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WheelPeople Articles

  • 2023-06-20 8:47 AM | Anonymous

    The club made arrangements for a memorable bench to honor Sandy Gray, a CRW past president. The bench is located on the Bruce Freeman Bike Trail. It is at mile marker 6.8 between Evans Way and Greenwood Road - just north of the Chelmsford town line and Greenwood Road in Westford. Harriet Fell was lead on this project.

  • 2023-06-20 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    This article was written with the help of news accounts, government publications, and the gracious assistance of Richard Williamson, a member of the Board of the Bruce Freeman group.

    by Eli Post

    An Impressive Bridge

    Those of you that regularly travel on Route 2 in Concord have witnessed a remarkable construction project. It is one of the longest rail-trail bridges in the country and connects dozens of towns so that you can travel 25 miles (50 miles round trip) and that distance will increase as more segments of the Bruce Freeman trail are completed.

    Let’s start with a bit of history.

    Back in the 1870’s when the Framingham/Lowell railroad  was being designed and constructed, the railroad engineers had to figure out how to bring the railroad across one of the major highways, in particular, Route 2.  The obvious solution was to construct an at-grade crossing and supply a traffic signal.  That solution worked for about a century.

    However by the 1970’s, traffic on Route 2 increased by a large factor and an at-grade crossing was no longer going to be acceptable.  A conductor swinging a lantern to lead freight cars across the highway was a very poor solution.  The obvious good solution was to build a bridge.  Obvious, but not straightforward.  The Mass. Department of Transportation MASSDOT had a host of problems to deal with including an ongoing traffic mess on Route 2 at the nearby rotary in front of the Concord prison.  On top of that, a proposal to construct a rail trail (the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail) was moving along in the planning process and the BFRT would cross Route 2 just west of the rotary.  The MASSDOT folks decided to tackle the situation head on by totally redesigning the rotary and including the BFRT crossing in the overall design.  After lots of planning and traffic  modeling, the whole complicated thing was shelved, including the BFRT crossing.

    By 1980, the BFRT had been largely designed, cleared, funded, permitted, constructed etc. from the south all the way north to a point just south of the Route 2 crossing in Concord.  A similar story applied to the BFRT coming from the north through Acton.  The dilemma to connect didn’t go away.  How do you bring the BFRT across Route 2?  On a bridge, of course, but not so simple.  The original 1870’s alignment of the rail bed crossed Route 2 at the shallow angle of about 30 degrees.  A little trigonometry tells us that the bridge would have to be about twice as long as it would otherwise have to be if it were to cross perpendicular.  

    Nevertheless, good luck and good fortune prevailed, and by fall 2022, the bridge was done.  In spring 2023, the only remaining tasks are finishing the approaches. You may be able to ride across the bridge by the time you read this. As in any large construction project, there were technical problems to overcome. We share one with you. In Acton, the MA State Police horse farm sits alongside the west side of the BFRT.  In fact, the farm's pasture overlaps the BFRT right of way.   No one wanted to see collisions between cyclists and grass-munching horses!   So the pasture's east-side fence had to be moved a short distance to the west.

    You can enjoy a long ride on a traffic-free Bruce Freeman bike path starting in Chelmsford at the northern end or Acton at the southern end. Or park by the prison and take a joy ride over the bridge. In any case make sure you enjoy a remarkable edition to our biking opportunities.

  • 2023-06-20 8:29 AM | Anonymous

    by John Springfield

    In spite of all my bicycle touring in New England, I realized that few miles were ridden in Maine.  So in May 2023 I departed on a week-long tour of Maine.  The plan was to start at the southernmost town of Kittery, head north, then east to Augusta, and back to Kittery.  As it turned out I finished in Portland.  The steep hills were not very friendly to my 74-year-old body.


    However, I had near perfect weather (50-70 degrees), no rain, and no flats.

     Scenic view on highway 5, just north of Limerick

    Going north from Kittery I went through an area where towns were named after countries and European cities:  Norway, Mexico, Peru, Denmark, Paris, etc.

    The farms gave way to forests and vacation camps.  Some towns are so small that they lacked general stores and gas stations.  I was always on the hunt for local diners, but alas, they were sometimes non-existent. Photo on left is a local river with rusty colored water.


    One of the highlights was the town of Wilton (on Wilson Lake). It was here that the Bass Shoe Company prospered until 1998.  The factory is now an Italian eatery (where I had a great meal).  Bass was known for it's rugged outdoor shoes and boots. But it was also the company that "invented" the penny loafer.

    After visiting the state capital in sleepy Augusta (it was early Saturday morning), I headed south along the scenic and historic Kennebec River.  The river is quite wide, allowing ships from Boston to navigate their way north.  Along the river is Bicycle Route 1, the Eastcoast Greenway, and the Merry Meeting Trail.  Some of these routes are on traditional bike paths, while others are on paved and dirt roads. 

     On the top a view of Downtown Winthrop. At the bottom is Lake Wilson. 

    But the many steep hills were taking their toll, so I decided to head to Portland and call it quits.  However, I really enjoyed a long break on the Brunswich town green. It has a food trailer with some of the best hot dogs and lobster rolls around.  It was here that I conversed with a couple of other bike riders.  One noticed my classic Rivendell touring bike.  And I noticed he had a Burley tandem.  Made my day.

  • 2023-06-20 8:14 AM | Anonymous

    By Doctor Gabe Mirkin

    The old guideline recommending 30 minutes of exercise three times a week just isn’t enough, according to the latest research. Athletes know that they need to work out every day, and all people who just want to stay healthy can benefit from the same type of exercise program.

    Why Athletes Need to Exercise Every Day
    Knowledgeable athletes train by stressing and recovering. You have to damage muscles to gain strength and enlarge muscles. You become more fit by taking a hard workout and then resting for a day or two than you will by exercising at the same leisurely pace every day. Every muscles is made up of thousands of fibers like a rope is made of many strands. Every fiber is made up of blocks called sarcomeres that fit end to end like a row of bricks. Sarcomeres butt upon each other, end-to-end, at Z-lines.

    Muscles contract only at each Z-line. When you exercise vigorously, you damage these Z-lines and when they heal, the muscle fibers are stronger. So all athletes train by stressing and recovering. On one day, they take an intense workout to damage their muscles at the Z-lines. On the next day their muscles are sore and damaged and they exercise at a relaxed pace. When the muscles are healed and the soreness lessens, they take their next intense workout.

    If athletes exercise at low intensity during the healing phase of the Z-lines, their muscle  fibers will become stronger than if they rest. If they exercise vigorously when their muscles are sore, they are likely to tear them and be injured. Athletes need to exercise every day to gain maximum strength.

    Why Non-Athletes Also Should Exercise Every Day
    Forty percent of North Americans die of heart attacks. One of the common causes of the arterial damage that precedes heart attacks is a high rise in blood sugar after meals. Blood sugar always rises after meals and because of faulty lifestyle habits, most North Americans have blood sugars that rise too high. Resting muscles remove no sugar from the bloodstream, but contracting muscles remove sugar rapidly from the bloodstream and can do so without even needing insulin. This effect is strongest during exercise and diminishes to no benefit after about 17 hours. If you want to use exercise to help control blood sugar, you need to do it every day.

    An Exercise Program for Everyone
    Because a person with blocked arteries leading to the heart could suffer a heart attack during exercise, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Whatever activity you choose, try to exercise every day. If you are just starting out, spend about six weeks at a slow pace until you are comfortable in your activity. Then you are ready to alternate more intense days with easier workouts.

    Intense Days
    Stress refers to intensity, not the length of your workout. You can gauge the severity of the stress by the amount of burning you feel in your muscles during exercise. interval training means that you start out slowly, pick up the pace, slow down immediately when your muscles start to burn, recover by going very slowly for as long as you want, and then pick up the pace again.

    On your hard days, warm up by going very slowly for five to 10 minutes. Going slowly at the start of a workout warms up muscles to help make them resistant to injury. If your muscles still feel tired or heavy, do not try interval training. Exercising with tired or sore muscles can cause serious injuries.

    After you warm up, pick up the pace gradually until you feel burning in your muscles and immediately slow down. Then go at a very slow pace until the soreness goes away, your breath returns to normal and you feel recovered. How long it takes to recover is irrelevant. You take your next faster pick up when you feel that you have recovered, not from any preset time. Then pick up the pace until you feel burning again.

    If you don’t compete, you do not ever need to go at 100 percent intensity. People who are just starting to do interval workouts should pick up the pace only slightly and not become short of breath. Slow down and get out of the burn as soon as you feel it. As soon as the burning and fatigue go away, and you are not breathing hard, try to pick up the pace again. In early workouts, you may only be able to do one hard pickup after you have just started your workout. Do not start your next pick up until your legs feel fresh. As soon as your legs start to feel heavy, stop the workout. Trying to increase the pace when your muscles feel sore and heavy invites injury.

    Easy Days
    The day after your hard workout your muscles will probably feel sore and you should take an easy workout. If the discomfort does not go away as you continue to exercise, is worse on one side of your body, or increases as you exercise, stop exercising immediately. You are injured and continuing to exercise will delay healing. Take off the next day also if you still feel sore in one place. If you feel better as you exercise casually, continue to exercise until you feel any discomfort or heaviness. Always stop every workout when your muscles feel heavy or sore. Keep on taking easy days where you exercise at low intensity until you feel fresh again. Do not do another hard workout until the soreness in your muscles has gone away.

    My Recommendations
    Every healthy person should try to exercise every day. You will gain a much higher level of fitness by “stressing and recovering”. That means to exercise more intensely on one day, feel sore on the next and go slowly. Only when your muscles feel fresh should you try to pick up the pace again.

    This aricle is courtesy of Dr.Gabe Mirkin MD

  • 2023-06-20 7:52 AM | Anonymous

    By Nancy Clark

    Many athletes, coaches, referees, and support crews—including parents, partners, and siblings—spend a significant number of mealtimes on the road, traveling from one sports event to the next, be they training sessions, regional games, or national tournaments. With food budgets being tight and encounters with affordable (but often less-healthy) foods being ubiquitous at every gas station and convenience store, the ease of grabbing questionable sports meals and snacks can weaken one’s will to search elsewhere for higher quality sports foods.

    Without a doubt, eating a decent sports diet becomes a challenge when healthful food options are scarce. Regardless, athletes who travel by car deserve to be optimally fueled to be able to perform at their best. That means being creative—and also planning ahead.

    The following tips can help you eat a reasonably well-balanced diet from a gas station or vending machine— or at least, eat better than if you were to have no plan at all. Bigger gas stations and those closer to a main highway or busy towns tend to have more offerings of nutrient-dense foods than the small-town gas station’s shelves stocked with just a few bags of pork rinds and some candy bars. Hence, you (or the team’s driver) want to keep nutrition in mind when planning fuel stops. Getting gas sooner at a bigger station is better than later, if later will be in the middle of nowhere.

    Eating well on the road

     For the purposes of this article, I offer the following definition of  “a well-balanced sports diet”:

    A “well balanced sports diet” includes foods from at least three—ideally four—of these food groupings:

    1. Fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system and help keep your body healthy.

    2. Grain-based foods to fuel your muscles and your brain.

    3. Protein-rich foods to build and repair your muscles.

    4. Calcium-rich foods such as dairy, to enhance bone-health and also offer high-quality protein for muscles.

    Please note that “well balanced” applies to your entire day’s eating, not just one meal or snack. Hence, a good breakfast, lunch and dinner can help offset a sub-optimal snack. “Balance” also includes calorie-balance. By reading the calorie information on food labels, you can determine the portion-size that fits into your calorie budget, so you avoid undesired weight loss or gain. Approximate targets could be at least 600-800 calories per meal for a female athlete and 800-1,000 calories per meal for a male athlete.

    The following list of some typical gas station snacks organizes the foods according to nutrient profile. Using this template, you can manage to pick a somewhat balanced, halfway decent sports diet when you are on the road (or at a vending machine). Remember: at least three of the four kinds of food for meals and two kinds of foods for snacks.

    1. Fruits and


    2. Grain-based foods

    3. Protein-rich


    4. Calcium-rich foods   

       / Dairy **


    Orange juice

    100%-Fruit Juice









    Canned fruit (peaches)



    V-8 juice

    Triscuits, Wheat Thins

    Graham crackers


    Peanut butter crackers

    BelVita Biscuit


    Popcorn/ SmartFood

    Corn chips, Tostitos scoops



    Clif Bars


    Nature Valley Granola Bar


    Muffin (bran, corn)

    Cereal cups (Raisin Bran)



    Mixed nuts

    Trail mix

    Sunflower seeds


    Jerky (beef, turkey)


    KIND bar

    Clif Builder’s Bar

    Canned tuna

    Egg, hard boiled




    Milk, dairy or soy


    Flavored Milk: Chocolate

    Strawberry, Vanilla


    Yogurt, regular Yogurt, Greek


    Cheese sticks

    Cheese sticks

    Pre-sliced Cheese

    (Individually wrapped)




    ** If you are lactose intolerant, sharp cheddar cheese is virtually lactose-free— but you might want to travel with Lactaid™ Pills. Other low-no lactose, calcium-rich foods such as soy milk or calcium-fortified orange juice can be harder to find on the road. Calcium-fortified almond milk might be available—but other than calcium, almond milk is a nutrient-poor choice.

    Turning convenience foods into a balanced sports diet

         When you are at home, a well-balanced diet that includes all four food groups in a meal might look like this:

                Granola + milk + banana + hard boiled eggs

                Whole wheat bread + turkey + cheese + lettuce/tomato and an apple

                Brown rice + chicken + broccoli + yogurt (for dessert)


    When you are eating from the gas station/vending machine, your balanced diet might resemble these tasty (hahaha) meals:

                Orange juice + popcorn + protein bar + yogurt

                Salsa+ corn chips + almonds + milk

                Banana + peanuts + Wheat Thins + cheese sticks.


    Fresh fruits and vegetables can be the hardest foods to find when you are on the road. You are unlikely to suffer from malnutrition if your traveling diet is low in fruits and veggies for a week or so because your body stores vitamins in the liver. A healthy person’s liver stores enough vitamin C to last for at least three weeks. That said, you will want to re-stock your liver's diminished supply when you return home! Make an extra effort to enjoy fruit smoothies, colorful salads, and generous portions of fresh fruits and veggies whenever you get the opportunity to do so.


    Traveling with a cooler

    A wise alternative to “dining” at gas stations is to travel with a cooler (and re-freezable ice packs). Stock the cooler with sandwiches (PB&J, ham & cheese, hummus), water, 100% orange juice, chocolate milk boxes, yogurt, and other wholesome sports foods. A pre-trip food-shopping spree at a BJ’s, Costco, or large supermarket can save a team a lot of money. Portable food suggestions include:

    Perishable items: Oranges, fruit juices, baby carrots, peppers (eat them like apples); yogurt, sliced cheese, milk chugs; ham, hard boiled eggs, hummus; tortillas, wraps, mini bagels.

    Non-perishable items: tuna in pop-top cans, small jar of peanut butter, almonds; granola bars, graham crackers, Fig Newtons, dried fruit, V8 juice.

    Note: your teammates might come begging for food from your personal cooler, so pack extra —or better yet, encourage them to pack their own food!  


    The Bottom Line

    Performance starts with good nutrition. If you make the effort to travel to sports events, you want to make the effort to eat a winning sports diet. No amount of training will over-ride a poorly fueled traveling athlete.



    Nancy Clark, MS, RD CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels active people at her private practice in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For more information about Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and her online workshop, please visit

    -- Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD Sports nutrition counselor Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 6th Edition (Books, presentations, blog) Twitter: @nclarkrd Office: 1155 Walnut St., Newton Highlands, MA 02460 Phone:617-795-1875 "Helping active people win with good nutrition." Secretary, Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINES)

  • 2023-06-20 7:47 AM | Anonymous

    Kelly is a CRW member and a practicing Dermatologist

    By Kelly O'Connor

    Sun Protection

    There’s nothing like New England biking in the summertime. July and August bring warmth and sunshine, but also a high amount of ultraviolet radiation (UVR)! Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun induces DNA damage in skin cells that can eventually develop into cancer. The UV index tracks the hourly risk of UVR exposure by accounting for the amount of UVR passing through the ozone layer, forecasted cloud coverage, and altitude. It does not account for UVR that reflects off surfaces such as metal, snow, water, and pavement, which can add a lot of exposure on a road bike.


    The best way to protect sun-exposed skin is to wear sunscreen and there are three major headings you should look at on sunscreen labels. 1. Sun protective factor (SPF). SPF is the amount of UVR required to produce a sunburn on protected skin (with sunscreen) relative to the amount required on unprotected skin. A good rule of thumb is to use at least SPF 30, which protects against 97% of UV radiation and has been shown to decrease the rate of skin cancers. However, a well-designed study demonstrated that the “actual use” of SPF 100 prevented many fewer sunburns than SPF 50,1 so using a higher SPF is likely to be beneficial. 2. Active ingredients. There are two major types: physical and chemical blockers. Physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are metal particles that sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun's rays. Chemical blockers, such as oxybenzone and octisalate, are absorbed by the top layer of the skin and absorb UVR. Physical blockers are broader in UV spectrum coverage, immediately effective, safer for the environment, and better for people with sensitive skin. Many older physical sunscreens left a white cast on the skin, but newer formulations rub on much more clearly. 3. Water resistance. If a sunscreen has been tested for water resistance, it is effective for either 40 or 80 minutes during swimming or sweating. So whether you are climbing up hills on the Mighty Squirrel ride or pulling your group up Nantasket beach, reach for a sunscreen with 80 minutes of water resistance.

    Kind in mind there are many different formulations of sunscreen: lotion, sprays, sticks, balms, powder. While a lotion makes a nice initial coat before your ride, a stick that fits into your back pocket makes reapplication less messy. Try out different ones and figure out which ones work best for you. At the end of the day, the best sunscreen is one that you will actually put on.

    Don't want to douse yourself in sunscreen every time you ride? Try sun protective clothing like long sleeve riding shirts, gloves, skull caps, ear covers, and long socks. You don’t need to spend a fortune on specific SPF 50+ approved clothing- stretch out your clothing and hold it up to the sun. If light does not pass through it (and you don’t squint), then the fabric weave is tight enough to provide protection.

    Adjuncts to Sunscreen

    1. Topical vitamin C and E serums. These have been shown to increase resistance to UVR and decrease the amount of DNA damage to skin cells.2 I recommend applying a vitamin C and E serum in the morning, 10-15 minutes before sunscreen. 2. Oral Polypodium leucotomos. This is extracted from a tropical fern and made into a capsule. Studies have shown that people who took two 240 mg capsules daily had less sunsburns compared to those taking a placebo, 3 and that there were fewer mutations on a molecular level.4 Vitamin D Sunlight converts a precursor of vitamin D in the skin into a more active form, which regulates calcium levels (keeping bones strong). Despite this fact, everyday sunscreen use has not been found to lead to vitamin D deficiency. Moreover, the most efficient way to get vitamin D is through the diet. Fatty fish, fish liver oils, and fortified foods (milk, cereal, mushrooms) are among the best sources. If you are concerned that you are not consuming enough vitamin D in your diet, I recommend taking 2000 IU of vitamin D daily. Ride safe and protect yourself from the sun!

    Kelly O’Connor, MD, FAAD Medical, Surgical, and Cosmetic Dermatologist South Shore Skin Center in Norwell, MA


    1. Williams JD, Maitra P, Atillasoy E, Wu MM, Farberg AS, Rigel DS. SPF 100+ sunscreen is more protective against sunburn than SPF 50+ in actual use: Results of a randomized, double-blind, split-face, natural sunlight exposure clinical trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018 May;78(5):902-910.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.12.062. Epub 2017 Dec 29. PMID: 29291958.

    2. Murray JC, Burch JA, Streilein RD, Iannacchione MA, Hall RP, Pinnell SR. A topical antioxidant solution containing vitamins C and E stabilized by ferulic acid provides protection for human skin against damage caused by ultraviolet irradiation. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Sep;59(3):418-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 Jul 7. PMID: 18603326.

    3. Nestor MS, Berman B, Swenson N. Safety and Efficacy of Oral Polypodium leucotomos Extract in Healthy Adult Subjects. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015 Feb;8(2):19-23. PMID: 25741399; PMCID: PMC4345929.

    4. Mohammad TF, Kohli I, Nicholson CL, Treyger G, Chaowattanapanit S, Nahhas AF, Braunberger TL, Lim HW, Hamzavi IH. Oral Polypodium Leucotomos Extract and Its Impact on Visible Light-Induced Pigmentation in Human Subjects. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Dec 1;18(12):1198-1203. PMID: 31859468.

  • 2023-06-20 7:43 AM | Anonymous

  • 2023-06-20 7:20 AM | Anonymous

    By John Allen

    What if you encounter someone whose bicycle is a crash waiting to happen? 

    So, recently I was riding through an apartment complex on my way to the gym. I was half a block from the new rail trail in Waltham. It isn’t officially open yet, though people are already using it. 

    I encountered a girl about 8 years old, headed home from the rail trail, riding alone. She had a very nice bike for an Internet purchase: in her size, and made for comfortable travel, rather than for acrobatics. The bike had derailleur gears, aluminum rims, and direct-pull hand-lever-operated  brakes. A kid could grow as a cyclist on this bike, with guidance. 

