May 25, 2021

31: Eliminating Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport with Sarah Schlichter

31: Eliminating Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport with Sarah Schlichter

Sarah Schlichter is a Registered Dietitian with her Master’s in Public Health, Nutrition Consultant, and  Freelance Writer. She is the Cohost of the podcast, Nail Your Nutrition, that helps athletes support their training by fueling them with the nutrition advice they need. She is also the creator of the healthy living blog and brand, Bucket List Tummy, which focuses on healthy and easy recipes, tips for making food fun, and nutrition tips for active individuals.

Sarah and I tackle the subject of intuitive eating and how it applies to athletes. Athletes often try to put a lot of ‘rules’ and regulations on what they can and cannot eat/drink which might be doing more harm than good. Sarah is here to disrupt those myths. 

We Cover: 

  • Relative Energy Deficiency
  • Intuitive Eating
  • Distinguishing Hunger from Thirst

More Info On Sarah Schlicter: 

Podcast: Nail your nutrition


Instagram: @bucketlisttummy_rd


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Jase’s Information:







Jase Kraft: [00:00:00] Welcome to the science of sports recovery podcast. I'm your host, Jase Kraft. And today on the show, I am interviewing Sarah Schlichter and she is a registered dietician with a master's in public health. She co-hosts the spoilt fueling podcast. Nail your nutrition. So you're going to go check that out after you're done with this podcast, of course she is passionate about helping athletes feel adequately and blending the principles of sports, nutrition with intuitive eating.

And we are going to find out all about what intuitive eating is and what that means for you as the athlete. Sarah also owns and operates the blog and brand and bucket list tummy, which helps inspire easy recipes and meal ideas that disseminate evidence-based information as well as nutrition for running, which is focus.

Exclusively on nutrition needs for runners. Like I said, we're going to explore what she actually means by intuitive eating. It's a new concept for me. I'm excited to share this for you and how you can stop stressing about food. Let's get into it.

Sarah Schlichter: [00:01:16] you're listening to the science of sports recovery podcast. Each week. We explore how to recover more efficiently from training so you can work out harder and realize your full potential. This is the science of sports recovery podcast.

Jase Kraft: [00:01:43] Sarah. It's great to have you on the show. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:01:45] Thanks so much for having me,Jase. I'm really excited to have this conversation today. 

Jase Kraft: [00:01:50] Awesome. I'm excited too, but before we get into what intuitive eating is and what that means for athletes, I like to just take a little step to find out who's the athlete behind the sports you know, science individual, because if you are in the sports.

Field in any capacity you have that competitive spirit in you. So I'm curious to know what sport was it for you first I know at right now you do marathons and that's awesome. But where was your introduction to sport? Maybe four or five. Six years old. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:02:28] Yeah. I love this question because I haven't really talked publicly about it.

I don't think before, but I actually grew up playing baseball. With the boys. I played even my freshman year in high school. I was the only girl on the team. And I don't know if my dad just gave me a glove and a bat at a young age and he was played baseball in college and he was just passionate about it.

And I had a great arm, so we just went with it. So I enjoyed T-ball up through little league, all of that. And then in high school I added basketball and soccer. So I was just always active as a child. And played transition from baseball to softball because I realized I could have a future in this.

And girls have fast pitch softball in college, so transitioned to softball and played in college. And after college I made the switch from team sports to kind of the individual sport. I guess you you could make the argument that running could be a team sport, but. Yeah. I started running as a way to just keep active because all you need is a pair of running shoes and somewhere to go.

And my now husband at the time he was a college cross country and track and field coach. So he was very passionate about it too. So I think he rubbed off on me and. The sport that I really despised in high school. Like I never would have thought I would be the one to go for a run for fun. And now it's turned into something that I really love and enjoy.

Jase Kraft: [00:03:57] Yeah. It's funny you say that because I talked to a lot of post-collegiate athletes that will take up running as like their sport of choice afterwards, because it's. Like you said, it's easy to do you have, your shoes and an outfit and you're good to go. That didn't previously run before that, but I also talked to a lot of runners, like myself that are like, I don't want run anymore.

And yeah, that's what they did for, 12, 15 years leading up to that. And now they're like done with it. I love that. You said you played baseball with the boys though. Cause my sister did that too. At one time I have three siblings, two brothers and a sister, and we were all on the same baseball team at one time.

