SURPRISE! I took & passed the RD exam on my 1st try on Wednesday December 28, 2022! 🥳 No one knew I was taking my exam today except my husband. 😂 I was supposed to take tomorrow (Wednesday Jan.4, 2023), but I was so sick of working & studying (if you know, you know 😅), so I moved my exam. It was risky, but it paid off! ☺️ Let me reintroduce myself as Amanda, M.Ed, RD! 🥳
For those of you that have followed me for a long time or know me in real life you know that my journey has been ANYTHING, but linear. 😢 A little over 1.5 years ago I graduated from my dietetic internship during the hardest time of my life so far. 😢 I learned I have a genetic condition called Lynch Syndrome, which increases my risk of certain cancers, such as colon & endometrial cancers at younger than expected ages just before I graduated. I did not cope well with the news. There were days over the last 1.5 years that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be happy again or actually become a RD. 😭
Becoming a RD has been my dream since I left the teaching profession at age 25. And while it took me longer than expected due to these speed bumps, I’m so happy to say that as of December 28, 2022 I’ve made it! 😍 I will continue to have to navigate living with Lynch Syndrome for the rest of my life, but I’m not as afraid anymore. It doesn’t define me. I am so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing support network! 💜
It was so exciting to end 2022 as an official RD & working a job I love! 🤩 I cannot wait to see what my professional, personal, & running future hold in 2023 and beyond. Thank you all for the support these last few years! 🥰
My last post was September 22, 2020 to be exact… And wow has a lot happened between then & now.
To say it’s been the hardest 1.5 years of my life in my almost 30 years is an UNDERSTATEMENT. 😦 Between living generally in a pandemic, finishing my unpaid dietetic internship (DI) in a pandemic (the last step needed & now I’m eligible to take my boards exam to FINALLY become a RD), suffering a foot stress fracture, learning I have low bone density at age 28, not being able to run most of the last 1.5 years, & various random health issues like low iron levels & mysterious abdominal pain, I thought things were as tough as they could get. BOY was I wrong. In May 2021 my life changed forever when I learned I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called Lynch Syndrome. Learn more about what that means for me from this post on my Instagram in May since I don’t want to retype it all now. It’s not even the main focus of this update. I’m sure I will write more about Lynch Syndrome here in the near future. I will say despite all the hardships there were two big pros the last 1.5 years: graduating from my DI & becoming a homeowner (my husband & I bought a condo in July)! But everything else has been a challenge. 😦
And the real reason for this update is to share a story I haven’t shared before. At least until I shared it last week on my Instagram. But I wanted to share that here too, as it’s easier to read here. And it’s a doozy. It’s my eating disorder (ED) story. It relates to everything that has happened the last 1.5 years because all of it, especially my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis, led me to relapse into an illness I thought I was over with… I shared on Instagram because last week was NEDA (National Eating Disorders Awareness) week & I felt inspired to finally share my story, but we should be raising awareness on EDs 365 days/year as they affect people of all sizes, genders, socio economic statuses, sexual orientations, ages, etc.
This is my first time publicly sharing my eating disorder story. The reason I haven’t shared yet has been due to fear, shame because of the profession I’m entering, & because my story is still being written. But I was inspired by runner Allie Ostrander’s instagram post on Feb. 23, 2022 where she challenged her followers to share a story to change a story. If my story helps one person feel less alone or seek treatment than it will be worth it. 💜 So here goes nothing!⠀
It started at the end of 7th grade. I had just gone through puberty & started my period a few months prior. I had gained some weight. Someone commented on my weight & encouraged me to lose a few lbs. I did not think much about my body prior to this. In fact, I’ve been a petite individual my entire life & was at the time of the comment. I lost those few pounds quickly by the start of summer by swapping out my snacks & sometimes skipping meals. I was also very active & on a travel soccer team. I didn’t stop there, though. I’d play dance dance revolution between soccer practices. My struggles mostly flew under the radar. Although one of my travel soccer coaches that summer noticed something was amiss at a practice where I got lightheaded. He offered me Gatorade & asked if I eat enough overall. I lied & said I do.
By the start of 8th grade I lost my period & by my freshmen year of high school I had lost 10+ lbs. I also joined the cross country team to train for soccer. I ended up being naturally good at running, even more so than soccer. I realized I did not look like some of the other runners (I now know runners don’t have a “look”, but did not at 14). I started counting calories. I was SO hungry. But I was also doing really well in school & sports, so few knew I was suffering. I told my doctors about my period loss & they brushed it off as a normal part of training. I was never formally diagnosed with an ED back then, but as an almost RD I realized I met most criteria for anorexia & probably should have received treatment. 😔
By my sophomore year of high school I became curious about nutrition & decided I wanted to run competitively in college. I realized if I wanted a chance at it I’d probably need to gain my period back & maybe even gain some weight. By my junior year I gained ~10-15 lbs & my period returned! I thought I was cured of my ED….But what I see now is it just moved more toward general disordered eating, & bad body image. This was a spot I stayed at for YEARS. I was able to go out with friends or my boyfriend (my now husband!) & eat, but I tended to pick “healthier” options & stress about what I was eating under the guise of caring about food/my training.
I had horrible body image, especially once I went to college to run for a D1 school. I felt like I did not look like the other girls I ran against. I under-fueled for my activity levels & remember trying to stay at or under 1500 calories when I’d log my food. I wasn’t always logging my food, though. I was still going out to eat, having fun, etc. but definitely thoughts about food & body image occupied a fair amount of my time. By my junior year of college I lost a little weight again & some people noticed. They’d say I looked “fit” & I LOVED the compliments. I also had my best season so far. I stayed around this weight for years & in this weird spot of being aware of what I ate & sometimes tracking, but not always. Bad body image thoughts occupied less space in my mind, but they were still whispering. Then, by the time I graduated from college. I was so burnt out from competitive running (and likely years of under-fueling) that I did not run much for a few years.
It wasn’t until after I turned 25, got married, went vegan, & decided that I would train for marathon that I felt healthy & at peace with food compared to the last 12+ years. I also decided to go back to school to study to become a RD, as I was not enjoying the teaching profession. I still had some struggles but nothing like it had been. But then the pandemic hit & in June 2020 I was diagnosed with my 1st ever stress fracture. And I learned I also have low bone density at age 28. I’m shocked I made it that long without a stress fracture considering everything. I was so angry at past me for not taking better care of my body. 😡 Of course I know it wasn’t really my fault, but it was & still is hard. I vowed I’d do better moving forward, so I wouldn’t suffer another fracture, improve my bone density, & reach all my running goals. Unfortunately life didn’t quite work out that way. ☹️
In May 2021, toward the end of my dietetic internship, after experiencing some weird health issues, I found out I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called. Lynch Syndrome The news DEVASTATED me. 😭I withdrew from most people & fell into a deep depression. I have a history of anxiety & depression since age 12, but this was the worst it had ever been. I was struggling to eat & I became afraid of most foods I used to love, even black beans. I lost weight & people noticed. I felt so lost, embarrassed, & ashamed. I blamed it on my depression. What I did not realize at the time was that I was relapsing into my ED. It was just in a new form. The lynch syndrome diagnosis + pandemic stress were the triggers.
I sought extra help when I realized my issues might be more than depression. In December 2021 I was diagnosed with ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). My food fears were/are mainly due to fear of cancer & sickness rather than a desire to change the shape of my body. Although with my past history of a restrictive eating disorder & some body image issues, I technically have ARFID “Plus” (a combination of ARFID & a restrictive eating disorder).
I am currently in outpatient treatment (this includes a therapist & RD) & I am chasing recovery. I am still going to reach all my running goals & then some + I’m going to be a sports & plant-based RD very soon! Expect some changes to this website when that happens. And If you want to be a future client of mine you can hop on my waitlist. Furthermore, I’m going to go through my Lynch Syndrome screenings each year as bravely as I can & hopefully I don’t develop cancer. Being the healthiest version of myself will only help in all areas of my life!
Thank you for reading if you made it to the end! 🤗 And if any of you are suffering NEDA is a great place to find resources. You deserve recovery too. 💕
The old saying goes better late, than never, right?! I hope in this situation that is the case. 🙂
I promised both in person (before the pandemic) and on my Instagram months ago that I would share the final recipe my lab partner Gian & I developed in our Experimental Foods class last semester. So, I’m finally getting to that! 😛 If that’s all you are here for maybe just scroll to the recipe. 😆 But before you do enjoy this lovely hairnet photo.🤣
I know that my semester is long over and I promise I did not forget about sharing the recipe! I just got sidetracked by many other things in my life from my development of an unexpected stress fracture in my foot to the beginning of my dietetic internship. Not to mention that going through life during a pandemic, extreme political division, and civil unrest has been tough, sad, and trying. 😦 But today is not the day to discuss all of those things, although I certainly can in a future post if there is interest.
I do plan to write about my stress fracture from a nutritional and running standpoint here, though, but also let me know in the comments or via e-mail if you want any posts of being a dietetic intern, being a dietetic intern during a pandemic, eating/cooking at home (because of the pandemic), work from home tips, etc.👇🏻 I’d really like to write posts here more than every month or two. So ideas are super helpful!
Anyway, let’s get to what you all really came here for, the recipe! It was interesting because we started the recipe development in class, but the class was moved to online after midterms due to COVID, so we were not able to do as many trials of the recipe as we would have liked. We are still pretty pleased with the final version and hope you are too!
The snack bites have hidden vegetables and legumes (sweet potatoes, kale, and black beans), but we don’t think you can even taste them. So they are perfect for picky eaters (just don’t tell them 🤐 )! And each 2 bite serving has ~7 grams of protein and ~6.5 grams of fiber! Who knew a vegan snack that tastes like an almond joy could be so healthy?! Black beans really are amazing! 😉 These are a great snack to add to your weekly meal prep rotation and the perfect lunchbox or midday treat! 🙂
Yield: 16 bites (8 servings)
1/2 can black beans
1/2 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (we used Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Chocolate Sport Protein Powder)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we used Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 sweet potato
1 bunch of fresh kale
13 Medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup salted, slivered almonds
1/3 cup coconut flakes
4 teaspoons cinnamon
How to make Black Bean Snack Bites:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes.
2. Drain and rinse black beans in a large colander 3 times with tap water.Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces.
3. Boil the sweet potatoes under medium heat and a high flame on the stove top until soft (about 15 minutes).
4. Wash fresh kale under cold water and chop into small pieces.
5. Steam for 5-10 mins, or until kale is soft, but retains bright green color. Then set aside.
6. Remove pits from dates and chop them into smaller pieces.
7. Combine black beans, protein powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla, sweet potatoes, dates and kale in the food processor.
8. Process at high speed until completely smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides if necessary. If the mixture is too dry add ~50 mL of water to the mixture.
9. Carefully remove the blade and stir in the chocolate chips and salted slivered almonds.
10. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into paper cups and place into a 14 x 11 muffin pan.
11. Sprinkle cinnamon and coconut flakes onto the surface of the each piece.
12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the center.
13. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.
14. Remove cups from the pan. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.
15. Store leftover bites in the fridge in an airtight container, such as a Tupperware. They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer. They taste best chilled!
Enjoy this quick, easy, and nutritious recipe! Let me know if you try it! And feel free to tag me on Instagram @fueling.veggie.athletes or e-mail me when you do!
You may have noticed the new website name & social media handles a couple weeks ago! I promise I am still the same black bean queen! #teamblackbeans4life
BUT it was time for a change. Especially since I will offically be a licensed and practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in less than a year! I honestly cannot believe it! All that stands in my way is my required dietetic internship (where I gain ~1200 hours of practical experience) and then I have to sit for & pass my licensure exam. I’m nervous & excited for this new chapter in my life, so please send all the good vibes my way! And comment below or e-mail me if you want me to write about either the journey to becoming a RDN or my experience in my dietetic internship. It’s definitely going to be an interesting several months with the global coronavirus pandemic….
But now you’re probably wondering, why the name change?! Especially since I’ve been the Black Bean Queen for nearly 6 years and black beans are my favorite food. Seriously. 😛
The answer: I wanted my website and social media handles to better reflect my goals: to inspire other runners + athletes, show that you can be a successful athlete by eating vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based, & to give ideas on HOW to eat to be a successful veggie athlete! There are some exciting things in the works on my end, but that’s all I’m going to say for now. 😉 Have a great evening, friends! 🙂
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Gazelle Sports in regards to the upcoming Gazelle Girl half marathon . All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only work with brands and companies that I stand behind and trust, but I wanted to be 100% transparent about our partnership.
