Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Blog has Moved.

Please view my new blog at

See you there!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer Vacation Family Goals: Improve Eating Habits

Summer vacation is a great time to work on improving your family's eating habits. It presents a break from the school routine and gives us opportunities to teach younger family members good nutrition habits.
  • No meal skipping.  If you have late sleepers, make sure they still eat breakfast, even if its a small one.  A glass of 100% fruit juice, a small bowl of cereal or a waffle with peanut butter will prevent less nutritious, convenient between meal fillers and overeating at lunch time.    
  • Drink more water.  Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator at kid, eye level.  Have them experiment with orange citrus, lime, lemon or combinations of flavors to encourage better hydration.  
  • Include 3-4 food groups/meal.  Counting out the food groups at each meal is a positive lifestyle habit that will help your child maintain a healthy weight, strong immune system and long term health. 
  • Basic Meal Preparation.  Kids need to feel comfortable in the kitchen assembling ingredients, using cooking equipment and experimenting with different flavors.  It's important they learn how to cook beyond opening a box, can or freezer bag.  Last summer my kids learned how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch and favor their homemade version over Kraft. Now if they could only favor using less equipment...
  • Enjoying the taste of a meal & conversation with family.  The average school lunch is over and done with in 7-8 minutes, that's not even long enough to eat an apple!  Try expanding meal period sit down times for longer periods.     
  • Clean up.  It should be a part of every meal, what's the song "Everybody do their share"?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are Triathletes Smarter?

Ha, I got your attention and yes of course we are! Research linking optimal brain function to exercise continues to mount. More importantly, exercise that is aerobic in nature like running, biking, hiking, aerobics classes, and swimming shows greater improvement in stimulating brain activity than stretching, toning and weight lifting. According to Henrietta van Praag, PHD, a lead investigator at the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute of Aging, activities such as strength training don’t activate the brain in the same way and may be more restricted to the muscle itself. However, don’t underscore the importance of strength training, Pilates or yoga. Strong muscles and flexibility are critical requirements for independence and mobility as we age.

Aerobic activity has been shown to improve cognitive function in the areas of learning, memory and multitasking. While this research is still in its early stages, the results have been consistent throughout the life span, regardless of age. Furthermore, the type of activity does matter! Positive growth in cognitive function occurs only when the blood gets pumping. Children who have higher fitness levels score higher on standardized achievement tests, particularly math and reading. Older adults show a 39% reduction in developing cognitive impairment such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Some research even suggests that women have a greater cognitive response to exercise then men, who am I to dispute science?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Earth Day, it’s not some hippie, tree hugging event. There’s nothing radical about wanting clean air and water or a desire to protect the environment.

Take a look inside your grocery cart or kitchen this Thursday and see what you can do to become more eco friendly.

1. Buy local. Consider that the average meal travels 1500 miles to make it from field-to-plate, that’s a lot of carbon you can eliminate by buying locally. Look for the “Grown in Michigan” sign in your grocery store, join a coop, or buy from the local produce stands and farmer’s markets over the next several months.

2. Plant a vegetable and herb farm in your yard or join a community garden. Tomatoes, peas, beans, onions, sweet corn, and green leafy vegetables have a pretty good success rate in Michigan. This is a great project for kids. Get starter seed packets at the grocery store, a good patch of soil from outside and reuse a cardboard egg carton as your starter pots.

3. Waste less. Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. Plan out your weekly grocery list so you aren’t burning gas on additional midweek trips. A meal plan will also help you stick to a budget and eliminates the end of week toss on foods that have gone bad. Look in your grocery cart, what can you do to reduce excessive packaging by manufacturers. Don’t buy products that come in single service containers, this includes everything from water and sports products to after school snacks and deodorant. Make it a practice to carry your own coffee cup, water bottle and grocery bags to stores.

4. Last but not least, run, walk or cycle wherever possible.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Diabetic Runner, Part 2: Carb Quantity & Timing

In the Diabetic Runner, part 1 we reviewed the importance of maintaining a diary that measures blood glucose response based on food, fluid, activity and medication. It was identified that many diabetics feel most comfortable when their blood glucose ranges from 120 mg/dL – 180 mg/dL. Part 2 of our diabetic runner discussion reviews how much carbohydrate an individual needs to consume while exercising to maintain an optimal blood sugar level. During activity, the diabetic athlete should consume 15 – 30 grams of carbohydrate for every 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise or approximately 0.5 grams of carbohydrate/pound/hour of body weight for more intensive exercise. If moderate exercise is planned to last for more than 90 minutes, or strenuous exercise lasting 60 minutes, the athlete may need to consume extra carbohydrates (~75-100 grams/hour). See your physician for rules on adjusting medication.

Some athletes experience “Big Game” induced hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) that may be related to anxiety. Mental relaxation techniques and race experience may reduce this stress response. Athletes should always carry fast acting carbohydrates such as a premeasured amount of sports drink, glucose gels or tabs, SweetTarts, Sprees or Smarties and ketone test strips.

These tips are not meant to be a substitution or replacement for diabetic management prescribed by your health care practitioner. Diabetic athletes with questions are encouraged to follow up with their physician and a Registered Dietitian knowledgeable in sports and diabetes nutrition. Source: Nancy Clark, MS RD, CSSD Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Jackie Berning, PHD, RD, CSSD, Michael McDermott, PhD, RD, CSSD and Roberta Anding, RD, CDE, CSSD Advanced Strategies for Counseling Athletes with Type 1 Diabetes, SCAN’s Pulse Spring 2010.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Diabetic Athlete: Measure, Manage, Log

Correctly matching fuel intake to your run before, during, and after exercise is a challenge that becomes even more important for the diabetic athlete.

Fuel efficiency and performance is optimized when blood glucose concentrations range between 70 mg/dL to 180 mg/dL. Levels which are higher or lower may result in fatigue, poor concentration, nausea and poor performance. Due to the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), many athletes prefer a blood glucose concentration of 120 mg/dL to 180 mg/dL.

Maintaining a diary of food and fluid intake, activity type and length, medication and blood sugar response is an important step towards optimizing your athletic performance while reducing side effects related to diabetes. Before exercise, diabetics should monitor their blood glucose at 90, 60 and 30 minutes to determine the trend in comparison to their pre activity food and fluid intake. If blood glucose is < 65mg/dL to 100 mg/dL the runner should consume 15 grams of carbohydrate. If blood glucose is more than 250 mg/dL , the athlete should check for the presence of ketones, not exercise if ketones are present, and may need to administer insulin. During exercise, they should measure blood glucose every 30 minutes as well until they are able to achieve a good, consistent response. After exercise, measuring blood glucose at 2 and 4 hours is recommended, especially if individuals have a history of post exercise hypoglycemia. Note, low blood sugar can persist for up to 24 hours after exercise so continued monitoring is essential. Bring your diary to your next medical appointment.

These tips are not meant to be a substitution or replacement for the diabetic management prescribed by your health care practitioner. Diabetic athletes with questions are encouraged to follow up with their physician and a Registered Dietitian knowledgeable in sports and diabetes nutrition. Source: Nancy Clark, MS RD, CSSD Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Jackie Berning, PHD, RD, CSSD, Michael McDermott, PhD, RD, CSSD and Roberta Anding, RD, CDE, CSSD Advanced Strategies for Counseling Athletes with Type 1 Diabetes, SCAN’s Pulse Spring 2010.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dehydrating Symptoms

Here are a few quick reminders about the symptoms of dehydration now that the days are growing longer, hotter and you are most likely gearing up for a race or two.

1) Thirst is a poor indicator of whether you should drink, because once your mind registers thirst, you are already dehydrated. You may need to force yourself to drink fluid as some people become nauseous and lose their appetite. Sweating is a good sign that you are staying on top of your hydration needs.

2) Urine should be pale yellow. Urine that is clear may be a signal that you have over hydrated. Urine that is dark yellow or even orange and small in quantity is a signal that you are dehydrated.

3) Difficulty concentrating, blurry vision and a headache are also signs to replenish.

4) Your body's ability to perform physical work weakens as your blood, muscles; lubricating fluids between joints and brain are all forced to function with a less than optimal fluid supply.

Remember the "Rules of Hydration":
  • 2 cups fluid 2 hours prior to exercise
  • 1 -2 cups fluid 15 minutes prior
  • 6-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise
  • 2 cups fluid for every pound loss following exercise

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jig-gin with the Irish this Weekend?

If you plan on jig-gin with the Irish this Saturday, make sure you're early morning wakeup call allows ample time to hydrate and reenergize from the evenings fast. If your race is at 9AM, the latest you should be rising to shine is 5:45 for solids or 6:45 for liquids. Good solid choices include a small bowl of cereal, a lightly topped bagel, 2 small pancakes, a low fat fruited muffin, or a breakfast bar. Avoid high fiber foods like bran cereal or too much dried fruit because they'll leave you cramped. No fried hash browns or greasy breakfast meats because they slow down digestion and are a poor source of energy. Drink 2 cups of fluid, 2 hours before your race to top off your bodies fluids but still give adequate time to rid yourself of any excess. Good fluid combinations include 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sports drink, coffee, smoothie, milk or juice. Drink another 1 cup of fluid 15 minutes prior to your race and you should be good to run. With that said, don't experiment on race day and may you pass the dude in the leprechaun outfit!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Favorite Registered Dietitian Facebook Fan Page List

If you have a Facebook account you will definitely want to add these dietitian's fan pages.  Their expertise spans from health improvement to disease management, from pregnancy to older adults, both cook books and self improvement nutrition books. Click away and check back periodically as this list grows! Adding these fan pages to your facebook is a sure fire, free way to improve your health! A Registered Dietitian is the expert to resource for your nutritional health!

