Most Frequently Asked Nutrition Questions (and Answers!)

  • How much protein do I need as an athlete?
    • Yes! Protein is so important for athletes. LEARN MORE HERE for reasons to eat more protein from a dietitian who lifts.
    • Click HERE for the best plant and animal protein bars and powders.
    • High-quality animal proteins are some of the best sources of protein. Click HERE for our recommendations.
    • Which Greek yogurt brands are the best? Here are our top Greek yogurt picks!
  • What should I eat the night before a game?
    • The foods you eat the night before a game can impact your performance positively or negatively. Learn exactly what to eat HERE.
  • How many carbs, calories, and protein should my athlete eat?
    • It depends on the athlete’s age, sport, body composition, goals, and training volume! Learn how much a high school athlete should eat HERE.
  • What should I eat before a game or tournament?
    • Set yourself up for success and learn more about what to eat on a game day HERE.
    • Tips for fueling a tournament HERE.
    • Sports nutrition tips for strength and conditioning coaches HERE!
  • Is creatine safe for my child?
    • Yes, creatine is safe for any child, athlete, adult, or individual at any age playing any sport. Read the full blog HERE.
    • Click HERE and HERE to learn more from Wendi!
  • What should I feed high school athletes?
    • High school athletes need balanced meals with protein, carbs, produce, and healthy fats. For no cook meal and snack ideas, click HERE. Nutrient timing is also important for optimizing performance. Learn more about what and when to eat HERE. With their busy schedules, eating out is bound to happen. Learn how to make healthy eating out choices for your athlete HERE.
  • What are the best breakfast options?
    • Breakfast is an important part of an athlete’s fueling strategy and should never be missed. HERE are some great, quick breakfast ideas for your high school athlete. 
    • Protein is important for athletic performance so try out THESE high-protein waffles! Prep THIS egg bake for the week to set your athlete up for success! On the go and need something quick? Try out THIS protein overnight oats recipe!
    • Nutrients missed at breakfast are not made up later in the day! Click HERE for 3 high-protein breakfast options from Wendi.
  • I always cook the same things. What new recipes should I try?
    • Check out our 30 Days of Recipes! These are easy, quick, nutritious meals that will fuel the whole family.
  • Why is Vitamin D important?
    • Vitamin D is a key nutrient for overall health and performance and is extremely important for athletes. Click HERE to learn why!
    • Vitamin D deficiency is common but can be very problematic, especially for athletes. Read HERE to learn about the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Are eggs healthy?
    • YES! Eggs have so many beneficial nutrients, backed by science. Read why HERE.
  • How can I build a fueling station for high school athletes?
    • Fueling stations are a great way to provide optimal nutrition for athletes around practice times. If you are an athletic director, coach, or strength and conditioning staff member, read HERE about sports nutrition tips for your athletes. 
    • The biggest question is usually what to put in a fueling station. First, start with these pre-practice snacks. Second, focus on between practice/games fuel – this is great for tournaments or when there is a break between practice and lift. Then, focus on these staples for gameday and on-the-road fuel options.
    • These are some practical strategies to incorporate for your youth athletes.
    • Refueling the youth athlete in less than 500 words blog can be a great tool for you as a parent, coach, athlete, or athletic director! -Read it HERE!
  • Is strength training safe for young athletes?
    • YES!! Strength training is so beneficial for youth athletes, for several reasons. Here are some stats on how lack of strength training increases injury risk. Learn more HERE.
  • Wendi, should youth athletes play multiple sports?
    • See the data on why athletes should play multiple sports HERE

See testimonials from parents, coaches, athletes, athletic directors, and families we have served over the last 5 years HERE.

Benefits of working with a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist for your high school or collegiate programs?

  • Strength, power, speed, and endurance enhancement
  • In season nutrition presentations and accountablity
  • Pre & post season nutrition
  • What to eat at meals, snacks, and overall energy intake
  • Nutrition for Injury Recovery or post-surgery from an injury
  • Supplement safety
  • What to eat before and after games or at tournaments
  • Weight loss & weight gain
  • Hydration & anti-inflammation

Have more questions? We have answers!

  • If you are looking for a team talk or presentation fill out our contact form to set up a FREE 15-min call HERE. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
  • Health and performance guidebook that has over 170 resources including meal plans and tip sheets HERE.
  • Take our FREE health assessment to see if you’re a good fit for our family or student-athlete nutrition coaching programs. Click here

What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!

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.

 

Seed Oils: What does the science say?

Seed Oils: What does the science say? 

Seed oils are an extremely controversial topic! You may have the following questions: 

  • What are seed oils? 
  • What does the science say about inflammation and seed oils? 
  • Are seed oils healthy in moderation?
  • Why do us Registered Dietitians and coaches here at Nutrition with Wendi recommend avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as top oils for our clients and athletes? 

 

All of these questions will be answered below, according to the science for you to review! 

 

Question 1: What are seed oils? 

There are 3 types of seed oils high in omega-3 fatty acids: soybean, corn, flax seed. These oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation and lower triglyceride levels! They also promote vitamin absorption and hormone support. In fact, research has shown a potential reduction in chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. 

There are 3 types of seed oils high in omega-6 fatty acids: corn, safflower, sunflower. Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and cannot be synthesized in the body. The high omega-6 fatty acid content in these oils promote hormone support and vitamin absorption. Research has illustrated a potential for reducing chronic diseases! 

There are 3 types of oils high in monounsaturated fats and omega-9 fatty acids: olive, avocado, sunflower. The high omega-9 fatty acid content of these oils helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease inflammation, and improve blood sugar control! 

 

Question 2: What does the science say about inflammation and seed oils? 

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are in competition for the same enzymes. As a result, inflammation can occur. Research has shown the appropriate ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids to be ~4:1 or less. Typical Western diets have ratios exceeding 15:1 due to high intakes of animal fats and corn oil, which is rich in the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid (Wall et al., 2010). To improve this ratio, replace corn, safflower, and soybean (seed oils) with healthier oils, such as avocado oil and EVOO!

 

Question 3: Are seed oils healthy in moderation?

Yes! All foods fit. Research shows clear benefits from seed oils. As with anything, moderation is key. Include them in your diet to help fight inflammation, keep triglyceride and LDL levels at bay, and promote heart health! 

 

Question 4: Why do we recommend avocado oil and EVOO to our athletes? 

Athletes who engage in strenuous exercise, defined as at least 1.5 hours of moderate- to high-intensity exercise have an increased risk for inflammation. This is in part due to an increase in the body’s anti-inflammatory compounds. Therefore, it is key to incorporate healthy fats to reduce exercise-induced inflammation. Many athletes benefit from increasing their omega-3 intake or altering their omega-3 and omega-6 ratios! 

 

Keep in mind that nutrition is never black and white. We do recommend butter, ghee, and coconut oil in moderation, along with plenty of animal fats too! All foods fit, but be mindful of your personal goals, needs, and health history! Read more HERE!

 

Reference these studies for more information: 

PMID 34608514, PMID 15774905, PMID 28526025, PMID 20351774, PMID 27434027, PMID 26615402, PMID 27434027

 

How can we work together?

  • If you are looking for a team talk or presentation fill out our contact form to set up a FREE 15-min call HERE. Check out our performance nutrition partnership HERE.
  • Health and performance guidebook that has over 170 resources including meal plans and tip sheets HERE.
  • Take our FREE health assessment to see if you’re a good fit for our family or student-athlete nutrition coaching programs. Click here
  • Details are available HERE.

 

What can hiring a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!

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.

 

6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods Athletes Should Be Eating!

 I often do grocery store tours with our local baseball, football, and XC athletes here in Nashville, Tennessee. This is also a great option to do virtually over FaceTime if you are in another state! Here are 6 of the top anti-inflammatory foods that we picked up. (Full thread on X)

  1. Egg bites with veggies! A pre-cooked option that contains protein, antioxidants, and key micronutrients!
  2. Whole Lactose-Free Kefir! Kefir is fermented (great for gut health). It offers > 60 strains of bacteria. Studies show these powerful microorganisms may help treat and prevent gastrointestinal disease in addition to muscle recovery!
    1. Dairy also offers leucine-rich protein, calcium, and vitamin D that your muscles and bones need to stay strong.
  3. Cherries are rich in antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory compounds known as polyphenols!
    1. These polyphenols have been shown to speed up recovery following resistance training, decrease muscle soreness, and lessen muscle breakdown!
      1. Vitamin C, hydrating, and fiber-rich as well!
  4. Blueberries and raspberries! The compounds in berries have been shown to relieve both muscle pain and weakness, inflammation, and cellular damage that occurs after hard exercise.
    1. Blueberries have been shown to help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and improve memory, and cognitive function!
  5. Walnuts! One handful of walnuts contains 91% of the daily value of Omega-3 fatty acids.
    1. The omegas in walnuts can help with reducing inflammation and optimize recovery! Walnuts also contain magnesium which is critical for preventing muscle camping and supporting restful sleep!
  6. Pomegranate! We encourage our athletes and clients to add pom to smoothies, yogurt bowls, protein shakes, oats, and PB toast!
    1. Pomegranate intake has been shown to accelerate muscle recovery, reduce muscle damage, decrease soreness, and improve inflammatory markers post-training!

