Essential Sports Nutrition


Athlete Spotlight: Justine Waters: Why this bada$$, humble triathlete can't stop smiling

Name: Justine Waters

Age: 30

City/State: Currently: Dover, DE (Military Wife)
Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: 4 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Retul, Training Plan, Group training camp, 3rd year as a one-on-one Trimarni coaching athlete


Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

Ha-ha. I would love to tell you about my glory days of college and the championships I helped win…but alas…I was one of those chubby college kids working my butt off trying to graduate without debt. Sports? A’int nobody got time for dat! I finished my first 5K in 2008, red faced, out of breath, and with an empty stomach, in a time most would finish a sprint-tri; but hey, it was a step forward. Soon after, with a spin class under my belt and a borrowed bike, I completed a 70.3 with only my family and the road sweepers to cheer me across the line. Oddly, I was hooked.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

 IT’S SO MUCH FUN!!! Every day I get to lace up my shoes, clip onto my bike and jump in the pool. I consider myself so blessed and am forever thankful for my healthy body and that it allows me to reach for my personal goals!

What do you do for work?
I split my time between working in the emergency room and in a surgery center as a Registered Nurse.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
I love being a nurse, but it does come with some crazy hours and constant schedule changes. The key to my balance is food, sleep, and motivation. With my schedule, meal prep is a must, sticking to a plan is futile and when I get downtime, I don’t mess around…I’m talking books, baths, snuggle time with my hubby and dog Otis and relax time.

Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?
I’ve got the goals, but more importantly, I need a plan to help me reach my athletic goals. For me, I always have to be honest and upfront with my coaches and myself. We’ve already made plenty of adjustments this year, but what I love most about my coaches is their honesty and their never give-up-on-me mentality. 
I like to look at my workweek along with my training plan, and I visualize how I want the week to go. I write down what needs to happen and when (ex. when I need to be at the pool, when I need to go to bed, what I will be eating etc).

Do you have kids?
Furbaby Otis.

How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

I’ve been married (to Eric) for almost six years, and have been a triathlete for four of them. For the first year as a triathlete, we were just trying to figure things out. One thing I know for certain is that training and competing is something that I do, but it’s not who I am. I love my husband and he comes first. In the winter, my husband and I like to lay out my race and camp schedule for the upcoming year so we both know what’s in front of us so that he doesn’t get surprised as they year progresses. Scheduling is key so I plan date nights, reserve one weekend day to spend all day with him and try to do a little something special every now and again to remind him how much he means to me. He is my number one fan!

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?

My first Ironman was IM Texas in 2014 and after I crossed the finish line, I told my husband and Marni that I was going to compete at Kona one day. At my second Ironman, IM Maryland in 2015, I finished second and qualified for Kona that next year!!! There were so many factors that I could go on and on about that affected that race but all that mattered was I collapsed after I crossed that finish line, and the next day I got to hear, “Justine Waters, you’re going to Kona!". What’s crazy is that just five weeks earlier, I had my very first DNF at a 70.3, while thinking this may be the year I could qualify for Kona. And now I couldn't finish a 70.3? Instead of feeling defeated, it gave me more focus and fueled my fire inside!

In October, I raced my first ever Ironman World Championship. IM Kona was such an amazing race and I felt strong all day! To be able to compete on one of the most challenging Ironman courses, and against the best in the word was unbelievable! I loved every minute of it! The best part was that I had my family, coaches, and some of the team there to help cheer me on. Did I mention that I beat coach Karel out of the water? That's a pretty big deal.

I would love to say I had phenomenal race results, but I am still learning. What’s important is I have a healthy body and plenty of adventures in front of me.


What are your top 3-5 tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?

2) RUN happy
3) Get a great coach!!!

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

I try not to judge my race results on my time or overall/age placement, but instead, I think about how I felt throughout the race and how well I executed the race. Of course, I love to win, but it's not everything!

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?

CLIF chocolate protein recovery drink, PIZZA and beer.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

Mountain to Mainstreet half ironman 
Eagleman 70.3 
Lake Logan half ironman
Atlantic City 70.3

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?I would like to qualify for the 70.3 world championship and to be happy and healthy in the sport I love!

Anything else?

I love being part of the Trimarni team family! Marni and Karel help push me on days I’m struggling, are so encouraging, and help bring balance to my triathlete life with laughs, tears, recipes, and inspiration! I cannot express how much the team means to me and how encouraging they are. I’ve truly made lifelong friends. Every year I look forward to meeting new teammates, going to camp to hang out with my Trimarni family, picking team races or just being around like-minded people. It’s an honor to be this week’s spotlight and I am incredibly humbled. Thank you!

