Category Archives: Tips – Nutrition

Before You Start Your “New You in 2020” Diet – Ask Yourself These Questions:

This week, and for the next 2-3 weeks, there’s going to be a lot of posts, emails, and marketing pushing different detoxes, diets, fitness challenges, and “New Year, New You” type programs to help you make 2020 your best year ever.

The problem is, when we select a diet, challenge, or program based upon what is trending or what worked really well for Cousin Eddie, we don’t necessarily set ourselves up for success. Unique attributes such as work, family demands, lifestyle, ability/enjoyment of cooking, time, food intolerances and genetics play a huge role in whether or not any diet or exercise program will be successful.

When conducting an initial consultation with a potential client, we always drill in on their past successes and struggles, personal preferences, and lifestyle in order to determine how to best support them through change and to determine what they will best need for success. It also helps us establish whether or not we will be the right health team for them to achieve their goals. At the end of this meeting, everyone in the room has clarity on next steps and what will be foundational to success. If continuing with us in not in their best interest, we do our best to refer them to someone who can better meet their needs.

When considering any program, it’s essential to do a self-assessment to determine if it is even worth your attention. Doing a self-assessment clarifies your individual needs and qualities and will allow you to identify the best plan that will get you to your 2020 goals. To get started, consider the following:

1. What are your food/movement preferences?

2. Is it more realistic for you to follow a specific meal/exercise plan or stay more flexible? 

3. What struggles have hindered you in the past?

4. What are your main obstacles to eating more healthy/getting fit? 

5. What have you tried in the past has yielded the most success? Why?

6. Do you do your own grocery shopping?

7. Do you do your own cooking?

8. Do you have any specific dietary requirements?

9. Do you prefer to exercise at a gym, home, or outside?

10. How much time do you have available to dedicate to the change needed to achieve your goals?

 

Don’t make the mistake of jumping into a program just because it’s popular with others. True success depends upon finding a plan that is based upon your individual needs, dietary preferences and exercise habits. When we jump on the current trend, we aim to fit ourselves and lives into an artificial construct that never took us into consideration to begin with. When it doesn’t work out, it enforces feelings of failure and grinds in ugly beliefs about our abilities, willpower, and overall success as human beings that seed doubt and do lasting damage. All of these plans work for some people, but no structured plan will work for all people. For your health, sanity, and happiness, find what works for you and stick to that. It’s not the easiest solution, but it’s the only one that will work.

Need some help? Contact us for a quick Discovery Call or an Initial Consultation and let us help you find what will work for you in 2020 and beyond!


7 Healthy Habits to Reach 10 a Day

It’s no secret that we all need to be eating more fruits and vegetables. The USDA recommends that Americans get 5-9 servings per day, and only 1 in 10 of us are able to achieve even 3 servings of vegetables daily. However, epidemiological research shows that the greatest reduction in disease risk happens in those who consume 10 servings of produce a day (curious? Read more here). When we consume 10 servings of produce daily, the risk of succumbing to 9 of the top ten causes of death in the United States plummets. Therefore, the single greatest impact you can have on your health is increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Because fruit is easier to access and consume, the bulk of this post is about increasing your vegetable servings.

  1. Always have frozen veg on hand: Access to frozen vegetables allows easy, quick solutions on days you realize no vegetables were planned for dinner or are too tired to cook. Add them to a soup, roast or sauté them, or simply thaw in the microwave and top with your favorite sauce (pesto, peanut sauce, marinara, etc).
  2. Roast a sheet pan of vegetables weekly: bulk prep of vegetables is a great way to have access to an abundance of produce, especially during the winter months. Roasted veggies last several days in the fridge and using a sheet pan will easily allow you to cook 10-15 servings in a single go.
  3. Add veggies to your breakfast: practically unheard of in the United States, yet vegetables often have a place at breakfast tables in other nations. Use roasted veg as a bed for your morning eggs, add spinach or kale to a protein smoothie, or fold last night’s sautéed veggies into an omelet or scramble. You can even try a savory grain based porridge (polenta, oats, quinoa) with egg, bacon and vegetables. Students of my Vibrant veggies class reported morning veggies as the single biggest game changer in their quest for 10 a Day.
  4. Choose vegetable based snacks: instead of chips and salsa, try red pepper strips, jicama, and celery with hummus. Remember “Ants on a Log” from kindergarten? Celery and nut butter is still a hit with the adult crowd (raisins add bonus points). Have a warm cup of vegetable soup in the winter as a snack if raw, cold foods are unappealing
  5. Keep Fruits out Front and Center: A bowl of fruit is naturally appealing and if it is literally in front of you it makes for an easy choice. Keep more travel-friendly fruits such as apples, citrus and bananas in the car, in your backpack or briefcase, and at your desk for effortless consuming.
  6. Sneak Them in Everywhere: Add extra vegetables to soups, spaghetti sauces, and even meatballs and meatloaf! I routinely sneak in shredded carrots and shaved brussels sprouts into meatloaf and marinara to get even more produce into my child, and it works great for us as well
  7. Always be on the Prowl: In my vegetable based challenges and programs I teach people to think of themselves as veg hunters. Veg hunters are always on the prowl and seeking produce wherever they go. Whether or not you order vegetables, seek them out on restaurant menus and ask yourself at every meal, “Where are my vegetables?”. By making them your focus, you naturally increase your consumption of them, making 10 a Day a realistic, daily achievement.
Veg hunters are always on the prowl!

Multiple times a year I host challenges and coach groups on boosting produce intake. We go far beyond what is here and I help each person overcome the obstacles that limit them in achieving this most important goal. Those who boost their produce intake to 8 or more servings daily consistently report less pain, better moods, better digestion and increased, yet stable energy improvements. If you’re interested in becoming a veg hunter, sign up for my free guide below, “5 a Day in 15 Minutes or Less” to gain access to more tips. You’ll also be alerted to when the next program becomes available and receive several additional tips and recipes to make getting 10 a Day easier than you thought possible!

 

 

Are Your Supplements Full of Shit?

Supplement quality is a constant challenge here in the United States for many reasons. One of the main challenges is that the FDA, the government agency responsible for ensuring safety and efficacy of supplements, is heavily employed by individuals with significant ties to commercial supplement interests.  Another challenge is that funding for the FDA is limited enough that reliable, consistent enforcement of existing laws is laughable, at best. There is simply not enough manpower to enforce current laws on the books, so it takes significant consumer harm and backlash to get investigations underway.

Despite this, the New York Attorney General conducted an investigation in 2014 and 2015 on common supplements one can purchase over the counter. The degree of label misrepresentation was astonishing and, quite frankly, morally reprehensible.

screenshot-2016-09-28-21-25-11

In the graphic above, you can see that most of the supplements tested had no traces of DNA matching the labeled material being tested. There is some argument that the method used (DNA barcoding) may be inaccurate as an extracted, dissolved, crushed or otherwise altered plant may have altered DNA that was not detected as it was compared to whole plant DNA.  Even if this were so and it accounted for the Attorney General’s findings, it does not excuse the fact that GMP standards (the standard by which supplement companies are supposed to adhere to) were not met in over 50% of the 450 companies inspected by the FDA. Note that the FDA does not even have enough resources to inspect all operating facilities in the USA.

The GMP stands for ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’. This is the absolute basic level of quality a manufacturer is expected to adhere to – maintaining sanitary facilities, preventing cross contamination, documenting of procedures, the ability to trace batches and systems to recall products if necessary, etc. The GMP has no enforcement of quality of the product or the raw materials in the product. Over 50% of tested facilities had violations ranging from no written formula available for their product and no concerns for cross contamination of major allergens to products contaminated with rat feces. So yes, you supplement may literally be full of shit.

Basically in the GMP we have a set standard that is unenforceable and so it can’t even assure us that what is on the label is in the label. Investigations consistently show that there are major problems with the supplements most Americans have access to. Consumer Labs reports 1 in 4 products has a major problem – from significant deviation of the amount in the product vs what is listed on the bottle, to rancid oils and products that won’t break down in the body – the ‘expensive urine’ you’ve been warned about.

What on earth do you do?!?!

Well, according to the graphic above, it would seem best not to get generic supplements available from big box stores.

Beyond the FDA are some consumer watchdog groups that are our best bet for quality assurance – many of these were created before the GMP standards came into play, but remain a higher quality than what the FDA can assure us right now:

ConsumerLabs.com is a for profit company. A supplement company can pay them to have their product tested for quality and carry the Consumer Lab seal of approval. If that product fails to meet criteria it will not be listed on the website. However, if Consumer Lab purchases the supplement from a store and the supplement fails they will post results on their website. So it’s a ‘give us money and you can choose to post results or not’ situation, unless they purchase the product from a store, much like you would, and test it themselves.

A Consumer Labs seal of approval will assure that:

  • contains the key ingredients listed on the label in the declared potency and amounts; it does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants using stringent limits, for example, California Proposition 65.
  • Product disintegrates or dissolves per USP standards (75% or more dissolves in less than 60 minutes time)
  • The product contains the tested ingredients listed on the label in the declared amounts and of high quality; any health claims must comply with FDA regulations.