Pat Baird
Health, Wellness and Fitness

Rebecca Bitzer
Rebecca Bitzer & Associates

Jill Castle!/PNGHnashville
Nutrition for Infants, Children, Teens

Lea Crosetti
Food Coach For You
Wellness and Sports Nutrition

Janice Dada

Alison Duffey, RD, CSG, LD/N
Overall nutrition & healthy living tips

Lindsay Ek
Nutrition Instincts
Family Nutrition and Mindful and Intuitive Eating

Madhu Gadia
The Indian Vegan Kitchen, Nutrition and Diabetes Consultant

Nicole Geurin
Nutrition Consultant, Corporate Wellness Dietitian
"Bringing the science and joys of nutrition to the Sacramento community."

Bonnie R. Giller
Passover the Healthy Way
New Cookbook Gives Passover Recipes a Healthy Twist

David Grotto
Everything David Grotto, RD

Lisa Harkins
Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC
Nutrition and fitness information for weight management and chronic disease from a nutrition expert! :)

Autumn Hoverter
FoodWise Nutrition

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen
Where parents go for credible nutrition advice

Shelia Kelly
Continuing education for RDs and CDEs

Alyse Levine,
Weight loss and sports nutrition

Jessica Levinson
Nutritious and delicious food and living

Sheryl Lozicki
E2 Dietitian
Sports, family & wellness nutrition tips

Heather Mangieri
Nutrition wellness

Carrie Mark!/pages/Olathe-KS/NCES-Inc/117692991682?ref=search&sid=100000387910631.883365428..1
“Your Essential Guide to Health and Nutrition Education”

Chris Marquette

Linda Michaelis
Dietitian in East Bay, California expertise working with pediatric obesity,
nutritional counseling for families with diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and desire to lose weight.

Kati Mora
Around the Plate
Real-life Nutrition

Katie Mulligan
Nutrition Counseling for Children and Families

Julie Negrin
My Kitchen Nutrition
Cooking Teacher and Kids Nutrition Educator, Blog and Facebook page

Jackie Newgent
Big Green Cookbook
Eco-friendly Cuisine

Kelly O’Connell
Dieting, Diabetic, Dietitian

Carol Plotkin
weight loss, wellness, fitness, sports nutrition

Jenn Randazzo
Fast facts and quick tips

Rosanne Rust
Real Living Nutrition online wellness and weight loss coaching

Rebecca Scritchfield
Nurture Principles
Tips, videos, blogs and news on nutrition, exercise and stress management

Stacee Smith
Laughlin AFB HAWC
Health and Wellness

Allison Stevens
Healthy Living, Healthy Flavors
Free tips from a personal chef & dietitian on eating deliciously healthy food

Rebecca Subbiah
Chow and Chatter Fan Page
Travel, good food and nourishment

Diana Sugiuchi
Nourish Family
Family nutrition, general healthy eating, recipes

Roberta Schwartz Wennik
Spin-a-RecipeSM LLC — “A Vegas experience in your kitchen”
Play the slot machine to pick a healthy dish to cook and the ingredients to use.

The Nutrition Twins, Tammy &Lyssie Lakatos
Nutrition & Weight Loss Facts and Tips

Penny Wilson
Eating for Performance
Helping people fuel their active lifestyles

Elisa Zied
Nutrition At Your Fingertips, Fact-based nutrition reference book

Dining Out: Are Your Choices Healthy?

According to Restaurant and Institutions (R&I) 2010 New American Diner Study, 46% of consumers said they are making more healthful choices when dining out. It’s good news too, since this same study says American’s average 25% of their meals away from home, or 46% of their food dollar. That’s a huge investment of a family’s budget, and the reality of the situation is diner’s actual selections are not all that great, yet!

