Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Carbohydrate Loading: Why, When, and How

The Why
Fueling up properly before long-distance endurance endeavors >90 minutes with a high-carbohydrate eating plan will ensure maximum results during the event. Since glycogen (stored carbohydrate in muscle) levels decrease quickly during moderate to intense exercise, the body must be given ample carbohydrates (carb) in the days leading up to the event to adequately stock the muscles.
The When and The How: Proper Regimen
1.                              Begin by increasing carb intake to 8-12g/kg body weight for the first two of the three days prior to the event/race.
2.                              During this increase period, decrease training two to three days prior to the event so that your muscles have adequate time to become fully fueled.
3.                              Emphasize complex carbs (fruits and vegetables) and distribute them at all meals and snacks during the day, while avoiding simple carbs (sugars).
4.                              Resume your normal intake of carbs the day before the race or event (typically 5-8 g/kg body weight).

The idea is not to increase total calories, but to adjust intake to result in a greater percentage of calories from carbohydrate vs. protein or fat compared to normal.

Common Mistakes with Carb Loading
·         Neglecting the exercise taper. Failing to back off training for the 1-3 days before competition may compromise carb loading.
·         Fear of weight gain.  Carb loading may cause body mass to increase by up to 3-5lbs; this is extra water stored in muscles with the glycogen (stored carb). It will help delay dehydration during the event or race. 
·         Excessive fiber intake. It may necessary to limit fiber consumption in order to avoid stomach discomfort.
·         Consuming too many high-fat foods. Aim for a combination of high-carb, low-fat options.
·         Cutting out protein. A low-fat protein source should accompany carb-rich meals.
·         Not practicing an eating plan prior to competition. Rehearsing carb loading on an off week ensures that you know which foods give you enough energy and make you feel your best.

Sample menu for 145lb athlete
1 cup OJ
Black coffee or tea
Breakfast burrito (one 8-inch flour tortilla + 1 scrambled egg + 2 egg whites + 1/2 cup black beans + 2 Tbsp salsa)

Mid-morning Snack:
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup of whole-grain cereal

Water or unsweetened beverage
3/4 cup baked potato wedges with 1 Tbsp ketchup
16 carrots
Roast beef sandwich (one 2.5 oz whole-grain bun + 4 oz lean roast beef + 2 slices tomato + 1/4 cup shredded romaine lettuce + 1.5 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese + 1 tsp yellow mustard)

Afternoon Snack:
1 cup cantaloupe
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 oz whole wheat crackers

1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup flavored white rice with 0.5 oz slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli
Stuffed, broiled salmon filet (5 oz cooked salmon, 1 oz bread stuffing mix, 1 Tbsp chopped onions, 1 Tbsp diced celery, 2 tsp canola oil)

After Dinner Snack
1/4 cup hummus
4-inch pita bread
3/4 cup blueberries

Be Extraordinary,


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Flavored Swaps: Your favorite comfort foods in performance-enhancing form

This week, please enjoy a guest blog by my new intern, Angie!

Be Extraordinary,


Can you have your pancakes, burgers, fries, and eat it too? Yes, you can! You don’t have to compromise your taste buds to eat right. Fall is here, and you may have cravings for a homemade meal. Pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes are a great way to celebrate this season mindfully. Cure your cravings with these simple guilt-free meals. Turkey is a great warm fall food, and a delicious substitute for red meat, saving you sodium and saturated fat. If you are an athlete you know the importance of carbohydrate intake. By swapping for carb choices that are more slowly digested and utilized by your body, you will drastically improve your energy levels and performance.

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Makes 3 servings (1 small pancake each)

Regular pancakes are mainly simple carbohydrate (i.e. white flour), which can spike blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry within an hour. Packed with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, these pumpkin pancakes are a quick and perfect way to start your day. Each pancake has ~15gm protein, making this a great pre-workout meal 60 minutes pre-workout.

1/3 cup oats
4 egg whites
1 egg
½ 16oz can plain pumpkin
1.5 scoops Whey protein (vanilla)
2 TBSP almond milk- or milk of choice
2 tsp each Cinnamon & pumpkin spice
Toppings of choice (blueberries, nut butters, Greek yogurt or honey)

Mix ingredients into a batter and pour into heated skillet on medium. Flip once edges are set.
There are endless variations to this pancake. Try experimenting with an equal amount banana, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt instead of the pumpkin.

