Category: Nutrition

How Many Calories Do I Need?

By Matt Fitzgerald | For

Counting calories is a simple concept. Throughout the day you rely on food labels and online resources to determine the number of calories contained in each food and beverage you consume. At the end of the day you add it all up and, voila, you know exactly how many total calories you took in.

But what is simple in principle is almost impossible in practice. A few factors combine to make it almost unobtainable to accurately measure your daily calorie intake. One component has to do with the difference between how calorie counts are determined in the laboratory and how calories are extracted from food in your body. To determine the calorie content of foods, scientists incinerate them inside a device called, appropriately enough, a calorimeter. This device incinerates all types of foods equally well.

Your body is different. It extracts calories more easily from cooked foods, soft foods and low-fiber foods than it does from raw foods, harder foods and high-fiber foods. So, for example, if you eat 100 calories of steamed white rice, your body will absorb more calories than it would from 100 calories of raw lettuce.

Apart from this issue of calorie extraction, the calorie information you see on food packaging and on restaurant menus is seldom 100 percent accurate in the first place. A 2011 study by researchers at Tufts University found that only 7 percent out of 269 items on restaurant menus contained calorie counts that were within 10 calories of advertised totals.

Things get even more dicey when you try to count calories in home-prepared meals and snacks. Even experts admit that their estimates are little more than wild guesses. “I have a Ph.D. in nutrition, and I can’t tell if my dinner is 500 or 800 calories just by looking at the plate,” said Jean Mayer, lead author of the study mentioned above, in an interview for U.S. News & World Report.

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Runners Nutrition Part 4: Minerals

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.


1. What am I consuming? Minerals
Minerals are the chemical elements other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, associated with the structure of the body. There are many minerals the body needs but calcium, iron, and sodium seem to be the most relevant in terms of deficiencies and toxicity. Like vitamins some minerals taken in excess can be toxic (iron, zinc).

Calcium-(Ca++) and phosphorus combine with organic molecules to form the teeth and bones. The bones are a “store” of calcium that helps to  maintain the plasma Ca++ concentration when dietary intake is inadequate. Bone is constantly turning over its calcium and phosphorus, so diet must replace what is lost. If the diet is deficient in calcium for a long period of time, loss of bone, osteoporosis or stress fracture can occur.

2. Why should I consume it?  Minerals
This answer is a bit technical. Feel free to comment if you have questions. Iron, of all substances in metabolism, contributes to the beneficial adaptations seen with endurance training. A powerful case could be made for iron as the most critical for at least four reasons:

1. Hemoglobin fills about one third the volume of each red blood cell, so an increase in red cell mass results in an increased total hemoglobin.

2. Without iron, hemoglobin cannot be manufactured.  An increase in cell mass means that the rate of production of red blood cells must be stepped up in endurance-trained athletes.  In untrained people, typical dynamics of the red blood cell synthesis-breakdown continuum are such that about 233million cells are released from the bone marrow into the blood stream each second, with an equal number destroyed (Cronkite 1973).  This number is larger in trained athletes because of an increased production of cells to meet the increased destruction of cells.

3. A red blood cell has no nucleus and thus divides no further, but all its precursor cells do and this cellular division requires DNA synthesis, which is impossible without iron.

4. Endurance training is characterized among other things by an increased myoglobin content in skeletal muscle.  Myoglobin contains iron. Limitations in iron supply should reduce its availability as an oxygen storage reservoir in skeletal muscle. Krebs cycle enzymes, more than half of which contain iron, which allow eventual interaction of 02 and H+ to form H20, completing the large-scale energy release to form FUEL BREAKDOWN (eg energy)(“Better Training For Distance Runners”, Martin and Coe).

Are you getting enough iron? Whether you understand the four reasons or not, the take home message is, iron is very important.


Thanks David Martin for your insight on endurance athlete nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

Runners Nutrition Part 3: Vitamins

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance, instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. We first covered water and now we are onto vitamins.

The common assumption that an American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance, they will automatically consume foods that will improve performance. However getting the proper nutrients isn’t that easy. (Credit:

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

1. What am I consuming? Vitamins
Vitamins are needed in small amounts and are not “used up” in the metabolic reactions.  However they are degraded like any biological molecule and must be replaced on a regular basis to maintain body stores.  Vitamins exist in two forms: Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble.  Vitamins taken in excess can lead to toxicity.

Fat-Soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K.  These vitamins can be stored in large quantities in the body; thus a deficiency state takes longer to develop than for water-soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble vitamins include C, the B vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin, pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid, B-12, pantothenic acid and biotin.  Most are involved in energy metabolism.  Vitamin C is involved in the maintenance of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

2. Why should I consume it? Vitamins
The most important vitamins for elite endurance athletes are:

Vitamin C
Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and greens
Vitamin C helps with connective tissue synthesis, hormone synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis

Vitamin B-12
Found in animal foods, oysters and clams
B-12 helps with folate metabolism and nerve function

Found in sunflower seeds, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, peas and brewers yeast
Thiamin is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve function

Found in milk, mushrooms, spinach, liver and enriched grains
Riboflavin is involved in energy metabolism

Found in mushrooms, bran, tuna, salmon, chicken, beef, liver, peanuts and enriched grains

Pantothenic acid
Found in mushrooms, liver, broccoli and eggs
Pantothenic acid is involved in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, fat breakdown

Found in cheese, egg yolks, cauliflower, peanut butter and liver
Biotin is involved in glucose production and fat synthesis

Vitamin B-6
Found in animal protein foods, spinach, broccoli, bananas, salmon and sunflower seeds
Vitamin B-6 is involved in protein metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, hemoglobin synthesis

Vitamin D
Found in fortified milk, fish oils and breakfast cereals
Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphorus and maintains optimal calcification of bone

Vitamin K
Found in green vegetables and liver
Vitamin K helps form prothromibin and other factors for blood clotting and contribute to metabolism

How do you get your vitamins?



Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

Runners Nutrition Part 2: Water

The first step to “Good” Nutrition is focusing on what foods you need for optimal performance instead of focusing on what foods to avoid. The common assumption that American endurance athletes make is that if they avoid the foods that could harm performance that they will inherently gain the foods that will improve performance. This assumption is flawed for many reasons. One example is the common avoidance of saturated fats by many endurance athletes that has lead to a depletion of iron stores as a result of avoiding the consumption of red meats.

To learn what an endurance athlete needs to eat in order to maximize performance we will focus on two primary objectives in the form of questions:

  • What am I consuming?
  • Why should I consume it?

What am I consuming?  NUTRIENTS

There are six classes of nutrients: water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. In the following blog series each nutrient will be described briefly and the primary food sources of each will be identified.  Also within each section, a brief suggestion of when to consume each nutrient will be given.

In the following blog series we will go through each nutrient with a:

  • Brief description
  • Primary food source
  • Best time to consume

1. What am I consuming?  WATER
The body is 50% to 75% water, depending on age and body fatness. A loss of only 3% to 4% of body water adversely affects aerobic performance. Water is lost primarily through sweat, urine, respiration and cell activity.

2. Why should I consume it?  WATER
Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon, says that one of the keys to her performance is drinking 1 Gallon of water per day. Optimal consumption of water comes within 30min after training sessions are completed and during training sessions of over 1hr 30min.

You will often hear a recommended amount of ounces per distance or time. The troubles with these formulas are that often athletes do not take the time to remember the amount or timing of such formulas. Also, in December because of the temperature being cooler you will need less water than in August when it is hot.

I suggest that you drink within 30min after your training session until you are no longer thirsty and then drink a little more. Think of it in terms of drinking the amount of water you lost plus a little more for cell adaptation to occur.


Thanks Dr. David Martin for your insight on runner’s nutrition and letting us use your research. He told us we could glean and share his information, as we’re working to help you guys run faster.

