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



  • 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


  • 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!

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.


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 


Extreme Weight Loss… and Gains

Today I’ll be talking about the somewhat recent New York Times article about The Biggest Loser.

For those of you that haven’t seen the article yet, the gist is as follows: contestants on the show lose a ton of weight really fast and through unhealthy methods. After the show, their bodies are PISSED. They are fighting tooth and nail to get the weight back up. As a result of the unhealthy and rapid weight-loss, their metabolisms are slow. Real slow. And it’s extremely difficult for the former contestants to keep the weight off without resorting to the unhealthy methods the show teaches them.

In fact, many of the contestants have gained significant amounts of weight back. Take Danny Cahill for example. He was the Season 8 winner and, within 6 years, he gained 100 of the nearly-250 pounds he lost on the show.

So, not only are their bodies pissed. I am pissed. I’ll readily admit to watching this show in the past. But after starting my education in nutrition, I knew something was wrong. These people are on the show, or “The Ranch,” for what, 7 months? And many of the contestants are losing 100+ pounds. How are they losing this weight? Well…

  • They’re working out for 6-8 hours per day
  • They cannot eat more than 1200 calories per day (some eat even less to win)
  • They eliminate water for 24 hours prior to the weigh-in – essentially, dehydrating their bodies

In what world are these tactics realistic? Sure, they make for dramatic TV. And yes, the contestants look seemingly healthy at the finale. Well, at least on the outside. But their insides are screaming. Due to the extreme nature of the show, many of the contestants metabolic rates (the rate at which you burn calories) has decreased so much that they have to eat at least 300 calories less per day than the average person their size.

So let me make this even easier to understand: if a 6’1″ 220 pound man requires 2,400 calories per day just to sustain his regular activity levels, a former contestant of the same size cannot eat more than 2,100 calories per day to do the same. But often times, their metabolic rates are even more damaged to the point where a 6’1″ 220 pound man cannot eat more than 1600 calories per day in order to maintain their day-to-day activities. 1600 calories. Per DAY. Isn’t that INSANE?! I, and many other women my size with my activity level will often lose weight on more than that.

I cannot, in good faith, recommend this show or this extreme style of weight-loss to anybody. It makes me sad, it makes me sick, and it makes me angry. This show (and others like it) is taking advantage of people – people who feel that they have to resort to extremes just to be happy and healthy.

You don’t have to resort to extreme weight loss. You don’t have to work out for 6 hours per day. You don’t have to dehydrate yourself.

You can live a normal life. You can go out to eat. You can skip the gym if you’re busy with work, kids, family, or you just don’t feel like going that day. You can lose weight and do these things.

Have you seen this article? What are your thoughts?