Amaranth “Super Charged” Breakfast Porridge (GF, Veg)

I seem to be on an amaranth kick lately, and I wanted to create a few more recipes using it. Before moving on to the next ancient grain that is! Right now the cupboard and fridge are stocked with new and exciting (or maybe it’s ancient and exciting) things to try, and recipes to create. My last post was also on amaranth, and was for a protein bar. Today I had some time before I head to Bethlehem, PA for work, so I decided to make amaranth for breakfast. I love oats and quinoa for breakfast, so why not amaranth?

Amaranth, the “golden grain” of the Aztecs. You’ve got healthy carbohydrates, high protein (for a grain), a complete protein, high in fiber and high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Plus, if you need it, gluten free.

You can add just about anything you’d normally add to a breakfast porridge to the amaranth. Today I wanted to focus on helping to boost protein naturally, and provide the most complete breakfast possible. I think I did that, except I didn’t have any berries to add. I haven’t gone shopping, so if you make this, I’d add 1/2 cup of berries to each serving.

To the amaranth I added:

  • Hemp hearts (omega 3’s, fiber, protein, iron, calcium and other vitamins/minerals)
  • Ground chia/flax-seed blend (omega 3’s, fiber, protein, lignans, calcium and other vitamins/minerals)
  • Walnuts (omega 3’s, antioxidants, protein)
  • Choice of milk-skim, almond, coconut
  • Spices/flavorings-cinnamon and vanilla

So, all in all, you’re looking at a breakfast loaded with health benefits. I made 2 servings of porridge, and you can either make it for yourself and someone else, or save some for the next day. You can also save time by making this the night before, and re-heating with a bit more milk. Each serving provides:

  • 50% of your daily Iron
  • 100% of your daily Manganese
  • 40% of your daily Magnesium
  • 15-20% of your daily Calcium
  • 15g of protein

IMG_4281

Amaranth Porridge: (Serves 2)

1/2 cup uncooked, amaranth=1 cup cooked
1.5 cups water
4 tbsp hemp hearts
2 tbsp ground chia/flax seeds
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
4 tbsp milk (skim, unsweetened almond milk)
Dash of vanilla
Dash of cinnamon

*If it’s not sweet enough, you can add a dash of Stevia if needed. If you’re an athlete who just finished a workout, you can add a bit of honey.*

1. Heat the 1.5 cups of water to a boil. Add the 1/2 cup amaranth, cover reduce heat to medium low and cook around 20 minutes.
2. Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
3. When the grain is softened (it will still be a bit chewy) and the water is absorbed, add the hemp, chia/flax, walnuts and milk. Stir.
4. Add the vanilla and cinnamon to taste. Serve with 1/2 cup berries.

Nutrition:

  • 365kcal
  • 38g Carbs
  • 15g Protein
  • 12g Fat
  • 10g Fiber

 

Chocolatey Nutty Protein Bars, GF

Lately, I’ve been on a kick to try all of the “ancient” grains that are becoming so popular. And rightly so I might add. While so many people are shunning carbohydrates and grains, they are so many good options for less processed whole grains. Some of the grains aren’t even grains, but are pseudo grains. Quinoa and amaranth are actually seeds.

As athletes, grains have so many benefits. The largest benefit is that they provide carbohydrates needed to replenish the glycogen used during exercise. The other benefits include, fiber, protein/amino acids and other vital nutrients like iron.

Currently, I am working with Live Now Fitness with their get healthy weight loss challenge. Last night I saw a post from one of the athletes in the challenge, who posted a link to a site that was making their own “Kind Bars”. And boy did the Kind bars look good. As a bar, they are a pretty good choice for an athlete, but can be tricky if trying to lose weight. Usually they are around 150kcal, contain moderate amounts of carbs, fat and protein. Most do have added sugar, but some flavors are under 6g of sugar, which is pretty good. My daily goal for everyone is under 25g of added sugar. Ok, back to the site. Looking at the bars they were making, the added sugar was 10-13g. So, nearly half the daily amount. The reason for the amount was the recipe called for two types of sticky sugary sources. By heating the syrup they were able to develop that same sweet, crunchy Kind bar texture and taste. While on my drive home, I actually had quite some time to think about how I would change the bars.

