Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegetarian Athletes

The primary concern for vegetarian athletes is protein. As athletes, your protein needs are a little bit higher than your meat-eating teammates because plant protein isn’t digested as easily as animal protein. Don’t worry though, as long as you are eating a variety of high protein sources, you should be able to meet your protein needs for training and competition. Low-fat dairy products and eggs are great sources of protein. If you are avoiding all animal products, some examples of high protein plant foods include:  
  • Peanut butter (8 g per 2 Tbs) 
  • Pistachios (6 g per 1 oz or 48 kernels) 
  • Tempeh (15 g per ½ cup) 
  • Falafel (14 g per ½ cup) 
  • Soybeans, as edamame (11 g per ½ cup) 
  • Lentils (9 g per ½ cup) 
  • Quinoa (4 g per ½ cup) 
As with trying any new foods, I would recommend doing an experiment with them not prior to a sporting event. Everyone tolerates foods differently, so try the food and see how you feel after 3-4 hours. If it’s not sitting well or causing some distress, you can eliminate it from your pre-competition meal or pre-practice snack. 
Vegetarian athletes also are at higher risk to be low in iron, especially women. Iron from animal sources is different from iron from plant sources in that it is not absorbed as easily. All iron is better utilized by our bodies when it is eaten with a source of vitamin C such as orange juice, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, or grapefruit. Some high iron foods include:
  • Iron-enriched cereals 
  • Prunes 
  • Raisins 
  • Spinach 
  • Broccoli 
  • Kidney beans 
More helpful information on eating vegetarian diets can be found at: 

USDA Choose MyPlate – Tips for Vegetarians 
USDA Lifecycle Nutrition – Vegetarian Nutrition 
The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom

Guest Blogger: Jaime Williams, USD Dietetic Intern

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fueling the Athlete with Oatmeal

If you are looking for a breakfast idea to have an hour or so before exercise, oatmeal is an excellent choice. Oatmeal is a whole grain that is high in soluble fiber, which allows for a slower digestion rate that provides long-lasting energy- perfect for athletes! You probably have noticed advertisements for oatmeal that label it as a "heart healthy" food. Oatmeal is considered heart healthy because the fiber content helps lower cholesterol levels. It will also help keep you feeling full longer. 

Oatmeal is high in carbohydrate. If you have read any other of my posts, you know how important carbohydrates are in the athlete's diet! A serving of oatmeal (1/2 cup, uncooked) provides 27 grams of carbohydrate. To add more grams of carbohydrates to your breakfast, prepare with milk and top with fresh fruit. That is a lot of wonderful nutrition in one bowl!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vitamin D and Athletes

What is Vitamin D? Here is some background information: 
  • Fat soluble vitamin meaning that the body stores excess amounts for later use opposed to water soluble vitamins which get flushed out through the system
  • Functionally it acts as a hormone with a similar structure as steroid hormones 
  • Known to be important for optimal muscle function as well as playing an important role in bone growth and repair, cell functioning, neuromuscular immune functioning and the management of inflammation. 
  • It is produced in the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight 
  • Not “just a vitamin”, but rather the only known substrate producing multiple effects related to functions in the body. 
  • Important to ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D together to ensure bone health 
    • Vitamin D is needed for absorption of calcium

Why is it important to athletes specifically? 
  • Vitamin D has been shown to improve athletic performance (International Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2009) 
    • A related finding noted that peak athletic performance occurs during summer sun exposure when your body produces the most Vitamin D 
    • Been shown to increase the size and percentage of “fast twitch” muscle fibers playing a huge role in generating quick bursts of speed and power
  • Supplementing vitamin D in athletes with sub-optimal levels may have beneficial effects on athletic performance in particular strength, power, reaction time and balance (AIS) 
  • A deficiency can lead to several health issues including increased risk of bone injuries, chronic musculoskeletal pain and viral respiratory tract infections 
    • Deficient athletes tend to have a higher incidence of stress fractures according to the Cleveland Clinic
1) Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) – “Fuelling your success – Vitamin D” 
2) Institute of Medicine, 2010 
3) Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Athletic Performance & Vitamin D (John Cannell, 2009) May 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - pp 1102-1110 
4) International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism; “Should We be Concerned About the Vitamin D Status of Athletes?” K.S. Willis et al.; 2008 5) Cleveland Clinic –“ Vitamin D deficiency Hazardous to Athletes’ Health & Performance”

Guest Blogger: Liz Wray, USD Dietetic Intern

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Inside the Summit League"

For those of you who have Midcontinent as their cable provider, be sure to check out my guest segment on "Inside the Summit League." The show airs on Wednesday nights at 7 pm CST on Midco Sports Net. I visit with the host, Tom Neiman, about various sport nutrition topics. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knowing Your Sweat Rate

Answering the question, "what is my sweat rate?" can be tricky. Although it can be calculated easy enough, there are so many variables that can affect it that it will not always be the same. It will change depending on the type and intensity of activity, temperature outside, genetics, humidity, and the type of clothing/equipment you are wearing. Being mindful with your hydration plan will help prevent some of the effects of dehydration and possible muscle cramping. 

