Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Interview with Heidi Greenwood, Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier

This weekend, Saturday February 13th, U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials will take place in Los Angeles, California. Every four years, a super-fast group of competitive runners, whose previous race times meet the U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying standards, race for their spot to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

Sanford Power athlete Heidi Greenwood qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at the Columbus Marathon in 2013, with a time of 2:42:08, and has been living and training in Sioux Falls leading up to her 9th Marathon this weekend at the trials. When Heidi isn't logging miles or strength training, she also keeps up an awesome blog and website where she documents her training and recipe experiments in the kitchen. We got the chance to interview Heidi before the big race - check out Heidi's blog and her answers to the interview questions below to get inspired to push your limits and reach a little further to meet your goals!

Q&A with Heidi Greenwood

What got you into distance running in the first place? What was your first marathon and how was
your experience there?

Heidi: I first started running for our high school team in the 7th grade.  In high school I mostly ran the 400 and 800 meters and by my sophomore year I started to dabble in the 1600 meters.  My first love was volleyball and knew I wanted to play that in college, but decided at the last minute to give college track a try too.  With balancing both volleyball and track in college I stuck to primarily the 800 for first couple years, but by my junior year it started to become obvious that my greater talent was in the 1500meters.  My senior year in college at the University of North Dakota I was fortunate enough to win the 2008 NCAA Div. II title in the 1500 meters. I truly believed that I was done with competitive running at that point.  In the fall of 2008 I decided I wanted to run one marathon to check it off my bucket list.  I ran the Twin Cities Marathon.  I had a pretty good first experience. I actually ran a negative split in that race by 10 minutes and ran a 3:11.  Going into that race I really had no idea what I would be able to run, but wanted to try break 3:30.  Training for my first marathon I ran about 55-60 miles per week, which was about 10 miles per week higher than what I averaged my last year competing in college.  At that point I still really wasn’t sure if I’d run more marathons or not. 

 When did you set your eyes on the Olympic Trials qualifying time?

In 2012 my husband and I moved to Cleveland, Ohio for his residency and I started to become really busy with full time work.  Being new to the region I thought it’d be cool to run the Columbus Marathon and experience a new city.  However, I actually wasn’t even able to follow a structured training program for the Columbus Marathon in 2012 because of working 60+ hours a week.  I did not do one single specialized long run or fast-finish long.  I really was convinced that Columbus 2012 would be my last marathon for a LONG time.  As the race unfolded I floated to a 2:47.  I was completely dumb-founded.  How did I do that?  After that race I felt that God had given me a gift.  It is then, October 2012, when I decided that qualifying for the Olympic trials in the Marathon was something I wanted to do.  The new 2016 OT standard had not even been released yet when I committed myself towards that goal. 

 How did you react when you knew you achieved that time?

I went back to the Columbus Marathon in 2013 to test myself and see what I could do.  After the race I was sort of in a state of shock or disbelief that I actually did that.  Prior to the race my coach thought 2:45 was more of a realistic goal, but I wanted to shake the dice and go for the 2:43. 

Achieving the Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time
My favorite running experience would definitely be the Columbus Marathon 2012 and 2013.  Both races I’d say I was in the state of “FLOW” for most of both races.  No pressure or thoughts of not reaching a certain goal.  Effortless.    

What do you think has contributed the most to your running success?

In my childhood I did a wide variety of things.  This helped me to develop different movement patterns.  I never felt I “had” to do something growing up.  What I chose to do was all internal motivation and desire.  My parents always supported me and helped to provide opportunities, but never suggested I needed to do anything.  My marathon success has come from consistency.  I have had no major injuries, just some small setbacks, nothing requiring more than a couple weeks off of running in my 31 years of life.

Do you have a favorite workout that you do during a marathon buildup?

This is not a typical workout you will see in a training book, but I love it - it is fun and I can get a lot of work done.  The idea is to make yourself run on tired legs.  I’ll do this work out only once per marathon training block and about 6-7 weeks before the race.  This marathon build-up for the trials I got to do this work out on Christmas Day!

Workout: 12 miles easy to moderate, 8-12 x 800 meters at half marathon race pace effort with 60-90” recovery jog between reps, finishing up with another 3-5 miles easy to moderate at the end.  The workout will end up being anywhere from 20-24 miles.

(That is workout inspiration!)

 I know you’re an active strength trainer in addition to your running workouts – What’s your favorite strength exercise?

I really enjoy doing strength work. I like doing box step-ups, lunges, and using my TRX!

Using TRX equipment at the Sanford Fieldhouse

Nutrition talk

What is your go-to pre-race day meal?

I do not feel I purposefully go into a “carb” loading stage before I race a marathon.  I think I will naturally pick up extra carbohydrate stores with decreased volume in training.  I try to keep a pretty similar eating pattern no matter if I’m in heavy training or peaking for a race.  I get the majority of my carbohydrates from potatoes/sweet potatoes and higher carb fruits like bananas.

Pre-race day meal: baked or grilled Chicken, Baked Potato, Dinner salad, (sometimes I’ll have a chunk of crusty bread with butter if I’m at a restaurant that has that).

 How do you handle getting in good nutrition when you’re traveling for a race?

I always travel with apples, bananas, peanut butter, almonds, snack bars (Generation UCAN Snack bars and Juice Plus Complete Bars), rice cakes, and electrolyte tabs (Nuun).  I also suggest looking up restaurant menus before going to make sure they have what you want.
  What about pre-race breakfast- what breakfasts foods have you had the most success with?

About 2.5 hours before race I usually have coffee with cream, plain greek yogurt (with Generation UCAN-(Cinnamon Delite) stirred in), piece of toast, peanut butter, and banana.  Then I will be sipping on another serving of Generation UCAN-(Cran-Raz or Tropical Orange) right up to start of the race.    

Do you bring any nutrition on long runs with you? What has worked well for you?

It really depends on the purpose of the long run.  Typically I take no nutrition on long easy runs.  The reason is that my trying to teach my body to be efficient, some argue that the quality of your long runs can diminish, but again, it comes back to what is the purpose of your long run.  Prior to any long run I do take one to two serving of Generation UCAN.  On specialized long runs or fast-finish long runs I may use Generation UCAN or a Gel depending on convenience.  Generation UCAN currently does not make their product in gel form, which can be tricky during training.
My go-to post long run snack is a big protein-rich green smoothie. What foods do you think help you recover faster after a long run, workout, or race?

After long runs or workouts it is usually a smoothie with Generation UCAN-Chocolate Protein, frozen dark cherries, and some kind of milk.  It tastes like a dark red tootsie pop sucker.  But, after a race it is usually a celebratory burger and fries or chicken quesadilla with a margarita. 

Are there any foods you try to avoid the week of a big race? What about the rest of the year?

I try to avoid white processed food, basically because there really isn’t any nutritional value in those foods.  Also, on a regular basis I typically do not eat very much gluten.  I have found that I feel a little bloated and lethargic when I consume lots of gluten.  I do NOT follow a gluten free diet, but chose to eat in very moderately.

What is your favorite treat food/meal?

Red Wine and I’m Norwegian and love potato dumplings, soaked in butter.

Heidi is a strong athlete who knows the importance of not only logging the miles, but also strength training and paying attention to her nutrition.

Good luck this weekend, Heidi!

If you're feeling inspired by Heidi's dedication in training, let Sanford POWER and the the Sports Science Institute help you reach your own goals. You don't need to be an Olympic Trials qualifier to set and achieve athletic goals - we work with athletes of all ages and abilities.

Call today at (605)-312-7870

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

4 Heart-Healthy Ingredients + Recipes for Game Day and Beyond

February is American Heart Month and Friday, February 5th, 2016 is National Wear Red Day - a day to wear the color red to help raise awareness about heart disease being the number one killer of women. Close behind Wear Red Day is another February day many will get together to celebrate - Superbowl Sunday. In honor of American Heart Month and Wear Red Day, let's challenge each other to make our game day buffet a little healthier and try some new good-for-you foods and recipes.

When the American Heart Association reports that more than 1 in 3 people have some sort of cardiovascular disease and every 85 seconds, someone dies from heart disease, every day is a good day to focus on getting healthier, including a day notorious for filling us up with fried, greasy, salty foods. With those statistics, there is a good chance someone close to you is at risk for or has some sort of cardiovascular disease, so offering healthier options during the big game is good for everyone.

This post will take the guess work out of your game day menu so you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand to last through the end of the big game.

1. Avocados

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat (a good kind of fat!), fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and many other nutrients. Eating more of those good monounsaturated fats can help you lower your LDL or "bad" cholesterol, which is one of cause of heart disease. Replacing saturated fats (found in animal fat like meat and dairy) with healthy fats found in avocado is a heart-healthy choice. Many people enjoy guacamole on game day, but avocado is versatile and can be used for so much more:

Avocado Central || Fresh Avocado Guacamole Recipes

2. Nuts

Nuts are another "healthy fat" food, and while all nuts have different nutritional benefits, all nuts (especially walnuts) contain a healthy dose of those LDL-lowering, inflammation-reducing, unsaturated fats. They're also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and stroke, improve blood vessel function and lower inflammation and triglyceride levels. Nuts make a great every-day snack, and can be spiced up for a great game-day snack:

Ellie Krieger  || Spiced Nuts

3. Whole grains

Whole grains contain the entire grain (bran, germ, and endosperm), which makes them more nutritious and full of fiber compared to refined/white flour or grains. Diets rich in fiber, such as a diet rich in whole grains, can help reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and other types of heart disease. The beta-glucan (a type of soluble fiber) found in whole grains can help lower cholesterol and improves heart health and all that fiber keep you fuller for longer, which is good for weight control. 

Whole grains foods don't have to be boring - you can find hundreds of recipes for tasty whole grain versions of your favorite foods in cook books and on the internet:

Cookie and Kate || Whole Grain Pizza Recipes

The Skinny Fork || Whole Wheat Lasagna Rollups

4. Beans

Beans are a staple food in many parts of the world for good reason - they're packed full of protein, fiber, B-vitamins and minerals. 

Chili is the ultimate comfort food, and makes a great tailgating or game-day meal. Unfortunately, some of the favorite white chili and creamy soup recipes are full of high-fat sour cream, cheese, and cream. A good substitute for cream in these soups is cooked, blended cauliflower. I know, it sounds weird, but even cauliflower-haters can't sense the presence of this nutrient-packed vegetable

Based off the recipe for White Turkey Chili from Whole Foods Market and this Creamy (No Cream!) Sweet Corn and Potato Chowder from Iowa Girl Eats, this Healthier Turkey Chili is a great option for game day because it's light, packed with protein and fiber, and can be topped with all your favorite chili toppings.


1/2 lb. dry Navy Beans
1/2 lb. dry Great Northern beans
or 1 lb. of whatever dry beans you like
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground lean turkey
1 7-oz can green chilis
1/2 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1/3 cup milk (skim, 2%, whole, coconut)
4 cups broth (I used homemade turkey stock, but you could use vegetable broth to make the recipe vegetarian)
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced

Soak the dry beans overnight in water. The next day, rinse and drain the beans, and add them to the bottom of the crock pot. Add all spices (reserving 1 tsp of cumin for the turkey), chopped bell peppers, frozen corn, diced onion, and the can of green chilis (drained or undrained). Pour water into crock pot.

Cauliflower cream:

Bring broth to a boil, adding cauliflower florets to the pot and cooking until cauliflower is soft (you'll be able to spike easily with a fork). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to blend, pour broth and cooked cauliflower mixture, diced garlic, and milk into blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you can blend in the pot if you have an immersion blender. Add  this mixture to the crock pot.


Finally, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add raw turkey to the pan and stir frequently, cooking until browned. Add cooked turkey to the crock pot, give the ingredients a good stir, cover crock pot and turn on low for 6-8 hours until beans are cooked/soft.

Top chili with some of your favorite toppings: avocado, cilantro, onions, Greek yogurt/sour cream, a little cheese, and enjoy.

More healthy chili recipes from Epicurious ||  Healthy Chili Recipes for the Superbowl and Your Heart

What's your favorite healthy recipe for game day?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Training Talk - 3 Things Runners Need to Know About Carbs

One of the biggest nutrition topics runners ask about is CARBOHYDRATES.
  • Why do we need them?
  • When should I eat them?
  • When should I not eat them?
  • Which carbohydrates will make me fat?
  • Which carbohydrates are good?
  • Should I try a low carb diet? 
This article is going to delve into why runners need carbohydrates, why runners need carbs on the run and which ones are best, and why it might be beneficial to train without food some of the time.

Despite the fact that all athletes' nutritional needs are different, most runners need to follow a diet that is high carbohydrate for the best training and racing results. I work with athletes all the time to help them determine how to fuel their bodies with enough carbohydrates, protein and fat from real food without overdoing it. 

While most athletes can (and should) focus on carbohydrates for the majority of their calories, it is important to stress the fact that as an athlete, you are an experiment of one - you get to decide what diet, training schedule, and recovery methods work for you. For example, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that a high fat/low carb diet may work for some endurance or ultra-endurance athletes, but here I am making the recommendations for a higher carbohydrate diet for runners, based on the fact that your muscles' preferred fuel source is carbohydrates/glucose. This can be a controversial subject in the endurance world, but this article will delve into why we need carbohydrates most of the time, but how going without carbs may help boost performance. 

1. Daily Carbohydrate Needs

There is a huge emphasis for runners to get lots of carbs in their diets to help them run. Honestly, carbohydrate intake is sometimes overemphasized. Carbs before running, during running, after running, all day after a run - runners often neglect protein and healthy fats. That is not to say carbs aren't important! Carbohydrates from food are stored in the body as muscle and liver glycogen, which is used as fuel during exercise. At low intensities, a greater amount of fat is used as energy (though carbohydrates are always being used), but as exercise intensity increases from low to moderate/high intensity, the use of fat as fuel decreases and carbohydrates are used as the primary fuel source. Well-trained muscles can store even more glycogen, which is good news for endurance athletes who need that energy at mile 20 and beyond.

Fueling an endurance athlete through training and racing requires about 2.5-4.5 grams per pound of body weight, or 55-65% total diet from carbohydrate (compared to 2.5-3.0 grams/pound for moderate exercisers and more than 4.5 grams/pound for ultra endurance athletes).

Many athletes like to "bookend" their training with those carbohydrates, which is the time our bodies need the carbs the most.
  • eat breakfast sometimes* (granola bar, cereal with milk, oatmeal, a banana with peanut butter, toast)
  • fuel with carbohydrates during long runs sometimes* (Gu, gels, chomps, candy, etc.),
  • refuel with a mix of carbs and protein post-workout 
Don't neglect those carbohydrates right after a workout - whether it's a post-workout snack or a full meal that contains carbohydrates and protein, this meal is important for recovery so athletes can accomplish their goals at their next workout. 

*Keep reading for "train low" techniques to try on long, slow training runs. 