USP – United States Pharmacopeia. This third party non-profit tests ingredients, finished products and conducts facility audits. Learn more about the USP here.

A USP certification assures that:

  • The product contains the ingredients listed on the label in the declared potency and amounts; it does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants; and it has been manufactured according to FDA current GMPs and USP GMPs.
  • Absence of ingredients with known safety risk; appropriate allergen labeling; meets acceptable levels of specified contaminants, based on toxicologic concerns; testing per California Proposition 65 for labeling purposes.
  • Product disintegrates or dissolves per USP standards.
  • Product label has an accurate list of ingredients in the stated amounts. All claims of fact, either stated or implied, must be supported by data, consistent with USP program requirements. Any health claims must be within FDA regulations.

NSF – the NSF is a non-profit organization that tests a variety of consumer products. The NSF dietary supplements certification program assures the following:

  • Label claim review to certify that what’s on the label is in the bottle
  • Contaminant review to ensure the product contains no undeclared ingredients or unacceptable levels of contaminants, including >200 athletic banned substances for Certified for Sport products; it has been manufactured according to FDA’s current GMPs.
  • All claims of fact made for the product, either stated or implied, must be accurate, consistent with NSF program requirements, and meaningful in terms of the benefits offered.

Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia – considered the most stringent and vigorous of certifying bodies, the TGA requires the same amount of testing for supplements as done for pharmaceutical drugs, as Australia does not distinguish between supplements or drugs. Down under, your multivitamin is considered ‘complimentary medicine’. Very few companies in the USA are certified through TGA. This is considered the gold standard worldwide.

Make sure that the company you use has the final product being tested to ensure that what is on the label is in the label, that contaminants are absent. You can contact them directly and ask them what they are doing for quality assurance and ask for proof if you do not see it on their website or you can check out Consumer Labs.

Thorne Research is a company that has transparent, clear quality assurance that they openly share with their customers. Many companies will not have their quality assurance clearly listed on the website, nor will they even have a number to call to get information! Pharmaceutical grade supplements that are available from practitioners will often meet these higher standards, share them openly, and remain consistent in testing to assure quality. This is precisely why licensed professionals use them; a quality standard is essential to producing reliable results for patients. You can read Thorne’s Quality Assurance here. Other supplement companies with pharmaceutical grade quality include Metagenics, Pure Encapsulations, Xymogen, Douglas Labs and Seeking Health. These are typically not found in supplement stores, although if there is a Pharmaca near you you may find some of these companies there.

If you would like shop for supplements that are GMP certified and practitioner grade check out the VIBRANCE Nutrition Dispensary. You can find many supplements available only at your doctor’s office, such as Pure Encapsulations, Seeking Health, Metagenics and more. Sign up for our newsletter and email me if you’d like a 10% discount on all supplements through Fullscript!

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.
Resources:

Knight, Peter, ND. (2016). Whole Foods Nutrition and Supplementation: Week 10: Lecture 2: Quality Issues in the Dietary Supplement Industry [class notes]. 

O’Connor, Anahad. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. New York Times, FEBRUARY 3, 2015. Accessed online 27 September 2016

THE EDITORIAL BOARD. Conflicts of Interest at the F.D.A. New York Times, APRIL 13, 2015. Accessed online 27 September 2016.

Unknown. (2016). Quality Certification Programs for Dietary Supplements. JOURNAL OF THE ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS. Volume 116 Number 9

What the F*** is FODMAPS?

kate_headshot

VIBRANCE Dietitian Kate Watson weighs in on a low FODMAPS diet – one of the most effective ways to treat IBS through diet..

 

Hey, Kate – What is this FODMAPs diet all about?

You may have seen this acronym “FODMAPs” recently if you’ve read anything about sensitive stomachs or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Information about this diet has been popping up in the news lately, as more is understood about it and as more people look for relief from chronic digestive issues.

Researchers at the Monash University in Australia first identified FODMAPs, certain carbohydrates that may be a big contributor to symptoms of IBS. They have found that a diet low in FODMAPs can bring tremendous relief to IBS sufferers, with up to 75% of patients showing marked improvement in symptoms. Before this research, dietary guidelines for people with IBS were general and often anecdotal. This is the first time any scientifically proven diet has been found as a treatment for IBS. This is very exciting because if you or someone you know lives with IBS, you understand how frustrating and downright debilitating it can be.

So what does FODMAPs mean?

The FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates which may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They are then fermented by bacteria in the gut to produce gas, leading to bloating, abdominal pain, and altered bowel habits after ingestion. The acronym stands for (pay attention, you will be quizzed on this later): Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Here’s what each of those mean.

Fermentable means they produce gas. Oligosaccharides are Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides found in things like wheat, garlic, lentils, and onion. Disaccharides is lactose, found in many dairy products. Monosaccharides is fructose found in apples, pears, and honey. And Polyols are Sorbitol and Mannitol (or sugar alcohols) found in mushrooms, peaches, and artificially sweetened candies and gums.
These are just a few examples of FODMAPs but they are found in many common foods, as you can see!

Who is this diet for?

I don’t believe that a low FODMAPs diet is right for everyone with IBS or stomach sensitivities. If you have not tried any other dietary strategies to help manage your IBS before, it might not make sense to jump into a low FODMAPs diet first, since it is somewhat difficult to follow and is rather restrictive.

Sometimes making a simple change, such as increasing fiber, or identifying a food sensitivity can make all the difference. In addition, if you are under a great deal of stress and feel that adding dietary restrictions to your life will make you more stressed, it may not be the best time for you to try a low FODMAPs diet. On the other hand, if you feel you’ve tried everything already, and still haven’t been symptom free for any period of time, you might be a great candidate for this diet. Or if it feels like everything you eat makes you sick, this diet will help you identify your triggers. It is important to note that if you have not seen a doctor for your tummy issues, please do so, as changes in bowel habits or sudden development of GI problems can be a sign of something more serious than IBS.

So what exactly does following this diet entail?

What is important to know is that the low FODMAPs diet is meant to be temporary and to be followed strictly for a period of 6-8 weeks until symptoms have resolved. In general, the diet is wheat free and lactose free and certain fruits and vegetables are also restricted. It would be impossible to memorize all of the FODMAPs, so working with a dietitian, having food lists, and recipes on hand are essential. I installed an awesome FODMAPs app from Monash University on my Iphone, which I rely on a great deal. (Get the FODMAPs app Kate uses here: Low FODMAP Smartphone App)

You should know that a low-FODMAPs diet can be difficult to adhere to during food-centered social activities and eating at restaurants. However, with advance planning, you can find ways to integrate the diet into your social life. For example, checking a restaurant menu online before going there can give you a chance to plan what to order before you arrive.

After the 6-8 week time period, you can start a challenge phase, where FODMAPs are re-introduced one at a time over a period of days while symptoms are monitored and recorded. I highly recommend that you seek the guidance of a dietitian knowledgeable in FODMAPS to help support you throughout the diet and during the challenge phase. This is important to ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritious.

Though this diet may sound like a lot of work, often by the end of the first week, many people feel so much better than they have in months or years that they are highly motivated to stay on it! That was my experience—I felt it was worth the time and dedication to follow the diet because it allowed me to be symptom free for possibly the first time in my adult life!

If you would like to learn more about whether the low FODMAPs diet is right for you, or if you are ready to implement it now, please contact Vibrance for a consultation with me!

Let’s Talk About Bowels, Baby!

~ by Kate Watson

bowels baby

Now seriously, our digestive and bowel habits aren’t issues that we bring up too often in every day conversation. And I’m not suggesting you necessarily start doing that. But I’ve come to find that so many people, in particular women, live with ongoing digestive issues, which they tend to ignore or just accept as normal. If you’ve spent any time in a grocery store lately, you may have observed that there is a definite trend out in the marketplace promoting products to improve digestive health. I think that is both because there is an increased incidence in gastrointestinal problems as well as an increased awareness of the important relationship between our gut health and our overall health.

Did you know that healthy women fart an average of 7 times a day and men 14 times a day? Good to know, isn’t it?! I do believe it is important to know what is considered normal as well as what is normal for you. I myself lived for years unaware that it was not normal to have abdominal pain, bloating, and gas immediately after eating. By the end of most work days, I needed to change into stretch pants to accommodate my expanding, bloated belly! I had frequent diarrhea, accompanied by urgency, so I never traveled too far from a bathroom and always had my Immodium on hand. Sometimes, I think we gradually adapt to feeling bad and forget what feeling good is like! But eventually, things kept getting worse, and the impact on my daily life was severe enough that I went to see my doctor to find out what was wrong.

