Physical Performance

Nutrition is an important aspect in athletic performance. Download these shareable videos, graphics, handouts and recipes to help promote the power of protein and eggs.

Fueling Your Workouts with Breakfast

Today’s post is written by one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Dr. Jason Karp. Dr. Karp is a nationally recognized running coach, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and owner of He holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of five books, including Running an Marathon for Dummies, and is a frequent speaker at national fitness and coaching conferences.


Every day when I get out of bed, I’m hungry. I can’t wait to eat breakfast. Although a recent study questions the research around breakfast consumption, it is still one of the most important meals to me as a runner and as a personal trainer who trains others to run at their full potential. Clients ask me all the time, “If I exercise first thing in the morning before I eat breakfast, will I burn more fat?” While it’s true that muscles are forced to rely on fat when blood glucose is low, as it is when you first get out of bed, exercising when blood glucose is low decreases exercise intensity, resulting in less calories burned. I do recommend that my clients eat before they run in the morning, so that they can have a more productive workout.

To wrap up National Better Breakfast Month, here are my tips on what to eat to help fuel your morning workouts:

  • Eat 200 to 300 calories 1½ to 2 hours before exercise.
  • Pre-workout meal should include carbohydrates and protein, like a half bagel with peanut butter. A hard-boiled egg is a great source of easily-digestible protein.
  • If you exercise soon after getting out of bed and don’t have two hours before your workout, consume just 100 to 200 calories, like a nutrition bar, a banana, and a sports drink.
  • Limit the fat content of your breakfast. Fat takes longer to digest, so the carbohydrates and protein in your meal take longer to be absorbed into your blood, where it’s used for energy.
  • Avoid fiber. Fiber makes you go to the bathroom, which can make your workout very uncomfortable if you have no place to stop.

Keep Up With Physical Activity During Summer Months

Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it is often one of the first pieces to be left behind as people get busy, especially in summer.  The great news is that summer provides extra sunlight and plenty of opportunities for fun activities.  Here are some tips to help discuss physical activity during the summer with clients (and they work great for busy health professionals too):


Keep a weekly schedule

  • Everyone gets busy. Look at a week or two ahead and plan workouts.
  • Put the activity on your calendar like any other appointment.  What is great is that with an electronic calendar a reminder can easily be set 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
  • Consider moving more strenuous physical activities to the early morning or late evening to avoid the extreme heat. Side note-keep the bug spray handy.

Mix it up

  • Remember physical activity does not have to be time at the gym or with weights. Take an early morning or late evening walk, when it is cooler. Other great summer activities include swimming and other water sports, beach volleyball, bike rides and more.
  • Make it an outing!  Invite family and friends along for the fun.  Perhaps it will feel less like “work”.
  • Headed somewhere close by?  Walk instead of drive. This offers double benefit-saving money on gas and burning calories.

Stay Hydrated

  • Keep a bottle of water handy for easy hydration. Here are tips from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics about hydration during exercise.

Be safe

  • The best tip of all is to be safe during all physical activity. Remind clients to check in with the doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Importance of Protein for Post-Exercise Snacks


Today’s post is written by one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Dr. Jason Karp. Dr. Karp is a nationally recognized running coach, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and owner of He holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of five books, including 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners and Running for Women, and is a frequent speaker at national fitness and coaching conferences.

The most important aspect of optimal recovery from hard workouts is refueling nutrient-depleted muscles. Refueling after workouts is important for several reasons, including the replenishment of fuel stores and the repair of cellular damage.

Following a hard or long workout, protein is used to repair the cellular damage that is a normal consequence of the workout and to synthesize new protein that subsequently improves cellular function. Repeated workouts lead to a concerted accumulation of structural and functional proteins. With endurance training, this accumulation of proteins is manifested as an increase in the number of mitochondria and aerobic enzymes, which enhances your aerobic fitness. With strength training, the accumulation of proteins is manifested as an increase in the number of contractile proteins that make the muscle stronger.


Consuming 20 to 30 grams of complete protein that contain all of the essential amino acids after workouts can be an effective strategy for achieving this. Good sources of protein are eggs, tuna, milk, cheese and lean meats. Some studies have found that consuming protein and carbohydrates together also maximizes muscle glycogen storage (which is also needed for recovery), although this doesn’t seem to be the case when an adequate amount of carbohydrates is ingested. The total amount of calories consumed seems to be more important for glycogen resynthesis than the carbohydrate-protein mix. Because the body absorbs nutrients from fluids more quickly than from solid foods, one strategy is to consume protein from fluids  after first finishing a workout, then eating a meal later. Chocolate milk, which is high in protein (as well as carbohydrate), is a great post-workout recovery drink!

National Nutrition Month & the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: a Sports RD’s Perspective

dave-ellis-150x150Today’s post comes from Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS.   Ellis is a sports dietitian, who counsels athletic programs on nutrition and teaches athletes how to eat the right foods on a sensible schedule to fuel performance, prevent muscle cramps, finish strong and recover well. He is also a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.

Being a veteran Sports RD means being able to cut through the nonsense we see on the front lines of athletics and keep coaches and athletes grounded in reality vs. the misinformation they’re constantly being exposed to. Recently, I accepted a dinner invitation with representatives of a company that works in the sport nutrition field and, during the meal, I watched these folks spend an extraordinary amount of energy sorting through the menu trying to find something that they could order in an establishment with a very up-to-date menu.

It seems these folks suffered from a new dilemma that, for lack of a better term, could be called “food elimination attention syndrome” or “FEAS.” It’s a condition whereby eliminating select categories of food from their diet, and choosing others, they can speak of themselves more delicately, as if describing their favorite clothing designer. “Who are you wearing? What are you eating?”

At one point, I must have had my jaw hanging open as the waiter made his third attempt to take the order, because one of the FEAS victims looked at me and asked, “Don’t you eliminate anything?” My mind raced momentarily, trying to find something that I routinely eliminate from my diet. Short of not eating sushi at a gas station, I struggled to find a category of food that could make a fashion statement, and I suddenly felt as if I had just pulled up to the prom on a moped!

How could I lived 50 years and not managed to eliminate anything with a healthy dose of religious fervor? Sure I’m concerned about the food supply that low income families are exposed to and, I certainly try not to eat fried food routinely or reheat my nachos in a Styrofoam box, but that was not enough to register with anyone at this table. Choosing not to avoid soy, eggs, gluten and lactose, made me a non-starter with this crew. As I took a slug of my non-organic cabernet, it hit me: this is why credentialed Registered Dietitians are so crucial to the field of nutrition.

I run across this scenario with some regularity. Dietary assessments conducted by non-credentialed “nutritionists” might falsely identify a previously-unknown allergy or food sensitivity, requiring elimination of something that athletes love to eat and don’t really have problems with.

In fact MDs and credentialed medical professionals like RDs seem to be a favorite target for those who prescribe to the FEAS mindset. However, these are old plays from a tired, dusty playbook that leverages distrust, often to make the case for those with something to sell. Personally, this kind of  manipulation inspires me all the more to promote the value of true-to-form Sports RDs, which has been the focal point of our campaign for several years now at the Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association (

Being a Sports RD features, in no small way, the task of helping athletes separate fact from fiction. It’s all about helping the next generation of young athlete realize the importance of a healthy diet and that illegal practices, like doping are NOT the norm. We have much work to do and little time to waste if we are to protect this generation of young athletes. Rigid rules that ensure fairness and a level playing field have never been more important to all of us who work in sports, not to mention the athletes themselves.

Here’s to fighting the good fight!

Make Those Workouts Count – Post-Exercise Protein Is Important to Replenish Muscles Make Those Workouts Count – Post-Exercise Protein Is Important to Replenish Muscles

More than half-way through the first month of the year, your patients and clients are hopefully established into new healthy eating habits and exercise routines or doing well maintaining those practices. Logging more workouts is a great step toward better health, but paying closer attention to protein content of meals and post-exercise snacks could potentially enhance those efforts.


Research on the effects of diet composition during exercise indicates that dietary protein intakes up to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily may have benefits on body composition and may enhance response to resistance exercise, especially for aging adults and athletes. Several studies have shown that 25-30 grams of high-quality protein consumed at each meal may be most favorable to maintain healthy muscles and bones for adults.

Timing of protein intake around workouts can be of particular importance as well. Research has shown that consuming up to 20 grams of protein after resistance exercise can aid in optimal muscle protein synthesis. Furthermore, pairing post-exercise protein with simple carbohydrate in a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 (carbohydrate to protein) is recommended within 30 minutes of exercise, which translates to 1.2 – 1.5 g/kg of simple carbohydrate with 0.3 – 0.5 g/kg of a high-quality protein. Post-workout snacks could include a hard-boiled egg and piece of fruit, cup of chocolate milk, or banana and 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter.

What snacks do you use or recommend to replenish muscles after a workout?


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