There is so much nutrition and health information floating around these days all over the place. Everyone seems to have a say on what is right and true to be successful at reaching your goals. But sometimes this information doesn’t line up with each other. What do you do? Who do you listen to? Have no fear, we are here to bust some of the top nutrition “facts” and “myths” that have you confused.
Myth or Fact? Protein powder supplements are the be-all, end-all essential to post-workout for recovering. Without protein powder post-workout, your sweat has gone to waste.
Myth or Fact? Coconut water is equal or superior to a traditional sports beverage as a fluid & electrolyte replacement after an intense endurance cardio training session
Myth or Fact? Vitamin supplements give you energy for physical activity
Myth or Fact? Eating after 7pm will lead to weight gain.
Alysha Coughler, RD, MSHc, PTS
Registered Dietitian with Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management
Examine. (2015). Protein Supplements. Retrieved 2 May 2016 from http://examine.com/supplements/Protein+Supplement/
Gluck, M., Venti, C., Salbe, A., Krakoff, J. (2008). Nighttime eating: commonly observed and related to weight gain in an inpatient food intake study. Am Society of Clin Nutr, 88(4): 900-905.
Kalman, D., et al. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jan 18;9(1):1.
Marcason, W. (2011). Is there evidence to support the claim that a gluten-free diet should be used for weight loss? J of the Amer Diet Assoc, 111(11): 1785-1786.
Wild, D., Robins, G., Burley, V., Howdle, P. (2010). Evidence of high sugar intake, and low fibre and mineral intake, in the gluten-free diet. Aliment Pharm & Therapeut, 22(4): 573–581.
Nisevich, P. MSc, RD (2014) http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/is-coconut-water-better-for-runners-than-sports-drink
Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:859-73.
Willet, W (2015). http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/weight-control/
As you should all know by now, a Sports Dietitian is very different than a Registered Dietitian. Sports Dietitians are Registered Dietitians that have received additional training and have specialized in sports and physical activity. This is a really important difference as the body processes and uses the nutrition you get from your food and supplements differently when your body is physically active. Furthermore, everyone is different and therefore needs different nutritional recommendations. Knowing this, there are differences in the information that a Sports Dietitian needs for your initial assessment in order to make the best-customized nutritional recommendations for you.
Here’s a list of things that you need to prepare before your first assessment with a Sports Dietitian:
The Basic Info includes your age, height, weight (Measured first thing in the morning after you pee), food allergies, intolerances, religious or cultural practices involving food, past medical history and any medications, including birth control for women. Now for me, I also like to take your current clothing sizes because weight can be very tricky in athletes. Athletes usually have a body composition higher in muscle mass, which weighs much more than fat does. Current clothing size gives a lot of information and will continue to give a lot of information as you work with your Sports Dietitian. One other thing to consider is which notch you’re currently using on your belt; this can give us a lot of information too, especially if you prefer baggy clothes. For women, clothing or dress sizes are a bit tricky, especially since leggings are so popular now and will ultimately depend on the brand. Pick one outfit, preferably with jeans or dress pants, and write down those clothing sizes. Remember that outfit because that’s the outfit we’ll be comparing to.
Athletes usually take many supplements to help them improve their performance, this includes protein powders, protein bars, multivitamins and even herbal supplements. Not all supplements are created equal! Some supplement brands have a really bad reputation of not having their product match the ingredient list or the health claims that are made on the label. Some other supplements may have banned substances in them, so it’s best to either bring a list of the supplements or you could easily take photos of the front and back labels on your phone. Your Sports Dietitian will make sure the supplements you’re taking are safe and effective. If not, they will definitely work together with you to pick out the best Sport Supplement for you.
Sport/ Workout Schedule
Athletes usually have a pretty set schedule as to when they work out or train. Providing your Sports Dietitian with your training schedule will help the Sports Dietitian best time your meal intakes to fuel your training sessions and to help you recover from your workout or training session better. It’s also really helpful to know what the purpose of the training session is. For example, a hockey player may have a training session focusing on stick handling or speed skating; these are very different training goals and have to be fed differently. Or you might be a runner, knowing if it’s a hills training session, tempo run or speed run would also help the Sports Dietitian know how to best feed you. It’s also best to make an honest note of your Perceived Rate of Exertion on a scale of 1 to 10. Different workout intensities create different nutritional needs as different intensities use different energy pathways in the body that requires different feeding targets. Knowing the Perceived Rate of Exertion will help the Sports Dietitian make better recommendations.
Past History with your Sport
It’s most likely that you’ve been active in your sport for some time before seeing a Sports Dietitian to help bring you to the next level, so it’s important to bring that information to the appointment. Whether you’re a Body Builder or a Gymnast, it’s important to know how long you’ve been active in your sport for. Athletes develop something called muscle maturity, which can affect how effectively your body uses nutrients and calories. Typically, the longer you’ve been active in your sport, the more muscle maturity you have. This can mean that your muscles have become more efficient at using calories, which will make a huge difference in the food targets that your Sports Dietitian sets for you.
Since athletes are so unique and different, it takes a long time to establish exactly what works best for you and your athletic performance. Sports Dietitians need long-term data in order to see trends and patterns in your competitive results. For example, a cross-country runner or a swimmer may have race and training data from the previous season. It’s important to bring this data in because the Sports Dietitian will work together with you to get your body ready for competitions by trying different Sports Nutrition strategies at different times to see what works best for you.