    The girl was having trouble mounting and dismounting. We started a conversation and I coached her on that. I handed her my business card. She could show it to her mother, and maybe I could help her mother teach her? But then I noticed: neither of the brakes was working. The cables were not installed properly.

    The most common kind of serious bicycle crash for young children is to ride out into the street and get hit by a car. It could be due to not noticing an approaching vehicle –  or to brakes that don’t work. 

    I asked the girl for permission, got out my tool kit  and went to work on her brakes.  The cables were in a tangle, it took some time,  but I got the brakes working properly. 

    I asked, “who assembled the bike?”

    “My Mom.”

    “There’s nothing wrong with your Mom, but that is a job for a bicycle mechanic.”

    I showed the girl about not using the front brake too much. 

    We parted. I rode home without going to the gym.

    What lesson does this encounter hold? 

    On paths and in parks especially, you’ll see many people – children and adults – riding bicycles with serious safety issues. It may distress you, as it does me.  

    How to deal with this? 

    Might a Karen, there’s a word for it, have called the police on me as a predator? When I described my encounter to my wife, she reminded me that two adults always had to be present in a Sunday School class in our church, in case of such complaints. Point taken, I hadn’t thought of that, but then we were out in the open with people going by. That assuaged my wife’s concerns.

    I am not going to let myself be consumed with fear about a favor I do anyone in good faith, in plain view of passersby. But I wish now that I had not been in such a hurry to get home. If I had walked home with the girl, I could probably have spoken with her mother face to face, gone on to offer more coaching, become a family friend….

    People’s attitudes about accepting help differ. I have helped a couple times on CRW rides to straighten bent chain links, allowing the riders to complete their day of riding – description  of the technique is in this article.  I have lost count of the number of flat tires I have fixed – other people’s and my own. I have straightened bent derailer hangers, adjusted brakes…I could go on. The tool kit offers a great way to connect with people when used in the right context. 

    Indeed, context matters. My assistance has usually been welcome, or politely declined – “all set” –, when the bicycle was disabled. Offering help to someone who is still able to ride is trickier, and I often avoid it. 

    But this was my first interaction with a child whose bicycle put her in serious danger. It was a learning experience for me. I missed out on making it the best experience for the child, and learned how I might do better next time.

    Beyond that, community events – bicycle rodeos and the like – offer an opportunity to address bicycle maintenance where more people are available to assist, and in a more impersonal context. So, do consider setting one up in your community. 

  • 2023-06-01 9:11 AM | Anonymous

    Eggs: Unscrambling the confusion

     By Nancy Clark

    When it comes to eating eggs, nutrition advice has changed. In 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended Americans consume no more than three whole egg per week. The  belief was eating cholesterol-rich egg yolks would elevate cholesterol in the blood, which would increase one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and having a heart attack or stroke. By 2015, that belief had changed. Today’s 2020-2025 US Dietary Guidelines no longer limit eggs.   (Nutrition is an evolving science. New research led to new understandings about eggs. Though confusing, the “system is working” when new knowledge leads to new recommendations about what’s best to eat to protect good health.)


         Studying the role of eggs in our diet has been done, in part, by surveying thousands of egg-eaters from a cross-section of the general population. This led to the conclusion that eating eggs can increase one’s risk for elevated blood cholesterol and heart disease. But that conclusion applied best to the average American (overfat, underfit) who ate fried eggs + bacon + buttery white toast, i.e., a lot of saturated fat. Today’s heart-healthy dietary guidelines focus on saturated fat as the culprit. Of the 5 grams of fat in an egg, only 1.5 g are saturated. (The recommended daily limit for saturated fat is about 15 grams per 2,000 calories.) Athletes who eat poached eggs + avocado + whole grain toast can more likely enjoy that breakfast worry-free.

         Overall, epidemiological evidence suggests enjoying 6 to 7 eggs/week does not increase heart disease risk. For most healthy athletes, cholesterol in eggs does not convert into artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood. That said, some people are hyper-responders to dietary cholesterol, meaning when they eat cholesterol-rich foods, their blood cholesterol level increases. If you have a family history of heart disease and/or diabetes, a worry-free choice is to enjoy more oatmeal breakfasts, made really yummy by stirring in a spoonful of peanut butter. (Both oatmeal and peanut butter are known to be heart-healthy choices.)

          Heart-health is enhanced by far more than eliminating eggs from your menu. Rather than targeting eggs as a contributor to heart disease, I suggest you take a good look at your overall lifestyle as well as dietary intake. As an athlete, you get regular exercise, but do you get enough sleep? Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all? Eat an overall well-balanced diet? You might want to focus less on whether or not an omelet for breakfast will ruin your health (doubtful!) and instead make other long-term dietary enhancements. That is, could you add more spinach and arugula to your salads? Munch on more nuts instead of chips? Enjoy more salmon and fewer burgers?  There’s no question that whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, and colorful fruits and veggies promote heart-health.


    Egg truths

    • Eggs are nutrient dense. They contain all the nutrients needed to sustain life. The 150 calories in two eggs offers far more vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients than you’d get from 150 calories of other breakfast foods (i.e., English muffin, energy bar, banana).

    • Brown eggs are nutritionally similar to white eggs. The breed of hen determines the color of the eggs.  

    • Yolks contain nutrients that athletes can easily miss out on, including vitamin D, riboflavin, folate, and for vegans, B-12.

    • One large egg has about 6 to 7 grams of high-quality protein that contains all the essential amino acids (such as BCAAs) that are needed to build muscles. Half of an egg’s protein is in the yolk (along with most of the vitamins, minerals, fat, and flavor). The white is primarily protein and water.
    • Egg yolks contain the (once feared) cholesterol. One egg yolk has about 185 to 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. That’s more than half of the 300-milligram limit previously recommended by the American Heart Association (and has been dropped).  

    • Eggs are a rich in a well-absorbed source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of antioxidants that reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

    • For dieters, eggs are pre-portioned, which can be helpful. Eggs are also satiating. Research suggests people who eat eggs for breakfast tend to eat fewer calories later in the day.

    • What about  omega-3 eggs? Are they all they are cracked up to be? Yes and no. Omega-3 fats are thought to be protective against heart disease. Egg yolks from hens fed flaxseed, algae, and fish oils have a higher omega-3 fat content, increasing it from about 50 mg omega-3s in an ordinary egg to 125 mg in an Eggland’s Best egg. This small amount is tiny compared to the 3,000 mg. omega-3s in a standard portion of Atlantic salmon ( 4-5-oz.).

         Omega-3 eggs are more expensive than standard eggs: $6 vs $4/dozen.  You’ll get a lot more omega-3s by consuming  more salmon. That said, for non-fish eaters, any omega-3 fats are better than no omega-3s.


    Stay tuned

         Someday, we will have a 100%-clear answer to which foods contribute to high levels of blood cholesterol and if that even impacts heart disease risk. That will put an end to the egg-cholesterol-heart health confusion. In addition, we’ll likely be able to benefit from genetic testing that offers personalized nutrition advice. Targeted research that looks at the genes of specific populations, will enable us to know, for example, which athletes can routinely enjoy three-egg omelets (with or without buttered toast) day after day without any fear of impairing their heart-health.

         Until then, if your family is predisposed to heart disease, you certainly want to talk with your doctor and ask about not just eggs but also the possibility of getting tested for biomarkers for heart disease, such as Coronary Artery Calcium score, C-Reactive Protein, and a type of blood lipid called Lp(a). You could also get personalized guidance about a heart-healthy diet from a registered dietitian who specializes in cardiovascular disease. The referral list at can help you find that expert!


    Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD  counsels both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes in the Boston-area (Newton; 617-795-1875). Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook is a popular resource, as is her online workshop. Visit for info.


  • 2023-05-29 3:23 PM | Anonymous

    By Edward Cheng

    Salutations, fellow CRW Members.  The good weather is here and CRW kicked off the 2023 riding season with a spectacular North to New Hampshire Century on May 13, 2023.  The weather was perfect and we had over 300 registrants ride the fully supported century -- the first N2NH fully supported century since pre-COVID.  Thanks to the century committee and the volunteers who ran the rest stops, without whom the event could not have happened.  I have to admit when I first heard from the century committee that they wanted to run three centuries this year just like pre-COVID times, I was a little skeptical, but so far so good!

    Help keep the momentum going by signing up and riding our weekend rides, followed by the challenging Climb to the Clouds Century on June 10.  John O'Dowd, our VP of Rides is working hard to cajole our Ride Leaders to post rides, so let's make it worth their while by making our weekend rides a success.

    Last, if you don't see me on the roads until September, the reason is that I ruptured my left Achilles tendon the day after the N2NH.  So while I can cheer you on from the sidelines, I won't be joining you on the roads for a few months.

    Let's make this first COVID free season a great one for the ages.

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