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: