation that you are "ready", you are constantly living on the borderline of what your body can physically handle.

Be respectful of your body at all times when you train for an endurance event (or any event for that matter).
At Trimarni, we don’t believe that a high level of performance should be at the cost of destroying your health and negatively affecting your quality of life.

Remember that you are participating in your sport because it makes you happy and because it makes you a better human being.
Ultimately, your sport improves your well-being and quality of life.

Sadly, we live in a society that obsesses over leanness and speed, at any and all costs and rewards athletes who are tougher than tough and leaner than lean.

If you are always trying to push harder than you should, ignoring signs that you could be injured or eating as little as possible, just enough to get through your workouts, you are putting more stress on your body that it can tolerate.

Take it from me - stop being so greedy with your body.

When's the last time you thanked your body for what it allows you to do in training and in life?