Nutrition Articles

This month we will dive into some of the science surrounding how we create energy and how food is involved in our energy production. We won't get too in-depth and will keep it simple. Gaining knowledge around how nutrition plays a role in our energy production is key to understanding metabolism and creating healthy habits.

Let's first go to the basics. Yes, Digestion.

Digestion is the process by which the body breaks down food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and used for energy. The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where food is mechanically broken down by chewing and mixed with saliva, which contains enzymes that start to break down carbohydrates. The chewed and partially digested food, known as bolus, is then swallowed and travels down the esophagus to the stomach via peristalsis.

In the stomach, the bolus is mixed with gastric juice, which contains hydrochloric acid and the enzyme pepsin. Pepsin breaks down proteins into smaller peptides, and the acid helps to kill harmful bacteria and denature proteins, making them easier for enzymes to...


The holidays are approaching, and you know it's that time of year to embrace comforting food with family and friends. It can also be a time when stress levels can be heightened, and myths can be created around food and the repercussions of indulgence and the festive holiday season. As individuals, we are always our worst critics and can be extra tough on ourselves. If you ever criticize yourself, ask yourself if you would say the same thing to a friend or family member. Usually, the answer is "no." so why would you say it to yourself?

I must always remind myself that our inner thoughts can sometimes be cruel. The holidays can bring those extra harsh critics out as there is a lot of stigma about food and indulging in holiday recipes. It's pushed on us to feel guilty and show as one day of binding and restricting so we can begin a new year with our new fitness or other related goals on personal health.

The mindset of guilt and bashing ourselves for the holiday festivities around food and indulgence is not a good relationship with food and ourselves. I invite you to...


How to know if this oft-recommended supplement is right for you.

Vitamin D is starting to sound, well, too good to be true. Hundreds of research studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent everything from osteoporosis to autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Doctors are recommending it. Health podcasters are talking about it. Even your mom is nagging you about it.

With all the hype, many people are wondering:

“Should I take vitamin D?”

We have your answers. In this article, we’ll show you how to figure out if vitamin D supplementation is right for you. You’ll learn why it’s important for your health, how much you need, and what to know before you think about taking a vitamin D supplement.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we (mostly) get from the sun, but also from certain foods, and of course, from supplements. And actually, “vitamin D” isn’t just one single thing. Vitamin D refers to...


Start the Day Strong! How many of you deal with afternoon slumps? Low energy throughout your day? Hunger midmorning that turns to unhealthy snacking? It all stems from your morning food: breakfast. We all have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, whether wanting to lose weight or wanting to improve performance or anything in between. But what does a good breakfast mean?

Research has found many reasons for making room for the "most important meal of the day." Probably the most appealing benefit is that breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and, thus, helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

When you eat breakfast you're telling your body that there are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast the message your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories.

Here are just a few benefits of making sure you get a nutritious breakfast in:

  • Having a lower BMI

  • Consuming less fat through the day

  • Meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable...

The human body is 60% made up of fluid, so that means our bodies need lots of water to stay functioning and "running" throughout the day. Ever feel tired or sluggish during the day? Especially in the winter months? Well, dehydration is a real thing for any active individual. Dehydration can show up as that tiredness we feel in the afternoons, or as darker colored urine or even as migraines and other headaches.

For athletes, dehydration can show itself through higher heart rate during workouts and slower recovery, meaning more soreness and more tired after workouts. Also, if you are not sweating as much during workouts, try increasing your fluid intake. The every day recommendation is to get half your body weight in ounces of water each day (e.g., if you weight 100lbs, drink 50 ounces per day).

On days when you tackle a monster workout, being active longer than 90 minutes, take in more water AND electrolytes because hydration isn't just about the water. Electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and others, which are important for muscle contraction and...

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How will we do this? Perhaps it’s spinach in your scrambled eggs, berries in your oatmeal, or, a delicious kale smoothie, start your day strong with colorful delicious fruits and veggies. Then….keep it going! Include them at lunch and then again at dinner. With all the diet fads that have come and gone, fruits and vegetables are still the healthy things to eat. They provide good fiber and are packed with vitamins.

Some tips, tricks & hacks to get more fruits and vegetables in your meals mentioned in Lydia's video:

How to Build a Salad

RECIPE: Kale Red Pepper & Broccoli Frittata

Lydia's bio is available here!

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Try a new kitchen gadget or way of cooking this week. InstaPots or slow cookers are great for making large amounts of food and freezing them for later use. Perfect for cold winter days.

Slow Cooker BBQ Paleo Chicken


  • 3 pounds organic chicken breast
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2-4 pitted dates
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion peeled and quartered or 1/2 a large yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil


  1. In a large slow cooker (I use a 6-quart slow cooker), arrange the chicken breasts and drizzle with the avocado oil.

  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until all of the ingredients...

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Nuts have been part of man’s diet since the prehistoric era and for good reason. Some of the nutrients nuts contain are:

  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (fats); Omega-3s

  • Protein

  • Fiber

  • Folate

  • Vitamin E

  • Plant Sterols- May reduce the risk for heart disease by blocking the absorption of cholesterol within the small intestine.

  • Lowered risk of coronary heart disease

  • Lowering inflammation

What types of nuts are best to consume?

When compared in nutrient content most nuts are relatively similar. Although some nuts may contain slightly more or less in one or two nutrient categories, they are all nutrient dense. Just be sure when consuming nuts to choose raw and keep portions to about 100 calories or 12-15 nuts for a snack. When choosing nut butters, only purchase the ones with just nuts and salt if you choose. The processed nut butters can contain unhealthy fats and sugars. Read...


Don’t be afraid of fat.

For nearly forty years saturated fats have been deemed the” bad fats.” For decades health care professionals have recommended to their patients to consume saturated fats in small amounts and now…it might be a myth that saturated fat can cause an increased risk of heart disease.

The initial thought was that a diet high in saturated fat could lead to increased LDLs or bad cholesterol that can clog arteries. This was thought to then lead to an increased heart disease. Recently, researchers conducted new studies following people’s saturated fat intake to see if there was an association between increased heart attacks and strokes. The conclusion: they could not find a clear link between the two.

So should you consume saturated fat? The moral of the story is to have a complete diet that is not one sided. Your diet should veer away from being entirely grains or entirely meats, but rather it should be a balance mix of grass-fed meats, free range poultry, while caught fatty fish, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (like olive, coconut), vegetables and...


Start the New Year off right with some home cooked, clean meals. Here are a few simple recipes.

Egg Scramble (vegetarian) (1 serving)


∙ 3 eggs

∙ 2 tbsp scallions, sliced

∙ ¼ cup tomatoes, diced

∙ ¼ avocado, diced

∙ 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

∙ sea salt and pepper to taste


1. Whisk eggs together in a medium bowl until well combined. 2. Season with some sea salt and pepper and add a splash of water. 3. Bring a medium sauté pan to medium heat with coconut oil. 4. Add eggs to the pan and allow them to set a bit before stirring. 5. Once your eggs are beginning to cook, sprinkle in the scallions and tomatoes and gently fold all the ingredients into your eggs. Cook through. 6. Top the egg scramble with diced avocado.

Fresh Vegetable Omelet Muffins (vegetarian) (6 servings)


∙ 6 whole eggs, beaten

∙ 1-2 cups of desired vegetables, diced (e.g. bell peppers, tomatoes, onions)

∙ ¼ cup sugar-free salsa (optional)...


Focus on veggies during your meals. For the next 3 days, try including at least 1 serving of non-starchy vegetables in 3 meals per day.

Diets high in non-starchy vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of many diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and inflammatory/autoimmune conditions. You cant go wrong with filling the majority of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. (Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. ) Try replacing your starches or carbohydrates for these vegetables. Not only will vegetables reduce calories and carbohydrates (non-starchy vegetables do contain carbohydrates, so you will still be getting some carbs), they will increase the fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients in your diet. Some tips when adding vegetables to meals:

  • Make them tasty, sauté in healthy oils such as avocado, coconut or olive oils.

  • Spice them up with fresh herbs and spices. Sea salt is okay, we do need salt, especially if we are sweating.

  • Try fun alternatives to traditional carbohydrates:...


Try focusing on foods with fewer than 5 ingredients, this will ensure foods are not processed and full of additives and artificial ingredients. A rule of thumb; If it can be plucked, hunted, fished picked or had a mom, eat it! It’s that simple, this way you wont be consuming any processed foods, its eating clean foods in their truest, most natural form. When reading ingredient lists on a package, ask yourself if you would find each ingredient by itself on a store shelf or in your kitchen. If the answer is no, back away. Opt for foods that are rich in nutrients and not empty calories. You will be surprised on how much better you feel after eating clean for a few days! Have fun with this one, and you will be surprised on how much money you actually save, clean eating doesn’t have to be expensive.


