My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert

Athletic success (for any age, skill level or sport) takes a multi-disciplined approach. Proper sleep and recovery, specific exercise and sport training along with meal planning and timing are at the foundation of any well-developed plan (athlete or not).

Athletes, especially those who train at high intensity and/or high volume, can easily fall victim to what I call the “Hidden Hurdles to Peak Sports Performance” (watch for my blog on this topic coming this summer). These hurdles include digestive distress (including but not limited to food sensitivities), poor sleep habits, overtraining and chronic adrenal stress (from overtraining, under eating and poor sleep) and immune dysfunction (from all of the above). They all are connected and can cause the other if not proactively supported.

Because of these factors, I approach sports nutrition and supplements for athletes with a focus on building a foundation with adequate metabolic protection from the hidden hurdles FIRST.

With that, here are My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance:

1.     Amino Complex

Thorne Amion Complex_EditedBranched chain (BCAA) and essential amino acids literally are the building blocks for lean muscle mass.  They signal both protein synthesis (the BCAA l-leucine is most responsible for this), act as substrates for the Krebs cycle and induce mitochondrial biogenesis (more mitochondria means more ATP, which means more energy). Whether you want more energy, enhanced recovery, protection of loss of lean muscle and/or more strength and power out of the muscle you currently have, or you want to add more lean muscle mass, a BCAA and essential amino acid blend is for you. [1] They are not all created equal, so read labels carefully. Amino acids notoriously taste and smell bad so watch for artificial sweeteners, sugar and other fake food additives. I use Amino Complex (AKA DaxibeQOL), a scientifically validated source with over 25 years of clinical research to back its effect. Research shows taking BCAAs alone can reduce the levels of other essential amino acids in your body, so make sure to take a cleanly sourced blend like Amino Complex or DaxibeQOL.

2.     Magnesium Citramate (or Albion Chelate)

Magnesium is easily one of the most overlooked, inexpensive sports performance aids available. An Alternative Medicine Review Monograph from 2002 states that “Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including ATP synthesis, protein synthesis, glycogen breakdown, fatty acid oxidation, and maintenance of membrane stability of the cardiovascular, neuromuscular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems”…all of which is critical for an athlete! Magnesium has been shown to aid in recovery, performance, heart health and muscle fiber contractility. Research has demonstrated that athletes who take magnesium perform better. Overtraining can place undue stress on cardiac (heart) muscle. Magnesium has been shown to protect heart muscle function and overall heart health. Most athletes (and people) need way more then they would think to take. Dosed before bed, magnesium can help with sleep (another undervalued sports performance aid). [2]

3.     Probiotic Complex

Over time I noticed a common thread in my high-mileage, high-intensity, multi-hour training athlete clients: digestive distress. A topic no athlete wants to discuss, although it can be devastating to performance. Distress can vary from gas, bloating and indigestion to diarrhea and other more serious inflammatory GI issues. Eating The Virgin Diet way for an athlete can help mitigate many of these symptoms. Additionally, most athletes will benefit from ongoing digestive support through a balanced, dairy-free, acid-resistant probiotic blend. A high percentage of our immune health resides in our digestive track; probiotics can boost gut-based immunity, which is not only great for performance, but overall health. Taken daily probiotics in athletes may also help reduce total body inflammation, not to mention if your digestive track is optimally functioning you digest and absorb all that healthy food you’re eating! [3]

4.     Elevate Adrenal Tonic

Thorne Elevate Box_EditedAthletes are some of the most stressed out people I know. How could a multi-million dollar a year athlete playing the sport he/she loves be stressed, you might wonder? Exercise and sport specific training causes, by effect of normal physiology, an increase of adrenaline and cortisol. Endurance, high-intensity and multi-hour training bouts can increase the demand of these hormones even higher. Sustained stress/adrenal hormone production can be associated with reduced performance and overtraining like effects. Many athletes are experiencing the signs and symptoms of overtraining and adrenal burden (fatigue, drop in performance, headaches, reoccurring colds/flu, drop in appetite, moodiness, loss of interest in sport, muscle pain and soreness that does not go away, elevated resting heart rate and more). I love this definition of overtraining from “Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body’s ability to recover.” Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. Without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance. Oh and don’t forget that athletes are people too; others may just simply be ‘burned out’ from other responsibilities and demands in their life. When the adrenals glands are either over or under-producing stress hormones, performance and other hormone levels like testosterone and thyroid also suffer! [4]

5.     A Multi Vitamin/Mineral/Fish Oil Combo, Specifically Thorne’s Daily Basics Packets

Athletes should always be taking a professional grade multi vitamin, mineral and antioxidant blend. The average person is rarely getting what he or she needs from their food supply due to lack of food variety and poor food quality all together. An athlete has higher needs for nutrients because he/she is pushing metabolic functions to their peak. The simple action of training and/or practicing for a sport causes free radical release, which can age us quicker, slow muscle repair and stall performance. Multi mineral blends should be free of unnecessary fillers that can impede nutrient absorption like magnesium or vegetable stearates, be free of synthetic vitamin E, have a nice dose of a variety of antioxidants and include a pure, highly concentrated omega 3 fatty acid blend.

6.     Rebound Curcumin

Athletes are always recovering from inflammation, even if they are precise about days off and proper recovery. Curcumin (the extract from turmeric) has been show in numerous studies to help support healthy inflammation pathways. Because athletes are prone to ‘over-doing’ over the counter and prescription pain meds which can wreak havoc on either the digestive track or liver or both, having a safe solution that can be used chronically with no downside is worth it’s weight in gold. Not all curcumin is created equally, as you probably figured out already, I’m picky. Curcumin is hard to absorb, don’t be fooled with those that add pepper extract essentially causing leaky gut and allowing other ‘stuff’ to get it into your system (‘stuff’ like bugs and food that aren’t digested all the way yet). That’s why I use the product mentioned above, the phytosome technology has been proven to safely enhance absorption. Enough said. P.S. Don’t waste your money on turmeric (cook with it of course), but if you want the inflammation support use curcumin. Turmeric is only 5% curcumin at best.

Honorable Mention – Extra Fish Oil Liquid for higher dosing (if my list was a top 7 which I considered changing it to, this would be my #7 for sure), L-glutamine, D-ribose, CoQ10, something for the liver if the athlete regularly takes Tylenol based pain meds and L-Carnitine if the athlete needs to also trim body fat and/or manage lactic acid better.

Want to grab some of the products I’ve mentioned above for yourself or your student athlete?  Go here


© 2014 Lane Consulting,



[1] Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Volek JS, et al. The effects of amino acid supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance training overreaching. Metabolism 2006;55:282-291.

Solerte SB, Gazzaruso C, Bonacasa R, et al. Nutritional supplements with oral amino acid mixtures increases whole-body lean mass and insulin sensitivity in elderly subjects with sarcopenia. Am J Cardiol 2008;101:69E-77E.

[2] Ebel H, Gunther T. Magnesium metabolism: a review. J Clin Chem Biochem 1980;18:T257-270.

Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biol Trace Elem Res 2011 April;140(1):18-23. Epub 2010 March 30

Update on the Relationship Between
Magnesium and Exercise
Nielsen, F. H. and H. C. Lukaski
Magnes Res. 2006, Sep; 19(3): 180-89

[3] Relationship between gastro-intestinal complaints and endotoxemia, cytokine release and the acute phase reaction during and after a long distance triathlon in highly trained men. Clinical Science (2000) 98, 47–55 (Printed in Great Britain)

[4] Szivak TK, Hooper DR, Kupchak BK, et al. Adrenal cortical responses to high intensity, short rest, resistance exercise in men and women. J Strength Cond Res 2012 May 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Tremblay MS, Copeland JL, Van Helder W. Influence of exercise duration on post-exercise steroid hormone responses in trained males. Eur J Appl Physiol 2005:94:505-513.

Karkoulias K, Habeos I, Charokopos N, et al. Hormonal responses to marathon running in non-elite athletes. Eur J Intern Med 2008;19:598-601

Bouic PJ, Clark A, Lamprecht J, et al. The effects of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) mixture on selected immune parameters of marathon runners: inhibition of post marathon immune suppression and inflammation. Int J Sports Med 1999;20:258-262.

Disclaimer: Jill Lane is a consultant for Thorne Research


Want to Get Lean and Recover Quicker No Matter Your Age or Sport? Up Your Protein and It’s Quality.

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert

Protein comes from the Greek word meaning “of first importance,” which seems appropriate once you consider its numerous functions. Here are a few things protein (and its components known as amino acids) do for our health; support tissue repair, provide building blocks for mood chemicals, provide components for energy production and mitochondrial health, support muscle maintenance, signal new muscle growth (AKA protein synthesis), signal hormone cascade so fat can be let out of storage to be burned for fuel (if insulin levels are ‘normal’) and on and on.

Whereas higher-carbohydrate meals can spike and crash your blood sugar (unless you immediately use it for fuel, or are using it to recover from a long duration athletic endeavor), leaving you lethargic and hungry a few hours later, protein gives you slow, sustained energy that helps you run that last mile after your pasta-loading friend conked out. 

Why protein is your best weapon to maintain and gain muscle, speed recovery, fight fat and boost performance:

Numerous studies prove protein superior to help you get lean, muscular, and in peak shape. One in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Link: for instance, showed that a high-protein breakfast suppressed your hunger hormone ghrelin better than a high-carbohydrate breakfast. Simply put, you stay fuller longer when you eat protein with breakfast.

You can try this for yourself. Eat a bagel (or any other ball of sugar…muffin, bowl of cereal…) with a banana and orange juice, and notice how you feel a few hours later. Odds are you’re lethargic, mentally foggy, and craving a late-morning snack. (Then again, maybe you shouldn’t try this yourself and just take my word!)

On the other hand, a protein-packed breakfast gives you slow, steady energy all morning (and workout and game for that matter). You don’t have that morning or mid-game crash, and the warm doughnuts your favorite co-worker brought to the office don’t tempt you as much.

