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Is Sports Nutrition Driving You Bananas?

Here you will find a simple guide to balancing your macronutrients so you can feel optimal and empowered in all your water sports!

A little insight on optimal nutrition…

This is not a guide toting how supplementation, such as ATP Ignite (cellular energy boost), boosts your athletic performance. This is a guide asking you ladies to get back to whole foods eating – and a lot of it!

When I see women in my office they are often times cramming so much into every day that they lack the time to be present with their eating. Given a 24-hour dietary recall, where patients walk through breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with snacks from the day prior, more often than not, I get replies of a skipped breakfast here, a bag of almonds for lunch there and …oh wait, water!? We’re all guilty of it at some point in our day to day hustle, however I cannot emphasize the many positives of eating consistently through out the day enough: faster metabolism, balanced energy, vibrant adrenals, and wholesome athletic supplementation!

Take a moment to walk yourself through the last 24 hours of eating: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water, coffee, alcohol?

5 – 6 meals/day!!!

Did you do it? I hope so! It will be helpful in this section. I want you eating 3 meals a day with snacks in between, especially on your post-workout days. The fewer meals you eat the less likely your body will want to burn fat, instead it will breakdown muscle which in turn can lead to injury. For example, when I’m doing High Intensity Interval Training, my macronutrient needs soar to: 86g protein, 30g fiber, 65g fat, and 136g carbs per day averaged out through the course of the week. Looking at this you can see that I have to eat consistently to reach these goals! Lord knows I won’t be scarfing down three chicken breast at 9pm to meet my protein goal, or smashing a whole large bag of chips to get 136 grams of carbohydrates in, to refuel my blood glucose levels, for the next day’s workout! I’m not doing that now, no way, but I look back to my long-distance running days remembering the nights when I couldn’t help but carbo load. Sound familiar? Eat consistently through out the day ladies. Consistency is key here. So are your macros…

Macro Balance…

Protein packs the amino acid punch! Amino acids build your lean muscle mass; they repair you for the next day’s activities! On average a female athlete during peak output should be consuming 60% – 70% of her body weight in grams of protein daily! Protein releases the fat burning hormone glucagon, which opposes insulin and helps you burn fat rather than muscle. Eat your fish, chicken thighs, chicken breast, pork, seafood, eggs, etc. A scoop of an anti-inflammatory protein powder a day is a great way to supplement a bit of extra protein if you find that you simply need more. I like the protein powder we carry at Auburn Naturopathic Medicine, Opticleanse, but I’m also a fan of the Amazing Grass Company and Garden of Life. Just watch out for nasty high-sugar soy or whey based products which may provoke inflammation through poor orient of the product, i.e. GMO soy or whey from factory farmed dairy! Along with protein we have fat to help us ward off inflammation.

The right kind of fats in their stable form create your cellular membrane! This means fats keep our cells speaking to one another, keeping the body at an optimal frequency! Healthy fatty acids also promote fat burning through the interaction of cell receptors: PPAR. Eat your fats! As seen above getting 40% of your body weight in grams of fat/day is optimal when on a taxing workout regime. Eat your fish, olive oil, avocado, grass-fed/finished beef, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.

I love, love, LOVE fat, but only in stable forms; for the anti-inflammatory component of fat your source must be RAW or EXTRA VIRGIN! I say toss out any expeller pressed oils as they have been heated with chemical solvents and actually promote inflammation. When we are not inflamed our body uses the fuel we give it properly!

Fuel: Carbohydrates! When we are pushing our workouts to the max we want carbohydrates in the body to get glucose into our blood! Glucose is the easiest form of fuel for the body! If you’re an athlete, you want this! However, you want it in whole food form: sweet potatoes, yukon golds, carrots, parsnips, yams, soaked grains, and soaked legumes! These whole foods are packed with your essential carbohydrates, but also have anti-inflammatory antioxidants in them to ward off your post work-out muscle fatigue! Give them a try!

Sweet Potato Fries

+ Avocado oil is used in this recipe instead of olive oil, because Avocado oil has a higher smoking point. What does this mean? It holds its fatty acid integrity at higher heat.


1/2 lb of sweet potatoes

1 tbs Avocado oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

Dash of paprika


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into thirds then cut into “fries.” The more equal in size that each fry is, the more evenly they will cook.

3. Place avocado oil on baking sheet. Use metal spatula to spread oil evenly.

4. Distribute potatoes evenly on tray so that they are not overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and paprika.

5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, flipping half way through. They do not have to be perfectly flipped, but ideally each piece will be touching the baking sheet.

So, we’ve discussed eating consistently throughout the day to get in the allotted macros to boost athletic performance! I also want you drinking throughout the day…drinking H2O. Water is essential to your cell’s mitochondria, meaning water keeps cells detoxed and  energized! Drink up, ladies, about half of your body weight in ounces of water daily (for me this looks like: two 32 ounce Hydroflasks per day!) Too hard to get in? Then I suggest adding lemon, melons, mint leaves, oranges to create a sweet and herby delight! Water is essential! For every 30 minutes of exercise add another 8 ounces of water to your daily total!Thanks for having me…

I hope this article was helpful! There are many things we didn’t discuss such as great anti-inflammatory herb/spices, etc. So email me with any questions. I will be posting a follow up with some delicious anti-inflammatory recipes to keep those nagging ligaments at bay!

Otherwise you can find me at: GretchenDunbarMScNutrition or Don’t waste your money on expensive bars for recovery, all you need are your plates of yummy organic whole foods!


Teta, J., & Teta, K. (2010). The New Metabolic Effect Diet. New York, NY: Harper Collins. Cramer MJ, et al. Post-exercise Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between Fast Food and Sport Supplements. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2015.

Gretchen Dunbar is from the Sierra Nevada foothills and graduated from the National College of Natural Medicine with a Masters of Science in Nutrition. She loves the outdoors and is an avid kayaker, trail-runner, backpacker and herbalist.

All images and words copyright California Women’s Watersport Collective 2016. All rights reserved.



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