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Epic Nutrition Series Part 2: Pantry Staples

Due to long training days, volunteer and family commitments, both professionals and age-groupers can benefit from pre-planning by stocking up on pantry staples.  Furthermore, many endurance athletes, unless they are professionals, are limited on grocery shopping time due to full-time job commitments. Here are my recommended pantry tables followed by discussion of benefits: Spices Nuts Seeds/Nibs Oils Grains Canned Black Pepper Almonds Cacao Avocado Amaranth Black Beans Cayenne Coconut (shredded) Chia Olive Buckwheat Chickpeas Cinnamon Macadamias Flax Coconut Farro Coconut Milk Cloves Pecans Hemp Flax Millet Lentils Ginger Walnuts Pumpkin Quinoa Pumpkin Green powders Sesame Red Beans Rosemary Sunflower  Other Sea salt  Balsamic Vinegar Turmeric No one is exempt from needing micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to maintain homeostasis and even better – to thrive.  Endurance athletes have an increased need for micronutrients as they put additional stress on their bodies during training and racing.  This is why booster foods – such as anti-inflammatory spices and concentrated green powders (spirulina and chlorella) or other super foods such as maca powder are integral to a healthy diet.  These foods pack a powerful punch in small amounts and are easy to incorporate into smoothies, wraps, salads, smoothies, muffins and nut milks. Seeds are the center of life. Plants grow from seed and nuts, making them life-sustaining. They can be easily mixed into most dishes, can be obtained at a low-cost to stock and are portable. Most of the time we prepare food dishes cooking oils are required. They are drizzled over vegetables, stirred into soups, sautéed with meats, and have many other uses.  They are usually consumed on an everyday basis, which...

GenUCAN Choco-Coffee Buzz Pancakes

Serves 1-2 Ingredients 2 packets Cocoa Delite Generation UCAN Powered Drink Mix 1/3 cup filtered water 5 Tbsp. coffee flour* (made from coffee cherry pulp) 1/2 medium banana (ripe) 1 Tbsp. cacao nibs, unsweetened   Directions Place first four ingredients in stand mixer. Beat until well combined. Stir in cacao nibs. Brush a large nonstick skillet or griddle with coconut oil and heat over medium-low heat. Divide batter in half and cook 2 pancakes until bubbly on top, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook about 2 more minutes. Top with unsweetened shredded coconut and enjoy!  Athlete Fueling Strategy: Consume 1 hour before exercise. One pancake activity < 2 hours. Two pancakes activities > 2 hours. *Note: Caffeine content of these pancakes is about 40-50mg total. If you opt to use coffee flour from coffee beans rather than discarded coffee cherries, caffeine count will be higher per...

Glowing Green Smoothie Bowl

Serves 2-3   Ingredients 2 ½ cups leafy greens 1 cup coconut milk or nut milk 1 avocado 1 cup frozen cherries or blueberries 2 bananas (ripe) 1 Tbsp. almond butter 1 Tbsp. flaxseed (ground) 2 Tbsp. chia seeds   Directions Place all ingredients in blender.   Pour into individual bowls and top with shredded coconut, fresh berries, cacao nibs, nuts or seeds. Enjoy!...

Endurance Athletes: Fat is Your Friend

For long distance endurance training/races, there are multiple reasons to consider the switch from sugar-fueling to fat-fueling: Leaner Body Composition.  Stabilizing blood sugar levels by increasing dietary fat and reducing sugar intake will help to balance hormones and regulate appetite (less fueling needed during training/races). Managing insulin levels reduces the risk of excess insulin that will be converted to adipose (fat) tissue in the body, resulting in a lower body weight. This process improves power-to-weight ratio, which may aid in faster hill climbing – both on the bike or on a run. Sustained Long-Distance Performance.  Visualize two gas tanks. The “sugar tank” has 2,000 available calories for use and the “fat tank” has 40,000 calories for use. Which would you rather have? Fat, of course. Even the leanest athlete has 20x times the carbohydrate (sugar) storage in their body available. The challenge is tapping into this fat tank. It can take several weeks or months for an athlete to train their body to burn fat as their primary fuel source. Less reactive oxygen species.  Sugar can be toxic to the body, especially in large doses, and can generate a large amount of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) which inhibits cellular function. Cellular function is integral to our body’s functioning correctly, as cells are responsible for all communication and can affect athletic performance.   Increased Serotonin Levels.  Including healthy fat in your diet can improve mood, lend to more happiness and provide a sharp, focused mind-set during long training periods. Recent research is showing naturally occurring saturated fats boost mood and cognitive abilities. How do you become “fat adapted”? You can...

Willpower: Can it be strengthened?

Recently, someone mentioned that they don’t have my willpower and it’s preventing them from eating healthy.   I thought about this a lot.  Two thoughts coincided in my mind.  First, it’s not a superpower of mine. I struggle just as the next person with the decision of eating chocolate cake with chocolate icing that is offered to me – our brains are wired to do so. Second, I usually have a strategy in place:  always have healthy options.  It doesn’t mean I choose them every time, but having a plan — whether cooking/baking ahead on Sundays or stocking my car/purse/backpack with packets of nut butter and seeds so that I have food available ensures I have healthy options, in case I feel hungry. So what can you do?   Identify your weak areas – is it the office, home, in the car? Where are you consuming these high sugar/high trans fat laden goods?  Who are you consuming them with? Strategize and create a plan. If you’re office has temptations, have some healthy food options available instead.  When you satiate your body with nourishing nutrients, you will feel less likely to eat a few donuts with your coworkers.   Another option at the office – bring your own goodies!  I love baking muffins and pies with healthy ingredients (often swapping applesauce for sugar) so that I can have a satisfying snack.  Create a small group within your office of home-baked goods and make it a group goal to eat healthier foods.  And home? Don’t keep refined sweets at home. You are much more likely to consume these if you’ve had a bad...

Good, Better, Best!

What is a sustainable diet?  I spend a lot of time counseling clients on the concept of making their diet work for their lifestyle. Not trying to have the ‘perfect diet’ all the time is a more livable and practical concept for most people and they are more likely to stick to the diet which supports their health goals. A combination of “Good”, “Better”, and “Best” choices is the perhaps the best way to implement sustainable change in your diet.  Enjoying a homemade chocolate cake for someone’s birthday is probably fine (and really yummy!); try to eat a healthy dinner afterwards, filled with leafy greens, lean protein, and healthy fats.  A sustainable diet is not trying to have the perfect diet, but creating a healthy, flexible structure of food options which will allow your body to feel its best. What is Good? “Good” is cutting down on processed foods and incorporating healthier foods into your diet, such as swapping salad for french fries or a lettuce wrap for a few slices of bread. “Good” is making choices that will help you to feel better. For an athlete, this may be selecting an energy bar with minimal, pronounceable ingredients over a highly-processed, high-sugar energy bar. What is Better? “Better” is beginning to look at food more than just ‘energy’. It’s pausing at meals, allowing your body to properly digest food. It’s eating meals that require a fork and knife; swapping burgers and burritos for a plated dish, filled with salad, veggies and good protein.  “Better” may be adding a cup of wholesome soup to your meals or stocking your office/kitchen cupboards with healthy snacks....
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