Archive for the ‘Sports and Performance Nutrition News’ Category

Top Foods for Healing Ligament and Tendon Injuries

Friday, October 14th, 2016



Eating well is a key strategy for injury recovery, as outlined in an earlier post. Tendons and ligaments are made of collagen, and foods that support collagen formation may be beneficial to heal ligament tears or tendon ruptures.

There are several nutrients that support collagen synthesis.
* Proline, hydroxyproline, lysine and hydroxylysine are amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Gelatin contains ample amounts of these particular amino acids.

* Vitamin C works with amino acids to create collagen. You can get plenty of Vitamin C from citrus fruits, melons, berries, kiwi, and dark green leafy vegetables.

 *Flourine/fluoride is a mineral that supports tendons and ligaments. It is found in fluoridated water, tea, and fish.

 * Copper is another mineral that can promote healing. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits (prunes), cocoa and black pepper contain copper.

Try one or more of these approaches if you a recovering from a tendon or ligament injury:
– include a bowl of orange and grapefruit sections with sliced kiwi
– try a strawberry or cantaloupe/blueberry smoothie and blend in some baby spinach leaves
– enjoy a cup of hot tea or cocoa

– be sure to add some spinach or romaine to your sandwich
– try some Jell-o with fruit as dessert
– add a cup of homemade broth made from bones

– add a salad of dark green leafy vegetables and citrus sections
– enjoy some fish seasoned liberally with pepper and lemon

Hope you feel better and get back in the game soon!

​© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


3 Fun New Approaches for Hydration

Friday, September 16th, 2016


Good hydration is a key part of every athlete’s training and competition plan. But even something as basic as hydration can get a contemporary tweak! Here are three new ideas I came across this week:

Tracking Teen Water Intake - At Greater Atlanta Christian School in Georgia, the Spartans Strength Program has developed a metrics program that started out with a focus on hydration. They set a hydration goal for each athlete based on 0.5 ounces of water per pound of body weight plus an additional 18-24 ounces/day for athletes in-season, training more than 2 hours/day, or who are heavy sweaters. This total was then divided into a set number of 16 ounce water bottles. Student athletes charted how many water bottles they consumed each day and compared their intake to the goal. Initial results showed an average of only 3.25 bottles per day. By the third month of the program, the average was up to 7.75 bottles per day, which met or exceeded the recommendation for most athletes. This simple method of measuring by counting the number of water bottles consumed led to improved hydration and the athletes reported feeling better.

Alternative Sports Drink – For athletes who are active for more than an hour, electrolyte replacement may be indicated, but not everyone likes to use commercial sports drinks or gels. This month’s Prevention magazine featured a recipe for a homemade sports drink created by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in integrative medicine. For her Coconut-Citrus Rehydrating Drink she uses coconut water, which is high in potassium, as the base for her drink. For 2 cups of coconut water she adds the juice of one lemon, lime or orange, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1-2 tbsp. natural sweetener such as honey. Sounds refreshingly delicious!

Science Fiction Meets Hydration – At La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, students experimented with using drones for hydration delivery. Students in the Design, Thinking, Engineering, and Innovation class were looking for a solution for athletes who don’t have enough time between plays to run off the field to get a drink. The “Hydrone” consists of a drone + a water bottle + a dangling hose with a flow control clip. Future versions are expected to be able to serve more than one athlete. And the students who developed this are even working on an automated system so that a thirsty athlete can call the drone as needed! I can’t wait to see the future of this clever idea!

What are your best hydration ideas? Share them on Facebook.

© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Fueling Your Soccer Match

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

040Did you know that the average soccer player covers 5-7 miles during a game? This is definitely a sport with high energy expenditure! That means that you should do some planning around food and fluids. Fueling properly and staying hydrated will help you play well through the end of the game.

About 1-4 hours before your game you should have a meal that includes plenty of carbohydrates. Foods like pasta, fruit, cereal, potatoes, rice and vegetables are usually well digested and can top off your glycogen stores. (Glycogen is the fuel that your muscles use. You will really call on your glycogen stores as you get into the later minutes of the game.) You can also help your performance by “pre­-hydrating” – going into the game well hydrated. Drink 12-16 ounces of water a couple of hours pre-game, with another 4-8 ounces about 15 minutes before the start.

During the game you can consistently play hard by keeping up your fluid intake and getting some carbohydrate. Sports drinks can be very helpful here, because they are designed to provide both. (Sports drinks also provide electrolytes, particularly sodium, which your body loses when you sweat.) Try for about 4 ounces (4 gulps) every 15 minutes. If you can’t drink during the game, you will want to be sure to get your fluids during the half time break. If you prefer to drink plain water, try eating something like a few pretzels to give you carbohydrate and some sodium.

