Welcome to our newest series, “Ask an RD!” Each week, we’ll interview licensed nutrition professionals and answer your unique nutrition questions. Our first dietitian is Lauren Versweyveld, featuring Registered Dietitian and marathon runner, Lauren Versweyveld. Please note, the majority of this interview is paraphrased from a phone conversation. Learn more about Lauren below!
“I am both a long distance runner and Registered Dietitian. I have a half marathon PR of 1:19.14 (winner of Rock N’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon 2015) and a marathon PR of 2:51.32 (Grandma’s Marathon 2015). I love talking about how running and proper nutrition go hand-in-hand. As a former college track/cross-country athlete, I fully understand the pressures to be thin and the impact this “thinness” can have on a runners health and eventually performance.
Currently, working full time and training for half/full marathons, the importance of proper nutrition continues to be extremely vital in order to continue doing the sport that I love. I really enjoy following Strong Runner Chicks website, Facebook, and Instagram – and [am] honored to be part of this awesome resource for female distance runners on the importance of proper nutrition in distance running.”
- Please introduce yourself! What do you do? I am a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. I have always had a passion and joy for running; it’s been a stress-reliever. As a dietitian, being an example for patients and exercising ourselves is highly important.
- What do you believe are the benefits of working with a sports dietitian? There are many benefits; especially if someone is confused about what different food groups are and how important they are – each dietitian can help with that. Each person is so different, so we can’t follow blanket statements. Meeting with a dietitian helps you discover what works best for you.
- How do you typically approach the subject of fueling? I work at a pediatric hospital in endocrinology, so it involves a lot of weight management and diabetes. I individualize nutrition advice to each client that comes in.
- What do you think is the biggest misconception runners have about fueling? With the low-carb phase, there is a lot of hype around lowering carbs that has trickled into the running community. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and it’s essential that as runners, we are getting an adequate amount of them.
- “Intuitive eating” is a hot topic. How can an athlete determine their energy needs and balance listening to their hunger cues versus making sure they are meeting their energy requirements? “The body does, to an extent, tell you what it needs. After my second marathon, I was craving potato chips and I hate potato chips. My body was low on salt and that’s what it needed.” Get in protein and carbs, it doesn’t have to be a massive quantity. Tune into what your body needs and make sure to get in all of those food groups.”
- What advice would you give to an athlete struggling with body image and comparison or wanting to lose weight? “It is really difficult in the running world because we typically are type A, competitive personality, which leads comparing ourselves to others. It really comes down to knowing that you’re fueling your body correctly and that will lead to the best performances. I’ve seen athletes win 5k’s of all different sizes, so that doesn’t dictate how fast you are going to run.”
- Sum up your nutrition philosophy into a single sentence: Nutrition is individualized. There is no one size fits all approach.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding (sports) nutrition?
One of my college coaches used to always say “if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn.” You have to think about, it is so important that so many athletes skimp on that. It is okay to have ice cream and enjoy those things. You are putting your body through a lot so you have room for those things.”
- What does being a strong runner mean to you? “Being a strong runner means being able to get in high quality training because you are fueling. If you do not fuel your body well, it’s eventually going to catch up to you and you’ll get injured.”
- What is your current favorite runner-fueling friendly resource? Competitive Running, Runner’s World, and of course, Run Fast. Eat Slow. 🙂
- Any final words of wisdom? “Everyone’s different: one person’s calorie needs might be different from another. As a dietitian, it’s my job to individualize specific needs for optimal energy.”
- What services do you offer and where can we find you? (Social media, blog, website, private practice, etc). Feel free to email email@example.com if you have any further questions following this interview and/or you can connect with Lauren Versweyveld on Instagram at @lverswey.
Did you enjoy our interview with Lauren Versweyveld? Tag us at @StrongRunChicks to let us know! For the entire “Ask an RD” series, go here.
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Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this is generalized dietary advice not meant to prescribe, treat or cure any special conditions. Please seek out individualized help from a Registered Dietitian or licensed medical professional before making any dietary changes.