It was funny. Uh, she didn't go to softball, but she stuck with running like we all did, but so I'm curious to know just a little bit. Not to go too far down this rabbit hole. But because we have a similarity what was it like playing with the boys as a girl? Was it like, did you get a lot of, I don't know.

Teasing or you know, a stereotype type of mockery with that? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:05:17] Not to my knowledge. I think like there's some immaturity as growing up with the literally gage oh, there's a girl, but then not to toot my own horn, they realized I was pretty good. Like I could hold my own. I was a pitcher.

I could throw a curve ball, like I could strike them out. So I think it was just, it turned into just comradery oh, she's  one of us. I was shy though, so I wasn't like hanging out with them or like outspoken at all. I was pretty shy and quiet, but I just went to play and have fun.

And then in high school, I think I probably got more flack from like other teams and competitors, but my teammates were pretty like. We, I grew up in a small town and we knew of each other, so they knew of me before high school. So at that point, it's just oh yeah, they're Sarah. Like she's on the team she comes to practice.

So yeah, I think I felt pretty respected. I think I was probably more self critiquing than other people were. 

Jase Kraft: [00:06:15] Did he did that boost your resume for college softball to say, Hey, I played baseball with the boys or is it like. Hey, baseball and softball. Aren't really the same thing. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:06:27] So I think the  college coach UMass is, is who recruited me.

She realized like, oh yeah, she's got, she didn't grow up playing softball. So she's she's got the raw potential, but she has to be molded into a softball player type thing. So say I think they saw the base I had and the potential, and I played softball in high school as our as I made the switch, but I still think I had things to learn in a ways to go, the fundamentals fundamentals were the same.

Jase Kraft: [00:07:00] For sure. What was your college career like then in softball? Did you have a life success or was it one that, something that you just did or talk to us a little bit about that?

Sarah Schlichter: [00:07:12] I wasn't expecting to talk about all of this today, but I, my, I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of just, I don't think I was prepared to play division one where I ended up, I think.

Had I done more research. I think I would have been a better fit for division two or three. I wasn't ready for softball to take over my life in the way it did as, as it does in a division one college sports setting. I liked it. I didn't love it. And so freshman year still was very exciting though. You have teammates who turn into be your best friends right away.

So that was really nice. And the traveling part was exciting, but. I was in my head. I think I could have benefited from like a sports psychologist, because I would just like really stress out about things. Or if I did something at practice or I was trying to perfect. A bunt or how I handle a bunt or anything like that.

I would just like really stress about it. So I didn't end up playing all four years. I realized like taking a step back was right for me. But freshman year we did make it to like the NCAAs and traveling to Austin, Texas facing an Olympic pitcher who went on to be an Olympic pitcher, cat Osterman.

So that was like a really cool  experience. I mean, as with anything. I liked, she threw a no-hitter against us, but I hit a line drive to the shortstop. So I hit it, but not too open area, but it was still exciting. Like I didn't strike out. So yeah, I have so much respect for college athletes and now like being on the other side and working with them.

I can relate to what they're going through and the pressures of everything in terms of sport and what you're eating and what your body looks like and managing education alongside. It's definitely a lot. So yeah, looking back, I think division three, a little bit less hardcore would have been fun for me, you don't know what you don't know.

Jase Kraft: [00:09:17] Yeah, for sure. And I totally get that. And I liked how you say you can relate because. That's why I asked these questions at the beginning of most of my interviews is because I want to let the listeners know that the people that I bring, I am like relate as athletes. And then as academics second, because I think I get a little skeptical when researchers or coaches never have that experience of actually playing because there's so much more to it than just.

You know, training and performing, there's so much mental side to it. There's so much, outside pressures and that kind of stuff that affect performance affect how your nutrition, even gets absorbed in your body. Cause if you're  stressing out, 90% of the day and you still eating, like it's going to be way different than if you're relaxed and eating the same thing, it's gonna absorb differently.

So I like I like to get to know you know what it's like. So my question is then when did sports nutrition become like key to you? Like when did you say, Hey, this is the field I want to go into. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:10:39] So I did obviously grew up loving sports and I always thought I wanted to work in sports.

However, it wasn't, I didn't really know about nutrition. Like honestly, growing up, we didn't have, I grew up. Privileged with food security you know, having access to food, always having food available, which I don't take for granted. And my parents were very, just let's eat as a family. So I think they instilled a really great relationship with food for me at a young age.

