Welcome to Donna, your site for professional sports nutrition coaching. Donna is a registered dietitian and competitive athlete who "walks her talk". Her philosophy of nutrition coaching embraces a holistic approach, with emphasis on natural foods as the foundation for a healthy diet.

Follow her weekly blog on topics related to nutrition, metabolism and psychology.



Another Vote for Food – Not Supplements

The technology is available to measure bone density and vitamin D and calcium, so there is no excuse for general recommendations to use supplements.  In fact, Master class age group female athletes who are concerned about their bone strength should be aware that supplements of calcium, vitamin D may have too much for some older women — ScienceDaily.  Don’t guess, find a physician who is willing to order the tests needed to personalize your nutrition plan.


Climate change and rising CO2 will reduce quality of food

Rising CO2 levels are affecting the protein level of our plants.  Just as it is for human muscle synthesis, nitrogen is essential for plants to grow protein.  High CO2 levels have been found to reduce plant protein in wheat, rice, and barley.

Climate change and rising CO2 will reduce quality of food.


Walnut Energy Bars – Homemade and Natural

Nothing but great nutritious ingredients in these gluten free bars! Perfect before a workout, for breakfast, or a good for you snack.

Energy bars are expensive and often made months ahead of when they are actually eaten.  Why not go for a homemade version?  Try this recipe from the California Walnut board.  Ingredients:  3 cups California walnuts, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup dried apricots, 1/2 cup honey…(see more).


Diet for Recovery from Injury

I am finally putting up a post after many months of injuries.  First a diagnosis of a torn hamstring.  Just getting back on a road bike when WHAM! I was the recipient of a badly thrown rather large stick at the beach which my lab picked up.  Trying hard to put all healing at full speed I have pulled out the big guns: the anti-inflammatory, nutrient laden foods and supplements.  Six days post trauma and I can see, swelling down, and able to swim and walk a bit.  My top healing foods: blueberries, cherries, tomatoes with fresh basil, chicken soup and tea.  For protein, primarily tuna, wild salmon, gardenburgers and plain Greek yogurt.  Supplements of tumeric and ice packs every few hours.  


Phytos Power Weight Control

Just today I was lending a listening ear to a fellow master athlete who was frustrated with his weight and lack of control over his appetite.  “It’s the kitchen counter thing…you can eat hundreds of calories just walking through the kitchen…before you even hit the shower”.  Ouch! And you know it. Those after work, late-day work-outs can really crank up the hunger meter.

Preventing weight gain once you hit the big 40 is an important goal if you self-power over gravity for any length of time.  The painless way to avoid weight gain is primarily through the route of a healthy diet.  What is the best choice?  The evidence is stacking up:  top foods on your kitchen counter should be whole fruits, whole grain foods, nuts and vegetables.  Read all about it in the latest study in Nutrition and Metabolism.




“Winter” Mediterranean Salad

This salad is gluten-free, low in carbohydrate and a nice seasonal winter salad in place of lettuce.  Fennel is high in manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.  For variety, add artichokes, sweet red peppers and/or or kale.   The Mediterranean Diet  is recommended for weight control and heart health.

Ingredients – Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For Salad

  • 2 cups (174 g) sliced fennel bulb (preferable organic)
  • 1-½ cups (240 g) thinly sliced red onion
  • ¾ – 1 cup sliced black olives
  • ¾ cup (45 g) fresh parsley, chopped (may sub dried, but not as flavorful)
  • ½ cup (75 g) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can (15-1/2 oz, 439 g) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2- 15 oz cans diced red tomatoes, drained

Makes 12 (about ½ cup servings) NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS:  Calories: 112, Protein: 4.5 g, Carbohydrate: 12 g, Fat 5.5 g, Sat Fat: 1.1 g,Sugar 2.5 g, Fiber 3.5 g


Get Leaner, Get Faster, by Understanding Carbohydrate Balance

It’s almost the holiday season. Cookies, sweet treats and alcohol are more plentiful than snowflakes.  How much can an endurance athlete “afford” to enjoy?  Recent studies have absolved high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from being any worse than sucrose, a.k.a “table sugar”.  But there is no question that too much of the sweet stuff – whether it is from HFCS or sucrose, or alcohol – can result in excess belly fat and a host of health problems.   Athletes with a large waistline and “apple” body shape may experience decreased insulin sensitivity, which means less access to energy when you really need it.  If you fit into this body type, no matter how many hours of training in your log, a high carbohydrate diet may not be the right fuel mix.   When excess belly fat appears, activation of adipokines, upsets normal carbohydrate metabolism and may make a high carbo diet the wrong choice even if you are training hard.  Rather than cutting healthy carbs (which all turn into glucose eventually), it’s smarter to focus on added sugars.  Fructose found naturally in whole fruit, vegetables, and dairy is quite low.  However, semi-prepared foods, fruit juice, restaurant foods and snacks can exponentially add sugar to your diet and you may not even realize it. For example, although Subway restaurants offer low fat, low sugar choices such as fresh vegetables, low fat meat, and 9-grain buns, the unsavvy consumer can put together a high sugar combination.  A 6-inch chicken teriyaki sub paired with a small fruizzle express totals up to 50 grams of sugar.  Like many condiments, sweet and sour teriyaki sauce is loaded with sugar, and the healthy sounding Fruizzle fruit drink is about three times as much sugar as a single piece of fresh fruit.  When it comes to holiday treats, be choosy.  Follow the one-a-day rule, and head for a shrimp cocktail or the smoked salmon instead.


Total Calories: 2400   Total Carbohydrate: 276 g, sugar 73 g, Protein 131 g, Sodium 2858 mg


Oatmeal instant, regular, Quaker 2 packets

English walnuts, 1 Tbsp

1 small navel orange

1 slice whole wheat bread (1 oz)

½ tsp Take Control margarine



Fresh apple, 1 small



Turkey & ham Subway SW, No oil

Apple, 1 small

Low calorie beverage



Rye Krisp crackers,3 each

1 oz (1 ind wrap stick) mozzarella cheese



Chicken breast, 6 oz grilled or roasted, no skin

Large baked potato

1 Tbsp Take Control margarine

1 cup green beans

2 cups mixed green salad with 2 Tbsp Italian dressing



Apple, 1 small




1 large banana nut low fat muffin (Dunkin Donuts)

1 Starbucks Frapuccinno coffee

8 oz Orange juice



Chicken Caesar wrap (Chix-A-Fil)

16 oz Gatorade



2 pcs. Lasagna dinner

1 slc Italian bread

1 cup mixed salad greens

1 T Italian dressing



2 Muskateer;’s bar

1 package original flavor Sun Chips

1 Nutrigrain bar

Total Calories: 2753  Fat 83 , Carb 409 g, Sugar 205 g Sodium 4800 mg



Healthy Fuel: Wild Salmon Loaf

Prep: 5 minutes   Cook 1 hour.        Makes 4 large servings          High protein – Gluten free – High Omega-3 fats

Wild salmon, eggs, and oatmeal make this a nutrient rich main dish, salad protein choice, or sandwich filling.   Let’s take a closer look at some of the ingredients and how they can help performance:  Egg yolk is a rich source of choline, which is found in acetylcholine, a key messenger between nerve and muscle cells during exercise. The yolk is also a rich source of lutein and vitamin E, important nutrients for eye and heart health.  Oatmeal    is a natural whole grain,  which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Wild salmon contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, as well as healthy omega-3 fats which reduce inflammation.  


2 cups cooked, or canned salmon, flaked (1-14 oz can)  

½ cup uncooked, dry oatmeal   

2 eggs,  beaten             

1 medium onion, finely chopped  

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley         

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice               

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce   

½ tsp salt              

¾ cup 1% milk                                                                                                          

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray loaf pan with food oil or dot with butter. Gently but thoroughly blend all ingredients.  Place in a loaf pan or casserole, uncovered.  Optional:  lemon pepper blend, season to taste

Nutrition per serving:  Calories 275, Fat 13.3 g, Carbohydrate 14 g, Protein 26 g, Sodium 958 mg



Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, Powerful in 6 Hours a Week

I was asked to review the latest update from Chris Carmichael and found the Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, Powerful in 6 Hours a Week to be everything the title promised.  Chris’s tips can help any endurance athlete who is super timed crunched to hang with the competition who have more time to train.  His book includes programs for road racing, cyclocross, mountain bike events, Gran Fondos, century rides, and multi-day tours-all in under 6 hours a week. The book is now available in bookstores, bike shops, and online.  Preview The Time-Crunched Cyclist at

Through his popular endurance coaching service, Carmichael noticed that many busy cyclists are unable to make performance gains using conventional training methods; they simply don’t have enough time to train. Carmichael Training Systems developed a new approach-the Time-Crunched Training Program-to help cyclists achieve competitive fitness and power without the impossible time demands of traditional training methods.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist shows cyclists how to build fitness on a realistic schedule by tapping the power of high-intensity interval workouts. Cyclists learn the science behind this alternative approach to training before performing the CTS field tests to get a baseline reading of their fitness.

8 comprehensive training plans include effective time-crunched workouts, nutrition guidelines, and strength training to develop the speed and endurance for a wide variety of cycling races and events. New programs for this second edition bring cyclists up to speed for cyclocross racing, mountain bike endurance rides, and show bicycle commuters how to turn their twice-a-day rides into effective time-crunched workouts.

Cycling is more fun when you are fit, and now great fitness is achievable for cyclists who thought their best performances disappeared with their free time.


Fluids, Electrolytes and Optimal Race Performance


Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps and heat stroke are four good reasons why every athlete should understand the basics of fluid physiology.   Quite simply, what you don’t know can be deadly.  Let’s take a look some facts and myths about balancing fluids and minerals correctly and racing “responsibly” for the conditions.

Fluid Balance Basics

Q: I have heard that drinking as much water as possible the day before a race is a good way to make sure your body is fully hydrated for racing.  Is this true? Read More