• Fried vegetables represent 46% of total vegetable consumption among children ages 2-18 (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey/The Ohio State University)

• 50% of grains or 3 in 6 servings should be whole grains. Americans average 1 serving daily. (Dr. Walter Willett, chairman, Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health)

• The recommended maximum daily sodium consumption for healthy adults who aren’t at risk for high blood pressure is 2300 milligrams. The average American male consumes 3,100 to 4,700 milligrams and the average female consumes 2,300 to 3,100 milligrams daily. (University of Colorado Extension)

• One free 20 ounce beverage refill brings your total beverage contribution to 480 calories and 30 teaspoons of sugar. That’s almost 25% of your caloric requirements in a single beverage from one meal alone, and way beyond the 6 teaspoon sugar limit per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

It can be a challenge to eat healthy when eating out, so arm yourself with knowledge if you are in the 25% crowd who eat out regularly. 59% of those participating in the R&I 2010 New American Diner Study said they would be interested in seeing calorie counts posted on in-store menus and menu boards. Would more information make you think twice about your selections?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eating Disorders

Oops, we missed Eating Disorder Awareness Week, the last week of February. The groups at greatest risk for eating disorder includes ballet, gymnasts, figure skaters, fitness instructors, type 1 diabetics and yes my own personal favorite, dietetics majors. While runners are not on the official list, I have counseled many who fit into one of the disordered eating categories below.

Anorexia: extreme weight loss, poor body image, & irrational fears of weight gain
Anorexia Athletica: the excessive use of exercise to control weight
Binge Eating: consuming large amounts of food at least twice weekly followed by feelings of shame and   embarrassment
Bulimia: binge eating at least twice weekly followed by vomiting and or use of laxatives
Night eating: lack of appetite in the AM followed by consuming > 1/2 of calorie intake after 8 PM
Orthorexia: an obsession with the perfect, healthiest diet
Pica: the desire for non food substances include clay, starch, lead and ice
Purge Eating: self induced vomiting in the absence of binge eating to prevent weight gain

The most successful therapy is prevention.  Intervention programs work about 50% of the time and 1 in 3 relapse within 7 years.  The long term effects on the cardiovascular, skeletal and hormonal systems are significant and sometimes irreversible.  How can you prevent eating disorders in your family members?

1. Do not use food to reward, bribe or punish. This gives food power, a tool used for negotiating, not nourishment and enjoyment. Children who have been rewarded with food will have a greater tendency to use food to motivate and reward themselves as they get older. Children who are forbidden or penalized with food may sneak it or consume excessive amounts in the absence of the controlling parent.

2. Eat together at the family dinner table. Meals are healthier and you can model good eating habits. Lack of control, poor self esteem and poor communication are common in disordered eating. Increased family time can help reduce some of these obstacles.

3. Do not talk about food in terms of good, bad, thin and fat foods. All foods can fit when the portion sizes are reasonable. 

4. Do not talk about your body, or those of others as being fat or skinny and definitely don't label your children's weights. Instead of "my stomach is pudgy after all that bad chocolate cake" say "I'm going to work on my level of fitness more".

5. Tweens tend to put on weight as they go through puberty, its natural and hormonally related. They will outgrow it so do not put undo emphasis on body image. Make sure they continue to stay active, limit computer, TV and video games and have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available for them to snack on.

6. Be a role model. Don't skip meals, do order an ice cream sundae from time to time, and run because you love the way exercise makes your feel, not because you just ate a bag of M&Ms.

If you have a concern about your eating habits or those of family members seek help. Treatment for eating disorders is multidisciplinary and typically includes a physician, psychologist, a Registered Dietitian and Family Counseling specialist.  Raising Healthy Eaters is a great blog for parents and they are currently doing a 3 part series on the topic of eating disorders. For more information go to

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Fruit Bowl vs. The Cookie Jar

The best thing we added when we renovated our kitchen was not the flat paneled cupboard doors that require minimal effort to clean, not the warming drawer for late arrivals, or even the wine cabinet for, well for me. It was the $8.99 oversized fruit bowl positioned front and center atop our kitchen counter. Keeping it filled with a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables and dried fruits is a grocery shopping priority. It's content's change based on the season, what's on sale or if we're burned out on a particular fruit. The bowl gets high marks for originality when it's filled with local produce from the farmer's market June-September or after a visit to Blok's Orchard for fresh apples and peaches.

The cookie jar was the kitchen center piece when I was growing up. My mom hand painted a circus elephant (seriously) cookie jar in a ceramics class. It was also the featured attraction at my Grandma Kuilema’s house. It sat next to the bread box filled with homemade banana, and brown sugar, raisin, cinnamon swirl bread, which in turn, sat next to the lemon gum drop jar. The thing about a cookie jar is you always need to keep it filled, and if you keep it filled, it's frequently emptied. You get the point. The only thing on your kitchen counter should be healthy foods. Substitute a fruit dish for your cookie jar.

