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Nutrition specialized for your health, life, and performance, back by science through simple and flexible eating.

Nutrition strategy for Performance

Performance is not just about sport, but rather how you feel throughout your day! We create individualized nutrition plans tailored for specific lifestyles, movements, and goals. 

For organizations seeking nutrition seminars to inspire change and provide realistic solutions to common nutrition challenges.

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For teams who want to provide high-level nutrition support for their group, including team talks and modified nutrition counseling.


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Who is sport nutrition coaching for?

Unlock Your Athletic Potential with Personalized Sport Nutrition

Sports nutrition coaching isn't just for elite athletes; it's for anyone looking to optimize their physical performance and health through tailored dietary strategies. Whether you're just starting out, aiming to break personal records, or seeking to enhance your overall wellness, our coaching is designed to support your journey.

Embarking on your sports journey: hit the ground running with the knowledge and foundations of sports nutrition. 

Competitive Athletes and Professionals: Gain the competitive edge by honing in on your nutrition.

Enhance Your Fitness and Well-being: Whether you're into CrossFit, marathons, or simply enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle, sports nutrition coaching can optimize your energy levels, improve your workout recovery, and align your diet with your fitness objectives for sustainable health.

I'm a performance dietitian (aka, sports nutritionist), coach, runner, powerlifter, wife, and PhD candidate. I have a passion for helping people find a balance with nutrition for their sport and life.  For the last 8 years, I have dedicated my education and career working through the confusing mess that is nutrition today. 

I aim to put my clients first by applying a scientific, yet realist approach to nutrition. 

I'm stephanie small, a dietitian and research just trying to make a small difference!


Do you want to become a mini expert in sports nutrition? Learn the basics to nutrition and my most taught nutrition concepts to help you simplify your nutrition.

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Performance fueling guide for sport!

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Stephanie has given me the tools, the confidence, and the support I could not find in myself.

Wins & Testimonials

Her process brings out the truth of what your expectations are for yourself and the path that you want to take to accomplish those expectations. I trust her knowledge of nutrition and of the science of the body and her ability convey those concepts to me.

LISA - Active mom of two


Wins & Testimonials

Stephanie is intellectually curious, current on any/all literature, and always seems to have evidence-based empirical research at her fingertips to cite alongside her practical recommendations for day-to-day living. She is great at reinterpreting your personal life and lifestyle goals so that you can think about behavioral changes that make sense for you and that are sustainable. I enjoy having the energy to say "yes" to my kids when they want me to lean into any given activity.


Wins & Testimonials

She tailored her training based on my needs, specifically focusing on educating me on my food habits rather than saying “no”. I appreciate that Stephanie never tried to set unrealistic goals and never told me “no” to any food category. Her philosophy was everything in moderation with portion control. Stephanie has been wonderful not only as my dietician but also as a very kind and understanding human being.


Wins & Testimonials

Stephanie is understanding of a busy life, but doesn’t take excuses while demonstrating empathy. She refuses to give up and is supportive without being overbearing. 


Tips & Research

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Gels, Blocks, Liquids, and Whole Foods

Endurance runners know the critical role that carbohydrates play in fueling long-distance events and rigorous training sessions (1). Carbs are not just fuel; they’re essential in sustaining energy, improving performance, and aiding recovery. However, with a myriad of carbohydrate supplements available—ranging from gels and blocks to liquids and whole foods—selecting the right type can be overwhelming. This guide aims to break down the pros and cons of each option to help you tailor your nutrition strategy to your endurance activities.

Carbohydrate Supplement Gels: Quick and Convenient Energy


  • Convenience: Carb gels are highly portable, making them easy to carry and consume during runs or races without breaking your stride.
  • Quick Energy: Designed for rapid absorption, gels provide an immediate energy boost, which can be crucial during moments of intense exertion or when hitting the dreaded “wall.”
  • Flavor Variety: Available in numerous flavors, carb gels help combat flavor fatigue, a common issue during longer events.


  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Some athletes may experience stomach discomfort or other digestive issues from the concentrated sugars and additives in gels (2).
  • Texture: The sticky, thick texture of gels is a turn-off for some, particularly under strenuous conditions.
  • Hydration Requirement: Gels need to be taken with water to enhance digestion and prevent dehydration, requiring good hydration strategies.

