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When I was starting my career as a dietitian, celiac disease was a rare occurrence. Today, it seems like lots of athletes report they have celiac disease and need to avoid gluten, the protein in wheat that creates health problems. Data suggests about 1% of the population now has celiac. The disease is appearing in countries like Finland where it historically has been very uncommon.


While no one is certain why this is happening, one theory is we are growing wheat that has a higher gluten content (to make a better-textured bread).  For some people, the higher gluten content triggers an aggressive immune response that damages the intestines and generates an inflammatory response that makes the person feels lousy. Some suffer from diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, or other gastro-intestinal issues. Others don’t realize they have celiac until they experience iron-deficiency anemia. (When the intestines get damaged from the inflammation, they cannot absorb iron.) Otehrs have stress fractures, due to poor calcium-absorption.


If you have digestion issues and suspect celiac, do NOT go on a gluten-free diet without first talking to your doctor and getting a blood test to rule-out celiac. Otherwise, the absence of gluten in your diet will alter the test results. Skipping the blood test means you might miss out on other problems, like Crohn’s disease, ulcer, or colon cancer.


If you know that eating a gluten-free diet is best for your body, take solace in the fact that fruits, vegetables, beans, lean protein, lowfat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese) are all naturally gluten-free, as are rice, potato, sweet potato, and corn. You might want to try gluten-free products, such as brown rice pasta. There are many options in today’s supermarket, but be cautious: “gluten free” does not always mean “healthier”!


Regards, Nancy


For more information:

1,207 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: wheat, nancy_clark, gluten, gluten_free, diarrhea, constipation, celiac, wheat-free

Nancy, is it better to exercise fed or fasted? I exercise for fitness and weight reduction at 6:00 a.m.. (I do cardio at the gym for an hour.) When I train fasted, I lack energy -- but I’ve heard training fasted helps burn more fat and I want to be lean. I feel so confused…


Answer: As long as you can tolerate a pre-exercise snack, you should enjoy about 100 to 300 calories (as tolerated). You can even eat this fuel just a few minutes before you workout (no need to get up earlier)!


Your body can digest the food and use it to energize your exercise as long as you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain for more than 30 minutes. So, if you grab a banana as you head to the gym, you likely will have a far more enjoyable workout, be able to work harder, and be less hungry at the end of the exercise session. If you do not eat a snack, and if you did not have a hefty evening meal and/pr snack the night prior, you may become light-headed, dizzy, and wishing you were not exercising.


The food you eat at breakfast might deter “fat burning,” but that is irrelevant in terms of body fatness. That is, sleep is a fat-burning activity, as is watching TV. The issue is not "are you burning body fat" but "have your created a calorie deficit before bedtime." You need to be in calorie deficit by the time you go to bed in order to lose undesired body fat that day. This has little to do with burning fat during your morning workout.


I suggest the best time to diet (eat less) is at the end of the day, not during the active part of your day. If you “fuel by day and diet by night”, you’ll enjoy your workouts, be able to exercise harder (and burn more calories), curb your evening appetite, be able to eat a lighter dinner, and be more successful as an athlete and a dieter.


Enjoy that banana, granola bar, English muffin, or whatever is easy to grab-and-go! If early morning food fails to settle well, then have some sports drink during your workout if you start to feel draggy.


Fuel wisely and feel great!



PS. For more information, please refer to my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (www.nancyclarkrd/com)

2,100 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, pre-exercise_food, fat-burning, morning-exercise, what_to_eat_before_exercise

Nancy. I'm training for the Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon in December, which starts at 5:00 pm. I've never run an evening race before and have no idea how to eat that day. I'd love information about how to fuel for an evening race -- breakfast, lunch, pre- and post-race nutrition.

Thanks! Kimberly



Because each runner has differing abilities to tolerate foods and fluids before, during and after a running event of any distance, offering one-size-fits-all sports nutrition advice is difficult. That’s why you want to figure out DURING YOUR LONG TRAINING RUNS what eating pattern will work best for your body.

     I highly recommend you plan to do several long training runs at the same time as the race, 5:00 p.m. That will give you the opportunity to practice your fueling strategies. Those training runs, however, will not evoke the same gut-troubling level of stress and anxiety that you may have on the day of the event…hence, your first evening half-marathon will really be your “practice” one.


• The week before the half-marathon, you will want to:

--taper your training, so your muscles have time to heal and get fully fueled with carbohydrates.

