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

Becoming an All-American

What I learned from becoming an All-American?

My Journey: 

The start of my All-American Journey was in middle school when I absolutely fell in love with the sport of track and field events shotput and discus. After my first middle school meets, I told my dad “I’m going to be the best Discus thrower, What do I have to do that?” That very night he printed off the results of the previous High-school Discus State Championships. For two years, I focussed on my goal of winning State. I was Sleeping 8-11 hours; Eating 4 meals with 2-3 snacks, and Practicing for 3-4 hours daily. Before bed, I would study my craft, watch films, and take visionary reps. Keep in mind that this was middle school. I was dreaming BIG and working hard. I worked so hard that even on my bad days, I was still setting myself up to win. Freshman year of high school, My hard work paid off and I Won State! I met my goal three years earlier than anticipated. Each year, I wanted to see how much further I could throw. Always, looking for the next record to break. To become Elite in your craft you must be obsessed with how you are going to get better. 

 

Burnout: 

Junior year of high school, my first experience with burnout. At this point, I have been obsessed with my craft for 4 years. I could no longer sustain what I had been doing. So what’s next? Reflect and Pivot. I was not giving the little things the attention that I should have. I was no longer prioritizing sleep and nutrition. I had to reset and recognize that my intense training load was not going to make me better unless I was willing to re-prioritize Sleep, Hydration and Nutrition. I had to also re-establish my “why”. I was no longer doing track and field due to an innate drive to win but I was doing it for the adventures it brought with my family and friends. I was doing it to learn how to overcome hard times and continue to grow. Coming back from burnout will look different for everyone and having a strong foundation is merely the starting point. Recognize early signs, reflect and prioritize the little things. Learn to love adversity and the growth that follows it. 

All-American Secrets:

  1. Be Consistent – Step one: Show up! Come to practice every day seeing it as an opportunity. Growth occurs when you can show up sore from a heavy lift and see it as the perfect opportunity to improve your technique or your end of the gameplay. Once I started prioritizing growing my knowledge on the days I was exceptionally sore, I was able to have even bigger throws on the days I felt good. 

 

  1. Do the little things – Prioritize the basics of your sleep, training, nutrition, recovery, knowledge, and mental health. There are so many factors that go into becoming an All-American such as genetics, sleep, mental toughness, competitiveness, “heart”, coachability, speed, strength, rest, body composition, and more. Lay the foundations of sleeping and eating well, early. With a strong foundation, you can grow brick by brick increasing the ceiling of your capabilities. You can not build with no foundation. 

 

  1. Fuel your Performance – Build your plate for performance. Having proper nutrition is a non-negotiable when it comes to becoming elite. Not eating enough of the right foods will result in earlier fatigue, injury, and a decrease in your physical threshold.

 

  1. Recovery (Don’t wait to become injured) – Elite athletes do not wait for an injury to start rehab. Pushing through the pain is much different from pushing through injury. You are going to hurt and be sore but use your tools of nutrition, hydration, stretching, rest, rehab, and sleep to improve recovery time. Identify when you are injured and seek medical advice. 

 

  • Reflect – Are your actions aligned with your goals? I once cut out any fluids other than water to become a better athlete and be “healthier”. I reduced my Carbohydrate intake and focussed on only protein and veggies. After a few weeks, I was exhausted and passed out at practice. Hence reflection, were my actions aligned with my goals of improved health and performance? No, they were doing the opposite. I felt more exhausted and light-headed. I needed more electrolytes, Carbohydrates, and Fats. Do not Yo-Yo diet and work with NWW to ensure you are fueling for health and performance. 

 

  1. Rest Days – To build your physical threshold and muscle capacity you must have rest days. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sleep. If you want to optimize rest days schedule time to take visionary reps. Visualize what it’s like winning, visualize what it feels like. These reps are Freebies! Watch the film and then take your mind off it with self-care. Incorporate gentle walks and stretching to help promote recovery. 

 

Sports and Gut Health

5 myths that may be hindering your athletic performance-related gut health.

