Friday, September 2, 2016

Portable, Shelf-Stable Snacks for School or Work

It's back to school time! The summer flew by, and suddenly here we are in September! One of the biggest challenges athletes have during the school year is continuing solid performance fueling during school hours. Challenges of no snacks in class, no nuts in snacks and other roadblocks can threaten to derail efforts to consistently fuel muscles during the day. However, with the right snacks and a little discreteness, there is no need to arrive at afternoon practice starving. These snacks are also great for work, in the car or walking across campus!

Before reading through the list of snack options,  remember the cardinals of building a solid snack: a source of carbohydrate (fruit, grains, dairy) plus a source of protein (nuts, seeds, protein or animal meat). While some of those foods like deli meat or yogurt won't appear on this list because they are not shelf stable, it is good to remember that they can be a part of a great snack when available.

Beautiful Performance-Enhancing, Shelf-Stable Snacks

Peanut butter & jam/honey sandwich
Sunbutter or soy nut butter & jam/honey sandwich*
Trail mix of dried fruit, nuts and your favorite whole grain cereal 
Trail mix of dried fruit, seeds and your favorite whole grain cereal*
Granola bars: my favorite are Clif bars, Picky Bars, Kind Bars and Luna Bars
Energy bites: there are many recipes available online, but look for great ones to include a nut butter or seed butter, whole grain oats, chia seeds or flaxseeds, honey and even chocolate chips!*
Piece of fruit with nuts or seeds*
Piece of fruit with lean turkey or beef jerky
Whole grain crackers, bagel or English muffin topped with peanut butter, sunflower seed or soy nut butter*
Dry cereal that is high in protein, such as Kashi cereals*
Whole grain cracker topped with tuna (buy in packets)*
A piece of fruit or dried fruit with a container of shelf-stable low-fat chocolate milk (like that pictured above*

*nut-free

This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, so get creative and find what works for you, your family or your athlete. If you have the challenge of no snacks in class, eat in passing period, choosing foods that are quick and easy to eat, such as trail mix (only about 1/2 cup is needed), energy bites or a granola bar.

Your Nutrition Coach,

RDKate


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Easy, quick lunches for young athletes cooking on their own


In an ideal world, every young athlete would have a parent waiting at home after a morning practice or before a late practice, prepping and serving a nutrient-dense lunch that will help them perform their best. The reality is that, in the summer, many athletes are on their own when it comes to finding a lunch - either because parents work or are driving around other siblings. The good news is that great lunch options can be created in a short time with little cooking expertise. As long as the ingredients are there, the feat is easy.

Sit down with your young athlete and review the list below. Pick at least 3 options each week that your athlete is willing and able to make on their own. Use this to create your shopping list. Doing this assures you can be away from home with less stress, knowing your athlete is fueling well in your absence.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Your sweat rate: How to check it and why it matters


When I work with any athlete, one of the first questions I ask is, "what is your sweat rate?". Ninety-five percent of the time, I get a blank stare. When creating a performance nutrition plan, knowing your sweat rate is critical to make sure fluid replacement during exercise is adequate (but not too high). Here is why:

The importance of water
Water plays major roles in the body at any given time, but especially during exercise. During exercise, water inside your body cools your core and muscles, keeping you from overheating too quickly. This helps your perform stronger and longer. In addition, water transports nutrients to your muscle for use in exercise metabolism and then "cleans up" by transporting metabolites away from your muscle to be filtered and excreted. Water plays a key role in preventing dehydration, which also keeps the athlete mentally "on" throughout the workout. Finally, water acts as a cushion to your organs to protect them in case of impact during sports.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

5 recipes every athlete should try this summer


As the weather warms, some athletes begin competitive season, while others hit off-season training. Either way, warmer weather calls for a solid nutrition base to help the body stay hydrated and fueled. Here are five lighter recipes that will keep you cool (and well-fueled) this summer.

Avocado Smoothie
Instead of the usual fruit, try a new smoothie using avocado instead! A refreshing drink bursting with omega-3 fatty acids to help those training muscles recover. If you do not drink cow's milk, replace with soy milk to make sure you still get a source of protein.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Is Beetroot Juice the Answer to Your Performance Woes?

In the sports world, many supplements come and go - some are food-based and others...not so much. A recent food-based player is beetroot juice or beetroot powder. Companies such as Beet Elite and Beet Boost sell powdered beetroot that can be mixed into water and taken like a shot 30-60 minutes before exercise. But what is beetroot juice, why all the hype and does it really improve performance?

Nitric Oxide
Beetroot juice or powder is a source of nitrate, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide regulates blood flow and muscle contraction within the body. Higher levels of nitric oxide equals more oxygen to flow to the muscles. This can be beneficial for athletes because better blood flow means better oxygen supply to working muscles, allowing the athlete to push harder for longer instead of hitting the wall too soon. However, beets are not the only food source of nitrates. Other vegetables considered high in nitrates (over 250 mg/100gm fresh weight) include celery, arugula, rhubarb, butterhead lettuce and spinach.