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Too many of my clients stay clear of bananas. They perceive them as being fattening.  As one runner said “I love bananas but I don’t eat them. They are soooo fattening.”


False! While a banana is less watery and more calorie-dense than, let’s say, an apple, 100 calories of a banana is no more fattening than 100 calories of an apple. Both are excellent sources of carbs to fuel your muscles, as well as health protective vitamins and minerals.


What does 100 calories of a banana look like? It’s a medium-sized banana that’s about 7-8 inches long (peeled) and weighs about 4 ounces (peeled).


Now mind you, the same people who avoid bananas tend to eat large apples.  That apple could easily weigh half a pound (8 ounces) and cost you 120 calories!


As with every food, there is a “small portion” that offers fewer calories than a “large portion.” Be aware, the calories in all fruits can add up quickly. Yes, fruit is a healthy source of calories, but the calories still count if you are watching your weight. So enjoy medium bananas and large apples -- and rest assured, you will not "get fat" from the banana.




For a list of the calories in fruits, refer to the chart “Comparing Fruits” on page 14 in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

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Nancy, I eat a vegan diet, hence I do not drink cow’s milk. Which is a better source of protein: soy, almond or rice milk?



There’s no debate: Soy milk is a far superior source of protein compared to almond or rice milk. That’s because soy, like cow’s milk, contains complete proteins and offers all the essential amino acids needed for building muscles and healthy bodies. Almond milk and rice milk, on the other hand, are protein-poor. Their labels even say, “Not to be used as an infant formula”. That says to me the products are not life sustaining. That is, a little baby can thrive on soy (or cow) milk, but not rice or almond milk. Note: the term “milk” can be misleading. A preferable term is “beverage”,  “drink” or “dairy alternative.”


When comparing the food labels, you can see that:

• Soy milk offers about 7 to 11 grams of protein per 8 ounces (depending on the brand).

• Almond milk offers only 1 grams of protein per 8 ounces. Almonds are expensive, so not much ends up in the beverage. You’d be better off eating a handful of whole almonds.

• Rice milk offers 1 gram protein —or less—per 8 ounces. Rice milk is mostly carbohydrate and is “watery.”


Most almond, rice and soy beverages are fortified with calcium, but be sure to read the label because not all are fortified. For example, Nature’s Promise rice milk has 30% of the RDA for calcium whereas Rice Dream offers only 2%.


You want to buy a product that is not only calcium-fortified but also fortified with (at least) vitamin D and B-12.


In terms of taste and acceptability, you’ll want to sample several brands; they can vary greatly in taste and texture. The most popular options tend to be sweetened with rice syrup, evaporate cane juice or some other natural sweetener.


Here’s how some popular brands compare (8 ounces per serving):


Almond milk

Blue Diamond

Almond Breeze               60 calories             1 g Protein             2.5 g Fat             30% calcium


Rice milk

Nature’s Promise             100 calories            0 g Protein            2 g fat                  30% calcium

Rice Dream                    120 calories            1 g Protein             2.5 g Fat               2% calcium


Soy Milk

Silk                                  100 calories            7 g protein              4 g Fat              30% calcium

EdenSoy                          130 calories          11 g protein              4 g Fat               20% calcium

1,703 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: vegetarian, protein, vegan, calcium, soy_milk, rice_milk, almond_milk

About 60% of active people know what a side stitch is. It’s an exercise-stopping, stabbing pain in the abdomen that can bring you to a standstill. Because getting a side stitch is unpredictable—that is, one day you might get one, and the next day you don’t—they are hard to research.


While we aren’t 100% sure what causes a side stitch, the popular theory is exercise creates stress on the ligaments that connect the abdominal organs to the diaphragm. That’s why wearing a tight belt might help the problem; it supports the organs from getting jostled. Eating lots of food or drinking lots of water might contribute to a side stitch, but each athlete’s body responds differently to food and exercise.


If you are plagued by side stitches, you might want to record your food and beverage intake. Perhaps you can detect triggers such as too much pre-exercise water or too large a pre-exercise meal. Then, with repeated efforts, you can hopefully determine a comfortable dose of pre-exercise fuel for your body.


What should you do once you get a side stitch? Many athletes bend forward, stretch the affected side, breathe deeply from the belly, push on the affected area, tighten the abdominal muscles, and/or change from “shallow” to “deep” breathing. (Pretend you are blowing out candles while exhaling with pursed lips.)


Have you found a solution that diffuses side stitches in your body? I’d love to hear your tips!


Thanks in advance,



1,011 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: fuel, pre-exercise, side_stitch, abdominal_cramps, stabbing_pain
Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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