What about energy drinks…??? That’s the Big Question I get asked by high school kids, coaches, parents and other active, under-thirty year olds. They want to know if guzzling drinks such as Red Bull and Full Throttle are OK for energy boosters.
My response to being asked “What about energy drinks?” is to reply, “Why are you lagging on energy? Did you consume an adequate sports diet earlier in the day?” Undoubtedly not.
Generally, the desire for an energy drink is the symptom of a bigger nutritional problem: skipping breakfast, barely eating lunch and now at 3:00 p.m. needing help to get through the afternoon, including a workout.
You’re naïve to think that a can of caffeinated sugar-syrup will optimize performance. While it may stimulate you enough to make the workout seem easier, it will not replace a health-promoting, energy enhancing foundation of wholesome meals and pre-exercise snacks. No energy drink will compensate for poor nutrition.
Energy drinks should really be called “stimulant drinks.” They are the equivalent of a small cup of coffee (energy drinks typically contain between 80 to 140 mg of caffeine) with two heaping tablespoons of sugar (or 7 packets of sugar @ 110 calories). That’s enough to get anyone wired!
Many athletes also question if energy drinks are bad for their health. While I have less concern about the occasional energy drink, I am concerned about over-consumption, especially in small children. I read a medical report about a teenage basketball player who drank four cans of an energy drink and died, likely due to heart problems. The dose is the poison.
Fuel wisely, play well.
For information on how to choose a high energy sports diet:
Here's your chance to learn from two highly regarded sports nutrition experts:
NASHVILLE, TN Sept. 24-25, 2010
DURHAM, NC Oct. 1-2
ATLANTA, GA Dec. 3-4
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL Jan. 14-15, 2011
TAMPA, FL Mar. 4-5
ONLINE as home study Every day!
This intensive workshop by Nancy Clark MS, RD CSSD and exercise physiologist William Evans PhD is designed to help sports dietitians, coaches, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, sports medicine professionals and serious athletes find answers to their questions about--
-eating for health, enhanced performance and longevity
-balancing carbs, protein and sports supplements
-managing weight and eating disorders.
Exercise physiology, exercise and aging, sports nutrition, protein, ergogenic aids, creatine, weight control, counseling tips for eating disordered athletes, case studies and hands-on information.
“Nancy Clark and Bill Evans present a nice balance of science and practical information in their Nutrition & Exercise Workshop. I got what I wanted—plus more!”
“I was surprised to learn new information on a topic I thought I knew so well.”
More often than not, I talk with novice marathoners who assume they will lose weight once they start training for a marathon. After all, if they are running for miles and miles, how could they not lose weight???
Well, guess again, according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting. In a survey of 64 participants in a three-month marathon-training program, only 11% of the runners lost weight and 11% actually gained weight. (The rest remained at a stable weight.) Of the 7 who gained weight, 6 were women. They got hungrier and ate more!
Among the entire group of runners, three-quarters of the women reported eating more while training, as compared to only half of the men. It seems that Nature works hard to defend women from losing weight! After all, in terms of evolution, a woman’s job is to be fertile.
Hence, if you are a woman who decides to run a marathon, be sure the primary goal of your training is to improve your endurance, not to lose weight. If you want to do both, you have to carefully manage your appetite. All too often, marathoners can convince themselves they deserve to eat several extra cookies because they just ran a few miles…
In the flood of my daily emails, I often find some meaningful words of wisdom. The story below is from the MEDA newsletter (www.MEDAinc.org). MEDA is the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association, a helpful resource for people who struggle with balancing food and weight. I hope you enjoy this story about Invisible Victories. If you are a compulsive exerciser (perhaps disguised as a dedicated athlete), perhaps it will inspire you to add some gentleness to your day.
By Whitney Post, former World Champion and Olympic Rower
We live in a culture that is always looking for the shiny accomplishment. We are taught to be good, to look good, to achieve more-and it never seems to end. Yet I have found over and over again that the tasks and achievements that are most in line with my recovery are invisible, humble acts that won't take up space on my resume and that I probably won't want to tell anyone about at a cocktail party. Each month in this column I will celebrate an invisible victory that I or one of my clients has accomplished. My hope is that it will help you be better able to spot and celebrate your own.