--enjoy carb-based meals to provide the fuel needed to carbo-load your muscles. {Protein builds and heals muscles, but fruits, vegetables, and grains are best to fuel your muscles.)

--drink plenty of fluids, so you enter into the event well hydrated.


• On the day of an 5:00 p.m. event, if you are afraid you might be too nervous to eat close to race-time, plan to enjoy a hearty carbohydrate-based brunch (pancakes, French toast, or tried-and-true cereal-banana-bagels-fruit) at 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. and then a 3:00 pm, have a lighter snack (energy bar, banana, pretzels, bagel, sports drink) or what ever seems like it would settle well and digest easily.


• If you are less fearful of intestinal problems, enjoy your standard breakfast, a hefty carb-based meal such as pasta at noon, and then a bagel (with peanut butter) or turkey sandwich at 3:30-4:00ish, to curb pre-event hunger.


• If you will be running more than 90 minutes, you will want to fuel during the half-marathon, targeting about 150-250 calories per hour, starting after the first hour (or sooner, if you have been unable to eat for several hours pre-event.) How many calories you need will depend on your body size (bigger runners need more fuel). Drink enough sports drink or water+sports foods to quench your thirst, but stop drinking if your stomach is “sloshing.”


• After the half-marathon, enjoy a nice recovery meal that suits your cravings. Preferably, it should be carb-based, to refuel your muscles, with a side of protein to repair your muscles. Some people like burgers or steak, as a change from carbs. If that’s your case, just be sure to enjoy some potato, rolls, veggies and other carb-based foods alongside the protein.

     Because you will unlikely be running again the next day, you need not fret about recovery; your muscles will have plenty of time to refuel before your next training session. But a proper carb-based diet with a side of protein plus extra fluids will optimize recovery so you feel great sooner than later.


Have fun!



For more detailed information, please refer to my Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions (

1,624 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: half-marathon, carbohydrates, nancy_clark, pre-exercise_food, food_guide_for_marathoners, carb-loading, fueling_for_evening_event, recovery_food, feuling_during_long_run

The standard supermarket diet is rich in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. You know, ice cream, frozen pizzas, chips, cookies, canned soups, Lunchables, mac ‘n cheese in a box/can/freezer… the list is overwhelmingly endless. Perhaps you are all too familiar with some of these goodies?


Research suggests that people aren’t the only critters who like these foods. So do rats! In fact, supermarket foods can cause obesity in rats. That is, rats who were fed their standard rat chow maintained a normal weight. But when researchers fed the rats supermarket foods, they ended up overweight—that is, until the researchers took away the supermarket foods. The rats then lost weight when they returned to eating rat chow.


There's little doubt that fats, sugar, and salt stimulate us to eat more than we need! Hence, your best bet is to eat closer to the earth by choosing more unprocessed foods that have little or no added sugar and salt, and hopefully less saturated fat. When you go food shopping, try to shop primarily on the perimeter of the store, where you can find the fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and lowfat dairy foods.


Of course, you can find healthy foods in cans, jars, and boxes. But try to make more of your meals from fresh ingredients. You’ll help yourself manage your weight more easily, ad also please the local farmers who want you to buy their produce.


Eat wisely and be well,



PS. My Sports Nutrition Guidebook has much more information on how to stay lean

2,395 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: obesity, nancy_clark, overweight, fattening_foods, supermarket_foods, rat_research

Here's some information below about my new app: Recipes for Athletes. You and your hungry friends might welcome help with choosing a smart sports diet?

The colorful app offers 71 recipes designed specifically to help you perform better in your next event.


You can find recipes according to when to eat them, such as pre- and post-exercise, breakfast, dinners, etc..


You can search for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free recipes.


Each of the recipes is includes information on calories, carbohydrate, protein, and fat--and includes a full color photo of the prepared dish.


It's awesome (and the fluffy pancakes are super-delicious)! All of this for only $2.99.

With best wishes for yummy meals and top performance,

1,699 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: recipes, nancy_clark, dinner, breakfast, lunch, app, recipes_for_athletes, pancakes

If you watched the USA Women’s World Championship Soccer Games, you couldn’t have helped but see nutrition in action and marvel at the strength, power, and stamina of the talented women. They played for 90 minutes, followed by another 30 minutes of overtime. Talk about the importance of sports nutrition in supporting that effort!


There’s no question that soccer (like most team sports) is a “nutrition sport.” That is, soccer players need to eat well to get the most from their game time efforts. They have to--

--show up at practices and games well hydrated and well fueled,

--have carbs and fluids readily available during halftime to boost their dwindling stores,

--be prepared to play an additional half-hour if the game is tied.

You can’t do all that on a hit or miss sports diet.


I happen to know these ladies fuel their bodies well because many of them shared their nutrition tips for success in Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros by myself and Gloria Averbuch. You can even find yummy date bars that Abby Wambach enjoys. And could you have guessed that one of Homare Sawa’s favorite foods is sushi? The helpful food tips from the nations’ top soccer players make the Food Guide for Soccer a book that not just interesting to read but is also helpful on the field, after the game, and when eating on the road.


Eat well, play well!


975 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: sports_nutrition, soccer_nutrition, women's_world_cup_soccer, date_bars, abby_wambach

Here’s a cool way to beat the heat and is a favorite treat for kids of all ages: a thick and frosty milkshake!

This is just one of 70 sports recipes that are in my app, Recipes for Athletes, available at the itunes store for only $2.99.


This milkshake is even healthful because it is thickened with instant pudding powder instead of ice cream. The instant pudding powder adds a nice thick texture and the ice cubes make it frosty and refreshing. You can also add fruit (preferably frozen chunks) for extra nutritional value. It's perfect for a post-exercise recovery shake.


By varying the flavor of the pudding (vanilla, lemon, chocolate), you can create numerous variations. Note: The shake thickens upon standing; you can add more (or less) pudding mix, depending on how thick you like your shakes.


If there are pieces of ice cubes remaining in the shake, worry not—they’ll just keep the beverage cool.


1 cup low-fat milk

1/4 cup instant pudding powder

1/4 cup powdered milk

3 ice cubes


Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup (frozen) fruit chunks


Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Yield: 1 serving


Nutrition Information: Total Calories: 280

Carbohydrates 55 g

Protein  15 g

Fat —

5,500 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: milk, nancy_clark, app, recipes_for_athletes, milk_shake, cool_refresher, instant_pudding

NO! Skipped menstrual periods commonly mean you are restricting your food intake and have a significant calorie imbalance...


At the American College of Sports Medicine’s recent convention in Denver (June 2011), researchers reported that among 44 female high school (16 y.o.) cross-country runners--

• 39% restricted food, thinking being lighter would help them perform better.

• 42% reported missed or absent menstrual periods in the past year.


The amenorrheic runners were eight times more likely to believe missing multiple periods was a sign they were in better shape. These young women need to be educated about the medical problems associated with missed menstrual periods! Amenorrhea is a sign they are jeopardizing their health. They are losing bone density and at three to four times risk for stress fractures today, followed by early osteoporosis in the future, and potential difficulty getting pregnant when they decide they want to conceive a child.


To resume menses, amenorrheic women need to correct the energy deficit by eating a little more fuel and exercising a little less. The amenorrheic high school runners who drank a 360-calorie carbohydrate-protein supplement resumed menses, on average, in about 2.5 months (±2 months). The longer they had been amenorrheic, the more time they needed to resume menses.


• If you need help balancing food, exercise, and weight, consult with a sports dietitian.

--To find your local expert, use the referral network at

--For written information, read the chapter on "Dieting Gone Awry" in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.


Be wise, eat well, and enjoy lifelong good health!


3,960 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: women, amenorrhea, menstrual_period, undereating, missed_menstrual_period, female_athlete_triad

Do the health benefits of fitness overpower the health problems of fatness? Yes, to a certain extent. People who are physically fit live longer than unfit people. Fitness helps counter fatness, but not completely--


Data from 650,000 people who were followed for 10 years indicates physically fit but obese people live longer than unfit obese -- but fit-obese do not live as long as fit-lean people.


Compared to active-lean people, here’s how much shorter your life will be if you are obese:

    -- 3.2 years earlier death for the active-obese

   -- 4.1 years earlier death for the inactive-lean

   -- 6.0 years earlier death for inactive-obese.


Even if you are fit, you still need to be active throughout the day, not just during the one hour of purposeful exercise. Fit people who sit too much hurt their health, so try not to be a sedentary athlete! Park your car in the far end of the lot. Take the stairs, not the elevator, etc.


If you (or your loved-ones) are in the unfit-inactive-obese category, get active! Small steps contribute to a healthier, higher quality life-journey.



