The SeatShield™ – Shields Your Car Seats from Sweating

seat shield

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

I am a runner and a cyclist. All of our cars have leather seats. After I exercise, I hate to get into the car & stick to the seats! If you have cloth seats, your sweat can end up making the seat smell. Or you can buy a car seat cover that can not only protect your car seat from sweat, dirt and all the odors associated with an active lifestyle but it can be thrown in the washer when it gets dirty and only used when the need arises.  I have an EliteSport™ SeatShield™ and  I keep mine folded in my car when not being used so it’s conveniently available after I’ve been working out in the spring, summer and fall.

The SeatShield™ is a high tech, multi-layered seat cover that can be slipped over your car seat in seconds and can be easily stored when not needed.  Unlike a towel, the SeatShield stays in place.  There are three different types of SeatShields: the AllSport™ UltraSport™ and the Elite Sport™.   All are made out of a tri-laminate material which contains a waterproof/breathable middle layer. The AllSport™ top layer is made of a synthetic non-woven microfiber that becomes soft with use.  The top layer for the UltraSport™ is a velour microfiber that is very soft and durable which allows the SeatShield to fit better on the leather seats. Because the UltraSport has a mesh bottom layer it works well on leather or cloth seats.  The new Elite Sport™ has the same top material as the Ultrasport but the Elite Sport™ has a special undercoating that provides a very grippy surface made especially for leather seats.  In addition, it keeps the leather seats cool in the summertime.  All the  Seat Shields have a top surface that wicks away the moisture from you so it can evaporate quickly.


All Seat Shields are odor-resistance containing a permanent anti-microbial treatment to kill odor causing bacteria. However, if you sweat a lot after your workouts you might want to purchase the UltraSport™ or the EliteSport™ because they remain waterproof not matter how much moisture is expelled from a heavy amount of perspiration.


All SeatShields fits any car with a headrest including SUV’s and trucks with a 60/40 bench.  The AllSport sells for $19.95, the UltraSport sells for $29.95 and the EliteShield™ sells for $39.95 ( or 1-888-643-8976).  The AllSport comes in only light gray  and weighs about 4 ounces.  The UltraSport and EliteSport™ comes in two colors: light gray and beige.  They weigh approximately 12 ounces.


Allsport Seat Shield




Ultra sport


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    



Cyclists Should Obey the Rules of the Road


Compiled by Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Be Courteous and that recommendation goes both ways! When I am riding my bike or running, cyclists whiz past me, sometimes I hear them sometimes not but…if they shout On Your Left or On Your Right, it would benefit both them and the other person as well.  Safety should be your first concern.

Here are the Rules of the Road:

  1. Respect right of way of motorists.
  2. Obey traffic signals like from green to yellow light. Stop unless safety is a concern – wet pavement.
  3. Obey stop signs and stop lights. (My personal downfall is when riding in my own neighborhood – but am forcing myself to adhere to law. This makes motorists mad if you don’t obey the rules of the road).
  4. If riding with a group, look behind for another bike or car before changing position in a pace line.
  5. If riding with a group, if you see a pothole, a dog, or some debris on the road, let your fellow cyclists know by pointing.
  6. When over taking another cyclist or passing around a runner or walker, saying On Your Right or Car Up or Car Back to help ensure safety. As a runner, too, I can’t tell you have many times a cyclist has flown past me and one simple step from me could have caused a collision with the cyclist.  When riding on Rails-To-Trails, dogs are also a problem.  They don’t understand command like on your left so I am especially careful around dogs.
  7. In most states, riding two abreast is allowed unless in heavy traffic but sometimes the interpretation is left up to law officer’s discretion. Check your state’s policy.
  8. Cyclists should ride to the right in most cases but on a narrow road you should share the road without being run off the road for safety.
  9. When turning, using effective hand signals in a group will alert other cyclists as to your intention which can help with safety of both you and the other cyclist.
  10. Follow the GOLDEN RULE: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR COOL and remain courteous to other cyclists and motorists.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers. Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.

Be Wise Portion Size when Eating Out


By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.


Below are a number of strategies to help you make healthier low calorie choices when you are eating out. Be wise and portion size when you are eating out.

Eating Out Strategies:

  1. Go online to see what choices you have available to help you manage your waist.
  2. Be assertive.
  3. Get the Doggie Bag with dinner, split the meal before eating it.
  4. Don’t feel guilty about eating.
  5. Eat slowly and taste every bite.
  6. Eat till you feel full not stuffed!
  7. Concentrate on the atmosphere.
  8. Don’t drink your calories!
  9. Make appetizers the meal.
  10. Breads are fattening but the added butter is.
  11. Salads aren’t always low calorie fare.
  12. Beware of Reduced Calorie salad dressings.
  13. Always ask for your dressing served on the side of the salad.
  14. Vinegar like balsamic, red wine & tarragon, no calories.
  15. Split an Entrée & have an extra salad.
  16. Share a dessert if you must.
  17. Order the luncheon  or Appetizer  Portion


Know Menu Terminology

  1. Leaner ways to cook meats & vegetables: broiling, roasting, char grilling, grilling, poaching, stir-frying, boiling & steaming.
  2. Restaurants may brush or baste meats with fats during or after the cooking process.
  3. Some meat may be marinated in oil or a high fat substance.
  4. The term PRIME means very high in fat due to marbling



Terms that Indicate High-fat, High Calorie Prepared Food









In its Own Gravy



Au Gratin

In a Butter Sauce



In a Cream Sauce

In a Cheese Sauce

Pot Pie


Choose These Foods Lower Calorie Prepared Food







Herbs & spices








Stir -Fried

Tomato Sauce


Hamburger Fast Food Green Light Choices

  • Single hamburger or cheeseburger
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Grilled chicken salad
  • Baked potato with chili or broccoli
  • Small order French fries
  • Garden and side salad – use light dressing
  • Frozen yogurt


Mexican Green Light Choices

  • Black bean, tortilla soup or gazpacho
  • Mexican or taco salad (don’t eat the fried shell)
  • Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice)
  • Burritos and Enchiladas
  • Fajitas
  • Soft tacos
  • Black or pinto beans (not refried beans with cheese)
  • Mexican rice
  • Pico de gallo
  • All hot sauces


