Monday, November 25, 2013

Get Your Game On. Meal Planning Around Competition: Pregame

A properly constructed pregame meal can ensure that an athlete has plenty of fuel (glycogen & fat stores) to endure a lengthy bout of activity without feeling sluggish or being distracted by hunger or an upset stomach. 

Some factors to consider include: time of day competition will occur, length of competition, type of competition (distance run, power lift, team sport, etc..), and individual preferences.


What to Do:

High Carb – Half to two-thirds of the pregame meal should come from high carbohydrate, easily digestible foods (low in fiber). These foods are the primary
source of energy for athletes during activity. Foods such as pasta, rice, bread, potatoes (with minimal toppings or added ingredients), fruit, vegetables, pretzels and crackers can help to top off glycogen stores and provide glucose to the body that will be readily available during competition.

Moderate Protein – A moderate amount of low fat protein (i.e. chicken breast, eggs, lean beef, turkey lunchmeat or fish) should be included in this meal.

Protein promotes a feeling of fullness and is essential for muscle and tissue repair that may occur during competition.

Low Fat – Foods that are fried, breaded, covered in gravy or cream sauces can take

up to 8 hours to digest rendering them unavailable for energy during competition. If

fat is needed for preparation of the pregame meal, choose a healthier version such

as 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Timing – The pregame meal should ideally occur 3-4 hours prior to competition.

It is also often suggested that athletes have a small snack approximately one hour

prior to competition comprised primarily of easily digestible carbohydrates such as

a granola bar, fruit leather, banana or sports drink if food is not tolerated well.

Hydration – Equally as important as the pregame food consumed, is the pregame

fluid. The National Association of Athletic Trainers recommends the consumption

of 17-20 oz (2-3 cups) of fluid 2-3 hours prior to competition followed by 7-10 oz

(approximately 1 cup) 10-20 minutes prior to starting.

Here are some examples of a good pregame meal:


2-3 scrambled eggs made with olive oil

1 cup of instant oatmeal

2 pieces of toast with jelly


1 glass of milk and 1 glass of water or sports drink

Large bagel with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter spread

6-8 oz flavored Greek yogurt

1 cup berries

Water or sports drink


Sub sandwich with turkey, cheese, veggies and mustard

Pretzels or baked chips


Water or sports drink

Pasta with red sauce and lean ground beef or turkey

Green Beans

Dinner Roll

Fruit Salad

Water or sports drink

Tara Boening is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian with a Board Certification in Sports Dietetics. She currently works full time in collegiate athletics.

Reference Article

Monday, November 18, 2013

Diabetes & Athletics…? No Way. YES WAY!