2. The Science of Mid-Run Carbs

Once a workout goes over 90 minutes, glycogen/stored carbohydrates can get drained, especially for a moderate to hard intensity, prolonged workout. Eating some sort of carbohydrates on a run will help athletes to spare their glycogen stores, keep blood glucose from dropping, and can help replenish glycogen stores before the next training session, therefore helping you perform better on training runs and at races. 

During a training run or competition, aim for 40-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour (120-240 calories/hour) after that first hour of running. Most carbohydrate energy products (Gu's, gels, chomps, etc.) contain different types of sugars, so it is important to practice with many different types of carbohydrate fuels during training to experiment with how your body will respond to the different fuels. 

Some people may bring regular candy on their training runs, like gummy bears, but those pre-made carbohydrate products are usually formulated with electrolytes and also mix different types of sugars, allowing the body to absorb more carbohydrates per hour (more than 60 grams per hour).

Many carbohydrate products on the market contain maltodextrin (a very quickly and easily-digested carbohydrate) AND a different type of sugar (simple sugars like glucose and fructose). Anything above what the body can absorb and use may cause gastrointestinal distress, so it's important to practice fueling during training runs. I recommend practicing with many different types of carbohydrate fuels (solid, liquid, gels, different brands) to see how your body responds to them. 

Check the label for this GU energy gel, containing maltodextrin and fructose for sugars + electrolytes at about 100 calories , 23 grams of carbohydrates. 

Salted Watermelon Gu

INGREDIENTS: Maltodextrin, Water, Fructose, Leucine, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Valine, Green Tea (Leaf) Extract (Contains Caffeine), Gellan Gum, Isoleucine, Sunflower Oil, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative).

3. Try Training Low, Some of the Time

As mentioned above, carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver, in addition to any carbohydrates eaten on the run help runners keep their energy levels high, prevent blood sugar from dropping, and help replenish glycogen levels for speedier recovery. This is especially true as intensity increases - when runners are pushing the pace or climbing a hill (anything at a higher intensity), they're burning carbohydrates. Having full glycogen stores and eating carbohydrates on runs over 90 minutes helps to delay fatigue and "hitting the wall" by sparing the glycogen stores from getting depleted. Once glycogen stores are depleted, fat becomes the primary source of fuel for exercise.

Endurance training increases the body's ability to oxidize fat, which in theory can help runners prolong endurance exercise without depleting their glycogen stores. It is more difficult for our bodies to use fat for energy, and if given the choice, muscles prefer carbohydrates to use for energy, but many athletes want to be able to burn more fat, to run longer in training and races without taking fuel with them or without "hitting the wall." Being able to burn more fat means being able to tap into the nearly limitless fat reservers (50,000 to 60,000 calories of triglycerides stored in your body, compared to only ~2,000 calories of total body glycogen stored). In fact, some recent studies have looked into "training low," or restricting carbohydrates for workouts. The research right now isn't strong enough to say that eating a high fat diet benefits performance, and in fact, repeatedly performing with low glycogen stores have been shown to decrease endurance, especially at high intensities.

So, train low or no? It's not so black and white!

Regardless, of research, athletes can use the "train low" strategies to train their bodies to use fat more efficiently on runs.

They can to include some fasted workouts into their training schedule (not more than 50% of runs!) to promote training adaptations and work their fat metabolism versus training each and every time with carbohydrates. According to Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, runners can try training with lower glycogen levels when they have a lower-intensity workout and keep themselves fueled for any high-intensity workouts.

Athletes can try eating a normal (higher carb) dinner the night before a long, slow training run, and wake up and run before breakfast, just taking water with them on a their runs. Most runners have enough energy to run at least 90 minutes, but may have to build up to running without fuel if they are used to usually running after eating. Athletes can also try training more than once a day, with that second training session being a low glycogen workout. Make sure to refuel right away after a workout to promote muscle recovery and glycogen storage.

Remember: Everyone is different!

These strategies may not work for everyone, and likely will not work for every run. If someone is a very speedy marathon runner, a low carb run or diet may not fit into their training. For best results, working with a Registered Dietitian with experience working with athletes can help you decide the best strategies to help you fuel YOUR workouts. Call the Sanford Sports Science Institute to make an appointment with the Registered Dietitian at 605-312-7878!

Read more:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

4 Easy Tips to Help EVERYONE Improve Their Nutrition (Without Following a Diet)

January 1st usually rolls around and has everyone in a panic to take drastic measures to "get healthy." There's plenty of diet advice going around, from news sites to social media nutritionists and health experts - it can lead many down the road of wondering whether they should adopt a new diet or which new diet is the best.

With the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans getting released this week, it's a great time to take a step towards improving your health through nutrition, without subscribing to diet rules, cleanses, detoxes, or all-or-nothing eating plans. 

These four easy tips - working with your current diet (not necessarily following the new trendy diet), making small steps to eat more plants and reduce sugar intake, are easy enough for you to start improving your diet this week. 