To be completely honest, when my children arrive home tonight they will notice right away that the fruit bowl has been refilled which is a signal that I went grocery shopping. They will then start a search and seizure for any new "alternative" snacks. However, the healthy option is the focal point in our family kitchen and my hope is that it makes a lasting impression on what's most important to their health.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get Your Z's

Are you ramping up your training miles this month?  If so, it's the perfect opportunity to remind you of the role adequate sleep has on your sport's performance. Are you setting the alarm clock for an early morning run, heading out after work or fitting in both as the daylight grows?  Listen to your body.  Training too much, too fast, in the absence of proper rest is a recipe for a fatigued workout, injury and illness as your immunity wears thin. When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone which helps repair the damage caused by training and allows you to grow stronger. The average person needs 7-8 hours of sleep every day. In fact a little extra may actually boost both your athletic performance & your immunity. A recent study completed on Stanford basketball players showed that extra sleep time resulted in significant improvements in their athletic performance. They experienced faster sprint times, increased free throws, increased energy and improved mood during practice and games. If you’re looking for a cost effective, easy way to improve your race times, stay sharp and get stronger, go to bed an hour early, or if you can spare the extra ZZZ's, sleep in!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Everybody: Limit "Seat of Your Pants" Activities

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children average 53 hours/week using electronic media including TV, cell phones, IPods, video games and computers. Their television viewing averages 3 hours/day and this practice gets worse with age. According to the Alloy Media Marketing’s 9th Annual College Explorer Survey, the college class of 2013 spends 2.5 hours/day in front of the TV, 2.5 hours on the cell phone and 20% of their waking hours on the computer. If you've ever watched this group in action you know they are capable of doing all three simultaneously. Rasmussen completed a similar survey on adults, yet only 23% self reported themselves as spending too much time on their Blackberry, laptops and television. Conversely, 75% of them claimed their children overused electronics. Who's fooling who here?

We need to address the fact that social media is a growing "seat of your pants" activity.  Relatively few calories are expended hitting the send or receive button.  Hand to mouth exercises add high calorie junk foods and soda to our nation’s growing weight problems. What can you do? Set time limits for yourself and family members. Take stretching, walking and water breaks every 20-30 minutes if you are working on a computer project for an extended period of time.  Perform light exercises during commercial breaks. Make it a house rule that snacks and beverages are only consumed at the kitchen table. Snacking combined with electronics can easily get you to the bottom of the bag without even realizing it.  Finally, make sure electronics don’t encroach on your sleep time. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that people who short themselves on rest have more difficulty controlling their weight.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit children's television viewing time to 2 hours/day. Vicky Rideout of Kaiser describes electronic media as having become so entrenched in our kid’s everyday lives that it’s "a part of the air they breathe". I appreciate her parting comment: "Anything that takes up this much time, we really do need to think and talk about it".

Friday, February 19, 2010

Are You a Weekend Overeater?

Most people eat more on the weekends then on the weekdays. A study by Jeffery Inman, a marketing professor at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who are weekend overeaters, average 400 additional calories for an average increase of 20%. This excess translates into a potential 6 pound weight gain annually! What are possible explanations for this weekend increase?

• Cupboards and refrigerators are full from recent shopping trips.

• Breakfast is more robust, including calorie dense foods like bacon, sausage, pancakes and waffles with all the toppings.

• Late night, sleep deprived activities, fueled by one too many spirits leaves people reaching for convenience and fast foods.

• Sleeping in results in overeating at lunch and dinner.

• Dining out and entertainment combined with food like movies, soda and popcorn are more common.

• Mindless snacking in front of the TV, while reading, or at the computer are more apt to occur.

Thankfully, the average person only consumes 37 more calories on the weekend. If you are above average, in the 400+ check out my “favorites” on Twitter to help improve your eating and exercise habits Monday – Sunday! If you are in the average, +37 weekend category, share some tips with us on how you avoid weekend overeating.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Cake Stand" Mindless, but Meaningful Gift

I received a cake display stand with glass cover this Christmas from my mother-in-law.  It was a very thoughtful gift, especially since the career choice between pastry chef and dietitian had been a struggle for me. 

Creating new desserts to share has always been as relaxing as running or biking.  Good thing eh? To bake or run, bake then bike, but never run then bake, that's unsanitary!  Cookies, bars, pies, scones, fruit muffins and of course anything with chocolate were always well received by family and friends.  Cakes on the other hand, went untouched except for a few wedges and frosting swipes.  That all changed with the introduction of "The Cake Stand". 

This Valentine's Day I made a classic white cake with pink frosting.  The dessert was nothing exceptional, basically something to make me feel alright about not cooking a labor intensive, holiday dinner.  "The Cake Stand" was positioned front and center on the kitchen counter, visible to everyone, beckoning to all whom entered.  Within two days, the cake was consumed in full, the cake stand empty, and fruit withering in the bowl beside it.  While I could continue to use the stand to store cookies, bars, and muffins, I carefully returned it to the storage shelf for the sake of our family's health.  My family can continue to enjoy snacks in reasonable quantities, but stored out of sight, not on a pedestal. The fruit bowl has returned to its rightful position of dominance on the kitchen counter, front and center and readily accessible.