To follow Justine and her triathlon and life adventures: Justine Waters (facebook) JustJustine3 (instagram)


Timeline of Sport Nutrition Products

As a Board Certified Sport Dietitian, I have a rewarding job of recommending sport nutrition products to athletes in order to enhance performance and to help athletes maintain good health throughout training and on race day. In order to make proper recommendations, I am always trying out new products to better understand the application of the product and to give my feedback on taste, texture and digestibility. The above picture is a look inside three of our kitchen cabinets full of sport nutrition products (with more products stashed away in the dining work and in our workout room closet - because everyone keeps sport nutrition products in a dining room hutch, right?).  

For decades, scientific breakthroughs by exercise physiologists have driven the evolution of sport nutrition products to help maximize athletic performances. Since the ancient Olympics, when athletes fueled dried fruit and wine before competition, the study, practice and promotion of sport nutrition has grown substantially. Sport nutrition progression has helped athletes train harder and go longer than in the past, which means more records can get broken.

As it relates to sport nutrition products, like sport drinks, it's really all about function and convenience. I often tell my athletes that they don't need to love their engineered products, they simply have to like them. It's also important to find creative ways to prevent taste bud fatigue and to train the gut to minimize GI distress, while sticking to a flexible and a well-practiced fueling and hydration schedule during long workouts in order to delay fatigue.

In other words, appreciate how easy sport nutrition products make fueling and hydrating. Sport nutrition products take away the guessing and calculating to ensure that you are meeting your needs during training and they give you precise feedback on what you did/didn't consume. Plus, it adds confidence to race day that you don't have to worry if your fueling and hydration strategy will (or won't) work because you can routinely practice your fueling and hydration long workout after long workout with similar products and amounts. Certainly, you know my approach to the daily diet - real food should make up the majority of your daily diet whereas sport nutrition products DO have a place during intense and long workouts.

In the recent issue of Triathlete Magazine (January/February, pg 56-62), I have a small article on the evolution of Sports Fuel (bottom of the pages), focusing on the history of several notable U.S. based endurance-focused sport nutrition companies. I also take my guess on the future of sport nutrition over the next ten years.

Since the magazine was not able to include all of my investigations, I wanted to give you a more in depth look inside some of the notable moments of several well-known sport nutrition companies.

Timeline of sport nutrition products:
1965 Gatorade – A balanced carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage was created. As of 2015, Gatorade’s inventors have earned more than $1 billion in revenue.

1986 Powerbar –The first “energy bar” for use by endurance athletes. In 2000, Nestle purchased the company for $375 million.

1987 Hammer Nutrition – In 1995, Hammer nutrition created the first energy gel sold with a re-usable flask.

1994 Gu Energy labs – Considered the first major energy gels distributor. In 2012, GU became the first official gel and chew sponsor of the Ironman.

1992 Clif Bar –In 2000, Gary Erickson turned down a $120 million offer from Quaker Oats to buy the company.

1992 EAS – In 1993, EAS releases the first commercially available creatine supplement (Phosphagen). In 2005, Abbott laboratories purchases EAS for ~$320 million.

1996 Carbo Pro –
Provides a product with 100% pure complex carbohydrates derived from glucose polymers extracted from non-GMO corn.

1996 Pacific Health Labs –
Accelerade utilizes protein in a sport drink with a unique ratio of 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein.

1998 Cytosport – Makers of Muscle Milk, known as the number one brand in the ready-to-drink protein beverage category.

2002 First Endurance – Recognized for OPTYGEN by endurance athletes. In 2008, the EFS liquid shot flask was developed with a re-sealable pop top. The liquid shot contains no gelling agents.

2002 Honey Stinger – Originating in 1954 by Ralph and Luella Gamber as the EN-R-G bar, made with honey. The Gamber’s created the first ever squeezable honey bear in 1957.

2004 Nuun –
Pronounced “noon”, the first company to separate electrolyte replacement from carbohydrates.

2004 Base Performance –
Best known for Base Electrolyte Salt and race vials, where athletes lick the pure crystalline salt to maintain electrolyte balance.

2005 Jelly Belly Sport Beans – Performance Jelly Beans formulated with carbohydrates, electrolytes and vitamins.

2006 SaltStick –
Creator of buffered electrolyte capsules, dispensers and most recently, chewable tablets to help athletes minimize heat stress and muscle cramping.

2006 Infinit Nutrition – Provides a revolutionary system of creating your own personalized sport drink, made from an isotonic blend of ingredients.