But again, in college, I wasn't thinking twice about what I was eating. Actually, everyone on the softball team called me snacks because I was constantly eating. I would bring like a box of cereal to class and they're like, you're eating again. I guess I've always had like an interest or just fascination with food and what works for me.

But I graduated with a business degree. It was actually sport management. So I originally thought I wanted to work on the business side of sports, whether it be like in marketing or sports information. I did that a little bit after college. So it's writing the articles that you'll see on the website mean you played college sports or you ran in college.

You probably. Yeah, no about the meat results and who would write about that. So I did that for a little bit and I bounced around figuring out what I didn't want to do. And somewhere around 2010, 2012, I realized like I had this passion for nutrition. And food. And I did research. I was like why don't I just take you know, a prereq class just to make sure I like it before I decide to go back to school, I took the class and I loved it.

And then I realized I can blend an interest in nutrition with my love for athletics. It doesn't have to be one or the other. And as a former college athlete and thinking about. But how I really had no, no knowledge about what pre and post-workout nutrition looked like. It was just all the same to me, but really taking an interest in how I could help other athletes fuel appropriately, or just try to simplify things, because there's just so much information coming at us from all different angles that it can be a little bit overwhelming.


Jase Kraft: [00:12:50] Now my next question is going to be. Probably hard to answer because you've been in the nutrition world so long, but I'm curious to know, like when you were in college, do you think that there's more people now that kind of have a. Fundamental understanding of proper nutrition compared to back then are we progressing as a society knowing like what proper nutrition is or is it just so much information now that it's just hard to believe?

You know, anything you hear. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:13:27] Yes. An interesting question. I'm going to answer it this way. That I think there's more awareness now in the importance of nutrition for college athletes. And there's still a lot of schools that don't have a dedicated sports dietician. So we didn't have one back when I was in school at UMass, we had a.

Strength and conditioning specialist who would help us in the weight room, but we didn't have anyone saying make this protein shake or, eat this many carbs for your game. Or we would play double headers for softball. You should have this between me. We didn't have any of that. Whereas now I think it's becoming more commonplace for teams to have a sports dietician.

Most proteins, I don't think all, but most have a sports dietician and college athletic departments are moving towards that way now. Which is great. I still think there's a lot of room and room to grow, especially in terms of the issues and challenges that athletes face. Specifically college athletes.

If you want to stick with that population, just in terms of travel or not eating enough, relative energy deficiency, that's. That's a really big thing that's going around and in my groups. And I don't know if it's because these are the populations I'm talking to or I'm dealing with, or just the other dieticians that are in my circle.

But I'm hearing a lot of talk about that stuff these days. 

Jase Kraft: [00:14:48] Yeah. Did you said relative energy deficiency, 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:14:53] Yeah red, S it's relative energy deficiency in sports. 

Jase Kraft: [00:14:58] Cool. We've talked a little bit about this and actually multiple interviews. Our last one with Kylie old Miller lacrosse players.

She mentioned that that like she started eating more when she started paying attention to her nutrition and she actually got leaner. So. And like, I think R E D S a was something that I definitely struggled with in, in college that led to a lot of different things, but ultimately poor performance.

So can you expand on that a little bit? What do you actually mean by that? How do you know if you know your experience that. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:15:39] Definitely. And I will say so we, a lot of people know this as the female athlete triad. That's what we used to call it as meaning like poor bone health and females, maybe menstrual irregularities, and just not eating enough to begin with.

But then we started to realize it affects more than just those things. It affects cognitive function, it affects hormones, it affects sleep immunity obviously injury, risk, and so much more psychological things. So we X and we realized it affects males. Two males can suffer from an energy deficiency.

So now it's the international Olympic committee designated it as our red S relative energy deficiency in sport. And it doesn't. Always have to be an athlete or even an elite athlete. The everyday athlete or runner could be experiencing this too, but essentially it's a mismatch for your energy intake and your energy expenditure.

So if you're, if you take all of the calories or food you eat during the day and subtract the exercise you're doing and subtract the energy, burned from activities of daily living. So just breathing your heart, pumping, like walking up and down the stairs. If that number is in the negative balance you're in an energy deficit and you may not see effects in the short term.

