Introducing Andie Schwartz: Athlete, Dietitian, Trainer & Mom
Interview by Melissa Halas, MA RDN CDE
"I always make sure my protein shakes have a healthy carb, a healthy fat, and plenty of vegetables or roots. And yes, I said vegetables" - Andie Schwartz, M.Ed, RD, LDN, CLC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, RYT-200, Nutrition and Fitness Expert
Melissa Halas: Hi, I'm Melissa Halas, a registered dietitian and CEO of SuperKids Nutrition. Today, I'm talking with Andie Schwartz. She is an ultra-accomplished registered dietitian, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a certified personal trainer, and a registered yoga teacher. All of that is built on her foundation as a competitive athlete. Andie is a former NCAA cross country, track and field heptathlete, meaning she competed in seven separate events. She also competed in the Team USA National and International Triathlete in 2009. Andie has her own practice offering nutrition counseling and sports and lifestyle coaching. And I think she will say her most important job is as a Mom to her two adorable kids.
I am so happy to talk to you as always, Andie. Tell us how nutrition has played a role in your athletic performance.
Andie Schwartz: Thank you, you are always so kind, Melissa. The other day, I talked with a group of athletes about the first time I thought about nutrition, and I realized it was back in seventh grade. I had been involved in sports, but I was just not feeling my best during my first season as a track and field athlete. I was lethargic and not as strong in my running and overall performance.
I started to think that maybe it was what I was eating, and I remember my coach talking to my parents about it. My dad was always interested in nutrition. So together, we tried to shop for better foods to fuel the increased activity that I was doing. I think it came down to the fact that all the sports I had done previously didn't demand as much energy as the track and field arena did. Once I increased the amount of food I was eating and became more aware of the timing of my intake, my performance and the lethargy that I experienced improved.
So, the message I spread to youth athletes and all my clients is: the way we fuel, meaning what and when we eat, really makes a difference in our performance.
Melissa Halas: How fortunate that you had that "aha" moment in middle school? So many people spend years with poor nutrition. Your micronutrient, phytonutrient and antioxidant intake give you that extra boost that can make such a huge difference in performance and recovery. And, of course, you still work with kids today! But I know you help people of all ages to improve their lives.
So I have a question for you: If you could recommend just one change for athletes and active families that can have the most impact on their health and performance, what would it be?
Andie Schwartz: So this is such a hard question to answer! The one thing that will bring the most positive impact is – eating more plant-based foods. Almost all of us are deficient in our overall plant intake. So we need to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
I recommend adding fruit to breakfast and as many plant sources as you can to what you're currently eating for lunch and dinner, like salads and sides of vegetables. And then keep building more plant-based foods into your day from there.
Melissa Halas: I love that! So now, of course, I am curious, what is your go-to recovery snack or meal for athletic performance or after a hard training day?
Andie Schwartz: A lot depends on the activity and the day, but I'd say the staples that I tend to keep coming back to, and I hate to sound like such a typical athlete here, but it's my post-workout recovery shake. But it's not like your usual post-recovery shake that just has cow's milk and whey protein powder. Instead, I make it into a meal. So I look at it with the same balanced approach that I do every meal I eat and recommend to my clients. I add spinach and kale to my smoothies which are excellent for recovery as they add antioxidants, fiber, and even a small amount of protein. The healthy fats can vary from avocado to flaxseed or even chia seeds.
I use different types of protein powder. Sometimes whey, and other times I go toward the brown rice and hemp-type proteins for that plant-based approach. I also like plant-based milks.
The shakes are quick, and they contain all the macros packed with lots of micronutrients. I find my shakes so satisfying and filling that my body craves them after workouts.
Melissa Halas: That sounds fantastic. If you add in some soft tofu, you'll even get a little Leucine in your shakes, which can help with muscle protein synthesis.
Andie Schwartz: True. And I also often add collagen for more amino acids. I also want to emphasize how essential it is to prioritize fueling up soon after you've finished your workout. Like, make sure you're in the right environment, too. I mean, you don't want to get trapped into going to the nearest fast food. Instead, find places like Chipotle or others that offer high nutrient options and more plant-based ingredients.
That's why I really like MyMenu. It makes it so much easier to find restaurants nearby that offer menu items fit for an athlete.
Melissa Halas: Yeah, definitely. With MyMenu, you can find menu items at restaurants based on your preferences, like macros and eating styles like vegan, vegetarian, made without gluten, made without dairy, and other preferences that athletes and active families need.
I also love that I can track my micronutrients on MyMenu and see where I am with meeting my nutrient targets. Then I can choose foods based on what my body needs. That's precision eating for optimal health, energy, and immunity!
Andie Schwartz: Yes, it's really powerful to see the MyMenu dashboard and to be able to see exactly where you're at with macros, amino acids, and micronutrients.
Melissa Halas: It's easy to assume you're eating right. But then MyMenu shows you are low in zinc or iron or other nutrients that are important for everyday health, energy, and focus. I was shocked to find that I was deficient in B vitamins. I'm like, "oh my gosh, I'm a dietitian!" So now I eat a serving of oats every day, and I've added some Amaranth. I recommend MyMenu to my clients, family, and friends. There is nothing as accurate or effective for those who want to eat to feel and live their best.
Andie Schwartz: Yes, especially with college athletes, or anyone traveling, it's hard to know where to go to get the right food. I like that MyMenu gives so many choices that are customized to what people really need with their active lifestyle – which is essential.
The last thing I want to add is at home, having fruits and vegetables chopped up and ready to eat or use in recipes is helpful. You can choose one day of the week to shop and chop. And also, prepare sides like healthy brown rice or quinoa that can be stored in the refrigerator. That way, it's much easier to cook up a nice lean protein and have a balanced meal with plenty of plant-based ingredients all ready to use or eat.
Melissa Halas: Thank you, Andie, for sharing your passion and advice today!
Next time, we will talk about our kids – and share tips for enticing them to eat lots of plant-based foods.
Next Interview with Andie Schwartz: Coming Soon!