nutrition Archives - Britt Fit

Dear Dairy

By | Fuel | No Comments

Dear Dairy,

I love you! I think that you are super tasty and full of goodness. I wish that everyone could enjoy you the way that I do. But, some people are allergic to your proteins, and some are unable to digest your sugars. Sad. Day.

Currently, Greek-style yogurt (the full-fat kind) is my go-to snack. I like to eat it with lots of peanut butter, honey, fruit, and any type of granola. A longtime goal of mine has been to make my own yogurt at home, but past failed attempts left me discouraged. I made another attempt recently, and after hours of labor still had no yogurt to enjoy–just room-temperature sour milk. So, I tried yet again and…success!  I finally found my favorite yogurt-making process. I have already made two successful batches, and am looking forward to perfecting my techniques and consuming the delicious bacterial cultures. Yum!

My microbiotic babies swimming in a sea of granola and fruit


I especially appreciate that I can use the whey leftovers to add protein to smoothies or sub for liquids in my baked good recipes.


I love having my whey

Another thing that I wanted to talk to you about is your body composition. I don’t care if you have a high BMI due to your delicious lipid creaminess. I admire your balanced flavor and well-rounded nutrient profile of carbohydrate + protein + fat. I don’t see why people hate on you and say that you cause obesity and other diseases. I don’t think that’s very fair, and it seems that scientific research findings are behind you, too:

The Skinny On Dairy


Skimming the Truth

Thanks for being yummy and good for me.



Intuitive Eating for Athletes

By | Fitness, Fuel | One Comment

Endurance athletes typically want to be fit and healthy, right? If you are against being fit and healthy, then you probably don’t want to be exercising 10-20+ hours every week. Sorry to burst your bubble.

So, if endurance athletes (runners, swimmers, cyclists, triathletes, cross country skiers, etc) want to be fit and healthy, then we probably care about what we put into our bodies. We probably understand that proper nutrition is a key component of our training program. We think of food as something that sustains, nourishes, and fuels us. Of course, there are some exceptions:

  1. Athletes who don’t really care about their performance…or is that just an excuse to eat poorly?
  2. Athletes who partake in endurance sport for the sole purpose of eating high volumes of calorically-dense foods
  3. Athletes who really do not think about food, and often “forget” to eat (what!?)
  4. Athletes with disordered eating behaviors

Most endurance athletes have access to nutritious foods everyday. I assume this because if you are participating in an endurance sport, and can afford to spend some leisure time training and some extra cash on your next race or piece of training equipment, then you are likely able to purchase an appropriate quantity and quality of food for yourself. I am not saying that all endurance athletes have plenty of spare cash to throw down on a $50 salad from the Whole Foods salad bar, but we can probably buy potatoes and carrots at the grocery store. What excuse do we have to not invest in our health and our training by fueling our bodies well?

Another commonality of endurance athletes is that we tend idolize leanness. The idea is that if one has a leaner body, he/she will be faster. This is true to a degree, so long as shedding excess bodyfat does not come at the cost of strength, health, or general well-being. Yet, competitive endurance athletes tend to put tremendous pressure on themselves to perform, and are at risk for developing disordered eating habits because of this tendency to obsess about leanness as a performance enhancer. Preoccupation with body weight and composition can lead to fear of food, food restriction, and clinical disorders such as anorexia nervosa. On the other end of the spectrum, an athlete’s self-induced restriction may lead to obsession with food, overeating (binging), then guilt, then more restriction–not a fun pattern. Disordered eating thoughts and habits do not work in the athlete’s favor, and can cause undesirable effects including decline in athletic performance. Extreme dietary restriction can lead to decreased immune function, delayed recovery from training, general fatigue, anxiety, and injury. Female athletes may develop symptoms of the Female Athlete Triad, including bone weakening and menstrual irregularity.

As a student of nutrition, I want to arm myself with the knowledge of where my food comes from, what each food is made of, why I need each nutrient, and how my body processes and uses these nutrients. I am fascinated by the human body, especially as it relates to nutrition and athletics. As an athlete, I value putting quality fuel into my body, but I also value being human. To me, being human means a lot more than just our physical eating and drinking and training. Being human is also mental, emotional, and spiritual. It involves relationships– with our families, with our friends, with our environment, with our creator, with ourselves, with our bodies, with our minds, and even with our food! I believe that we need to have balance when fueling our bodies merges with fueling our various relationships.

For example, if I am having tea with a friend, and she offers me a cookie, I do not have to shun her because her cookies are made with sugar and butter. I can eat a cookie if my body wants a cookie. But this poses a problem: how do I know what my body wants? Most of us have ignored our body’s natural cravings, hunger signals, and even satiety signals, for a long time. Instead of tuning into our bodies, we look to labels, scales, articles, Dr. Oz, and even our own made-up ideas, to determine what, when, and how much we should or shouldn’t eat. How did we manage to eat when we were kids, before we “learned” how to eat? I think that the real question we should ask ourselves is “how and when did we manage to unlearn our inborn eating patterns?” When did we let everyone else decide how many calories we should eat and what we should weigh? When did we even start caring about calories and weight at all? Weren’t we less anxious about food and our bodies when we were kids?


“We are all born instinctual eaters but it is the aging process, along with social and family influences, that diverts attention away from how our body feels when it is hungry. Babies cry when they are hungry. This is the body’s response to physical hunger. Somewhere throughout the developmental process, the ability to listen to the body’s instinctual eating cues are lost or forgotten…” –Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S., Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

I don’t think that healthy eating is as simple as “good food” vs. “bad food”. I also don’t think it’s as simple as eating X number and/or burning Y number of calories everyday. I think that our bodies are so complex that we can’t tell them what they need or how they should look. I think it’s time we go back to trusting our bodies like we did when we were kids–when we ate two bites of that hot dog because it smelled good and then put it down because we weren’t hungry anymore. I think it’s time to tune into our innate hunger and satiety signals.

What I’m NOT saying:

  • I’m NOT saying that Intuitive eating is easy: While listening to our bodies was easy when we were kids, it has probably been a long time since we really listened to our bodies. It takes a while to fully learn to trust our bodies again and to adapt to eating intuitively. There will be slip ups, but keep trusting!
  • I’m NOT saying that every athlete can eat every type of food: Some athletes have food allergies, intolerances, and diseases which make them unable to eat particular foods and remain healthy. These athletes can still practice intuitive eating with the foods that they can eat.
  • I’m NOT saying that we should eat junk food all of the time: Actually, if we are constantly craving junk food, it is more likely the result of feeling restricted. In order to really stop the cravings, we need to really stop restricting ourselves. Also, the more that we practice listening to our bodies, I believe that we eventually start to crave more wholesome foods!
  • I’m NOT saying that athletes should fully rely on perceived hunger and thirst signals during training and racing without regard to calorie/carbohydrate/fluid numbers: When training and competing for long hours, it is important to have a sports nutrition plan. However, in case the plan goes awry due to unforeseen issues, it is good to have the ability to know and understand your body’s signals.

Additional Intuitive Eating Resources:

Meet the Athlete: John #1

By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel, Meet the Athlete, Triathlon | 3 Comments

Meet John #1, Ironman triathlete, husband,  and newly-appointed grandfather. He pretty much does it all.  Why #1? Because John #2!

Current place of residence:  Camarillo, CA

Hometown/place of birth: Sun Valley, CA / Hollywood, CA

Day job: Architect

Favorite sports or hobbies (besides triathlon): I love to ski.

2015 triathlon/race goal: To complete two 140.6 distance events this year. IM Switzerland in July and IM Arizona in November.

Best triathlon race leg (swim, bike, run, T1, T2, beer garden): Definitely the bike. Definitely not T1.

Dream race: My parents were both from Switzerland.  I’m really looking forward to competing there this year.

Race mantra: Just keep moving.  A good friend once told me that every step I take during the race is one I don’t have to take again.  I think about that a lot.

When/how/why did you start triathlon?:  A good running friend of June’s (wife) asked me to help her with her cycling.  I said sure, what are you doing?  She said she signed up for an Ironman.  I seriously asked her if she knew what that was.  She had never participated in a tri.  I signed up for my first sprint tri with her a couple months later.  I was hooked.

Hardest race you’ve ever completed: IM Arizona, because of the distance and training commitment.  The run during the Rhode Island 70.3 with the crazy steep hills, 90 degree heat and 90% humidity was also not fun.

Most memorable race moment: I was starting the second lap of the Oceanside run in 2011 and an athlete who had finished the event high fived me and encouraged me on.  I then realized it was Andy Potts who had won the event.  That really stuck with me.

Words of wisdom to someone considering training for their first triathlon/endurance event: Baby steps.  Don’t overcommit to a race that is too hard or too long.  Build slowly and you will enjoy the experiences much more.

Something you’ve learned about yourself through triathlon/endurance sport: You can accomplish a lot if you dedicate yourself and put in the work.  You can do more than you thought possible.

Pre-race ritual or superstition: June says I wait to the last minute to pack.  Not a good thing.

Training/racing “secrets”: Coffee

Training/racing pet peeve(s): Slower riders who ride to the left of the road.  People who claw at you during the swim.

Why do you keep Tri-ing?: My training partners.  I love to associate with the people who “Get it”.

What does “Fuel” mean to you?: Coffee

What does being “Fit” mean to you?: Feeling strong. Looking forward to the next workout.  Wanting to do more.

Pick one:

Open water or pool?  Open water
Trail or track?  Trail
Solo or group training?  Group
Chocolate or cheese?  I’m Swiss, do I really have to choose?
Watch on your left wrist or right?  Left
Morning or evening workout?  Morning.  I never would have said that before doing tris.
Hat or visor?  I use both.
Swim cap or no cap?  Pool, no cap…Open water, cap.
Cheerios or Wheaties?  Wheaties
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?  Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Want to see yourself featured in a future edition of M.T.A.? All BrittFit Athletes are eligible. You could be next!


By | Coaching, Fitness, Fuel | No Comments

This week, I would like to spread a bit of awareness about something called F.A.T.  I’m not talking about the “fat” we all know and love to hate– saturated fat, intramuscular triglycerides, cholesterol, etc.  Today’s topic is a bit less widely-discussed, even among endurance athlete populations.

F.A.T. stands for Female Athlete Triad.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine:

The female athlete triad (Triad) refers to the interrelationships among energy availability, menstrual function, and bone mineral density, which may have clinical manifestations including eating disorders, functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. With proper nutrition, these same relationships promote robust health (ACSM, 2007).

Low energy availability, whether inadvertent or intentional, occurs when energy (food/drink) consumption is insufficient to meet energy (training/activity) expenditure, and has been identified as the main culprit in F.A.T. reproductive system dysfunction and skeletal health impairment.

Until about 2 years ago, when I began writing a thesis on a related subject, I knew little to nothing about the triad, except that it sounded like some obscure condition that only occurs in athletes with extreme eating disorders.  However, I learned that low energy availability (and its side effects) can be present even in athletes without disordered eating and regardless of body shape or size– that it is possible for someone to maintain low energy balance while appearing “normal” and well-nourished on the outside.  Yet, a low-energy state, coupled with resultant hormonal abnormalities, can trigger a multitude of potential performance hindrances such as bone weakening, decreased immune function and loss of mental focus.

Takeaways regarding low energy availability and the Triad:

Fuel Your Body

Without obtaining sufficient nutrients and energy from foods, your body cannot perform optimally.  A chronic and/or extreme low-energy state may lead to fatigue, slow recovery from workouts, decreased bone strength, immune function, power, strength, and endurance

Low Energy Availability (low EA)

    • More energy (calories) expended than consumed
    • Less available energy to maintain bone formation and other body functions
    • Common Causes: under-eating, eating disorders, illness, etc
    • Often triggered by desired weight loss for appearance or performance benefits
    • Over-exercising (without calorie compensation) is another strategy that athletes may use to lose weight and “improve” performance/looks
    • May be unintentional— the athlete is not careful to take in enough calories, and/or is unaware of the increased calorie demands of exercise

Low bone mineral density (low BMD)

    • Commonly associated with low EA
    • Can be caused by low estrogen levels and/or low dietary calcium & vitamin D intake
    • Associated with stress fractures, osteoporosis, and increased injury frequency
    • Especially dangerous for younger athletes in developmental stages

Risk factors/warning signs of chronic Energy Deficiency (low EA)

    • Overly-controlling or excessively-critical parents and coaches
    • Having a “perfectionist” and/or self-critical attitude
    • Low self-esteem, extreme fatigue and/or depression
    • Low BMD and frequent stress fractures without increased training
    • Frequent illness (weak immune system)
    • Anemia, dry skin, constipation, dizziness, or inability to concentrate
    • Poor and irregular eating habits
    • Playing a sport in which revealing attire is worn (insecurities)

What can athletes do to maintain optimal energy levels?

  • Consume sufficient energy to sustain normal body functions and to fuel exercise
    • Have a fueling strategy: eat for optimal energy and recovery
    • Choose nutritious foods and balanced meals/snacks (fruit-yogurt smoothie, baked potato with veggies & cheese, etc.)
    • Understand that there is no ideal “athlete body”
    • Focus on maintaining optimal energy and health


American College of Sports Medicine. The Female Athlete Triad Position Stand. 2007. Available at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2007/10000/The_Female_Athlete_Triad.26.aspx