108 : Your Link To Nutrition And Becoming A Normal Human After Retirement From Sports w/ Lauren Link

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Lauren Link is a former Purdue soccer player and she currently serves as the Director of Sports Nutrition at Purdue University.  Most recently, Lauren authored the book Athlete to Normal Human for former elite athletes struggling in their transition to life after sports.  Lauren was inspired to write this book based on her own experience with the athlete transition and because of what she has observed professionally while working with the athletes at Purdue.

Nutrition is often something that is neglected in an athlete's transition to life after sports for a variety of reasons.  A couple of these reasons include the lack of experience grocery shopping and cooking in general.  In addition, retired athletes adjusting to a new schedule or lack there of can make, quick, convenient and sometimes unhealthy food options their first choice when looking fuel up.  Lauren and I dive deep into the ways retired athletes can combat these struggles and make prioritizing your health and nutritious eating as easy as pie. 


Below are some additional topics of discussion in episode 108:

  • What you can find in the book

    • Nutrition advice

    • Fitness advice

    • Social advice

  • Why making new friends can feel like dating.

  • What to do with all that time when you aren’t a collegiate athlete anymore.

  • Finding a new fitness program that works for you/finding the motivation without a coach.

  • Looking for other outlets of camaraderie when you no longer are part of a team.

  • Lauren's experience with nagging knee pain from overuse injuries.

  • Exercising for longevity.

  • The best parts of being a retired athlete.

  • Necessary nutritional changes in the athlete transition.

    • Managing your calorie intake.

    • Ways to keep calorie expenditure up after athletic career.

    • What your plate should look like at each meal.

    • Examples of nutrient dense foods.

    • Grocery shopping (Video below)

    • The benefits of cooking in bulk.

    • Making a grocery list.

  • How new NCAA regulations can be enabling athletes to never learn how to cook.

  • Lauren's thoughts on food delivery services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.

  • Why football players tend to struggle nutritionally in their transition to life after sports.

  • Appropriate approaches to weight-loss.

  • Muscle’s role in metabolism.

  • Nutrition recommendations for injured athletes.

    • Anti-inflammatory foods.

    • The role of sleep in injury recovery.

    • Foods that cause inflation.

  • What inflammation looks like at a cellular level.

  • Lauren's thoughts on Netflix documentaries like What The Health.

  • Why retired athletes should be conscious of their sodium intake.

  • Tips for athletes who transition to desk jobs.

Where can you buy Athlete to Normal Human?



Download Episode 108 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

68 : Building a Body of Resilience w/ Angelo Todaro

In Episode 68 of the Heads 'N Tales podcast I interview Parabolic Performance & Rehab Performance Director, Angelo Todaro, CSCS, FMS, USAW.  Rather than talking about persevering after injury, illness or another obstacle, Angelo and I discuss how to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.  Obviously, it is impossible to quantify injuries prevented, but we discuss what goes into building a body of resilience.  We use the elements involved in building a house as an analogy, which includes the foundation, support beams, electrical panel and the esthetic exterior.

Angelo is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the NSCA Certification Commission and a certified Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting.
Before joining Parabolic Performance and Rehab, Angelo owned and operated a very successful private training business in Bergen county New Jersey. He has held the position of strength and conditioning coach with the San Diego Padres in their minor league system and with a United States Tennis Association regional training center. He has also completed coaching internships with the University of Connecticut Strength and Conditioning department in Storrs, Connecticut, and at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Human Performance Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Building a Body of Resilience

Foundation:  The foundation is the most important part of building a body of resilience, but it is also the least sexy.  The foundation is comprised of general health markers that include, blood profile, organs, hormones, and immune system.  Angelo recommends going to see your doctor to getting blood work and a general physical to find out if there are any glaring issues.  In addition, having solid general movement patterns is a key principle to the athlete's foundation.  Angelo and his team at Parabolic use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to assess their athletes in this domain.  The FMS tests 7 movement patterns which include a deep squat, in-line lunge, hurdle step, pushup stability, shoulder stability, leg raise and rotary stability. The key to the test is that all movements can be performed without pain. Click the link above to learn more about the FMS.  The team at Parabolic also utilize methods from the Postural Restoration Institute to address foundational issues.  I have been doing some of these postural restoration exercises with Parabolic Physical Therapist, Dr. Danielle Clarke and have been seeing great results in my knee rehab.  Some of the exercises involve inflating a balloon, which sounds bizarre, but I must say, I now feel the best I have felt since before my surgery. Overall, the foundation of a resilient body includes having good general health, good general movement and a good attitude.

Support Beams: The support beams include stability/mobility. These two requirements for both of these domains will vary by sport and position. During this portion of our conversation Angelo and have a sports specialization discussion.  He mentions Urban Meyer's tastes for multi-sport athletes in his recruiting classes.  Angelo also mentions the importance of prioritization when playing multiple sports and just playing for fun sometimes.  This is something that I feel athletes get out of touch with as they get older. 

Angleo with some of his NFL guys.

Angleo with some of his NFL guys.

Electrical Panel: Angelo gives us a brief lesson on the role of nervous system adaptations.

Furnace: The furnace element of the resilient athlete is right in Angelo's wheelhouse and he dropped some serious knowledge bombs in this area.  In this part of our conversation we discuss nutrition, recovery and supplements.  

In regard to nutrition, Angelo teaches us about why food quality is most important, portion size and the roles proteins, fats and carbs play in fueling the body during workouts and recovery. Angelo and the team at Parabolic structure the nutrition program for their NFL combine athletes and use a company called Eat Clean Bro to ensure they are getting the highest quality of nutrition.  

