Monday, February 27, 2012

Sleep It Off

Studies show that fat mobilization increases when caffeine is consumed 45 minutes prior to a workout.  Researchers have been looking at lengths of recovery over the past several years, in particular, sleep.  

This spells out greater gains in athletic improvement or on the scale.  

The American Academy of Sleep Science has been working on an ongoing study Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory gives athletes these tips.

  • Make sleep a part of your regular training regimen.
  • Extend nightly sleep for several weeks to reduce your sleep debt before competition.
  • Maintain a low sleep debt by obtaining a sufficient amount of nightly sleep (seven to eight hours for adults, nine or more hours for teens and young adults).
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day.
  • Take brief naps to obtain additional sleep during the day, especially if drowsy.

As reported in Women's Health Magazinethe journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise followed 16 participants standardized diets. Post-workout meals after resistance training had a snack of 20 g protein and 60 g carbohydrates.  30 minutes before bed, some participants were given a beverage with 40 
grams of casein protein and the other group fasted. 

The research team took blood samples to evaluate participants' protein absorption.  

Participants who consumed the protein drink prior to sleep had an improvement of 22% in muscle protein synthesis. 

That's research to sleep on.    


Carlson, C. "Strengthen your muscles in your sleep."Women's Health Magazine. Rodale, 22 February 2012. 0. Web. 27 Feb 2012. <>.

Mah, C, Mah KE, Dement WC.  "EXTENDED SLEEP AND THE EFFECTS ON MOOD AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE IN COLLEGIATE SWIMMERS".  Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, US.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Latest In SmartPhone Applications

Always on the go?  Want to be able to keep track of your calories?  If you have a smart phone, get an APP!!  Whether it’s an Android or an iPhone, you can track your calories and exercise simply by pressing a couple of buttons! Best part?  They’re FREE!!
I’m sure if you play around and look long enough, you can find tons of apps for calorie tracking.  My two favorite apps that I have come across are Myfitnesspal  and Lose it!  A great benefit to both applications is that you can connect with your friends and family to support and push each other!

This is my newest find and I am currently trying it out.

 The best thing that I enjoy about this app is how detailed the menu item selections are.  You are able to break up meals and enter breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and water.  There are also separate sections for you to track cardiovascular and strength training exercises.  I love the detailed nutritional facts for each item.  This is a great eye opener as it has a lot of items from restaurants so it can help you be more accurate with your calorie count and to evaluate what you are consuming.  The only downfall I have found with this app is that the search can be a little tedious sometimes and not as organized.

 Lose it!
This app is great for those just starting out with using their phone for things of this nature.  Lose it! Is much easier to conduct a food search and contains picture symbols for each food item.  It is very similar to Myfitnesspal  as it has the separate meal sections and a section for exercise.   Unlike Myfitnesspal, this app does not break up exercise into cardio and strength training nor does it have a separate section for water.


*Either way you can’t go wrong! Both applications allow for individual goal setting and to track your progress. They also let you know when you have exceeded your calories (and by how much)! Both are great FREE options that do not allow a busy lifestyle as an excuse to not stay on top of your health and calorie consumption!

This article was written by Carly Fancher, a SCAN Student contributor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red For Valentine's Day? Think Red (Cherries) For Recovery!

Training for a marathon definitely takes a toll on your body. Managing muscle aches and pain becomes a focus of your pre- and post- runs. Antioxidants serve as a source of relief for inflammation as they protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are believed to contribute to certain chronic diseases and play a role in the aging processes.

Naturally, I always look for foods high in antioxidants because I think food is the body’s best medicine. I recently read Leslie Bonci’s article on cherries, which explains a lot of important qualities about this super fruit and the benefits of incorporating cherries in your diet. She is a sports dietitian and Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh, so I find the science of what she says very interesting- however listed below are the take-home facts you should know about cherries.

Cherries are high in antioxidants and specifically in:
v            Anthocyanins 1 and 2, which contribute to their beautiful color and effective reduction in muscle pain inflammation.

v            Melatonin:  Another antioxidant found in cherries that may aid in improving your natural sleep cycle.

v            Vitamin A (beta carotene): Cherries also provide a good source of beta carotene, which functions to support eye health and contributes to healthy skin and tissues.