Enter my long and frustrating journey with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I ended up seeing various doctors throughout the years for it and had many medical procedures done to rule out any other serious illnesses, but the consensus was IBS. I was told it is not harmful, in that it wouldn’t cause any damage to my intestines the way something like Celiac disease would, and that was merely “inconvenient and annoying.” Most suggestions I received from doctors were trial and error- to find my food triggers, try medications, and to get my stress under control. I was finding out there is no single remedy that works for every individual with IBS. I tried everything I could over a period of years- I learned stress reduction techniques, used herbs, tried acupuncture, went to therapists, exercised, tried cutting out dairy, gluten, tried low fiber, high fiber, high carb, and low carb diets! But nothing made any significant or lasting improvement.

My symptoms would get better and worse seemingly with no rhyme or reason. I could find no link to any common food. A few years ago, a new GI doctor I started going to had the wisdom to test me for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which I tested positive for. The treatment for it was an antibiotic, which provided me with a great deal of relief, for a while. I had another episode of SIBO after the first time, but was not able to tolerate the medications the second time around.

I found myself often becoming discouraged and depressed about my GI issues because I felt that no matter what I ate, I was going to pay for it afterwards with stomach pain. I could find no long term or sustainable solution. I was disappointed in myself because I am a dietitian for crying out loud, and I felt I should be able to help myself! And I became a dietitian in large part because I believed food was meant to heal, so it was quite disheartening to feel that all food seemed to be causing me pain!

About a year ago, I had an episode of abdominal pain that put me on the floor writhing in pain. I went to the doctor, fearing it was something serious. He thought it may be an ulcer so I started on proton pump inhibitors. I knew that something had to change drastically for me at this point because I didn’twant to merely put a band-aid on the issue with more medication again but I wanted to find a lasting solution! In my desperation, I started researching again and came upon the low FODMAPS diet. I had no idea what in the world FODMAPs meant and it certainly wasn’t something we were taught in college. Turns out it stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disacccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (hence the need for an acronym)! The FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed, which provides food for intestinal bacteria, leading to digestive discomforts. Too many FODMAPS in my diet very likely explained my episodes of SIBO and chronic abdominal pain. And so it made sense that a diet low in FODMAPs might help reverse the symptoms. According to all of the data I found, the low FODMAPs diet is the only scientifically proven diet to help relieve the symptoms of IBS, with almost 75% of patients showing improvement. That was the most promising information I’d ever heard for IBS sufferers and encouraging enough to make me want to try it!

I bought myself a great FODMAPs app for my Iphone, did a lot internet research for recipes and support, and completed a continuing education course on it to learn as much as I could. After just a week on the diet, my symptoms were drastically reduced and after a month on it, I felt like what a “normal” person must feel like. It seemed like nothing short of a miracle after nearly 15 years of stomach issues!

Although the low FODMAPs diet is not meant to be long term and is not exactly easy to follow, I learned a ton from it about what foods my body tolerates and I finally feel in control of my digestive health. I no longer need to be tethered to my toilet! I’m so excited that the discovery of FODMAPs offers real hope and I love empowering fellow IBS sufferers with this new and powerful tool!

 

To learn more about a low FODMAPS diet or to address your own digestive concerns, contact VIBRANCE at 206-227-1231 to schedule an initial consultation with Kate!

My Second Favorite Kitchen Tool

In the last 18 hours, I’ve pressure cooked gumbo and slow-cooked my first batch of applesauce from an early-fruiting tree in the backyard, with only a cleaning of a single pot between projects.

Now that’s what I call kitchen bliss!

One Pot Happiness

My now favorite kitchen tool in the world is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker. It gets pulled out multiple times a week for bone broth, homemade beans, stews (quick or slow!), and now applesauce. I’ll use it for plum jam, too, I imagine; the plum tree is almost ready and quite abundant this year. I batch cook chicken, dairy-free saag, and roasts as well.

If I am pressure cooking or slow cooking, I just chuck everything into the pot and press a button. 30 minutes to 19 hours later my meal is complete. Roasted chicken, chile verde, 3 day marrow broth….so much deliciousness in one little machine!

I love that this single device cooks grains, beans, stews, roasts hunks of meat, makes wicked broth, cultures yogurt, cooks apples to mush and infuses flavors deeply into my food whether it is in quick or slow mode. One machine with several uses is always worth having around! The keep warm function lasts forever, so I can have hot food on hand and not worry about it turning off in the middle of the night (a great feature when you want overnight oats hot and ready at 6am!).

So inspired am I by the last day of effortless yet delicious cooking that I had to share. Be sure to search the blog for recipes I post here and subscribe to my newsletter to receive secret recipes from my upcoming Instant Pot cookbook!

 

What’s my Number Two Favorite Kitchen Tool, you ask?

My Vitamix. Mainly because it has stood the test of time after 20 years of love. My InstaPot gave it a run for its money, and came out ahead after about two years of consistent use.