Tip 1: Work with your current diet

This is where a lot of fad diets get it wrong - people will jump on a diet bandwagon on the first of the year, and that one-size-fits-all approach to getting healthy doesn't result in very much success. Instead, it's recommended for people to take a look at their current diet and see what eating habits they can make small changes to.

Before you even look at the next two tips, it's important to know your own likes and dislikes - if you don't eat any vegetables right now, can you add one serving of vegetables per day and work up to more later? It's all about making small changes in your diet to affect your overall health.

Small steps you can take right now: Move from fruit snacks to whole fruit, white bread to whole grain bread, crackers and dip to vegetables and hummus, sugary snack bars to trail mix with nuts and dried fruit.

Tip 2: Eat more plants

Even if you're not a big vegetable lover, you probably already know that vegetables are good for you - they're full of fiber, vitamins and minerals that help reduce inflammation in your body. The Dietary Guidelines are not only continuing to tell us that we need to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits (the more color/variety, the better!), they are also putting a bigger emphasis on reducing meat proteins and replacing them with plant-based sources of protein. 

This doesn't mean you have to become a vegetarian or vegan - you can start including more plant-based proteins in your meals, even if you're a meat lover. 

If you make the majority of your diet come from plant foods, you have room to eat those other foods you like, even those you know aren't necessarily "good for you." Those other foods are good for you if you enjoy eating them, but your whole diet shouldn't be those foods.

Try adding these foods to your plate instead of your traditional meat proteins:

-Beans and legumes (dried or canned chickpeas, black beans, lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.)
-Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.)
-Seeds (flax seeds, chia seeds)

He'res 63 recipes from the Huffington Post to get you started. 

Or how about these white bean meatballs (with no meat!) from Dietitian Debbie?

Tip 3: Check your sugar intake

The new recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines are to limit added sugars to less than 10% of your daily caloric intake. Sugar intake has been linked to increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and triglyceride levels. Most people know which foods are sweet and contain sugar - desserts, chocolate, candies, and sugary beverages like soda, juice, sports drinks, and coffee drinks. What a lot of people don't realize how much sugar they're eating in a day, mostly from processed foods.

Take a look at the nutrition label and ingredients in every day items that may not even necessarily taste sweet or may seem healthy, like cereals/granola, protein and granola bars, yogurt, pasta sauce, flavored soy and almond milk, whole grain bread and crackers, salad dressings, pancake mix, barbecue sauce and ketchup. Every 4 grams of sugar is ~1 teaspoon of sugar.

Some sugar is found naturally - Lactose is naturally found in dairy products, so even plain/unsweetened dairy will have sugar, and Fructose is naturally found in fruit, so any fruit products will naturally have sugar on the nutrition label.

Your ingredient label might use other common names for sugar: brown sugar, corn syrup or corn sweetener, fructose, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose or syrup.

If you enjoy indulging in sweet treats, make sure you do so "in moderation" and check other sneaky sources of sugar in your regular healthy diet. This isn't a "sugar detox" or a statement that sugar is toxic etc.- this is a tip to help you reduce added, processed sugar in your diet, especially from foods you eat every day, because most of us are getting too much processed sugar in our diets.

Tips to reduce sugar intake: Buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own blueberries, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey to sweeten it up. Make your own oatmeal and sweeten it with a banana instead of eating regular breakfast cereal. Choose vinaigrette over creamy, low fat dressings. Choose brands of condiments and tomato sauce that are lower in added sugars. Choose unsweetened soy or almond milk instead of "vanilla" or other flavored milks.

Tip 4: Cook at home more

I've hinted at this throughout the post, but when you cook your own food, you know what ingredients go into the food and you get to experiment with ingredients. When you buy pre-made meals or out at restaurants, you're often getting much larger portions than you would eat at home, which includes larger amounts of fat and sodium. 

Try experimenting with new recipes each week (see the link above for vegetarian meals). Typically, recipes with fewer ingredients are going to cost you less money at the grocery store. Sticking to Tip 1, try finding healthier versions of your favorite recipes at home, or add vegetables and substitute ingredients (like beans or whole wheat pasta) to your favorite recipes. 

What steps do you take to be healthier through nutrition?

We'll continue talking about the Dietary Guidelines, with even more tips to help you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

Read more:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 - 2020

The Lean Green Bean || 7 Tips to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Real Mom Nutrition || What a Day's Worth of Sugar for Kids Really Looks Like

Mom to Mom Nutrition || 7 Easy and Delicious Ways to Eat More Vegetables

EatRight || 3 Easy Tips for Fueling Your Workout Without Overdoing It

Buzzfeed || Here's How To Actually Eat Healthier This Year

Greatist || 50 Awesome Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's (Or Any Time) Resolutions You Can Actually Stick To

Do you set a New Year's Resolution?

The 1st of the year is seen by many as a fresh start; a time to look forward and set a New Year's Resolution. New Year's resolutions aren't for everyone - in fact, only a small percentage of people set a new Year's Resolution, and an even smaller percentage will actually keep theirs. This time of year is often criticized or joked about for that very reason - New Year's Resolutions to lose weight, work out more, eat healthier, get stronger, walk more steps, run faster, get to the gym more, cook at home, pack your snacks, are really difficult to keep.

These resolutions are usually hard to keep because people tend to set too many goals at once and their goals are very broad! It can be really easy to go into the new year with several very broad goals in mind (usually worded something like "do this activity more" or "do this activity less") and because the wording isn't very specific, that handful of goals suddenly morphs into one big, non-specific goal, which eventually morphs into an even less specific form of whatever goals you wanted to meet, which eventually just dwindles away. Sound familiar?

As a Registered Dietitian, I think any time of year (not just the New Year!) is a good time to set a resolution, or a goal, and it's my job to help people meet their goals related to nutrition and health. We wrote about this here - instead of going into the New Year with a regular old resolution, make a SMART goal.

A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

Specific - This is the What, How and Why. One reason those goals to "lose weight," or "get healthier" don't work is because there are no specifics on how you're going to meet those goals. It can be really easy to drop your resolution "eat healthier" if you never wrote down the specifics of what that goal meant to you - did it mean you were going to eat salad for every single meal, or give up all sweets? You need to define all the specifics of your goal to achieve it.

Measurable - How will you know you've achieved your goal? How will you measure your success?  By being able to measure a goal, you will have tangible evidence that you're working towards your goal or meeting your goals. Instead of "going to the gym more" you would set a goal to "Go to the gym 3 nights per week."

Attainable - Your goal should challenge you, but shouldn't be too out of reach that you never attain it. You should be able to write down the steps to meet your goals. I like how Heidi Greenwood wrote in her recent post: "It may be helpful to view your health goals as if you were training for a marathon.  Not literally training for a marathon, but knowing that to reach your health goals is a process that requires planning, time, and external support." You wouldn't set a goal to train for a marathon and then never run more than 3 miles during your training - you would usually follow a very detailed, specific plan that has you meeting certain milestones before being able to run the full marathon. You should do the same with every one of your goals. 

Realistic - This is the one that gets a lot of people. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting a completely out-of-reach goal. Remember, you can always set a new goal after you've met your first goal. This is especially true for those goals that might reduce certain habits - a lot of people want to "give up sweets" or "eat better", so they deprive themselves of the foods they like in an attempt to meet their goals, which ends up in failure. Be realistic with yourself and be flexible with your goal. If you've never been able to give up sweets completely, maybe try reducing your sweets intake to a couple squares of dark chocolate per day that you will really savor. Another big goal people have is to "lose weight" and they usually have big goals in mind and not a lot of patience.

Sometimes it's better for people to focus on goals that are focused more on health and fitness (for instance, lifting heavier weights or packing your lunch), which will lead to weight loss, instead of being so hard on themselves for not losing 10 lbs. in a week. A realistic goal to set is to throw away the New Year's Diet - if diets worked, there wouldn't be so many of them.

Time-bound - This means you will have a time frame for meeting your long-term goal, but also for those shorter-term goals and steps along the way. Having a time-frame helps you determine what your steps along the way should be to meet your long term goal.

Once you've written your goal, write your actions to meeting the goal.


Eat more meatless meals by making 2 new vegetarian recipes per week.
Action: Bookmark recipes online or in a vegetarian cookbook. Make a plan to shop once a week for ingredients for new recipes.

Walk 10,000 steps every day by March 1st, 2016.
Action: Increase steps by 200 steps per day each week starting January 1st until step count reaches 10,000 steps per day.

I will eat better to fuel my training this year by substituting my usual candy bar and chips snack with a healthier option.
Action: Write out which snacks I will have for the week and pack in my bag: apples and walnuts, cheese stick and grapes, homemade trail mix, peanut butter and jelly, hardboiled egg and a pear, Greek yogurt with berries and granola, etc.

Get stronger by going to the gym 3 times per week.
Action: Find gym and get membership. Make the most of your gym time by getting a personal training plan.

Note on training plans - Fitness isn't one-size-fits-all, and the team at Sanford POWER develops training programs to help you meet your personal fitness goals. From individual to large-group training, Sanford POWER training programs can help you reduce your risk of injury, improve overall health and fitness, and increase mobility, flexibility and strength.  Call today at 605-312-7800 to find out more on training options. 

There are many goals you can set for yourself, but make sure you set a SMART goal instead of a regular old resolution to ensure you'll be able to follow through with it during the whole year. Does a whole year seem daunting to you? Write down a short-term SMART goal for the month. My smart goal this month is to take time each Sunday to go grocery shopping and prepare food (rice, sweet potatoes, cut up vegetables, hummus/dressings, salad and protein) for the week. 

Share: What goals have you set for yourself that you didn't think you would achieve? How did you achieve it? Do you have any New Year's Goals?

Read More:

Sanford Sports Nutrition || Getting SMART About New Year's Resolutions

Food and Nutrition Magazine || 5 Tips for a Guilt-Free New Year's Eve Party

U.S. News Health || Forget About the Weight, Let's Eat For Better Health

EatRight || Toss Out Fad Diets and Quick Fixes; This New Year Resolve to Develop a Healthful Lifestyle

Heidi Greenwood || How to Approach Your Health Goals in 2016

Meeting with the Sports Dietitian can help you set your own health and nutrition-related goals!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fat Focus: Why You Should Eat More Healthy Fats

This year's news sites may have left you feeling conflicted on how you should feel about dietary fats - after decades of low-fat recommendations, news articles started popping up, talking how butter isn't bad for you, why you should eat egg yolks, and why you should embrace fats.

It wasn't too long ago when all Americans were advised to adopt a low fat, low cholesterol diet. 

All of a sudden, there was a lot of conflicting information, and a lot of questions from clients about fat - how should we feel about them? Should we ditch the low-fat products and bring back the butter? Should we eat the beef and throw out the bacon? Well, yes and no. It is really the types of fats you're choosing most of the time that makes a difference.

There was a lot of research coming out in the 1970's ad 1980's that led to recommendations for Americans to decrease the amount of total fat (especially saturated fat) and cholesterol in their diets, which was often replaced with over-processed low-fat foods and carbohydrates, and without much guidance over what sorts of fats were still OK to be eating.

Use fats and oils sparingly
Usually when a food is processed and the fat is taken out of a product, companies have to add something else, and that something else is usually sugar, thickeners, additives and flavorings, which led to more processed low fat foods and refined carbohydrates. Replacing fats with carbohydrates (especially those refined carbohydrates) can lead to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We replaced butter with margarine and vegetable oils, increasing our use of trans fats, like hydrogenated vegetable oils, which has now been shown to increase our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. This is obviously the opposite of what the guidelines wanted!

Those low-fat foods also just don't leave consumers as satisfied as the original product, which can lead to over-eating in the long run.

 How many 100-calorie snack packs or fat-free flavored yogurts could a person eat without getting full? Probably quite a few! 

These foods are sometimes seen as better than a higher-fat food because they're lower in calories, but those foods often contain a lot of sugar and just don't leave you satisfied. Low in fat and low in calories doesn't mean something is healthier.

The research can get confusing, and there are so many schools of thought on what type of diet we should be eating with varying levels of fat intake (vegan, paleo, raw food, the list goes on...) Based on the research on the benefits of healthy fats, people should focus on adding more of the whole foods (including more healthy fats) to replace more of those pre-packaged/processed snack foods.

Including good fats in your diet.

Good fats are the fats found in seafood, seeds and nuts - monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). These fats can lower your risk for heart disease (and related deaths), help lower cholesterol, and are  likely to keep you satisfied longer when paired with a complex carbohydrate (vegetable, fruit, or whole grain). 

Polyunsaturated fats:

Omega-3's are always a hot topic.Fish and fish oil are great whole-food sources of these fats.   Omega-3's are a type of PUFA that helps to reduce inflammation in the body, lower triglyceride levels and improve heart functioning. 
    Include more healthy fats in your diet by eating fatty fish (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, trout or mackerel) at meals 2 times per week, adding ground flaxseed or chia seeds to snacks (sprinkled on oatmeal/cereal, on yogurt, in baked goods), and add walnuts to a homemade trail mix.

    ***If you are looking for a fish oil supplement, not all supplements are made the same. Look for at least 500 mg of DHA+EPA per serving of the capsules. 

    Monounsaturated fats:

    You may have heard that eating nuts and olive oil can be good for your health - these are two great sources of monounsaturated fats. Although nuts are high in fat (and even contain saturated fats), this is where we again draw the line that not all fats are created equally. These sources of healthy fats are minimally processed and can not only make your heart healthy, but will again be more satisfying if added to meals:
    • Nuts and nut butters- a great source of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Look for nut butters with the oil on the top - it is easy to stir it in, and some of the other varieties contain trans fats/hydrogenated oils and sugar. For a snack, grab a small handful or ~1 oz of nuts and pair it with a piece of fruit or dried fruits. 
    • Avocado - packed with vitamins E, C, potassium and loaded with fiber. Try swapping your usual sandwich spread for avocado or try topping your toast with some avocado instead of butter.
    • Olive oil - great on salad! A salad dressing with fat helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the vegetables
    Coconut oil is actually high in SATURATED fats, not the heart-healthy MUFAs and PUFAs that have been shown to benefit our health. Although this fat is highly-regarded in articles on many popular health sites, there hasn't been much research done on this fat.
      Instead of focusing on cutting out processed foods entirely, make an effort to increase these healthy fats (nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, and olive oil) in your meals and replacing snack foods with sources of these fats. 

      How do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet?

      This easy post-workout smoothie recipe is a great way to eat those healthy fats, has plenty of healthy carbohydrates to refill your glycogen stores, protein to promote muscle repair, and berries and healthy fats to reduce inflammation after a hard workout.
      • 1 cup frozen berries
      • 1/2 frozen banana (makes smoothie extra thick, like a milkshake)
      • Several handfuls of spinach
      • 1-2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (you can buy it ground and keep it in the refrigerator or grind it yourself with a coffee grinder) or 1-2 Tbsp chia seeds or 1 Tbsp nut butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew butter)
      • 1/2 cup - 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
      • 1 cup milk of choice
      Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. You can customize the smoothie with different fruits and seeds/nut butters. 
      Perfect post-workout breakfast. Top with additional healthy toppings - oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, frozen berries, peanut butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, etc!
      Call or e-mail the Sports Nutritionist to make an appointment and get recipes to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet.

      You might also like:

      EatRight PRO || Quick Tips for Making Environmentally-Responsible Seafood Choices

      Kath Eats Real Food || Why This Registered Dietitian Eats More Fat

      Fact Sheet || Coconut Oil and Health

      Washing State Dept. of Health || Farm Salmon vs. Wild Salmon

      Harvard Family Health Guide || The Truth About Fats: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

      Tuesday, December 1, 2015

      How To Boost Your Immune System (All Year Long!)

      We've all had those days where you can just feel a cold coming on. Eyes watering, nose running, coughing, sneezing, and feeling headache, you head over to the nearest grocery store to pick up some orange juice, soup and medicine. If you're an athlete, you might even think, "I wonder if I can still go to practice...?" or "I'll just wait for this cold medicine to kick in before I go running..."

      Being sick can not only force you to take days off from school or work, but can also put a kink in your training schedule if your cold or flu lingers for days...or even weeks. If you push too hard while you're sick, you can risk even worse illness or injury.

      Sometimes, you can't control getting sick, and popping vitamin C capsules probably won't help you kick a cold once you have it, but you can promote a healthier immune system throughout the year by consistently fueling your body with the foods it needs - use these 5 guidelines for more info:

      1. Avoid under-eating or over-exercising

      It is easy for athletes to get caught up in a training schedule, neglecting those rest days and proper nutrition. If you're not meeting your calorie needs and every single one of your workouts get your heart working at its max, your stress hormones will increase and you're going to be at risk for over-training, injury, and a weakened immune system. 

      Any good training program will have rest days built in - they're there for a reason. Make your hard days hard, your easy days easy, and make sure your weight is consistent. If you start to lose more than 1 lb. per week or you're feeling weak or easily fatigued, you may not be eating enough calories to support your training. Weight loss goals are met during the off-season, so if you're trying to meet your weight loss goals during training, you may not be getting enough calories in to push your body on those hard training days. 

      Not sure how many calories you need to eat to support your training or weight loss/gain goals? Call the Sanford Sports Science Institute at 605-312-7870 to schedule an appointment to get your Resting Energy Expenditure tested. 

      2. Get enough sleep

      A recent study showed that people with shorter sleep duration (under 6 hours per night) had an increased susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep should be an integral part of any athlete's training schedule. While you sleep, you give your muscles a chance to rest and rebuild. 

      If your sleeping pattern is erratic or you're not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, you're not giving your body the rest it needs to recover. Your stress hormone cortisol increases, which can delay recovery after exercise. There is also an increase in ghrelin and decrease in leptin, two hormones that affect your hunger - in this case, by making you feel hungrier than normal. In addition, when you're sleep deprived, your immune system doesn't work as hard to fight off illness. 

      The combination of delayed recovery, increased hunger (which can lead to overeating and weight gain) and decreased immune system functioning can be bad news for athletes during training. Make sure you're making sleep a priority - your sleep schedule should be considered just as important as your training schedule and your nutrition. 

      3. Eat 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day

      ...and we're not talking about potatoes, corn, or peas. You should be eating a serving of vegetables and/or fruits at each meal and snack, and the more color you have on your plate, the more immune-boosting vitamins and minerals you're getting in your diet. 

      Some colorful foods you should be eating include: carrots, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, berries like strawberries and blueberries, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squash and apples. Eating more fruits and vegetables increases your supply of inflammation-fighting, immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, so the more you eat, the better your body can recover after exercise or hard training. 

      4. Jump-start recovery after exercise

      After high intensity or long duration (>90 minute) workouts, athletes should eat a post-workout snack with 2:1 to 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein to refuel muscle glycogen (energy) and help promote muscle healing and growth. By doing this, your body can start to recover right away so you can start your next workout refueled and feeling energized. 

      Good examples of this snack are chocolate milk, Greek yogurt with berries and granola, a banana with peanut butter, a peanut butter and jelly, rice with chicken and vegetables, a smoothie, etc. Make sure to eat periodically throughout the day (don't skip meals) to make sure your body has the building blocks it needs to build muscle and store carbohydrates away as glycogen to use in your next workout.

      5. Give your gut some attention

      You may have heard that 50-70% of your immunity comes from your stomach, so making sure your gut is healthy is vital to boosting your immune function. Check out a previous blog post on promoting good gut health for some more ideas, and include more of these foods in your diet:

      Probiotics (good gut bacteria)

      Yogurt or kefir with live and active cultures, probiotic supplements, kimchi, sauerkraut

      Prebiotics (promote the health of good gut bacteria)

      Asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, beans, whole grains, potatoes

      If you want to know more about boosting your immune system through food, call the Sanford Sports Science Institute to make a one-on-one appointment with the sports nutritionist: 605-312-7878.

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