All posts in Nutrition

18 May 2016

Snack Like a True Runner!

You’ve heard people say “I’m a runner, I can eat what I want.” This may be true in ways for those with high metabolisms, but it is only becoming more apparent that eating well boosts performance in both training and racing.

When you cut out junk from your diet, it leaves more room for nutrient dense food that can aid performance in many ways. Whole foods are often packed with vitamins and minerals that can boost blood flow, promote weight loss, and give you more energy that other processed food. Not only are whole foods better for you, but processed foods can quite literally be harmful to your running.The scariest part is that often these foods are labeled at “healthy” and “low calorie” products in our grocery stores.

There are many simple ways to make small steps towards big changes, starting with making your own healthy on-the-go snacks. These date rolled energy bites are great for runners because they are high in carbs, rich in nutrients, and even more satisfying and delicious than anything you can buy off the shelf. Make them for a pre-run breakfast or a grab and go post work out snack!


  1. 6 dates
  2. 1 c warm water (you only use 3 tbsp in the energy bites)
  3. 1 c rolled oats
  4. 1 tbsp flax seeds
  5. 1/4 c hazelnuts
  6. 1/2 c almond butter
  7. 1 tbsp honey
  8. 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  9. 1/4 tsp vanilla
  10. Pinch of salt


  1. Soak your dates for 5 minutes in the cup of warm water
  2. After soaking, cut the dates down the middle and remove and discard the pits, but save the water (you’ll add some in at the end)
  3. In a food processor, grind the oats, flax, and hazelnuts into a flour for about 20 seconds
  4. Add all ingredients with the exception of the water and process until it forms a paste
  5. You may need to stir it and scrape down the sides 2-4 times
  6. Add 3 tablespoons of the date water
  7. Roll the paste into 1 inch balls and refrigerate to harden for at least 30 minutes
  8. You can store them in the fridge or longterm in the freezer. Enjoy!

Meet Margaret: Margaret Molteni is a runner who moved to Memphis from Nashville to work as a Recreational Therapist, assisting individuals with disabilities. Outside of work, you can find her training for her next marathon, cooking, blogging, and always eating. For more healthy and delicious recipes or all things running, visit Margaret’s site at www.youngandrungry.com.

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20 May 2015

Fueling Your Body Right

This guest blog post was written by Simone Saleh of Sassool Café in Raleigh, NC. Emma Moyer, an AASDN-Certified Nutrition Specialist and ACE-Certified Personal Trainer contributed. Visit Emma’s blog at BeMomStrong.com!

Training to improve endurance and strength is not the only aspect of having a successful race; proper nutrition is also very important for runners to prepare for a race as well as for refueling their bodies after the race. Whether you’re running a 5k or a full marathon, eating unprocessed, whole-ingredients foods is vital to ensure that your body can properly handle the physical exertion required in running. This includes eating lean proteins, quality carbohydrates (whole grains, complex carbohydrates, beans, and starchy vegetables), and monounsaturated fats (good fats, such as olive oil).

The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle diet that is centered on these nutrition features and is one way of eating that can be very beneficial to not only enhance athletic performance but also to enhance overall lifestyle. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are the main feature of most Mediterranean recipes, and adopting this diet over time can help fuel your body with the right nutrients to help you train and race at your best.

There are a few key nutrients in particular that will help runners perform at their best during training and on race day, including calcium, iron and vitamin E. Incorporating foods with these nutrients will better prepare your body for running. Calcium strengthens your bones, iron fights fatigue, and vitamin E aids in muscle and cell repair. These three nutrients are prevalent in Mediterranean diet foods among the dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, and parsley), nuts, lean meats and beans.

At Sassool Mediterranean Café, you can find many fresh salads and grilled specialties that are perfect for a healthy lifestyle, but also for pre- and post-race nutrition. All of the ingredients used at Sassool are unprocessed and contain many of the key nutrients that athletes need to perform at their best. The market section of the café also has many fresh nuts and dried fruits that are also very healthy to keep handy for snacks.


Some of the foods found on Sassool’s menu that contain the most beneficial nutrients for runners include…

  • Lean Proteins– Grilled Chicken and Beef Kabobs, Chicken Shawarma pitas
  • Quality Carb Salads and Dips – Black Beans Salad, Quinoa Salad, Super Salad, Sweet Potato Salad, Chickpea Salad, Fresh Fruit Salad, Lentils Salad, Roasted Beets Salad, and Hummus and Baba Ghanouj.
  • Healthy Hot Specialties– Mjadarah (lentils and rice), Cabbage Delight, Eggplant Ratatouille, Roasted Veggies, Grilled Salmon over Curry Rice (Friday Nights), Roasted Chicken and Potatoes in Lemon Garlic Sauce (Mondays), Goat Cheese Stuffed Organic Chicken Breast (Wednesday Nights), Hot Wheat Pita Bread all day, every day!
  • Other healthy favorites include– Kale Salad, Tabouli, Cabbage Salad, Autumn Root Salad, Fatoush and Vegetarian Lasagna (noodle-free)

Stop by the café and check out all of Sassool’s fresh and healthy options! There are many options for those who have dietary restrictions and allergies, and full ingredient lists and nutrition facts are available. Sassool is open from 10am-9pm every day and caters large orders as well! Whether training for a race, looking for a fresh lunch option during the workday, or picking up dinner for the family, you will find the healthy, fresh AND delicious food you need at Sassool!

Discount for Race 13.1 Runners!

There’s not time like the present to start eating healthier. Show this blog post at Sassool Café in Raleigh, and you’ll get 10% off your purchase (not including grocery items)! Offer expires June 10, 2015.

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20 Apr 2015

Fueling During Races

This is a guest post from Emma Moyer, an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor and an AASDN-Certified Nutrition Specialist who is training for Race 13.1 Richmond, VA on May 9.  She is also the wife of an 8-time Ironman, mom of two girls, Gentry and Sutton, and one fur ball, Macon. She coaches runners, teaches group ex classes at her local Y and advises clients of healthier lifestyles. You can read more of her posts at BeMomStrong.wordpress.com.

As Race 13.1 Richmond nears, it’s hard not to think about race day decisions.

What to eat  that morning

What to wear


What songs to put on my playlist

What to eat during the race


I can’t help you with the music or clothing (I’m awful at both), but food, that I can do.

I see so many people at the start of races with their GU gels lined up in their runner fanny packs.  While GUs are just trying to keep you from bonking, they aren’t always needed and can actually hurt you.

Your body is perfectly capable of exercising for up to 2 hours with the storage it already has, given that you’ve properly fueled before.

So, what to eat before?

It depends (doesn’t it always?).  Find something that doesn’t upset your belly and practice using it.

Some love bagels with nut butter, others grab a protein breakfast bar, maybe a mimosa would help ease the pain?

Now, take this next advice as what I have researched and believe in.

1.  Stay away from fiber.  We all now what that does for you and as it may be good for your diet, not so much for race day

2. Stay away from artificially flavored drinks, GUs, etc.  They just aren’t clean and NOT what God put on this earth to fuel you to the best of your ability.  Enough said.

3.  Stay away from FODMAP foods.  Another post to come, but here is a quick definition of FODMAPs…

FODMAPs are carbohydrates (sugars) that are found in foods. Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs. The FODMAPs in the diet are: Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc) Lactose (dairy) (source).

The big concept here is the word carbohydrates.  FODMAP carbs are those that contain wheat- AKA gluten.  So, instead of that bagel, look for non-gluten, easy to digest carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, yams, even white rice… brown will have too much fiber for a race).

You don’t really need as many carbohydrates as you think.  I’ve read forever that you need 40-65% of your diet as carbohydrates.  I’m really questioning this approach as I learn more about turning your body into a fat burning machine via eating more good fat.  Yes carbs have been toted as your body’s primary fuel source, but (and I’m working on posts detailing this) they don’t have to be.  In short, be weary of carbs with gluten, which can cause GI issues and noticeably slow you down even if you aren’t celiac.

4.  Add some healthy fats- coconut milk, nut butters, avocado.  Your body CAN burn fat as fuel just as good as carbs, it’s just a matter of teaching it to.

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5.  Have some protein, but not a lot.  It takes your body a lot of energy to break down proteins, and they aren’t really used as fuel unless absolutely necessary.

I ate a gluten-free bagel (easy-to-digest carb) with almond butter (fat) before the Shamrock Half.


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I’ve also eaten a gluten-free egg sandwich (easy-to-digest carb) with a smashed avocado (fat) or a banana with almond butter.

How about during a race?

If your race will be under 2 hours, you can get away with nothing food-wise.  Hydration is FAR more important.

Depending on your size, you can store roughly 1500-2000 calories of storage carbohydrate (source). That is plenty to get you through that under 2-hour performance.  When you go over that two hours, that’s when your body needs some help.  While GUs and gels are very portable, think REAL FOOD.  It takes much experimentation to find what works for you but here are some suggestions

• Handful of nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit or Health Warrior Chia Bars (although a little difficult to chew, run and breathe!)



• A portable from The Feed Zone Diet book

• Justin’s Nut Butter (they come in a squeezable pouch)

• Honey

So much info to share, but stopping here!  Remember, if you need a running coach, or nutrition one, I’m available!  Check this out.

How do you fuel for a race?


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25 Oct 2014

Fueling for Race Day

One of the most important aspects of a successful race is fuel. Running on an empty tank or a tank filled with foreign substances almost guarantees a crash on race day, which is the last thing you want after months of training. Here are three tips to take you into race day properly fueled.

1. Never, ever eat anything new the night before or morning of the race.

If you’re traveling to a race, you may be tempted to try the local fare. North Carolina is famous for BBQ, but if you’re not used to eating BBQ the night before a long run, don’t try it now. Wait until after the race to celebrate with a pile of pulled pork and hushpuppies. Similarly, if you’re used to eating cereal before a long run, don’t switch to scrambled eggs and bacon from the hotel continental breakfast.

When I travel for races, I pack the same cereal I eat at home before every long run and stop by a grocery store to pick up almond milk so I can eat in my hotel room (snagging a bowl and spoon from the continental breakfast if I have to). I don’t want my body trying to figure out how to digest something new when I’m three miles into the race — and perhaps a couple miles away from a port-a-potty.

2. Don’t overdo the carbs the night before.

If you’re not used to eating an entire box of pasta the night before a long run, don’t do it the night before a race despite all the advice you’ve heard to “carb up.” Rather than stuffing in all the carbs you can the night before, I suggest gradually increasing your carb intake for 2-3 days leading up to a race. If you usually eat eggs for breakfast during the week, add a piece of toast. If you usually eat salmon and veggies for dinner, add rice or a baked potato. Then, the night before the race, eat something easy to digest and something you’ve eaten before a long run without negative side effects like cramping, diarrhea, or stomach pain.

3. Hydrate.

In the days leading up to the race, increase your water intake. This will make sure you go into the race hydrated, which is just as key as being fueled with food. This is especially important if you’ll be flying to the race or if you’re running in warm and/or humid weather.

In short, practice race day fueling before race day. Part of your training should be testing different foods to see what fuels you best. This is just as important as your long-slow distance, tempo or interval workouts.

What additional pre-race tips do you have? Share your advice with fellow runners by posting in the comment section below!


Meet Teri Hutcheon: Teri is a Race 13.1 Featured Blogger and has been running for over 15 years and has run in Vibram FiveFingers since 2010. She runs multiple half marathons and 5Ks every year (sometimes multiple races a month!) and has run one marathon (so far!). Her first half marathon was 10 years ago, which she ran in 2 hours, and her current PR is 1:34. She shares her running tales and workouts on her blog, www.afoodiestaysfit.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram (@afoodiestaysfit), and Facebook.com/afoodiestaysfitblog.

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28 Aug 2014

Five Habits to Help Increase Longevity


Growing older is a fact of life. We all want to live long and happy lives, but unhealthy habits can put a kibosh on the quality of those years. Listen, I know that you are busy. I’m busy too! But living healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. As an ACE (American Council on Exercise) Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach for over 20 years, I believe if you incorporate these five habits into your normal routine, you will equip your body for the marathon that is life.

1. Aspire to Eat Clean

If you take a close look at a carrot, you’ll notice a lack of an ingredient list on its back. Just pure carrot. When you eat food that comes out of a box, a can or a take-out container, “pure” is instantly thrown out of the window. Instead of fueling your body with preservatives, chemically altered fats, extra sodium and artificial flavors courtesy of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, eat foods that are closest to their natural state as possible. Aim to get the majority of your daily calories from fresh fruits and vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish. A body that is fueled operates better and longer than a body that is just fed.

 2. Drink More Water

The advice varies—while some suggest drinking the classic eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, others say to take your body weight, divide it in half and drink that many ounces. What we do agree on is that drinking water—lots of water—is a must-have healthy habit. Because water is our body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 perfect of our body weight according to the Mayo Clinic, water should be our drink of choice over sugary, calorie-laden drinks. Yes, Coca-Cola can provide a temporary caffeine boost, but it falls short in all other benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that water helps your body maintain a normal temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and gets rid of waste. Make a water bottle your fifth limb and continually refill it to hydrate your body the entire day.

 3. Move More and Move Often

A 30-minute daily trip to the gym is good, but adding constant movement throughout your day is even better. Instead of finishing a workout and calling it quits for the day, activity should be a 24/7 priority. By now, most of us have heard that sitting is the new smoking and long bouts of inactivity really is the kiss of death. The Sax Institute’s “45 and Up Study” found that adults who sat for 11 hours or more a day had a 40 percent greater risk of dying in the next three years compared with those who sat for fewer than four hours a day. Stand up every half hour at work, lap your house while talking on the phone, add a short nighttime walk—it doesn’t matter how you do it, just move more. I tell my clients everyday that a workout of some sort is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination!

4. Think Positive

Thoughts are powerful, so be sure to pay attention to yours. Do you encourage yourself with positivity or hold yourself back with negativity? The Mayo Clinic reports a number of health benefits associated with positive thinking, including increased life span, lower rates of depression, greater resistance to the common cold and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, among many other things. Hang your favorite uplifting quotes on your fridge or bathroom mirror. Come up with a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself when you feel negativity swirling in your head. Make it a goal each day to be more positive than the day before. A happier life is a longer one. One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

5. Don’t Forget to Strength Train

Too often people get psyched that they are exercising most days of the week—with some type of cardio—and they forget about strength training. Not building and maintaining muscle could be one of the biggest mistakes related to your health. Studies have shown that after the age of 40, people lose about 8 percent or more of their muscle mass each decade. Not only do muscles keep our bodies functional, mobile and strong, but they also help burn calories even when you’re not working out. Seriously, muscle is the key to metabolism in our golden years. “Strength training” does not mean you need to become a body builder and lift heavy barbells. Free weights, resistance bands, muscle sculpt classes or even using your own body weight with push-ups, planks and squats all work.

Paula Smith, ACE CPT
Facebook & Instagram “Paula Smith Fitness”

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