The Best-Kept Secrets to Performing at Your Competitive Best

Guest Blog by Ultimate Performance Expert Deborah Dubree www.YourClearEdge.com

I’m curious – does any of this ever happen to you? You work hard to build your physical strength, flexibility and power. You practice your skills and techniques over and over again to be sure you are fully prepared to play your absolute best.

But then it happens. The closer it gets to game time, the more nervous you become. Suddenly negative thoughts creep in and you begin to worry. Your heart pounds, the palms of your hands begin to sweat and your body feels tight and tense.

Because of all that…you have trouble focusing on what’s most important. You start to second-guess yourself. You lose your competitive EDGE.

So what are you supposed to do? How can you regain your focus, remain calm and stay confident under pressure?

Nerves affect even the pros at game time. Whether I’m training an NFL player, pro golfer, college athlete or high school rising star – they all deal with game time nerves. And they are all looking for The EDGE. They want to up their confidence and their consistency, so they will win more often. Here are some techniques to help you focus.

The Best Kept Secrets to Performing at Your Competitive Best

To develop your competitive edge, it’s important to first understand some simple and powerful ways that your mind works and then use that to your advantage. So let me break it down for you.

This may sound silly, but I guarantee you it’s absolutely true. Your mind behaves like a five-year old. It really does. Just like a five-year old, your mind will throw a tantrum, scream at you for no reason and causes a ruckus that embarrasses you, if you let it. Or, you can learn how to ‘manage your mind’ to build and strengthen your competitive advantage. Here’s how…

Like a 5-Year Old, Your Mind Loves Shiny Objects 

Have you ever noticed how your mind darts around from one thought to the next and then the next? It acts like a little kid in a toy store when they run from one toy to the next one and then the next shiny object that catches their attention.

That’s exactly how thoughts run in and out of your mind. You lose focus on what’s most important and start worrying about all of the, “What if’s…?”

Typically it happens during the most intense part of your game or right before a critical play.  You start to worry, “I hope I don’t mess this up. I don’t want to let my team down. I can’t believe this is happening again! What if I miss? I hope we don’t lose again!” Does your mind ever sound like that?

When the shiny object syndrome hits, you lose focus and increase your chances of messing up. You lose your Competitive EDGE. 

DD at Legacy Golf Course Cropped 2One of the quickest and most effective techniques to regain your focus and snap back into reality is to ask yourself a question. Let me correct that. Ask a question that is focused on results. Here’s some examples you can customize to you and your sport…

Result Based Questions:

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a golf tournament. You’re nervous and worried. Your mind is playing tricks on you as it bounces all over the place. You’re on the 15th hole and about to make a critical shot that could put you in the lead. You’ve got to get focused NOW!

The 3-A’s to Regain Your Focus FAST

1.     Aware: The very first step is to stay aware of what’s happening. Notice that your mind is dancing all around. Don’t judge or criticize yourself. That will only make things worse. Instead, start asking yourself Results Based Questions.

 2.     Ask: A series of questions that are all based around the results you want to achieve. Here are some examples of questions you can ask and the answers you mind will provide:

What do I want to do right now? Answer: Get the ball in the hole.

Where exactly do I want the ball to land? Answer: Just off to the right and slightly above the cup?

How do I need to feel to make that happen? Answer: I need to feel calm and confident. I need to trust my skills and myself.

What can I do to feel calm and confident? Answer: I can breathe long and slow. I notice how my breathing is slowing down, my heart rate is slowing down and my confidence is rising. I feel calm.   

What can I do to trust my skills and myself? Answer: I remember the evidence of all the times I’ve made this shot in the past. I have earned the right to be here!

Use this as a model to create your own set of questions. If you play football you’re answers are going to vary, depending on the position you play. Tennis, volleyball, track and field or whichever sport you play will have its own specific set of questions. Make your questions personal to you and your sport.

3.     Appreciate: Just like a little 5-year old, we all like to be appreciated.

–   Have you ever noticed a little kid when you praise them, tell them they did a good job or that you really appreciate them? What happens next? They get a big smile on their face. They like being praised and will remember how to please you the next time.

–   Your brain does the same thing when you appreciate and praise yourself. It “lights up” and remembers to do that exact same thing again. When you praise yourself, be specific. Say something like, “I did a great job of getting my club all the way back, following through and hitting that sweet spot, while staying in balance!”

Practice these these key steps to stop the shiny object syndrome, regain your focus fast and develop your Competitive EDGE!

Learn more now by going to www.YourClearEdge.com

Deborah Dubree Logo Cropped

Deborah Dubree, Ultimate Performance Expert, Author of and Speaker: Her insights, 37-plus years of performance expertise have attracted high performing clients that include college and professional golfer, along with NFL players from: Baltimore Ravens; Green Bay Packers; Dallas Cowboys; Houston Texans; San Francisco 49ers; Cleveland Browns and more.

Practical and thought-provoking lessons are pulled from Deborah’s book, Average Is An Addiction . . . From Mediocre to Millions!  

 

Get the EDGE Now! 2-Mindsets that will Make or Break Your Game Winning Performance

Guest Blog by Ultimate Performance Expert Deborah Dubree www.YourClearEdge.com

Everybody talks about mindset, but very few really know what it means. You’ve probably heard that the key to success is a ‘winning mindset.’ That’s not true.

The fact is you need two very different mindsets to get ahead, stay ahead and ultimately win consistently. I’m talking about a Training Mindset and a Playing Mindset. Each is very different from the other.

TRAINING MINDSET

The training mindset is very analytical. It figures stuff out. You use this mindset during practice, strength and conditioning training and during your technical skills drills. Checkout the following:   

5-Key Steps of a Training Mindset

1.     Get Clear: Get very clear on the unique details of your sport and your position. The ones that are necessary to outsmart and outplay your competition. For example:

–   How can you perform faster, quicker and with greater speed?

–   What will it take for you to improve balance or have better foot placement?

–   How specific techniques will help you stay calm and confident more consistently?

–   Exactly what strength and conditioning techniques are necessary to up your game?

–   You get the picture. Name the details that are important to you and your sport.

2.     Take Action: Once you are clear about what you need to perform at your ultimate best, now it’s time to take action. It’s time to practice and train.

3.     Analyze: Without any criticism or judgment analyze your actions, techniques and training skills.

–   Compare Step 1: Get Clear  to  Step 2: The Action You Took

–   In what area do you need to improve? Even the smallest of improvements can make a huge difference in your results. When you know the answers, then you can up your game and up your consistency.

4.     Adjust: Make a plan to adjust your performance and your results.

–   Include exactly and specifically what it will take for you to make the adjustments to your performance.

–   Be sure to include the ways you will upgrade your: technique; power; confidence; clear-thinking; and strength.

–   Knowing and naming these details is very important to getting more of what you want.

5.     Act Again: Now it’s time to work your plan and act again. Upgrade what you do and how you do it. Remember, you are still in a Training Mindset. You are working things out and making improvements.

–   It’s not about how many reps you do. It’s all about how many reps you do right!

PLAYING MINDSET

In your playing mindset, thinking is overrated. When you strategize a shot or play, you need to think. Then, stop thinking and play with your instincts.

DD Talking with Fabrizio

 1.     Instincts: Why instincts? Because when you play by instinct you can think faster and with greater clarity. Your body remembers what it’s supposed to do and responds accordingly.

2.     Trust: You trust yourself, your talent and your skills.

3.     Expectations: You expect to play well and to be at your competitive best moment-to-moment. You expect to win.

4.     Zone: You can easily and quickly get into “The Zone” where you will block out your negative thoughts, the fans and any other distractions. You are focused!

5.     Evidence and Earned: You remember all of the times you’ve performed so well in the past. You realize that you have earned the right to be here, because of the hard work, dedication and commitment you have … first to your SELF and then to your team and sport.  

Knowing these two mindsets and practicing them at the right time will catapult your performance and give you the EDGE that all great athletes look for … so you can outperform and outlast your competition!

Clear Edge Logo Cropped

Learn more now by going to www.YourClearEdge.com

Deborah Dubree, Ultimate Performance Expert, Author of and Speaker: Her insights, 37 plus years of performance expertise have attracted high performing clients that include college and professional golfer, along with NFL players from: Baltimore Ravens; Green Bay Packers; Dallas Cowboys; Houston Texans; San Francisco 49ers; Cleveland Browns and more.

Practical and thought-provoking lessons are pulled from Deborah’s book, Average Is An Addiction . . . From Mediocre to Millions!  

3 Proven Strategies for Getting Your Kids (Athlete or Not) to Eat “Healthy”

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

I knew it was bad, but statistics proved worse than I imagined. Among the latest findings at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years.
  • Over the past three decades, obesity rates jumped from 7% to 18% among 6 to 11 year olds.
  • Among adolescents, that number rose from 5% to 21%.
  • In 2012, over 1/3 of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Beyond weight, asthma, allergies, and cancer have skyrocketed among kids and teens. Between 2003 and 2007, studies show parent-reported attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased an astounding 21.8% among 4 to 17 year olds. How about the stat 1 out of 3 18-24 year olds regularly consume energy drinks?

Despite what statistics show, I choose to remain optimistic. We don’t need revolutionary measures to get our kids to make healthier choices, nor do we need to become tyrants who demand they change. We just need to start in our own homes.

Truth Talk: I’m a mom too, so I understand what the challenge of getting a healthy meal on the table can be like after you’ve had a crazy day juggling work, carpooling the kids, and dealing with the minor and major glitches that inevitably arise.

Over the years, I’ve discovered 3 simple, effective strategies that can gently but effectively become the catalyst for healthy, lasting change in children, adolescents, and for us adults too:

#1 Lead by Example – And No, You Can’t Skip this Step!

They’re waaatching youuuu! This is my tough love segment (virtual hug).

I’m firm on this step. There’s NO shortcutting leading by example.

Kids absorb more than you might realize. If you’re haphazardly shoveling a bite of cookie into your mouth as you frantically search for the car keys, or talking about how busy you were that you didn’t eat lunch…again…they pick up on those examples. (I’m not judging, by the way; we’ve all had those days!)

If you want ‘little Susie’ to cut back on drinking soda, you have to cut back. If you want her to stop eating cookies all afternoon after she gets home from school…YOU (parent, health family leader, mentor and educator) have to do it too. If you want your son to start eating breakfast before school so he can have better focus during school and better energy for practice after school, make breakfast and sit down to eat it together (AKA you have to do it too, where they can see you). Sometimes with everyone’s crazy schedule at night, breakfast can become the ‘family meal’. See Step #2 for what to talk to him/her about so they’ll want to eat something remotely healthy as well.

Bottom line…no more ‘do as I say, not as I do’ when it comes to healthy habits in the family.

#2 Make it Important / Interesting to Them

Family Biking_14885647If you’re like me, you probably had a mandatory book to read in high school English class. You hated every minute of it. Yet many years later, when you reread the book, you suddenly discovered you enjoyed it.

The same logic works with eating vegetables or exercise or any healthier habit you want to encourage. Ever forced your kid to eat a green veggie or get off the couch and do something active? I’m betting the outcome didn’t go so well.

I’ve got a saner strategy that won’t spark civil war: Put the wheels in motion, but let them stumble upon that a-ha moment and think it was their idea.

Take snacking. You want them to eat apple slices with almond butter; they have chocolate chip cookies in mind. Tell them they can’t have cookies and force them to eat the nut butter-smeared apples; my bets are this won’t end well.