Chinese Restaurant Green Light Choices

  • Wonton, egg drop or hot & sour soup
  • Teriyaki beef or chicken
  • Chop suey or chow mein
  • Vegetarian stir-fry dishes

Italian Restaurant Green Light Choices

  • Marinated vegetable salad
  • Minestrone soup
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Pasta with tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • Chicken or veal cacciatore, light wine or light tomato sauce
  • Chicken or shrimp primavera (no cream in sauce)

American Food Restaurant Green Choices

  • Broth-based soups
  • Chili (hold the cheese and sour cream)
  • Peel and eat shrimp
  • Salad with light or fat free dressing on the side
  • Salad with grilled tuna or chicken
  • Teriyaki or BBQ chicken breast
  • Fajitas





Fiesta Lime Chicken with Sauce, Cheese, Tortilla Strips, Salsa & Rice

1,285 calories, 47 g fat, 1,443 mg sodium

Grilled Steak Caesar Salad with Toast

1,295 calories, 82 g fat, 2,199 mg sodium

Southwest Philly Roll-Up with Salsa

1,605 calories, 121 g fat, 2,338 mg sodium

Smart Options but…

Grilled Cajun Lime Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn Salsa

310 calories, 6 g fat, 1,250 mg sodium

Crispy Buttermilk Shrimp with Potatoes & Toast

843 calories, 34 g fat, 1,563 mg sodium

Teriyaki Steak & Shrimp Skewers

370 calories, 7 g fat, 1,475 mg sodium



Roast Beef & Swiss Market Fresh Sandwich

810 calories, 42 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Chicken Salad w/Pecans Sandwich

789 calories, 39 g fat, 1,240 mg sodium

Santa Fe Salad

773 calories, 52 g fat, 1,823 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Grilled Cajun Lime Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn Salsa

440 calories, 19 g fat, 1,061 mg sodium

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

488 calories, 18 g fat, 1,560 mg sodium

Martha’s Vineyard Salad with Light Buttermilk Dressing

339 calories, 14 g fat, 923 mg sodium

Jimmy John’s


Turkey Tom w/Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomatoes, Lettuce, & Mayo

555 calories, 26 g fat, 1,342 mg sodium

Pepe Sub-Ham, Provolone, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo

684 calories, 37 g fat, 1,659 mg sodium

Gourmet Veggie Club-Provolone, Avocado, Cucumber, Alfalfa, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo

856 calories, 46 g fat, 1,500 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Turkey Breast Slim Sub w/Alfalfa Sprouts, Tomatoes, Onion, Cucumber & Avocado Spread

426 calories, 2 g fat, 1,439 mg sodium

Totally Tuna Sub

507 calories, 20 g fat, 1,279 mg sodium

Vegetarian Sub w/Avocado Spread, Cucumber, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Alfalfa Sprouts

290 calories, 1.5 g fat, 628 mg sodium




Chicken Caesar Cool Wrap

480 calories, 16 g fat, 1,640 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

420 calories, 16 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Chick-n Strips Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

800 calories, 60 g fat, 1,745 mg sodium

Chicken, Egg & Cheese on Sunflower Multigrain Bagel

500 calories, 20 g fat, 1,260 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Chick-fil-A Nuggets (8-pack) with Barbecue Sauce

305 calories, 13 g fat, 1,020 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A Southwest Chargrilled Salad with fat-free honey mustard dressing

360 calories, 8 g fat, 1,170 mg sodium

Biscuit & Gravy

330 calories, 15 g fat, 970 mg sodium



Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce & Spicy Italian Sausage w/ Caesar Side Salad

1,030 calories, 53.5 g fat, 2,040 mg sodium

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

940 calories, 40 g fat, 2,370 sodium

Original Submarine

940 calories, 58 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium

Parmesan Chicken Salad with Ranch Dressing

580 calories, 39 g fat, 1,270 sodium


Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce & Spicy Italian Sausage w/ Caesar Side Salad

1,030 calories, 53.5 g fat, 2,040 mg sodium

Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

940 calories, 40 g fat, 2,370 sodium

Original Submarine

940 calories, 58 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium

Parmesan Chicken Salad with Ranch Dressing

580 calories, 39 g fat, 1,270 sodium



KFC Famous Bowl with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

740 calories, 35 g fat, 2,350 mg sodium

Popcorn Chicken – Individual

400 calories, 26 g fat, 1,160 mg sodium

Crispy Caesar Salad w/Creamy Parm Caesar Dress w/ Croutons

670 calories, 48 g fat, 1,755 mg sodium

Apple Pie Minis (3)

370 calories, 20 g fat, 260 mg sodium

Smart options but…

3 Crispy Strips, Green Beans, & 3” Corn on Cob

470 calories, 22 g fat, 1,775 mg sodium

Honey BBQ KFC Snacker

210 calories, 3 g fat, 530 mg sodium

Roasted BLT Salad w/Fat Free Ranch Dressing

235 calories, 6 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium

Sweet Life Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

150 calories, 5 g fat, 135 mg sodium

Olive Garden


Stuffed Chicken Marsala w/Garlic Parmesan Mash Potatoes

1,315 calories, 86 g fat, 2,550 mg sodium

Mixed Grill w/Vegetables & Mashed Potatoes

839 calories, 43 g fat, 1,541 mg sodium

Pork Filettino w/Potatoes & Bell Peppers

1,011 calories, 57 g fat, 2,479 mg sodium


Smart options but…

Linguine Alla Marinara with a Breadstick

691 calories, 9.5 g fat, 1,040 mg sodium

Shrimp Primavera

706 calories, 18 g fat, 1,220 mg sodium

Chicken Giardino

448 calories, 11 g fat, 1,670 mg sodium


Outback Steakhouse


Ayers Rock Strip Steak w/Sautéed Mushrooms & Loaded Jacket Potato

1,450 calories, 85 g fat

Outback Special (11 oz) w/Sautéed Mushrooms

960 calories, 61 g fat

Half a Bloomin’ Onion

1,155 calories, 67 g fat

Smart options but…

Prime Minister’s Prime Rib w/Fresh Veggies & Sweet Potato

730 calories, 39 g fat

Victoria Filet (9 oz) with Steamed Vegetables

639 calories, 45 g fat

Half an Order of Shrimp on the Barbie w/Bread

330 calories, 21 g fat

PF Chang’s


Sriracha Shrimp Salad

1,130 calories, 46 g fat

Salt & Pepper Calamari

770 calories, 50 g fat

Kung Pao Chicken

1,240 calories, 80 g fat

Spicy Green beans


Smart options but…

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Steamed with Ginger

750 calories, 50 g fat

Seared Ahi Tuna

260 calories, 6 g fat

Ginger Chicken & Broccoli

660 calories, 26 g fat

Sichuan-Style Asparagus

200 calories, 6 g fat



Small Honey Mustard Chicken Sub

550 calories, 30 g fat, 1,140 mg sodium

Small Prime Rib Cheesesteak

680 calories, 42 g fat, 1,070 mg sodium

Small Turkey Ranch & Swiss Sandwich

450 calories, 22.5 g fat, 1,380 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Small Honey Bourbon Chicken on Wheat Bread

