Nutrition Tips from an Expert

SO, is there one are of your health and fitness that you just KNOW you can improve in?

I’ll be really honest here: for me it is what I eat. It’s funny because when I talk to my friends or family about this they say…”Amy, don’t you already eat pretty well?!”  BUT, I KNOW there are a couple areas that I wanted to clean up in order to not only say goodbye to those last few Trey baby pounds, but to also be healthier. HEALTH and being a really good example for the boys is really important to me.

If you are anything like me, you want to know the FACTS about what you are doing whether it is in the gym or otherwise. I’ll share my couple switches at the end of the post.

I brought my good friend Alison Tierney, MS, RD, CD, CSO and founder of Wholesome LLC back on the blog to debunks a few myths and give us the FACTS. 

Myth: To increase strength and achieve fitness goals, it is crucial to consume lean meats and dairy products for protein since plant-based proteins and plant-based diets lack essential nutrients.

Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Carl Lewis, Tom Brady*, Griff Whalen, JJ Redick, Rich Roll…

What do all of these people have in common? They are well-known professional athletes. What else? They are all plant-based, or vegan, meaning they consume no animal products — no lean meats, dairy products, and eggs.

Like many plant-based eaters, I assume the most common question these athletes get regarding their diet is, “where do you get your protein?”. Many people are taught animal products are the only source of protein. However, in reality, all whole and plant-based foods contain protein! Although it is true some plant-based foods are lower in protein than others, plants provide a sufficient amount of protein for the human body. In fact, research has found even vegetarians and vegans consume 70% more protein than they need every day.(1)

The vitamins, minerals, and proteins animal products contain are derived from plants and microbes eaten by the animals. Despite the differences between animals and humans, humans can also meet there macro- and micronutrient needs from plants.

Another topic that is considered an issue with a plant-based diet is the concept of complementing proteins [i.e. eating rice & beans together]. It was once thought vegetarians needed to pair specific foods together in order to get all essential amino acids. However, this concept was debunked decades ago.(2) Research now shows one consuming a plant-based diet simply needs to eat a variety of plants throughout the day to meet essential amino acid needs.

Unfortunately, the result of today’s methods of farming, hygiene practices, exposure to antibiotics, etc., the one nutrient often insufficient in a plant-based diet is vitamin B12. Individuals who consume a 100% plant-based diet should consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement.

If science isn’t enough to prove it is possible for individuals to thrive on a plant-based diet, perhaps the strength and pure athleticism of some of the best athletes in the world prove otherwise.

To read more about protein in the plant-based diet, read this. (I loved this  blog post! Ames)

*According to several sources, Tom Brady is vegan most of the year. However, Tom Brady’s associated meal delivery program is 100% plant-based.    

  1. N Rizzo, K Jaceldo-Siegl, J Sabate, G E Fraser. Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Dietary Patterns. Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013 Dec;113(12):1610–1619.

  2. J McDougall. Plant foods have a complete amino acid composition. Circulation. 2002 Jun 25;105(25):e197; author reply e197.


Myth: Protein is essential for building muscles, therefore it is important to consume a protein shake or bar following a workout to maximize fitness gains and overall muscular strength.

It is true protein is essential to build muscles. It is also essential to build bones, build skin, and for several metabolic processes. However, the common belief a protein shake or bar following a workout is necessary to maximize muscle strength is a complete myth–even for most athletes competing at a high level.

Research shows athletes have higher protein requirements than non-athletes. But, let’s remember athletes have higher calorie requirements. By eating more, athletes will meet the higher protein requirements.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a dietitian is related to sports nutrition and the belief that protein is single-handedly responsible for building and repairing muscles. A protein shake/bar contains a high amount of protein, yet lacks carbohydrates. In fact, protein in the absence of carbohydrates is pointless. You need both. A 2001 study found a combination of carbohydrates AND protein generates the greatest muscle growth and recovery. (3)

So what should you eat post-workout? Research shows the consumption of a meal/snack with a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal. For example, 1 whole grain english muffin + 2 tablespoons almond butter (30 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein).

Overall, my biggest post-workout recommendation for the average active individuals includes a small snack within 20-30 minutes of completing a workout and a well-balanced meal within 2 hours (unless your meal is within 30 minutes). Don’t fear [the right] carbohydrates!

(3) Tipton, K. D., & Wolfe, R.R. (2001). Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metabo, 11(1), 109-132.


Thanks Alison! Her blog has loads of tips and recipes and I’ve learned a lot from her! 

SO a few women I love to follow on the gram @katelemere and @amy_nicole03 are both postpartum/fitness mamas that I love to follow. They both were posting about their tracking (calorie/macro) and I was like, “OMG, do I need to do this?”

Then I saw my best friend/sister-in-law Michelle at Max’s second birthday party and she looked AMAZING. We ran a few errands together and talked about what she eats. Michelle has a way of making things sound super easy and I picked up some great tips from her.

After thinking about what the best approach for me was, I knew I could start simple. I didn’t need to overcomplicate it, rather I needed to do a few easy switches.

  • Glass of water to start the day. DUH. There is nothing I need to put into my body before water. On my days at home I had a habit of starting the day with coffee and then realize it was 9am before I even drank any water.

  • Salads for lunch. No one have a heart attack and tell me that I need lean meats and a complex carb instead, re-read Alison’s post. I knew I was eating too much animal protein, too much dairy and not enough vegetables. SO, just saying I’d eat a salad everyday for lunch was an EASY way to fix that. Take away that animal protein, take away the dairy, add the vegetables. I low key get pre-made salads from Costco and then separate the ingredients into four parts. I don’t mix it all right away because there is nothing worse than a soggy salad. This has been working AMAZING for me and I’ll add things into the salad to bring my own twist into it.

  • Only eat what you bring. I had this bad habit of buying an afternoon coffee and sometimes even a bag of SunChips in the afternoon on work days. I’ve nixed that habit all together and only allow myself to eat what I bring.

  • No afternoon coffee. Okay, so this one is the hardest and I’ll probably have one today.  Finishing the Expecting and Empowered Guide has meant that I’ve been staying up late and Trey has been waking up early, which is a killer mix. I typically (as you know if you are a regular here) prioritize sleep!!! Can’t wait to be back to it and get rid of my afternoon coffee/creamer. 

  • Post workout. As Alison mentioned above, I’ve been eating the right ratio of FOOD post workout.

A few pounds came right off and I’m poised to keep the changes up to finish off this baby weight. If you’ve been following me, you know that there is MUCH more that goes into health than weight…but, I also know my pre-baby weight is a healthy place for me to be. No reason not to go back.

Hope you picked up a tip or two!

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