Thursday, April 28, 2016

Join the Conversation Live 8 PM EST! SCAN Monthly Twitter Chat on Local Foods May 5th

Attention RDs and students!  Are you interested in joining a live Twitter conversation on local foods?   Join us on Thursday, May 5th at 8 PM EST.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Latest Nutrition and Health Podcasts You're Missing

Keeping up on nutrition as a student or working professional can be daunting.  We might start with the best intentions to read scholarly/peer reviewed articles but there's nothing better than conversation and research on the go.  Here is a round up of nutrition and lifestyle podcasts to keep you up to date.

Monica Reinagel answers questions about food and nutrition in snappy segments less than 10 minutes each.

Nia is a personal trainer with a positive attitude about empowerment, fitness, and nutrition.  Her podcasts focus on these topics while interviewing industry professionals from other trainers, health coaches, and dietitians.

This show focuses on food relationships, nutrition in the news/trends, and also health at every size.

Ben Greenfield gives sane advice regarding fitness and proper training.  His short segments provide useful information from getting started to competitive athletes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Foods from Your Pantry to Boost Performance

Reading a food label is hard enough as it is, but add wording like “naturally delivers electrolytes” or “vital nutrients” or “performance aminos” makes it even more challenging to know what to choose. The sports nutrition supplement market grows year after year as new nutrition information is published. Searching for the right foods to benefit your tennis game can be hard. Sit down for this one…did you know that you have foods at home ALREADY that can fuel your game? Things that you find in an every-day-pantry!

As a sports dietitian, I see all types of athletes – from elite to weekend warrior. The most important thing for all of them to learn is that sports nutrition can be easy. You can get what you need without breaking your bank or needing to design custom sports nutrition products. It is hard to know what to reach for when shopping for performance. One brand may have 3 or 4 different post-workout protein shakes, while the other has 3 or 4 different types of energy chews. The choices are endless. How do you know what to eat and when? Here’s some basic info that will take you a long way:
  Before Activity: eat a balanced snack that’s low in fat with not too much protein.
        During Activity: eat a simple carbohydrate (yes, sugar!) and some water or sports drink if your   activity will be longer than an hour.

        After: choose a good balance of carbohydrate and protein.
Walk on over to your pantry and reach for these items next time you need to fuel for tennis.

1.       Applesauce: this is a great snack immediately before activity or even during. When you grocery shop, look for the individual packets of applesauce. Keep a couple of these in your gym bag. They are great if you don’t have time to get a snack before working out.

2.       Fruit Snacks: reach for Star Wars, Elsa, or just plain old fruit juice gummies. These are great to eat at changeovers. They are made of sugar, so are very easy for your body to digest and use. Did you know that this is the only fuel your brain wants when your muscles are working hard? These aren’t just for lunchboxes any more.

3.       Granola Bars: these are great a couple hours before activity. Look for brands with the least amount of ingredients. “Trail mix” granola bars are typically made of nuts and dried fruit. These provide a good balance of the carbohydrate, protein, and fat that you need for sustained energy.

4.       Beef Jerky: low fat and high protein, pair this with a banana or other carbohydrate after activity. 
      They are also shelf stable, so are going to be fine sitting in your car or gym bag.
Applying the principles of sports nutrition to everyday life doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t worry so much about choosing the perfect sports nutrition product. Instead, use the nutrition guidelines above to get creative with the items you already buy each week at the store. Next time your kid asks why the fruit snacks are disappearing, with a wink and a smile, just remind them that elevating your game with proper nutrition might just win you that next championship.

Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian based in College Station, TX. She works with all athletes from recreational to elite. Follow her on Twitter @SullivanRD

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Protein- Not just for Arnold Schwarzenegger

Iceberg lettuce with grilled chicken, high protein shake, and hard boiled eggs. Not my idea of balance, but some believe this to be the perfect balance when trying to maintain or build muscle. You may not be trying to achieve a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it is important to build muscle and maintain it to ensure power, strength, and explosiveness as an athlete. So, is protein intake only important for Arnold? Absolutely not! Whether you are 16 years old and focused on building muscle or 65 years old and trying to maintain what you’ve got, protein plays a very vital role.

Understanding protein is pretty simple: rebuild, recover, and repair muscle. Did you know that muscle protein synthesis continues for 24 hours after a single resistance exercise session? That’s a complicated way of saying your body continues to build and repair proteins for a full day after strength or weight training. Since your body is hard at work for a full day after training, it is important to supply protein regularly through the day to help this process.

How much protein do you need in a day? Rather than concentrating on a daily total, research is showing that it is more helpful to think about timing. Americans tend to eat the majority of their protein in the afternoon and evening hours (think BIG Texas steak for dinner!). What you need to start doing is distribute protein intake throughout the day.
      Choose lean proteins: chicken, fish, lean pork and beef, egg/egg whites, beans, low fat and fat free dairy, tofu.
      Each lean protein with each meal
      Try to eat 15-20 grams of protein following weight training

Following the new guidelines for protein intake, your day may look like this…

Breakfast – Whole wheat toast with Greek yogurt and a scrambled or hard-boiled egg.
Lunch – Leafy green salad with grilled chicken, a whole grain roll, glass of skim milk, and a piece of fruit.
Afternoon Workout
Snack – Grab a string cheese and graham crackers with peanut butter for a post workout snack
Dinner – Marinara sauce with lean ground beef and whole wheat pasta

The more research tells us about sports nutrition, the more I begin to understand the importance of balance. Protein intake should be balanced throughout the day, not heavy towards the end of the day. Don’t worry so much about meeting a daily total, but rather including a source of lean protein each time you eat. The American diet is rich in protein, so spacing it through the day will help your body rebuild, repair, and recover.

Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian based in College Station, TX. She works with all athletes from recreational to elite. Follow her on Twitter @SullivanRD

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Call for Posts!

Are you a SCAN student or member looking to increase your online presence?  Perhaps you've been interested in giving blogging a try but don't want to commit to maintaining a site?

We're always looking to hear from SCAN members to share their expertise to help keep our blog content fresh.

Email our blog coordinator, Gina at for more information.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Your 2015 Dietary Guidelines Primer

Since 1980, the Dietary Guidelines Americans (DGA) have been published every five years, so right on cue were the 2015 DGA released in January.  According to the DGA, about half of all American adults have one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Although infectious diseases have practically vanished in the U.S., there is no end in site for chronic disease – which are mainly related to poor diet quality and inactivity. So let’s get down to the bottom line. What’s the difference between these DGA from the previous and is it really going to help Americans?

First, to understand the future of the DGA we must first look at the past. Previously, the DGA focused on nutrients in isolation and dietary food groups but people don’t consume nutrients in isolation. So the 2015 DGA focus more on healthy eating patterns over the lifetime and making ‘shifts’ to consume healthier food options. For example, shifting from white bread to 100% whole grain bread, from coconut oil (solid fat) to olive oil. I’m sure I won’t completely blindside anyone when I say that the current eating patterns of Americans don’t align with the recommendations of the DGA. Three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern low in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and oils. Roughly 70% of Americans exceed the recommended added sugar and saturated fat intake per day (<10% of calories/day) and 89% exceed the recommend sodium intake (2,300 mg healthy individuals, 1,500 mg hypertension or prehypertension).  Again, most of us probably aren’t surprised by these statistics. Let’s take a closer look at the major updates in the 2015 DGA – cholesterol, the Mediterranean/vegetarian diet, and sodium.

In 1980, emerging research implicated dietary and serum cholesterol in the development of heart disease and cholesterol became the nutrient that everybody loved to hate. More recent research suggests that cholesterol-rich foods (such as eggs) don’t actually increase serum cholesterol levels like previously thought. So the 2015 DGA Advisory Committee did something that they have never done in the past. They removed the restriction of 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Now, the DGA make it clear, it is not recommending you go out and eat all the cholesterol you possibly can since they restricted you all these years. The DGA are simply stating that there is no adequate evidenced for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol at this time.  A recent article published in the Food & Nutrition Magazine, titled The Cholesterol Conundrum, stated that the key to understanding LDL cholesterol’s risk and reward may lie in the size and density of its particles which range from large, buoyant, cholesterol-rich particles, to small, dense particles low in lipids.

In 2010, the DGA mentioned the Mediterranean diet but the 2015 DGA took it a step further and created a healthy Mediterranean-style eating pattern, recommending amounts of food from each food group at 12-calorie levels. Similar, the DGA created a 12-calorie level for the vegetarian-style of healthy eating. It should be noted that the healthy vegetarian-eating pattern was created based on self-identified vegetarians and therefore, includes eggs and dairy because the overall consensus of vegetarians was that the majority consume these foods.

There seemed to be a lot of disappointment around a topic that the 2015 DGA did not address, the sodium debate. While there is no dispute on restricting 1.5 grams (1,500 mg) of sodium for those individuals with prehypertension or hypertension, some research has shown that restricting sodium too much can have adverse side effects on healthy individuals. Some health professionals say that there is no health benefit to consuming less than 2,500mg per day, while the American Heart Association still sticks by the 1,500mg sodium limit for all individuals. Clearly, more research is needed to understand the affects of dietary sodium and whether we should be restricting or liberating sodium.

What can we expect for the 2020 DGA? After all, it is only five short years away. The 2015 DGA state that they plan on expanding the DGA to include toddlers and infants, as well as providing additional guidance for pregnant women. In my opinion, I think that cholesterol will be returning into the picture. Not necessarily saying that there will be a quantitative limit for cholesterol but rather focusing more on the cholesterol particle in the development of heart disease. Also, I expect dietary sodium recommendation to remain stagnant or liberated for healthy individuals.

For more information on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines visit

Alli Bokenkotter is a University of Cincinnati Dietetic Intern.  She is also the diversity and National Nutrition Month Chair of the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

SCAN Symposium Session 2016: Ethics of Food, Sustainability and the Environment

This week’s blog post features Christopher Gardner, PhD Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.  This session is titled: Ethics of Food, Sustainability and the Environment.  Ideally the system that provides the food we eat should be both ethical and support environmental sustainability. In addition, ideally, food should be nutritious, pleasing to the palate, safe, convenient, and affordable. None of these characteristics are dichotomous; they all involve a continuum. Unfortunately, in some cases increasing one characteristic results in decreasing another. Our current food production and consumption practices are less than ideal, with room for improvement. This presentation will address the disturbingly unethical treatment of livestock raised for food and the human labor force that plants, raises, tends, harvests, and slaughters our food. Strategies for increasing the environmental sustainability of our food choices will be discussed. Finally, it will be proposed that engaging your clients and patients in the topics of food ethics and environmental sustainability may be a useful tool in helping some of them to make sustained healthful behavior modifications in their eating habits.