Posts Tagged ‘sports nutrition’

Maple Products for Athletes

Monday, February 20th, 2017

callie and maple products 006It won’t be long before the sap rises and maple syrup season arrives. Here are a few maple themed products from New England that can be used for sports fueling and hydration.

Drink Maple is described as “pure maple water, straight from the tree.” It is from Concord, MA and is marketed as a sports drink. An 8 ounce portion has 25 Calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, and 40% of the daily manganese requirement. (Manganese does not have any particular known benefit for athletic performance.) This product has a little more body and sweetness than plain water.

Untapped, based in Richmond, VT, offers maple waffles and 1 ounce packets of maple syrup. The waffles are made with organic maple syrup and have 140 Calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate. They are a little drier and crumblier than I expected, but the maple flavor was pleasant. The Slopeside Syrup is billed as “all natural athletic fuel” and has 100 Calories, 26 grams of carbohydrate, and 60% of the daily manganese requirement. These could be used as carb sources during cross-country skiing, running,  cycling, or other activity.

Brown Cow maple whole milk yogurt is distributed by Stonyfield yogurt in Londonderry, NH. It provides 130 Calories, 23 grams carbohydrate, and 5 g protein. It is a “cream top” yogurt with a pleasant mpale flavor. It would make a good recovery snack.

If you are looking for a change from standard sports drinks and gels give one of these a try!

​© 2017 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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

A Veggie Carb is a Healthy Carb

Friday, November 13th, 2015

20151110_120312 (1)

Eat healthy carbs. This advice is often given to athletes and couch potatoes alike, but sometimes it is hard to know which carbohydrates to choose. Fall is a great time to enjoy your healthy carbs in the form of roasted vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Popular and nutritious vegetables for roasting include:

  • Beets – good source of folate
  • Brussels sprouts – good source of vitamins C and K
  • Carrots – good source of vitamins A and C
  • Onions – contain bioflavonoid anti-oxidants and allicin (anti-tumor compound)
  • Parsnips – good source of Vitamins C and K and fiber
  • Potatoes (skin on) – good source of vitamins B, C, folate, and niacin and potassium
  • Rutabagas – good source of vitamin C
  • Sweet potatoes – good source of vitamins A,B6 and C and potassium
  • Turnips – contain vitamin C
  • Winter squash – good source of vitamin A

The roasted vegetables in the photo include beets, parsnips, turnips, onions, butternut squash, and carrots. They were seasoned with olive oil and dried herbs and roasted at 425° until soft. Simply in Season, a cookbook that celebrates local foods, suggests a ratio of 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp dried herbs (or 3 tbsp fresh) to 6-8 cups cut up vegetables. They suggests varying the vegetables used, but including at least one sweet vegetable (carrot, sweet potato or parsnip) and one stronger flavored vegetable such as turnip or rutabaga.

Have fun experimenting and be sure to share what works well for you!

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

Will fish oil be the concussion treatment of the future?

Saturday, October 17th, 2015


Does it seem like more and more kids are getting concussions? There has been an increase in the number of concussions in student athletes over the past several years. This has led to interest in potential nutritional approaches to prevention and treatment. In 2011 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released their report “Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury,” which was focused on treating military TBIs. The report identified some nutrients of interest for future research both for these serious injuries and for mild TBI (concussion.) These include omega 3 fatty acids, choline, creatine, zinc, resveratrol, curcumin, and other plant based anti-oxidants.

In mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) there is inflammation and damage to cell walls and axons that transmit nerve impulses. Animal studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids given before and after TBI reduce the effects of a concussion and enhance recovery. There have been a few human case studies which have shown dramatic improvements with very high doses of omega 3 fatty acids. This has led to hope that nutritional interventions can help to restore normal brain cell function and reduce inflammation in the brain following TBI.

Dr. Michael Lewis has developed “The Omega Protocol,” which he believes is a tool for management and recovery from TBI. This protocol advocates very high doses of fish oil (source of DHA and EPA, the important omega 3 fatty acids.) He stresses that this is a therapeutic use of fish oil, not just a nutritional use.

While a lot more research is needed before uniform recommendations can be made about nutritional treatments for concussion, there are some good general nutrition guidelines for optimum brain health and function.

  • Eat breakfast every day for improved cognitive function and alertness
  • Include plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and spices to provide plant phytochemicals that protect cells
  • Include foods such as fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil that are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Include good sources of iron such as lean meats, legumes, and leafy green vegetables to maintain normal blood levels of iron

It will be exciting to see if nutrition will eventually become a key player in treating concussions. The IOM report cautions, however that nutritional interventions don’t stand alone, but are complementary and supportive of other therapies.

Please note that the photo is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement of any manufacturer, product or dosage.

© 2015 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


Sports Nutrition Tips for Cross-Country Runners

Friday, September 25th, 2015


If you’re on the cross-country team you are participating in one of the more popular high school sports in the US. You may find it challenging to meet your nutrition needs as you try to balance a lean physique with adequate fueling and hydration. Here are some tips to help you get your best performance:

Every Day:

  • Eat a generally healthy diet with lean proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
  • Be sure to eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains) because carbs keep the glycogen level in your muscles high. Glycogen is fuel for your running.
  • Be sure to get enough calories. When you don’t eat enough you are at risk for getting fatigued or injured. Female runners who start missing menstrual periods are likely not eating enough.
  • Maintain good baseline hydration. Drink some water when you get up in the morning and have some milk, juice, or water with each meal and snack. A free and easy way to monitor your hydration is to be sure your urine is a pale yellow color. If it gets darker, drink more!

Before a Practice or a Race:

  • Before practice have a snack with some easy to digest carbohydrate such as pretzels or crackers. Before a race or meet have a meal 1-4 hours before competing. The longer the time between eating and competing, the more you can eat.
  • Pre-game meals should contain lean protein and easy to digest carbs. Avoid greasy, spicy or fried foods. Think turkey sandwich and fruit, not burger and fries.
  • Drink 12-16 ounces of water about 2 hours before a race. Top this off with another 4 to 8 ounces before the race.
  • Before an all day meet try to find out what time your particular group will run. Time your food and water accordingly.

During a Practice or Race:

  • During practice sessions or longer training runs plan on some water or sports drink.
  • During your actual race you should not need any extra fluid or carbs because cross-country runs are completed in less than an hour.

After a Practice or Race:

  • You want to replenish your muscles and replace fluid losses, so you need protein, carbohydrates and fluids. Chocolate milk is considered a good recovery drink – that’s because it has all the nutrients you need for your muscles to recover! (But on a typical practice day you can just go home and eat dinner for your recovery meal!)

One last tip…try everything out during practice so you don’t get surprised on race day. Running can affect your digestive tract, and you don’t want unexpected nausea or diarrhea to derail your results.


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