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Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson, Nutrition Therapy Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Foundational Nutrition in Appleton. She offers either local or remote consults. For more information, call 920-257-9964, email [email protected] or visit

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 00:10

Do you want to gain a competitive edge?

By changing your nutrition, you can achieve a continuous flow of energy, leading to an athletic performance that is longer, stronger, faster, and quicker! Athletes of all shapes and sizes need to pay attention to what goes into their body and how they are fueling up before the big game.

We’ve all heard that before a game or tournament we need to “carb load,” drink extra fluids with electrolytes (usually a sports drink) or consume a lot of fruit to give us quick energy. Unfortunately, that advice is not helpful when you want your energy to remain stable for prolonged periods of time. You may feel a quick burst of energy but that will be followed by a dip, which could lead to a decline in athletic performance, mental slowness, fatigue, jittery, lightheadedness, craving more sweets, and feeling down right miserable. During a game or athletic performance is not the time we want to be feeling this.

Sugar is one of those sneaky substances that you might ingest too much of without knowing. A 32-ounce sports drink has 56 grams of sugar, not to mention artificial food colorings, artificial flavoring and brominated vegetable oil! That really doesn’t sound like a sports drink worth drinking. Along with the typical sugary sports drink, many young athletes are eating snacks from the concession stand or grabbing a quick bite to eat between games. Most of those food selections are made up of processed/refined carbs (white breads, pretzels, chips), vegetable oils (soybean oil, canola oil) and lacking a good amount of protein. These foods are not only unhealthy because of their ingredients, but also the meal in general is not balanced. Not having enough protein (which is what our bodies need after a tough game or workout to help repair and grow muscles) unhealthy fats and too many carbs, will leave our bodies feeling sluggish. It is important to eat a balanced meal. For example, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates. This will help keep our blood sugar regulated, energy constant and we’ll be able to focus on our athletic performance.

Dangers of processed and refined sugars and carbohydrates

Here is a brief explanation on what too much sugar and refined carbohydrates does to your blood sugar. According to The Whole Journey, “Blood sugar refers to glucose carried in the blood stream. Glucose is the immediate source of energy for all of the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are monitored by the pancreas and are tightly regulated by several hormones. The body has the ability to store glucose in the form of glycogen in the muscles and the liver. When sugar or refined carbs are digested, they are initially absorbed in the small intestine. However, they do not enter the blood circulation directly and have to go to the liver first.

“Under hormone control, the liver will release an appropriate amount of sugar into the blood stream to make it available to other cells, especially the brain... the body’s natural response to deal with the sugar overload is to release insulin into the blood stream to uptake the sugar molecules. However, the body doesn’t always know when to stop releasing insulin, which can then create low blood sugar, and that is what we call ‘the crash.’ When the body’s blood sugar is low, moodiness, irritability, and cravings come into play making you eat more sugar and thus promoting a vicious cycle... sugars aren’t the only culprit. Simple and refined carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta, and potatoes are also broken down into simple sugar molecules once they hit the small intestine, creating a similar response in the body.”

So you may be wondering how to fuel your body in order to get the best athletic performance and have constant energy throughout the game. Fueling with nutrient-dense foods that are low in sugar, not processed and properly balanced are the most ideal. So what does that mean, carbohydrates before and after a workout or game, good quality protein and healthy fats? All of these macronutrients should be consumed (Again, I recommend 30 percent fats, 30 percent protein and 40 percent carbs) to keep blood sugar balanced.

Some examples of each of these are:

  • Carbohydrates: Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, rice, bananas, apples, berries.
  • Protein: Beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, bacon, fish.
  • Fats: Nut butters, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews.

Keep in mind, using a protein powder after a workout or in between games can also be useful, but look for a powder without too many additives, sugar and with a grass-fed whey source.

When eating a balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (whole foods low in sugar) you will have energy, stamina and an athletic performance that will be sure to make you stand out! 

Reference: “Eight steps to balancing blood sugar.” The Whole Journey.

Feeling exhausted, depressed, cold, brain fog and can’t lose the extra weight? It could be that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits right below your Adam’s apple. This vital endocrine gland plays a key role in both energy metabolism and temperature regulation. It’s also important in sex hormone metabolism, cholesterol regulation, heart rate, bone health, fertility and cognitive function. In fact, every cell in the body has receptors that respond to thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland becomes imbalanced, thyroid hormone production gets thrown off and things can go awry causing seemingly unrelated symptoms to manifest throughout the body.

The thyroid gland uses iodine and tyrosine to make thyroid hormones T4 and T3. It is important that neither of these hormones are too high or too low. The hypothalamus releases a hormone (TRH) that tells the pituitary gland to release a hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, and the thyroid gland then makes T3 and T4 hormones. Those hormones eventually make their way into the cell nucleus. A lot can happen along that pathway for the thyroid to not be producing adequate levels of T3 and T4.

When testing thyroid function, it is common to only test TSH levels. If that number falls within a “normal” range, their thyroid is considered optimally working. However, there are many more markers that ought to be considered to fully understand the health of the thyroid. 90 percent of thyroid disease (in the US) is autoimmune, so testing for thyroid antibodies as well as T4, T3, Free T4, Free T3, and reverse T3 gives us a better picture of how the thyroid is functioning.

Symptoms of under-active thyroid: fatigue, sensitivity to heat and cold, hair loss, cracked heels, depression, menstrual problems, muscle pain, fluid retention, constipation.

Symptoms of over-active thyroid: nervous, anxious, irritable, irregular heartbeat, sleep problems, frequent bowel movements, weight loss.

Why is thyroid disease so hard to diagnose? There are many factors that can impact the function of the thyroid:

  • Inflammation, which can be a result of an infection, allergy or illness
  • Stress (cortisol suppresses the release of TSH from the pituitary)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Dysbiosis, imbalance of the intestinal bacteria
  • Thyroid medication
  • Iron deficiency
  • Environmental toxins
  • Birth control or hormone replacement therapy

Nutrition is often overlooked as a viable way to support a healthy thyroid. Many people are overeating processed sugars, refined flours and poor quality fats causing nutrient deficiencies that are critical for a healthy thyroid. It is important to eat foods rich in selenium, zinc, iodine, tyrosine, omega-3s and many antioxidants. Some people may also be sensitive to various dietary triggers (gluten, dairy, corn, soy), which can lead to increased gastrointestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”), chronic inflammation, and a possible elevation in thyroid antibodies that would show the presence of Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune hypothyroidism). The diet can also be an environmental source of toxins (pesticides, BPA, heavy metals, etc.) that can also hinder the function of the thyroid.

Through dietary changes and improvement of gastrointestinal, gallbladder and liver function, it is possible to restore the health of the thyroid. The thyroid is a small yet very complex gland that affects all cells in our body. It is crucial to our health to have a healthy thyroid! 

Katie Jackson, Nutrition Therapy Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Foundational Nutrition in Appleton. She offers either local or remote consults. For more information, call 920-257-9964, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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