Monday, September 28, 2015

Fuel Your Day

I often get, “I eat fine, Beth. I’m not a snack person, I don’t crave or binge on junk food, I love food – real food. I guess you can say that I have a big appetite. Ugh … I just eat too much.”
Does this sound like you?
The rest of the story usually goes something like, “I get sooo hungry that when I sit down to eat, I feel as if I can eat anything and everything that’s not nailed down.”
… Then comes the guilt …. The feeling of being “stuffed” and then the feeling of defeat, “Well it won’t matter now if I have that extra _____!”
PSST. Sssh. Here’s a secret:
Restaurateurs are hoping you say this when it comes to desert!

Everyday we are bombarded with what we should eat and shouldn’t eat. What if I told you that when you eat has a lot to do with how much you eat? That’s right, when you eat is really important.
See, after you eat, it takes about three to four hours for your stomach to process the food  you ate and become empty. Of course this depends on how much you eat, but generally speaking, it takes about 3-4 hours for your stomach to empty.
Now that you know this – I suggest you play around with it.


After about 3-4 hours of not eating, pay close attention to the following:
·         Does your stomach growl or feel “empty”?
·         Do you start thinking of food?
·         Do you feel thirsty?
·         Maybe your hands feel cold, or weak, maybe even shaky?
·         Do you feel tired, cranky, maybe you are unable to focus?
These are some general signs of physical hunger.
So, let’s say you ate breakfast at 7:30AM. Are you hungry again at 10:30/11:00AM? Do you eat or do you ignore your hunger and wait until your 12PM lunchtime? And if you eat lunch around Noon, are you hungry again at 3/4PM? And do you ignore your hunger, again? If you are like most people, you ignore this too, and wait until dinnertime - which could be 6, 7 or 8 PM! Think about it - that’s 6-8 hours after you ate lunch – if you ate lunch!
Well, no wonder your starving and ready to
“Eat anything and everything that’s not nailed down.”
Don’t ignore your body.
Love your body.
Feed your body healthy foods.
Pay attention to when you feel hungry
Plan to Eat!


Here are five simple steps to help you pay attention to your hunger clues, and plan when you eat:
·         At first, it may be helpful to write down when and what you eat, so you can start to see a pattern develop. This can also really help you focus in on those physical signs of hunger.
·         Next, you need to plan your meals so that you don’t go more than 4 hours without eating - breakfast being the exception. At this time, I want to point out why I am a big supporter of a healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast can really set you up for a ravenous appetite – which, according to the latest research, can leave you more hungry later in the day – around that bewitching hour, around 3/4PM, and sometimes again at dinnertime.
·         Planning means you may need to set up breakfast the night before, pack a lunch if your on the road, or familiarize yourself with healthy options from local eateries that provide nutrient dense, whole-food options.
·         Planning means you need to pay attention to your “bewitching hour”. For most people, the “bewitching hour” is some time between lunch and dinner, usually around 3,4 or 5 o’clock. This is a good time to eat a “mini-meal”:
·         An apple, pear, or banana with
o    A granola, sport or protein bar, or
o    1-2 Tbs of a nut butter
·         A cup of vegetables with
o    Humus, or
o    1-2 ounces of cheese
·         A slice of whole grain bread with
o    2 ounces of turkey breast, or
o    2 Tbs of a nut butter
·         6-8 ounces of yogurt with
o    ½ cup of fruit (like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries), and/or
o    Nuts, flax, hemp or chia seeds
·         Planning means cooking once and eating twice. Cook on the weekends and double the recipe, so you can have leftovers during out the week, or freeze leftovers for the next week.
When you plan, you Fuel Your Day. Eating throughout the day, helps balance your blood sugar and keep your metabolism revved.

