Monday, March 25, 2013

Banish the Bloat: Surprising Reasons Why Your Jeans Won’t Zip

Nothing is worse than being three beers away from the Good Year Blimp.  Or a large fry from an unnamed fast food chain.  What really is behind foods that keep us sporting abs or reaching for a parka?

1. Slow down.  Fast eaters (myself included) suck down a lot more air than those that leisurely pick at their meals.  Other culprits include: chewing gum, smoking, carbonated beverages, and large meals.
2. Don’t be a pill.  Steroids, birth control are some offenders when it comes to bloating.  If you are on a new prescription and realize that you’re feeling bloated, talk to your doctor about switching to something else.  Never stop a medication cold turkey.  Let them know if you’ve changed your diet as well.
3. Potassium-rich foods: avocados, celery, vegetables, fresh unprocessed foods are key to beating puffiness from extra salt in processed foods.
4. Get on the wagon.  Skip that extra beer, cocktail, or lovely glass of wine at happy hour or dinner.  Alcohol keeps the body from digesting foods properly.   If you must imbibe, make like the Russians and stick to vodka.  It has little fructose and little sugar.
5. Be a little more sensitive and try an elimination diet.   Some people have intolerances to the lactose in dairy products, gluten in bread, cereals, and grains, or just don’t digest the fructose or fruit sugar in fruit.  EA Stewart, RD-Nutritionist was quoted in the March 2013 issue of Allure magazine as stating, “you’re trying to eat healthily, but it ultimately backfires by causing these symptoms” when it comes to fructose.  She will put her clients on a diet that is free from fructose, lactose, and omit certain fruits/vegetables and even wheat.  I’ve never heard of many RDs on the gluten sensitivity but am starting to take greater notice and interest from colleagues who find success from elimination diets.
6. Try cutting the following things: sugar free foods, high fat and fried foods, and ditch extra bread and/or carbs.  Sugar-free foods have sugar alcohols that don’t digest well, fat is hard for the intestines to break down, and think about the last time you ate at the Olive Garden?  Did you need the 2 bread sticks with the super-size order of pasta, with the extra croutons on the salad?  A big, carb-laden meal like that sends all the fluids to the stomach and gut to break down…and makes it hard to zip up after!

Friday, March 15, 2013

There's Plenty of Fish in the Sea: How to Choose the Safest

Seafood is a great source of protein, contains those elusive Omega-3 Fatty Acids but can contain scary levels of mercury.  Check out the infographic from Greatist located here:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Got Zits? Increasing Evidence Links High Glycemic Index Foods and Dairy Products to Acne

Before you dump your milk out please know that there is ‘increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne…medical nutrition therapy can play an important role in acne treatment’ according to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Upwards of 17 million Americans have acne.  Research has been going on since the 1800s and during the 1960s research debunked the old myths that sugar, fat,  and chocolate were culprits at the time.  Research from the 1960s until now also show that diet does not cause acne but can exacerbate it. 

Before you pour the milk out and dodge yogurt try an elimination of dairy for a few days to a week and seek out non-dairy sources such as coconut/almond/hemp milk, other sources are kale, canned salmon/sardines, blackstrap molasses, white beans, figs, sesame seeds, bok choy, and oranges; consider taking a calcium supplement in the evening that also has Magnesium and Vitamin D.

"Acne: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy," Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, CDE, CNSC, CSSD; William Rietkerk, MD, MBA; Kathleen Woolf, PhD, RD, FACSM. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 113/Issue 3 (March 2013), DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.11.016, published by Elsevier.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bodybuilding Basics (Part One)

This past weekend in Columbus, Ohio was the Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Expo (to locals, it’s just the Arnold or the Arnold Classic).  It has grown from bodybuilding, phenomenal physiques, and strong man competitions to covering everything from gymnastics, cheerleading, ‘mighty mitts’ (guys with the strongest hands), to an expo of 700 booths that almost rivals FNCE.

Despite going to about 200 different booths, there was zero representation from the dietetic community from this measly cross-section.  This is a curious population made up of young men in their 20s, intrigued folks looking for something to do, and a lot of soccer moms/dads.  “Sports Nutrition” signs were everywhere.  Companies with claims to ‘gain lean body mass’, ‘improve strength’, and ‘eating clean’ were everywhere but after about 3 hours, one dietitian wasn’t to be found.  No one claiming to be a dietitian was found but there were a lot of ‘nutritionists’. 

Frankly, this is a multi-million dollar industry and dietetics needs to be able to adapt and get in on this diverse population.  This is the first part of a 3 part series to provide information on the sport of bodybuilding which will also include figure shows which are gaining popularity among women.

“Participants in the sport of bodybuilding are judged by appearance rather than
performance. In this respect, increased muscle size and definition are critical
elements of success.” (Lambert, Frank, and Evans 317-327)

Bodybuilding is broken up into two parts, off-season, and pre-show.  The basis of the off-season is to build body mass and fat mass.  Fat mass or energy stores are later used for muscle anabolism (muscle building). 

Pre-show is a period of time lasting 6-12 weeks where the body builder attempts to maintain muscle mass while reducing body fat to low levels. 
“During the pre-contest phase, the bodybuilder should be in negative energy balance so that body fat can be oxidized.” (Lambert, Frank, and Evans 317-327), this is also a time of negative Calorie balance.  Protein consumption comprising of 30% of the diet will reduce lean mass losses at this time. 
Suggested ratios for body builders are 55-60% carbs, 25-30% protein and 15-20% fat for the off-season and pre-show.  Foods that rank low on the glycemic index are preferred (sweet potatoes, whole grains, brown rice). Processed foods high in sugar are avoided during the pre-show period as they lead to increased fat mass and water retention.