Here is a simple example of an anti-inflammatory meal for a busy high school or college student-athlete!

  • It is important to note that recovery is a 24-hour process. The body is always rebuilding and regenerating to maintain homeostasis. As an athlete or individual who wants to live a healthy lifestyle, it is best to limit inflammatory foods like cookies, cake, candy, fried foods, and alcohol.
  • Your performance plate should always contain lean protein, quality carbohydrates, fruit, veggies, healthy fat, and hydration.
          • Add Greek yogurt for extra protein, calcium, vitamin D, and calories to support muscle growth and enhance recovery!
          • Choose wild-caught salmon whenever possible as it contains up to 3 times less fat, and more vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and b-12. If you do not like salmon you can opt for a lean protein like grilled chicken, turkey, flank steak, wild game, or halibut. 
  • What you put in your body directly influences your speed, power, strength, energy, blood sugar, body composition, disease, and injury risk so please take these tips and apply them. A colorful plate is a healthy plate! (Get a copy of Wendi’s Health and Performance Playbook HERE).
  • Female athletes can greatly benefit from more produce to optimize hormone health and help with their menstrual cycle! Learn more HERE
  • Use these tips because “nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good! What are you willing to do to out-compete your competition? Champions are built in the off-season.” –Wendi

Some additional resources on reducing inflammation & increasing recovery!

If you found this list helpful be sure to check out Wendi’s tips for reducing muscle soreness blog HERE.


References:

  • Albuquerque Pereira, M. F., Matias Albuini, F., & Gouveia Peluzio, M. D. C. (2023). Anti-inflammatory pathways of kefir in murine model: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews, nuad052. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuad052
  • Ammar, A., Turki, M., Chtourou, H., Hammouda, O., Trabelsi, K., Kallel, C., Abdelkarim, O., Hoekelmann, A., Bouaziz, M., Ayadi, F., Driss, T., & Souissi, N. (2016). Pomegranate Supplementation Accelerates Recovery of Muscle Damage and Soreness and Inflammatory Markers after a Weightlifting Training Session. PloS one, 11(10), e0160305.
  • Kelley, D. S., Adkins, Y., & Laugero, K. D. (2018). A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Nutrients10(3), 368. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10030368
  • Tan, B., Wang, Y., Zhang, X., & Sun, X. (2022). Recent Studies on Protective Effects of Walnuts against Neuroinflammation. Nutrients14(20), 4360. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14204360
  • Yavari, A., Javadi, M., Mirmiran, P., & Bahadoran, Z. (2015). Exercise-induced oxidative stress and dietary antioxidants. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine6(1), e24898. https://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.24898

In good health, faith, and fitness

-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, 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.

Amenorrhea & Athletes: 3 Tips For Females to Get Their Period Back

Amenorrhea & Athletes: 3 Tips For Females to Get Their Period Back

 

Relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) is the consequence of low-energy availability (LEA) in athletes, adversely affecting an athletes’ performance and health. RED-S can occur in both males and females, negatively impacting normal growth and development, hormonal health, bone health, ability to recover, strength and endurance, and even mental health. The Female Athlete Triad refers to a cluster of three RED-S symptoms originally identified in females, including low energy intake, menstrual disruptions, and low bone mineral density (BMD). It is imperative to prevent the Female Athlete Triad before it spirals into severe interruptions with bone strength, performance, long-term health, and fertility. 

 

What is Low Energy Intake (LEA) and how does it occur?

