Fuelling Your Body for Exercise

With social distancing and limited access to organized sports, outdoor activity such as walking, hiking and running proves to be a great way to maintain heath and improve cardiovascular fitness during these challenging times. Part of preparing to achieve your fitness goals, is the consideration of proper fueling in the form of the food you eat and fluid you drink pre, during and post exercise.

Proper fuelling is essential to ensure:

  • Sustained quality and intensity of exercise
  • Prevention of digestive upset during your exercise session
  • Avoiding unwanted and distracting hunger during the session

Just as your vehicle requires the proper fuel to operate smoothly, so does your body during increased activity (and every other time as a matter of fact).

Not getting the proper nutrition or hydration can result in:

  • Reduced energy or early onset of fatigue
  • Reduced endurance and/or speed
  • Poor concentration
  • Skill errors
  • Upset digestion
  • Suboptimal body composition

Nutritional Needs

Carbohydrates are always the most important fuel source before and during exercise because they are the form the body can most quickly use to make energy. Carbohydrates are always the limiting fuel, meaning they are the most important source for continued energy during exercise. The common ‘hitting the wall’ phenomena experienced during long intervals of exercise is due to running out of carbohydrates for fuel.

Protein & Fat
Exercise increases the breakdown of protein; therefore, protein is a very important part of recovery post exercise to aid in tissue repair. Fats are less important during and after exercise. Although they are an unlimited source of fuel, they should be avoided during and after exercise because they slow the rate of stomach emptying, which will delay the rate of absorption of nutrients needed for energy and repair.

Timing of Nutrition

2-3 Hours Before Event

  • 30-60 g of carbohydrates
  • Moderate protein (2:1 ratio of carbs to protein)
  • A few ideas include a small bowl of cereal with fruit and yogurt, piece of toast with honey, fruit smoothie, or small bowl of pasta with tomato-based sauce.


  • Activities lasting longer then 60 minutes require a 6-10% carbohydrate solution (30-60 g) per hour to prevent dehydration. See electrolyte drink recipe below.

Recovery is the period of time after a workout to allow regeneration of muscles and tissues. Workouts of medium to high intensity lasting longer than 40 minutes require recovery. Signs that recovery is lacking include muscle soreness and fatigue lasting more than 12 hours, frequent injury and/or frequent illness. Typically, the optimal time to ensure proper recovery nutrition consists of a 30-minute window following the activity. During the first 30 minutes post-workout, the activity of the enzymes in the body responsible for replenishing the sugar stores are most heightened. Do not compromise the recovery meal, as it is the most critical for exercise and continued activity performance.

Optimal recovery nutrition consists of the following.

  • Protein: 20-30 g and upwards of 40 g for older athletes. A liquid source is best, as it empties from the stomach more quickly than do solids, which allows for maximum tissue rebuilding.
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g of simple sugars (fruit). This number can be slightly lower in those that are monitoring weight, and higher in more elite athletes where weight and calories are not being restricted.
  • Avoid fats and fiber post workout, as they will slow digestion of the required nutrients.

Recovery Ideas

  • Smoothie: Protein powder with berries/fruit (or 1 cup of premade smoothie)
  • Greek style yogurt and fruit
  • Egg white omelet with slice of toast and honey
  • Protein bar
  • Chicken and salad
  • Tuna on crackers and a banana
  • Pasta with beef and tomato sauce


Water plays an important role in the body by controlling blood volume and body temperature. During exercise, the body cools itself by sweating; however, if not replaced, the loss of body fluid can lead to dehydration. As dehydration advances, poor focus, fatigue, increased heart rate and body temperature, increased perception of how difficult the activity is and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea during and after exercise can result.

To prevent dehydration during and after exercise the following tips can be helpful:

  • Begin exercise well hydrated to prevent dehydration during. Aim to consume 400-   600 mL of water 2-3 hours prior to beginning your session.
  •  Aim for pale, straw colour urine as a useful sign of adequate hydration.
  • You will continue to lose fluids through sweating and urination after you finish exercising; therefore, plan to replace 125-150% of the fluid lost in the 4-8 hours after you stop exercising.
  • Mix together ½ teaspoon of sea salt, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, juice of 1 lemon and 1 cup of water to replenish electrolytes during and after your exercise session.