Cherries have about 95 calories a cup and approximately 3g fiber. That makes this fruit a healthy, portable food you can enjoy anytime! If you have some extra time- try this SUPER easy recipe, which incorporates dried cherries and other fruits with protein packed couscous.

Sweet Couscous with Nuts and Dried Fruit
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Yield- 4-6 servings
Total time-14 minutes

    2 1/3 cups water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup dried cranberries
    1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
    1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
    2 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) couscous
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted slivered almonds
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, if desired

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cranberries, apricots, and cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous and remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid until the couscous has absorbed all of the cooking liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Using a fork, fluff the couscous to break up any lumps. Add the almonds and hazelnuts and toss. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet until completely cooled, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the couscous to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Serving Suggestion: Drizzle the couscous with 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil for a moister texture.

Sara Shipley, Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Management, University of Central Oklahoma BS Student- Projected graduation May 2013

I am a nutrition and dietetics student at the University of Central Oklahoma. I am a career changer after studying and graduating with a BS in fashion merchandising and working in corporate retail buying in New York City for several years. I am now studying to become a registered dietitian because I enjoy the science of nutrition and want to share my passion for balanced eating and healthy living with others. I love helping people make educated decisions about nutrition. Eating flavorful, delicious food does not have to be compromised by choosing to eat healthy. I love to cook and eat all types of food. I am an avid runner and I enjoy writing, reading and learning about anything related to nutrition, sports, food and wellness. I practice yoga and enjoy being outdoors doing anything active,- hiking, running, walking or biking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Water: The First Nutrient

Scientists credit water as being the reason for life on earth. All creatures rely on water more than any other substance to survive. We can go longer without food than water, and virtually our entire nutrient requirements are impacted by the amount of water we drink. The body is about 60% water by weight, and most nutrients move around through our body in water. Our bloodstream is composed primarily of water, and so are all of our tissues and organ systems. Water is also the key to elimination of toxins from our body (in the form of urine and perspiration).
There isn't a single bodily function - from seeing and hearing and thinking to running- that does not depend on water.
Think about the health benefits of water in three basic categories.
1.       Water is a lubricant. It keeps things flowing and moving. While it lubricates, water also protects our body parts from damage by surrounding them in a shock-absorbing fluid. This aspect of water is especially important in our joints, and also in our skin.
2.       Water is a solvent. Most nutrients dissolve in water. In our bodies, some of the most important dissolved nutrients are called electrolytes. The electrolyte minerals like potassium and sodium stay dissolved in water
3.       Water is a thermostat. When we are too hot, water lets us shed heat through sweating. Water also helps us retain heat when we need to stay warm.
So how much water should you be drinking daily? Hydration needs are just as individualized as calories needs. It depends on weight, activity and temperature. Let’s focus on basic needs. The average person should consume half their body weight in ounces. Example: If you weigh 150 lbs you should consume 75 ounces of water daily or 9-10 cups. (Weight in pounds dived by 2 x 1 fluid ounce)
Hydration Strategies:
·         Start each day with hydration in mind to cleanse the system and rehydrate.
·         A moderate intake of caffeine is fine but focus on decaffeinated coffee, tea, and herbal tea.
·         Low fat milk provides a unique combination of protein and 8 other essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. Use fluid milk as a way to get your three servings a day.
·         Be cautious of flavored or mineral infused waters, they can contain tons of sugars and unnecessary calories.
·         Carry water with you at all times.
·         Add lemon, lime or a small amount of juice for flavor.
·         Am I hydrated? Use your urine as a guide. Clear or pale urine is a sign of optimal hydration.
·         Consume 24 ounces of water 2 hours before exercise and another 8 to 16 ounces 30 minutes before exercise to ensure adequate hydration.
·         Consume 1 cup of fluid every 15 minutes during exercise.
·         Consume 4oz every 10 minutes of exercise after. 

Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @RunnersFuel. For more information visit or email at a

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can I Use Raisins for Carbohydrate Supplementation?

Endurance athletes use a variety of methods when it comes to increasing time to fatigue and promoting recovery.  Meaning, they are looking to find ways to go faster, longer and recover quicker.   If you are an endurance athlete (i.e.: runner, cyclist, etc), chances are you have used a carbohydrate supplement to boost blood glucose levels and promote nutrient delivery during exercise lasting more than one hour. 

