"Specifically for those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses, I think creating a healthy routine that includes an exercise regimen is huge, because we know that it helps lower blood pressure, it fights against heart disease, it improves blood lipid profiles... we see mood and sleep changes and improvements." - Taylor Barros, RD, LDN
Shireen: Taylor Barros is the director of sports nutrition at Georgetown University. She's currently pursuing her MBA while being the sports dietitian for all 29 teams at Georgetown. Welcome, Taylor.
Taylor: Thanks for having me. I'm excited.
Shireen: Absolute pleasure having you on, so Taylor, walk me through what, what got you into nutrition and then more specifically, sports nutrition.
Taylor: Um, so what got me into nutrition was back in high school, I actually had a really close friend of mine who suffered from an eating disorder. So, you know, I saw her kind of lose herself in this process, and through this disease and, and really disconnect from our friends and our family and suffer, you know, a lot, a tremendous amount. And she went away to a treatment center. And when she came back, and she was this person that we all loved and missed. I just thought seeing how nutrition played a role in that was so cool to me, like, the same, how she, she totally regained herself again, just by eating. I thought it was amazing. And then sports nutrition specifically. So I went to Florida State for my undergraduate degree in dietetics. Science, and I was a secretary for the student Dietetic Association. So we are having a meeting, where we had the director of sports nutrition from Florida State, come and introduce herself and talk to everyone. And I just remember as soon as she left, I ran after her, was asking to volunteer for her and whatever I could do to help. And, and so ultimately, that, that led me to working with the football team at Florida State and really getting into sports nutrition.
Shireen: Interesting. So when I dive in and ask you a little bit about sports, nutrition, and then how is, how diabetes and other chronic illnesses, which is a space that, that we are in, how it ties into the, the type of nutrition that you practice. So what we do know is that well, when it comes to diabetes and chronic illnesses, we often hear about nutrition and exercise. Those are the two things we continuously hear about, right? So can you speak to the benefits of implementing exercise into the daily lifestyle, and especially for someone again, being diagnosed with diabetes.
Taylor: So exercise, as we all know, has numerous health benefits. And then specifically for those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses, I think creating a healthy routine that includes an exercise regimen is huge, because we know that it helps lower blood pressure, it fights against heart disease, it improves blood lipid profiles, you know, we see mood and sleep changes and improvements. And especially for our older individuals or older population, dealing with diabetes and other chronic illnesses, it really can improve balance and flexibility, which is huge for some of these individuals. And so, you know, exercise comes in all different forms and activities. But resistance training is really associated with so many health benefits. So we know that someone who does resistance training, they do weight, weightlifting. We see a higher resting energy expenditure, right, so their metabolism, their metabolic expenditures, picking up, we see increased bone mineral density, which again is huge for the elderly population, and improve body composition. So someone who is suffering, you know, from type two diabetes or heart disease, and can maybe, you know, lose a little bit of weight to help improve their their overall lifestyle, we see these improve body compositions, with exercise and resistance training, and low muscle strength and obesity have actually been shown to be associated with a higher incidence of insulin resistance and type two diabetes. And so resistance exercise to increase muscle strength and lean muscle mass has really been found to increase insulin sensitivity, and those individuals with type two diabetes as well as other healthy adults. And so, you know, it's really important that those sedentary individuals and adults that have type two diabetes, try to implement resistance training, as well as some high intensity exercise interval training. That's also been shown to improve muscle and liver insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than, than just prolong moderate intensity exercise.
Shireen: Interesting. And so with exercise comes the need to fuel your body. Why should patients with diabetes be thinking about when fueling before or after a workout?
Taylor: So I think the biggest thing when it comes to fueling for workout, right, my population is different. Because I'm working with you know, typically, college athletes who are in pretty good shape and overall healthy I do have athletes that have type one diabetes, and I do have some athletes who actually have type two diabetes. And so when I'm working with these individuals, the most important thing always always is always is that we're checking our blood sugar, or blood glucose constantly, right? So before, during, and after exercise, it's imperative that we're checking. And so what those results show is really going to have an impact on what our nutritional will be. So, before and after exercise, right, you're going to check your blood glucose. And especially before, if you notice that your blood sugar is too low, right, you might be in a hypo state, little hypoglycemic, we follow what's called the 1515 rule. And so the 1515 rule says that, if you're below that, that 70 milligrams per deciliter, then you're going to have 15 grams of carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes and recheck. And so you'll do that for 15 minutes back to back until you've kind of hit back good to go, your your blood sugar's where it should be, and you're ready to train. And so we'll just repeat those steps. And then again, we have a lot of athletes who, you know, have, we check their glucose during practice. And so if another point, we noticed that their blood sugar is low or too high, we might pull them off, and give them a second, we might be feeding them some simple sugars right there during training. But really, the most important thing I would say, is just to make sure that you're constantly checking. And, you know, we all know that hydration and diabetes are huge together. And so making sure that you go into a workout properly hydrated, I would say is another huge factor, a big component for athletes. And so we'd like to say that, you know, looking at the color of urine is the most easiest way to really check if you're hydrated. And so we always like to say your urine should be late like lemonade. If it's ever like apple juice, right, then you're pretty dehydrated at that point. So we're not putting you out there and training, we're holding you off for that practice.
