Sensi Ambassador Aicacia Young is a professional rock climber, nutritionist, and author of the book Rock Climbing Nutrition. We asked Aicacia for more on eating to fuel an active life! 1. Tell us more about your book. What inspired you to become an RDN, and then to write a book?
I've actually wanted to become a nutritionist since I was in high school. I had a lot of health concerns, mostly involving my immune system and blood cell counts. Doctors could never really figure out what was going on, so my mother eventually took me to see a naturopathic doctor, who asked me about everything including my diet. She was the first one to even consider my diet in her diagnosis, and she referred me to a phenomenal doctor and nutritionist in town, who specialized in immunology. When an elimination diet ultimately relieved some of my unexplained symptoms, I knew right away that nutrition was something that I wanted to learn more about.
Writing has been a passion of mine since high school as well. I had amazing english teachers growing up, and each one of them helped mold my writing into what it's become today. Writing a book was just something I always wanted to do. Whether people read it or not, it was just something I wanted to do for myself.
2. How is Rock Climbing Nutrition different from nutrition for other athletes?
Rock climbing is a strange little sport. You can do it all day, but you don't really ever climb without stopping for more than 5 or 10 minutes - due to the nature of the sport. So there's a lot of intermittent exercise that goes on at almost full exertion. As a result, the need for carbohydrates is much lower for climbing than it is for other endurance sports like running, cycling or swimming.
3. Do you have any recommendations specific to nutrition for active women?
If I had to make 3 general recommendations to active women, they would be to:
- Pay attention to your iron levels. Depression, fatigue, and headaches can all be caused by an iron deficiency, so it's a good idea to get tested at least once a year just to keep an eye on things.
- Relax. Most women I know live their lives at a stress level of at least 8 out of 10. I know you can handle everything on your plate, but your body needs a chance to relax. The cheapest and most effective thing you can do to relax is take a 20-40 minute bath in 2 cups of Epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts will help your muscles relax, and taking a bath will force you to slow down.
- Take a good probiotic. Many women that I see tend to suffer from a gut imbalance known as a Candida overgrowth. Signs of Candida overgrowth include: strong sugar cravings, dandruff, athlete's foot, fungal rashes, frequent yeast infections, and recent use of antibiotics. I've tried my fair share of probiotics, and the only brands that I use for myself are PeakBiotics and MegaSpore.
4. Eating healthy while traveling is so difficult! What are your strategies?
I try to always keep some go-to snacks with me at all times. Depending on the trip, this might be a bag of nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, peanut butter with fresh fruit, rice crackers, or clean bars (Bearded Brothers, The Granilla Bar, PRO Bars, KIND Bars, etc).
5. What are some of your favorite go-to snacks for energy?
When I'm feeling a little low energy, I usually try to pick snacks that have fairly balanced ratios of carbs-fat-protein. They don't have to be exact, but having a little fat or protein with your carbohydrates can help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates so you don't have an energy rush or crash. My go-to snack is a Gala apple with peanut butter, but my other favorites include green smoothies with coconut oil, homemade acai bowls, and carrots with guacamole.
6. What are some things that are always in your fridge/pantry?
As you can probably guess from my answer to the last question, I pretty much always have peanut butter, apples, frozen acai packs, and avocados in my kitchen. Other staples include butter (because it's not going to give you heart disease!), eggs, kale, sweet potatoes, cacao nibs, and nuts (usually almonds or cashews).