Food as fuel is obviously a major contributor to an athlete's recovery, but sleep quality is just as important.  Angelo mentioned how important sleep is on multiple occasions throughout the interview.  Specifically, he says athletes should aim to get at least 9-10 hours of sleep to properly recover.  This is because you don't get stronger in the gym, you actually get weaker.  You get stronger while you sleep because your body is recovering.  Technology like Bioforce can provide insight into recovery based on an athletes heart rate variations.

 Angelo is also very knowledgeable about supplements and goes in depth on powder protein, creatine,  fish oil and its benefits in brain function, hormonal function and inflammation reduction.  He highlights the importance of trying to find these supplements in their purest forms.  One way to do this is by looking for the NSF Certification on the labels, which proves what is listed in the ingredients on the label actually correlates to contents of the container.  

Esthetics: Looks can sometimes be deceiving.  Just like a termite-ridden house, an athlete with a sinking foundation, deteriorating support beams and a smoking furnace is doomed.  Angelo said that youth is wasted on the young because they never think anything will ever happen to them.  To some degree, athletes need this mentality to perform without fear, but those who take a proactive approach to make the necessary repairs will reap the benefits of an extended athletic career.  Injury is sometimes unavoidable so we end this topic of discussion with one on returning to training after an injury.

We finish the episode by listing the characteristics of Angelo's most successful athletes. Angelo notes their willingness to sacrifice a social life/"career" and their good relationships with failure as the two most notable traits.

During his free time, Angelo enjoys training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, going rock climbing, and participating in many other combat based and outdoor sports. He is also an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts and rarely misses the opportunity to watch any MMA event in the area, professional and amateur alike. "Chef Ange" has recently started filming some of his recipes. His first two episodes can be seen below.  Angelo and I plan on doing a nutrition specific episode to go more in depth on a complicated topic in the near future.

Chef Ange walks you through how to make a super simple and delicious dish. Oven roasted crispy chicken thighs with roasted asparagus, fingerling potatoes and a honey mustard sauce.

Asian Short Rib Tacos Green Cabbage Leaf Wrap / Miso Quinoa / Cucumber Salad / Kimchi / Sriracha Yogurt Sauce ASIAN SHORT RIB 2 lb Beef Short Ribs 1 TSP Chinese 5 Spice Powder 1 TSP Brown Sugar 1 TSP Kosher Salt 2 In Chuck Ginger (Grated) 7-10 Garlic Cloves (Chopped) 1 Onion (Chopped) 1 Shallot (Chopped) 5-6 Scallions (Whites Only Chopped).



Download Episode 68 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

55 : Eating to Heal & Eating to Perform with Sports Nutritionist, Erin Sparrold

Erin Sparrold, CN, MET is a Sports Nutritionist with the Mind of the Athlete group and has over 20 years of nutrition coaching experience.  Erin holds a degree in nutrition science from the University of Arizona and a sports specific certification in metabolic efficiency training. A major focus of her studies is on nutritional interventions for treatment of anxiety and depression which can be problematic for both healthy and injured athletes.  In episode 55, we talk about nutrition both for athletes looking to improve their performance on the field and for those who are out of the game either temporarily or long-term.  When an athlete is out of the game due to an injury, illness, retirement or other obstacle, a focus on nutrition can help distract from negative thoughts and puts you in control of getting healthy.

Erin Sparrold, Sports Nutritionist at Mind of the Athlete teaches how to keep your blood sugar level and how to balance a meal or snack so your blood sugar doesn't spike.

Below are some of our talking points:

  • Erin's athletic background

  • What Erin wished she knew about nutrition when she was an athlete

  • Athletes and body image

    • Looking for red flags

      • Reporting restrictive consumptions

      • Short list of foods they eat

      • Sense of anxiety to eat certain foods

    • How to help these athletes

      • Working side by side with the sports psychology doctors at Mind of the Athlete

      • Promoting the benefits of food

  • Nutrition for athletes who need to gain weight the healthy way

  • Why all women should lift weights

    • Postural issues

    • Improving/ Maintaining bone density

    • Fighting the loss in skeletal muscle mass as you age

    • Improving metabolism

  • Why the post competition/training nutrition is so important

    • Within one hour of exercise

  • Paleo conversation, the pros and cons

  • Why there is nothing you should NEVER eat and why living in deprivation is unhealthy

  • What athletes should eat everyday

  • Why your plates should have lots of plant-based color

  • Why you should avoid eating processed foods

  • Macro vs. micro nutrients

  • Foods for brain health

    • Omega 3’s from fatty fish especially

  • Gut health’s relationship to brain health

  • What is Kefir and why is it a good recovery drink

  • Nutritional interventions and depressions

  • Why an athletes calorie consumption should match their performance output

  • Alcohol and it's effect on athletic performance

    • Dehydration

    • Lowers production of growth hormone

      • Avoid the buzz

    • Makes you clumsy because nervous system isn’t on point

    • Takes a few days to recover

    • In regard to injury recovery, it leaves you more prone to depression

  • Nutrition for endurance vs. power athletes

  • Are creatine and other supplements safe for athletes to take?

  • The benefits of eating organic

    • Tips for eating organic on a budgets

      • Switch everything that comes from a cow to organic

  • Environmental Working Group

  • Gluten conversation

    • Still a lot unknown

    • Avoid if eating it leads to GI distress and bloating

    • False healthy halo, replacement products aren’t always better for you

  • Most performance issues come from dehydration

    • Effects your ability to focus, regulate body temperature and perform agile/plyometric movements

    • Why Gatorade might not be the answer due to its high sugar content

    • Better options for electrolyte replacement:





Download Episode 55 : iTunes | Stitcher