Gut issues are a common problem affecting about 45-85% of athletes (ter Steege et al, 2012). Issues include Heartburn, acid reflux, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, gastritis, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, etc. There are several pathways of communication between the brain and gut, the most prominent being the vagus nerve (Breit et al. 2018) and over 90% is from the gut to the brain (Bonaz, Bazin & Pellissier 2018). How crazy is that? Our gut communicates to our brain more than the other way only increases the importance of building a strong gut. GI issues can be caused by numerous factors such as stress, nutrition and nutrient timing, medications, dehydration, etc. Having good gut health may result in reduce inflammation, improved sleep quality, and mental well-being.

 

Myth: After eliminating food you don’t need to reintroduce them

Fact: Elimination diets such as low FODMAP were developed with the intent of foods being reintroduced. Eliminating foods increases the risk of potential negative effects on the microbiota, and nutritional adequacy.  Foods high in FODMAP are high in the prebiotics that fuels our gut bacteria. 

 

Myth: Drinking water causes Bloating

Fact: Drinking water throughout a meal and after can actually aid in the digestion of food. Water helps with the absorption of nutrients needed to perform at an elite level.  See Tips for Staying Hydrated!  

 

Myth: Snacking is bad for your gut 

Fact: Snacking can help curve hunger and reduce the risk of overindulging in a meal which can lead to indigestion. Eating 5 to 6 times per day or every 3-4 hours is recommended and keep your blood sugar consistent and for your stomach to optimally digest. Snacks are a great opportunity to add fiber with Fruits and Veggies to strengthen your gut microbiome.

 

Myth: Intermittent fasting is necessary to improve my gut health

Fact: Many people who have experienced overindulging in food may think that that need to restrict intake the next day or to fast for an extended period of time. When in fact the continual diet mentality of overeating and then restricting can be endless and harmful to your body. Check out the blog on Overindulge on Thanksgiving? Damage Control Tips for the Weekend After for tips on how to get back on track after a holiday get-together or a night out with friends. There are many foods to include after overindulging to support gut health such as fermented foods and veggies as well as giving your body time and returning to normal eating habits. 

 

Myth:  We must take a probiotic and prebiotic supplement to support our Microbiome

Fact: Prebiotics are the food that fuels the Probiotics or good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are essential to increase good bacteria in the gut, improve digestion, and even boost your immune system. While some may benefit from supplementation – Using the performance plate and including a variety of food including vegetables, dairy, and fermented foods will help fuel a healthy gut and enhance your performance.

           

Tips for Improving your gut health:

  1. Start your day with fiber and get veggies in early! Check out this quick and easy way to include veggies in the morning.
  2. Add beans to meals often for extra fiber – Beans contain 30g of fiber per cup. Check out some tips on how!
  3. Increase foods containing probiotics and prebiotics gradually. Sudden change can cause GI distress. Gradually adding in these foods will help create a strong gut!

 

Travel Tip: Foods high in prebiotics tend to increase gas in the GI. This is not always a bad thing but when flying for competition bloating can become excessive. If you can relate to having uncomfortable bloating from flying, try this tip!  Consume foods low in prebiotics before your flight and then consume the majority of fruits and veggies upon landing.

   

Recipes to try: 

Very Berry Greek Yogurt

Vanilla Berry Blast

Black Bean Cranberry Quinoa Salad

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!

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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

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

Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthful Eating

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

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

Reject Diet Culture

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

Honor your Hunger

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

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

Make Peace with Food

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

Challenge the Food Police

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

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

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

Respect your Fullness

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

Cope with your Emotions with Kindness

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

Respect your Body 

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

Movement – Feel the Difference 

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

 

Honor your Health with Gentle Nutrition 

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

Food Freedom Made Simple

Food Freedom Made Simple

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

What does “food freedom” mean?

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

Is food freedom important?

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

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

3 steps to achieve food freedom

  • Eliminate 1 thing… diet culture!

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

  • Fuel your body with intent

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

 

  • Get moving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


Performance Nutrition (1)

Breakfast Ideas to Consume 2 hours Pre-Race:

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LD, CISSN

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

 

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

The Top Five Worst Fat Loss Mistakes

Avoid making these common mistakes when trying to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass! (VIDEO ON FAT LOSS MISTAKES)

1. Skipping meals

Many people think they are doing the right thing by skipping breakfast and avoiding eating until they are ravenous. Skipping meals will lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels (1). Skipping meals will also lead to overeating at the next meal but it’s not sustainable nor is it optimal for maintaining lean mass. We know lean mass helps burn more fat. Our blood glucose levels drive our energy, focus, concentration, and productivity to name a few (1). Focus on powering up with protein and produce at breakfast. Protein will help keep you satisfied and help regulate your hormones that control hunger.

2. Eliminating entire food groups and fad dieting

People go rouge and cut out entire food groups. Eliminating food groups is not a wise choice and is often a mistake I see many falling victims to as a dietitian. People vilify or demonize carbohydrates because of their sugar content. The reality is that successful fat loss comes down to a calorie deficit. You can most certainly eat fruit and still lose fat. Don’t listen to the misinformation from clowns demonizing fruit or even carbohydrates. Research supports carbohydrates as a critical part of a healthy diet as well as supporting weight loss goals (2). Carbohydrates provide our muscles and brain with energy. If you’re hoping to lose fat and crank up the intensity in the gym but decide to cut out fruit and carbohydrates, you’ll likely experience fatigue quickly. You don’t need to cut carbs or eliminate fruit to lose fat (3). Nutrition with Wendi fat loss clients does not cut carbs or eliminate food groups. If you’re interested in learning how to portion your carbs and a macronutrient breakdown, please contact me by booking a consultation.

3. Cutting calories too low or underestimating portions

Cutting calories too low too quickly will not only leave you feeling tired, depleted, cranky, and full of cravings it will also put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. It’s also unsustainable to live off poverty macros in the 600-900 kcal range. No one should be going below 1200 calories per day. It is too low, not sustainable, and will put you at risk for unhealthy habits and a host of other consequences. One thing I teach my clients and athletes is that our methods and systems when working towards any goal must be sustainable or our results won’t be. Sure, you could slash your calories for a few weeks and lose a few pounds, but it will come back with a vengeance if you can’t keep it up. It is best to start off with a daily 200-300 kcal deficit which followed consistently will help you lose 1-2 lbs. per week and keep it off. Keep it off for good when done properly. 95% of people regain the weight they lose.  See a great resource on how to build a plate here and consult with a dietitian to determine your individual calorie needs.

Studies suggest that people tend to misreport and incorrectly estimate how many calories they consume (4). Many think they are eating in a calorie deficit when indeed they are not eating in a calorie deficit. All Nutrition with Wendi fat loss clients record their intake and track their portions to facilitate self-awareness of calories and portions. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.


For example, a person may report they are consuming one serving of almonds per day may but are actually consuming 2.5 servings unknowingly.  This is often due to grabbing a handful between meals or throughout the day without any concept of true portion size. Handfuls and bites can add up quickly putting a person in a calorie surplus each day without even knowing it and then “expressing their efforts are wasted”. This is a simple correction of both a mindset and accurate tracking by learning serving size to support an honest leger of calories consumed. 


Higher calorie foods like nut butter are important to measure out to you’re aware of the portion size. It is not obsessive to track your intake if you have a goal to lose weight. For example, if you and your family are planning on taking a vacation to Disney World you don’t just guess how much money you should save each month and eyeball your savings adding some money here and there from a paycheck or two and cross your fingers for the best. No, that would be reckless and not leave many of us with the funds to take a trip to Disney World with the family because we had no concept of a budget. To achieve your vacation fund needs you would identify a budget and allocate your funds accordingly by the week or month to ensure you have hit a designated fiscal goal. This is the same for our fat loss goals. Tracking and managing our intake is critical to be aware of what we are “eating” just like how much we are spending. If you’re not aware of your finances, you are likely to go into debt or be limited with your vacation or retirement options.

4. Not enough resistance training

When people want to lose weight, they quickly default to more cardiovascular exercise like running or more time on the elliptical. While increasing your cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health, stress management, and reducing the risk of chronic disease it is not the best form of exercise for fat loss. I’m not saying cardio can’t help but it is not as optimal as resistance training. Additionally, people often overestimate how many calories they burn during cardio, and it also does not offer the same muscle-building benefits as resistance training does. Cardio won’t help you lose fat and chisel your body in the way you desire. You need to lift weights. Resistance training burns more calories at rest and supports gaining lean mass which burns more fat at rest. This is referred to as (EPOC), which is the amount of oxygen required to return to its pre-exercise or resting state called post-exercise oxygen consumption. Read more about how resistance training helps raise resting metabolic rate in women in this 2018 study published in the International Journal of Exercise. Furthermore, having more muscle means a lower risk for sarcopenia. I have transformed my physique along with hundreds of others by prescribing four to five 20-30 min resistance training sessions per week paired. Strength training paired with daily walking and proper nutrition can lead to great results if consistently executed. Daily walking is a great way to manage stress, support digestion, mental health, and more. For fat loss resistance training is the best form of exercise (5). The more cardio you do also the hungrier you may feel which can lead to overeating which won’t help you sustain a calorie deficit to lose fat. Not to mention all the added load and stress on your joints and tissues become quite taxing and unsustainable. If your methods to losing fat aren’t sustainable your results won’t be.  Research recommends combining both aerobic exercise and weight training for optimal results.

5. Not eating enough protein

Too many are skimping on their protein which is leaving them chronically hungry and unable to ever satisfy themselves (7). There’s also a great deal of misinformation that if we eat more than 20 g of protein in a meal it will be stored as fat. This is not true and has been dispelled in a position paper published in the (JISSN), Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. We use what we need and for many that is more than 20 g at a time. Optimal protein intake should be broken down between meals and snacks to best support satiety, muscle growth, and muscle maintenance. For more read the JISSN  Position Stand Paper featuring diets and body composition. A great way to enhance satiety and consistently eat in a calorie deficit is to increase protein intake at meals and snacks. Ideally, a good place to start would be at least 25g to 40 g of protein at a meal, along with 10 g to 15 g of protein at snacks. I have several resources on how to increase your protein with specific guides on my Instagram, Twitter, and blogs. For more on this see my previous blog on consuming greater protein for fat loss.

If you want to lose fat and gain lean mass you must be willing to reduce your calories appropriately, eat sufficient protein, be consistent with resistance training, sleep 7 to 9 hours, consume fluids and focus on quality movement or quantity. As a reminder, if your methods aren’t sustainable your results won’t be. What is measured is well managed are both important concepts that must be at the forefront when making changes to your nutrition, sleep, workouts, and more. Manage your calories like you would manage your finances if you’re climbing out of debt. Keep in mind that improving by one percent each day can add up over time. Compound your good habits and be consistently aware of what you are eating and how much of it you are eating. If you need help creating a plan to support your fat loss goals, please schedule a consult, or sign up for nutrition coaching! We will get you where you want to be without making the mistakes listed above.

In good health and many blessings,

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LDN, CISSN

 

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, LDN, CISSN is a registered dietitian nutritionist, healthy lifestyle coach, former college athlete, physique competitor, and avid weight lifter. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides telehealth and on-site services. Wendi works with clients of all levels and ages across the US as well as Canada and the UK.

Citations

  1. Nas, A., Mirza, N., Hägele, F., Kahlhöfer, J., Keller, J., Rising, R., Kufer, T. A., & Bosy-Westphal, A. (2017). Impact of breakfast skipping compared with dinner skipping on the regulation of energy balance and metabolic risk. The American journal of clinical nutrition105(6), 1351–1361. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.151332
  2. Astrup, A., & Hjorth, M. F. (2017). Low-Fat or Low Carb for Weight Loss? It Depends on Your Glucose Metabolism. EBioMedicine22, 20–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.07.001
  3. Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America102(1), 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012
  4. Brown, R. E., Canning, K. L., Fung, M., Jiandani, D., Riddell, M. C., Macpherson, A. K., & Kuk, J. L. (2016). Calorie Estimation in Adults Differing in Body Weight Class and Weight Loss Status. Medicine and science in sports and exercise48(3), 521–526. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000796
  5. Aristizabal, J. C., Freidenreich, D. J., Volk, B. M., Kupchak, B. R., Saenz, C., Maresh, C. M., Kraemer, W. J., & Volek, J. S. (2015). Effect of resistance training on resting metabolic rate and its estimation by a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry metabolic map. European journal of clinical nutrition69(7), 831–836. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2014.216
  6. Brown, R. E., Canning, K. L., Fung, M., Jiandani, D., Riddell, M. C., Macpherson, A. K., & Kuk, J. L. (2016). Calorie Estimation in Adults Differing in Body Weight Class and Weight Loss Status. Medicine and science in sports and exercise48(3), 521–526. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000796
  7. Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Ormsbee, M. J., Saracino, P. G., & Roberts, J. (2020). Effects of Dietary Protein on Body Composition in Exercising Individuals. Nutrients12(6), 1890. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061890

Should Youth Athletes Use Creatine Monohydrate?

CREATINE MONOHYDRATE IS SAFE, EFFECTIVE, AND BENEFICIAL FOR TEEN ATHLETES. Read on to learn more…

17-year-old, Jenkins comes strutting out of the weight room after he just crushed a workout living his strongest, healthiest, and injury-free life. While walking out of the weight room Jenkins is using Nutrition with Wendi’s recommended “25-50-30 rule” and is downing a shaker bottle with chocolate milk and creatine paired with a banana.  Jenkins is a smart kid and has focused on proper sleep, hydration, eating well, and managing his stress while training hard.

 

 

 


But of course, many make comments like, “You know that powder he is mixing in there is steroids right? Click here to listen to my constant statement on creatine. One of my parent’s friends said his coach has been encouraging the use of anabolic steroids for years!” YIKES RIGHT??

Ever heard this crazy misinformation before? Yes, me too. It has spread like wildfire.  It is even more gut-wrenching when it’s spread by doctors, trainers, health care professionals, influencers, or random people on the internet that know very little about science, sports performance, or even what creatine is. Insert facepalm. Good news! I am here to dispel those myths and provide the science to help combat the misinformation that is so toxic.

  • Creatine is one of the most effective ergogenic aids for adult athletes and is safe.
  • Creatine effectively increases lean mass, strength, power, speed, and exercise capacity (1).  
  • But what about youth athletes? I have had several high school coaches and concerned parents of youth athletes ask me questions like, “Is creatine safe for my kids? Should my female athletes be using creatine?” In almost every conversation, my first response is, “It depends.” Just like any other question I get, nutrition-, health-, fitness- or performance-related, it should be individualized.
  • Creatine, however, is beneficial to all populations according to the science outlined in this article. As a registered dietitian, I strongly promote a “food first” and back-to-basics philosophy. For more information on healthy eating and performance nutrition, see a previous blog here.
  • I empower anyone working with youth athletes to use the guidance in this article when considering “to supplement with creatine or not.”
  • CREATINE IS SAFE TO SUPPLEMENT AT ANY AGE GIVEN IT IS THIRD-PARTY TESTED!!  Yes, any age! Creatine and Infants – According to researchers, hypoxic ventilatory depression in mice and muscle fatigue in adult humans are improved by creatine supplementation (CS). No side effects were seen with creatine supplementation (equal to a 13.6-gram daily dose in a 150 lb person) (8).
  • I would still like for all to focus on food first but creatine won’t hurt you it would only help you! It’s amazing how people will feed their kids and themselves with junk food but creatine is off-limits because some doctor who doesn’t understand the mechanism of action said, “no it is a steroid?”.

    Blasphemy.. please read and digest all of this data and my points to understand that creatine is safe, effective, and beneficial at any age for any sport male or female! 

Creatine Monohydrate 101:

  • 95% of creatine is found in skeletal muscle
  • The human body needs 1-3 g per day
  • Most creatine in the diet comes from animal products like meat, fish, & poultry
  • Enhances post-exercise recovery, injury prevention, and/or spinal cord neuroprotection and muscle growth

What is creatine?

  • Creatine is a naturally occurring compound formed by three amino acids, making it a tripeptide (tri- meaning three) of the amino acids L-glycine, L-arginine, and L-methionine. Creatine is assembled in a two-step process that occurs in the kidneys and liver. 
  • Creatine can be consumed via dietary sources, which include foods like eggs, milk, tuna, salmon, herring, cod, shrimp, beef, and pork.
  • Consuming enough creatine from the diet is challenging given the total creatine pool available according to an article published in Frontiers in Nutrition Sport and Exercise Nutrition by Candow et al., 2019.
  • This literature, along with the International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand on Creatine Supplementation and Exercise, suggests the body needs to replenish about 1–3 g of creatine per day to maintain normal (un-supplemented) creatine stores depending on muscle mass.  Creatine monohydrate is the most well-studied form of creatine in the literature. For a more detailed breakdown of other forms please check out Will Brink’s fantastic breakdown on Creatine HCL vs Monohydrate for a deep dive.

Creatine improves numerous factors including strength, power, sprint ability, muscular endurance, resistance to fatigue, muscle mass, recovery, cognition, and rate of muscle growth. Creatine is one of the most widely studied, proven performance enhancers available that also offers clinical benefits (4).


How does creatine work?

Creatine deposits high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. This is given to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), regenerating it to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the sole energy carrier in the human body, which can be called “energy currency” for cells to carry out their functions. For example, during conditions of short-term, high-energy demand activities (<30 seconds) with limited recovery time, ATP runs out quickly, which illustrates the importance of creatine stored in muscles in the form of creatine phosphate. This is explained here

Since creatine phosphate restores ATP, it gives muscle cells the ability to produce greater energy. The greater creatine stores you have, the greater energy your muscle cells can yield during high-intensity exercise, thus leading to increased exercise performance. Even though the most well-documented and primary benefit is higher energy production, this mechanism also supports muscle gain and strength increases, as explained here.

Despite creatine being widely tested since the early 1900s with significant data supporting its effectiveness, it is widely misunderstood by many trainers, coaches, athletes, and concerned parents of high school athletes. Yes, it is 2021 and people still think creatine monohydrate is a steroid due to misinformation generated across social media and the general population (4).

Disregard the false, outlandish, disproven claims. I am referencing the silly fallacies like, “creatine will make you fat,” “creatine will cause liver, kidney, or bone injury,” “creatine will dehydrate you,” or my personal favorite, “creatine is a steroid that will also lead to baldness.” I know. What a bunch of nonsense. I addressed these fallacies in a previous blog, Creatine Not Just for Men or Muscle. Please go check it out if you are a female because creatine can help you improve your lean mass and lose that fat.

Antonio et al. published a phenomenal paper outlining the common questions and misconceptions regarding creatine use available for open access here (1). I highly recommend you read it and share it with anyone who may have creatine confusion disorder. I made that up, but you get my point. Creatine monohydrate is beneficial for many things beyond performance, which is not my opinion but sc!


Potential ergogenic benefits of creatine supplementation in adults (4):

  • Greater training tolerance
  • Increased sprint performance
  • Increased work performed during sets of maximal effort
  • Increased lean mass & strength adaptations during physical training
  • Enhanced glycogen synthesis
  • Increased work capacity
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Increased anaerobic threshold

If you’re interested in my opinion as a dietitian and performance practitioner working with several athletes I highly recommend creatine. Creatine is like the Swiss Army knife of supplements! It can do so many things!

In November 2020 I had the fortunate opportunity to be a guest on Dr. Bradford Cooper’s podcast, Catalyst Coaching, where I discussed the role creatine plays according to science. Please check out the video or podcast here.


What about side effects?

There is robust evidence to support the effectiveness of creatine in the adult population. Among children and adolescents, there is mounting evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of creatine supplementation as well as clinical and exercise performance. Available studies in the adolescent population involving high-intensity exercise training indicate performance benefits as well as no reported side effects (1,2).

In relation to performance, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has concluded that creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic supplement available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise and supporting lean body mass during training. The ISSN has also concluded CM is safe. (4).

Does creatine work in young athletes?

Regardless of the limited data on the teen population, creatine is likely safe, beneficial, and well-tolerated among youth athletes as evidenced by the available data (2). 

  • Creatine supplementation improved time performance and strength in highly competitive swimmers (2,3).
  • Youth soccer players experienced improved sprinting, vertical jump, dribbling, and shooting (6).
  • Creatine can support brain health, offering neuroprotective effects following a concussive injury in athletes < 16 years old (4).

Check out a Creatine Supplementation in Children and Adolescents review carried out by Jagim and Kerksick, 2021, outlining the available studies involving youth athletes for more information.

Another podcast to check out is Gerry DeFilippo. Gerry kindly invited me on his podcast to discuss the different forms of creatine. To learn more download and listen to Episode #143 Everything You Need to Know About Creatine with Wendi Irlbeck.

 

 

Should my teen athletes be supplementing with creatine? As young as infancy..yes but 10-12 YO has been pretty standard for young athletes training at a high level. 

As always, food first, but creatine can be a safe and effective regimen for young athletes who meet the following criteria (1,5):

  • Consuming a well-balanced diet
  • Consuming a diet with a greater emphasis on plant proteins like soy and pea which do not provide creatine like animal proteins
  • Involved in high-intensity training, and competitive sports which include:
    • Track
    • Swimming
    • Lacrosse
    • Ice Hockey
    • American Football
    • Volleyball
    • Field Hockey
    • Basketball
    • Soccer
    • Tennis
    • Olympic Weightlifting
    • Rugby
    • Combat Sports (MMA, wrestling, boxing, etc.)

It is always best practice that athletes of any age fully educate themselves by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified sports nutritionist, exercise physiologist, or sports-focused physician before the use of any supplement. Similarly, any products used should be NSF International Certified for Sport to reduce the risk of consuming any harmful or contaminated products. Supplements are regulated but not as heavily regulated as pharmaceuticals. Please see the reasons to use NSF Certified for Sport products in a previous blog.

“The USADA recommends that athletes use only dietary supplements that have been certified by a third-party program that tests for substances prohibited in sport. The USADA is responsible for anti-doping education and testing for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements as well as the UFC.”

Therefore, all supplements used should be third-party tested for safety, purity, and compliance. For the sake of convenience and safety, you and your athlete can download the NSF Certified Sport app. 

I preach food first, nutrient periodization, quality rest, good sleep hygiene, hydration, and appropriate training, all of which can be better enhanced using creatine monohydrate (CM). Based on the strongest science and studies, CM is the recommended form. CM is used in the studies. Therefore, it should be used in practice as well. I discussed the other forms in my guest appearance on Muscles and Management.

When to use creatine?

Science suggests creatine is most effective immediately post-workout when paired with protein and carbohydrates (7). Creatine consumed immediately post-resistance training is superior to pre-workout in terms of body composition and strength (7). The recommended dose is 3-5 g of creatine per day. Creatine can be used at any time of day. Creatine is safe and effective on rest days from exercise as well as training days. (Click here to follow on Instagram)

  • While CM is best paired with a carbohydrate-rich source (like oatmeal, whole-grain bread, rice, fruit, smoothies, or yogurt) to draw it into muscle cells, it can also be added to water or other beverages.
  • A saturated cell is a happy cell! This supports recovery and muscle repair following resistance training. 

Most creatine supplements are in powder form and must be used in warm water to support the dissolving process. CM will dissolve slowly in cold water and often ends up in the bottom of a shaker bottle, which won’t do any good if it doesn’t make it into your mouth! Creapure is a great brand to use and offers more explanation on dosing. Check it out here! No, I do not have a partnership or any affiliation with Creapure. I just want to share that they make a great product.

My female youth soccer players have integrated CM post-training with their tart cherry juice and chocolate milk. I have taken time to discuss the safety, use, and benefits with my youth athlete’s parents, coaches, and even their PE teachers. I have 50% of my youth athletes supplementing with CM. CM is always a conversation we have after we wrap up their 6-week Nutrition with Wendi Coaching Program.

Do I need to load using creatine?

No, you do not need to “creatine load”. In fact, many studies use a typical creatine dose of 5-10 g daily or smaller doses like the standard 2-3 g.

  • However, if you desire to do a loading phase, it would look something like 20-25 g for 5-7 days followed by a maintenance phase of 5 g daily for 4 weeks, 2 weeks off, and then repeat. I do not have any of my athletes do this cycling as it is unnecessary. See the ISSN’s Position Stand for more on this (4).

Studies support the benefits of CM supplementation regardless of the dose. However, that does not mean more is better. If you are a vegetarian and new to using CM, you would benefit from saturating the muscles with CM, leading to an acute increase in strength and body weight via water retention. However, please refer to the experts and those I respect most in the field like Dr. Darren Candow, Dr. Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Dr. Scott Forbes, Dr. Jose Anotonio, Dr. Rich Krider, Dr. Eric Rawson, and others who can further provide the research they have been doing for the last few decades.

Please see another podcast in which I had the opportunity to speak about creatine in the youth population via the Big Time Strength podcast.

Closing thoughts

There is robust literature to support the beneficial effects creatine has on body composition, physical performance, injury prevention, recovery, brain health, and clinical use. Currently, there have not been any negative effects associated with the use of CM in both the adolescent or adult populations. Adolescent athletes under the age of 18, and even children as young as infants, can safely consume CM.

There is zero evidence to suggest CM supplementation would cause harm, dehydration, cramping, or any other outlandish claims that have been disproven by Antonio et al., 2021, and others. Not incorporating a CM supplement would be a disservice to your athletes or even yourself!

Key takeaways:

  • Anyone looking to improve their health of any age or activity level can safely consume 3-5 g of creatine monohydrate immediately post-workout paired with a carbohydrate. 
  • By supplementing with creatine monohydrate immediately following training, you’re able to support muscle growth and recovery, injury prevention, and overall health. 
  • Yes, creatine is safe to consume if you are a teen athlete. Yes, you should use creatine monohydrate.
  • No, creatine is not a steroid. No, creatine will not cause baldness. No, creatine will not dehydrate you. No, creatine will not cause cramps. No, creatine will not decrease your bone mineral density.
  • If you have a beating pulse, then creatine monohydrate is for you!

Sports physicians, athletic trainers, coaches, performance nutritionists, and others working with youth athletes should provide the best guidance to teen athletes based on the available science to support their principal interests. Kids are going to be using supplements like energy drinks and pre-workouts, which contain dangerous amounts of caffeine. I would rather we provide education on the safety and use of creatine, which is not dangerous but beneficial. I would like to see more people using creatine given the ergogenic benefits and no reported adverse effects. Creatine monohydrate is a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to support health and physical performance! Please don’t let, “Joe Public” from accounting or “Susie Quinn,” on Instagram OR THE doctor’s OFFICE tell you any different. 

In good faith, fitness, health, and athletic performance,

Coach Wendi

Wendi Irlbeck, MS, RDN, CISSN  is a registered dietitian nutritionist and performance coach. Wendi utilizes evidence-based science to tailor nutrition programs for athletes to optimize performance, minimize health risks, and enhance recovery from training while focusing on injury prevention. She partners with parents, sports performance staff, and special needs and recreational athletes to offer nutritional guidance and optimal athletic performance and lifestyle plans. Wendi provides virtual services including telehealth but is based in Nashville, TN.  Wendi works with clients of all levels internationally.

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!

References

  1. Antonio, J., Candow, D.G., Forbes, S.C. et al. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 18, 13 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w
  2. Grindstaff PD, Kreider R, Bishop R, Wilson M, Wood L, Alexander C, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on repetitive sprint performance and body composition in competitive swimmers. Int J Sport Nutr. (1997) 7:330–46.
  3. Ostojic SM. Creatine supplementation in young soccer players. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Feb;14(1):95-103. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.14.1.95. PMID: 15129933.
  4. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  5. Jagim AR, Stecker RA, Harty PS, Erickson JL, Kerksick CM. Safety of creatine supplementation in active adolescents and youth: A Brief Review. Front Nutr. 2018;5:115. Published 2018 Nov 28. doi:10.3389/fnut.2018.00115
  6. Ostojic SM. Creatine supplementation in young soccer players. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Feb;14(1):95-103. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.14.1.95. PMID: 15129933
  7. Antonio J, Ciccone V. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 6;10:36. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-36. PMID: 23919405; PMCID: PMC3750511.
  8.  Bohnhorst B, Geuting T, Peter CS, Dordelmann M, Wilken B, Poets CF. Randomized, controlled trial of oral creatine supplementation (not effective) for apnea of prematurity. Pediatrics 2004;113 (4):e303-7.