And it's a little bit different for males and females. Females will probably see some side effects sooner, but in the longterm you will see some side effects, whether it's like bone fractures or more stress fractures injuries irregular periods or lack of period, we call that amen, Maria. Really obsessing about food or not being able to focus or concentrate, depression, anxiety.

You think about Mary Cain came out and talked about the depression that she was experiencing, just because she was in such an energy depleted state. So it really affects, affects the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system respiratory system it affects pretty much all of our systems just being in an energy deficit.

And obviously, like you mentioned, that's all gonna contribute to poor performance, poor recovery. Your relationship with sport over training or sleep, things like that. 

Jase Kraft: [00:18:03] We talk about this a lot now. And I liked that you given it a name, cause we haven't really named it on the show yet. Sarah is officially naming it, although she didn't come up with it.

But anyways so I liked that, but what about I mean, I eat until I'm full, right? And then. And go to bed and, I'm, I'm doing all this activity, isn't that enough? Or is that always enough? Like how do I know that I've eaten enough besides, trying to track everything that I caloric wise, as well as everything I did, energy output wise.

Like how do you know? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:18:51] Yeah, it's a great question. I think a part of this is. Learning to be in tune with your body. So this kind of like underlying message when we were talking about intuitive eating or just being in touch with your body's needs, we talk about eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full.

It's obviously a lot more complex than that, but I would say, you're eating enough if. You're not experiencing those side effects. So a lot of the symptoms that we mentioned, so maybe your performance is not suffering. Your injury risk is good. You're not suffering from chronic injury.

You're able to focus on sport. You're able to focus on other parts of your life. You're not thinking about food all the time. You, your hormones are balanced, meaning that you're able to sleep at night. Your cortisol is not through the roof. And looking at meals, you're eating regular meals too. I really think it's difficult for athletes to get enough food.

If they're not incorporating snacks between meals, especially if they're training intensely, it's just really hard to meet energy needs through just those meals. And. Pre post-workout snack. Once we talk about longer exercises eating during that as well. So I think it's going to vary person to person, but just being aware of any side effects you may or may not be experiencing can be a good place to start.

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How similar are these side effects to like lack of sleep? Cause what you're saying. Also I find those side effects.

When, I go a couple of nights with four or five hours of sleep. I'm like, I can't focus. I got headaches, um, like how do you what are the similarities, if at all? Or what are the differences with those two it's, 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:22:09] yeah. So in terms of what you're experiencing you go a couple of nights without like good, solid consecutive sleep.

Maybe you just crave sugary foods. And there's a reason for that. Our hunger hormone is elevated when we're stressed out or we don't get enough sleep like that. So we might think we're hungrier when in reality, our hormone ghrelin is just rising because even one to two nights of poor sleep can lead to this rise in the hormone.

So you might feel, yeah, you might feel just like you want sugar all day. And you can trace that back to, not getting a few good nights sleeps. I think the main difference is just, it's going to be more of a chronic thing if you are always thinking about your next meal, so you eat something and you're just not satisfied or you can't wait to eat, the cookies later in the day.

Maybe you're under eating during the day and overcompensating at night or your body is just focusing on sugar foods all the time, rather than protein or vegetables, because it's telling you it needs quick energy. And that's what quick energy is. Or, you know, you're just stressing and you don't have enough mental space to think about other things.

That's, that's one way to tell and not eating enough can disrupt your sleep too. That's where, things can get a little murky because. Our body is in a stress state. Essentially our cortisol is rising. If we're under fueled and the body isn't able to complete its functional things as it would, if you were getting enough food.

So over-training, and, or under eating can lead to sleep disruption, 

Jase Kraft: [00:23:56] is it possible to overeat? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:23:58] I think it might be a subjective thing. So I have clients come to me saying okay, I overate or I'm, I'm eating a lot at night and then I feel really guilty about it. And there is a criteria for binge eating.

That's a diagnostic. It's a DSM-V recognized diagnosis that you can have under an eating disorder, but overeating is, I feel like that's normal. I don't, I, I don't want to make these sound like they're, it's not a big deal at all. Like overeating is a part of, in my mind, a normal relationship with food.

Sometimes you under eat, sometimes you overeat and it's normal to feel a little bit extra full, and then maybe you're not as hungry for your next meal, but if you're at a point where maybe you're chronically eating really quickly, or you're just sneak, like sneaky eating closet eating. Or you're feeling very shame, shameful and guilty after eating that's when it would cross over into maybe a diagnostic term or disordered eating.

