Hormone Health for Athletes

If you’re an athlete, your hormone levels are crucial to your performance and overall health! Imbalances in your hormone levels can negatively impact your recovery, short- and long-term performance, and mental health. Young athletes in a developmental growing phase should focus special attention on ensuring their hormone levels are optimal, especially before competing at the next level. And yes – this applies to both male and female athletes! 

 

Wondering about your hormone health? Here are the 5 labs we recommend getting tested. 

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Thyroid Hormones T3 & T4
  3. Folate
  4. Progesterone
  5. Lipid Panel 

 

Are you at risk? Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I skip meals? 
  2. Am I eating red meat? 
  3. Do you have a very high training volume? 
  4. Do I follow a vegan diet? 
  5. Are you an endurance athlete? 

 

Worried you have hormonal imbalances? Here are 5 common symptoms:

  1. Low energy – not only in training, but during daily life activities
  2. Hair thinning and/or falling out. You might see more hair falling out in the shower or extra hair in your brush; thinning hair is usually most obvious on the arms and head.  
  3. Poor sleep quality & inability to stay asleep
  4. Poor recovery. This could present as unusual fatigue, extreme soreness, or persistent soreness.  
  5. Loss of period (women, see amenorrhea blog post) or symptoms of low testosterone (men)

 

Consequences of hormonal imbalances:

  1. Decrease in bone mineral density → increased risk of injury & stress fractures
  2. Continued loss of menses (women) or prolonged low testosterone (men)
  3. Impaired fertility 
  4. Cognitive deficits & mental health issues. These could present as inability to concentrate in class or during conversations with friends, as well as depressive symptoms. 
  5. Impaired recovery and poor performance

 

REMEMBER: the solution to hormonal imbalances is NOT always supplementation or a medical remedy. Work with a Registered Dietitian to implement a food-first approach before relying on supplements. Female athletes, NEVER use birth control as a means of regaining your period – this does NOT fix the underlying issues!!

 

Athletes – take charge of your health today! Your hormone health is KEY in determining your overall athletic performance, so don’t wait!

 

 

 

 


Sophia Williams, MS, RD

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual sports nutrition coaching, education, and presentations virtually in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Arizona, and Michigan. Our primary office is based in Nashville, Tennesse where we serve the greater Brentwood, Franklin, and Green Hills communities.  Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.

Fueling Victory: 5 Tips for Athletes and Families Meal Prepping on a Budget

For athletes, proper nutrition is the cornerstone of peak performance. Whether you’re a student athlete, seasoned competitor, or a weekend warrior, meal prepping can be a game-changer when it comes to meeting your nutritional needs. Here are five key tips to help athletes streamline their meal prepping process, allowing them to stay on top of their game without breaking the bank.

Need recipe ideas to meal prep? Check out our 30 Days of Recipes!

Plan 3-4 Days Ahead

Successful meal prepping begins with thoughtful planning. Athletes, in particular, benefit from having a well-balanced diet that meets their energy requirements. Planning your meals three to four days ahead provides a strategic advantage by allowing you to consider your training schedule, daily activities, and nutritional needs.

Start by outlining your training sessions, competitions, and any other engagements that might impact your meals. Once you have a clear picture of your week, plan meals that align with your energy expenditure. Include a mix of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure a well-rounded diet.

 

Take Stock

Before heading to the grocery store, take stock of your fridge and pantry. This not only prevents overbuying but also helps you make the most of what you already have. Check for staples like rice, quinoa, beans, and canned tomatoes that can serve as a base for many meals.

Additionally, assess your protein sources. Eggs, chicken, tofu, and beans are cost-effective and versatile options. Look for sales or bulk discounts on frozen vegetables, which are just as nutritious as fresh and have a longer shelf life. By minimizing waste and maximizing the use of existing ingredients, you’ll save money while ensuring your meals are packed with essential nutrients.

 

Know Your Schedule

Athletes often have demanding schedules, making it crucial to sync meal prepping with your daily routine. Knowing your schedule allows you to allocate specific times for prepping, cooking, and storing meals efficiently.

Identify time slots for meals around your training sessions, ensuring you have adequate fuel before and replenishment after. Allocate moments in your day for quick, nutrient-packed snacks to maintain energy levels. By tailoring your meal prep to your unique schedule, you can optimize nutrition to complement your athletic performance. This synchronization not only enhances your energy levels but also promotes overall well-being and resilience.

 

Cook in Bulk

One of the most effective ways to save time and money is to cook in bulk. Batch cooking allows you to prepare large quantities of your favorite meals, providing a stash of ready-to-eat options for the days ahead. This strategy is especially beneficial for athletes, as it minimizes the time spent in the kitchen during busy training periods.

