Blog

Too nervous to eat?

Too nervous to eat?

Are you among the plethora or athletes who gets the pre-event jitters? I’ve talked with many a figure skater, baseball pitcher, and runner who feels unable to eat before a competition. Unfortunately, performance problems start when nervous energy (from adrenaline) becomes unable to sustain top performance. Continue Reading

Should I eat before a morning run?

Should I eat before a morning run?

I run at 5:30 in the morning and generally don’t eat anything. I’ve read that I shouldn’t run on empty. If there were just one food to eat—easily digestible—which one would you recommend? Continue Reading

Wanted: Host sites for my sports nutrition workshop

For my next Fall-Winter workshop series, I am looking for a medical facility, health club or university that would enjoy hosting “Nutrition for Sports, Exercise & Weight Management: What Really Works and Why.” I co-lead this workshop with exercise physiologist John Ivy.

We would like to hold the workshop in the vicinity of :

Boston and Providence – sometime in November and December 2015

Washington DC– sometime in January, Feb or March 2016

If you know of a facility with a conference room/lecture hall that holds about 100 people for this workshop please contact me at nclarkrd@rcn.com.

The workshop schedule is Friday (8:00 to 4:30) and Saturday morning (7:00 to 12:30), We trade the room for some free registrations for the staff at the facility.

 

Nancy Clark

www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com

Half vs. Full Marathons: Fueling differences?

Q. I am new to running and am training for my first half-marathon. Is there a difference between fueling for a half-marathon vs. a full 26.2-mile marathon?
A. One difference relates to burning about 1,300 calories (half-marathon) vs. 2,600 calories (full marathon). The marathoner also has an easier chance of becoming dehydrated, might need more sodium, and perhaps wants a caffeine-boost along the way. Continue Reading

How much junk food (if any) is OK to eat?

While some people try to avoid any form of a sweet treat, salty snack or other form of so called “junk food”, others wonder how much they can eat without creating nutrition and health problems. For my clients, I suggest they enjoy a healthful sports diet that targets 85 to 90-percent of calories from quality foods and, if desired, 10 to 15-percent from “whatever.” Some days “whatever” might be carrots and other days it might be (guilt-free) carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. If you have trouble with eating too much junk food, the problem is not sugar and sweets but rather, you have likely gotten too hungry. You can resolve afternoon junk-food cravings by eating heartily at breakfast and lunch.

Given that you can ingest the recommended intake of all the vitamins, minerals, and protein you need within 1,500 calories from a variety of wholesome foods, a hungry athlete who consumes 2,000 to 4,000 calories a day has the opportunity to consume LOTS of nutrients. For example, 8 ounces of orange juice offers 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C. A thirsty runner who chugs the whole quart can consume 4 times the RDA in that one snack. OJ is better than an all-natural vitamin pill! Hence, a few hundred calories of “junk food” has little negative impact in the context of the whole diet.

Should athletes try to avoid refined sugar?

Refined white sugar is a nutritional zero, void of any vitamins, minerals or protein. Yet, the calories in sugar come from carbohydrates. Muscles welcome these carbs to fuel depleted glycogen stores. Muscles don’t know the difference between carbs from juice, candy, and sports drinks vs. apple, sweet potato, and banana. The difference shows up in health, immune response, and ability to fight off colds and flu. Continue Reading

How to Help Your Overweight Child

Q. “My son is chubby. What can I do to help him lose weight..?

A. How to help an overfat child lose weight is a complex topic of debate among parents and pediatricians alike. We know that restricting a child’s food intake does not work. Rather, restricting food tends to result in sneak-eating, binge-eating, guilt, shame–the same stuff that adults encounter when they “blow their diets.” But this time, the parents become the food police—an undesirable family dynamic.

The following tips are based on information from books by family feeding expert Ellyn Satter: Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming and Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family.

Food restrictions cause problems

Despite your best intentions to prevent creeping obesity, do not put your overfat child on a diet. Diets for children disrupt a child’s natural ability to eat when hungry and stop when content. Instead, the child overcompensates and doesn’t stop when he’s content (binges) or stuffs himself with “last chance eating.” You know, “Last chance to have birthday cake so I’d better eat a lot now because when I get home, I’m restricted to celery sticks and rice cakes.”

