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The Gift of Education: What, when & how to eat for performance

There’s no harm in giving yourself a gift – the gift of education! Whether online or in person, here’s your chance to enjoy an information-filled workshop on Nutrition for Sports, Exercise and Weight Management. You will learn what really works—and why—and boost your sports nutrition confidence when counseling active clients and/or choosing your personal sports diet.

I am co-leading this workshop with exercise physiologist John Ivy PhD. John is respected for his research with carbohydrates, protein, meal timing, sports supplements, and exercise.

This 1.5 day program is designed to help registered dietitians, athletic trainers, coaches, exercise physiologists, personal trainers, and sports medicine professionals — as well as athletes themselves — learn how to effectively teach the sports nutrition and training messages (as well as get tips for growing the business of their dreams).

PHOENIX                                     Jan. 23-24, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO                         Feb 6-7

LA – LONG BEACH                        Feb. 27-28

LA -NORTHRIDGE                         Feb 28-Mar 1 (Sat-Sun)  

ONLINE                                    Every day, at your convenience

For more information and to register:   www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com

CEUs:   AND, BOC-NATA, ACSM, AFAA, ACE, NSCA, and CHES

“I was surprised to learn new information on a topic I thought I knew so well. I left with tips I could put right into practice. I am so glad I came!”

                                                    –Registered dietitian and personal trainer

Dreading the food-filled holidays?

I received this holiday letter from Carolyn Costin, the director of Monte Nido Eating Disorders Treatment Centers (Montenido.com). Her thoughtful words capture all that I want to say to my readers who struggle with food, weight, and finding a peaceful balance with exercise. Perhaps this will give you a few tips to enjoy the season, not dread it.

Here are Carolyn’s suggestions… Continue Reading

What happens when you overeat?

From Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, most of us try hard to maintain weight. But sometimes we just overeat. What is the fate of those excess calories? Do they all turn into body fat?

Dr. James Levine PhD of the Mayo Clinic designed a study to look at the biological mechanisms associated with overeating. Dr. Levine studied 16 non-obese subjects (12 males and 4 females), ranging in age from 25 to 36 years. They volunteered to eat 1,000 excess calories a day (above what they needed to maintain weight) for 8 weeks. The subjects were healthy, did not do purposeful exercise more than twice a week, and maintained a stable weight. Prior to being overfed, the researchers monitored the subjects for two weeks to learn how much food they regularly consumed to maintain their weight.

During the study, the subjects lived at their homes but ate supervised meals at the research center. The food had been carefully prepared and measured in a metabolic kitchen. The weight-gain diet was high in protein (20% of total calories) and fat (40% of calories), and low in carbohydrate (40%). The researchers accounted for almost all of the excess 1,000-calories a day. On average, ~430 of the 1,000 calories were stored as fat and ~530 were dissipated via increased energy expenditure. The researches even measured 3 days of poop before and at the end of the study to be sure the subjects did not excrete calories during overfeeding. Only 38 calories a day got flushed down the toilet during overfeeding — 13 calories more than during normal eating.

Here is the fate of the 1,000 excess calories the subjects ate:

Energy stored as fat ranged from 60-685 calories per day

Energy stored as muscle ranged from 15-80 calories per day

Additional calories burned by organs: about 80, on average

Additional calories used to digest the extra food: about 135, on average

Additional calories burned via NEAT ranged from none to 690.

The researchers used highly accurate methods to measure changes in body fat (DXA). Some of the subjects gained 10 times more fat than others, ranging from 0.8 to 9 lbs (0.36 – 4.23 kg). The overall weight gain ranged from 3 to 12 lbs (1.4 -5.5 kg), some of which was additional muscle. Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT; your daily activity apart from your purposeful exercise) explained the big variation in weight gain that occurred with the subjects in this overfeeding study. The subjects who gained the least weight were fidgety and puttered more than the other “mellower” subjects.

The average increase in NEAT was 336 calories a day, but this actually ranged from burning 98 calories less than baseline to burning 690 calories more than baseline. The subject who burned the most calories strolled around the research facility (or did equivalent movement) about 15 minutes more per hour than the other subjects.

The moral of the story: If you are going to overeat and want to suffer the least weight gain, stay active. You don’t have to start fidgeting, but you do need to get off the couch, turn off the TV, take some walks and be more active.