Note: Remove the protein powder from the recipe to enjoy 2 small pancakes pre-workout vs. only one, as this will decrease the total grams of protein in one pancake.

Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato fries
Makes 4 (4oz) burgers + 4 servings fries

This turkey burger with a side of sweet potato fries makes a great recovery meal! It is packed with protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fats to get those muscles ready for tomorrow’s workout.
5 cups spinach (shredded into small pieces) *Can also use frozen spinach, but be sure to press out as much water as possible
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp each: garlic powder, onion powder and dried basil
½ tsp each: salt & black pepper
Whole wheat or Ezekiel bread bun
Toppings of choice: tomato slices, avocado, lettuce,onion, etc.

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 TBSP olive oil
Sea Salt to taste

Mix ground turkey, spinach and spices in large bowl. Shape into 4 medium-size patties. Heat patties in skillet on medium heat. Cook each side for 4-5 minutes or to internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Top burger with tomato slices, avocado and lettuce.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes into large wedges. Toss in olive oil and sea salt to taste. Place on nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy. Fries serve 4.

Sweet Spaghetti and Meatballs (serves 2-3)
If you have not tried spaghetti squash you are in for a treat. Extremely versatile and nutrient dense, you can use spaghetti squash as a substitute for any recipe that calls for pasta! Spaghetti squash contains more vitamin B6, Vitamin A, potassium, and folic acid than regular wheat pasta. This can make a great lunch or dinner!

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 Tbsp low sodium marinara red sauce
¾ lb ground turkey or ground chicken
1 egg white
¼ cup low fat mozzarella cheese  
½ cup bread crumbs with Italian seasonings in mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Microwave squash for 5-10 minutes, or bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Once soft, cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and throw away. With a fork, scrape out spaghetti strands into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine raw ground turkey, egg white and bread crumbs. Shape into 5 small meatballs. Heat skillet over medium heat and spray with non stick spray. Add the meatballs and cook for 10 minutes or to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (meatballs will brown).
Place 3-4 meatballs in a large bowl of spaghetti squash and garnish with 1-2 Tbsp cheese. Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and squash. Add extra sauce as desired

Kale Chips
Nutrient dense kale is the powerhouse of vegetables.  Try this super simple recipe next time you’re craving a crispy salty French fry. Kale chips are perfect for a late-night snack or in between meals.

1 head Kale- washed
2 Tbsp Olive oil
Sea salt to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove kale leaves from the thick stem and tear into small (~1.5 inch) pieces. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Lay kale pieces on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until crispy - about 15 minutes; turn leaves halfway through.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

5 Fantastic Fall Foods

I'm so excited to say that fall has arrived! The nighttime lows are a dead give-away that cooler temperatures during the day will soon follow....I hope. Fall is a fabulous time for foodies. So much wonderful produce is in season, providing the starting point to some tasty creations in the kitchen. Here are 5 fall foods that are packed with health-boosting nutrients for both athletes and non-athletes:

The orange color is a good hint that pumpkins are filled with beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays an essential role in vision, cell differentiation and growth. Vitamin A is also one of the major antioxidants in the body (along with vitamins C & E), and so plays an imperative role in muscle recovery and repair after training. Pumpkins also contain ~3 grams of fiber and 560mg of potassium per cup.

Pumpkin seeds
These little seeds are packed full of nutrients! Pumpkin seeds are a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, protein (including the amino acids tryptophan and glutamate), vitamin E, manganese, and zinc. As mentioned above, vitamin E is an important antioxidant that aids with the removal of free radicals from muscles after training. Consumption of mono-unsaturated fats (MUFAs) has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the body.

Did you know there are over 600 different types of figs? They can be eaten whole and raw (seeds and skin too!). Figs are unique in that they have the highest calcium content of any fruit. At ~12% of daily value, or DV, which equals 120mg per 1/2 cup, figs are considered a good food source of calcium (between 10-19% of DV). Calcium is a main contributor to bone health (along with its sidekick vitamin D) and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. These little fruits are also a great source of fiber.