Many athletes have experienced some form of injury at some point in their career, it’s important to share this with your Dietitian. The type of injury can indicate a different nutritional issue that needs to be addressed. For example, many runners tend to get shin splints, cramps and knee of lower back injury. These can all tell very different stories as to what the athlete needs in their diet to prevent these injuries from occurring again because an injury can mean the end of your competitive season!
It’s not likely that you’ll get to cover your entire athletic season in the first or second assessment with your Sports Dietitian but it’s a good idea to bring a schedule of your athletic season to your first assessment. Sports Nutrition goes through periodization to match your athletic season. For example, a Triathlete training for their first Ironman race will need different nutritional recommendations at different points of their training schedule. This is to best support the training as well as to get your body in the best shape possible for race day. For Physique competitors and Body Builders, this is to best plan and match which phase you’re currently training in because the nutritional goals for a bulk are extremely different than a cut phase. Furthermore, there are different nutritional goals in the competitive season versus the off-season. Make sure you let your Sports Dietitian know if you’re in your competitive season or if you’re in the off-season.
As you can see from the list above there’s a lot of information that a Sports Dietitian needs in order to help you reach your maximum potential in your sport. Giving more information could mean the difference between First or Second place. Remember, everyone is different and so are their needs. The more information you bring the better your Sports Dietitian will understand your unique nutritional needs. Also remember that the most effective time to see a Sports Dietitian is in your off season as it’s very likely that they will need to get in touch with your coach to see what their goals are for you for the upcoming season and believe it or not, the off season is the best time to reach those goals in order to ensure you have the best competitive season possible. Once you start working with a Sports Dietitian keep in mind that you’ll likely be working with them for the entire season, so the better your Sports Dietitian knows you and your unique needs the better you’ll perform!
Benjamin Sit, RD, Sports Dietitian
President and Founder of Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management
We have officially entered running season. It’s not uncommon at this time of year to see advertisements for charity races with their associated road closures, bright clothing whizzing past you on the side walk, or someone belting from behind you “RUNNER ON YOUR LEFT!”. You yourself may be one of these seasonal runners. And you may have noticed that you are not up to the same distance you once ran, or reaching the same km/hr you did when you finished your 2015 season. It can be frustrating, but with proper nutrition you can see drastic improvements to your performance.
As a dietitian, I’m biased. Of course I am going to say that nutrition is THE key to enhancing performance. Running is a sport that requires a great deal of energy, and depending on they type of running you do, it will influence your metabolic needs. For those that are new to running or if you are working on increasing your distance or improving speed, here are some key areas to consider:
Pre workout nutrition
During your run, you will be using primarily carbohydrates, some fat, and little protein for energy. That means that your pre workout meal should be richer in carbs and moderate in fat and protein. If you are a morning runner and are trying to reduce body fat or weight, exercising in a fasting state may help you achieve results but this is not advised for everyone as some people may react negatively to running on an empty stomach. If your goal however is to increase distance or speed, do your body a favour and fuel beforehand. Quick and easy options could be a banana with peanut butter or yogurt with berries. Avoid the high-fat, protein rich meals as these take longer to digest. There is no worse feeling than doing speed intervals on a full stomach and reuniting with your previous meal.
During your workout
If you are exercising for under an hour, there is no need to fuel during your workout. For intense exercise lasting more than an hour, eating carbohydrate rich sources may help extend time to exhaustion and may improve performance.
Post workout nutrition
You have just finished a grueling workout and have likely gone through a good chunk of your stored carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen). This is the time to consume a meal that has a balance of all three macronutrients; complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. An example would be a chicken breast with brown rice, steamed veggies, and avocado, or a smoothie that has fruit, greek yogurt, and some nut butter. Even if your goal is weight loss or body fat reduction, never go without your post workout meal. Also avoid having the “green salad with chicken” meal. If your glycogen stores are depleted your body will start using your existing muscle tissue for energy. Now is the time to eat your carbs, people!
Fluid intake during exercise should match losses. The easiest way to know how much fluid you need is to weigh yourself before and after your run. Fluid loss of only 2% can impact performance. For every pound of weight loss, runners should take an extra 2-3 cups of fluid gradually over the course of the day. If you are running for more than 60 minutes, you will need to consume fluid every 15 minutes anywhere from ½ a cup to 1 ½ cups. This will all be dependent on your intensity, type of training, and weather conditions. If you are feeling thirsty during your run, you are likely dehydrated.
Timing your eating is by far the most challenging part. I have to say I struggle in this area because, let’s face it, life gets in the way! Everyone’s tolerance and digestive capabilities are different. For your pre workout snack, aim to eat 2-4 hours before your run, as you want the nutrients in that food to be readily available for you during your workout. You may find that certain foods agree with your body better than others. Obvious signs to look out for are cramping, indigestion, gas, nausea, or feeling like you have to go to the washroom stat. It’s a game of trial and error. As for post workout nutrition, aim to have your meal within an hour of finishing your run.
That being said, everyone is different and this advice may not always apply to everyone. If you’re looking for a more individualized and custom nutrition plan, link up with a Sports Dietitian who can help you maximize your potential.
Emilie Trottier, RD, Sports Dietitian
Sports Dietitian at Evolved Sport and Nutrition
Complete Lifestyle Management