Sunday, November 30, 2014

November is National Vegan Month- Athlete Spotlight: Laurel Weaver- Women's Sand Volleyball

In honor of National Vegan Month, Fueling Bruins Nutrition Intern, Gayene Sarkisian sat down with Laurel Weaver from Women's Sand Volleyball Team

In the words of Laurel Weaver, here is a short bio on this amazing UCLA athlete:

Here is a little bit about myself. I was born in Santa Monica, CA. I went to high school at Thousand Oaks High School for my freshman and sophomore years. Then I transferred to El Camino Real Charter High School for my junior and senior year, and graduated in 2013. At Thousand Oaks, I was the first girl in school history to play and train with the guys varsity team, while I focused on my club training and college recruiting process. I ended up playing one year of high school volleyball and that was at El Camino during my junior year. I earned 2011 City Section Player of the Year, League Co-MVP, Team MVP, and First Team All League. 

Going into my senior year, I decided to keep focusing on club and signed with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I played there for my freshman year.  After experiencing the environment there, I felt that I wanted more of a challenging and competitive environment. I transferred to UCLA to focus on my beach volleyball career and major in International Development Studies. 


My plan for after college is to play professionally in Europe and South America, and hopefully qualify for the Olympics. After volleyball, I hope to join the Peace Corps and work in Youth Development in developing nations.

Interview with Laurel Weaver

Could you explain just a little about how you became vegan and why. What do you like about having that lifestyle and being an athlete?

Anyway, I decided to go vegetarian in my junior year of high school.  Within a pretty short amount of time, I felt my energy level go up and I began to develop a deeper passion for health and nutrition. Moving into college, I became passionate about the raw vegan lifestyle. Although I support it as a long term diet, I have now evaluated that it was very hard for me to maintain as an athlete.  Keeping my calories at the right numbers was extremely difficult and it was also rare to feel fully satisfied after a meal. I will probably return to that diet following my professional career, but for now, I focus on eating a mainly high carb vegan diet.  When absolutely necessary, or if I feel that my recovery is suffering, I will supplement with a piece of wild caught fish or a some free range egg whites, but fruit and veggies are the key to my success.  I feel that it is the right decision for my physical performance and ethical views, and although people think that I have limited options, I am continuously being creative with my meals and fuel for success. 

What do you usually eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks and how much.
 Ex. Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup almond milk etc.

For breakfast I usually have a half cup of oatmeal with raisins, a banana, and chamomile tea with honey.

For lunch I eat alot! Usually a massive salad with 1 cup of lentils or garbanzo beans in it, another bowl with 2 cups of cooked spinach or kale, grilled veggies, 1 cup of grapes, a banana, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, and 1 tablespoon of raw almond butter.

Typically, I will have a mid day snack of either a piece of fruit, a green smoothie, a bonk bar, or an acai bowl.

For dinner I eat relatively the same thing as lunch except usually less fruit and more veggies, but I do like to eat pineapple in the evening because it is great for digestion and hydration before bedtime.

What do you eat before and after working out?

Before I workout I always have a banana. My bigger meal is always post-workout, which now consists of a smoothie from the Fueling Station with coconut water, chia seeds, Raw Warrior Protein (cranberry protein), a banana, and either strawberries/blueberries. 

Are you taking any supplements (protein powder, multivitamins etc.), if so please state the brand and name of the product.

The only supplement I take is glutamine which helps my recovery so that I can workout/train harder and more often. The brand I use is Iron-Tek Clean Performance.

Are you able to prepare your own meals?

I live on campus so I get creative with my meals in Bruin Plate, however I do have some easy snacking options in my room like seaweed, granola and almond milk, fruit, and tea. I also own a VitaMix so that I can make my own smoothies whenever I want.

Do you think you eat enough calories for your workouts? Is there anytime during the day you feel more fatigued than normal?

I feel that I am able to eat enough calories during week day training, but over the weekends when my body is recovering, my metabolism revs up like crazy. And I do have difficulty eating enough on tournament days because beach volleyball zaps the energy from your system due to the sun, sand, and the actual sport too. To take care of this, I am always sipping on a carb drink during tournament days - water with date or coconut palm sugar, water blended with bananas, or water with Scratch, which is a vegan carb drink coming from all fruit sugar. This helps me keep my glucose stores full, in addition to the other food that I eat to be ready to compete.


What are your nutritional challenges you could need more help with?
I could use some help with tournament-day food options to keep my calories and hydration up.


Are you allergic or have food intolerance to any particular food?


I am slightly intolerant to wheat and gluten so I try to avoid having those products.  My nose gets stuffy the day after and I feel like it makes me hold onto unnecessary weight. I feel that being vegetarian, with 9/10 meals being full vegan and gluten free is the key to achieving my peak athletic performance. 


If you are thinking about becoming vegetarian or vegan, talk with your UCLA Sports Dietitians- Emily Mitchell or Yasi Ansari

Remember, use Nutrition to Improve Performance and get the FACTS before making a change to your current fueling plan!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Benefits of Fueling with Eggs!

Athletes, fuel with eggs for the perfect high-quality protein source! While providing 6 grams of easily digestible protein, optimal levels of essential amino acids, 13 essential vitamins and minerals, eggs are the right fuel source to help build muscles, and repair muscle tissue during strength training and endurance exercise.

Studies show aiming for at least 30 grams of protein per meal, multiple times per day, helps stimulate muscle synthesis. Athletes can safely eat 2-3 eggs per day while training. Dont be afraid to add in this perfect protein source to your meals to meet these optimal fueling needs!

Egg Whites versus Yolks:
Egg whites are rich in some of the eggs high quality protein, riboflavin and selenium. However, when skipping out on the yolk you miss out on multiple vitamins and minerals. Unless directed otherwise, we recommend eating the whole egg rather than just the egg white so that you dont lose out on these nutrients and their health benefits!

  Vitamin D: Works with calcium to promote bone health
  Choline: Essential for cell functioning
  Vitamin B12: Involved in energy metabolism
  Folate: Needed for healthy cell division and growth
  Vitamin A: Antioxidant supporting immune function, eye and cell health
  Vitamin B6: Needed for protein metabolism, and immune health
  Iron: Vital for oxygen transport throughout the body
  Thiamin: Required for nutrient metabolism & healthy functioning of the heart, muscle & nervous system
  Vitamin E: Antioxidant preventing cell damage
  Additional Selenium: Antioxidant which helps regulate hormones, and prevents cells damage
  Phosphorus: Essential for healthy DNA and bone structure
  Zinc: Important for proper immune function and wound healing

How to add more eggs into your diet:
  Create a healthy omelet with a variety of vegetables. Try spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and top it off with avocados
  Add 2-3 boiled eggs to the side of a whole wheat toast, English muffin, or whole-wheat bagel for breakfast
  Add boiled eggs to your grilled chicken salad

Did you know
  The feed of the hen determines the color of the egg yolk
  Almost half (42%) of the protein comes from the yolk
  Eggs are graded based off of interior and exterior quality (AA, A, B)
  Organic eggs are all cage-free (hens that can roam in open areas)
  May is National Egg Month! Use that as fuel to add more eggs in the next few weeks!

Happy Fueling!
Yasi Ansari, RD

For more information on Egg Carton Labels:

Text Source:
Egg Nutrition Center:

Friday, May 2, 2014

ABCs of Fruits and Vegetables

This spring keep an eye out for seasonal fruits & vegetables: asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, spinach, and strawberries. Increasing your consumption will help maintain optimal bone health, support your immune system, while providing healthy food sources for adequate fuel during activity!

