Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 25 - Nancy Clark - Food is Fuel - Part 3 of 3

So, I mean, should we rethink our culture? How do we rebalance that?
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 25  - Nancy Clark - Food is Fuel - Part 3 of 3

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JESSE: So, I mean, should we rethink our culture? How do we rebalance that? NANCY: Good question. JESSE: It’s an easy...quick like, Nancy, just changed our entire culture. NANCY: Yeah, it's called being responsible. Yeah, food is not optional. Sleep is not optional. They need to be a priority in terms of self care and making sure that you carry with a baggie of nuts so you don't get sidetracked into the convenience store. It’s setting aside time to eat and to say, oh I just work through lunch. Well, you can still work through lunch, but just have your sandwich that you brought with you so that you can still eat while you're working. So, again, it's problem solving. It’s how to get people to eat Closer to the earth, more natural foods, on a regular schedule, eat during the daylight hours, which is when their circadian rhythms are designed to be fed, and have an appropriate amount of exercise because the body likes to move, and enjoy the benefits of that. And when people eat well, they feel so much better. And when you feel better, you also feel better about yourself and you tend to perform better. So, it's a process but that's where my sports nutrition guidebook, I should say, I tried to make it simple, like this is what you can do, these are the options, and take away the complexities of it. JESSE: This is the this is actually something that here, in my house, we're going through at the moment, trying to eat more at home and we're in the fortunate position where it's like we're able, we're able to eat out fairly often, and we did. But I also noticed, just almost like a degradation of kind of my daily energy and how I felt because I have a fairly high athletic workload. It's not as high as it used to be, but I’ll still work out 10 to 12 hours a week. So, putting a fairly high demand on myself. I did see-- I can't remember who, I can't attribute this to a particular person, but some kind of health blogger mentioned this philosophy about you can eat whatever you want, but you have to make it. I want to know if you have any thoughts on that? NANCY: Well, it's ideally, yes. Realistically, think again. Again, there's not a good food or a bad food. There’s a balanced diet and an unbalanced diet. Does every single food that you eat need to be homemade? No. But is the trend toward primarily homemade? Sure. And you can do that pretty easily once you get organized. So, your food is really it's a management issue more than a food issue. And athletes tend to be good at managing. I mean, they managed to train every day. I say you managed to get in your 12 to 14 hours a week, that's a management issue. And so with food, the same thing, food is a management issue. How do you manage to have the right food in the right place at the right time, the majority of the times? And I look for a diet that's 85 to 90%, quality foods, 10 to 15%, whatever because you don't have to have this perfect diet to have an excellent diet. And this whole clean eating movement is like demonizing a cookie or cupcake. And like, is it really bad to eat a birthday cupcake? Yeah, I think birthday cake is very healthy actually. And people aren't eating out of the same pot. There's something really nice when everybody eats out of the same pot. Well, first you have to cook that pot, and that's the planning issue. Planning to food shop, planning time to prepare the meals, planning time to sit down together and enjoy the meals. JESSE: And I think you address this a fair number of times in the book. It seemed like as I went through, you often mentioned people saying, I'm too busy to do whatever it is. Personally, it seems like when we say I'm too busy, it's a matter of I'm not prioritizing whatever it is you're asking me to do. So, what do you think is going on with people when they say I'm too busy or with your clients when they give that excuse to you? Is there any common thread or reason that they're saying I'm too busy? NANCY: Yeah, because it's not a priority. If you're too busy to eat, then you save calories and then you'll lose weight and then you'll be thinner and then you'll be a better athlete. It goes down that rabbit hole. It's like no, if you skip a meal, you'll be low on energy, you'll get too hungry, and then you'll binge eat and a whole bag of Oreos and end up - anyway. So, too busy is a story, and it's amazing the number of people that never forget to exercise but they always forget to eat say, oh, I forgot to eat. Well, did you forget to train? ?? 