Monday, August 15, 2016

Kettlebells, We’re Kind of a Big Deal

Kettle what? If you’ve walked into a gym lately you’ve probably seen a misshaped looking weight that is round on the bottom with a handle attached on the top. A kettlebell. Despite what you may think, kettlebells are kind of a big deal. Not only are they a staple in almost every gym in the 21st century but there’s entire workouts focused around kettlebells, actual gyms are named after them (Queen City Kettlebell, Cincinnati, OH) and along with adequate calcium and vitamin D, kettlebells can help increase your bone mass!

Russia, the birthplace of the kettlebell, first appeared roughly 350 years ago. Originally used as handled counterweights to weigh out dry goods on market scales, Russians began swinging and throwing the odd objects around for entertainment and began using them to build muscle and an athletic figure.

So what exercises do I even do with a kettlebell? Glad you asked the list is endless! Some exercises include the kettlebell swing, which is considered the classic and most well known exercise, the hang clean, Turkish get-up, single arm swing, pistol squats, the snatch, and several more. While dumbbells can often be substituted for kettlebells for some exercises, kettlebells tend to be more versatile and more difficult to control as the weight is not evenly distributed as it is in a dumbbell. As you become more advanced in these exercises you can move your way up to the kettlebell with a gorilla head, weighing in at 70lbs. (shown at the top).

So how are kettlebells suppose to help me increase bone mass? Our bones are living tissue, meaning they need stress to stimulate growth.  While you may consume adequate amounts of dietary calcium and vitamin D, you won’t reach your optimal bone mass without proper exercise. The 2016 position statement of the National Osteoporosis Foundation stated that lifestyle behaviors affect 20-40% of adult peak bone mass. In their position statement, lifestyle factors that received a grade A included exercise and calcium intake, while other lifestyle factors such as dairy, protein, smoking and vitamin D received lower grades, implicating that in terms of peak bone mass, these factors are not as significant when compared to calcium and exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, such as swinging that kettlebell, exerts a stress load that bones need to stimulate mineral uptake.

So next time you’re at the gym, walk past the dumbbell rack and head for the gorilla looking kettlebell, after all they’re kind of a big deal.

National Osteoporosis Foundation -

Food & Nutrition Magazine – May/June 2016 issue


About the Author:
Allison Bokenkotter is a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati and recently passed the RD exam. In addition, she’s the diversity/national nutrition month chair for the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Quick Oatmeal Bars

No more excuses to skip breakfast with this very simple recipe including bananas, oats, your choice of nuts and dried fruits.

 I am a victim of wanting a quick and easy breakfast on-the-go as I try to get through the door, and to be honest, my granola bar and Greek yogurt routine could be better.  With the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines suggesting we cut our sugar intake to no more than 10% of our total calories, we need to caution added sugar in our processed food products, especially the healthy-looking granola bars and protein-rich Greek Yogurts.

I had been staring at these lonely ripened bananas on my counter and realized they would be better baked in something then added to my overnight oats as a mushy topping.  I came across a wonderful recipe via for 4-ingredient Banana Oat Bars.  In my version, I ended up using the 3 small bananas and I added in shredded coconut, whole almonds, chia seeds and pumpkin pie spice (I am a New Englander that is obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored).

 Looking back, I would have added the vanilla extract which was optional and dried fruits that were included.  In addition, I would have chopped the nuts to make it easier to cut than rather it looking like a square of trail mix.   Take a look and let me know your thoughts and creative modifications!

•3 small, ripe bananas (2 large also works), peeled
•2c Rolled Oats
•1/2 t salt
•1/4c almonds, or nuts of choice (recommend chopped)
•1 T chia seeds
•1/4c shredded coconut
•sprinkle of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice •Would recommend 1/4c dried fruit to add more flavor, i.e. raisins, dates, or apricots would be delicious
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and set aside a 9 x 9 baking dish (lightly greased).

Start mashing the bananas in a bowl until it becomes a smooth liquid (I used a large fork).  Then mix in the the remaining ingredients; hold off on the nutmeg if you plan to use as just a topping when the mixture is formed in the pan.  Make sure to pat the oat mixture until it is flat in the pan.  Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden brown on the sides.  Set aside after they are cooked to your liking and then cut into squares once cooled. For a protein bonus, I spread one 1T nut butter on top.  Enjoy!

