Dietician recommends natural fitness foods

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A selection of healthy protein food. (Credit:

CHICAGO, Il – Power bars, sports drinks — who needs them? Chances are not you! The very products marketed to help with fitness and weight loss may actually be hampering your progress.

There are athletes and then there’s the rest of us — the ones who squeeze in cardio a few days a week, a few steps at a time. And while exercise may sometimes feel like a chore, fueling a workout doesn’t have to be hard work.

Vicki Shanta Retelny, Registered Dietician and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods: “Many people think they have to spend a lot of money on bars and nutrition drinks and get extra whey protein powders. But really you can find all these things in your foods, in your whole foods.”

Registered dietician Vicki Shanta Retelny’s message is simple and so are the foods she says most of us need to fuel our bodies.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “I can’t speak highly enough about getting fitness foods from natural foods.”

At the top of the podium — berries. The colorful fruits get a solid *10* for their pre and post workout performances.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “You want to think about, when you are fueling pre and post workout, getting foods that enter your system quickly and sustain you for a long time. Berries are going to give you that instant sugar plus that bit of fiber to sustain you plus the antioxidants. Sometimes free radicals can damage your cells as you’re working out because of oxidation. Berries counteract oxidation.”

And they help hydrate.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “You can use fruit and whole fruit as a replacement for sports drinks, which usually have high sugar. Take some with you in a baggy, pop them in your mouth after a workout.

Or throw them in a blender with Greek yogurt. Naturally low in sugar and lactose, but packed with protein, it’s the way to go.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “Whey protein does contain a type of amino acid called branch chain amino acids, which helps your cells and your muscles recover after a workout.”

When you’re ready to hit the trail, forgo the fancy store-bought bars. Instead, mix up your own energy source.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “You can make your own trail mix, you can make your own granola. It’s so easy to do and it’s a lot more healthy for you.

Start with some simple oats, then …

“Add some good fats like flax seed and walnuts. Walnuts are jammed with omega 3 fats.”

Just a touch of dried fruit and a dash of cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder add a powerful punch.

Vicki Shanta Retelny: “Cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder contain a lot of antioxidants. You can do this pre or post work out. It’s going to refuel you with some fiber, some nutrients from the cinnamon and the coco powder. And you want to think about getting some quick energy. It’s going to give you good quality calories.”

Why go the all natural way? Sports drinks, goo and many power bars are loaded with sugar, calories and, unless your workout is extraordinary, all you really need to fuel your body is wholly ordinary.

To learn more about eating natural fitness foods, check out Victoria Shanta Retelny’s web site and blog at

Click here to see the video.

By Katharin Czink, WGN News