6:01> got time to train, but they don't have time to eat? It's like, no, you can train five minutes less, and then find time to eat. So, it's looking at people's stories and excuses and problem solving with them. So, what I do is problem solving, how can you lose weight and have enough energy to exercise? How can you perform better? How can you manage to have the right food in the right place at the right time. And we just sort of work through this. And so people leave with this is what I can do when they feel empowered. And that's the goal of my sports nutrition guidebook to empower people to better manage the American food supply. JESSE: So, when you started out when you, you know, going back as you're getting your degree before you really kind of get into your whole career. Did you anticipate being essentially a psychologist for people? NANCY: No, not at all. Was not on my radar screen. JESSE: Yeah, but it seems like often when we get into these kind of, like sticky, I'll call it like sticky cultural issues like eating where it's like, we all need to eat, but then there comes all this confusion that it ends up becoming more of a psychological job, like you mentioned earlier, like trying to get people to get their mental strategies together versus eat carrots instead of a cookie for your snack or whatever it is. It's like figuring out the weird psychology that's going on. It's gotten people into this odd hole they have to get out of. NANCY: Well, it comes down to cost benefit. When people eat better, they feel better, and that's a real nice benefit and they need to be yummy, healthy, nutrient rich foods that they enjoy. Like for me, that's peanut butter. I mean I live on peanut butter, peanut butter banana, peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter in my oatmeal. It's yummy, it's healthy, and I enjoy eating it. So, it is a food of choice, not a duty. And other people love hummus, or they love rice and beans or whatever. So, it's really finding a menu of yummy healthy foods that you totally enjoy that make you feel good and then you eat them. It's not a big deal. And the recipes in my sports nutrition guidebook are based on yummy healthy family foods that you enjoy eating. JESSE: Yeah, and I love that once I got to the end because like I said, I went cover to cover. I didn’t jump around. I got to the end and saw the recipes and I was like thank you Nancy because like it's so easy to say okay you know eat this kind of food or that kind of food, but it makes it-- I think it bridges the gap a little bit to go okay here's the vast majority the guide book where it says these are your strategies, and then without the recipes people will go, now what? But then the recipes can help bridge the gap between okay let's start here and employ these with Nancy strategies and then let's start branching out into our own recipe. So, I'm just as a consumer, I'm, I appreciate that you included recipes at the end. NANCY: Make sure you eat the banana bread. JESSE: That should not be a problem. NANCY: Yeah, it's really popular, it goes great with peanut butter too. JESSE: But I am a peanut butter fiend so both of those things absolutely not a problem. I do want to ask you a little bit about kind of specific diet now before we go. You do talk a little bit about vegetarian athletes. And I'm sure you've heard people joke about vegetarians are pale and sickly, and these kind of things. I don't think that's necessarily the case and I think you make the case for vegetarian athletes being a perfectly legitimate diet. For the vegetarians that are like that do kind of play into that stereotype, where are they going wrong, do you think? NANCY: Well, there's there are vegetarians that live on potato chips, and skittles, and then vegetarians that live on hummus and stir fry tofu and lots of vegetables or whatever. So, they're vegetarians that are responsible and truly eating a balanced diet and those that are just living on apples or bananas. I mean, I've seen many high school kids who claims to be vegetarian, and they just knocked out the meat so - they haven't replaced it with beans. Some of them are not eating beef, but they're not eating beans either. And yes, their diet is plant based, but it's very unbalanced and so the trick is when you knock off the beef, you got to replace it with beans and nuts, and lentils and tofu and other plant sources of protein so that your body gets the nutrients it needs. So, yes, vegetarians and vegans can be very healthy if they're responsible, and it's a lifestyle. It's a lot easier now to eat a plant based diet than it used to be. I mean, you can go to Burger King and get an impossible whopper. And is that our version of vegetarian diet. I mean, so they’re options, and my job is to teach people how to get the protein that they need if they choose not to eat animal products. JESSE: I haven't looked into it a ton. Have you seen-- So, with the impossible burgers? I know I've been seeing advertisements ad nauseum for them. Do you know much about them, what's in them, or have any opinion on them? NANCY: Yeah, I mean, they're both, the beyond burger and the impossible burger there, one is made with soy base and another is made war with a rice and pea protein base, and their ultra processed foods. They taste like burgers. And some vegetarians like, why would I want to eat a burger like it just doesn't appeal to them. And others who think oh, I should be a vegetarian, but I miss my burgers. For them, it's like an easy option to eat more plant protein, but they