Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Popular Weight Loss Supplements You Need to Know

At any given time and in any given magazine there they are.  The burning image of a sexy, ripped couple enjoying life with a bottle of some magic elixir they take to take to get results.  This is the diet industry, a $20 billion dollar industry with over 100 million Americans buying diet pills and other supplemental aids.  Obviously, we haven’t learned much.   This new crop of “natural” supplements derived from plants, seeds, and berries are still just as dangerous.  Heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting, mood swings, or even a heart attack can result from diet pills.  Yet we still keep buying them. 

Here’s what you need to know of a few trendy and popular supplements:

Green Tea Extract

Other names: Camellia thea, Camellia sinensis, CPTV, EGCG to name a few

Uses: weight loss, cancer prevention, stomach disorders

Side effects:  dizziness, shakiness, nausea, not recommended for pregnant women or women who are breast feeding.  In addition, green tea can affect iron absorption and anemia (this is important regarding people who have had weight loss surgery), caffeine in green tea can affect anxiety, and also affect those on blood thinners and blood clotting.

Bitter Orange

Other names:  Aurantii Fructus, Aurantii fructus immaturus, Aurantii pericarpium, Aurantium, Bigarade, Bitter Orange Flower, Bitter Orange Peel, Chao Zhi Ke, Chisil, Citrus amara, Citrus aurantium, Citrus Aurantium Fruit, Citrus bigarradia, Citrus vulgaris

Uses:  for topical use for skin/fungal infections, aromatherapy, can be combined with caffeine for weight loss (no evidence supports it being safer than ephedra)

Side effects:  high blood pressure (bitter orange can affect the nervous system), rapid heartbeat, glaucoma, is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, not to be taken prior to surgery as it acts as a stimulant.

Raspberry Ketones

Other names:  RK

Uses: speed-up fat metabolism, may reduce adipose (fat) tissue, in animal studies, ketones also seemed to affect the production of hormones that increase the body’s ability to burn fat.  These were first made popular by Dr. Oz (he’s since been yelled at during a congressional hearing by his supplements).

Side effects:  we don’t know the weight loss affects in humans or long term research on it

Guarana-seed Extract

Other names: Brazilian Cocoa, Cacao Brésilien, Guarana Seed Extract, Guaranine, Paullinia cupana, Paullinia sorbilis, Zoom

Uses: taken as an aid to ‘burn fat’ and assist with weight loss. There is insufficient evidence linking it as a treatment for Malaria.  According to WebMD, Guarana contains caffeine which works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine.

Side effects: Guarana can be safe for healthy adults. The caffeine in guarana can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, tremors, delirium, diuresis, and other side effects.  It should be avoided in persons with heart conditions, pregnant women (200 mg/dL or more can increase the chances of miscarriage). Large guarana doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, pain when urinating, stomach cramps, and irregular heartbeats. People who take guarana regularly may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their usual amount.

Sources and for more information:

The Office of Dietary Supplements


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Food is the Best Medicine

Exercise is generally not associated with poor bone health, cardiovascular dysfunction, or abnormal metabolic hormonal profile. Female athletes, however, are subjected to these health consequences when nutritional habits are poor and exercise is excessive.

Female athlete triad is a syndrome consisting of disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and the loss of bone mass. Exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction is just one of the major symptoms of the female athlete triad, but it is more common than you may think. Research suggest exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction can range from 0% to 60%, and can occur across a scale from mild disruptions in menses to no menses for 90 days, referred to as amenorrhea.2  

To restore menses and combat bone loss, oral contraceptives are often prescribed – but they may result in undesirable side effects such as weight gain or mood disorders.3 Thus, non-pharmacological treatments, specifically dietary interventions, are more desirable.

Cialdella-Kam et al. hypothesized that an increase in energy intake – about 360 additional calories in the form of a CHO and protein shake – for 6-months would improve energy balance, bone health, and restore reproductive function in females with exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction.1 Eight endurance trained women with amenorrhea were recruited for the study and due to ethical reasons, there was no control group. At the end of 6-months, a shake consisting of 54 g of CHO and 20 g of protein proved to be beneficial. According to the authors, this is the first study to demonstrate that when females with exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction consumed an extra 360 calories per day for 6-months, menses and ovulation (except one) are restored. As expected, women with longer exercise-associated menstrual dysfunction took more time to resume menses.

The saying “food is the best medicine,” hold true. Consult with a registered dietitian to ensure your workouts are optimally fueled with the best medicine for health and sports performance – food!
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. Once Gavin becomes an RD, he will aim to achieve the distinguished Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential.