Estimated protein consumption of 1.2-1.7 g/kg of body weight was initially thought to be adequate but the research in this area is shaky.  Moderate exercisers where studied with protein intakes of 1.6g/kg/day.  This very high level was no more effective in promoting a positive nitrogen balance than 0.8g of protein/kg/day (Lambert, Frank, and Evans 317-327).  Other variables include how steady the level of training was and the intensity of the exercise coupled with recovery time.

Lambert, Charles P., Laura L. Frank, and William J. Evans. "Macronutrient Considerations for the Sport of Bodybuilding." Sports Medicine. 34.5 (2004): 317-327. Print. <>.

Protein and amino acid metabolism repletion after high-intensity intermittent exercise during and after exercise and the effects of nutrition. Rennie MJ, Tipton KD.   Annual Review Physiology 1977; 42: 129-32, Nutrition 2000; 20: 457-83.  Print.<>.

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator (those interested in writing for SCAN can email her directly at, resolve to increase your online exposure).  

She can also be found blogging at  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Let's "Whey" The Protein Benefits

As you walk into the Vitamin Shop or GNC there are walls stacked with supplements, natural vitamins, whey protein, casein protein, soy protein and the protein powders that broadcast their benefits to putting on more muscle mass & enhance your performance. You then grab a random protein container, turning to the nutrition panel and a list of 20+ vitamins, minerals, long amino acid names...

Overwhelmed with what to buy, you ask yourself, "what protein is what?" 

Before we look into whey protein supplement, let's take a quick glance at some of the general functions that protein has within the body. 

1. It helps provide structure for your bones, teeth and skin (especially the collagen within your skin)
2. It's part of enzymes used to catalyze chemical reactions in metabolism 
3. In the cell membrane, it aids in bringing glucose within the cell to provide energy 
4. In movement, it builds the muscle fibers actin and myosin 
5. It also helps in immunity as part of the antibodies to fighting infections

WOW... who knew protein did more then just build muscle! After doing some research to understand some of the uses of whey protein specifically,  I used references from my advanced nutrition text book and journal articles to understand what whey protein is, when to use it and if it has any benefits to increase strength and muscle mass in strength training.

Now to answer the question, "What is Whey Protein & What Does It Do?" 
Whey protein, also known as the "fast" protein due to it's quick delivery to the muscles, contains all the essential amino acids required for a daily diet that can enhance athletic performance and improve body composition. It provides the body with branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which for athletes, means BCAA's are the first ones used during exercise and resistance training. Lastly, thanks to the antioxidant glutathione, it  promotes a healthy immune system!

In the gym you see guys/gals with their shake bottles that contain added whey protein smoothie blended with chocolate powder and a banana, yielding a protein rich treat (it really does taste good, too!). As I'm running on the treadmill, I observed that some were consuming about 16 oz of this protein drink within 30 minutes after their work-out. Curious as to why, I came up with these discoveries in my research:

  • Resistance training includes weight bearing exercise causing micro tares of the muscle fibers. Whey protein consumed after a strength training session has been reported to cause muscle fiber hypertrophy and yield a greater work performance, due to its quick delivery to the muscle.
  • In another article looking closely at elite wrestlers, it stated that the best time to have protein is immediately after the workout because the body needs the raw material to rebuild and recover. Leucine, one of the BCAA's in whey protein, stimulates signaling pathways to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, quickly rebuilding the muscle and development of new tissue.

To reap the benefits of whey protein, consume it immediately after your strength training routine. Just keep in mind you really want food first, balancing all the needed nutrients from carbohydrates, proteins and fats and if need be to enhance recovery, consume a whey protein supplement (most forms are in powders) on the days you have strength training. For your days of rest, focus on eating a well balanced diet being sure to include legumes, beans, nuts, fish and lean meats as some of the main sources for protein. To find out more sources and daily requirements for protein visit my plate, at

(1) McGuire, Michelle., Beerman, Kathy A. "Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food," 2009.

(2) SHARAWY, A. (2013). THE EFFECTS OF A PRE- AND POST-EXERCISE WHEY PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT ON PROTEIN METABOLISM AND   MUSCULAR STRENGTH AMONG ELITE WRESTLERS. Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education & Sport/Science, Movement & Health,13(1), 5-10.

(3) Weisgarber, K. D., Candow, D. G., & M. Vogt, E. S. (2012). Whey Protein Before and During Resistance Exercise Has No Effect on Muscle Mass and Strength in Untrained Young Adults. International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism22(6), 463-469.

Christa Petersen is currently a Dietetic Technician, Registered going to school full time at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ on the road to becoming a Dietitian and applying for dietetic internships for the fall 2013. She is an outdoorsy person who can be found running, biking, walking, swimming, playing soccer or pursuing anything from pushing high intensity cardio-workouts all the way down to relaxing yoga. One of her favorite hobbies aside from working out is creating healthy recipes and cooking them! Just recently she created a blog named "Teaspoon of Delight" sharing with the public creative recipes, nutrition facts and journal articles to keep others on tract to leading a healthy lifestyle. She cannot wait to become a Registered Dietitian and share her passion with others as a full-time career!