  • LEA can be intentional or unintentional, occurring when an athlete consumes fewer calories than her body requires for growth, development, and athletic performance. LEA is often associated with ‘disordered eating’ and in severe cases can lead to an eating disorder.
  • Menstrual cycle disruption is the most critical impact of LEA in females. When a female athlete stops getting her period for at least 3 months, this is referred to as ‘amenorrhea.’ Prolonged amenorrhea can negatively impact fertility and bone health.
  • Many athletes choose to intentionally restrict or limit their intake in hopes of “improving performance”. This is especially common in runners and dancers, where the mentality “lighter is faster” is prevalent but extremely damaging.
  • Some athletes may just be unsure of how many calories they should consume to meet the demands of their sport, leading to unintentional LEA. Many athletes eat enough calories to sustain basic hormone function but are not eating enough to fuel sport performance and recovery!
  • The effects of LEA fall into two categories: sociocultural and physiological. Athletes are at a much higher risk for LEA from sociocultural factors, including social media, sport-specific body image stereotypes, and pressure from coaches, teammates, and themselves on looking a certain way. These can all provide a false belief that the athlete will have greater performance outcomes by fitting into these sociocultural standards.
  • Inadequate nutrition intake, leading to LEA, is problematic because the athlete has insufficient energy to fuel the body. For example, if a female athlete only consumes 1,800 kcal per day but uses 3,500 kcal, she is consuming 1,700 kcal LESS than her body NEEDS! In this scenario, the athlete will not have enough energy, impairing performance, growth, and development; it also puts her at heightened risk for illness, injury, impaired fertility, or a life-threatening eating disorder. 
  • At-Risk Sports: cross-country, distance running, cross-country skiing, wrestling, rowing, gymnastics, figure skating, dance, and weight-class sports.

 

Important future considerations

  • The long-term negative effects of amenorrhea can impact fertility as women age. 
  • Women need adequate calories to achieve enough of energy reserve to promote fertility.
  • Women must have enough body fat to produce leptin for reproduction and proper functioning of the ovaries.
  • Scientist Rose Frisch proposed a body fatness theory of fertility in which women need to have at least 17% body fat to menstruate and about 22% body fat for fertility.

Fill out our athlete assessment form HERE and we can reach out to you for a consultation with one of our registered dietitians and sports nutritionists to help you with a plan. 

How does menstrual health impact bone health?

Physical activity, specifically resistance training can have a positive impact on bone development. However, in cases of the female athlete triad or low energy availability, BMD may be low. This low BMD can be attributed to low levels of the hormone, estrogen, which plays a crucial role in bone health! Further, with inadequate calorie intake, athletes may be missing significant micronutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, which support strong bones. Low BMD can increase the risk of bone stress injuries, including stress reactions and stress fractures, as well as osteoporosis. 

 

Pro Tip: Test, don’t guess! If you or your student-athlete have concerns about menstruation, bone health, and estrogen levels, reach out to a doctor for blood tests. 

Recovery of a menstrual cycle takes time but is significant for overall health as well as injury prevention and athletic performance.

 

Three ways we help female athletes regain their period:

  1. Increased calories (eating in an energy surplus) for 3-6 months, with a focus on adequate healthy dietary fats and eating frequently (avoiding periods of fasting)
  2. Reducing training volume and permitting healthy weight gain
  3. Log nutrition and track period symptoms 

We teach our athletes that all foods fit! Most athletes need upwards of 3,500 + kcal to support health, training, and recovery demands.Person first and athlete second. We must help female athletes develop a healthy relationship with food!

If you are a parent of a young female athlete or coach that works with female athletes be sure to refer out to a registered dietitian. Female athletes have special considerations and hormone health should always be a top priority. We have worked with several female runners and competitive athletes to regain their period.  It is not normal to lose your cycle for several months. We can work with your program or athlete to regain their cycle via a custom nutrition plan and ongoing coaching.

Female athletes need 3-4 balanced meals coupled with 2-3 snacks on training days. You can’t race like a beast if you eat like a bird!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


Resources:

 

Cabre, H. E., Moore, S. R., Smith-Ryan, A. E., & Hackney, A. C. (2022). Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S): Scientific, Clinical, and Practical Implications for the Female Athlete. Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Sportmedizin, 73(7), 225–234. https://doi.org/10.5960/dzsm.2022.546

Gimunová, M., Paulínyová, A., Bernaciková, M., & Paludo, A. C. (2022). The Prevalence of Menstrual Cycle Disorders in Female Athletes from Different Sports Disciplines: A Rapid Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(21), 14243. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192114243

Márquez, S., & Molinero, O. (2013). Energy availability, menstrual dysfunction and bone health in sports; an overview of the female athlete triad. Nutricion hospitalaria, 28(4), 1010–1017. https://doi.org/10.3305/nh.2013.28.4.6542

Sims, S. T., Kerksick, C. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Janse de Jonge, X. A. K., Hirsch, K. R., Arent, S. M., Hewlings, S. J., Kleiner, S. M., Bustillo, E., Tartar, J. L., Starratt, V. G., Kreider, R. B., Greenwalt, C., Rentería, L. I., Ormsbee, M. J., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Campbell, B. I., Kalman, D. S., & Antonio, J. (2023). International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutritional concerns of the female athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1), 2204066. https://doi.org/10.1080/15502783.2023.2204066

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, May 17). Bone mineral density tests: What the numbers mean. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/bone-mineral-density-tests-what-numbers-mean

von Rosen, P., Ekenros, L., Solli, G. S., Sandbakk, Ø., Holmberg, H. C., Hirschberg, A. L., & Fridén, C. (2022). Offered Support and Knowledge about the Menstrual Cycle in the Athletic Community: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1086 Female Athletes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(19), 11932. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191911932

 

Fueling the Gluten Free Student-Athlete

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein naturally found in grains like wheat, rye, as well as barley. Gluten contributes to the texture and shape of foods made from these grains.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that leads to reactions when eating the protein gluten. Symptoms include, but are not limited to gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), abdominal pain, a rash, and malnutrition.

Should I Avoid Gluten?

Those with diagnosed Celiac Disease, gluten ataxia, non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance), or wheat allergies should avoid gluten! Otherwise gluten is safe to eat and there is no need to avoid it! 

Research supports that there are no improvements in performance resulting from abstaining from gluten in non-celiac athletes. Further, research in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journal supports that gluten-free foods do not offer a “nutritional advantage” over gluten-containing foods.

Gluten-Free Athlete Tips:

  1. Check food labels. Gluten “friendly” and gluten-free are not the same thing. The safest bet is always certified gluten-free!
  1. Consider food prep and processing. Foods that may naturally be gluten-free may become contaminated with gluten through prep. 
  1. Communicate! Let others know about your allergy, especially at restaurants. 
  1. Don’t cut out grains! Just swap for new ones.
  1. Be consistent with gluten-free fueling! It may be tempting to reintroduce gluten into your diet, but if you’re diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the treatment is lifelong a gluten-free diet.

Brands We Love:

There are plenty of gluten options for fueling! Some personal favorites are – Kind, Purely Elisabeth, Canyon Bakehouse, Kodiak Cake GF Pancake mix

Grains that are Naturally Gluten Free: corn, rice, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat, flax, millet, amaranth, sorghum

*sourdough has low gluten content due to fermentation but is not 100% gluten-free 

Want to know more? Check out this post on Gluten Free Fueling Options on our NWW Coaching Instagram. Book a FREE call with a registered dietitian to ensure you are eating enough calories to support your training and recovery! 

 

 

  1. Devrim-Lanpir, A., Hill, L., & Knechtle, B. (2021). Efficacy of Popular Diets Applied by Endurance Athletes on Sports Performance: Beneficial or Detrimental? A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(2), 491. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020491
  2. Niland, B., & Cash, B. D. (2018). Health Benefits and Adverse Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet in Non-Celiac Disease Patients. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 14(2), 82–91.
  3. What is Celiac Disease? | Celiac Disease Foundation
  4. What Is Gluten and What Does It Do? | Johns Hopkins Medicine

3 Tips for Avoiding Muscle Cramps on Game Day!

 

In my 10+ years of experience working with youth, collegiate, and masters level competitors there are three types of athletes. Athletes who are prone to cramping, those who have cramped, and those who WILL CRAMP. Our goal is to prevent cramping, reduce the occurrence of cramping, and Lord willing minimize the cramps with these three considerations.

 

  1. Water and minerals. Inadequate fluid. Drink water early and often! We wake up in a dehydrated state.  Place a water bottle by your bed to wake up and drink water. Set alarms on your phone to hydrate every few hours. Hydration is controllable.  Athletes need roughly 80-100 oz of fluid daily.  This does not account for the minerals we NEED including potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, and magnesiumLosses during training, games, and hot climate increases fluid and mineral demand. 7 Tips for Hydration here.
      • Consume 20 oz of fluid every 2 hours leading up to game time.
      • Fuel tip: The night before a game have 1/2 an avocado at dinner. Avocados have more potassium than bananas. The potassium levels are almost double!
      • One avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium, compared to 487 milligrams in a banana.
      • Most muscle cramps are also related to magnesium depletion. Adequate magnesium can help with muscle contraction and relaxation. The RDA for magnesium for adults:
        -Men: 400–420 mg
        -Women: 310–320 mg

        • Magnesium deficiency signs and foods rich in magnesium click here.
        • Magnesium supplementation may be necessary if you’re not consuming sufficient meat and veggies.
      • Some athletes are heavy sweaters and will expel more minerals in their sweat than others. A simple way to test if you or an athlete is a heavy or salty sweater is touching your jersey during/after training. Ensure you’re sipping on sports drinks or an electrolyte mix if you’re prone to cramping. Hotter temperatures will increase the rate at which electrolytes are expelled
        • Is it crusty and drenched? You are likely a heavy sweater and you will also feel the sodium on your face.
        • A hydration video tip to download and share with your student-athletes.
      • Replace every lb. lost during training with 16-24 oz of fluid.
  2. Pre-competition fueling 
      • Athletes often fail to consume enough carbs and calories. Carbs fuel muscle and the brain. A drop in blood sugar leads to a drop in performance. Low-carb diets also decrease sodium and water in the kidneys! 
      • Athletes should be consuming on average 3-5 g of carbs/kg/bw/day to support training demands and optimize recovery.  This means if you weigh 165 lbs or 75 kg . you need a minimum of 225 -375 g of carbs daily.
        • Athletes doing more endurance work or training more hours per week need even more. 5-7 g/kg/bw/day for soccer, field hockey, basketball, and other athletes trying to gain weight! This means that the same 165 lb 75 kg athlete would need 375-525 g of carbs per day!
          • Bagels, rice, pitas, oats, pretzels, fruit, potatoes, dates, honey, and other grains are excellent sources of carbs.
      • The maximum glycogen storage a human can accumulate is between 400-500 grams. Since 1 gram of carbs equals 4 kcal, you will top out at about 1,600-2,000 kcal in your glycogen storage fuel tank.
        • Muscle strength, speed, and contractility decrease when blood glucose levels drop or when glycogen is rapidly depleted. This can happen quickly in multisport athletes as well as endurance athletes.  Athlete nutrition cheat sheet here.
      • Use my chew-nibble-sip fueling strategy to ensure you’re consuming adequate carbs, minerals, and calories leading up to game time. A simple breakdown is found here.
      • Bananas, string cheese, Greek yogurt, and sweet potatoes are great sources of minerals like potassium, and contain sodium to assist with preventing muscle cramps and fatigue. Utilize electrolyte packets pre-, during, and post-event.
      • Too often athletes under-fuel leading up to games and events due to their inability to stomach solid food. Liquid carbs like sports drinks, tart cherry juice, and coconut water can be a great way to fill the glycogen tank prior to an event.
      • Download my 4-2-1 Fueling PDF for FREE HERE
  3. Training/game day warm-up
      • For the strength and sports coaches, this may seem obvious but it is a consideration that we must address. Athletes can cramp due to being undertrained, under-conditioned, or new to the sport. This happens with many young football players in fact. Coaches send me emails all the time with their JV or middle school programs with this concern. We must think beyond electrolytes and carbs to truly identify the source of cramping.
      • The condition of the athlete and their recovery from days trained that week or in previous events can play a role in cramping. Not to mention if the athlete is properly conditioned. Especially after the dog days of camp.

A tip we provide our athletes, coaches, and parents on preventing and treating cramps.

Science illustrates sodium can be absorbed and affect the body’s sodium concentration at a faster rate when spicy/bitter/vinegary smells and tastes are introduced. In fact, this tactic helps reduce the muscular impulse of over-excited contracted nerve impulses that lead to muscle cramping. This tactic can also aid in reducing the occurrence of muscle cramping and/or shorten the duration of the cramping episode according to a study carried out by Miller et al., 2010 published in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise.

The acid in the pickle juice, vinegar, and mustard does help alleviate cramps, the study concluded. A cramp induced by researchers lasted two minutes on average. Those cramps lasted 30 seconds shorter when test subjects drank pickle juice during the experiment. When subjects drank water, there was no change. The acid is what assisted with reducing the length of the cramps. Not the “salt”. This is critical for people to understand because there’s a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding in sports.

 

Cramps are a result of many factors. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, lack of carbohydrates, and a nervous system overt stimuli or misfiring. It is best to work with a sports dietitian to find ways to ensure your athletes are eating enough leading up to games, hydrating properly, getting sufficient sleep, and warming up properly with correct progression. You may not always be able to avoid cramping but you can certainly minimize it with these tips. Wendi’s health and performance slide deck contains hydration, fueling, and recovery graphics. Get a copy here

 

In good health, faith, and fitness

-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, 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.

 

Plant based meat versus beef patty. What you need to know!

Plant-based meat?

Plant meat alternatives are being promoted more and more each day. I am often asked by consumers, those online, and our community if plant patties are “healthier”.

 

 

In short, NO. This is not my opinion this is what researchers who assessed cooked samples of both plant and beef patties found in their analysis. The nutrition facts label also does not illustrate the key nutrient differences. The plant and beef patties differ in terms of salt, cholesterol, calories, protein content, carbohydrate, texture, moisture content, flavor, and price!

  • Researchers cooked samples and analyzed the samples suggesting a more clear and thorough breakdown. The researchers assess nutrients and categorized the amino acids making up the proteins and various metabolites found within both the plant patty and beef patty samples.

 

 

 

*I recently was at the ISSN conference and was motivated to do this blog. Check the data that was exclusively shared from a presentation on plant-based meats!


What did they find?

According to the metabolomics comparison, there’s a large nutritional difference!

  • This heat map illustrates just how different the impossible meat and beef patties are at the metabolite level.
  • Of the 171 out of 190 annotated metabolites (90%) were different between beef and the plant-based alternative.

 

 

 

  • Beef has creatinine, hydroxyproline, and glucosamine, (marked with the red arrows), none of which are found in the plant-based alternative.
  • Bioavailability MATTERS. Just because a component is found in food doesn’t mean that it is digested and or available to us.

 

  • Iron in meat is far more available than the usual iron supplement. Equivalent amounts of iron on the nutritional label do not necessarily translate into equal amounts of iron in you.

 


Plant versus Beef?

The ingredients in a plant patty?

  • Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% Or Less Of: Methylcellulose, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Yeast Extract, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant), L-Tryptophan, Soy Protein Isolate, Vitamins and Minerals (Zinc Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12). Product contains an allium derivative
  • Price per 8 oz serving = $6.97

 

The ingredients in a beef patty?

  • Beef

  • Price per 8 oz serving = $3.62

 

*Best foods to gain strength and lose fat! Click here


Conclusion?

  • Researchers conclude that plant-based meat alternatives are not interchangeable with meat; they complement one another.
  • Beef is superior to plant “meat”
  • Beef contains > more bioavailable protein, iron, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, pantothenate, magnesium, and potassium than plant “burgers”.
  • Beef is a lower cost per serving and offers more nutrients that are bioavailable.
  • The NUTRITION LABEL DOES NOT TELL ALL!! 
  • In case you missed my post on plant-based alternative “milk” click here to learn more!
  • Plant and animal protein bar list
  • Here’s a FREE grocery list to get you and your family started with healthy choices!

 

 

 

DOWNLOAD THE BEYOND MEAT COMPARISON HERE.

In good faith, health, and athletic performance,

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

Wendi 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 high schools, colleges, sports performance staff, individuals, and families! Wendi and her team offer custom fueling plans, group coaching, presentations, and team talks nationwide!

Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.  Wendi works with clients of all levels internationally.

What can hire a sports nutritionist offer your program? Learn more here.  Interested in signing up for the NEW and upcoming NWW newsletter? Click here to sign up!


Citations and resources to learn more:

Source: A metabolomics comparison of plant‑based meat and grass‑fed meat indicates large nutritional differences despite comparable Nutrition Facts panels Nature Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-93100-3

6 Holiday Eating Tips for Athletes and Adults!

Every year people fret about the holidays and what they should eat to maintain their weight or simply avoid overindulging.  All fair concerns and I am happy to provide some perspective and tips! Depending upon your culture and what holidays you celebrate we are really only looking at 5-6 days total in a year.

 


I wish people would focus more on what they are eating, how active they are, and prioritizing sleep on the other 360 days of the year.

So, the perspective 6 days of sweets or eating outside of your “healthy routine” out of 365 days is truly only 0.016% which is not significant.

An all-foods fit dietitian…honestly, I say this often..”We need to get back to the basics and control our controllables!”Do yourself a favor and avoid the fad diets and shame game.  Below I provide simple tips for both young athletes and adults to follow this holiday season. 

  • For mindful eating and gentle nutrition tips check out Coach Sydney’s blog here.
  • Tips for staying on track this holiday season click here.
  • Should you overindulge check out my damage control blog.

6 Healthy Holiday Eating Tips for Adults and Athletes!

1.Eat breakfast or a small amount of protein like string cheese or a hard-boiled egg beforehand. Do not go into meals and gatherings on an empty tummy. You will end up overeating and feel guilt and shame. Also, if you have an evening gathering…Do not starve yourself all day. Restricting leads to overeating. 

2. Think you drink! Avoid drinking sugary beverages that contain a lot of calories but not a lot of quality nutrition. Should you choose to indulge in a sugary drink make sure you stick to one serving and hydrate with plenty of water! If of age limit alcohol intake which can also contain a lot of calories and lead to overeating later on.


3. Set your fork down in between bites and talk to those around you. By slowing down your eating you will help your stomach and brain communicate fullness. You should be able to walk away from the table at 75-80% fullness. The food is not going anywhere. You can always eat more food but once you eat it you cannot un-eat it. So be mindful when you eat! Focus on the conversation and less on the food. (you will enjoy your conversations with others more this way). Holidays are about being grateful for the community and conversing with loved ones. Make them your focus and you’ll have greater satisfaction with your holiday experience!

4.Use a smaller plate and add colorful fruits and veggies. You should not look down and only see brown (gravy, turkey, and bread). Your body will appreciate the added fiber and antioxidants around the holidays when people often get sick, and rundown, and being around a variety of people can tax the immune system. The added boost of berries could be a great way to stay healthy!

5. Choose one dessert, not a plateful! If you feel worried about making a healthy choice prepare something you know supports your goals. Another dish to pass is never a bad thing! You are likely not the only one who wants to make healthier choices and feel good!

Want some recipes? Try our Greek yogurt bark barspumpkin trail mix, egg bake, or the NWW protein PB energy bites, protein puppy chow, or, tasty black bean quinoa bowl!

  • You can always munch on fruits & veggies if you’re a snacker and feel the urge. If you feel there won’t be a veggie tray take initiative and bring one. You can also add some hummus and jerky sticks for protein! Protein will help keep you full to avoid snacking and stabilize blood sugar when paired with carbohydrates or desserts!

6. Stay active! Take a walk, bike ride go for a hike, grab the basketball, football, or soccer ball, or plan an activity everyone enjoys. The movement will help with digestion and reduce the risk of feeling lethargic which often leads to guilt and shame.

The holidays do not need to be stressful. Have a plan, pack some protein bars or snacks for travel and stick to one plate! Blessings to you in good health, wellness, and faith,

 

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

Weekly Weight Room Tip Tuesday with Wendi

As busy as we have gotten it is time for me to ramp up my videos on youtube and share out some of these actionable tips I provide on Twitter. I will be providing a Tip Tuesday for you to share in your weight room with athletes, in email blasts, at your school, in your athletic department, or anywhere you see fit.

August 2nd *the very first weight room tip Tuesday with Wendi* is now LIVE and available for you to share out.


You can download and share the 90-second clip found on my youtube page and Instagram. The recommended pre-workout graphics are listed below and also found in blogs and on my IG page.


I was praying about how to reach more programs that may struggle with nutrition resources. After some prayer I felt convicted to offer complimentary videos with tips is a great way to help and reach more people. (thank you Jesus and I give all glory to you). 

  • If your program does want to invest in a pre-recorded or LIVE team talk we have actually been creating partnerships with various HS and college programs like hockey, football, and soccer programs.
  • We work with others but these are our major partners. We kick off the partnership with various presentations that include but are not limited to nutrition 101, supplements, weight management, and injury prevention.
  • In addition, follow-up video chats to keep your athletes on track with eating, fueling, recovery, and sleep hygiene.

 

Nutrition is one of the best and most important resources you will make. We are willing and available to help your program take your performance to the next level! Contact us for more information by clicking here.

In good health and performance,

 

Coach Wendi

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN  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. Learn more about our programs here.