Monday, June 29, 2015

Sleep On It, the Science and Effects of Being Tired

About 40% of Americans are 70% sleep deprived.
Approximately 35% of US adults report less than 7 hours of sleep per night, while 20% suffer from sleep/wakefulness disorders.
Tell me: Are you one of the 65% of Americans who sleep with their cell phones next to their bed?
Last year, I was going on about 5 hours of sleep per night. This lasted about eight months. I didn't realize the damage I was doing to my body until I noticed that I was yawning constantly (like every 5-10 minutes), I couldn't focus on anything, and I started becoming very forgetful. Of course, I got injured and my training and running suffered.
Sleep is important - and very underrated.
Sleep plays a big part in your daily rhythm, it's necessary for the biological function of every organ, helps regulate energy in most every cell, helps to filter memories in the brain, plays an important role in learning, and is needed to clear waste products, like amyloid, from the brain (an accumulation of Amyloid beta has been connected to Alzheimer's Disease). Poor sleep habits can lead to chronic disorders, including depression, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, a weakened immune system, and weight gain.
Have you ever noticed that you're hungrier when you don't have enough sleep? Maybe you're like most people who will pop anything into your mouth just to stay awake at that bewitching hour, around 3PM every day? It might be helpful to know that this is not uncommon - short sleepers eat about 500 calories more per day than those who get enough sleep. That could actually put on up to one pound per week! This begs the question:
Does My Lack of Sleep Make My Butt Look Big?
When you're sleep deprived, your cravings for foods high carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cake, cookies, candy, ice cream) and fat foods increase. In addition, there's an increase in the number of  hormones that stimulate hunger (grhelin). To make matters worse, when you're sleep deprived, your body's resting metabolism (# of calories burned at rest) decreases. And, if your lack of sleep is due to stress, there could be an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone. Increases in cortisol is thought to be associated with an increase in fat deposits around the abdominal area.
So, what do you think? Can lack of sleep contribute to weight gain?
Sleep is mentally, physically, and emotionally restorative - and believe it or not, adults actually need between 7-9hours of restful sleep per night.
Restful sleep means that you are not using sleeping aids or alcohol to fall asleep, and you can sleep through the night - no interruptions due to pain, discomfort, or sleep apnea. Research studies have proven that less than 7 hours per night increases risk of disease.
A good night's sleep helps protect brain health, as well as your thinking/cognitive function. It has been proven that restful sleep helps you to better deal with stressful situations, regulate emotions, and have better inter-personal relationships.
So, how can you make sure you get a good night's sleep?
First, Regulate Your Production of Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycles. When you are exposed to light, you boost your  melatonin production. When it's dark, your brain secretes more melatonin. Lifestyle habits can decrease melatonin and mess with your sleep/wake cycle.
Does this sound familiar? Long days in front of a computer screen, or bright lights at night (TV or computer)? You must take back control by increasing your  exposure to light during the day:
·         Take a break during the day and head outside for some sunshine
·         Exercise outside - my fave is running!
·         Open your curtains or blinds
·         TIVO your favorite shows and watch them at an earlier time,
·         Keep your television or computer off at night before bed,
·         Face the light from your clock or phone away from your bed.
Second, Synchronize Your Circadian Rythm
Now that you know how to raise your production of melatonin, synchronize your body's sleep/wake cycle, also known as your body's circadian rhythm. Did you know that each organ and cell in your body has its own clock? Yes! And when their rhythm is off - so is your body's rhythm.
To develop a rhythm, you must develop a sleep/wake routine:
·         Set a regular bedtime.
·         Go to bed at this same time every night - Even on weekends!
·         Consistency is key!
Third, Develop an Exercise Routine
The National Sleep Foundation reports that active people are more likely to report good sleep vs. inactive people on a ratio of 65% to 39%! Also, it seems that people who exercise in the morning exercise (7AM) are more likely to enjoy a restful night's sleep (fewer middle-of-the-night-wakings) than those who exercise at 7PM.
Fourth, Embrace Some Good Night Time Eating and Drinking Habits 
·         Besides planning to get to bed by a certain hour every night, limit non-sleeping time in bed. In other words, keep the bed for sleeping and ...
·         Shut down your cell phone,  computer, and  TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and ban laptops, cell phones, and televisions from your bedroom.
·         Avoid spicy foods before bedtime. This could lead to heartburn, which gets worse when you lye down.
·         Cut off fluids by 8PM. This may be especially helpful if getting up to go to the bathroom during the night is a problem.

·         Keep your bedtime snack small and easy-to-digest. Milk, Decaffeinated Tea, cookies, or crackers may not be so bad. Cookies and crackers contain contain carbohydrates, which raises blood sugar, and increases insulin, which can promote sleep. And milk, like eggs, oats and wheat, contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep.
·         Avoid overdoing it on the alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating, can disrupt sleep, and make you feel tired the next day. It can also relax your throat muscles and contribute to sleep apnea.
·         Recognize stimulants. For example, caffeine is not only found in coffee, and tea, but it can also be found in chocolate, chocolate desserts, and medicines. As a rule of thumb, it's good to plan to stop drinking caffeinated beverages by early afternoon. Lastly, nicotine is also a stimulant. Smoking can prevent you from falling asleep and worsen insomnia.

Sleep should be considered just as important as eating right, and getting enough exercise.
This post was originally posted here
About the Author
Elizabeth Candela is a graduate of Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. Her studies at Rutgers led Elizabeth into employee health and safety, and she worked several years as a Safety Engineer in Risk Management. In 2007, after achieving a Master of Art from Montclair State University, Elizabeth taught high school Biology, Environmental Science and Physics. Then, in 2009, Elizabeth developed a portable core fitness device, and since has secured a United States Patent. The development of this device drew her into the Exercise and Nutrition field, so she left the teaching profession to pursue postgraduate courses in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Since then, Elizabeth has achieved her New Jersey Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Certification, as well as her American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiology Certification. By maximizing her training and fitness through sound nutritional principles, Elizabeth continues to challenge herself physically and nutritionally through her commitment to run a half marathon in every USA state, and six World Marathon Majors.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Protein Powder vs. Homemade

Being employed as a supermarket dietitian, I meet the full spectrum of customers—those that want an organic, locally-grown, all-natural, do-it-yourself kind of diet and those that want convenient, quick and easy foods.  As such, I explore food options and recipes that will fit the bill of wide variety of tastes and needs. 
Recently, protein has become even more of a hot button topic.  When it comes to protein drinks, there is no shortage of powders available on the market.  Although protein powders can be a very convenient tool when building athletic meal plans, especially when considering post-workout refueling needs for on-the-go individuals, whole foods can provide similar nutrition profiles, if the correct ingredients are selected.   
As mentioned in previous SCAN posts, many dietitians opt for the “whole foods” route, versus relying on supplements.  So, even if a consumer is seeking something “quick and easy,” I still try to provide more natural options because often, it is often hard to beat what nature has to offer.
Not only is consuming a wide variety of foods important to help ensure all nutrients are consumed, variety is the spice of life.  To prevent getting stuck in a rut, I encourage shoppers to try new ingredients in unconventional ways.  Here are a few smoothie ingredients that are worth giving a “whirl” in protein shakes.
Cottage Cheese:  When blended, cottage cheese provides a cheesecake-like flavor while also providing a hefty dose of protein, potassium, sodium and calcium. Nutrient-wise, ½ cup contains 14 grams protein, 1.4 grams leucine, 15% DV of bone-building phosphorus and several B-vitamins. 
Sweet Potatoes: Use the pulp of leftover baked sweet potatoes is a great way to add 14 grams of complex carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, over 400% vitamin A, over 1/3 daily Vitamin C, 15% potassium, 28% manganese, and 16% Vitamin B6 daily needs.  Plus, sweet potatoes provide antioxidants to provide extra protection that athlete’s need. 
Pears: Frozen bananas are an easy option in smoothies, but to increase variety, try freezing ripe pears.  Just like bananas do in smoothies, frozen pears create a creamy, sweet consistency and offer a dose of potassium, fiber and carbohydrates to fuel or refuel working muscles. 
Chia flour: Chia seeds add a hefty dose of antioxidants, fiber, additional protein, calcium, iron and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (alpha linoleic acid).  Preliminary research also shows that including chia seed, as part of a healthy diet may help reduce heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.  Despite the benefits, many are turned off by the texture of the seeds and the fact that they easily get stuck in teeth.  Chia flour is a way around those issues.  Milled chia (sometimes called “chia flour”), provides the same benefits as whole chia but with none of the textural and teeth-sticking issues.  Some research has shown that milled chia is also better able to significantly raise HDL levels, compared to whole chia seeds1.
Almond flour: Instead of almond butter, almond flour is a great option.  It adds a little texture to smoothies, which is nice when creating dessert-like smoothies like Strawberry Shortcake- or Cookie-dough-flavored smoothies.  Two tablespoons contains 80 calories, 4 grams monounsaturated fat, 1.5 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 18% DV Vitamin E and a decent shot of riboflavin, magnesium, manganese, copper and phosphorus.
Here are a few smoothie recipes using the afore-mentioned ingredients.  Feel free to try them yourself or pass along to clients or customers. 
Pear-Ginger Sweet Potato Shake                           Serves 2.
All you need:
1 medium-sized leftover baked sweet potatoes, cooled*
1 ½ cups light vanilla soymilk, divided
½ cup 1% cottage cheese
1/2 cup frozen banana chunks (about ½ banana)**
1 cup frozen pear chunks (about 1 large pear)***
½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 - 2 cups ice, depending upon how thick you like your shake
All you do:
  1. Remove sweet potato pulp from potato skin; discard skins. Add pulp to a blender with ¾ cups soymilk and cottage cheese. Puree for 2 to 3 minutes or until completely smooth, scraping down edges of blender pitcher with a spatula, if necessary.
  2. Add frozen banana and pear, remaining soymilk, yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and maple syrup. Puree until blended and smooth, stopping blender to scrape sides if necessary. Add 1 cup ice and pulse to chop; blend until smooth. Add remaining ice, if desired, to reach a thicker consistency.
  3. Pour into 2 drinking glasses and serve.
*If you don’t have any leftover sweet potatoes, scrub the potato skins with a produce brush. Pierce the sweet potato 5 to 6 times with the tines of a fork.  Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft, rotating halfway through.
**To freeze bananas:  Peel ripe bananas and slice into 1/2-inch pieces.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or parchment paper-lined plate.  Freeze until completely firm.  When frozen, transfer to freezer zip-top bags until ready to use.
***To freeze ripe pears:  Rinse, dry and core pears.  Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or parchment paper-lined plate.  Freeze until completely firm.  When frozen, transfer to freezer zip-top bags until ready to use.
Per serving: 323 calories, 57 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fat, 1 gram sat. fat, 7 grams fiber, 20 grams protein
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie                         Serves 2
All you need:
1 2/3 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, stemmed and quartered
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup light vanilla soymilk
¼ cup almond flour
1/3 cup 1% cottage cheese
2 tablespoons Truvia
1 tablespoon chia flour
½ - 1 cup ice, optional
All you do:
1.    Add strawberries to the pitcher of a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Add yogurt, soymilk, almond flour, cottage cheese, and Truvia.  Puree until smooth.
2.    Add chia flour and ice, if using, and blend again until completely smooth.
3.    Pour into two glasses and serve.
348 calories, 48 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fat, 1 gram sat. fat, 5 grams fiber, 23 grams protein
Recipes by Kym Wroble, RD, LD
1.    Nieman, D.C., Cayea, E.J., Austin, M.D., Henson, D.A., McAnulty, S.R., and Jin, F. Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutr Res. 2009; 29: 414–418

