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Episode #45

Fuel Your Body

with Angie Asche

26 May, 2021

Angie Asche, VIS Expert™ and registered dietitian speaks out about the importance of fuelling for women athletes. She reminds us all, that food is so much more than just fuel and that there is no one perfect way to eat.

Transcript

Stef

Welcome to the Voice and Sport podcast. I'm your host Stef Strack, the founder of Voice and Sport as an athlete, professional and mom, I have spent the last 20 years advocating for women and innovating across the sports industry. Now I want to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice at Voice in Sport.

We share untold stories from female athletes to inspire us all, to keep playing and change more than just the game.

Today's guest is VIS expert, Angie Asche,  a registered dietician and board certified specialist in sports, dietetics, owner of elite sports, nutrition, and author of the new book called fuel your body. How to cook and eat for peak performance. Angie has helped hundreds of elite women athletes, including figure skaters, dancers, swimmers, and runners optimize their performance by educating them on proper fueling strategies and improving their relationship with food.

She works with women athletes to improve energy balance and prevent relative energy deficiency in sports, which can negatively impact menstrual and hormonal regulation, bone and immune health.  In this episode, Angie helps us address some common misconceptions that women athletes have about nutrition and fueling.

She explains the four food groups that every athlete should be familiar with and gives us a great example of pre and post workout meals. Angie also talks to us about the importance of eating enough, both on hard training days and rest days, we dive deep into why we should not categorize foods into good and bad, and why even elite athletes are eating cookies and dessert.

Angie reminds us that all food is so much more than just fuel and that there is no one perfect way to eat. Eating a certain food and a certain amount of food might work for one athlete, but not for another, which is why it is so important to listen to your body. Angie also walks us through what might happen when you do not eat enough and shares a few of the warning signs.

Our bodies will tell us if we are under-fueling. I'm so excited for this conversation with Angie and she's going to be joining 80 plus VIS experts on the voice and sport platform to provide group and one-on-one sessions to girls in sport. At the end of this episode, we will be sharing a code to use when signing up@voiceandsport.com to win a free copy of Angie's new book.

Angie, welcome to the voice in sport podcast.

Angie

Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be chatting with you.

Stef

We love having you part of the VIS community. You're already our VIS Expert, helping us write some amazing articles on the platform. So I am so excited to dive in a little bit further about your new book that's coming out on May 11th called Fuel Your Body.

Angie

Yes, I am so excited. It's been a long process, but this book really emphasizes sports nutrition going over the basics, really providing that foundation. It's very educational, but it's also a cookbook. So lots of nutritious, simple recipes for athletes, as young as high school that are first getting into cooking and, and college living on their own for the first time.

It really dives into cooking basics , and all of those things I could go on and on about it forever, but I won't have this be all about my book.

Stef

Well, I'm excited. Cause we organize this episode to follow some of the key components of your book. So everybody that's listening to this is going to get a sneak peek, I think at some of those cool topics. So let's start with the first one, which is just the fundamentals of fueling your body as female athletes. 

It's just so important , to think about nutrition as one of those components of being an amazing athlete. And I know I did not do a great job of thinking about nutrition when I was a high school athlete or a division one athlete. So what should female athletes think about when they're thinking about fueling their body properly?

Angie

Right, I think the first thing is to make sure that you have a well balanced diet. And what I mean by that balanced diet is making sure you're crossing off all the boxes as far as  making sure that you have adequate protein in your diet, you have adequate fat, you have adequate carbohydrates.

All of those things play a significant role in your muscle recovery and your performance. Making sure that your body has the energy, it needs to fulfill all of the activity that you're throwing onto it. And then beyond that, comes the micronutrients. So micro meaning, small, those other three carbs, fat and protein are the macros.

So those are large. You need larger amounts of them, those micronutrients or vitamins and minerals, and those play a really essential role too. Iron, especially for female athletes, vitamin D, calcium. Those are all essential vitamins and minerals that we need to prioritize to make sure that our recovery is top-notch, that we're preventing injury and all of those things. So really making sure that your diet is well-rounded as much as you can.

