Sports Nutrition: Eating Your Way Out Of A Sports Injury

Man eating energy bar at gym after a workout

When you’re injured playing sports, one aspect of your recovery that you shouldn’t overlook is nutrition. Athletes may think it is a good idea to cut back on their caloric intake due to decreased levels of activity. However, your body’s natural processes kick into a higher gear when injured.

A body busy with recovery consumes more energy than a body at rest. Eating the right foods will ensure a speedy recovery and return to sport by fuelling your body’s healing process. It’s just as important as other methods such as rest, ice and stretching when recovering from injury.


Why Food is So Important for Recovering Athletes

From a metabolic standpoint, muscle is expensive real estate. It takes a large amount of energy to maintain this valuable tissue that requires a lot of work to build up in the first place. If you cut too many calories, muscle is one of the first things you’ll lose. It’s better for most athletes to retain their muscle mass at the risk of putting on some weight by maintaining a high caloric intake when they are injured and resting.

Getting plenty of nutritious food is especially important if you have a lower-body injury that imposes crutches. Using crutches can quickly wear you out and your energy expenditure is much higher than if you’re walking. Getting enough food is essential for the extra work getting around on crutches demands.


What Kind of Foods You Should Eat

While recovering from an injury, you should eat a balanced diet with an emphasis on vegetables and fruit. The dietary habits embraced by athletes during competition and training are also beneficial during injury recovery. The same principles of healthy eating apply. One beneficial adjustment you can make is to reduce carbohydrate intake and increase the amount of healthy proteins and fats you consume.

Athletes tend to eat a lot of carbs, which is great for high-intensity activities as the body rapidly burns carbs to supply energy. When you’re injured, you don’t need quite as many carbs. Instead, you should eat plenty of fish, chicken and lean beef while cutting back on bread, pasta and potatoes. You should also eat sources of healthy fats such as avocado, eggs and nuts.


Hydration is Essential

We all know how important hydration is for intense exercise, but it’s also important for injury recovery. Ensure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, just like you would if you were healthy and active as you normally would be. Maintaining hydration levels is a crucial component to overall general health as well as resting and recovering.


What About Supplements?

Large doses of vitamins and minerals don’t necessarily do much to speed up the body’s healing process. Overnight quick fixes don’t exist. Instead you must focus on providing the body with the building blocks it needs through a healthy diet and an appropriate calorie intake to support the healing process. Anti-inflammatories should also be avoided as they can deter healing.


Need Nutritional Advice in Melbourne or Sydney?

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including nutritional therapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations across Victoria and New South Wales. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our CBD based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

The Verdict On The Keto Diet

Ketogenic diet foods with a ketogenic diet food planner

You may have heard the buzz about the almost zero-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a revolutionary way to curb appetite and enhance performance or a total scam. So, what’s the verdict? What does the science say? Like many debates in nutrition, the answer isn’t simple. Depending on specific factors, a keto diet could either be beneficial for you or completely unsuitable.


What is a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic or keto diet involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which supplies energy for your brain.


What are Ketones?

Your body produces ketones when you don’t have enough sugar derived from carbohydrates or glucose in your body to convert into energy. You need another source, so your body uses fat instead. Your liver turns this fat into ketones, a type of acid, and sends them into the bloodstream. Your muscles, brain and other tissues can then use them as fuel.


Different Types of Ketogenic Diet

There are a few different versions of the ketogenic diet, including:

  • Standard ketogenic diet – A very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs.
  • High-protein ketogenic diet – Similar to a standard ketogenic diet but incorporates more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet – This diet involves periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high-carb days.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet – This diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.

Only standard and high-protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical and targeted ketogenic diets are generally more advanced approaches used by athletes or bodybuilders.


Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

Switching to a keto diet can offer a few benefits including:

  • Weight loss – In a normal diet, your body burns carbohydrates for energy. By burning fat for energy instead, you can lose body fat more quickly. Consuming foods that are high in fat can also eliminate cravings and feelings of hunger.
  • May prevent some diseases – Some studies have indicated that a keto diet may have benefits against cancer, epilepsy, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Possibly better suited to a sedentary lifestyle – If you spend most of your time sitting at a desk without participating in regular, intensive exercise, you may not need as many carbs and could function on a keto diet while preventing weight gain.

Many proponents of the keto diet also report increased focus and energy throughout the day. This may be because eliminating carbs can help control and stabilise blood sugar levels.


Downsides of Keto Diet

The keto diet is highly restrictive, meaning your food choices are much more limited. This makes sticking to it difficult for a lot of people dieting for their health. For example, you can’t have:

  • Most dairy (except high-fat ones like butter and certain cheeses)
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes)
  • Most processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary foods
  • Many condiments and sauces
  • Slightly-sweet vegetables such as winter squash, beets, or carrots

Fewer carbs also isn’t necessarily a good thing. Some people, especially athletes, need to consume a lot of carbs to keep their bodies in shape for their exercise routines. A keto diet could result in less energy and endurance in athletes.


Ketogenic Diet Side Effects

You may also have to deal with some other keto diet side effects, including bad breath from high levels of acetone in your blood and digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. Many people find the transition process to a keto diet to be unpleasant. Your body takes time to adapt to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. People often report brain fog, tiredness and feeling sick when starting a keto diet. This is termed the keto flu.

The keto diet can be a great way to lose weight and though some people flourish on it, others find it unpleasant. If you’re curious about what a ketogenic diet could do for your body, it may be worthwhile to consult with a healthcare professional.


Find out Whether the Keto Diet is Right for You in Melbourne and Sydney

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including nutritional therapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations across Victoria and New South Wales. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our CBD based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

5 Simple Tips to Spring clean your diet!

Healthy nutrition

1. Clean out your cupboards and freezer– get rid of the junk food that has crept in over the colder months. Get rid of chips, chocolate, lollies, ice cream, desserts and other packed food that have a high calorie content and low nutrient value. If you don’t want to waste food give it to your neighbours, colleagues or family and friends.

2. Reintroduce seasonal fruit and vegetables; are you getting your 2 and 5? Aim to have 2 pieces of fruit and 5 serves of veg/ salad daily. Berries are a great low calorie, low GI, high antioxidant fruit available now. Spring vegetables include capsicum, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Aim for a variety of different coloured vegetables to ensure a range of antioxidants are consumed.

3. Keep hydrated; as the weather gets warmer we need to increase our fluid intake. The sun and air con can dry out your skin. Increased fluid losses through sweat will also ensure you need to increase your water intake. Aim for 35mL/ kg of body weight for adequate hydration. Dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger and will result in people eating more.

4. Be mindful of eating out; as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer be mindful of how often you are eating out. Not only is there always more salt and fat added when eating/ ordering out but also an average of 300-500 more calories consumed per meal.

5. Be organised! Have nutritious portion controlled snacks available at work; think fruit, unsalted nuts, cottage cheese and grainy biscuits, yoghurt and boiled eggs. Keep away from the office temptations of cakes, biscuits, lollies and chocolate. Remember just because they are ‘home made’ doesn’t mean they are healthy!

Make the most of the increased available of nutritious foods in spring. Set yourself up for success by setting aside some time for food shopping and preparations so you always have nutritious food available.

What Should You Look Out for When Trying to Change Your Lifestyle?

Close up of woman on scale holding fresh piece of fruit green apple and a doughnut in the other

By Anthony Glanville 

Changing your habits can be a difficult task. The information about what to do is more prevalent than ever, with social and commercial media both understanding how well nutrition and lifestyle rates. However how to change your behaviours and what mistakes to avoid are often overlooked.  Having worked within the Nutrition and Fitness Industry for 8 years, I often see a few mistakes that are repeated by lots of clients across many demographics. Take a read below and make sure you aren’t following in the same footsteps.