Other studies confirm a higher-protein diet helps you burn fat, stay full, build muscle, and sustain energy (Links:, and

Why is protein so important?                                                                                       

If you recall your high school biochem textbook, you’ll remember your body breaks down protein into amino acids, which serve numerous functions including recovery and repair. Amino acids help build antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and many other structures (like muscle) that help your body function. Shortage of just one amino acid will limit production of these crucial molecules. Protein consumption should be taken seriously. How do you find out how much of it to eat each day? Athletes and parents of, I give you the exact formulas I teach my athlete clients in my FREE videos located at…non-athletes can start with at least 20 grams of protein at each meal and maybe 1 snack.

You can’t store protein, so you need a continuous supply coming in at every meal. In other words, don’t think you can just eat a big protein-based breakfast and (literally) call it a day.

Smart protein sources:

Good animal sources of protein include…Eggs_000016161161

  • Grass-fed beef and bison
  • Wild-caught salmon and other non farm raised fish
  • Free-range poultry
  • Organic, pasture-raised eggs (if you don’t have egg sensitivities)
  • Greek yogurt (if you don’t have dairy intolerances)

Getting enough protein as a vegetarian or vegan can be a challenge. Many people rely on soy, which is low in the amino acid methionine (not to mention that some literature suggests that regular soy consumption may negatively impact thyroid health and lower testosterone-not optimal for athletic performance and recovery). You can derive some amino acids from quinoa, lentils, beans, and raw nuts, although they don’t always pack the same health punch of animal protein (for more check out this former blog of mine 8 Strategies for Peak Vegan/Vegetarian Athletic Performance)

Protein powders are popular for athletes. I highly recommend you skip soy protein based powders and instead choose either a high-quality whey or pea/rice blend. Avoid those warehouse mega-tubs of protein powder, which are loaded with junk (artificial sweeteners and colorings and toxic fats), and buy a professional-grade powder. If you’re vegetarian or otherwise not getting optimal protein, you might also want to supplement your meals with a high-quality pea/rice protein or amino acid blend (I use VegaLite and Amino Acid Complex by Thorne).

Optimal protein throughout your day:

A protein smoothie, in fact, makes the ideal breakfast. Simply load high quality pea/rice/whey powder with berries, ground yellow flaxseeds, and coconut milk for a fast, filling protein-rich meal that will keep you full while your co-workers are having those late-morning sugar crashes.

Incorporating protein into lunch and dinner meals is a snap. A salad loaded with chicken and sliced egg, for instance, makes an ideal lunch. Or roll a rice wrap with nitrate-free turkey. For dinner, try athlete and kid-friendly favorites made healthy, such as almond-crusted baked chicken fingers and grass-fed beef sliders (you can make these minus the bun by using lettuce or GF buns).

Protein-packed snacks:

If you’re an athlete, you’ll probably also need a few snacks to boost stamina and achieve your protein requirements. My favorite protein-rich snacks include hard-boiled eggs, sliced grilled chicken, plain unsweetened Greek yogurt (not the loaded-with-sugar fruit-on-the-bottom stuff!), nitrate-free jerky, and of course protein shakes.

Another favorite is apple slices with almond butter. The protein and good fat in the almond butter will buffer out the apple’s sugar and give you sustained energy to be on top of your game 24/7.

© 2014 Lane Consulting,


Blom WA, et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.

Brehm BJ, et al. Benefits of high-protein weight loss diets: enough evidence for practice? Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2008 Oct;15(5):416-21.

Clifton PL. Long-term effects of a high-protein weight-loss diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):23-9.

Halton TL, et al. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85.

6 Simple Meal Timing Tips to Enhance Performance, Energy, Recovery and Body Composition

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Coach

One of the most contentious debates within sports nutrition and the health and fitness
arena involves meal timing. Some experts advise eating small meals every 2-3 hours to boost metabolism and enhance training. Others argue three solid meals and no snacking helps burn more fat and gives your hard-working digestive system a much-needed break.

Without clear understanding of biochemistry and biochemical individuality it can be difficult to understand which is the better approach. The truth is that depending on your goals, lean body mass and athletic/training level BOTH can be useful in different scenarios.

There are, however, foundational MEAL TIMING RULES I believe everyone benefits from (athlete or not). These rules can help you maximize fat loss if needed, boost performance, quicken recovery, add or preserve muscle mass and enhance energy throughout your day.

1.   Eat within an hour of getting up. If you’re like most people, you head directly to the coffeemaker or teapot upon rising. But after slumbering eight hours and not eating even longer, you need protein first and foremost (ok water might beat our protein for morning needs) because our body doesn’t store protein like it does sugar and fat. If you don’t eat protein, which the body requires for almost every function, the body will find it, eventually breaking down precious muscle tissue if you’re not getting it from dietary sources. If eating a big breakfast within an hour of waking sounds like torture, try a fast, filling protein smoothie instead. Blend whey or pea/rice powder, berries, flaxseed meal, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk.

