Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Goal for Team Nutrition!

This week I have a guest blogger: Maggie Michalczyk. Maggie is my summer intern. She will be a junior in the dietetics program at Michigan State University this fall. I hope you enjoy her post!

Be Extraordinary,


     On the heals of my European study abroad trip, I’ve found myself getting into the spirit of the European World Cup and cheering on the countries that I have recently visited.  Along with fans from all around the world, I watch as the drama of which country will advance to the next round unfolds with impeccable defense and game changing goal kicks - not to mention the dedication of the fans as shown on their flag-painted faces! However, what we really should be marveling at is the extreme endurance and aerobic workload these athletes have to maintain in order to compete in this fast paced sport.
     Studies have shown that proper nutrition before, during and after this type of vigorous exercise improves performance, prolongs endurance, and speeds muscle recovery.  While energy requirements vary depending on field position, most players running for the better part of 90 minutes can accumulate up to six miles run up and down the field. Short intense bursts of activity mixed with prolonged periods of moderate intensity taxes the muscles, which can nearly deplete all glycogen (the body’s first source of stored energy). Add that to the fact that almost 50% of goals are scored in the last 20 minutes of World Cup games and it is clear to see proper nutrition that is tailored to the body’s energy needs during endurance exercise is important for not only these “football” stars, but for soccer players of all levels.
    To maintain high levels of performance with speed and agility, these athletes need a diet rich in carbohydrates (carbs) and the right amount of protein to maintain strength, along with ample hydration both pre- and post-game. Before players take the field, they need to eat approximately 30-50 grams of carbs and ten grams of protein (turkey sandwich anyone?).  Carbs are a soccer player’s best friend no matter what level they are playing at. Having enough means that the body can preserve protein for muscle growth versus emergency energy. Protein, although not the energy superstar of the body, compliments the function of carbs, optimizing its storage in the form of glycogen.
    Dehydration is serious enough to sideline any athlete and even more so with soccer players running for long periods of time. The key to maintaining proper hydration throughout the game is to consume fluids throughout the day, and a post-game carb-electrolyte drink to regain lost sodium and muscle glycogen. For those goalkeepers out there sporting gloves and a long sleeved jersey, their need to stay hydrated is especially important. All players need at least 8-16 ounces of sports drink before the match, as much as possible during (can alternate between water and sports drink if it is not an extremely hot, humid day) and 16-24 ounces post-game.
    This triple threat of nutrients needs to be maintained throughout training and practice in order for the body to maintain the energy it needs for high intensity performance when game time comes around. Fueling the body properly starting from the early stages of game playing will ensure great performance results for these professional athletes but also for players at high school and collegiate levels. Pre- and post-game meals are important. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, some ideas that stay clear of a yellow card in nutrition include:

·         Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes with lean meat and veggies

·          Turkey and hummus tortilla wrap or pita sandwich with hummus and fruit

·         Pasta bowl w/ cheese and assorted veggies

·         Quinoa or brown rice salad w/ chickpeas and veggies

·         Cereal w/ low fat milk and a banana

·         Oatmeal w/ peanut butter and a banana (my personal favorite)

·         Egg and cheese bagel or English muffin

   It may be a player’s fancy foot works that gets them in the game but it’s the quality of what they eat before and after that keeps them there. So while no one can say when Cristiano Ronaldo will score the game winning shot, what is for sure is that if it comes in the second half, he definitely fueled the right way!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sick of gels, chomps, and bars? Try real food!

Gels...chomps...bars...sports drinks...for high-level athletes, these are a staple. But even athletes can easily tire of these pre-packaged convenience supplements. While they are easy to carry and eat, many of my athletes would just rather eat real food. There is nothing magical about sport supplement products. In fact ,a study just published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that in male runners, there was no greater performance benefit to using chews versus raisins. Both raisins and chews promoted higher carbohydrate oxidation and improved running performance compared to water only. Running performance did not differ between the raisins and chews, and there were no significant difference in gastrointestinal (GI) effects - GI disturbance was mild with either option. So, aside from dealing with some of what I call the "aesthetic issues" - ease of carrying, opening packaging, and eating - natural food is just as beneficial as commercial supplements. Though, like everything else, it is important to practice with these foods first. While I love raisins, there is no way I could eat those on a run - too difficult to chew and swallow while also attempting to breathe. Other runners, however, love using raisins.

Here are some great whole-food alternatives to fuel your training and competition:

Instead of gels...
-Honey straws

Instead of chomps...
-Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.
-Graham crackers or animal crackers
-Fig Newtons
-Bananas, apples, oranges

Instead of bars...
-PBJs, peanut butter & honey sandwiches (can use bagels vs. bread too)
-Oatmeal cookies
-Larabars (all natural)
-Trail mix (dried fruit & nuts)

Instead of sports drinks...
-100% fruit juice diluted with water + 1 pinch salt

Instead of protein shakes...
-Low-fat chocolate milk

Be Extraordinary,


Citation: Too BW, Cicai S, Hockett KR, Applegate BA, Casazza D, Casazza GA. Natural versus commercial carbohydrate supplementation and endurance running performance. J Intl Soc Sport Nutr. 2012; 9:27. Published: 15 June 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Camping Nutrition in Action

Last week I offered some meals and snacks to utilize while out camping. I was fortunate enough to camp and hike in Yosemite National Park this past weekend. So, for those of you interested, this is how I put my performance nutrition into action. Remember: this was what worked for me, based on my particular needs (23 weeks pregnant, high level of fitness, etc.). Your specific needs may differ. Also, while last week I gave recommendations that included purely shelf-stable foods for backpacking purposes, I was in a situation where keeping food cold was not a problem. So I could include perishable items.

Day 1: 8.8 mile hike to North Dome
Highest Elevation: 8100 ft
Total time to complete: 4.5 hrs (2:30pm-7pm)
Temp: 70-75

Lunch (prior to hike): PB & Honey sandwich on WW bread, large handful of grapes, large handful of baby carrots, 2 cups water
Fuel during hike: 1 cup sports drink, 1 Nature Valley Oats & Honey bar, 1 apple, 3 cups water

Dinner (at campsite): Campfire foil packets!
-Chicken breast
-Italian seasoning
-Fresh green beans
-1-2 small pats butter
.......wrap in foil, place in campfire coals or on cooking grate and cook through (~40 min depending on thickness of meat).

Also had another apple, some grapes, 4 cups water, and of course - s'mores for dessert!

1/2 cup sports drink immediately before bed (to prevent cramping overnight)

Day 2: 14.5 mile hike to Cloud's Rest
Highest Elevation: 9926 ft
Elevation Gain: 1775 ft
Total time to Complete: 6.5 hrs (10am-4:30pm)
Temp 65-75

Breakfast (campsite): 2 bowls old-fashioned oats with walnuts, dried fruit, brown sugar; 1 cup coffee, leftover potatoes from dinner night before, 2 cups water
Fuel during hike: 2 granola bars, 1/2 Clif bar, 2 apples, 1/2 avocado, PB & honey sandwich on WW bread, 1.5 cups sports drink, a lot of water

One interesting thing to keep in mind is that as elevation increases, so do carbohydrate needs. This remains true until the body is acclimated to elevation, which can take as long as 8 weeks. In addition, while the weather was relatively cool with low humidity, I was in direct sunlight and doing a good amount of climbing. Therefore, my hydration needs were significantly increased. I carried a Camelbak to encourage hydration.

How do YOU fuel yourself during camping and hiking? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment below.

Be Extraordinary,


Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 Camping-Friendly Meals + A Few Snacks!

Do you have any camping trips planned this summer? I am thrilled to be heading to Yosemite National Park to camp this Saturday night and hike some of the gorgeous trails in the area! Whether you're traveling hundreds of miles or just around the corner, having food that is non-perishable, convenient and nutritious can be challenging. Here are three meals and a few snacks ideas to fuel you on your camping excursion...

First, you will need the right tools:
-Campstove*: the MSR Pocket Rocket is one of many out there - quick and portable
-Cookset*: A good set makes a world of difference. I LOVE the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist (sold at REI).
-Utensils*: While there are actual mini camping utensils available, plastic or regular-sized work just as well unless space is an issue. Some cooksets come with utensils.
-Plates/bowls*: There are some great sets out there, but paper/plastic can again be used depending on space limitations. Some cooksets come with a bowl/mug.
-Can opener

*Generally higher-priced cooking products are much easier to clean, cook more quickly and are lightweight, which makes them ideal for multi-day trips.

With a good campstove and cookset, you would be surprised by the quality meals you can make. But here are 3 to get you started.....
Instant oatmeal or quick oats (add instant, dried powdered milk first, then hot water)
Nut butter
Dried fruit
100% fruit juice box
Coffee (if desired: check out camping coffee press mugs!)

Canned chili - 98% fat-free turkey with beans
Canned veggies to add to chili - low sodium if possible
Whole-wheat crackers or tortilla chips
Fresh fruit: oranges or apples travel well
Box of almond or soy milk - buy the smaller boxes in the non-refrigerated section; immediately throw out what you don't use

Couscous or Instant Brown Rice
Pouch of chicken or salmon
Spices: Oregano, pepper, rosemary
Serve above in whole-wheat tortilla
Canned veggies - low sodium if possible
Fresh fruit or canned fruit cocktail - in its own juice

Kashi Trail Mix Bars
Clif bars
Trail mix: nuts, dried fruit (any kind), pretzels/cheerios
Fresh fruit: oranges, apples

Be Extraordinary!