HPN 21: Fall Seasonal Food Guide (Try These 5!), Plus: The Latest Publications on Vegan Diets, Bone Density and Iron Deficiency for Female Athletes

September 11, 2020


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Welcome to episode 21 of Holistic Performance Nutrition (HPN) featuring Tawnee Gibson, MS, CSCS, CISSN, and Julie McCloskey, a certified holistic nutrition coach who you can find over at wildandwell.fit.

On this episode:


  • Julie went on a solo backpacking trip! The calorie-dense foods that she eats during a trip like this include:
    • Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese (if you’re interested in supporting the podcast check out these links)
    • Epic and Larabars
    • Almond butter packets
    • Trail mix
    • Pasta dishes with collagen
    • Cans of oysters and sardines
  • Tawnee and family have been enjoying Banza chickpea pasta
  • Patagonia makes camping/backing food now!

Our Seasonal Eating Guide Part 3, Fall!

For our past food guides click the links below:


  • The best flavor quality is at full maturity (you can tell the berry is at its full maturity when the color changes to a dull black).
  • They lose flavor and nutritional value every day after being picked, but most berries are frozen on the same day of harvest which retains a lot of their nutritional value.
  • One of the highest levels of antioxidants.
  • One cup is 50% of Vitamin C and 30% of fiber.
  • Phytochemicals are compounds that are known to help fight chronic disease.
  • The rich color of blackberries comes from a phytochemical called anthocyanins
    • Anthocyanins act like antioxidants that may help the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of conditions like dementia.
  • Interesting Fact: they are being studied for their ability to inhibit tumor growth
  • Study: Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries
  • Storage tip from the Seasonal Food Guide: if you’re unable to eat the berries with 48 hours, freeze them on a tray and then transfer to a plastic freezer bag to minimize clumpage.
  • Gently wash with a spray bottle when you’re ready to use them. Keep them refrigerated, highly susceptible to mold and spoilage. Store in the fridge with a paper towel over them to reduce moisture.


  • Parsnips are low FODMAP but can be higher glycemic index however they have a low glycemic load (with any blood glucose concerns just test your individual response).
  • Can be a great alternative to those sensitive to certain carbs or needing to avoid grains, but not wanting to go low carb; and they are lower in sugar than carrots.
  • Parsnips are incredibly high in insoluble fiber, which prevents the release of ghrelin and keeps you fuller longer.
  • For every 1 cup of parsnips, there’s roughly 24 grams of carbs and about 6-7 grams of fiber!
  • Parsnips are also high in folate (great for pregnant people), Vitamins C & E (antioxidant superheroes), and potassium.
  • Their stalks and leaves contain a sap that can be irritating and hazardous to the skin and is best avoided.
  • Paleo Parsnip-Orange Saute Recipe By Tawnee
    • Ingredients:
      • 5 parsnips, washed & peeled
      • 2 carrots, washed & peeled
      • 1 sweet onion
      • 1 navel orange*
      • ½ head small green cabbage (about 2 cups)
      • ½ cup fresh parsley
      • 3 tbsp coconut oil
      • Salt, to taste
      • Optional: Coconut Aminos, to taste
      • *For more orange essence, use 2 oranges.
    • Directions:
      Wash all veggies. Peel the parsnips and carrots. Then chop parsnips and carrots into about half-inch cubes (halve twice then chop). Chop the rest of the veggies next. Cut onions into 1-inch slices, and cabbage to 1-inch squares. Coarse chop parsley, and cut orange up into slices, leaving skin on. Heat a large pan or Dutch oven on the stovetop to medium-high heat, and melt a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. Add the parsnips and carrots first and lets them cook for about 5 minutes, then add onion. After about 10 minutes add the cabbage and more coconut oil. Maintain a medium heat and don’t let the veggies burn or get too browned (stir often and, if needed, add more oil to prevent burning).After 20 minutes squeeze in the juice of ¾ of the orange (or juice of 1 ½ oranges if stronger flavor is desired) and add the parsley. Cut the remaining orange into small chunks, remove skin, and set aside. At 30 minutes turn off the heat, add the remaining orange chunks and stir in. Let the sauté set for another 5-10 minutes before serving.
    • Optional: Serve with Coconut Aminos to drizzle onto the parsnip sauté.
    • This goes great with pastured poultry or grass-fed beef. I served it with herbed turkey meatballs and it was a good match.
  • Ok, but is there a caveat to parsnips?
    • “Parsnip, a root vegetable, has been indicted. Only this time, a common food has been shown to contain substantial amounts of potentially harmful substances. They are called psoralens and can damage genes, cause skin reactions in sunlight and become potential cancer-causing agents after exposure to sunlight, according to scientists from a United States Department of Agriculture laboratory in College Station, Tex.
    • “When the parsnip was peeled, psoralens in the vegetable were reduced by 30 percent, but were still present in worrisome concentrations, the scientists reported in the Aug. 21 issue of Science. Cooking the parsnip did not change the concentration of psoralens. ‘It is apparent that consumption of moderate quantities of this vegetable by man can result in the intake of appreciable amounts of psoralens’ the researchers concluded. ‘Parsnips and other psoralen-containing food plants may present some toxicological risk to man.’”
    • Tawnee’s take on this: don’t worry about it too much; moderation is key.