Practice your fueling and hydration when you are practicing your skills. That way you can learn what works best for you. Food, fluids, fun…have a great season!

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


6 Tips to Stay Hydrated This Fall

Friday, September 18th, 2015


Warm days continue into fall, and even after cooler weather arrives athletes and active people need to be sure to keep up their fluid intake. Here are some easy tips to help you personalize your hydration.

  1. Weigh yourself before training or competition and again afterwards. For every pound lost, drink 16 – 24 ounces of fluid. So if you lose 1.5 pounds, you would need to drink 24 – 36 ounces of fluid.
  2. If you are exercising for more than an hour you need to pay attention to fluid during your activity. Try for 4-6 gulps of water or sports drink (4-6 ounces) every 15 minutes.
  3. To maintain baseline hydration try drinking water when you first get up and making sure to drink fluids with each meal.
  4. If you don’t like to use sports drinks during activity be sure to eat some salty snacks like pretzels.
  5. Be sure to drink something when you are thirsty.
  6. Monitor your urine color. It should be pale yellow, like lemonade. If it is more like the color of apple juice drink more liquids.

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN


For Zero Risk Use Zero Supplements

Friday, May 8th, 2015

20150501_101653Do you know that there are over 200 “aliases” for testosterone that is used in supplements? This is one of the fascinating and alarming things we learned from Dr. Bob Murray at the recent SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition) Symposium in Colorado Springs. Supplements are not as well regulated as pharmaceuticals. Dr. Murray said that all types of supplements are at risk for contamination, and that over 50% of FDA recalls between 2004 and 2012 were for supplements. The riskiest categories of supplements are muscle building supplements, weight loss aids and sexual enhancement products. Some athletes seek supplements or performance enhancing drugs as a way to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Other athletes are at risk because they are not aware of the potential for supplements being contaminated with banned substances or formulated with dangerous compounds.

Dr. Murray was a co-founder of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute and is now the managing principal of Sports Science Insights, LLC, a consulting group that provides sports nutrition and exercise science expertise to companies. Dr. Murray outlined 5 things to keep in mind about supplements.

  1. Some ingredients are illegal and banned by a sports governing body such as the International Olympic Committee or the NCAA.
  2. Some ingredients are legal but banned by the sports governing body.
  3. Many ingredients have aliases. There are over 40,000 chemical “aliases” for the 5,000 ingredients that are used in supplements, making it more difficult to evaluate and regulate supplements.
  4. Some ingredients are dangerous. He gave an example of Oxy-Elite Pro, which contained the banned stimulant DMAA and was linked to acute hepatitis.
  5. Supplement use may make the jump to performance enhancing drugs more attractive to athletes.

Dr. Murray offers the following advice to athletes:

  • Want zero risk? Take zero supplements.
  • Okay with minimal risk? Use certified supplements. Work with qualified professional who can do the homework. Get approval from team official.
  • Like to live dangerously? Take whatever supplement you want.

For more information about supplements check out the SCAN fact sheets on dietary supplements  and their regulation.

© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN














Easy Energy Bites – What They’re Eating at the Olympic Training Center

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Colorado Springs 2015 048Olympic athletes struggle with finding quick, easy and nutritious foods to fuel their activities just like the rest of us. Yesterday the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs opened their kitchen to other RDNs attending the SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition) conference. We had 15 minutes working together to prepare some athlete friendly snacks.

What do the Olympic RDN’s look for when helping athletes create recipes? Ease of preparation is key. “Hungry athletes want to eat food, not prepare food,” says Susie Parker Simmons, sports dietitian at the USOC. She looks for recipes that contain nutrients such as calcium or fiber. Some of the recipes are so simple that they could be prepared in a hotel room, important for athletes traveling for competitions.

In the test kitchen yesterday we made homemade energy bars, several nutrient packed dips and skewers of cut up fruits.  Here is the recipe for “No Bake Energy Bites”:

1 cup dry oatmeal (dry old-fashioned oats)

2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup ground flax seed

½ cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs

1/3 cup honey or agave nectar

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed Roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Colorado Springs 2015 051

©2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Nutrition and Exercise Associated Muscle Cramping

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Football fall2014 027A muscle cramp can literally stop you in your tracks!  Most athletes have experienced muscle cramps and even a lot of non-athletes have suffered from a sudden “charley horse.” Surprisingly, researchers are not clear about the cause of exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC.)   They have traditionally been blamed on dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, but studies have not been able to prove a consistent cause and effect.  Another theory relates muscle cramps to fatigue causing disrupted communication between neurons and muscle fibers.  There also seems to be some genetic variability in susceptibility to EAMC.

Despite the lack of evidence for a simple cause for EAMC there are some generally accepted guidelines which may reduce the risk of experiencing cramping.

