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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Protein Consumption, Physical Activity, and Obesity: A New Study Reports the Role of Combining All Three

A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology examines the role of combining whey protein, resistance training, and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in obese individuals.  The study looked at the role of timed-ingestion of supplemental protein (20 g servings, 3 times per day) added to the diet of overweight/obese adults.  They were randomized to receive whey protein, protein and resistance training, or whey protein and a multi-mode exercise program (PRISE, Protein, Resistance, Interval Training, Stretching, Endurance training). 

Body composition, visceral adipose tissue, lipids, adipokines* and insulin sensitivity were examined.
The researchers examined obese individuals over a 16 week period.  Results are as follows:
·         The PRISE exercisers lost the greatest amount of body weight 2.6% versus the protein and resistance training group and fat mass, 6.6% versus the protein/resistance training group. 
·         There was a 14% decrease in fasting glucose along with improvements in insulin sensitivity (HOMA-IR).

Researchers found “evidence to support exercise training and timed-ingestion of whey protein added to the habitual diet of free-living overweight/obese adults, independent of caloric restriction, on total and regional body fat distribution, insulin resistance, and adipokines” (Arciero, et al, 2014). 

*Adipokines (or adipocytokines) are cytokines (cells that signal proteins) that are secreted by adipose tissue; some research suggests they can also be added to adipose-derived hormones. 

Gina (Lesako) Volsko is a Columbus, Ohio based RD and the SCAN blog coordinator.  Contact her at to be a SCAN blogger.  You can find her blogging at Sport2Fork.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why Be a SCAN contributor?

We all have different hobbies.  We might read, exercise, or cook.  Others may travel...while some have an itch to write or blog.

What are the benefits of blogging for RDNs (or students)?

  • You'll become a better writer.  Dream of a career in public health or owning your own business?  You'll need communication skills as a foundation. This leads to...
  • You might just become a better thinker and learn more.  Always wanted to tackle a tough subject?  Blogging gives you an opportunity to learn and share that with others. You may succeed, you might fail.  But you'll learn about yourself in the process. 
  • You'll meet some new people.  Networking easily fits into social media by providing others with a glimpse of you on the internet.  
  • Promote your area of expertise.  Do you have a passion to share?  Identify yourself as the expert.

Why blog for SCAN?
  • Increase your online presence from a respected nutrition website.
  • Shameless self-promotion! SCAN reaches a large audience of people from wellness professionals, health professionals, and regular people. 
  • There's no contract or deadlines.
  • If you already have a blog and want to increase your exposure, you're welcome to 'recycle' previous posts.  
For additional information contact Gina, 


10 Reasons You Should Start Blogging

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Marathon Season: Recovery 101

You just ran a marathon. Congratulations! Now it’s time to focus on recovery. Nutrition plays a key role in mending your marathon-weary body and getting you back into running and other activities sooner rather than later.

Post-race nutrition should focus on replenishing glycogen stores, rehydrating, and muscle repair. In conjunction with proper sleep and easing back into running, proper nutrition is a vital piece of the recovery puzzle.

Directly after the marathon
As soon as you finish, you will feel exhausted and may not have much of an appetite. Every runner tolerates different foods or drinks after the marathon. Within 30-60 minutes following your 26.2, focus on a combination of protein and carbohydrate, whether it be in the form of a drink or food.  Aim for approximately 200-400 calories of carbohydrate along with 10 grams of protein for this immediate post-marathon snack.[i] Remember to eat or drink slowly to give your gut time to adjust. Ideas include:

*Chocolate milk may be a welcome change after downing fruit-flavored sports drinks during the race.  It’s a cheaper post-workout option vs. recovery drinks sold in health or drug stores. 
* Greek yogurt with granola or cereal mixed in.
*A bagel topped with cheese, whipped cottage cheese, or peanut butter and jam.
*My personal favorite: 1 large egg cooked in a pan, 1 slice cheese, and mixed greens on a whole grain roll or English muffin plus one serving pita chips.