About the Author:
Kathryn Pfeffer is an RDN in Boston and writes her own blog at where she shares her culinary adventures bite by bite.  She is an experienced clinical dietitian in an acute and rehabilitation hospital in the Boston area and recently completed her first marathon in May. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August Twitter #SCANchat goes for the Gold

It's time for another #SCANchat, happening tomorrow night (Thurs. August 4th) at 8 pm ET on Twitter.  Catch us on @SCANdpg! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Eating on the Road: Keeping your hanger away from setting PRs

I recall not so long ago when I was at a weightlifting meet with my husband and the hanger had set in. He was coaching a couple of athletes and competing and I wasn’t going to miss any of it because, to be honest, I find the sport to be incredibly exciting and when either him or his athletes are lifting, I like to imagine that I am an amateur sports photographer with my iPhone. At this particular meet, there were no food vendors and really no good time between athletes to head out to find food. The meet sessions started to go long and soon I found myself cranky and eating a bag of Skittles from the lonesome vending machine nearby. I started to wonder how many other people were as ill prepared as I was and even more importantly, how many of those people were the athletes competing in the meet? As a coach, athlete, friend, family member, or fan, the necessity of meal planning on the road is essential to keep everyone happy.  Eating on the road usually ends up in one of the Three H’s:  Happy, Hurting, or Hangry.  Creating a plan for optimal nutrition while on the road will decrease the stress associated with wondering if your meal will give you dreadful side effects such as food intolerance and diarrhea (Hurting), and maintaining a meal patter with set meal and snack times centered around your travel will prevent a systemic presentation of hunger and anger (Hangry), resulting in better performance and positive outcomes for all (Happy).

General Tips:  Some helpful tips include carrying a water bottle with you and creating a meal pattern that includes plans for eating out.  Make sure if you bring your own meals that they are kept at the appropriate temperature of 40 F degrees or below and not to eat any perishable foods that have been out at room temperature longer than two hours. Packing a lunch box and ice packs with your luggage can be handy if you participate in sporting events that have large periods of time between weigh-in and competition time. If you don’t have a grocery store near the competition venue or hotel you are staying in, most convenience stores carry bread and peanut butter. If you are lucky, you might score some bananas to make a PB & Banana sandwich. Just don’t forget some disposable silverware!

Protein:  Good sources of protein that are shelf stable to take on the road with you include packed tuna or chicken (preferably in water), peanut or almond butter, unsalted nuts and seeds, turkey/buffalo/beef jerky, drink mixes for recovery beverages, and protein powder.

Carbohydrates:  Good sources of carbohydrates to bring on the road include granola, instant cereals such as oatmeal, instant rice/noodles/quinoa or couscous, whole-grain snack crackers, protein bars, meal replacement powder, powdered sports drinks, and dehydrated fruit.

Dining Out:  If you are going to be dining out, do not start the trip by being experimental and trying out new foods or tempting local flavors until after the competition.  Make sure to do some research into which restaurants are in the area that you are familiar with and choose menu options.  Try to stay away from fried foods and high fat options, as they are likely culprits for stomach upset.  Choose foods that are baked, broiled, steamed, or roasted.  If you’re planning pasta for the night, go for the red sauce versus the creamy white sauce.  And if you or your athletes decide to completely ignore this advice, Imodium A.D. is readily available at most corner stores.

Allison Koch MA RD/LDN is completing her PhD in Nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She enjoys working with sports nutrition and weight management clients at Twitter @DietitianAlli

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Top 5 Problems with Alcohol Consumption and the Athlete

Alcohol has been shown to make up to 5% of an athlete’s calorie intake, and consumption in any volume can interfere with performance, recovery, muscle building, vitamin function, and hydration. As an athlete, your goal is to improve performance. Here are some important factors that are affected when alcohol is involved:
·         Hydration
o    Alcohol can dehydrate your body; altering your body’s ability to regulate its temperature. A small change in body temperature will affect your reaction time, motor skills, balance, and even your memory during performance.
·         Recovery
o    Alcohol can cause muscle cramps, pain, and hypoglycemia. Having sufficient glucose allows your muscles to heal and stimulate growth after a workout. Recuperation time is vital in making sure your body is able to rejuvenate itself post-workout.
·         Growth hormone (GH)
o    Plays a huge role in recovery. This is an important hormone that stimulates cell and bone growth and development. GH is secreted within the first few hours during sleep, but if you’re not sleeping well or getting enough sleep, this process is disrupted. Alcohol often disrupts sleep cycles, thus affecting growth hormone and therefore, cell development and overall performance.
·         Calcium (Ca) and vitamin A
o    Alcohol inhibits absorption of these vitamins. Ca is stored in your bones, teeth, and in your bloodstream. A lack in either vitamin D or Ca can lead to Osteoporosis, Liver disease, and increased risk of fractures. Your bones need to be strong and healthy in order to perform. If you have brittle bones, you’re at risk of fractures and possibly ending your career as an athlete.
·         Calorically
o    There are 7 kilocalories (kcals) per gram in alcohol. Anywhere from 7-14 drinks per week can tack on an easy 600-1800 extra calories which can lead to a long-term weight gain. Here’s a table to show the calorie intake of different drinks.

12oz beer
12oz Light Beer
3.5oz Red or White Wine
6oz Martini
0.5 oz Hard Liquor
10oz Margarita
Pina Colada
Long Island Iced Tea
Rum and Coke
Vodka and Cranberry Juice

               When it comes down to it, alcohol doesn’t have any nutritional benefit when it comes to performance. If you want to feel your best and perform your best, staying away from alcohol is encouraged. Being an athlete means you need to treat your body like the temple that it is. So next time you’re out with friends or encouraged to have a drink before a game, think twice.


