Mary Eggers


Nutrition Thoughts

I have been fortunate to work with some of the best in the athletic industry when it comes to nutrition. The work I was able to do with the RD’s at The Core Diet was absolutely awesome. I learned so so so much from them.

Their basis was health. Health first speed second. Garbage in = garbage out.

Over the next few days I will share the cliff Notes version of what I have learned. I am a Registered Nurse, not a registered Dietician, but I have everything I write and advise about nutrition reviewed by one who I hold in high esteem.

So today we will first begin with daily nutrition. I am not a macronutrient counter these days, but if you are this may help and if you are not…. it’s at least food for thought.

1. How much do we need to eat?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine athletes require the following (there is always +/- with these depending on the athlete)

Protein: 1.2-1.7 grams per kg of body weight, or 15% of total calories. I hate measuring by calories. HATE.

Carbohydrates: 6-10 grams per kg of body weight, or 65% of total calories.

Fats: 35% of daily calories.

Why I hate calories: They are not an accurate measure of anything in my opinion. I can go to McDonald’s and eat a burger for 1,000 calories. I can stay home and eat a ton ton ton of lettuce and eat 1,000 calories. What’s in those calories is what matters, in my opinion.

2. Application: With those guidelines, everyone is different. I would recommend keeping a 3 day food log, Plug it into an app like My Fitness Pal and see where you land. Correlate that to how you feel. If you see you are low on protein and / or fat….. titrate it up or down and see how you feel. Give it a few days.

3. Pre workout fueling:  A general rule of thumb according to ACSM and the Core Diet is 20 +/- grams of carbohydrates 30 minutes prior to your workout. A simple carbohydrate such as: nature valley bar, toast, a bagel, a banana, all good choices.

4. Caution about peanut butter pre workout and pre race: Here is a gem I learned from Jesse…. Peanut butter and oatmeal are common pre workout and race fuels. For many these work. Something to think about: These are really good fillers. They are great for day to day eating and helping us feel full, lots of fiber, good fat, etc. These slow down digestion, on a  normal day…. terrific. On race day….. that slowing down MAY be the culprit of GI distress in many athletes. We want fast digestion on race day, we want things to move through us quick. One reason we like Applesauce race morning is that it’s a good source of carbs, hydration and “cleans you out” race morning. Just something to be aware of when it comes to peanut butter and oatmeal. Often GI distress in a race happens before the race.

6. The Glycemic Index: Generally speaking according to the ACSM and The core Diet: The Glycemic Index is a very good guide for daily eating. Here is one version:

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.”

It’s an easy way for me to say… is this better for me to day during the day or preceding a workout?

7. Fueling during a workout, Part I: I am a fan of workout fueling. If we give the body something….. even if it’s just water during a one hour session….. we are giving ourselves the opportunity to get the most out of a session. I consider water to be fueling…. certainly.

Before we get to the specifics, that’s another post for another day…… consider this: many people tend to wait to fuel with carbs, or a product until a certain point into their workout. In my opinion waiting until 90 minutes of a 3 hour ride means you missed the train on the opportunity to get the most out of it. You don’t do that in a race, don’t do it in training.

I have had a LOT of experience with athletes who simply refuse to fuel, water or anything else…. during swim workouts. More often than not the mentality is “I don’t drink during an Ironman swim”. That is true.

Consider this: Within a typical week of training…. 10-20 hours…… you swim 3-4 hours (sometimes more). Let’s use 15 hours and 3 hours of swimming. During that week you don’t even drink for 3 hours. In the scope of the week you are only cheating yourself. In an Ironman week, you are rested, carb loaded, fueled and hydrated prior to that swim. Trust me….. no athlete goes into daily swims fully rested, carb loaded and hydrated. So each week you cheat your body. There is that 1% again. Over time that 1% of 3 hours a week of cheating your body….. well that adds up to bigger losses down the road. So fuel your swims.

That’s good for today. Nutrition seems really complicated but it does not need to be. I like to suggest this for daily intake: (this is from what I have learned from ACSM and Core Diet and many many RD’s).

Eat what you want, but aim to hit this:

1. 3-5 fruits a day

2. 3-5 vegetables a day

3. For breakfast, lunch and dinner include those veggies, a source of lean protein and carbohydrates.

4. For snacks incorporate a fruit, some greek yogurt (plain if you want to avoid sugar).

If you hit those you will have a pretty rounded and good diet. Some cholls say eat three meals a day. Others say eat every 2 hours. I say…. what works for you and your body?

You all know I am a Whole30 girl….. even if you are not here are some great recipes for lunch, breakfast and snacks. Prior to October I did not know how to cook. Through the use of google and asking around….. I now know how to cook. It’s easy. These recipes all state they are Paelo…. I don’t know whether I am in or out when it comes to Paleo…. I just know they have some really good recipes that involve whole food.

Pick two recipes. Make them for the week. It’s that easy.

Nom Nom Paleo:

30 days of Paleo crock pot recipes:

The Clothes make the girl

In terms of Nutritionists and Registered Dieticians that I am fond of, here is my personal list… I am big on credentials when it comes to this sort of thing. To me it says they took the time to invest in their education. You would not want me to insert your IV if I wasn’t an experienced Registered Nurse. I feel the same way about nutrition.

The Core Diet: Has a team of really great RD’s including Jaime Windrow, Rachel G, and more. This crew is top notch and they know their stuff.

Marni Sumbal: Marni writes a terrific blog (she’s a coach as well) and shares a lot of really good real world experience and real world food. I highly recommend checking out her site.

Jennifer Hutchison: Her nutritional writings and advice saved my second Ironman back in 2003. She is also a wealth of knowledge and really knows how to work it in on a personal level.

Kim Schwabenbauer: My logtime friend Kim is incredible. She’s a professional triathlete, USAT coach and really knows her nutrition. I highly respect her work.

Beth Shutt: Another longtime friend, she’s helped a few of my athletes get their nutrition down pat. She’s also a professional triathlete who knows her food!

Again…. I am a Registered Nurse not a Registered Dietician. The above is just a summary of what I have learned. There are many other thoughts, points, etc. Take what you can from it, leave what doesn’t sit with you. In my opinion one of the best and most important investments you can make is to work with someone like I have mentioned above. The lifelong lessons I got from working with an RD will last me far beyond a finish line. It’s given me the ability to make good sound judgements when it comes to what nutrition style suits me.

If you are an RD or nutritionist….. please feel free to check me on my facts and call me out. Feel free to share with me the guidelines you follow when fueling. I will be sure to include them in the fueling post! Better still…. let me interview you!