There are hundreds of different kinds of apples. Like many of the foods here, apples are also a great source of fiber (one apple contains ~4gm). One important nutrient they contain is vitamin C - another one of those powerhouse antioxidants! Vitamin C plays a significant role in collagen synthesis, which is a structural protein found in skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage (good to know if you are an athlete!). But make sure you eat the skin of apple as almost half of the vitamin C content is contained right under the skin.

Sweet Potatoes/Yams
Just like pumpkins, the orange color gives away that these are a great source of beta-carotene or vitamin A. When eaten with the skin on, a medium sweet potato has 4x the amount of beta-carotene recommended daily! Note that vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, so be sure to enjoy your sweet potato or yam with a small amount of fat (such as trans-fat free butter) to enhance its absorption. Other great nutrients in the potato/yam include vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and complex carbohydrates. Manganese is a trace mineral in the body that plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

Do you have a favorite recipe that incorporates any of the above foods? I'd love to hear about it - Please comment below!

Be Extraordinary,


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Ways to Fight Flu Season with Food

Whether or not we want to admit it, pharmacy advertisements for flu shots are a tell-tale sign that flu season will soon be upon us. That nasty virus comes back each year to wreak havoc on our bodies and neatly-planned training schedules. Fortunately, your food choices on a daily basis can have a huge impact on your likeliness of being sidelined by the flu (or any cold in general). Starting today, follow these five guidelines to assure you are able to train and compete throughout the entire fall and winter season: 

1. Hydrate!
While proper hydration is key for many reasons, it becomes especially important for the prevention of illness. As the weather turns colder, it's natural to not think about drinking fluids as frequently. However, a properly hydrated body can better transport essential nutrients to muscles and organs for proper functioning and recovery. Should you contract either the stomach flu or even a mild fever, hydration should be a top priority. Oral rehydration products such as sports drinks or Pedialyte may be a good way to avoid dehydration if symptoms are severe.

2. ACE it
Antioxidants may be your best defense against inflammation and stress within the body. Vitamins A, C, and E (ACE) are the power players in this category. To make sure you are meeting your needs each day, aim to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack. The darker the fruit or veggie, the higher it is in antioxidants (i.e dark, green, leafy vegetables, carrots, peppers, berries or oranges). Decreasing daily stress within your body is a key way to help it better fight off any potential threats to your immune system.

3. Consider Carbohydrate
Be sure to use carbohydrate-containing foods and/or beverages before, during, and after intense training or competitions. The body's stress hormones are at their highest after this type of exercise bout. Fueling your body properly with adequate carbohydrates will provide protection during this vulnerable time, decreasing the negative effect of stress hormones on your body.

4. Fuel, Refuel Recharge
In addition to proper carbohydrate supplementation during exercise, it is essential to maintain a well-balanced diet throughout the entire day. Include adequate carbohydrate, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. For most athletes, this includes eating at least every 3-4 hours to meet the body's training and recovery needs. Committing to good nutrition on a daily basis will assure your immune system is functioning at its best.

5. Supplement Smart
Unfortunately, there are no supplements guaranteed to prevent a cold or flu. However, at the first sign of illness, research has shown that two supplements may help decrease the severity and duration of the cold: zinc lozenges and vitamin C tablets. Begin sucking on zinc lozenges at the first sign of an impending illness, but limit length of use to no more than 1 week and don't use on an empty stomach. Note that citrus juice interferes with zinc absorption, so avoid it 30 min before and after using a lozenge. When taking vitamin C, limit each dose to 500 mg max for a total of 1000mg max daily. Anything above this amount is not efficiently absorbed and will simply be excreted in the urine.

Of course there are many flu-prevention behaviors you should keep in mind in addition to diet. Don't underestimate the value of proper sleep (ideally an average of 7-9 hours uninterrupted sleep per night), washing your hands, getting a flu shot, and keeping daily stressors to a minimum. If you feel like you are coming down with something, it is better to err on the side of caution and take a rest day. Overtraining and chronic fatigue only creates extra stress, which makes it more difficult for your body to mount an attack on the pending virus.

Be Extraordinary,