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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mindless Weightloss

How about a diet that you don’t know you’re on?  That sounds too good to be true.  Brian Wansink, of Mindless Eating and soon to be released, Skinny By Design has a research lab dedicated to environmental cues that lead to over eating.  This could explain why you always reach for the Hershey Kisses on your desk.  Their research shows that if you move it at least 6 feet away, you’ll be less inclined to munch.  Simple tricks like these can save Calories daily and result in gradual weight loss without deprivation.

Here are a few tips:
Personalize your diet danger zone. 
Do you eat without abandon every afternoon?  Do you find yourself eating out of boredom?  Can’t pass a candy dish?  Wansink discusses how everyone has a meal script.  To avoid mindless eating you need to figure out a plan to change the “script”, if you eat compulsively in the afternoons when not hungry take a walk instead, take a different route home bypassing the fast food restaurants.
There is no one perfect diet. 
 Each person needs to evaluate what their road blocks are and how to bypass or detour them.  

Watch less TV. 
People who watch a lot of television are known to exercise less, weigh more, and eat more than people who watch less TV. Wansink’s studies show that people watched 60 minutes of TV ate 28% more than those who watched 30 minutes of television.  Think of how much more you’d eat during a Netflix binge.

Cut down on portions or servings without knowing it. 
Serve yourself 20% less on a plate.  This can be a gradual calorie reduction of 100-
200 Calories per day that your body won’t notice; you’ll end up with a gradual
weight loss over a few months.

Other great (and free) resources can be found at


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 and Food and Nutrition Magazine's Stone Soup Blog.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Natural Bodybuilding Recommendations Cheat Sheet

Interest in bodybuilding or improving one's own physique is gaining popularity with Facebook pages and #fitspo all over Instagram.  In a recent article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Helms, et al. provided science backed guidelines for natural body building.

Here's a summary of the report:

Gradual reduction in Calories should be set so that the athlete loses 0.5-1 lbs. per week to maximize muscle retention.

Recommendations are set at 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass (not all competitors will respond to this but the majority will).

Keep within 15-30% of Calories from fat and the remainder of Calories from carbohydrates.

Meal frequency:

3-6 meals per day with a meal containing 0.4-0.5 g/kg of bodyweight for protein prior and subsequent to resistance training to maximize benefits of nutrient timing and frequency.  Alterations in timing appear to have little effect on fat loss or lean mass retention.

Additional considerations:
The practice of dehydration and electrolyte manipulation in the final days and hours prior to competition can be dangerous, and may not improve appearance. Increasing carbohydrate intake at the end of preparation has a theoretical rationale to improve appearance, however it is understudied. Thus, if carbohydrate loading is pursued it should be practiced prior to competition and its benefit assessed individually. Finally, competitors should be aware of the increased risk of developing eating and body image disorders in aesthetic sport and therefore should have access to the appropriate mental health professionals.

Find the full article here:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to be a Savvy Supplement Shopper

This article comes from the Food and Drug Administration.  Find this and more information here.

Do I need to think about my total diet?
Yes. Dietary supplements are intended to supplement the diets of some people, but not to replace the balance of the variety of foods important to a healthy diet. While you need enough nutrients, too much of some nutrients can cause problems. You can find information on the functions and potential benefits of vitamins and minerals, as well as upper safe limits for nutrients at the
National Academy of Sciences Web site disclaimer icon

Should I check with my doctor or healthcare provider before using a supplement?
This is a good idea, especially for certain population groups. Dietary supplements may not be risk-free under certain circumstances. If you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or have a chronic medical condition, such as, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing or taking any supplement. While vitamin and mineral supplements are widely used and generally considered safe for children, you may wish to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving these or any other dietary supplements to your child. If you plan to use a dietary supplement in place of drugs or in combination with any drug, tell your health care provider first. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects and their safety is not always assured in all users. If you have certain health conditions and take these products, you may be placing yourself at risk.

Some supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Taking a combination of supplements or using these products together with medications (whether prescription or OTC drugs) could under certain circumstances produce adverse effects, some of which could be life-threatening. Be alert to advisories about these products, whether taken alone or in combination. For example: Coumadin (a prescription medicine), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin (an OTC drug) and vitamin E (a vitamin supplement) can each thin the blood, and taking any of these products together can increase the potential for internal bleeding. Combining St. John's Wort with certain HIV drugs significantly reduces their effectiveness. St. John's Wort may also reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs for heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or oral contraceptives.

Some supplements can have unwanted effects during surgery:
It is important to fully inform your doctor about the vitamins, minerals, herbals or any other supplements you are taking, especially before elective surgery. You may be asked to stop taking these products at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the procedure to avoid potentially dangerous supplement/drug interactions -- such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure and increased bleeding - that could adversely affect the outcome of your surgery.

