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.

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Archive for the ‘Recovery Nutrition’ Category
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.  

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


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

Immune Boosting Ginger Chicken Soup

Prep: 10 minutes           Cook:  3-5 hours crockpot       Serves    8-10

Chicken soup is the staple when it comes to recovering from a cold or flu.  I make the traditional recipe with a little Asian twist.  By adding fresh grated ginger root the taste is enhanced along with the immune boosting power.  This recipe calls for the addition of cabbage, onions, and carrots, but do not be afraid to toss in squash, potatoes or leeks.  The whole idea is to maximize the amount of phytochemicals  available in a single meal.

Hydration with soup is very effective due to the presence of potassium from the vegetables, and sodium, which are essential electrolytes.  I like to make a large batch, and then freeze some of it for quick recovery meals.


1 (2-3 pound) whole chicken, or cut-up; remove skin

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (put through a garlic press for quick prep)
Read More

Faster Muscle Recovery: Supplements vs. NSAIDS

It is frustrating to have a great day training and then wake up the next morning too sore to workout again.  Many athletes avoid using NSAIDS because of the potential risk of bleeding, ulcers and kidney damage.  Natural anti-inflammatory supplements are regularly marketed as safer and effective, but do they really work?  The jury is still out, with some researchers getting positive results, and others not.  If you do chose to use a natural food based anti-inflammatory supplements, here are some guidelines. 

1)  Take a supplement that contains a mixture of ingredients. The concurrent ingestion of flavonoids increases their effectiveness.  2)  Use the supplement consistently for at least 2 weeks.  Popping a natural supplement the day of a race is not likely to be effective.  To date, two of the supplements that have shown effectiveness include black currant berries containing 240 mg anthocyanins, or and a combination of quercetin mixed with isoquercetin, EGCG, fish oil, vitamin C, and niacin.

Longer Endurance on Less Sugar?

I admit it. I wear my heart rate monitor and check the calorie count for my workout as much as I follow heart rate.  Seeing the calorie burn keeps me motivated to keep cranking up hills and staying on pace.   Research has proven without question that carbohydrate feeds during endurance exercise improve time to exhaustion and decrease muscle breakdown.  But all that extra sugar can take away from overall calorie expenditure.  Over a 1 hour ride, 24 oz of a typical 6% carbohydrate sport drink will add 150 calories, and it is all sugar.  Recently researchers at the University of Texas tested a new formulation of sport drink in female athletes and found that a protein plus mixed-carb supplement could improve performance despite containing 50 percent less carbohydrate.  The protein plus carb blend was also 30 percent lower in calories, and important consideration for many athletes.   Better performance, less sugar, and more calorie burn.  That’s my kind of sport drink.

Best Diet for Faster Recovery and Reduced Oxidative Stress in Endurance Athletes

Aerobic exercise is associated with an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that occur when metabolic rate is elevated. When the production of ROS is increased, the body’s natural internal antioxidant defense system kicks in to counteract harmful effects of exercise stress.  Read More

3-Minute Italian Recovery Soup

Don’t overlook the convenience of keeping canned food in your cupboard as a way to improve your diet. I like this fast recovery Tomato Italian soup because it is packed with antioxidants, and low in calories.   Spring for the extra cost of organic, pre-seasoned crushed tomatoes to insure low added sugars, and maximum flavor.    Spices are essential to raise antioxidant content, and don’t be afraid to add a little extra to suite your taste.

¾ cup organic, crushed tomatoes seasoned with Italian spices

½ cup chicken broth

Optional: fresh ground pepper

Optional: top with 2 Tbsp. fresh grated parmesan cheese
Read More

I do one high intensity work-out for only an hour…HOW MUCH CAN I EAT?


A high intensity workout at maximum effort, for 60 minutes burns up about 15 cal/min or 900 calories.  Subtract from exercise calories, the calories you would have burned sitting for an hour, about 100.  Exercise caloric expenditure would be an additional 800 calories over resting rate of 1500 calories for the average woman, making her total requirement 2300 calories for the day.   For males, average resting caloric needs are between 1800 – 2000 calories.  To calculate a more accurate value for resting calories use the Harris- Benedict equation.

Working hard does not mean you can down as much food as you want.  Just two pieces of a large cheese pizza and a 16 ounce soda totals up to 755 calories, 21 g protein, 15 g of fat, and 136 g of carbohydrate. 


Optimal Carbohydrate: are YOU getting enough?

Research has shown consistently that carbohydrate is essential after exercise to replace glycogen stores in the muscle.  While general guidelines state carbohydrate should be >50% of an athletes’ diet, translating this recommendation to specific amounts of food is not that simple.  For an individual athlete, carbohydrate recommendations should be based on body weight, exercise intensity and volume (or duration).  During general training, a carbohydrate intake of 5-7 g /kg is ideal, for endurance training aim for 7-10 g/kg.

Recent research has shown that when carbohydrate intake following exercise is insufficient, then addition of small amounts of protein can be beneficial.  Good carbohydrate sources: rice (wild, brown, or white) average of 22 grams carbohydrate per ½ cup serving, 2-4 g protein, 1 g fat; egg noodles, 20 g carbohydrate per ½ cup, 4 g protein, 1.1 g fat.  Snack foods such as M &M cookies (Subway) have 30 g of carbohydrate, 4 g protein, and an additional 15 grams of fat.