Jase Kraft: [00:25:04] Tendency. Sure. Cool. Let's get into like exactly what intuitive eating is. I know we've touched a little parts of it here and there. So far, but if you could just give us like a one sentence or two sentence definition of intuitive eating let's start with that and we'll get into a little bit more.

Sarah Schlichter: [00:25:26] Sure. So I'll,  give the definition from the founders. So actually two dieticians, their names are Elise fresh and Evelyn Tripoli, they founded intuitive eating in 1995 and they coined it as a self care eating framework and it really blends instinct, emotion and rational thought. So when I'm telling people that, because that's like a mouthful, I just tell people it's really getting back to.

The way that we were innately born to eat, like it's quote unquote, normal eating. When we start to follow all of these diets and guidelines, we really get away from the foods our body actually likes and wants and what hunger feels like and what fullness feels like. So it's really just learning to get back in tune with those innate signals.


Jase Kraft: [00:26:16] So what's the first step, like how do you say I'm like, I always crave. Ice cream, for say, I know that's probably not something that I should be craving all the time. It's not something that, you know, that I should have for breakfast, dinner, and supper or whatever. Like how do I know what's the difference between that craving and what you're talking about with intuitive eating?


Sarah Schlichter: [00:26:46] So if we were to look at this from an intuitive eating lens. So first I want to say there's a lot of misinformation about intuitive eating. So people think it's, eat whatever you want when you want it. And that might be part of intuitive eating, but that's really a privileged way to look at it because if I'm making dinner and say, I really want a cheeseburger, but I don't have that at home.

It's not really practical for me to think I'm going to drive to get a cheeseburger, just to satisfy that craving. When in reality, I can just make something make, do at home. So it's not, it's not always that simple, and it's also not eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Because if we only look at it that way, we're applying rules and rigidity and.

Anything with rules as is really similar to a diet. So the idea of intuitive eating is to get away from the diet, the rules rigidity. So for your example, looking at it as ice cream intuitive eating, blends, emotion, and sinking and rational thought. So if you were to wake up saying oh, I like ice cream, I really want it for breakfast.

Maybe your rational thought would say Jase, you Last time you had ice cream for breakfast. Like you didn't feel very good and you were hungry for you're hungry an hour later and you have a big workout coming up. You have a big meeting today. Why don't you choose something that's going to sustain you longer?

So it's not depriving yourself of the ice cream, but it's taking rational thought into consideration too. And maybe it's saying why don't you have the ice cream after your workout or later in the day? Because that's when you can actually sit down and enjoy it. And if you feel a little bloated after it's okay, because you don't have to go perform.

Jase Kraft: [00:28:37] So what I'm hearing you say it's not just following your cravings wherever they may lead, but more so understanding what your body is telling you that you want. And then also understanding like the history of how that affects your body and what you're trying to accomplish for that day and on is that kind of what I'm hearing?

Sarah Schlichter: [00:28:59] Yeah, I think that's a great way to look at it. And we've,  we've actually skipped, there's 10 principles and the one we're talking about now is the last principle of gentle nutrition, really taking that self care into consideration. But this is the principle, honestly, that I find comes up mostly with athletes because we have the sports, nutrition knowledge, right?

We can't, there's no reason to not do what we know is going to enhance sports performance. We want to eat carbohydrates before a workout. We want to eat carbohydrates and protein leucine, rich protein after a workout. We want to hydrate enough. So we have those principles. That's the knowledge piece, the intuitive eating piece is just basically choosing foods that you like within those food groups.

So I wouldn't want to go tell someone to. Eat, let's say whole wheat pasta before a race. If they hate whole wheat pasta, I would say what, what carbs do you like? Oh, you like bagels? Great. That's a Carbridge food. That's what your body needs before a race. So let's incorporate that before, because.

The whole point with intuitive eating is we want you to enjoy your foods and we want you to pick foods that you enjoy, but that also make you feel good. Sure. 

Jase Kraft: [00:30:21] So you mentioned there's 10 principles. Could you talk about some of the other ones that would make maybe mostly applied to athletes?

Sarah Schlichter: [00:30:32] So I will and you can add this to the show notes. It's just intuitive That's right. Does the website that kind of houses all of the information about each principal. There's a lot of resources on there. There's over a hundred published studies about intuitive eating. So this isn't a novel concept.