310 calories, 4 g fat, 920 mg sodium

Small Black Angus Sandwich

520 calories, 16.5 g fat, 1,550 mg sodium

Small Tuscan Turkey

390 calories, 14 g fat, 1,185 mg sodium

Red Lobster


North Pacific King Crab Legs with Melted Butter w/Rice Pilaf

883 calories, 35 g fat

Snow Crab Legs w/Melted Butter & a Cheddar Bay Biscuit

611 calories, 34.5 g fat

Crab Alfredo

1,170 calories, 66 g fat

Smart options but…

Live Maine Lobster (1.24 lbs) w/Cocktail Sauce & Seasoned Broccoli

288 calories, 3 g fat

Garlic Grilled Jumbo Shrimp

329 calories, 5 g fat

Broiled Flounder w/Lemon Juice & a Garden Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette

344 calories, 10 g fat

Romano’s Macaroni Grill


Chicken Caesar

920 calories, 69 g fat, 1,660 mg sodium

Chicken Portobello

1,020 calories, 66 g fat, 7,300 mg sodium

Grilled Salmon Teriyaki

1,230 calories, 74 g fat, 6,590 mg sodium

Half Order of Mozzarella Fritta

Smart options but…

½ Pizza Margherita & Caesar Della Casa w/Low Fat Caesar Dr

645 calories, 24 g fat, 1,665 mg sodium

Pollo Magro

330 calories, 5 g fat, 770 mg sodium

Simple Salmon

590 calories, 40 g fat, 1,390 mg sodium

Half Order of Mozzarella Alla Caprese

260 calories, 21 g fat, 410 mg sodium

Ruby Tuesday’s


Turkey Burger with Fries

1,171 calories, 58 g fat

Parmesan Shrimp Penne

1,221 calories, 64 g fat

Southwestern Spring Rolls (4 rolls)

708 calories, 40 g fat

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

443 calories, 34 g fat

Smart options but..

7 oz Top Sirloin w/Baby Green Beans & Baby Portabella Mushrooms

464 calories, 24 g fat

Creole Catch w/Couscous w/Baby Green Beans

580 calories, 26 g fat

Asian Dumplings (4 dumplings)

440 calories, 20 g fat

White Bean Chicken Chili w/Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

370 calories, 15 g fat

Taco Bell


Baja Beef Chalupa

410 calories, 27 g fat, 780 mg sodium

Zesty Chicken BORDER BOWL

640 calories, 35 g fat, 1,800 mg sodium

Grilled Stuff Chicken Burrito

640 calories, 23 g fat, 2,160 mg sodium

Caramel Apple Empanadas

290 calories, 14 g fat, 300 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Two Grilled Steak Soft Tacos, Fresco Style

320 calories, 9 g fat, 1,100 mg sodium

Chicken Fiesta Taco Salad w/out Shell

470 calories, 24 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Two Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos

340 calories, 12 g fat, 1,160 mg sodium

Cinnamon Twists

170 calories, 7 g fat, 200 mg sodium



Chicken Club Toaster Sandwich

690 calories, 35 g fat, 1,900 mg sodium

Jumbo Popcorn Chicken Salad

490 calories, 28 g fat, 1,440 mg sodium

Fish Sandwich

640 calories, 31 g fat, 1,1180 mg sodium

Large Hi-C Fruit Punch

290 calories, 0 g fat

Smart options but…

Sonic Burger with Mustard

540 calories, 25 g fat, 730 mg sodium

Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta w/BBQ Sauce

375 calories, 9 g fat, 1,310 mg sodium

Grilled Chicken Wrap

380 calories, 11 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Junior Banana Split

200 calories, 4.5 g fat



Roasted Turkey & Swiss Frescata w/Med Fries & Med Coke

1,100 calories, 40 g fat, 1,950 mg sodium

Chicken Club Sandwich

610 calories, 31 g fat, 1,460 mg sodium

2 Junior Cheeseburgers

720 calories, 32 g fat, 1,720 mg sodium

Medium French Fries

420 calories, 20 g fat, 430 mg sodium

Smart options but…

Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich w/Side Salad w/Red fat Ranch & Med Iced Tea

540 calories, 22 g fat, 1,780 mg sodium

Small Chili & 5 piece Crispy Chicken Nuggets

450 calories, 21 g fat, 1,300 mg sodium

Single w/ Everything

430 calories, 20 g fat, 900 mg sodium

Sour Cream & Chives Potato

320 calories, 4 g fat, 55 mg sodium


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    


Shin Splints: What are they really?


By Stephen Karam PT, DPT,

In the lexicon of medicine, “shin splints” is yet another phrase that has a specific and real definition.  The real name for this condition is called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS).  That sounds much worse and more ominous than “shin splints.”  MTSS generally presents as pain just along or right behind the shin bone (tibia).  It is pain caused by inflammation or disruption of tissue that connects the the muscles of her lower leg to the tibia.  Fortunately, MTSS is very curable and rarely requires a medical procedure other than a visit to your Physician or Physical Therapist to diagnoses it properly.  It is a common injury that is seen frequently in runners and athletes that have to play on hard surfaces or those who have to start/stop frequently.

MTSS can develop into more serious conditions such as a stress reaction/fracture or compartment syndrome.  It is also very important to rule out these 2 conditions before MTSS is ruled in.  Signs of something worse like compartment syndrome may include redness, hotness, significant swelling or feeling of pressure building in your lower leg.  Signs of a stress reaction may include pain at rest, pain for a long period of time and increased pain in a weight bearing or standing position.

Risk Factors of “shin splints” may include:

  • Tight/stiff muscles of the legs and gastrocs
  • Worn down or old running shoes
  • Runners who over pronate or who have flat feet
  • Runners who are beginning a new running program
  • Individuals participating in high impact, high intensity sports/workouts

Tips to manage or prevent shin splints:

  • Wear appropriate shoes or arch support for your foot shape and mechanics
  • Warm up before activity and stretch afterwards
  • Ice or cold treatment to shins when painful
  • Participate in less impact activities like swimming, biking, elliptical
  • Listen to your body when it is in pain

Most health insurance plans now allow patients to seek physical therapy treatment directly without a physician referral.

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Clinic Director Stephen Karam PT, DPT, earned his doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Kentucky after completing a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). He specializes in manual therapy with a strong emphasis in orthopedics and sports medicine. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, working out, music and football.


The Use of Prophylactic Bracing In Sports


By Stephen Karam PT, DPT

Unfortunately, knee and ankle injuries have a high incidence rate in both football and basketball.  Physicians, trainers and athletes have tried and are willing to try just about anything to prevent one of these injuries from occurring.

If you have been watching college or professional football over the past 10-15 years, it would be hard not to notice large, bulky knee braces on the entire offensive line.  These large, bulky braces come with a large, bulky price as well and are “supposed” to prevent serious knee injuries from occurring allowing these players to stay on the field.  Some of these injuries include meniscus, MCL, ACL and damage to the articular cartilage of the knee.

So do these expensive, large braces prevent these devastating injuries from occurring? 

In a 2010 issue of the Journal of Sports Health, Salata et al conducted a systematic review of 6 articles that studied the use of knee braces in football and injury prevention.  The systematic review suggests that there may be limited protection of the MCL and that there is no evidence that wearing these prophylactic knee braces prevent injuries to the ACL and meniscus.  One of the articles in this systematic review suggests that wearing these braces may even increase the risk of injury to knees, ankles and feet.  At this time there is not enough significant medical evidence that suggests wearing these knee braces prevents serious injuries from occurring in football. Due to the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” theory, college and professional budgets allow for any and all measures of prevention to be taken whether or not it has a high value of efficacy.

On a positive note there is significant medical evidence that supports that use of ankle braces in prevention of ankle sprains in basketball.  A 2011 study by the American College of Sports Medicine looked at nearly 1500 male and female basketball players from 46 high schools.  The incidence of ankle injury in the braced group was .47 per 1000 exposures and 1.41 per 1000 exposures in the control group.  Demonstrating a significant difference in those athletes wearing braces and those athletes who were not wearing the provided brace.  The study did note that there was not a significant difference in severity of injuries between the braced and controlled groups.  In contrast to the knee braces these lace up ankle braces are affordable and probably should be considered as a method to prevent ankle injuries.

Please consult your Physical Therapist or Athletic Trainer before purchasing or fitting for one of these prophylactic braces as wearing the wrong size may increase your risk for injury.

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KORT Chevy Chase Clinic Director Stephen Karam PT, DPT, earned his doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Kentucky after completing a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). He specializes in manual therapy with a strong emphasis in orthopedics and sports medicine. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, working out, music and football. For more information go to:

How Sure Are You About Your Surefootedness This Winter?


By Matt Hall, PT, DPT, OCS.

How sure are you about your surefootedness this winter? As we approach the heart of winter in Kentucky, this is the opportune time to seriously ponder this question.  Your response may portend idyllic enjoyment of the outdoors, or could reveal your heightened risk for injury.  In attempting to answer this question it may first be helpful to consider a wide spectrum of influences.  Here are just a few:

Shoes– Due to the increased risk of slipping, it is advisable to utilize aids that provide added traction.  While spray-on resins can provide rubbery grip to the soles of any shoe, for those tackling more serious terrain or who require maximum traction, screw in metal cleats can be manually attached using a specialized tool.  A more likely option for most  might be crampons like YakTrax, or Sandys that can be easily secured to and removed from the soles most styles of shoes before stepping out into inclement weather.  Additionally, these devices spare the floor from damage.

Canes or walking sticks– Whether you routinely use one or not,  a cane or walking stick can provide added support and enhanced stability when walking on slick or uneven terrain.  However, before you venture forth into the elements one very important modification should be made.  The rubber tip should be replaced by one that has small spikes that does not slip when planted.  The tip may need to be switched again to rubber for indoor use or may be retractable.  Check with the vendor before purchasing.

Eyewear– This one can be easily “overlooked”, no pun intended, because the risk usually occurs when returning to the warmth of a shelter.  Often the sudden temperature change causes glasses to fog up for a few moments and this could lead to a trip or fall.  Another risk is the self- tinting feature that can likewise render the wearer’s vision momentarily impaired when coming from sunlight into an indoor lighting environment.  One solution is simply pausing upon entry until the glasses stabilize; another is to leave a spare pair near the entry way that can be swapped.

Clear walk ways– Sidewalks and porches should be cleared of snow as soon as possible.  Walking on freshly fallen sow only serve to compact it making it more difficult to remove latter, and hastening its transformation to ice.  However, as we Kentuckian’s are all too acquainted, snow is usually not the issue but rather it seems that ice is our nemesis.   One effective solution is to spread deicer upon walkways.  Keep a container near doorways for convenient use when needed.  Sand and cat litter can be substituted but they will not melt the ice and can be a bit messy.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a few additional suggestions to keep you safer this winter.

  1. Walk like a penguin, exit your automobile like a cat burglar, and if you find yourself falling, do so like a gymnast.
  2. Keep a wide stance and walk “flat footed”.  Imitating a penguin greatly increases your stability on slick surfaces.
  3. When exiting a car, do not jump out!  Think cat burglar.  Gingerly step out and down while holding onto the handle, seat and door until your footing is assured.
  4. And lastly while the physicality of a gymnast is well beyond the capabilities of most, their approach to tumbling does effectively illustrate my point.   Gymnasts use their hands to “soften” their landing.  Therefore, if you are carrying objects attempt to throw them out of the way don’t try to hold onto them.  It is paramount, in the event of a fall, to protect your head and you can only do this if your hands are free.  Furthermore, don’t attempt to twist away from or stiffen as one falls.  Instead, roll with the fall as this can reduce the potential for injury.

While there can never be a 100% guarantee that winter falls can be prevented, following some or all of the aforementioned suggestions can only serve to improve your overall safety.  Godspeed.

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Matt Hall PT, DPT, OCS is a graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky. A board certified specialist (OCS), he is a member of both the Kentucky and the American Physical Therapy Associations. He has been a practicing physical therapist since 1995 and has experience in both inpatient and outpatient facilities. Matt’s areas of professional interest include general orthopedics, industrial/workplace preventative and rehab services, and foot orthotics to correct mechanical gait deviations. For more information about injury prevention and treatment, check  out 

Fueling on a Budget for Traveling Sports Teams

sports teams

By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

“When we travel as a team, we eat at fast food places because they fit with our small budget.What’s the best fast food for athletes…?”

“After my workout, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. Where can I buy affordable but healthy sports meals…?”

A limited food budget creates a fueling challenge for many athletes, including college teams traveling to games, students responsible for their own meals, parents of active kids, and semi-pro players hoping to get to the next level. The name of the fueling game is: How can you buy enough healthy calories with the least amount of money? These practical tips can help optimize a low-budget sports diet.

1. Encourage the team bus (or your car) to stop at a large supermarket.

Everyone can find something they like: vegetarians,  gluten-free eaters, picky eaters who want to lose weight, and chowhounds who need lots of calories. By walking around the inside perimeter of the store, you will find the makings for a balanced meal—even hot meals, if desired. Shop for:

Fresh fruit: Banana, apple, pear, grapes. Buy what’s on sale.

Fresh veggies: While you can easily create a colorful salad at the salad bar area, it might be a bit pricey. The simpler option is to simply buy: a green  or red pepper (eat it whole, as you might eat an apple), a bag of baby carrots (along with a container of hummus), or a container of cherry tomatoes. Enjoy the whole thing; a hefty dose of veggies on one day can help compensate for another day when you have none.

(To clean the fresh produce, plan ahead. Pack extra water to rinse the produce before getting on the bus. Or nicely ask  an employee in the store’s produce area if he or she could help you by giving the fresh produce a quick rinse.)

Protein: Buy a quarter-pound of deli turkey, roast beef, or ham along with a few whole wheat rolls to make sandwiches. Small or large tubs of cottage cheese, tuna packets, and peanut butter are other popular protein options. Share a rotisserie chicken with friends (or save the leftovers if you can refrigerate them within an hour.)

Grains and other carbs: Pita, wraps, baked chips, whole-grain crackers and  pretzels are carb-based options that refuel your muscles. Look for freshly baked whole-wheat rolls, hearty breads, and whole-grain bagels. You might be able to find a plastic knife at the salad bar so you can slice the rolls to make a nice sandwich with deli meat and lowfat cheese. Pop a few cherry tomatoes between bites, and you’ll have a balanced meal with all 4 foods groups: 1) lean meats/beans/nuts, 2) lowfat dairy or calcium-alternative, 3) fruit/vegetable, 4) grain.

Calcium-rich foods: You can easily buy a small or large tub of lowfat yogurt, a single milk chug—or even a whole a quart of chocolate milk if you are really hungry. For athletes who are dairy-free, soymilk is a fine alternative. Pick up some pre-sliced lowfat cheese in the dairy or deli area. (Note: Hard cheese, such as cheddar, is lactose-free and comes in convenient single portions.) Add an apple and whole grain crackers—voila, a balanced sports meal! While it may not be the hot meal your mom had in mind, it will do the job of contributing needed nutrients to refuel from the day’s event, fuel-up for tomorrow, and invest in future good health.

Beverages: You can save a lot of money (plus save space in landfills) by packing your own gallon jug of water. To spend money on plain water (void of calories, carbs, and vitamins) seems wasteful when tap water is free. Instead buy 100% juice (orange, grape, carrot, V-8) to boost your fruit/veggie intake and simultaneously boost your immune system with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Plus, 100% juice is a strong source of carbohydrate to refuel depleted muscles, as well as fluid to replace sweat losses. Chocolate milk is another winning beverage, with protein to build and repair exhausted muscles, as well as carbs to refuel them.

If the team bus (or your car) is pulling into a fast food restaurant, at least choose one that will support the nutritional needs of athletes. Here are a few suggestions:

• At Taco Bell, you can get the most amount of healthy calories for a bargain price when you order their bean burrito. Two bean burritos cost only $2.20 and provide 750 (mostly quality) calories.

• At a burger place, choose a grilled chicken sandwich (no fries). It will be more expensive and offer fewer calories than a burger, so plan to supplement the sandwich with some Fig Newtons, pretzels or raisins that you pre-packed from home.

•At a pizza place, order the cheese pizza, preferably with veggie toppings like mushroom, pepper, and/or onion. Nix the pepperoni, sausage and other greasy meat options, as well as the double cheese. You’d end up fat-loading with that type of pizza. It would fill your stomach but leave your muscles poorly fueled. Remember: muscles need carbs (such as thick pizza crust) to replenish glycogen stores.

• Be cautious of super salads. While they have a seemingly healthy glow, they can be unfriendly for many sports diets, particularly if you are weight-conscious.Making a substantial salad with not only colorful veggies but also grated cheese, chopped egg, diced chicken, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, and olives offers you a hefty dose of calories, but not enough grains/carbs to refuel your muscles. Adding even a little bit of dressing to a big salad often adds  400 or more calories. A sandwich can have fewer calories….

• Hungry athletes who need lots of inexpensive calories can do well by packing sandwiches made with peanut butter & jelly (or PB & jam, honey, raisins, banana, pickles or even cottage cheese—whatever tastes good to you). Peanut butter is versatile and a great sports food because it offers protein, B-vitamins, and good fats that knock down inflammation. It’s inexpensive, travels well without refrigeration, is good for you, and tastes great! It’s even good for dieters because it keeps you feeling fed, and curbs the urge to eat cookies. For the $2 needed to slap together a hefty 600-calorie PB&J (made with 2 slices Pepperidge Farm Bread, 3 Tbsp. Teddie all-natural peanut butter, and 2 Tbsp. Welch’s grape jelly), you couldn’t even buy a Muscle Milk ($3.69 for 230 calories). Shop wisely and fuel well!