Opt for recipes that can be easily scaled up, such as chili, stir-fries, or casseroles. These dishes often improve in flavor when reheated, making them ideal for bulk cooking. Divide the prepared meals into individual portions and freeze what you won’t consume within the next few days. This not only ensures a constant supply of varied meals but also prevents food waste.

 

Include Daily Staples

Incorporating daily staples into your meal prep routine is key to maintaining a balanced diet on a budget. Items like oats, yogurt, eggs, and whole grains are not only affordable but also versatile and nutrient-dense. They serve as the foundation for a variety of meals, from breakfast to post-training snacks.

For a budget-friendly breakfast, consider overnight oats made with rolled oats, yogurt, and your choice of fruits. Eggs can be prepared in numerous ways and are an excellent source of high-quality protein. Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa can be paired with a mix of vegetables and proteins for a quick and satisfying lunch or dinner. By incorporating these staples, you’ll ensure that your meals are both cost-effective and nutritionally robust.

 

Meal prepping for athletes doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank. By following these five essential tips—planning ahead, taking stock of your pantry, syncing with your schedule, cooking in bulk, and incorporating daily staples—you can streamline your meal prep process and fuel your athletic endeavors with nutritious, budget-friendly options. Remember, success in the kitchen translates to success on the field, and a well-fueled body is your best ally in achieving peak performance.

To learn more about meal prepping for athletes, watch Wendi’s Healthy Meal Prep on a Budget Webinar and access the slides HERE!

 

In good health, wellness, and performance,

Sophia, Brenna, and Wendi your NWW team!

 

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, athletes, health professionals, and individuals and offer elite nutrition and health guidance for optimal athletic performance, injury, and disease reduction.  We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Services booking here to consult with Wendi for a team talk or QA session.

What to Eat the Night Before a Game?

What should I eat the night before a game?

Great question! We get this question from athletes all the time or from parents or coaches concerned about educating their athletes. What to eat the night before any competition or event depends on many factors. 

 

It’s actually more important to be cognizant of what you’re eating and drinking in the days leading up to your game or competition. (Learn more here)

 

 

 

 

 


 

Avoid making common mistakes on intense training days or competition days.

  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • New foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Consuming high-fat or high-fiber right before activity

 


My five tips to keep in mind when thinking about the night before game day

1. What you eat the night before any competition should be practiced in advance. I can’t stress this enough.

If you try new foods you could end up getting sick with stomach pain, cramping, or digestion issues. Also, the meal could negatively affect your sleep and ultimately end up disrupting your performance the next day.

Our clients and athletes learn through our coaching sessions that the meals and snacks consumed leading up to the event have a greater influence on performance than the meal consumed the night before.

2. Limit oils, too much fiber, and high-fat cuts of meat that take a great deal of time to digest and can prevent you from properly fueling up with carbs.

Too much fiber can also cause GI distress. Your goal is to fill up your glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrates).

3. Avoid consuming fried foods, heavily processed foods, dressings, sauces, and spicy foods.

Fuel up with a high-quality lean protein source paired with some fruit, complex carbohydrates, and veggies. You want to have a balanced plate ultimately containing foods from all food groups. (Full day of eating) *Example menu2


Meals to consume the night before game day

  • Grilled chicken sandwich on a whole-grain bun with veggies, 1-2 cups whole-grain rice, mixed berries fruit cup, and low-fat chocolate milk
  • Lean ground turkey meatballs, whole-grain pasta, watermelon slices, 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt + pineapple slices
  • Deli ham or deli turkey sub with a side of pretzels, apple slices, and low-fat chocolate milk
  • Whole-grain burrito or burrito bowl with lean flank steak, brown rice, grilled veggies, and a small serving of guacamole (keep fat light)
  • For plant-based athletes, grilled tofu, chickpeas, brown rice, tomatoes, mixed greens, a side of grapes, and a light dressing paired with 1-2 whole-grain rolls
  • 93% lean ground beef burgers on whole-grain bread or in pita wrap paired with a side salad, raspberries, and low-fat milk
  • Whole-grain rice bowl with grilled shrimp or lean flank steak tossed in roasted broccoli with diced avocado (keep it light 1 tbsp) and fresh fruit
  • Roasted sweet potato with lean ground turkey or tofu in a whole grain wrap with hummus and blueberries
  • 1-2 whole-grain chicken wraps with beans, spinach, tomato, mashed hummus, and fruit

4. Have a small snack of protein + carb 45-60 min before bed  (see more ideas here ) **Be sure to also test out these foods ahead of time to ensure you know they won’t make you sick.

Image5. Get a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep! (consequences of poor sleep & athletic performance 

  • Consume a casein-rich snack like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or string cheese paired with an apple or banana.
  • Casein (slow-digesting dairy protein) will help repair and rebuild muscle while at rest.
  • A small serving of carbohydrates will top off the fuel tank roughly 45-60 min before bed.
  • Cherries and bananas have also been shown to support restful sleep. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin which helps you fall asleep.
  • Bananas are a great source of magnesium which is a mineral aiding in muscle relaxation. The perfect combo to help your muscles relax, recover, and for you to sleep well before your big game or competition!

Image


NO NEW FOODS THE NIGHT BEFORE A GAME OR ON GAME DAY! I can’t stress this enough!

  • Practice foods and meals you want to eat the night before a game at least a week in advance to know “it works and feels good for you.”
  • Focus on getting 7-9 hours of sleep and have a small protein + carb snack before bed.
  • You can’t expect to perform at your best if you have not been consistently consuming balanced meals and snacks leading into game day.
  • You’ll have to plan ahead with balanced meals using my plate method. For additional ideas, check out my meal and snack guidance which also explains my “4-2-1” method.
  • In the days leading up to your competition, prioritize plenty of lean protein and complex carbohydrates to provide you with the fuel you need.
  • You can’t perform like a beast if you eat like a bird (additional snack ideas)!

Performance Nutrition (1) (download for the 4-2-1 game day timing)

GOOD LUCK and don’t forget to have fun!


What are the benefits of partnering with Nutrition with Wendi to help you with your performance or recovery?Image

“Wendi has helped me feel better going into games and camps and has assisted with my weight gain goal. I have gained a solid 10 lbs since we started working together, and I have more energy during practice and training. My muscles aren’t as sore after games either.”

 

 

 


The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service

7 Hydration Tips for Young Athletes and Active Adults

Image

Water is the MOST important FREE health significantly underrated performance enhancer yet most people walk around dehydrated.

According to the USDA, over half the US adults fail to consume their recommended minimum of 6-8 glasses of water each day.

I shared simple hydration tips on Fox17 Nashville. Click to watch the video here!

Failing to consume enough water can also increase your risk of heart failure. It is important to stay hydrated for basic philological functions supporting blood circulation, lubricating joints and tissues, digestion, metabolism, and muscle contraction to name a few.

Many people need more than 6-8 glasses of water due to higher body weight, activity, sweat rate, and also supporting a healthy metabolism. We recommend our clients and athletes consume a minimum of 80-100 oz of water per day. We advise checking urine color to help guide you in your water intake. If you struggle to drink enough water you have come to the right place! Our tips will help you increase your water with ease!

 

Symptoms of dehydration:


🚽Your urine helps determine your hydration status. 𝐃𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐤 10-20 𝐨𝐳 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠

💦Most athletes need between 90-120 oz. of fluid per day in addition to sufficient minerals lost through sweat

❌Intense training + under fueling = ⬆️risk of injury, depression, poor performance & muscle loss

❌1-2% loss of BW can result in dehydration post-training = severe health consequences

 

Follow Wendi on Twitter for more graphics and tips! Check out how fruit slices can help you stay hydrated HERE!

 

7 HYDRATION TIPS YOU CAN APPLY NOW!

1. Wake up and drink water by placing a glass of water or a water bottle by your bed.  This strategy will enable you to have zero barriers to getting your hydration started for the day! Focus on consuming 10-16 oz upon waking. Especially if you are an athlete or working outdoors.

2. Set alarms on your phone to hydrate with 16 oz every few hours to shoot for a total goal of 100-120 oz per day (especially if you are an athlete or working outdoors). Another easy way to get in more water is to say 50 oz by 1 pm and another 50 oz by 7 pm!
3. Carry a water bottle or hydro flask that you can easily set water goals. I.e. 32 oz is a typical hydro flask that you can consume 3x/day.
4. Eat your hydration. Yes, that is right we can attain fluid and minerals from our fruit and veggies! Watermelon, grapes, berries, cucumbers, celery, carrots, cherries, and tomatoes are also super hydrating and a great way to get in your veggies for health too! You can also infuse your water with berries, lemon, lime, etc. which makes it tastier and offers antioxidants.
5. Electrolytes can be used to replace minerals lost in sweat. Dairy is also hydrating you could add Greek yogurt, milk, or cheese to meals to get in additional minerals. Cherry juice, chocolate milk, or Gatorade zero can also be a good option depending on your goals for added hydration.
6. Bring a cooler with you to stock with fruits and veggies. You can also pack additional water bottles to make sure you have enough fluid on hand in case of an emergency!
7. Hydrate with milk at meals and water in between! These tips help my clients and athletes stay hydrated! It is also important to consume 16-24 oz of fluid for every pound lost!

 

Stay hydrated out there and don’t forget to follow us on social media for more tips!

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

Wendi Irlbeck is a registered dietitian nutritionist, and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with college and high school sports programs offering custom nutrition presentations, education, and 1/1/group nutrition coaching.  Wendi is a former cross-country runner, college softball player, figure competitor, and avid weight-lifter who still enjoys a good race from time to time. We provide onsite and virtual services nationwide!

 

You can also follow Wendi on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service

Macronutrients 101

Many have no idea what a serving of fat, carbohydrate, or protein is. So here’s a quick 101 on our macronutrients that include fat, carbohydrate, and protein!

Teens and adults who want to be healthy and successful long-term should understand the role and function of each essential nutrition along with the amount it should be consumed for energy.

There are six essential nutrients that include our macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, and protein that provide us with energy in the form of calories), and the other three nutrients that do not provide calories but are also essential for life include vitamins, minerals, and water.


🥯Carbs are important. Why? Carbs = muscle and brain fuel and if you’re too full to get your carbs in your energy and performance will suffer. ⚠️ That’s why it’s important to work with a dietitian to find the right balance of nutrients. 👊

Many want to go keto but I discourage it…Carbs are the optimal fuel for athletes..why?👇👇👇

🥑Fat cannot:

❌Restore depleted glycogen

❌Athletes who adapt to⬆️fat need⬆️need more oxygen to convert fat➡️energy

❌Replace ATP w/in working cells as quickly or efficiently as carbohydrates.

Please keep eating 🍠carbohydrates for the sake of your health, well-being, energy levels, and athletic performance.


On an individual level, ideal fat intake person to person depends on so many factors.. i.e.
📌Body weight
📌Activity & goals
📌Total calories
📌Health status/ailments/genetic risk factors

 

 

 

 


 

So many asked about protein for kids… specifically 🤷‍♀️How much protein to feed teen and adult athletes?

It depends but it is important to start with a baseline:

📌25-30 g of protein for biological girls/meal
📌30-40 g of protein for biological boys/meal
📌10-15 g of protein at snacks for both teen girls and teen boys.

 


I recommend using the performance plate model to avoid worrying about counting calories as an athlete or busy adult. If you stick with your portions for weight management, muscle gain, or fat loss you’ll be set. Just remember that  ALL meals matter!!

Under eating and underfueling will not serve you.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN is a registered dietitian nutritionist, and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN. Wendi works with clients of all levels and ages across the US as well as Canada and the UK. You can find more about Wendi and schedule an appointment with her on her website.

Testimonials of Wendi’s expertise from colleges, coaches, parents, young athletes, and high school administrators can be found at the testimonial link on her website. You can also follow Wendi on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service

Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthful Eating

Let’s walk through a way of eating that is not restrictive, stressful, or judgemental but rather curious and satisfying. The pendulum swing from extreme dieting to overeating can be difficult. You will find yourself tired of Yo-Yo dieting where you lose some weight just to gain back even more. Are you battling cravings and feeling a lack of willpower. Gentle nutrition approaches cravings in a non-judgmental way. Instead of saying “I shouldn’t have eaten that”; Get curious and ask yourself, “Why am I craving this food?”, “Is there something I could have added earlier in my day?”. Nutrition Coaches can help guide you through the process of understanding “why”. 

Gentle Nutrition is a concept of Intuitive Eating which embodies foods that satisfy what your body wants and nutritional knowledge. It empowers people to listen to their internal authority. Let’s walk through how you start.

Reject Diet Culture

Diet Culture is everywhere and is a multiple billion-dollar industry. Ever notice how diets continue to evolve into something new? Maybe diet culture evolves because it does not work. Diet culture is rooted in the belief that appearance and body shape are more important than physical, psychological, and general well-being. Nutrition Coaches can help distinguish what is fact versus myth about nutrition.  

Honor your Hunger

Hunger is a body mechanism to signal the brain to start looking for food. Cravings can signify that you are deficient in a certain nutrient. An example might be craving meat when low in iron. Cravings can be physical or psychological; working with a Health Coach can help identify what your cravings are signifying. 

Practice eating when you are hungry and learn early signs of satiety. Fullness can take 15 minutes to hit, especially if you eat fast. Tips for feeling fullness: Take a sip of water between bites. Chew thoroughly. Taste all of the flavors. If you think you are full, wait 15 minutes and reevaluate if you are still hungry. Grab additional food, if fullness is not met. 

Make Peace with Food

Remember there are no forbidden foods and every food has a place in our diet. Some foods are great for fuel, others provide emotional satisfaction, and some foods satisfy cravings. Food is nourishment and can be there for celebrations and memories. Having forbidden foods is an “all or nothing” way of thinking, meaning once you have forbidden foods you are more likely to feel ravish toward that food item.  

Challenge the Food Police

Food is nourishment and can bring satisfaction. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Rigid rules can result in increased stress and anxiety causing other complicated issues. There is a difference between rules that heighten anxiety and general guidelines that can be flexible.

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Having the same simple nutrition food can be helpful with meal planning but as time goes on even your favorite foods get old. Discover new foods to satisfy your taste buds. Find foods that help you feel nourished and satisfied. 

Respect your Fullness

Snacks can be a beautiful way to bridge the gap between meals. Learn how to listen to hunger cues to improve your quality of each day. If extreme hunger or extreme fullness negatively impacts your day; then a Health Coach can help identify early signs of hunger and meal preparation to stay in the sweet spot of hunger and fulness optimizing concentration and performance. Respect your fulness by putting away the leftovers once full; knowing if hunger kicks in that the leftovers are in the refrigerator waiting for you. 

Cope with your Emotions with Kindness

We all have experienced snacking while not even hungry. Family gatherings, late-night snack runs, movies on the couch; Cravings can be psychological and that’s okay. Working with a Coach can help identify why the cravings their and alternative paths you can take. Sometimes a food craving can only be satisfied with food. A coach can help build your self-care toolbox giving you many options when the coping tool is needed. 

Respect your Body 

It is tough to not overthink how our bodies look despite the majority of the day we aren’t even looking at ourselves. A health coach will help bring importance to: How do you feel? Do you have the energy to do the things your love? Practice gratitude for what your body can do daily; rather than focus on what it looks like. Challenging your thoughts can empower you to change your negative feelings about yourself. Negative thinking has become normalized in society partially related to diet culture. Work with a coach to identify and practice reframing these negative thoughts.

Movement – Feel the Difference 

Movement can be fun, nourishing, mood-lifting, and more. Compulsive movement is very inflexible, rigid, and only focused on changing your body. When movement gets too rigid you will find yourself “all or nothing” when it comes to movement. Sometimes it is great to simplify movement. For example, when you get off from a sedentary job and want to work out without going to the gym. A 10-minute youtube video may be all that you need. Sometimes the movement is the transition you need to leave work at work and become present at home with your family.

 

Honor your Health with Gentle Nutrition 

Gentle nutrition is where satisfying your taste buds pairs with sustainably nourishing your body. Gentle nutrition is connecting the foods you eat to how you feel; It is understanding how medication impacts your hunger. Gentle nutrition will look different for everyone – talk with your health coach to see how gentle nutrition looks for you. 

Food Freedom Made Simple

Food Freedom Made Simple

A term you may see a lot of on social media lately is “food freedom”. This ideology, if you will, is combatting old practices of dieting and instead giving individuals the freedom to eat foods without having to eliminate certain food groups or the foods that they simply enjoy eating. Wendi and I share the same philosophy that all foods fit and we should never eliminate food groups as it puts us at risk for nutrient deficiencies. In this blog, I’ll discuss the meaning of “food freedom” and how to achieve it in 3 simple steps so that you can achieve freedom from food as well!

What does “food freedom” mean?

Food freedom can look different for everyone, however, I prefer to define it as the freedom to enjoy all foods without restriction. It means to have a healthy relationship with food without being stressed or guilty when indulging in the foods you love to eat. You’re eliminating the rules of dieting and embracing the joy that food brings to the table…no pun intended!

Is food freedom important?

I am guilty of trying a few diets and quick fixes in the past, but during each escapade, I always thought to myself, “Why must I eliminate foods that I really enjoy eating?” I first heard about food freedom in the midst of the pandemic when so many people were trying to improve their health and seeking out a new fad diet to help them achieve their goals quickly. I had friends who were following keto and carnivore diets and I would sit there asking them, “Well don’t you miss vegetables? Don’t you miss having a bowl of pasta?” and their response was always yes

I understand why people are driven to try these diets out; they see others through social media or by word of mouth who have had major successes. However, we must remember that everyone is made differently. What works for one individual will not necessarily work the same way for you. This is a hard thing to swallow because we as humans naturally want to see results quickly and will try just about anything to achieve that. But what if I told you that you can still work towards your goals, whether they be to lose weight or pack on muscle mass, by eating ALL of the foods you love? Would you believe me? Finding freedom from food can alleviate so much anxiety that surrounds many people when they eat. By achieving this, we can boost our self-esteem while gaining confidence that we can be in a healthy mental and physical state without restricting ourselves from the things we enjoy.

3 steps to achieve food freedom

  • Eliminate 1 thing… diet culture!

Yes, I am encouraging you to replace a bad habit with a good one, something NWW offers in “Learn It, Lose It, Live It”, an evidence-based group program to help you stop dieting and start living! It’s the mentality that we must be constantly dieting to achieve our goals. We face many advertisements for dieting on television, in magazines, and through social media, so I challenge you to take a step back. Unfollow accounts that are diet-specific, throw out the magazines promoting the latest fad diet and change the channel when you start receiving the subliminal messages that you must diet in order to be healthy. Diet culture doesn’t want you to know the real truth about what can make you healthy in a natural way (check out Wendi’s blog entitled Strategies the Diet Industry Does Not Want You to Know to learn more). This is the beginning of taking a step in the right direction! Enroll in LEARN IT, LIVE IT, LOSE IT GROUP PROGRAM to gain the confidence you deserve (NEXT GROUP BEGINS JULY 18TH)!

  • Fuel your body with intent

If you have been dieting for a while, your body is going to need some time to acclimate to eating more food. Registered dieticians Wendi and Sydney recommend 20-30g at each and 10-15g during snacks, depending on your goals. Consume whole grains and plenty of leafy, green vegetables to increase energy and fiber intake. Also, be sure to stay hydrated which helps with weight management and helps flush out waste. If you need ideas for easy, delicious recipes, check out our Recipes page on our website.

 

  • Get moving!

Find enjoyable movement. Exercise can look different for everyone. Maybe it’s engaging in team sports, lifting weights, hiking, tennis, or yoga. Resistance training has been proven to burn calories even during rest. The important thing is to be moving in a way that is fun for you! Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Figure out what time of day you prefer to get your movement in and stick to a routine. It can help to have a friend join you and help with accountability. You can follow me on Instagram @lindsayd_nutrition to find a few workouts you can do at home or in the gym.

Hopefully this blog has given you some insight into the idea of food freedom and how to simply achieve it. It’s not going to be achieved overnight, because let’s be honest, diet culture practices were not achieved in a day either. Start small and work towards a new habit and goal as time goes on. If you need help finding freedom with food, book a FREE Discovery Call so that we can discuss your goals and develop a personalized plan for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

What to Eat Before Your XC Race or Half-Marathon?

The race you have tomorrow has you thinking, what should I do tonight and tomorrow before?

Great question! However, it’s actually more important to be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking in the days leading up to race day.

What you eat the morning of race day should be practiced in advance. My clients and athletes learn through our coaching sessions that the meals and snacks consumed leading up to the event have a greater influence on performance than the meal on the day of.

You can’t expect to race at your best on the morning fuel along. You’ll have to plan ahead with balanced meals using my plate method. For additional ideas, check out my meal and snack guidance which also explains my “4-2-1” method. In the days leading up to your race prioritize plenty of lean protein and complex carbohydrates to provide you with the fuel you need.

You can’t race like a beast if you eat like a bird (additional snack ideas!

 

 

 

 

 


Example meal and snacks included on the days leading up to your race:

  • Whole-grain chicken wrap with beans, spinach, tomato, mashed avocado or hummus, and fruit
  • Greek yogurt fruit toast (see my recipe)
  • Oatmeal with yogurt, whole-grain muffin, and peanut butter with banana slices
  • Roasted sweet potato with lean ground turkey in a whole grain wrap with hummus and raspberries
  • Whole-grain crackers with carrot sticks, and hummus
  • Whole-grain rice bowl with grilled shrimp or 3 oz of salmon tossed in roasted broccoli with diced avocado and fresh fruit

Make sure you’re hydrating properly as well. Consume at least 16 oz of water every three to four hours for 48 to 72 hours prior to your race.

NO NEW FOODS ON RACE DAY! PRACTICE FOODS BEFOREHAND ! 😊

Two hours before your race consume carbohydrates paired with a little protein. You want to limit fat and fiber because of the digestion time required for fat and the distress from fiber that could occur during your run.

 

 

 


Performance Nutrition (1)

Breakfast Ideas to Consume 2 hours Pre-Race:

  • 1-2 rice cakes + ½ tbsp honey + ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Kodiak Cakes muffin or oatmeal cup
  • Bagel + kiwi slices + string cheese
  • Gel or sports drink + grapes
  • Oatmeal + egg whites or non-fat milk
  • Watermelon, grapes, orange slices, or any fruit
  • 1-2 slices of toast + Greek yogurt
  • Cereal + non-fat milk
  • Overnight oats
  • 100 % fruit bar or dried fruit
  • Apple sauce packets or honey
  • Tart cherry juice or watermelon juice

You don’t want to eat too much for breakfast. Ideally, it would be better to eat a little bit more for dinner and an evening snack of maybe a power cup muffin the night before.  Most feel so excited for race day it is hard to eat anything. But you need feel.

Something is always better than nothing. Even if its just some toast, berries, honey packet, or tart cherry juice you need some carbohydrates before you take off! Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory confirm that honey is one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to eat just before exercise.Honey performs similar to commerical energy gels because of the glucose in gels.

GOOD LUCK and don’t forget to have fun! See the full post on Instagram


What are the benefits of partnering with us to help you with your performance or recovery?

” I highly recommend Wendi! I was at a transitionary period with training & was not fueling or recovering properly. Wendi’s advice on eating more protein + kcal has helped my performance &energy levels. Her guidance is credible and so helpful. Thanks, Wendi!”
**You can support Sammie’s mission to improve mental health awareness by donating or sharing her message with others. More information found here.

 

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

is a registered dietitian nutritionist, and performance coach. We utilize evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. She is a former cross country runner, college softball player, figure competitor, and avid weight-lifter who still enjoys a good race from time to time. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.

 

You can also follow Wendi on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service

Simple Weight Gain Tips for Student-Athletes

“How can I/my kid gain weight? We have tried everything and can’t seem to get anywhere.” I get this question and concern daily from coaches and parents. Weight gain is really hard when athletes are young calorie-burning machines!

“BUT COACH I CAN’T GAIN WEIGHT? WATCH TO LEARN MORE”

What guidebooks do you have to help with weight gain?

As always my objective is to provide people with simple and practical tips to achieve their goals!

 “How to Gain Weight Tip List”

Test don’t guess! Start tracking what you’re eating to know how many calories you’re actually eating each day. Too often teen and college athletes are under-eating without knowing it. What is measured is well-managed. Download a free app to help with tracking calories, protein, fats, and carbs. You can’t gain weight if you’re not eating enough calories consistently to attain a calorie surplus. If you’re unwilling to track calories I recommend the plate method for weight gain. See our weight-gain performance plate here.

The mistake many make when trying to gain weight is not understanding fundamental portion sizes. Weight gain means half your plate comes from CHO and during weight loss, it would be 1/4 the plate (smaller portion = less kcal).

 

Too many teen athletes fail to consistently eat regular meals so this is a super easy place to start. (CLICK TO SEE THE FULL INSTAGRAM POST ON WEIGHT GAIN).

 

Eat breakfast consistently. Nutrients missed at breakfast are often not made up later in the day. Toast, eggs, and peanut butter paired with whole-fat chocolate milk are low-cost, high-calorie, and quality options.  Try Greek yogurt parfaits with oats, nut butter, and fruit. Avocado egg toast is also super easy and high-calorie. For more ideas check out my Grab and Go Breakfast Ideas 

 

Eat snacks every 2 hours that are high in calories. Set alarms on phones or create email reminders to snack every few hours. (Weight gain requires eating in a calorie surplus so EAT UP!)

Pack high-calorie snacks. Peanut butter banana bagel sandwiches, trail mix, grab-n-go core power protein drinks, smoothies to store in a Yeti at school, peanut butter oat energy bites, mason jar  protein oats 

Planning ahead by meal prepping on the weekend

    • Grill up a dozen chicken breasts and steaks for the week to cut and portion out
    • Prepare PB energy bites
    • Hard-boiled eggs
    • Grab n Go Whole-fat chocolate milk
    • Oatmeal mason jars
    • Loaded baked potato + cheese + broccoli with butter
    • Greek yogurt parfaits (whole-fat dairy)
    • See my weight gain snacks here!

Special considerations for eating more:

  • Sample Weight gain breakdown
  • Double up on protein servings when dining out (double meat)
  • Add beef jerky, string cheese,  nuts, seeds, nut butters,  avocado, butter, olive oil, cheese, and whole-fat sour cream/Greek yogurt when you’re able for more calories!
  • Sometimes eating a lot of calories can be challenging especially around training. I recommend smoothies. You can consume half in the morning and half in the evening or afternoon as tolerated. Smoothies are a great liquid vehicle for calories!  (oatmeal, peanut butter, whole-fat Greek yogurt, and whole-fat cow’s milk). See my Chunky Monkey Smoothie Recipe here
  • Recovery nutrition is key for muscle repair and growth. Prioritize a recovery snack or meal immediately post-training. Be sure to include both complex carbohydrates and protein.
  • Vary your protein throughout the day and be sure to power up with protein as part of your recovery snack to achieve a positive protein balance, promoting muscle growth and recovery. See my backpack portable options here! 

“But Wendi, what about nutrient timing?” Great point, please see my 4-2-1 guidance here. Too much fat or too much solid food in the stomach around training can blunt performance.

I emphasize a food-first approach but supplements help supplement the gaps in our nutrition. Supplements like creatine, whey protein, vitamin D, and casein can be helpful for athletes’ muscle recovery, lean mass maintenance, and muscle gain when properly used. Should youth athletes use creatine? Find out what the research says in my blog.

Include a bedtime snack !! Research has effectively demonstrated that consuming casein protein (found in milk and
dairy products) prior to sleep can increase muscle
protein synthesis and facilitate better recovery.

See my recommendations here.