Adverse effects from the use of dietary supplements should be reported to MedWatch:
You, your health care provider, or anyone may  directly to FDA if you believe it is related to the use of any dietary supplement product, by calling FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178 or reporting
report a serious adverse event or illness on-line. FDA would like to know whenever you think a product caused you a serious problem, even if you are not sure that the product was the cause, and even if you do not visit a doctor or clinic. In addition to communicating with FDA on-line or by phone, you may use the MedWatch form available from the FDA Web site. 

Who is responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements?
Under the law, manufacturers of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. They are also responsible for determining that the claims on their labels are accurate and truthful. Dietary supplement products are not reviewed by the government before they are marketed, but FDA has the responsibility to take action against any unsafe dietary supplement product that reaches the market. If FDA can prove that claims on marketed dietary supplement products are false and misleading, the agency may take action also against products with such claims.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Popular Weight Loss Supplements You Need to Know

At any given time and in any given magazine there they are.  The burning image of a sexy, ripped couple enjoying life with a bottle of some magic elixir they take to take to get results.  This is the diet industry, a $20 billion dollar industry with over 100 million Americans buying diet pills and other supplemental aids.  Obviously, we haven’t learned much.   This new crop of “natural” supplements derived from plants, seeds, and berries are still just as dangerous.  Heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting, mood swings, or even a heart attack can result from diet pills.  Yet we still keep buying them. 

Here’s what you need to know of a few trendy and popular supplements:

Green Tea Extract

Other names: Camellia thea, Camellia sinensis, CPTV, EGCG to name a few

Uses: weight loss, cancer prevention, stomach disorders

Side effects:  dizziness, shakiness, nausea, not recommended for pregnant women or women who are breast feeding.  In addition, green tea can affect iron absorption and anemia (this is important regarding people who have had weight loss surgery), caffeine in green tea can affect anxiety, and also affect those on blood thinners and blood clotting.

Bitter Orange

Other names:  Aurantii Fructus, Aurantii fructus immaturus, Aurantii pericarpium, Aurantium, Bigarade, Bitter Orange Flower, Bitter Orange Peel, Chao Zhi Ke, Chisil, Citrus amara, Citrus aurantium, Citrus Aurantium Fruit, Citrus bigarradia, Citrus vulgaris

Uses:  for topical use for skin/fungal infections, aromatherapy, can be combined with caffeine for weight loss (no evidence supports it being safer than ephedra)

Side effects:  high blood pressure (bitter orange can affect the nervous system), rapid heartbeat, glaucoma, is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, not to be taken prior to surgery as it acts as a stimulant.

Raspberry Ketones

Other names:  RK

Uses: speed-up fat metabolism, may reduce adipose (fat) tissue, in animal studies, ketones also seemed to affect the production of hormones that increase the body’s ability to burn fat.  These were first made popular by Dr. Oz (he’s since been yelled at during a congressional hearing by his supplements).

Side effects:  we don’t know the weight loss affects in humans or long term research on it

Guarana-seed Extract

Other names: Brazilian Cocoa, Cacao Brésilien, Guarana Seed Extract, Guaranine, Paullinia cupana, Paullinia sorbilis, Zoom

Uses: taken as an aid to ‘burn fat’ and assist with weight loss. There is insufficient evidence linking it as a treatment for Malaria.  According to WebMD, Guarana contains caffeine which works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine.

Side effects: Guarana can be safe for healthy adults. The caffeine in guarana can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, tremors, delirium, diuresis, and other side effects.  It should be avoided in persons with heart conditions, pregnant women (200 mg/dL or more can increase the chances of miscarriage). Large guarana doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, pain when urinating, stomach cramps, and irregular heartbeats. People who take guarana regularly may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their usual amount.

Sources and for more information:

The Office of Dietary Supplements


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Food is the Best Medicine

Exercise is generally not associated with poor bone health, cardiovascular dysfunction, or abnormal metabolic hormonal profile. Female athletes, however, are subjected to these health consequences when nutritional habits are poor and exercise is excessive.

Female athlete triad is a syndrome consisting of disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and the loss of bone mass. Exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction is just one of the major symptoms of the female athlete triad, but it is more common than you may think. Research suggest exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction can range from 0% to 60%, and can occur across a scale from mild disruptions in menses to no menses for 90 days, referred to as amenorrhea.2  

To restore menses and combat bone loss, oral contraceptives are often prescribed – but they may result in undesirable side effects such as weight gain or mood disorders.3 Thus, non-pharmacological treatments, specifically dietary interventions, are more desirable.

Cialdella-Kam et al. hypothesized that an increase in energy intake – about 360 additional calories in the form of a CHO and protein shake – for 6-months would improve energy balance, bone health, and restore reproductive function in females with exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction.1 Eight endurance trained women with amenorrhea were recruited for the study and due to ethical reasons, there was no control group. At the end of 6-months, a shake consisting of 54 g of CHO and 20 g of protein proved to be beneficial. According to the authors, this is the first study to demonstrate that when females with exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction consumed an extra 360 calories per day for 6-months, menses and ovulation (except one) are restored. As expected, women with longer exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction took more time to resume menses.

The saying “food is the best medicine,” hold true. Consult with a registered dietitian to ensure your workouts are optimally fueled with the best medicine for health and sports performance – food!
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.       Cialdella-Kam, L. et al., Dietary Intervention Restored Menses in Female Athletes with Exercise-Associated Menstrual Dysfunction with Limited Impact on Bone and Muscle Health. Nutrients 2014, 6, 3018-3039; doi: 10.3390/nu6083018.
2.       Gibbs, J.C.; Williams, N.I.; de Souza, M.J. Prevalence of individual and combined components of the female athlete triad. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2013, 45, 985-996.

3.       American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives). Available online: (accessed on August 6, 2014). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nutrition for Immune Health

As an athlete, catching a case of the flu, or even a cold, can really set you back.  Missing practices, workout, and/or competition is something that needs to be avoided…especially if it can be helped. 
There is no foolproof way to protect yourself from ever getting sick, but there are definitely some things you can do to help ward off illness.  Managing stress, getting plenty of sleep and staying active, along with a healthy balanced diet, including antioxidants, can help to increase your immunity to sickness. 
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that protect and repair damage to cells caused by free radicals in the body, resulting in a stronger immune system.


Taste The Rainbow

Foods high in antioxidants, often referred to as “super-foods,” should be incorporated in your diet as often as possible.  Lucky for you, the list of these super foods is very long!  Increase your intake of purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hued foods – i.e. berries, plums, peppers, raisins, red grapes, apples, sweet potatoes and squash – to give your immune system that extra power.  For even more of an immune boost, eat these foods raw or slightly cooked – overcooking can decrease their effectiveness.

Did you know?

Not only do antioxidants boost your immune function, they have also been shown to help in the fight against other damage caused by free radicals.  This damage may be related to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.  They may even be beneficial in helping alleviate inflammation and joint pain – sound familiar?

Try out these recipes to easily incorporate more antioxidants into your diet:

Berry Trifle

Try this sweet treat packed
with antioxidants!

2 boxes of instant vanilla flavored pudding mix
4 cups of skim milk
1 premade Angel Food Cake, cubed
1 tub fat free whipped topping
16 oz bag of frozen mixed berries

Prepare pudding according to package directions.

In a large bowl, layer the ingredients in the following order:  ½ of the cubed cake, ½ of the pudding, ½ of the berries, ½ of the whipped topping.  Repeat a second time.

Veggie Dip

Use this quick and easy dip to make raw veggies more appetizing.

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
6 Tbsp low fat sour cream
1 packet of ranch dip mix

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  May be served right away, or chill for 1-3 hours prior to serving.
*Add cayenne pepper or any spices of your choice for variation.

**Increased immunity, better health, more vitamins and minerals, more fiber (keeps you full…and regular) and more energy = better performance**

Tara Boening is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian with a Board Certification in Sports Dietetics. She currently works as a sports nutrition consultant in Houston, TX.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why bother to consult with a sports nutritionist?

My client, an avid exerciser, came into my office reporting her parents “highly encouraged:” her to come see me. She wasted no time telling me, “I already know all about nutrition. I know what to eat and I eat very healthfully. I’m just not sure what you can teach me.”

Her thoughts are common; most active people are already health-conscious. They have no idea how a sports nutritionist can help them. More correctly, how a sports dietitian who is both a registered dietitian (RD) and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) can help them. You may have had the same thoughts?

Unfortunately, you don’t know what you don’t know. Athletes who have never met with a sports nutrition specialist just don’t know how valuable a personalized consult can be to help take them to the next level. Performance, after all, actually starts with fueling—and not with training.

If you are putting hours of effort into training, you might to learn how to overcome the food and weight barriers that hinder you from getting the most from your workouts. Some ways I help my clients include—
• listening to their questions, concerns, and confusion,
• helping them figure out how to overcome the barriers that derail optimal fueling,
• creating a personalized plan to lose undesired body fat while maintaining energy to train,
• suggesting food experiments to enhance their performance.
For some overly-compulsively exercisers, an additional goal is to help them find peace both with food and with their bodies, so they can enjoy better quality of life.

After we’d talked for 90 minutes, my “reluctant client” reported that, much to her surprise, the meeting had actually been very helpful. She left my office with a plan that could enhance her daily eating, diminish her food obsessions, and resolve her weight issues. She felt happier.

If you, too, want to learn how to manage our confusing sports food environment, please find a local sports dietitian (RD, CSSD) by using the referral network at You just might be glad you did!

Best wishes

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

1155 Walnut St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461
617.795.1875  Fax: 617.963.7408