Thursday, October 29, 2015

Feeding The Child Athlete

Now that it’s fall and there’s a few months of school under our belts, many children and their parents are back into the swing of school sports. My cousin, being one of these parents, recently texted me to ask about hydration for her 8 year old son who plays baseball in the Florida heat. She said that many of the other parents were sending sports drinks to practice with their kids, and she wasn’t sure that this was appropriate. Being the awesome cousin that she is, she reached out to a knowledgeable Registered Dietitian (that’s me!) for guidance. Not only did I help, but I decided to write a 101 on child sports nutrition:

·         Eating a healthful diet is the priority for your growing athlete. Although children are playing sports and burning a ton of calories, that doesn’t give them a license to eat whatever they want. Growing children need several key nutrients, like calcium for bone health, Vitamin C for immune system development, iron for growth, and protein for muscle growth and repair. These nutrients are only found in healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Child athletes put their bodies through more wear and tear than less active children, so they need to be even more diligent about eating healthy foods for growth and development.
·         Fluids should be the priority. Hydration is so incredibly important for child athletes. Children get hotter faster than adults because they have a greater body surface area for their body weight, so they gain heat faster from the environment than adults. They need to drink very frequently during exercise and cold water is the perfect refresher. A good rule of thumb is that children need about 4 ounces (or ½ cup) of water for every 20 minutes of play.  Make sure you teach your children about the importance of hydration, or they might just forget to drink all together! Fresh fruit is also high in water, and orange slice breaks during practice should be encouraged!
·         Sport drinks are not necessary. Let’s face it–kids love sport drinks because they are sweet.  If you provide them, they will drink them. I’ve read a lot about this and the verdict on whether or not they are needed is mixed. One thing I can tell you is that sport drinks are ONLY needed for intense activity lasting longer than an hour.  You can read all about sport drinks here, but my overall opinion is that kids don’t need them. For exercise lasting longer than an hour, you can replace salt losses with a salty snack like pretzels or saltines.
·         Carbohydrates are the best energy source.  Basically, carbs are what make athletes “go”. They are the fuel for the car. A child athlete’s diet should be balanced and consist of healthy carbs, like fruit and veggie sticks and whole grain crackers, breads, and cereals. Healthy carbs should be consumed 2-3 hours before practice to maintain energy.
·         Lean protein repairs muscles.  Because children are growing, their muscles are still developing. Sports cause muscle breakdown, and proteins aid in muscle repair. While it’s an emerging trend among kids to take protein supplements, this should definitely be discouraged. There are so many healthful protein food choices that kids can eat and enjoy, such as peanut butter, low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese sticks, chicken, turkey, and fish.  A turkey sandwich after practice is the perfect amount of protein to repair worn out muscles!

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian in New York City.  Natalie believes that healthy food should be tasty food, and she is passionate about living an active lifestyle.  Natalie is a writer for many nutrition publications, and she enjoys sharing her favorite recipes and nutrition knowledge on her blog, Nutrition ├íla Natalie.  Follow Natalie on Twitter @nutritionalanat.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Iron and Women Athletes

Iron plays a key role in oxygen transport and energy production, making it a key micronutrient for all of us especially athletes interested in peak performance.  Iron deficiency is more common with athletes because intensive exercise increases iron loss, and female athletes are at even greater risk because of menstruation and insufficient dietary intake.  To combat this deficiency some dietitians have recommended athletes supplement with iron but this approach has been criticized by other dietitians because of the increased risk of iron toxicity associated with supplementation.  In addition to risks of toxicity other common side effect complaints from iron supplementation include nausea, abdominal discomfort, and constipation.

Sufficient iron is of importance to athletes because of its important roles with maximal oxygen carrying capacity to active muscles and efficient oxygen utilization, two aspects that are critical for performance.  The more oxygen you can deliver to muscles and the more efficient you get at using it, the more you enable yourself to work intensely for a longer period of time.  Iron can be found in dietary sources in two forms haem and non-haem, haem sources are derived from animals and non-haem from all other iron sources.  The absorption rate of haem sources is 40%, whereas the absorption rate for non-haem sources can greatly vary. 

Tannic acid (found in coffee and teas) and phosphates (found in soft drinks), along with calcium can decrease our iron absorption but fortunately vitamin C increases iron absorption. 
Consume foods rich in iron like:
-fortified cereals
-dried fruits,
-dark green leafy vegetables. 