Gazelle Girl is a female only race and weekend experience in Grand Rapids, MI on April 19, 2020. This race was started in 2012 by Gazelle Sports to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IV and to celebrate women’s health. This race was founded on the belief that healthy women contribute to an overall healthy family. 2020 will be the 8th anniversary of this unique race and we hope many of you can join the fun! 🙂
Need even more reasons why you should run? Read my top reasons to run Gazelle Girl below!
Top 5 reasons why you should run Gazelle Girl this April
It’s an all female race. Yes, you read that correctly! You must be female to participate in the race. If you’re a male reader I’m really sorry, but consider encouraging all your female family and friends to run the race, or sign up to volunteer! 😉
100% of the proceeds go to charity. Charity runners are not a new phenomenon in our sport, but how many races can you think of that contribute ALL their proceeds to charity? 😱 I cannot think of a single one. Until now with Gazelle Girl! Some of the charity partners include: Gazelle Sports Foundation, Sole Sisters, Make-A-Wish, and Women at Risk International, just to name a few. You can choose which of the 2020 charities you want to partner with and feel good knowing you are helping women and children in Western Michigan and beyond. How rewarding is that?
There are multiple distance options. Does a half marathon sound like a fun challenge or intimidating? No matter the answer to your question Gazelle Girl has you covered! In addition to a half marathon, there is a 10k and 5k option. Whether this will be your first ever race or your 50th, we have you covered with training group options and training plans. Whether running Gazelle Girl will be your first race or a race will you earn that coveted new PR, we are excited to celebrate with you! And if you are in Chicago specifically, reach out to me for ideas of groups to train with. 🙂
It is easy to travel to based on its location in Grand Rapids, MI. Most of you live in Chicago and the greater midwest. Grand Rapids is just under a 3 hour drive from Chicago and easy to access from other midwest states via I-196. This is the perfect distance for a little weekend get-away race without having to spend too long traveling. And if you live outside the midwest, Grand Rapids is easy to travel to via the Gerald Ford International Airport. Make a weekend out of the race with the Weekend Experience option complete with happy hours, a city lights tour, yoga, and a shakeout run, just to name a few of the fun events.
It has a super rad expo (expotique) and finish line experience. At the expotique you can check-in for your chosen race, add in a late entry if spots are still available, and shop for some for some beautiful and limited edition apparel. The website will be updated soon with more information about the expotique! Post-race, join all the other amazing women who ran with you in a fun finish line party complete with gin-cocktails and delicious food.
I, unfortunately, cannot run the Gazelle Girl this year due to my already full spring race schedule :(, but I plan to run it next year! I cannot wait to cheer for all of you who are running from afar and to hear all about your race weekend experience after you cross the finish line! Stay in touch about your training and if you are in the Chicago area maybe we can share a few runs! 🙂
So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up NOW! The prices for the half marathon will increase to $95 on March 9th ($55 for 10k and 45 for the $5k), so you better act quickly. 😉
Have you run Gazelle Girl before? If so, how many times? If not, are you going to sign up for it this year?!👇🏻
I originally shared this on Instagram on January 1st, but I wanted to share here too in the hopes of reaching more people! 🙂
Happy 2020! Cheers to a new year & a new decade!🥂 Do yourself a favor & vow to NOT diet in 2020. There are so many better health goals to make this year! Plus, diets don’t work anyway. 🙃 Small, changes over time are more sustainable. ⠀And since we are three weeks into the new decade I am hoping if any of you start a diet you are reconsidering it. How about trying the following this year instead of dieting: ⠀ ⠀
1. Drink 70 or more oz of water daily. 💦 ⠀
2. Eat breakfast daily, even if it’s initially just something small like a piece of fruit. 🍌 ⠀
3. Aim for at least one fruit 🍎 or vegetable 🥦 at every meal. ⠀
4. Pack your lunch more days than you buy it each week. 🥗 ⠀
5. Cook one homemade recipe per week. 👩🏻🍳 ⠀
6. Bring coffee from home or make at work/school more days than you buy it each week. Drink it plain or add your own creamer. ☕️ ⠀
7. Don’t do workouts you hate. Find one or two types you like & vow to move your body at least 5x /week for 30 minutes. 🏃🏼♀️ 🚲 🏋🏼♀️ ⠀
8. Make plans with friends at least twice a month. 👯♀️ Friendship is so important for overall health! Bonus points if you workout or cook with your friends. Helping each other develop healthy habits is rewarding. ☺️⠀
9. Start a new hobby this year or bring back an old one! Maybe it’s knitting 🧶, drawing ✍🏻, joining a local team ⚽️, or joining a book club. 📚 Hobbies are great for your mental health & can be another way to socialize! ⠀
10. Get 7 or more hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep will only help you be a better athlete, worker, student, spouse, parent, etc. 😴 ⠀
⠀ What are some of your non-diet health goals for 2020?! 👇🏻
Disclaimer: I received a Road ID gift card to purchase a Road ID bracelet or Sidekick ID of my choice from Road ID to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
Why was I so excited to try out Road ID? Well, I live in Chicago, and while I rarely run alone (either I run with my husband, friends, a group, or there are often others on the running path), I do not always feel safe. I have been approached by strangers both while running, while commuting, or even just shopping. I’ve been lucky nothing super serious has happened, but these incidents have definitely been a wake-up call for me that it is important to pay attention and take extra safety precautions, especially as a female. I already tell my husband or a friend anytime I go for a run, errands, or commute to school. I carry pepper spray with me anytime I commute to/from school since it’s a long journey and I travel through some areas where I do not feel as safe as usual…But I could not help, but wonder what would happen to me if I passed out or got injured while running or commuting- how would someone help? Enter Road ID- the solution to my problem!
I was excited to test out Road ID from the day I received the gift card and designed my ID online. I’m a sucker for anything rose gold, so making my ID rose gold was a no brainer. 🙂 And I picked an adjustable bracelet because I have child-size wrists and I usually have to put jewelry on the tightest notch or it will be too big. Thankfully my bracelet fits, but only as long it is on the tightest notch. 😛 And receiving this sweet note above in the mail with my ID was the icing on the cake!
After designing my bracelet I opted to start my emergency profile. This service is free for 6 months after your purchase and then is $9.99 per year after that. A small investment for something so worthwhile. In the emergency profile, I was able to enter my allergies, emergency contacts, and insurance contacts. It only took me 10 minutes and I liked putting information in a secure platform online versus just on my Road ID. All someone has to do is call the “for emergency contacts” number on the wrist ID and then enter the number on the back of the engraved plate to access my profile. This is a safer option (in my opinion) and then it is a much quicker process to get me to a doctor that is covered by my insurance versus having to get my information from my husband or family if anything were to happen. Plus, you can update your emergency profile at any time just by logging on. Obviously, I do not want anyone to ever have to access my emergency profile on my wrist ID, but I have peace of mind knowing that it is up-to-date should anything bad happen to me on a run or otherwise.
Nowadays, I make sure to wear my Road ID anytime I run alone and honestly most times even when I run with others. I’ve even worn it a few times while out and about or commuting to school. It’s pretty cute and it’s a small way to give myself extra safety and my loved ones peace of mind.
RoadID is not only great for athletes, but also a wonderful investment for people with health issues, kids, students, people living in a big city, or the elderly. Plus, right now is a great time to buy one for yourself or as a gift, because they have an amazing Black Friday sale where you can get up to 60% off!
How do you stay safe while running or working out? Do you have a Road ID? If so, why did you get one?
Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Hot Chocolate 15k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
BibRave was kind enough to give me an entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k on Sunday, November 3, 2019, so I could run it for the first time! 🙂 I know I’ve lived in Chicago for 5 years and it’s a little sad I have not run it, but if you are a long-time reader of Black Bean Queen you know that I have spent my fair share of those years injured… Anyway, let’s discuss the race weekend!
I went to packet pick-up on Saturday morning with my friend Emily after our team long run and brunch. I only ran 6 miles easy since I had not been running much in the nearly three weeks since the Chicago marathon. The packet pick-up was at McCormick Place and it was not as crowded as we expected. Neither of us were in the mood to go to every booth, so it was just a quick trip to grab our packets and do one lap. I also picked up my friend Meghan’s packet so she would not have to come all the way to Chicago two days in a row. I’m nice like that. 😛
Emily and I after the race!
I woke up at 4:30 am, ate my usual lonely packet of oatmeal, and then changed into BibRave gear for the race. The race was in Grant Park, which is within a mile of where I live, so I was happy I did not have to leave hours before the race. I did have to leave somewhat early to give Meghan her packet and run a warm-up with her, though. I met her and her husband at a Dunkin Donuts. Meghan pinned on her bib, ditched some layers with her husband, and we started jogging to the start line.
