Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Staying Hydrated This Summer in 5 Easy Steps

Summer time is a great time to be active outside while it's sunny and warm...but it's important to stay hydrated!

It's time to move activities outdoors. No matter what the activity is, if athletes are spending time outside being active this summer, they're probably going to get a lot sweatier, making it important that they pay close attention to hydration.

When our bodies get dehydrated, we lose the ability to regulate body temperature, making us susceptible to heat illness. Dehydration also has a negative impact on exercise performance, so starting a workout, practice or game in a dehydrated state means athletes aren't getting the most out of that session and are at a greater risk for heat illness.

If athletes are going to be active/exercising outside, they can follow the steps below to stay hydrated all day long and avoid performance deficits this summer.

5 Easy Steps to Stay Hydrated

1. Find out how much water you should be drinking in a day when you're not active. 

One basic equation for finding out how much fluid you should be drinking in a day is to divide your body weight in pounds by 2, and drink that much fluid in ounces per day. 

For example, a 150 lb. athlete would need 150/2 = 75 ounces of water per day, or 9.5 cups (8-ounce cups) per day. 

Fluids includes drinks other than water (including milk, juice, broth, etc.), but athletes should really be focusing on drinking at LEAST the recommended amount of fluid in pure water per day if they're not active, plus EXTRA for exercise. 

2. Monitor your hydration status.

At the Sanford Sports Science Institute, we encourage athletes to monitor the color of their urine to check on their hydration status. Lighter urine usually means an athlete is properly hydrated, so before going into a practice or game, athletes should make sure they are properly hydrated, especially if they're going to be outside on a hot day. 

3. Add extra fluid for the sweat lost during exercise. 

Athletes who follow the above recommendations will likely get enough water during the day on an inactive day, and go into their workout or competition adequately hydrated, but this doesn't mean they don't have to replace the fluid lost in sweat during their workout. When we sweat, we lose water and electrolytes, making it important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. 

One tip athletes can follow is to bring their water bottle to every workout and competition and take several large drinks of water at every break they get, or every 10-15 minutes. 

Athletes can also monitor how much weight they lose during a workout or competition by weighing themselves before and after - any more than 2% weight loss indicated inadequate fluid consumption.

After the workout, replace the water lost in sweat by drinking 16-20 ounces of water for every 1 lb. of weight lost. By neglecting to replace the fluid lost during exercise, athletes may go into their next session in a dehydrated state. 

3. Start drinking plenty of water early in the day. 

A great tip for athletes to follow is to drink water right when they wake up, especially if they have a workout later in the day. 

Some recommendations say to drink 2-5 cups of water, several hours before a workout or competition, especially if it is going to be outdoors in the heat.

For many busy athletes, starting the day off with several glasses of water becomes a healthy habit to promote hydration and start the day off on the right food. 

4. Make note of the signs of dehydration and take action early. 

Thirst isn't always the best indicator of when athletes should drink water - sometimes you don't get thirsty until you're dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include headache, dry skin, dry/sticky mouth, constipation and feeling tired or less energetic than usual. 

If you're experiencing any of those symptoms, drink up! Carry your water bottle with you and refill it several times a day, especially on days where you'll be spending time outdoors in the heat. Some very intense or prolonged (>90 minute) workouts in the heat may require a sports drink or some sort of electrolyte replacement beverage. 

5. Load up on fruits and vegetables!

Summer is the perfect time to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not only rich in nutrients, but also have a high water content. The foods you eat during the way will contribute to your hydration status, but during the summer, seasonal fruits like watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, zucchini, etc. have a high water content, making them extra hydrating. 

Knowing how much you need to drink throughout the day, monitoring your hydration status, drinking plenty of water early in the day, knowing the signs of dehydration and loading up on water-rich fruits and vegetables are 5 easy steps you can take to stay hydrated, feel good and perform well all summer long!