The cake stand was a very thoughtful gift and will be saved for holidays, dinner parties and birthdays.  Beyond that it becomes a "see food" trap that indulges mindless eating and replaces healthier options.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zero Calorie Sports Drinks

PowerAde Zero has dominated Olympic commercial time, promoting its new zero calorie sports drink. PowerAde Zero comes in strawberry, mixed berry, orange, lemon lime and grape. It is artificially sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. A single, 8 ounce serving of PowerAde Zero contains 0 calories (hence the name), 0 grams carbohydrate, 100 mg sodium, and 24 mg potassium. Its primary competitor, G2, contains 20 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 110 mg sodium and 30 mg potassium and contains the same artificial sweeteners. Both PowerAde Zero and G2 mirror their big boy counterparts, PowerAde and Gatorade, in terms of electrolytes but cut out the 50 calories per serving and 14 grams of carbohydrate.

Traditional sports drinks provide fluids to hydrate, carbohydrates for endurance energy, and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. Who should use these newer zero calories, electrolyte drinks? The answer depends on the individual and the nature of the sport. If you’re calorie conscious, have eaten a nourishing meal 3-4 hours earlier and are not participating in an endurance event these zero calorie drinks could be a good solution. They hydrate with fluids and electrolytes but force the body to use its existing energy supply from the blood, muscle and fat storage. However, you will crash on zero calorie beverages if they are your exclusive fuel source in endurance events. My recommendation is still water in events lasting < 1 hour and use regular sports drinks, bars, gels, bloks, or beans for endurance events. Kids need to stick with water bottles.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Customizing Your Sports Drink

Last time we discussed how much fluid you need to stay hydrated, now let's customize it for the grams of carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates are the energy in sports drinks that keep your brain focused and muscles fueled.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), 30-60 grams of carbohydrate are recommended per hour to maintain blood sugar levels.  This is the average range for athletes.  If you really want to dial in your carbohydrate needs, the rule is 0.7 grams of carbohydrate/kg of body weight per hour. 

Example: Bob weighs 165 pounds. 
We divide his weight by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms.  165 / 2.2 = 75 kilograms 
75kg x 0.7 grams of carbohydrate/kg of body weight = 52.5 grams carbohydrate/hour
Bob should consume 52 grams of carbohydrate/hour based on his weight. 

The Gatorade nutrition facts panel on the left tells us that this sports drink contains 14 grams of carbohydrate/8 oz serving.  In order for Bob to get 52 grams of carbohydrate/hour he would need to drink 3.75 cups of Gatorade. 52 grams/14 grams of carbohydrate per 8 oz = 3.75 cups.

Further research tells us that your stomach will empty, and absorption is fastest when beverages contain 6-8% carbohydrate.  The Gatorade nutrition facts panel on the left tells us that Gatorade contains 14 grams of carbohydrate in every 240 ml (8-oz) serving. So, 14/240 x 100 = 6% carbohydrate. 

There are many excellent sports beverage choices out on the market.
You can perform these same calculations on your selection to determine how much you need to drink/hour and if it makes the 6-8% grade. 

In the last post, we determined that I needed to consume 5-6.25 cups of fluid to complete my 25K running an 8:15 minute pace to maintain my hydration needs.  Now let's individualize that to meet my energy, carbohydrate needs as well.  If I weigh 122# / 2.2 = 55.45 kg x 0.7 = 39 grams carbohydrate/hour.  I need to drink 2.75 cups of Gatorade/hour to meet my energy needs.  My race will be completed by 2 hours, 15 minutes.  2.75 cups x 2.25 hours = 6.2 cups Gatorade.  Hey, Gatorade will work for me, but I better drink on the higher end of the range if I want to meet both my fluid and energy needs combined. 

If this math leaves you a little bleary eyed, contact me through my website and we can test your sports beverage and dial your needs as well!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Should I Drink at Every Aide Station?

Yes, take full advantage of every fluid station and consume fluids!  An athlete’s primary duty during endurance events is to replace fluids and electrolytes, while maintaining a steady stream of energy to keep their muscles and mind sharp. Learn to drink on a schedule not based on thirst. Thirst is an indicator that you've already gotten behind in hydrating, which means your "time to finish" has just increased!  In long distance races, most aide stations are spaced out every 1.5 miles.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends athletes drink enough fluid to stay in fluid balance or 6-12 ounces, at 15-20 minute intervals. How do you know if you're in fluid balance?  See my previous post to calculate your sweat rate.

Here's my fluid station plan for a 25K race.  I run 8.15 minute miles, sweat very little, and will hit an aide station every 12-13 minutes (8.15 miles x 1.5 miles).  I will be drinking 4-5 ounces of fluid at each of the 10 aide stations or 5-6.25 cups of fluid by the end of the race.  This makes sense based on my sweat rate too, because I've gone out a couple of times without a water bottle, thinking I'm going to go < 1 hour and wind up doing 9-10 miles.  When I get back my sweat rate calculation shows I've lost 2 pounds which is ~ 4 cups fluid.  Obviously I didn't train as well as I could had I carried a sports beverage and not run "dry", but spontaneity is part of being a runner!

Check back next time and will talk about how many Carbs that fluid should carry!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Train With, What You'll Race With

Many athletes are gearing up for spring races.  When training runs extend beyond the hour mark, it's time to consider an alternative source of fuel.  The beverage, Gu, beans, bloks or gel you practice with, should be the same ones you race with.  If you decide to carry a fuel belt, the choice is yours and the options are endless.  However, if you decide to use the product furnished by the race, its best to go to the website and mirror their products and timing.  For example, Grand Rapids, Michigan, hosts a great 25K each May.  The aid stations are set up every 1.5 miles with Gatorade and water. Gu is handed out at miles 6 and 12.  Runners should train for this event by drinking Gatorade at regular intervals, and by taking Gu at mile 6, and eventually 12 once their practice mileage increases to cover the full race course.  Train with, what you'll race with.

Next up: Do I need to drink at every station? How do I avoid Gu belly?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Produce: Purchase or Pass?

The “Dirty Dozen” is the name assigned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to a group of produce that consistently tests high for pesticide use. They include: peach, apple, bell pepper, celery, nectarine, strawberry, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrot and pear. If you don’t want to pass on these items try the ever expanding, organic section of your local grocer. If the organic section seems to pricey this visit, try the “Clean 15” instead: onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato, sweet potato. The EWG maintains that consumers can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80% by avoiding the dirty dozen and that the clean 15 will expose a person to less than 2 pesticides per day. To view the full list go to:

 To download a printable shoppers guide or add as an iphone app go to:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blah Winter Meals: Join a Coop & Add Local Spark!

Try your local coop this February by going to  Many have a free trial period so you have nothing to lose. What’s to be gained? Coops help you stay connected to your farmers all year long, yes even in the winter wonderland states! The fee to join is typically ¼ of a warehouse membership plus you get improved food quality, nutritionally dense, flavorful product that was grown in your backyard. Consider that the average meal travels 1500 miles to make it from field-to-plate. Joining a coop, adds green to your diet, green to your wallet and green back into your local farmlands! A few terms to consider are grass fed, free range, organic, pesticide free, and antibiotic free. Don’t let the lingo deter you, the website and volunteers can help you decipher products and make the best purchasing decisions for your wallet and family. If you want to add some fun and education to your experience, put your grocery cart together on line with your children. It’s guaranteed to be a teachable moment and they may be more apt to try new foods. The key to creating a sustainable food system is your participation.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink

Every once in awhile I read a really great book about improving one’s health and think “This is the kind of stuff that made me want to become a dietitian!” I relayed this thought to my 9 year old son who immediately responded “Did you highlight a lot of the pages mom?” to which I chuckled with a “definitely”.

Mindless Eating is a great read for anyone interested in health and wellness topics. For the 2/3rd’s of American’s struggling with weight issues, it provides many “aha” moments and memorable tools that instill confidence in finally being able to successful manage eating habits. It’s not the traditional diet book that pushes foods allowed, foods to avoid, and how many minutes of daily exercise you need to lose weight. Rather it exposes the hidden psychological triggers behind why we eat what we do and the invisible cues that lead to scale creep. The guy obviously likes to make people laugh because his studies while thoroughly fascinating are relayed in such a humorous way that you’ll feel like you’re watching an Ashton Kutcher episode of “You’ve Just Been Punk’d”. The book tackles a lot of not so obvious topics including your kitchen environment, movie theater popcorn, clothing choices, restaurant traps, socializing in the midst of food and alcohol, m&m and jelly bean colors, and warehouse clubs. For a taste of the book go to and take the quiz. The book’s grand finale chapter provides specific tactics to overcome an individual's mindless eating danger traps: The Meal Stuffer; The Snack Grazer; The Party Binger; The Restaurant Indulger; and The Desktop or Dashboard Diner. After reading this book you should definitely feel in control over environmental influences that cause you to eat when you’re not hungry and overeat beyond the point of no return.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It Might Be a Fad Diet If...

What day is it today?  Tuesday, January 19, 2010 is officially "Rid the World of Fad Diets & Gimmicks" Day, seriously!  Here are the top 10 indications that a diet isn't kosher.  It might be a fad diet if...