If you are a parent of a chubby child, note that children commonly grow out before they grow up. That is, they often gain body fat before starting a growth spurt. Instead of putting your daughter on a diet (which damages self-esteem and imprints the message she isn’t good enough the way she is), get her involved in sports and other activities. If your child expresses a desire to learn how to eat better, arrange for a consultation with a registered dietitian who specializes in pediatric weight control. (Use the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ referral network at www.eatright.org.)

Is your child really overfat?

Often, the child’s weight problem is really the parent’s issue. You may want a “perfect child.” Talk to your pediatrician to determine if your child’s weight is indeed a health issue.

Be sure to love your overfat child from the inside out–and not judge her (or him) from the outside in. Just little comments (“That dress is pretty, honey, but it would look even better if you’d just lose a few pounds…..”) get interpreted as “I’m not good enough.” Self-esteem takes a nose-dive and contributes to anorexic thinking, such as “thinner is better.”

Weight management tips

So what can you do to help fat kids slim-down? Work together as a family to change your food and exercise habits. This could mean watching less TV, planning enjoyable family activities (unlike boot camp), and perhaps even creating a walking school bus with the neighborhood kids. As a family, you might want to sign up for a charitable walking or running event

Food-wise, provide your kids with wholesome, nourishing foods, as well as semi-regular “junk foods.” (Otherwise, they will go out and get them). Encourage them to eat breakfast. Plan structured meals and snacks; take dinnertime seriously. Your job is to determine the what, where and when of eating; the child’s job is to determine how much and whether to eat. (That is, don’t force them to finish their peas, nor stop them from having second helpings.) Trust them to eat when hungry, stop when content—and have plenty of energy to grow and enjoy an active lifestyle.

Sports dietitian Nancy Clark, MS, RD has a private practice in the Boston area, where she counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes (617-795-1875). Her best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook is available at www.nancyclarkrd.com. See also www.NutritionSportsExercise.com for online education.

Struggling with constipation?

Nancy—

I have one of those embarrassing questions to ask: How can I resolve my struggle with constipation? Four or five days can go by without my having a bowel movement. Needless to say, I feel very “clogged up” and uncomfortable. Do you have any dietary suggestions to help resolve this problem? Continue Reading

Does that bathroom scale ruin your day?

Q. I recently bought a really good scale and I weigh myself every morning. Some days, when I think I should have lost weight, the scale says I gained two pounds and that ruins my mood….

A. The scale reports not just changes in body fat, but also changes in body water and intestinal content. Hence, your weight can fluctuate one or two pounds daily. Many factors affect weight. These include:

— Are you constipated? Or do you have diarrhea?

— Are you experiencing pre-menstrual bloat?

–Did you eat a salty Chinese meal the night before?

–Are dehydrated from hard workouts?

–Did you overeat carbohydrates?

Your muscles store carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, grains, sugars, and starches) as glycogen. You rely on glycogen to fuel hard exercise Your body stores about about three ounces of water along with every ounce of carbohydrate. Hence, you might notice you “gained weight” the morning after a big pasta dinner, but that’s water-weight that gets released during your next exercise bout.

You should not expect your body to consistently weigh, let’s say, 120 pounds — but rather, vary within a range between 118 and 122 pounds, depending on the kinds of food you eat. Water weight quickly comes and goes. It is not permanent. You should not let this normal fluctuation depress your mood for the day.

Rather than weigh yourself every morning, I suggest you not weigh yourself (or if you must, then just once a week, like on a Wednesday). If you feel thinner, if your clothes are looser, and if people  comment that you look leaner, then you have lost body fat–despite the number on the scale.

Better yet, rather than start each day by weighing yourself, how about starting it by smiling at yourself in the mirror and appreciating your body for all the wonderful things it does to for you? That sounds more fruitful to me!

 

For more information on how to attain your desired body weight, refer to the weight management section in:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

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).

Right now, the workshop is available only online, but we will be starting up again in November 2015 – March 2016. We are looking for host sites in Washington DC/Baltimore-area, RI, CT and MA. Let me know if you would be interested in bringing this workshop to your facility!
  

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