Stef

That makes a lot of sense. Can you walk us through like a pre and post game nutrition go-to that you always consider when working with athletes?

Angie

Yeah, so let's say you're a new athlete of mine. We're sitting down for the first time. I'll first want to look and see what does your diet look like right now? Where can we make some just tiny improvements and kind of build off what you're already doing for some meals that may be completely starting from scratch.

Like maybe you're not eating any breakfast or maybe you're not eating anything before going to swim practice for three hours, you know? So it's basically first educating why you should fuel your body and then really how you should fuel your body. So just to kind of give you an example, the priority around pre workout nutrition is carbs and protein.  So carbohydrates are really the main source of energy for your muscles and protein is essential too, to help with muscle recovery and make sure that you're really maximizing your muscular strength and so on.

So if you are able to eat a substantial meal, about three to four hours pre, that would be ideal. So maybe if that's breakfast, let's say this is coming at breakfast time. That might look like eggs and some toast or some potatoes and some fresh fruit. So I always try to look for a fruit or a vegetable in there if possible, just because again, that's focusing on the micronutrient piece, which a lot of times is neglected.

Now if it's lunch, maybe you have an after school training session, then that lunch might kind of serve as your pre-workout. And that could be maybe like a wrap or a sandwich. Maybe you have some chicken or tuna or Tempe on there with some avocados, some veggies, maybe a side of yogurt with fruit.

So you have a good balance there of carbohydrates and protein and for a new athlete that might be overwhelming. Like, wait, where are the carbs coming from? Where is the protein coming from? So, I really kind of dive in and educate while the bread or the wrap that's going to provide the carbs, the tuna, the Tempe, or the Turkey, or whatever else is going to provide the protein along with the yogurt.

And then of course those veggies are going to provide those micronutrients. So that's an example of what that pre will look like. I will say the closer that you get to your training session you'll want to watch out for too much high fatty foods. So not to say you can never have those , but especially right before you train. High fat foods like french fries or chips or donuts or those kinds of things, they can lead to a lot of GI, just gastrointestinal distress during your training.

So something to kind of space out in advance, you will kind of have to plan the more carb protein heavy pre-workout meal versus that high fat meal.

Stef

How does it really shift when you're thinking about the recovery, and what are those components that you should really pay attention to I guess when you finish a hard workout or game.

Angie

Yeah , so what we're finding in research is females have a little bit shorter recovery window, like a time of opportunity to really get the nutrients in compared to men. So if you're able to get some type of snack or maybe a smoothie. Some type of calories in about 30 to 60 minutes after your workout that's ideal.

I realize this isn't always feasible for people, especially if you're traveling, it will require some  planning ahead. Maybe you have to pack some type of shake or energy bar or something that is shelf stable. So you don't need to refrigerate it so you can take it anywhere.

But the priority again is going to be carbohydrates and protein. This will vary, of course, depending on the type of activity you do, if you do something like a light stretching or a yoga, something like that. That post-workout nutrition is not going to be as big of a deal as if you're playing ice hockey for three hours. So the post workout recovery that'll really depend on the intensity and the duration of your workout. But again, the fat content should be a little bit lower. It doesn't have to be completely out of the picture, but you don't want to have a high fat meal, because that usually means that it's going to be lower in carbs or protein.

So focusing again on those two components, post-workout.

Stef

That makes a lot of sense. So I want you to help me debunk a few of the common thoughts that are out there. And one of them is around fat-free meals. So can you talk about how you  approach fat-free type items like fat free yogurt with your athletes and are these healthy? 

Angie

Good question and Steph, I feel like you and I both grew up in the era where fat was demonized to the extreme . So I think now  it's hopefully being more recognized that fat does play a very important role in sports nutrition. Of course, we always talk about carbs and protein and here I just did carbs and protein pre and post. But fat is essential for regulating hormones for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins for maintaining body temperature.

For brain health and heart health, it plays so many essential roles in your body. And so if you're constantly reaching for the powdered peanut butter, the fat free yogurt, the fat free cheese, those things, you're missing out on a lot of really essential fat. And you could be setting yourself up for some hormonal issues , low energy availability and all of the risks that come with under feeling, which I'm sure we'll touch on later.

But I think , in general, if you're able to maybe do like a 2% fat or even a 4% fat, that's actually something that I would recommend instead. Usually a lot of those fat free products tend to have a lot of added sugar to them, to up the flavor, and make them taste better, cause they just had all the fat removed.

So keep an eye on that because the added sugar, in my opinion, is a bigger concern than having some dairy fat in your diet to take the example of yogurt.

Stef

I completely agree and we've done a few podcasts with female athletes, Elise Craney as well as  Elise Capecchi, actually talking about the importance of fat. So definitely check out those episodes if you haven't listened to them, because it really can change how your body functions.

What about debunking the idea that your coach is coming to you and they say, okay, we have a  game tomorrow, so let's all get together and like pasta load, Carbo-loading. Like is there any truth to that?

And if so, when do you do that?

Angie

That's a good question. And it's funny because surely carb loading is a protocol that takes several days of preparation. It's not just like the night before thing. Of course, if you're able to eat a well-balanced meal the night before that has either potatoes or rice or  quinoa  or pasta then of course, that's going to help you the next day with whatever event

you're performing then. And what it's doing is it's maximizing your glycogen stores. So glycogen is stored carbohydrates, and those are found in two forms, your muscle glycogen, your liver glycogen. So overnight, usually our liver glycogen is depleted from sleep, a long time without eating.

So it's still recommended regardless if you had that pasta dish, that you have some form of carbohydrates in the morning before your race or your game . But I will say it's really only beneficial if the duration is going to be longer than about two hours. So if you're running a marathon, then yeah, that carb loading three, four or five days in advance that progressive overload of carbs and decreasing your training, that's gonna provide some benefit. But if you're someone who has like a basketball game and it's only going to be about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, then it's not really necessary. You should still focus on having those carbohydrates the night before. But again, focus on having that pregame carbohydrate rich meal , before your event.

Stef

I love that.  So I want to also talk about the importance of listening to your body as an athlete. That means so much when you're training, but it also means a lot when you're thinking about your nutrition.

So how do you coach all these elite athletes that you work with on how to truly listen to their body? And know when they're  full, Know when they're actually eating enough, without having them calorie count. Cause that can be pretty detrimental to anybody's psyche.

Angie

Yeah such a good question especially with female athletes. I just see time and time again, so much under fueling. And what happens when you exercise at a very high intensity or for very long times, long duration, is you have these three hormones, peptide, Y Y ghrelin and leptin. And what can happen at these high intensities is these hormones get thrown off.

So after your exercise, maybe you've noticed this after a hard workout. You almost feel nauseous. You don't feel hungry. And sometimes to say , Oh, just listen to your body. Sometimes it's not very helpful because they can go several hours without eating because they truly don't feel hungry.

So , you have to kind of find a balance of yes, listen to your hunger cues and eat when you're hungry and stop when you're satisfied. But at the same time, recognize that this high intensity exercise can throw off these hormones. And it's still really important to try to get some nutrition in so I always use the example of liquid calories. 

If you're someone that struggles with loss of appetite after a hard game or a hard run. Then maybe make a smoothie or make some type of drink that has some carbohydrates, maybe Greek yogurt, something like that, that you can just sip on to really help to at least get some of that nutrition in without an overwhelming plate of food. So it's complicated. It's a lot of education on the timing of meals , emotional hunger versus that true hunger. And dealing with the underlying issues maybe if they're struggling with emotional hunger, from stress eating or going way too long during the day without eating , and then bingeing on everything in their pantry at night.

Cause they didn't fuel  their body properly during the day. So , I take some time to kind of work through that process with athletes. 

Stef

And I think you mentioned a really important part is like stress can play a really big role. So if you're mentally just not in the game , you're dealing with a lot of things in your life, that can really affect how you're feeling , and that hunger feeling or not. So it's so important to kind of look at that holistic picture and that's why at VIS we have experts like you, but we also have sports psychologists because it's all connected. 