Recovery Nutrition – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) [Internet]. Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). 2020 [cited 7 October 2020]. Available from: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/fuelling-recovery/recovery-nutrition/

Smith-Ryan, Abbie and Antonio, Jose. Sports Nutrition and Sports Enhancing Supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY, Linus Learning, 2013.

all vibes welcome

Not Just Positive Vibes: All Vibes Welcome

I recently listened to an inspiring TED Talk by a colleague of mine, Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi ND titled, “All Vibes Welcome”: How Glorifying Positive Vibes is Hurting Us. In his talk, Dr. Khosroshahi ND offers a new perspective on the ever so popular “positive vibes only” mantra. I invite you to have a listen!

Can you welcome all vibes into your life? What would it look like if you could practice self-compassion in times of “perceived inadequacy, failure, or suffering”? Perhaps you would notice the ability to embrace pain with a little more ease, a deeper sense of wellbeing, and the ability to grow as a person in a way that enriches your life.

all vibes welcome

To Screen or Not to Screen

To Screen or Not to Screen: The Facts About Sunscreen

To Screen or Not to Screen: The Facts About SunscreenTo Screen or Not to Screen- The Facts About Sunscreen
by Dr. Allison Ziegler, ND

It’s a hot summer day – not a cloud in the sky or a breeze in the air. You decide to take a trip to the beach to bask in the sun and enjoy the warm day. In preparation, you grab your beach bag and fill it with all the beach necessities – towel and bathing suit, a water bottle, some snacks, sunglasses and hat. Before you leave you decide to lather on the sunscreen as the morning news indicated a high UV index. All prepared for the day, you make your journey to the beach unaware that the “safety” benefits listed on your sunscreen and what it contains may be causing more harm than good.

Being that May is skin cancer awareness month, a review on the importance of skin protection is timely. Sunscreen has long been known as the protective mechanism against sunburns, skin cancer and declining skin health. More recently we know that beyond preventing sunburns, there is little known about the safety and efficacy of sunscreen. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulation of products, released sunscreen regulations; however, they still allow the products to contain potentially hazardous ingredients and make exaggerated claims. As a result, it is important to understand what to look for when selecting sunscreen products.

Getting the Facts:

Vitamin A
The common form of vitamin A added to sunscreens is retinyl palmitate. Vitamin A is a popular anti-oxidant used in skin products in order to prevent or slow skin damage and aging. The FDA has recently conducted a study that showed in the presence of sunlight, topical application of retinyl palmitate increases the development of cancerous skin lesions. It is thought that when vitamin A is exposed to sunlight, free radicals are formed, which damage skin cells and predispose them to cancer development. This becomes an issue with the vitamin A content in sunscreens as opposed to other skin care products because of the vast sunlight exposure endured while wearing sunscreen. Furthermore, claims made by sunscreen products that they protect against skin cancer become a concern; as such, products may in fact increase risk of skin cancer development.

Oxybenzone is added to sunscreen to absorb UV-B and UV-A rays; however, it is known to penetrate the skin and can lead to development of allergies and disrupt hormone balance. It is strongly urged to avoid use of oxybenzone containing products especially in children because of the hormone disrupter properties.

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, of sunscreen is a measure of effectiveness of the sunscreen, meaning that the higher the SPF, the more protection against UV-B radiation. The FDA has prohibited companies from indicating SPF 50+ because there is lack of evidence that 50+ exhibits any additional protection and in fact may promote people to stay in the sun longer, thus increasing radiation exposure and damage. Despite the FDA’s efforts, companies continue to advertise SPF50+.

UV-A & UV-B Protection
UV-A and UV-B radiation are both responsible for skin damage; however, many conventional sunscreens do not protect against UV-A rays. UV-B rays only penetrate the outer skin layer and are primarily responsible for causing sunburns and non-melanoma skin cancer. UV-A rays penetrate deep into the skin to cause DNA damage increasing the risk of malignant melanoma. The sunscreens labeled as “broad-spectrum” are designed to block both UV-A and UV-B; however, many do not contain the ingredients to actually protect against the UV-A rays.

Sunscreens in the form of liquid or powder should be avoided because the health effects due to inhalation have not been investigated.