Why so much time…? Well, turns out we had a sort of unexpected snow storm that took everyone by surprise. The weather was calling for 4-6 inches of snow, followed by freezing rain/sleet and eventual rain. I don’t think anyone took the weather guys seriously, because the roads were packed. By the time I got up to Baltimore, my usual 2.5 hour trip from Richmond to home was 5 hours. And when I was less than 2 miles from my house, there was a major traffic jam. There was too much snow falling, and cars without 4 wheel drive were getting stuck and sliding down the on-ramp. Here is a picture of me waiting in a line of cars for 20-30min, just to get up the ramp. You might be able to pick out the car sliding backwards. What a nightmare that was!

Route 295 heading into 95N

Route 295 heading into 95N

Ok, back to the bars. I knew I didn’t want to use added sugar in my bars, as I am a big proponent of reducing the added sugar. But would I be able to make a bar that tasted good without it?

On the drive, I formulated a bar in my head. By using a base of nut butter, and dates, I’d get a soft texture. Adding in the nuts would give the crunch. I really wanted to make a higher protein bar as so many of my athletes struggle with getting in adequate amount of protein post workout. So I added whey protein powder. In addition, I wanted to use an ancient grain, amaranth.

Amaranth:

  • A pseudo grain, technically a seed
  • High in protein, 8g per 1/4 cup uncooked
  • Provides all essential amino acids making it a complete protein
  • Gluten free
  • High in fiber, 7g per 1/4 cup uncooked
  • 20% of your daily iron and 30% of your daily magnesium in 1/4 cup uncooked
  • Also high in folate, zinc, B6 and calcium
  • Easy to prepare
  • Versatile in it’s use-cooked and eaten alone, added to soup, muffins, used as cereal/porridge, popped like popcorn, etc.

I decided that instead of cooking it, I’d try popping it. I wish I had taken a picture of this, but I didn’t. It just looks like popped rice cereal.

How to pop amaranth:

  1. Heat a stainless steel pot, over medium high to high heat. The pot should have tall sides
  2. You’ll know when the pot is hot enough when a drop of water jumps and steams when sprinkled in the pot.
  3. Add amaranth 1 tbsp at at time. Once you’ve added the first tbsp, cover the pot, lift above the heat and shake just over the heat for 10sec. You should hear it popping. Be very careful as it burns quickly.
  4. Pour the popped seeds into a bowl. Repeat.

I made 8tbsp of amaranth, so I repeated the step 8 times. If you add more than 1 tbsp, you will crowd the pan. If you cook it too long, it will burn. Be very careful and know that the first few times you might burn it while learning the proper cook time.

Here’s the recipe for the Chocolatey Nutty Protein Bars:

*If you don’t want to spend the time popping the amaranth and you don’t have any on hand, you could try substituting 2 cups of a popped rice cereal.

IMG_4278

I think they came out very good. Next time I might try adding more dates, reducing the milk/water and seeing how that changes the texture. I also might add hemp seeds or chia seeds as well. I wish I could have created a syrupy goodness with these bars, but alas, they are softer, not crunchier.

Chocolatey Nutty Protein Bars:

16 dried and pitted dates, soaked in 1.5 cups water for 20-30min
1/4 cup peanut/nut butter
1 cup whey/vegan protein powder (vanilla or unflavored) without added sugar or artificial sweeteners
1 cup skim or unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt if nuts are unsalted
2 tsp cinnamon
8 tbsp of amaranth, popped=2 cups, or use 2 cups of popped rice cereal if in a hurry
2 cups old fashioned oats, gluten free if needed
1/3 cup pistachios without shells
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almonds
3oz dark chocolate bar, chopped (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper
  2. Place 16 dates with water into a blender. Let sit for 20-30min until softened. When softened, blend for 30sec to 1 min. While softening, pop the amaranth-directions above.
  3. Add the nut butter, protein powder, milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon to the blender. Blend for another minute until the mixture is blended well.
  4. In a large bowl, place popped amaranth, oats, and nuts. Mix together.
  5. Pour the protein mixture into the nut mixture, stirring until mixed.
  6. If using the dark chocolate, add it now.
  7. Bake for 20-25min, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan , turn out onto a cutting surface and cut into 20 even bars.
  9. Wrap and store in the refridge for a few days, or in the freezer.

Nutrition with chocolate:

  • 220kcal
  • 21g carbohydrate- less than 1 g of added sugar
  • 11g protein
  • 12g fat (healthy)
  • 4 g fiber

Nutrition without the chocolate:

  • 195kcal
  • 18g carb- no added sugar
  • 11g protein
  • 10g fat (healthy)
  • 3 g fiber

The Three Styles of “Modern” Freestyle

Yesterday, I got to attend an American Swim Coaches Association continuing education event in Reston, VA. While there are times I’m not that excited to live in the Mid-Atlantic, one of the benefits is everything that the DC region has to offer. In addition to the wonderful history, museums, and culture, you also get to access to other great events. For example, while living in Oregon, I waited for 2 years to finally get to go to a RRCA Running Coaching clinic. Within the first few months of living here, I was able to go to a RRCA clinic. Looking at the ASCA swimming clinics, there are only 10 clinics in the US, and the only one on freestyle, is here. I fee lucky and blessed to have access to such great coaching resources.

Mike Bottom, the University of Michigan (both women’s and men’s swimming) head coach was the keynote speaker. He spent 4+ hours speaking on freestyle and training techniques. Currently I only coach adult swimmers, and only swimmers who want to swim due to the swim leg of a triathlon. But I began coaching swimming back at my swimming Alma mater, The Victor Swim Club in the early 2000s. I was a 10 and under coach, and loved it. While I do like coaching adults, getting to see their progress and see their achievements, there is something special about being a mentor to young swimmers. One day I’d like to be coaching youth swimming again. It’s not a reality in the very near future, but hopefully again.

I’d like to highlight some of the things we spoke about at the clinic, and if you’re not a swimmer, then I’m sorry, it might be boring ūüôā

Note: you can use all three styles of freestyle within a race. We watched a video of one of his swimmers doing a 200m race. He starts off with hip driven, in the last 50 moves to shoulder driven and in the last 10m goes to body driven. Pretty cool, I wish I had written down his swimmers name or the race he was swimming in.

The 3 Styles of Freestyle:

Hip Driven:

Hip driven freestyle is the most common form of freestyle and what most coaches are trying to teach. It is the most efficient stroke for long distance swimming, and is seen in swimming races from 200y and longer.

  • Stroke rate: 38-48 or 1.25-1.57 sec per stroke cycle
  • As the name implies, the hips drive this stroke.
  • This tends to be a front quadrant stroke-front quadrant swimming means that one of your hands is always in the one of the front two quadrants. Quadrant 1 is above the water in front of your head and 2 is below the water but in front of your head
  • Make sure you are getting a nice high elbow catch, also called early vertical forearm
  • The strength of the kick is what causes the hips to rotate
  • You can’t sprint well with a hip driven stroke

There are many good drills that help work on hip driven free. Mike recommended that everyone use a snorkel for the drills, specifically because it allows you to focus on your stroke, while not worrying about having to breath.

  • Kicking on your side, both arms at your side, and alternating sides is the most recommended drill.
  • Single arm drills are also important

Here’s a video from Mike:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT1ojfBuFqw

*I want to add, for triathletes in open water or just swimmers swimming open water, your turnover rate will be higher than the number given. When out in the open water, you must have a higher turnover rate in order to stay above the waves. You lose your glide a bit.*

Shoulder Driven Freestyle:

Shoulder driven freestyle is less efficient than hip driven, so it is usually only done in shorter distance races.

  • Stroke rate: 54-67 or .90-1.11 sec per stroke cycle
  • The shoulders drive the stroke, vs the hips driving
  • The hips stay relatively flat, and are stabilized by the kick-they are still rotating some, but the faster you swim, the flatter they go
  • You need a strong core and steady kick for this reason
  • Arms are in sync: one hand/arm is always in the water
  • You must fully extend the opposite arm to ensure full rotation of the shoulders
  • You can use this for sprinting or for distance

Drills:

  • Head up swimming-it will work on the trajectory of hand entry and you’ll see if you are dropping your elbow
  • Use gravitational force-use weighted paddles to help drive the hand downward
  • Pole vaulter drill where you almost throw your opposite arm over your head into the water
  • Use style sticks- the following video will show what they are

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOMF54wj2aA

Body Driven Freestyle:

Body driven freestyle is something you’ll only use at the end of races. It looks kind of spastic, but the way it works is kind of neat. When your arms and legs go anaerobic, and get very fatigued, usually your core is still able to be used. So, what happens is, you tighten your core, “bind” your hips and shoulders together, fix your scapula and throw your arms forward.

