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 ‘Sport Products & Supplements’ Category
To Finish First, Base Your Recovery Fuel on Science


After a 1st place in the Cable Classic and 4th in WORS#2 Rhinelander Pro Field,   Tyler Gauthier garnered a personal invite to take on the competition at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival .  Tyler says, “ I love the PureSport Recovery drink.  I have been using it immediately after races and hard training efforts and my next days’ energy level has been very good.  Just 2 weeks ago I had back to back races and followed my first race with an immediate recovery drink and the next day I felt great with all the energy I needed.  Even after single weekend races I am ready to train the next day after taking in a recovery mix. ”  You heard it from one of the best in the Midwest.  


Feel Your Racing Weight – NOW

I don’t know very many master’s level athletes who don’t carry an extra 5-10 pounds more than they did during their 20′s.  It isn’t so much a cosmetic issue, or health issue.  But when it comes to performance and injury potential, the difference is like carrying a stone in your shoe for an entire marathon. 

It is possible to train for speed, or through an injury with a LightSpeed Body Weight Support System Jordans_LightSpeed_Brochure_2 .  No need to get into a funk, and become a pizza and beer couch potato.   Designed by an experienced physical therapist, it is the answer to keeping your training on track.

Cycle faster to the finish with a scientific nutrition plan

Hey, we all have a VO2 max limit, and sometimes even the most dedicated training plan doesn’t seem to improve it.  If you’ve been stuck just behind your best buddy in the pack, then it’s time to think about making a change.

Most athletes, tend to follow a sort of vague “drink/eat when I feel the need” plan during a race.  Recent research  conducted with trained cyclists proved that a scientifically planned nutrition strategy can improve a 40 km time trial ride by as much as 8 minutes when compared with a loosely planned, self-chosen nutrition strategy. Researchers took eighteen endurance-trained cyclists (16 male; 2 female) 
and tested them at intervals of 2 weeks, once following a self-selected nutrition plan, and once following a science based nutrition plan.  The science-based plan consisted of about 1000 mL·h(-1) fluid, in portions of just over a cup, every 15 min.  The hydration drink contained 500 mg sodium/liter, 60 g glucose/hour, 30 g fructose/hour, and 5 mg caffeine/kg body weight.  The test protocol involved a 2.5-h endurance exercise on a bicycle ergometer at 70% maximal oxygen uptake, followed by a 5 minutes of rest. Then  a time trial of 64.37 km (40 miles) was completed. The amount of  sport drink taken in was recorded every 15 minutes. When using the scientifically designed nutrition plan, the athletes completed the time trial faster (128 vs. 136 min; p ≤ 0.001) and with a significantly higher power output (212 vs. 184 W; p ≤ 0.001). The intake of fluid, energy (carbohydrate-, mono-, and disaccharide), and sodium was significantly higher in the pre-determined plan compared with self-selected nutrition support during the endurance exercise.  Moral of the story?  If you want to win, fuel with science and get results.

Increase Endurance Performance by 7% With Natural Food

Now that I am well into the Master’s age group category, it is at times frustrating (mild language!)  to see the downward slide in performance.  I blame my lack of conditioning on a combination of factors. Like most other Masters’, I have old injuries that keep me from doing much high intensity training.  Recovery time is longer, and I have to spend more time maintaining flexibility so that I can hit the gas and sprint to the finish line without sustaining a muscle pull.  Attitude is number one, training smarter, number two.  If you’re not older and smarter, you are done as a master! 

Staying competitive over age 40 means understanding how to make the most of what you have.  Besides fine-tuning technique and buying the latest equipment, your diet becomes a bigger factor in performance.  Is it possible to eat a diet that raises oxygen delivery?  Yes; but until recently, only the most dedicated  (I couldn’t!) could do so. But now a concentrated food supplement has become available that could rocket your performance.  Beet root extract.  To be exact, the specific compound in beet root that is responsible for its’ performance enhancing effects is the nitrates which are found naturally in beets.

The good news is not only can you ski, bike or run or whatever your passion is at a higher level, it costs you less in lung sucking air effort.  Power lungs translate to power legs and you know it. 

Beets.  More to come on the benefits of high nitrate foods. Stay tuned.  Spinach egg omelets? Beet shots as a pre-load?  Horseradish beet mustard? The right food can give you the first wave finish.  Eat it.  Have more fun. Live better through natural science.

Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism

 ’Fat burners’ are the most popular supplement group on the market.   What exactly is a ‘fat burner” ?  Manufacturers apply this term to describe any supplement that  increases fat metabolism or energy expenditure for a short time period, increases weight loss, increases the use of fat as a fuel during exercise, or somehow causes metabolic  changes that promote the use of body fat over a long time period.  While there are thousands of fat burner supplements available for purchase on the market, few have any human studies to back up their claims.  Supplements that have been tested on humans include caffeine, carnitine, green tea, conjugated linoleic acid, forskokloin, chromium, kelp, and fucoxanthin.  Of this list, only caffeine and green tea have sufficient data to back up their claims, and the effects on fat metabolism are small.  The other supplements, while showing some promise, need further testing to warrant recommendation for use.

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.

Are Natural Sugars Healthier than High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Excessive amounts of refined sugars can cause oxidative damage, and are linked to heart disease, cancer, and aging. Athletes depend on sugar for energy. Do products sweetened with honey, molasses, date sugar or brown sugar provide any natural antioxidant protection?  Antioxidant capacity of table sugar, corn syrup and agave syrup  contain minimal antioxidant capacity when measured using the ferric reducing ability of plasma ( FRAP) assay. Less refined sweeteners have a higher FRAP (antioxidant rating). Based on a typical intake of 130 grams of refined sugar per day, if only less refined sugars are used, the antioxidant protection would be equal to that of one serving of berries. Don’t be fooled by healthy sounding sweeteners, they all have 4 calories/gram and offer little nutritional benefits.

24-H High GI Carbohydrate Loading


The basic technique for eating a one-day high GI load is simply a “this for that” approach – i.e., swapping whole grain, high fiber low GI carbs for high GI carbs.  Notice that many of these food choices will work for someone on a gluten free diet, which I have indicated with a GF symbol. [ Read More

Reduce Muscle Soreness after Strength Training

 Doing squats is a great way to strengthen the gluts and hamstrings.  These muscles oppose the often over-used, and tightened hip flexors that fire when running or cycling.  

To test whether carbohydrate or branch-chain amino acids (BCAA) are effective in reducing the muscle soreness that occurs after the eccentric movement used during squats, researchers provided a drink with one or the other to untrained females and had them do 7 sets of 20 squats, resting 3 minutes in-between.  Delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) showed a peak at days 2 and 3 after the trial for both test drinks,  but the level was higher in the carbohydrate only group.  

 The  benefits of BCAA are seen at relatively low doses, 100 mg/kg body weight.  If you weigh a 154 pounds, that is about 70 kg.  Supplementation with 7 grams of BCAA prior to lifting may be sufficient to reduce muscle soreness and allow for faster recovery, based on these study results.