Essential Sports Nutrition


Sport Nutrition product review - Base Real Bars

Base Performance
Boulder, CO
About the Company from the website:

Base Performance provides premiere nutritional supplements for endurance athletes. They have developed a unique and simple system with a variety of products for endurance athletes to improve performance, gain lean muscle, increase endurance and enhance recovery. Athletes know the value and importance of base training. The theory behind BASE Performance is no different.

Having a strong base nutritionally will allow athletes to maintain a healthy body so that they can train, adapt and get stronger so that they can perform at their best.

BASE Performance is nutrition for athletes of all abilities striving to accomplish their goals, live healthy lives, and achieve greatness.

Product Reviewed:
Base Energy Bars Real Bars (5 flavors)
  • Fudge Brownie -Cocoa / Chia / Dates / Quinoa / Honey
  • Almond Peanut - Peanuts / Almonds / Honey / Oats
  • Peanut Butter / Dates / Quinoa / Honey
  • Sweet Apple Crisp - Apples / Dates / Quinoa / Honey / Chia
  • Lime Berry - Cranberry / Lime / Apple / Almond / Honey

Other Base Products:
Electrolyte Salt
Recovery Activator

Label Claims:
  • Certified Organic
  • Certified Non-GMO
  • Certified Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Soy Free
  • Zero Artificial Ingredients
  • No Added Sugar
Nutrition Facts Example:  

Serving Size: 1 bar         
Calories: 180
Total Fat: 7g
Sodium: 55mg
Total Carb: 27g
Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 15g
Protein: 4g  

Organic almonds, organic honey, organic rice syrup, organic oats, organic dried cranberries (organic dried cranberries, organic apple juice concentrate, organic sunflower oil), organic apples, organic chia, organic sorghum, organic lime juice, organic glycerine, organic cherry flavor, Himalayan pink salt, organic cinnamon

  • Tasty flavors
  • 2 different distinct textures
  • Nutrient-dense on-the-go snack
  • Savory compliment to sweet sport drinks when cycling


The Celiac Athlete - nutritional needs

For any athlete with Celiac disease, it may feel overwhelming to meet daily and athletic nutritional needs with a gluten-free diet. But just because you have Celiac disease, your diet doesn't have to adversely affect performance or sabotage health IF you plan appropriately.

As a Celiac athlete, you should not feel embarrassed or frustrated with your dietary situation. With proper education and guidance, you can stay healthy and optimize performance to meet your athletic goals. 

In the May 2018 issue of Triathlete, you can check out my latest case study article. I featured a Celiac triathlete that I worked with and his struggles relating to meeting his nutrition and energy needs while training for long-distance triathlon events and what we changed to help him find athletic success in training and on race day. 

Here are a few tips for the Celiac athlete: 
  • Read ingredient labels and avoid cross-contamination. When it doubt, go without. 
  • Stick with your go-to "safe" foods before key training sessions and races. Avoid eating out and be in charge of what you cook and eat. 
  • Plan ahead for traveling, meeting, events and busy days. Make sure to have snacks available so you can stay nourished and fueled with gluten-free options.
  • Prioritize real foods that are naturally gluten-free to meet your nutritional needs for meals and snacks. 
  • Utilize processed/convenient gluten-free foods for energy density when you need to bump-up your caloric intake on higher volume training days. 
  • Be mindful of your caloric and carbohydrate intake to make sure you are eating "enough" as it's easy to fall short on your needs when avoiding gluten containing foods. 
  • Carefully select your foods as many gluten-free foods are poorly fortified. Common nutrient deficiencies (which may result from malabsorption) include iron, zinc, calcium and B12. Keep an eye on your fiber intake to keep your digestive system healthy. 
  • As you put your energy into a gluten-free diet, don't forget about your protein and fat needs. 
  • If you suffer from pain, headaches, fatigue, GI issues, chronic sickness or injury or a decline in performance, reach out to a sport RD for nutritional help. 


Are you a durable athlete?

While watching the 2018 Boston marathon, I couldn't help but think about the resiliency and durability of the top athletes - especially the winners, Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi who remarkably embraced the wind, cold and rain while covering 26.2 miles. For both, this wasn't their fastest marathon attempt but rather, success came from being durable and resilient.

For any endurance athlete, there is great risk for injury and fatigue while training for an event lasting 90+ minutes. Certainly, every athlete training for an endurance event hopes to get to the starting line feeling fit, strong and healthy but not always does this happen. Sadly, far too many endurance fail to get to the starting line of their upcoming event due to injury or a health issue and if they do arrive, the body is weak, fragile and broken down. Because endurance sports are addicting, it's common for athletes to continue this cycle of never fully rebuilding or strengthening the body and to constantly arrive to races poorly prepared (physically and mentally).

Do you consider yourself a durable athlete? Here are some warning signs that you need to become more resilient before signing up for races or progressing with your training volume/intensity.
  • You are constantly rehabing and racing, rehabing and racing. 
  • You struggle with consistent training due to life, low motivation, restless sleep, injuries, sickness, etc.
  • Certain workouts scare you for you fear injury or falling apart from fatigue.
  • You struggle to bounce back quickly from intense or long training sessions. 
  • You can't seem to put together a solid week or two of training before you get sick, injured or exhausted. 
  • You always feel under-prepared for races but show up anyways.
  • You rely on panic training to squeeze in the workouts that you didn't do earlier in the season.
  • You tend to train for one race at a time with a long break in the off-season or after a race. 
  • Your training doesn't really make sense - it lacks specificity, structure or progression. 
  • As your race approaches, you feel more withdrawn, exhausted and fragile/weak. 
  • You don't feel strong, healthy or durable.

Durability and resilience are elusive traits among endurance athletes but sadly, many athletes are chasing the wrong methods or outcomes in becoming "race ready." Understanding the unique demands of the sport in which you are training for is critically important.

As it relates to your upcoming event and what is needed to become race ready, is speed, fat adaptation, mileage based workouts and leanness criteria for success? While these aspects of performance may help, they are not worth chasing if you have yet to build a strong, robust durable and resilient body. And perhaps if you have achieved resilience and durability, these other factors like leanness, fat adaptation and speed may not be worth chasing anymore for you have become physically and mentally capable of withstanding the demands of training, ultimately improving your chances of success by improving longevity in your sport.

Building a durable body takes time, careful planning and patience. It's not easy and thus, many athletes (and coaches) skip steps, rush the process and get inpatient, risking injury, sickness, fatigue and burnout. Sadly, there's no secret prescription or program that will speed up this process. To become a durable athlete, it takes time......a long time. And it starts with first nailing the basics (before advancing with your training volume) like good form and skills, great sleep, stress management, diet, fueling, hydration and recovery. It's then important to not let these habits slip away in an effort to train harder or longer. From a training perspective, there's no point adding more mileage or intensity to your training if you haven't built a solid foundation and learned to do things well.

When it comes to endurance events, durability will take you far. While you will not become an overnight success, overtime, you will get results. Most of all, your body will thank you and will reward you with many consistent years of training and racing. To maintain your durability, your training plan must be specific to your fitness and should allow for slow development, building a solid foundation, optimizing recovery and adaptation to your every day stressors.

There's only so much time and energy that you can dedicate to training. Put your time, focus and energy into the right strategies to foster athletic success. Do you need to be lean and fast in order to hold a sustainable effort for 3-17 hours on race day? Take a moment and ask yourself if you are trying to rush the training process, skipping steps and/or putting your energy into the wrong methods of becoming race ready.

Neglecting to build a durable, robust and resilient body will place you at risk for injury, sickness and burnout. If this is happening to you, you need to break the cycle and start building a strong body.It takes time to create a strong body structure (ex. bones, ligaments, tissues, tendons, etc.) to withstand repeated load. Avoid signing up for a long distance race just because you identify with being an endurance athlete or you feel like it's the popular thing to do.

To be a successful endurance athlete, you need to be healthy. Make sure you are taking the time to build a body that can help you stand up to the demands of your sport. Strong and durable trumps lean and fast when your sport demands resilience - both mentally and physically.


Should you go Keto?

It seems like every week we hear of an endurance athlete thriving on a ketogenic diet. While advocates boast about endless energy, bonk-free training/racing and rapid weight loss, there are several limitations beyond strict dietary compliance, bad breath and digestive issues.

What is Ketosis?
Under normal physiological conditions, glucose is the primary energy source of the brain. When dietary carbohydrates are restricted and insulin drops, the body becomes stressed and requires an alternative energy source to maintain normal brain cell metabolism. Fatty acids are subsequently mobilized and broken down in the liver to produce ketones. The liver then releases ketone bodies into the bloodstream where they travel to the brain to be used as the new fuel source. Although the ketogenic diet was originally developed as a drug-free way to treat epilepsy, athletes are now voluntarily putting the body into a state of ketosis in order to oxidize fatty acids and use ketones for energy. To achieve ketosis, dietary carbohydrate intake must be restricted to less than 50 grams per day, which is equivalent to one small banana and potato. In a ketogenic diet, around 75% of calories are derived from fats, 20% from protein and the remaining 5% from carbohydrates.

Ketosis and performance
From a performance standpoint, triathlon involves relatively short-duration, high-intensity efforts to boost your anaerobic threshold and as you quickly transition from swim to bike to run, climb hills, accelerate past a competitor and sprint to the finish line. These high-intensity efforts are highly dependent on carbohydrate metabolism and a ketogenic diet may reduce the capacity to utilize carbs, thus compromising your specific energy needs during training and racing. Since you don’t need to be in ketogenic state to improve your fat-burning abilities (thankfully, endurance training will naturally do this for you), focus on a nourishing diet to keep your muscles and liver stocked with glycogen. A well-balanced diet should contain 4-10g/kg/day carbohydrates, 1.5-1.8g/kg/day protein and 1g/kg/day fat.

Final thoughts
You probably know that one athlete who has athletically succeeded on a ketogenic diet but there’s far too many athletes who have overhauled the diet to induce ketosis, only to disrupt other body systems which consequently wrecked metabolic and hormonal health and impaired race day performance. As a reminder, your race day performance is influenced by much more than what is occurring inside of you on a cellular level.

Since real life athlete applications have failed to consistently show promising sustainable improvements in endurance performance, more research is needed to establish the effectiveness of a ketogenic diet for triathletes.

To read the article in print, check out the May 2018 issue of Triathlete Magazine (pg. 48).


How to bounce back from a long-distance race

In just a few weeks, Karel and I will be traveling to St George to race IM 70.3 St. George for the 2nd year in a row. Unlike IM 70.3 FL, this race will be slower in time as it comes with a lot of terrain and weather challenges. We enjoy challenging and beautiful courses and this one doesn't disappoint. 

Although there is no one specific guideline, rule or method to speed the recovery after an endurance triathlon event, I feel it's important to walk you through some of the factors that contribute to your recovery time after an endurance event, some of the mistakes that athletes make when recovering from an endurance event and a few strategies to help you get back to good health after an endurance event.

Why is recovery important? 
In training for an event, we welcome (and need) intentional and residual training stress for proper peaking and then we need to provide the body with a taper, in order to reduce the psychological and physiological stressors of consistent training in order to optimize performance and enhance previous training adaptations. After a race, recovery is the time when the body returns to a normal state of health (physically and mentally), so that you can once again, consistently do high-quality training sessions with no residual fatigue from the last event.

Many athletes make the  mistake of training for one race at a time and not seeing the season as a progression of fitness from race to race. In other words, you can actually gain fitness from race to race, so long as you properly recover and continue with well-planned, structured training. Additionally, you may find that the more you race, the more experience you bring to the next race, allowing you to take smarter risks and dig a little deeper. Take too long of a break between races and you lose what you gained in previous training/racing. But rush back into training and racing too soon and you be risk injury, sickness or becoming stale, tired and fatigued.

Factors affecting your race recovery
How fast or effectively you recover from an event depends on many factors. While it's good to have a plan for recovery after your race, doing too much (or not enough) may compromise your recovery. Even within one season, recovery time for one athlete may differ race to race, whereas some races require a longer recovery time than others.
  • Distance of the event
  • Athlete experience/fitness level/resiliency 
  • Finishing time (time on the course)
  • Racing intensity relative to distance
  • Racing intensity relative to race priority/season planning
  • Race preparation and ability (or lack thereof) to remain consistent to training
  • Life stressors (family, travel, personal, work)
  • Age
  • Athletic ability/resilience
  • Length of taper
  • Health status leading up to the race
  • Nerves/anxiety before the race
  • Nutritional status leading up to the race
  • Fueling/hydration execution during the race
  • Pacing during the race
  • Difficulty/ease of race course
  • Environmental conditions on race day
  • Terrain management on race day
  • Type of course layout 
  • Setbacks on race day (ex. dehydration, cramping, bonking, nausea/fatigue)
  • Post race nutrition, including refueling and rehydration
  • Post race sleep habits
  • Post race stress
  • Post race travel
  • Timing of next race
  • Mental state post race
Be mindful of the muscle, tendon, bone, joint, heart, organ and brain stress during an endurance event. Regardless of how well or not well your race went, respect your individual recovery process. 

Common mistakes made by athletes post-race
The 72 hours after an endurance event are crucial optimizing recovery. Poor sleep, dehydration, muscle and liver glycogen depletion, mental exhaustion and extreme muscle soreness/tissue damage along with any travel stressors will all affect recovery. Bouncing back too soon may negatively affect metabolic and hormonal health, central nervous system functioning and mood, not to mention lingering fatigue. In other words, if you rush the recovery, you may dig yourself into a hole that you can't get out of for several weeks, if not months - or the rest of the season. However, doing nothing may be just as bad as doing too much for active recovery can help speed up the recovery process. 

Avoid the following post race: 
  • Using anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation 
  • Not executing a rehydration and refueling strategy in the 48 hours post race
  • Not eating in the 12 hours post race
  • Resuming "normal" training, despite being sleep deprived 
  • Being too sedentary in the week after your race. 
  • Rushinng back into intense training because a race didn't go as planned (ex. didn't PR, podium, etc.)
  • Rushing back into intense training because you feel you need to prove something at your next race.
  • Rushing back to training because you don't know how to function in life without training
  • You hate resting/recovery
  • Training because your plan says so and ignoring signs that your body is too fragile to follow the structured workouts
Recovery tipsHere are a few suggestions to help you recover from a long distance event.

  1. Give yourself two full days to fully rehydrate and refuel after the race. Understanding that it may take time for your appetite to return to normal, it's OK to eat what you crave but just be sure to eat and drink with a purpose to promote recovery. Not eating/drinking for 12 hours after a race is not good!
  2. Avoid driving or flying in 4-8 hours after a race. Ideally, give yourself one extra night of rest before you are forced to sit for an extended period of time.
  3. Avoid getting a massage in the 48 hours post race. Focus on daily mobility for the next 48-72 hours. Schedule a flushing massage at least 3+ days post race.
  4. Skip the pills and focus on anti-inflammatory and gut-friendly foods like pineapple, fish, ginger and yogurt.
  5. Wear compression post race. Graduated compression socks (and not calf sleeves) will help with blood flow, especially when driving/flying.
  6. Use a safe,muscle relaxing cream (ex. we use Mg12) on any tight/sore muscles after a race.
  7. Avoid alcoholic beverages in the 48 hours post race.
  8. Try to get yourself into a good sleep routine as soon as you can. Do not allow yourself to return back into structured training (or setting an alarm to workout) until you can get a consistent 8 hours of sleep without waking up throughout the night.
  9. Give yourself 2-3 days of no structured training and have fun moving your body with low-impact, non-weight bearing activity when it feels right.Avoid setting an alarm or returning back to your structured training regime too quickly. There's plenty of time for that after you recover.
  10. Since running is very corrosive on the body, it's advised to keep your runs short (ex. 15-40 minutes) and to lower the intensity when you return back to running. Every athlete is different so I will not make a recommendation when to begin running again post race but typically you should allow a few days to heal damage tissues/muscles.
  11. Understand that some body parts will recover faster than others but there could be deep damage inside you that you can't feel. Be careful with intensity in the 3-7 days post race.
  12. If you can't keep good form during a workout, stop immediately. Poor/inefficient form is a sign that your body is not yet recovered and you could risk sickness or injury.
  13. Have fun in the week after your race. While you may not need a complete break from training,  enjoy non-structured, lower intensity workouts and having a bit more free time in your day, as you slowly ease back into structured training before your next race.