are ultra processed. They aren't a natural food, they do have saturated fat in it from coconut. They're more expensive. I know, it's not a right or wrong to any of this is, it’s looking at your whole diet and what to what kind of food you want to put in your body. And I tend to think that more natural foods, there's a lot of thing in food that we don't know about, and they have a synergistic effect. So, when you buy an ultra processed food, are you missing out on compounds that are health protective that we don't even know about? I mean, just an interesting example is that if you have just the egg white, as opposed to the whole egg, you know the same grams of protein from egg white versus whole eggs is 40% less, the muscles have 40% less muscle protein synthesis. So, we look at the food matrix, and it's important to look at all the all natural matrix that really works to protect our health and is that matrix in ultra processed foods. JESSE: So, I know when I'm-- say I’m shopping for protein powder, which is obviously processed, I know that you can look up the data on how bioavailable different types of protein are supposed to be. So, you're talking about the synergy between basically the egg yolk, and the egg white, is there anywhere like a layman can find that kind of information, or is there even a resource for that at all? NANCY: Well, you can Google protein quality. And you'll find information, PD -, so like a term that might float around and I can't remember what it stands for. But yeah, just Google protein quality and you'll get some information there. JESSE: Okay. It’s one of those things again, which is why it's nice to talk to you, since you've gone through and filtered all of these things already. But just because there is so much information, it's always a matter of what I listened to how do I find the right thing? How do I filter out the BS from the reality on my own right, don't have Nancy here to clarify? NANCY: Well, that's where you got my book. JESSE: Right, right, which you can always go back to. NANCY: There's a whole network of sports dieticians around the country, there's more than 7,000 of us. And so you want to meet with someone who's a registered dietitian, and is certified specialist and sports dietitian, dietetic CSSD is after the name, so RD CSSD. And so Google RD CSSD in your hometown or whatever, and see who comes up. And that's the person that you want to work with that will help you get a sane approach to food, and so that you can enjoy food and not feel as though eating is cheating because eating is not cheating. Eating should be one of life's pleasures, and better yet be able to enhance your performance. I mean, the impact of food on performance is huge. I mean, many people think that performance starts with training, it actually starts with eating. JESSE: And that's the thing, I think is a common theme, and you mentioned this in the very beginning that food is fuel, not a punishment. Yeah. This is a question I've been asking everybody this whole year or what I'm referring to as season one, but it's especially pertinent for you. I like to ask people if you only get to choose one food for recovery, so this is like a post workout kind of food, you only get to choose one food for recovery for the rest of your life; what do you end up choosing? NANCY: I’d choose chocolate milk. It’s yummy, it's the right balance of carbs and protein, the milk is really high quality, nutrient dense, life sustaining fluid, and the chocolate is yummy, and it's one of life's pleasures, and it's also health protective. People say oh, but there's sugar in it. But all foods, all fruits, vegetables, grains break down to sugars and as an athlete, that's what your muscles need for fuel. So, again, the athletic body can tolerate sugar far differently than the unfit person. So, speaking as an athletic person, that would be my choice. JESSE: That's fair. I'll chalk another one up for chocolate milk. I actually spoke to Dr. Jason Karp early on, episode four, who's one of the authors of the chocolate milk study. So, he was the first one to notch the chocolate milk as a recovery food. Nancy, if people want to work with you, find you, get your book; where can they find you, where can they pick up a copy of your book? NANCY: Well, they can find me on my website, which is, N-A-N-C-Y C-L-A-R-K They can follow me on Twitter or Facebook at @NClarkRD, and they can shoot me an email through my website, a place called contact Nancy and they send me an email and I might even answer it. JESSE: And where’s the best place to get your book? NANCY: Of course, it's on, it's on my website, it's probably in bookstores. I mean, it's been a popular book at your local library. So, you don't even have to buy it, you can go to the library. And it's a handy resource, so you'll probably want to just keep it in your kitchen. JESSE: Start making notes in the margins. Thanks so much for coming on today, Nancy it was a real pleasure to talk to you. NANCY: Well, this is my pleasure, Jessie. Thanks for inviting me. JESSE: Take care. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2

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