3 Reasons You Crave Sugar and How to Stop

Three reasons why you crave sugar and how to correct it!

  1. You’re starving yourself which includes skipping meals and restricting which = cravings.
  2. Sugar tastes good and so does salt, right? Our brain recognizes the feel-good emotions with sugar and the brain will release serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters make us feel immediately good the second we feel that spike in insulin but then the crash comes after. Then you crave that dopamine response again and again. 
  3. You’re not eating enough critical nutrition which includes a protein that supports satiety and fullness. (Click here to listen to my audio on cravings)

What about hormonal/menstrual cravings? Click here to learn more about how to overcome those and why ladies crave chocolate during their cycle. 1/2 slides shown below.


How to outsmart sweet cravings? Apply these tips immediately!

  • Sleep a minimum of 7 hours nightly! Sleep deprivation = more belly fat? LEARN  MORE
  • Manage stress. You can meditate, belly breathe, take a walk, and call a friend but you need to write down why you are stressed what will help you is not stuffing your face with sugar but doing something constructive like getting to the root cause. 🙂 
  • Do not buy junk you know you struggle to portion and control yourself around. If you buy it you will eat it. No, it’s not for the kids LOL you will eat in. If it is in your cart it will go in your mouth.

 


  • Plan a special treat to share with your family 1x/a week and go out and get it.
    • Like ice cream!  Try my high-protein ice cream! This will also prevent depriving yourself of your favorite sweet treat.
    • Besides, dessert is sometimes food! All foods fit but we have become a society where “treat yourself ” means treats at every meal… #yikes .
    • If folks would eat well 80% of the time and then have the dessert they love 1x/a week or a few times a week via portion control they would actually binge less too! 
      •  Binge eating/then restricting is not healthy and puts you back in a vicious cycle. Give yourself grace but set up your environment for success! Pack the fridge with nutrient-dense foods! Here’s a great list to start.
  • Pack meals + snacks (DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST)
  • Drink more water. Aim to consume 100 oz daily
  • Eat balanced meals regularly to avoid dips in blood sugar
  • Prioritize protein + produce at meals you will be less prone to eat and crave low-nutrient foods
  • Exercise regularly which includes resistance training and plenty of walking!
  • Have a Greek yogurt + fruit + dark chocolate serving (this will balance blood sugar and offer you some sweetness without the crash because of nutrition!) -see the graphic for illustration on other meals.

All foods fit but be mindful of your choices! Healthy food = a healthy body! For some mindful eating tips check out NWW Coach and Dietitian Sydney’s fantastic blog on Gentle Nutrition!

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. Service

 

Spend too much time on social media? Me too

READ WITH CARE. A tweet thread of mine you can read provides context to this post.

Please read this full post as it is full of stats that are incredibly important to your well-being in addition to your children and young athletes. You don’t have to rely on social media for getting your message and brand out there if your business is rooted in the Lord. He will make a way for you to share your message and generate business through His provisions. Be willing to trust Him 100% and prioritize your relationship with Him before reaching for your phone.  We all have a special assignment from God. By spending too much time online or being busy scrolling or posting you could be missing your true calling from God. Our joy, hope, and fulfillment are found in Him.

God creates every person for a specific assignment on earth; to do good works ordained before you are created. Eph 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them

If you read it till the end it is worth it. Please be sure to share with someone else you know who is in need of a social media check. The Lord has been convicting me for a while to reduce my social media use and sharing of content to focus on Him. In addition to writing my Devotions with Wendi book and Performance Nutrition Playbook with a goal to be written end of this year.

Just a note I authored this “Social Media Fasting” blog in June of 2022. It is now January 2023 and I find myself in a space where I am willing to focus on my faith and be present with the Lord instead of on social media. Posting has been a great way to promote my business, brand, and content through graphics and tweets. I find myself in a season where social media is taking away from my life instead of adding. I am not worried about helping folks or providing quality content as you can see it all in my newsletter which you can subscribe to for free.

Enjoy this blog post on social media fasting. The only type of fasting I truly recommend.

SOCIAL MEDIA FASTING

The average daily usage of social media is roughly 4 hours and 27 minutes. Can you believe that? To be honest I am surprised it’s not closer to five hours. Many people are chronically scrolling social media looking for the next oxytocin fix. Many like myself have used social media to help grow businesses, connect with others around the world, and share content to create awareness of services and more. Personally, I could go without Facebook and Instagram,  but I do enjoy Twitter. I am not here to bash social media as I think it can be a powerful tool to connect with people. That was before everything became incredibly political, cruel, and distasteful online. Many of you who have worked with me, hired me for a presentation, or consulted me for coaching likely met me through Twitter. While Twitter is an awesome platform that has allowed me to share sports nutrition resources, and healthy lifestyle tips, and engage with brilliant minds to further learn it has become counterproductive. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for Twitter and the following that has even been a positive platform to filter information I follow but also share the Gospel.

I have found all social media to be toxic to my mental health lately. I find myself consumed with reading and following so many different things at once online it’s like my brain is on overdrive. I have found myself reading fewer books, doing fewer things outside without my phone, and even just feeling stressed about having to constantly post content to help someone, or answer their direct message in the IG chat let alone blog for my website. I know I am not alone in this feeling. I built a great deal of my business (est in 2019) online well before the 2020 pandemic.  Twitter has continued to help me get my healthy tips and sports nutrition guidance out there that has helped me connect with so many.

It is kind of radical to think about stepping away from Twitter or Instagram, but I believe God needs me to do so for the best interest of my relationship with God, understanding His personal assignment of my life, as well as my physical and mental health. I help a lot of people and I love doing it. But my tank feels depleted because many of these folks are not actual clients they are just people who want to drop in my DMs and rant about how much help they need and ask questions but are unwilling to partner. Then get upset when I refuse to help them further for free.  Many folks invest in our services and appreciate the content but then the others seem to be so much louder and it is becoming too much. As I  have said , if satan can’t make you bad he will make you busy. I don’t want to be busy I always want to be productive. My book needs to get done and I want to be present in my life for the people who truly matter, my family and close friends. Not a total stranger who wants to take advantage of me and my kindness. So yes, it is time for a break.

Moderation does not work when someone is “addicted” to something. I am not saying I am addicted to social media, but I would say social media is disrupting my sleep, well-being, connection with God, and building meaningful relationships in real life. I do not care how many followers I have or if I build the best content or have the most liked info graphs. I care about helping people using my God-given skills, abilities, and passion which includes spreading the Gospel. I have even created a personal IG to help share the gospel and daily devotionals. This is a great way to spread God’s word but again being online is time-consuming and depleting my tank. Maybe that’s just me but have you ever just paused for a minute and asked yourself, “how did I get here?”

I always start my morning with a devotional. This was a habit I built over the last 1.5 years…but lately it has been getting shorter and less meaningful as biz ramps up and content is being requested.  I always encourage clients to also reach for their bible before checking email or anything. Start and end your day with God not social media. I’m so consumed with trying to post the best content on social media and help as many as I can that I am not helping myself.  I have also been comparing my professional platform to others who have been in the game 20+ years longer than me and it makes me feel like a failure. I know I am not a failure and that I am driven and running my own race but as of lately the noise is loud. Many may feel shocked to read that I struggle with the same battles they do but my source of help is Jesus. However, social media is sometimes louder and more destructive because I have allowed it to be.  Social media never really used to impact me until I learned how self-sabotaging and distracting it is.  Even if I am scrolling devotionals on Instagram, it is holding me back from creating real meaningful relationships offline.

So, I asked myself a very important question. Perhaps you would want to ask yourself an important question too. Do the “benefits” of social media use outweigh the drawbacks? How is this serving me? Does it negatively affect my relationship with God?  There are plenty of benefits to social media use for business and connection but lately, I have acknowledged the benefits no longer outweigh the negatives at this present time. I don’t want to live online, and I most certainly don’t want the media to control my mindset or mood. The narrative is so negative and full of gloom and doom. There’s a whole world out there to experience and you don’t have to document it online. Work hard but also work to unplug like I will be doing. Please read on for some jolting statistics.

  • Social media and electronics can interfere with circadian rhythms according to the Sleep Foundation.
  • According to studies social media is making both adults and teens unhappy. There’s a link between social media and depression according to the Child Mind Institute. Several studies indicate teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have 13 to 66% higher rate of depression than those who spent the least time. A 2017 study investigating over a half million eight through 12th graders found that both depressive symptoms increased by 33 percent along with suicide rates for girls increased by 65%.
  • Another study evaluated a national sample of young adults aged 19-32 illustrating a correlation between time spent on social media and perceived social isolation. Results indicated those on social media had greater feelings of isolation which can induce anxiety, depression, and concerns of even body image.

There are plenty of statistics available on social media use that is linked with weight gain, depression, disease, suicide, and more. I encourage you to check out the statistics. Our youth and adult population are at risk for any of the ailments. I want to publicly share and post that I will be taking a fast from social media. I have this beautiful website I invested a lot of resources and time into that is full of blogs, nutrition services, recipes, and ways for us to connect. I am not worried about missing out on anything. I have worked hard in my years as a dietitian and health practitioner earning credentials and great experience that enables me the great privilege to help you, your family, and young athlete.

I know what you are thinking, “how long will you fast for?” If it takes to feel like I am 100% putting my faith first and enjoying the things I used to truly enjoy before the pandemic hit. Nature, camping, hiking, taking actual vacations and unplugging without fear of “missing out”. Life is short, and it would be a darn shame to waste it living on some device working to please people who don’t care about you. Seriously, if someone wants to talk to you or me they can pick up the phone and call, write a letter, or dare we say go visit in person. Politics fear-mongering, misinformation, and evil have really corrupted social media. I am sick of it and it is making me sick. No, I am not depressed but I am a firm believer in being proactive in one’s health. I do not want to become depressed, nor do I want to be robbed of my joy or time which is exactly what social media has been doing lately. Maybe it is not like that for you so rock on. However, for me, I want to experience life free from social media sin.

A social media fast can offer the restoration of my mind, body, and spirit needs. I am not the only one who thinks so. In fact, many clinical psychologists agree, “social media fasts can increase positivity, decrease anxiety, and assuage feelings of depression.” -Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear.

Here are my tips to unplug and take a break from social media:

  1. Make a schedule of what time of the day you will unplug. I.e., no social media from 7 pm-9 am. I would encourage more than that or take specific breaks to limit use and screen time.
  2. Use do not disturb. Taking a break from notifications using the great features on your phone. This can even include silencing calls. I do this during my workday, and it has really helped me stay focused. (Remove all notifications from apps and place on a different screen or put in a folder on your phone)
  3. Leave your “work phone” at work. For many this is impossible as we run our own businesses and the work never ends. However, you can again unplug using a schedule and outline boundaries with your clients and followers that you are not reachable at set hours. This will also limit the screen time and phone access.

You may not think social media or phone use bothers or disrupts your life then again, cool. However, studies show that 3 in 4 Americans spend 3 or more hours daily looking at a screen. Maybe you don’t want to unplug for a period of time but I do encourage you to evaluate your screen time and social media use. Is it affecting your relationships with others? Do you feel like you’re always having to post? Do you feel compelled to constantly check your phone for notifications, updates, or what is going on in the news? Maybe try unplugging for a few days or even a few weeks.

I have been giving out free content for years and many have been appreciative of that, but others have demonstrated a lack of respect and demand I help them for free. My hope and identity are found in Christ. I find myself very turned off by social media at the moment and it is taking energy, time, and value away from my life so that is why I will stick with posting in my newsletter, website, and videos periodically. If you want our help you can enroll in our coaching services, and hire me for team talks, speaking engagements, corporate wellness, and partnerships.

I am not going away from social media I am just simply taking a break. The fact that I feel I have to announce that is exactly why I need the break. Social media is a tool and it is getting in the way of my relationship with the Lord and true purpose. I am not worried about losing business by not being as active online because I know that God’s will can’t be stopped. We do good work and have good things to say each day in helping folks and athletes of all ages. I encourage you to take time away from social media if you find yourself picking up your phone before reading your bible. Christian or not social media is not a good use of our time, energy, or God-given talents.

We look forward to serving you with high value coaching and content as we have since day one.

 

God bless,

 

Wendi

Are Eggs Good for Us?

You have probably heard someone say, “eggs are bad for you and you should only eat the whites.” This could not be the furthest from the truth and the egg yolk contains the most nutrition!

Plenty of cherry-picked studies you’ve likely seen give eggs the bad rap and have made them one of the most controversial foods to date. As you know I am an evidence-based dietitian so, show me the data supporting egg consumption.

The data:

  • A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition illustrated that even for those suffering from type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, eggs did not influence risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Eggs themselves are high in dietary cholesterol and type 2 diabetics tend to have elevated levels of the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. That being said, the research that shows consumption of eggs has little effect on the levels of cholesterol in the blood of the people eating them.
  • Eggs are indeed a rich source of nutrition that I outline below according to a 2021 analysis published in Nutrients.

So, you’re saying eggs are good for me? YES!!

Stop listening to charlatans who don’t understand science or physiology….Those that claim eggs are bad are those that wear clown masks and you shouldn’t listen to them. 🙂 Jokes and laughs aside take note of why you should eat eggs.

  1. Eating eggs increases levels of (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. Cholesterol is GOOD for us and protects against CVD by preventing cholesterol buildup in the blood! Griffin B. A. (2016) 
  2. Yolks contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin A also supports eye health!
  3. Rich in choline, an essential nutrient needed to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain /nervous system functions!
  4. Low-cost nutrient powerhouse!! One egg contains 6g of high-quality protein and 5 grams of healthy fats! Protein helps build and maintain muscle along with increasing satiety. Fat is key for hormone health. Do not fear fat.
  5. Rich in vitamins which include vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K, and B6, folate, phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and zinc! Zinc helps with wound healing and immune health
  6. Contain omega-3 FAs which help reduce inflammation triggered by stress and exercise. Eggs also reduce triglycerides, a type of lipid fat in the blood. Do not fear eating eggs, they are good for your body, brain, and mood!

 You can safely consume 2-3 eggs daily! Why consume 2-3 eggs daily? 

  1. Protect against CVD and reduce inflammation
  2. Brain Health
  3. Eye Health
  4. Hormone health and satiety
  5. A budget-friendly way to build muscle and improve health!
  6. Rich source of nutrients for overall health and immune function

 


Visual aid folks: DOWNLOAD THE GRAPHICS HERE ON INSTAGRAM TO SHARE WITH A FRIEND!

 

In summary, eggs are not bad for you. What is actually bad for you is bad nutrition advice that is outdated. As a bonus, I had the privilege of being a guest on the Fitness Disrupted Podcast with Tom Holland which you can listen to here from our discussion from a few years ago.

We discussed the cherry-picked studies that give eggs a misunderstood reputation. It’s gold to listen to in the car or while you’re cooking your NWW Sweet Potato Egg Hash :).

 

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, 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

References:

Nicholas R Fuller, Amanda Sainsbury, Ian D Caterson, Gareth Denyer, Mackenzie Fong, James Gerofi, Chloris Leung, Namson S Lau, Kathryn H Williams, Andrzej S Januszewski, Alicia J Jenkins, Tania P Markovic. Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy048

 

Papanikolaou, Y., & Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd (2021). Patterns of Egg Consumption Can Help Contribute to Nutrient Recommendations and Are Associated with Diet Quality and Shortfall Nutrient Intakes. Nutrients, 13(11), 4094. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13114094

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.

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 on 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, 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 glycogen (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 practice out these foods 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 a week before 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 are 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

Iron Deficiency: Fast Facts You Need to Know

Iron Deficiency: Fast Facts You Need to Know

Iron is a mineral that the body needs to grow and develop. Iron helps make healthy red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron is critical for normal immune function. Iron is the structural component of hundreds of essential molecules. Iron assists antioxidant enzymes.

  • Iron deficiency is the number one nutritional deficiency in the United States. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) II. iron deficiency occurs in approximately 11% of women,1-2% of all adults, and in approximately 12.5% of athletes.

 

  • It is the No. 1 cause of anemia in athletes. Iron deficiency rates (with or without anemia) in athletes range from 20-50% in women and 4-50% in men.

 

  • Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells due to a lack of iron in the body.

Two forms of dietary iron

  • Heme iron is better absorbed than nonheme iron; the absorption of nonheme iron is enhanced by vitamin C. 


  • National dietary surveys indicate that iron is under-consumed by adolescent and premenopausal females.

 

 

 

 


Iron recommendations vary between adults and teens

 


What causes iron deficiency

  • Iron losses occur from blood loss in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, microscopic losses in urine, hemolysis of red blood cells (RBC) breakdown, menstrual cycle, sweat loss, and intense exercise. 

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, Advil, and naproxen deplete iron and folate. Frequent use of medications with GI side effects such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen can cause or worsen iron deficiency.

 

  • Physical activity particularly high intensity and endurance types increase iron losses by as much as 70% when compared to sedentary populations. Athletes lose more iron due to heavy sweating as well as increased blood loss in the urine and GI tract.

 

Causes range from a variety of health issues to simply overtraining or even lack sleep.  Any athlete that experiences a decrease in training or performance coupled with symptoms should seek out their primary care doctor for further testing and analysis.


Signs and symptoms of low iron

Weakness, fatigue, decreased physical endurance, feeling hot or cold, diminished immune response, alterations in energy levels, cognitive performance, and overall behavior.  Iron deficiency is not the only cause of these common symptoms.  

 

 

 

 


Food sources

Iron in meat, fish, and eggs is easily absorbed by the body but the iron in plant sources is attached to phytates that bind iron in foods.

Following a plant-based diet and limiting animal iron sources can be a challenge. As a practitioner, I meet the client where they are at but do share that consuming animal protein will offer greater iron to support their health and performance goals.

 


Guidance on increasing iron as a plant-based athlete

  • Pair leafy greens (bok choy, kale, spinach) with a source of vitamin c (broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers, and kiwi) –This can increase the absorption by up to 67%! (3)

 

  • Cooking food in cast iron or stainless steel cookware also aids in iron absorption (cook all veggies and protein in the cast iron skillet)

 

  • Eat more beans, lentils, edamame, baked potatoes, and Iron-fortified oatmeal (higher sources of iron).
    • Lima beans
    • Red beans
    • Kidney beans
  • Drink tea or coffee separately from an iron-containing meal or snacks. Caffeine inhibits iron absorption.
  • Additional ways to combine vitamin C-rich foods with beans
    • Drain a can of pineapple cubes and add them to canned baked beans
    • Toss cooked black beans with shredded cabbage in your favorite coleslaw recipe
    • Sauté red peppers and onions in olive oil and stir into the white navy or Great Northern beans (cast iron pan)
    • Add any type of cooked beans to a spinach or kale salad with pineapple or fruit

Add fatty fish into your diet 1x/week (3 oz of salmon) or oysters (also a rich source of iron)!!

    • Blend up leafy greens and fruits rich in vitamin C with your smoothies (you can even add beans – I promise it is a neutral taste)
    • Eat more lean red meat, chicken, seafood, beans, lentils, edamame, baked potatoes, and Iron-fortified oatmeal (higher sources of iron).
  • Sauté red peppers and onions in olive oil and stir into the white navy or Great Northern beans (cast iron pan)
  • In a skillet prepare steak, spinach, or collard greens paired with berries (best way to increase iron)

 

 

 

 


When young athletes or adults we start with simple guidance to help increase iron

  • Set meal goals: 4 oz of flank steak 2-3 x/week paired with leafy greens
  • Snack idea: A side of roasted chickpeas paired with pineapple
  • Snack idea 2: A 1/2 cup of mixed berries paired with fortified oatmeal

Before taking an iron supplement to correct an iron deficiency you should contact your physician and work with a dietitian to raise iron levels properly. It is best to work closely with a dietitian to ensure you or your young athlete is getting the proper amount if iron to avoid health and performance consequences. We have worked with hundreds of teen athletes and plant-based adults that have struggled with low iron. We can help you too! Contact us for student-athlete coaching or for a virtual presentation for your sports team.

 

In good faith, health, and athletic performance,

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS,RDN,LD,CISSN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Citations and resources to learn more:

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) II.

 

Hurrell, R., & Egli, I. (2010). Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. The American journal of clinical nutrition91(5), 1461S–1467S. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2010.28674F

 

Goldstein, J. L., Chan, F. K., Lanas, A., Wilcox, C. M., Peura, D., Sands, G. H., Berger, M. F., Nguyen, H., & Scheiman, J. M. (2011). Hemoglobin decreases in NSAID users over time: an analysis of two large outcome trials. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 34(7), 808–816. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04790.x

 

Hallberg, L., & Hulthén, L. (2000). Prediction of dietary iron absorption: an algorithm for calculating absorption and bioavailability of dietary iron. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(5), 1147–1160. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/71.5.1147

 

Koehler, et al.  Iron status in elite young athletes: gender-dependent influences of diet and exercise.  Eur J. Appl Physiology, 2011.

7 Simple Tips for Staying Hydrated

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Are you hydrating enough? Most likely not! According to the USDA, over half the US adults fail to consume their recommended minimum of 6-8 glasses of water each day.

Last week Wendi shared simple hydration tips on Fox17 Nashville. Click to hear her tips provided.

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!

 

 

First off what are the symptoms of dehydration? Usually, when you wake up you are in a dehydrated state and for many who experience these symptoms listed below you are already dehydrated and it is time to make a plan!Image

Follow Wendi on Twitter for more graphics and tips


 

Water is the MOST important FREE health significantly underrated performance enhancement supplement. If you’re an athlete check out my hydration blog with Simplifaster here.

1. Wake up and drink water by placing a glass of water or 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. 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

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 and Practical Weight Gain Tips for 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”

 

 

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