Sweat testing at the Sanford Sports Science Institute
Find out more by calling 605-312-7878!
Athletes of all ages and from every sport who have access to the Sanford Fieldhouse can get their sweat fluid and electrolyte loss evaluated to receive individual-specific hydration and nutrition recommendations. These recommendations help athletes prepare for, manage, and recover from sweat fluid and electrolyte losses incurred during training or competition. Call today at 605-312-7878 to find out more on how this test would benefit you or your athlete. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Vitamin D for Athletes: Why Athletes Need It to Perform and How to Get Enough

It definitely feels like summer outside, and while the sun is out and shining, it's important to talk about a vitamin we actually get more of by spending time outside - Vitamin D!

Vitamin D comes in 2 forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol), and can be found in foods, supplements, and we get it from sun exposure.

Vitamin D is often known for its important role in bone development and maintenance and deficiency has serious health consequences for bone health. Rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults are the two bone-related diseases caused by severe vitamin D deficiency. Severe deficiency and rickets has become rare in children after milk starting getting fortified with Vitamin D in the 1930's.

Vitamin D plays other roles beyond bone health, though - it has functions in gene expression, muscular function, immunity, wound healing, and cardiovascular health. 

Most people are getting enough Vitamin D to prevent severe deficiency and bone health issues, but modest deficiency is common, and some people who are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency include:
  • People who spend a lot of time indoors during the day
  • People who cover their skin or wear sunscreen at all times when outside
  • People with darker skin
  • People who live in the northern states of the U.S. or Canada (fewer hours of sunlight, and further from the equator)
  • Older people
  • People who are obese

Very few foods are naturally high in vitamin D. 

On the last blog, we mentioned that vitamin D will be listed on the new Nutrition Facts Label in the future because people really aren't getting enough of it. Many foods, such as milk, orange juice, yogurt, and ready-to-eat cereals are actually fortified with vitamin D, meaning it is added during processing, but the foods that are naturally high in vitamin D are rare. 

Those naturally vitamin-D rich foods include fatty fish (salmon, mackeral, tuna), fish liver oils, egg yolks, beef liver, cheese, and some muschrooms.

For many people, sun exposure is their primary source of Vitamin D. 

Ultravoilet-B (UVB) radiation stimulates vitamin D3 to be produced in the epidermis of the skin, but factors such as season, time of day, cloud cover, smog, skin color and sunscreen use effect vitamin D synthesis from UV exposure. 

Some vitamin D researchers have recommended exposing face, arms, legs or back without sunscreen for 5-30 minutes during peak sunlight hours (between 10AM - 3PM) several times per week. This doesn't mean tanning or burning your skin, and less time outdoors is needed in the summer, and this goes against the the Skin Cancer Foundation, who cautions against this sun exposure in order to get Vitamin D - using sunscreen, covering up and limiting sun exposure and UV radiation from tanning beds is important for preventing skin cancer. 

At the end of the day, you can always get Vitamin D through vitamin D-fortified foods and vitamins. 

A blood test for serum concentration of 25(OH)D is the best indicator of vitamin D status, and the Institute of Medicine claims that:
  • People are at risk for deficiency if serum 25(OH)D levels are <30 li="" ml="" ng="" nmol="">
  • Levels ≥50 nmol/L (≥20 ng/mL) are suffient for good bone healthy for almost all individuals

Vitamin D for Athletes

It is estimated that about 1 billion people of all ages are vitamin D insufficient or deficient, and athletes aren't immune to vitamin D deficiency. Studies examining vitamin D status in NFL players have shown that a significant number of players had deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels (especially amongst African American football players), making vitamin D intake a focus for many teams.

Many collegiate and professional sports teams are supplementing their athletes with vitamin D, and providing foods such as fortified cereals to their diets to prevent Vitamin D insuffiency.

We know that  vitamin D plays a role in muscle and cardiovasular function, helps keep bones healthy and strong,  and helps keep immune systems working effectively, so if making an effort to keep vitamin D levels high can keep athletes healthy, it might be worth looking into.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Nutrition Facts Label Got a Makeover: Check Out What's New!

Have you every looked at the Nutrition Facts Label on a product and scratched your head over what it listed as a serving?

For example, who listed a serving of ice cream as ONLY half a cup? Why are there more than one servings listed in a seemingly "snack sized" bag of chips, soda, or granola bar, when a person would likely open the package and eat it all at once?

Those numbers are about to change, as the FDA just finalized the new Nutrition Facts Label, giving a makeover to the 20-year-old Nutrition Facts Label design.

The Sanford Sports Nutrition Blog previously wrote about the proposed new food label when it was developed in 2014, but now the label is finalized, and most food manufacturers will have until July 2018 to switch over to the new label.

Updates to the New Label

  • The calorie count is bigger, and the serving size will be in bold.
  • The serving size is changing reflects a serving that Americans are actually eating (Again, have you actually ever measured out 1/2 a cup of ice cream? Or drank only 1/2 of a bottle of a beverage that says it contains 2 servings?)
  • Added sugars will be added to the label, which shows how much sugar is added to the food during processing (versus sugar found naturally in fruit and dairy products).
  • "Calories from Fat" will be eliminated, as more people need to be focusing on the types of fats they're consuming, not just the amount. (Focus more on healthy fats, avoiding trans fats). 
  • Different daily value percentages for sodium, fiber, and vitamin D to reflect the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines amounts. 
  • Actual amounts of vitamins (versus the old label that only listed percentages) and changes to WHICH vitamins are listed. Vitamin D and Potassium are now listed (instead of Vitamin C and Vitamin A) because the majority of people aren't getting enough of those key nutrients. 
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
In addition, foods that contain between 1-2 servings, or could be eaten up in one sitting (such as a whole bag of microwave popcorn or a pint of ice cream...) will have a dual column label to show the nutrition for one serving and for the whole package.

Old label (Left) vs. New Label (Right)
The Food and Drug Administration

The Nutrition Facts Label is important for active people and athletes, and this "Athlete's Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label" goes through what you should be looking for on the label. The new design should make healthy eating a little easier by being able to choose between comparable products with different nutrition.

Note: As a dietitian who works with athletes, I am excited to see the "Added Sugars" on the label. Many athletes need a diet rich in carbohydrates, but sometimes they're relying on that quick energy from sports bars and drinks to fuel their training and performance, and get stuck in the habit of eating those high-sugar foods all the time, when they should be eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and lean protein to fuel themselves outside of training. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 have emphasized how much sugar Americans are eating, including sugar in seemingly "healthy" foods like whole grain cereals or yogurts. This added part of the new label makes it easier to compare packaged products and choose more nutritious options!

What do you think of the new label?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beetroot Juice: Can it Help You Perform Better?

It seems as though the newest trend in the exercise community is drinking beetroot juice as a supplement to improve exercise tolerance.

What are the benefits of drinking beetroot juice before competition?

Beetoot juice (and beets in general) are rich in nitrates, which are commonly found in many vegetables, fruits and grains. Nitrates can also be found in cured meats like salami, bacon, and hotdogs, as nitrate is added to preserve color and prevent growth of bacteria, but the danger in these cured meat nitrate sources are that the nitrate is more likely to be turned into nitrite and then nitrosamines, which are cancer-causing chemicals. (This is probably where you heard that nitrated are harmful!) The reason nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables are a better option is because most of them are also rich in Vitamin C, which is an inhibitor to the nitrosamine conversion.

Endurance athletes like runners, swimmers, divers, rowers, triathletes and cyclists are finding that drinking beetroot juice supplements as a form of nitrates may be able to give them a competitive edge. When we drink beetroot juice or take nitrate supplements, the nitrate is converted into nitrite and ultimately nitric oxide (NO) in the blood.

Nitric oxide plays an important role in blood flow regulation, mitochondrial efficiency, and other physiological functions, so beetroot supplementation can have positive effects on exercise performance through:
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Reducing workload of the heart
  • Increasing oxygen delivery throughout the body (muscle oxygenation)
  • Increasing power output
  • Improving time to exhaustion and time trial performances
With this decrease in aerobic energy cost, athletes should be able to physically exert themselves longer before fatigue sets in, which is good news for athletes who want to gain a competitive edge in a safe way.

How to increase blood nitrate levels

Fruits and Vegetables that are High in Nitrate:

  • Vegetables are much higher in nitrates than fruits, and include lettuce, beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, parsley, cabbage, radishes, celery, collard greens 
  • Some fruits that contain higher levels of nitrates includes strawberries, currents, gooseberries, raspberries, cherries
Beetroot juice may be a better option for athletes to drink before performance rather than eating hundreds of grams of nitrate-rich vegetables (huge spinach, carrot, beet smoothie, anyone?), mostly because the juice doesn’t have all that dietary fiber that the whole vegetables do, so it decreases the chances of GI distress and feeling overfull before  a competition.

~300 mg of nitrates

When compared to other nitrate-containing foods, though, drinking beetroot juice seems like the way to go!

In order to maximize on the beetroot juice’s effects, it is recommended that 5-7 mmol of nitrates (500 mL or ~2 cups of beetroot juice) be consumed 3-4 hours before exercise to allow plasma nitrite to be at its peak during exercise performance. They also make 70 mL beetroot shots, which are condensed down to contain the same amount of nitrates as a larger portion of beetroot juice.

This high nitrate state lasts for the next 6-8 hours and blood levels return back to normal after about 24 hours. Many studies have shown that even short-term supplementation (around 5-6 days of drinking the juice) will give the results that athletes are looking for!

Written by: Ashley Beaner, SDSU Dietetics Student

Have you tasted beetroot juice? 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Guest Post: Coffee’s Place in the Workout Regimen...Yes, Has a Place!

Coffee drinkers in the US are averaging about 2 cups of coffee a day (~200 mg caffeine), with 10% of the population consuming more than 1000 mg of caffeine per day.

Coffee, and caffeine in general, has had a bad reputation in the past...but research shows that it can have many benefits during exercise, such as:  

  •  Ability to train at a higher power output (train harder)
  •  Increased speed
  •  Ability to train for a longer period of time (more endurance)
  • Ability to resist muscle fatigue
Common coffee-alternative forms of caffeine ingestion are pre-workout formulas or caffeine pills. Many of the ingredients in the pre-workout supplements are used to increase blood flow, heart rate, and focus, which is intended to help athletes feel energized before going into a workout. Unfortunately, the claims made on the supplement label are often times just a bunch of hype: 
  • There are no direct energy sources coming from the B-vitamins packed into a pre-workout formula and the excess that is being consumed is excreted from the body. 
  • All of the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in these supplements can be obtained naturally through the diet and will prove to be an inexpensive way to get the same results. 
  • If you are trying to supercharge your workout, the safest and best option is always to choose natural sources first!
Another downside to excessive caffeine intake is that it can cause gastrointestinal issues, nausea, tremors, and over-stimulation that affects sleep cycles, and can cause anxiety. Therefore, some things to carefully consider for optimal performance results are: timing, form, and amount of caffeine consumed.

In addition, for student athletes, it's important to know that caffeine is actually a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and consuming it in great amounts (if amounts in urine exceed 15 micrograms/mL) can result in a positive drug test. Many of those pre-workout supplements contain the same amount of caffeine in 4 cups of coffee, so it's important to be aware of how much athletes use. 

Some nutrition supplements do not disclose the amount of caffeine in their product or may contain other illegal/detrimental stimulants that you are not aware of, so make sure to do you research on what you put into your body.

This is the general rule for ALL dietary supplements - there is no government regulation on supplemental facts like there are on a food product's nutritional facts, so it is important to do research on any dietary supplements.

If you choose to drink coffee/caffeine to impact performance, be smart and use these helpful hints:

·         Consume about 1-3 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight
·         Consume caffeine 1 hour before cardiovascular endurance training
·         Caffeine can be consumed up to 20 minutes before high-intensity training
·         Find natural caffeine sources first!
                     Photo by SCAN/CPSDA Registered Dietitians

Thank you!

Ashley Beaner
Dietetics Student at SDSU

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Training Talk: What Female Athletes Need to Know About Fueling Their Bodies

At the 10th Annual Sanford Sports Medicine Symposium last weekend, I spoke about nutrition's role in injury prevention and recovery. One of the main topics of the presentation was low energy availability in athletes. Energy availability is the amount of calories left over for the body to use for normal physiological functions (heart beating, walking around, lungs breathing, thermoregulation, growth, etc.) after accounting for calories burned during training or exercise.

Food intake - Energy Expended During Exercise = Energy Availability

Athletes who have heavy training schedules can be living in a chronic state of low energy availability, where every calorie they eat at meals is burned off during exercise, leaving little to no calories for the body to perform those regular bodily functions.

When calorie intake doesn't match energy expenditure, this low energy availability can not only have negative effects on training and athletic performance, but can put athletes at risk for other health problems.

For female athletes, this low energy availability can lead to other health issues, such as low bone mineral density and menstrual function disorders in what is called the Female Athlete Triad. Physically active girls and women can experience any one of the 3 components, which are interrelated and occur along a spectrum of healthy to unhealthy (see picture below).

Source: 2014 Female Athlete Triad Coalition Consensus Statement on Treatment and Return to Play of the Female Athlete Triad.
De Souza MJ, et al. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:289
Female athletes won't always know the signs of female athlete triad because they won't necessarily lose weight if they have low energy availability (many athletes have a stable weight despite not meeting their calorie needs)...but they might notice if  they're training hard and lose their menstrual period. An estimated 20% of active women has missed 3 or more consecutive menstrual periods, called amenorrhea. This can lead to a loss of calcium from bones, a much higher incidence of stress fractures and poor bone health...but some athletes might believe that losing their period is just a normal part of hard training.

Regardless of body fat and weight, athletes' low energy availabliy can trigger amenorrhea, and appropriate treatment depends on why the athlete is under-fueling.

  • Unintentional fueling due to low appetite from heavy training, or they may have a hard time fitting in meals and snacks around a heavy training schedule. 
  • Some athletes are caught up in the diet culture of their sport (or society in general), trying to lose weight, with the goal of being better at their sport. They may take this too far and develop disordered eating habits, restricting intake of foods such as carbohydrates or animal protein, which can cause under-fueling and nutrient deficiencies. 
  • Some athletes' restrictive eating patterns and disordered eating can lead to eating disorders, which puts athletes at a greater risk for health problems, and requires a different approach to recovery. 

Treatment of female athlete triad requires correcting the energy imbalance - increasing calorie intake and resting from exercise. 

Female athletes are often surprised when they find out how many calories they need to be eating to fuel their bodies, and how few they are currently eating. Very active individuals usually need at least 3 meals and several snacks per day. To get a better idea of current intake, athletes can track their food using popular apps, such as MyFitnessPal or tools like the SuperTracker.

Although these tools give athletes an idea of what they're doing now, working with a registered dietitian can take the guess work out of meal planning and give them more guidance to how many calories they really need to support training, and which foods they should be focusing on to really optimize their workouts and recover properly.

The total calories aren't the only thing that matter - girls and women can be deficient in several key nutrients:

  • Vitamin D: spend more time outdoors, fortified breakfast cereal, milk, fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks or a vitamin
  • Calcium: dairy such as milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Iron: it's important to get screened for iron status, as many women, especially endurance athletes, tend to have low iron
  • Healthy fats: focus on eating plenty of nuts (including peanut/almond butter!), seeds (flax, hemp, chia), olive oil, avocados, salmon
  • Adequate protein: 20-25 grams per meal, 10-15 grams per snack in the form of lean protein (chicken, fish, lean beef), nuts, yogurt, milk, beans, peas and soy
  • Energy-enhancing carbohydrates: the amount of carbs an athlete needs depends on their weight and what kind of sport they're in, but because carbs are our muscles' main fuel source, eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and potatoes is necessary to perform well and recover adequately. 

When speaking with female athletes, it's important to emphasize that food is fuel!

It's a good thing to eat when you're hungry and to enjoy food.  Eating more food doesn't necessarily equate to weight gain, and many times, it can actually lead to improved sport performance. If an athlete or parent of an athlete suspects they are having any of the issues discussed, they should talk to their doctor. There are other causes for amenorrhea, so it's important to consult with your doctor to rule out other causes! A Registered Dietitian can help athletes fuel their bodies properly to avoid issues related to female athlete triad and under-fueling for their sport.

NPR || To Thrive, Female Athletes Need a Lot More Food

The Informed Appetite || Drink Milk, or Don't. But Maybe Read This First (#Science!)

New York Times || After 'The Biggest Loser,' Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight

Yeah...Imma Eat That || The Hunger and Fullness Scale (AKA How to Stop Dieting)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How Sweet It Is: The Truth About Hidden Sugar in Your Food

Many people consider sugary foods like soda pop, candy, cakes, chocolate and other desserts "junk food". We all know those treats aren't necessarily good for us - eating sugary treats can cause cavities, but increasing evidence suggests that diets which are lower in added sugars are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. Added sugar in our diets, isn't necessarily a bad thing (there's a lot of misinformation out there about sugar being toxic...), but Americans are eating and drinking way too much sugar (much more than 30 years ago).

How much sugar are we really eating?

 According to the 2015 Dietary Guideline for Americans, added sugars account for an average of 270 calories per day in an American's diet, most of which come from beverages, then from snacks and sweets such as cakes, pies, cookies, etc. There are many recommendations for how much sugar should be included in your diet, but the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommended that Americans should aim for 10% or less of their calories from added sugar each day. The World Health Organization (and the American Heart Association) further reduces that recommendation to just 5% of calories (about 6 teaspoons for women, 9 teaspoons for men) for further health benefits. These recommendations for teaspoons or calories of sugar go lower as calorie needs decrease, so children and older adults usually need much less sugar.

While some foods contain natural sugars, such as fruit (fructose) and dairy products (lactose), other foods will have sugars added in order to sweeten them (or if you like food science, sugar can also help preserve foods and aid in giving foods a certain texture, color, etc.) but don't really add any nutrition besides added calories.

We aren't talking about those sometimes foods you already know are sweet, like ice cream, cake, cookies, candy and other desserts - those foods can still be part of your diet, but you probably already know they shouldn't be part of your diet every day. We start to run into problems with weight maintenance and energy levels when our every day diet is full of added sugar (it adds up easily!), in addition to those sweet treats every once in a while.

Be Savvy About Label-Reading

Many people are surprised to find sugar on the label of their favorite foods, including foods that don't even taste sweet or in foods that are seemingly healthy. This is how we are eating up to an average of 270 calories of added sugar per day. It's not just a soda or cookie once in a while - it's those foods plus all the food processed with sugar we are including in our every day diets.

On the ingredient label, sugar can be called many names: brown sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, raw sugar and crystal solids, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, barley malt, dextrose, etc. 

You can probably find one or more types of sugar on your food labels - it can be a challenge to avoid sneaky sugar in products. Some of the foods labeled as being "healthy" or "natural" may contain more than half of the recommended 6 teaspoons of added sugars, especially in foods like flavored yogurt and other dairy products, granola, cereal, oatmeal packets, peanut butter, dried fruit, flavored milk (including flavored non-dairy milks), fruit juice, and sauces.

