Monday, July 29, 2013

Part I: The Endurance Edge - Does the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete Have a Competitive Edge Over Endurance?

Can the consumption of a vegetarian or vegan diet in an endurance athlete impart a competitive edge over a non-vegetarian athlete? And if so, what are the considerations of consuming a plant-based diet and the advice offered to endurance athletes ready to make that change?  In this two part series on fueling the vegetarian (vegan) athlete, we’ll address those important questions.
An endurance athlete is someone who trains to condition their aerobic system for endurance and stamina primarily for long distance events ranging from the half to full and ultra marathons (13.1 to greater than 26.2 miles), sprint to Ironman and ultra distance triathlons, duathlons (two endurance disciplines), metric, century or double century cycling events, and even marathon or ultra-long swimming. Energy needs for these individuals vary greatly and are dependent upon the frequency and volume of training, body size, body composition, gender and specificity of training environment (i.e., swimming in 56-degree Fahrenheit waters for 45 minutes or cycling over 134 miles in altitude of the Sierra Nevada’s).
Although vegetarian (or vegan) endurance athletes reportedly struggle to maintain sufficient energy needs to fuel their sport, the consumption of a vegetarian or vegan diet has also been show to in increased benefits of ones health. Because many vegetarians and vegans must consumer greater amounts of whole plant based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and pulses, nuts and seeds) to meet daily energy requirements as well as macro and micronutrients needs, consumption of a plant based diet increases intake of dietary fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamins, while minimizing saturated fat and cholesterol intake. The health benefits associated from consuming a vegetarian over a non vegetarian diet has been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases and death, including high cholesterol (LDL), type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.
Yet, despite the health benefits associated from consuming a plant-based diet, existing evidence supports neither an advantage nor disadvantage in endurance performance. Regardless of what research and science demonstrates, some vegetarian and vegan athletes credit their athletic performance and recovery to the benefits attributed consuming a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Most noted for their athletic accomplishments and performance, some of these highly successful non-meat eating athletes include:
·         Carl Lewis (vegan): 9-time Olympic Track & Field gold medalist
·         Dr. Ruth Heidrich (vegan): 6-time Ironman triathlon finisher, national age-group winner, marathon runner (>60 completed) and cancer survivor
·         Brendan Brazier (vegan): Former professional triathlete and 2-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon champion
·         Martina Navratilova (vegetarian): Professional tennis player and 18-time winner of the Grand Slam singles
·         Scott Jurek (vegan): Competitive ultra runner; 7-time winner of the Western States 100 and 2-time winner of Badwater 135-mile ultra marathon
Endurance sports are no longer reserved for the well-trained, conditioned elite athlete. Triathlon, for example, has seen an immense increase in popularity since its Ironman debut in 1978. Triathlon and marathon running alone has become more alluring and accessible.  Through the increased number of charity based and local club group training programs, the number of age group competitors has skyrocketed. As the realm of endurance sports continues to grow and individuals inquire to learn more about fueling their sport, many will chose to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Whether turning a new leaf towards a plant based diet or continuing to improve upon an already implemented plan, our role as professionals is to assess and counsel the vegetarian and vegan so that deficiencies remain at bay. Importance is placed on the planning and preparing of consuming a plant based diet while ensuring that specific energy, vitamin, and mineral needs are met.
In part II of this post, we’ll dive into what those macro and micronutrients needs are and the energy requirements associated with endurance athletics.

(1)     Fuhrman, Joel, and Deanna M. Ferreri. "Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete." Current Sports Medicine Reports. 9.4 (2010): 233-241. Print.
(2)     Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD, FACSM, D. Enette. "Vegetarian Athletes." Trans. Array Sports Nutrition, A Practice Manual for Professionals. . 4th. American Dietetic Association, 2006. 294-317. Print.
(3)     McArdle, William D., Frank I. Katch, and Victor L. Katch. "Of Concern to Vegetarians." Trans. Array Sports and Exercise Nutrition. . 2nd. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. 73-73. Print.
(4)     Nieman, David C. "Physical fitness and vegetarian diets: is there a relation?." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 17.3 (1999): 570s-575s. Print.
(5)     "Nutritional Benefits." Pulse Canada. N.p.. Web. 11 Jul 2013. <>.
(6)     Owusu-Apenten, R.K.. "Food Protein Analysis, Quantitative Effects on Processing.”. The Pennsylvania State University, (2002). Web. 11 Jul 2013. < protein score&source=bl&ots=EDCcUf5wtT&sig=EeOjNtvv8RPkflLi1wSLDApTtQo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=e5ezUPiKAomkiQL3toG4Dg&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBQ

Affectionately known as “Coach D2” by her athletes, Dorette is a Senior Dietetics Student at San Francisco State University specializing in whole food, plant based nutrition, and sports nutrition. She holds coaching credentials with USA Triathlon and USA Track and fields provides coaching to endurance athletes through Trifiniti Endurance. She was the head coach and designed training programs for the Nike Women’s Marathon, the San Francisco Aid’s Foundation’s “Be Greater Than One” San Francisco Marathon and Half Marathon training programs, and has lead numerous runners and triathletes to PR’s, Boston Marathon qualifying finishes, and the Ironman finish line. Her training tips have been published in Runner’s World, Shape, and Women’s Health Magazines. As a competitive age group endurance athlete, her racing accomplishments include 1st in division at Ultraman Canada, representing Team USA at the ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championship, and being a 5-time Ironman finisher and two time Boston Marathon qualifier.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orthorexia & Exercise Bulimia: Too Much Of A Good Thing

Ever had a client or patient (or yourself) that just seemed a bit too controlling about their diet?  Perhaps, going out to eat sparks anxiety or the thought of missing a workout, “but Tuesday is my leg day”. 

The Academy defines orthorexia as: “an unhealthy fixation on eating only healthy or "pure" foods – was originally defined as a disordered eating behavior in the '90s, but experts believe it has been gaining steam in recent years, fed by the profusion of foods marketed as healthy and organic, and by the media's often conflicting dietary advice. Like anorexia nervosa, orthorexia is a disorder rooted in food restriction. Unlike anorexia, for othorexics, the quality instead of the quantity of food is severely restricted.”

Along with orthorexia is exercise bulimia.  Recently, Mika Brzezinski, from Morning Joe published Obsessed.  It details her journey with binge eating, exercise bulimia, and behavioral health issues she sought help for, along with her best friend, who had to lose weight.  The two women had the same goal: to be healthier, while they had different paths to lead to the same road.

A revealing article in Elle illustrates how editor Johanna Cox struggled and admitted to her over exercising habits while on a set for a reality show. 

The two conditions don’t always overlap as with Cox and Brzezinski’s experiences but both conditions are used as a coping mechanism for underlying issues. 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Majorie Nolan, MS, RDN, CDN, SCSM-HFS stated in a recent Academy article, “if someone is orthorexic, they typically avoid anything processed, like white flour or sugar. A food is virtually untouchable unless it's certified organic or a whole food. Even something like whole-grain bread – which is a very healthy, high-fiber food – is off limits because it's been processed in some way.”

Additional triggers to watch for are:
·        Skipping meals or social engagements
·        Anxiety over missing workouts
·        Obsession over food, skipping certain foods or food groups

Encouraging the client to “talk to someone” such as a licensed counselor can initiate the road to recovery.  Additional information can be found at the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blogger RDs Share Their Passions & Advice: Part Two

This is a series of dietitians who have created their own brands using social media and blogs.  Here is the second installment and interview with Rebecca Turner, author and owner of the website, Runner's Fuel. 

The following is from Rebecca's website. 

As a registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Rebecca recognizes that taking on a mission as ambitious as reversing obesity in the south is a marathon, not a sprint. Since graduating the University of Southern Mississippi with both a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in nutrition and food systems, she has extended nutrition education beyond the plate and into the community so that specific needs can be addressed.
As the founder of Runner’s FUEL, she aims to inform and motivate competitive and recreational runners of all ages and fitness levels with creditable and practical nutritional information. Her ambition is to sort fact from fiction and provide a common-sense approach to eating and running well. 

1. When I started Runner's FUEL my main mission (and still is) to educate runners of all fitness levels with creditable yet practical nutrition information. Creating a blog and a social media presence was my first step since it was an inexpensive way to communicate with like minded people.
2. With an online platform I have been able to reach runners from all across the world! Many consulting and other media opportunities have stemmed from online connections. You never know who is reading, following, or re-tweeting your messages.
3. My advice for anyone starting a blog is to find a "ninch" and stick with it. Also be transparent and vulnerable to let people get to know the real person behind the keyboard. Most dietitians can relate to many ordinary people with the same struggles or life events. People enjoy feeling connected on a personal level not just throwing out information.
4. My favorite post was my first post back from maternity leave and trying hard to figure all this out and how to balance. It was written straight from the heart and I even re-read it when I need a pick me up! My Personal Journey back to the Runner Within - This is a daily journey!