Chocolate Milk is Crap! (and other blasphemous thoughts on sports nutrition)

Yes – I think chocolate milk is crap. The recovery food hailed by the world as being the perfect post-workout replenishment falls far short of it in my book. Before I fully step upon my soap box – again! – let me explain why chocolate milk rose to fame:

The key nutrition components to a complete recovery can be summed up in two categories: 1) food and 2) hydration. Here’s why the Dairy Council and many coaches and sports nutritionists are pimping milk at the finish line:

  • Chocolate milk contains the ideal* ratio of carbohydrates to protein – the 1:3 – 1:4 ratio that not only replenishes glycogen but also provides protein for tissue repair and transport of the carbohydrates more effectively into the cell walls. *ideal if you are male. Women do better on a 1:2-1:3 ratio
  • Chocolate milk is liquid – therefore it contributes to rehydrating the body
  • Chocolate milk is tasty – I mean, really! Who the heck doesn’t like chocolate milk?!?!
  • Chocolate milk is cheap, convenient and accessible. You can find it anywhere – even along a highway in rural Kansas at a truck stop or gas station.

The above facts are exactly why you are thinking chocolate milk sounds good right about now! However, I take the viewpoint that the human body is a miraculous vessel. When you think about all it does for you and all it puts up with it’s easy to understand that it is an incredible machine – not unlike a Ferrari or a Tesla or a Lamborghini. Chocolate milk is like putting the cheapest unleaded fuel you can find into your half million dollar sports car. Here’s why:

  1. Chocolate milk is a dairy food – and dairy foods come with a host of potential problems. They are difficult for many to digest (an estimated 60-75% of the adult human population exhibits signs of dairy intolerance) and often laced with excessive hormones from the conditions in which cattle are raised. Excess estrogen is already of great concern in many individuals and is linked to hormone imbalances and possibly cancer in humans. Dairy only exacerbates that. (My former teacher Dr. Mark Hyman has a compelling piece on dairy and the Food Guide Pyramid here if you want more info).
  2. Chocolate milk’s carbohydrate source comes exclusively from lactose (potential allergen) and high fructose corn syrup or sugar. HFCS is strongly suspect as being a contributor to diabetes and non-alcohol related fatty liver due to how it is digested in the body. It also must be metabolized through the liver before getting into cells so it is not appropriate for optimal glycogen replenishment. Corn syrup and table sugar, are of course, the most nutritionally devoid form of carbohydrate on the market. Regardless of where any nutritionist or dietitian is on our highly political food spectrum,  we all agree that sugar and corn syrup are not ideal sources of carbohydrate. So my question to you is, are they the sources you want to be pumping into your cells to repair them after a hard workout? Do you want the construct of your muscle tissue to come from vitamin-devoid  sweeteners?
  3. Chocolate milk doesn’t have enough protein to repair muscle. Period. We need about 25-30 grams of protein post-workout (that includes at least 3 grams of leucine) to stimulate muscle building and repair. Chocolate milk does not provide this.

This stance alone has some of you wanting to squeeze the remainder of your milk carton in my face. I get it. I’m not taking a popular stance here! If milk judgement were my only offense, you might forgive me. But I have more blasphemy for you.

You Know You Want To.

 

Carb loading. Our mainstay and go-to: the absolute foundation of endurance sports nutrition lies in carb loading. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of pancake feeds, pasta feeds, thai food feasts and other meals I’ve had after long runs in the last decade. This was a myth I bought hook, line, and sinker. It made sense. It was widely backed by research. The entire sports nutrition community did it and backed it. And pancakes and pasta sound AWESOME after 2-3 hours on the road. Another easy sell!  I began to question this logic though when it became more and more challenging to maintain my weight. I struggled to prevent weight gain when my training was at its highest – 10 hours a week or more! At 5’2″ my stomach doesn’t hold enough food to make up for the calories I was losing, yet I was still challenged. Working with other endurance athletes – I saw the same struggles in them. It wasn’t until I understood the hormonal impact of carbohydrates in relation to fat burning and left the caloric model completely that I was able to lose the 7 pounds I gained for my last races in 2010 AND be able to help other runners and triathletes lose the spare tire that refused to go away. Looking around we all know that some people stay slender and others have to fight for it. The answer, however, isn’t in hours logged and miles run so much as it is in the food choices we make on an hour to hour basis. I, and other endurance athletes like myself, find better results in carbohydrate moderation rather than carbohydrate loading. I discovered that there was no need to carb-up or recover to the extent that I had been taught. Many runners will only lean out when they start moderating the quantity and timing of their carbohydrate intake. If you are burning loads of calories and still struggling with weight you’ll want to explore this possibility immediately.