Primarily during the first hour of moderate to intense exercise, your body draws on glycogen stores for energy (glycogen is the primary carbohydrate storage molecule found in the liver and muscle tissue).  The day before a big event for an endurance athlete, they will build up glycogen stores by eating carbohydrate-rich foods and resting their muscles.  During the race, energy from the glycogen stores will be used first and once it is gone, the body will switch to blood glucose for quick energy.   In order to keep a steady supply of blood glucose, the athlete will consume a fast-metabolizing source of carbohydrate at intervals throughout the race to keep muscles working at their peak performance. 

There are a variety of carbohydrate supplements on the market like gels, chews, bars, and shots.  However, natural foods that are high in carbohydrate can offer the same benefits during sports performance as commercial carbohydrate supplements (1). 

A study conducted at Louisiana State University found that raisins are an effective source of fuel for endurance athletes (2).  Male cyclists (n=10) were asked to complete a 2 hour glycogen depletion period followed by a 10K time trail.  During the time trial, cyclist were given 1 of 2 carbohydrate supplements (sports jelly beans or sun-dried raisins).  The study found no significant difference between finish times, rate of perceived exertion, or power output for raisins compared to sports jelly beans.   The results are shown in the table below (2).     

Another study conducted at the University of California-Davis just this past year tested the effect of sun-dried raisins vs. sports chews in running performance (3).  Eleven male runners completed an 80-minute glycogen depletion time (running at 70% of their VO2 max) followed by a 5K timed trial.  The participants completed the trail in three conditions (trials with water, raisins, and sport chews) separated by seven days.    The researchers found no significant difference between sun-dried raisins and sports chews for the time to complete the 5K. 

Raisins are also a more cost effective way to achieve essentially the same athletic performance.  The graph below illustrates the cost between raisins and commercial products per ounce. 

*Retail pricing from: for supplements and for raisins

Don’t believe it?  Try it out.  Instead of loading your fuel belt with expensive gels and bars, put in a few bags of raisins for your next long-distance run and enjoy a 90-100 calorie handful every 20 minutes.  See for yourself just how much energy you’ll have and how much money you will save!          

1. Earnest, CP, Lancaster, SL, Rasmussen, CJ, Kerksick, CM, Lucia, A, Greenwood, MC, Almada, AL, Cowan, PA, and Kreider, RB. Low vs. high glycemic index carbohydrate gel ingestion during simulated 64-km cycling time trial performance. J Strength Cond Res 18: 466–472, 2004.
2. Rietschier, H. L., Henagan, T. M., Earnest, C. P., Baker, B. L., Cortez, C. C., Stewart, L.K.  Sun-dried raisins are a cost-effective alternative to sports jelly beans in prolonged cycling. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011, 25(11): 3150-3156.  
3. Boo, T. W., Cicai, S., Hockett, K. R., Applegate, E., Davis, B. A., Casazza, G. A. Effect of a Natural versus Commercial Product on Running Performance and Gastrointestinal Tolerance.  Unpublished manuscript.  University of California Davis.

Jill Barnes, MS, Registration Eligible is a recent graduate of Eastern Illinois University and a Nutrition Education Specialist.  Follow her blog at:  or email her at  For more information on raisins, visit: 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sugar Prohibition?

"Don't dig your grave with your knife and fork."--English Proverb

Health professionals have long lectured patients and the public on the negative effects of excessive sugar consumption.    In July of 2009, Dr. Robert H. Lustig, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology released this YouTube video:

The recent media controversy, is asking "should sugar be regulated?" In a recent issue of NatureLustig, Laura A. Schmidt and Claire D. Brindis discuss the effects of sugar.

Dr. David Katz, MD, director of Yale's Prevention Research Center who stated: "If we regulate sugar, what about trans fat? What about sodium? What about calories?" There is also the fact that sugar is present in fruit, in fruit juice, and processed foods sweetened with concentrated fruit juices. Where, exactly, does the regulation start, and end?"

The core problem around the sugar controversy lies in the issues it is trying to resolve which is centered around the obesity epidemic.

Do big government regulations belong in the food industry regulating how much sugar can be present in food?


  • Fiore, By Kristina. "Medical News: Docs Urge Feds to Regulate 'Toxic' Sugar." Medpage Today. 2 Feb. 2012. Web. 03 Feb. 2012. <>.
  • Taubes, Gary. "Is Sugar Toxic?" New York Times. 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 3 Feb. 2012. <>.