 

For more information on how to manage weight, enjoy the chapters about weight and body fat in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

What to do with all that Halloween Candy…

As I am writing this blog, ghosts and goblins are getting dressed for Halloween–and many parents are getting concerned about how to handle all of their kids’ candy-haul. Do they—

–let their child have just five pieces and then toss the rest?

–send the excess candy to soldiers in Afghanistan (as if it is good for their teeth and waistlines)?

–let their kids eat as much as they want, with fear the kids will eat and eat and only eat candy for the next week and this will ruin their health and make them fat? (Note: Kids certainly are not obese because of Halloween!)

If you want my suggestions on how to manage Halloween (and other holiday) treats, keep reading….

Sugar is a hotly debated topic. Yet, a few days of Halloween candy will not ruin your children’s health. You can use the Halloween candy stockpile as an opportunity to observe how your kids can self-regulate.

Before my kids embarked on the rigors of trick or treating, I’d feed them a good dinner. And then, I’d let them eat as much candy as they wanted. After all, Halloween is a holiday (of sorts) and indulging in treats is part of normal eating. After two days of Skittles and M&Ms, they got “sugared out.” Their candy sat untouched. They’d had enough. No big deal.

in comparison, if you plan on restricting your kids’ candy, notice how this can easily backfire into a major conflict.

–Will your kids end up having to sneak candy if they want to enjoy some of their Halloween haul?

–Do you really want to be the food police?

–And, please, don’t even try to define the “healthiest” Halloween candy. That’s absurd.

Just let you kids enjoy the holiday, and observe how your fears are unlikely to become facts.

 

Once, your kids have gotten tired of their Halloween candy, what can you do with their leftover stash? Maybe you could….

• enjoy the candy corn or red licorice instead of gels during extended exercise if you are a runner or endurance athlete?

* use it when making gingerbread houses at Christmas time?

• put some in the freezer (out of sight, out of mind) so you can have little treats all year long?

 

For more information on how to manage sugary sweets, please read the chapter on snack attacks in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Apple Crisp Recipe: Perfect for tailgating!

It’s apple-picking season, so pick a few extra to make this yummy Apple Crisp. This recipe will be a big hit when tailgating before a game, or for players who want to refuel after game.

This just one is one of many popular sports-food recipes in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Enjoy it! Continue Reading

What about the Paleo Diet…?

Q. Nancy, should I go on the Paleo Diet? I’m an avid fitness exerciser who wants to eat healthfully and take good care of my body.

A. I am sure many readers will think that I am “old school” by not jumping on the Paleo and anti-carb bandwagons, but I do pay close attention to the science regarding how to best fuel your muscles and your mind. The Paleo Diet, in my opinion, is unbalanced, unsustainable for more than a few years, and may well trigger binges on cookies and treats. The Paleo Diet is not the best food plan for active people.

I am a bigger advocate of eating a balanced variety of wholesome grains, lean meats, protein-rich beans and legumes, fresh fruits and veggies, and lowfat dairy. I teach my clients how to choose a winning variety of foods (and nutrients) from all food groups in a pattern they want to maintain for the rest of their lives. Paleo dieters, in comparison, have to “cheat” and “blow their diets” if they want to eat something yummy like pasta, bagels, birthday cake or holiday treats. Not a good plan or mindset. My clients learn how to incorporate some treats into an overall well balanced diet.

Many folks go on the Paleo Diet as a way to eliminate junk food and “bad carbs.” The hype about “bad carbs” should actually be targeted to overfat, underfit majority of Americans. Because you are athletic, you should get at least half of your calories from fruits, veggies and grains – the wholesome, quality carbs that fuel your muscles and invest in your good health. With well-fueled muscles, you can then train hard, lift heavy weights, and feel great.

Your food plan can also include some sweets and treats. Your overall diet should be 85-90% “quality calories” and 10-15% “whatever”. Some days “whatever” is blueberries, and other days “whatever” is blueberry pie with ice cream. No need to feel guilty for having a little dessert from time to time as long as you routinely eat a foundation of wholesome meals.

For more information on how to choose a sustainable, high quality sports diet:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

For athletes who just can’t seem to eat normally….

Many of my clients come to me, wishing they could just eat normally. They see their chaotic or restrictive  eating as being a problem that creates issues with their weight, energy, and performance. Weight issues tend to be “I’m not good enough” issues. Feeling imperfect or out of control is an unhappy place to live. An athlete might distract himself from feeling that discomfort by keeping himself busy tracking calories, exercising to burn fat, and obsessing about what, when and how much to eat. Food-thoughts can occupy 99% of the day, leaving little time or energy to deal with the real issue: poor self-esteem and why he doesn’t feel good about himself.

