I am in the process of revising The Cyclist’s Food Guide. I’m looking for “words of nutrition wisdom” from cyclists of all abilities. Just a few sentences of what you wished you had known before you bonked … your secret to maintaining energy … the food mistake you made.
Here’s an example of what I want:
“For long rides, I drink orange juice and tomato juice, which I can get at convenience stores. Both juices are potassium-rich and the tomato juice has sodium, which helps me feel better on the ride.”
Come to the University of South Florida for this information-packed workshop that is geared to helping health professionals teach an effective nutrition message to exercisers and athletes. 10 hours of continuing education with myself and exercise physiologist/protein researcher WIlliam Evans PhD.
Non-professionals who want learn how to enhance their sports diet are also welcome. A good time is had by all!
“I don’t eat much before I compete because my coach told me a hungry dog fights harder. Right?” asked this high school cross-country runner who had made an appointment with me to figure out how to enhance his performance. The simple answer was: a hungry dog might fight harder, but a hungry teenage runner will drag through events and be in a bad mood. He agreed.
Too many people think exercising on empty is a smart idea. I have yet to see research that supports that belief. The studies consistently indicate that pre-exercise fuel enhances performance. Just as your car runs better with fuel, your body runs better when appropriately fed. Pre-exercise food boosts your energy, enhances your ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand, enhances stamina and endurance—to say nothing of puts you in a better mood. Why be tired and grumpy when a pre-run granola bar, banana or pretzels could boost your energy and your spirits?
Granted, some people have trouble difficulty tolerating a full meal pre-run, but most active people can enjoy 200 to 300 calories of some fruit, bread or energy bar. Give it a try? Experiment, observe the benefits (or costs), and tweak your diet accordingly.
Many morning exercisers believe they should exercise on empty, so that they will burn more fat. While that may be true, burning fat differs from losing body fat. Losing body fat depends on your calorie intake for the entire day. That is, you can do a fat-burning workout in the morning but then erase that calorie deficit with a big scone and a latte, followed by generous meals the rest of the day. (You know, the hearty meals you “deserve to eat” because you had a hard workout earlier in the day…)
The benefits of eating before a morning workout include:
-You’ll have a better workout.
-You’ll feel more alert and have energy to enjoy the workout.
-You’ll provide your muscles with the fuel it needs to optimize performance.
-You’ll be able to train harder and get more from your efforts.
-You’ll help curb the hungry horrors after the workout.
If you want to lose body fat, I suggest you plan to do that when you are sleeping, not exercising! (Sleep, after all, is a fat burning activity--if you still thank that burning fat equates to losing body fat.) Your better bet is to fuel by day, have energy to enjoy an active lifestyle, and then diet (eat a little bit less) at night. Give it a try?
For more information on how to lose weight and maintain energy for exercise, take a look at the weight loss section in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. The information will give a kick-start to your New Year’s Nutrition Resolutions.
“What should I do to jump-start my diet?” my client earnestly inquired. She was ready to get back on track after having gained three pounds over the holidays and was eager to lose that weight plus seven more “quick loss” pounds to get to her "happy weight.”
“Don’t bother jump starting your diet!” I responded. Here’s why:
Dieters who lose weight quickly by severely restricting their calories inevitably regain the weight, if not more. That's because the body overcompensates for extreme dieting (extreme hunger) with overeating. Just as you will gasp for air after having been trapped under water without oxygen, you will devour food after having been denied calories during a crash diet.
Hunger is physiological. Just as your body needs air to breathe, your body also needs fuel to function. Extreme hunger is simply an urgent request for fuel. Crash diets lead to binge eating (also called “blowing your diet”). This overeating has little to do with your "having no willpower" and lots to do with the physiology of hunger.
Yes, you can white-knuckle yourself to stick to your crash diet, but your well-meaning plan to quickly shed some pounds has a high likelihood of exploding into a demoralizing pattern of yoyo dieting. You’ll inevitably end up gaining more weight than you lose. Don't go there.... it’s depressing.
The average person makes 200 food decisions a day. No wonder grocery shopping can be mind-boggling and a source of overwhelming confusion! A trip to the supermarket requires thousands of food decisions.
If you are left confused about whether to buy organic or standard foods, fresh or frozen vegetables, or low-fat or fat-free milk, you might find solace in this new book, Read it Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time by Bonnie Taub-Dix RD. Bonnie has done a great job of explaining how to buy the best foods for your health.