2010 Generation UCAN – Launched at the Boston marathon. Powered by SuperStarch, UCAN claims to help sustain energy and burn fat in a healthy way.

2010 Bonk Breaker – Embodies a whole foods philosophy of creating simple, high quality, real food ingredients into great tasting bars, chews and hydration products.

2010 Picky Bars –
Made with a a 4:1 carb to protein recovery ratio, balanced macronutrients for sustainable energy. Containing only real ingredients, gluten and dairy free.

2012 Osmo  -
Stacy Sims introduces the concept of “food in the pocket, hydration in the bottle” and “women are not small men.” Pushes for a new paradigm in sports nutrition.

2012 Skratch Labs –
Dr. Allen Lim makes training food and sports drinks from scratch for cyclists and a business is born. “The Feed Zone” cookbook was published in 2011.

2013 Tailwind  -
Known in the trail and ultra-running community, offering glucose/sucrose fuel, allowing athletes to go longer at higher intensities without gut issues.

2016 HOT SHOT – Curiosity killed the cramp. A propriety formulation of organic ingredients to stop muscle cramps at the nerve.  

My take on the future of sport nutrition:

– More engineered sport nutrition products hit the market, with light palatable flavors, made with “real food” ingredients and electrolytes.  Companies re-invent the shape of “chews”, bars become thinner and lighter and there is a substantial re-design in the packaging of energy gels.

2018-2020 - Sport nutrition products highlight herbs, spices, caffeine, amino acids and fatigue resistant nutrients, in addition to electrolytes and carbohydrates. Products focus more on fatigue in order to help athletes stretch physical limits and to break more records.

- Sport nutrition products become even more convenient with portable options, like buffered and effervescent tabs for “sport drinks on-the-go”. Sport nutrition companies turn the focus to pre-workout/race meal and drink products.

2025 – The emerging field of nutrigenomics makes its way into sport nutrition. By identifying exercise-related genetic characteristics, sport nutrition will become highly ultra-personalized working with one’s unique genetic makeup – Eat/fuel according to your genes.


Weekend recap: FOOD! (recipes from Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook)

Oh the things I do for performance gains. Good sleep, proper recovery, mobility work and eating!! Seeing that food is fuel, it should be no added extra to your day to make sure that good food gets inside your body in order to give you energy and to nourish your many working systems. Cooking should not be seen as a chore, like cleaning your bathroom or taking out the trash. Sure, it's something on your to-do list but it is a skill that should be learned and appreciated through all the years of life.

For me, I love to eat the food that I cook and I love eating the food that Karel cooks but I also love being inspired by food that is prepared by others. I really enjoying trying new creations but more than anything, I love real food. I really value where food comes from, the effort that goes into preparing a meal, the presentation of a meal and knowing the purpose of the meal (nourishment, fuel or pleasure). Cooking is a process and although it does involve time, patience and effort, there's absolutely no reason why any athlete should not enjoy cooking.

My hope is that you will make the effort to spend a bit more time in your day to cook your food. Seeing that you are so busy, try to utilize your weekend and be creative with your time during the week. Considering that you are overburdened with work, squeezing in time for training early morning or late at night (or on your lunch break) and still making time for your family, spouse/significant other and friends, it's no wonder that you feel "too busy to cook." But the truth is that you can't expect "cooking more" to just happen. It's a lifestyle habit that you have to work at and make time for. It has to be part of your day, with no excuses getting in your way.

Remember why it is important to cook. Because it's a skill that keeps your body well, it's a responsibility to your body as an athlete and when YOU are in charge of the ingredients, you are more likely to eat better and feel better. 

Adapted from pg. 54

Not only do you save money by making your own granola but your house will smell AHHmazing when this delicious crunchiness is ready. I love adding granola to my pre-workout snack or to my yogurt. Plus, it's great for those high volume workout days when you need to pack in some nutrients with energy dense foods but you don't want to lose the nutritional value of those extra calories. Blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron for vegetarians and a great addition to the diet for athletes due to its nutritional value.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (provides your body with a dose of iron, B6 and magnesium)

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, seeds, raisins, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
4. In a small microwavable bowl, stir together the coconut oil, honey and molasses and microwave on low until slightly melted.
4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until evenly combined. 
5. Spread out in a smooth thick layer on the baking sheet. Bake and stir every 15 minutes (I set the timer to remind me to stir every 15 minutes). Bake for 45 minutes. Granola will be moist at the end of baking but will turn crunchy. (After 45 minutes, I removed from the oven and covered with a towel and kept it out overnight and it turned nice and crunchy). 

