Today we’re talking with nutritionist and PRO triathlete Kim Schwabenbauer about the importance of a nutrition assessment for runners as well as tips for enjoying the Holiday season without guilt.
Dr. Chris Segler: Today on the Doc On The Run podcast I am really excited to bring Kim Schwabenbauer onto the show to share her expertise about nutrition and what it takes to fuel athletes in training, racing and recovery.
Kim is a long time athlete. She ran cross country in high school. She was Team Captain of both her cross country and track teams at Penn State. She has been doing triathlons for over 10 years. She’s won lots and lots of races. She was the amateur champion at Ironman Cozumel and Ironman Lake Placid. She’s even raced at the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii 4 times. And she is fast, fast fast…she actually clocked a 3:01 Ironman Marathon time.
So, no surprise Kim is currently racing as a pro triathlete. If Kim’s name sounds familiar to you, it may be because you saw her highlighted on MTV’s “Made” television show where she helped coach a young man through his first triathlon. And if all that isn’t enough, Kim is rapidly building a nationally recognized triathlon business Fuel Your Passion Endurance Coaching and Nutrition Counseling.
She is a certified USA Triathlon Level One Coach and a Registered Dietician, so she knows exactly what athletes need to make the jump to the next level.
So welcome Kim! Thanks for coming on the show! Maybe you could give us a little additional background about you and your athletic history.
Kim Schwabenbauer: Sounds great! Thank you so much for having me Dr. Chris! I really appreciate it and I think it’s going to be fun and we’re going to talk about a lot of really cool things today so I hope your audience enjoys it.
A little about me, you mentioned a lot and you really talked me up there and I appreciate it. I think my entire motto in life is “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. You don’t know where life is going to take you and I think if you could just be open to opportunities and work hard and listen to the people around you and things like that, things can just go in a direction that you never imagined possible. So that’s been my entire life has been a little bit that way between walking on the Penn State Cross Country team, I wasn’t recruited at all so I was just a walk-on athlete.
As a sophomore I ended up graduating from there four years later travelling all over the country and that started my trajectory into sports and then getting into triathlon. I couldn’t swim…period. I taught myself to swim in 2005 and I would highly advise if I have a daughter as to you as well, I would put my child in swimming lessons the second they could go to swimming lessons. But I couldn’t swim at all, I couldn’t make it across the pool at all in 2005 and then I did my first triathlon and I fell in-love and here I am ten, twelve years later as a professional athlete.
I just hope your listeners know that anything is truly possible if you put your mind to it and it’s been a great progression. I can’t imagine where things are going to go from here.
Dr. Chris Segler: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I mean it’s true. It’s really incredible that you can go from being able to not swim to racing professionally. It is unbelievable but that’s true of all of us right? We are all capable of big changes. I know how you have talked about a couple of times in your life when you made some of those BIG changes and improvements. Like getting onto the team at Penn State and also in 2007 when you really started to get serious about triathlon.
I know that every runner listening to this knows that if you want to change your performance, you have to make big changes in the way that you train and also in the way that you fuel. It’s not just about running harder, it’s not just about buying new shoes or a new Garmin or something, you have to change several aspects in your life if you want to really improve.
So it sounds like the initial steps with any athlete is your initial nutrition assessment to determine food habits, current sort of health status and their energy demands. Because obviously you have to get the building blocks to create the speed machine.
Performance gains, you can only get them in a few ways:
So, if an athlete, let’s say a long-time runner, decides that she wants to step up her performance to qualify for Boston or something like that, how do you get her started? What does that initial nutrition assessment really look like?
Kim Schwabenbauer: That’s a great question and I just wanted to add to your performance gains. One other way you can make this to work on your mental game and I know you are highly in-tuned with
this as well and I was thinking about that this morning. It’s amazing how much my mental game has changed from the beginning.
Some key aspects are still there but just to continually work on it, continue reading books and monitoring my thoughts, monitoring my self-talk and all that kind of stuff. I don’t care what kind of athlete you are if back of the pack or winning races, you can always work on your mental game and so that’s another way to make performance improvements too.
Nutrition Assessment, so let’s talk about that. What are some of the first things that someone would want to look at for that particular area? Well, with my clients if they haven’t done a recent biochemical assessment so looking at some of the variables that we can get from a doctor like you prescribing either a CBC. A complete blood count is always important and then also the Iron variables that we want to check. We definitely take a look at things like Hematocrit, Hemoglobin, we would look at Ferritin to get a more long term picture of what’s going on with iron status. Total Iron Binding Capacity is also a good one to check that as well and so those kind of things are important just to make sure that somebody starting a great place because we actually breakdown Red Blood Cells by pounding on the ground which is people don’t know this but it’s called Hemolysis. When your foot hits the ground, you’re breaking blood cells all over your body and so you do actually need to make sure that you know Iron is key for carrying Oxygen. If we do not have enough Iron, we do not have enough Oxygen as I’m sure you know of course and have talked to your listeners about this as well. I always check Iron especially for women as well because of course as we menstruate every month, we’re losing some of that key Iron.
So I’m checking out Iron, checking out calcium, checking out Vitamin D status for athletes. I’ll try to get a good picture of what’s going on right when we start as a baseline and then that way we can also track if something goes wrong within the season when someone complains about shin pains or something like that then we want to make sure that they don’t get a stress fracture.
Key elements for that are obviously calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D. With those four, we’ve got to have a base line or else you’d be heading that direction. Biochemical, anthropometric which means body composition so if we can, if we have access to the ability to check that out either be a skin calipers or the gold standard is the BodPod which some people have access to it like universities or things like that.
I’ll send them in for a BodPod assessment because usually people are interested in running faster. Actually one pound extra a body fat that you’re carrying around is about six seconds per mile slower. So if you can lose that one now there’s a point of diminishing returns, you want to get too thin either, so you know that as well. So I’ll check that out and then of course I do a three day diet analysis on them. I check out three days, usually two week days and one weekend day to see what you are eating and what’s the interplay with your training, your lifestyle, your sleep, all of those things, how does nutrition setup within that day. It’s not just about the food you eat, it’s about the timing of when you eat that food and whether it makes sense for your training in terms of putting in the right nutrients before, during and after and also does it makes sense for your whole health, your recovery like you said.
Can we improve the recovery after workouts? Can we improve the amount of protein someone’s getting throughout the day so that they’re able to maintain the muscle mass that they’re breaking down when they go out and pound around? So yes, I kind of go through those three main areas of nutrition and a lot of people just want “Oh just give me a diet to follow”. I’m not going to do that and the reason is because it just doesn’t fit your lifestyle, it has to be specific. You’re going to follow that for three days and then you’re going to quit because it’s not going to work for you.
Dr. Chris Segler: Massive changes in diet don’t last for the overwhelming majority of people. That’s been proven, that’s not new, that’s been going on for a hundred years. So you have to be deliberate, you have to have a goal just like with your training. When I talk to athletes about this, I talk about it in terms of a sort of specificity; what they do with everything else when they train. When you run, it’s pretty standard. Most training plans have a base phase and then they have a build phase and speed work and all these different elements that are added at particularly times, not just randomly, to achieve a goal. And it’s true that most training plans include some kind of long run, some kind of tempo and some kind of speed workouts during the week and they have different components. They’re little pieces of this whole puzzle that fit together to build fitness in a very specific way.
Now nutrition obviously, it really works that way. You can’t just eat carbohydrates in the morning and protein at night, you can’t do it. It doesn’t makes sense. It’s important to get the fuel when you need it. We talked that a bit and as you just said about recovery, you have to really maximize your recovery if you want the maximum gains.
When I do my workouts like I drink a very specific recovery smoothie after every run and every bike ride. When I started doing that, I noticed a big jump in the speed of my recovery. Obviously for me, that was low-hanging fruit. Making sure that I was getting high quality nutrients in to refueling session within a minutes of finishing a hard workout was really an easy thing to add to my routine. It wasn’t a massive change in my diet, it wasn’t like switching from a Southern diet to a gluten free diet or something but it was really simple. It also gave me the nutrients right when I finish those workouts so that I can refuel as quickly as possible.