Try avoiding thing like soda, coffee, and tea when you consume these iron rich sources to enhance maximal iron absorption and instead pair your iron rich foods with high vitamin C fruits and vegetables like citrus fruit, strawberries, papaya, bell peppers, and pineapples. 


Alaunyte, I., Stojceska, V., & Plunkett, A. (2015). Iron and the female athlete: A review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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, October 22, 2015


Decoding disordered eating and bad body image thoughts starts with doing detective work. The obsessive preoccupation with eating and weight is a coping mechanism to deal with discomfort. A bad body thought is a way of translating our discomfort when we lack the language to decode what is really behind the familiar disordered thoughts.
If we know that our thinking is powerful beyond belief, and we are working towards healing our body image and disordered eating, we must start with the way we speak to ourselves. Below is a 4 step process to help identify, refute and reframe bad body image thoughts to help renew your mind. I use it almost daily to check my thoughts.
The first step is to recognize, and become aware. Ask yourself, what type of discomfort is taking place? When we begin obsessing about our body, or how bad we are for eating a certain item we are usually trying to displace some emotional discomfort from somewhere else. Bad body thoughts, are abusive. Keep a record of your recollection and try to imagine saying them to you best friend, mother or little sister. Soon, you’ll start to see a pattern and can avoid triggering situations.
Step Two: RECALL
Once you have identified the feeling or thought, dig deep to think about a time where you may have felt this in the past. Our brains are wired to the core beliefs we hold about ourselves, many of which are untrue as they were influences by a variety of factors in childhood. See if you can identify the core belief you were taught and how it made you feel then. Acknowledge that there was nothing you could do then, but there is something you can do now.
Step Three: REFUTE
Refute the core belief you hold and replace it with truth about your present self. Repeat that you had no control over how you felt in the past, but you do have control over who you are now and how you think and feel about yourself. Challenge these core beliefs and assumption by holding them up to cultural ideals. For example, “Who tells me that being a size 10 is wrong? Where did I learn this? Who says that being a size 6 is right? Why?” 
Step Four: REFRAME
Once you’ve explored the backstory of where your core belief is learned from and have decoded it, you now have the freedom to reframe it. Instead of shaming yourself for having another bad body thought, you can use the experience for further growth and exploration. The more you explore, identify and become aware of your thoughts, the more compassion and understanding you will breed on your way to full acceptance of your body, and the more awareness of self you will have.
Jaren Soloff is a San Diego based Dietetic Intern through Utah State University and received her Bachelors of Science degree in Dietetics from San Diego State University. Jaren's professional interest include eating disorders, prenatal + lactation nutrition and child feeding practices. Jaren firmly believes in empowering women by providing them with evidence based practices that support all women's innate ability to birth, breastfeed and nourish themselves and their children with confidence. Maintaining a non judgmental and safe space for women to share their relationship with food and body is the center of her practice. As an aspiring eating disorder Dietitian, Jaren is an active member of SCAN dietetic practice group and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can reach Jaren via social media, or email at:

Social Media- 
Blog URL: 
Facebook: Nourish + Nurture 
Twitter: jarensoloff
Instragram: jarensoloff

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Want better endurance for your sport? Juice.....with beetroot juice

Beets are a nutrient dense vegetable being supplemented by a variety of athletes, especially those in aerobic sports to improve stamina.  They’re a good source of carbohydrates, folate, and manganese.  They’re found in a variety of dishes including soups, salads, and shakes.

But their true performance enhancing effect comes from their nitrate content.  Their nitrates have been shown to improve endurance in athletes. [1]  Nitrates get converted to nitric oxide in our bodies and have a vasodilating effect.  This means they open up our veins, this is of benefit to athletes because it makes oxygen transport easier.  The more oxygen you can get circulating to your muscles the more you stay in the aerobic state and the more efficiently you’ll perform in endurance events.  When you run out of oxygen your body begins to run “anaerobically” which means without oxygen.  During this time our primary fuel source is glycogen/glucose which is available in limited amounts. 
What this means for athletes is that it limits the amount of time they can perform, and that’s not a good thing if you don’t have the fuel to finish your event.

From personal experience with athletes I’ve worked with I’ve found that 1-2 cups of beet root juice at least an hour before training or an event has been the most effective way to supplement. 

Sample PreWorkout Shake
1 whole beet
1/2 cup coconut juice
1/3 cup spinach


Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., & Weiss, E. (n.d.). Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 548-552.

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.

Monday, October 19, 2015

DYI Sports Drinks: The Ultimate "How To"

Have you ever wanted to know how to make your own sports drinks? Well it’s not all that hard, only requires 5 ingredients and can be made at a fraction of the price!
In this blog post you will learn how to make your own sports drink powder that will taste SO good you won’t be able to tell the difference between ‘store bought’ and your ‘homemade’ version. Better yet, all of the following ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store. I promise!
Hannah Reese (my fav goddaughter) and I set out to develop a sports drink mix that could be created in bulk for you to try on your next long training run. With Hannah’s keen palate and her kitchen ‘know-how’ I think we pulled it off. My role… I was more or less the taste tester! 
BTW, Hannah also created a very popular pre-workout snack bar in an earlier post called ‘The Hungry Runner‘ that still gets lots of views.

Ok, on to the recipe!

Sports Drink Powder
Yield: 2 gallons prepared Prep time: 5 minutes  
·         3 cups granulated sugar
·         2 teaspoons table salt
·         1 teaspoon NoSalt Sodium free salt or 100% potassium salt
·         2 tablespoons citric acid OR 4 packets Kool-Aid unsweetened drink mix of choice (1 packet makes 2 quarts)

Measure the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir ingredients together. Place mixture in an air tight container and store at room temperature.
Use the table below to prepare the desired amount of sports drink for your next workout.

Real talk – The reason behind the ingredients and where to find to them in the store  
Granulated sugar
Location: Baking Aisle
Optimal sports drinks contain different types of sugars allowing the body to use various avenues for carbohydrate absorption. Table sugar or sucrose is composed of 50% glucose and 50% fructose making it a perfect choice as a sweetener and carbohydrate replacement. Fructose offers a great flavor profile and utilizes a different absorption route while glucose is utilized immediately for energy. As mentioned in the hydration 101 series, a carbohydrate concentration of 6-8% solution is ideal to prevent gastric distress. This particular recipes comes in right at 7.5% and can be increased or decreased depending on your flavor profile, GI tolerance, and liquid to carbohydrate ratio.     
Table Salt
Location: Baking Aisle
Table salt contains sodium and chloride the primary electrolytes lost in sweat. While electrolytes may not be needed physiologically for events less than four hours, salt has other benefits. For shorter durations the addition of salt can help increase thirst and therefore increase fluid intake.           
 NoSalt sodium free salt or 100% potassium salt
Location:  Baking Aisle next to the spices and other light salt products.
Similar to salt, potassium replacement is generally indicated in prolonged exercise. The best method for maintaining adequate levels of potassium on a daily basis is through fruit and vegetable consumption. Add this ingredient for exercise bouts longer than four hours or to ensure adequate daily intake for those doing shorter durations.       
Citric Acid
Location:  Canning section of the grocery store or in the baking aisle
Citric acid is a natural compound largely found in citrus fruits. This ingredient adds a sour flavor creating a lemon-lime taste and acts as a preservative.       
 Kool-Aid Unsweetened Drink Mix
Location: Beverage Aisle
Remember those days as a kid when you couldn’t wait to come inside out of the blistering heat and have a long draught of your favorite Kool-Aid. Well now you have excuse to bring it back! Pick your favorite flavor to create the same tasting sports drink! Be sure to grab the unsweetened flavors as the traditional drink mix may create an undesirable flavor and additional carbohydrates.    
The Final Product...

Hannah Blue Mountain Blast
A 1/4 cup provides 180 calories, which is perfect for your 20 oz bottle. If you are out on the trail put some of the powder in a zip-lock bag and carry it with you!

About the Author:
JJ Mayo is an endurance athlete, a registered dietitian, and a sports science professor at the University of Central Arkansas. His blog, Fuel For Endurance, helps endurance athletes achieve better race results through optimal nutrition. He also just released a sports nutrition CEU course at

Monday, October 12, 2015

How Much Protein Can You Absorb at a Time?

"Your body can only absorb 30 grams of protein at once. Anything over that amount your body will not absorb and it will be wasted."
This is the widespread theory held by many. However, there isn't an exact amount of protein that your body can absorb. Your body tends to preserve all the protein you consume but how effectively it does this depends on the person. If you happen to consume more protein than your body can handle, it sits in your gut until it can be processed, as there is a limit on how fast you can absorb protein.