Angie

It is absolutely.

Stef

So I'm assuming you have some athletes that have some deficiencies within the food that they do try to take from whole foods.

Shouldn't you be trying to get everything you can from whole foods and get all the nutrients. And if you are getting all the nutrients from whole foods, do you really need supplements? And we know that there is a higher rate for female athletes to have iron deficiencies. So how do you approach supplements with your female athletes?

Angie

Gosh, that's such a good question. We live in a day today where there's so much information on social media with tik tok and Instagram and all of those things that they might see someone else taking a supplement and assume that they need to take a supplement too. But it's really important to have the conversation with your physician, with your dietician.

If you don't have a dietician, reach out to one of the experts on vis and ask. But the reason for that is. You want to really take a look at blood work and make sure that there is actually a need for the supplementation. So I'm using your example of iron. If someone has an iron deficiency, then supplementation is absolutely the best route.

Of course we'll still address getting more iron from food sources, but many times , that will take iron levels to get that back up to a healthy, normal value. So if we're able to at least supplement with iron or in the case of vitamin D, maybe the athlete has very, very low vitamin D levels. Supplementation with both of those is very safe, as  long as it's under guidance  of a dietician of a physician. So that, you know, how much to take.  Like iron, there's certain recommendations. It can interfere with other nutrients, like taking it alongside calcium or drinking coffee with it can throw off the absorption. And so to have that education before you go and start taking a bunch of supplements.

For most young athletes in the high school age group, I would say they're really not necessary. As long as you are getting that really well balanced diet. If you have a lot of variety in your diet, meaning you have lots of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and legumes and nuts and seeds and grains. Then chances are, you are getting the different types of micronutrients you need.

But of course, if maybe you're someone who's struggling with fatigue, or if maybe you're an athlete that has a lot of food allergies, or maybe you eat a vegan diet. Then that's something where that supplementation may be necessary. And again, it's safe. You just have to make sure that you're communicating with a health professional. 

Stef

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think that there are cases where it can be beneficial, but getting the blood work and seeing where your levels are at that's so important.

So what do you do with your athletes that are maybe vegetarian or vegan? Do you often find that they might need more supplements? Or how do you work  with that group of athletes that you have?

Angie

Yeah, I do typically find that  I'll look at their diet first. That's always the first thing to look at. See how much are they getting from their diet alone?  And I realize, of course not every young athlete has access to blood work. So at least looking at their diet and seeing how much vitamin B12 are they getting, how much vitamin D, what about Omega threes and iron? 

Those are usually the four that tend to be a little bit lower in vegans and vegetarians. So if someone is strictly vegan, I will highly, highly recommend a vitamin B12 supplement. They can always do a multivitamin if they also want that vitamin D in there. 

Again, it just depends on the athlete. But making sure that they're taking a safe product and again, just educating on how we can get more of those from food sources on a vegan or vegetarian diet. So educating on different plant sources of Omega threes if they're able to eat eggs or dairy, educating on vitamin D and calcium from those sources and so on.

Stef

A really cool article that we just posted about Amani Dorsey, one of our pro soccer players who is vegan. And she shares some of her favorite meals. And our VIS community, you know, is in that age group of  13 to 23. So a lot of them are heading off to college.

And this is a time where many girls struggle with that shift to independence.  I know I personally struggled a lot. I didn't really know how to  go into the dining hall and be really strategic about how I was fueling my body.

So I want to shift gears a little bit and just talk about that college experience.  I know you were an athlete, a swimmer and a dancer. What tips would you have for college students who are just starting to cook for themselves? 

Angie

This is actually something I talk a lot about in my book too, but I walked through the cooking basics. So what's the difference between roasting and baking and sauteing? Because a lot of people, I know when I was 18 years old, I didn't know the difference and different types of equipment that might be helpful in very simple recipes to start out with.

So if you're completely new to cooking, I recommend just starting out with one cooking form to master. For my example, I always use a Crock-Pot, because the Crock-Pot is probably the least overwhelming piece of equipment you could use. You could literally dump everything in there, turn it on and you can even leave your house.

So with a crock pot, you could put some chicken breasts in there, or maybe a soup in there, a chili, whatever else. And then go leave, come back.  But also I highly recommend taking advantage of different video tutorials. Like I learned a lot from watching food networks and YouTube videos and those kinds of things. That's really how I initially learned how to cook.

And I think watching someone else cook,  if you don't have a parent or guardian that cooks a lot at home. I think there's so much information outlets that will really help guide you. But as far as dining halls and navigating that, I would say, just try your best to incorporate all of the nutritious components that your body needs.

And what I really mean by that is make sure your plate has a carbohydrate. Make sure it has a healthy fat, a protein and a fruit or a vegetable. So an example might be tacos. Maybe you have some corn or flour tortillas. Maybe you put some grilled chicken or some tofu or black beans, whatever else for protein.

Maybe you put some guacamole on top, avocado, and maybe for veggies, you put a bunch of lettuce, you put peppers, you put onions and so on. So really try to look at  the four different types of components  and see if you're able to get all of those on your plate. Most of the time, again, fruits and veggies are neglected. So that's where I recommend you always start and try to get one of those in if possible.

Stef

 And what are your go-to healthy high-fat items that you would recommend. I love that you mentioned avocado, what are a couple more for the girls to think about?

Angie

I love chia seeds and flax seeds, any type of seeds. They're so nutritious and  I hate to only categorize it as just fat because it has so much more than that. It's got protein, it's got vitamin E, it's got all these essential vitamins.  But seeds are a  fantastic source of fat, of course nuts.

If you want peanut butter, almond butter, maybe you do like a drizzle of olive oil, something like an olive oil based dressing on top of a salad. All of those are great options.

Stef

Oh, I love it.  I'm wanting to dive into this area that you've specialized in with a lot of your female athletes, because we unfortunately know some of the terrible statistics out there. Under fueling for female athletes. And I know that some of the athletes or sports that you cover like figure skating, running, swimming, gymnastics, a lot of those aesthetic sports have some pretty heartbreaking statistics behind how many young girls are under fueling.  So how do you coach those women to make sure that they're really properly fueling. And I'm sure there are just some common misconceptions out there that girls are thinking about regarding feeling their body in the right way.

So what do you want young girls, especially girls that are in those aesthetic driven sports to really be thinking about when they're transitioning into college.

Angie

Yeah, I mean, this is a great question and it's always a tricky one. Like you said, I work with a lot of figure skaters, dancers, people that are very much prone to those body image, body dysmorphia, eating disorders. And they've been told a lot of misinformation whether it's they've been told carbs are bad, or certain foods are bad to the point where they fear all foods.

And  it's really  educating them on why food is so essential. Really food is fuel. And I mentioned this in my book too, but it's so much more than just energy for your sport. I think if you only emphasize that point, then it's almost like ,it creates this belief that you have to exercise to get  your food in, but that's not necessarily the case that food is essential.

Regardless your body needs energy to function at its best, whether that's days that you're completely resting or days that you're competing. And so really just breaking down nourishment, and how that food is nourishing you, maybe physically and mentally. And people can just become so obsessed with numbers and tracking macros and calories, that they may start to focus only on those specific numbers to make their overall food choices.

And this can just become so detrimental to mental health, especially, but they may choose a food just because it's low calorie or low carb without acknowledging all the other nutrients that it's providing. So I really just provide education, provide a lot of empathy, because of course I've been there too as a dancer. 

And, and I of course educate on the risks of under fueling and how, it can be a lot more harmful than beneficial for them. 

Stef

I really love that you talk about that in your book, nourishment over numbers. I think that's just so important because focusing on the numbers can be pretty detrimental. But how do you actually know if your body is being undernourished?  What are those signs that you often see in female athletes that we can bring to our community, because we've got to watch out for each other too. So what do you look for often? 

