Saturday, November 28, 2009

Make 1/2 Your Plate Fruits & Vegies

The Healthy People 2010 objectives are nearing the end of their 10 year plan. The objective for fruits and vegetables is to increase the proportion of Americans over 2 year of age consuming > 2 servings of fruit daily to > 75% and > 3 servings of vegetables to > 50%. Unfortunately, Michigan like most ranks in the norm as a poor consumer with only 10-14% of the population meeting the goal. Why the push? Fruits and vegetables are a cheap form of health prevention. They are rich in phytochemicals that halt, lessen or prevent disease and are a great source of antioxidants which help repair the tissue damage caused by long runs and sprints. They are also part of a high fiber diet that has been shown to reduce risk for obesity and cancer, lower cholesterol and improve blood glucose levels. If you have younger family members try as a fun way to serve up health meals. If you are looking for ideas on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet go to This site will calculate your individual fruit and vegetable needs, provide good budget ideas, identify recipes for picky eaters and feature a special fruit and vegetable of the month.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Go Nuts!

I often recommend that athletes have 1.5 ounce of nuts for a mid afternoon snack and a couple cups of water to stay hydrated between meals. Nuts provide protein to rebuild muscle, healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidant Vitamin E, potassium for muscle contraction, fiber and phytochemicals that make it a powerhouse of a snack. In the last 5 years, over 100 research papers have been published about the health benefits of tree nuts, mainly its ability to reduce LDL and total cholesterol. Based on the scientific evidence, the FDA approved a qualified health claim for nuts which states eating 1.5oz (42 grams) of nuts per day may help reduce the risk of heart disease, when part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Go nuts this fall! Help your heart, improve your performance, and curb your appetite going into the dinner hour.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Water Bottle Safety

Reusable water bottles are great for keeping us hydrated during sports activities, at work and school. It’s important to bring them home for a regular cleaning to prevent bacteria growth and the spread of flu virus. It’s equally critical to make sure plastic water bottles do not carry the number 3 or 7 embedded inside the triangle on the bottom. Plastics with a 3 or 7 mean they contain BPA or bisphenol A, a compound used to make plastics. Repeatedly, studies show that BPA is hazardous to our health with positive correlations to obesity, infertility, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, DNA abnormalities and thyroid disorders. The 6 top baby bottle manufacturers stopped using BPA plastics in March 2009. While Connecticut already has a ban in place, Minnesota and Illinois will ban the plastic in any children’s sippy cups and baby bottles by 2010. The Food and Drug Administration has promised to review the safety of BPA in food and beverage containers by the end of November and France may become the first European country to ban BPA’s. Our family had a full drawer of water bottles from races and for back to school hydration. It is now down to 5, with the brightly colored, kid, friendly orange and green one from the major grocery store chain hitting the garbage can, both were number 7’s!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Breaking the Fast

By the time breakfast rolls around athletes have gone 8-12 hours without eating. Breakfast makes an important contribution to both our mind and body yet up to 30% of people head out the door with a low tank of gas. It is the most frequently skipped meal. Common excuses for skipping breakfast include: “I have to run or I’ll be late, I’m just not hungry that early in the morning, it makes me nauseous” and “I’m trying to lose a few pounds”. Breakfast eaters share many of the following characteristics that are beneficial in school, work and athletic performance.

• Better hand eye coordination
• Higher attendance
• Improved concentration
• Greater spatial and cognitive problem solving
• More nutritious diet, better intake of vitamin A, C, riboflavin, calcium, iron, zinc and fiber

Breakfast skippers on the other hand tend to have a higher incidence of obesity and their diets that are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol.

As an athlete skipping meals causes the body to rely on glycogen storage in the liver and muscle for energy. Performance will improve if these resources are topped off instead of running on reserves.  In order for an athlete to excel, they must put forth their best effort at every training session. Improving performance means not missing practice, showing up alert and focused and not starting your engine cold for morning workouts.  Break the fast!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's In Your Grocery Cart?

According to Information Resources, a Chicago based resource firm, the top 10 selling grocery store items are:

The percentage of Americans who are overweight or obese, inactive with heart disease, diabetes and cancer related to obesity continues to rise. It’s no wonder if soda pop, alcohol, junk food, TV dinners and cigarettes (yes some make a diet of this carcinogen) head up the average American’s diet? Look inside a few grocery carts the next time you’re at the store and you will find many examples to support these survey results. Which shoppers are making purchasing decisions based on sustaining good health and optimum performance of mind and body? You don’t have to be an athlete to eat like one and it might even help reform health care the old fashioned way, prevention!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yikes, I'm Out of Recovery Drink!