Avoid peeling! Fruit peel with the exception of oranges, mangos, and bananas provide a good source of fiber and nutrients. Eat your fruit with the peel!
Buy them whole! Avoid canned fruits in heavy syrup. Look for whole pieces that you can take on the go!
Chop them up into small bite-size pieces. This makes them easier to eat while in class or to add to a salad.
Dessert with fruit! It is okay to indulge once in a while but make sure the majority of your dessert plate is fruit.
Entrees. Pack half of your plate with fruits and veggies. Find ways to sneak veggies into the recipes you already make (ex: pasta dish, chicken stuffing, or fish).
Farmer’s Market! Attend your local farmer’s market. You can try fruit samples and buy all of your weekly needs fresh and at a reasonable price!
Grill time! It is the perfect time for a BBQ! Experiment with grilling pineapples, zucchini, or peaches!
Home cooking! Eat out less and more in your own kitchen. This will encourage you to prepare meals from fresh ingredients!
Involve the whole family. The more members of a family adopt healthy eating habits, the more likely everyone else will do the same.
Jot down and prepare snack ideas the night before. This will keep you on track with a healthy snacking routine.
Keep cut up fruits and veggies in Ziploc bags. You can store them in the refrigerator, in your school bag, or car.
Limes! If you are worried about taking cut up fruit with you to school because it may brown, try adding lime juice to prevent oxidation!
Make baked items with grated carrots, zucchini, or blueberries for added nutrients, fibers, and vitamins.
Nourish your body with the pulp of the fruit for added fiber and nutrients when juicing.
One fruit serving per meal is a great way to start. As you get comfortable with that, add them in for snacks as well!
Purchase them frozen for a fun treat. Frozen fruits have all the same nutrients as fresh ones but may be better on a warm day.
Quench your thirst with fruit flavored water. Add pineapple, orange or strawberry slices to an ice-packed water bottle for a refreshing and hydrating way to pack in fruit.
Research the benefits that fruits and vegetables provide! When you better understand the vitamins and minerals that are provided you will be more inclined to increase your consumption.
Steam veggies with your meat for an easy way to get a serving of vegetables with a meal.
Think color. The darker the fruit the more antioxidants it provides! Choose deep blues and reds.
Understand that you need at least 6-7 svgs of fruits or vegetables per day! (Remember 1 serving of fruit is about the size of your fist!)
Visibility is key. If fruits and vegetables are out of sight its consumption will be less. Keep a plate nearby and in front of you.
Whip up a smoothie! If you are unable to get all of your fruit and vegetable needs in a day, blend them all for a heart healthy shake. Try: blueberries, strawberries, grapes, kale and your choice of milk.
You do not need to do everything at once. Try one new idea from the list above each week. Little steps will help make a big difference while guiding you in the direction of reaching successful fueling goals!

May Nutrition Athletes of the Month!

Christoph Bono and Alexis Walker are featured as this month's nutrition athletes! Find out how our Bruin superstars are fueling for success.

Christoph Bono, Baseball, Outfield

Sophomore, Christoph Bono joined the UCLA baseball program in January 2012. Bono's most recent achievements in 2013 included playing in 55 games and in all of UCLA's postseason games, scoring two runs in 12 at-bats while helping the Bruins to the NCAA Championship. He entered the majority of games as a defensive replacement in the outfield and did not make an error all season, recording a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage!

Read what Bono has to say about his fueling experience:

What is the impact of nutrition on your performance? Nutrition makes a big impact for my performance in baseball. Being that baseball is a slow and long sport my game days at the field can be exceedingly long, making nutrition an important part of sustaining my energy. I try to plan out my game day meals/snacks while I’m at the field as much as possible before heading over to the park for the day. Having a big meal before I go to the field (4 hours before the game) is really important and the base of my energy for the rest of the evening. From there it’s all about eating snacks to maintain my energy; anything from mixed nuts, fruits, applesauce, trail mix, etc. I try to constantly snack during the game as well, as it helps me keep my energy to focus. 

What is your favorite recovery food/drink? Muscle Milk pre-made and powder is probably my most used recovery drink. I always have a Muscle Milk after weights, practice and games. I also like to add Muscle Milk to my smoothies in the morning or a peanut butter banana smoothie at night. In terms of food, PB&J is definitely my staple snack before games... I've probably had about 30 already this year.
What is the biggest difference that you have seen in your performance when you have made changes to your diet? When I am paying attention to my nutrition, eating healthy and as often as possible, my energy is always better. Baseball is a long game and I'm sure you have heard the saying that it's "90% mental and 10% physical”. It’s really true. In order to keep that mental focus and energy for the duration of the game, my nutritional plan helps me do that. If I am keeping myself energized and well fed then I give myself the best chance to succeed on the field.

Alexis Walker, Track and Field

Senior, Alexis Walker has had a very successful Track and Field career thus far. After graduating Pasadena High School with multiple awards and recognition in track, she began her career at UCLA in 2011. Her most recent achievement has included her first-ever heptathlon, where Walker scored 5,409 points at the Mt. SAC Relays, jumping into UCLA's record books! Walker finished second overall and is the second Bruin to earn Pac-12's weekly women's field honor.

Read what Walker has to say about her fueling experience:

What is the impact of nutrition on your performance? For a period of approximately 6 months leading up to the beginning of the 2014 outdoor track season, I have made a concerted effort to change the way in which I eat. I have changed the type and amount of food that I eat each day as well as the number of times throughout the day that I provide my body with nutrition. With this new program that was created in consultation with Emily, I have seen and felt a huge difference in my in endurance as demonstrated in my ability to practice, compete, and recover efficiently. The impact of nutrition on my performance has been as dramatic as night and day this year and has allowed me to perform at the level of athlete I always knew I could be. I am having the best season I have had while attending UCLA and among other things, I attribute the changes made in my nutritional intake to be a major component to my performance.
What is your favorite recovery food/drink? My favorite recovery drink depends on what event or activity I have just participated in. After weights, I like to drink Muscle Milk or Avia protein shakes. After a hard practice or run, I like to drink something I call the peanut butter cup smoothie. It contains 1 frozen banana, 1-2 cups of almond or regular milk; depending on weather I want it thicker or thinner, 1-2 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of coca powder. I mix it all up in a blender or shaker bottle and ENJOY!
What is the biggest difference that you have seen in your performance when you have made changes to your diet? The biggest difference that I have seen in my performance since I made these changes in my diet is how much more energy I have. I have been able to push myself longer in running workouts and am able to lift heavier for a longer period of time before I get to a point of exhaustion. I feel that I am having better practices and because of that I started to greatly improve in both my performance at practice and in competitions. I have also been able to recover faster and feel better and less sore the following day. 
A glimpse through Walker's nutritional journey: 

As an athlete at a college filled with other athletes who are competitive and driven, I strive to push myself, while caring for my body, to constantly become a better version of my athletic self. My journey with nutrition has been a roller coaster and until this year I really struggled with having the right plan that fueled my body and worked for me. In the past I made the mistake of thinking that to become a top athlete I needed to be extremely diligent about what I eat, causing me to think that by eating extremely clean and healthy that I would get better. In reality I was actually hindering my body from getting what it needs to excel. As athletes, we need to eat and nurture ourselves so we can call upon our bodies to perform. In order for our body to do what we are asking it to do, we have to give our bodies the nutrition required to operate at the highest levels and fuel those areas responsible for performance. As athletes, there are certain types and amounts of nutritional foods needed that directly relate to performance and there are differences based on the type of sport and exercise being performed. We need to consume the right nutritional foods in the right combinations and proportions in order for our body to excel properly. It takes some time and experimentation to figure out exactly what works for your body. Nutrition has changed who I am as an athlete and has allowed me to become the athlete I am today."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Our March Athlete's of the Month Hitting a HOME RUN with Nutrition!

UCLA Softball and Baseball have been off to a great start this 2014 season. We are so excited to see what these well-fueled athletes can do!

