Ask Theresa: Diet and Nutrition for Athletes

by Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD

GinnySteve.jpegGinny Sweeney asks:
There is a strategy to have your body burn fat for running long runs and the thought is to train your body to do that by eating a keto or keto like diet. Is that good for your body?

Due to the fact that fat contains more calories per gram, it takes much more energy to convert stored fat to utilize it for energy during a run which makes it a much less efficient fueling source during a workout or run.  Our brain cannot function without carbohydrates so when you follow a keto diet, it forces you to make ketones for brain function.  To make ketones it necessitates breaking down lean body mass such as muscle and organs.  This over time causes a decrease in lean body mass which decreases strength and metabolism.  The ideal fuel source for running is a diet that is comprised of approximately 60%carbohydrates.

DeAnneWebster.jpegWhat is your idea on allowing sweets and desserts following your own nutrition plan weekly?  What kinds are allowed and how many calories per week or day?  As a triathlete, I crave sweets during or after long hard workouts of 2.5 to 3 hours.

I like to promote the all foods fit mentality.  When we tell ourselves certain foods are “good” and other foods are “bad” it is human nature to want more of the off limit foods and causes a binge/ restrict approach.  I tell my clients to unpack all of the good food/ bad food boxes and put them all in one big box.  Just have more of the nutrient dense foods than the foods we like to eat for fun that don’t necessarily provide us with as many nutrients. 

Our bodies cravings tell us a lot about what we need and what we might be missing out on or deficient in.  As a triathlete you need a lot of calories.  The fact that you crave sweets after long had workouts could indicate that you are not getting enough carbohydrates overall

Charles.jpgIs there a link between kidney stones and a vegan diet?  If so, is there a way for a vegan to prevent this?

There definitely can be if the diet is high in phytates and oxalates.  Spinach, broccoli, kale and other green and leafy vegetables contain significant amounts of calcium and iron.  However, they are tightly bound to fibers called phytates and oxalates.  If consumed raw this compound is not absorbable which can collect in the kidneys and cause kidney stones.  The way to prevent this is to cook the green leafy vegetables, allowing the bond between the fibers and these nutrients and enabling absorption.  Combining these cooked vegetables with a source of vitamin C enhances the absorption of the calcium and iron even more.  Examples of foods with vitamin C include lemon, tomatoes, berries, peppers, jalapenos, and oranges. 

If you choose to put spinach and kale in smoothies, it helps to steam them and then put them in the freezer before putting in the smoothie.  The berries from the smoothie will provide vitamin C to enhance absorption.

TDLYoga.jpegDr. DeLorenzo has been a Registered Dietitian (RD) since 2001.  She received her Bachelor in Science in Food Science and Dietetics from the University of Rhode Island and her Master of Science and Doctorate of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  She currently is the Program Director for the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance Logan University and serves as the team dietitian for USA Para Powerlifting at Logan. 

In addition to dietetics, Dr. DeLorenzo is a 200-hour trained yoga teacher and is currently obtaining her certification in yoga therapy with an emphasis on improving body image.  She teaches online yin yoga and power yoga and provides yoga therapy for clients with anxiety, body dysmorphia, and pain.  

As owner and founder of Nutrition for Optimal Performance, Dr. DeLorenzo specializes in working with athletes.

Click here for more information about Dr. DeLorenzo

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