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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. 

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

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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


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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.


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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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Carbohydrate loading is a popular strategy among athletes to maximize glycogen stores in muscles before endurance events. In this blog, we’ll dive into what carb loading is, how to effectively carb load, present 5 Carbohydrate loading meal ideas, provide a 2-day sample meal plan, and highlight key takeaways.

What is Carbohydrate Loading?

Carbohydrate loading, or carbohydrate loading, is a strategy used by athletes to increase the amount of glycogen in muscles before a high-endurance event. This process helps improve performance by ensuring the body has enough energy reserves.

How to Carbohydrate Load

Carbohydrate loading, or carb loading, is a nutritional strategy designed to maximize the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles before a high-endurance event, such as a marathon or long-distance cycling race. Glycogen is the primary source of energy during prolonged, intense physical activity, and ensuring that your muscles are fully stocked can significantly enhance your performance and endurance.

Typically, this process involves a period of tapering your training while simultaneously increasing your carbohydrate intake. For about 3-4 days before the event, you should consume a diet that consists of 70-80% carbohydrates (1). This shift allows your body to store more glycogen than it normally would during a regular training phase. Alongside this dietary adjustment, it’s essential to reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts to give your muscles time to replenish their glycogen stores fully.

The effectiveness of carb loading lies in its ability to delay fatigue and maintain performance levels during prolonged exercise (1, 2). By starting an endurance event with maximized glycogen stores, you can sustain a higher intensity for a longer period, thus improving overall performance. However, it’s important to note that carb loading is most beneficial for activities lasting longer than 90 minutes. For shorter durations, your regular diet should provide sufficient energy reserves.

Overall, carb loading is a tried-and-tested method used by athletes to ensure they have the necessary energy to compete at their best. By understanding and properly implementing this strategy, you can significantly boost your endurance and performance on race day.

5 Carbohydrate Loading Meal Ideas

* These recipes are not my own and I have linked the recipes to the original creators.

  1. Oatmeal with Bananas and Honey
  • A hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey is a perfect start to your carb loading day.

2. Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara Sauce

  • Whole wheat pasta provides complex carbs, and marinara sauce adds a tasty boost. Opt for white pasta if you have a more sensitive gut.

3. Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans

  • A nutritious salad with quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and black beans for a high-carb, high-fiber meal.

4. Baked Potatoes with Greek Yogurt and Chives

  • Baked potatoes topped with Greek yogurt and chives are simple yet effective for carb loading. Add an egg on top for some extra protein and healthy fats.

5. Brown Rice Stir-Fry with Tofu and Vegetables

  • A stir-fry with brown rice, tofu, and a variety of vegetables provides a balanced carb meal.

2-Day Sample Carbohydrate Loading Meal Plan

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with Bananas and Honey
  • Snack: Fruit Smoothie with Spinach and Oats
  • Lunch: Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans
  • Snack: Bagels with Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Dinner: Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara Sauce
  • Snack: Whole Grain Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Berries

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: Baked Potatoes with Greek Yogurt and Chives (don’t knock the baked potato for breakfast until you try it!)
  • Snack: Fruit Smoothie with Spinach and Oats
  • Lunch: Brown Rice Stir-Fry with Tofu and Vegetables
  • Snack: Bagels with Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Dinner: Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara Sauce
  • Snack: Whole Grain Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Berries

Carbohydrate Loading Takeaways

  • Plan Ahead: Start carb loading 3-4 days before your event to ensure optimal glycogen stores.
  • Choose Carbs: Opt for grains, fruits, and vegetables to provide sustained energy.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to aid in glycogen storage.
  • Monitor Portions: Ensure you’re getting enough carbs without overeating.

By following these carb loading tips and incorporating these meal ideas, you’ll be well-prepared to perform at your best. For more personalized nutrition advice and coaching, visit Stephanie Small Coaching.

If you want to, you can become your very own carb loading expert with the Carb Loading Guide book. As an endurance-focused performance dietitian, I’ve encountered countless questions about carbohydrate loading. Recognizing its crucial role in endurance sports, I’ve dedicated my efforts to creating a comprehensive, step-by-step guide. This guide is your roadmap to developing a personalized carbohydrate loading plan tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Step into a world where nutrition and performance converge. Together, we’ll unlock the power of food to catapult your athletic endeavours to new heights. Learn more about the Carb Loading Guide book.