Carbohydrate Blocks and Chews Supplements: Enjoyable and Effective


  • Taste and Texture: Often more palatable than gels, chews offer a chewy texture that can be a pleasant diversion during long-distance efforts.
  • Sustained Energy: The slower absorption rate of carb blocks provides a more prolonged energy output, helping to maintain endurance over extensive periods.
  • Psychological Satisfaction: Mimicking real food, chews can provide psychological comfort when you crave something solid.


  • Chewing Challenge: It can be difficult to manage breathing and chewing simultaneously, particularly during high-intensity phases.
  • Packaging Size: Blocks and chews generally come in bulkier packaging compared to gels, taking up more space in your running kit.
  • Dental Health Risk: The sticky, sugary nature of chews could lead to dental issues if used frequently, especially without proper dental care post-race.

Liquid Carbohydrate Supplements: Hydration Plus Energy


  • Hydration Combo: Sports drinks kill two birds with one stone by providing both hydration and energy, essential in hot weather or longer races.
  • Ease of Consumption: Liquids are easy to consume on the go, allowing for a gradual intake without needing to stop or slow down significantly.
  • Electrolyte Boost: Many sports drinks include electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which help prevent cramping and maintain fluid balance.


  • Caloric Density: To meet high-energy demands, you might need to consume large volumes of sports drinks, which can be impractical.
  • Flavor Monotony: The same flavor over a long distance can become less appealing, potentially leading to decreased consumption.
  • Bloating: Drinking large amounts can result in bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort, which can hinder performance.

Whole Foods: Natural and Nutritious


  • Nutritional Content: Whole foods provide not only carbs but also vitamins, minerals, and fibers, offering a more balanced approach to nutrition.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Generally less expensive than specialized sports products, whole foods are an economical choice for long-term training.
  • Diverse Options: The variety of whole foods available means you can choose those that best suit your taste and dietary preferences.


  • Digestion Speed: Whole foods take longer to break down, which might not be ideal during high-intensity or shorter races.
  • Convenience Issues: Less portable and messier than other carb forms, whole foods require more preparation and thought on race day.
  • Perishability: Unlike packaged supplements, whole foods can spoil, which may limit their practicality in certain scenarios.

How to Choose the Best Carbohydrate Supplement for You

Selecting the right carbohydrate supplement requires consideration of your personal needs, preferences, and digestive comfort. The best approach is to experiment with different types during your training sessions. Note how your body responds, particularly under similar conditions to your target race or activity. Timing is crucial—understand when and how often you need to refuel. Also, always pair your carbohydrate intake with adequate hydration to maximize absorption and performance benefits.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you opt for gels for a quick energy burst, enjoy the solid feel of blocks, prefer the dual benefits of liquids, or choose the wholesomeness of natural foods, the right choice is the one that meets your energy needs while keeping you comfortable

Get Your Carbohydrate Supplements Today

How would you like $80 to spend on any nutrition brand or product that you love? That’s right, your newest perk is a $80 annual credit at The Feed.

New to The Feed? The Feed is the largest online store for endurance athletes to get all the nutrition and recovery gear they need to make their next workout even better.

The Feed has every major brand (Skratch, Maurten, SiS, Spring Energy, and over 300 more!). The best part is that you can also buy single servings to mix and match flavors and try new products without buying a whole box of 12. Shipping is free on every order over $75.

It is simple to join Stephanie Small Coaching at The Feed and takes less than 30 seconds.

  • Claim your $80 in annual store credit at this link.
  • Spend your first drop of $20 right away. Additional $20 Feed credit drops will occur every 90 days.
  • Reach out to a sports dietitian to help dial in your fueling plan for free! Contact here!


  1. Burke LM. Nutrition strategies for the marathon : fuel for training and racing. Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):344-7. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200737040-00018. PMID: 17465604.
  2. Sareban M, Zügel D, Koehler K, Hartveg P, Zügel M, Schumann U, Steinacker JM, Treff G. Carbohydrate Intake in Form of Gel Is Associated With Increased Gastrointestinal Distress but Not With Performance Differences Compared With Liquid Carbohydrate Ingestion During Simulated Long-Distance Triathlon. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016 Apr;26(2):114-22. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0060. Epub 2015 Aug 31. PMID: 26323018.

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Who doesn’t love caffeine, right? ☕

Caffeine is the most widely studied and used drug on the planet. It is naturally occurring in a variety of plants such as coffee, tea, and cocoa. Over 90% of U.S. adults consume caffeine on an average of 200mg/day (Fulgoni, Keast et al. 2015) .

In recent years, it has been quite the trend for physically active individuals to consume high-caffeine-containing products to get the most out of their workout.

However, chugging that pre-workout during your workout or right before may not be the best strategy.

How Does Caffeine Work

Caffeine primarily impacts the central nervous systems but also influences hormonal, metabolic, muscular, cardiovascular, and pulmonary function (Sökmen, Armstrong et al. 2008).

Caffeine is both water and lipid-soluble, which allows it to be rapidly absorbed by the gut and into the circulation. About 90% of caffeine is absorbed within 30-60 min of consumption (Maughan, Burke et al. 2018, Guest, VanDusseldorp et al. 2021).

Depending on where the caffeine goes, it will have a different effect:

Brain: caffeine will block adenosine receptors in the brain preventing the feeling of fatigue in the brain (Nehlig, Daval et al. 1992). Additionally, caffeine activated noradrenaline receptors which appear to increase the release of dopamine.

Muscle: caffeine potentially benefits the muscle by aiding muscle contraction by increasing the ability for calcium ions to move across the membrane, which is required for muscle contraction and force production (Graham 2001).

Central Nervous System: caffeine ingestion appears to reduce the perception of fatigue, effort, and muscle pain during physical activity (Nehlig, Daval et al. 1992).

Once the caffeine has been ingested, the effects can start to be felt around 20-30min after consumption. The heart rate increases, increase alertness, and potentially the jitters.

Depending on the individual, the half-life of caffeine lasts anywhere from 1.5-9hrs, but the average is ~5hrs. At that point, the effects start to wear off. Therefore, it is important to reduce caffeine intake around 2 pm to avoid negative implications on sleep (Maughan, Burke et al. 2018, Guest, VanDusseldorp et al. 2021).

Caffeine Recommendations

Caffeine dosage should stay within 3-6g/kg of bodyweight to positively impact performance(Graham 2001, Maughan, Burke et al. 2018, Guest, VanDusseldorp et al. 2021). Dosages higher than 6g/kg of body weight don’t see further performance improvements and can start to increase the chance of negative side effects such as anxiety, elevated heart rate, or even heart palpitations in some.

Minimally effect does of caffeine is currently unestablished, but positive benefits have been established at as low as 2mg/kg body mass.

Dosages higher than 6 mg/kg of body mass don’t appear to add additional benefits to performance. Intake of 9 mg/kg body mass is associated with a higher incidence of negative side effects such as anxiety and heart palpitations.

An additional consideration is the habitual effect of caffeine intake. Habitual caffeine user tends to have a damped effect in their response to caffeine. This can lead to increased consumption that may not provide additional benefits and no impact on exercise performance.

If your goal is to use caffeine for its ergogenic effects, then it is important to take breaks in caffeine usage.

Figure 1: Part 1 to the caffeine time recommendation for training
Figure 2: Part 1 to the caffeine time recommendation for training

Caffeine and Sports Performance

The benefits of caffeine to act as an ergogenic aid in sports performance take on a variety of different mechanisms to contribute to the impact of performance (see figure 3).

The effects of caffeine on body systems and sports performance; ref: (Sökmen, Armstrong et al. 2008)

The effects of caffeine on body systems and sports performance; ref: (Sökmen, Armstrong et al. 2008)

In endurance sport, caffeine appears to improve performance by:

  1. Increases fat metabolism to have a glycogen sparing effect
  2. Increase the release of stress hormones such as cortisol which reduces the perception of pain and fatigue
  3. Improved cognitive mood.

In power and speed sports, caffeine appears to improve performance by:

  1. Improve muscle contraction through calcium ion mobilization
  2. Reduce reaction time and increase alertness
  3. Increase muscle fibre recruitment which increases total force production
  4. Improve cognitive mood.

Potential mechanisms of caffeine in endurance and power events; ref: (Sökmen, Armstrong et al. 2008)

Potential mechanisms of caffeine in endurance and power events; ref: (Sökmen, Armstrong et al. 2008)

Below are both the @internationalolympiccommitteef and @the_issn position stands on caffeine and athletic performance.

PMID:29540367, 33388079

Everyone responds to caffeine a little differently, so you must find what works for you!

Keep in mind that caffeine has a reduced affect if used chronically.

👇 Comment below your favourite pre-workout!


Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Keast, D. R., & Lieberman, H. R. (2015). Trends in intake and sources of caffeine in the diets of US adults: 2001-2010. Am J Clin Nutr, 101(5), 1081-1087. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.080077

Graham, T. E. (2001). Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance and performance. Sports Med, 31(11), 785-807. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131110-00002

Guest, N. S., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Nelson, M. T., Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Jenkins, N. D. M., Arent, S. M., Antonio, J., Stout, J. R., Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Goldstein, E. R., Kalman, D. S., & Campbell, B. I. (2021). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 18(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4

Maughan, R. J., Burke, L. M., Dvorak, J., Larson-Meyer, D. E., Peeling, P., Phillips, S. M., Rawson, E. S., Walsh, N. P., Garthe, I., Geyer, H., Meeusen, R., van Loon, L. J. C., Shirreffs, S. M., Spriet, L. L., Stuart, M., Vernec, A., Currell, K., Ali, V. M., Budgett, R. G., . . . Engebretsen, L. (2018). IOC consensus statement: dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete. Br J Sports Med, 52(7), 439-455. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-099027

Nehlig, A., Daval, J. L., & Debry, G. (1992). Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev, 17(2), 139-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-0173(92)90012-b

Sökmen, B., Armstrong, L. E., Kraemer, W. J., Casa, D. J., Dias, J. C., Judelson, D. A., & Maresh, C. M. (2008). Caffeine use in sports: considerations for the athlete. J Strength Cond Res, 22(3), 978-986. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181660cec

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Dieting is essentially the process of purposefully reducing caloric intake in hopes to reduce body weight.

The constant pattern of dieting and regaining the weight is known as “yo-yo dieting” or “weight cycling”. For the purpose of this article, I will use the term weight cycling.

Approximately 10% of men and 30% of women will weight cycle (1). Keep in mind this stat was discovered in 1998, in which fad diets and weight stigma have further run rampid within society. Those numbers are probably exceptionally higher in present-day 2021.

Even though dieting is not inherently bad, there are quite the negative consequences of weight cycling that will actually cause it harder to maintain a healthy weight and even result in more weight gain.

This article will discuss some problems that come with the weight cycle and how it can actually be more detrimental to your health.

  1. Increase hunger

Leptin is a hormone responsible for regulating energy balance and appetite. Leptin is stored and secreted by fat cells. When you eat a meal, leptin is released from the fat cells to signal to the brain that you are full. It decreases hunger.

However, when you diet and lose body fat, then leptin actually reduces (2) . So less leptin = increase hunger!

Essentially, the longer you are on a diet the hungerier you will get! This can result in non-compliance to a diet or even over-eating.

Since leptin is released from fat cells, you might think that if you have more fat then you should be less hungry and then lose weight. I wish it were that simple. Those with more fat tend to have elevated leptin levels, however, there is a thing called leptin resistance.

Leptin resistance is when your body does not respond to leptin as it should. So in turn, fat cells make more leptin. But the body continues not to respond, but in fact think you are starving so you eat more, gain more fat, and the vicious cycle continues.

The takeaway here is that excessive dieting can result in reduced leptin levels making it easier to overeat, and excess fat can result in a similar scenario called leptin resistance.

  1. Less muscle but more body fat percentage

Rapid weight loss results in losing muscle mass. It is inevitable. There are strategies such as slow weight loss and increase protein intake to prevent muscle loss, but at the end of the day, it will happen.

However, when it comes to rapid weight loss, the weight gain that follows (from noncompliance to diet or extreme hunger) will not be muscle. The weight gain will be mostly fat. Especially if an individual is not eating adequately protein or strength training. Because the weight gain will be mostly fat, then the body will have a reduced metabolism.

The more muscle you have the more calories your burn. This is why bodybuilders have a tendency to be able to eat a lot while staying lean.

So the event of dieting quickly results in an increase in body fat, less muscle mass, and ultimately a reduced metabolic rate (3).

Fifty-eight percent of publications reported in a review reported that a history of weight cycling was correlated with increased body fat and central adiposity (3). Another fifty percent of studies reported that the presence of weight cycling increased the likelihood of future weight gain, suggesting that weight cycling is potentially problematic for individuals attempting to lose weight (3).

  1. Increased health risk (diabeties, high blood pressure, high cholesterol)

Even though diabetes has not been directly studied in the weight cycle (3), a study in rats demonstrated increased insulin resistance to rats that experience weight cycling over 12 months rather than those that gained weight steadily (4).

This demonstrates an increased risk of diabetes with weight cycling. Further works need to be done in this area.

Among 9509 participants, those with larger weight fluctuations over a period of time were more at risk for coronary artery disease than weight alone (5). in the same study:

“Among patients in the quintile with the highest variation in body weight, the risk of a coronary event was 64% higher, the risk of a cardiovascular event 85% higher, death 124% higher, myocardial infarction 117% higher, and stroke 136% higher than it was among those in the quintile with the lowest variation in body weight in adjusted models.” (5)

Also, a history of weight cycling demonstrated fewer improvements in blood pressure than those that had not during a weight loss intervention to improve blood pressure (6).

As you can see, there are more negative consequences to weight cycling than being at higher body weight. So the next time you try to lose weight, try to instill habits that are sustainable.

  1. It can result in fustration and feelings of failure

Increases in weight variability over an 8 year period resulting in higher rates of psychological disturbances in women (7).

These were not necessarily things like depression or anxiety. More so a sense of failure or dissatisfaction with oneself. This increases the prevalence of binge eating disorders (8).

This further implicates the importance of weight loss methods that are sustainable and consistent to prevent such negative feelings.

Weight is an indicator of health but not the only one. Your mental health is just as important.

  1. Short term, quick weight loss doesn’t result in long term sustainability.

Quick dieting cyclings tend to stem from quite unsustainable measures. Such as cutting out all sugar products or never eating bread agian. While some tactics such as keto may work for some, it is important to remember that they may not work for you.

Whatever you decide to change in your diet for weight loss needs to be something that you can do the rest of your life if you want to keep the weight off.

For instant, if you cut out all alcohol, you should expect to keep it out or have it only on special occasions. But if that is not something you are willing to do long term, then you need to find a way to fit it your diet.

This article is not to scare you away from dieting, but instead change your approach to dieting.

Here are some of the behaviors it found worked for long-term weight loss:

  • Eating healthy foods: Such as yogurt, fruits, vegetables and tree nuts (not peanuts).
  • Limiting processed foods: Such as potato chips and sugary beverages.
  • Exercising: Find something active that you enjoy doing.
  • Getting good sleep: Get 6–8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Limit sedentary time: Limit the time you sit by scheduling daily walks or finding ways to work standing up.

By making permanent changes to your life, you may not have the leanest bod, but you will have consistent and sustainable weight loss over time.

If you are ready to make changes for sustainable weight loss, schedule a 15 minute discovery call today to see how I can help. Schedule here!


  1. Hendricks KM, Herbold NH. Diet, activity, and other health-related behaviors in college-age women. Nutr Rev. 1998 Mar;56(3):65-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1998.tb01696.x. PMID: 9564178.
  2. Zhao S, Zhu Y, Schultz RD, et al. Partial Leptin Reduction as an Insulin Sensitization and Weight Loss Strategy. Cell Metab. 2019;30(4):706-719.e6. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.08.005
  3. Mackie GM, Samocha-Bonet D, Tam CS. Does weight cycling promote obesity and metabolic risk factors? Obes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Mar-Apr;11(2):131-139. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2016.10.284. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PMID: 27773644.
  4. Levin BE. Diet cycling and age alter weight gain and insulin levels in rats. Am J Physiol. 1994 Aug;267(2 Pt 2):R527-35. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1994.267.2.R527. PMID: 8067464.
  5. Bangalore S, Fayyad R, Laskey R, DeMicco DA, Messerli FH, Waters DD. Body-Weight Fluctuations and Outcomes in Coronary Disease. N Engl J Med. 2017 Apr 6;376(14):1332-1340. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1606148. PMID: 28379800.
  6. Hart KE, Warriner EM. Weight loss and biomedical health improvement on a very low calorie diet: the moderating role of history of weight cycling. Behav Med. 2005 Winter;30(4):161-70. doi: 10.3200/BMED.30.4.161-172. PMID: 15981894.
  7. Pacanowski CR, Linde JA, Faulconbridge LF, Coday M, Safford MM, Chen H, Yanovski SZ, Ewing LJ, Wing R, Jeffery RW; Look AHEAD Research Group. Psychological status and weight variability over eight years: Results from Look AHEAD. Health Psychol. 2018 Mar;37(3):238-246. doi: 10.1037/hea0000547. PMID: 29504788; PMCID: PMC5841595.
  8. Kensinger GJ, Murtaugh MA, Reichmann SK, Tangney CC. Psychological symptoms are greater among weight cycling women with severe binge eating behavior. J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 Aug;98(8):863-8. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(98)00199-0. PMID: 9710655.