Quarterback Jay Cutler and relief pitcher Mark Lowe certainly do not pop into your mind when you think of Type 1 diabetes mellitus. But, with the improvements made in the effort to manage diabetes, top athletes ranging from football to baseball are able to compete at a professional level.
            Every year, November marks National Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25 million children and adults in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes and more than 79 million have prediabetes. For those diagnosed with this disease, the idea of competing in sports or any physical activity may seem unrealistic. You most certainly do not need to give up on your future sport or athletic endeavors. Whether you want to play professional sports or simply go on a hike, diabetes should not hold you back!
What can physical activity do for my diabetes treatment plan?
·         Improves your blood circulation
·         Can raise you “good cholesterol” – HDL
·         Physical activity promotes weight loss while reducing stress
·         Your body can utilize insulin better
Surly because I have diabetes my nutritional guidelines are different. Right?
            Not true! The nutritional guidelines for athletes with diabetes are no different than those athletes who do not have diabetes. However, it is important for athletes with diabetes to consider: Insulin dosage, frequent monitoring of blood glucose loves, and the type and timing of meals.
I am not involved in a competitive sport, how long and how often should I exercise?
            The American Diabetes Association recommends that you aim for 30 minute periods of moderate to intense aerobic—with oxygen—exercise at least five days a week. Great aerobic activities to get your blood flowing may include hiking, dancing, jogging, or even a brisk walk with a friend or family member. Like aerobic exercise, anaerobic—without oxygen—offers worthwhile benefits!  Strength training such as: weight machines, resistant bands, or bodyweight exercises i.e. pushups are recommended two to three days in combination with aerobic activity.
I am involved in football and baseball are there any tricks in managing my blood sugar levels?
            Hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – is the most important factor to be prepared for. Common signs of hypoglycemia include: dizziness, irritability, shaking, or impaired vision. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with low blood sugar. Here are some helpful strategies to keep you blood sugars in check for optimal performance.
·         Three hours before your competition or physical activity, a carbohydrate-based meal is recommended. Simple favorites include: yoghurt, milk, bagels, granola bars, or fruit.
·         For practicality and safety, always carry a form of carbohydrates. Easy and convenient choices can include sports drinks, hard candy, or fruit juices.
·         If your exercise activity exceeds an hour, make sure to have snacks at your disposal.
·         Lastly, it is important to frequently monitor you blood glucose levels before, during, and after the performed exercise or competition.
How do I determine my carbohydrate need based on my blood glucose levels?
            Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, provides proper protocol for carbohydrate intake based on your blood glucose levels.
*** Noted by Caroline Sullivan, you should never avoid taking your insulin, as your body will utilize fat for energy – decreasing your performance.
Blood glucose is < 70 mg/dLà Stop exercise activity and consume 15 g of carbohydrates. Wait 15-20 minutes to test your blood glucose again. If it is ≥ 80-120 mg/dL jump back in! If your levels are < 80 mg/dL consume another 15 g of carbohydrates. Check your levels once more, and if they are ≥ 80-120 mg/dL you are in good shape to begin your exercise activity!
Blood glucose is 70-100 mg/dL à Consume 15 g of carbohydrates and continue with your exercise!
Blood glucose is > 100 mg/dL à You are doing good! Continue to monitor your levels and your normal carbohydrate of choice.
·         Diabetic athletes are perfectly able to compete in all sports. However hypoglycemia may provide few exceptions, so always plan and prepare!
·         Be familiar and educate others on the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia.
·         Although exercise generally lowers blood glucose levels, they may rise following training. Always monitor you blood glucose levels before, during, and after your exercise regimen or competition.
·         Insulin may need adjusting before and after exercise.
·         Pre plan you carbohydrate intake and timing based on the duration and activity.
·         Always talk to your Sports Dietitian to help you maximize sports performance and manage your diabetes.

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.

American Diabetes Association. What We Recommend. Accessed November 5, 2013.
American Diabetes Association. Fitness. Accessed November 5, 2013.
American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Statistics. Accessed November 5, 2013.
Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, 4th Edition 2006.
Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Monday, November 11, 2013

4 Reasons You May Need To Take Micellar Casein

Protein supplementation has been gaining popularity and strength, not only among those who want to increase lean mass and hypertrophy, but also among those looking for weight reduction or health improvement.  You already learned about whey protein here.

Another supplement that is currently most discussed is casein. Casein is a milk protein extract, which makes up to 80% of the total milk protein.  It is described as a high quality slow absorbed protein and is commonly found in sports supplements Micellar casein is made by separating the casein portion of milk lactose, fat and milk serum (whey) by microfiltration.  This form of casein is not denatured (i.e., the protein is not altered), unlike other forms, which are often treated with acid or heat.  As the name implies, micellar casein form micelles that can be formed even after re-hydration, which then promotes a much slower digestion when comparing to the other caseins.  

Casein has a neutral flavor and can be easily incorporated into food.  When used in sports bars, casein usually promotes a soft texture. A current strategy for you would be the use of casein before bed time.  While sleeping, the release of anabolic hormones, (i.e., growth hormone) occur and the gradual release of amino acids by casein may encourage the promotion of building muscle mass.  Another interesting moment to use casein is about 16 hours after exercise. At this point, the body is at a demand for very large amounts of protein. The use of a slower release protein would be ideal for those interested in muscle hypertrophy.

