Any triathletes doing late season races?

Are you looking for a reasonably priced coach, with a sports nutrition background?

I am offering race packages including long training day, taper week/carbo load plans, and race day nutrition with options to include weekly nutrition plans:

Coaching plans with nutrition as an optional add on:

 coaching plans for less than $40 per week

24 weeks customized plans:  $850 (Optional add on: Overall nutrition analysis and weekly meal planning inclusion:  $65/week).

20 week customized plans: $725 (Optional add on: Overall nutrition analysis and daily meal planning inclusion:  $65/week)

Month to month training plans: $175 (Optional add on: Overall nutrition analysis and daily meal planning inclusion:  $65/week)

Nutrition only Plans:

Overall analysis of daily nutrition, and creation of meal plans, including training and racing nutrition:

  • 10 week plan: $545 (For less than $55 per week get an overall nutrition analysis and meal plan structure with 9 follow up sessions (online follow ups via phone, email, skype, etc)


  • Flexible plan: $425 : Get an overall Nutrition analysis and meal planning structure with 5 follow ups to be used as preferred  (online follow ups via phone, email, skype, etc).


  • Precise overhaul: $275 : Get an overall analysis and meal plan structure with one follow up:  $275

For application and more details on what to expect, please contact Ilana

Off: 770-458-2127

Cell: 404-226-7723

Culinary herbs and spices : Can they interact with your medicine?

Ilana Katz MS, RD, CSSD


One of the major responsibilities a dietitian/nutritionist may have is to analyze an individual’s intake and ensure most appropriate and healthy solutions to goals and needs.

For people who regularly take medications, even over the counter products, this can become quite challenging.  So then, can some ingredients in various dishes have a pharmalogical interaction?

Specific examples best defines what a pharmalogical interaction is:  Combining a statin drug (most likely prescribed to lower cholesterol) and  a daily dose of grapefruit juice may likely cause too much of the statin to stay in the metabolic system, increasing the risk of liver or kidney failure.  Another example is that certain nutrients in grapefruit juice (and some other juices too) may decrease the effectiveness of some medications, the most well-known in this category is for allergy symptoms.

What then should we be concerned of in multiple ingredient recipes? A tablespoon of this, a teaspoon of that, a dash, a dollop or a pinch…

As a supplement for example, Ginger is thought to remedy nausea or upset stomach and  garlic is reported to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. But did you know that both ginger and garlic may also slow blood clotting when interacted with an anticoagulant drug such as warfarin or Coumadin. The practioner prescribing the anticoagulant should warn the patient against eating garlic or ginger, and this should also be reinforced by the pharmacist dispensing the anticoagulant drug. But what about these ingredients used in small quantities in many recipes?

It is likely a different story when one compares cooking and baking to supplementation. The amounts in a recipe are typically significantly smaller compared to their use as a supplement. Interactions may lurk in the background but would typically not be clinically significant. Unfortunately there is very little published research on the potential for drug interactions with herbs and spices that are typically used for culinary purposes versus supplements. The research that is available usually focuses on specific compounds in the herb or spice and will usually use concentrated preparations which logistically do not match the culinary amounts.  An example to demonstrate this is an alkaloid called piperine, found in black pepper: piperine has been proven to increase the bioavailability of several drugs yet no interactions have been found with the use of pepper as an ingredient in a recipe. Other examples where research has discovered a drug interaction, yet no significant reaction as a culinary spice are anise, cayenne pepper, fennel, and several curry spices. It thus seems that research in food and medication reactions is complicated with many variables besides the amount used that need consideration.

The variety of the herb/spice, the potency, how much may be taken in throughout a day and over a time period, even specific genetics of the individual in question may determine the metabolic effects of their medications and thus the potential interaction between the herb or spice and their medications.

Mixing a sprinkle of all spice or a teaspoon of cinnamon into a recipe for a dozen muffins or blending chopped garlic into lasagna is not usually a concern for a drug interaction.

Unfortunately there is very little published research on the potential for drug interactions with herbs and spices that are typically used for culinary purposes versus supplements.

However, before taking any supplements, speaking to a physician, pharmacologist or dietitian about potential interactions is recommended.

“It may be a case of the dose makes the poison”  (Paracelsus – a 16th century physician)





More than half the year has now gone: Have you reached at least half the goals you set for 2017 yet?

Summer is a great time to be healthy and/or lose weight because foods are light, fruits and vegetables are at their prime and the weather provides no excuses for avoiding exercise.



Summer offers lots of variety in fruits and veggies.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are most nutritious and best tasting when they are picked at their peak. It is thus important to recognize the signs of good quality and freshness.

Before buying any product, make sure it is of high quality. Take time to observe the environment where produce items are located. Is the area organized and clean? Some fruits and vegetables need to be kept at a certain temperature to maintain peak freshness.

Bruised or wilted foods suggest they were not handled properly and/or they are past their prime. Damaged areas or bruises can increase spoilage and such produce tend to lose nutrients.

Picking your own selection of fruits or vegetables tends to increase quality when compared to buying prepackaged fruits or vegetables that have already been bagged for convenience.

Often, using frozen fruits or vegetables is another option. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a convenient way to store produce items for extended periods of times. It might also be more practical to buy frozen fruits that may not always be available fresh.

Canned fruits can also offer convenience.  They already been cooked, sealed and processed and thus any nutrients can be retained due to peak quality picking and efficient canning.

When it comes to fresh, frozen or canned produce, use what best fits your lifestyle. The main goal is incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet and aim for at least five servings a day.

Am I talking about a vegetarian diet? Not necessarily. The 2010 American Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to consume more of a plant-based diet to maximize nutrient intake. This simultaneously allows a diet lower in calories, fats, and added sugars. A plant-based diet is one that is largely made up of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes and made up minimally of animal-based products such as meat, fish, and poultry.


  • Cholesterol is found in animal products. By limiting your intake of animal products, you are decreasing the amount of dietary cholesterol you consume. Cholesterol is still found in animal byproducts such as milk or cheese.
  •  Associated with lower cholesterol, lower risk of developing heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower risk of developing hypertension, and lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Protein is not a problem: it can be found in a variety of sources, not just meat, poultry, or fish. (Such as legumes, nuts, seeds and grains).
  • Fruits and vegetables are great examples of nutrient-dense foods meaning they provide a lot of vitamins and minerals at a lower calorie count.
  • Those who tend to eat mostly vegetarian based nutrients, tend to have a lower body fat and fewer rates of cancer.

What to watch out for?

  • Restricted diets of any type can pose health risks so it’s important to make sure you are getting all of the nutrients you need. Strict vegetarians or vegans may need to ensure they are consuming adequate vitamins that are typically more bioavailable from animal sources, such as Vitamin B12 and Iron.
  • With any diet, it’s important to eat a variety of foods from a variety of categories to get all of the nutrients your body uses.

Thinking of adopting a more plant-based diet?

  • Take your favorite meals and figure out ways to make them meatless. Vegetable lasagna, Enchiladas, and Stir-fry are some great meals to start with. And of course, you can just scale down the animal-based portions instead.
  • Consider going meatless on Mondays. Meatless Mondays are a growing trend by those adopting a plant-based diet.
  • Check out local vegetarian restaurants- you may be surprised to find out you really can broaden your palate after all!
  •  Need inspiration? Don’t forget to look at the internet for some great recipes. Vegetarian Times online or magazine can get you started. Also at VT, you can find a list of substitutions:

Some world class athletes are vegetarian or flexitarian?


Just to name a few:

Bill Pearl, four time Mr. Universe Winner

Joe Namath, legendary quarterback

Martina Navratilova, tennis player

Robert Parish, NBA basketball player

Dave Scott, Ironman World Champion multiple times

Billie Jean King, tennis player

Tony Gonzales, NFL player


Recipe of the Month:

Vegetarian BBQ Tacos

(Serves 4)

(I had to add some parallel to BBQ, after all July is the month we celebrate American  Independence – and what better way than to flavour it up with Barbeque).

 BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 Tbs. ketchup

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. honey

1/8 tsp. hot sauce, or more to taste


1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 cup soy crumbles; consider various brands and types such as gluten, tempeh, or seitan crumbles or vegetarian ‘meats’ that resemble your favorites. Quorn™ makes a faux chicken that many vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike enjoy!

4 6-inch corn or flour tortillas, warmed

2 Tbs. chopped red onion

1/3 cup tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup shredded lettuce of choice

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 Tbs. pickle relish, optional


To make BBQ Sauce: Combine all ingredients in bowl.

To make Tacos: Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrots, and cook 3 minutes, or until vegetables are softened, stirring halfway through. Add soy crumbles and 2 Tbs. BBQ Sauce. Cook 8 minutes, or until soy crumbles are browned.

Fill tortillas with soy crumble mixture. Top with red onion, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and relish, if desired. Serve with BBQ Sauce.

Per Serving:

Calories 178
Protein 12g
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 3.5g
Carbs 10g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 409mg
Fiber 3g
Sugar 4g


Whatever way you choose to get active, remember to always focus on Hydration. Besides maintaining a hydrated state daily, in this very hot and humid Georgian climate, it especially important to focus on Hydration during Exercise

Staying hydrated during exercise is believed to delay fatigue and can help prevent heat-related illness. Adequate hydration can help decrease fluid losses, decrease strain on the heart and cardiovascular system, and enhance performance.

Hydrating before exercise is important, however, replenishing lost fluids, or rehydration, is effective in enhancing performance and retaining the balance of fluids in the body.  Drinking cold water as well as sports drinks can help to maintain proper body temperatures during exercise, especially in hot environments. Excessive fluid intake combined with inadequate salt intake can lead to a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia. To rehydrate quickly after exercise, an athlete can consume 120-150% of fluids lost while consuming sodium to help retain fluids.


Sports drinks during exercise may provide some benefits. The key ingredients in sports drinks are water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Sports drinks help restore nutrients that are lost during sweat and are considered a functional food for athletes. The sugar content of most sports drinks is between 5-10% and calories are often 6-12 per ounce. The electrolytes are usually sodium, chloride, potassium, and phosphorus. Sports drinks should not be confused with “Energy” or “Energy Sports” drinks that are now in the market. Research suggests a 6-8% carbohydrate solution containing a combination of glucose, fructose, sucrose, or glucose polymers are the most effective for those who need carbohydrate replacement.

glass of ice blue

The beverage of choice also depends on the type of exercise and environment:

Prolonged endurance events utilize glycogen and blood glucose as the main source of energy à carbohydrate replacement is beneficial

Environments in which dehydration or hypothermia might be a cause for concern à water replacement is beneficial

Prolonged exercise in the heat where an athlete losses nutrients through sweatà electrolyte replacement is beneficial

Fluid-Carboydrate Corner: Beverages

Beverages containing fluid and carbohydrates: 8 oz. serving
Beverage Carbohydrate Source % carbs Grams carbs Sodium (mg) Potassium (mg)
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose 6 14 110 30
Gatorade Endurance Formula Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose 6 14 200 90
Gatorade Energy Drink Maltodextrin, Glucose, Fructose 23 53 133 20
Accelerade Sucrose, Trehalose (disaccharide) 6 15 120 15
PowerAde High-fructose Corn Syrup 8 19 55 30
Lucozade Sport Glucose, Maltodextrin 6 15 Trace Trace
All Sport High-fructose Corn Syrup 8 20 80 50
Ultima Replenisher Maltodextrin 1.5 3 37 100
Coca-Cola High-fructose Corn Syrup; Sucrose 11 26 9.2 Trace
Diet Soft Drinks 0 0 0 0-25 Low
Orange Juice Fructose, Sucrose 11 26 2.7 510
Water 0 0 0 Low Low


Wishing y’all a Happy 4th … Be safe, Train Strong,  Replace Sweat —  Hydrate !!






Ilana Katz MS, RD, CSSD

There has been much debate about the healthiness of different oils in the nutrition media lately. With the boost on research and essential fats, oils, some of which do offer the good source of fat to our daily intake needs some analysis.  The reason why I want to blog on this is although many have been deemed healthy, depending on whether you use them for cooking or not, may change their chemistry. In other words, heating various oil sources can create free radicals which in turn lead to inflammation. Free radicals are unstable byproducts of the body’s cells use of oxygen to produce energy.