What can you find in your cupboards when you had such a great run that you decided to go not just a little extra, but a lot? You arrive home exhilarated but in need of replenishment only to find an absence of recovery drinks? This year, 2 home remedies have been touted in the media. The first study completed by the University of Texas on triathletes and cyclists used breakfast cereal. Muscle biopsies and blood samples showed muscle glycogen and protein synthesis for repair using cereal and milk was equal to that of sports drinks. The second study completed at James Madison University on soccer players used chocolate milk. They found equal or superior muscle recovery when compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage of the same amount of calories. No cereal or chocolate milk? Have a banana and a glass of milk for a carbohydrate and protein equivalent to a Cliff Bar. Remember, recovery foods and beverages should be a 4:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio and consumed within 30 minutes of your exercise when enzymes are most active and blood flow is greatest. Don’t start your next work out fatigued, recover!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Food Diary of an Elite Athlete

If you eat like an elite athlete, train like an elite athlete, believe in your abilities, only then will you will have the potential to perform like an elite athlete (assuming genetics are on your side).  What does an elite athlete's diet look like?  I've had the opportunity to meet with many exceptional runners and triathletes and their food diaries all share the same characteristics:

  • Their weight does not fluctuate during the off season. They know how to fuel their body; never over or under feeding it.  Their muscle mass stays whole because they cross and strength train. 
  • Water is their beverage of choice and they hydrate all day long, with and between meals.
  • They do not run their engines cold in the morning. They always fuel with a light breakfast, sports drink or bar after the evening’s fast so that they are able to maximize their early morning training efforts.
  • They eat 3 meals/day which includes a big breakfast and 2-3 snacks/day. Their meals include a good protein source (low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, beans or legumes) to support continuous muscle repair and growth.   
  • They replenish the fuel used by their muscle within 30 minutes of a workout, before showers yet after stretching. 
  • Their menus are well varied, unprocessed, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, high in antioxidants and omegas, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates. In other words they choose nutrient dense foods 90% of the time. Yes many do have a sweet tooth, yet even the desserts they choose have a healthy bent such as oatmeal and raisin cookies, low fat ice cream with peanuts, and whole grain, low fat crackers with humus.
  • • They save alcohol for special occasions and don't over rely on caffeine for a pick me up. 

Many athletes have said that their breakthrough performances occurred when they stopped eating whatever, and began to “eat to perform”. Now is the time, maximize your training.  Eat with purpose and achieve your personal best in the upcoming season!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sports Nutrition Dental Health

Many hydration and energy practices of athletes are not great for dental health. Consider the following information from the University of Minnesota Dentistry: Barq’s Rootbeer has pH 4.61/10.7 tsp. sugar; Sprite pH 3.42/9 tsp. sugar; Diet Pepsi pH 3.05/0 tsp. sugar; Nestea Ice Tea 3.04/5 tsp. sugar; Gatorade pH 2.95/3.3 tsp sugar; Coca Cola Classic pH 2.53/9.3 tsp. sugar; and battery acid pH 1.0. Water by comparison has a pH of 7.0/0 tsp. sugar. The sugar contained in these beverages combines with the bacteria in mouth to form acid. This is compounded by the fact that many of these beverages are already high in acid which is the main cause of weakened enamel and promotes a great breeding ground for cavity formation. Energy bars, gels, bloks and jelly beans provide the same high sugar, sticky forum for dental decay. While you can’t stop, brush and floss during your long run there are some precautions you can take.

  1. Chug sports beverages don’t sip. This reduces the length of time in contact with the teeth and is a better hydration practice (faster gastric emptying times).
  2. Follow sticky solutions with water and swoosh.
  3. Chew sugarless gum to reduce residue left on teeth.
  4. Brush, floss and rinse when your workout is done.
  5. Encourage young athletes to drink water in events lasting less than one hour.
  6. Teach young athletes responsible dental hygiene in sports.
  7. Teach young athletes that sports drinks are for sports only; not lunch, break, or after dinner beverages.

 For more detailed information on this topic see: