Πέμπτη, 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2013

Diet-based ideas for conquering muscle cramps.

Diet-based ideas for conquering muscle cramps.
The run starts no different than the others. The groove of one leg in front of the other feels so good. Without warning you’re stopped dead in your tracks. The tension that overwhelmed the whole body slowly starts to fade. Although the violent strike of the muscle cramp has subsided, a bruised sore feeling has now taken its place. You try to resume with a light jog. Oh, but what a tenderness remains. This one wasn’t as bad as the one a few weeks ago; you’ll be able to finish this run. Why does this keep happening? There are many contributing factors to muscle cramping. This makes it difficult to say there is one clear cut answer for a runner seeking relief from the debilitating pain. A change in training, massage, or light stretching may prove to be quite beneficial. In ruling out all potential causes, a look at dietary considerations can support modifications in the training routine and help you get back to full stride.
Hydration. Hydration, or a lack of, is one of the most common causes of muscle cramping. This may become more pronounced in those who train in the heat or consume little fluid during longer sessions. However, this can also apply for those who find it a challenge to drink enough fluids throughout the day. It’s easy to get side tracked, neglecting fluid with or between meals. Drink adequate fluids such that light colored urine is produced. This is an indicator you’re on the right track with your daily fluid requirements. As for those longer training sessions, be aware of major weight changes and sweat rate to better evaluate your fluid needs.

Eat Bananas. Potassium is present in many foods including the well-known source of a banana. The concern here is the contribution of electrolyte imbalances that trigger muscle cramping. Potassium is an electrolyte that when the body craves more it may respond with an uncomfortable muscle spasm. Include more potassium rich foods such as bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado into the diet. You will not only be getting the wonderful nutrients available in such foods, but you can keep your fingers crossed this will reduce your chances of muscle cramping.

Got Milk. There is no real proven evidence that a lack of calcium is the cause of muscle cramping. It is a fact that calcium plays a big part in muscle contraction. However, the body has quite a pool of calcium it can dip into and readily available from the bones. No matter the rationale, there are continued reports of unwanted muscle contraction relief with heightened calcium efforts in the diet. Who would want the body to have to pull from its bone stores in meeting muscle requirements anyway? That would only lead to inadequate calcium in the bone. It’s a good idea to drink your milk and eat your cheese in protecting the body for two reasons: to avoid muscle cramping and to maximize bone health.

Sodium . This can be conflicting to some. So much of the world preaches to a low sodium tune and for good reason. However, there is a difference for those who lead a lifestyle with high sweat losses. The combination of sodium loss in sweat and consuming a lower sodium diet can throw the body into an electrolyte imbalance leading to those unwanted cramps. Combine such a lifestyle with a long run and only water to drink and sodium levels can dip too low. Generally most diets consist of plenty of sodium, but if you struggle with cramping issues a little extra salt won’t hurt the situation. Also try packing a sports beverage for your next long training session.

Unfortunately there isn’t a specific remedy to managing the cramping blues. Adjustments in the training routine can certainly make a difference. Add a diet with plenty of fluid, your favorite high potassium and calcium rich foods, as well as have a dash of salt every now and then and you just might prevent a cramp in your stride.

 By Jackie Dikos, R.D. www.active.com

Τρίτη, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2012

                Classic Marathon Running: The Ultimate Nutritional Challenge

Highly inspired of the forcoming  30th Athens Classic Marathon and with unexpected participation, these 15 days seem ideal for your proper nutritional plan , not only for finish, but for achieving your personal record. So, don’t leave essential nutritional tasks for the last minute, and get into the line as a real marathon runner.

         Before the race:

1.   Don’t be burned before starting point: According to ACSM Protocol, the week before the race, reduce gradually the amount and the training level and take a day off the last day, to give the chance to your body to stretch.

2.   Load carbo not fatigue: Optimize your performance and refuel muscle glycogen, following an one-week carbohydrate load protocol, and especially the 3 last days the “carbos” have to be the 60-70% of the daily energy consumption. It seems to be scaring, but with a well-organized nutrition plan, you make your race easier. Alternatively, the one-day carbo-loading offers 100gr carbohydrates / kg body weight.