Angie

Yeah that's a really good question because oftentimes people just associate it with significant weight loss, which isn't always the case. I think the biggest one is the low energy levels. I see a lot, just constantly feeling fatigued throughout the day, that decreased  performance there.

They're getting  fatigued a lot quicker. They might have more mood swings, might be struggling with anxiety or depression. And then of course this isn't something that you're  going to be able to tell right away from looking at someone, but the absence of a menstrual cycle.  So for female athletes,  amenorrhea. That's significant with under fueling. So  keeping an eye on those things and again, it's going to be hard unless you're around someone often. It might be worth also  knowing these signs yourself in case you're at risk. So keeping in mind your hair, your skin and your nails are considered an accessory compared to your vital organs, such as your brain or your heart. So if you're under fueling, then your body starts to prioritize those vital organs and it won't have the energy it needs to nourish your hair and your skin and everything else.

So a lot of times with under feeling, what I'll notice is brittle nails, hair loss, hair thinning, dry skin, acne, all of those things from being really malnourished.

Stef

That's a great thing to pay attention to. And I know amenorrhea is a really difficult thing for female athletes. The latest report shows at 25% of athletes reported having a history of amenorrhea. And then unfortunately, when you do have so many female athletes that have amenorrhea, that leads to a lot of injuries. So 66% of these athletes then sustained an injury. So when you're working with athletes to bring them back to a healthy space, how do you bring your body back into balance with food? What are tips they can  consider, to get back into balance with food?

Angie

The first two to come to mind is to eat enough, honestly. To eat more food, your body needs more energy. Those are all red flags right there.  You're not eating enough. So I think that's number one, eat more food. How you eat that is up to you. If you start slow, you bring it into breakfast.

You add another snack, you increase your portions here, there, hopefully you're working with a dietician to help understand what areas you need to increase.  A lot of female athletes, they tend to be very, very low in fat. So it's about getting more of those fats into your diet.

It's also carbohydrates. So maybe you can bring in some more carbs and then I think the second one is definitely to let your body rest. A lot of it comes from over-training. So if you are someone who is spending every day off, actually going out for a run. That's a red flag too. Your body needs that rest, those rest days are so important as part of your training to really allow your muscles to recover properly, to repair and to prepare you for your next workout.

So I think those two big pieces are to rest and eat more would be my two recommendations.

Stef

And the mental support that you have from your friends in your environment.  It has nothing to do with food, but making sure that you're also taking care of your mental health during that period, because it can be tough.

Angie

Yes, look at your surroundings. Who are your peers? How are they supportive? Are they bringing you down? I think that's so important, being in a positive environment is so important.

Stef

And this is where  I get really worried for some young girls because they see  some benefits in the short run when they restrict their eating and they've lost a little bit of weight and some sort of good performance comes of it, or somebody says a positive comment.

And all of a sudden that  leads to a really bad chain of reactions and decisions. In the end it can be pretty detrimental to your body and to your health to continuously restrict your eating and under fuel. But how do we change the conversation around food for young women and female athletes that make it more positive. And hopefully turn the food into one of those things that is a huge, positive part of what makes them stronger and faster and better as athletes.

Angie

There's so many areas I want to go with this question, but first and foremost, it's removing the guilt from food choices because being a healthy elite athlete doesn't mean that you can never eat a cookie with real sugar and real butter. And categorizing foods as good and bad will just automatically make you feel guilt and negative thoughts.

If you eat that bad food, it makes you feel bad, it makes you feel like less of an athlete. And I've worked with some of the top athletes in the world, and I can promise you that eating some french fries every now and then will not negate all of the progress that you've made in your sport. There's actually been a lot of research on orthorexia nervosa, which is the obsession with healthy eating.

And it just shows how detrimental that obsession with healthy eating can be to your mental health. So I think that's a big one too, but if you are a parent, if you are a coach listening, keep in mind that young girls they're looking up to you and you are truly their role models. So , if you're a parent that's constantly talking about your weight or how you need to go work out because you ate this. You've got little girls that are watching you and they're thinking the same things and if you have a healthy relationship with food, then that will replicate too.

So keeping that in mind, and try not to restrict entire food groups from your house. Trying to promote the idea of eating a wide variety of foods, everything from spinach to brownies to really just emphasize that food is so much more than just fuel.

Stef

I love the call to action around how people around you are talking about food and the impact of that.  I want to go back to what you said about good and bad food, and have you unpack that a little bit more because isn't there bad food like for you?

 Angie

It would be silly for me to say all foods are equal because of course that's not the case. I mean,  using , what I just said, spinach and brownies are very different when it comes to nutritional value. So understanding that certain foods are a lot more nutrient dense. Versus maybe more highly processed foods.

And we know that highly processed foods and excess can lead to a lot of health problems down the road. But we also know that in moderate amounts they're completely safe. And so again, it goes back to , how is it affecting you mentally? And is that food affecting you mentally so much to the point that now you're obsessing over it, or you're almost putting it on a pedestal or you feel guilt?

Like I said, that's going to be so much more unhealthy than just eating a handful of M and M's or eating a small brownie. So I think the point is to have your diet focused around those nutrient dense foods. The foods that are going to provide a lot of fiber and vitamins and minerals and protein and those nutrients you need, and then still incorporate fun foods every now and then, and know that they're not off limits. They're just probably not the best thing to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cause you're going to feel pretty crummy.

Stef

And so how do you know if a food is processed? 

Angie

Processed is such a vague term because something that's minimally processed, for example, might be a can of black beans. And it's not to say that that's bad. It's just that some processing had to take place in order for that to be in a can or maybe old fashioned oats or rolled oats.

Technically those are still a whole food, but they have been processed in some way to get to the form that they are now for you. So again, processed, isn't always a bad thing, but when I mentioned processed foods, I'm more so talking about the ultra process.   So the things that have a lot of sugar added to them,  or refined carbohydrates or different types of artificial sweeteners added to them to make them taste very good so that people want to keep going back to them.

That's the issue too, is those foods that manufacturers make become very addicting that it's hard to set boundaries with them. So I think , just trying to find a balance there with, yes, you can have those types of foods, but don't have them become the main source of energy in your diet.

Stef

And what is your take on  cravings.  If you're craving  sugar all the time, is that usually signals something else that's going on. Is that your experience when working with our other athletes?

Angie

It could, but cravings are also very emotional. They're oftentimes more of a thought, say for example, around halloween fall, usually you see some people depending  on their background they might start to crave  pumpkin or other types of foods that you have, like pumpkin pie, for example.

Whereas if it's summer, you probably don't really crave that. So a lot of it is cultural. It's emotional. So cravings aren't always a bad thing. It's just recognizing that it is a craving and then addressing that. And I think that's, that's where people usually get stuck is they almost immediately go into their cravings and they lose that mindfulness.

So instead of just kind of stopping for a second, recognizing you're craving, kind of figuring out, well, am I really hungry? Am I open to eating other things or only that one thing. And then of course, if that's really what you want, then have it, but just be mindful of the portion size that you have.

And,  of course, try to balance the rest of your day too.

Stef

I think it's something that I know we all face.  But I'm so excited about your book, and  I'm wishing that I would've had that heading into college to have all of these amazing recipes and the basics of how to fuel your body.

But if you take a step back and you think about these young girls who might not have the access to a one-on-one with you, what would you say to them as the most important  thing for them to think about?  Fueling their bodies in general, thinking about their nutrition in general as female athletes.

Angie

I think my best advice would be that there is no perfect way to eat.  So striving for perfection with your diet is only going to leave you mentally exhausted. And nutrition doesn't have to be as complicated as people tend to make it. If you want to improve your diet today, just start with one small change.

And of course I am a big fan of fruits and vegetables. So if you maybe just add in one cup of veggies, that could be your goal. Maybe starting tomorrow, you're adding one cup of veggies each day. It doesn't have to be this all or nothing thing. Those small, tiny changes will definitely add up. Or maybe if you recognize, I've been fearing carbohydrates for months and here she's telling me that carbs are important for energy and for performance.