What do you recommend for immediate recovery fuel after workouts? Do you think it is most important to pay attention to the amount of protein, or antioxidants, what is it that you recommend runners make sure they aren’t missing?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Well the first thing is planning. Like you said, you have the smoothie so obviously you’ve got your ingredients in your fridge, you know what you’re going to have or you’re taking it with you somewhere, you’ve already made it pre-made and maybe it’s sitting in the refrigerator somewhere or something like that. So I love the smoothie idea, I think it’s fantastic for so many reasons, one, quality carbohydrates. I’m going to ask you what’s in the smoothie in a minute so make sure you get ready on that because I want to
know. I’m guessing that there’s some fruit in there probably, some easily digesting carbohydrates that get the blood sugar up quick after a workout and replenishes carbohydrates because that’s just so key.
I love to see a ratio of about four to one in terms of grams of carbohydrate to an amount of protein so that might be something like seventy five grams of carbs to about fifteen grams of protein. People don’t have to get that exactly but if you’re checking your supplement that you’re doing something like a pre-made drink, you do want to make sure that it has some carbs in there. This is not the time to go low carb this is actually the time to make that you’re replenishing what you just used in the workout which is primarily carbs and then at least fifteen grams of protein probably not more than about twenty five.
Basically the studies have found that anything over about twenty five on the very up around 30 grams isn’t really used in maximizing synthesis of muscles. So it’s basically there’s a point of maximizing synthesis and after that it’s basically what your body is going, “I don’t need this much protein, you’re giving me too much. I’m going to go ahead and store this as extra calories”, around your mid-section or wherever it needs to go if it’s not being used in that way. So in that 15-25 gram range is perfect for protein.
If somebody likes smoothie, great! Use some whey protein which is the fastest in terms of
absorption and maximizing that synthesis, so add a scoop of twenty grams of whey protein to a smoothie with some like you said, fruit or you’ve got antioxidants in there. You can put in a little bit of vegetables, maybe some spinach or something like that and then you can do this with other foods too. I try to recommend whole foods if at all possible because you’re getting phytochemicals that the supplement companies cannot make them, they’re literally something that can only be in nature. So whether it’s a greek yogurt, an english muffin with some peanut butter on it or if it’s a bowl of cereal and a side of cottage cheese, what you need is some protein and some carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are coming from fruits, vegetables, a little bit from low fat dairy and you want it to be rapidly absorbing. While fiber is awesome, extra fiber is awesome at other times of the day, this is the time to keep the fiber relatively low and the fat relatively reasonably low but get those carbohydrates and protein up and the fast digesting carbohydrates, you’re more of fine kind of carbohydrates.
Dr. Chris Segler: Yeah, so that’s what I do and what’s in it is yogurt, hemp protein, a little bit of whey protein, kale, spinach, banana, cucumber, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, papaya, pineapple, blackberries, dark cherry juice, blueberry juice and ground flax seed.
Kim Schwabenbauer: Wow! You’re covering your basis. You’ve even got some omega-3 there at the end. Absolutely, which is another great one.
Dr. Chris Segler: Because I’m not a nutritionist, right? And I have patients ask me all the time and for full disclosure I literally, I tell patients. They’ll ask like what’s most important and I say “I have no idea, I’m not a nutritionist, I don’t really know. I just know that like the chances are really good that with all of those things, I have got it covered”.
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yes you do! You absolutely do, you’re getting tons of vitamin C in there which is great because our immune system tend to be compromised because we are working out all the time. So we’re you’re getting tons of vitamin C, a lot of antioxidants, you’ve got a little bit of fiber in there but you’ve got great protein sources and like I said the flax seed is omega-3. You’re not going to probably get quite the same conversion as you get when you take fish oil or you eat fish but you’re getting some decent omega-3 from flax seed as well.
Dr. Chris Segler: Yeah, I haven’t yet been able to stomach salmon in my smoothie.
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah, we are not recommending that today. Don’t worry about it, eat and see them some other times.
Dr. Chris Segler: If I go someplace to run, if I’m going to go to a track to do mile repeats, I make it right before I leave and I keep it there at the track and I literally drink it as I’m doing my cool down. If I drive to someplace to go for a ride like if I drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin, I’m going to do a ride I do the same thing. I make it and take it with as soon as I get in my truck, after I put my bike away, I drink it on the drive back.
I always have it right way, I don’t drive to Marin and finish my ride and stop and get coffee and then an hour later when I’m finally at home, I make a smoothie. I think I missed the window at that point right? I think it’s really important to make sure that you get these things but again this was like one of the initial things I did that seem to make one of the biggest improvements in my performance and it’s a small thing and that was actually super easy to add was to “So okay, I’m just going to do this one thing” and I didn’t change any other thing in my diet at that time. Of course I made a lots of incremental changes but just like the whole mental game thing that you talked about as soon as you see improvements it’s very easy to start doing more work to get more improvements. It’s really motivating to see an improvement.
Kim Schwabenbauer: It is and this is just like you said, one small thing. Chocolate milk, they’ve done a big push on this whole post workout window and they’ve done a good job and rightfully so it’s a great option. The nice thing is you can actually get shelf stable chocolate milk in little tetra packs that you can keep in your car. I actually travel around with those, I don’t want to name any brand names, but with organic chocolate milk in my car at all times. I try to make it so I can’t fail. I have almonds in my car at all times and I have chocolate milk in my car at all times so instead of driving through anywhere if I’m famished and I just have to have something now then I have an option that’s right there in the car and I can always stop and get a glass of ice somewhere or get something cold to put it in if I really want something cold but just make it foolproof. Make your post workout nutrition foolproof. Think about it at a time, plan accordingly, just don’t let that to chance just like you said that you don’t go an hour or two and say it will just work out, it won’t work out, we’re too busy. So make a plan and stick to it and once you get in the routine it’s honestly feels like it’s not even work at all because once the routine is there and you’ve done it a couple of times and you’re going, “Okay, now I have it. This is just how it works. I get done with the workout and I do this immediately afterward”.
I actually drink my post recovery workout in the shower at all times. I have one of those cups that has a top on it and a straw, it’s all plastic and I end up drinking it in there because I’m trying to do two things at once. So I have a little bit of smoothie, wash my hair, set it down, have a little bit of smoothie. A little strange but you know what, works for me. Make it work for you whatever it is.
Dr. Chris Segler: Well the routines are important. It’s fascinating because you have these elements, you have the actual training part that people think about in terms of going for a run, going for a bike ride whatever and that is all highly scheduled. My wife and I do the same thing and I know for sure like she likes to ride earlier than me. I don’t really care what time I ride, it doesn’t matter to me. She rides early in the morning on Saturday and she runs earlier than me on Sunday, every time. So it’s like we don’t even have to talk about it. We know that she’s going to do that and when gets back, I’m going to go and yet people do. They plan everything out, they know for sure that they’re going to do their track workout on Tuesday evening with their running club or whatever. They have all their specific long runs, specific long bike and all that and they would never in a million years say “Well I don’t know, I’m going to ride, I’m going to do a long ride sometime, I’ll just see when I have a time this week” because you’re not going to find for hours. It’s not going to show up while you’re sitting around watching TV going “Oh yeah, I could go ride for hours right now” and so it confuses me that way. Athletes who are training for months on end and put so much on planning into that part of their race preparation will in most cases or many cases is just completely do nutrition on the fly.
They’re not setting themselves up for success. I do house calls, I drive around and see athletes all day and so if I don’t have almonds or cashews or something in my car, I am at some point going to be tempted to buy something and eat something that I have no business eating it. That’s not going to be helpful to my goals and so I have to plan ahead for that.
