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Eat Smarter

Sports Nutrition Summary

Sports Nutrition Summary

We are designed to change and grow, for better or worse, depending on what sort of stimulus we put on the body. The more the stimulus, the more effective the adaptation, as long as it is spread out over time. Short-term bursts of stimulus usually cause problems and make us injured or sick. Spread the same amount of signal over a long period of time, and the body will get stronger and healthier. It’s kind of like watering a plant every day rather than flooding it out once or twice a month and then leaving it. You just won’t get healthy growth that way.

The same idea applies to the human body. So often I’ve been asked what you should eat the day of a race. And my answer always causes some raised eyebrows: “it doesn’t really matter - what matters is what you’ve been eating for the last six months.” I’ll take the athlete who eats well every day over the athlete with only a great race day plan. My friend Dr. John Berardi calls this the “myth of game day nutrition.”

The weekend food warrior – the once-a-week intake of quality, fresh foods – is not building daily or long-term health.

Habits form slowly through deliberate effort and 1% changes. No person can revolutionize their eating overnight. It’s all about starting somewhere and then building on that momentum. And once you are eating well, it’s easy to keep the habits going and include other interesting options.

Today's POWER-UP: Sports Nutrition at a Glance

Daily:

  • Eat whole foods, avoiding processed and packaged foods full of refined sugars.

  • Include lots of vegetables of different varieties and different colors.

  • Aim for 6-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight spread out in meals throughout the day.

  • Include 1.2-1.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight throughout the day. Each meal should have about 20g. Having 0.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight before bed could help offset protein breakdown.

  • Choose healthy fats and incorporate about 2 g per kilogram of body weight per day.

Pre-Workout:

  • 2-1 hours before your workout have a meal high in carbohydrate.

  • <1 hour before have a mixed carbohydrate beverage or snack + BCAA solution.

During Workout:

  • For exercise lasting 30-75 mins a mouthwash of carbohydrate solution may be sufficient for nervous system benefits.

  • For 60 minutes - 2 hours of training aim for 30g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For 2-3 hours increase to 60g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For long sessions >2.5hours you will require 80-90g of carbohydrate per hour (a mixture of glucose and fructose will help with absorption).

  • Avoid routine use of commercial sports drinks – instead consider watermelon, coconut water or simple homemade natural sports drinks. 

  • Consider adding a branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) solution to any of these options.

Post-Workout:

  • If you have less than 8 hours between sessions, you should consume 1.2g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour for the first few hours and a total of 8-9g of carbohydrate per kilogram over the course of 24 hours.

  • For more than 8 hours between sessions refueling can be according to timing that is comfortable and accessible as long as adequate energy and carbohydrate are consumed.

  • Consume 16-20g of protein as soon after your workout as you can and a further 20g every 3 hours for the next 12 hours.

  • Include anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, turmeric and omega-3s as well as lots of vegetables to reduce the inflammation associated with exercise.

Post-Exercise Nutrition

Post-Exercise Nutrition

Step 3: Eat Smarter After Exercise

Getting rehydrated after your workout is so critical to setting you up to be healthy and to recover as quickly as possible. Getting hydrated will help to keep your blood volume at optimal levels which helps with circulation. Your brain also needs water to function properly, so if you’re dehydrated after your workout you’ll have trouble at school, or just having a conversation. Once you’re done your workout, drink some water. If you’ve had a really hard workout try coconut water or watermelon juice.

Carbohydrates are critical for replenishing muscle glycogen stores, and proteins are crucial for initiating muscle and other soft-tissues repair. The question is, how much of each should you consume? In part, the answer depends on the type of exercise you performed. If you're an endurance athlete such as a cyclist, triathlete, runner or swimmer, you exercise longer at sustained intensities. This type of work depletes your muscle glycogen, so replenishing it is a priority. Without enough glycogen you can’t work at high intensities, or you may run out of fuel in your next training session. Therefore, we recommend consuming a light snack with a ratio of 4 carbohydrates to 1 protein.

If you're doing strength training or if you're doing a sport that require greater demands on your muscle, microtears can produce in the muscle and soft tissues such as tendons or capillary beds. For any exercise that makes your muscles sore, protein synthesis is therefore crucial to repair these tissues. In this case, the ratios change, and a higher protein content is warranted. We recommend about 2:1 carbohydrates to proteins after a strength-type workout.

As little as 6 to 10 grams of protein accelerate protein synthesis in the muscles following exercise, but you can calculate your approximate protein requirement based on your body weight. In general, sedentary people need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and as an athlete you need about 1.6 to 1.8 grams per kilogram. Regular foods (e.g., chicken, beef, fish, beans and legumes, and eggs) can provide the necessary amino acids, and some protein powders are acceptable and convenient options.

Similarly, when choosing carbohydrate sources you should consider the nutrient content of that food. Having a slice of white processed bread is not going to provide as many of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your health as whole grain sprouted breads, a cup of cooked quinoa or brown rice. In the milling and refining processes, grains lose their germ layer which is rich in micronutrients. Choose whole grains and starchy vegetables and legumes over refined breads and pastas as much as possible when picking your high carbohydrate fuels. 

Today's POWER-UP: Post-exercise snack ideas

LISTED BELOW ARE SOME IDEAS FOR SNACKS TO EAT DURING THIS POST-WORKOUT WINDOW OF TIME.

> RECOVERY DRINK MIX (4:1 CARBS TO PROTEIN FOR ENDURANCE WORKOUTS, 2:1 FOR STRENGTH WORKOUTS)

> GREEK YOGURT + FRUIT/BERRIES + GRANOLA

> CHIA PUDDING: 3 TBSP CHIA SEEDS + 1 CUP COCONUT MILK + 2 TBSP RAW HONEY + 1/2 TSP CINNAMON (LET SIT OVERNIGHT)

> CHOCOLATE, VANILLA ALMOND OR BROWN RICE MILK + PROTEIN POWDER

> ORGANIC TRAIL MIX (UNSULPHURED DRIED FRUIT AND RAW NUTS/SEEDS)

> COTTAGE CHEESE

> ONE OR TWO HIGH-QUALITY SNACK BARS (ELEVATE ME, SIMPLY WHEY, GENUINE HEALTH FERMENTED VEGAN PROTEIN+, PURE FOOD ORGANIC VEGAN GREENS, OR VEGA SPORTS BARS)

> BROWN RICE CAKE(S) + JAM + NATURAL NUT BUTTER (E.G., ALMOND, CASHEW, PEANUT)

> AN EGG-SALAD SANDWICH (PREFERABLY ON WHOLEGRAIN BREAD)

> PROTEIN BALLS: 1 SCOOP PROTEIN POWDER + 2 TBSP ALMOND BUTTER + 4 TBSP ALMOND MILK + 2 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP (ROLL INTO BALLS AND FREEZE)

SOURCE: TRIONNE MOORE, BA RHN, WWW.TRIONNE.CA & DR. MELISSA PIERCELL, ND, NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR 

During Exercise Nutrition

During Exercise Nutrition

Step 2: Eat Smarter During Exercise

Eating smarter during exercise is quite straightforward. The number one goal is to stay hydrated. The secondary goal is to provide your muscles with 1) some amino acids if you are doing workouts that cause muscle breakdown like sprinting, CrossFit or other strength training or 2) some carbohydrates if you are doing endurance exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes. 

For the vast majority of us, we simply need to stay hydrated and the best way to do that is to sip water during your workout or practice. Listen to your body and follow your thirst. I try to start my workouts with a few mouthfuls of water and then sip consistently during practice. I only use sports drinks if I’m doing a very hard workout lasting longer than 90 minutes, which for me is a bike ride. I think that for almost everybody sports drinks are a bad idea.

Did you know that sports drinks have a lot of added sugar – usually the same amounts or more than a can of pop? The difference between the two is that sports drinks have been designed to provide us with the right amount of electrolytes we lose while sweating through a hard workout. Plus, the lack of bubbles also makes sports drinks easy to guzzle. Even with the electrolytes the added sugars are totally unnecessary for most people. The exception is if you're exercising for longer than 90 minutes at a time. Another time when a sports drink might be a good idea is if you’re exercising outdoors in the summer on a very hot day and you’re sweating a lot.

I also recommend trying some healthier options instead of the traditional sports drinks. Coconut water, for example, is considered a natural rehydrant because it has potassium, an electrolyte we lose while we sweat. It also contains some carbohydrate. With a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime, it’s even better! Watermelon juice also has some interesting properties that are worth exploring.

If you are trying to keep to a low-carbohydrate diet, then having some branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) during workout is a good idea. BCAAs are special protein components that can be used as fuel during exercise. All other amino acids must be processed by your body before being used as energy. BCAA powder can be easily added to liquids to boost performance further. These have been shown not only to delay time to fatigue during exercise, but also to help prevent muscle breakdown while working out. Dr. John Berardi has posted some good options for BCAA’s here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/supplements. I also recommend Living Fuel Super Aminos: http://www.livingfuel.com/product/livingfuel-superessentials-aminos/

In general, most of us only need water during our workouts. If you are doing a hard endurance workout, training for a triathlon or marathon or doing multiple workouts in one day then you can benefit from having some carbohydrates during your practice. If you are doing a strength training workout or if you want to protect against muscle breakdown, even during an endurance workout then you can add some amino acids to your fuelling plan.

Today's POWER-UP: Let's review the key points of nutrition during exercise

  • Hydrate! (recommended 500-1000mL water each hour for endurance events, otherwise sip water as needed throughout your workout).

  • For exercise lasting 30-75 mins a mouthwash of carbohydrate solution may be sufficient for nervous system benefits.

  • For 60 minutes - 2 hours of training aim for 30g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For 2-3 hours increase to 60g of carbohydrate per hour.

  • For long sessions >2.5hours you will require 80-90g of carbohydrate per hour (a mixture of glucose and fructose will help with absorption).

  • Avoid routine use of commercial sports drinks – instead consider watermelon, coconut water or simple homemade natural sports drinks. 

  • Consider adding a branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) solution to any of these options.

DIVE DEEPER: Homemade Sports Drinks to Fuel Your Sport

Tea Based: 

1L of herbal tea

½ tsp of sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp potassium chloride

2 tbsp maple syrup or honey

lemon or lime to taste

 

Greg’s Basic Sport Drink:

1.5L water

juice from 3 lemons, limes or oranges

½ tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon honey

 

Watermelon Coconut:

1 cup watermelon

1cup coconut water

juice from 1 lime

½ tsp sea salt

blend

 

Papaya Coconut Punch:

½ cup papaya juice (no added sugar)

1 cup coconut water

juice from one lemon

½ tsp sea salt

Pre-Exercise Nutrition

Pre-Exercise Nutrition

Sports nutrition is one of the most debated and contested fields in science right now. With the traditional high carbohydrate approach under siege from the low carb high fat proponents there has never been more confusion. Personally, I think it is a good thing because sports nutrition needs an overhaul and the traditional approaches have resulted in a number of products and recommendations that have ended up damaging health (such as sports drinks and chocolate milk) more than helping people perform better. 

My approach is based on the principle that high performance is only possible if we are as healthy as possible. I’ve broken it down into 3 steps based on what you can eat before, during and after your workouts to perform great in your movement practice, and to improve your health at the same time. It is a simple approach that works if you stick to it over the long term. 

Step 1: Eat Smarter Before Exercise

The most important thing you need to do before your workout is to provide your blood, organs, muscles, and brain with the fuels that you need to perform. To do your workout at your best you will need a supply of water, amino acids (protein), and glucose (carbohydrate). You can get glucose from your blood and from stored glycogen in your muscles and liver. For most people most of the time you can get everything that you need from a well-balanced reasonable meal about 2-3 hours before your workout or practice.

Your pre-workout meal should have some protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, antioxidants, and a small amount of healthy fats. Protein will help to help preserve your muscle mass and to make sure that there are amino acids in your blood when your muscles need them. Carbohydrates will help to fuel your muscles and preserve your muscle and liver glycogen stores. I recommend eating real foods and not sports drinks and gels. If you are trying to lose fat and increase your muscle mass, then you can emphasize protein more than carbohydrate and move more of your carbohydrates to after your workout. Healthy fats help to provide your body with vitamins and minerals and can help to manage the inflammatory process.

Most people are constantly dehydrated so drinking some water before your workout will help you perform at your best during practice. I fill up my water bottle with cold water and the juice from ½ of a fresh lemon or lime along with a small pinch of sea salt. If I feel like I need an energy boost, then I’ll also add a teaspoon of raw organic honey. If I have a strength training workout, I’ll add some branch-chain amino acids.

For morning workouts, if you are into performing at a higher level, or you have a hard workout planned then it is a good idea to have a pre-exercise snack to make sure you have enough nutrients in your blood and muscle to fuel your activities. Your pre-workout snack should be no more than a cup in volume and you should eat it 60-30 minutes before your workout. Because starches/carbs are turned to sugar in the blood easily, this snack should be carbohydrate centred. Protein, fat and fibre take a long time to digest, making them less than ideal just before a workout. Indigestion will remind you of this if you have a fish and chip dinner just before your boot camp class! Ideally, this starchy snack will be easily digested and convenient. Examples include fresh fruit, oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, rice crackers with organic nut butter, carrots and hummus, quinoa salad and squash. Pre-workout smoothies are excellent as the blender can help to break down the foods to make them easier to digest and absorb.

Today's POWER-UP: Key Points for Fuelling Before your Workout

  • Eat a meal that is high in carbs about two to three hours before exercise (about 60g). This meal should include protein, fat, fibre, and antioxidants as well. 

  • If you are limited to/prefer eating closer to your training, try a smaller high GI carbohydrate meal +BCAA. If you are eating less than an hour before a workout, you may want to consider a liquid form of fuel such as a smoothie.

  • Practice and tweak these recommendations to find what fits with YOUR body and YOUR schedule. Nutrition is highly individual!

Dive Deeper: Examples of Pre-Workout Carbohydrates to Start Your Workout Right

If you are exercising in the morning, a great option is oatmeal and banana. This will give you enough carbohydrates with low glycemic load to keep your blood sugar steady into your workout. If you feel you would like a little more protein and fat, you could mix in some nut butter (almond or peanut), or even a scoop of protein powder if you are eating well ahead of your training. 

In the afternoon you may need a snack if your lunch is too long before your workout. Banana and nut butter on whole grain toast is another great option for a high carbohydrate meal. 

If you feel that you need something a bit more substantial, you might choose to have a bigger meal of fish, quinoa or rice with some sweet potato and other veggies. Remember, everyone reacts differently to food and exercise and you need to practice and refine what works best for you.

If you are an athlete who needs a snack within the hour before exercise, applesauce makes a nice, easily digestible snack. Applesauce is easily transported and could be a great snack to leave in your bag in case you need a little more fuel before a workout. Another whole food option is banana oat balls. Simply mash a banana with 1 cup of oats (double or triple this to make many more) and form little balls. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. These are another great high carb, easily digestible, easily transportable snack if you are feeling a little hungry before a training session. 

The Keys to Eating Smarter - Key #5: Eat Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals

The Keys to Eating Smarter - Key #5: Eat Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals

KEY #5: EAT PLENTY OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS

As an athlete, many of your vitamin and mineral requirements are higher than the average person in order to keep your body healthy and functioning at an optimal level. You also often experience suppressed immune system in times of high volume or high intensity training. Eating foods high in vitamins and minerals can help counteract this immunosuppression and keep you healthy throughout your training cycles.

Here are some examples of micronutrients that you should prioritize when training: 

1) Vitamin D

Recent research suggests that increasing vitamin D consumption might positively impact muscle metabolism and sport performance. It is also important in maintaining the strength of the immune system. 

Some animal sources of vitamin D are fish such as herring, salmon and tuna. It is also found in meat and egg yolks. In Canada, Vitamin D is fortified in milk, margarine, and some yogurts and cheeses. As far as plant sources, vitamin D can be found in its inactive form in mushrooms and alfalfa sprouts as well as many fortified plant milks such as almond or soy. 

2) Magnesium

Magnesium is important as it's a co-factor in the conversion of vitamin D to its main circulating form in the body. Magnesium is also crucial for numerous processes that are particularly important for athletes such as oxygen uptake, energy production, and electrolyte balance. You lose a lot of magnesium during exercise through sweat, so you need to ensure you're getting enough in your diet. 

Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, legumes and green leafy vegetables.

3) Iron

The body requires iron to deliver oxygen to all tissues and produce energy at the cellular level. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin in the blood, and iron is a key component of the hemoglobin molecule. Iron deficiency anemia is more prevalent in athletes due to heavy training, but particularly in females as they lose blood through menstruation. It is important for athletes to get their iron status checked regularly in order to avoid deficiency.

You can get iron from both heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme is the more bioavailable form and is only found in animal products, especially meat, fish, poultry, oysters and clams. Non-heme iron is also found in meat, but also in legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruits, as well as any foods that are fortified with iron such as grain products. Vitamin C strongly enhances the absorption of non-heme iron.

4) B vitamins

B complex vitamins are important for energy production, hemoglobin synthesis, immune function, and building and repair of muscle tissue. For many of the B vitamins, it is likely that deficiencies will negatively impact performance and increasing intake will improve performance, however there will be no added benefit if intake is already adequate.

In general, eating a lot of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and lean meats will allow you to reach adequate B vitamin levels to maintain your health and performance. However, B12 is only found in animal products and is important in terms of red blood cell production and immune function. If you are a vegan or vegetarian you should get your levels tested and you will likely need to supplement with vitamin B12.

Today's POWER-UP: Tips to make sure you're getting the micronutrients you need 

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. At least half your meals should be vegetables!

  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible, especially refined grain products. The milling process removes the nutrient dense bran and germ leaving you with nutrient lacking, empty energy.

  • Make sure you are getting plenty of healthy fats to allow your fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed.

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #4: Eat Healthy Protein

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #4: Eat Healthy Protein

Key #4: Eat Healthy Protein

Protein intake is crucial for both resistance and endurance type athletes. As a baseline, you should be consuming approximately 1.2-1.8g of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day in order to maintain lean muscle mass and build new muscle. 

However, in periods of very high intensity or high volume of training, especially when calorically restricted, it may be necessary for you to consume as much at 2.0g per kilogram of body weight per day in order to maintain lean muscle mass and promote fat loss.

If you are a resistance type athlete, you should consume 4-6 smaller high protein meals per day in order to maximize protein synthesis in your muscles. About 20g of protein is enough to stimulate maximal protein synthesis, which happens about 2 hours after a meal. Having protein in each meal throughout the day will help keep your body in positive muscle protein synthesis.

Consuming adequate protein throughout the day is not only recognized as a method for promoting muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy, it is also crucial for maintaining your immune system. And getting sick during periods of high intensity training is the last thing you want! 

Many researchers have suggested whey protein as being the preferred protein over casein and soy, which are much slower to absorb. Whey is likely the most accessible protein because it is present in dairy products and is a major component of commercially available powders. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you have to look a little bit harder to find another option that agrees with your body, but it is possible! Yellow pea and brown rice protein are excellent alternatives for vegetarians, vegans and plant-powered athletes. If you consume sufficient quantities, you can achieve similar muscle protein synthesis rates as athletes consuming whey.

Make sure to have protein at every meal to prevent the energy crash between meals. Not to mention, high protein foods can help you to maintain better attention, concentration and focus throughout the day. 

Today's POWER-UP: Here are some great examples of high quality protein

1 cup of quinoa gives 18g of protein, to get the full spectrum of amino acids, combine with rice. Quinoa is complete on its own and rice has a complementary profile to lentils.

2 hardboiled eggs give you 12g of complete protein.

½ boneless skinless chicken breast can give you over 25g of protein. Aim to get pasture-raised chicken as it will provide you with a more favorable fatty acid profile. 

2 tbsp. of hemp seeds will provide you with 10g of protein. You can add hemp seeds to your salads or add them to a smoothie in the morning. Don’t heat them up too much as they are also a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and these can be altered with heat.

Non-GMO Tofu can provide 20g of protein per ½ cup and is also a rich vegetarian source of calcium. Although there is conflicting evidence surrounding the estrogenic effects of soy, having tofu a few times a week may be a great way for vegetarian and vegan athletes to add in some quality protein. It is important to check the source of your tofu and to always buy organic. Soy is one of the most GMO foods in North America, and while the effects of GMO are not fully known, buying organic will help reduce the pesticide chemicals you ingest.

Dive Deeper: Looking for a protein supplement?

If you're looking for a protein supplement, make sure it contains a broad profile of amino acids, especially L-glutamine, L-lysine and L-taurine.