And there's actually a lot of research backing it. So for people who want to learn more, I would recommend going there the principles, when I'm talking with athletes about how sports, nutrition, and intuitive eating overlap. The ones I usually start with are honor your hunger. And that's again, what most people think of when they hear intuitive eating now with athletes, we have higher needs.

Generally speaking than the regular population we are exerting ourselves. Our muscles need more fuel and replenishment. And if we don't do that, we're eventually going to suffer some side effects or our performance is just not going to improve. So honoring your hunger when I'm working with people. We really want to get back in touch with what does hunger even feel like?

We've so much of us have just so many times we just think of a growling stomach for hunger, but it could be a lack in concentration or a headache, or just feeling like you need to take a nap, just feeling so energetically drained. Only thinking about food, all of those are signals of hunger too.

So it's really learning what hunger looks like for you and not allowing yourself to go too long without eating. 

So that's a big one. 

Jase Kraft: [00:32:07] How you distinguish hunger from thirstiness? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:32:12] The question  I think this is going to be individual, but especially in the beginning stages, it can be helpful to not necessarily track and write down what you're eating, but just like mentally say, okay, when's the last time I ate.

If it's been two or three hours, it's probably hunger. Otherwise, if it was an hour ago and you're hungry again, there could be a chance you're hungry again, but I would want to dig down and see what are you eating? Maybe we need to switch up the macro nutrient composition of your meal or snack to, to keep you fuller for longer.

And otherwise it could be hydration or, if there's cramping, electrolyte balance, depending on, are you at altitude? What's the weather. Is it humid? What did you do for a workout today? All of that plays into 

Jase Kraft: [00:32:58] sure. Okay, so on your hunger, what's another principle. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:33:02] Yes. And before I go on, I like to give this caveat with athletes.

Again, we don't want to turn this into the hunger fullness diet, because sometimes you will need to eat when you're not hungry. And the best example of this is after a workout, or a long run, I'm sure many of us can attest it to. You just have no appetite after you've run like 15 miles and it doesn't yeah.

Makes sense. But if you know the physiologic, if you know the Bible biology, biochemistry behind it, it makes sense because we have these stress hormones that are high and adrenaline pumping and our hunger is just blunted. So in those instances it's important to eat or have a little something, a snack, a smoothie, something.

Again, I'm trying to shift people from this all or nothing thinking to it's okay to eat if you're not hungry. And here's a great example. Yeah, 

Jase Kraft: [00:33:55] Totally on the interview with Jen Giles, we actually did talk about at activity being a Appetite suppressant and we went into kind of that same thing that you're talking about here.

I would go on, 18 mile long runs and then not be hungry the rest of the day. And it was like, I just burned, X, thousands of calories. And I shouldn't be stuffing my face, but I just don't feel like it. But so it's a good point there. What are, what are some of the other principles of intuitive eating?

Sarah Schlichter: [00:34:33] Sure. 

So the first principle is reject the diet mentality and this one, all of these principles are applicable to everyone. I should have started off by saying, intuitive eating is for anyone and everyone. It's something that we all have the power to do. And this diet mentality really are first to this cultural norm that we all live in.

In that we really feel like we need a set structure or we have to be following rules, or we've been following diets so long that we don't even know what foods we like or how much to eat. We don't trust ourselves. So rejecting the diet mentality really means like becoming aware of any influences, negative influences or influences that have skewed a relationship with food.

And a lot of this is it takes time. If people unknowingly have contributed, whether they grew up around their parents who have been dieting their whole life or. They had a coach in high school, who said, if you want to run, a sub whatever mile 5k, you need to lose X amount of pounds. And we just learned to internalize a lot of these messages and attribute our worth to our performance, or I'm sorry, our size to our worth or our size to our performance.

So a lot of it is recognizing just the influences and that the food you eat doesn't make you a good or bad person. And you are able to get back in touch and figure out, the foods that are stressing you out or that you've heard are quote unquote, bad foods. Where did you hear that from?

And how can we repair a relationship with that food.

Jase Kraft: [00:36:18] Sure. You, you mentioned on your website actually. I'm just going to quote it right from there. It says sometimes I think. The way we stress about food choices and fear. Certain foods can actually be more detrimental to our health than the actual food choices themselves.