  • Stroke rate- 52-58rpm , or 1.03-1.15 sec per cycle
  • Use the last 5-15m of a race
  • Press your head and chest down to create spinal alignment
  • Us a full side to side stroke, engaging the core and with straight arms, go toward the wall
  • Mike describes it as “go to body.” When he or another coach yells that, it means, go to body driven freestyle as your stroke has started to fall apart.
  • There is also a slight dolphin action in your body and kick

Here’s an example: It actually covers all three, but I couldn’t find an example of just body driven.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hSCA_J5fP0&list=PLCF46677E119A57CC&index=1

So, there you have it, the 3 styles of freestyle. It’s pretty interesting, and I can’t wait to implement some of the techniques we learned. I don’t have access to all the cool “toys” they have like weighted paddles, but I do know that they team up with Speedo and other companies to put their tools into the open market.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Breakfast: Chocolate and Raspberry x 2

This morning I was trying to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit, and make a breakfast that to me said love and happiness. Chocolate came to mind, as who doesn’t like chocolate. Fruit and chocolate are a great pair, and I had frozen raspberries in the freezer. So, there you go, the perfect pair. Since it’s been so cold, I wanted to make oatmeal. Brett doesn’t usually care for oatmeal, so I made him something similar, just in a smoothie form.

So, we have a Chocolate and Raspberry Smoothie and Chocolate and Raspberry Oatmeal

Choco-Raspberry Smoothie

Choco-Raspberry Smoothie

Choco-Raspberry Oatmeal

Choco-Raspberry Oatmeal

Choco-Raspberry Smoothie: You can always opt for adding 1 tbsp cocoa powder and plain whey protein, or substituting plain Greek yogurt in its place for the protein punch. The chia seeds add a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. You are half way to your daily fiber goal with this smoothie.

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup raspberries (frozen)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop (20g) chocolate whey protein powder

Mix all the ingredients and blend till done.

Nutrition:

  • 413kcal
  • 44g carb
  • 31g protein
  • 14g fat
  • 14g fiber

 

Choco-Raspberry Oatmeal: The hemp and chia seeds add a nice punch of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and protein to this oatmeal. Just this breakfast alone gives you more than half of your daily intake of fiber.

  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (frozen)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp Stevia
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup oats

Mix the ingredients together, and microwave till done. I cooked this for 2.5 minutes. You could also do this over the stove, and then add the ingredients while cooking.

Nutrition:

  • 410kcal
  • 52g carbohydrate
  • 17g protein
  • 18g fat
  • 18g fiber

 

Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew

I just arrived home from a business trip to VA Beach. I was able to see a good friend, I put on a nutrition clinic for J&A Racing (in prep for the shamrock marathon) and I got to wake up seeing the ocean.¬† I love the ocean, the peaceful waves and just about any other body of water. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty miserable. Wind, and I’m talking 25+mph constant winds, rain, and freezing temps. I had been excited to do my PT, then my 2.5 mile walk outside on the boardwalk. Unfortunately it was done inside on the Hampton Inn treadmill instead. While traveling, it’s no surprise that my go to food choices are grocery store salad bars. Wegmans, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Martins, etc. This time my event was right next to a Whole Foods. So, after my nutrition clinic, some warm soup and salad sounded delicious.

At the large Whole Foods, they often have 8-10 choices of soups. Everyone of them looks and smells delicious, but this time I chose a salmon stew. It was loaded with salmon, beans and veggies. To my surprise, it also had hummus listed as an ingredient. I’m not exactly sure why, but one guess was to help it with its creaminess. So last night, after getting home, I decided to try to re-create it. I always have hummus, beans and veggies at home, and I also had frozen wild salmon. I also added sweet potatoes, corn, celery and cauliflower to my stew. I don’t believe they were in the Whole Foods version.

Whole Foods version used either half and half, butter or cream, I can’t remember which. I didn’t want to use dairy products (I’m experimenting with making things creamy without it), so I decided I’d boil and mash some cauliflower to add to the soup. My thought was, if it was blended enough, it would blend into the stew and you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a veggie. I used a hand masher, and it wasn’t creamy enough. So, I’d suggest a blender, a hand blender or a hand mixer to get the right consistency. And voila, you’ll have a creamy soup, without the cream/fat and added veggies, that don’t look like veggies. Always good for families trying to increase their veggie intake.

