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Pieta Cedaro

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Pieta Cedaro APD Consultant Dietitian:

Pieta CedaroPieta Cedaro works on a consultancy basis as a dietitian with many of the athletes we coach. One of the services she provides is a complete dietary review whereby the athletes provide her with a comprehensive 3-day diet review of everything that goes into their mouths. She then provides them with feedback as to how to optimally modify their diets to optimise their recovery and performance. Nutrition and diet are crucial for an athlete and it can vary drastically depending on what their specific requirements are.

Read some of her research work here




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Text by Rod Cedaro (M. App. Sc.)

Consultant Exercise Physiologist ACC Accredited Level III Triathlon Coach

On a recent trip to Italy my partner (who is a dietician) and I found it fascinating to look at the manner in which typical Italians eat, compared to Aussies and Americans (we travelled back to Australia via the States – what a contrast in food habits to Italy!).

Whilst Italy has its smattering of Fast Food restaurants with the Golden Arches rearing its ugly head among the beautiful monuments and the like, it seems, in majority of the cases at least, that the only people in these establishments are the Anglo-Saxon tourists that don’t know any better!

The Italians on the other hand are chowing down on a derivation of what has commonly become known as the “Mediterranean Diet”.

For the last 20 years public health eating guidelines in places like Australia and the USA have emphasised a balance between groups of foods intended to meet the basic nutritional requirements of the population. The emphasis has been on carbohydrate rich foods with a low fat intake. The problem is – at least in industrialised countries – that the emphasis has shifted from nutritional adequacy to “over” nutrition and the consumption of excessive amounts of foods closely linked to cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.

These guidelines have been typically displayed in the “food pyramid” and lump certain foods together (e.g. Red meat is lumped together with chicken, fish, poultry, beans and nuts and called “protein” foods) making no distinction between vegetable oils and animal fats and not really distinguishing between full fat and low fat diary options.

Relatively recent studies however have documented the benefits of the “classic” Mediterranean diets in fostering longer and healthier lives for those who adhere to them. Given that the Mediterranean Sea is bordered by some 16 different countries there is no “one” Mediterranean Diet per se, but rather food habits that appear to be common throughout this region and which promote health and longevity in those eating in this manner.

So what are the common denominators?

All versions of the Mediterranean diet appear to have:

  •  High consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and other cereals.
  • Olive oil is used extensively in cooking and as a dressing.
  • There are moderate amounts of fish – particularly those that are oily in nature – and only limited amounts of red meat.
  • There is a low to moderate consumption of full fat diary products such as cheese and yoghurt.
  • Alcohol – particularly red wine – is consumed in moderation and usually in conjunction with meals.
  • They rely on local, seasonal and fresh produce – not a lot of processed/packaged food is consumed.
  • They lead an active and relaxed lifestyle.

Rod Cedaro dietGiven that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet has now been documented to enhance health and longevity (see reference listed below), this style of eating has promoted researchers to ask, “why” and “which foods” have these protective properties.

Their findings can be summarised as follows:

(i) Olive oil is used instead of butter. margarine and other fats for cooking. It is a rich source of monounsaturated fat which protects against heart disease possibly because it displaces saturated fat in the diet. It is also a source of antioxidants such as vitamin E, but equally important, Olive oil is used extensively as a dressing in various vegetable based dishes, salads and to fry fish.

(ii) Fruit and veg. Study after study have found these foods to have protective qualities against both heart disease and cancer, probably as a consequence of their antioxidant properties. Tomatoes in particular have come under closer scrutiny because they are used so extensively in the Mediterranean diet in sauces and the like. In fact the process of heating and cooking tomatoes increases the availability of the compound lycopene which is richly available in tomatoes and is a powerful antioxidant.

(iii) Fish, such as sardines, are regularly consumed and they are rich in Omega 3 oils which have been found to be beneficial to cardiac function. Those partaking in the Mediterranean diet, that live close to the sea rely on the bounty of the sea for much of their meat intake.

(iv) Wine in moderation. Red wine is drunk throughout the Mediterranean region, particularly at meal time and in moderation. Red wine in particular is rich in certain health promoting compounds (flavonoids and phytonutrients) which are powerful antioxidants and have a role to play in lowering cardiovascular disease states.

(v) A combined effect. In the paper sited below, the researchers found that no single component or food group singularly provided any significant health protection and the authors concluded that it is in-fact the combination of all the different elements of the diet coupled with the more relaxed approach to life, plenty of sunshine and more physical activity that contributes to the improved health status of those lucky enough to live in this beautiful part of the world.

The take home message for you, the triathlete – forget the nonsensical high protein, low carb dietary regimens, forget trying to eat like Nathan Pritikin – all carbs and no fats – eat like the traditional Italians (particularly from the south) and Greeks. If you’re training hard, up the volume of food from all food groups but in particular the cereal, fruit, vegetable and legume component of the diet – they are rich in energy giving carbohydrates. Above all, enjoy your food, train smart and enjoy life, or as the Italians say, “La Dolca Vita” (the sweet life) – after all the research is in and your life depends on it.

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid


  1. Trichopoulou A. et al: Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and survival in a Greek population. New England Journal of Medicine 348: 2599-2608, 2003.



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Text by Rod Cedaro (M. App. Sc.)

Consultant Exercise Physiologist ACC Accredited Level III Triathlon Coach

Pieta Cedaro (APD) Consultant Dietitian

It never fails to surprise me just how much misinformation still exists around the athletic training circles. My wife works on a consultancy basis as a dietician with many of the athletes we coach. One of the services she provides is a complete dietary review whereby the athletes provide her with a comprehensive 3-day diet review of everything that goes into their mouths. She then provides them with feedback as to how to optimally modify their diets to optimise their recovery, performance, etc. Time and time again what comes across is the incredible amounts of money triathletes are spending seemingly adhoc on nutritional supplementation and one of the most exploited myths is that of creatine. With this in mind I thought it timely to consider just what you are potentially doing to your performance – running in particular because of its weight bearing nature – if you are creatine supplementing on a daily basis.

So let’s look at the physiology behind creatine. When athletes consume creatine be it from meat and fish or in supplementary form, some of the creatine will be absorbed from the blood into the muscles. Once there, creatine can be combined with phosphate to form phosphocreatine, a vital—but very limited—source of energy for brief, high-power activities such as sprinting and resistance training. It follows that creatine users should have more phosphocreatine energy available to perform these kinds of activities, leading to improved performance – at least in sprint and power events – already distance running off the bike associated with triathlon isn’t looking to benefit too much from this form of supplementation now is it!?

This rationale sounds great, and a whole industry has been built upon it with many millions of dollars worth of creatine supplements sold every year. But even after the completion of several hundred scientific investigations, many questions remain about the value of creatine supplementation for performance of various sports and about how much and when to use creatine—if it should be used at all. Here is some of what we now know from the current research:

* Supplementing the diet with 20 grams of creatine daily (four X 5-gram doses) for 4-5 days (i.e., “creatine loading”) will increase muscle levels of creatine in some, but not all, individuals. When consumed in amounts greater than 20 grams per day the balance is excreted via the urine.


*2 grams of creatine ingested daily for 30 days is just as effective as the aforementioned loading regimen in regards to the concentrations found in muscle at the end of the loading phase.

* Consuming carbohydrate with creatine increases creatine uptake by muscles marginally.

* Creatine ingestion generally results in weight gain by a couple of kilograms, some of which will be extra muscle and the rest extra water. This additional weight is likely to be detrimental to your running performance.

* Most lab studies of high-power tests lasting 30 seconds and/or repeated high power tests show slight (but signficant) improvements in performance in creatine users.

* Lab testing between 30 and 90 seconds duration suggest some positive performance with creatine supplementation. As test durations exceed 90 seconds, creatine users show little or no change in performance compared to non-users.


TABLE 1. Evidence for and against the use of creatine in different events. Type of Testing Ergogenic (Performance Enhancing) Effect or not?
Intense Brief Exercise (e.g. Laboratory tests; <30 seconds e.g. Sprint cycling – the shorter the better) Established performance benefits.
Intense exercise in lab setting for exercise bouts of 30-90 seconds to 3 minutes duration (e.g. Rowing ergo). Established performance benefits.
Intermittent style intense exercise bouts in the lab of 30 seconds to 3 minutes duration (e.g. Laboratory tests simulating mountain biking – stop-go-stop-go style intermittent efforts.) Supported by “some” research.
Intense exercise of longer than 3 minutes duration (Lab and field studies – e.g. Endurance based activities such as distance running.) No supportive evidence available for the use of creatine.



* When consumed in moderate doses, there doesn’t appear to be any adverse health effects with the supplementation of creatine in healthy adults.

* There have been no studies reviewing the effects of creatine supplementation on growing children so it would be prudent NOT TO use this supplement with athletes under the age of 18.

* Since the manufacture of supplements isn’t tightly regulated there is no guarantee that what is stated on the bottle is what is actually in the product. As was the case with the Bek Keat issue there have been incidents where supplements are “spiked” with stimulants or prohormones that are banned by sport governing bodies – so ensure that the product you are using is from a reliable source.

* Endurance athletes such as triathletes have little if anything to gain (and particularly during the run leg, much to lose) using creatine because of the associated weight gain due to increased muscle mass and fluid retention.

* Dietary supplements won’t make you a champion! The key to great performances is dedicated intelligent training over time coupled with a genetic predisposition to endurance sports, recovery and sensible dietary habits. Get all of these ingredients in place and them search for the 1%ers to give you that edge – creatine for the triathlete doesn’t fall into this category.




Rod Cedaro: Importance of Nutrition before a Triathlon

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Rod Cedaro_nutrition

Vitamin rich fruits and vegetables

Rod Cedaro:The Importance of Nutrition before a Triathlon

Eating right is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it becomes all the more important when training for an event as rigorous as a triathlon. You must fuel your body properly, not unlike putting premium fuel in an F1 racecar.

Your diet will have to change long before the day of the event. Starting as early as 3 months before a triathlon, you should start removing all processed foods from your diet. If there’s an ingredient that you don’t recognize on the label, don’t buy it. Instead, start loading up on fresh produce and vegetables while cutting back on the protein a bit. The nutrients from natural foods will help your body prepare as you train while being supplemented by a little bit of protein here and there.

Rod Cedaro nutrition

Healthy carbohydrates

As the triathlon approaches, start cranking up your carb intake to properly fuel the ever increasing efforts of your training. Also be sure to eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to avoid any illnesses that may throw you off your training.

A week before the event, you diet will have to shift once more. Begin drinking up to 96 oz. of water a day while avoiding caffeine and alcohol entirely. Start really loading up on carbs next, and drop fiber-rich foods. You need to prepare your body for the big day.

Finally, on race day you need to fully fuel up. Start with some low-fiber carbs and a small amount of protein to get your blood sugar in shape. Keep your training in mind, and stick to your plan, and all should go well. After the race, a smoothie or sports drink is the ideal option to regain the nutrients lost over the length of the triathlon.