Brussels Sprouts

  • Their name comes from Belgium.
  • The majority are grown on the central coast of California where the cooler airs create the perfect conditions.
  • All parts of the plant are edible, but if you have any gut issues, you may want to cook them for better digestion.
    • Peel away the skins to make crispy baked brussels sprouts chip
    • Can roast or steam them
    • Slice them thin for a salad
    • Cut top to bottom and roast or steam or stir-fry or grill them
    • Julie’s favorite recipe is Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic (bonus points when I have bacon to toss in).
  • Even though one of the more hated vegetables, chefs have begun to make them popular; the varieties are less bitter and sweeter than they used to be (same goes for kale and artichokes).
  • What to look for? On and off the stalk. Compact heads with no sign of dulling or wilting and the sprouts should be bright green.
  • Storage tips: keep in the fridge for 2 weeks if on the stalk, and 1 week if not.
  • Affordable food with high nutrition – vitamin C,K, folate, manganese, copper, choline, vitamins B1, B6, and potassium.
  • Have a brussels sprouts cookoff!



  • Hawaii is the top US producer. But can be grown in colder climates. Top global producers are China, Nepal, India, and Nigeria
  • Will lose its potency over time; store in a resealable plastic bag with all the air pushed out in your crisper
  • Preparation tip – try pealing with a teaspoon! It’s supposed to be easier to get in the nooks without losing any flesh.
  • Ginger tea is Julie’s favorite! Slice unpeeled ginger into coins, bring water to a boil, and let the ginger steep for 10-20 minutes (add honey or lemon if you want).
  • Julie brings Gin Gins on adventures in case her stomach gets upset. She also recommends adding ginger to cookies, homemade bars, or granola to help prevent/manage stomach upset during endurance days.
  • One of the ten most commonly used natural alternative medical treatments in the United States and is suggested as a possible alternative to pharmaceuticals for reducing pain and/or inflammation.
  • Evidence supports the use of ginger to aid recovery from muscle-damaging exercise and for longer durations of intake (>2 days), as a single-acute dose had no effect on pain perception following low-moderate cycling [187].
    • Summary: ginger can be beneficial for alleviating intense muscle exercise induced pain
  • Can help with dizziness and nausea. This article suggests trying to take 1g of ginger before the swim to see if it helps with post-swim dizziness. Can also help turn your appetite back on after a hard workout/race.

Study reviews:

Connecting Energy Availability and Iron Deficiency with Bone Health: Implications for the Female Athlete