FYI - If you're looking at a label, 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. For reference, Honey Nut Cheerios contains 9 grams of sugar per serving, from added sugar, so over 2 teaspoons in a 3/4 cup serving. But how much is your portion? If you eat a cup and a half of that cereal, you're up to almost 5 teaspoons of sugar...

Many other snacks contain more sugar than you thought: A popular organic "snack bar" has 44 grams of carbohydrates, of which 21 grams are "sugars" - sugars coming from dairy, fruit, or added sugar. In this case, the first ingredient on the ingredient list (meaning the bar contains the MOST of that ingredient by weight) is "organic brown rice syrup." Down the ingredients list (highlighted below), there are 4 other types of sugar: organic cane syrup, organic dried cane syrup, dried cane syrup and barley malt extract. For a snack bar, 21 grams of sugar seems like quite a bit of sugar, and the fact that it's organic doesn't make very much difference to your body, honestly. 

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Rice Flour, Organic Chia Seeds, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Cranberries, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Soy Flour, Dried Strawberries, Organic Oat Fiber, Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Soybean Oil, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Pomegranate Powder, Salt, Barley Malt Extract, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant). 

To choose healthier snacks/consume less sugar, make sure to check that label - if sugar is the first or second ingredient, try to find a comparable product with less grams of sugar. Compare two items and choose the one with less sugar on the label per serving!
  • Choose plain yogurt and add your own honey/jam and fresh fruit. If you like the convenience of pre-packaged yogurts, compare brands. Some brands and flavors contain way more sugar than others, especially the fat-free flavored yogurts. Take a peek at your "light" yogurt ingredients - does it contain more than just milk, sugar, and added cultures? Does it contain thickeners, like pectin, gums, corn starch, carrageenan, or chicory root fiber? Many of the 100-calorie or light yogurts contain extra ingredients and artificial sweeteners. Choosing a 2% or full fat yogurt and adding your own sweetness will be a more satisfying snack. 
  • Make your own granola bars/energy bites. This especially goes for any chocolate-coated bars and snacks - if you want a dessert, eat a dessert! Snack bars that contain chocolate or candy pieces are just glorified candy bars, even if they use artificial sweeteners. 
  • Don't drink your fruit (juice) - Eat a piece of whole fruit, instead. A whole piece of fruit has all the same sweetness as juice, but has added fiber that prevents your blood sugar from spiking so quickly. If you have a habit of drinking juice, try adding half the amount to some water or sparkling water.
  • Make your own salad dressings - the low fat dressings often contain WAY more ingredients and sugar than a vinaigrette or full-fat dressing. A homemade vinaigrette made with olive oil, vinegar and spices contains healthy fats that help you digest some of the vitamins in your salad,  without all the extra sugar and other additives/
  • Cook at home more often. Restaurant and frozen meals will often contain more sugar than if you had cooked the same meal at home.
  • Swap out your morning cereal with foods that contain less sugar. Try whole grain oatmeal with a banana and milk, or whole grain toast with scrambled eggs. A higher-protein breakfast is often more satisfying and will have you feeling less "snacky" later in the day, so try to include eggs, dairy, beans, meat, nuts and seeds at breakfast. 
Want help getting started? Meet with a Registered Dietitian at the Sanford Sports Science Institute by calling 605-312-7878

NPR ||  New Dietary Guidelines Crack Down On Sugar. But Red Meat Gets A Pass

Real Mom Nutrition || What a Day's Worth of Sugar Really Looks Like  -- Surprising!

Harvard's "The Nutrition Source" || Added Sugar in the Diet

The Washington Post || Where People in the World Eat the Most Sugar and Fat

Today's Dietitian || High Protein Snacking

Siggi's || Simple Swaps and Substitutions  -- Great for cooking and baking!