Cranberry Orange and Chocolate Pomegranate Scones

In case you were wondering, scones will not make themselves. Karel provided me with this ground breaking information as my hint to refill our scone container as it was empty after a few days from my first batch. No surprise, Karel loved the lemon blueberry scones that I made so I decided to change things up a bit with the add-ins. I used the same Lemon Blueberry scone recipe from pg 59 of the book but instead of using lemons and blueberries I added dried cranberries (about a handful) and a splash of orange juice. For the chocolate pomegranate scones I used a handful of frozen pomegranate seeds and a handful of chocolate chips. YUM!

Pg. 99

The picture of this salad in the cookbook looked oh-so-good so I could not wait to make this dish. Karel and I were invited over to my friend's/athlete's house, Meredith for a pizza party with the Greenville Trimarnis on Saturday evening and I was told to bring something healthy. I figured this had all the ingredients for something healthy to go along with a yummy slice (or two) of pizza and a cookie from our neighbor Joey for dessert. Although this is named a recovery salad, I won't be eating this too close before or after a workout due to all the roughage in the salad but it's a filling, crisp and flavorful meal option to bump up the nutrients in your diet, perfect for lunch time. Plus, how colorful is this salad? It will definitely be a show-stopper at a party/event or when you bring your lunch to work.

Ingredients1 cup quinoa
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups loosely packed, finely chopped kale, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Jalapeno chili pepper, finely chopped, wear plastic gloves when handling (I removed this since I was bringing this to a party)
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup lime juice (I used 1/4 cup lime juice and the rest fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil)
1 avocado, sliced (I didn't have a ripe avocado :(
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (it called for toasted and I used sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup grated Cotija, crumbled feta or chopped olives (I omitted the cheese since we were having lots of cheese on our pizza)

Directions1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil the quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and all the water has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a large salad bowl, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool. 
2. Once cool, add the kale, red bell pepper, chile pepper, onion, cilantro, black beans, lime juice, oil and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt to the quinoa and toss to combine. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Just before serving, top with the avocado slices, pumpkin seeds and the cheese or olives.


Weekend recap: Training

I'm sending a big thank you to my body for giving me another week of quality training. I never take a day of training for granted. It's been 3 years and 8 months since I've last been injured and 10 years since I've had a cold/sickness. Not a day goes by that I don't thank my body for letting me do so much with it.

The overall training volume hasn't changed a lot over the past few months but I've noticed a bit more intensity throughout the week lately. I've worked hard to build a strong foundation since starting my training back in late October so my body is responding well to the added training stress. 

On Wednesday morning I had a tough hill run workout. Although the intense intervals only totaled 8 minutes, it was a leg burner and cardio stressor. 

For 20 minutes, I ran EZ on some of my favorite roads around where I live, which included no shortage of hills. After listening to a Facebook LIVE 75-minute educational chat with running expert Chris Johnson, PT, I used a lot of his running cues to keep me focused on my running mechanics during warm-up. 

When I arrived close to the street where I was going to perform my main set, I first did a pre-set of 5 x 30 sec build to fast strides w/ a 30 sec walk in between. 

For the run main set: 
8 x 30 sec strong uphill effort w/ 1.5 min recovery (jog/walk/rest) in between

5 min EZ
8 x 30 sec strong uphill effort w/ 1.5 min recovery (jog/walk/rest) in between
Then jog home (about 15 minutes). 

It was a great workout and I felt super strong.

In the evening, I tested out my new Tacx Neo smart trainer with a good workout that Karel wrote for me. My legs were still a little tender from the morning run but it felt good to spin them out and test out the CycleOps Virtual Training app on my ipad. You can see from the picture that my iPad is standing up on a microphone stand that Karel ordered for me. It was a cheap way to hold the iPad, where I control my trainer.

Wednesday night bike workout:

WU: 20 min EZ

Pre set:
2 x 4 min
2 x 3 min
2 x 2 min
Odd Z2, fast rpm
Even Z2/Z3, slow rpm, 55-65
5 min EZ

1 x 4 min build effort to strong, choice cadence
4 min EZ
3 x 3 min Z3/4 slow cadence (slop/resistance mode)
3 min EZ between  3 x 2 min high power/high cadence 100+ rpm, 3 min EZ between (slop/resistance mode)
3 min EZ between

CD: EZ spin

As for Thursday morning, I had about 1 hour and 45 minutes of fun on the trainer for my first real workout. The trainer is super quite and very smooth. There is no sticky pedaling, especially as I increase the slope or resistance.

