Return to SCAN Homepage

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marathons Melt Fat…Right?

If you train for a marathon or triathlon, surely your body fat will melt away. Correct?

Wishful thinking. If you are an endurance athlete who complains, “For all the exercise I do, I should be pencil-thin,” take a look at your 24-hour energy expenditure. Do you put most of your energy into exercising, but then tend to be quite sedentary the rest of the day as you recover from your tough workouts?

A study with of male endurance athletes who reported a seemingly low calorie intake indicates they did less spontaneous activity than their peers in the non-exercise parts of their day. Yes, it's really easy after a long run to lounge around and eat bon-bons because you "deserve" them...

Even when you are marathon training, you need to keep taking the stairs instead of the elevators, and keep moving in non-exercise parts of your day. Again, if weight is an issue, you should eat according to your whole day's activity level, not according to how hard you trained for an hour or two that day.

Happy training!

For more info:

Thompson, J., M. Manore, J. Skinner, E. Ravussin, M. Spraul. Daily energy expenditure in male endurance athletes with differing energy intakes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 27::347-54, 1995.

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions (

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Myths and Truths of Being and Injured Athlete

Being injured is one of the hardest parts of being an athlete. If and when you do get injured, you’ll likely wonder how to eat better to heal better. My motherly advice is: Don’t treat good nutrition like a fire engine!
Rather than shaping up your diet when you get injured, strive to maintain a high quality food intake every day. That way, you'll have a hefty bank account of vitamins and minerals stored in your liver, ready and waiting to be put into action. For example, a well-nourished athlete has enough vitamin C (important for healing) stored in the liver to last for about six weeks. The junk food junkie who gets a serious sports injury (think bike crash, skiing tumble, hockey blow) and ends up in the hospital in a coma has a big disadvantage. Eat smart every day!
The fear of gaining weight plagues most injured athletes. Here are two myths, debunked!

MYTH: Muscle turns into fat.
Wrong. If you are unable to exercise, your muscles will shrink, but they will not turn into fat. Have you ever seen the scrawny muscles on a person who has just had a cast removed when the broken bone has healed? Those muscles did not get fat!

MYTH: Lack of exercise means you'll get fat.
Wrong. If you overeat while you are injured (as can easily happen if you are bored or depressed), you can indeed easily get fat. I know of many frustrated athletes who have quickly gained weight because they continued to eat lumberjack portions. If you eat mindfully, your body can regulate a proper intake. Before diving into meals and snacks, ask yourself, “How much of this fuel does my body actually need?”
When injured, some underweight athletes gain to their genetic weight. For example, a 13-year-old gymnast perceived her body was “getting fat” while she recuperated from a knee injury. She was simply catching up and attaining the physique appropriate for her age and genetics.

Eat well, in sickness and in health!


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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New: The Food Label's New Makeover

After twenty grueling years of the Nutrition Facts label, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally decided to make these a little easier to read.  

This is the first phase of the label makeover and the completed one will be ready by early summer. 

The FDA released a link about the proposals to the Nutrition Facts label.  The following have occurred:
- Greater Understanding of Nutrition Science
- Updated Serving Size Requirements and New Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes
- Refreshed Design
Someone finally realized that a lot has happened in food and nutrition over two decades and a few presidents.  Serving sizes are appropriate (who eats a ½ cup of Ben and Jerry’s anyway?), design is refreshing (in a nerdy way).

Let’s see what happens!

What are your thoughts? 

The old food label (left) with the flashy new counterpart

Gina R. Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN Blog coordinator based in Columbus, Ohio.  She can also be found blogging at Food and Nutrition Magazine and also on her own blog.  

Interested in blogging?  E-mail her at

Monday, March 31, 2014

Obesity And Fat Acceptance, How Do YOU Feel?

A general assumption is that discrimination is wrong.  Humans, from early on, are taught that “we’re special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.”  In today’s society we spend a lot of time scrutinizing diets, appearance, and keeping up with the Joneses.   Obesity comes off as a shaming condition and that person is to be perceived to be a failure.  We have long work days and little time off to take care of ourselves and our media pushes thinness as desirable.  Our environment  contributes to obesity.  As practitioners and experts, we need to take a greater approach to remove our own bias and truly treat. 

Their principles are:   
  1. Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
  4. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  5. Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is a hot topic organization.  NAAFA works to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide support through education, advocacy, and support.  As a nutrition blog, our goal is to promote health and wellness, regardless of a client’s size or shape.  By moving from acceptance, we can help those move into healthier changes to be proud of. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

No Bake Granola Bars

Makes 10 to 12 bars.
2 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup dried cherries
2/3 cups peanut  butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, and cherries in a large bowl.

2. Mix peanut butter, sweetener, and sea salt. Pour into oat mixture, and mix well, until everything is sticky and combined. If it’s too dry, add a bit more agave.

3. Press mixture into a shallow baking dish that you’ve lined with parchment paper, you can also use foil or saran wrap. Cover with more parchment paper, press well into the baking dish, and refrigerate for four hours. Cut into bar shapes, wrap, and keep refrigerated till ready to use. They will last two weeks in the fridge.

These granola bars are great when you need energy on a hike, before or after a workout, or as a snack on the go. They provide carbohydrate, fat and protein to keep you going. They are easy to make and could be a fun activity to get kids involved in the kitchen. They are also versatile; use any dried fruit or nut butter you like. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Can Carbs Stimulate Further Muscle Growth?

Following a hard weight lifting workout you may choose to drink a protein shake – and for good reasons. Whey protein powders coupled with resistance training are known stimulators for increasing muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy (muscle growth). Several studies show whey protein powders are superior to other protein powders, such as casein or soy, due to the high leucine – a branched chain amino acid – content when the goal is to maximize anabolic potential. But, can muscle protein synthesis be elevated even further?

Published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition by Stark et al., 1 it was stated that fast-digesting carbohydrates, glucose or maltodextrin, should be combined with protein following resistance training to promote muscle hypertrophy for two reasons. First, there is a synergistic effect of insulin and leucine on muscle protein synthesis; and second, the addition of carbohydrate to a protein supplement would increase lean muscle mass more effectively verses a protein supplement consumed alone.
Another study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition by Figueiredo et al., 2 set out to determine if Stark et al., was accurate in suggesting carbohydrates stimulate muscle protein synthesis further than protein supplementation alone following resistance training. Figueiredo et al. first reviewed several other studies to determine if leucine really does require insulin in order to stimulate protein synthesis. It was stated that insulin is needed in order to increase protein synthesis when amino acids delivery are increased. It was also noted that leucine ingestion (from whey protein powder) has the ability to stimulate insulin secretion.

Figueiredo et al. looked at the second statement on whether insulin acts to inhibit protein degradation. One study 3 was looked at by Børsheim et al. who demonstrated carbohydrates supplementation (100 grams) alone following resistance training is capable of improving net muscle protein balance. However, protein ingestion alone can also inhibit protein breakdown following resistance training. 

So, what is the final verdict? Figueiredo et al. came to the conclusion that concerning muscle hypertrophy, based on the available data, there is no further benefit of carbohydrates when a protein supplement that maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis is consumed. “Further studies are required before conclusions and recommendations can be made,” stated Figueiredo et al.

Remember, this study set out to see if carbohydrates further increase muscle growth verses a protein supplement alone. Carbohydrates are still essential to help drive your workouts!

About the Author: Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.

1.       Stark M, Lukaszuk J, Prawitz A, Salacinski A: Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training.
                J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012, 9(1):54.
2.     Vandre Casagrande Figueiredo, David Cameron-Smith: Is carbohydrate needed to further stimulate muscle protein synthesis/hypertrophy following resistance exercise?
J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2013, 10:42.
3.       Børsheim E, Cree MG, Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Aarsland A, Wolfe RR: Effect of carbohydrate intake on net muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance exercise.

J Appl Physiol 2004, 96(2):674-678.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What You Need To Know About Addiction

Imagine for a moment that you have a treatable but incurable disease; all of the people around you were judging you for the having the symptoms of that disease and you became a social leper.  Imagine that you sought treatment and though you have learned how to manage your disease to the best of your ability people continue to keep you at arm’s length because they are not sure if the treatment was effective.  Imagine that after treatment for this incurable disease the health care system failed to provide you with ongoing support and follow up care to ensure your successful recovery.  Imagine if you were an addict.

The first thing you need to know about addiction is that it is a disease and not morale a weakness.  The negative stigma and shame associated with addiction is the primary reason that addicts do not seek treatment and the lack of ongoing support is the reason treatment is often ineffective the first time.  For long-term success in recovery, the recovering addict needs ongoing support and to experience the hope of a better life.  The easiest nonclinical way to assist a recovering addict is to plant a seed of hope for recovery and not focus on their past shameful addictive behaviors.  Try asking two simple questions:  1) what do you want out of life?  2) How can I help you?    

-Shirley R. Johnson

Addiction Counselor