With this dinner, you’re getting loads of vitamins, minerals, healthy carbs, antioxidants, healthy fats/omega 3 fatty acids, lean protein and fiber. It’s an all around winner for nutrition and taste.

Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew

Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew

Salmon and Sweet Potato Stew, 6 servings (2 cups each)

-prep and cook time 45min

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
1/2 cup lower sodium chicken broth or water
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium sweet potato (about 2 cups), chopped small or minced
1 cup of carrots, chopped small or minced
2.5 cup of lower sodium chicken broth
1 cup of fish stock
1 cup of diced, no salt added tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 15oz can cream corn (I used creamed for added creaminess)
1 14.5oz drained and rinsed can of great northern beans
1/3 cup plain hummus
12 oz fresh wild salmon (could have been frozen and thawed) cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp black pepper

1. Place cauliflower in a medium pot and fill with just enough water so that it is covered. Heat to boiling, cover, reduce to medium heat and simmer for 10min.
2. Add 1/2 cup of water or stock, and mash. To get a smoother texture, use a hand beater/blender.
3. In a large stock pot, swirl 2 tbsp olive oil around the pan.
4. Heat to medium, and add garlic and onion. Heat 3 minutes until starting to soften.
5. Add the celery, sweet potato and carrots, and cook 7 minutes.
6. Add the stock, the tomatoes, corn and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 3 minutes.
7. Add the hummus and salmon and stir. Simmer an additional 6-8 minutes or until the salmon is done.
8. Add the mashed cauliflower and stir to combine.
9. Season with lemon, dill, parsley and black pepper.

*Note: I used only 1 cup of fish stock as I didn’t want to make this too fishy. Feel free to reverse the fish stock and chicken stock, or just play around with the amounts of each.*

Nutrition per serving:

  • 398kcal
  • 55g carbohydrates
  • 26g protein
  • 10g fat
  • 12g fiber
  • High in iron, vitamin A, C, D, K and the B vitamins

 

 

The Fueled and Focused Nutrition Plan

Eat these 5 superfoods. Don’t eat these 7 foods if you’re trying to lose weight. 10 foods that boost your fat loss. The hidden dangers of the food you love.¬† Saturated fat is bad, no saturated fat is good, eat more butter. Dairy is bad and only for babies; no, dairy is good, drink your milk. Wheat is bad and causes inflammation, no wheat is important, eat your whole grains. And so on and so on until your head is spinning. What should I eat, what shouldn’t I eat? Today’s media, certain doctors and certain nutritionists give conflicting information on an almost daily basis. One day you pull up your news feed on your computer and one thing is said, then less than 24 hours later, someone posts something contradictory.

Being an average consumer, just trying to go to the grocery store/market and buy healthy food for your family is quite tough today. Being an athlete and trying to fuel your body to perform it’s best is tough today. I’m not talking about the cost of food, but the conflicting messages that are everywhere. So, while I don’t have the answers for everyone, and everyone needs to eat what is best for their body, here is my take on what the average person/athlete should consume on a daily and weekly basis, plus do’s, don’ts and tips.

The Fueled and Focused Nutrition Plan:

The Basics:

Eat Daily:

  • Vegetables (3-4 cups): Especially dark leafy greens, veggies rich in color and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts)
  • Fruit (2-3 cups): Especially berries
  • Beans and Legumes(1/2-1cup): Sprouted if you’d like for better digestion, BPA free cans
  • Nuts and Seeds (1oz, or 100-200kcal): Especially walnuts, almonds, chia, flax, quinoa, hemp hearts
  • The bulk of your meals should be made up of these foods

Can Eat Daily, Not Needed but Recommended:

  • Whole grains(amounts vary on your training period): 100% whole wheat, Sprouted and/or gluten free if you’d like, oatmeal, ancient grains: amaranth, spelt, millet, etc.
  • Lean Protein (4-6oz, 1-2 eggs)-Eggs, chicken, turkey, pork, fish (wild), soy
  • Dairy (1-2 cups): Lower fat- plain kefir, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, skim milk
  • Unsweetened non dairy (1-2 cups): Almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk
  • Green Tea: Ideally 3-4 cups is recommended, however just getting one in is a good start
  • Coffee: no recommended amount, but I’m adding this for my coffee loving friends/athletes. Vary your amounts depending on your training period, because if you can taper off coffee/caffeine before a big race, there’s a potential for feeling a greater effect from caffeine during the race.