2.   Stop eating within 2 hours of going to bed. Be honest: that 11 p.m. fridge raid isn’t for salmon and broccoli. Close your kitchen after dinner and give your body time to digest before bed (which means more free amino acids for recovery and repair of muscle and mood chemicals). You’ll sleep better (which means better hormone output), burn more fat, and you won’t wake up with that morning feeling gassy and bloated or like you just ate dinner (or a brick)!

3.   Never go more than 6 hours without eating (unless it is during your overnight fast during sleep). This is imperative for athletes! The debate: Eat every few hours or don’t snack? What I’ll agree on is: don’t go too long without eating. You’ll raise your stress hormone cortisol (which does a really good job of breaking down muscle and helping us store fat), and you’ll be far less likely to resist the waft of hot cinnamon buns at the mall (or any other food void of nutrition but pleasing to the eye). Spacing meals about five hours apart optimizes insulin and its sister hormone glucagon, which releases fat from your fat stores (a great fuel source). Athletes that train for more then 1 hour per day and or those that are hard-gainers (generally lean tall men who have trouble gaining muscle) often require eating every 3 hours.

4.   Drink water around your meals. Optimal time for water consumption is during training and in between meals.  Instant replenishment from hydration lost via sweat during training and competition helps with performance and may speed recovery.  Drink the majority of your water the rest of the day in between meals so that the strong digestive enzymes are not diluted (we need strong acid to help breakdown protein and fibrous veggies). Water keeps your metabolic machinery working optimally, curbs hunger, and helps you perform at your peak. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water, or at least 100 ounces spread throughout the day. Ask about my hydration equation if you are an athlete that sweats a lot.

5.   Follow the 1-hour rule. Don’t eat within one hour of competition or training (unless you’ve tried it multiple times and you know it ‘works for you’). Because working muscles require increased blood flow, priority shifts from digestion to those working muscles. Food left sitting in your digestive track, well just ‘sits’ there potentially causing gas, bloating, nausea and a feeling of heaviness – not optimal for peak performance. Besides stomach upset, too many carbs spaced poorly before competition can cause blood sugar havoc, negatively effecting focus and energy.

6.   Keep a journal to track your times. Remember earlier about biochemical individuality? The best way to figure out what works for youis to track it. Write down everything you eat and when you ate it. That’s the best way to pinpoint and troubleshoot plateaus, energy crashes, and any other issues that arise as you learn what kind of timing works for you. 95% of the time athletes I work with THINK they are eating enough of the right food at the right time…and they are not. A food journal helps us discover this – cheap and easy! Need another reason to keep a food journal? A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who wrote down what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t (if fat loss is your goal, this is imperative).

Side Note: All of the above take priority in the clients I work with BEFORE we even talk about timing of meals around training, especially the highly debated feeding post training, practice and competition. Short and sweet, if you are not an athlete…you don’t need a post workout anything (meal, shake…) only water.  Fat loss favors no food after workouts. Hard-gainers and true athletes (definition above) usually benefit from a BCAA/EA blend post workout. Otherwise just eat your next meal at the time indicated by the above Timing Tips (Rules).



International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Meal Frequency: (Published March 2011)

Spacing Meals:

Food Log:

8 Strategies for Peak Vegan/Vegetarian Athletic Performance

Gone are the days an animal protein-rich diet seemed almost a prerequisite for weight lifters, endurance runners, and soccer players. Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Robert Parish and tennis champion Martina Navratilova are among the star athletes who showed the world you could eschew animal foods and consistently give a stellar performance.  Don’t misunderstand…I am still a firm believer in eating animal based protein…I’ve come to realize that many are not going to join me so I’ll ‘meat’ you in the middle!

The truth?  I think it is harder to be a vegan athlete. Vegan and vegetarian athletes must address unique challenges including immune health, ensuring optimal nutrient intake, and meeting their protein quota. Simply put, athletic vegans and vegetarians must be vigilant about what they eat and incorporate a few key nutrients often missing in plant-based diets.

A little creativity and know-how can simplify things so you can focus on peak performance rather than obsessively monitor everything you eat. Whether you’re flirting with vegetarianism or maintained a strict vegan diet for decades, these 8 strategies can take your game to a whole new level without going near a chicken breast:

  1. Shake your breakfast routine. Protein plays numerous roles for peak performance, including muscle synthesis and recovery. Clients simply feel better when they get adequate protein, and that translates into a better game. Cereals and other carb-heavy breakfasts crash and burn your energy levels. For steady energy all morning, choose a protein shake. Skip the soy (more on that in a minute) and opt for pea/rice powder (I use PreVail Vegan see my website), which provides an excellent amino acid profile for vegan protein. Blend with unsweetened coconut or almond milk, frozen berries, and maybe some leafy greens if you’re adventurous, for a fabulous vegan-friendly breakfast or after noon protein snack that’s fast and filling.
  2. Timing is everything. Ever notice how when you miss a meal you become lightheaded, grumpy, and your performance nosedives? Steady energy and optimal recovery demand the right fuel. Space your meals 4 – 6 hours apart and make sure they include clean lean protein, high-fiber foods (legumes and veggies are tops!), and good fats like avocado and olive oil. Don’t be afraid to snack, especially on game days when you’re burning calories like crazy. I love a healthy trail mix with dark chocolate, slivered almonds, shredded coconut, and organic raisins. Yum!
  3. Combine smartly. Meeting your protein quota as a vegan or vegetarian athlete takes a little more work. If you eat eggs, incorporate them every few days. (Too often and you risk food intolerances.) Most plant foods are low in certain amino acids, so combining them can help you get complete protein. Beans and brown rice is the classic go-to pair. Combining needn’t be complicated: load your plate with 2 – 3 high-protein foods include quinoa, legumes, non-gluten grains and oats, as well as raw nuts and seeds. Don’t be afraid to use pea/ rice powder at your meals to hit your protein goals.
  4. Watch the processed stuff. With animal protein out of the picture, many vegans and vegetarians gravitate to easy, high-carb processed foods. These options become especially tempting after a long day on the field when you’re tired and just want something delicious to eat, but short-term gratification can lead to energy crashes and weight gain. Bypass the vegan mac and “cheese” and other Frankenfoods for protein-rich meals. If you don’t have time to cook, hit the Whole Foods hot bar or combine low-sodium canned beans with quick-cook quinoa and frozen veggies.
  5. Nix the gluten. Dana Vollmer made news in the 2012 London Olympics when she set a new world record for the 100-meter butterfly, but also because she ate a gluten-free diet. According to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, gluten, a protein in wheat, triggers gut issues, exacerbates inflammation, and crashes your immune system (since about 2/3 of your immunity resides in your gut). Gluten can also inhibit important nutrients and create thyroid imbalances. Focus on gluten-free grains for peak performance. Swap wheat wraps for no-gluten rice wraps and toss the pasta noodles for spaghetti squash or quinoa pasta.
  6. No joy in soy. Non-meat eaters over-rely on soy, which provides protein but according to Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, can inhibit nutrient absorption and impair thyroid function. Soy burgers, soy dogs, and other fake-food concoctions usually contain cheap soy protein isolate, a lousy source of protein. The occasional tempeh, miso soup, or even tofu stir-fry is okay if organic, but when every meal becomes a soy bonanza, food intolerances and other problems (like lowered testosterone!) could result.
  7. Chill out. You’ve probably overdone it at the gym or field and suffered the achy miserable consequences. Recovery is crucial, and over-training can trigger adrenal fatigue, immune suppression, muscle loss, and seriously stall your game. Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep every night, take a day off between rigorous workouts or game days, and give your body the right foods and nutrients to recover.
  8. Get the right nutrients. Vegetarians and especially vegan athletes frequently test deficient in nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, CoQ10, and L-carnitine, all of which are prevalent in meat but not so much in plant foods. Nutrient testing can reveal which vitamins, minerals, and conditionally essential nutrients you’re missing, and a sports nutritionist can help design a supplement protocol. I’ve seen impressive gains with DaxibeQOL®, a great-tasting scientifically validated blend of branched-chain (BCAAs) and essential amino acids from Thorne Research that helps increase performance, lean muscle mass, and muscle strength. BCAAs, most prevalent in animal foods, comprise about 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle protein, and top athletes swear by supplementing them for peak performance.  You can grab Daxibe and the other top products I use with my Pros at ; click on the Thorne Performance banner and get 10% off your first order.

“Wondering how much protein you need a day?  Get the formula I use with my Pro-Athlete clients along with other insider tips by grabbing my 3 FREE training videos here

“Watch Jill’s interview by Erin Sharoni (co-host with Jim Rome on Showtime) on if going Vegan is sustainable and the importance of supplementation here…


5 Simple Strategies to Smarter, Healthier Kids!

You’re on your third cup of coffee searching for the car keys and haphazardly reviewing your presentation for this afternoon, all the while breaking up a bicker-fest between your two daughters and helping your son lace his new sneakers. Who has time to fix a healthy breakfast amidst this chaos?

Succumbing to time by giving your kids (and yourself) sugar-laden cereal is all too common in our faster-then-fast life.  Time to toss the excuses…and the guilt! The truth is, preparing healthy meals and snacks takes less time and energy than you might think.

Here are five strategies to make sure your kids get the nutrients they need for peak performance, health, focus AND an amazing future (because what they eat now dictates ALL of that).

1.  Simplify breakfast. Cereal manufacturers have cashed in on your lack of time at the expense of your kids’ health. But the one thing they got right is simplicity: you just pour the cereal in a bowl with some milk and bam! Instant breakfast. Try that same approach with a protein smoothie. Blend high-quality chocolate whey or vanilla pea/rice protein powder with berries, a tablespoon of almond butter, and coconut milk. (Bonus points if you can sneak a little kale in there!) Tastes delicious and will keep your kids full, focused, and functioning well without that mid-morning sugary cereal crash. Not a big protein shake person or family?  Hard boil eggs in advance. With the shells on they last in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

2.  Make lateral shifts. Ruling with an iron fist is not always the best tactic with kids of any age.  It can create a bad relationship with food and drive them to go the extra mile to get what they want! Instead, slowly make lateral shifts by swapping their current junky snacks for healthier versions.  Keep swapping until you get to the point where they actually want only new additions (yes, that day will come!). Here are a few ideas:

  • Switch cookies and other processed foods for apples and pears cut into long julienne like strips. Dust with cinnamon and add a side of almond butter (kids love presentation, cutting the fruit into strips and serving the nut butter on the side in a little bowl like a restaurant can help seal the deal).
  • Switch French fries for baked sweet potato fries.
  • Make your own trail mix with raw nuts like almonds and walnuts, a bit of dark chocolate, unsweetened coconut flakes and pumpkins seeds
  • Up grade mashed potatoes for faux-tatoes: puree cauliflower with a little butter or coconut milk and salt.
  • Switch (if eaten regularly) chips and salsa for kale chips and hummus.
  • Switch ice cream for coconut chocolate pops: mix coconut milk and chocolate protein powder, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze. These go fast!

Be creative, make it fun, and before long your kids will forget they ever craved the fake stuff.

3.  Pull it together with amazing meals. Fast food family combos might seem like a bargain compared to homemade meals, but you’ll pay with health in the long run and focus and behaviors in the short. Avoid the drive-through temptations and let your kids pick a favorite meal one night a week. Assign tasks, from chopping veggies to setting the table. Lateral shifts make these meals almost as easy but far healthier than store-bought foods:

  • Baked almond-crusted chicken fingers with sweet potato fries (kid-friendly finger foods!)
  • Grass-fed beef patties with faux-tatoes
  • Grilled or baked salmon with julienned veggies and an array of dipping sauces like pesto, salsa and vinaigrettes
  • Spaghetti squash with ground turkey marinara sauce
  • Grass-fed beef fajitas with veggies, guacomole and salsa

4.  Lead by example. Kids absorb your habits, and if you’re veering health-wise they will notice (like I said in a recent newsletter of mine…they are watching you…not getting my newsletter? sign up here)You can’t reprimand your son’s soda habit, for instance, if your morning commute consists of a large sugar loaded coffee drink or soda. Show your kids how delicious fresh vegetables can be by eating them yourself and by switching up how you cook them – Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and a little nitrate-free bacon, for instance – and they’ll quickly follow suit.

5.  Do the best you can. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being consistent and giving it some effort! With everything else going on, focusing on your kids’ health and ensuring they’re not gorging on Cheetos and soda can seem like a Herculean task. Don’t give in and make it harder on yourself (and them) by keeping those junk foods at home.  Who wouldn’t be temped by that crunchy, ewy-goey fake food, especially if stressed and tired?!

If your day leaves you drained and dinner choices depend on something fast, bypass the Golden Arches and get a rotisserie chicken with some hot-bar green veggies. Sometimes you’re going to hit a home run and make a healthy meal your kids will rave about. Other times, your “hit” will be a bomb and you’ll have to resort to plan B. Don’t feel defeated during those times. Repetition = Results. Do the best you can and you’ll raise kids equipped to make the healthiest food choices…and higher earning power!



A study in the Nutrition Journal showed pre-school kids who ate a low-glycemic, higher protein and good fat breakfast had decreased hunger all morning compared to kids who ate a higher-carbohydrate breakfast. Researchers here recommend a low-glycemic breakfast for children.

Gluten Free…Hype or Hope?

What do Olympian gold medalist Dana Vollmer, tennis Pro Novak Djokovic and Green Bay Packers running back James Stark have in common? Besides being stellar athletes, they’ve both ditched gluten.

Stark spent too much time sidelined by shoulder and hamstring injuries, which made him determined to maintain optimal health. “I’ve been feasting off of carbs thinking it was good, but my body didn’t react to it the right way,” Stark said. “That played a big part in the healing process.” Going gluten-free improved his game: “I’ve gotten stronger. I want to lay some hits now.”

Vollmer, on the other hand, won a gold medal and set a new world record for the 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 Olympics. She triumphantly Tweeted her winning meal, which she credited for helping her win the gold: “rice w/almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter and milk! I ate this before my swim last night!”

Gluten-free: hype or helpful?

Gluten-free diets are hot these days. Critics call it a fad spurred on by clueless celebrities. But many health and fitness experts find numerous symptoms that hinder their clients’ performance – including joint pain, fatigue, and bloating – disappear when they lose the gluten. They feel more energetic and focused, burn more fat, and feel better. And as Stark and Vollmer discovered, their game improves.

Gluten is a protein that, among its other problems, can damage your gut wall. Subsequently, things not intended to get into your bloodstream slip through, creating an immune response. Like a false car alarm going off, gluten makes your body panic and overreacts.

Those proteins that slip through your gut wall lodge in specific tissues, increasing inflammation and sending an army of immunity soldiers to battle the so-called problem. Joint pain is a great example of these proteins finding a home (in this case, your joint tissue) and creating pain, swelling, and other discomfort that interferes with your performance.