An example of how much sweat rates can vary can be seen by looking at two tennis players.

Male 1: He is in his summer competition with an average sweat rate of 1.6 L per hour.
Male 2: He is also in his summer competition and is prone to muscle cramps. His sweat rate is 2.6 L per hour.

As you can see, most everything between these two males is the same (temperature outside, humidity, clothing) with the exception of their genetics. So it goes to show that you really need to pay attention to your body and how much YOU are sweating to estimate how much water you should be drinking. Not only are you losing fluid in your sweat, but also electrolytes. Sodium, in particular, is lost in sweat and even the rate of that is highly dependent on genetic factors. Some people are "salty" sweaters while others not. It may require adding in some electrolytes to your water or drinking a sports drink.

Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(2), 377-390.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to have Good Eyesight

Good eye care habits cultivated from young can prevent the worsening of one's eyesight and also prevent the development or worsening of myopia in children. For adults, spending long hours using computers or watching television can cause detrimental effects to our precious eyes too. Therefore, here are 6 points you should take note in order to achieve better eyesight.

Eat carrots or other foods rich in Vitamin A
If you currently have problems seeing well at night or have a host of other eye problems, it could be due to the lack of vitamin A in our bodies. Carrots protects the eye by reducing the risk of cataracts and preventing night blindness. Ensure you have enough vitamin A by eating foods like carrots or other fruits!

Spend more time outdoors instead of indoors
This is especially important for growing kids where research has show that kids who spend more time outdoors are less likely to suffer from myopia or short short-sightedness. However, do avoid periods where the weather gets really hot (eg 11pm to 3pm) as strong UV rays emitted by the sun can harm the eyes if no proper sunglasses are used.

Avoid spending too much time on a screen
Spending too much time on the computer or television puts great strain on our eyes as it causes our eyes to be more particularly adjusted to a certain focal length. This makes it difficult for our eyes to focus on distant objects if this continues for prolonged periods. Therefore, after every 30-40 minutes of looking at the screen, give your eyes a break by focusing on distant objects for 2-3 minutes before proceeding back to your screen. Try to focus on far away objects such as trees or grass as studies have shown that the colour green helps relax our eyes.

Ensure proper lighting when reading or studying
Insufficient lighting while reading or studying can cause our eyes to squint as it tries to make out the words in the dark. This squinting causes strain to our eye muscles and may damage our eyes in the long run. Hence, ensure sufficient lighting before proceeding to read or study

Exercise and do eye massages
Exercising increases overall heart rate and therefore blood circulation. Increased blood flow towards the eyes ensure our eyes absorb more nutrients and oxygen.
Doing gentle massages to our eyes can also sooth our eyes and increase blood circulation. One such method is to grab our nose area between our two eyes and massage the area up and down gently to increase blood flow

Go for regular eye checkups
Lastly, always go for regular checkups with a doctor to check for your eyes. This would allow you to discover early if you are suffering from any eye ailments so treatment can be given early.

Our eyes are precious, so take good care of them!

Watermelon and Grape Juice

A cooling drink to be enjoyed during hot weather and also an energy booster.

What you will need:   
300g watermelon
10 red grapes (without seeds)
15 ml lemon juice
15ml honey

1. Rinse and cut water melon into slices. Remove the seeds
2. Add in the watermelon slices and grapes into the blender and mix well.
3. Add in lemon juice and honey and serve with ice

Watermelons are a good source of fructose and fructose which provide us with energy to carry out our daily activities. They also help promote diuresis and reduce inflammation in our body. Hence, it is good for people who are heaty, suffering from fever or having sore throats.

Grapes contain lots of sugars such as glucose and fructose as well. They are high in iron and Vitamin B12 as well. Benefits of grapes include fighting fatigue, providing energy and preventing anemia.

Lemons are citrus fruits that are high in vitamin C that helps boost our immunity and makes the drink taste better.

A fresh watermelon should be without wrinkles and should have a smooth and dark green surface. When you scratch the surface of the watermelon with your fingertip, it should produce a crisp clear sound. When choosing cut pieces, ensure the flesh it bright red and its seeds are shiny.

Choose a bunch of even sized and plump grapes. Take note that it is normal to see white-powder like substances coated on the skin of grapes but do avoid grapes with wrinkled skin or brown patches on them.

Choose lemons that are bright yellow in corner with no black sports. Lemon should also be firm and heavy