May Blog

Eat to perform.

“I’m trying to cut back on carbs.” “I don’t eat bread, pasta, or rice.”  I’ve heard these (and many more statements like these) over and over in my practice.  Carbohydrates (carbs, for short) have become the enemy,  but are they really the villain we make them out to be?  The answer is a resounding no; carbs play an important role not only in brain function, but also fitness, sport and athletic performance.  Most people recognize the importance of getting enough protein to build muscle, but they fail to get enough carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are your muscles’ preferred source of energy during moderate- and high-intensity activities (activities like spin class or biking, running, lifting weights, or taking a high-intensity group exercise class).  When your carbohydrate intake doesn’t support your activity level, you may experience fatigue, fogginess, or difficulty completing your activity (especially at the intensity you want).  You may have heard some people call it “bonking” or “hitting the wall”.  This happens because your muscles don’t have the fuel they need to continue to perform. 

You may be asking yourself “well, why doesn’t my body just use fat for energy?”.  Unfortunately, our bodies don’t work that way.  Fat is oxidized (broken down and used for energy) in the presence of oxygen. However, during high-intensity activities, oxygen is limited and fat oxidation slows down.  The point at which our bodies switch from fat-burning to carb-burning varies from person-to-person and is based on your conditioning and endurance level. Although we are able to build up an unlimited storage of fat (gee, thanks), we can only store enough carbohydrate (carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in our liver and muscles) to fuel about 60-120 minutes of activity.  Once it runs out, we have to refuel or slow down and take in more oxygen.  In addition to supporting high-intensity activity, carbohydrates are also important post-workout.  They replenish glycogen stores, support recovery and muscle growth.

Here’s how to approach your nutrition game-plan around your activity:

Before: Top off your tank.

Eat a small amount of carbohydrate and protein before your activity.

Examples include:

Greek yogurt with fruit or granola

Smoothie made with whey protein powder, fruit, and water

½ turkey sandwich

Fruit and hard-boiled eggs (or scrambled eggs)

During: Maintain hydration (and fuel and electrolytes for activity lasting >60 minutes).

Drink 4-6 gulps of water (~2 oz.) every 15 minutes.

After: Recover: refuel, rebuild, rehydrate.

Refuel with carbohydrates, rebuild with protein, and rehydrate with water.

Examples include:

½ pb&j

Chicken breast + sweet potatoes

Smoothie with whey protein powder and fruit

Protein bar with 15-30 grams of carbs

8-12 oz. chocolate milk

April Blog Post

Sustainability in Nutrition

Sustainability – it’s a pretty trendy word right now.  Everything from our cars to our appliances to our homes are built with sustainability in mind.  But, what does this really mean and how does this apply to nutrition?  According to the EPA, sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist…to support present and future generations. In the world of nutrition, sustainability means practices that grow, farm, and produce food in a way that meets the needs of the current generation, while preserving the needs of future generations.  Sustainable practices also encourage local food production, ensure everyone’s nutrient needs are met by providing affordable and accessible food, and protect farmers and laborers, and the community.

Here are a few ways you can support a more sustainability food ecosystem:

1.       Eat local and eat in season.

The further food has to travel, the more resources are required – fuel, labor, and the energy required to keep the food fresh.  Buying local and shopping at local farmers’ markets supports the local community.  Many grocery stores have started selling locally-grown produce, as well.  Buying local means you’re buying more seasonal fruits and vegetables; produce purchased in season is often fresher and has less food miles.  Eating in season also promotes food biodiversity.

2.       Promote food biodiversity

We are creatures of habit in that we tend to eat the same types of food.  For example, about 90% of the seafood Americans consume consists of 10 species; the top four being salmon, tilapia, shrimp and tuna.  Demand and supply are inter-related; and because we demand these four different fish, there is risk of over-fishing.  Eating a variety of plants and animals or planning meals around seasonal vegetables and fruits lessens the stress we put on the environment and the stress we put on farmers to provide these foods year-round.  It also allows the ecosystem the time to rest and regenerate to produce the following year.

3.       Save the Food

The best way to be sustainable is to cut food waste.  We always have the best intentions when we purchase fruits and vegetables; but without a plan, they can go un-used and end up in the trash.  Wasting food not only wastes the actual product; it also wastes the resources used to produce the food.  Eat or freeze your leftovers, buy less than you think you need, or make a plan and stick to it.  Need a help with making that plan? Join Texins Supermarket Sweep* nutrition program.  Participation in the nutrition program is optional and completely voluntary.

4.       Eat more plants

Plants require fewer resources to produce.  Water, plants, and land are all required to raise animals.   While these things are also required to grow vegetables, fruits, and other plants, the return on investment is much higher – that is, we get more for our money.  You don’t have to eliminate meat or animal products from your diet completely, but cutting back on animal foods and eating more plants benefits everyone.  Make your vegetables the main dish, and make the meat the side dish.  Join the meatless Monday trend, and eat a plant-based dish one time per week.

*Texins Supermarket Sweep runs from April 16-May 24.  Registration is open through April 19.



March Blog Post

“Go Further with Food”

Happy National Nutrition Month!  During this month, dietitians and other nutrition professionals around the nation encourage you to “go further with food”.  This can take on a different meaning depending on your health and wellness goals.  Going further with food may mean fueling properly before or after your workouts to achieve maximum results, or it may mean getting up and eating a nutrient-dense breakfast to fuel you through your morning meetings.  For some, it may mean cutting back on food waste by grocery shopping with a plan and paying more attention to how they use food throughout the week.  Whatever it may mean to you, you have a resource at the Texins fitness center to help you define your goals and set a realistic, achievable nutrition game plan.

You can start by signing up for the Supermarket Sweep program – a nutrition-focused program on menu planning and meal prepping.  Interested? Register here, email me at, or speak to any Texins staff member to find out more! Participation in the nutrition program is optional and completely voluntary.

As a dietitian, I’m often asked “what’s the best type of bread? Or protein bar? Or snack?”.  While there’s not one set answer, there are a few guidelines to go by (you can learn what these are and much more as a part of the Supermarket Sweep program!) Here are some of my favorite brands and products that follow those nutrition recommendations and guidelines:

Bread: Killer Dave’s Good Seed Thin-Sliced Bread

Lentils/Rice/Beans: Simply Balanced Microwavable Grains (black beluga lentils, farro, quinoa)

Nuts & Nut Butter/Seeds: Simple Truth Almond Butter (Smooth & Crunchy) & Simple Truth Raw seeds (pumpkin and sunflower are my favorites)

Sweet Treat: Killer Dave’s Cinnamon Remix Bagel

Protein Bar: Oatmega

Yogurt: Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla

Snacks: Lantana Black Bean Hummus + Toufayan Whole Wheat Pita

Salad Dressing/Dip: Opa Lighthouse Feta Dill

Check back next month for my post on sustainability and how you can do your part this Earth day.

February Blog Post

Fat is good. Fat is bad. Low-fat, no-fat, red-fat, blue-fat? Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, doesn’t it?  That’s often how nutrition goes these days.  Compared to the other sciences, nutrition is a relatively young field.  We’re still learning about vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and macronutrients and how they all promote health.  Over the past year or two, there has been a shift in how the nutrition field talks about fat.  Previously, we encouraged low-fat everything and suggested avoiding all saturated fats.  Now, we recognize that egg yolks provide an essential nutrient choline, vitamin D, in addition to those satiating fats. We also know that 1% or 2% fat in your dairy products can help you feel full and helps with digestion of fat-soluble vitamins A and D.

With February being heart health month, I want to highlight how fats in your diet can help keep your heart healthy.  First a little science lesson: there are two types of fat – saturated and unsaturated fats.  The saturated fats have, historically, been called “bad fats” whereas the unsaturated fats are the “good fats”.  Research is now showing that not all saturated fats are bad, instead we should avoid all trans-fats.  Within the group of unsaturated fats, we have monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.  Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats.  When a nutrient is essential, it means we HAVE to get them from our diet because our bodies cannot produce them.  Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory (they promote inflammation – which isn’t always a bad thing), whereas omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.  In a perfect world, we’d eat 2 servings of omega-6s for every 1 serving of omega-3s, and the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties would balance out.  We don’t live in a perfect world and instead of a 2:1 ratio it’s closer to 20:1!  This chronic inflammation increases your risk for diseases such as diabetes, some cancers, and heart disease.

You do have control over your food and your nutrition, and you can improve that ratio.  Replacing some of those omega-6 rich foods with omega-3 rich foods can get that ratio back in line and help keep your heart healthy.  Omega-3 fatty acids help keep your arteries fluid and the blood flowing freely, reducing your risk for plague build-up, high blood pressure, and other heart issues.  As mentioned before, omega-3s also help reduce inflammation (including muscle soreness - which is a type of inflammation!). 

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: cold-water, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds (ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil), and walnuts.  Don’t limit your fat consumption to just these omega-3 rich foods.  Fill your diet with a variety of healthy fats including eggs (and their yolks), all nuts and seeds, avocados, and low-fat dairy. 

January 2018 Blog Post

Happy 2018! When the New Year rolls around, we like to look forward to all the things we can accomplish with the next 365 days ahead of us.  Many people have health, fitness, or nutrition goals, and our team at Texins is ready to help you meet those goals.  This New Year, I’d like to introduce myself to you all as the new dietitian at Texins.  My name is Morgan Johnson.  I’ve worked in the fitness and corporate wellness realm for the past two years and am excited to put my experiences and expertise at work here at Texins.  Before we dive into all things nutrition, I want to tell you a little about myself.  I graduated from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) with an undergraduate degree in Human Development and Masters’ in Human Nutrition. With my diverse education, I’ve worked in many different environments – from a pediatric hospital, an adult hospital to corporate wellness and tele-health.  When I’m not talking about food, you’ll likely find me doing CrossFit.  I am a Level 1 trainer, and teach a few classes a week at my local box.  My favorite vegetables are sugar snap peas and Brussels sprouts.  My favorite “fun” food is ice cream.  My husband and I have two dogs; their names are Ellie and Bear.

Now that you know a little about me, I look forward to getting to know you – the TI employees and Texins’ members.  To help me get to know some of you, let’s play a little trivia game.  If you can answer this question (either email me the answer or stop by and see me!), the first 10 people to respond with the correct answer will win a free water bottle!

Question:  Which Alabama football coach is my dog (Bear) named after?

My office is located in the Texins Fitness Center on the weight room floor, or you can contact me via email at

I hope to see and hear from ya’ll in the future, and be on the lookout for the next blog post in February.