Occasional:

  • Red Meat
  • Butter: please choose a healthy oil like olive or coconut first, but butter is fine in moderation.
  • 72% or greater dark chocolate
  • Alcohol, especially wine (Brett wanted me to add, “Tasty, tasty IPAs “)
  • Protein powder or bars for recovery post long workout or race

Rare:

  • Things with added sugar: unless you’re in a big athletic period and using sports nutrition
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Refined grains and cereal, crackers
  • Sweets: cookies, candy, cake
  • Fatty meat:bacon, pork sausage, certain cuts of red meat like prime rib

 

Carbohydrate/Protein/Fat Ratios:

Non-Athletes, but still active adults (can be athletes in off season): 40-50% carbohydrate: 2-5g/kg/day, 20-30% protein: .8-1.5g/kg/day, fat: no set amount, but 20-30% of daily calories

Endurance and Team Athletes (1-2 hour/day workouts)-triathletes, runners, cyclists, swimmers, soccer: 50-65% carbohydrate: 5-8g/kg/day, 15-20% protein: 1.2-1.5g/kg/day, fat: no set amount, but 15-30% of daily calories

Endurance Athletes (2-6 hour + workouts): 60-65% carbohydrate: 8-10g/kg/day, 15-20% protein: 1.2-1.5g/kg/day, fat: no set amount, but 15-20% of daily calories

Strength and Power Athletes-Olympic lifters, CrossFit Athletes: 40-50% carbohydrate: 2-5g/kg/day, 20-30% protein: 1.5-2g/kg/day, fat, no set amount, but 20-30% of daily calories

*If you’re a non active adult or athlete, I am not focusing this plan on your daily needs. Many non active adults find that adopting a lower carbohydrate lifestyle does work for them. Even though many do, I am still not a fan of a low carbohydrate lifestyle, and believe that everyone should include healthy whole grains, fruit and vegetables in their diet. If someone did want to go lower carbohydrate, I wouldn’t go less than 40/30/30.*

 

 Nutrition Plates: What should your plate look like?

Periodize your nutrition to match your training levels. When you’re in a build, or the heart of your training, focus on including more starchy carbohydrates into your daily nutrition. When you’re out of season, you need less emphasis on starchy carbohydrates and more emphasis on non starchy carbohydrates. Oats, pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes vs. Leafy greens, peppers, cruciferous vegetables.

Vegetarian and performanceVegetarian offseason

 Serving Sizes: Based on your hands and other visual cues

  • One serving of meat:¬† the palm of your hand. For women this can be around 3-5oz, men usually 5-6oz.
  • One serving of fish: the size of a check book
  • One serving of grains:¬† your hand in a fist, or your hand cupped and turned upwards. This is about 1/2c-3/4 cup cooked grains depending on men vs women.
  • One serving of veggies or berries: your hand in a fist
  • One serving of fruit like an apple or orange: the size of a tennis ball
  • One medium potato: the size of a computer mouse.
  • 1 tbsp Nut butter/butter: small hands, your thumb, larger hands, 1/2 thumb
  • One serving of cubed cheese: 6 dice or 2 thin slices of cheese

Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do eat real food. Shop on the outside perimeter of the grocery store, and utilize your local farms and farmers markets. Cut down on packaged and processed foods.
  • Don’t just eat less food, eat foods that give you more satiety value, so you end up eating less i.e.¬† 150kcal of sliced red pepper with hummus vs 150kcal of crackers-the pepper and hummus=vitamin, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, healthy carbs and fat, while the crackers are processed, and may contain carbs, but possibly refined grains, sugar and fat.
  • Don’t eat mindlessly. Pour out one serving and then listen to your body cues to tell you if you’re still hungry, or getting full
  • Do stop eating when you are nearly full, but before feeling stuffed
  • Don’t be afraid of fat, fat is not your enemy: nuts, olive oil, avocado -high fat foods contain high amounts nutrients, but also a high amount of calories. Watch your portions.
  • Don’t consume your calories in juice or liquid form-eliminate juice, sodas, sweetened teas and choose coffee, tea, water and milk. An exception to juice is for athletes prior to a morning workout who can’t stomach solid foods. Make it 100% juice though.
  • Do consume fish several times a week. Look for wild caught fish, and surprisingly, canned tuna and salmon are good and inexpensive choices as well. Good choices: Salmon, tuna, tilapia, cod, oysters, shrimp and trout.
  • Do increase your consumption of beans, legumes and lentils. Substitute these for meat, in dishes calling for meat i.e. black bean burritos, lentils in soup
  • Don’t consume fried fast food. It’s as easy as that. No fried foods. Fast food can be healthy-i.e. Sweet Greens, Panera
  • Don’t use artificial sweeteners or consume foods/drinks that contain them. Stevia is a good substitute if you need to sweeten a dish
  • Do eat local and farm raised foods-fruit, vegetables, eggs, dairy, meat
  • Do drink water throughout the day. Carry a water bottle around and take sips throughout the day