And I think that kind of correlates with what you're saying right now. Can you just expand on that? Like how does thinking about a food or stressing about a food after you've eaten it impact, what you absorb and what you don't from that food? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:36:55] So I think a lot of this is to me, a lot of the things we mentioned are all coming together with this question.

So the reason I take it, the view on nutrition I do is because I work primarily one-on-one with runners and we have an all or nothing mindset. A lot of athletes do very perfectionistic  type a and it's really easy to start. Doing everything possible to try to be better, but in reality, it may be harming us more.

So in an effort to quote unquote, eat clean or lose X amount of pounds, maybe we start to cut out one food group and then it leads to another. And pretty soon our diet becomes bare bones and our performance suffers. But we're not eating the foods that we even like, maybe we're thinking about the foods that we like, but the idea of eating it has become so stressful and it's so quote unquote, normal to avoid it.

So this idea that if food is stressing you out, like that's not a normal thing. We do have a stress response that is going on in our body. So every time we, label a food as bad or. We have something that we don't want to have. We're really, rather than building that trust with our body where we're breaking it, because we're telling our body, you want this food, but you can't be trusted with it.

You're going to overeat it. And it's going to make you gain X amount of pounds overnight. So this cortisol rise is happening and the neural pathways in our brain are forming. And um, we talk about this process in intuitive eating known as habituation. And essentially it means the more times you do something, the easier it becomes.

So think about the first time you met your partner, maybe there was butterflies and it was really exciting. And then, five years later, maybe the butterflies, aren't there not to say you don't love them as much, but you just become habitualized to it. So it's really the same thing with food.

Like the more you're exposed to it, it becomes less exciting. And another thing I like to bring up is this brain gut connection, right? So we have something called the vagus nerve that connects our brain and gut. And if we're stressing about something in our head we can feel the side-effects in our gut.

And so maybe that manifests as nerves or anxiety, maybe it manifests as GI discomfort or not being able to digest a food. And it's not a functional disability. Something that we're stressing about in our head, that's leading to this outcome. And then the last thing I like to say is it takes away from your quality of life.

If you really like pizza and your best friends are going out for happy hour with pizza. And you're like, oh, sorry, I can't do that. It's after eight o'clock I don't eat after eight o'clock or, I'm on a low carb diet this week. Is it really  worth it? What are your values? And is it important enough for you to impact the quality of life like that?

Jase Kraft: [00:40:03] Sure. Yeah, you got to know at that point, it's more of like a question of value, like, do you. And I'm not saying this, like there's one right answer, because there's a lot of really like world-class athletes have had to make a lot of these decisions of, do you go with the social route or do you go with the route that, you know, physio logically will make you a better athlete?

And I think that's just in individualized like you're saying, if you're the person where, Hey, I don't want to sacrifice my. Relationships with people, then it's okay. Like it's not going to make or break your career. But if you're the person that's I want to literally be the best in the world and do anything I can to do that.

Then, you have to be then okay. With the sacrifices you make on the social front. In my opinion, though, you mentioned the brain gut connection. I'm curious. First, before I ask the follow-up question, have you heard of Dr. Caroline leaf? You should  look her up. She talks about the neuroscience behind, like what you eat and how it affects.

Then she talks about the brain gut connection and stuff. I'll give you a book recommendation after the show actually for anybody listening, if you're interested, it's think. And each yourself smart by Dr. Caroline leaf. So anyways, but the brain got connection. I wanted to know with how that's different between like just eating before a workout versus eating before a big race, because.

When you're eating before a big race or competition, there's so much more going on with your body as far as nerves and outside pressures and that kind of stuff. Compared to just a regular workout. So what would you suggest that front, whereas like you're eating before a big competition and you're really 


Sarah Schlichter: [00:42:18] Yeah, that's a great question. In terms of I don't think nutrition wise, it would be a different recommendation. So ideally you've practiced, right? You're we say never try anything new on race day, but your pre-race meal you've practiced. You've had it before, whether you're traveling at a new race destination, or you're in your hometown making dinner in your house.

Ideally it's something that you've had and to decrease any. Any risk of let's say GI intolerance or gut discomfort, the sports nutrition recommendations would be, make it blander. If you need to avoid cruciferous vegetables, avoid anything high fiber, high fat, those can tend to cause a little bit more issues in some people do white pasta, white rice over brown rice whole wheat pasta, things like that.