I want to thank Rachel Bikofsky, our May 2010 Invisible Victory Contest winner for sharing her strength and growth in this essay about the Boston Marathon. I believe it belongs on the medal stand because it articulates something so many of us feel when we see high level athletes, or witness events we think our "perfect" or "preferred" selves should be participating in. The victory here comes in accepting her own body's truth about what is right and balanced, and releasing old ideas of who she should be.
My Invisible Victory – by Rachel Bikofsky
Today was the 114th Boston Marathon, and I didn't run it. Nor did I run the 113th, or the 112th, or any marathon ever, at any time. Every year in recent memory, I have used Marathon Monday as an excuse to berate myself endlessly for my lack of strength and discipline-obviously, if I possessed those qualities, I'd be running. So this year, as the big event loomed once more, I approached it with my usual sense of trepidation...and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted not with self-hatred, but with acceptance and clarity. Here's what I know:
I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean that I was weak. But, I know I'm not weak, because I wake up at 5:45 every morning, get to work an hour later, and have energy enough to shepherd 25 rambunctious third graders through a full day of learning, five days a week.
I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I was undisciplined. But, I know I'm not undisciplined, I just save my discipline for things that matter to me, and running doesn't. I work hard, I study meticulously, I make to-do lists and schedules and stick to them. If I set a goal, I do my best to meet it, and I'm pretty sure that's what discipline is about.
I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I'd never have the body I wanted. Well, it does mean I'll never have a marathoner's body, but it doesn't have to mean I'll never have a body I'm satisfied with. Also, it probably means for me I'll have a better chance of keeping my period, and won't have to endure the pain of running with stress fractures in my feet ever again. It means I'll be gentler with my body, and my body and spirit will reflect that.
I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I'd never get medals or have people cheer for me. Okay, so it probably does eliminate one possible avenue for medal winning. But last week, one of my students presented me with two tiny origami swans he had made for me in art class. Better than a medal? It was for me.
I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I had no worth. While it's true that I'm not a runner, I am a person who stops to touch wildflowers and exclaim over nature, who is intuitive to the needs of others, who loves her family, and who can soothe a crying child. I am a thinker, a writer, and a person with a wicked sense of humor. I am all of those things, so I can also accept what I am not.
What not running the Marathon means is simply that I am not a marathon runner-and there is no longer a value judgment attached to that statement. It's neither good nor bad, it's just what is. And, I'm finally, finally okay with that, or at least more okay than I've ever been before. I did not run the race, or win a medal...., but I have earned an invisible victory, and I think the 114th Boston Marathon has been my best one yet.
I’m interested in collecting information from gastric bypass athletes regarding how they have learned to fuel themselves for their exercise programs.
While there are not lots of “gastric bypass athletes”, the number is growing. (About 6% of gastric bypass patients become highly active as a part of thier weight reduction program.) These hard-working reduced-obese folks have met the challenge of losing large amounts of weight. Some go on to reach their dreams of running a marathon, completing an Ironman triathlon, or hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Because the nutrition advice given to gastric bypass patients is contradictory to optimal sports performance, lots of questions and concerns arise in this population. For example, people who have had bypass surgery are told to limit calories to 1,200 to 1,600/day, avoid simple sugars, limit carbohydrates, sip on fluids, and not drink while eating. Few athletes could excel at their sport with such limitations!
If you know of someone who wants to share their story, please pass along this information and invite them respond to this blog or contact me via www.nancyclarkrd.com.
How can you maintain good energy when you’re exercising for longer than 60 to 90 minutes? By eating enough calories of foods that settle well…!
The standard recommendation for fueling during endurance exercise has been to target 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute of exercise (60 grams of carb per hour, the equivalent of 240 calories for a 150 pound athlete). The research, originally done with just glucose, indicated consuming more than 60 grams of glucose per hour offered no additional benefits. The body has a limited number of glucose transporters and can carry only 60 grams out of the intestines, into the blood stream and to the muscles.