 

Tips:

  • Ketosis and high fat diets can work for sedentary people, people trying a treatment for a certain disorder/disease, and for athletes going long, who don’t need to be able to kick it into high gear. If you are an athlete who wants to be able to “kick it into high gear” consume at least 150g carb/day.
  • Low fat and fat free foods often have added sugar to make them taste better. Watch out for foods that say “low fat” or “diet.” The exception for these is skim milk, and 1-2% yogurts and cottage cheese. If you get fat free, you’ll often see added sugar. Ex. Fat free cottage cheese might contain added sugar because they took out the fat : 1-2% cottage cheese will usually not contain added sugar. Always check the labels.
  • Make meat the side dish, and highlight vegetables during a meal. Try to increase your amounts of vegetables and only include meat on an occasional basis.
  • Dairy protein/Whey is the best protein source for athletes due to it’s high amounts of leucine. If you’re not lactose intolerant, dairy is a fine choice for most people. There is conflicting evidence with cancer. Some studies show an increased rate of cancer while others show a decreased rate of cancer after consuming milk. If you can afford organic, that’s great. If you can’t, it’s still a good choice. If you’re worried about dairy, you don’t have to consume it. It’s as simple as that. You then need to get your protein, leucine and calcium needs from other sources.
  • Protein helps you to stay full longer, so try to have at least 20g of protein at every snack or meal.
  • Sugar, the most talked about nutrition word of 2014. That might be an exaggeration, but it is currently a hot topic. As athletes and non athletes, our body uses sugar/glycogen as fuel. So, on a whole, sugar isn’t bad, we need it. If we break it down, we should get our sugar from fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, legumes and dairy. This sugar is naturally occurring. The sugar we don’t want in our daily diets is added sugar. This is often in processed and packaged foods.
  • When training, sugar is your friend. One of my sayings is “eat the exact opposite way during training/racing that you do during your normal day.” Avoid added sugar during the day, and when you need to take in sports nutrition (90+min workouts), it’s ok.
  • Gluten/Wheat is another hot topic. Celiac’s disease, and wheat allergies are real. I also believe that there are some people who are intolerant to gluten. I believe the vast majority of people who think they are intolerant, aren’t truly. If you do believe you are, please still include gluten free grains in your diet: oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, etc. If you are just worried about it, not sure what the hype is, but believe you should avoid it, you probably shouldn’t.
  • On occasion, it’s ok to fall off the wagon, and shouldn’t be cause for any negative feelings. Healthy food is delicious, but sometimes you just need to indulge. That’s totally fine, indulge and enjoy one of life’s finer things. Indulging with good food is truly wonderful, just make it a rare or occasional event.
  • Supplements fall into the ok and waste of money categories. If you’re eating a balanced diet (vegans are not included here as they need more than the typical person), you rarely need to take a vitamin supplement. My exception to that is Vitamin D. I’d recommend all athletes take a Vitamin D supplement, in addition to fish oil. If you want to take a multivitamin, I’m fine with that, it’s like extra insurance. You might have expensive pee, but you know you’re covered. If your doctor has you on something else, like iron, or magnesium, of course stick with what they are having you take. Other supplements are more in the grey area. There is some research that shows positive results from creatine, beta alanine, sodium bicarb, and a few others. Possibly a waste of money, possibly not. Then there are the others that have far reaching claims, those are probably a waste of money.

 

*Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions after years of undergraduate and graduate education, learning from some of the best minds in the world, and hours of reading nutrition research. In addition, I have helped numerous athletes achieve their goals via this type of plan, and of course use my own anecdotal evidence. If you are in disagreement with anything I’ve written, that’s fine with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should eat the way that is best for them. And lastly, if you have any medical concerns, please consult a physician.*