I was hoping to find my friend Emily before entering the corrals so we could run the race together. We both planned just to take it at an easy to moderate effort since neither of us had run much since the Chicago Marathon. Emily, unfortunately, got caught up at the gear check and then all of a sudden, the announcer said the corrals were going to close in 10 minutes. I was still with Meghan and naturally, we panicked because we did not want to be forced into wave two. Even though I planned to take the race easier than Meghan, Emily and I still wanted our spot in corral A with Meghan. Meghan and I started running through crowds of people to make our way into corral A. We made it with a few minutes to spare! I hate being caught behind crowds of people at race start lines- it makes me panic a little (real cute, I know 🙃), so I’m glad we made it into A!
I stayed to the far right of the corral in my bright orange shirt in the hopes that Emily will make it in time and find me. I texted her, but no such luck. Meghan started doing a few drills and stretches while chatting with me. I just stood there fixing my shoelaces and checking my phone to see if Emily was coming, so not really doing anything to help my race preparation. 😛 Meghan suggested that even though I’m coming off a marathon and haven’t really been running, why don’t I just try to run with her since Emily wasn’t going to make it in time? She thought I could do it! I wasn’t so sure, but I said hey I guess I’ll just try to stick with you as long as I can…
Meghan and I after the race!
Suddenly the starting gun went off and we easied into the race. For the first few miles, Meghan and I were literally chatting, laughing, and not taking ourselves too seriously, while still running a solid effort. Our pace was good, around 6:50/ mile and it was pretty windy. I surprisingly did not feel very winded. We hit the 5k around 21 minutes and it honestly felt more like a 23-24 minute 5k, so I was surprised. And yes we were both wearing watches, but you know how crazy the GPS goes in downtown Chicago, so we were not certain what our actual pace was.
I hung on to Meghan until the 10k mark. That’s when my lack of running post-Chicago marathon caught up to me and I felt tired, so I slowed down. I’m not proud, but sometimes I just don’t want to fight. This was supposed to be a fun race anyway. I spent the 10k- 15k just keeping my cool and hoping to average sub 7 minute miles. I saw my sister-in-law and husband just before the last 400 m and then I made a new friend in that final stretch, so him and I finished together. We apparently ran the same time at the Chicago marathon, so it was fitting in a way to finish the race together (even though I blew up during my marathon and ran much slower than I was capable of running…the marathon and I have some serious unfinished business, but I digress). Although technically he finished about 30 seconds faster than me in the 15k, but must have started further back. Anyway, shoutout to Paul if you somehow read this blog! 😛 I finished in a 1:04:00 (6:53 pace), which was good for 4th place in my age group and about 1 minute and 20 seconds behind Meghan.
It was a pretty cold November day, so I finished the race freezing. I went with Meghan to grab our chocolate goodies, although I did not want to and could not eat them (#veganproblems). Only a big cup of coffee sounded good to me. We waited for our husbands to arrive with more layers and took a few photos. I also finally found Emily, who just laughed at me for not taking the race as easy as I said I would- #typicalAmanda 😛 We did not linger in the post-race party because it was so cold and because of Emily and I had a second race to get to: the November project 13 x 1 mi relay with our Heartbreakers team. The reason I thought it was a good idea to do two races in the same day is a story for another day or check out my instagram post about it.
All in all, the Hot Chocolate 15k was a fun race. The course was flat, lots of crowd support, and it was well marked. I’d love to run it again when I’m in better racing shape and go for a sub 1 hour 15k!
Have you ever raced the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago or another city? If so what did you think?
*Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am studying nutrition and on the path to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Please, contact a practicing RDN or another healthcare professional with any questions or concerns before adopting a new way of eating.
