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Do Hummers need more gas than Mini-Coopers. Of course!

Do athletes who weigh 180 pounds need more calories than those who weigh 120 pounds? Of couse.


While this seems so obvious, I spend too much time counseling 180-pound over-fat athletes who try to eat like a 120-pound ballet dancer. They believe:

1. Food is a fattening “enemy.”

2. The less they eat, the faster they will lose weight.

3. The lighter they are, the better they will perform.


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

1. Food is fuel, not fattening. People who eat normally tend to be lean. People who diet tend to be heavy. Hence, dieting tends to make people heavy (in the long run) while learning how to eat normally contributes to a leaner physique.


2. The less you eat, the more likely you are to binge and regain all the weight you lost. This urge to binge is physiological. Just as you gasp for air and cannot breath normally after having stayed too long underwater, you can eat normally after having restricted food the point of feeling ravenously hungry.


3. The best-fueled athlete (who is genetically gifted and well trained) will out-perform the starved athlete who is thinner-at-any-cost.


I invite you to eat wisely, perform well and be at peace,



For food help:

To consult with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in sports nutrition, find your local expert at

To read how to lose weight and resolve dieting gone awry, enjoy the weight-reduction section in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

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Happy Day-After-Valentine’s-Day! Or maybe it’s not so happy if your sweetie gave you a chocolate-filled heart and you are staring at it, trying to “stay away” from the yummy treats. Do you eat them all today to “get rid of them”? Or can you enjoy one every day for the next few weeks?


If you are like too many of my clients, you believe you cannot eat just one chocolate. As one marathoner reported “I am addicted to chocolate... I ate the whole candy-filled heart in two hours.”


I beg to differ with her. I doubt if she is “addicted” to chocolate. My hunch is, she doesn’t give herself permission to eat chocolate very often. Hence, when chocolate crosses her path, this becomes her “last chance” to eat the stuff. You know “I’d better it all now to get rid of it, because I can never ever eat chocolate again. It’s a “bad” food…”


When a food has power over you, you need to eat it more often, not stay away from it. How about a little (preferably dark) chocolate every day with lunch? With time, you’ll get tired of the stuff. And remember, chocolate is not a “bad” food. Actually, it is quite delicious! The trick is to learn how to eat it in moderation.


Eat wisely and be well,



For help with taking the power away from food, see Chapter 16: Dieting Gone Awry in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

You might also want to meet with a sports dietitian for personalized help. To find a local expert, use the referral network at

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Dreaded diarrhea

Posted by Nancy Clark RD CSSD Feb 3, 2011

Marathoner Bill Rodgers may have been right when he commented more marathons are won or lost at the porta-toilets than they are at the dinner table! Diarrhea is a major concern for many athletes, particularly those who run. Understandably so. Running jostles the intestines, reduces blood flow to the intestines as the body sends more blood to the exercising muscles, stimulates changes in intestinal hormones that hasten transit time, alters absorption rate, and contributes to dehydration-based diarrhea. Add some stress, pre-event jitters, high intensity effort—and it’s no wonder athletes (particularly novices whose bodies are yet unaccustomed to the stress of hard exercise) fret about "runners’ trots."


Exercise—specifically more exercise than your body is accustomed to doing—speeds up GI transit time. (Strength-training also accelerated transit time from an average of 44 hours to 20 hours in healthy, untrained 60-year old men.) As your body adjusts to the exercise, your intestines may resume standard bowel patterns. But not always, as witnessed by the number of experienced runners who carry toilet paper with them while running. (They also know the whereabouts of every public toilet on the route!) Athletes with pre-existing GI conditions, such as irritable bowel or lactose intolerance, commonly deal with runners’ trots.


Solutions for  intestinal rebellion

    To help alleviate undesired pit stops:

--try exercising lightly before a harder workout to help empty your bowels.

--experiment with training at different times of the day.

--if you are a morning runner, drink a warm beverage (tea, coffee, water) to stimulate a bowel movement; then allow time to sit on the toilet to do your business prior to exercising.

--visualize yourself having no intestinal problems. A positive mindset (as opposed to useless fretting) may control the problem.


The following nutrition tips might help you fuel wisely and reduce the symptoms:


1) Eat less high fiber cereal. Fiber increases fecal bulk and movement, thereby reducing transit time. Triathletes with a high fiber intake reported more GI complaints than those with a lower fiber intake.


2) Limit “sugar-free” gum, candies and foods that contain sorbitol, a type of sugar that can cause diarrhea.


3) Keep a food & diarrhea chart to pinpoint food triggers. For a week, eliminate any suspicious foods--excessive  intakes of juice, coffee, fresh or dried fruits, beans, lentils, milk, high fiber breads and cereals, gels, commercial sports foods. Next,  eat a big dose of the suspected food and observe changes in bowel movements. If you stop having diarrhea when you cut out bran cereal, but have a worrisome situation when you eat an extra-large portion, the answer becomes obvious: eat less bran cereal.


4) Learn your personal transit time by eating sesame seeds, corn or beets--foods that can be seen in feces. Because food moves through most people's intestines in 1 to 3 days, the trigger may be a food you ate a few days ago.


5) Stay well hydrated. GI complaints are common in runners who have lost more than 4% of their body weight in sweat. (That's 6 lb. for a 150 lb. athlete.) Runners may think they got diarrhea because of the sports drink they consumed, but the diarrhea might have been related to dehydration.


6) When all else fails, you might want to consult with your doctor about timely use of anti-diarrhea medicine, such as Immodium. Perhaps that will be your saving grace.


The bottom line 

You are not alone with your concerns. Yet, your body is unique and you need to experiment with different food and exercise patterns to find a solution that brings peacefulness to your exercise program.


Eat wisely & exercise well,



Author, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Workshop leader: Tampa March 4-5

1,471 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, problems, diarrhea, intestinal_distress, pit_stops, bowels, gastro-intestinal
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!

View Nancy Clark RD CSSD's profile