My final blasphemy for the day is a hybrid of the above two. The pre-race spaghetti feed.  For races less than 2 hours long, it is unlikely you will need to consume extra carbohydrates than you typically do unless you are on a carbohydrate restricted diet. For many events, such a feed is simply unnecessary. Events lasting longer than two hours are best fueled with moderate carbohydrate consumption the day before and with amino acid and carbohydrate replenishment during the event. Your pre-race meal is to top off the tank, not fill it to overflowing.

Another consideration with the pre-race pasta meal again lies in food intolerances and digestive upset. Gluten intolerance is very common in my practice and increasingly common in the general population. Thus the pasta feed can lead to digestive upset during the race, increased inflammation and decreased recovery, poor moods, decreased alertness and motor skills (I kid you not!) and overall lowered performance. Many clients have had a significant shift in performance simply by shifting the pre-race meal to sushi, brown rice pasta with loads of vegetables, or including a baked yam or potato with dinner the night before. Give it a try before your next race and see if you feel a difference! If you already have a gluten-free pre-race meal, I’d love to know what it is so I can share with my gluten-free athletes!

It is not my intention to create enemies with this post – only to open up the possibility for alternatives if what you are currently accepting as appropriate is, in fact, not working for you.  Each person is unique and therefore requires a unique formula to achieve success on and off the trail.

What fueling strategies have you found to be successful for your long workouts?

The Miracle of Bone Broth

Bone broth has been used in most cultures as a restorative and healing food. It is used to heal the sick, mend injuries, restore strength and  promote health. As the values of processing became associated with purity in the early 20th century America potent medicinal foods such as organ meats and bone broth became passé. There are some schools of nutritional thought that point to the loss of “scraps” from the diet as contributors to disease and tooth decay that are the norm in modern culture.

Mineral Rich Bone Broth

 

After much experimentation, I have found a bone broth of my own making that I am very excited about. It is dark, rich, and flavorful. It includes ingredients long forgotten but highly valuable in healing. And, it’s very easy to make, requiring little prep or clean-up.

 

  • 2 pounds of scrap bones (soup bones, chicken carcass, marrow bones, etc)
  • 3 chicken feet (I completely understand if you choose to omit; but these add high amounts of collagen and other nutrients to the broth)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, cut lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, leaves included, coarsely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 pieces of wakame (sea veg that is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals)
  • 1/4 cup dulse flakes (sea veg that is rich in iodine, trace minerals and  fucoidans for healing injuries and tissues)
  • 1/4 cup nettles (optional)(western medicinal herb rich in iron and silica as well as vitamins C and K, soothing to GI tract and beneficial for building strength and robust health in a stressed or injured body)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar (critical – it’s acidic nature is key to pulling minerals from deep within bones)
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (adds a nice depth of flavor)

 

OPTIONAL: Roast bones in 400 degree oven until browned – 5-10 minutes. This roasting will add depth of flavor to the broth.

1) Crush garlic and set aside to allow allicin to form.

2) Place veggies and bones into slowcooker pot. Add herbs, sea vegetables and spices.

3) Cover with water and vinegar.

4) Set slow cooker on low for 24-36 hours.

5) Strain broth, discarding vegetables. Bones may be saved and reused if desired.

Makes 2 quarts of broth.

 

For maximum healing, consume 1 -2 cups of broth per day, as a liquid, soup, or through cooking it with other foods. To learn more about using foods to speed healing of injuries or for post-surgical recovery, visit www.nutritionforinjury.com

Don’t Let Stress Make You Fat!


When you’re under stress, it is harder to eat healthier. You may find yourself eating high calorie foods at a time when you’re stressed and may not even be hungry. Much of this stems from the hormonal response internally – stress hormones ramp up the urge for cravings as a means of self-medication. Salty, crunchy or chewy snacks relieve stress by working the jaw and bringing a sense of focus; creamy and sweet snacks relax and soothe the senses through the release of serotonin and other calming neurotransmitters. The stress of overwhelm and multiple choices taxes the brain and actually consumes a great deal of glucose, which can lead to cravings as well.

How can you fix the weight gain during stress? It is ESSENTIAL to get a handle on the stress. When you decrease the stress, you will feel back to your old self and find it easier to eat healthier and have better exercise habits. Things which set you off or feel too hard now will suddenly, effortlessly, become far more manageable.