To every athlete’s detriment, dieting/restricting food can hurt the body’s ability to function normally (as commonly noted by feeling cold and tired all the time, and in women, ceasing to have regular menstrual periods). Bones become weakened, stress fractures occur, and osteoporosis appears too young. Future infertility can be a sad consequence.

If any of this sounds familiar, please stop procrastinating and get some help! Seeing a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in sports nutritionist is a good place to start on your journey to find peace with food and your body. To find a local sports RD, use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org.

Another resource is the section on weight management in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Whatever you do – meet with an RD or read a self-help book, do something so you can stop struggling and have more fun. Don’t let shame or embarrassment block you from getting the help you need so you can reach your performance goals.

Why do some athletes eat more than others?

Some athletes are less active than others –even if they do the same amount of exercise. In their non-exercise hours, they tend to be sedentary. They look forward to finishing their workout, settling into their Laz-y-boy chair, putting their feet up, turning on the TV, and vegging-out for hours on end. Sound familiar? If so, you may believe you have a “slow metabolism” and that is why you cannot eat as much as your friends.

Sedentary athletes commonly have undesired body fat, and many believe something is wrong with their metabolism. The truth is, they barely move their bodies during the day—other than during their five mile run or one hour spin class. To their detriment, sedentary athletes (who are good at sitting) tend to burn fewer calories than they realize over the course of the day. They may think they are active – but their one-hour of exercise does not compensate for the other 23 hours of sedentary behavior the rest of the day.

In comparison, other athletes rarely sit, and when they do, they can’t sit still. They shift and wiggle in their chairs, and are very good fidgeters. Their desire to fidget is genetic; it starts at birth and explains why these fidgeters prefer to relax by puttering (as opposed to sitting and reading)—and why they eat far bigger portions than their sedentary teammates. They have a “fast metabolism” and can out-eat their friends.

Of interest, people who are overweight or obese tend to be very good at sitting. They may sit 2.5 hours more each day compared to their peers and that can save them about 350 calories a day. A good fidgeter, in comparison, can burn an extra 300 to 500 calories per day. So a question arises: does obesity foster sedentary behavior? Or does the tendency to be sedentary foster obesity? Whatever the answer, the smart person builds activity into his or her day by parking the car further away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and planning walking meetings

Coconut oil: Good or Bad?

In the past year, my clients have become very curious about coconut oil. “What about coconut oil?” they ask. “Is it good or bad?”

My answer is there is not a good or bad food. That is, an apple is a good (healthful) food but a diet of all apples is a bad diet. The same concept applies to coconut oil. A little bit can fit into a balanced diet—but frequent consumption is likely trending to the dark side.

To date, there is too little research to make a firm health claim about coconut oil. But my question to you is, “Why would you want to swap out olive oil, a mono-unsaturated fat which is known to be health-promoting, and replace it with saturated fat that is known to be health erosive?”

Yes, coconut oil does contain some types of fatty acids that can have positive health attributes.  But it also has a signifiicant amount of the negative saturated fat that contributes to heart disease.

Why has coconut oil become so popular recently? Perhaps because the coconut industry has been busy promoting the positive aspects of coconuts. Quite likely, many food companies want to remove trans fats (a particularly bad saturated fat) from processed foods. Yet, trans fats, like all saturated fats, offer a nice texture to cookies and baked goods. (There’s a reason why cookies are made with butter instead of olive oil!)

If the food industry is stopping the use of trans fats—and consumers are educated enough to avoid saturated fats—the industry needs to come up with a new way to make food appealing. Enter coconut butter, coconut oil—and also a hyped-up by-product called coconut water. (You know, the “all-natural” sports drink…)

The bottom line: Before you invest in a vat of coconut oil, think twice and wait for better research on its long term effect on your health. Perhaps a little dab will do ya?”

For more information on how to choose a heart-healthy diet: Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, new fifth edition.

Too fat to exercise (or so he says)

“I know I should exercise to lose weight, but I’m so fat. I feel too embarrassed to be seem exercising in public” reported Tom (not his real name), a 35-year-old sports fan who wanted to lose about 50 pounds. He was an avid sports watcher, but he himself had never enjoyed playing sports because of his size. “You know, my knees ache when I walk more than 10 minutes. I’ll never be able to lose weight…” Continue Reading