1.       Cialdella-Kam, L. et al., Dietary Intervention Restored Menses in Female Athletes with Exercise-Associated Menstrual Dysfunction with Limited Impact on Bone and Muscle Health. Nutrients 2014, 6, 3018-3039; doi: 10.3390/nu6083018.
2.       Gibbs, J.C.; Williams, N.I.; de Souza, M.J. Prevalence of individual and combined components of the female athlete triad. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2013, 45, 985-996.

3.       American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives). Available online: (accessed on August 6, 2014). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nutrition for Immune Health

As an athlete, catching a case of the flu, or even a cold, can really set you back.  Missing practices, workout, and/or competition is something that needs to be avoided…especially if it can be helped. 
There is no foolproof way to protect yourself from ever getting sick, but there are definitely some things you can do to help ward off illness.  Managing stress, getting plenty of sleep and staying active, along with a healthy balanced diet, including antioxidants, can help to increase your immunity to sickness. 
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that protect and repair damage to cells caused by free radicals in the body, resulting in a stronger immune system.


Taste The Rainbow

Foods high in antioxidants, often referred to as “super-foods,” should be incorporated in your diet as often as possible.  Lucky for you, the list of these super foods is very long!  Increase your intake of purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hued foods – i.e. berries, plums, peppers, raisins, red grapes, apples, sweet potatoes and squash – to give your immune system that extra power.  For even more of an immune boost, eat these foods raw or slightly cooked – overcooking can decrease their effectiveness.

Did you know?

Not only do antioxidants boost your immune function, they have also been shown to help in the fight against other damage caused by free radicals.  This damage may be related to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.  They may even be beneficial in helping alleviate inflammation and joint pain – sound familiar?

Try out these recipes to easily incorporate more antioxidants into your diet:

Berry Trifle

Try this sweet treat packed
with antioxidants!

2 boxes of instant vanilla flavored pudding mix
4 cups of skim milk
1 premade Angel Food Cake, cubed
1 tub fat free whipped topping
16 oz bag of frozen mixed berries

Prepare pudding according to package directions.

In a large bowl, layer the ingredients in the following order:  ½ of the cubed cake, ½ of the pudding, ½ of the berries, ½ of the whipped topping.  Repeat a second time.

Veggie Dip

Use this quick and easy dip to make raw veggies more appetizing.

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
6 Tbsp low fat sour cream
1 packet of ranch dip mix

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  May be served right away, or chill for 1-3 hours prior to serving.
*Add cayenne pepper or any spices of your choice for variation.

**Increased immunity, better health, more vitamins and minerals, more fiber (keeps you full…and regular) and more energy = better performance**

Tara Boening is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian with a Board Certification in Sports Dietetics. She currently works as a sports nutrition consultant in Houston, TX.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why bother to consult with a sports nutritionist?

My client, an avid exerciser, came into my office reporting her parents “highly encouraged:” her to come see me. She wasted no time telling me, “I already know all about nutrition. I know what to eat and I eat very healthfully. I’m just not sure what you can teach me.”

Her thoughts are common; most active people are already health-conscious. They have no idea how a sports nutritionist can help them. More correctly, how a sports dietitian who is both a registered dietitian (RD) and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) can help them. You may have had the same thoughts?

Unfortunately, you don’t know what you don’t know. Athletes who have never met with a sports nutrition specialist just don’t know how valuable a personalized consult can be to help take them to the next level. Performance, after all, actually starts with fueling—and not with training.

If you are putting hours of effort into training, you might to learn how to overcome the food and weight barriers that hinder you from getting the most from your workouts. Some ways I help my clients include—
• listening to their questions, concerns, and confusion,
• helping them figure out how to overcome the barriers that derail optimal fueling,
• creating a personalized plan to lose undesired body fat while maintaining energy to train,
• suggesting food experiments to enhance their performance.
For some overly-compulsively exercisers, an additional goal is to help them find peace both with food and with their bodies, so they can enjoy better quality of life.

After we’d talked for 90 minutes, my “reluctant client” reported that, much to her surprise, the meeting had actually been very helpful. She left my office with a plan that could enhance her daily eating, diminish her food obsessions, and resolve her weight issues. She felt happier.

If you, too, want to learn how to manage our confusing sports food environment, please find a local sports dietitian (RD, CSSD) by using the referral network at You just might be glad you did!

Best wishes

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

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