 

SLEEP DEPRIVATION WILL BLUNT YOUR GAINS. SLEEP BETTER WITH THESE TIPS


How to simply start gaining weight:

  • Identify how much you’re eating. (track in an app or journal)
  • Add 300-500 kcal per day to your baseline intake. If you consume an added 500 kcal per day x 7 days a week you’re consuming 3,500 kcal equivilant to one pound.
  • Focus on doubing up on portions, adding in liquid kcal and staying consistent.
  • It won’t happen overnight. If you want to gain you’ve gotta eat!

SEE MY TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR PRACTICAL GUIDANCE! 500 KCAL EXAMPLE MEALS + SNACKS!

Aim for consuming 4,000-6,000 kcal per day if you’re an HS athlete and likely 6,000 + kcal for collegiate athletes. For individual recommendations contact me and let’s create a custom fueling plan that supports weight gain goals.

I have worked with both HS and college athletes for > 5 years now. I spent time at the University of Florida as a sports nutrition intern in 2015 working with football, men’s and women’s track, swim, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, and tennis. I also worked as a performance nutrition assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Stout during my graduate studies. I educated football, gymnastics, hockey, soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball on proper fueling from 2014 to 2016.  Both of these experiences were volunteer and I sought them out because I knew I wanted to help athletes as a future dietitian. These opportunities helped me understand what it takes to fuel an elite athlete with a small budget! Sleep for more gains..yes sleep impacts our ability to recover and synthesize muscle! Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Many young athletes also skip breakfast and snacks so it’s more of a willingness than an ability problem with weight gain. If your young athlete won’t listen to you don’t worry you’re not alone! But they tend to listen to me, a former college athlete and total stranger :). I provide meal plans and performance nutrition guidance for picky eaters and those with food allergies/intolerances. (see my student-athlete nutrition coaching package)

 

 

In good faith, health, and wellness,

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

Nutrient Timing for Athletes: What to Eat and When to Eat it!

 

Practice how you want to perform….(Learn through graphics)

When I played sports in high school and college my coaches would always say, “you perform as you practice.” There’s a lot of wisdom with that! I ran cross country in high school but also played softball. I actually went on to play college softball and wish I would have known then what I know now.

 

Fueling competition day!

Experiment with your eating schedule on a practice day so you can identify the best strategy to give you energy and peak performance! This is applicable to coaches, parents, and athletes of all ages! What we eat directly affects how we perform. Use my “4-2-1” eating schedule with some of these meal ideas to try out for your own fueling plan WITH PICTURES!!

 

 

👇 NWW’s🍉rule of👍 : “4-2-1 method”

 


What are some ideas during half-time, between quarters or periods?

 


What are some other meals and snack ideas??

Breakfast ideas (how to create a breakfast habit)

  • Premier protein shake + apple
  • 2 Eggs, spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, whole-grain toast/oatmeal
  • Fruit smoothie with Fair life milk, Greek yogurt, chia, spinach
  • Kodiak Cakes waffle, English muffin, pancakes + hard-boiled egg
  • Greek yogurt parfait + fruit, with oatmeal
  • Oatmeal cup, string cheese, fruit
  • Strawberries, peanut butter toast + Core power protein drink/Orgain protein drink

Smart snack ideas

  • Hard-boiled eggs + whole-grain toast with banana slices
  • String cheese with pepper sticks and hummus
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Beef jerky with cucumbers or apple
  • 2 oz. Deli turkey slices with a pear
  • Protein bar (Quest protein bars, Pure Protein, One Bar, Kirkland protein bar, RX bar)

 

 


Lunch and dinner ideas

  • 4-5 oz. 99% Ground turkey, baked sweet potato, 1 cup roasted vegetables + avocado slices
  • Grilled steak, steamed brown rice (1 cup or 1-2 fists), ~ 1 cup roasted vegetables
  • Baked salmon, quinoa (1 cup or 1-2 fists), spinach side salad, ¾ cup pineapple
  • Oatmeal (1-2 cups), toppings of choice (nuts, dried fruit, flax, Fair life milk, cinnamon), fruit salad (1 cup), 4 oz.
  • Egg omelet or frittata with veggies (spinach, onions/mushrooms, sweet potatoes/potatoes in omelet/frittata or on the side), side of melons (1 cup), or berries
  • Greek yogurt w/ oats & berries (try plain Greek and add almond butter)
  • Taco bowl with tofu, spices, corn, lettuce, spinach, peppers, and brown rice

There’s no such thing as magic meals. You must eat and fuel properly in the days leading up to competition and this blog provides a surplus of ideas for athletes to experiment with. Use this additional flow summarizing 4-2-1 TM.

 

 

 

 

-Wendi A. Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

The Nutrition with Wendi team utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. We partner with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. We provide virtual services including telehealth but are based in Nashville, TN. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for more nutrition information. Service