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Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her private practice in Newton (617-795-1875). Her Sports Nutrition Guidebook and her food guides for runners, cyclists and soccer players are available at For online education, visit and

Super Sports Foods: Do They Really Need to be Exotic?

clark super foods

By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

 Do you ever get tired of reading yet-another headline about The 10 Best Super Sports Foods, only be instructed to buy exotic fruits, ancient grains, and other unusual items? Do we really need chia, spelt, and quinoa? Is anything wrong with old-fashioned peanut butter, broccoli and brown rice? Doubtful! Powerful nutrients are found in standard foods that are readily available at a reasonable cost. You know, oranges, bananas, berries, oatmeal, almonds, hummus, lowfat yogurt, brown rice, tuna … the basic, wholesome foods recommended by the government’s My Plate ( Are those foods exotic? No. But do they still do a great job of offering super nutrition? Yes!

To add to the confusion about exotic sports foods, the sports food industry touts their list of engineered super sports supplements. Ads lead you to believe you really need to buy these products to support your athletic performance. The question arises: Are there really special nutrients or components of food that can help athletes to go faster, higher or stronger? If so, can they be consumed in the form of whole foods or do we actually need special commercial supplements?

At a 2014 meeting of Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (, exercise researchers from around the globe discussed that topic and provided the following answers to the following thought-provoking questions.


Is there any difference between consuming pre-exercise caffeine in the form of pills, gels or coffee?

Regardless of the source of caffeine (pill, gel, coffee), it is a popular way to enhance athletic performance. Take note: High doses of caffeine (2.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight; 6 to 9 mg/kg) are no better than the amount athletes typically consume in a cup or two of coffee (1.5 mg/lb; 3 mg/kg). Hence, drinking an extra cup of coffee is unlikely to be advantageous, particularly when consumed later in the day before an afternoon workout and ends up interfering with sleep.


Do tart (Montmorency) cherries offer any benefits to sports performance? If so, what’s the best way to consume them?

Tart cherries (and many other deeply colored fruits and veggies) are rich in health-protective antioxidants and polyphenols. Tart cherries can reduce inflammation, enhance post-exercise recovery, repair muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and improve sleep. Athletes who are training hard, participating in tournaments, or traveling through time zones might be wise to enjoy generous portions. Yet, to get the recommended dose of cherries that researchers use to elicit benefits, you would need to eat 90 to 110 cherries twice a day for seven days pre-event. Most athletes prefer to swig a shot of tart cherry juice concentrate instead!


What about food polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol?

Polyphenols are colorful plant compounds that are linked with good health when they are consumed in whole foods. Yet, polyphenol supplements, such as quercetin or resveratrol, do not offer the same positive anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits. An explanation might be that once in the colon, where most polyphenols go, parts leak into the bloodstream during heavy exercise. These smaller compounds create the anti-inflammatory effect. Athletes who routinely eat colorful fruits during endurance training offer their gut the opportunity to distribute good health!


Does curcumin reduce chronic inflammation?

Curcumin (an active constituent of tumeric, the spice that gives the yellow color to curry and mustard) has beneficial properties that have been shown to help prevent cancer, enhance eye health, and reduce inflammation. Subjects with osteoarthritis (an inflammatory condition) who took curcumin supplements for 8 months reported less pain (due to less inflammation) and better quality of life. Unfortunately, curcumin is rapidly metabolized and therefore has low bioavailability when consumed in the diet. To increase absorption, supplements often contain curcumin combined with piperine (black pepper extract).


Does green tea help improve body composition in athletes? What is the best way to take it?

Green tea reportedly enhances fat oxidation and helps with weight loss, particularly when combined with caffeine. But the amount of additional fat burned is minimal, and the 10 to 12 cups of green tea needed to create any effect is a bit overwhelming. (Hence, most studies use a green tea extract.) Because green tea has not been studied in lean athletes, we can only guess that it is unlikely to offer a significant improvement in body composition.


Is watermelon juice a powerful stimulant for sports performance?

Watermelon juice is a source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that contributes to production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax the blood vessels and thus enhances blood flow so more oxygen can get transported to the working muscles. One study with athletes who consumed L-citrulline supplements reports they attained a 7% higher peak power output as compared to when they exercised without L-citrulline.

Yet, when athletes were given watermelon juice (contains L-citrulline) or apple juice (that has no L-citrulline), the peak power was only slightly higher and the L-citrulline gave no significant benefits. The bottom line: Watermelon is a nourishing fruit and a welcome refreshment for thirsty athletes. You would need to eat a lot of watermelon to get the equivalent of L-citrulline found in (expensive) supplements. Your best bet is to enjoy watermelon in standard portions as a tasty addition to your sports diet.


What can be done with pea, hemp, or other plant protein to make them as effective as whey for building muscle?

In general, plants (such as peas, hemp) contain less leucine than found in animal proteins. Leucine helps drive the muscle’s ability to make new protein. Hence, to increase the muscle-building properties of plant proteins, you need to either eat large portions of, let’s say, hemp or pea protein (to get a bigger dose of leucine), or you can combine those plant-foods with leucine-rich proteins, such as soy, egg, or dairy foods.


The bottom line: Your best bet to optimize performance is to optimize your total sports diet. No amount of any supplement will compensate for lousy eating, though a few just might enhance a proper diet.

Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For information about her Sports Nutrition Guidebook (new 5th edition) and food guides for runners, cyclists and soccer players, see For online education, also see




Sports Nutrition: What’s Old? What’s New?

running in the snow

By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Once upon a time, warriors (the original athletes) ate lions’ hearts. Today, athletes seek out energy drinks and protein shakes. Clearly, times have changed! In case you are wondering what else is old—and new—when it comes to sports nutrition, I’ve compiled this update to resolve confusion and help you fuel for success.

OLD: The lighter you are, the better you will perform.

NEW: The athlete who is genetically lean and eats enough to have well-fueled muscles has an advantage over the athlete who is genetically heavier and has to skimp on food to maintain an unnaturally low weight. Research indicates elite female swimmers who restricted calories in the pursuit of thinness lost speed (but not body fat) during a 12-week training cycle, while those who ate adequately swam faster. (1) Thin at any cost often comes with a high price tag.