Days following 26.2
The recovery period following your marathon is just as crucial as your eating during training. Here is a list of great foods to jump start your eating routine in the days following your marathon.

*Tart cherry juice, loaded with anthocyanins, may be a great recovery booster.  Some studies have linked drinking tart cherry juice with reduced inflammation following a marathon and other forms of exercise. [ii][iii]   Try adding tart cherry juice to a blended juice drink or drink it straight.
*Apples have quercetin concentrated in their skins, which is shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.[iv]  Try apple slices with peanut butter, or chop apple into your oatmeal and cook with low-fat milk for a carbohydrate and protein boost.
* Healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) such as grilled salmon for dinner, sliced avocado on a sandwich, or sprinkle mixed nuts in cold cereal or oatmeal.
*Pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash not only provide a great source of fiber and vitamin A, but also potassium,  an electrolyte that is depleted along with sodium during your marathon.4 Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed squash. Bake cubes of butternut squash, add some milk, 1-2 teaspoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste, then puree in a food processor or mash with a handheld masher for a rough texture.

Remember that hydration is the number one priority in the hours and days following your marathon. So don’t just eat up, but drink up!

Alison Barkman, MS, RD, CDN is an adjunct professor for nutrition undergraduates at LIU/Post in Brookville, NY. She is starting a sports nutrition practice in Garden City, NY, and is available for nutrition counseling, sports nutrition clinics for athletes, and nutrition communications consulting.  She can be reached at or 516-220-9320. 

[i] Clark, N. (2007). Recovering from Exhausting Training. In Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners (p. 98). Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK).

[ii] Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, Carlson L, Sayers SP. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40(8):679-83.

[iii] Howatson G1, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Dec; 20(6):843-52.

[iv] Coleman Collins, S. (2014, October 1). Healthful Fall Snacks. Today's Dietitian, 54-59.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weight Loss as Preventative Medicine

We as Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists understand the importance of healthy weight.  At times the medical community feels uncomfortable with addressing obesity.  The Mayo Clinic's Nutrition Wise blog cited the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Alliance for Obesity.  

They found that nearly 90% of doctors feel it is their responsibility to help their patients lose weight.

Unfortunately, 72% feel that no one in their practice has been trained to deal with obesity.

When surveying obese patients, only 39% of obese adults were ever told by a doctor or health care professional that they were obese.  

90% were told to lose weight but weren't given any instruction on how to go about it. 

We as health professionals frequently neglect weight as a foundation for health.  Cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses are just a few conditions that are all exacerbated by excess weight. 

New research from the Mayo Clinic demonstrates the importance of weight loss in managing cardiovascular disease.  

In a recent article, Pack, et al. did a "systematic review and meta-analysis of the prognostic effects of weight loss in patients with Cardiovascular Disease (CAD)."  Studies taken into consideration covered 49 years of research from 1964 to 2013.  

The research team reviewed 1218 abstracts for a total of 35,335 patients with an average age of 64 years.  
Intentional weight loss in subjects is associated with lower clinical events.    

We just got through October and breast cancer awareness but how many times did you see people discuss weight?  Early detection is critical with breast cancer but what have we looked at regarding possible prevention?  

The Journal of Cancer Research, recently published: "Weight loss prevents obesity-associated basal-like breast cancer progression: Role of hepatocyte growth factor/c-Met."  That sounds complicated but researchers concluded that weight loss reversed "obesity-driven tumor aggressiveness promotion and blunted the obesity-responsive" tumor growth pathway while improving multiple metabolic and inflammatory risk factors. 

These are just three recent articles on the effects of weight and illness.  To learn more about talking about obesity visit:

Gina (Lesako) Volsko is a Columbus, Ohio based RD and the SCAN blog coordinator.  Contact her at to be a SCAN blogger.  You can find her blogging at Sport2Fork.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pasta Alternatives for Pre-Endurance Fueling

During marathon season, fellow runners ask what they should eat the night before to fuel a long training run.  Most runners automatically assume the answer is pasta. While pasta is a great choice, it can cause gastrointestinal troubles for some, and it can simply get old and boring for others.

Runners with Celiac disease simply cannot eat a wheat-based pasta (regular pasta made with wheat contains gluten, a wheat protein that triggers digestive problems in Celiac disease patients).  Runners suffering from non-Celiac gluten sensitivity also may find pasta to be a poor pre-race choice.  Runners in neither of these categories simply may be eating too much pasta, or choosing a sauce that may cause gastrointestinal issues.  Cream sauces (think penne a la vodka) are heavy in fat and digest slowly, which can cause race day stomach issues. A simple marinara sauce, while having little or no fat,  may be too acidic and cause acid reflux.

Picture: Thinkstock Source: National Features

Training season is the best time to test-drive your pre-race meal vs. trying something new the night before race day. Why not try some of these carbohydrate-rich alternatives to pasta the night before a long run:

·         White rice:  Cook up a bowl of white rice, toss with vegetables, and a tablespoon of teriyaki or soy sauce for flavor. Or, eat rice as a side dish with a lean protein like chicken or fish.
·         Sweet potato: Cut sweet potato into pieces, cut up an apple, grab some golden raisins, toss them all together in a light drizzle of olive oil, season with paprika and garlic powder, and bake.
·         Breakfast for dinner: What about a batch of blueberry pancakes? Cut back on sugar and use a small spread of jam on the pancakes with some peanut butter vs. traditional pancake syrup.  Even a bagel with jam and peanut butter for those lazy, no-cook nights.
·         Rice-based pasta: For those with Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, cook up a rice-based (gluten-free) pasta. As with regular pasta, be careful of your sauce choice. Try tossing it in olive oil, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Or try a balsamic glaze with veggies mixed in.
·         Healthy pizza: Buy a pre-made thick pizza crust (thick crust = more carbs). Use a thin layer of pizza sauce, and approximately ½-3/4 cup (depending on size of crust) of a low-fat shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle whatever toppings you crave: black olives, broccoli, slices of turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, or chopped grilled chicken.  You may omit cheese and use only veggies and pizza sauce.

Race training is not just for logging miles, but for testing out what makes your gut happy. A big bowl of rice and veggies may be just what you need to power you through your long run, while another runner may feel best eating a large baked sweet potato and baked breaded chicken. Fine tune your pre-race fueling during training months and never try something new the night before or morning of a race.

Alison Barkman, MS, RD, CDN is an adjunct professor for nutrition undergraduates at LIU/Post in Brookville, NY. An avid runner and gym rat, she is asked questions daily about nutrition and exercise. Her love for all things sports nutrition has driven her to begin a sports nutrition practice in Garden City, NY (Long Island). She can be reached at or 516-220-9320. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Feast on Beets!

Picture Source  
It’s no secret that vegetables are good for us. But the humble beet may have a little extra to offer. Beets are high in inorganic nitrates which may exert an ergogenic – or performance enhancing – effect. In fact, consuming beetroot juice may have the ability to improve running performance and reduce the oxygen costs of exercise.1

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at whether eating 200 grams of whole beetroot, which is about 500 mg of nitrates, prior to exercise would improve running performance during a treadmill time trial.2 The study used a double-blind crossover design in which subjects ate either baked beets or a placebo consisting of cranberry relish 75 minutes prior to completing a 5 kilometer treadmill time trail test. It turns out that those who consumed the baked beets significantly improved their running times by three percent. While this difference may not seem like much, a three percent faster time translates to a 41 second faster finishing time. This increase in performance is most likely due to the conversion of nitrate to nitrite and finally to nitric oxide in the body.
So how does dietary nitrate get converted to nitric oxide?

The breakdown and use of dietary nitrates actually begins in your mouth. The bacteria on your tongue help reduce about a quarter of the dietary nitrate from foods – such as beets – to nitrite which is then swallowed and reduced to nitric oxide when it mixes with the acid in your stomach. Nitric oxide regulates vasodilation, relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which reduces the oxygen cost of exercise. This means, your muscles can use less energy to produce the same amount of work.3

From a practical standpoint, this study indicates that consuming 200 g of beetroot, or two medium sized beets – equating to approximately 500 mg of nitrates – an hour or two before exercise could improve your running performance. Different methods of cooking techniques – such as baking or pureeing – do not appear to reduce the nitrate content. Therefore, don’t be afraid to get creative even though drinking beet root juice may be more palatable. Try smoothies, bake them into chips, or try other recipes from the web!

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, a nutrition columnist for “The Collegian,” and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Once Gavin becomes an RD, he will aim to achieve the distinguished Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential.
1.       Ormsbee MJ, Lox J, Arciero PJ. Beetroot juice and exercise performance. Nutr Diet Suppl. 2013:5 27-35.
2.       Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., Weiss, E. Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012; 112(4):548-552.
3.       Larsen FJ, Sschiffer TA, Borniquel S, et al. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans. Cell Metab. 2011; 13(2): 149-59.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to help your team win with nutrition: One Coach’s Report

Below is a letter I received from a soccer coach whose team has embraced proper fueling as a way to get to the winners’ circle.  I hope it will inspire you to get your team on the Good Nutrition bandwagon!

Dear Nancy,
I wanted to give you an update on what's happening with our boys’ high school soccer team. Inspired by your Food Guide For Soccer, we've slowly gone from giving only very basic nutrition advice other than "hydrate and eat carbs" to a full-fledged nutrition "battle plan.”


 Pre-season, the head coach asked if I would talk to the players on nutrition, explaining he wanted to make nutrition education a big part of this years’ season.  I agreed and have talked to the players, sometimes several times a week. The information I give them comes almost exclusively from your Food Guide for Soccer, Sports Nutrition Guidebook, website, and other articles you have written. The players are being taught, to the best of our ability, the what, when's and why's of nutrition and how it impacts them and their game. 

Our official high school season began on Aug 31 with two games against two very tough opponents.  We ended the day with two wins.  3-0 and 5-0. We are about half way through our regular season with a record of 7 wins, 1 tie and two losses.  We are one game away from first place in our division and the team has their sights set on a county championship as well as a district and state title.

The players are engaged and believe in the nutrition improvement effort. They've felt and seen the results and most (dare I say all?) of them get it.  I had to chuckle as some of the boys told me that that about a half hour before their first game this season they saw most of the opposing team line up at the snack bar and walk away eating hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken.  Our nutrition guide (something I prepare for each game) for that game advised them to avoid those items. We offered them alternatives.  Fresh fruit, thick-crust pizza, soft pretzels, and a choice of chocolate milk, water or sports drinks.  We beat the opposing team 5-0.  First time in 3 years!

For critical evening games, we'll often keep them at school and feed them before they board the bus at 4:30. They have all trained their bodies to accept pre- and mid-game fueling. We've just started to include an additional "emergency" bag of gummies to be used if we find ourselves in overtime situations. We offer them low fat chocolate milk within 15-20 minutes of the end of each game.  They all enjoy it and they all know WHAT it's doing for them. They've made their water bottle their best friend. This season leg cramps are extremely rare. 

I keep reinforcing my doubt that any team we face will be as well prepared nutritionally. While some teams we'll face may be technically better, most of them will hit the wall by halftime.  The “good nutrition advantage” as you know is both physical and psychological. That's powerful.

The players now consider proper fueling to be their secret weapon.  The gummy bear bag is passed around discretely during halftime and the post-game refueling never takes place within view of the opposing team.  FUNNY!  It shows me they believe!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the helpful information in your books!

With appreciation,
A happy high school soccer-nutrition coach

Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Sports nutrition counselor, consultant, speaker (Philly 1/24; Pitt. 2/7; online 24-7) (books, handouts, PowerPoint talks)

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook NEW Fifth Edition
Food guides for soccer, new runners, marathoners, cyclists   iPhone app: Recipes for Athletes

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Phone:  617.795.1875  Fax: 617.963.7408