The Austin Public Safety Wellness Center is collaborating with the City of Austin (COA) Registered Dietician Lauren Mcgill to provide First Responder specific nutrition information and resources. We will provide you the chance to submit questions and get answers, see schedules to attend in-person sessions, and view online resources. We are excited to collaborate with Lauren and Healthy Connections to provide the best and latest information regarding nutrition for all stages in your journey.

You asked...

Can you speak to the benefits and/or current literature on fasting; both long term and intermittent (time restrictive or short term). How may fasting effect my health and job performance? Also fasting for athletic performance?

Most of the scientific literature that shows benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF) or Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) is done in animal or cellular models. Long term benefits are unknown due to the lack of evidence in human models. What the current research shows is that there is not one proven diet that will improve health. Fasting will influence hormones and alter metabolism, but long-term effects have not been studied. IF will change your eating behaviors and possibly improve your food choices and may lead to weight loss or better health. The preferred source of fuel for the brain is glucose and when glucose is depleted your cognitive function may decline- fasting while at work may impair performance. Fasting prior to low to moderate intensity cardio will use fat as fuel and if your goal is weight loss, this might be best. Fasting prior to high-intensity exercise, weight training or prolonged exercise (greater than 1 hour) will impair performance. If you would like to read more about IF or discuss your personal goals, please contact me.

What is your opinion about using lower carb eating for weight loss/ weight control?

Nutrition choices are personal, and it is possible to follow a healthy eating pattern that is lower in carbohydrates or higher in carbohydrates. What matters most is the source of carbohydrate. Whole plants are the best source of carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, fruit and starchy vegetables), they contain fiber and important nutrients. Limiting the amount of refined and processed carbohydrates is a good idea. If you have more specific questions about personalized macronutrients/eating plans, please contact me for an appointment.

Hi Lauren, I am in decent shape & eat healthy, but am looking for a structured plan to reach my goal of fitness & nutrition optimization. I would like to develop a plan that is specific to my body type & metabolism. I also would like to know what type of

I am the City of Austin Health Coach and offer dietary counseling for free to city employees. My office is located at the One Texas Center (505 Barton Springs Rd.). If you are interested in making an appointment to discuss personal health goals, please email me ( a couple of days/times that fit in your schedule and we can set up an appointment.

Coconut oil has been said to have many health benefits, but also has a high percentage of saturated fat, compared to other oils. For someone that eats a high fat, low carb diet should saturated fats be avoided, even when they come from good sources like r

The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5-6% of total calories. For example, this is 11-13 g saturated fat intake for a 2000 calorie diet. 1 tbsp. of coconut oil has 12 g of saturated fat. Coconut oil can still be included in a healthy diet if it is consumed in moderation. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish and olives is heart healthy. Here is an article summarizing the different types of fat-

Does carbonation itself have any ill effects? For example, Topo Chico, or another unsweetened sparkling water. Do they hydrate you as well as still water? Are there any bad side effects that can come from the carbonation?

Carbonated water is hydrating just like still water. Carbonation can increase gas and bloating, especially in people with acid reflux, but if you don’t notice these side effects, there is no harm in consuming unsweetened carbonated water.

I work the overnight shift at Dispatch (7p-7a) and I was wondering what is the best way to fuel throughout my shift? What kinds of foods will fill me up and be good for me? There are always sugary treats that people bring in that don't fill me up, but jus

Having a regular eating pattern scheduled during your shift will help to manage your energy levels. Most people need to eat every 3-4 hours during active living. Grab and go items are essential if you are on call. Here some examples of foods that are portable that you can bring with you. Aim for a carbohydrate and a protein choice at each snack and meal.

Protein options for on the go-

Beef jerky (higher in sodium)

Hard-boiled eggs

String cheese

Greek yogurt


Edamame (can buy frozen and steam in microwave)

Nuts & Seeds

Deli turkey, chicken for simple deli sandwiches (need to get low-sodium and stick to poultry- no processed red meats)

Roasted Chickpeas

Tuna/chicken pouches

Single-serve peanut butter packets (protein & fat source)

Shelf-stable chocolate milk/protein shakes

Carbohydrate options for on the go-

Fruit and nut bars

Trail mix—dried fruit, nuts, whole grain cereal

Whole grain crackers and hummus cups

Pre-popped, low-fat popcorn

PB&J—whole grain bread, peanut butter, and jelly

Instant oatmeal/cream of wheat

Fresh Fruit—apples, bananas, clementines, and grapes travel well.

Baby carrots or other cut veggies.

Ask a dietician


Lauren McGill

Registered Dietician

Lauren McGill
Phone: (512) 349-4821

Lauren is a health professional that is passionate about nutrition, wellness and exercise. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, she counsels clients on how to implement healthy lifestyle changes. She completed her clinical rotations in nutrition at the Memphis VA Medical Center to earn her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Credential. Lauren has worked with a variety of populations and has extensive experience in the areas of weight loss/management, diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, and sports nutrition. She is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and has worked with collegiate and professional athletes. In December 2018 Lauren traveled to Hangzhou, China for the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) to provide nutritional support for USA Swimming.

Lauren’s educational background includes:

  • M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Texas at Austin
  • B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona