Essential Sports Nutrition


Nutrition during an injury

Whether you are a highly-trained athlete or a fitness enthusiast, there’s always a risk for injury. While some injures are minor, such as a bruise or inflammation, others are much more debilitating such as a tear, broken bone, impingement, stress fracture or ruptured tendon.

To avoid a decline in muscle strength, neuromuscular control and overall fitness, nutrition is vital in the healing and rehab process. Sometimes, with the right therapy, re-training program and dietary habits, athletes come back stronger and faster after an injury. Because the body has altered nutrient and energy needs during an injury, the following recommendations will help expedite return to sport:
  • Protein - While the precise amount varies, be sure to keep up with your protein intake (ex. 1.5-1.8g/kg/d) – especially after exercise/rehab – to maintain strength and muscle mass.
  • Carbohydrate – Slightly lower carbohydrate intake to prevent excessive weight gain and prioritize higher-fiber, satiating foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies. 
  • Fats –Prioritize plant and fish oils and be mindful of portions to decrease inflammation.
  • Vitamins and minerals – Calcium, Zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C and A will help with wound healing, immune function, tissue repair and cell growth. Consume three servings of dairy (or fortified calcium + vitamin D rich foods) a day for bone health. 
  • Hydration – to help delivery nutrients and support your joints and soft tissues, stay well hydrated with 90-120 ounce fluids per day.
  • Plan ahead - By having meals prepared in advanced, you can feel confident about meeting your daily nutritional needs to ensure that you are getting enough of the right nutrients, at the right times, to keep your immune system healthy as you recover from injury.
Fear of gaining fat – Many athletes feel they don’t deserve to eat calories or carbs when not expending calories. However, your body still requires energy, carbs and nutrients – even at rest. And if you have surgery, your daily energy needs may increase by 10-20%. Give yourself the building blocks it needs to promote proper healing instead of dieting. Use this time to work on your lifestyle choices, develop a passion for cooking and create new meal planning strategies. For most athletes, a 5-7 lb weight gain is nothing to be concerned as you are likely used to a different body composition that results from structured and intense training. Learning how to love your body in different shapes and sizes is an important part of self-care.


Cinnamon Quinoa Bowl

With all the focus on my 2nd book "The 365-day Running Journal" I feel I am overdue on posting a recipe from my first book "Essential Sports Nutrition."


Cinnamon Quinoa Bowl
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free
Yield: 1 serving / Prep Time: ~5 minutes / Cook Time: ~10 minutes

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is often called an “ancient grain” when in actuality, it’s a seed. Rich in iron, manganese, magnesium, B-vitamins and fiber, quinoa is also complete protein which means it contains all essential amino acids. This delicious cinnamon quinoa bowl is sure to give you a feel-good boost before your upcoming competition or workout. And because cinnamon may help reduce inflammation and ease muscle soreness, I suggest to make an extra serving or two to enjoy as a post-workout snack.

  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pecans
  • 1½ teaspoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, toast the pecans over medium heat stirring often until the pecans are fragrant and browned (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the butter, cinnamon and salt to the pan and stir until well combined. 
  3. Add the quinoa to the pan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa is warmed through. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the maple syrup. 
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and top with dried cranberries and chia seeds. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

Meal prep tip:
One half cup dry quinoa plus 1 cup water will yield about 2 cups cooked quinoa. This recipe is easy to double or triple for multiple meals.

More recipes like this can be found in my book Essential Sports Nutrition.


One week until my new book releases!!

I'm super thrilled to announce that we are just one week away from the release of my new book The 365-day Running Journal. I can't wait for you to get it in your hands so that you can start logging your workouts while staying motivated with lots of inspiring quotes and tips. 

I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the following professionals who reviewed my book.

"The 365-Day Running Journal is flawlessly designed to encourage an individual to document their running journey. The uniqueness of this journal is the expert advice provided by author Marni Sumbal who is a nationally recognized sports dietitian, coach, and athlete herself. Marni provides the reader with helpful tips each week followed by a section to comprehensively document details of the workout. Throughout the journal Marni gives advice on how to develop a training plan, provides up-to-date nutritional guidance, and tips to prevent against injury. The weekly and monthly tips found throughout the journal are essential in keeping the runner motivated while setting a positive trajectory for long-term success in training, health, and happiness in sport."―Caitlin Glenn Sapp, PT, DPT, owner of Crew Racing and Rehab

"Marni has done an exceptional job at creating so much more than a training journal. The key quick tips, inspiring quotes, and specific running focused information makes it easy to stay motivated, properly fueled, and injury free while seeing the miles add up! This journal can help any runner turn the 'run happy' dream into a reality!"―Kim Schwabenbauer, MS, RD, CSSD, NASM-CPT, USA triathlon coach and founder of Fuel Your Passion, LLC

"Marni’s passion for running well is contagious. In The 365-Day Running Journal, Marni has written a wonderful book that runners of all abilities will appreciate. The journal creates a place for runners to reflect on their training, nutrition, and how they feel each day and week to safely progress their running for their individualized needs. Marni’s pro tips and motivational quotes are just the thing to help foster consistency for excellent runs."Scott Kaylor, PT, DPT, SCS

"For most, if not all runners, consistency of training and longevity reign supreme. To this end, developing rock-solid habits, executing workouts, and keeping tabs on your progress is essential. To accomplish this one needs a simple, practical resource that also reminds athletes of their successes along the way. Unsurprisingly, Marni Sumbal delivers that and much more. If you are looking for a no-nonsense approach for yourself or friends, who enjoy running, this is long overdue resource. Enjoy!" Chris Johnson, MPT, MCMT, ITCA, Zeren PT & Performance - Owner and Director

For more tips, quotes and educational material, don't forget to reserve your copy for the September 24th release (don't forget to gift one to a new runner friend).

Click ➡️ to pre-order: ORDER HERE.


IM Kona: 4 week countdown

It's with excitement that I can announce I am running!! Pain free, minimal niggles and no discomfort. After not being able to run for 9 weeks (which did include running a marathon at the end of Ironman Canada) and then 3 weeks of reintroducing running to my body of 10-15 minutes a few times per week, this was the first week when I was able to actually run and feel normal running. Oh what a great feeling! It's been quite the journey (not my first time dealing with this) with 12 weeks of wondering if I would ever be able to run normally again but I'm so thankful that my body was able to finally heal itself with just 4 weeks to go before IM Kona. I've dealt with all types of emotions over the past three months but throughout it all, I remained hopeful and somewhat optimistic - even though there was a lot of self-doubt. Now my focus is keeping myself healthy/injury free and staying consistent with running to somewhat prepare myself for the IM Kona marathon.

Here's a recap of this week's training:

Swim: 19600 yards (4:45 hours)
Bike: 12:30 hours
Run: 3:11 hours
Strength: 1 hour
Total: 21 hours

I have been doing all of my running on the treadmill and although I am confident that I can run outside, I am gaining a lot of confidence of being in my controlled environment while running indoors. There's no camber of the road, cars, distractions, up and down hills and heat to induce excessive fatigue so running indoors makes for a better training stimulus for me at this time. Rather than trying to bump up my running volume, I am incorporating more intensity through intervals with my running as this provides a safer stimulus for my body.

After a few weeks of just reintroducing my nervous, muscular and cardio system to running with short but frequent runs (10-15 minutes), I felt ready to increase the duration and intensity of my runs. I am not running with expectations or a goal pace or intensity in mind. Right now I am running grateful and thankful. Because I am running indoors, my watch doesn't record my pace accurately so it also allows me to run completely by feel without worrying about chasing a pace or feeling like I need to prove something with each run. I know I will be going into Kona undertrained on the run but there is still a lot within my control like being smart with my swim/bike training, focusing on good nutrition and knowing how to manage the heat.

Because I was able to keep up with swim/bike/walk/strength and included a lot of PT and manual work from professionals over the past 12 weeks, the transition back to running felt very natural - once I got over the fear of "will I get injured again, is this a normal feeling, etc." Now I am running with joy and hopefully this will keep up so that I can start the IM Kona marathon feeling healthy and strong. I am still dealing with some non-concerning niggles so it's a daily process of listening to my body and focusing on making good decisions with my training - especially with running.

My swimming has felt incredible but I am not swimming "fast" by my standards. It's a weird feeling to feel so good in the pool but to not see times that reflect how I feel. Carrying around fatigue can be mentally tough as the mind can take you in a million different directions with your thoughts.

My long ride on Friday went great and I felt amazing throughout all 5.5 hours. I finished off the workout with a 30 minute brick run on the treadmill. Karel and I rode together but Karel was feeling empty around 2.5 hours during the ride so he had to cut his 5.5 hour ride short at 4:40. He barely made it home as he was totally spent from his previous training. This is one of those uncontrollable situations where you never know how the body will feel/perform and making smart decisions without an ego, fear or guilt is important. Karel took Sat very EZ with just a 2000 yard swim and on Sunday, he also had an EZ day of a spin and swim. These micro-adjustments of training are part of being an endurance athlete. It doesn't mean one is failing but just the normal process of trying to move the needle despite carrying around a lot of endurance fatigue.

I also had to cut a few workouts short (and modified the workout to fit in what I could) due to my work load. Instead of going into workouts all or nothing, I go in with the mindset of something is better than nothing.

We have two more weeks of hard training before we begin to taper/sharpen up and I'm crossing my fingers all goes well for us over the next few weeks. Arriving to the IM Kona start line healthy is our number one goal!