Taking Education/Advice from the Wrong Places

From personal trainers, to celebrity chefs, to Instagrammers, to mothers, to friends, to the back of cereal packets, many of my clients come in seriously misinformed as to how food and their body actually works. I can’t emphasise enough to apply some critical thinking as to where you get your nutritional advice from. Talk with a qualified professional

Lack of Planning

How are you meant to change your behaviours or what you eat when you don’t plan ahead? Waking up on a Monday and saying, “I’m going to eat better this week” or “I’m going to bring in lunch from home this week”  doesn’t provide any framework for you to be able to change what you are doing. Simple ideas around planning – like doing a reconnaissance mission for some healthy and nutritious lunch spots around work, or writing a shopping list for your meals and snacks for the week can provide some basic framework for you to stick to.  

Being too Strict

Nutrition is not an exact science. Behavioural Science is definitely not an exact science. Out of the last 10 years and the rise of technology, so many of my clients feel that they need to track everything they do, from eating, to exercise, to sleep. Not only that, many feel that if they aren’t perfect then they shouldn’t bother with change, or that if they are being perfect, and they have one meal or snack that doesn’t meet their self imposed, unrealistic high expectations, then they may as well not bother. An idea that I try to get across to my clients is that improvement is improvement, no matter where you are. 50+1% is still more than 50%.

Falling at the First Relapse

Relapse is a natural part of behavioural change. It happens to everyone, and it happens often. So many of my clients fall after a hurdle, and never get back up. You will fail, everyone will fail. It is part of being human. Understanding that is the key to making long lasting change. Do some introspection, try to figure out why you failed, then plan accordingly.

Not Setting the Correct Goals

What goals you set will play a big part in defining your success in changing behaviours. Clear, realistic, and achievable, behaviour based goals are a great tool to use to allow you to focus on what you want to change, to solidify your ideas into something you can grasp onto. Behaviour based is the key. Setting outcome based goals (improve fitness, improve energy)  is a good long term strategy, but the day to day goal setting needs to focus on specific behaviours.

Not Learning from Previous Mistakes

I’ve seen so many clients fail in their attempts at long term, sustainable change. Just like relapsing, failure is part and parcel with trying to change your behaviours. However, if you fail, at least do some introspection, a review of what you were doing and the true reasons as to why it may have failed. Don’t just hop straight back into what you were doing previously. Tried going to the gym, hated every second of it, and only lasted a few weeks? Then maybe the gym isn’t the answer this time around!

Not Acknowledging Progress

An important aspect of long term change is recognising where you have come from. Of seeing where you have come from and making sure that you congratulate yourself for every small piece of improvement. It’s so important to look back at where you have come from as opposed to only looking at where you want to get to. The latter can get daunting, the former can make you appreciate how hard you have worked.

Need Extra Support?

Contact Pinnacle Health or use our online system to book an appointment with one of our experienced nutritionists.

Going with your Gut

By Edwina McDonald


How often do we hear the saying- use your gut instinct. There is no doubt that there is a link between your digestive system and your mind/ mood.

In today’s fast paced, stressful society there has been an explosion of food intolerances and digestive issues, suggesting the link between our mind and gut is strong.  So with the gut commonly being referred to as our second brain how do we promote a healthy gut microbiome?

  1. Minimise the use of antibiotics; antibiotics upset the good bacteria in our gut. Try and limit your use of antibiotics so you only use them when necessary. This is also important to avoid antibiotic resistance. Always consult your Dr before starting or stopping a medication.
  2. Probiotics; these are the live microorganisms of the good bacteria that help balance gut flora to bring about a healthy gut environment. Food rich in probiotics include yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso soup and blue and aged cheeses. While there is minimal harm for healthy individuals taking a probiotic in supplement form, there is insufficient evidence as to the required dosage and type of probiotic to have a  positive impact on gut health
  3. Prebiotics; these are the food for probiotics. Prebiotics are a kind of fibre that pass through our colon undigested and act as fuel for probiotics and maintain the activity of the good bacteria. Aiming for the recommended 25-30g of fibre daily will help promote a healthy gut environment. Foods high in prebiotics include; chick peas, legumes, artichokes, cashews, garlic, onion, beetroot, peas, corn, asparagus, barley, rye, soy beans and pistachios to name a few.
  4. Reduce processed foods; packaged and processed foods are often high in saturated fat, salt and low in fibre. Common additives in processed foods that prolong shelf life and improve texture may also inflame the gut

To promote a healthy gut and avoiding symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, wind and constipation make sure your diet contains minimal processed and high sugar foods and that you are consuming your 25-30g of dietary fibre daily. It is also important to exercise regularly, drink plenty of water and minimise stress.



Edwina McDonald is available for appointments at 120 Collins and Docklands.

What is the Low FODMAP Diet?

By Dietitian Edwina McDonald


Our gut plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from foods. Food intolerances are becoming increasingly more common. While fructose and lactose are two of the more common intolerances. FODMAPs refer to a group of dietary sugars including; fructose lactose, ploys, fructans and galactans.

So, now knowing that FODMAPs are a group of poorly absorbed sugars, who will actually benefit from following a low FODMAP diet?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 7 adults. IBS symptoms can include diarrhoea, GI pain/ discomfort, flatlets’, bloating, constipation and generally feeling tired and unwell.  Recent research investigating causes and irritants of IBS has focused on these carbohydrates. The limited research available is showing that the low FODMAP diet does provide an effective approach for the management of patients with functional gut symptoms.

Who malabsorbs FODMAPs? We all malabsorb some FODMAPs to some extent. Most of us however will only notice mild bloating, discomfort and changes to bowel habits if we eat them in excess.

Do we all need to follow a low FODMAP diet? NO, one only needs to trial a low FODMAP diet (under the guidance of a dietitian) if they are hypersensitive to FODMAP containing carbohydrates.

Can I do a test for malabsorption? Currently you can only do a physical hydrogen breath test for fructose, lactose and sorbitol. If you suspect a FODMAP intolerance you should always consult an accredited practising dietitian to assist with the diagnosis.

Do I need to follow a low FODMAP diet forever? NO, a low FODMAP diet is not a long-term diet and should only be trialled for a limited time followed by a review by a dietitian to see which foods and in what quantities can be reintroduced.

The low FODMAP diet can bring relief to those suffering from IBS symptoms. This diet should always be trialled under the supervision of a dietitian who can guide you through the process from elimination, reintroduction and tolerance of these carbohydrates.  



Edwina is a Dietitian at our 120 Collins and Docklands Clinics.

The cost of healthy eating: fact or fiction?

By Dietitian Edwina McDonald


A barrier I often hear as to why people don’t eat healthily is that healthy food costs more than junk food.  Yes, there is an abundance of cheap unhealthy food available BUT if you actually sat down and weighted up the cost associated with eating junk food the minuscule amount extra you pay for healthy food far outweighs the long term detrimental effects of making unhealthy choices. So, what is the actual cost of buying healthy foods? A systematic review and meta-analysis of 27 studies from 10 different studies showed on average healthy diets cost a minuscule US$1.5 per day!

Even if that weren’t true, here are some other things to consider when looking at the costs associated with a healthy diet:

  1. Healthy diets tend to contain more fibre and whole grains which increase our satiety thus less of the food is needed to be consumed. Balancing satiety with calorie content, healthy foods win easily. You need less, higher quality food to feel as full for the same price.
  2. Today’s obesogenic environment have seen a rise in hospital costs associated with chronic disease including; type II diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. A healthy diet has been show to prevent and slow the progression of chronic disease. This saves you money in the long run.
  3. People can spend thousands of dollars each year on supplements to help them achieve optimal health. This could be significantly reduced if instead people focused on achieved their adequate intake for vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet

How to minimise the cost of healthy eating?

