Category Archive: Nutrition

7 Ways to Eat More Mindfully

by Heidi Wachter

Strategies for learning how to eat with awareness.

Each of us makes more than 200 daily decisions about eating most of them unconsciously, according to behavior scientist Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating and Slim By Design. Clueing in to these decisions can help make them work for you rather than against you. Increase your mindfulness factor with these strategies:

Snack wisely before shopping. Grab an apple or some veggies before grocery shopping. Wansink found that healthy noshing primes you to buy healthy: Study participants bought 25 percent more fruits and vegetables than those who didn’t eat such a snack beforehand.

Don’t supersize it. Keep smaller dishes — like appetizer plates and juice glasses — front and center in your cupboard. Researchers discovered that diners at a Chinese buffet piled 52 percent more food onto large plates and ate 45 percent more than those who used smaller ones.

Make healthy food visible. Wansink’s research found that people who wrapped healthy leftovers in plastic wrap were more likely to see them and eat them than those who used foil. On the flip side, people ate 2.2 more pieces of candy a day out of a clear bowl than an opaque one.

Keep a clean kitchen. In a Cornell study, people ate 44 percent more snacks in a cluttered kitchen than they did in a clean one. “If your environment is out of control, you may feel that you don’t need to be in control of your eating either,” says Wansink.

Put food away. Researchers discovered that women who kept a box of cereal on the counter weighed 20 pounds more, on average, than those who put it in the cupboard. Keeping food out of immediate sight and reach helps reduce temptation triggers.

Plate it up. Even if you just want a snack, put it on a plate: Plating food increases your awareness of portion size. “Dishing out a ration makes you see exactly how much you are eating,” Wansink explains.

Minimize distraction. People who dine while watching TV, reading, or working have a harder time keeping track of what they consume — and routinely eat more.

Distracted eating is a problem for two reasons: “First, you don’t pay attention to whether you’ve had 14 or 40 potato chips,” Wansink says. “Secondly, you often won’t stop eating until the end of the show, regardless of whether you’re full or not.”

Such eating patterns become mutually reinforcing, meaning it becomes hard to watch TV without eating, he explains.

Heidi Wachter is the staff writer at Experience Life. This article originally appeared in Experience Life, the no gimmicks no-hype health and fitness magazine. Learn more at

Customize your Race Fueling Plan

by Pete Miller

If you’re training for a Michelob ULTRA 13.1 Series race, you don’t want to try anything new on race day. Everything should be tested during training. This goes for shoes, clothing and – possibly most importantly – your race day fueling plan.

What you put into your body before and during the race can have a significant effect on your performance. That means you need to start thinking about your plan now. Test different products on your training runs to determine what works best for you.

Most importantly, you need to stay hydrated in training and on race day. Practice drinking on the run, whether you carry fluids with you or plan your route to include water fountains or drinks that you have set out ahead of time. You’ll want to take in both water and electrolytes in order to avoid dehydration. If you plan to take a sports drink from fluid stations on the course, find out exactly which product your race will be using.

If you have trained on a high-carbohydrate diet and typically use sports drinks or gels, you will need to take in high-glycemic carbohydrates during the race to provide a steady stream of carbohydrates for fuel. There are a wide variety of products such as gels and chews that you can carry with you and consume on the run. Most products recommend dosing every 30-45 minutes for long runs and marathon races.

If you have trained with a more moderate-carbohydrate diet and use a product like Generation UCAN that does not spike blood sugar, you may be able to go as much as 90 minutes to 2 hours between fueling. This approach allows your body to rely more on fat as a fuel, so you don’t have to consume as many calories along the course. Generation UCAN provides complex carbohydrates that break down over time, stabilizing your blood sugar for up to 2 hours.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to start testing your plan soon. Your long training runs are an ideal opportunity to determine what works for your body. No two people are exactly alike. What works for your training partner might not work for you. There may be some trial-and-error involved, but when you get it right, your fueling plan can help you run strong all the way to the finish line.

Submitted by Pete Miller, National Run Project Manager at Life Time Fitness. For more information on Life Time Run training programs, go to or email

Throw Out Those 2016 Nutrition Resolutions

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS

Anyone other than me tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions? Blah, blah, blah.

Maybe you think that attitude is harsh – especially coming from someone like me, a sports dietician. Shouldn’t I care about self-improvement? Better health? Of course I do. In fact, every interaction I have with my clients includes realistic goal setting. Note that one key word here is realistic. The other key word? Goal. Which brings us to the question of the day: What is the difference between a resolution and a goal?

Take a look at these definitions on the right, courtesy of my handy online dictionary.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a language expert, but I get the idea that resolutions tend to be all or nothing. Extreme. Drastic. Difficult to sustain.

For example:
I will eliminate all carbs from my diet.
I will cut out wine.
I will lose 30 pounds by March.
I will have 10 servings of veggies per day.

I prefer the term “goal” instead of resolution. Goals can be awesome when executed in the right way. Realistic. Attainable. Sustainable. Established correctly, they set you up for success rather than failure.

For example:
I will scale back on grain carbs, focusing more on fruit and vegetable carb sources.
I will limit wine to three glasses per week.
I will decrease body fat by 2% by the end of March.
I will include a vegetable with two of my meals per day.

Once you’ve developed realistic, attainable goals, keep the following four things in mind when it comes to nutrition goal setting.

1) It won’t be easy.
Goals worth meeting won’t be met overnight. You’ve heard this before and it’s 100% true: There is no quick fix when it comes to nutrition. There are 100 bad food choices for every good choice. It demands work, preparation and a shift in mentality leading to a lifestyle change. You can meet your goals, but you must work for it.

2) You must find your own motivators to stay on track over the long haul.
365 days is a long time. It’s easy to be motivated on January 2, but how do you retain that drive all year? Visualize your success. Go ahead and feel the emotions of crossing that finish line feeling amazing. Or fitting into your “skinny” jeans. Or improving your bloodwork parameters to go off that medication. Elation, success, confidence. Summoning these emotions before you actually hit your goal will help you stay on track.

3) You’re going to mess up.
Each day is full of choices. We are human beings and we aren’t perfect. We are going to make progress and then slide back down that hill again. And that’s ok. Each morning is a clean slate. Don’t let a wrong turn derail you, leading to more bad choices.

4) Don’t let the scale run your life.
I’m going to level with you: You probably aren’t ever going to weigh again what you weighed in high school or college. And that’s ok! Your adult body is different from your teenage body. Focus on body composition over the number on the scale. Remember that you are an athlete, which means you have loads of muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. If you feel good about yourself and fit into your clothes, try, try, try to let the number go.

In Summary
Goals are essential to life, whether it be work, personal, family, training, financial, or nutrition and health. If you need some help developing or implementing your nutrition goals, give me a shout. And to leave you with a last wish for the New Year: Make 2016 an annus mirabilis!

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

Why Sports Nutrition Product Should Only Be Used During Sports

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS

You hit snooze and now you’re late leaving for your long training ride. You want some fuel to energize your workout, but need something convenient and quick. How about a gel, pack of chews or energy waffle?

Not so fast. Although sports nutrition products are great for use during training and racing, are they really the best choice outside of a workout or race? I say no.

Here are some important reasons to avoid sports nutrition products outside of training/racing time:

Extra calories
Sports nutrition products are designed to replenish calories when a significant amount of workout calories are being expended. You do need calories to fuel a long workout, but where the calories are coming from is also important. Sport nutrition product calories are not as nutrient-dense as real food.

Extra carbohydrate
Most traditional sports products are loaded with carbohydrate/sugar, which is not something necessary in a daily diet (and often unnecessary in training, as well). Refined sugars have a negative impact on the body, and should be consumed sparingly.

Extra electrolytes
Most sports products contain electrolytes like sodium and magnesium. Electrolytes become necessary to consume in many cases during training/racing, but you don’t want to be in the habit of consuming extra amounts in daily diet unless there is a deficiency.

I am very selective about the types of sports nutrition products I recommend to clients, as most of them are packed with garbage ingredients that don’t serve a purpose. Examples would include food coloring/dyes, extra sugar sources, and binders. If these additives don’t serve a purpose during training, they definitely don’t do you any favors when consumed outside of training.

Nutritional benefit
The number one reason to avoid fueling with sports nutrition products outside of training/racing is the lack of nutrient-density these foods provide. Sports nutrition products are designed to replace expended energy quickly, allowing you to continue racing at your highest potential. They are not designed to provide the best bang for your buck when it comes to nutritional value. Real food choices are higher in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.  

Ok, so what should I eat, you ask? The answer: real food. Whenever you have a choice between packaged and real food, choose the latter.

Here are a couple breakfast examples:

  • Oats, almonds and coconut oil
  • Plain Greek yogurt, mixed nuts and berries
  • Eggs with spinach and fresh fruit

Resist the urge to fuel up pre-workout with training foods. There is almost always a better choice. (Or maybe the workout is one that you can do while fasting to increase your metabolic efficiency.) Be selective about your training and racing foods in general – be comfortable and familiar with all of the ingredients. The body performs better on quality fuel sources it recognizes.

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

Get the Best Bang for Your Buck: What to Look for in a Sport Nutrition Product

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, METS Level II

Sport nutrition products are a multi-billion dollar industry. As the popularity of endurance racing events continue to grow, the marketplace has become saturated with these foods. You have your choice of gels, chews, bars, powders, pills and smoothies. How in the world do you determine the best fuel source for you?

I teach my clients to incorporate clean eating strategies into their everyday lives as well as during training and racing. After all, don’t training fueling and everyday fueling become synonymous for most of us? Clean eating means searching out foods that provide the best nutritional value and are minimally processed, leaving nutrients intact. This also means being selective about packaged products when they are consumed. Do you know and understand what every ingredient is in that item? You should.

Based on these fueling strategies, here are the important questions to ask on your quest for the best sport nutrition products:

There are pre-workout, during-workout and post-workout sport fuels. What are you looking for? I typically reserve sport product use for “during” only and urge clients to eat real food pre- and post-workout. Protein shakes have become a staple in many athletes’ diets, which is ok if they are limited to one per day and are a quality whey or vegetarian protein source (i.e., no weird ingredients/additives). The same concept applies to bars – stick with a maximum of one per day and ensure you are comfortable with the ingredient list.

Most sport products are comprised of quickly digesting sugars that inherently raise blood sugar, especially when used outside of training. You don’t want your blood sugar to be yo-yoing all over the place – it does nothing to help your energy levels, body composition, performance or general health. There are products emerging designed to stabilize blood sugar and provide a more consistent, gradual release of energy over time.

You can gather from my comments above that ingredients are hugely important to me. They should be to you too. So many of our food choices offer a laundry list of questionable ingredients and it’s time we stop accepting this as the norm. When looking at sport nutrition products, it’s important to determine where the sugar source is coming from. Is the sugar source something natural like a puree extracted from fruit? Or something manufactured in a lab? The more natural option will be gentler on your stomach, and will taste much better to boot.

Although these features may drive the price up a bit, they are nice to have. Non-GMO is essential. Genetically modified products have no place in a clean-eating diet. Organic items are also important, especially when considering products with fruit, nuts and grains included.

The times are a-changing when it comes to sport nutrition products. A new wave of more natural, non-GMO, organic, blood sugar stable products are on their way in, which is great news for endurance athletes. But please do use real food when the opportunity is there, even in favor of a more natural sport product. And contact me if you’d like help getting your fuel plan dialed in.

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, METS Level II is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including 3 Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

Summer Fueling: How and What to Eat for a Successful Race Season

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS  

I live in Arizona, where summer heat takes on a whole new meaning. But even when the temps approach scorching, triathletes continue to hit the pavement and the (bath-water warm) pool to crank out those workouts. The show must go on, and so must proper fueling.

For many athletes training in warm climates, appetite tends to drop off as the thermometer readings climb. It’s important to keep this in mind during summer months and make any adjustments necessary to keep intake where it needs to be and those hot workouts well fueled.

Here are some tips for adjusting your fueling strategy for summer:

Produce comes to mind whenever seasonal foods are mentioned, and that’s perfect because fruits and vegetables are the two best carbohydrate options in an athlete’s diet. Summer is a great time to take advantage of the wide variety of produce that graces your supermarket’s shelves. This time of year is also the perfect time to visit your local farmer’s market to support locally grown food from farmers in the area. Besides the healthy carbohydrate component, fruits and vegetables provide many vitamins and minerals (think antioxidants) that you just can’t get from other foods. They are versatile, too – cut up a bunch of fruit varieties for a fruit salad, roast vegetables for a veggie-and-egg casserole, or throw both into a huge green salad that is light on the stomach, but packs a nutritional punch. 

Each season boasts its own comfort meals, like a big bowl of chili in the fall with a football game on the television. Summer is more centered on light, fresh foods that fill you up, but don’t weigh you down. Instead of that chili and cornbread duo, try a flaky grilled fish like halibut with some roasted green beans and a mixed greens salad topped with avocado and mango. And remember to eat balanced no matter what season it is – carbohydrate + fat + protein at all meals and snacks. Becoming too reliant on carbohydrates throws blood sugar levels out of whack and negatively impacts your health, weight and training.

Coming back from a long, hot outdoor workout can be an exhausting and possibly nauseating event in itself. Then, picture yourself consuming a large meal post-workout and you may be ready to toss your cookies. Don’t stress about getting those calories replaced. Keep in mind that you really only need to replace 20% of the total calories burned during exercise, and that this can be accomplished slowly (over time) for the next several hours post-exercise. After long workouts, do attempt to get at least a snack back in within an hour of exercise conclusion. This snack can be anything from a Greek yogurt with fruit to a protein smoothie with fruit and coconut oil. Again, balance is key. Don’t feel the need to gorge yourself the minute you walk in the door, especially if you are feeling nauseous from the elevated temps.

It’s ok to pick the time of day when you are most hungry and to make that meal a little larger. Or to break meals down into smaller snack-size portions in order to meet calorie requirements. Sometimes a large, heavy meal is too overwhelming to the system no matter what season it is. If you wake up ravenous in the mornings, make that meal a little more substantial followed by a lighter lunch and dinner. Same with feeling hungrier at lunch or dinner. Make adjustments according to what your body is telling you. If your evening meal is your heaviest, make sure to eat early enough that the food has time to settle and begin digestion before laying down for bed.

In the summer months, athletes are more active than ever. Stay on track with your healthy fuel plan by incorporating the above suggestions into your diet. The combination of great fueling and exercise is unstoppable when it comes to you meeting your goals. Make this summer season your most productive yet!

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD, METS Level II is a sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including three IRONMAN races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific, metabolically efficient fueling plans for her clients. Brooke and her husband, John, own Destination Kona Triathlon Store in south Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at

Inside an Energy Bar

By Margret Aldrich 

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Experience Life magazine.

They promise power, performance and enhanced recovery, but many energy bars are little more than candy bars by another name. The worst are full of sugar, refined flours, artificial ingredients, and hydrogenated fats, making them a poor choice for most health-motivated types.

A little label know-how can help you pick a better bar, one that will help amplify (not sap) your energy. Here’s what to watch for in a few key categories.

Energy comes from three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Fats are the most concentrated source of energy. Healthy fats not only help us feel satiated, they also help balance blood sugar and prevent energy dips. Look for bars containing fats from whole foods such as almonds, sesame seeds, coconut, and flax rather than hydrogenated oils (trans fats), or industrial vegetable oils, like corn and soy, which have less desirable nutrition profiles.

This vital nutrient helps build muscle, stoke metabolism and support tissue repair. But some so-called protein bars contain just 15 grams of protein (and a far greater quantity of sugary carbs), while others have up to 30. Higher protein generally means a lower glycemic index and more gradual energy delivery.

The amount of protein you need depends on your activity level and goals: The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that adults aiming to build muscle and strength eat 0.6 to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight daily (90 to 135 grams of protein for a 150-pound person).

The most common energy-bar protein sources are derived from soy and dairy, but others include nuts or nut butters, and several brands are now including unexpected ingredients like grassfed beef, bison and lamb — and even insect-flour protein.

Carbs (including sugars and fiber, described below) often get a bad rap, but they’re the body’s main source of fuel. In choosing an energy bar, keep in mind that more carbs generally equate with more quick-access (but shorter-lasting) energy — and with a higher glycemic index. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that athletes looking for a quick boost should reach for an energy bar (with a minimum of 40 percent of calories coming from carbs), while endurance athletes would be wise to keep blood-sugar levels stable with a lower-carb protein bar (ideally one with less than 40 percent of calories coming from carbs). There are no official guidelines that separate an energy bar from a protein bar, though, so be sure to read the ingredients and the nutrition label.

With energy bars increasingly engineered to taste like desserts, it’s no surprise many are loaded with processed sugar. Some have a whopping 25 grams — more than many candy bars. Unless you are preparing to burn a lot of energy fast, steer clear of the blood-sugar spike-and-crash problem by choosing bars with less than 10 grams of sugar. Avoid artificial and highly refined sweeteners (including high-fructose corn syrup); look for natural sweeteners like dates, honey and pure maple syrup instead.

Fiber facilitates healthy digestion and detoxification, supports cardiovascular health and curbs cravings. Fiber also helps reduce glycemic load and moderate energy delivery. The amount in energy bars varies wildly, from 1 to 14 grams (the latter of which is as much as two servings of broccoli). Aim for more, when possible, ideally from sources like fruit, chia and flaxseeds, and chicory root.