Then maybe you start there. Maybe you eat bananas. Again, maybe you eat oatmeal or pancakes or those kinds of things that you've been fearing for a long time. Because breaking down those restrictions that you've set for yourself, that's going to be the healthiest diet for you.

Stef

 If you could whisper back to like a 15 year old version of yourself just a couple of tips, you know? A couple of things especially to those, to those 15 year olds that might be under fueling, what would you whisper to them? 

Angie

I was always such a perfectionist and I feel like a lot of female athletes do struggle with that perfectionism. And so just keeping in mind that again, there's no perfect diet. But also for me, I know that I struggled with fat.

So recognizing that fat is not bad for you. Recognizing that your body needs fat to function. I think that would be what I'm whispering to my 15 year old self that I don't need all of the fat-free things in my life.

Stef

Okay and you know, Voice In Sport, we're a community that is aiming to change a lot of the things within the sports industry. So I'm so thankful that you're part of our community. But what is your one thing that you would like to see changed for the future of women's sports?

Angie

I think for me, less emphasis on aesthetics and more on athletics. So what I mean by that is female athletes, they come in all shapes and sizes. And body size is not always correlated with performance. So instead of looking at an athlete and tearing apart how much body fat she has, or how much weight that you think she should lose, focus instead on all of the other qualities that they have. Whether that's their strengths, their power, their personality, are they a good teammate?

Are they a good friend? Your weight has absolutely nothing to do with how incredible of a person you are. And I feel like the sooner that young girls realize that the sooner that fans and people watching women's sports and everyone in women's sports realizes that the sooner that there will be more confidence in those athletes.

Stef

I love that, it's such an important thing to shift, and there are so many different body types that make it to the top level across all sports and those need to be celebrated more.  We hope to be a big part of that. So Angie thank you so much for coming on the  podcast.

We're so excited about your new book that's going to be launching in may. I'm sure everybody can pre-order it now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, a couple other places. So thank you so much for joining us and again for being part of our committee. 

Angie

Thank you very much for having me. 

Stef

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us  Angie . Fueling correctly is such an important part of being a successful athlete. And I know that this episode is going to help so many young women athletes stay healthy and hopefully injury-free. Thank you also for reminding us that our weight has absolutely nothing to do with how amazing of an athlete we are and that we need to let our bodies rest.

If we want to perform at the highest level of our sport, this conversation and your new book are great reminders that there is no one perfect way to eat. Especially now that we see what elite athletes are eating on social media. It's so easy to get caught up and to try to copy them. But at the end of the day, women athletes need to fuel in a way that makes their bodies feel strong, fast, and happy.

We appreciate you so much, Angie, for sharing all of your stories in today's episode. Angie is a VIS expert on the Voice and Sport platform and is the owner of elite sports nutrition, which provides nutritional guidance to athletes. You can follow her on Instagram at elite nutrition,her new book fuel your body, how to cook and eat for peak performance was just released this month and is incredible resource for female athletes.

If you are listening to this podcast, you can be entered to win a free copy of her new book by signing up@voiceandsport.com and becoming a member and use the code. This fuel VIS F U E L. We'll be selecting the lucky winners on June 8th. You can always find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik TOK at voice and sport.

Leave us a review. Subscribe, share our podcast with your friends to show support. And if you are a girl or a woman in sport ages, 13 to 23, we'd love to have you join our community. When you sign up, you'll have access to our exclusive content, mentorship from amazing pro athletes and access to incredible vis experts like Angie, our experts offer group and one-on-one sessions to all those athletes in the community.

We hope to see you next week on the voice in sport podcast.

Host: Stef Strack

Producer: VIS Creators™ _Zosia_and Anya Miller

Angie Asche, VIS Expert™ and registered dietitian speaks out about the importance of fuelling for women athletes. She reminds us all, that food is so much more than just fuel and that there is no one perfect way to eat.