  • Maintain good hydration.  Limit weight loss during activity to less than 2%.  Drink fluids before, during and after exercise.  A simple way to monitor your hydration is to check your urine color.  It should be a pale yellow color, like lemonade.  If it becomes darker, toward the color of apple juice, drink more water.
  • Maintain a good training program for muscular fitness.
  • Maintain a general healthful diet, including adequate magnesium, potassium  and calcium.  Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.  Potassium is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables   Calcium is found in dairy products and green leafy vegetables.

The best treatment for a muscle cramp is stretching.  Fluids and electrolytes have not been shown to be absorbed quickly enough to be effective in relieving muscle cramps.  You may have heard that pickle juice or mustard are effective in relieving muscle cramps, but studies do not show them to be consistently effective.

Teens and Pre-Workout Supplements: Try Food First!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Many teens are interested in using a pre-workout supplement because they believe it will help them to build more muscle.  Pre-workout supplements typically include caffeine, which makes workouts seem easier and improves focus.  Other common ingredients are creatine and vasodilators, which increase blood flow to muscles.  Some brands contain stimulants in addition to caffeine.  The combination of stimulants and vasodilators could put teens at risk for dangerous changes in blood pressure.


The National Federation of State High School Associations’ Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has issued a “Supplements Position Statement.”  The statement notes that there is not much good research about benefits and long term risks of supplement use in a teen population.  Therefore, they discourage the use of supplements.  They also note that there is little evidence that supplements improve performance for high school athletes.


So what should a teen athlete do to get the best benefit from a lifting session or a team practice?  A standard recommendation is to eat 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight about 1 hour prior to physical activity.  In practical terms, this would mean eating a generous portion of fruit, juice, crackers, cereal or other carbohydrate food along with some peanut butter, milk, or other protein.


Try one of these snacks, with portion sizes based on a 150# (about 68 kg) athlete:

  1. 3 sheets of graham crackers, 2 tbsp. peanut butter, and 8 ounces juice
  2. 8 oz. milk, sandwich,  and banana
  3. 6 oz. container of flavored yogurt and ½ cup granola
  4. 8 crackers, cheese stick, 8 oz. juice

Feeding the Olympians

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

When I was a new college graduate I sent a letter to the Montreal Olympics wondering if they could use the services of a new dietetics graduate. They replied that they already had plenty of cafeteria workers! What a long way we have come from there to this Sochi Olympics!

Teams of dietitians and chefs have spent months planning for meals to support our winter Olympians. Registered Dietitian Allen Tran is also a chef who works with the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. In several recent articles he has described some of the challenges of the Sochi Olympics. The athletes’ nutrition needs vary from ski jumpers who need to watch their weight to cross-country skiers who need a tremendous number of calories. The meals must be prepared using unfamiliar kitchen facilities and uncertain local water supplies. He is competing with all the other countries for supplies from local vendors. (For example, he notes that the Korean teams bought up all the locally available rice noodles!) Other challenges include trade regulations, such as the one that is preventing Chobani from delivering promised yogurt to American athletes. There have been difficulties with some cereals and granola bars because of European Union bans on GMO grains.

Despite the challenges, the USOC dietitians and chefs are working hard to keep the athletes healthy and happy. Read more about Allen Tran.

Eating Well for Winter Sports

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Here in New England we are getting snowstorms one after another! I like to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and see how pretty everything looks with a coating of snow. I hope that you are going to be spending some time outside this winter. Have you thought about cross-country skiing, snowboarding, downhill skiing, ice skating, tobogganing, snow shoeing? These are all great winter pursuits that give you a different kind of workout than you get at the gym.

If you are planning a day outdoors, be sure to start with a good breakfast. Exercising in cold weather increases your calorie needs, and the snow sports are strenuous to begin with. You want to be well fueled so you can concentrate on having fun! Here are some of my favorite winter breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal w/skim milk, maple sugar, and chopped walnuts; whole wheat toast w/peanut butter
  • Whole grain waffles with fruit and a little maple syrup; milk
  • Yogurt with sliced bananas and toasted sunflower seeds

When we exercise in cold weather we sometimes don’t realize that we are sweating. It is important to be sure to have some fluids periodically during the day. This helps you stay alert and feeling well so that you are having fun! Hot beverages like cocoa and tea are great for hydrating AND warming up!

If you plan to be out all day, be sure to take a lunch break. You want to stay well fueled throughout the day so that you are alert and able to focus. A lot of ski injuries happen late in the day when skiers are getting tired and hungry. Lunch can be as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or as fancy as a bowl of beef stew and some hearty whole grain bread.

So fuel up and have fun outside this winter. Remember, you are never too old to play in the snow!