 About the Author
Elizabeth Candela is a graduate of Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. Her studies at Rutgers led Elizabeth into employee health and safety, and she worked several years as a Safety Engineer in Risk Management. In 2007, after achieving a Master of Art from Montclair State University, Elizabeth taught high school Biology, Environmental Science and Physics. Then, in 2009, Elizabeth developed a portable core fitness device, and since has secured a United States Patent. The development of this device drew her into the Exercise and Nutrition field, so she left the teaching profession to pursue postgraduate courses in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Since then, Elizabeth has achieved her New Jersey Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Certification, as well as her American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiology Certification. By maximizing her training and fitness through sound nutritional principles, Elizabeth continues to challenge herself physically and nutritionally through her commitment to run a half marathon in every USA state, and six World Marathon Majors.

Follow Me on Twitter: me on

Monday, September 21, 2015

Casein or Whey: What’s the best protein to maximize muscle building after a workout?

For many people consuming a post workout protein shake has become an after gym ritual.  Still there’s some controversy about what type of protein to take and when to drink your shake.  The two most common types of shakes are casein (a slow acting protein typically found in mammalian milk) and whey (a fast acting protein that is a by-product of dairy production like cheese).  Fortunately a Danish study at Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen has provided some interesting information.

            In the study 17 men were split up into 3 groups a control group that got supplemented with water, a group administered 20 g whey, and another that received 20 g of casein.  The men in the study were asked to do 10 sets of 8 reps on a leg extension machine and immediately supplemented with the control or protein dosage after the last set.  The results showed that in the first 3 hours after intake the muscle protein production was higher in the whey group than the casein group and in the last 3 hours it was higher  in the casein group.  Over the course of the 6 hours the total muscle group was about the same.[1]

            A potential inference someone can take from this study is that if they’re looking to maximize muscle protein synthesis after a workout, supplementation of either whey and casein simultaneously after a workout or supplementing whey in two 3 hour intervals post workout will be effective methods in ensuring the highest possible levels of cellular muscle protein synthesis. 


Reitelseder, S., Agergaard, J., Doessing, S., Helmark, I., Lund, P., Kristensen, N., . . . Holm, L. (2010). Whey and casein labeled with L-[1-13C]leucine and muscle protein synthesis: Effect of resistance exercise and protein ingestion. AJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

About the Author

Erick Avila, owner of a company that provides individualized training programs and nutritional consultations for athletic events and weight loss. Erick works as a strength & conditioning coach/nutritionist with a variety of professional boxers including two ranked in the top 50 of their respective weight divisions.  He’s experienced having worked in both sport and clinical settings, with focuses ranging from general weight loss to hormonal optimization.  Erick has bachelors degrees in Exercise Science & Nutritional Science.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Does Having a Nutritional Strategy Improve Race Times?

Do you have a race day nutrition plan for your next endurance event? If not, don’t feel bad you aren’t alone. Most athletes I work with have no idea how many calories or fluids they consume during long training sessions or races.
The question is DOES IT EVEN MATTER? Will having a nutritional strategy improve your race times?

Who Might Benefit From Having a Structured Nutrition Plan?

It is clear that fueling for endurance sports lasting over 1.5 hours is important. Some athletes who benefit the most include:
1.       Half-marathoners
2.       Triathletes (all distances—sprint to iron-distance)
3.       Marathoners and ultra-marathoners
4.       Obstacle racers (Spartan, Tough Mudder, etc…)
5.       Adventure racers

The Biggest Challenge

Sports science research supports the use of increased carbohydrate and fluids during prolonged exercise. For more specific fueling recommendations during exercise read a recent blog post.
The problem is that a majority of studies on fueling for endurance performance are conducted in a laboratory. During these experiments, subjects are in a VERY CONTROLLED environment, usually connected to a metabolic cart while also being poked and prodded. I’ll let you use your imagination.
Unfortunately, this is NOT very practical. Less is known about applying nutritional strategies during real endurance competitions. These types of studies are called field tests and are important because they put “science into practice.”

