Optimize Your Physical Performance

Iron is essential for the transportation and utilization for oxygen, so it is critical to a have adequate amounts of iron in the diet to optimize physical performance. Because exercise, particularly running, can contribute to iron loss it particularly important for athletes and people who exercise frequently to eat high iron foods as part of the diet (1).

Iron is an essential nutrient that is important component of red blood cells. Its primary role is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When an adult does not include sufficient amounts of iron rich foods in their diet, they may develop an iron deficiency which causes weakness, lethargy and muscle fatigue. An adequate iron intake is also essential for normal function of the immune system (2).

Fortunately with a healthy balanced diet, an iron deficiency can be avoided. The following tips can help increase iron intake and prevent deficiency.

  • Include iron rich foods in the diet such as seafood, beef, poultry, eggs, dried beans, oatmeal, wheat bran, spinach and nuts.
  • Iron from an animal source is absorbed better than iron from a plant, so if a person vegetarian it is important that they eat an increased amount of vegetables that are high iron.
  • Eat cereals and juices that have been iron fortified.
  • Vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron, so it is beneficial to eat foods such as citrus fruits or juices, broccoli, brussels sprouts and tomatoes in combination with foods that are high in iron.

While iron deficiencies maybe a common problem, we can stay alert and ward off fatigue by eating a balanced diet which includes foods that are high in iron


  1. Williams. Nutrition for Healthy, Fitness and sport. New York, NY 2005
  2. Mahan, Escott-Stump. Krause’s Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Pennsylvania, 2004.

Melissa Black RD, CD

Healthy Beverages Can Promote a Healthy Weight


Drinking plenty of fluids is an important part of a healthy diet, but if we are not careful the beverages we choose may be contributing excessive calorie intake and weight gain.


Staying hydrated it important part of keeping our body healthy. Water plays an important role in our digestion, circulatory system and helps to maintain a correct body temperature. It is recommended that the average adult consume between eight and ten 8-ounces of fluid a day.


All liquids, such as juice, tea, soup, soda, sports drinks and even coffee can be counted toward our daily fluid intake. But not all fluids are created equal.  Many types of fluids are adding excessive sugar, fat and calorie to our diet.


Avoiding High Calorie Culprits


Many of us are holding on to unwanted weight because of the high calorie beverages we are drinking. No matter how closely a person watches what they eat, if they are consuming high calorie drinks they will never maintain a healthy weight. Next time your thirst kicks in, put a little thought into what you are drinking and make a healthy choice.


  • Pass up the fruit smoothie that can provide 200 calorie and drink fat free milk that only has 90 calories.
  • Instead of choosing a medium (16 oz) café latte made with whole milk which has 265 calories, pick a small (12 oz) latte made with fat free milk that has 125 calories.
  • At lunch replace your 20 oz of soda that is 227 calories with diet soda that has 0 calories.
  • Avoid drinking lemonade from the vending machine with 180 calories and choose a bottle of water flavored with Crystal light that has only 5 calories.


By paying attention to not only what we eat but also what we drinking, we can stay hydrated without expanding our waist lines.


Melissa Black RD, CD

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Only 3 more days till the “Get Fit” Challenge!! Make sure to have your “before” photos by June 8th! We will be posting work outs and fitness tips each day! Good Luck!!!

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Carbohydrate Loading


A High Carb Diet for Endurance Athletes


The goal of carbohydrate loading is to provide an endurance athletes with increased fuel and prevent the athlete from “hitting a wall” at the late stage of the competition.


Why are Carbohydrates Important for Exercise?


Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for endurance exercise. During light exercise fat is used as an energy source but as the exercise becomes more intense the carbohydrate use is increased to greater than 50%. At maximal exercise levels carbohydrate is used almost exclusively.


After a carbohydrate is eating it is digested into glucose and carried in the blood stream to muscles tissue. The glucose then can be used to provide energy allowing the muscle to function. Depleted muscle glucose can cause fatigue and decreased endurance.


Who should Carbohydrate Load?


Carbohydrate loading is only beneficial for endurance athletes who sustain prolonged periods (greater than 90 minutes) of intense exercise. These athletes include distant runners, cross-country skiers, distant swimmers, triathletes, long-distant bicyclist and similar athletes. Stop and go athletes, such as soccer, lacrosse and tennis, who participate in tournament play may also benefit for carbohydrate loading.


What is Carbohydrate Loading?


Carbohydrate Loading is a diet technique in which an athlete takes in a high amount of carbohydrates over several days. This is done to promote a significant increase of glucose stores in the muscle. The goal is to increase performance length and energy before the athlete becoming exhausted.


Traditionally the method of carbohydrate loading recommended that an athlete start with a day of carbohydrate depletion followed by 3 day of moderate carbohydrate intake. This is followed by 3 days of tapering of exercise and an intake of a very high carbohydrate diet. Current research shows that depletion is not needed and carbohydrate loading can be done in 3 days.


It may take an athlete’s body sometime to get use to the increase in carbohydrate load. An athlete should do a practice carbohydrate loading prior to an actual event. This will help train the body to tolerate the high level of carbohydrates.


Recommended Carbohydrate Method   


Research has shown that by eating a high carbohydrate diet combined with reduced activity levels and rest an athlete will be able to effectively increase glucose stores in the muscle. The following list is a suggested schedule to maximize carbohydrate loading.


  • Day one: consume 10-12g /kg body weight* of carbohydrate and taper exercise.
  • Day two: consume 10-12g /kg body weight of carbohydrate and further taper exercise.
  • Day three: consume 10-12gs/kg body weight of carbohydrate and rest
  • Day four: competition   


* To determine grams (g) of carbohydrate needed, take weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 to determine kilograms (kg). Times the kg by grams of carbohydrate. For example, if an athlete’s weight is 180 pounds (81.8kg) they should consume 818-981g of carbohydrate.


For an endurance athlete carbohydrate loading should be included as part of a well balanced diet to help provide for increased energy during long distant events and decrease the rate of fatigue.




  1. Burke LM. “Nutrition strategies for the marathon: fuel for training and racing.” Sports Med. 2007; 37(4-5):344-7.
  2. Melivn H Williams. Nutrition for Health, fitness and sports.New York: McGrall Hill. 2005.


Melissa Black RD, CD

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For athletes adequate intake and replacement of fluids is needed to “promote the healthy, safety and optimal physical performance.” (1). Athletes have an increased need for water due to waters role in the transportation of oxygen and its role in body temperature regulation.

Fluid Needs Prior to Exercise

It is important for athletes to drink adequate amounts of fluid prior to exercise to help maintain body temperature. Athletes who start exercise with low body water stores have a faster rise in body core temperature and greater cardiovascular strain. Both the duration and intensity of exercise can be decreased if sufficient fluids are not taken prior to exercise.


Fluid Needs during Exercise

Adequate fluid intake during excise is very important to replace water that is lost due to sweating. Poor fluid replacement can lead to dehydration. Athletes should not just depend on thirst as a predictor of fluid needs. Research shows that most individuals only replace about two-thirds of the water lost from sweat when only using thirst as a guide.

An athlete should be encouraged to consume the maximal amount of fluids during exercise that can be tolerated without gastrointestinal discomfort. Increasing the palatability of the fluids is one way of improving the intake of fluids. Temperature and flavoring can help improve intake. Beverages that are sweetened and cold are most likely to be the most palliative. The addition of a carbohydrate to the fluid can also help enhance the absorption of the water and help restore muscle glycogen.


Fluids Needs after Exercise


The goal of fluid intake after exercise is to consume a volume of fluid greater than that sweat lost during exercise. It is recommended to drink 24 ounces of fluid for every 16 ounces of weight lost during exercise. Fluids that include carbohydrate and electrolytes can be used to help increase recovery time. 


Fluid Intake Guidelines


The following chart (2) provides an estimated fluid intake for athletes. A good rule of thumb to remember when drinking fluid is it that one normal mouthful equal about one ounce.  


  • One to two hours before exercise: 16 ounce of fluid
  • 15-30 minutes before exercise: 10-16 ounces of fluid
  • Every 10-15 min during exercise: six to eight ounces of fluid
  • After event: replace weight lost

An athlete should remember that when starting a fluid routine, it will take the body time to become accustom to the increased level of intake. Though sufficient fluid intake may be difficult to accomplish, adequate fluid intake is important to help an athlete to allow the highest level of performance and to prevent dehydration.



  1. Convertino, Armstrong, Coyle, Mack, Sawka, Senay, and Sherman. “AmericanCollegeof Sports Medicine position stand: Exercise and fluid replacement”. Med Sci Sports Exerc.1996; 28(1):i-vii.
  2. Melivn H Williams. Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sports.New York: McGrall Hill. 2005.

Melissa Black,RD, CD

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Get Your Plate in Shape Maintaining a healthy weight takes a dedication to both exercise and a well balance diet. So as you work to get your physical body in shape, you also need to get your plate in shape. Getting your plate in Shape The first step is to stop and think about what you are putting on your plate. Ask yourself the following question to see what shape your plate is in. If you answer “NO” to any of these questions choose one to work on and get you plate better in shape.

• Is half your plate fruits and vegetables?

 • Do you choose whole grains?

 • Have you made the switch to fat-free or low-fat milk?

 • Are you choosing lean proteins such as skinless poultry, fish and beans?

• Have you cut back on food high is salt and sugar?

 Second look at how much you are putting on your plate. You should enjoy and savor the food you eat but eat less of it. Avoid over Eating by

 • Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses

 • Cook at home more often, where you are in control of how much to make

 • When eating out share the entrée or place half in a go container at the being of the meal

 • Keep a food journal by writing down everything you eat and how much

Lastly do not give up. Just like it takes time to build muscle it takes time change our eating habits. So take it one day, one goal at a time and you will be amazed at how well you and your plate will look.

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Our Lovely Dietitian!


As a registered dietitian,  Melissa Black has devoted her time and energy in becoming a food and nutrition expert. She has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences from Utah State University. She also completed an accredited, supervised, clinical internship and passed a national examination administered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  She maintain up to date knowledge in the field of nutrition by completing continuing professional educational requirements. She currently works at a Utah hospital as a clinical dietitian.

FreeMotion Apparel will be posting health/nutrition articles written by Melissa Black.

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