What to Choose
Mineral sunscreens tend to be the safest and effective choice. Mineral sunscreens (zinc and titanium) are stable in sunlight, do not penetrate the skin and tend to be the most effective at blocking UV-A radiation. Those who do not like mineral sunscreens are encouraged to try sunscreens with 3% avobenzone and products without oxybenzone (for reasons listed above).

Sun protection is important; however, sunscreen should not be the first-line protection mechanism. Use of protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and monitoring time of direct sun exposure are primary in reducing the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Selecting a sunscreen more carefully can aid in the protection but should not be the sole action to do so.

Adrenal Fatigue-prairie sky health

Adrenal Fatigue: Is your tired more than just “tired”?

Adrenal Fatigue: Is your tired more than just “tired”?

By:  Dr. Allison Ziegler, ND

Recent times have brought about disrupted schedules and times of uncertainty.  You may find yourself trying to juggle the responsibility of home schooling your children while still trying to be productive in your job as you work from home, long parenting hours, and managing the emotions that come along with a world on lockdown and social distancing from family and friends.  This recipe for stress leads to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.  So, how does an increased amount of stress affect the body and what can we do to feel better?

The two stress glands, which are located above each kidney, are called the adrenal glands.  They are powerful endocrine glands that help your body respond and adapt to stress by influencing the function of all tissues, organs and glands in the body to maintain balance during stressful periods.  Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stressors, which initiates the fight or flight response in attempt to protect the body from danger.  Typically, this stress response would be a short burst in cortisol, allowing us to respond to the danger appropriately and it would then return to normal.  In primitive times that would mean being able to run away from a Saber-toothed tiger or endure periods of physical challenge and deprivation.  Unfortunately, our modern world is met with near constant levels of stress, leaving our cortisol levels constantly elevated and perhaps eventually bottoming out, leading to burnout and adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal Fatigue- Is your tired more than just tired

Signs that indicate stress may be impacting adrenal function:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety, irritability, or low mood
  • Brain fog
  • Weight gain, especially around abdomen
  • Hormonal imbalances such as menstrual cycle changes and low libido
  • Sugar, carbohydrate and salt cravings
  • Hot flashes
  • Decreased immune function

If this sounds like you, the following are changes you can incorporate to begin feeling better.


During the stress response, the adrenal glands metabolizes nutrients at a higher rate.  During adrenal fatigue, much of the body’s stored nutrients is used up and nutrient deficiencies can result.  The goal of eating for your adrenal glands is to eat good quality, nutrient dense and whole foods.  Avoiding all processed foods is essential as the body will use up additional nutrients in attempt to digest the processed foods.
Nutrition Rules for Adrenal Function: [1]

  1. Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods.
  2. Combine a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate source with every meal.
  3. Eat lots of vegetables, especially the brightly colored ones.
  4. Salt your food to a pleasant taste using sea or Celtic salt.
  5. Eat mainly whole grains as your source of carbohydrates.
  6. Combine grains with legumes or legumes with seeds or nuts to form a complete protein.
  7. Avoid fruit in the morning.
  8. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of fresh essential oils (cold pressed olive, grape seed, safflower, flax etc.) into grains, vegetables and meats daily.
  9. Eat high quality food; it becomes you.


Good quality sleep is important for adrenal function.  Sleep is the only time the body has to repair itself; therefore, following some sleep hygiene tips can help to restore sleep and ensure a healthy stress response.

Sleep Hygiene Tips for Adrenal Function: [2]

  1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule.  Ideal bedtime is between 10-10:30 pm.
  2. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  3. Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing.  Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  4. Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  5. Turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.


Taking time to feel rejuvenated and renewed is critical for adrenal repair. With busy schedules and long to-do-lists it is easy to neglect yourself.  Finding time to do what inspires you is key to recharging and feeling better.  Although this seems like a simple task, it can be hard to find time.  You can start by allowing yourself just 10 minutes of ‘you-time’ a day.


Certain minerals and vitamins such as vitamin B’s, vitamin C, zinc, selenium and magnesium are important for adrenal function.  Adaptogens are a class of herbs that are wonderful at supporting adrenal function.  Some of these herbs include ashwagandha, Schisandra, holy basil, Rhodiola and Licorice root.