L-glutamine, a nonessential amino acid that appears to be conditionally essential during periods of physiological stress, plays important physiological roles in the immune system.

L-lysine plays a major role in calcium absorption, muscle building, recovery from injuries, and the body's production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. L-lysine is metabolized in mammals to provide Acetyl-CoA - a critical substrate for energy production in the body.

Studies suggest that L-taurine may be a pertinent candidate for use as a nutritional supplement to protect against oxidative stress, neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis.

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #3: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #3: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

Key #3: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

For all athletes, carbohydrates are absolutely essential. Your body requires carbohydrates to store enough fuel to get you through your training sessions without crashing. You require stored carbohydrates to complete quality sessions and get the most out of your training. You should be consuming about 6-12g of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight per day. If you're a female athlete you will usually be at the lower end of this range and if you're a male at the upper end. 

However, just like fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates. In general, complex carbohydrates high in fibre are quite healthful, while simple carbs can be problematic.

Healthy carbohydrates include quinoa, whole grains, vegetables (such as sweet potato), fruits (especially berries), beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Simple carbohydrates are often found in refined and processed foods like breakfast cereals, white bread, sugars and syrups.

Eating real food rather than pre-packaged or processed foods will make you feel healthier and perform to your highest potential both in sport and daily life. 68% of packaged foods and beverages in the USA contain caloric sweeteners and 74% contain both caloric and low-caloric sweeteners. This added refined sugar in processed foods provides no additional nutrients and as an athlete, you want the most nutrient dense foods to fuel your body and brain. Stick to whole foods that are unprocessed as often as possible.

Make sure you're fuelling your body properly during every meal. Setting up your morning with starchy sweets leads to a cascade of bad behaviour for the rest of the day. Worse yet, these eating habits set the stage for exhaustion at the worst times. Try performing your best when you're hitting a sugar low during a workout!

Today's POWER-UP: Add healthy carbohydrate sources to your nutrition plan

Choose oatmeal with almond butter rather than cereal for breakfast. Choose plain full fat yogurt with berries instead of the sweetened low fat variety. Choose spaghetti squash with tuna pesto sauce instead of white pasta with tomato sauce.

Here are a few sources of healthy carbs for athletes:

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Oats (that take longer than 3 minutes to cook :-))

  • Wild Rice

  • Bananas

  • Berries

  • Chick Peas

  • Lentils

  • Fresh Figs

  • Oranges

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #2: Eat Healthy Fats

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #2: Eat Healthy Fats

Key #2: Eat Healthy Fats

There is probably no other area that generates as much confusion about healthy eating than fats do. Overall it is time to end the low-fat = healthy eating myth. What matters is the type of fat that you have in your diet. I want you to increase the amount of healthy fats and decrease or even better eliminate unhealthy fats that you eat.

Healthy fats are essential for any person and athletes are no exception. They are not only necessary for energy, but also needed for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, building cell membranes and synthesis of hormones. Some researchers argue that training on very low fat diets (<15% calories from fat per day) may lead to a more pro-inflammatory state, possibly a compromised immune system as well as possible deficiency in some essential micronutrients such as vitamin E.

Unhealthy fats include saturated animal fats and trans fats. Unhealthy saturated fats typically come from animal sources and include red meat (which you can eat on occasion for protein and iron – but make sure it’s grass-fed and organic), butter, cheese, ice cream. You can spot these because they are solid at room temperature. Simply, avoid saturated animal fats, trans-fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils and processed foods.

Having said that, there are healthy fats you can add to your diet such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts. The takeaway here is not that you should be afraid of fats and of adding healthy fats to your diet but that you should avoid unhealthy fats that can damage your health and metabolism.

Today's POWER-UP: Here are great ways to improve the balance between healthy and unhealthy fats:

  • Use extra-virgin olive, walnut, coconut, and sustainably sourced palm oil. And when you cook with oil, never heat it past the smoking point, as the beneficial properties of the oil are ruined.

  • Have a handful of raw nuts and seeds every day – focus on almonds, pecans, walnuts, flax and chia.

  • Eat small fatty fish (such as sardines and salmon) often and larger fish (such as tuna and swordfish) infrequently, as they contain higher levels of toxic heavy metals.