Good afternoon friends! 🙂 Every week I receive multiple questions in my Instagram inbox about eating plant-based or being a plant-based athlete, so I figured it was time to start addressing those questions here on the good ‘ol blog! As a future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an aspiring sub-elite runner, I am drawing on both research AND my personal experiences to share this information with you, so as usual, contact a licensed healthcare professional with any questions or concerns! Once I am a licensed and practicing RDN I will be more than happy to help you, though! 🙂
So without further ado, let’s get to it! Today’s topic is plant-based protein powders.🌱 I want to start off by saying a protein powder should never be a replacement for a food in your diet, rather it should be an ENHANCEMENT or a SUPPLEMENT to your current diet. It is always best to get most of your daily calories and protein from whole, real foods (1). A protein shake is not meant to replace dinner or breakfast. Although, no judgment if you’ve done that before, as we have all been there 😛 But generally protein powder does not make a very complete or balanced meal unless it is added to a smoothie with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Of course there are certain times when a protein powder may be appropriate: during a major illness where you need extra protein to help you heal, during a heavy training phase as an athlete, or when you are struggling to meet your daily calorie and protein needs with food alone (2). Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, because yes, protein powder is considered a supplement!
There are a variety of reasons why an athlete might chose a plant-based protein powder: dairy allergy, vegan diet, or taste preferences. I personally am vegan and whey never sat well with me even when I ate dairy, so that is why I chose to consume a plant-based protein powder. I did not start consuming protein powder until 2019 because I used to be against it to be honest. But after running my highest weekly volume ever this summer to train for my second ever marathon (the Chicago Marathon this October), I can attest to the recovery benefits of consuming a high-protein shake or smoothie after a long run or tough training session when my stomach is otherwise not ready to eat a full meal rich in carbohydrates and protein. All I have to do is dump some water or almond milk and protein powder into my Blender Bottle, shake well, and sip as I stretch and foam roll.
So what are some key differences between whey based and plant-based protein powders? Well for starters, whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on it’s own (3). All animal based proteins are complete, but only quinoa and soy products are complete plant-based proteins (3,4). So before you panic, remember that you do not need to eat complete proteins at every single meal and snack, but rather throughout the day. Or you could do some good ol’ fashioned food pairing, i.e. the classic combination of rice and beans together contain all 9 of the essential amino acids in the proper amounts! So how does this relate to plant-based protein powders? Well, unless you are consuming a soy protein powder, which is already complete, most plant-based protein powders will achieve a complete amino acid profile through the pairing of multiple plant protein sources, i.e. pea protein, chia seeds, cranberry protein, pumpkin seeds (4). The use of multiple protein sources just adds to the nutritional benefits of the protein powder! Whey protein powder is relatively low in nutrients besides protein, but a plant-based protein powder will often have some iron and other minerals, such as phosphorous or zinc (4). Pea protein powder is among the most common plant-based protein powders, but I’ve seen many types over the years, from hemp seed to combination plant protein powders.
As an athlete there are two additional considerations I use when choosing a protein powder. I check the ingredients to see if the plant-based protein powder contains sugar alcohols and if it is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice (6,7). I check for sugar alcohols because for me and many others, they cause GI distress (5). I cannot even chew gum because of the sugar alcohols! I am fine with stevia though, but I honestly wish more protein powders just used a bit of regular sugar…but that’s a topic for another day 😛
I then check if the protein powder is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so how do we know that our supplements actually contain what they say they contain (6,7)? The NSF International’s Certified for Sport program was created to test supplements and make sure they do not contain any banned or illegal substances, contaminants, and that they actually contain what they say they contain (6). To receive the NSF mark the supplement has to be tested twice in a calendar year (6). I also love that NSF has an app with a barcode scanner, so I can check supplements easily when I am on the go or at a store.
Informed Choice is similar in that third party tests supplements for banned substances, but it is not the gold standard or recognized by major athletics teams, such as the MLB, like NSF certified for Sport (7). NSF Certified for Sport is especially important for elite athletes who are subject to random testings before/during/after competitions, because how would it feel to get disqualified because of your protein powder? I may be exaggerating here, but it’s still good to know exactly what is in our supplements, so even as an aspiring sub-elite athlete, I will only consume supplements from brands I trust and ones that are preferably NSF Certified, but at least Informed Choice so I know that they have been tested by a third party.
All 3 of my recommended protein powders below are NSF Certified or Informed Choice!
My top 3 favorite protein powders (in order) are linked below with pros and cons.
Tastes decent even mixed with just water, but is best in smoothies
30% DV of iron
30 g of protein
Cons:Not NSF Certified
Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender.
Do you use plant-based protein powder? If so, which brand and why? Do you have a question you want to see on here next? Do next hesitate to comment below, contact me on Instagram, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! 🙂
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