OLD: Female athletes who train hard and have too little body fat will stop having regular menstrual periods.

NEW: Lack of fuel, not lack of body fat, tends to determine if a female athlete’s body will menstruate normally. That is, many very lean female athletes do have regular menses. Although they may have very low body fat, they eat enough to support both their exercise and normal body functions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 OLD: Eat fat, get fat.

NEW: Yes, excess calories of dietary fat can easily convert into body fat. But healthful fats (i.e., nuts, olive oil, avocado, salmon) are an important part of a sports diet; they help reduce inflammation. Athletes also need dietary fat to absorb important vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Fat also fuels the muscles; small amounts of fat get stored within the muscles and can enhance stamina and endurance. Research suggests runners had more endurance when they switched from a very low fat to a moderate fat diet. (2)

OLD: If you want to lose weight, you need to go on a diet.

NEW: Diets do not work. If diets did work, then everyone who has ever been on a diet would be lean. Not the case. Rather than going on a diet, try to make just a few basic changes, such as 1) choose fewer processed snacks in wrappers and instead enjoy more fruit (fresh or dried) and nuts, and 2) get more sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to not only weight gain but also reduced performance.

OLD: The recommended dietary allowance for protein (RDA) is the same for athletes as for non-athletes.

NEW: The RDA for protein (0.8 grams per kilogram body weight.) is less than the 1.2 to 1.7 g pro/kg currently recommended for athletes. Most athletes eat that much (plus more) as a part of their standard meals, so you are unlikely to need protein supplements. You do want to distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day, and not pile it all into dinner, so your muscles have a consistent supply of amino acids (the building blocks of protein).

OLD: Slabs of roast beef help build bigger muscles.

NEW: Because the body can utilize only about 20 to 25 grams of protein at one dose, you won’t build bigger muscles by eating jumbo portions of beef in one sitting (4). Your better bet it to cut that one-pound slab of beef into four pieces. Enjoy those deck-of-cards-sized pieces at least every four hours, so you get 20 to 25 grams of protein at each meal and afternoon or evening snack. Weight lifting—not eating excessive protein—triggers muscles to grow bigger. To have the energy needed to lift heavy weight, you want to eat meals based on grains, fruits and veggies (with protein as the accompaniment). Those carbs provide the fuel needed to lift heavy weights.

OLD: Don’t drink coffee before exercise; it is dehydrating.

NEW: Pre-exercise coffee is not dehydrating and it can actually enhance performance (5). Caffeine boosts alertness and reaction time, as well as makes the effort seem easier so you work harder without feeling the extra effort. If you are sensitive to caffeine (a mugful gives you a “coffee stomach” and the jitters), you’ll be better of abstaining. But athletes who enjoy drinking coffee will likely notice positive benefits.

OLD: Energy drinks contain magical ingredients, such as taurine.

NEW: The magical ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine and sugar. Although taurine has been reported to enhance performance, the limited research was done on rats. Newer research suggests taurine offers no ergogenic benefits (6). To save your money, simply add a heaping tablespoon of sugar to your coffee. You’ll get the same boost. Better yet, eat wisely and sleep more; you won’t need an energy drink.

OLD: Don’t eat before or during exercise. The food just sits in the stomach and does not get digested.

NEW: You can digest food during exercise as long as you are working at a pace you can maintain for more than 30 minutes. Fitness exercisers can benefit from a small pre-exercise snack as tolerated (such as a banana, granola bar, or packet of oatmeal) to get their blood sugar on the upswing. Endurance athletes who exercise for more than 90 minutes will benefit from both pre-exercise fuel and then carbs during the extended workout. The target is ~250-350 calories of carbohydrates per hour. That’s more than just a swig of sports drink! Be sure to practice fueling prior to and during exercise, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t.

OLD: Refuel as soon as possible after you workout.

NEW: If you do exhausting workouts twice a day, you’ll benefit from eating soon after the first bout of exercise to fuel-up for the next bout. But if you are a fitness exerciser, simply back your workout into the next meal. You’ll have plenty of time to recover before your workout the next day.

OLD: Orange slices are perfect for half-time of a youth sporting event.

NEW: While chomps, gels, and sports drinks may seem better than cut-up oranges and water for half-time fueling at youth sports events, kids actually should be taught that natural foods work well. Orange slices, pretzels, and water provide more nutrients and electrolytes (a.k.a sodium and potassium) than sports drinks. Even adult athletes can do well with real foods. While elite athletes might prefer engineered products during intense exercise, most of us can perform just fine with real food. Go back to enjoying more orange slices, please. Sometimes the old ways can be preferable to the new!



Selected References:

1. Vanheest J, C Rodgers, C Mahoney, MJ DeSousa. Ovarian suppression impairs sport performance in junior elite female swimmers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46(1):156-66, 2014.


2.  Horvath, P, C Eagen, N Fisher, J Leddy, and D Pendergast. 2000. The effects of varying dietary fat on performance and metabolism in trained male and female runners. J Am Coll Nutr 19(1):52-60.


3.  Mah CD, Mah KE, Kezirian EJ, Dement WC. 2011. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep. 34(7):943-50


4. Phillips, S. van Loon, L. 2011. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation.  J Sports Sci 29(S1):S29-S38.


5. Armstrong, L, A. Pumerantz, M. Roti, et al. 2005. Fluid, electrolyte, and renal indices of hydration during 11 days of controlled caffeine consumption. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 15:252-265.


6. McLellan TM, Lieberman HR. 2012. Do energy drinks contain active components other than caffeine? Nutr Rev. 70(12):730-44.


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  Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA; 617-795-1875. For information about her new Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5th Edition, and her food guides for runners, cyclists and soccer players, see For online education, visit


Caffeine: Performance Enhancement in a Mug


By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD


Whether you are looking for a hit, boost, pleasing stimulant, or excuse to socialize with your friends, coffee is the go-to beverage for many athletes. Coffee-drinkers enjoy the way a cup of morning brew enhances their feelings of well-being and their ability to accomplish daily tasks. An estimated 80% of us drink coffee daily. Why, we are more likely to drink coffee than eat fruit! Thank goodness moderate coffee intake is typically not associated with health risks.