1,391 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: fitness, obesity, mortality, nancy_clark, obese, life-span, fatness

During their initial appointment with me for a nutrition consultation, many of my clients complain they have “weird” eating habits. They even feel a bit embarrassed they can’t do something as simple as eat normally.


Some of these clients just need nutrition education to get them on the road to healthier food practices. Others have disordered eating practices or outright eating disorders.


If you wonder if you have an eating disorder, this SCOFF quiz can help assess your situation.



1. Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?

2. Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?

3. Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a 3-month period?

4. Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?

5. Would you say that Food dominates your life?


Give yourself 1 point is for every "yes."

If you score 2 or higher, you likely are struggling with anorexia or bulimia.


For help: (use the referral network to find a local sports dietitian)


Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook – chapters on Dieting Gone Awry

"Beating Your Eating Disorder" by Glenn Waller and any of the books at


Be wise and get help … you need not struggle on your own!



1,119 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, eating_disorder, anorexia, weird_eating, bulimia, scoff

Which is the more effective way to lose undesired body fat: add on more exercise or knock off more calories?


According to Dr Jim HIll, speaker at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual convention, knock off the calories. While a combination of exercising more and eating less is a good idea, the key to losing undesired body fat is to eat fewer calories. Subtracting food seems to be more important than adding on exercise for fat loss.


While aerobic exercise like running or cycling does help create a calorie deficit, a smart choice is to also lift weights. This helps preserve your muscles. Otherwise, more of the weight you lose will be in the form of muscle.


Exercise becomes more important when you are ready to maintain your fat loss. Research suggests that dieters who have been obese need about 60 to 90 minutes per day of exercise. (Having been obese seems to reset the metabolism and creates a strong biological drive to regain the weight). Walking is a popular exercise among dieters. Pedometers are helpful tools to guide people to ramp-up their activity, with a goal of 10,000 to 12,000 steps per day.


For more information:

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, section on how to lose weight and have energy to exercise

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

2,932 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, diet, body_fat, nancy_clark, lose_weight

It’s a good thing you live an active lifestyle! Exercise can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, dementia, and other diseases of aging. But what most people don’t know is 16% of North Americans will die from low fitness / sedentary lifestyle. That's more than the 14% of people who will die from “smokerdiabesity” (smoking, diabetes, and obesity all combined).


If exercise is so good for us, why are so many people failing to exercise regularly? And how can we get them to exercise by choice? Incentives work in the short term. That is, employees who get a discount on their health insurance premium will initiate an exercise program. But in the long term, people maintain an exercise program if it gives them pleasure, makes them feel good about themselves, improves their mood, and offers friendship.


If you are exercising just to lose weight, think again. What happens when you reach your weight goal? You'll still need to keep exercising to maintain that fat loss, so you had better start a program you are interested in enjoying for the rest of your life!


Thanks to ACSM's Exercise is Medicine campaign, doctors are now being encouraged to prescribe exercise to their overfat, underfit, (pre)diabetic clients, telling them how often, how hard, and how long to exercise. This written prescription has been shown to help improve exercise compliance.

1,130 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: exercise, nancy_clark, improve_health, sedentary_lifestyle

NUTRITION & EXERCISE:  An intensive workshop


“Nancy Clark and Bill Evans present a nice balance of science and practical information. I got what I wanted—plus more!”


Save the dates:


SALT LAKE CITY                         Oct 28-29, 2011            Latter Day Saints Hospital

SEATTLE                                    Nov 4-5                         University Washington - Tacoma


LOS ANGELES                            Jan 27-28, 2012            Cal State University - Long Beach

SAN FRANCISCO                         Feb 10-11                    San Francisco State University

PHOENIX                                     Mar. 2-3                       Arizona State University -Mesa


ONLINE as home study                Every day!                                        



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 effectively teach the nutrition message and grow their businesses. Athletes themselves are also welcome to attend and learn effective fueling strategies.


This intensive but helpful workshop offers:
• Sports nutrition updates
• Tactics to reduce aging issues
• Weight management strategies
• Effective counseling tips for:
—casual exercisers
—competitive athletes
—eating disordered athletes



You'll find answers to your questions about--

-what and when to eat for enhanced performance, lifelong health and weight control.

-how to balancing carbs, protein and sports supplements

-how to resolve weight issues and dieting gone awry.



“I was surprised to learn new information on a topic I thought I knew so well.”

            --Registered dietitian/personal trainer, Seattle



See for more details.

The workshop is available as a home study if you cannot attend in person.