  • Buy flax oil in dark bottles and keep it in the fridge (air, light and heat cause it to break down). Use it in salads or other cold dishes or add it to cooked foods. You could also buy ground flax and add it to shakes, cereal, cooked grains and stews.

  • Eat grass-fed animals rather than grain-fed animals.

  • Use cheese as a spice not a food. A small amount of old, flavourful cheese can be a nice addition to a salad or stir fry. But cheese is not a healthy food so limit your intake or avoid it completely.

  • Serve healthy fats at the table. Use olive oil as a drizzle instead of butter, or guacamole instead of sour cream.

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #1: Hydrate

The Keys to Eating Smarter - #1: Hydrate

Before discussing your nutrition pre, during, and post workout, we're going to start Eat Smarter by going over the basics. These will be the building blocks for optimizing your sports nutrition. Here is the first key to eating smarter:

eat smarter 5.jpeg

Key #1: Hydrate

Quick! What’s the most important thing for health? Breathing? Yes, stop breathing and you’ll die in a few minutes. How about the second most important thing for staying alive? Water.

Our body needs water for the following functions:

* It acts as solvents for nutrients.

* It aids in digestion and absorption.

* It transports materials throughout the body.

* It eliminates toxins and waste products.

* It regulates body temperature.

* It is used for energy production.

Stop drinking for a few days and you stop living. Did you hear the remarkable story of the Bangladeshi woman who survived 17 days in the wreckage of a collapsed garment building? She managed that near impossible feat because she had found some bottled water.

There is not a single cell in your body that does not rely on water. Water makes up 80% of your blood’s volume, and helps transport the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your cells need to make energy. So dehydration really messes with the delivery of all the nutrients your body needs. And as an elite athlete, nutrients are the key to your success.

Think of your veins and arteries as your city’s roads and highways. These roads are used to bring goods into the city but also to transport unwanted materials out. If this transportation is slowed, the result is a city that is starving for goods and overflowing with garbage.

On a normal day you should drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day (75oz or 2.3 L for a 150lb person). However, increase your intake when you're exercising, during extreme temperatures (hot summers and cold winters), and even during times of stress (like exam time).

Make drinking water part of your 24-hour athlete routine. Take a water bottle to class, the gym, or just when you're hanging around the house and fill it up a few times every day. Stay hydrated to excel in everyday nutrition and to move toward your dream.

Today's POWER-UP: Get Hydrated!

So make drinking water part of your daily routine. Get a water bottle and keep it with you and fill it up a few times every day. Water is just as important at school or home as it is in the gym! Stay hydrated, stay healthy and Be Better! 

Pre-exercise Hydration

  • 4 hours before training / competition drink 400-600mL or the equivalent of about 5-7 mL/kg body weight.

  • 2 hours before training / competition drink 3-5mL/kg body weight.

  • 10-20 minutes before training / competition drink only 200-300mL of water.

  • The fluid source should be water accompanied by a light meal or snack that provides carbohydrates and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

During Exercise

  • Replace fluids frequently. The key is to drink early and at regular intervals.

  • 150-350 ml every 15-20 minutes.

  • For low intensity exercise water is sufficient.

  • For higher intensity exercise, less than 1 hour in duration, drink water.

  • For high intensity exercise longer than 1 hour, you can choose sports drinks that have 30-60g of carbohydrate / 1L of water.

Post Exercise

  • You should consume 1.5 times the fluid lost during exercise. Weigh yourself before and after activity and replace 450-675ml of fluid for every 0.5kg of body weight lost.

  • Do not replace this all at once! Drink to comfort level and then divide the rest of the amount required for hydration over time.

  • Again if the activity was longer than an hour, was of high intensity, or was done in the heat and you were sweating lots, than choose a sport drink to help with electrolyte replacement.

Welcome to Eat Smarter!

Welcome to Eat Smarter!

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison

As a high performance athlete, you mold your body into the optimal sport machine using research and appropriately timed and planned quality training sessions. However, pushing your body to the limits is only part of the story. With so much time and effort put into building this valuable machine, fuelling it inadequately would be missing out on a key opportunity to maximize your performance.

