Essential Sports Nutrition


How to manage racing in hot weather conditions

Every race requires a bit of planning but racing in the heat requires a bit more thought. When the ambient temperature is extremely high and your working muscles are generating additional heat, it's very important to externally keep your body cool and to replenish what you lose from sweat.

During a race, when your metabolic and heat production rates are high, core temperature increases. This isn't too much of a worry in cool conditions but if it's hot and humid outside, the body then has to cope with the environmental heat and the heat produced by the working muscles. To keep you from overheating, the first priority of your body is sending more blood to the skin to help with cooling – leaving less oxygen-rich blood for the muscles and less blood for your gut to help with digestion.

As a way to help cool yourself, your body increases the sweat rate to remove heat from your body through evaporative cooling. As you become dehydrated (from water loss), blood volume decreases. In turn, more blood to the skin means less to your heart. To maintain cardiac output, heart rate increases to try to supple the muscles with blood. But decreased blood availability means less blood is available to go to the working muscles. When the body can't overcome the heat stress, heat builds up in your body, your core temp increases and you are at risk for overheating and a heat illness.

For endurance athletes, it's important to note that your muscles demand more fuel (glycogen) in hot conditions. Muscles are more taxed which can affect efficiency and can also cause greater tissue damage.

A few tips to help you better manage racing in hot conditions:
  • With less blood available to the working muscles and the cardio system under stressed, you have to be careful with pacing. Do not push yourself or chase paces (or PR's). Run within your capabilities under heat stress. Certainly this will be more of a factor with running (full-body) compared to swimming or cycling.
  • Go into your race well fueled. It's much easier to give your body fuel when you are sedentary than when you are exercising. A fueled and hydrated tank going into the race will help reduce the risk of GI issues that often occur from consuming too much nutrition during a race (your body can only digest and absorb ~1g carb per minute when you are exercising).
  • Go into the race well hydrated and salt your food. But don’t overdrink. Your urine should not be clear or dark but lightly yellow. If you have practiced with a hyper hydration drink like Osmo, NBS, Skratch or Vite, I suggest to pre-load with between 600-1200mg sodium twice a day in the 24 hours before you race (and on race day morning). Otherwise, just salt your food.
  • Before and during the race, keep yourself cool. During a triathlon, use water to cool your body when cycling (aid stations) and when running, use a cooling towel, sponges and ice.
  • Stay well hydrated on the bike by drinking frequently – even in the first hour when you don’t feel thirsty. Use your well-formulated, practiced sport drink and try to stick to a drinking schedule to optimize digestion and absorption.
  • Don't assume that "more salt" will keep you better hydrated. Your body can only accept so much when you are exercising. Your body functions best when you are proactive, not reactive.
  • On the run, your stomach can only empty about 5-7 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. If you drink more than you can empty from your stomach, you may risk a sloshy stomach. Also, if you only drink water, you risk diluting sodium in the blood. Make sure to rely on a sport drink throughout the race (that’s why I also suggest to wear a hydration belt) and use water for sipping and cooling.
  • The harder the effort, the more your body temp will increase as more heat is being generated. Think about the hardest/more demanding places on the course (ex. hills) that may cause an increase in heat production. Control your effort to better manage the entire race.
  • Look for shaded areas on the course to avoid running in the direct sunlight.
  • If you feel overly hot, dizzy or chills. Stop immediately and lay down and get yourself cooled.
  • Use sunscreen, cover exposed areas with breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics and stay out of the sun before the race. A sunburn is extremely stressful to your body.
  • After the race, cool your body down with ice/water and rehydrate. Take a cold shower and don’t just drink water. Suggest a mild-tasting electrolyte drink like Skratch, NBS or Vite. 

    Vite: TRIMARNI25
    Carborocket: TRIMARNI
    Naked Running: TRIMARNI15


Eating for the spring season

Spring has arrived to Greenville, SC! The warm weather is here and our furry crew is soaking it all in. Although Campy gets plenty of time outside in his backyard, our 16.5 year old cat (Smudla) is allowed to enjoy some time outside in the warm sun. At this phase in her life, she pretty much gets whatever she wants.

In case you missed it, here's an article from our weekly newsletter (subscribe HERE) on springtime eating.

With winter behind us (hopefully), warm and rich soups, stews, casseroles and drinks are replaced with brightly-colored produce and hydrating beverages. Eating what's local, available and in-season is a practical choice, especially when you are trying to optimize your nutrient intake. To keep you on track with your springtime nutritional needs, here are a few key tips.

Loss of appetite – Warm weather has a dramatic effect on appetite. Whereas cool temps increase the appetite, hot temps have the opposite effect – it zaps your desire to eat. Dehydration also encourages a loss of appetite, especially when you experience a headache and nausea from not meeting your fluid intake needs. Make sure you stay up on your hydration and nutrient needs to keep the body in good health.

– The list of reasons as to why it’s too hard to eat healthy in the springtime are endless, especially when the days are longer and you try to pack more into each day. But if you think about it, eating healthy is not that hard when you choose fresh/real food. It’s the conflicting information that makes healthy eating so confusing. Foods that are heavily processed provide less nutritional value than fresh foods. Generally, the more cooking you can do from food in its natural state, the healthier the meal will be for your body.

Travel - Between the vacation getaways and weekend outings, it’s easy to slack on nutritious eating in the springtime. For an all-day excursion at the pool, park or beach, pack an ice-cold cooler with water, sandwiches, hummus, chopped veggies, sliced fruit and yogurt in order to resist the vendor/fast food temptations.

CSA - Take advantage of fresh, local produce at the grocery, farmer’s market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Seasonal summer fruits, like watermelon, berries, oranges, corn, peppers and tomatoes are in their prime, bursting with flavor and packed with nutrients.

Plan ahead - When you are hungry, your cravings will guide your food choices. By preparing your meals ahead of time, you will improve your health, save time and money, decrease meal-time stress and make better food choices.

Start your garden - Now is a great time to start planning your garden. Determine the best spot, get the soil just right, plan the layout and select what you want to grow. Don't forget to water your garden. Growing food can be a very rewarding experience as you benefit from the healthful food you produce.

"In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

— Mark Twain 


What are your sleep habits trying to tell you?

Sleep is extremely important for your mental and physical health and athletic performance. Do you sleep enough? 

Ideally, the adequate amount of sleep to promote optimal health and to avoid the health consequences is between seven and nine hours. If you are Campy, it's 20 hours a day. Because sleep affects how your body performs and functions when you are awake, how much you sleep and the quality of your sleep are equally important. Without a good night's sleep, your immune system, ability to think and learn, glucose metabolism, reaction time and mood can become compromised. Therefore, sleep is critical in athletic success and optimizing health.

For most athletes, you probably squeeze in workouts early in the morning or late in the evening due to a busy, rushed and exhausting life schedule. If you are like most sleep-deprived athletes, you've likely become very accustomed to relying on your alarm to help you get out of bed - regardless of how tired you felt the day before. In addition, there's likely an extra cup or two of coffee to survive the day and sadly for many, energy drinks are the norm for an afternoon wake-up.

It's important to practice good sleep habits such as;

  • Sleeping in a quiet dark room without electronics
  • Avoiding stimulants and alcohol in the afternoon/evening
  • Having a regular bedtime and wake up routine
  • Not eating a large meal too close to bed
  • Minimizing very early or very late training sessions
  • Allowing yourself one day a week to wake-up without an alar

If you've recently noticed a change in sleep pattern or you chronically suffer from restless sleep, this may be a sign that your body is overly stressed.

It's one thing to intentionally limit yourself from adequate sleep but what if you are unable to get a restful night of sleep? What are your sleep habits telling you if you are constantly waking in the middle of the night, tossing and turning and perhaps, waking-up covered in sweat?

Here are a few thoughts as to what your sleep habits are trying to tell you:

  • Increasing your training load (volume and/or intensity) without adequate rest and recovery can overload your system. This can increase inflammation, which alters serotonin function, which affects your mood and sleep. Additionally, lack of proper recovery can lead to higher resting heart rate, an inability to increase your heart rate when exercising and decreases the strength of your immune system. If you are not sleeping well, you may not be adapting well to your training load - either from too much volume/intensity, not enough fuel/nutrition to support training, inadequate recovery, or a combination.
  • During sleep, your liver is a very important organ. Your liver secretes glucose to maintain blood glucose levels and supply the brain with fuel. By the time you wake-up, 60-80% of your liver glycogen has been used by the cells in the body (this is why you should eat a small snack before your early morning workout). If you are not refueling properly post workout or exercising late in the evening, you may be experiencing night-time hypoglycemia. Signs of low blood sugar include sugar cravings, night sweats, rapid heartbeat, headache, nightmares and lack of appetite or nausea in the morning. If you are not sleeping well, your blood sugar levels are likely out of balance and need to be corrected through a dietary intervention.
  • Insomnia is a common feature among individuals who are following a low carb or low calorie diet. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that helps calm your brain to help you sleep so it's no surprise that the dieting or overtrained athlete would suffer from sleep issues. Whether you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, your diet could be to blame. Two red flags that your diet is to blame is if you are relying on sleep aids to help you fall asleep but also relying on stimulants such as caffeine, to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
  • Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay sleep, which means sleep quality will be heavily affected. With so much on your mind, it's easy to feel tense and anxious, causing you to toss and turn. It may also be difficult to lower your HR or blood pressure, making you feel tense. Instead of becoming addicted to sleeping aids, get to the root of your sleeping issues. Don't let insomnia take over your life. Reach out to a professional who can help. For starters, keep a note pad by your bed to right down your thoughts instead of trying to sleep with too much on your mind.
  • Dehydration can affect your sleep just as overhydrating can affect your sleep. Dehydration can disrupt your body's normal rhythm (similar to overtraining) so that you don't feel tired when you should - you are exhausted in the morning but feel alert in the evening. You may also feel a dry throat at night, which causes you to overdrink throughout the evening. Overdrinking can cause excessive urination - or frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Be mindful of your fluid intake - including alcohol and caffeine. Try to spread your fluid intake out over the course of the day and stay well hydrated during your workouts. 

What are your sleep habits trying to tell you?


Blueberry Baked Oatmeal (Vegan)

When writing my book Essential Sports Nutrition, it was important that I included a variety of recipes that everyone could enjoy - regardless of dietary preferences/restrictions. I couldn't think of a more athlete-friendly recipe than one that included oats and blueberries. I prefer this baked oatmeal served warm, but it is also good at room temperature or chilled (I’ll leave that up to you!). This oatmeal keeps well in the refrigerator so it's great to make in advance - make sure you plan for leftovers. It's perfect for a pre-workout snack or as part of your breakfast meal.

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40
Total Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 15 servings

  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups almond milk
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 large flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxseed + 6 tbsp water)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (measured dry, then melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)

  1. Make flax eggs by mixing two tablespoons ground flaxseed meal with six tablespoons water. Mix together and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes until thick.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. 
  3. In a medium bowl, combine nuts, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. 
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, flax egg, coconut oil, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. 
  5. On the bottom of the baking dish, spread 2 cups of the berries. Cover the fruit with the dry mixture, then pour the wet ingredients over the oats. Lightly shake the move the baking dish to fully soak the oats, then gently pat down. 
  6. Spread the remaining berries on the top. 
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden. 
  8. Remove your baked oatmeal from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. 

A few tips:
  • Use gluten free oats to make this gluten free
  • You can use cow or soy milk in place of almond milk for more protein. 
  • You can use 2 large eggs in place of flax egg for more protein and fat
  • You can omit the nuts to make it nut free. 
  • If coconut oil solidifies when added to the wet ingredients, that’s ok. You can break up any large pieces with your hands.
More recipes like this in my book: Essential Sports Nutrition