"Alcohol Alert." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 26.352 (1994): n. pag. Web.
Emanuele, Mary Ann, and Nicholas Emanuele. "Alcohol and the Male Reproductive System." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
Vella, Luke D., and David Cameron-Smith. "Alcohol, Athletic Performance and Recovery." Nutrients 2.8 (2010): 781-89. Web.
Weaver, Cameron C., Matthew P. Martens, Jennifer M. Cadigan, Stephanie K. Takamatsu, Hayley R. Treloar, and Eric R. Pedersen. "Sport-related Achievement Motivation and Alcohol Outcomes: An Athlete-specific Risk Factor among Intercollegiate Athletes." Addictive Behaviors 38.12 (2013): 2930-936. Web.

Bio: Kristen Peterson is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist currently working in nutrition counseling and studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. She aspires to work with weight loss and help clients reach their goals. She also maintains a personal blog filled with nutrition information and healthy, tasty recipes for anyone who’d like to try new foods:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Packing in the Protein with Pancakes

My alarm clock buzzes and I immediately start preparing myself to get an active start to the day.  This involves blasting “Bombastic” by Bonnie McKee and one (or two) cups of coffee. While these things get me to stretch my legs and drag myself out of bed, it is not until I have had a hearty breakfast that I am revved up and ready to go.

My go-to breakfasts are oatmeal with a scoop of chunky peanut butter or greek yogurt with fresh berries, granola, and raw nuts. But, today I’m excited to share my new obsession, one that warms the hearts of many. Pancakes. The extremely delicious recipe found below is made with almond meal which I have made a staple in my kitchen. Almond meal is a great substitute for your typical wheat flours due to its high protein and fiber content. A quarter-cup of almond meal contains a whopping 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Pancakes have never sounded so good! A stack of these are guaranteed to boost your performance.

Banana & Almond Meal Pancakes
1/2 cup almond meal
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bananas or berries, sliced (optional)
dash of cinnamon

1. In a mixing bowl, combine almond meal, egg, and milk.  Mix well.
2. Add cinnamon. Stir.
3. Spoon batter onto a hot skillet.  As the flapjacks start to bubble, lay a few slices of banana onto the uncooked side, then flip! Let cook until golden brown.


Jaime Ruisi is an MSCN Candidate in Human Nutrition with Oregon Health and Science University

Monday, July 11, 2016

Did you get enough Vitamin D today?

Studies show that 77% of the population is vitamin D deficient.  Without vitamin D, your body can’t respond accurately to physiologic and pathologic processes. It allows calcium to be absorbed efficiently, prevent bone breakdown, improve muscle building, and regulate our cell’s functions. You’ll likely experience muscle weakness, pain, impaired balance, increased risk of fractures, and decreased physical performance if you’re deficient.

 Interestingly enough, the most documented cause of deficiency is from a lack of sun exposure. The sun is our greatest source of vitamin D which can be a problem during the winter months. Fortunately, there are some food sources of vitamin D:
·         Natural sources:  salmon, fatty fish, egg yolks,
·         Fortified Sources: cereals, milk, and orange juice.
Keep in mind, absorption is only about 50% effective from diet. Much of the vitamin is lost during digestion. Due to this, a combination of supplementation, diet, and sun exposure is recommended.

So how much is too much?
·         Consult with your doctor first and follow their recommendations for supplementation.
·         Toxicity of vitamin D is rare and often unlikely.
o   Because your body is constantly using it, it doesn't build up quickly in the body.
·         It's been stated that taking 10,000IU a day would take months or even a year to cause toxicity.

How can it help an athlete?
·         Promotes muscle growth and strength.
·         Minimization of stress fractures.
·         Keeps bones strong and less likely to break with any stress put on them during a workout, game, etc.
·         Reduces the risk of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and any autoimmune or infectious disease. 

Vitamin D is embedded in a lot of our body functions. Since it's not a vitamin we readily get in our diet, it really should be supplemented. It's good to maintain an adequate baseline since vitamin D is used up very quickly in our bodies. Remember that toxicity is rare, so as long as you stick to a maintenance level, you'll be optimizing your body's performance.  It’s important to get vitamin D from your diet and sun exposure, but to make sure you get enough, be sure to supplement! 

Ogan, Dana, and Kelly Pritchett. "Vitamin D and the Athlete: Risks, Recommendations, and Benefits." Nutrients 5.6 (2013): 1856-868. Web.
Hamilton, Bruce. "Vitamin D and Athletic Performance: The Potential Role of Muscle." Asian Journal of Sports Medicine Asian J Sports Med 2.4 (2011): n. pag. Web.

Bio: Kristen Peterson is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist currently working in nutrition counseling and studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. She aspires to work with weight loss and help clients reach their goals. She also maintains a blog filled with nutrition information and healthy, tasty recipes: