Chocolate Milk for Recovery? The Most Common Food Intolerance Is Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a sugar carbohydrate found exclusively in animal milk products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Lactose digestion requires the enzyme lactase in order to break down lactose into smaller simple sugars for absorption.

All human babies have lactase enzyme in order to digest their mother’s milk, but the enzyme usually decreases by around age 5. The lack of this enzyme and therefore the inability to properly digest lactose-containing foods triggers symptoms including diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating.

Certain populations have maintained the lactase enzyme, thus allowing them to consume dairy foods as an important food source. Essentially, maintaining the enzyme is a genetic mutation that became advantageous for survival. Northern Europeans as well as descendants from certain parts of Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia continue to express the enzyme lactase into adulthood.

Studies show that some populations, including African Americans and those of Asian descent, are almost all lactose intolerant.

Indeed, lactose intolerance is probably one of the most prevalent food intolerances worldwide. Dairy is most definitely one of the first foods to consider when looking at potential sources of food intolerances.

Even some people who are lactose tolerant can sometimes experience symptoms of lactose intolerance under certain circumstances. For example, normally lactose tolerant athletes might experience lactose intolerance symptoms because of irritants, antibiotic use, stress, celiac disease, normal fluctuations in gut flora, food poisoning, stomach bugs, or tough workouts that irritate the gut.

Chocolate Milk for Recovery?

While the nutrient profile of chocolate milk makes it a good recovery drink, it shouldn’t be a surprise for athletes that drinking chocolate milk right after a tough workout might lead to lactose intolerance symptoms—even if they can normally drink milk without any issues.

Lactose dose is relevant, too. Levels of lactose vary among dairy foods. For more on this most common food intolerance, see The Athlete’s Fix.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

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Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Chocolate milk photo: Flickr/Meal Makeover Moms

Sports Foods Might Cause Up to 40% of Gastrointestinal Distress in Athletes

Sports foods and drinks often rely on fructose as a key carbohydrate fuel ingredient. Yet studies show that up to 40% of athletes have fructose malabsorption, which causes gas, bloating, and other gross GI issues.

Sound familiar?

Fructose is a FODMAP carbohydrate and it’s very common among processed sports foods, even all-natural ones. Studies show that the all-too-familiar gas, bloating, and gross GI issues so many athletes experience might be caused by the fructose found in their sports drinks, bars, and gels.

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Under normal circumstances, fructose is absorbed through the gut wall and transported to the liver for processing. Sometimes a particular protein needed for this normal digestion is missing, and fructose sugars end up in the large intestine instead.

Once in the large intestine, gut bacteria ferment the fructose and you know what happens next: gas with bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and the urgency to rush to a bathroom.

Some degree of fructose malabsorption may be present in as much as 30-40% of athletes. When you consider that sports foods and drinks often use fructose as a carbohydrate source, they could potentially be to blame for some of the GI distress that frustrates so many athletes.

Fructose malabsorption can be made worse by a variety of factors. For more, check out The Athlete’s Fix.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


Sports Foods Will Kick You When You’re Down

Processed sports foods often trigger symptoms of food intolerances precisely because they are consumed when you are most vulnerable—during exercise when you are dehydrated and when blood is pulled away from your gut and intestines to tend to other jobs.

What are sports foods? I define sports food as electrolyte and energy drinks, whey and other protein powder drinks and shakes, recovery bars, energy bars, gels, and chews—anything that is designed and marketed for use before, during, or after sport. But they also can include other packaged foods that people frequently use in such a scenario, such as granola bars or protein bars.

Thanks to good marketing and the lithe, fit athletes who serve as the products’ ambassadors, sports foods have a halo of fitness and health around them. In reality, most sports foods are not very different from a candy bar or soda in terms of their impact on the body. Most sports drinks contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, and bars, gels, and sports chews or blocks typically pack in over 20 grams of sugar.

To be clear, sports foods have a time and place, and the intention of this book is not to necessarily eliminate all sports foods from an athlete’s diet.

Clearly they can be of benefit; they are packaged for convenience, and it is difficult in some scenarios to replicate this ease of use. I too turn to regular sports foods at times.

Yet before the recent advent of sports-specific foods, athletes were able to compete and fuel successfully, and many continue to do so eating just real whole foods. This fact alone demonstrates that sports foods are not strictly necessary.

There have also been scientific studies conducted showing that foods such as raisins and bananas are equally good in terms of performance when compared to sports drinks or gels.

Do you need to use sports foods and drinks? Absolutely not. Can sports food products still be a healthy solution for someone with food intolerances? Yes.

But remember that sports foods can kick you when you’re down, especially since so many of them are packed with common irritants like fructose, gluten, lactose, artificial food chemicals, salicylates, amines, etc. Even if you might be able to eat a sports bar as an afternoon snack with no consequences, that same bar during exercise might push you over your own threshold and cause GI distress. Many of your body’s normal systems are most vulnerable during exercise, when you’re asking your body to really go for it.

Here are a few tips from The Athlete’s Fix on how to manage your sports food intake to avoid triggering any of the many symptoms of a good intolerance. For more guidance, see the book.

  • For very short events (<30 minutes), try a real sugar mouthwash (artificial sweeteners don’t work). Swish and spit. Studies show you’ll get a boost and your gut will never know what didn’t hit it. Or simply don’t eat or drink.
  • For short events (under 1 hour), the sugar mouthwash is still a good idea. Or you could simply not eat! Stick with water and only consume calories if the energy demands of your event truly require it.
  • For short to medium events (1-2 hours), fuel up 2-3 hours beforehand. This timing gives your body plenty of time to process foods normally. See The Athlete’s Fix for more energy guidance.
  • For longer events (2+ hours), chances are you’ll need to eat something. Stick with real foods, if you can. If whole foods are too bulky, sports foods might be the better energy source. Key workouts give you the opportunity to confirm which sports foods and energy drinks agree with you. Remember that all sports foods require a lot of water to digest them, even if you are tolerant of those foods.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

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Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

“Bad Sleep Foods” Can Make for a Restless Night

Sure, sure—everyone knows coffee can keep you up all night. Alcohol messes with your sleep cycle. Even big meals, spicy foods, or rich meals can make for a rough night in bed.

But reactions to specific foods and food ingredients may cause poor sleep patterns as well. New studies show food intolerances can cause insomnia, restlessness, frequent waking, restless legs, nightmares, sleep talking, and sleep walking. The most common bad sleep foods include:

  • Salicylates
  • Amines
  • Glutamates
  • Wheat/gluten, corn, and dairy
  • High-sugar foods

Learn how to spot these bad sleep foods and ingredients in The Athlete’s Fix.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Bed photo: Flickr/thien-kim

 

GI Issues: The Most Common Symptom of a Food Intolerance

Gastrointestinal specialists, dietitians, and nutritionists spend a lot of time talking about bowel movements. In my experience, the same thing can be said of athletes. Although there are those athletes who remain a little more shy, I can guarantee they are still thinking about it—and for good reason:

Gastrointestinal complaints are among the most common and frequent complaints of endurance athletes, in particular runners.


60-90% of Runners Have GI Troubles

The feeling of urgency that hits during exercise is often called “runner’s guts,” a state that is widely accepted as part and parcel of being an athlete. It is estimated that the vast majority of runners, somewhere between 60-90%, have experienced some sort of gastrointestinal distress: nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and pains, bloating, and burping. I would argue that every runner experiences GI issues over the course of his or her years of training and racing. Those who haven’t are either lying or are new enough to the sport to be unaware of the joys that lie ahead for them.

  • Upper GI distress manifests as heartburn, vomiting, belching, bloating, nausea, and/or stomach pain.
  • Lower GI distress includes cramping, gas, urgency, and diarrhea.

Yet GI distress is not something you have to put up with to enjoy your sport.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Portapotty photo: Flickr/Lucian Venutian

Is There a Test for Food Intolerances and Food Sensitivities?

Yes, there are several tests but most of them are unreliable.

Blood tests for food intolerances are wildly unreliable. These blood tests look for IgG antibodies, which are a marker of exposure to food proteins, not an indicator of an allergy or intolerance. So when blood testing comes back with a long list of foods that you are supposedly intolerant of, don’t be surprised that all the foods on the list are foods you consume regularly and/or ate recently! Some research indicates that the presence of IgG antibodies may even be a marker of food tolerance, not a food intolerance.

Testing at different labs: Different labs have returned different lists of food intolerances to the same people, and results from the same lab for the same person have also given different results. In other words, blood testing produces lots of false positives and false negatives and is not reliable or evidence based.

Other unreliable tests include hair tests, iris tests, pulse and heart rate tests, electrical conductivity tests, strength testing, and cytotoxic testing.

Breath analysis is the one method of testing that can reliably identify just one type of food intolerance, which is the malabsorption of certain sugars or carbohydrates.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Scientist photo: Flickr/US Army RDECOM

 

Habits and Foods that Cause GI Problems for Athletes

Gastrointestinal complaints are among the most common and frequent complaints of endurance athletes, in particular runners. In fact, 60-90% of runners have GI troubles. Higher intensity exercise makes GI issues more likely, and women experience GI issue more commonly than men.

 

Here are the foods and habits that often cause GI distress for athletes:

  • A food intolerance, of course.
  • FODMAPs: A kind of carbohydrate
  • Fructose: Commonly found in sports foods and drinks
  • Lactose: Found in varying levels in dairy products
  • Caffeine: Found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, sports foods
  • Meal timing: Eating too close to exercise
  • Fat and fiber: Too much of either can rush your guts.
  • High-carb sports drinks: Dehydrate your gut before they rehydrate you
  • Dehydration: Can wreck your gut.
  • Stress: Key workout or pre-race nerves can make you run for the port-o-let.
  • NSAIDs: Can cause leaky gut syndrome.
  • Antibiotics: Can decimate your gut biome.
  • Bad posture: Puts physical pressure on your gut.
  • Vibration: Running and jumping, anyone?
  • Antidiarrheal and antinausea meds: Believe it or not, new research shows these meds interfere with hydration and make things worse for athletes, not better.

GI distress is not something you have to put up with to enjoy your sport! The Athlete’s Fix can help you identify your problem foods that cause your GI distress. If your GI issues aren’t caused by a food intolerance, there are several other strategies that can make life easier.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

Pasta photo: Flickr/Adam Wyles

Why Are So Many People Allergic to Foods These Days?

Evidence shows that prevalence of both food allergies and intolerances is growing worldwide.

Recent studies show that food intolerances are almost 5 times more prevalant today than in the 1950s. As many as 1 in 6 Americans is estimated to have a food intolerance.

But why?

The simplest answer is the lack of variety in our diets. Many of us are eating just a few foods, in different forms, again and again throughout each day. Many of the prepared or processed foods we eat are based on wheat, corn, and soy processed to look different at each meal. And many of the farm-raised animal products in the grocery store were grown using those same few base ingredients.

Photo credit: Flickr | corn/soy: Nichaloas A. Tonelli, wheat: Zarko Susnjar

Photo credit: Flickr | corn/soy: Nichaloas A. Tonelli, wheat: Zarko Susnjar

Since many food intolerance symptoms don’t appear until a certain threshold “dose” is reached, eating a lot of any one food can raise your chances of experiencing symptoms.

Another answer: they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Our food sources have evolved rapidly and significantly to be vastly different from those of our grandparents, not to mention their grandparents. Looking back to past generations, these time frames are but a blink in terms of Homo sapiens’ evolutionary history, but if we were to compare diet over the last 50 years there would be some stark differences:

  • Engineered breeding and corporate farming have become the norm, influencing what ends up on our plate.
  • Our diet is confined to a more limited number of foods—and hugely reliant on wheat, corn, fructose, and soy, all of which can cause inflammation and may contribute to development of intolerances.
  • We have shifted from more traditional methods of preparation to faster, more cost-effective methods that may not be as healthy. For example, the slow and unhurried process through which sourdough bread has traditionally been made is now compressed using new yeasts and artificial rising agents. Unlike modern methods, the slower, natural process of fermentation reduces the gluten content of sourdough breads.

For athletes who subject their bodies to tough workouts each day, it’s even easier to trigger a food intolerance in today’s food environment.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


The Foods You Crave Might Be the Worst For You

Believe it or not, food cravings can be a sign of intolerance to the food you crave.

Sometimes problematic foods give you a “high” because your body becomes somewhat addicted to the hormones histamine and cortisol that are released in response to the aggravating foods. Inevitably, what goes up must come down, and you are likely to experience a very low point after you consume these foods, for example headaches or negative changes in mood.

Those feelings, of course, can only be rectified by consuming more of the problem food in order to experience that “high” again. This is the cycle of cravings in motion.

It's diabolical, really. It can be difficult to reconcile that these “feel-good” foods are potentially not good for you.

Photo: Flickr/DixieBell Cupcake Cafe

Photo: Flickr/DixieBell Cupcake Cafe

I often see the food craving cycle in action when people go on an elimination diet and initially feel worse. The highs they were getting from problem foods are not there any more.

The good news is that if you are truly able to avoid the problematic foods, the associated cravings subside relatively quickly after you remove them from your diet and mood swings and other symptoms are alleviated.

One way to pinpoint your own feel-good foods? Be on the lookout for things you consume daily and feel anxious about giving up.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

WTF are FODMAPs?!

FODMAPs is an acronym for a family of carbohydrates that cause cause GI distress in some people. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

When we eat foods containing carbohydrates, a portion is not absorbed or digested in the small intestine and instead passes right on through to the large intestine, where it ferments and produces short-chain fatty acids and gas.

 

This is a normal process that occurs in everyone.

In fact, the short-chain fatty acids are an important part of a healthy digestive system because they provide fuel for gut bacteria and help protect the mucosal lining of the intestines.

In some people, certain carbohydrates eaten in threshold amounts can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, distension, abdominal discomfort, and either diarrhea or constipation, or a mix of both.

The bacteria residing in your gut will determine how you handle and respond to these particular carbohydrates.

For some of us, any amount is absolutely fine, while others can consume only a minimal amount before they encounter symptoms, the severity of which may range from mildly annoying to debilitating. For those facing less severe symptoms, it’s common to accept themwhen you are accustomed to the discomfort its easy to assume that everyone else is dealing with similar feelings.

The types of carbohydrates that are most commonly malabsorbed in the intestine are known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). These are simply the technical names for the structure of the sugar molecules (saccharides is another name for sugar). All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose or sugar molecules through digestion.

FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy, nuts, and seeds. Apples, pears, onions, garlic, wheat, and rye are among the common culprits. Since FODMAPs describe only certain carbohydrates, proteins and fats are free of them.

Are FODMAPs a problem food for you? Which foods are high in FODMAPs? What diets avoid FODMAPs? Find out in The Athlete’s Fix.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


How The Athlete's Fix Works: A 3-Step Program

In The Athlete’s Fix, registered dietitian Pip Taylor will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, 3-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

So how does The Athlete’s Fix work?

1. First, you’ll clean up your diet by adopting The Athlete’s Fix Base Functional Diet. On the Base Functional Diet, you’ll avoid common problem foods, inflammatory foods, food ingredients, food chemicals, and habits that can trigger food sensitivity symptoms or make food intolerances worse. During your time using the Base Functional Diet, you will reduce your overall levels of inflammation, heal any damage to your gut, reduce your chronic load of food-related allergens, and return gradually to a base state. Don’t think of the Base Functional Diet as a cleanse, which it is not. Think of it instead as a grace period to allow your body a much-needed break from the irritants that are causing your reactions to food. Most people begin feeling better in just a few days. The Athlete’s Fix offers 50 recipes to support the Base Functional Diet.

2. Second, you’ll identify other problem foods like FODMAPs and food chemicals. If you’re sensitive to these problem foods, it will take your body longer to reset itself as they clear from your system. The Athlete’s Fix shares the protocol for testing your sensitivity to these common allergens.

3. Third, you’ll begin reintroducing foods and observing your reactions to them. Your food journal will help identify the specific foods, food ingredients, food chemicals, and habits that trigger your food intolerance symptoms.

When  you’re done, you’ll have created your own personalized diet that is free of those problem foods. Every few years or after significant changes to diet or lifestyle, you may repeat The Athlete’s Fix program to identify new problem foods or to notice that old problem foods don’t bother you as much as they once did.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

What Foods Should Athletes Avoid? What Foods Should Athletes Eat?

When it comes to nutrition, mixed messages and confusion often go hand in hand.

It’s funny that we have such a hard time knowing what exactly we should or shouldn’t be eating, since it’s something we all do multiple times a day. An athlete’s confusion over food is no different. It’s widely recognized that good nutrition is an integral part of any training program and essential for helping you perform at your best, but there seems to be a lack of understanding about just what makes a good athletic diet, in addition to what makes a healthy diet generally.


The fix for athletes—and for everyone else, for that matter—is to eat as wide a variety of beneficial foods as possible while avoiding or minimizing foods that have a negative impact on health, performance, or both.

Too many diets aggressively eliminate foods as a one-size-fits-all solution to better health. It’s common to experience positive results from changing up your diet in this way, though you will not know exactly why the change is working. You might benefit even more by reintroducing some of those restricted foods to maximize variety in your diet.

I believe that there is little point in eliminating foods without reason. Food, like life, is to be enjoyed. By the same token, you want to ensure that the foods you do eat are positively adding to your ability to play, train, or race to your best ability while also supporting a long and healthy life. To identify the foods that could be to blame for the issues you face, you will need to take a more careful approach.

A key component to any healthy diet is being able to enjoy food. Far more than simply sustaining life, food is social, and it is meant to be enjoyed. Customs, traditions, and connectivity to others are all wrapped up in growing, preparing, and eating food. The extent to which we enjoy food and the rituals around it is also important to health. After all, you can’t have a healthy body without a healthy mind. And there is no point in living a long, healthy life if it is not enjoyable too. Eating is something we need to do every day, multiple times throughout the day. I love food and I want to help you make your experience with food truly enjoyable, regardless of what food intolerances or sensitivities you bring to the table.

The Athlete’s Fix is designed to help you become aware of your own food intolerances, be confident in making healthy food choices, and eat the foods that are optimal for you. Once you find your best diet, better health and performance are within reach.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


What's Inside The Athlete's Fix

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete’s Fix offers a sensible, 3-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Endurance sports stress the body, often worsening mild food intolerances and causing symptoms like GI distress, food cravings, and headaches. Many athletes aggressively eliminate foods as a one-size-fits-all solution to feel better. These special diets sometimes bring short-term improvements, but they are difficult to maintain and often leave athletes undernourished and underperforming.

The Athlete’s Fix offers a smarter, fine-tuned approach.

My book will show you how you will benefit most from a diet full of a wide variety of foods. You’ll improve your daily diet, cut out common irritants, then add back foods until you feel great enjoying your own, personalized clean diet. The Athlete’s Fix will help you isolate and identify your food intolerances while enabling you to eat a healthy variety of foods.

The Athlete’s Fix examines hot issues for athletes like:

  • Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten free diets
  • Lactose intolerance
  • FODMAPs and specific carbohydrate intolerances, including fructose
  • Reactions to food chemicals such as salicylates, amines, and glutamates
  • Inflammatory foods
  • Food sensitivity testing and elimination diets
  • Popular diet programs like Paleo, Whole30, Dukan, Mediterranean, and Dash
  • Vegetarian, vegan, and raw food diets

GI issues, food cravings, headaches, brain fog, poor sleep, slow recovery from workouts—these can be more than symptoms of a tough workout. They might be caused by the foods you eat. Feel better–perform better—with The Athlete’s Fix.

Take a look at the book’s table of contents:

Introduction

The Problem of Food Intolerance
Where the Problem Starts
Understanding Food Intolerances
Athletes & Food Intolerance
Commit to Finding Your Best Foods

Fixing Your Diet
Avoid the Unhealthy Foods that Cause Inflammation
Get Your Fill of Healthy Foods
Vegan & Vegetarian Diets
Target Common Intolerances & Sensitivities
Other Types of Intolerance
Testing for Food Intolerance

Identifying Your Intolerances
Getting Started
Step 1: Adopt a Base Functional Diet
Step 2: Identify Any Other Problematic Foods
Step 3: Reintroduce Foods
Step 4: Repeat As Needed

Eating for Performance
Carbohydrates Are Vital to Performance
Fat Plays a Crucial Role
Why Athletes Need Protein
Multivitamins & Supplements
A Smart Approach to Sports Foods
Eating Is Not a Numbers Game

Eating Well for Life
How to Save Money on Healthy Foods
Time-saving Tips to Get You Into the Kitchen
How to Stay the Course on the Base Functional Diet and Beyond
Other Tips for a Lifestyle of Healthy Eating

Recipes for the Base Functional Diet
Breakfast (13 recipes)
Lunch & Dinner (16 recipes)
Sweets & Treats (7 recipes)
Sports Foods (6 recipes)
Snacks (4 recipes)
*All 46 Base Functional Diet recipes are free of gluten, grains (except rice), soy, legumes, dairy, sugar, additives, and preservatives.

Recipe Index
Food Diary Template
Notes
Index
About the Author

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

20 July 2015: Athlete mums and bones

A couple of interesting links to studies that I thought I would post as much as a reminder to me as anything. But also as interest for any other mums (or expecting mums) out there. As I returned to training and racing after the birth of my daughter I found myself suffering from 2 bony injuries. Despite training, and especially running loads remaining deliberately low it seemed that I was experiencing bone loss as a result of breastfeeding. While it is comforting to know that bone strength returns after weaning and indeed to even greater strengths than prior to pregnancy and lactation it is definitely something that I need to keep in mind on round 2. I would love to see some athlete specific studies in this area, or even some case studies - but I suspect that it is more common than realised and with more and more women returning to competitive sport post baby is likely something that becomes more widely recognised. I must admit it was not something that had occurred to me previously. As well as bone loss I do remember feeling as though I was losing more electrolytes than normal in the first 3-6 months post birth. This is nothing that I ever quantified but I definitely think that my sweat rates were higher and i do remember having some minor cramping issues that agin were uncommon for me. I would love to hear about other women's experiences as they returned to training post birth. I'm trying to learn from experience and also take on board other (sensible) info as I get back into things. Oh and yes there is lots of silly info out there too - and sometimes you have to separate fact from fiction and go with your gut. Especially when out comes to exercise post birth - listen to your body, do what feels right and don't take as truth all the advice freely given to you from all corners. 

Bone Mineral Loss During Lactation and Recovery After Weaning.

Pregnancy and Lactation Confer Reversible Bone Loss in Humans

 

How to Design Your Own Unique Diet

We don’t need to get too caught up on what it means to have a food allergy, an intolerance, or a sensitivity. Let’s simply say that you have an intolerance for a specific food if you feel better and notice a decrease in symptoms when you avoid it. (Take The Athlete's Fix Food Intolerance Symptoms Quiz.)

You do not need scientific reasoning, a test, or a diagnosis to make this judgment. If you feel better after eliminating a specific food, you don’t need a doctor, nutritionist, or lab technician to confirm your findings. It’s more important for you to simply avoid those problem foods than to fully understand the scientific reasoning for why they don’t agree with you.

Remember also that no one food will be mandatory for you to meet your nutritional goals. History has demonstrated that humans are very good at surviving and thriving on very different diets.

Just as your training plan will be different to that of your training partner, so too your diet will be unique to you. The Athlete’s Fix will guide you through the process of choosing those foods that are best for you and eliminating those that cause problems for you. You’ll create your own, unique diet. Here's the overview:

1. First, you’ll clean up your diet by adopting The Athlete’s Fix Base Functional Diet.

2. Second, you’ll identify other problem foods like FODMAPs and food chemicals.

3. Third, you’ll begin reintroducing foods and observing your reactions to them.

Visit again soon for more on The Athlete’s Fix program.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


7 July 2015: Recipe - chocolate brownies 2 ways….(not your usual)

 

These are not your standard brownies. But don't be deterred - they are still delicious.

Chocolate is pretty much a staple in this house. But I haven’t yet been ready to introduce that to my 2 year old. However I am happy to make her what she calls chocolate and is in fact a brownie that incorporates vegetables and cocoa both of which should be part of any happy healthy tummy - whilst avoiding refined flours, gluten and sugar. The 2 versions use different ingredients – one uses zucchini and almond meal and the other sweet potato and coconut flour, but both are incredibly moist and there is no way that you would know they contain vegetables. Although I must admit I don’t try to hide them from her – in fact I tell her that what makes them so delicious are the zucchinis and sweet potatoes (because its true), plus she always helps me make them. She is OK at mixing but excellent at ‘quality control’ - lots of the mix does not actually make it into the pan (one of the reasons why I haven't included a pan size in the recipes).  The vegetables add some sweetness to the mix, added to by a touch of maple syrup or honey (or you could also use dates). These are very quick to make and in reality you could throw the whole lot into the food processor or blender - but that misses all the fun and the mess that is behind the whole point of making them in this house!

Try them both and let me know which one is your favourite - the jury is out here…….

Zucchini and almond brownies:

3 small zucchinis or two larger ones – finely grated or whizzed in the food processor.

2 cups almond meal

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

3 tbs cocoa powder

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp baking powder

Mix everything together, or use a food processor and then pour into a pan. Cook in preheated oven at 160C for 30 mins until cooked.

 

Sweet potato brownies:

1 medium sized sweet potato roasted in skin, skin removed and mashed (I throw the whole sweet potato in the oven when I am making something else and cook until nice and soft. I have used the orange as well as the purple ones and both work really well).

3 tbs coconut flour

2 tbs cocoa

1 tsp vanilla paste

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup maple syrup

3 eggs, lightly whisked

Combine all the ingredients well and pour into pan. Bake at 160C for 30 mins until cooked.

 

2 July 2015: Three things I am loving in the kitchen right now

The things I love change by the seasons, and my whim. A few weeks ago it was all about the quince. And eggs. And green smoothies. All of these are still making welcome appearances in my kitchen and at the table, but this week there are three special Bs. What are your current loves?

1.     Banana flour – a more recent revelation for me. More on this special  and versatile flour, the health benefits and how to use, plus a recipe coming soon…..

2.     Beef cheeks – need I say more. Slow (and easy) cooking, winter and melt in your mouth beef. Love love.

3.     Bacon – always makes an appearance in this house and makes almost anything taste better... and improves most days (and moods). Might even be my 2 year olds favourite food.

The Athlete's Fix Food Intolerance Symptoms Quiz

Do you have a food intolerance? Take The Athlete’s Fix Symptoms Quiz to get started.

Food intolerances can produce a wide array of symptoms in different individuals, which can sometimes make them hard to pick up on. The timing can also be confusing. While it might be easy to relate to a reaction that occurs immediately after eating a food and that after several occurrences you clearly get the picture that that food is linked to your symptoms, in most cases symptoms are delayed. In other words you may not see any effects from a food intolerance for many hours or perhaps even days from ingesting that particular food. Further confusing the matter is that some intolerances are to specific proteins or carbohydrates such as lactose in dairy foods or gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and various other grains.

Symptoms of food intolerances can range from mild to severe and especially on the mild end can be either easy for an individual to ignore or easy for a health professional to dismiss. Frustratingly too there are no clear and definitive tests for most food intolerances so it really does come down to individual perception as well as personal involvement in an elimination style diet to try and ‘weed’ out the food culprits. While this is not necessarily an easy process it is one that is definitely worthwhile and also one in which you have the power.


To figure out if you might have a food intolerance first consider the symptoms below. These are really only a snapshot – you may well experience something not on this list. Many of these are quite generalized and cross over with many many other conditions. Discuss with your doctor whether there could be anything more serious you need to investigate but otherwise you can start the process of trying to figure out if your reactions could be related to the food you are eating. Tracking food eaten and symptoms is critical for this process.

Symptoms of food intolerances may include:

  • Body weight: Unexplained weight gain/loss or inability to lose weight
  • Cravings: Constant hunger, excessive thirst, food cravings
  • Headaches and migraines, dizziness
  • Itchiness and rashes: Itchy skin, hives, or rashes; eczema; acne; mouth ulcers; sore, itchy, puffy, watering, or burning eyes
  • Daily or common GI issues: Stomach pain or upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, constipation
  • Race day GI distress
  • Body composition: Difficulty adding lean muscle or developing power and strength
  • Race performance not meeting expectations
  • Training: Do you plan bathroom breaks into your workouts and training routes?
  • Recovery: Slower recovery times from workouts
  • Illness/Injury: Do you often miss workouts due to frequent illness or nagging injuries?
  • Respiratory: Asthma, breathing difficulties, persistent cough
  • Trouble resting: Fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, sleep disturbances
  • Aches/pains: Aching muscles and joints
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Low mood: Depression, anxiety, poor self-image
  • Bad mood: Irritability, mood swings, anger, and/or behavioral problems
  • Focus: Hyperactivity, lack of focus
  • Haziness: Brain fog, confusion, poor concentration
  • Fear: Panic attacks and phobias

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.


Take a Look at Your Diet to Solve Unexplainable Health Issues

When a fit and healthy person is facing ongoing problems that the medical world can’t explain, it’s time to take a hard look at diet.

Throughout my career as a professional athlete, eating well has been key to my performance.

My diet has always been composed of healthy foods, and for most of my life I have stuck to a healthy balance of the widely recommended low-fat foods, including grains, pasta, couscous, whole-grain bread, and tortillas, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, meats, and nuts. I ate very few processed or packaged foods, in part because I have always enjoyed cooking from scratch and shopping at farmers markets.

Despite my best efforts to maintain a healthy diet and compete professionally, several years ago I began experiencing problems. My fitness and preparation were as good as they had ever been, but I found myself not feeling as good come race day. I was experiencing bloating, greater water retention—giving me a heavy, puffy feeling—increased lethargy, and shortness of breath. There was no reasonable explanation, at least in my mind—my fitness, health, and mental preparation were good going into the races. Per sports nutrition recommendations, I did change up my healthy, clean diet in the days leading up to a race by eating less fiber and fat to reduce the potential for gastrointestinal issues. Instead, I ate more refined carbohydrates: sweets, breads, and sugared sports drinks.

Because the most acute problems were happening when I raced, I figured they might be related to the carbo-loading I was doing prior to race day—which was often heavy on gluten-containing breads or cereals. So I cut gluten out of my pre-race diet.

Right away, I felt like I could breathe better on race day—it was somehow easier.

Because of the improvement, I didn’t see a need to make additional changes to my daily diet; I simply focused on eliminating bread, pasta, and wheatbased cereals. I still ate some packaged foods with trace amounts of gluten, but I wasn’t overly strict. In other words, I was confident I did not have celiac disease but understood that a low-gluten diet seemed to work better for me. As time went on, I continued to notice a difference, although it wasn’t as pronounced as it had been at first. The difficult breathing episodes seemed to abate, but my on-again, off-again habits were bringing new issues to my attention. If racing was going to be my livelihood and profession, I knew I needed to figure out exactly which foods were leading to setbacks.

I began researching food intolerances and their effects on the body, eliminating specific foods in a more conscientious way, and taking note of the different impacts those dietary adjustments had on my body, mind, and athletic performance. This wasn’t an entirely random process, as I drew on my scientific nutritional education and knowledge in combination with personal experience. By strictly avoiding all inflammatory foods and my own identified “trigger foods,” such as gluten and grains, and by reducing my reliance on carbohydrate-heavy foods, I found that my body weight was easier to maintain. The headaches I had endured for years lifted, along with the brain fog, which did wonders for my mood and encouraged me to continue to make better food choices. I focused more on proteins such as fish, poultry, and meats and included plenty of healthy natural fats along with an abundance of vegetables and fruits. The improvements were obvious.

To my surprise, I didn’t miss eating grains, and I found myself to be less hungry in general. I felt physically and mentally strong when I ate the right foods.

Looking back, I believe there were other signs of my food intolerances and sensitivities, starting with those headaches I had endured for years. I assumed everyone experienced a headache at some level from time to time, so unless the severity ramped up, headaches really didn’t bother me. At one point they were so frequent, almost constant, that I couldn’t remember not having one. Because I tend to hold tension in my neck and shoulders, tightness through these areas would cause my headaches to worsen. But even with massage, stretching, physical therapy, and strict attention to postural habits, the headaches persisted. I had my eyes checked, my hearing and balance checked; I even had some other scans and tests done just to make sure the headaches weren’t the result of some other medical issue, but all the results came back showing nothing was wrong.

Despite relatively low running mileage, I suffered from multiple stress fractures. As I met with success on the track, I took a more conscientiously focused approach to my training, but the stress fractures only increased. The problem persisted as I started competing in triathlon, despite no identifiable cause.

I have always had access to extremely good doctors, but they had no satisfactory explanation for my stress fractures, iron deficiencies, or any of my other symptoms. When a fit and healthy person is facing ongoing problems that the medical world can’t explain, it’s time to take a hard look at diet.

For me, this exploratory journey became both personal and professional. Through formal study, including a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, as well as credentials in sports nutrition and dietetics, research, and experience working with others, I have found that changes in diet can have profound effects on health as well as performance. I have also discovered that sometimes the results of dietary changes can’t be confirmed through definitive tests. But the proof really lies in the individual’s response, whether it is a significant change in body weight and composition, reduction or complete elimination of long-term troubling symptoms, or the results chalked up on race day.

My new book The Athlete’s Fix will help you find your problem foods—and the foods that make you feel and perform your best. The Athlete's Fix offers a sensible, three-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and develop your own customized clean diet that will support better health and performance.

Find The Athlete’s Fix in bookstores; bike, run, and tri shops; and online from VeloPress, Pip Taylor (Australian orders, please), Fishpond Australia, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and your local independent bookseller.

22 June 2015: A Baby Boy!

2 weeks ago (the 9th June) we had a little baby boy. He is a delight – a really healthy, happy little boy - and it feels as though he has always been with us – I simply can not imagine being without him. His big sister has been amazing and life feels pretty good right now! Busy, but good.  Morning family snuggles in bed have got to be the best way to start the day :)

I am also enjoying getting some fitness back and at some point will sit down and make some race plans for later in the year.  Just looking at the calendar and options has me excited! But all in good time. I leant a lot about returning to training and racing last time that I plan on putting into practice this time around. And strategic training will have to be paramount as I balance my own goals with precious time with my two most important little people.  Yep, life is pretty good.