When you feel stress increasing, take some time to lessen the stress. Go for a walk, go to bed early, unwind with a good book or a hot bath. TV and computer does NOT soothe the body, and can exacerbate insomnia and other physical stressors. Yoga is a powerful way to relieve stress in the body as well. Take a yoga class after work to let go of your day, or tackle stress with yoga in your own home!

Bridge pose. This is designed to calm the brain, rejuvenate tired legs and relieve spinal tension.

How: Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground. Press down with your feet; lift your glutes, hips, pelvis and back off the ground. Keeping your arms flat, with your shoulders on the floor, lock your fingers under your glutes. Inhale and exhale.

Standing forward bend. This stretches tight hamstrings and relieves tension in the hips and lower back.
How: Stand straight, feet hip-distance apart. Exhale and bend, bringing the crown of your head toward the ground. You’re far enough when your hamstrings are stretched, but not tight. Put your right hand on your left elbow; release and switch.

Yoga is already a great way to de-stress but not the only thing you can do. Here are three more ways that can you take your body back and get rid of the stress.

• Physical activity at your local gym. Check if they have drop in classes for kick boxing, boot camp or another high- intensity class, especially if you feel wired and ramped up.

• Sleep: are you getting your 8 hours? If not, sleep is the most important piece to help with your stress.

• Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.

It’s your body and your life – don’t let stress take it over! What is one way you will nourish your body to reduce your stress today?

On the Road Again….

I’m currently exploring beautiful North Carolina on my birthday week which will end in a conference with some of my mentors and peers in alternative health, wellness, and fitness. Until then however, it is me, a rental car, and winding back country roads. I was lucky enough to land in Asheville, which sports a Whole Foods. Armed with provisions, I know I have at least two days of healthy eating. On more than one occasion, though – usually at home, in traffic and ill-prepared – I find myself hungry and without a snack on hand. What to do in a pinch? Below are my top options for healthy choices on the fly:

1. Hit up the neighborhood grocery store: This is the number one place to get a wide variety of healthy options, and a must stop on any road trip. If possible, choose a natural foods store like Whole Foods or a local co-operative – these grocers are more mindful of quality ingredients and have a wider supply of fresh options. But even in rural areas, grocery stores can be a lifesaver. Most have a section with fresh deli (rotisserie chicken! Grilled fish!) and fresh produce and fruits. Greek Yogurt or hard-boiled eggs are also good sources of protein – look for pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs near the deli and/or salad bar. Sushi, esp sashimi and nigiri and fresh salad rolls offer a fresh and flavorful alternative to the salad bar and are commonly found in urban grocers. Be wary of the mayo and tempura rolls, and balance out a rice-filled roll with sashimi to boost protein and satiety.
2. Chipotle: the burrito bowl is a great way to get fresh Mexican and keep it veggie-rich! Omit the rice, ask for extra veggies, and slather it in salsa and avocado you won’t miss the tortilla! If they do not have a burrito bowl, ask for a tostada minus the tortilla and with the same additions. Grilled chicken or fish will keep the fat content lower than beef. Omit the cheese and sour cream as well.
3. Subway: Available on nearly every lone stretch of highway across these United States, Subway offers a vegetable-rich option just about anywhere. A spinach salad with chicken, all the veggies, vinegar and lemon as dressing offers the most nutrient rich and healthiest option. Alternatively, choose one of the foot-longs with whole wheat bread and nix the mayo and creamy dressings. Choose vinegar and mustard instead. If you like it spicy, add peppocinis, jalepenos, brown AND regular mustard with the vinegar and enjoy a mild metabolic boost from this meal (you’ll be sweating!)
4. In & Out (or another burger joint): Get a hamburger loaded with mustard, ketchup, onion and extra veggies. Nix the bun totally or only eat half if you must. Avoid any special sauces, and add an extra patty to boost protein and satisfaction.

If you must — FAST FOOD RESTAURANT OPTIONS:

I’m generally not a fan of fast food restaurants. The quality of all ingredients is on the low end. However, skipping meals is a set-up for rebound eating later on in the evening. In some circumstances, all you have are golden arches. Here are some possibilities in such cases:
McDonalds Southwest Salad With Grilled Chicken (with cilantro lime glaze and a Southwest vegetable/bean blend)
Arby’s Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich (without mayo, eat only half of the bun)
In-n-out Hamburger (order with EXTRA patty, onion, mustard, and catsup instead of spread, eat only half the bun)
Grilled Chicken Salads – nix the cheese and use as little dressing as possible – often loads of sugar and fat. Purists can go for straight up vinegar and lemon juice; mustard can add a nice zing as well.