It is important to work with a naturopath when determining which supplements are best for you.

Although it is easy to see this time of social isolation as a negative experience, it can be one that achieves a positive and lifechanging outcome.  Focus on renewing and recharging yourself.  “One day this will all be over, and you will have a choice to live as before or to live your life anew.” Kenton De Jong


[1] https://adrenalfatigue.org/

[2] http://sleepeducation.org/

Tempo Giusto-the right time-PSH

Tempo Giusto-The Right Speed

Since first becoming a mom two years ago, I have learned so much about myself and life itself.  As I entered into the “terrible twos” with my eldest, I was left trying to figure out how to help support him through the time of development where he is trying to figure out the world around him and how to exist in it.  I am inspired by the book The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies.

In Davies’ book she outlines the importance of time.  When we allow children unscheduled and unrushed time their wonder and curiosity flourishes.  Curiosity leads to self-discovery and the development of creative solutions. If we are continually rushed as parents, our child becomes resistant and does not cooperate because they become stressed.  Going slow, allows our child time to be curious, and learn from the task at hand.

Taking time to see the world from the perspective of an 8-month and a 2-year old has given me more insight into what it means to learn from every experience and enjoy each day to the fullest.  Children are the perfect example of how to live totally in the moment. While we are great at being one step ahead by making lists in our head of all the things that need to be accomplished, a child remains totally present and spots the ant escaping down into a crack in the pavement.

This simple but profound lesson is one that can allow us to live in a dynamic way- with an open mind to learn and grow.  If we fall victim to the busyness of our world, continually rushing around always trying to accomplish the next thing on our to-do-list, we lose sight of that child-like curiosity, our day feels mundane and our ability to discover and learn becomes second place.  So, it’s time to take the time to be curious. Allow yourself time to explore, time for movement, time for language and conversation, time for building connections – time to learn! (Davies, 2019)

Tempo Giusto-the right time

When life gets hectic, uncertain and overwhelming STOP and notice the way that ladybug crawls along the sidewalk, or the way the light enters through the window and casts a shadow on the wall, or the way it feels to jump into a pile of pillows, and find your tempo giusto.


5 ways to improve your immune system

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Immune System

5 ways to improve your immune system-PSH

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Immune System
By Dr. Allison Ziegler, ND

Keep your immune system strong with the following effective ways at supporting and strengthening immunity.

1. Probiotics

Our body has a colony of beneficial bacteria, which is highly concentrated in our intestine. These healthy gut flora are a significant part of the immune system, comprising upwards of 2/3 of our total immune system, and are responsible for various health promoting actions including fighting off infection. High stress, medication use such as antibiotics, smoking, alcohol and processed foods shift the type of bacteria in our gut to a less optimal environment. In turn, the change in bacteria decreases the immune function. Taking a probiotic contributes to re-establishing a healthy gut environment and improves immune function. Source.

2. Herbal Support

St. Francis Deep Immune is a herbal combination that contains astragalus, codonopsis, licorice and Siberian ginseng. These immune enhancing herbs help to increase the production of white blood cells and enhance immune attack against viruses and bacteria.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a vital roll in improving immune cell function and effectiveness at fighting off infection. Deficiency in vitamin D in linked to increased susceptibility to infections. Ensuring a dose of 2000-4000 iu per day is an effective dose to improve immune function. Source.

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C improves immune cell functioning by supporting and protecting the outer barriers of the body tissue and in the development of white blood cells. Vitamin C is also an effective antimicrobial. Source.

5. Decrease sugar and increase greens.

Harmful bacteria flourish in the presence of sugar. Excess sugar in the diet deplete the bodies nutrient levels and contributes to an inflammatory state. A reduction in essential nutrients and increased inflammation are contributing factors to a reduced immune response. Eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables promotes the growth of the beneficial gut flora, improves the immune system and replenishes a healthy gut environment. Source

5 ways to improve your immune system-Prairie Sky Health

Allison on Global News Regina

Regina Naturopath Dr. Allison Ziegler talks gut health, nutrient rich foods, and how to benefit from the use of herbs when experiencing cold and flu symptoms this winter.