For athletes, caffeine is a proven performance enhancer. In their new book Caffeine for Sports Performance, sports dietitians Louise Burke and Ben Desbrow and exercise physiologist Lawrence Spriet address all-things-caffeine that an athlete might want to know. Here are just a few tidbits that I gleaned from this comprehensive resource. Perhaps the information will help you add a little bit of zip to your workouts.

Note: No amount of caffeine will compensate for a lousy diet. If you choose to use caffeinated products to enhance your sports performance, make sure you are also fueling wisely!


• A cup of pre-exercise coffee can help most athletes work harder—without realizing it. Caffeine has been shown to enhance performance by about 1% to 3%, particularly in endurance sports. For example, cyclists who consumed caffeine prior to a 24-mile (40-km) time-trial generated 3.5% more power than when they did the ride without caffeine.


• Athletes vary in their responsiveness to caffeine, from highly effective to negative. Some of the side effects associated with too much caffeine include higher heart rate, anxiety, “coffee stomach”, irritability, and insomnia.


• The recommended performance-enhancing dose of caffeine is about 1.5 mg/lb (3 mg/kg) body weight. This can be consumed 1 hour before the event, and/or during the event (such as a caffeinated gel or defizzed cola every hour). For example, triathletes commonly consume caffeinated gels before each segment, to distribute the caffeine throughout the event rather than have a big pre-race jolt that might make them feel shaky and unable to concentrate. Some athletes delay caffeine intake until fatigue starts to appear, and then they ingest 0.5-1 mg/lb (1-2 mg/kg) body weight.


• Caffeine’s ergogenic effect maxes out at about 200 to 250 mg caffeine. (This is much less than previously recommended.) More is not better.  Experiment during training to learn what amount (if any) works best for your body!


• Because the amount of caffeine in coffee and tea varies, elite athletes commonly use caffeine pills or commercial products to ensure the desired intake.  A comparison of the caffeine content in 16 ounces of coffee from 20 coffee venders ranged from about 60 to 260 mg. Even when the researchers purchased the same brand of coffee (Starbucks Breakfast Blend) on six consecutive days, the caffeine content ranged from about 260 to 565 milligrams per 16 ounces.


• Research suggests the caffeine content of espresso also varies. A customer might get served 0.5 to 3.0 ounces of espresso (depending on the barista’s generosity) with a caffeine range of 25 to 214 mg. In general, the larger venders (such as Starbucks) offer a more consistent product. But this means you don’t know what you will be getting if you plan to purchase a pre-exercise espresso or coffee.


• Energy drinks are a popular source of caffeine. A study of 500 college students in North Carolina reports 51% drank at least one energy drink in an average month in the semester. Sixty-seven percent used the energy drink to stay awake; 65%, to increase energy; and 54%, to drink with alcohol while partying. Of the party-drinkers, 49% consumed 3 or more energy drinks. That makes for a wide-awake drunk who may believe it’s OK to drive a car…


• Caffeinated chewing gum is popular among (sleep deprived) soldiers. The gum effectively boosts physical and mental performance and helps maintain reaction time, vigilance, and ability to think clearly. The caffeine in chewing gum gets delivered quicker than via a pill (achieving significant levels in the blood in 5 vs. 30 minutes) because it gets absorbed though the cheeks, not the gut.


• Caffeinated colas offer not only caffeine but also a hefty dose of sugar. Colas, taken later in an event, can provide a much-needed source of fuel so the combination of caffeine + sugar can provide a nice boost! Hence, some athletes claim defizzed Coca-Cola is their preferred sports drink despite having only 35 mg caffeine per 12-ounce can.


• Caffeine is only a weak diuretic and is no longer considered to be dehydrating. A novice coffee drinker can become tolerant to the diuretic effects of caffeine in 4 to 5 days of regular caffeine intake. Even high doses (3 mg/lb; 6 mg/kg) have no significant effect on urine production in coffee or tea drinkers. Hence, there appears to be no hydration-related reason for athletes to avoid caffeinated beverages.


• Caution: Consuming caffeine might contribute to negative effects. For example, let’s say you are running, rowing, or swimming in more than one competitive event in a day. If caffeine helps you go harder in the first event, will that “fry” you for the second event? Can taking another dose of caffeine counter that fatigue? With a weekend tournament, will too much caffeine on the first day ruin your sleep, so you are unable to perform as well on the second day? More research is needed to answer those questions but for the moment, these situations provide good examples of why advice to use the smallest effective dose of caffeine is sensible.


• In 1984, caffeine was banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). But in 2004, WADA reversed the ruling. New research indicated the amount of caffeine needed to reach the threshold dose was detrimental to performance. Although caffeine is no longer banned by WADA, it is on the banned list for NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports. Collegiate athletes can be cited for doping if their caffeine level is higher than 15 micrograms/ml urine. (A normal urine caffeine level is between 1-2 micrograms). Unlikely but possible.


• Youth athletes should be fully mature and eating an optimal sports diet before even considering the use of caffeine. Again, no amount of caffeine will compensate for lousy fueling practices.


• For even more helpful tips and tid-bits, get a copy of Caffeine for Sports Performance. You’ll actually stay awake while reading it; this book is not a snoozer!


Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA 617-795-1875). For information about her Sports Nutrition Guidebook and her food guide for marathoners, cyclists, and soccer players, see For online education, see





Common Sources of Caffeine


For a 150-pound (68 kg) athlete, the recommended dose of caffeine is about 200 mg one hour before exercise. That’s the amount in a large mug (16 oz) of coffee. No problem for most coffee-drinkers!


Brewed coffee 250 ml (about 8 oz; small) 80 (ranges 40-110)
Starbucks Breakfast Blend 600 ml (20 oz; venti) 415 (range 256-564)
Tea, black 250 ml (about 8 oz; small) 25 -110
Tea, green 250 ml (about 8 oz; small) 30-50
Coca-Cola 1 can (12 oz / 335 ml) 34
Red Bull 1 can (8 oz / 250 ml) 80
PowerBar caffeinated gels 1 pouch (1.25 oz / 40 g) 25 – 50
GU caffeinated gel 1 pouch (1 ox / 32 g) 20-40
Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum 1 piece 33
NoDoz 1 tablet 200 (USA), 100 (Australia)