Protein Digestion

When you eat food, it passes through your stomach and into the intestines before it is absorbed. Around 90% of all protein you consume is used for building enzymes, hormones, and other important things, including muscles. But, only a small amount of protein is used for building muscles. The cells of your small intestine and liver get first dibs on the protein you consume.
There are also hormones that regulate the rate at which protein is digested. These hormones are released when there is dietary protein present and signal your body to slow down digestion in order to absorb all the protein.
Depending on the source, about 10 grams of protein is absorbed per hour. This is probably where the idea that bodybuilders must eat every three hours came from.

Protein Dose

It's common practice among bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike to eat every few hours in order to avoid losing muscle mass. However, one study done on women showed that consuming 54 grams of protein in one meal versus four meals resulted in no differences. Similarly, another study showed that consuming 80-90 grams of protein in one meal versus three meals resulted in no differences in muscle mass.
This isn't to say that consuming all your protein in one meal is best. It does suggest, however, that your body can handle far more protein than most people think.

Gavin Van De Walle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and is a certified personal trainer. He is in the coordinated dietetic internship program at South Dakota State University where he is a Master of Science candidate in nutrition with a specialization in sports nutrition. Contact Gavin at

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Top 5 Foods to Feed after a Workout

If you're not giving your body the nutrients it so desperately craves following your workout, you're only cheating yourself. A post workout meal will help you recover, repair, and rebuild so you're ready to tackle your next workout. But not any snack will do. Your body demands lean protein sources and nutrient-packed carbohydrates.

1. Chocolate Milk
It turns out chocolate milk contains the perfect ratio of protein and carbohydrates, making it the perfect post workout snack. One cup of low-fat chocolate milk contains a little over 150 calories, 26 g of carbohydrates and 8 g of protein. In fact, one study showed that chocolate milk is a more effective recovery aid than common sports drinks. And not to mention, it's delicious too.

2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is like regular yogurt's lean and mean sibling. One cup of Greek yogurt contains double the protein and half the carbohydrates of regular non-Greek yogurt. For a more equal ratio of protein and carbohydrates you can buy flavored Greek yogurt or add fruit. This protein-packed snack is also shown to keep you fuller, longer versus non-Greek yogurt.

3. Bean Salad
Beans aren't just rich in fiber, they're full of protein too. Try adding a mixture of kidney, garbanzo, and black beans to your favorite salad. Include grape tomatoes, sliced almonds and apples with a drizzle of vinaigrette dressing for a tasty and healthy post workout meal. Additionally, regular bean consumption is associated with several health benefits.

4. Fruit and Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is high in the slow digesting protein, casein. When casein protein digests, it forms a gel in your stomach and releases a steady supply of protein to fuel your hungry muscles over several hours. One cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains more than 20 g of protein. Adding fruit, like blueberries, is a great way to up the nutrient content and taste.

5. Veggie Omelet
Eggs are nature's perfect food. They contain ample amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals (with the yolk of course). And since the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported that there is a lack of evidence linking dietary cholesterol to cholesterol levels in people, you don't need to fear the yolk. Add your favorite veggies for increased nutrients and fiber or add whole-grain toast for more carbohydrates.

Gavin Van De Walle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and is a certified personal trainer. He is a Master of Science candidate in nutrition with an emphasis in sports nutrition at South Dakota State University. Contact Gavin at

Monday, October 5, 2015

Motivational Interviewing Part IV

This is part four 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 client action.  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 “CAT” portion of the acronym focuses on the client’s action and will be the subject of this post. It stands for commitment, activation, and taking steps.
The following information is adapted from C. Delos Reyes.  This post will focus on seeing how interested the client is in lifestyle changes. 

Commitment—the client may make statements about their intentions to lose weight with a definitive date such as, “I’m starting my diet on Monday.” As a practitioner, you may want them to discuss what they intend to do.
Activation—What the client is willing to do, they may have the plan to start following a healthier diet or they may be willing to cut out sugary drinks.  Find out what they are ready or agreeable to do.
Taking steps—this last piece is where you ask the client what they’ve done, they might have started walking every evening for 30 minutes after dinner. 

The goals of this last segment is to have the client personalize and develop their own goals. 
So the big question is, can I really do this?  Or am I doing this “right”?
This link from the Center for Evidenced-Based Practices provides a cheat sheet for working with clients.  Consider this a road map for building trust and a rapport with your clients for more successful outcomes.