Now let’s look into 4 the reasons why you may need to take casein in addition to or instead of whey protein.

1.     Promote weight loss
It may be used as a weight loss tool because it causes satiety, or sensing of fullness.  In contact with the acid content of your stomach, casein binds to receptors and forms clots, which results in a slow gastric (stomach) emptying and it increases the absorption time. 

2.     Source of energy
Micellar casein may be an additional source of power, in cases where there is insufficient protein intake by food sources.  There are roughly 4 calories per 1 g of protein.  The amount of protein that you need should be based on your body weight, the intensity of your workout, its load and also frequency.  The bigger you are, the more protein you need.  The more you train, the more protein you need.  Metabolism may play an important role as well.  Those with a faster metabolism can certainly require a larger amount of protein, especially from high-quality sources, such as casein.
3.     Prevent catabolism
It can be used to prevent protein catabolism (muscle breakdown).  Casein has also anabolic (muscle build-up) function, while maintaining a steady stream of amino acids in the bloodstream for a period of about 7 hours following ingestion.  In addition, casein inhibits catabolic hormones such as cortisol, responsible for burning lean body mass.  Studies show that casein has good anti-catabolic effect, but it may not the best option for protein anabolism.  That’s why you may need to take whey protein as well.   

Most studies in casein analyze supplementation for a short period of time and with a small number of individuals. Well-controlled longer-term studies with strength and power athletes are needed to fully elucidate the effects of increased protein intake on strength, power and muscle hypertrophy.

4    Boost immune function
By having large concentrations of glutamine (amino acid), casein also helps strengthen your immunity.  Micellar casein increases the bioactivity of the substances in milk responsible for improvements of the immune system.

There may be some side effects from the use of casein, such as swelling.  Individuals with lactose intolerance should not consume this protein
Also, as a general rule try to avoid eating below 1 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The best strategy is to consume about 1.5 - 2.0g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day or about 15% of the total energy from protein. Follow a balanced diet with foods sources of high quality protein (usually animal protein; ancient grains such as quinoa also have high quality protein).  Supplementing your diet with whey and/or casein, will depend on your need, body weight and type, intensity and frequency of your workout routine.  Also, it depends on how much protein you actually eat from food sources. 
Micellar casein should be taken immediately after mixing it because the powder may go to the bottom of you glass and cause the texture to be very thick.
Talk to your sports dietitian about your individual needs!

 Antonio, J. et al.  Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements. Humana Press, 2008.
Boirie Y, et al. 1997. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94: 14930–14935.
Clare DA, Swaisgood H.E. 2000. Bioactive milk peptides: a prospectus. J Dairy Sci. Jun;83(6):1187-95.
Hall WL, et al. 2003. Casein and whey exert different effects on plasma amino acid profiles, gastrointestinal hormone secretion and appetite. Br J Nutr. Feb;89(2):239-48.
Meisel H. 1997. Biochemical properties of regulatory peptides derived from milk proteins. Biopolymers.43(2):119-28.
Teschemacher H, Koch G, Brantl V. 1997. Milk protein-derived opioid receptor ligands. Biopolymers. 43(2): 99-117.

Livia Ly
I'm a health enthusiast and a wellness activist. I'm a dietitian trained in Brazil and also a nutrition grad student in Chicago. Ѽ

Thursday, November 7, 2013

News Bite: Back That Up: A Big Butt = A Big Brain?

Kim Kardashian might not come off as a Rhodes scholar but bigger backsides have health benefits in women.  A big butt is a healthy butt.  According to researchers at the University of Oxford, ladies with larger backsides have higher intelligence and are less likely to suffer from chronic illnesses.

In addition, from a segment on ABC News discussed that a pear shape physique metabolizes sugar better which decreases chances of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.  Also, there is an excess of Omega 3 fatty acids which improve brain development and also children born to mothers with a curvy physique have been known to have higher IQs.