Her first caution is: be aware of how the grocery store is set up. You will be greeted with freshly baked bread and fresh flowers—items that tend to be “unplanned purchases” … and that’s exactly what the store owners want from you. To their advantage, about 60% to 70% of food purchases are unplanned. So, this year, go shopping with a food plan for the week, a list of what you need to buy, your guard up!
Whether you are a health professional who works with active people or an athlete, here’s your chance to learn how to eat to win!
Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD and exercise physiologist/protein researcher William Evans PhD will share their knowledge and experiences with helping active people of all ages enhance their performance, health, and weight management skills.
I’m looking forward to my upcoming workshops in Atlanta at the end of this week. I will be speaking at a runners’ clinic at Phidippides Running Store on Thursday Dec 2nd, and then on Friday at St. Joseph’s Hospital, I be leading a Nutrition & Exercise Workshop for health professionals who need CEUs. Serious athletes who want to learn more about sports nutrition are also welcome to attend.
I’m always impressed by the folks who come to nutrition workshops. They have good questions and care about what they eat. We all have a good time and I love learning from the participants. I’ve picked up interesting tidbits at clinics …. Like beef jerky tastes really good during ultra-runs, as does nibbling on a boullion cube.
If you live in Atlanta and are able to come to either event, I’ll look forward to meeting you. And if you want to buy a copy of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook for a gift for yourself or your friend, I’ll be glad to personally autograph it!
More than 10,000 members of the American Dietetic Association recently convened in Boston for their annual meeting. A highlight was “The Great Fat Debate.” While most of us left the debate more confused that when we entered, some of the key points were:
• In terms of body weight, we need to pay attention to total calorie intake, and not grams of fat. That is, “eat fat and get fat” is not true. The true statement is, “eat excess calories and get fat.”
• Pay attention to the kind of fat you eat, and choose more fish and plant fats, such as in salmon, nuts, peanut butter (and other nut butters), olive oil, and avocado. These poly- and mono-unsaturated fats are beneficial to our health. Dip your bread in olive oil, instead of spreading it with butter!
• “Low fat” foods (such as fat-free frozen yogurt and lowfat cookies, muffins and other baked goods) can a negative impact on American’s health because they are often high in sugar and refined carbs. People tend to fantasize that lowfat means low calorie, and low calorie means you can eat as much as you want!!!!! Not true. Calories count.
The bottom line:
Limit your intake of fats that are hard at room temperature (butter, beef fat, shortening used in baked goods) and choose more of the fats that are soft or liquid at room temperature: olive and canola oil, fish-fat, avocado.
“I don’t keep peanut butter in the house”, reported Sarah, a working mom and fitness exerciser who wanted to lose about 10 pounds. “If peanut butter is there, I eat way too much of it.”
The solution I offered Sarah was scary – eat peanut butter EVERY day for the next week. Eat it three meals a day, if desired, and two snacks a day, as well.
Sarah left my office fearful she would gain several undesired pounds of body fat. When she returned a week later, she was amazed that her weight was the same. She had eaten a lot of peanut butter, but also had eaten less and less of it as the days went by. Peanut butter no longer “called to her” and no longer “invited her” to eat the whole jar. She knew she could eat it whenever she wanted, so it was no longer “forbidden.”
The best way to take the power away from a binge-food is to eat it more often— every meal, every day until you get sick of it. Knowing you can have it as often as you want makes it less appealing. Think about it. Do apples have power over you? Doubtful—because you give yourself permission to eat apples whenever you want. But what would happen if you were to ban apples? You’d likely start to binge on them when given the opportunity.
This week, how about surrounding yourself with a food that has power over you and make peace with that food? … Ice cream anyone?
For more information on how to find peace with food:
As an entrepreneur, I like to support other entrepreneurs who have their own businesses. Hence, I am writing this blog in support of Dan O’Rourke and his NRG Bars. Dan is a former US Marine, an Ironman Triathlete and a competitive runner. He’s also a good guy who loves to cook, has consumed a lot of calories in his lifetime, and knows what tastes good.
I learned about his NRG Bars from a triathlete who was raving about them. “The Pumpkin Ginger NRG Bar is delish!!!” she reported as she gave me a taste. I agreed!
Very tasty, nice texture, satisfying—and also made from real organic foods. The bars are wheat-, dairy- and soy-free. They are perfect for vegetarians/vegans and are based on oats and figs, with brown rice syrup as a sweetener. They are perfect for an in-between-meal snack or a pre-exercise energizer. Give them a try?
In New England, you can buy NRG Bars in Whole Foods Markets. (Dan plans to expand to other areas of the country.) You can more easily order a case or two of them at http://www.NRG-Bar.com. They cost $2.50 per bar (17 bars/case), come in four flavors, and are worth the calories and the money.
Disclaimer: I have nothing to disclose, other than I like to support other hard workers who have created a good product. I hope you will want to support Dan as well.
“If I eat breakfast, I feel hungrier all day” complained a working mom who came to me looking for help with losing 10 pounds. She was a breakfast skipper. She believed skipping breakfast would save her some calories and help her shed a few pounds. Plus, when she ate breakfast, she reported she felt hungrier the rest of the day.
The reason she felt hungrier when she ate breakfast was because she did not eat enough breakfast. She’d have just an English muffin with a dab of jelly. That was only 200 calories. Her body wanted at least 500 calories – English muffin plus a tablespoon of peanut butter on each half of the English muffin plus a banana plus a ½ cup of milk in her coffee!
If skipping breakfast was truly an effective way to lose weight, she would not have needed my guidance; she would have successfully lost weight on her own. But that was not the case. She described her eating as being “so good during the day, but so bad at night.” That is, the minute she got home from work, she’d devour cheese and crackers and then a big dinner and then graze some more.
She thought her nighttime eating was the problem. It was actually the symptom and the result of her having dieted “too hard” during the day. I suggested she experiment to determine if eating MORE breakfast would curb her evening appetite. Although she shuddered at the thought of eating more food, she completed the experiment and discovered that the heartier breakfast did stay with her and enabled her to curb her evening over-eating.
If you believe that breakfast makes you hungrier, think again and trust that eating a heartier breakfast is indeed the best way to start a day of dieting. Give it a try?
I talk with too many athletes who are confused about how to best recover after they exercise. Many are obsessed with rapid refueling immediately after they stop exercising. Here are a few tips to clarify the confusion.
First of all, rapid refueling is most important for athletes who will be doing a second bout of intense, depleting exercise within six hours of the first bout. You want to rapidly refuel if you are, let’s say, a triathlete who does double workouts or a soccer player in a tournament. Your muscles are most receptive to refueling within the first hour after a hard workout, so the sooner you refuel, the sooner you'll be ready to roll again.
If you have a full 24 hours to recover before your next training session, or if you are a fitness exerciser who has done an easy workout and have lower recovery needs, you need not get obsessed with refueling immediately after your workout. Over the course of the next 24 hours, your muscles will be able to replenish their depleted glycogen stores as long as you provide them with adequate carbohydrates. Never the less, having something to eat within the hour after you exercise is a wise habit to develop.
If you are a dieting athlete who wants to shed some undesired body fat, I encourage you to refuel soon after your workout because this food can help curb your appetite. This post-exercise snack can ward off the Cookie Monster that might visit in 45 minutes. As you know, a few unplanned post-exercise cookies can quickly wipe out in 3 minutes the calories burned in 30 minutes of exercise!
Keep in mind that recovery calories “count.” That is, I’ve counseled many frustrated dieters who complain they are not losing weight despite their hard workouts. They snarf down 300 or so “recovery calories” and then go home to enjoy a big dinner. To avoid over-indulging in recovery-calories, plan to back your training into a meal. For example, eat dinner soon after your 5:00 p.m. workout. Or, it that is not possible, eat part of your dinner right after the workout. For example, have a recovery bagel at 6:00 pm on your way home from the gym instead of potato with dinner at 7:30 pm.
If you’ve always wanted to attend a workshop that presents the latest sports nutrition research and offers tips to help you fuel better, perform better and invest in a long and healthy life, here’s your chance!
Exercise physiologist and protein researcher Dr. William Evans PhD and I will be teaching a two-day workshop on Nutrition & Exercise: From Science to Practice:
Sept 24-25 – Nashville, at Lipscomb University
Oct 1-2 - Durham, NC at the Duke Center for Living
The workshop is geared towards health professionals but serious athletes are also welcome.
CEUS are available for ADA, ACSM, NATA, NSCA, CHES, AFAA, ACE and NASM.