Nancy Clark, MS, RD

Sports Nutritionist, Author, Speaker

Author Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook


William Evans, PhD

Duke Univ Medical School, Protein researcher          

Author, AstroFit



Registered dietitians, athletic trainers, exercise leaders, coaches, sports

medicine specialists, personal trainers, nurses, physicians and athletes.


Topics include:

Exercise physiology, exercise and aging, weight control,

sports nutrition, effective counseling tips for eating disordered athletes,

ergogenic aids, creatine, case studies, hands-on information.


Cost:   $229; $134 full-time students and dietetic interns





For more information and to register:


Phone:  501-952-2947

1,604 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: ace, nancy_clark, acsm, sports_nutrition_workshop, ceus, rd, nutrition_for_exercise, bill_evans, nata, afaa


When you’ll be exercising in the heat for more than three or fours hours, you should pay attention to your sodium intake. You might be losing 400 to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per hour (depending on how much you sweat and the sodium-content of your sweat). If you are, let's say, biking for 5 to 8 hours, these losses can take a toll.


Although most sweaty athletes believe sports drinks are an exceptional source of sodium, sports drinks are actually low in sodium compared to many to many other foods.

Here are some portable snack ideas that can better boost your sodium intake. These salty suggestions will likely be a welcome flavor-change if you have been downing sweet gels, sports candies and sugary sports drinks for several hours.


Few of these options offer stellar nutrition, so limit them to during endurance events when your goal is to survive (as opposed to optimize your health!


Salty sports snacks that you can easily carry in a bike shirt pocket or backpack:

Portable snack


Sodium (mg)



8 oz




1 oz (5 crackers)



Pretzel Nibblers, Snyder’s

1 oz (16)



Ritz Bits

1-oz packet



Clif Mojo Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Bar

1 bar



Wheat Thins

1 oz (14 crackers)



Hard Pretzel, Snyder’s

1 (1 oz)



Pretzel-Thin Twists, Snyder’s

1 oz (11 twists)



V8 Juice

Small (5.5 oz) can



Red Oval Stoned What Thins

1 oz (4 crackers)



Pretzel sticks, Bachman

1-oz packet



Beef jerky, Jack Link’s

1 oz



Boiled potato + ¼ tsp salt

1 medium



Pretzel Rod, Rold Gold

1 rod (1 oz)



Lunchable, Cracker Stacker Ham + American

1 packet



Chicken Bouillon cube, Herb-Ox

1 cube




Information from food labels, May 2011


For additional information on replacing sweat losses; Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

2,288 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: sweat, sodium, nancy_clark, endurance_exercise, sports_snacks

I first met chia in the form of a quick-growing plant “pet.” More recently, I was re-introduced to chia at Boston’s Multi-Sport Expo, where I was speaking and selling my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. The Chia folks were in a nearby booth. They graciously offered me several samples of Chia Chargers ( and I graciously accepted them.


It wasn’t until a few days ago that I was hungry enough to investigate my “emergency food stash” and laid my hands on the Chia Chargers. They are small, unbaked “cookies” made with cha seeds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cranberries, oats and agave.  What a pleasant surprise—the Chia Chargers actually tasted really good and had a fun “crunch” from the chia seeds. The 120-calorie “cookie” was very satiating.


Chia seeds are being touted as the latest super food. They offer some protein, fiber, and health-protective phytochemicals and ALA omega-3 fats. Chia is an omega-3 alternative to flax, and in my opinion, tastes better than flax. In fact, it has very little taste at all … just a nice crunch (sort of like poppy seeds).


Chia seeds can absorb a lot of water. When you eat chia, the seeds absorb the water in your stomach and form a gel. This slows the rate of digestion and has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. That makes them satiating (that is, they keep you feeling fed).


Some chia-fans claim chia seeds help athletes remain hydrated during endurance exercise. I looked for research with athletes and chia, but found nothing. So I’m waiting for science rather than anecdotes to validate that claim.


For those of you with dietary restrictions who are looking for a tasty, healthful and portable snack, Chia Chargers are soy-free, dairy-free and vegan. They are sturdy “hiker’s food” – a substantial alternative to traditional sweets. Chia Chargers can yummily tame the 3:00 p.m. cookie monster and leave you feeling content and energized. Try them, you might like ‘em!


Disclaimer: I have no connection with Chia Chargers other than having meet the hard-working staff at the Chia Booth who gave me some samples. (I only wish I had taken more!)



1,881 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, snack, omega-3, chia, ala, chia-charger
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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