  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables can also be a nutritious way to obtain antioxidants and fibre
  • Plan meals ahead of time and stick to your grocery list
  • Cook in bulk and freeze your leftovers

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank in the short term and eating healthy in the long term can reduce your risk of chronic diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease. If you need any advice on a low-cost healthy diet, or any other nutritional concerns come and see any of our Pinnacle Health Group practitioners.



Edwina McDonald is a Dietitian at 120 Collins and Docklands in Melbourne

Stress in the Modern World

By Dietitian Anthony Glanville


Stress in the Modern World

If you’re alive, you’ve got stress. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences that can be beneficial to your health and safety. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. Your brain gets more oxygen, giving you an edge in responding to a problem. In the short term, stress can be a good thing. It keeps us alert, motivates us, and can make us work harder. Chronic, long term, day in and day out stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect your overall health and well-being in a variety of ways!

Cortisol and your belly

Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that gets released when you are stressed. Repeated, long term elevation of cortisol can lead to weight gain and also an increase in fat sored around your abdomen (otherwise known as visceral fat). This type of fat has been shown to lead to increased risk of CVD, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancers. Managing stress can keep the kilo’s off and make you live longer!

Bloating and your Digestive System

Our understanding of the link between the brain and the gut increases every day, Links are now being seen between stress and your digestive system – with some that suffer from stress reporting an increase in bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or poor gut function. Stress makes your gut a less hospitable place to live, with decreased enzyme and transporting function and a less ideal balance of gut bacteria. This can lead to more bloating!

How stress affects food choices

Many studies of stress have shown a link between high chronic stress and poorer nutritional choices. Many people often turn caffeine, high carbohydrate meals, and sugar to help relieve stress (by making you feel happy and energetic) These are short term fixes that ‘kick the can down the road’, as opposed to solving chronic stress. This short term fix of not lowering stress levels, making you go back for more, combined with the already known dangers of excessive consumption, can lead to an avalanche of bad health.

How to Manage Stress

The key to lowering stress, and therefore decreasing your risk of many metabolic diseases is to focus on long-term lifestyle changes that help your ability to lower stress and improve your reaction to it.

Focussing on exercise, mediation/breathing exercises/yoga, workplace environment and habit alterations, and looking at improving your diet by recuing intake of process foods, particularly carbohydrates, and increasing your intake of whole foods (like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds) and healthy fats.


Come see any of the Dietitians at Pinnacle Health Group for more information about reducing stress through your diet.



Anthony Glanville is a Dietitian at our Sydney Westpac Sites

Eating for Performance – By Edwina McDonald

While the physical training involved in a run is imperative many people overlook the added benefits of eating the right macro and micronutrients. Here are some tips to keep in mind, even if your next run is not a marathon.

  1. Eat a variety of different coloured vegetables to ensure adequate antioxidant intake. These contain antioxidants which fight free radical cellular damage brought about by exercise induced oxidative stress.
  2. Hydration is extremely important. Use the weigh and reweigh technique pre and post training to gauge how much fluid you lose through sweat loss. Use this as a guide to help you stay hydrated during your runs.
  3. Try to consume carbohydrates within an hour of training to replace lost muscle glycogen. Protein within this window is also vital to help provide muscles with essential amino acids for repair. Opt for low GI protein containing grains such as brown rice, quinoa, multigrain bread and wholemeal pasta. Milk and yoghurt are great snack options containing protein, low GI carbohydrate and calcium which is involved in muscle contraction.
  4. On Race day, stick to the basics. Practice the meal/snacks you will consume before and during a long distance event. Avoid high fibre options as these may affect your GI system. Have your meal 2 hours before the event and a high GI carbohydrate snack 1 hour prior.
  5. During the race gels and sports drinks can be used during the event to top up muscle glycogen stores. After you’ve finished aim to refuel within 30 minutes and then follow with a meal containing carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.

The food you consume during training, on race day and for recovery will all impact on how you perform and improve. Good Luck!




Edwina McDonald practices at 120 Collins and Docklands in Melbourne