Furthermore, abdominal fat is still dangerous as it is metabolically active.  Lower body fat releases fewer cytokines (proteins that act as messengers in the body) than abdominal fat.  Also, abdominal fat is still linked with higher incidences of heart disease.

Overall, maintaining a healthy weight is the proper way to stay healthy.

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at, resolve to increase your online exposure).  

She can also be found blogging at  Find her on SCAN:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teamwork: A National Diabetes Month Update

            26 million is a staggering number to think about. Especially when approximately 26 million children and adults in the United States currently have diabetes.  Every November, American Diabetes Month takes place in an effort to focus on the issues that surround diabetes and the many people who may be impacted by the disease. The vision of the American Diabetes Association is for everyone to live free of diabetes and its burdens. As Registered Dietitians and Registered Dietitians to be, our visions certainly replicate that of the American Diabetes Association. The vision shouldn’t end there. Friends and families of those impacted by the disease who are not in healthcare, certainly have a valuable role as supporters and encouragers. Teamwork is the Achilles tendon for diabetes.

Types of Diabetes

1.      Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is characterized when your body’s immune system, turns against a part of your body. In Type 1 Diabetes, your immune system destroys your insulin producing cells, the beta cells, in the pancreas. Meaning the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use or store the blood glucose it gets from the food you consume. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in America. (American Diabetes Association, 2011).

2.      Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your body cannot properly utilize your body’s insulin, better known as insulin resistance. Meaning, your body does not produce enough insulin or your cells ignore the insulin it produces. Initially, your body makes too much insulin. But, as the disease progress, your body isn’t able to keep up with the extra insulin produced by your pancreas to keep your blood glucose – sugar – levels normal. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in America. (American Diabetes Association, 2011).

3.      Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed in some women during pregnancy – more commonly around the 24th week. Gestational diabetes like other types of the disease, affect how your cells utilize sugar. This causes hyperglycemia – high blood sugar – that can affect both your pregnancy and your baby’s health. However, expecting mothers can control the disease through healthy dietary habits and exercise. Gestational diabetes is estimated to affect 18 % of all pregnancies in America. (American Diabetes Association, 2011).
* Talk with your Registered Dietitian and Physician to learn more about the treatments and preventive measures of diabetes.

Get Involved

·         Many practicing Registered Dietitians are Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE). A CDE is a heath professional who has both knowledge and experience in prediabetes, diabetes, prevention, and management of the disease. They can help educate you on self-management and behavioral treatment goals in order to optimize health outcomes.
·          Some Registered Dietitians also partake in teaching diabetic cooking classes. These classes are great resources to help you learn to create meal plans that work with your schedule and keeps your weight on tract.
·         World Diabetes Day is November 14th. You can participate! If you would like to join others in recognizing this day, you can find information on the events for World Diabetes Day on
·         In today’s world, resources are endless! You can find great information on the topic of diabetes through the American Diabetes Association. The site posts informative fact sheets and statistics that you can share with family and friends.
·         Social media is a great tool to get involved. Facebook provides a plethora of awareness pages. Just search diabetes awareness and get connected.
·         Just walk! You can get physically active in Diabetes Awareness Walks. Many cities organize events during the month of November in order to raise funds for diabetes awareness and research. Check it out here!
·         An awesome event to get involved in is The Big Blue Test. It involves getting your blood sugar tested between now and World Diabetes Day, then exercising and testing your blood sugar again. Then share your results on For each blood sugar entered, a donation is made to people living with diabetes who are in need for possible supplies or resources.
·         Finally check out There are endless resources on nutrition, food, and of course information on American Diabetes Month.

About the Writer
Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.
            Works Cited
"Big Blue Test." Big Blue Test. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
"Diabetes Basics." Diabetes Statistics. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
"Diabetes Basics." Gestational Diabetes. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
"Diabetes Basics." Type 1. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
"Diabetes Basics." Type 2. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
"| International Diabetes Federation." | International Diabetes Federation. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.