So the nutrition recommendations would be the same and also stay hydrated. If you're in a dehydrated state that can aggravate any sensitive stomach issues in terms of the nerves. I think this would be a great plug for stress management mechanisms, whether it's meditation or visualization. I know that's a big one with sports psychologists and just visualizing.

I think with  excitement there, we're kind known for not sleeping well the night before a race, just cause we, we are nervous and excited. So maybe two nights before just doing everything you can to set the stage for success, getting a good night's, sleep, eating a balanced dinner, staying hydrated, and again, practicing the meal, you'll eat and avoiding any irritant for things that maybe don't, don't sit well with you.

This is where the sports nutrition, the mind piece comes into it, intuitive eating because, if it's, if it's the night before a race and say, you really want like a brownie or something for dessert, maybe you're like, oh, that really sounds good. But maybe I save that for after my race, I've done all of this preparation.

This race is very important to me. And I know nutritionally speaking, this may not sit well. It's a little bit heavy. I may not perform well. Now wouldn't be the best time to have it. So that's where that rational thinking would come into. Totally. 

Jase Kraft: [00:44:39] I hear you loud and clear there, and I'm like a prime example of habitual prior to, or meals prior to competition.

I think my whole college career, I don't think I went into one race without having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, three to four hours before the race. That was my thing. And I very rarely then went into the race with GI issues and that kind of stuff. Not that it never happened because it did. But very rarely.

We're getting close to the end of our time here. So I want to give you kind of a little platform to, to tell people, what it is exactly that you do, how you can help them. If somebody wants to learn more from you Sarah, how can they find you and where should they connect with you?

Sarah Schlichter: [00:45:31] Absolutely. Thanks again for having me. So I work primarily with runners and endurance athletes. So cyclists, ultra runners, marathon runners, half marathons, things like that. Even, 5k 10 K and people who really want to understand how to fuel for their sport. So if you're looking to improve performance, if you just can't figure out why you keep hitting the wall.

Or if you want to improve your relationship with food, maybe feel like you are the furthest thing from intuitive, and you want to learn more about what that means or how that could look for you. That is that's my niche. That's who I primarily work with on our podcasts that you mentioned, nail your nutrition.

We, we interview experts in the sports nutrition field. Sometimes dietician, sometimes researchers sometimes just the everyday athlete. Really asking how they fuel, what works for them, what are the guidelines and how it relates to triathlons and marathons and things like that. So that's what we talk about on that podcast.

We also have a course that goes along with it just that really breaks down ultra endurance nutrition needs because. It's a field that's it can be a little bit intimidating if you're thinking about going out and not knowing where to start. And then I also just work with people, trying to take the stress away from food.

Kind of like we talked about today with making recipes that are easy but fun and just making food enjoyable. Again, I really value that in my life. So I want to spread the love to other people that too. Awesome. 

Jase Kraft: [00:47:01] Do you have a recipe, a PDF or something on your website? 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:47:07] I do. Yeah, I have there's a few like snack recipes that are great for athletes and easy dinner recipes, like 30 minutes or less that they can grab there.

Jase Kraft: [00:47:17] Awesome. Is that on

Sarah Schlichter: [00:47:20] Yes. Bucket list. 

Jase Kraft: [00:47:23] Cool. So if you want to connect with Sarah her website bucket list, Tommy that's, her podcast nail your nutrition and she's on Instagram @bucketlisttummy_rd  

Sarah,thanks so much for being on the show. 

Sarah Schlichter: [00:47:40] Thank you so much for having me 

Jase Kraft: [00:47:42] All right. The episodes over. If you found value in this episode, please consider giving us a review on iTunes. And if you haven't already yet subscribe, do so now. So you don't miss any important topics in the coming week. And if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please send them my way. I am most responsive on Instagram. That's at JAE CHEESE is like the food or email me directly at talk soon..


Sarah Schlichter

Registered Dietitian

Sarah Schlichter is a Registered Dietitian with her Master’s in Public Health, Nutrition Consultant, and Freelance Writer. She is the Cohost of the podcast, Nail Your Nutrition, that helps athletes support their training by fueling them with the nutrition advice they need. She is also the creator of the healthy living blog and brand, Bucket List Tummy, which focuses on healthy and easy recipes, tips for making food fun, and nutrition tips for active individuals.