July 27, 2018

I’ve never been to heaven… big shock right?! Although I would imagine it to be similar to riding bikes in Italy. Not to seem dramatic, but our trip to the Prosecco region - Province of Treviso was pretty magical. Pedaling over 750 miles (1200 km) and ascending 53,000 ft (16,000 m) of bucket list climbs was epic to say the least.

With the DNA Cycling crew, we embarked on our inaugural Giro trip #dnap7italy18. We planned for months to make sure our clients would have the best experience possible. Including my partner Dave Harward and myself, we had 7 staff to guide, feed, entertain, and ride with. My specific role was to execute the food, on and off the bike, for all 22 people! Dave and I went 4 days early to do course recon and start prepping for guest arrival. Things went smoothly for the most part, but as expected we hit a few speed bumps...

DNA Plan &



Travel Pains

The sport nutrition product that we shipped over in advance go stuck at customs. No joke! I had gone through and cleared out the PLAN7 shelves a variety of products, everything from electrolyte drink to bars to recovery mixes. Over $3000 worth of goods that now nobody could enjoy. I was freaking out because it was my job to fuel all of these athletes for a week of intense riding. How was I going to find the right supplements in this small area in a foreign country?! Luckily we made friends with the local bike shop and he hooked us up with his product line.

All of this got me thinking about the years I spent traveling with my cycling team and how much anxiety I got over not having my routine foods. Anyone else run into this conundrum out there? I’m sure I’m not alone… On top of the food insecurities of traveling to different places, I’m a plant based athlete, so the challenges of having veggies, greens, plant based proteins, all of my supplements, etc. on the road can get tricky. Especially when it’s a long training camp or event in a place where a normal health food store is not the norm. It’s pretty cool that there is a super nutrient dense supplement that covers all these bases and you can incorporate it into your travel foods… SP2 Life! Let’s chat a bit more on why this beautiful blue-green algae is great for all of us on-the-go athletes.

Do Your Research

In dietetics, it is important to always find the source information in peer-reviewed journals. A few studies I found show more than just the essential nutrients that spirulina naturally has, but that when used by athletes it improves recovery and attenuates the protection against exercise induced oxidative stress (a fancy way of saying it is a powerful antioxidant). A study in Food and Nutrition Journal compared spirulina to commercial antioxidants on recovery found that spirulina is a potent antioxidant that also reduces inflammation: "The results, reveal that supplementation of spirulina and commercial antioxidant does improve the cardiopulmonary fitness through better recovery, decreased fatigue and also reduces exercise induced lipid peroxidation, as evidenced through the lowered MDA status" (1). The recovery properties of spirulina are indicated on the macronutrient level. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and as research shows, spirulina is a quality source of protein, especially for vegan/vegetarian athletes:

"It is obvious from the results that both spirulina and spirulina protein isolates are good source of leucine, valine, isoleucine, lysine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, alanine and arginine. The levels of methionine and alanine are comparatively high in spirulina with most commonly used plant protein source i.e. soybean" (2).

Italy Plan 7 DNA Cycling

Micronutrients Matter

On the micronutrient side of things, just read the label of SP2 and you’ll see all the nutrients that occur naturally in spirulina. I’ll get into the nitty-gritty in future blogs, for now some highlights include:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: known to reduce inflammation and improve heart health, a natural anti-inflammatory for athletes post exercise.
  • Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium): crucial for fluid balance and cellular function, we need extra electrolytes to keep everything working properly when we sweat a lot!
  • Vitamin D: Strong bones cannot be formed without this essential nutrient, which also is involved in numerous metabolic pathways.
  • Iron: Essential for delivering oxygen to muscles. Athletes (especially those that don't eat red meat) should be conscious of getting enough iron in their diet.
  • B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid are involved in muscle cell energy metabolism. B12 is especially helpful for vegan/vegetarian athletes because most B12 is found in animal products.
  • Vitamin K: essential for blood clotting and bone metabolism. That’s pretty important stuff if you ask me :)

The takeaway here is that incorporating SP2 into your daily juice, recovery smoothie, oats, pasta sauce, etc. is an easy way to get essential macros and micros into your system without having to take a bunch of supplements. I can’t help but wish I had spirulina like this when I was on the road racing for the past 5 years. I’m not upset though, because it’s available now and traveling is still a huge part of my life. Work for me has developed into trips like our tour through Italy and we have many more long events on the horizon where food security will be an issue. Constantly being on-the-go means I always have my green drink in hand, powered by spirulina of course. Since we started using SP2 Life at PLAN7 Endurance Coaching, so many athletes are benefitting from what we are calling the “magic green stuff!”


Breanne Nalder, MS, RDN has a Master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in sports dietetics from the University of Utah. A recently retired professional road cyclist, she still competes in road racing and gravel grinding, all while running the nutrition program at PLAN7 Endurance Coaching. For customized coaching, contact breanne@plan7coaching.com. Follow her adventures on social media viaInstagram Facebook Twitter




  1. Kalpana K, Kusuma DL, Rishi Lal P, Lal Khanna G (2017) Impact of Spirulina on Exercise Induced Oxidative Stress and Post Exercise Recovery Heart Rate of Athletes in Comparison to a Commercial Antioxidant. Food Nutr J: FDNJ-139. DOI: 10.29011/2575-7091. 100039
  2. Bashir S, Sharif MK, Butt MS, Shahid M. Functional Properties and Amino acid Profile of Spirulina platensis Protein Isolates. Pakistan Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research. Series B: Biological Sciences. Vol. 59, No.1, March-April, 2016

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