Recent research indicates consuming a variety of sugars (that is, more than just glucose) allows more fuel to become available per hour. That's because different types of sugars (carbs) use different transporters. Generally, athletes consume more than just glucose. (Sports drinks, for example, tend to be glucose+fructose.) Let's say you eat a banana that consists of many different types of sugars and uses many different transporters. Your muscles will have access to more fuel (up to 90 g carb/hour; 360 calories) than if you consume just one kind of sugar (as might happen with some engineered foods).
Variety is a wise idea—as is practicing yoru fueling during long training sessions so you can learn what works best for your body. Some people like engineered sports candy and gels, others prefer dried pineapple and gummy candy. Take your choice--just experiment during training to determine if 200 to 300 calories per hour is the right amount for your body.
Ever wonder about what's best to eat before, during or after exercise?
Want information on how to resove disordered eating patterns and a negative relationship with food?
Are you trying to bulk up and want to figure out the best way to gain muscsle?
Here’s your chance to learn from two internationally known experts at this intensive workshop on Nutrition & Exercise.
Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS, RD is renowned for her work with counseling athletes/exercisers.
Exercise physiologist William Evans PhD for his research with protein, weight, and aging.
They will be offering a 1.5 day program that is designed to help coaches, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, sports nutritionists, sports medicine professionals as well as athletes themselves find answers to their questions about--
-eating for health, enhanced performance and longevity
The American College of Sports Medicine is not the typical college (with a campus and buildings and students) -- but rather an orgaization that brings together health professionals (sports medicine doctors, sports nutritionists, physical therapists) and exercise scientists and researchers. Every year, they have an annual meeting. This year, it is in Indianapolis and I am leaving tomorrow for the week. This is one of my favorite meetings because this is where I learn the latest sports nutrition information. The researchers will be presenting the studies they completed in the past year. I'll look forward to sharing with you what I learn. If you want more information about ACSM, take a look at their website: www.acsm.org.
When I counsel either casual exercisers or competitive athletes, I ask them what they typically eat in a day. I then do a more thorough food intake, gathering details of all that they eat, More often then not, they “try to stay away from” bagels, crackers, pasta, juice, bananas, and other “carbs.” I ask them “Why?” With embarrassment, they mumble, “Because they’re fattening.” The athletes know in their intelligent minds this is not true, but somehow they have fallen victim to fad diets.
If you are among those who “try to stay away from carbs”, think again. Remember that carbs are NOT fattening (excess calories are fattening) and that carbs (such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables) should be the foundation of each meal because they fuel your workouts. I invite you to enjoy whole grain bagels, sandwiches, and pasta – and also enjoy higher energy during your workouts.
Do you really want to never enjoy potato or pasta again.....???
For more information about carbs/weight, please read the chapter on how to lose weight and have energy to exercise in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (www.nancyclarkrd.com).
Yesterday I received a phone call from a writer for Backpacker magazine. He talked about “dieters’ hikes” (sort of like “fat camps”) for people who want to lose undesired body fat. He participated in one of the hikes, and said he lost weight — that is, until he returned to civilization and immediately stuffed himself with an over-sized Mexican dinner.
While he raved about the dieters’ hike, I reminded him losing weight is just part of the process. Dieters have to keep the weight off—and that means learning how to manage the American Food Supply, not just be denied and deprived while restricted to the wilderness.
The bottom line is: If you want to lose undesired body fat, please think about learning how to EAT, instead of embarking on a food program you really don’t want to maintain for the rest of your life. (Do you really want to never eat bagels, potato, or pasta for the rest of your life?)
Your best bet if to get personalized nutrition advice from a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD). You can find your local sports nutrition expert by using the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org.
Sports dietitians are an under-utilized coach. You’ll wish you hadn’t waited so long for profesional food help. You can also find helpful information in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (2008; www.nancyclarkrd.com )