One of the times of course when that starts to go sideways is the off-season and particularly the Holiday season. I have read all kinds of things, lots of athletes immediately go to training right after Hawaii. Some people do take it serious off-season, some people are still like eating Thanksgiving dinner with their heart monitor on. I mean there’s this whole range. Some athletes will recoil from Holiday deserts as if they were recoiling from a hot flame. Others will think, “What does it matter…its the off-season? I should be able to do what I want once a year”
Around the Holiday season, Christmas and New Year and Thanksgiving and all that stuff, what are the recommendation you think can help runners enjoy the Holiday times without sabotaging their nutrition plan and overall fitness? What do you tell people this time of the year?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Well that is a great question everybody’s talking about it and come January 1st I will have about ten E-mails to my Inbox saying, “Hey I’m ready to start working on my nutrition. I’m up twenty five pounds. I hope that’s okay and Oh boy, we have a lot of work to do.
My first recommendation is to know about how many hours to train during the year, have some idea of “Okay if I train a thousand hours I’m going to need, that’s me as a PRO triathlete, a thousand hours is about where I end up”, I’m going to need four to six weeks of downtime where I’m not training as hard to let my body recover. To go ahead and put on some weight but not let it get completely out of control but have a plan for how long your off-season’s going to be and then stick with that and know that you can do some other things, you can stay active other ways. Maybe go for a hike. Maybe do something you wouldn’t normally do, go to yoga or something like that. Stay active but don’t necessarily do your same sport over and over again like you do during the year, you have to stick to that schedule. But also don’t let get that weight completely out of control. Have a range. I usually say to my athletes “Hey, gain five and the men gain eight pounds” something like that, that’s okay.
That’s a reasonable range for the off-season and don’t feel bad about it because we’ve got time to be able to work on that during the season and early part of the season especially during the base phase. That will come off and we don’t really want to be at race weight until it’s literally, basically within two weeks of our A race of the season because it’s usually the weight that’s not, a body composition that’s not sustainable for people. We don’t want them to be at that amount of body composition because they’re more susceptible to infection and all kinds of other things.
The weight actually in the beginning of the season does you good. My coach actually is pretty adamant that I am five to six pounds above where I want to race at A race when we start because I’m pounding around with that extra weight that gives me more durability in terms of my musculature and my bones so that when I start to actually get down towards that lower weight, my bones, my muscles are really strong and really able to take a pounding because I pounded around for that first two months of the year or three months of the year with that weight on.
Know that first and then secondly, have a plan just like when we have a plan for recovery, have a plan for these holiday parties and situations like that. Never go into these things hungry. You’re asking for trouble! You’re asking for a lot trouble if you go in, you haven’t eaten for six hours, watch out! The buffet will be hit by you multiple times, multiple plates and it’s probably not going to be the things that you want on there. Make sure you have something, it’s pretty simple but have something an hour before that has protein, fiber and make sure you get fluid in before you go there. This is the time to make sure you get in your water and get in some hydration. Make sure you go fully hydrated because again that’s when the drinks come, the holiday eggnog and other things like that are easy to take part in that kind of stuff. But again have a plan for that as well, “I’m going to have two drinks and that’s it. For the whole night, that’s what I’m going to do”, have water in between so that you stay hydrated.
Have your plan and really try to stick to that plan, try not to deviate too much from that. Enjoy a little bit, if you love Aunt Suzie’s chocolate cake, by all means have a piece. Just don’t have three pieces, just have a piece. I like to encourage moderation that people are told something is off limits, all they want to do is eat it. That’s all they will think about and they will feel deprived when they missed out on her cake that only comes around once a year. Don’t miss out! Have the cake, just don’t feel bad about it and basically after two to three bites those sensations in our brain that all these things that light up from the extra sugar and all the extra fat and all these areas that make us feel like “Ah, that was amazing!”. After two to three bites we don’t get any more of that. We only get a certain amount so have your two or three bites and then say “Okay, I don’t need to eat the whole thing, I’m not getting real benefit from that anyways”. So that’s a few tips for that kind of stuff and maybe bring something in the party that you know you can eat and that you like and that has nutritional benefits. Maybe you’re the one that brings the veggie tray and you make sure that you at least do one plateful of veggie tray first and then you’re able to go back and get a few of the things that you love. But if you get to those veggie first, you’re going to east less of the other stuff that you shouldn’t be maybe partaking in quite as much.
Dr. Chris Segler: Again it’s just having a plan, right? It’s being prepared and knowing the sort of trouble you’re going to get into if you’re not prepared.
Kim Schwabenbauer: I have one more, I just thought of it. This is one for the triathletes or the people who do some cross-training out there. One of my favorite things, someone always brings me a huge plate of Christmas cookies and I love them and it’s an amazing plate. It has all the different things so what I do is I wait for my ride and so about thirty minutes before I have a cookie or two so I’ve got my blood sugar really toughed up and then I put three cookies on the handlebars while I’m training and so I get to have those during the ride and then I make it to maybe half a cookie or something like that afterwards with my protein.
Be strategic about it. Use it at a time in which your body is going to use it for good. Have it at a time when your body is going to use it for good. Like it’s going to replenish either glycogen because you just worked out or keep the circulating blood sugar up before you workout. Use it then because then your body is going to say “Yes, I’m going to pull from this and use it for your workout versus I’m going to store it because you’re having it at nine pm at night because you’re about to go to sleep”.
Be strategic about when you’re going to have that stuff. I love my Christmas cookie workouts. I have them every year.
Dr. Chris Segler: Alright, that’s great! Aside from just dealing with the Holidays and really having a plan and all that, we talked kind of about recovery and part of that you mentioned like when somebody’s weight drops too much that you’re more at risk with injury, you’re more at risk of getting sick, more risk of getting a stress fracture, you’re at risk lots of things and stress fractures are extremely common in endurance athletes. It’s probably the most common thing that I see when I go see runners and triathletes.
We all know that these stress fractures are common. We also know that we need calcium to build strong bones to help prevent stress fractures and you talked about phosphorus and its protein, you have to have all of these things together right, in my knees. But calcium though is like we just think about bone health when people talk about Calcium but is also really crucial for muscle contraction and in such a way is like also really crucial to athletic performance.
Another is some research that shows that during a 10-week period of intense endurance training, with the standard build, interval and taper phase and all that, that both urinary and serum calcium level can decrease following a high-intensity training, but then it can be reversed after the taper. Have you seen this sort of trend in athletes and if so like what kind of recommendations do you make to the athletes during their high-intensity phases to make sure that they’re gaining enough dietary calcium not just to prevent stress fractures but also that they’re able to actually have proper muscular performance and train at their maximum intensity?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah, calcium is just so critical and just like you said it’s something that every endurance athlete should think about in terms of their diets and in terms of maybe getting some initial blood work done to make sure that you’re in a good spot.
In the northern hemisphere right now, in Pennsylvania, we’re not getting any sun at all. So vitamin D becomes so critical because there’s only two ways we are going to get that. It’s either through food, it can be fortified vitamin D or it can be natural vitamin D coming through milk and dairy products and things like or it’s going to be through the sun, through ultraviolet light activating it in our skin and I’m getting basically zero right now.
Making sure that you’re both consuming calcium and have enough vitamin D as well is just so so critical and I haven’t actually seen a lot of athletes that “Okay, we’re flow during the season and test them again during the taper per se” and like that study in particular mentioned but I guarantee you that my athletes are affected. Their calcium sort of balance is affected because of their hormonal profiles. There’s definitely people that are more susceptible, women in particular are more susceptible. We have lower bone mineral density to start with just from our general build and everything like that and after about thirty, you don’t get any more bone. You’re actually on the downhill slide of bone mineral density.
Dr. Chris Segler: Yes! I mean forever. It’s just like you’re trying to decrease the sort of slope, right? You’re heading downhill with your bone density and there’s just no two ways about that. For women, it’s far more crucial.
Kim Schwabenbauer: It is, absolutely. The good news is we’re remodeling more if we’re pounding around on the pavement during running and things like that and we’re remodeling more on that bone all the time but we have to have the building blocks there, the calcium and the vitamin D and even some magnesium and phosphorus to help support all that. So what I do is I just make sure that each one of my athletes has some good sources of calcium in their diet.
For women we’re talking probably two or three at least servings per day. Maybe that’s a no meal in the morning or something like that and milk or cereal after workout or maybe it is greek yogurt for lunch as a snack. I love greek yogurt, it’s got about fifteen eighteen grams protein in it so it’s usually perfect for post-recovery or as a snack and then maybe something else. Maybe a cottage cheese or those string cheeses that are easy to take with you that you just peel them off and go, portable things like that.
You need to be having those kind of sources throughout the day and then like I said making sure that you’re getting tested for these things and knowing what “Hey my vitamin D was less than thirty, I really have to take a supplement in order to get it to where it needs to be”. Sometimes I’ve heard of athletes being put on I mean pretty high amounts of vitamin D. I’m not sure what you’re usually seeing out there. I’ve seen as much as forty thousand IU’s. Just to give you an idea, four hundred is the RDA for vitamin D which I think it’s way too low personally but right now, that’s what it is. I’m recommending usually for people to take at least four hundred to six hundred as a very minimum but more like a thousand per day and then some people have been so low that they’re putting on just ridiculous amounts to get them even to just baseline levels.
Female athletes for sure, women that are older above fifty, you need to be taking calcium and vitamin D probably as a supplement in addition to your sources in your diet. Those people are more susceptible to stress fractures and things like that.
Dr. Chris Segler: There are risks too right? For men, it’s not a great idea to take lots of iron supplements right? You get iron poisoning but that doesn’t happen in vitamin D and calcium and I often wonder when you see those like really high doses if it’s not that the doctor really doesn’t know, they’re just like “Look, we don’t know how much sugar are absorbed but we’re going to give you way more than you need just to make sure your absorbing as much as you can”.
You can do that with vitamin D and calcium so it’s just more pills right? But it is a problem here. So in San Francisco it’s not very sunny. So when you’re actually training here in San Francisco you may not get a lot of sun. I do lots of runs in San Francisco but I also try to do my rides here when it’s actually sunny. Fortunately here, I can go someplace where it’s sunny most of the time. This time of the year, it’s pretty just kind of gray all the time but during the summer and the other months, I mean I really can pick and choose, I mean I can pick temperatures. I can train in San Francisco where it’s the 50’s and it’s foggy.
But lots of people, I have lots of doctors or friends who are interns al medicine doctors, they say that almost everybody they check in San Francisco is low in vitamin D. There are people that are really doing all their workouts in the city where it’s always gray, that’s not really a big surprise and so that’s true in a lot in the US in the winter time. Like in the North East, it can be really sunless right?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah, absolutely and people talk about this seasonal affected disorder like “Oh I don’t feel like myself in the winter”, I think a lot of that is actually tied to their vitamin D status. I think that vitamin D really functions more like a hormone than an actual vitamin. There’s been so much research on it as of late and people need to have a certain amount or else they are going to like the depression and some other things as well.
We want to make sure they get the minimum. I am not abdicating obviously and I know you are not either and people go out and never wear sunscreen again. Hey, wear sunscreen, that’s important! But know that you need at least ten to twenty minutes of your face, your arms exposed without sunscreen and to be able to get at least what you need daily and if it’s going to be a long stretch where you’re not going to get that then it’s got to come from both your diet and from supplements especially if your tested and it is low. So I encourage people to work with a doctor like you that knows about athletes and understands what we need and then maybe also to work with a dietician that has four years of training and understands what these biochemical assessments mean and work with you on what to put on your diet to make sure that you’re getting enough of these critical elements.
Dr. Chris Segler: Like you said, we pick a team of people to support you. This is true for all athletes right? Whether you know it or not and I think every athlete has a team of people even though many of them who are sort of beginners or new runners, they don’t really think they have a team of people but the truth is they do. They have their friends who are runners, they ask them about workouts. Basically they’re functioning as their coach, ask their runner friends what do you eat, what do you after you run or do you think chocolate milk, what?
We do have our own support groups. As you get more serious about it, of course your sort of support group becomes a lot more serious. You get a professional coach, you get a nutritionist who is going to actually help you make big jumps in performance that you can’t do on your own and that’s why we hire experts right? It’s just really that simple. If you want to perform better, you have to get better information to act on and then you have to act on it. If you don’t have the right information and you’re not following through your plan, you can’t expect to make big changes. It’s a pretty basic idea.
What’s the one biggest piece of nutritional advice you can offer to runners who are trying to make improvements to come up in the coming New Year and they’re really thinking about what to do with their goals like what’s the biggest piece of advice that you would say?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Oh wow! I have been thinking about this the whole morning and this is so tough to say but if there’s one thing that I would recommend and when I was thinking about it I kept coming back to the same thing and that’s, be a student of nutrition just like you’re a student of the sport. You fell in-love with the sport, you fell in-love with so many aspects about it, the way it makes you feel just being outside, communicating with nature, all these different things are things that just really get us excited and we love to do it.
Feel that same way about nutrition because one, it’s your health we are talking about here and you’re never going to have the performance gains you want if you don’t have your health on track first. So get your nutrition in-line with your health goals and what you like to achieve that way and then from there focus on performance. Some people just want the latest and greatest. Well I heard beet juice is good, I’m going to start drinking it. Don’t just focus on beet juice, focus on what you’re doing day in and day out. Have eighty percent of the time make going right to support what it is that you’re doing in training and to have a better life, a healthier life. And then twenty percent of the time, “Okay, there’s rooms for other foods too and other things too”. But eighty percent of the time be doing the things that are going to help you and make it a lifestyle. Go to the right person that can help you interpret this information and the right sources that are credible. Don’t just listen to the headlines that are on the latest website or whatever.
Dr. Chris Segler: So how can people find you? How can the athletes reach you? What’s the best place for them to find you and learn more about you and how you can help them with their nutrition and maximizing their training? How do they get hold of you? What’s the best way to contact you?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah absolutely. I have a website fuelyourpassion.net that has my blog on there as well. I write periodically about different topics and I’m actually coming back to train a little bit myself after just having our daughter Emma four months ago. I’m getting back into things. I’ll be writing a lot about what that’s like to get back in training post-baby and what those challenges are like and what not
And so I have the blog and then also through my website there’s a contact form so all you have to do is put in your name and your Email and send me a message and it comes right to my Email and I can get back to you from there if you’re interested in either nutrition counseling for your regular lifestyle or nutrition counseling based around I want to do this race and I need help figuring out what to eat before, what to eat during the race to maximize my performance during activity. I can help you do that as well and then also coaching. I have a fellow coach, Drew. We both help athletes achieve their goals from 5K to Ironman to marathon and everything in between. We can help you reach those goals for 2017 and so those are the best ways to reach me.
Dr. Chris Segler: Great! I understand particularly for triathletes this January, you’re hosting a training camp in the Cayman Islands. Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s like and how it’s going to help you to get the year off to a great start?
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a race that we’re kind of basing it around called Mercuryman which is on January 22nd and it’s in the Caymans and I have done this race for the previous, well I didn’t do it last year because I was pregnant but I did it the previous two years before that. It’s fabulous, they have all different distances of triathlons or you could do a relay so you actually adjust to the running portion. Someone else does the swim, someone else does the biking and we put you together in a team if you don’t have anybody else that’s going. You’ve got a lot of distance options and we’re doing a training camp the weekend before. We’re putting together two full days of skill based trainings, checking out your form in the pool and checking out your running form and looking at you on the bike and then also talking about some nutrition aspects and really delving into some of those areas that people need help with on the technical side to get them started in the season in a way that makes sense. They’re going to do two full days, weekend before. You can find out more on that from my website. Just send me an Email through there and anything you need as well.
Dr. Chris Segler: Alright! Well Kim, thank you very much! I really appreciate you coming on the podcast to talk about all of your experience and give the people some more direction with nutrition that really maximize their goals. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Kim Schwabenbauer: Yeah, thank you so much for having me Chris. It’s been really fun, I hope everybody have a great holiday season!