November Newsletter


In This Issue
Athlete's Nutritional Transition into the Off-Season
Nutrition Facts or Myth: Thanksgiving Edition
How to Make Your Stuffing Healthier
A Note from Lauren...
Nutrition Energy
In the News!
Limor Baum, MS, RDN, CEDRD

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Issue: #73 November 2016
Athlete's Nutritional Transition into the Off-Season

After a season of training, racing, and pushing your body to the limit, it is time for some much needed R&R. The off-season is an important training phase, which allows the body and mind to recover in order to come back stronger next season. Many athlete's completely forget about good nutrition in the off season, since they are not focusing on performance-but we are here to tell you what you should focus on.
  • Decrease total calories commensurate with your decrease in training volume. Continuing the habit of eating "anything and everything" will undoubtably result in weight gain if your volume and intensity of training decrease. So if you went from training 10 hours per week to 3, you definitely want to be mindful of decreasing your total intake. However, many athletes simply switch sports in the off-season, and do not actually decrease total training volume-in that case, you will need to continue to eat as much as you were "in training". Either way, all food groups; carbs, protein and fat, are still important for energy, satiety and a healthy, happy body. If you are unsure of your of-season needs, come on in for a Resting Metabolic Rate test, and in 15-20 minutes we will have your daily calorie needs measured.
  • Cook more! Take advantage of newfound time by cooking well-balanced meals. This will help you know what goes into your food and allows you to experiment with new dishes you may really like. Try recipes with "new" (to you) spices. Now is also a great time to learn a new technique in the kitchen - like how to make a great omelet. Perfect it now so you are confident and efficient and can continue using it when the season begins and you have less time.
  • Experiment: Now is the time to try new foods. Make your own muffins, energy bars and snacks. Pumpkin muffins and zucchini breads come to mind here! Of course we can always snack on whole foods including almonds and fruit or hummus and raw vegetables as well...but the off-season is a great time to find easy snack recipes you can make to enjoy on heavy training days as well.
  • Add variety. Athletes often thrive on structure and routine, but now is the time to add variety in both the foods you eat and in your exercise routine. Eating the same meals over and over gets boring (at least we think so!), and may also leave you missing key nutrients. Eating a wider variety of foods can improve your immunity, overall health and enjoyment of eating. Adding variety in exercises prevents overtraining specific muscles and is mentally refreshing.
  • Stay hydrated. You may not be sweating as much, but the heat is on inside and the air is dry. We may also overdress when we go out to exercise leading to similar water losses despite colder temps., or indulge in a few extra cocktails some weeks in the "holiday spirit". Hydration is always extremely important for our health; critical for a strong immune system, lubricating joints, eliminating waste and transporting nutrients. Drink up!
  • Indulge. This is not a completely free pass, but do certainly take advantage of your offseason. Catch up on all those happy hours and evenings out with friends that you passed on during the season. Enjoy the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and brunch with friends. Just try not to overindulge continually for 2 months!!!...or you will be frustrated when you have to spend weeks working off the pounds you gained when the season starts again. Our mantra with dietary indulgences: quality over quantity; We'll take a scoop of real homemade ice cream over "fake or fat free stuff" any day.
Here's to a Happy and Healthy Off Season!
Nutrition Facts or Myth: Thanksgiving Edition

  1. Does eating Turkey make us sleepy?
-      You have likely heard that eating turkey meat makes us sleepy because it contains tryptophan. While tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate sleep, eating turkey will not really make you sleepy. In fact, all meats contain tryptophan in comparable amounts to turkey. So then why do you get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? The inevitable mix of meat with carbohydrates is what you can thank for your post-turkey drowsiness. Carbohydrates ingested during the meal - from the cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and pie - cause a release of insulin, thus activating muscular uptake of most amino acids, except for tryptophan. Free from competition with other amino acids, tryptophan is more efficiently circulated to the brain where it is converted to serotonin and ultimately melatonin, priming you for sleep. The consumption of alcohol and over "stuffing" ourselves with food further contributes to heavy eyelids. So if you want to feel energized, rather than exhausted, post your Thanksgiving meal, go ahead an include a serving of turkey...Plus veggies....and keep the portions of heavier carbs lighter.
-      Fun Fact, approximately 91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.


2.Is all Stuffing created equal?  


-      There are regional differences to the "stuffing" (sometimes called "dressing") traditionally served with the turkey. Southerners generally make theirs from cornbread, while in other parts of the country white bread is the base. One or several of the following may be added: oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausage or the turkey's giblets. Tradition and preference determine if the stuffing is actually stuffed in the turkey or cooked separately. Regardless of the differences, most traditionally stuffings are very high in fat and dense in terms of carbs. On average, one cup contains a whopping 330 calories, 18 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of protein. Find some suggestions at the end of this post for ways to make your stuffing healthier this year!


3. Have cranberries, and green bean casseroles always been part of the Thanksgiving meal?


-      Today, twenty percent of all cranberries eaten in the US are enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day. Native Americans - present at the very first Thanksgiving - did not eat cranberries, but instead used them to treat wounds and dye clothing. It is believed that cranberries made their appearance on the table in 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries to be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal. Now you are armed with some interesting history to bring up at dinner while everyone is enjoying the cranberry sauce!
-      More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole was created by Campbell's in the early 1950s and was intended to be an easy, "nutritious" dish that could be made with ingredients most people had in the pantry at the time. In 1955, the recipe was featured in an Associated Press article just before Thanksgiving. The article implied association between the casserole and the holiday and the tradition was formed. *We recommend breaking this tradition, and keeping your green beans/veggies lighter and healthier so as to balance out the rest of the heavier items on the table.


4.Is true meaning of Thanksgiving to eat a big meal?

We think you know the answer to this one! Thanksgiving should be a day of reflecting upon what you are thankful for. Of course food is a prominent feature, but please remember the TRUE meaning behind this fall holiday. Try to do three things on Thanksgiving Day that remind you of what you are thankful for. Examples might be taking a walk (or running a 5k/Turkey Trot) to remind yourself to be thankful for your health and eating a healthy breakfast to remind yourself that it is the most important way to fuel your busy day. Go around the table each stating one thing you are thankful for (in addition to the bountiful meal)!

How to Make Your Stuffing Healthier

Tips to improve the nutritional profile of this Thanksgiving staple... without sacrificing flavor!
Tip 1: Increase the amount of vegetables in the recipe. Most stuffing recipes call for carrots, celery, and onion at the least. Increasing each of these by 1/3-1/2 cup. You don't even have to tell anyone - this can be our little secret.
Tip 2: Add vegetables you like! This time of year there are a number of delicious and nutritious vegetables in season, and just about all of them can be added to stuffing. Pumpkin, butternut squash, shredded Brussels sprouts and bell peppers are great options. If you decide to add vegetables with a lot of moisture, such as mushrooms, you will want to reduce the liquid components of the recipe, (often broth), to prevent a soggy stuffing. Increasing the amount of veggies allows for you to cut back on the amount of bread you use in the recipe, thus packing in nutrients while decreasing total calories and carbohydrate per serving.
Tip 3: Add fruits. Why not? Fruits such as apples and pears can handle the high heat of being baked and add sweetness to savory stuffings. Dried fruits including cranberries, are another great option and allow you to get a little bit more of your daily servings of fruits in.
Tip 4: Reduce the amount of butter. Butter is usually added for flavor and is not necessary for the cooking process. Reduce the amount or even swap out butter altogether. You can replace butter the 3/4-1.5 cups of butter with a1/2 cup + 1 Tbs high-quality olive oil. This retains the richness fat provides with added heart-healthy benefits.

Tip 5: Limit the sodium. Stock/broth and butter are generally high in sodium. Opt for lower-sodium broths and substituting butter for olive oil will reduce the amount of salt you eat. And remember, more veggies= more flavor, so less need for salt and fat.
We hope you try at least 1 or 2 of this stuffing makeover tricks. Please do and email or tweet us @NutritionEnergy to let us know how it went.

A Note from Lauren...

The holidays have begun!  Thanksgiving is just a day away, and that means wine will be flowing, food will be everywhere, and belts will be loosened.  However, you do not have to give up on your goals when the pressure's on.  Yes, you may be surrounded by massive quantities of carbohydrates, but you can still make good decisions while sill enjoying the holiday.

If you know you are tempted, try to eat a small meal before you leave (stock up on veggies and fresh fruits!).  Instead of filling your plate, try small tastes of the dishes you like.  Pace yourself!  Some Thanksgivings can be all day events - don't go overboard right away. Make sure you eat breakfast and maybe get a workout in before the festivities begin!

Regardless, enjoy the day with your families and friends!  And, as always, contact the dietitians of Nutrition Energy to help you through the nuritrional maze of the Holidays!
Lauren Antonucci, Director
Nutrition Energy