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Let’s Talk About: Carb-Loading

It’s the night before a big race and you’re cooking up a big pot of pasta with some (meat) sauce and you’ve got cheesy garlic bread in the oven. YOU’RE HOUSE SMELLS AMAZING. And after dinner, you’re stuffed and content. Ready for the race.

Or so you think.

You’re running along, killing the race. Thanking yourself for all the training you did. But then you hit mile 10 and hit the wall and you’re sure you won’t make the next 5K. And if you’re in the middle of a marathon? Good-freakin-luck. Your energy stores are totally depleted. Empty. You’re running on fumes. So you do your best to finish the race and if that means walking or stopping at every water station, so be it.

What can you do to prevent hitting the proverbial wall?

Well, you can carb-load better. Sure, eating a giant bowl of pasta the night before the race is okay… but chances are, after the initial energy spike, it’ll make you feel sluggish. So let’s get on to proper carb-loading.

During your taper week, you should be adding carbohydrates to every. single. one of your meals. Adding carbohydrates to all of your meals, along with the taper, will ensure that your body is properly fueled for your big race. What it comes down to is this: you want to fill your body with carbohydrates over time (the period of a week or so), rather than the night before. Why? When you stuff yourself the night before, you’re limited by your feelings of fullness. You can’t eat past full or you’ll make yourself sick. So now your glycogen stores are only, for example, 50% full, rather than 80-95% full. This can lead to bonking mid-race and nobody wants that.

So with that said, if breakfast is eggs and yogurt, add a packet of oatmeal. Or if breakfast is already carb-heavy (cereal, oatmeal, whatever), supplement with 6oz of a sports drink. For lunch, instead of salad, have a bagel sandwich with a side salad. And supplement with some sports drink. Dinner should be about the same. It’s important to include sports drinks in your race-week diet because they are an easy way to get carbohydrates without having to digest anything. Here’s are some sample meal ideas:

  • Breakfast: 1 oatmeal packet, 2 eggs, banana, Greek yogurt 4-6oz of milk or sports drink, waffles, pancakes
  • Lunch: sandwich (on two pieces of bread/bagel), side salad, 4-6oz of milk or sports drink
  • Dinner: pasta and chicken with a side salad, milk or sports drink
  • Snack: granola bar, sports drink
  • Dessert: frozen yogurt with minimal toppings (fruits OK, candy limited)

Your meals in the days leading up to the race should be simple and easy to digest. Don’t go crazy – if you don’t normally eat tacos and Spanish rice, you probably shouldn’t eat that in the few days before your long run. Keep it simple. I, personally, like to prepare a pasta bake (recipe below!) that I can grab from whenever I’m hungry. Thirsty? Double fist with water and Gatorade. Get those carbs in anyway possible.

How do you carb-load? 

What are your favorite pre-race dishes? 

I love pasta with bolognese and froyo!

Quick & Easy Pasta Bake

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb lean ground Italian seasoned turkey
  • 1 box pasta noodles (macaroni, elbows, mini farfalle, etc work best)
  • 1 jar of favorite pasta sauce
  • 4-5C spinach
  • Italian seasonings
  • 4C shredded Italian cheese mix

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 and PAM spray a baking dish
  • Brown turkey meat and boil pasta
  • Mix everything & 3C cheese in a large bowl
  • Transfer mix to baking dish and top with remaining cheese
  • Bake until cheese is a light brown (approx 15-20 min)
  • Enjoy!
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Football Friday: Light(er) Buffalo Chicken Dip

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My love for tailgating began before college and even before high school, when my dad took my sisters and I to a Northwestern game. The school put on a huge event for their MBA students: we’re talking hot dogs, hamburgers, all the snacks, face-painting for kids, balloons, games, and I think I remember a bouncy house? Aside from the actual game being one of the best College Football games in history (it’s true – 2000 Northwestern v. Michigan), the tailgate part was SO MUCH FUN.

And from there, a love was born.

Tailgating is a rich tradition that anyone can partake in. Even if you HATE the sport, you probably love to tailgate. You can tailgate almost anything: football games, baseball games, even concerts! I’m, of course, partial to college football tailgates. There’s nothing better than a bunch of people setting up their spread of meats, chips, dips, drinks, and activities in the parking lot outside the stadium on a sunny, fall day.

Of course, all of that food and drink can wreak havoc on your body. Waking up Saturday evening (after your post-game nap, of course) only to feel sick to your stomach is not a pleasant feeling. So I’m here to help you create some snacks that’ll be a little bit less terrible on the body.

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So with that said, I’m here with a Light(er) Buffalo Chicken Dip just in time for Friday Night Lights.

Light(er) Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4oz fat free or low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 cup hot sauce – I used Frank’s
  • 1/4 cup Bleu cheese crumbles
  • 3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 Ranch seasoning packet
  • 5oz shredded chicken

Directions:

  • Mix everything together in a bowl
  • Oven (350*F): Fill a baking dish with the mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes, until top starts to get brown
  • Grill or stove-top(medium heat): Fill a grill-safe pot or pan with mixture and cook for 25-30 minutes, until top starts to get brown
  • Crockpot (low): Fill crockpot and cook on low for approximately 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve with carrots, celery, tortilla chips, or (my favorite) pretzel thins! 474746

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Sugar v. Fat – The Silent Killer(s)

Haha, gotcha with that clickbait title.

Yesterday, the Times published an alarming, but not surprising, article all about sugar, fat, and who’s to blame for heart disease, obesity, and so on and so forth. Before we go on, I just want to make clear that when I say sugar, I mean added sugar (so fruits are OKAY!) and when I say fat, I mean saturated fats.

The Times came out guns blazing, “the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show,” and then goes on to state that “the Sugar Association paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease.”

Oh, it gets better…

In 2015, the Times did a piece on Coca-Cola. As it turns out, Coca-Cola gave millions (millions!!) of dollars “to researchers who sought to play down the link between sugary drinks and obesity.”

But wait…

Mark Hegsted, one of the three Harvard researchers, went on to become the head of nutrition at the USDA. In 1977, Hegsted drafted the federal dietary guidelines and thus dictated how we, as a nation, should eat.

HOLY CORRUPTION!

I thought living in Illinois was bad #FreeBlago (kidding).

Okay so basically what all of this means is that, FOR YEARS, we (the general public) thought saturated fat was the sole perpetrator of heart disease. Saturated fat acted alone, if you will. Saturated fat made you fat. And sick. And lazy. And sugar? Sugar was tasty. Sugar was GOOD!

What does this mean for you? Who’s the real killer?

Well as it turns out, neither sugar nor saturated fat are going to kill you, so long as you consume minimal amounts of both. Duh, right? It’s 2016, I thought we already knew this.

Excess is the real killer. Enjoy your saturated fat in limited quantities and enjoy your occasional sugar-laden juice drinks. Just kidding, I can’t advocate for either of those options and still uphold my duty as a responsible dietitian.

What I can advocate for is choosing whole foods like fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, chicken and beef (if that’s your thing), nuts, avocados (are they fruit or nah?), herbal teas (but please, no poop teas!), and smoothies. And chocolate chip cookies (they’re a food group, KAY?!) You should definitely exercise, too. For heart health, strong bones, all that good stuff. And then, on occasion, TREAT YO’SELF.

Peace and I’m out