10. You can buy it on the television shopping network, in the back of a magazine or is advertised by a buff looking dude by the name of "Abs".
9. You have to exclude an entire food group or certain foods are "forbidden" due to their illustrious past.
8. The pads you put on your feet to remove toxins from your body work double duty and remove excess weight loss too!
7. The FDA pulled it from the shelves, only to have it reappear 3 months later as new and improved.
6. It requires you drink copious amounts of foreign liquids, only to expel copious amounts of unmentionables in the restroom all day long.
5. One little pill, liquid, cookie, bar, or supplement "does it all"! No change in eating or exercise required.
4. You can save 25% off by ordering NOW!
3. The celebrity promoting the product, appears on the cover of a magazine in the grocery store check out aisle 2 months later, bigger than ever.
2. It was manufactured in a lab by skinny, vegan scientists.
1. It is just plain and simple, TGTBT (Too Good To Be True)

For this years "Slim Chance" Awards go to:,0,7853792.story

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy “Healthy Weight Week” January 17-23

A healthy weight has been clearly defined by the medical, insurance and research industry. A healthy weight is one that falls within the “normal” weight range based on your Basal Metabolic Index (BMI). Click here to calculate your BMI .

   BMI Categories:
• Underweight = <18.5
• Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
• Overweight = 25-29.9
• Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

32.7% of Americans adults are overweight, 34% are obese and 6% are extremely obese.  32% of American children are overweight, 16% are obese and 11% are extremely obese.  Looking at these statistics, it is easy to believe that a child has a 65-75% chance of following in their overweight parent’s footsteps.

You can do the math, but its safe to assume that very few people are in the normal weight range. Why should you care about being in the norm? According to the Center for Disease Control, as weight increases to the overweight and obesity range, the risks for the following conditions are elevated:

• Coronary heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
• Stroke
• Liver and Gallbladder disease
• Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
• Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
• Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

Yet achieving a healthy weight is not just about reaching a set number of pounds that categorizes you as normal. It includes a collection of positive lifestyle behaviors that include a healthy diet, regular physical activity, adequate rest, not smoking, alcohol in moderation and effective ways of coping with everyday stress. Follow my favorites (yellow stars) on Twitter for 52 weeks of health tips that can help your family move their BMI score towards normal in 2010! If you or a family member would benefit from individual healthy lifestyle coaching, source a Registered Dietitian in your state by going to

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do Runners Burn More Calories in Winter or Summer?

There should be some benefit beyond heart, lungs, and the “feel good” to running outside on a frosty, winter  day! Unfortunately, calorie burn is not one of them. The metabolism of fat or burning fat for energy, actually slows down when the temperature gets colder. This is a nice preservation feature if you’re a bear hibernating in a den, or stranded in a blizzard, yet it’s not the pat on the back you might be looking for if you’re trying to lose weight. While you might breathe heavier when initially heading out, respiration returns to normal fairly quickly. Heart rate is often lower, but not always during cold weather exercise. So no, running outside is not an effective strategy for accelerating calorie burn in the winter months. Despite all this I’ll continue to run outside on cold winter days and hope you do too. Conquering the elements is what we Northern runners do, neither wind, nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow…not quite super hero stuff but still empowering!

Monday, January 11, 2010

When the Power to Cut Out Exceeds Work Out

In the New Year, just in time for vacation or bathing suit season, people choose severe low calorie diets, pills and beverages to help promote weight loss. The will power to cut out calories comes easier to some, than factoring in 30-60 minutes of daily exercise. While restrictive eating can result in significant weight loss, the long term success rate is poor at less than10% and it’s far from a healthy solution. Let’s compare the health differences between moderate exercise and restrictive eating.

       (For better viewing click on chart)

The best approach to weight loss is one that combines regular moderate activity with a healthy balanced diet. To learn more about healthy diets see a Registered Dietitian in your area by going to They will be able to co-design with you, a healthy eating plan that fuels your activity at the right time, based on your health conditions, weight goals and lifestyle.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Coconut Water

Why are they always handing this stuff out at the pre race events and why would I want to drink it as an athlete? Zico, O.N.E. and Nature Factor are examples of brand names. The Zico brand contains only 60 calories/11 oz serving, 0 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol. The big benefit is that it’s loaded with potassium at 670 mg as compared to 422 mg in a medium banana and 36 mg in 1 cup of Gatorade. Coconut water contains 60 mg sodium, 1 gram protein and 15 grams of carbohydrate which would be too light on sodium and too much fluid in order to meet your carbohydrate needs during a race. Post race coconut water would still be too light on sodium unless you added some salty pretzels, too light on protein for muscle recovery and inadequate in carbohydrates for glycogen replacement. The athletic benefits in a nut shell: it may reduce the risk of muscle cramps, help regulate blood pressure and if you like the taste you may hydrate more regularly.