One of the components of immunity is a reserve of antioxidants, helping boost the body’s systems of defense against internal cell damage from free radicals. However, even though the human body has these innate mechanisms that protect against microscopic invaders, the increase in free radicals generated during strenuous exercise may degrade the immune system. Athletes therefore have a particular concern to protect the immune system with antioxidants in their diet.  Another point of concern to keep free radicals to a minimum, believe it or not, is cooking. Certain oils, if heated to above what is called their smoke point (the temperature at which they begin to smoke), also create free radicals. Once a fat starts to smoke, it usually will emit a harsh smell and fill the air with smoke.  Watch out for the smoke point signs as it means that the oil is close to the flash point. Flash point is when the oil will erupt into flames.

Nutrition and health experts have been pushing many healthy oils for many years now, particularly since poly-unsaturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats and Omega-3 essential fats have been shown to increase health and lower cholesterol. But have they warned you of the dangers of heating some of these oils past the smoke point. Many people have a tendency to cook in olive oil, believing that olive oil is one of the good fats. Olive oil, is in fact better at lower temperature uses such as salad dressings and preferably not for heating uses such as frying and sautéing (well, when is frying ever healthy, huh? Couldn’t resist that as my food policing gene is ever present).

Some of the higher smoke points for healthy oil are found in sesame oil and canola oil. Typically most nutty oils have higher smoke points than regular vegetable oils. Smoke points in fact vary rather widely and are affected by various factors. For example, refining oils (taking out impurities) tends to increase the smoke point.


Factors that will decrease the smoke point include:

  • Combination of vegetable oils in products
  • Presence of foreign properties (like batter or salt )
  • The more time the same oil is used
  • Storage of oil (exposure to oxygen, light, temperature)
  • The time the oil is being heated for

The ideal cooking oil should contain higher amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with a minimal or no saturated fats and trans fats. The best oils for cooking and frying are those that have a high smoking point because they can be heated to high temperatures before burning. Knowing the smoke point warn you about the flash point and fire points. At the flash point, there are tiny wisps of flame; at the fire point a fire is blazing:

Table of some common oils smoke points:

Almond 495
Avocado 520
Canola / Rapeseed 400
Corn 450
Grapeseed 400
Olive 300-400(virgin/extra virgin/light) Mono-unsat
Peanut 450 mono
Safflower 450
Sesame 410
Soybean 450
Sunflower 450 Mono
Vegetable (blended)
Nut blends
Pumpkin Seed
Vegetable (blended)

The best oils for deep-frying and high temperatures are refined safflower and sunflower oils, peanut, safflower and soy oils. Refined almond, avocado and cottonseed oil are also great if you can find them, and be warned, they are pretty expensive (should you be deep frying anyway? Here I go, food policing again).

Refining of oils is a process to produce clear oil, free from rancidity and foreign matter. These oils are used as medium cooking oils (225°F – 350°F), high cooking oils (350°F – 450°F), and deep-frying oils (greater than 450°F).

Fully refined oil tends to be paler in color, bleached, and deodorized, with a minimal flavor and/or aroma. Thus these oils are more effective for dishes needing only a delicate and light flavor. They are more useful for baking and sautéing, stir-fry and wok-fry, and oven cooking; to sear or brown.

Unrefined oils are typically called salad oils and are used for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces and only very low forms of heat in cooked dishes (light sautés and low heat baking). Unrefined oils are processed by cold-pressed methods.  Some examples are olive, corn, sesame seeds, peanuts, soybeans, and safflower oils. The strong flavors of unrefined oils can dominate whatever dish or baked good is made with them and are often used as flavoring agents. As a general rule, they should not be heated to high temperatures. One exception is safflower oil, as it is the one unrefined oil that can become hot enough to reach the temperature necessary frying. Unrefined oil contains a full range of bioactive components that have healthful benefits and provide full-bodied flavor.  The strong natural flavor and aroma also hint at their higher amounts of nutritional value. Unfortunately they are more prone to oxidation. Using unrefined oils at temperatures above 320°F accelerates the oxidation of these oils. Best for medium heat temperature range: 212°F – 320°F.