WU: 20 min EZ

Pre set: 4 x 4 min (odd Z1/2 build rpm to fast, even Z1/2 build rpm to fast)

MS: 4 x 10 minutes as:
2xs (3 min Z2, rpm 100+, 2 min Z3, 45-50 rpm)
4 min EZ

Post set: 15 min Z2/3 - steady effort, gradually decreasing power and increasing rpm.

Whew, what a great workout, especially after the tough run on Wednesday. I've been super diligent with my nutrition before, during and after workouts to ensure that my body can stay consistent with training and to give me confidence that any fatigue that I feel is normal fatigue and not from underfueling or poor recovery. So far, I'm feeling very energized, strong and healthy and I hope that feeling continues to last as I am expecting a lot from my body in April and May.

I did a very short swim (1900 yard)  swim workout at lunch time to knock out my 2nd workout of the day because I had nutrition consults the rest of the afternoon through early evening.

As for Friday morning, Karel was off to NC to the A2 wind tunnel with our athlete Joe so I had to swim solo. Karel has been swimming almost every swim workout with me so it was kinda lonely swimming by myself, especially for this endurance tracker main set.

500 warm-up

Pre set:
4 x 200's w/ snorkel and fins

10 x 25s w/ paddles fast w/ 5 sec rest

35 x 100's on 1:30 at 85% effort

Total: 4900

I was feeling tired during warm-up and pre-set so I wasn't sure how the main set would go but after 6-8 x 100's, I started to find my rhythm and the set actually went by really fast!

Then I again, I was really excited to eat my homemade banana bread when I returned home from my swim.

Here are a few pics that Karel took of Joe in the wind tunnel. Joe is a 3-year Trimarni athlete and recently won the HITS Naples Half Ironman. When Joe started working with us, he was far from the athlete he is today. Joe is an engineer so his mindset is often to analyze everything but he has trusted us as his coaches since day one and he is not one for excuses. Joe and his wife Erica just had their first baby 9 months ago so it's been neat to see them both balance it all. This wind tunnel adventure was a fun experience for both Karel and Joe, just to test his position, along with other gear like his clothing, calf sleeves, helmet, wheels, bottle placements, etc. Karel and Joe learned a lot! The wind tunnel testers were impressed with Joe's attention to detail but also very impressed with his position on the bike (fit by Karel).

I wrapped up my day with a light strength session in the late afternoon, followed by a long Campy walk.

We received a nice package from our friends at Mg12 over the weekend, which came at the perfect time as we use this stuff regularly. I just love this line of products for recovery and the quality ingredients.

As for the weekend training, the fog and big chance of rain made it hard for us to get in the workouts that we wanted to get in outside but we dealt with what we were given and still had a quality weekend of training.

Joe, Karel and I headed out on our road bikes around 8:15am on Saturday morning hoping to get in a solid ride but as we headed on the trail out, the fog was rather thick so we decided it wasn't safe to ride (even with lights on our bike). Instead, we just spun on the trail and had more of a social ride for 90 minutes. 

Joe headed back to Jacksonville after our ride and Karel and I followed up our ride with a run. Karel ran outside and I ran on our treadmill for an hour. For me, just a nice form focused run with no hard efforts.

After an afternoon of working on the computer and making a beautiful looking Mexican-themed quinoa and black bean salad for our evening pizza part at Meredith's house (picture and recipe on tomorrow's blog), I finished up my long run with another hour on the treadmill. After not getting in our long ride on Saturday, I had planned to do two runs today instead of one long run to reduce the overall training stress with the previous training.

Sunday morning was a trainer ride with a main set that looked easier on paper than what it turned out to be. Nonetheless, a great trainer session for 2:20 followed be a 30 min EZ run on the treadmill.

Bike workout:
WU: 30 min EZ spin (build from Z1-Z2)

Pre set:
5 x 5 minutes Z2 (1 min at 70 rpm, 1 min at 80 rpm, 1 min at 90 rpm, 1 min at 100+ rpm, 1 min choice cadence)

6 x (2 minutes Z3/4 at 40-45 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
2 min EZ
6 x (1.5 minutes Z3/4 at 45-55 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
2 min EZ
6 x 1 min Z3/Z4 at 55-65 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
5 min EZ

Post set:
15 minutes Z3 steady effort, choice RPM

Cool Down
Hope you had a nice weekend and you are finding yourself building confidence in your training/exercising and nutrition to move closer to your health, fitness and performance goals.

Never compare yourself to other people. Discover what makes YOU happy and then direct all your energy on yourself so that you can focus on being the best version of YOU.