Ally Carda - Bruin Pitcher, UCLA Softball 

Ally’s career has been nothing short of a home run. In 2013, Carda was named First Team NFCA All-Region and All-Pac-12 after posting a .339 batting average, 18 home runs and 50 runs batted in at the plate and a 23-10 record, a 2.30 earned run average and 217 strikeouts in 206 innings in the circle. She has helped lead the team to a 17-1 start in this 2014 season, including pitching a no-hitter for the first game of the season at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic in Hawaii. She also helped Team USA to the 2011 ISF Junior Women's World Championship gold medal in Cape Town, South Africa.

1.)    What is the impact of nutrition on your performance?
Nutrition has made the biggest impact on my recovery and the amount of energy I have in the day.  I notice that when I eat a lot of protein and good snacks throughout the day, along with water, that I feel more awake and have more energy. That also has helped me get through a long weekend of games.
2.)    What is your favorite recovery food/drink?
My favorite recovery drink is chocolate milk.  My favorite recovery food is chicken or fish and veggies.  I usually eat this after practice.
3.)    What is the biggest difference that you have seen in your performance when you have made changes to your diet?
I have seen a difference in my energy level and just the way I feel during the day.  I don't feel bloated or gross and am able to keep my energy up longer throughout a long day. 

James Kaprelian - Bruin Pitcher, UCLA Baseball 

On Feb 28th, Kaprielian struck out a career-high 11 batters in eight outstanding innings, allowing only one hit as well to earn his second straight win. Through his first three collegiate starts, Kaprielian has posted a 0.90 ERA and struck out 27 batters in 20 innings pitched. Kaprielian’s 11 strikeouts were the most by a UCLA pitcher since Nick Vander Tuig struck out 11 batters against New Mexico on June 5, 2012.

1.)    What is the impact of nutrition on your performance?
The impact nutrition has had on me has been huge. I ate healthy before but now understanding about the foods I'm putting into my body and how they fuel me. Having good nutrition helps me fuel my day. 
2.)    What is your favorite recovery food/drink?
After a game or workout, I usually drink a protein shake and get a full meal. I enjoy eating chicken and pasta making sure I get enough carbohydrates as well. Also, I try to drink hydrate as much as possible. After a night game and waking up for an early morning, I eat an omelet and potatoes or hash browns. 
3.)    What is the biggest difference that you have seen in your performance when you have made changes to your diet?
From the changes in my diet, I have noticed my recovery time has been much faster. More soreness is less of a factor and my body feels ready and prepared for my next start. 

David Berg - Right Handed Pitcher, UCLA Baseball

David logged his 27th career save and his 108th career appearance. He has made 101 appearances in two seasons at UCLA, already good for third-most in school history...owns the NCAA single-season record for saves with 24...tied the NCAA record for most appearances in a season with 51 in 2013...became the first reliever in conference history to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and was UCLA's first recipient of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, given out to the nation's top relief the only pitcher in UCLA history to lead the conference in ERA in back-to-back seasons...enters his junior year at UCLA with a 12-3 record and a 1.18 ERA in 152 innings pitched (all in relief) UCLA's all-time record holder for most postseason appearances (17) and saves (6)...also holds the school record for most career saves (25) and single-season saves (24)...has the second-lowest ERA in UCLA postseason history with a 0.98 mark. 


1.)    What is the impact of nutrition on your performance?
1) Nutrition is key to my performance on the field. Without the proper fuel, my body feels weak and I am unable to perform to the best of my abilities. When I don't eat properly before and during games, my body is noticeably tired and un-explosive.
2.)    What is your favorite recovery food/drink?
My favorite recovery drink is definitely body armor, because it has tons of electrolytes, vitamins, and natural fruit juices that help my get rehydrated and ready to go for my next workout or game. Favorite food would be almonds because of the anti-inflammatory value they have to help me recover
3.)    What is the biggest difference that you have seen in your performance when you have made changes to your diet?
The biggest difference is really just how I feel. I feel more awake and alert now that I have transitioned away from all that in n out and chick-fil-a and my body recovers better after hard workouts and games. I really do feel a difference day-to-day in terms of bouncing back and feeling 100% every time I pitch since I've changed my diet.

Keep up the good work, Bruins! 

Fueling Bruins,
Ema Thake, Team Dietitian