  1. Burke LM, Jeukendrup AE, Jones AM, Mooses M. Contemporary Nutrition Strategies to Optimize Performance in Distance Runners and Race Walkers. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 Mar 1;29(2):117-129. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0004. Epub 2019 Apr 4. PMID: 30747558.
  2. 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.

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High Protein
Sport Dietitian

Protein is currently all the rage and for good reason. Protein, especially for runners, provide so much value when it comes to performance. Yet, protein tends to be the more diffcult macronutrient to start your day with

If you find yourself scrambling for breakfast ideas that are both high in protein and easy to prepare? You’re not alone. As someone who values nutrition but prefers to spend minimal time in the kitchen, I’ve discovered a few recipes that are minimal prep and cook but are packed full of protein. 

High-protein meals that are simple to prepare and perfect for those of us who’d rather not navigate complicated recipes. In this post, I’ll share 5 high-protein breakfast ideas sourced from expert food bloggers. These meals are designed to fuel your day, support your fitness goals, and save you time—all without the need to become a master chef.

Benefits of Having a High Protein Breakfast

Starting your day with a high-protein breakfast is more than just a trend among fitness enthusiasts; it’s a science-backed strategy to kickstart your morning with sustained energy, improved health, and enhanced mental focus. Here’s why incorporating protein-rich foods into your first meal of the day can make a significant difference in how you feel and perform:

  1. Sustained Energy (Xiao et al 2022; Jakubowicz et al 2017): Protein is known for its ability to provide a steady source of energy. Unlike high-carbohydrate meals that can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, protein helps maintain stable glucose levels throughout the morning. This means you can say goodbye to the mid-morning slump and enjoy consistent energy that lasts until lunch.
  1. Increased Satiety (Rains et al 2015; Liedy et al 2010; Liedy et al 2011): One of the most celebrated benefits of a high-protein breakfast is its ability to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer. Protein takes more time to digest compared to fats and carbohydrates, which means you’re likely to snack less and avoid unnecessary calories throughout the day. 
  1. Muscle Maintenance and Growth (Morton et al 2018): For active individuals or anyone focused on fitness, protein is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue. A protein-rich breakfast not only supports muscle recovery from your workouts but also primes your muscles for growth. By starting your day with adequate protein, you’re setting the stage for effective muscle maintenance and development. Don’t worry, eating extra protein won’t make you bulky!
  1. Improved Concentration and Cognitive Function (Coelho-Junior et al 2021): Breakfast is often dubbed the most important meal of the day for good reason. It jump-starts your metabolism and fuels your brain after a night’s fast. Including protein in your breakfast has been linked to better concentration, memory, and cognitive performance, as it provides the necessary amino acids your brain needs to function optimally.
  1. Health Benefits (Naghshi et al 2020; Pfeiffer et al 2020) : Beyond the immediate benefits of energy and satiety, high-protein breakfasts have been associated with various long-term health advantages. These include improved blood lipid profiles, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure. Incorporating protein-rich foods into your morning routine is not just a step towards a healthier day but a leap towards a healthier life.

Making protein a cornerstone of your morning meal sets a positive tone for the day ahead. Whether your goal is to manage your weight, support muscle health, enhance mental focus, or simply maintain a balanced diet, a high-protein breakfast is a powerful tool in your nutritional arsenal. As we explore easy and delicious ways to incorporate more protein into your morning routine, remember that the key to a successful diet is variety and balance. Let’s move on to discover five simple high-protein breakfast ideas that even the most culinary-averse can master.

Tips For a Timing High-Protein Breakfast for Runners

For runners, especially those with early morning training schedules, nutrition plays a crucial role in optimizing performance and recovery. While high-protein breakfasts are a cornerstone of runners nutrition, the timing of this meal relative to training sessions can significantly impact its benefits. Here are some tailored tips and considerations for athletes looking to maximize the advantages of their high-protein morning meal:

1. Post-Training Protein Intake:

If you’re an athlete who trains first thing in the morning, consider timing your high-protein breakfast for after your workout session. Consuming protein post-exercise is vital for muscle recovery and growth. It provides the necessary amino acids for repairing muscle fibers damaged during training and can help replenish energy stores. A breakfast rich in high-quality protein after your workout can enhance recovery and prepare your body for the next training session.

2. Pre-Training Light Snack Option:

While a substantial high-protein meal is recommended post-workout, having a light snack before your training can help maintain energy levels without weighing you down. Opt for something easily digestible and low in fat; a banana, a small serving of yogurt, or a slice of toast with jam can provide a quick energy boost.

3. Balance Your Plate:

While protein is the star of your breakfast, don’t neglect the importance of carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are essential for replenishing glycogen stores after a morning workout, and healthy fats provide long-lasting energy and are vital for absorbing certain nutrients. Consider including whole grains, fruits, and sources of healthy fats like avocados or nuts in your breakfast to ensure a balanced meal.

4. Personalize Your Protein:

Different runners have different dietary needs based on their lifestyle, goals, and personal health. Customize your protein sources and amounts to what works best for you. While animal products are high in protein, plant-based options like lentils, tofu, and quinoa can also offer substantial protein and are excellent for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

5. Consider Protein Quality:

Not all proteins are created equal. Aim for high-quality protein sources that contain all the essential amino acids your body needs. Eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lean meats, and whey or plant-based protein powders are excellent options for building a high-protein breakfast that supports athletic performance and recovery. Plant-based proteins are of high-quality as well, they just may require more thought and forsight to ensure you are getting enough protein at each meal.

Incorporating these tips into your morning routine can help athletes not only maximize the benefits of a high-protein breakfast but also ensure that their overall nutrition strategy supports their training and performance goals. Remember, a thoughtful approach to nutrition is as important as the training itself when it comes to achieving athletic excellence.

High Protein Breakfast Ideas

1. Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos: Made by the wonderful Meghann Featherstone who is also a sports dietitian dedicated to runners. This meal prep is easy and delicious. You can prep 5 for the week or 15 to carry you out over the month f you need to. 

Image from Featherstone Nutrition

2. Protein Oatmeal Muffins: This has been a personal favourite of mine! These homemade muffins are made with eggs, fruit, oats, and protein powder making for a great grab-and-go protein option. Not only do they pack 15g of protein per muffin, but also 4g of fibre! Pop in the microwave for 1 minute, grab 2 and you are on your way to start the day! Check out this recipe from Ally’s Kitchen. 

Image from Ally’s Kitchen

3. Cottage cheese and eggs: Eggs alone do not contain large amounts of protein (6g per egg). Add in another side of protein such as cottage cheese can help create a 25-30g protein breakfast without much effort. Check out the 8 different variations of cottage cheese eggs by Elizbeth from Hello Spoonful.

Image from Hello Spoonful
  1. Kimchi Tofu Scramble: For those who prefer plant-based meals, a tofu scramble is a great way to add protein in your breakfast with a side of kimchi for added gut health benefits.  I found this recipe on a quick Google search a few months ago and this is the recipe I stick to. You can add or remove items to make it suit your preferences. 
Image from Okonomi Kitchen
  1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Portein Shake: If you don’t like to chew much food in the morning, try a high-protein smoothie. Here is one of my favourites: who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter? However, if you are someone who prefers fruity recipes, You can make your own and add in either a protein powder or Greek yogurt to boost that protein in the morning. 
Image from Eating Well

In wrapping up, it’s clear that incorporating high-protein meals into your breakfast routine is great to kickstart your day with energy, focus, and satiety. The beauty of the five easy high-protein breakfast ideas we’ve explored lies in their simplicity and efficiency, perfectly catering to those of us who prioritize health but prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. 

Remember, a nutritious morning meal sets the tone for the day ahead, and with these quick meal prep solutions, you’re well on your way to enjoying the myriad benefits of a protein-packed start. Whether you’re meal prepping for the week or looking for a quick fix on a busy morning, these breakfast ideas are designed to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle, proving that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. 

I encourage you to experiment with these recipes, tweak them to your liking, and perhaps even discover the joy of creating simple yet satisfying meals. Here’s to mornings filled with energy, nourishment, and a little extra time to enjoy the start of your day.

Thinking about working with a sports dietitian?

I’d love to help you optimize your nutrient that reflects your goals, physical activity, and lifestyle so you can feel your best. You can check out my different program options or schedule a 15-minute consultation call. 

Stay fueled friends!


  1. Xiao K, Furutani A, Sasaki H, Takahashi M, Shibata S. Effect of a High Protein Diet at Breakfast on Postprandial Glucose Level at Dinner Time in Healthy Adults. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 24;15(1):85. doi: 10.3390/nu15010085. PMID: 36615743; PMCID: PMC9824806.
  2. Jakubowicz D, Wainstein J, Landau Z, Ahren B, Barnea M, Bar-Dayan Y, Froy O. High-energy breakfast based on whey protein reduces body weight, postprandial glycemia and HbA1C in Type 2 diabetes. J Nutr Biochem. 2017 Nov;49:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.07.005. Epub 2017 Jul 21. PMID: 28863364.
  3. Rains TM, Leidy HJ, Sanoshy KD, Lawless AL, Maki KC. A randomized, controlled, crossover trial to assess the acute appetitive and metabolic effects of sausage and egg-based convenience breakfast meals in overweight premenopausal women. Nutr J. 2015 Feb 10;14:17. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0002-7. PMID: 25889354; PMCID: PMC4334852.
  4. Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast-skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Jul;34(7):1125-33. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.3. Epub 2010 Feb 2. PMID: 20125103; PMCID: PMC4263815.
  5. Leidy HJ, Lepping RJ, Savage CR, Harris CT. Neural responses to visual food stimuli after a normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens: a pilot fMRI study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Oct;19(10):2019-25. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.108. Epub 2011 May 5. PMID: 21546927; PMCID: PMC4034051.
  6. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, Schoenfeld BJ, Henselmans M, Helms E, Aragon AA, Devries MC, Banfield L, Krieger JW, Phillips SM. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376-384. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097608. Epub 2017 Jul 11. Erratum in: Br J Sports Med. 2020 Oct;54(19):e7. PMID: 28698222; PMCID: PMC5867436.
  7. Coelho-Júnior HJ, Calvani R, Landi F, Picca A, Marzetti E. Protein Intake and Cognitive Function in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutr Metab Insights. 2021 Jun 4;14:11786388211022373. doi: 10.1177/11786388211022373. PMID: 34158801; PMCID: PMC8182191.
  8. Naghshi S, Sadeghi O, Willett WC, Esmaillzadeh A. Dietary intake of total, animal, and plant proteins and risk of all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2020 Jul 22;370:m2412. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m2412. PMID: 32699048; PMCID: PMC7374797.
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32019211/

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The types of carbohydrates that you consume matter.

ALL carbohydrates are made up of these three simple sugars: glucose, fructose, galactose. 

Glucose, fructose, and galactose are sugar molecules called monosaccharides, that when combined are called di- or monosaccharides.

Fig 1: Image demonstrating how monosaccharides combine with each other to form disaccharides.

Glucose is found in grains, honey, table sugar, and fruits.

Fructose is a sweeter sugar most commonly found in fruits, honey, and vegetables.

Galactose is produced in the mammary gland of animals and is found in kinds of milk.

Carbohydrates have to be in this simplest form before they are absorbed from the intestines into the blood no matter the source. There are different types of transporters on the cells of the intestines, called enterocytes.

Glucose and galactose require the use of the sodium-dependant glucose transporter (SGLT-1) which requires sodium to work in order to get into the enterocyte (intestinal wall cell). SGLT-1 can transport up to 60g / hour of glucose and galactose. 

Fructose uses GLUT5 to get into the enterocyte, sodium is not required to be present. GLUT5 can absorb up to 30g/hour of carbohydrates.

Once in the enterocyte, glucose, fructose, and galactose all use GLUT2 to get into blood circulation which is required to be able to get to the necessary muscle to use for energy. 

Fig 2: Glucose, galactose, and fructose transport from the intestines to the blood.

Now for those shorter workouts, this may not matter. However, once your training starts to last greater than 2 hours, you really want to make sure you are fueling with intra-workout carbohydrates so that you don’t hit a wall = you ran out of fuel. 

It is important to understand which and how many carbohydrates are the best to consume.

By using a combination of simple carbohydrates can ensure that you:
✅Maximize absorption
✅Prevent GI distress
✅Prevent gastric dumping (leads to GI distress)
✅Maintaining properly fueled

In summary: your carbohydrate source matters during training to stay fueled!!

*Disclaimer: this post is referring to carbohydrates during workout fueling. You should not fear a carbohydrate because it is a simple carbohydrate. 

If you want to learn how to maximize your training with carbohydrate timing, check out the Carbohydrate Cheat Sheet to see how many carbs you should be eating daily!

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