Shireen: Many people like doing different types of exercises, so be it more cardio focus, like walking, running, you know, biking, or even more weight training for that matter, does the type of exercise you do impact what sorts of foods you should be eating?
Taylor: Absolutely. So different types of exercise, right, whether it's some anaerobic exercise, aerobic exercise, it's really going to have an impact on the type of nutrition that you're going to implement. So I would say that for someone who is doing more of that resistance, strength training, we're not necessarily focused on carbohydrates as much, well, carbohydrates are a body's main energy source, right. And they're important, we're really going to be focused on a more balanced plate. So someone who's going into a weight training session at the gym, right there, pre workout should be focused more on, on a balanced plate. So you have a good amount of carbohydrates, with some fat and some protein. So for example, a slice of toast with peanut butter, that's a great pre workout, snack for someone who's going to weight train, right, the fats from the peanut butter will slow down that digestion and absorption of the glucose in that bread, and really helped to kind of level out and maintain that energy during the training session. Whereas someone who's going to do some more high intensity training, or know some long duration, pretty high intensity training, so across country athletes, or a track athlete or even a basketball player, right, these snacks, they will be more focused on carbohydrates. Because you want that quick, some quick carbohydrate energy that will get into your system breakdown and you're ready to go. And so that breakfast might change from just posting peanut butter to maybe white post with some jelly, right. And again, because those are so simple sugars, and want to make sure that someone with diabetes is really checking and monitoring that blood glucose. And then if you're an individual who is doing lower intensity exercise, so maybe instead of running a marathon, you're walking a marathon, right? At that point, it's really important. While our body's running off carbohydrates, it's actually utilizing more fat for fuel during that time. So if you think of a light dimmer versus a light switch, so a light dimmer, the more intense that brightness of that light, the more intense that exercise, the more your body's running off carbohydrates. As the light intensity decreases as your training intensity decreases, the more your body runs off fat for fuel. So when someone's out there running a marathon, that's when they're they can be snacking on nuts, as they're walking or snacking, maybe with a granola bar that has some peanut butter in it, versus someone who is you know, doing an Iron Man triathlon, and they're just doing goos and gels and more of those simple sugar choices. And, and then I would say, you know, those are all good pre workout recommendations, but really for recovery, what's huge, again, you're checking that blood, that blood sugar and you're really seeing where you fall and then Eating according to that in terms of carbohydrates, but it's really important that you're also not just recovering replenishing those, those liver and muscle carbohydrate stores those glycogen stores with carbohydrates, but that you're really getting enough protein in your body. And so I would say, depending on the size of the individual, you can aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein for recovery. And that can look anything like, you know, eggs, to dairy products to meat, not any sort of protein. So if you're a vegan or vegetarian, you can definitely find some good high quality protein for your diet.
Shireen: And when you said that much portion, so in serving size, what are we talking about?
Taylor: So about 20 to 30 grams of protein, 20 grams of protein would be about one chicken breast. So typically, I'll have someone take size of like an iPhone, a typical iPhone will be that portion size of protein that you're looking for. one whole egg has about seven grams of protein. So if you take out the egg whites, obviously going to be less like three or four grams of protein. And about one cup of Greek yogurt would satisfy that protein recommendation as well.
Shireen: Okay, nice, helpful. So with all this talk about food, especially that, when you talked about the peanut butter on the toast, is gonna be a little bit hungry. So why don't we take a break here real quick Taylor. And so we'll hear more about Taylor's thoughts on quick ways to fuel your body post workout after this brief message from our sponsors. All right, welcome back. So, Taylor, thanks so much. So far, so good. I'm loving this. I want to dive a little bit further into what you mentioned earlier. So well, working with student athletes, you deal with such a wide variety of backgrounds, I'm sure different body types, different lifestyles, you've discussed the importance of relationship building with your athletes, how do you think your ability to do this specifically meeting them where they are in terms of their diet and lifestyle really allows you to help them make positive changes in their diet.
