Monday, April 28, 2014

App-solutely Awesome Supplement Apps

Corny title aside, a lot of athletes want to know what’s going on in their favorite pre-workout, over-the-counter multivitamins, or drinks.  The following two apps help consumers debunk ingredients.


The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) has created a free mobile app for consumers called My Dietary Supplements (MyDS).

This app features:

  • An easy way to keep track of the vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other products you take—right in the palm of your hand.
  • Access to science-based, reliable information on dietary supplements.
  • General information about ODS—who we are and what we do.

Simply enter the names and amounts of your dietary supplements, and they'll be stored for your use anytime, anywhere—for example, when seeing your doctor or shopping. With MyDS you also can email your personal list of dietary supplements to yourself or to your health care providers and print it out for reference.


Aegis Shield’s motto: HELPS KEEP ATHLETES CLEAN AND IN THE GAME  by providing a web site and mobile app designed to identify the presence of banned ingredients in dietary supplements.  This is an up-to-date database that enables the consumer to scan bar codes or search products to see if a supplement has banned ingredients. 
According to their website: “Aegis Shield® is an extensive, up-to-date database that enables you to search products or product bar codes to determine if your supplement’s ingredients (as listed on the label) contain substances banned by your designated sport's Banned Substance List (e.g., WADA, NFL, MLB, NASCAR, College).”

Additional features:
  • Download on Apple and Android
  • Securely search our database of more than 100,000 products by name or bar-code scan
  • Product searches result in an Okay, Caution, or Banned rating based on your organization’s banned substance list
  • Decide on supplement use with the help of trustworthy information that has been analyzed and reviewed by Aegis Experts
  • Cost?  Less than a cappuccino.  $2.99 annual subscription when you create a user account to access the content. 

Gina Lesako RD, LD is the SCAN blog coordinator. Those interested in contributing to SCAN can contact her at

Twitter: @glesako

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

The negative influence of mass culture that promotes an idealized body not only affects girls, but boys as well. In fact, according to a recent study in Greece, both adolescent boys and girls had similar levels of body dissatisfaction.1 According to an Australian study, almost 60 % of adolescent boys were trying to build their bodies and 74 % believed they should grow their muscles.2 This drive for increased muscle mass can lead to dangerous practices such as excessive exercise, unnecessary dietary supplements, or even illegal or banned performance enhancing drugs.
A research article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 3 conducted a study to investigate the relationship between body dissatisfaction and attitudes towards performance enhancing drug use in sports to influence education and health promotion programs.
The researchers of the study issued a survey to 1148 male adolescent students (ages 11 to 21) to assess body image, supplement use, and attitudes towards doping in sports.


Body Image:

883 of the adolescent boys indicated their body as ‘about right,’ 111 indicated their body as ‘too thin,’ and 142 selected ‘too fat.’

Body image by use of products:

Researcher found that adolescent boys who reported using supplements, like vitamins and minerals, protein powders, or sports drinks were more likely to have higher levels of body dissatisfaction.

Attitudes towards doping in sports:

Those who used supplements were more likely to have more lenient attitudes towards the use of drugs in sports.

This is the first study to report a significant, positive correlation indication that adolescent boys who have higher levels of body dissatisfaction are more likely to be supportive of the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports.

Practical implications:

RDNs can work with athletic trainers to help educate athletes on safe and effective ways to build muscle and increase sports performance without the use of doping. Inversely, athletic trainers can work with RDNs to help athletes effectively fuel and recover from their workouts with optimal nutrition.

Programs aiming to prevent body dissatisfaction and the use of performance enhancing drugs could be coupled as a preventative. Additionally, materials and handouts about the potentially dangerous effects of certain supplements and performance enhancing drugs can be implemented.

The Athletes Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) program is successful in the prevention of anabolic steroid use among high school athletes and is an excellent resource.

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, a nutrition columnist for “The Collegian,” and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will aim to achieve the distinguished Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential.

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