Log your nutrition intake for 7 days is your challenge for this week. When doing something like this, it is important to find a program or app that works for you. There are dozens of different platforms to use these days, what works for some, may not work for you. Some popular apps easily for download on your phone are; My Fitness Pal, Lose IT, Life Sum, and My Diet Coach. Dietary tracking apps have become quite sophisticated over the years, moving from manual entering of a food and portion to using barcode scanners to identify brand name products and return nutritional content information based on an entered portion. However refined these apps have become, their most poignant issue may not lie in the accuracy of the nutritional content information returned, but in the accuracy of the user’s portion estimation. Under reporting is the most common error when people input their food. Another thing to be aware of is when eating a commercially prepared food or food from a restaurant, you have no idea what went into it. Asking questions and reading ingredients can help with...


Need to detox from sugar? Sugar binges happen to the best of us. Birthdays, holidays, Halloween… heck, even just a stressful day can throw you off your clean-eating game into a spiral of candy and sugary treats. Sugar lights up your brain’s reward centers like a Christmas tree, which feels great…until the next day, when the sugar runs out and withdrawal settles in. Sugar hits all the same brain regions that addictive drugs do, and while it’s melodramatic to compare sugar to cigarettes or cocaine, you’ll still have to deal with pretty heavy cravings while your body gets itself back into balance.

Refined carbs like sugar cause systemic inflammation, that taxes your energy production in two ways. First, sugar impairs your mitochondria, so your body makes less fuel overall. Second, your cells have to spend a lot of their energy dealing with the stress of low-grade inflammation — the result of too much sugar — meaning you have less energy to put toward living your life. Sugar also causes a sharp decline in testosterone, which makes you feel lethargic. Be ready to weather a...


Your challenge this week is to focus on recovery nutrition.

What do you think is the most crucial time of a training session? Is it the first few minutes, the very end, the warm-up, or somewhere in the middle of your workout that is the most important? It may surprise you to know the most important time is the 30 minutes directly after your workout is finished. The time from your warm-up to the conclusion of your workout is obviously important. Improper form, too low an intensity, too high an intensity, unsafe behavior, and other factors can ruin the effectiveness of a workout. But even if do all of that perfectly, you can still negate the benefits of a workout by not using the 30 minute window following your workout to replenish nutrients lost during your training session.

The latest research on nutrition for endurance exercise points to the following to consider when developing a post recovery nutrition protocol:

1) The “window” of time when nutrition is most effective for recovery

Recover fastest by consuming...


Research has shown a positive correlation between the increase in digital technology use over the past 20 years and an increase in the average weight. One of the things we know is that the more screen time you use, the more you’re going to weigh. That doesn’t mean that the screen is causing your weight gain. What’s causing your weight gain is the increase in sedentary behavior and the increase of unconscious eating because you’re distracted. So those two key features are happening simultaneously.

If you are worried about your weight, paying more attention to what you eat, not less, could help keep you from overeating. Multitasking—like eating while watching television or working—and distracted or hurried eating can prompt you to eat more. Slowing down and savoring your food can help you control your intake.

Try going on a digital fast, at least during meals this week. To avoid this unhealthy combo, try not to put electronic devices on the table when you eat and keep the TV off. Not only will this help you with weight loss, it can increase...

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Everyone makes goals. We are told from an early age to set and achieve goals. Some may even be familiar with the saying, “SMART” goals—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. What is poorly understood, however, is how to set process goals, short-term goals and how to create systems that enable them to reach their long-term goals. The problem with outcome, or long-term goals is that they merely provide direction, but do not by themselves lead to actionable steps. In fact, it is quite possible that long-term goals have the opposite of the intended effect on a person’s behavior and motivation. It’s easy to get discouraged when a long-term goal is so far away that it seems nearly impossible to reach. That’s why it’s important to understand the detailed steps involved in helping a person reach their goals.

Before embarking on a life-changing journey, it’s necessary to reflect on WHY you want to do it. Dig deep and take time to reflect on why you want what you want, and how you will get there. Some common goals such as “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to...


On a calorie-by-calorie basis, whole grains are lousy sources of fiber, minerals, and B vitamins when compared to the lean meats, seafood, and fresh fruit and veggies that dominate clean eating. For example, a 1,000-calorie serving of fresh fruits and vegetables has between two and seven times as much fiber as does a comparable serving of whole grains. A 1,000-calorie serving of whole grain cereal contains 15 times less calcium, three times less magnesium, 12 times less potassium, six times less iron, and two times less copper than a comparable serving of fresh vegetables.