Better Training for Distance Runners by David Martin

 Exercise Physiology by Powers and Howley 331

Runners Nutrition Part 1: Are You Eating Enough? recently read an article about lower leg pain being caused by too few calories in diets of collegiate distance runners. In a study with 76 collegiate female athletes there was a higher incidence of lower leg pain, missed practices, and stress fractures in athletes that had abnormal eating patterns. Abnormal eating patterns were defined as missing meals, eating lower calories than consumed by more than 3,500 kcal per week, binge eating and purging. That’s when I realised that in order to recuperate, I had to buy peptides online for a speedy recovery.

As a male collegiate, post collegiate, and now coach I have tried to see what the best race weights for my athletes and myself are for several years. The conclusion that I have come to is that athletes need to be at the weight that they stay the healthiest for the longest period of time and the best way to get this is with healthy diet and natural supplements like Beta-Alanine.

You may be able to run faster in the short term by lowering you body weight through an abnormal eating pattern but it will not be without it’s risks of injury. The problem is that your body structure will not maintain strength when you limit your food intake beyond a certain point.  You will begin to lose some weight that is muscle mass due to your body consuming some of the protein in the muscles for energy.

Your body was made to survive and it will survive by consuming whatever is present. If you don’t have enough carbohydrate and fats in your diet, your body will begin to eat away at your muscle mass to fuel your running and daily activities. The bottom line here is try to eat good food and a lot of it.

So what should you eat? Check out the next practical, simple nutrition tip for runners. Learn what your approach to eating should be.

Find Your Race Weight

Wondering how to find your perfect race weight?

There is a great book called “Race Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald that talks about trying to run faster by finding your best race weight.  The book’s premise is that trying to reach your optimum weight should not involve starving yourself to see how many pounds you can lose before race day.  Instead it is more important to pay attention to your weight when you are running PR’s and feeling your best.  Then write down this weight and try to hit it during your competitive season.

In “Racing Weight” Fitzgerald points out that extra weight can make you run slower.  The other end of the spectrum is when you lose too much weight and lose the ability to produce enough power to maintain your best racing paces.

When you’re ready to slim down for your peak race remember that what you eat after an easy run, workout, or race plays a major role in numbers on the scale. Two easy ways to head towards a healthy goal race weight are to eat the right kinds of foods after a race or workout and to eat the right amounts of food. Of course there is a time and place for “splurging”, but if you have a weight goal it is best to avoid the “I just went on a run, I can eat whatever I want!” mentality.

Here is an idea of what you should consume after easy runs, workouts, and races to help you recover and not put on extra post run weight due to your eating habits:

Post Easy Run Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered and thirst
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement

Post Workout or Race Snack:

  • Water- amount depends on weather, distance covered, and thirst
  • Carb/Protein drink- 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein (Muscle milk, chocolate milk, Endurox, Accelerade, etc)
  • 1 granola bar or piece of fruit
  • Vitamins and mineral supplement


Restaurant Specific Fat Loss Ordering Tips

By Coach Robin & Coach Stephanie

Italian restaurant
Stick with salads or grilled lean protein with lots of veggies. Pasta is NOT your best choice for fat loss. Most places have grilled fish, chicken, and beef options. Avoid creamy sauces & dressings.

Steakhouse restaurant
Chose lean cuts of beef, chicken, or fish with steamed vegetables and a side salad (remember to ask for dressings on the side & skip the croutons).

Mexican restaurant
Great ordering options at a Mexican restaurant are fajitas without tortillas or taco salad without the shell (ask for it on a plate or in a bowl). Skip the sour cream and go easy on the cheese.

American-style restaurant
These restaurants (Applebee’s, Chili’s…) offer steak, chicken, and fish. Make sure to ask for it grilled. There are usually a nice selection of salads. Ask to add extra protein (double the grilled chicken, fish, or steak) and leave off the fatty extras (crunchy noodles, excess cheese, etc…).

Asian restaurants
Most Asian restaurants offer steamed entrees. Ask for the sauce on the side. Go with the protein+ veggies and a few bites of rice.

What is your favorite healthy dish when going out?

10 Quick Tips for Fat Loss When Dining Out

Nutrition Coaches Stephanie Wolfe & Robin Luke


1. Do your homework- If you have the chance to know ahead of time where you will be dining, check out their menu and look at their nutrition. Avoid the obvious (fried, creamy). There are plenty of apps for phones these days that allow you to look up the restaurant’s menu and/or nutrition, like “Fast Food” and my favorite “My Fitness Pal”.

2. Order water- don’t waste your calories on empty things such as sodas, alcoholic beverages, or sweetened drinks.

3. Don’t be afraid to be “that” girl, or guy– Never be afraid to ask for sauces or condiments on the side. Let’s be realistic, a salad may sound healthy, but most restaurants do not put just a sprinkle of cheese or bacon and drizzle ranch. To be on the safe side, I always order my cheese and dressing on the side & no croutons.

4. Skip the appetizers, bread, or chips–  Again, appetizers can be empty calories as well, being that they have little to no nutritional value. Get your calories from nutrient dense food. Also, if you attend a restaurant that serves bread or chips, just simply ask your server to not even bring them. That way you do not have to resist the urge of wanting a bite or 5.

5. Safe orders- For myself, I know that I can safely get by with protein and veggies at most restaurants. This meal is very satiating. Remember that instead of a starch, you could always do a protein and double veggies.

6. Mindful eating- I tend to eat really fast so this can be challenging for me. Be in the moment and focus on what foods you are putting in your mouth. SLOW DOWN! This means breaking out of autopilot eating habits which so many of us have.

7. Starches- This includes breads, potatoes, pasta, beans… If you make the choice to include these in your meal, eat them LAST. Eat your lean protein and veggies first and THEN take a few bites of your starch.

8. Sodium- Restaurants typically go way overboard with salts/seasonings, so ask them to go easy on the salt. If you forget, just make sure you drink lots of water during and after the meal to help avoid the sodium bloat.

9. Alcohol- Combining alcohol with fat and starchy carbs is a fat loss disaster. If you chose to drink alcohol while dining out, limit yourself to one or two glasses at the most and stick to eating lean protein and vegetables.

10. No one is perfect- Sustainable fat loss is NOT all-or-nothing. Come up with your restaurant plan and do your best to stick with it. IF you stray from the plan, don’t beat yourself up too much. Put that behind you and focus on getting right back on track with your fat loss. Fat Loss Happens Anywhere- It’s all about making smart choices.

Do you have any tips for eating healthy when you are going out? Let us know in the comments below and visit the Healthcare Guys website to learn more tips on weight loss and supplements.

Want to know more about our nutrition club? Check it out.

Why Are Whole Grains Good For You?

By Great Harvest Bakery Owner Carol Rutledge

There is quite a buzz these days about eating whole grains and thankfully so. The United States Military is now serving soldiers whole grains over processed grains. Michelle Obama is advocating whole grains in the schools. Best-Selling food author Michael Pollan is telling us to eat foods closest to nature, like whole grains, because they’re healthier and tastier.

Yet, knowing which products are truly whole grain and healthy can be confusing! Especially when so many commercially produced products can contain puzzling claims.

Understanding what constitutes a whole grain product is pretty simple. The product must feature all parts of the grain – the bran, germ and endosperm. If any of the parts are removed, so is the whole grain designation. Refined grains are those that have one or two grain parts removed, which removes naturally occurring nutrients and other healthful benefits like fiber.

The bran, the outer most layer of a grain kernel, is where the fiber comes from along with some vitamins and minerals. The endosperm of a grain is mainly the carbohydrate source. It contains good things like trace proteins, vitamins and minerals. The germ of the kernel is a nutrient powerhouse because it contains good fats and vitamins, especially B and E and minerals.

3 Whole Grain Servings a Day

Whole grains are good for you. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans by MyPyramid (the FDA food) recommends three or more servings a day. Why? Because whole grains among other things, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and certain types of cancers. Whole grains are also great for weight management because they provide a consistent source of energy and help you stay fuller longer.

The essential vitamins found in whole grains include iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and many B-vitamins. Surprising but true- whole grains from wheat and oats are equal in antioxidant activity to spinach and broccoli! Plus, carbohydrates are the only source of energy for your red blood cells and are a main source of energy for the brain and central nervous system. This is particularly important during pregnancy. Also, children who eat more whole grains reduce their risk of obesity, diabetes and asthma.

The big picture for good health is to remember that a diet rich in whole natural foods, such as whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits is rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants, which are essential to your health and lifestyle. The key is to eat delicious, nutritious foods closest to nature – like whole grains.

By Guest Author Carol Rutledge

Carol’s passion for nutrition and baking led her to open the Great Harvest Bread Co. in Rome, GA. She loves offering Rome the best tasting breads and sweets around. She is a 3rd generation native “Roman”.

The Dangers of Dehydration

By Peter Pfitzinger |

Warm weather is here, along with the twin menaces of heat and humidity. Running in the heat can quickly lead to dehydration, which ranks up there with dobermans among runners’ worst enemies. Dehydration hurts your performance, and slows your ability to recover for the next workout. Continuing to run when dehydrated can lead to heat stroke and death.

To better understand the dangers of dehydration, let’s take a look at what happens in the body when you run on a warm day. First, your body automatically sends more blood to the skin for evaporative cooling, leaving less oxygen-rich blood going to your leg muscles. Second, the warmer it is, the more you sweat, and the more your blood volume decreases. Less blood returns to your heart, so it pumps less blood per contraction. Your heart rate must increase, therefore, to pump the same amount of blood. The result is that you cannot maintain as fast a pace on a warm day.

Worst of all, dehydration tends to catch you unawares. If you replace a little less fluid than you lose each day, after a few days you will run poorly but may not know why. Exercise physiologist and marathoner Larry Armstrong, Ph.D., induced dehydration equal to 2% of body weight in runners and observed a 6% decrease in speed over 5K or 10K. That’s a 3% decline in performance for each 1% decrease in bodyweight due to dehydration.

It is not unusual to lose 3-4 pounds of water per hour when running on a warm day. At this rate, after 2 hours a 150 pound runner would lose 6-8 pounds, representing a 4-5% loss in bodyweight and a 10-15% decrement in performance. That’s about an extra 1 minute per mile. Losing more than 4-5% of your bodyweight, however, could do even more serious damage to your body.

Preventing Dehydration

If you are running in temperatures over 70 degrees, or over 60 degrees if the humidity is high, then staying properly hydrated can become a challenge. You need a strategy for preventing dehydration during today’s run, and for minimizing the cumulative effects of hot weather running.

Before workouts and races, concentrate on drinking enough fluids to ensure you are fully hydrated. Do not just rely on your thirst-your body’s thirst mechanism is imperfect. Also, you cannot just sit down and drink a half gallon of fluid at one sitting and assume you are fully hydrated. It takes time for your body tissues to absorb fluid. To top off the tank, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about half a liter of fluid (just over 1 pint) about 2 hours before exercise to help ensure adequate hydration and to allow time to excrete excess water. Drinks containing sodium are more readily retained by the body.

How much you should drink during your runs depends on the heat and humidity, and how far you are running. The maximum amount you should drink is the amount that can empty from your stomach. Research has shown that most runners’ stomachs can only empty about 6-7 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes during running. If you drink more than that, the extra fluid will just slosh around in your stomach and not provide any additional benefit. You may be able to handle more or less than the average, however, so experiment with how much liquid your stomach will tolerate.

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