Recent Research Provides Insight

A 2014 study from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism tested the notion that a scientifically-based nutritional strategy will lead to faster race times compared to one that is freely chosen.
The Subjects
A research team from Denmark recruited 28 recreational (non-elite) marathoners who were competing in the Copenhagen Marathon. Runners were divided into two evenly matched groups based on fitness level (a 10k time trial), previous marathon times, and estimated finish time of the upcoming race.  Also, all participants kept a training diary which indicated no differences in training volume between groups for the duration of the study.

Use of Different Nutritional Strategies
One group was instructed to freely choose how much to eat and drink during the marathon while the other applied a structured nutritional plan created by sports nutrition experts.

Participants using the structured plan consumed:
·         Pre-Race
2 energy gels and 1 cup of water 10-15 minutes prior to start.
·         During
1 energy gel 40 minutes into the race.
  1 energy gel every 20 minutes until the finish.
  Gels contained 20 grams of sugar (80 calories) and a small amounts of sodium and caffeine.
  3 cups (24 oz) of fluid per hour.

Practice Sessions
A month before the marathon, subjects were asked to complete a local half marathon. This allowed runners using the scientifically-based plan to become familiar with the nutritional strategy to be used on race day. These runners were also encouraged to practice this strategy in their training sessions leading up to the event.

The Results

Marathon times of subjects using a nutritional plan were 11 minutes faster (3 hrs 38 min vs. 3 hrs 49 min) than those allowed to freely choose their eating and drinking strategy.

A post-race questionnaire also found that symptoms of gastrointestinal distress were low with NO differences observed between groups.

Interestingly, runners who used a freely chosen nutritional strategy consumed the SAME amount of fluid but considerably LESS carbohydrate compared to those applying a more scientific approach.

Key Take Home Messages

·         Having a plan works! If you don’t have one develop one. It improved marathon race times by 5%in these recreational marathoners. For some of you this could mean the difference in an age-group award or qualifying for Boston.
·         If your race is longer having a structured nutrition plan could save you A LOT more than 11 minutes.
·         Those who freely selected their carb intake consumed less than those who had a plan.
·         Practicing your nutrition plan in training is extremely important. You should train your gut before the race.
·         The subjects using a structured approach used 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Figure out in training the maximal number of grams/hr you can handle.
·         Subjects applying the structured plan used gels with caffeine. Could the caffeine have directly influenced the results? Maybe…but I doubt it…I think the amounts were very small.

In Summary
Nutrition plays a big role in your race times. Developing a fueling plan that is right for you can take your training and racing to the next level. Athletes invest a lot of training time and money on gear, entry fees, travel etc… For some of you nutrition is the missing link. It doesn’t have to be, let me know what you are struggling with and how I can help!

Train hard and eat well.

Reference: Hansen, et. al (2014). Improved Marathon Performance by In-Race Nutritional Strategy Intervention. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 24, 645-655.

About the Author:
JJ Mayo is an endurance athlete, a sports science professor, and a registered dietitian.  He believes that nutrition is the missing link for many endurance athletes. Even the best training plan will only take you so far.
Unfortunately, many athletes don’t know where to start when it comes to putting together an effective nutrition plan. You can find him at Fuel For Endurance.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fast but Fit Food

You’ve got a game plan, right? Serve and volley, baseline grinding to open up the court...something to make you a stronger more confident player. If you want to be great, you have to have an off-the-court game plan for training, injury prevention, and nutrition. Travel can throw a kink in things, especially nutrition. As a sports dietitian to NCAA Division I top-25 tennis teams, I have had the pleasure of navigating menus for many tennis players.

The trouble is, when you travel, fast food might be your only option. We all know fast food is not healthy. You might be surprised to hear me say, “not so fast”. It is possible to find something that won’t derail your healthy eating. Follow these simple guidelines to help you find the best option at roadside eateries.