In Summary:

Different fats and oils have different uses. Each performs best within a certain range of temperature. Some are made for high heat cooking, while others have intense flavors that are best enjoyed by drizzling directly on food. How we cook may now be as important as the choice of foods. Some simple modifications may provide positive reduction of inflammation.

Low Carb equals Low Energy

We have been  living in a low carb revolution, but thank goodness it is slowly emerging back to normal. Dr. Atkins was one of the for fathers of this phenomenon. One cannot leave out Barry Sears of The Zone fame, either and somewhat more recently, The South Beach diet, and Paleo diet, for the continued population growth of the carb-limiting fanatics. They are still out there, I come accross it in my practice everyday. But with the emergence of more endurance athletes, and triathlon, there is more of a focus on a balanced amount of good carbs with an appropriate amount of good protein, for good reason.

Books like Dr. Atkins, The Zone, Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, and the South Beach Diet claim that we can blame the obesity epedemic in America on carbohydrates. These low carb philosophies claim that certain carbohydrates cause a quick rise in blood sugar which in turn raises insulin levels. They further claim that insulin leads to weight gain by either being a promoter of stored fat or by reactive lowered blood sugar level, stimulating hunger, and thus encouraging over consumption of calories. Unfortunately, it is in our culture to grasp on to quick fixes. Granted, there are metabolic reasons why one can lose “weight” on high protein (low carb) diets, which has thus claimed this carb-restriction revolution. Publishers and marketers knows what sells resulting in the low carbohydrate diets being popularized without detailed evidence of their efficacy or long term safety and athletes are getting caught up in the low carb frenzy. The quick weight loss from limiting carbohydrates is just that – a quick fix. Athletes however, should really take note how surprisingly few scientific-based studies have shown how different carbohydrates affect weight loss. Furthermore, there is no clear evidence that a rise in blood sugar that comes from eating carbohydrates leads to an insulin increase, or that higher insulin causes people to overeat.

Although these quick fixes, regardless of the lack of scientific knowledge, are welcomed amongst significantly overweight, sedentary people, they were not designed to supply the nutrition for active people who need to support exercise and training. While low carb, quick weight-loss results are welcomed, athletes should regard these same “quick fixes” as lost energy. The initial and rapid weight loss from low-carb diets can be explained as glycogen depletion and loss of water weight. Glycogen (immediate source of energy in muscle) in the body is stored with 3 grams of water. So, each gram of carbohydrate energy, then, accounts for 4 grams of body weight. By limiting carbohydrates, glycogen will be used as energy first. For an athlete, glycogen depletion can take as little as a few hours, whereas for a sedentary person, glycogen depletion can take up to a few days.

Once glycogen stores are depleted, the body seeks out fat and protein sources for energy. First it turns to protein, converting amino acids from muscle tissue into glucose in the liver. This process is relatively slow and can produce only enough carbohydrate to fuel the brain and nervous system. Without ingestion of additional carbohydrate, ketone bodies (byproducts of fat metabolism) are produced and released into the bloodstream. A state of ketosis is induced. Ketosis is explained as an increase in ketone levels. Ketones in the bloodstream does suppress the appetite, but is also be accompanied by undesirable side effects, such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, and breath that smells like ammonia. Athletes on low-carb diets have difficulty sustaining even moderate intensity workouts of 50-65% of max heart rates when ketone levels are elevated.

In summary, the low carb philosophies demand a restriction of the very elements that athletes need to powers muscle with energy – digestible, usable, and absorbable carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is fuel for muscles that can be burned quickly, providing the power for acceleration and high performance.


1.Advances in Sports Nutrition. Journal of American Medical Association. JAMA 2003;289:1837-1850.

2.How net carbs can hurt athletes. Ashley Kipp. Published on, accessed October 2004. 3.Weighing the Diet Books. Nutrition Action. January 2004, volume 31:1.