Taylor: I work under the you know, if you're there you care mentality, which is something that one of my mentors had, had taught me back when I worked at University of Texas. And that's been huge for me, because it's not enough to just be, you know, a name to a face, right, I have at Georgetown, I have you mentioned all 2019, which is over 700 athletes, and just myself. So it is really important that I am around these athletes as much as I possibly can and build that rapport with them. So making them feel safe, making them feel comfortable, to be able to come to me, right. So that means going out to practices and being in the dining hall and checking in on them, you know, just in the hallway stopping to have a conversation with them, I think it really is huge for these athletes to know that I'm a reliable resource, especially because this is, you know, just the start of this program at Georgetown. So we just became a department in February of 2020. And so, you know, being around them as much as possible, really, is what's going to get them to want to kind of my office. And then I think, I think that's the hardest part is getting them to come in. And once they're there. Normally, it's about, like you said, meeting them where they are. And so really looking at what stage of change, are they in? Are they coming to me? In pre contemplation stage where, you know, they're really not ready to make any changes? Are they ready for you know, preparation or an action stage where we can really begin and kind of start this journey together. And it's okay if sometimes they fall back in stages, and sometimes they're ready to go and, and so just being there when they're ready. And in really taking the know, chemistry and biology and all that stuff of nutrition out and putting in the terms that they understand. So when I talked about, you know, the light dimmer, that's an easy way for them to get what I'm talking about instead of getting into, you know, the chemistry of the body and everything.
Shireen: Interesting. Between practices competition, and then of course, academics, the student athletes who work with Georgetown, have really busy schedules, right. So I imagine that this makes it really hard for them to really slow down enough during the day to be able to cook complex meals for themselves. So do you have any recipes or go to meals or even nutrition hacks that we can learn about?
Taylor: Yeah, so I think what's been huge at Georgetown, specifically is that we've created this box meal program. So for athletes who can't run to the dining hall and build a plate and sit down and eat, we have box meals that are ready to go. And so I think that's huge for any individual who is on a tight schedule, right as these athletes to graduate and go on to be, you know, normal humans, they're still going to have the same struggles that they have in college. And so for all of us, I think preparing food, meal prepping ahead of time is huge. And it does not have to be, you know, a different recipe every night and everything set and already prepared and cooked, it can be just as simple as chopping veggies on Sunday. So they're ready to go on, throw into a stir fry and Monday night. It can be as easy as you know, making a dish like a lasagna, and then just sticking in the freezer, and it's ready to be taken out whenever, or something that I really love is using the crock pot. And so I'll have my athletes just throw everything into a crock pot, you know, at some point in the day, flip it on, and when they're back in the afternoon, they're able to turn off and ready to go. And I think having a plan for the week, in terms of your nutrition is also huge. So not just about preparing things in advance, but really thinking about your schedule and knowing what struggles you're going to be having. Okay, if I'm busy Monday through Friday, maybe the only time for me to go to the grocery store is Saturday morning. So really planning that. that out and writing out that grocery list so you can get in and get out as quickly as possible and be good to go without having to go to the grocery store several times. And then in terms of recipes, I think, easy things for my athletes that I always recommend for breakfast to be something like overnight oats. So that's as simple as throwing some oatmeal, you know, into a mason jar and adding whatever you want to it honestly. So, you know, some athletes put almond milk and chia seeds and berries in there and a little bit of honey, you put it in the refrigerator, let the oats really soak up and absorb all of the almond milk as with the chia seeds, and the next morning, you've got a great healthy breakfast that's balanced, got some fiber, good nutrients, and you're ready to go. And I really push these things called energy bites these little snack balls with my athletes, because again, you can make a bunch of them at a time and leave them in your freezer and just take them out whenever and so that is kind of similar to the overnight oats, where you're mixing together oatmeal, peanut butter, maybe some protein powder, raisins, seeds, kind of really, again, whatever you want the flavor profile to be, and you're rolling them into balls and then putting them in the fridge. And so those can be a little bit more calorically dense because of the peanut butter that holds it together. But you know, having two or three in the middle of class when you're hungry first nap, that's super easy. I think things like wraps and sandwiches to go are always great for, for anyone really if you're someone who is sitting at your desk all day, and it's hard for you to get up and have you know, a proper lunch just having wraps that are ready to go or an easy sandwich recipe. And you can always change up the flavors of those as well. So I'm always an advocate of making a new rap or a new sandwich. I think that's easy.
Shireen: Easy enough. So with that Taylor, we're toward the end of the episode. What we like to ask our guests to, for our listeners, is to provide ways in which folks can learn more about your work and even connect with you after this podcast.
Taylor: Yeah, so I have an Instagram for Georgetown nutrition that's fueling underscore Georgetown, as well as my own personal Instagram that is a nutrition based account and that is my first and last name underscore rd. So it's Taylor Barros underscore rd.
Shireen: Okay, and that's on Instagram. Oh, this is really helpful. Taylor, I want to thank you so much for your time with us here today. I think one of the, my key takeaways has been, you know, specifically what you mentioned with the light and the intensity. So what kind of workout are you really doing, a high intensity one or low light, so I'm going to kind of remember that analogy the next time I go work out, definitely not doing a triathlon, so I won't be on the high intensity. I go for a little bit of a run, that's going to be a great way for me to remember how to, how to refuel myself. So I really appreciate your time with us today.
Taylor: Perfect. Well, thanks for having me. It was a good session and hopefully a lot of people will get something out of it.
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