Moreover, whole grains contain a substance called phytate that almost entirely prevents the absorption of any calcium, iron, or zinc that is found in whole grains, whereas the type of iron, zinc, and copper found in lean meats and seafood is in a form that is highly absorbed. Compared to fruits and veggies, cereal grains are B-vitamin lightweights. An average 1,000 calorie serving of mixed vegetables contains 19 times more folate, five times more vitamin B6, six times more vitamin B2 and two times more...


If it takes 3 weeks to break a habit and just one week to make a habit, why not start now? Some tips to help you begin creating new habits, or to break those old ones include:

1. Avoid quick fixes, like crash diets or those 'too good to be true' solutions. For these temporary fixes to long-term problems are unlikely to be sustaining habits for long-term health improvements or performance benefits.

2. Evaluate the landscape around you. Eliminate the clutter and minimize the distractions. Although these are not food related actions, they can influence your emotional state, thus nutritional choices (more on Stress & Eating in a later Nutrition Quick Tip).

3. Take advantage of the 'Prime Real Estate'. Place healthy snack & meal ingredients in a bowl on your counter (fruits & vegetables) or front and center in the refrigerator. Keep the 'sometimes foods' behind closed doors and drawers. After all, out of site out of mind!

4. Finally, write down your now intended habit, and share it with a friend or family member. They maybe more on board for...


When it comes to choosing what to eat, nutrition is important, but flavor is likely the true motivator and also the key to eating right, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This March, during National Nutrition Month®, experiment with new flavors and flavor combinations in healthy meals and "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right."

"According to consumer research, taste tops nutrition as the main reason why consumers buy one food over another. The foods we most commonly eat are often those we enjoy the most," says registered dietitian and Academy spokesperson Joy Dubost. "So make taste a priority when preparing nutritious meals."

Preparing meals can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Dubost offers cooking tips to help enhance flavor without adding extra fat, calories or salt. …choose high-quality ingredients at their peak quality, and be sure to store and handle foods properly. "Overcooking can destroy both flavor and nutrients. So be sure to cook foods properly to retain nutrients and enhance flavor, color, texture...


Balanced nutrition is essential to achieving results, whether they be performance based, health related, or simply changes in body composition. Regardless of the intended result, it is important to be leery of any diet, supplement, or training method that claims to be a quick solution to achieving results. As the old adage goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” After all, nothing worth having comes easy. On the other hand, self-deprivation is not necessary. Rather, balance is the key to success. In nutrition, “balance” can be thought of as minding your P’s and Q’s; where P representing portions and Q’s being quality.

When minding ones portions you aim to strike a balance between the energy consumed (kcals) and the energy expended, thus the energy-balance equation. Portions are frequently the greatest culprits in allowing for over-doing it with energy intake, thus a positive energy balance. Over time, maintaining a positive energy balance (consuming more than that being expended) will result in an accumulation of fat in adipose tissue, therefore undesired...


"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." – Linus van Pelt

Fresh pumpkin can be roasted and used in recipes, in place of canned pumpkin. But buyer beware, the devil is in the details. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the can so that you know what you're getting. Canned pumpkin products may be labeled as ‘pumpkin’ ‘100% pumpkin’ or ‘pumpkin pie filling’. The devil is found in the ‘Pumpkin pie filling’ product. This can be much higher in calories than regular canned pumpkin because of added ingredients, otherwise not found in plain, canned pumpkin. First thing that comes to mind when the calendar turns to October is ALL THINGS PUMPKIN… pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin doughnuts (check them out at The Southern), pumpkin beer…I think you get the picture. In my years living here I have found that Chicago, more than any other city I have lived, seems to have this pumpkin thing nailed down. I guess this may be influenced by our proximity to self-proclaimed...


Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

    • ½ cup frozen (thawed) nonalcoholic margarita mix
    • ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4 lb)
    • 6 cups
    • 1 cup sliced strawberries
    • 1 medium mango, peeled, pitted and sliced
    • 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 cup sliced mushrooms


  1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.
  2. Dressing - in small bowl, stir margarita mix, oil and vinegar with wire whisk until well blended. Measure 1/4 cup dressing for basting chicken; reserve remaining dressing for serving.
  3. Cover and grill chicken over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning and brushing occasionally with 1/4 cup dressing, until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.
  4. Cut chicken into slices. In large bowl, toss salad greens, chicken and strawberries; divide...


1 lb. Brussels sprouts

1 tsp + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

¼ tsp kosher salt (optional)

1/3 c slivered, Blue Diamond Almonds, toasted (see toasting instructions below)


Trim ends of Brussels sprouts. Cut in halves, or quarters, depending on size, for even cooking.