Instead, don’t allow the sugary stuff in the house. Or as my friend and colleague JJ Virgin always says ‘keep the enemy out of the house’. Sure, they may still eat those cookies elsewhere, but don’t make them available in your house and you’ve eliminated a major problem source.

Rather than deprivation, replace those sugary junk foods with something healthy and delicious. Herb-roasted nuts, devilled eggs made with avocado, kale chips with guacamole, and extra-thick protein shakes loaded with nut butter and cacao nibs are among my favorites.

Truth Talk: If there are cookies at my house, 90% of the time they are ones I have made with my kids out of real ingredients – I know exactly what went into them…laughs, licks and all! Moral of the story, make a higher sugar treat really worth it, make it with real ingredients from a simple recipe. Our bodies recognize that as food and it changes the game for our health.

Keep those aforementioned healthy snacks at eye level. One study found people eat more fruits and vegetables when they visibly reside nearby. You might also very subtly discuss a healthier food’s benefits, especially if your child or teen is a health-conscious athlete.

Truth Talk: Talk about the benefits of eating healthy to your kids in terms THEY CAN UNDERSTAND, or in relation to something that MEANS SOMETHING TO THEM. For example, my almost 7-year-old daughter was recently boycotting eating much protein. A quick mention of the fact that her body uses protein to help her hair and nails grow (painting her nails are a favorite weekend luxury) not only taught her something, it also got her back to eating a few bites.

Question: If your kid athlete (or yourself for that matter) knew that eating protein at breakfast with their oatmeal or fruit would help them have more energy to run faster and possibly beat out someone they have been competing against, would they be influenced to do it?  My informal studies say YES!

You have to make it worth it to them…kids as young as 4 will ‘get it’ if you present it to them in a way that means something to their sharp little brains.

Bottom line…turn it into an engaging conversation, not a lecture.

#3 Get Them Involved – You’re Gonna Win Some and Lose Some

I’ve read about parents who “plant broccoli trees” by putting raw organic broccoli in hummus. Some kids respond well to such culinary creativity. Others might roll their eyes.

Healthy Cooking_35294476Know how your kids respond to food and prepare accordingly. Have them slice veggies or set the table if they want to feel important, in charge or included. Talk with them about their day and keep the conversation light. Or maybe listen to their favorite music (even if you hate it) while they prep food for dinner with you.

If you’ve got kids in the exploring stage, hop on Google or Wikipedia to research a new vegetable or recipe.

I’m married to a chef. The first time I walked in on him giving a chopping lesson to my kids, then 6 and 4, I almost fainted!  I later realized when they were scarfing down what they chopped, the connection/ownership made via the knife! It can simply be them pouring the olive oil and seasoning onto something you are about to roast or snapping the ends off the green beans (not that fun unless there’s a race to see who can do the most!).

The point is to keep food and it’s prep fun, interesting and part of their responsibility as well. Eating healthy doesn’t mean bland chicken breast or soggy vegetables. How you approach food now will help with the way they approach food as they grow older. In the worst case, a healthy relationship with food can prevent eating disorders, which are still of high prevalence among teenage girls and even boys, especially athletes.

Bottom line…establish some of your own ‘FAMILY TEAM’ roles (like helping with prep, picking a new recipe or veggie that week) and stick to them while being flexible.

When you’re eating, eat. Be mindful and present. Your kids know when you’re uh, huh-ing them or tuning them out, so really listen. Put down your newspaper or iPad and pay attention even if your son’s rambling about something silly that happened during basketball practice today.

At the same time, don’t feel like you have to be perfect. You live in the real world, not a sitcom or a women’s magazine, and you’ll have nights where a rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies from the Whole Foods hot bar will be your only healthy meal option.

As the parent of a child or adolescent, you’ve probably got some savvy tips under your belt to implement lasting healthy changes. Share your strategies in the comment section below or on my Facebook fan page.

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References:

Hyperlinked within this blog and accumulated through client experiences : )

 

Amino Acid Supplementation: Secret Weapon or Waste of Money?

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

I’m giving you a rare peek into my toolbox. I’ve had more then a handful of Pro Athletes (think NFL, NBA and MLB) who said they’d “tried everything” to keep weight on…“they couldn’t eat enough” they’d tell me…“I start to lose weight half way through the season, get weak and then hurt”. Cut to the chase, this is one way I help to fix that problem, for good!

First, let’s set the stage: You’re eating enough protein, so why even consider supplementing with amino acids?

Protein is hard to digest. It requires optimal levels of strong digestive acid and enzymes to thoroughly break down the protein into amino acids (more on what these are below). Simply put, protein takes time and energy to be broken down and then absorbed.

With aging, stress, chronic medication use and over-training, many people produce fewer enzymes and less stomach acid, making it more difficult to digest whole-food protein. On top of that, we do not get all the amino acids out of the protein we eat because we just aren’t that efficient, even with a well functioning digestive track, at pulling them out.

Even if you are meeting your protein requirements…age, stress, over the counter medications and over-training could be reducing the ability and efficiency of your digestive track to digest and absorb the critical amino acids. As you can see it’s a tight rope act between intake, absorption and utilization.

And liquid protein doesn’t solve this. Protein shakes are an easy way to get quick, high doses of protein, but the liquid still has to be digested into amino acids – the protein in protein shakes is not in a ready to use form.

Now imagine you are NOT eating enough protein, which is how most of my clients (athlete or not) present to me…and couple that LOW intake with a HIGH need for amino acids because of training, competition, muscle repair, new muscle production, healing from injury or surgery, mitochondrial dysfunction and/or immune deficiencies. Your body is starving and needs amino acids for all of these things and more…so it goes to get them…it begins to ‘eat itself’ by breaking down the only place we store amino acids in large quantity in the body…MUSCLE!!

You read that right, we actually in times of amino acid/protein need, breakdown our own muscle to get these amino acids…sometimes for repair of other muscle. Fascinating and unfortunate news for athletes, vegans and vegetarians, and those trying to maintain muscle mass, especially those who are ill and losing mass such as those undergoing cancer treatment.

Here’s the cool thing, amino acids require no energy or enzymes for absorption. So regardless of the health of your digestive track, or health in general, they are getting into the blood stream. That’s why a clean, well built amino acid blend (see my recommendation below) can be so powerful…strong enough to put muscle on stage 4 cancer patients who are already losing weight at rapid pace (Mediterr J Nutr Metab (2010) 3:165–172).

What Do Amino Acids Even Do?

It is easiest just to rattle off a list of the most important things:

  • signal protein synthesis (AKA grow & repair muscle)
  • signal mitochondrial biogenesis (AKA helps make more new mitochondria, which is where we make energy and burn fuel)
  • become a substrate to the Krebs Cycle, especially in times of inability to burn fat and sugar for fuel well (AKA help increase energy, especially in diabetics and those with insulin resistance)
  • aid in formation of enzymes, mood chemicals and immune support molecules

The Most Important Amino Acid for Muscle Growth

Arm MuscleLet’s go back to high school anatomy and physiology (no pop quiz, but you’ll want to remember this). If you’ll recall, protein breaks down into 20 amino acids, which are either essential or non-essential.

“Non-essential” means your body can make them from other combinations of amino acids, therefore getting these amino acids from food is helpful but not essential. Your body cannot make essential amino acids, which makes them essential to get from food or supplements.

Among their super-important roles, amino acids help build enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and lots of other important things your body needs to do its numerous jobs.

What does all this have to do with building muscle? Well, L-Leucine triggers the strongest signal or in different terms, is most responsible for protein synthesis (new muscle formation). When researchers gave rats a leucine supplement, it prevented muscle tissue breakdown by increasing muscle synthesis.

While you can supplement with leucine, you’ll more likely find it combined with isoleucine and valine, together known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – so named because of the structure of their side chains – that comprise about 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle protein.