3.   Hydrate on time : The amount of fluids you lose during the training is subjective. An efficient way to calculate the specified volume is to check out your body weight before and after the training. As the starting point is closer, you have to consume a generous amount of fluids, considering the electrolytes, adding more salt to your meals.

4.   Coffee time! : Caffeine helps you to training in a higher level, making you feel stronger, alerted and reduces the subjective feeling of fatigue. Try the caffeine effect during the training, not straight through the race. The safe and effective amount of caffeine is suggested to be 1-3 mg/kg that is fulfilled by two espressos.

5.   Don’t experiment during the race: Remember that this race is hard, difficult and not proper for trials, concerning innovative nutrition plans and changes in your training program, during the race. You could try anything new and different during your training days.

Starting point:

6.   Do not skip meals: The practice of skipping the breakfast meal before the Marathon it doesn’t working. 2-3 hours before the start the sufficient liquid consumption in combination with a low fat- high carbohydrate food (honey, white bread, natural juice , energy bar) is ideal. In general, avoid dairy products and high fiber snacks, in case of gastrointestinal disorders.

     On the way:

7.   Elite coordination: During the race your aim is the hydration and the stable levels of blood glucose. You have to be trained to consume 150-250ml of liquids every 15-20 min. You have to know your sweating rate, to avoid dehydration and hyponatriaimia caused by excessive water consumption. To stabilize your blood glucose, researchers propose consumption of 40-60gr carbohydrate per hour, which provided by sport drinks fortified with electrolytes.

8.   Plan it: After worked the route, checked your pace, try to find the re-fuel stations on the road and use them efficiently.

«One goal, without plan, is just a wish»


1.     American College of Sports Medicine; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada. Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. American College of Sports Medicine; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009:41:709-731.

2.     American College of Sports Medicine, Sawka MN, Burke LM, Eichner ER, Maughan RJ, Montain SJ, Stachenfeld NS. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39:377-390.

Δευτέρα, 30 Ιουλίου 2012

                    Gold Medal Nutrition: Eat Like an Olympian.

To make it to the 2012 Olympics, athletes not only train their bodies and their minds to perfection, they must hone in on their nutrition. They know that what they eat can make a difference in Olympic gold. Training and competing in the Olympics involves a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Eating a healthy diet sufficient  in nutrients and calories to fuel training is the key component and may just be the deciding factor in that tenth of a second that distinguishes a gold medal from silver. These athletes know firsthand how to eat and drink for optimal performance and recovery.

Olympians Eat Breakfast Daily.
Olympians consume their first meal approximately 30 minutes after waking up. Our bodies become insulin sensitive after eating breakfast. Insulin sensitivity refers to how well the body responds to the hormone insulin. When you eat most of your calories earlier in the day, the total caloric intake throughout the day actually decreases. Starting the day with protein is a good choice. When consuming lean protein in the morning choose omega-3 rich eggs or egg whites; low-fat, organic dairy; lean and clean breakfast meats; as well as the high protein, whole grains like steel cut oatmeal or quinoa.

Olympians Eat Organic.
Foods which are not organic may be toxic and pose severe health risks to people as well as hinder athletic performance. Avoid the most contaminated fruits and vegetables by purchasing organic versions. “The Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables was put together by the Environmental Working Group, this list includes apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, blueberries and potatoes—some of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Olympians Eat Small, Frequent Meals.
The Olympic season is considered peak season for athletes. They should fuel often, eating every four hours. By keeping a regular meal schedule athletes can prevent fatigue and reduce injury risk. During competition the most rapid use of fuel, regardless of intensity occurs during the first 20 to 30 minutes. The goal of athlete’s during competition is to provide macronutrients and calories to sustain the activity. Athletes need proper nutrition to prevent glycogen depletion, enhance their immune function, reduce muscle damage, and speed

Olympians Hydrate Often.
When entering competition fully hydrated, chances are athletes will be able to perform better. Fluid requirements vary from person to person, so the best way to stay adequately hydrated is to stick to a schedule. Different from Olympians, most of us only require approximately 11 to 15 cups of water daily, according to the Institute of Medicine. Choose to drink filtered water were many of the dangerous contaminants have been removed.

Olympians Love Power Foods.
Dana Torres, swimming: Power food choice: raw almonds Almonds are the best high fat, anti-inflammatory food! It’s not often nutritionists recommend high-fat foods, but the quality fat found in almonds is super supportive for athletes especially during recovery. One serving of almonds contains six grams of protein, six grams of carbohydrates, and more than 20 flavonoids. These antioxidants prevent free-radical damage resulting from extreme training sessions. Manganese and copper are two minerals found in almonds. Both are needed to maintain the metabolic processes and support stamina. Almonds are also high in magnesium. When an athlete has enough magnesium in their system, their vessels relax, which improves blood and oxygen flow throughout the body.
Ashton Eaton, decathlon: Power food choice: Light tuna packed in water.Tuna is an excellent source of protein. Tuna is rich in magnesium, potassium, B vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids. By consuming a healthy, lean protein after a strenuous workout recovery time is enhanced.
Carli Lloyd, soccer:Power food choice: edamame. Edamame is considered one of the best plant proteins, similar in quality to eggs and cow’s milk. A unique protein in soy called, peptides, is known to provide extreme health benefits, including improved blood pressure, controlled blood sugar and improved immune function, all which are necessary in the world of extreme sport. While soy foods are still linked to controversy, stick with organic, whole food forms. Choose fermented versions like tempeh, fermented tofu, and soy miso which include immune boosting probiotics.
Tamika Catchings, basketball: Power food choice: grilled chicken.Chicken is so versatile! It is a great source of protein. Approximately 67 percent of our daily protein needs are found in just 4 ounces. Skinless chicken breast is an athlete favorite. Athletes are encouraged to eat lower fat options. Athletes are very hard on their bodies, so the lean protein found in chicken breasts may actually help prevent bone loss. Chicken is very rich in B6 and niacin. These B vitamins are necessary in the conversion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy.
Heather O’Reilly, soccer: Power food choice: Greek yogurt .Foods rich in probiotics have been shown to enhance recovery from fatigue and help maintain a healthy immune system. The International Journal of Obesity, recently published information showing that “adding one or two servings of yogurt to your daily diet can help you maximize loss of fat and minimize loss of muscle.” For athletes, dairy may enhance gains in lean mass, strength output, as well as reduction in body fat levels.

Sample Olympian Diet.
Approximately 60 percent of an athlete's diet should steam from carbohydrates with a mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and small amounts of low fat, organic dairy. About 30 percent of an athlete's diet should come from lean proteins, fish, poultry, lean meats, beans, and low fat, organic dairy. Another 10 percent of an athlete's diet should come from quality fats, olive and canola oils, nuts and nut butters, seeds and avocados. A smart nutrition goal for any athlete would be to enjoy a nutrient rich, mostly plant-based diet. Always fuel before, possibly during and after exercise. Balance energy by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day and be sure to hydrate adequately with water, herbal teas and natural juices. Good nutrition will always enhance performance. Never let poor nutrition be a limiting factor.

By Chrissy Wellington,for Active.com

Παρασκευή, 20 Ιουλίου 2012

                                                          Summer's Best Superfoods
These foods not only help you stay slim; they can cure summer's bummers. Even bug bites!
Strawberries: Block Sunburn
They have ellagic acid, a compound that protects against UV radiation, an animal study in Experimental Dermatology finds. This acid works by reducing the release of molecules linked to inflammation—which can lead to that oh-so-attractive lobster look. Plus, the acid preserves skin smoothing collagen. Adios, wrinkles.
Leafy Greens: Double as ShadesWhen eyes are exposed to excess sunlight over time, it can trigger cataracts and macular degeneration. Before you tune out, know that these "granny problems" can start to develop as early as your 20s and 30s. Load up now on dark greens (spinach, kale) for their lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that can filter out damaging blue-light rays.
Cherry Juice: Gives You Staying PowerIt's outdoor-sports time, but post-exercise soreness can cramp your summer-partying style. Stay loose with this juice. Runners who drank it pre-race had 67 percent less pain afterward than nonsippers, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition indicates. Tart cherries pack anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation.
Green Tea: Shrinks Your Stomach
Meet your bikini-body secret weapon. The brew's antioxidants may help block fat absorption, data from Penn State in University Park notes. Mice eating green tea extract put on pounds more slowly than tea-free mice. About 2 cups a day in hot, chilled or ice-pop form may help us slim down, too.
Garlic: Kicks Ticks
People who popped garlic pills (1,200 milligrams, the equivalent of two cloves a day) got fewer tick bites than placebo takers, The Journal of the American Medical Association shows. Garlic may change the way you taste, turning off the bloodsuckers. Eat the bulb, or try supplements if the smell is too much for you.

Chremou Katerina
Clinical Nutritionist-Dietitian, Ms

Παρασκευή, 15 Ιουνίου 2012

                               Elite swimmers: Eating during competitions

 The Day Before

 When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind already. So the day before the event, keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.
 • Drink fluids little and often to stay properly hydrated.
• Eat little and often – every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.
• Avoid big meals or over-eating in the evening – this will almost certainly make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic the next day.
• Try to stick to familiar foods. Curries, spicy foods, baked beans and pulses (unless you are used to eating them) can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. It’s best to stick to foods that you are familiar and compatible with!
 The Morning of the Event
 • Don’t swim on empty. Even if you feel nervous, make breakfast happen. Stick to easily digested foods – cereal with milk, porridge, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.
• If you’re really struggling, try liquid meals such as milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or a smoothie.
• It’s a good idea to rehearse your competition meal routine in training so you know exactly what agrees with you.
 Snacks Between Heats
 • Try to eat as soon as possible after your swim to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to swim again.
• High fat and simple sugar foods will do you no favours in competition – instead search out the complex carbohydrates again.
• If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavoured milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.

The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition..
 • Water, diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt or a sports drink
• Pasta salad
• Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter
• Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears
• Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango
• Smoothies
• Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey
• Mini-pancakes, fruit buns
• Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps
• Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks
• Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds
• Prepared vegetable crudités e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery
Kate Chremou, Nutritionist-Dietitian

Τρίτη, 22 Μαΐου 2012

How to create Your Carbo-Load Plan


Ever hear of “hitting the wall”? That’s when a runner's or swimmer's body shuts down mentally and physically. The cause is often from depleted carb stores. There’s just nothing left in the tank; it’s important to keep these stores refueled during the race by drinking sports drink and/or ingesting other quick carbs such as energy gels, chews, about every 30 to 45 minutes during the race.
During this three day-period before race day, your carbohydrate intake should increase to 70 to 80 percent of your total daily caloric intake. That doesn’t mean you’re taking in more calories, it just means that of the calories you’re taking in, 70 to 80 percent need to be comprised of carbs.
Not all carbs are alike, knowing the differences and eating the right kinds at the right time during the carb-loading phase can make the difference. Complex carbs are comprised of unrefined whole grain foods such as whole grain breads, legumes, brown rice, and whole grain pasta. Simple carbs are foods made of refined and/or processed grains such as white bread, regular pasta, white rice, packaged cookies, cakes, and doughnuts. Fruits are technically simple carbs too, but they’re very nutrient dense. Keep in mind that eating a banana will provide quick energy because your body will process it very quickly, while a low-fat bran muffin will sustain your energy needs a lot longer.
There are however, some good rules of thumb to follow. The first rule of thumb is to test your nutrition well in advance. It's best to try new foods when you're not in training. If you are training, it's best to test new things early on so you'll know ahead of time what does and doesn't work for you. Then stick to what you know works when it's close to race day. Now that you know the different types of carbs, you need to know when to eat them.
Day 1: The first day of the carb-load should consist mainly of complex carbs (i.e., whole grain breads and whole wheat or whole grain pasta). By loading up on complex carbs the first day, you have time for them to be processed and voided well before race day.
Day 2: Taper off the complex carbs and switch over to simple carbs. Be careful though. Don't load up on tons of fruit and the like, if you're not used to eating lots of fruit. Also avoid loading up on simple carbs that contain a lot of saturated fat (cookies, doughnuts, pastries). The extra fat will slow down digestion and make you feel sluggish.
Day 3:  Eat your last major meal 12 to 15 hours prior to the race. This meal should be comprised of easily digestible foods that will pass through your system before the race. This is the time many runners turn to a big plate of pasta. Avoid heavy cream sauces and stick with basic marinara sauce.
Hinted tip: Each gram of carbs can store 3 grams of water. So, to make sure you get complete carb storage, drink four to eight glasses of water each day. You may gain a pound or two (2.2-4.4 kg) during this carb-loading phase, but most of this extra weight is water and can actually help you stay well-hydrated during the race. And don’t worry, you'll sweat out those extra “water pounds” during the race.
Do not forget: Test your nutrition well in advance. Avoid tests during the race. Even the most successful experiments, had the last trials many days before!
   Katerina Chremou Ms, Nutritionist (by Active.com)

Πέμπτη, 19 Απριλίου 2012

                               ‘'Must-Have’' Micronutrients for Athletes.

Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function well. From helping your muscles rebuild after tough workouts to keeping your energy levels up, micronutrients play a central role in your performance. If macronutrients power the machine, micronutrients oil the wheels and cranks, keeping all your systems functioning smoothly. Athletes such us runners tend to be restrictive about eating and can miss out on valuable nutrients. Here is a run-down of some vital micronutrients that will help staying strong and healthy during your training, so you can hit your peak performance levels:

Iron is an important nutrient for endurance athletes yet many athletes are iron deficient. Iron helps transport oxygen to all the cells in your body, including your brain. If you don’t have enough iron in your diet, you’ll feel tired, irritable and have difficulty focusing. You can get iron from beef, spinach, clams, oysters, chicken liver, sardines canned in oil and turkey.

Calcium as everyone knows, is important for strong bones and many athletes don’t get enough calcium. Activity builds your bone strength but if you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, your bones may get weaker when you train and you’ll be more likely to get injured. You can get calcium by eating cheese, yoghurt, milk, broccoli, watercress and kale.

Potassium helps keep you from cramping and getting dehydrated on race by balancing the electrolyte and fluid levels in your body. You lose potassium from sweating during workouts so need to replenish it. Potassium also helps build muscles. You can get potassium from red meat, chicken, soy, broccoli, peas, bananas, kiwi, citrus fruits and fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and flounder.

Magnesium is used in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production for energy, muscular relaxation and bone remineralization. Low levels of magnesium can contribute to the early onset of fatigue during exertion, muscle cramps and nausea. Good sources of magnesium are wheat germ, nuts, rye, soybeans and figs.

Selenium. Selenium is a free radical scavenger. It benefits an athlete’s immune system and helps repair daily cellular damage. Sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, beans, bran, garlic, mushrooms and seafood.

Sodium.. Athletes performing physical activity in warm temperatures for 3 hours or more should ensure enough sodium intake through fluid replacement (drinking) and snacks.

Zinc. This mineral aids in post-exertion tissue repair and helps to convert foods into fuel. The best food sources are bran, oysters, lean beef, egg yolk, fish, wheat germ and yeast.

 ''Vitamins'' means vita (life) for your body:



Vitamin D

Bone growth & mineralisation.
Enhances Calcium absorption.
Taking Vitamin D with Calcium may help to prevent bone loss in athletes at risk of osteoporosis.

Sun exposure

Vitamin K

Important for normal blood clotting.

Spinach, chestnut, tomato, egg, kidney

Vitamin B6

Muscle strength and aerobic power in the lactic acid and oxygen systems. Combined with B1 and B12, may increase serotonin levels. This may improve fine motor skills that athletes need for sports like pistol shooting and archery
Cereals, muesli, potatoes bananas, beans, nuts, salmon

Vitamin C
Involved in Iron absorption.
Provides antioxidant activity.
Enhance immunity
Vitamin C after intense exercise may decrease the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections
Strawberries, bell peppers, cantaloupe, kiwi, citrus fruits and potatoes.

Vitamin E

Antioxidant that helps to prevent free radicals from forming
During intense exercise.
Reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress.
At high altitudes, may improve exercise performance
Olive oil, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, salmon and wheat germ.

Beta Carotene/ other Carotenoids
Responsible for antioxidant activity in all tissues, mainly the respiratory tract and skin. Helpful in providing tissue integrity and healing wounds.
Orange, green and other coloured fruits and vegetables

                                                                                    Kate Chremou, Nutritionist, Ms