Many doctors refuse to diagnose gluten intolerance unless a patient manifests symptoms of full-blown Celiac disease. But according to Dr. James Braly, co-author of Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health, about 30% of people display some fort of non-Celiac gluten intolerance that triggers symptoms.

The right way to pull gluten 

It’s worth a shot to give gluten-free a try if you’re experiencing debilitating joint pain, achiness, fatigue, and other problems. Here’s the deal: you need at least three weeks with absolutely no gluten-containing foods to get benefits, although many people see improvements within the first week.

Gluten hides in strange places, including pickles, processed meats, and mayonnaise. You’ve got to read labels and familiarize yourself with gluten’s many hiding places. Here’s an article to help you better pinpoint those foods:

Here’s what I don’t want you to do: rush out and buy every gluten-free processed food in the supermarket. Just because a cookie or pasta has the certified gluten label does not make it a healthy food. Many of these foods come loaded with as much sugar and added junk as their gluten-containing cousins.

Conveniently, nature gave us its own gluten-free diet. Lean protein, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds (including quinoa), and beans provide numerous nutrients without gluten.

One criticism I frequently hear about gluten is that you won’t be getting the nutrients you need. Really? Have you looked at the nutrient profile of, say, spinach, blueberries, or raw almonds? Grains pale in comparison. The truth is you can get optimal vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber without touching grains and other gluten-filled foods.

I’ve had two clients told by doctors that their gluten intolerance was not real and just a fad and that going gluten free was dangerous. Sigh…one day these physicians will wake up and smell the research!

A final suggestion: keep a food journal along with any symptoms and how you feel. That way, you can troubleshoot any concerns and celebrate victories as you take this journey.


Braly, J, et al. (2002). Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health. New York, NY: Avery Trade.


Forget the Milk…Got Water?!

I won’t get into my rant on whether we should be drinking milk or not (my answer is NOT)…we’re hear to talk about WATER today.

I think most people benefit from drinking around 100 ounces of clean water per day-spread out throughout the day, preferably in between meals.  

This post is specifically geared for HYDRATION in athletes, and if you’re not an athlete stick around to make sure you are staying hydrated too!

First a warning/motherly suggestion: if you are an athlete or the parent of an athlete and you never or do not regularly weigh yourself/or your child right before a workout/practice/game and right after – start doing is IMMEDIATELY!

What we lose during a workout is mostly water/electrolytes via sweat. If you gain weight, you’ve mostly likely over-hydrated which is just as dangerous as geting dehydrated.

If you lose, the formula for rehydrating is simple and critical for recovery, performance, focus and most importantly safety.  It goes like this:

For every pound you lose drink 16 ounces of water to replenish…and if you drank water/sports drinks while working out/during competition and you lost that in weight too, then you need to add that back as well.

Example:  You drank 2-12 ounce bottles of water during your tennis match and you lost 2.5 pounds from start to finish.  Your rehydration amount is 16+16+8+12+12= 64 ounces water over the next few hours.

I personally believe if you lose more then 2 pounds you need to add electrolytes to your rehydration plan.  I am in favor of a sugar free powder like Designs for Health’s Electrolyte Synergy or Thorne’s PureLyte.

If you are in a tournament with another game or training within a day, then you may need a traditional sports drink along with water during rehydration.

Special Note:  Don’t drink all of your water at once, spread it out…I’ll have more in an upcoming newsletter about this.

Drink Up Everyone!


It’s Time to Talk Veggies….Don’t Click Away yet!

I’m back from the baby fog~at least I think I am.  If you see typos, I’ll blame it on the bit of fog I am shaking off!  My sweet baby is 3 months old and my blog is back-let’s do this!

Replace the starches with more veggies in this plate!

You hear me talking often, very often, about the benefits of protein for health. This week I am shining the light on what really is the most important food group out there – Veggies, AKA vegetables, AKA the green stuff (well not always, more on that below).  This is probably the only category all nutritionists and health professionals can agree on!

The bottom line is none of us eat enough.  My guidelines are this:  eat at least 5 big handfuls per day.  Once you’ve mastered that work up to 7-10.  Before you freak out and click away…think of it this way:  A typical salad is at least 2 handfuls lettuce.  Throw another handful of chopped veggies on top of it (think cucumber, tomato and celery) and you’re already up to 3.  Snack on a handful or two mid-afternoon with some raw nuts and then eat another 2-3 handfuls at dinner and you’re set!  You can do it, right?!

Still wondering why you should eat them?  Veggies provide the following benefits and more:  most are filled with fiber (which can help with fat loss, cholesterol management, skin health, digestive issues), antioxidant rich (not just your ‘run of the mill’ Vitamin C…but broccoli and the other cruciferous veggies contain one of the most potent antioxidant-like compounds out there called sulforophane, show to help with detoxification and potentially cancer protection/prevention).