Leucine is the most-studied of the three BCAAs. Dr. Donald Layman, a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois, is a top researcher of higher-protein diets. Several of his studies focus specifically on leucine’s benefits.

According to Layman, leucine can help modulate insulin signaling and muscle glucose use. Leucine helps maintain muscle protein during periods of restricted energy intake, such as intermittent fasting and during high volume training days and for those who have a hard time taking in enough calories to meet their metabolic needs.

Other studies confirm this. One looked at how this amino acid affected post-exercise protein synthesis. The high-leucine group had 33% greater protein muscle protein synthesis compared to the other group. Nice.

Pea and high-quality whey protein powders contain generous amounts of leucine, but even then (like my clients) you might not be getting enough of this crucial amino acid. That’s where amino acid supplementation comes in.

BCAAs: The 3-Amigo Amino Acids 

Building Blocks_16709482Leucine, isoleucine, and valine – together known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – make a powerful team for muscle synthesis and repair. Because leucine plays the dominant role here, you’ll find most BCAAs formulated with a 2:1:1 ratio.

Among their other benefits, BCAAs help recovery, mitochondrial support, and improve glucose control. BCAAs can also help you burn fat.

Copious research supports athletes supplementing with BCAAs. One study found because athletes should get protein intakes higher than RDA recommendations, BCAAs (especially leucine) become crucial for muscle protein synthesis.

Another found exercise increases your need for BCAAs, and that supplementing with BCAAs before and after exercise can decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and boost muscle-protein synthesis.

BCAAs can also help your body better fight fatigue and increase fat burning during exercise in glycogen-depleted subjects. They can even help boost immunity in athletes.

But there is one thing to know about BCAA use…read on…

Use a Proven Amino Acid Formula Because BCAAs Have a Limitation

I’ve long been a fan of Amino Acid Supplementation, ONLY IF it’s the right product.

Here’s What you Need to Know When Buying Amino Acids:

  • High dose, extended use of BCAAs can deplete other essential amino acids levels in the body according to World Renowned Amino Acid Expert, Italian Researcher Francesco Dioguardi. Always take a BCAA that has the essential amino acids blended, and carefully dosed, with it.
  • Most amino acids, especially BCAAs, smell and taste really bad. Think rotten meat and eggs! Most commercial supplement companies cover this up with artificial sweeteners and flavors, creating a junk food supplement!

Good news! I found THE BEST product that handles all the previous objections. It’s called Amino Complex by Thorne Research. It has the proper ratio of BCAA and essential amino acids (patented and studied for over 25 years!). There are no artificial sweeteners and it actually tastes and mixes well! The beauty of this product is that it is in powder form so titrating the dose to get desired results is easy.

Sum It Up: Amino Acid Supplementation is a Secret Weapon if the Right Product is Used

Protein is hard to breakdown and most aren’t eating enough. This leads to a need for supplementation in those populations who have greater need; athletes fit that need. Amino Complex by Thorne Research is the only amino acid blend I use and recommend. Bottom line, if used correctly it works!

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References

J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2011 Jun;2(2):75-80. Epub 2011 Jun 11.
Clinical use of amino acids as dietary supplement: pros and cons.
Dioguardi FS

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21766052

 

My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance

By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com

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 about.com: “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 www.JillLane.com/network

 

© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com

 

References:

[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 www.JillLane.com

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: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/164699777) 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: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175733 and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18769212)

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 www.JillLane.com…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, www.JillLane.com

References: 

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 www.JillLane.com

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).

 

References:

International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Meal Frequency: http://www.jissn.com/content/8/1/4 (Published March 2011)

Spacing Meals: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517131703.htm

Food Log: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708080738.htm

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 www.JillLane.com/store ; 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 www.JillLane.com.


“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!

 

Reference:

http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/53

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: http://www.modernmom.com/article/foods-with-hidden-gluten

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.

Reference:

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