Your cells need fuel to keep you from getting injured, to recover and to reap the benefits that you worked so hard to achieve. For the average person, the timing and precision of nutrients is relatively unimportant, but for you, the refined athlete who is competing at a high level, the timing of that pre-workout snack or the composition of that recovery bar after your interval training could mean a boost in your performance.

Using appropriate nutritional strategies could not only help fuel you towards being a more successful athlete but could also help your immune system keep you healthy and improve your overall wellbeing. As an athlete, you have different nutritional needs than the average person. You need to fuel your body for the work it is about to do, sometimes multiple sessions per day! Throughout your day you want to make sure you are feeding your body high quality foods that are dense in nutrients, not just energy. Look for whole foods that are minimally processed and packaged. Eat real, healthy foods.

For athletes at the top of their game, there is not much that separates the top performers in the world. So consider this: with a healthy nutritional regimen, the intricacies of your nutritional periodization could allow your body to lift heavier, run faster and recover better in your sport.

Today's POWER-UP: Superfoods

"Superfoods" are a special class of food that offers only the very best nutrient density. I define Superfoods as foods with very high vitamin, mineral, nutrient and anti-oxidant levels that are also low in calories (think vegetables) or if not low in calories then powerfully health enhancing (such as fruit, nuts, avocado, and coconut). 

You might think that as an athlete you don't have to worry about how many calories you eat. However, you need to optimize your nutrient-to-calorie ratio. The challenge is to remember that your health and performance depends on eating nutrient-dense foods, not energy-dense foods. 

Examples of Superfoods:

· LEAFY GREENS: SWISS CHARD, KALE, MUSTARD/COLLARD GREENS, SPINACH, DANDELION, SEAWEED… THESE HAVE BY FAR THE HIGHEST ANTIOXIDANT DENSITY PER CALORIE. GREENS ARE ALSO PACKED WITH MINERALS LIKE CALCIUM, IODINE AND IRON, WHICH ARE GREAT FOR BONE STRENGTH, THYROID HEALTH AND ENERGY.

· SMALL FATTY FISH: SARDINES, PERCH, TILAPIA, SALMON, HERRING, ANCHOVIES… THE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS IN FISH HELP WITH CIRCULATION, CONCENTRATION AND PAIN RELIEF. FISH IS ALSO A GREAT SOURCE OF PROTEIN AND CALCIUM. TO AVOID HEAVY METALS, AVOID LARGE FISH LIKE TUNA, SWORDFISH AND SHARK.

· LEGUMES: LENTILS, CHICKPEAS, BLACK/KIDNEY/NAVY/CANNELLINI BEANS… LEGUMES ARE THE LEAST EXPENSIVE PROTEIN SOURCE AND ARE PACKED WITH FIBRE AND B VITAMINS.

· BERRIES: BLUEBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES, CRANBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, CHERRIES, GOJI/ACAI BERRIES… BERRIES ARE A SUPERFOOD FULL OF TISSUE-HEALING ANTIOXIDANTS AND FIBRE.

· ROOT VEGETABLES: GINGER, TURMERIC, GARLIC, ONIONS, SWEET POTATOES, RADISHES, BEETS…. THESE ARE DISEASE-FIGHTING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, PAIN-RELIEVING MIRACLE FOODS! 

· SPROUTS: SPROUTS HAVE MORE ENZYMES, VITAMINS, MINERALS AND AMINO ACIDS THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER FOOD ON EARTH! 

· CHIA SEEDS: A NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS WAS DONE ON THESE TINY SEEDS AND IT TURNS OUT THEY ARE THE HIGHEST PLANT SOURCE OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS IN EXISTENCE WHICH MAKES THEM EXCELLENT FOR BRAIN AND HEART HEALTH.

· SPIRULINA: THIS NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE IS PACKED WITH MINERALS, INCLUDING ONE OF THE ONLY SOURCES OF THYROID BOOSTER, IODINE. 60% OF THIS GREEN POWDER IS PROTEIN BY WEIGHT (CONTAINING EVERY SINGLE ESSENTIAL AMINO ACID THAT HUMANS NEED). SPIRULINA ALSO CONTAINS FOUR TIMES AS MUCH VITAMIN B12 AS LIVER. 

· POMEGRANATE SEEDS: RESEARCH HAS FOUND THAT IT CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE AND REDUCE INFLAMMATION IN OUR BLOOD VESSELS.