Bored of salads…me too!  The easy first place we all start adding veggies is with salads…but they can get ‘old’ and monotonous.  So mix it up a bit, instead of eating your veggies raw try sautéing in olive oil over medium heat, lightly steaming and adding a squeeze of lemon juice after and, one of my personal favorites, roasting.  To roast-chop into small cubes an assortment of veggies, put in bowl and toss with olive oil a bit of sea salt and cracked pepper, spread on cookie sheet and bake 30-40 minutes at 400 degress. Yum!  If you haven’t fallen in love with brussels sprouts yet, roasting will do it for you.

Challenge:  buy a new veggie this week…and eat it! Don’t get stuck on salads!  Think jicama, string beans, snap peas, purple cabbage, kale…the more variety the better!

Extra Tidbit: the best veggies to buy organic based on pesticide exposure and retention are bell peppers, celery, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.

Until next time…do the work!




Want More Energy, Athletic Recovery or Fat Loss?

I’m back…no baby yet! So on to nutrition and health talk : ) 

Do you have any of the following questions about drinking protein shakes? 

(wondering what kind to drink, see my last blog post Protein Shake or Toxic Sugar Bomb at

“How can a protein shake help me?”

“Aren’t athletes the only people who can benefit from drinking protein shakes?”


“What if I don’t need to lose fat, should I still/can I still drink a protein shake?”

You’re not alone – Here are my ”Top 3 Reasons You Could Benefit from Adding a Protein Shake to Your Eating Plan”

1.  Fat Loss: protein can help signal fat burning (as long as insulin levels are in check-meaning as long as you aren’t eating too much sugar).  Protein also helps with satiety, the feeling of fullness, which can help with portion control and overeating.  Breakfast is the meal I see people missing protein at most frequently-a protein shake for breakfast can get your metabolic fat burning fire revved up, it’s quick, easy and effective!

2.  Consistent Energy: as with fat loss, protein helps keep blood sugar levels in check which in turn sustains energy levels throughout the day.  Who doesn’t want that?! Aim to get a protein source at every meal – a protein shake is quick and easy once again!

3. Improved Athletic/Sport Recovery: athletes or people who train at a high level for at least one hour per day break down a lot of muscle. This is part of the process of getting bigger, stronger, faster and more fit. BUT if proper refueling is not accomplished all that hard work in the gym or on the court, field etc will be lost.  Protein is essential for athletes! Athletes generally require multiple portions of protein throughout the day, unlike the average person.  This is where protein shakes come in handy.  Many athletes, including my pro clients, find a protein shake pre and especially post workout/training/game not only aids in their performance it also shortens recovery time which keeps them from getting sick as often and speeds injury repair.

So if you need or want to lose fat, boost energy/or prevent the afternoon energy slump and or recover from training more quickly…check your protein intake and consider a quick and healthy protein shake as a source to boost your performance in 2012 (or heck let’s just start with this week)!

That’s it for this week.  Make it a great one!


PS-Obviously a protein shake is not the only source of protein out there.  You can eat the real deal from foods like clean chicken, turkey, wild fish, omega-3 eggs and grass fed beef and buffalo as well. Sometimes you might just need another option, especially at breakfast, especially if you’re a woman (yes ladies, we are the worst protein under-eaters out there) and especially if you are an athlete with increased need. So dust off that blender and read my last post on how to make the perfect shake and enjoy!





Protein Shake or Toxic Sugar Bomb? Part I

So here we are, 2012!  I am super excited-you? I haven’t written down any resolutions or goals yet…just trying on January for size while planning for baby number 3 to arrive (which could be any second, literally).

I have however been thinking about the many things I learned in 2011 and things I’d like to do in 2012-one being getting back into great shape after my sweet baby arrives.

Anyone else want to look and feel your best this year?!

One tool I will use to do that will be drinking a PROTEIN SHAKE for a meal or snack.  I’m a fan of protein shakes…but you need to know not all are created equal!  Most over the counter pre bottled or instant powdered versions are loaded with toxic artificial sweeteners, too much sugar and/or food colorings.  Not to mention many use soy protein which I don’t recommend for regular consumption (read The Whole Soy Story by Kayla Daniels for more on that).

So what do we do?

We make our own-here’s my favorite recipe:

20-40 grams Undenatured Whey Protein like Whey Cool

(or if dairy sensitive like me, my favorite dairy free protein powder is Thorne Research’s VegaLite)

1 cup unsweetened frozen berries

1 – 1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 TB fresh ground yellow flax seed meal or Paleofiber

This mixture is the perfect amount of clean protein, carbs, fiber and fat to sustain you until your next meal.  You can cut the portions in half and have for an afternoon snack if needed too.

Watch for my next post “The Top 3 Reasons You Could Benefit from a Protein Shake”…it’s not just fat loss!

See you soon!


ps-ditch your protein shake if it has ANY of the following ingredients: artificial sweeteners like sucrolose/Splenda, aspartame/Equal, saccharine, hydrogenated fats/oils, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup or MSG/monosodium glutamate (often disguised as hydrolyzed protein).  Also, make sure there is not more sugar/carbs then protein per servings, especially if fat loss is your goal.  Remember-you are what you eat!