In a large skillet (I prefer cast iron), sauté sliced shallots in 1 tsp olive oil until golden brown, avoid burning. Remove from pan and set aside.

Sauté Brussels sprouts in remaining (1 Tbsp) olive oil until golden brown and some leaves begin to crisp.

Add shallots to sautéed Brussels sprouts, season with kosher salt as desired. Gently toss to combine.

Top with toasted, slivered Blue Diamond Almonds (simple toasting instructions below). Serve hot.

To toast almonds: place slivered Blue Diamond Almonds in non-stick pan over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Promptly remove from almonds from hot pan when nuts begin to...



3 cups Blue Diamond Almonds

3/4 cup (unsweetened) dried cherries

3/4 cup (unsweetened) coconut flakes

1/2 cup mini dark chocolate (70% cocoa) chips


Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Store in air-tight container.

Enjoy a quarter cup at a time.

Training tip:

Pack in snack-sized container to have on hand for quick post-workout refueling.


If it takes 3 weeks to break a habit and just one week to make a habit, why not start now? Some tips to help you begin creating new habits, or to break those old ones include:

1. Avoid quick fixes, like crash diets or those 'too good to be true' solutions. For these temporary fixes to long-term problems are unlikely to be sustaining habits for long-term health improvements or performance benefits.

2. Evaluate the landscape around you. Eliminate the clutter and minimize the distractions. Although these are not food related actions, they can influence your emotional state, thus nutritional choices (more on Stress & Eating in a later Nutrition Quick Tip).

3. Take advantage of the 'Prime Real Estate'. Place healthy snack & meal ingredients in a bowl on your counter (fruits & vegetables) or front and center in the refrigerator. Keep the 'sometimes foods' behind closed doors and drawers. After all, out of site out of mind!

4. Finally, write down your now intended habit, and share it with a friend or family member. They maybe more on board for...


Don’t wish away the chill of spring just yet. Winter & early spring is the peak time for one of the hottest foods today – KALE.

Although kale was around during ancient Roman times and a popular vegetable of the peasant class in the Middle Ages, it is just gaining the respect of Americans today. In fact, it has quickly been hailed by the American, health food industry as a ‘superfood’. This is a label used to describe a food with high nutrient (vitamins & minerals) or phytochemical content that may provide health benefits. Kale, which comes in straight or curly leaves, purple, red or green colors, contains large amounts quercetin a known antioxidant (phytochemical). By adding kale to your regular weekly menu, you are helping your body sequester free radicals that are over produced during exercise and cause chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

You can buy kale though out the year, but it is most widely available and has a sweeter taste now. Try it prepared one of these ways today:

  • Kale a la Mediterranean -...

Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic. The solution? Focus on just those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones. Check out the top 12 foods you should buy organic whenever possible:

1. Meat

2. Milk

3. Coffee

4. Peaches

5. Apples

6. Sweet bell peppers

7. Celery

8. Strawberries

9. Lettuces

10. Grapes

11. Potatoes

12. Tomatoes


Tart cherries are available as dried, frozen and juice, so they are extremely versatile and always available, making them the ideal power food to bring with you anytime, anywhere, for any exercise occasion.

  • Dried cherries make a good grab-and-go snack
  • Add dried cherries to a hot bowl of Irish Oats for a breakfast boost
  • Create a quick yogurt parfait with vanilla yogurt, granola and dried cherries
  • Add dried cherries to a fresh spinach salad with walnuts for a light post-exercise meal
  • Stir up whole grain couscous with grilled chicken, dried cherries and a splash of cherry juice for added flavor
  • Rehydrate and refresh with the Red Alert - a mix of cherry juice, coconut water, and club soda
  • Recharge with the Red Recharger Smoothie, a triple hit of cherries, antioxidants, and protein

Cherries powerful package of antioxidants and phytonutrients delivers:

  • Anthocyanins –antioxidants that are responsible for cherries’ anti-inflammatory benefits. Cherries may work like common pain medications reduce...

Try this recipe after your Saturday morning intensity ride this weekend. It includes both cherries, which are loaded with valuable vitamins & antioxidants and potatoes, which are excellent sources of carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber. Homefries can be a healthy addition to a recovery meal - such as scrambled eggs loaded wilted spinach, sundried tomatoes and a bit of goat cheese with a side of Cherry Homefries.

Cherry Homefries


  • 5 medium waxy potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red chilies (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Sauté the onions and cherries over low-medium heatfor 15 minutes or until the onions become a deep brown (but not burnt).

2. At the same time as the onions are cooking, boil the...