  • Purpose of the study: to discuss the effects of iron deficiency (ID) and anemia in combination with low energy availability (LEA) and the implications for female athletes bone health
  • LEA – the inability to consume a sufficient amount of calories to support health and energy expenditure, which is associated with a dietary intake below 30ca/kg of fat-free mass (FFM) compared to the optimal 45cal/kg of FFM (For Julie, that is the difference of 1,000 calories).
  • Athletes can easily expend over 3,000 calories/day
  • ID makes LEA worse because of alterations to an athlete’s metabolic efficiency, which can increase energy expenditure.
  • Eumenorhic athletes had higher blood glucose, T3, estrogen, and reaction time compared to amenorrheic
  • Hormones and the timing of nutrients:
    • Hepcidin is a hormone that is produced and released from the liver and degrades ferroportin, the channel responsible for iron efflux from the cell; this action traps iron within the cell, which makes it unavailable for use in muscle for oxidative phosphorylation and bone marrow for hemoglobin production.
    • Hepcidin is elevated after exercise and can result in decreased iron absorption with a slowing of iron efflux from the liver and spleen (i.e., after exercise, hepcidin is elevated for up to 6 hours which makes it hard to absorb iron).
    • If you’re struggling with low iron levels you may want to find a different time to supplement with iron.
  • Recommendations:
    • Take your iron supplement with vitamin C for the best absorption.
    • But avoid taking your iron supplement with calcium and caffeine.
      • Don’t take your iron with coffee! An hour before coffee seems to work well for Julie.
    • Need to eat more than you think to meet your energy requirements
  • Iron is a necessary component of thyroid hormone synthesis; t3 and t4 which both influence bone growth.
  • Bones! Peak bone density ages 25-35
  • LEA equals not enough food, equals not enough nutrients, equals not enough iron, and oxygen for bone health.
    • Increased chance for injury, hormonal disturbance, and poor bone development early on
    • Need to eat more than you think to meet your energy, macro and micro, requirements
  • “LEA can result in a decrease to the RMR, t3, GH, and IGF1 which can result in menstrual disruption and poor bone health. It is apparent from the available literature that ID can potentiate the adverse effects that endocrine and menstrual disruption can have on bone health.”
  • Bone remodeling is sensitive to energy availability and hormonal signaling through HPA.
  • Estrogen both stops bone tissue breakdown and stimulates new bone tissue.
  • Thyroid tie in:
    • Iron necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis
    • ID can impede optimal thyroid function
    • Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can negatively affect bone remodeling.
    • The development of ID may exacerbate a state of LEA and low T3 in high-performing female athletes.
    • Both ID and depressed T3 are problematic because T3 and T4 influence bone growth and development during childhood as well as maintenance in adulthood.
    • Take home: Start monitoring  young female athletes early on don’t wait till too late

Female Vegan Athletes:

Nutritional Considerations for the Female Vegan Athlete

  • Summary: “macro and micronutrient needs can certainly be met on a meat-free diet, but understanding how to execute a nutritionally sound vegan diet is key.” And: A vegan diet without supplementation will generally not supply all needed nutrients.”
  • A vegan diet may be part of a pattern of disordered eating
  • No high-quality studies examining long-term effects of the vegan diet as it pertains to athletic performance; most research is mixed in with vegetarianism.
  • A well-planned vegan diet seems to be as adequate for performance as an omnivorous diet, but a vegan diet without supplementation will generally not supply all needed nutrients
  • Iron: vegans need 1.8x higher than omnivores or 32mg/d
  • Essential amino acids are lower in some foods: leucine, lysine, and methionine.
    • Food recommendations:
      • Leucine -corn, spirulina, black beans, rice, soy, lentil, pea, oat, and quinoa.
      • Lysine – lentil, black bean, mycoprotein, quinoa, pea, and soy.
      • Methionine – quinoa, hemp, rice, corn, spirulina, wheat, and oat.
  • Intake of leucine in a vegan diet should be approximately double that of a diet including animal proteins, and particularly for individuals who partake in total body strength exercises, older athletes, and those with muscle-wasting conditions.
  • Current evidence suggests that an anabolic response from plant proteins may be lower than that of animal proteins, but very few studies currently exist on the subject, and none examine specifically the effect of plant proteins on the muscle growth of female athletes. Some data on soy and wheat-based proteins demonstrate that they are more easily converted to urea than milk-based proteins, which may account for the potential of these plant proteins to be less anabolic. It is not understood exactly why this happens, but one hypothesis is that in sub-optimal EAA conditions, the body sends free amino acids to the liver, leaving them unavailable for muscle synthesis.
  • Vitamin D: According to Shuler et al., musculoskeletal benefits such as fracture prevention start at circulating vitamin D levels of about 40 ng/mL, with athletic benefits capping at 50 ng/mL.
    • Sun or lichen sources may be good options here
  • Overall:
    • Great attention is needed especially in the beginning of embarking on a Vegan diet.
    • May need to eat more pasta and bread to meet energy needs as an endurance athlete
    • You need nearly double the iron and leucine
    • Eat a variety and combination of plant protein sources and be aware of your calorie intake to ensure you’re meeting your energy needs
    • Manage training load

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