Hamburger Fast Food Restaurant:

·         Order a grilled chicken sandwich with no dressing and a packet of mustard or ketchup.
·         If you don’t like chicken, choose a junior sized burger with a packet of ketchup or mustard.
·         Instead of fries, ask about alternate options. Try a salad or a side of fruit.
·         Stick to water or a small 100% juice for a beverage.

Sandwich Fast Food Restaurant:

·         Opt for wheat bread and any of the lunch meat options (ham, turkey, roast beef).
·         Avoid chicken and tuna salad since they can be quite high in fat.
·         Have fruit, pretzels, or baked chips as a side.
·         Load your sandwich up on veggies.
·         Choose mustard for your dressing instead of oil/vinegar, mayonnaise, or the restaurant’s “signature sauce”.

Mexican Fast Food Restaurant:

·         Skip the traditional meals and look for an ala carte menu.
·         Choose a chicken, steak or ground beef taco with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese.
·         Opt for borracho beans instead of refried beans. Typically the refried beans will have a significant amount of fat.
·         Add a side of rice if you need a little more than a taco to fill you up.

Gas Station or Truck Stop:

·         Somewhere between Abilene and Dallas, this might be your only option.
·         Head to the drink refrigerator and find low fat milk (chocolate, strawberry, regular – all are great choices).
·         Look for a piece of fresh fruit. Many gas stations now offer apples or bananas!
·         Find a granola bar that isn’t loaded with saturated fat or added sugar. Check the ingredient list and choose a bar with the shortest list.
·         It might sound crazy, but find some beef jerky. The extra sodium will help if you have been sweating and it is a low fat protein option for the road.
Now that you are armed and ready, hit the road confidently when you go to your next tournament. Remember to pack some water bottles for the road and don’t be afraid to take a couple bathroom breaks. Hydration is still important when you are sitting in the car!

Caroline Sullivan is a Houston-based Registered Dietitian and specialist in sports dietetics. She has served as a dietitian for several NCAA Division I top-25 teams including work with basketball, football, tennis, and track & field. She is a member of the USTA Texas Sports Science Committee.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Motivational Interviewing Part III

This is part three in a series regarding Motivational Interviewing.  The goal of Motivational Interviewing (MI) is to increase client awareness and decrease ambivalence or resistance towards change.  For those in private practice, you may already be aware of how important your relationship is with a client.
Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Evidenced-Based Practices (CEBP) is a resource for MI and focuses on practitioner’s changing their service approach and culture towards MI.  These benefits include positive outcomes and client engagement/ retention. 
The focus of this post builds on avoiding and dealing with client resistance.  This link focuses on OARS (open ended questions, affirmations, and reflections) and DARN CAT (desire, ability, reason, need, commitment, activating step, taking steps).  Part Two focused on OARs while this post will look at “DARN CAT.”
“DARN CAT” can be split into two areas.
The “DARN” focuses on what we call “change talk” the client is in a contemplative state (here is additional information on the stages of change model, please note that a lot of this information comes from chemical dependency and substance abuse counselors and researchers but can be effectively applied to many areas of practice) and may say, “I’m interested in losing weight.” The following information is adapted from C. Delos Reyes.  This post will focus on seeing how interested the client is in lifestyle changes.  The next blog post will discuss implementing changes and adding action.

D—Desire to change
                “I want to lose weight”
                You will want to inquire why
A—Ability to change
                “I think I can eat less candy after work or avoid it.”
                How might you be able to do this?
R—Reasons to change
                “If I lose weight, I’ll have more energy to play with my kids…”
                You may want more specific reasons.
N—Need to change
                The client will use words such as “need, have to…”

You can always ask how interested they are in changing a habit based on a scale from 1-10 (this is called the readiness ruler, check out more information here).  Your client may say that quitting their daily Frappucino habit is about a 5 on their scale…they’re aware of it but it’s not that 10 where they starting drinking black coffee.  This number gives you valuable information to ask the questions, “What keeps you from being a 7 versus a 5?  What keeps you from being a 2 versus a 5?”