Kym Wroble is an in-store registered dietitian for Hy-Vee (a large, Midwestern grocery store chain).  She completed her undergraduate coursework at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois and completed her internship with Iowa State University.  She has also worked for Scoot County WIC, prior to Hy-Vee. 
Kym played varsity volleyball at Dominican University and also at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. She continues to enjoy a very active lifestyle: playing indoor and outdoor hockey, running, weight lifting, taking exercise classes and training for the JDRF Race to A Cure Diabetes century ride every summer. She is extremely passionate about sports nutrition and hopes to one day be the registered dietitian for the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Do Workout Supplements Cause Cancer?

A recent study that investigated supplements and their potential impact on testicular cancer has made its rounds in the media. Needless to say, gym bros all across the world are fearing for their family jewels. But, should you worry? Well, not necessarily and here’s why.
The authors of the study investigated the relationship between testicular cancer and muscle building supplements. Male residents from hospitals located in either Massachusetts or Connecticut during 2006-2010 were recruited for the study. Some of the men already had some degree of testicular germ cell cancer — a common form of cancer in young men. Others did not.
The men were provided with a questionnaire which asked about their supplement use. Supplement use was classified as using one or more supplements one or more times a week for four consecutive weeks. The researchers assessed 30 different muscle building powders and pills but only noted creatine, protein and androstenedione. Additional questions were asked related to exercise habits, smoking, drinking, and family history related to testicular cancer.
After analyzing the data and taking into account the different risk factors for testicular cancer, the researchers found that men who used workout supplements had a 65 percent greater risk for developing testicular cancer than those who did not.
Does that mean you should burn all your workout supplements? Of course not.
This study only found that using workout supplements is potentially connected to an increase in testicular cancer. It does not prove a relationship. Additionally, because the category of muscle building supplements were too broad, no specific recommendations can be made on which to avoid. Therefore, there is currently no reason to fear the protein or creatine powder in your cabinet.
However, the quality of the dietary supplement industry is questionable at times. It is always a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian to assess any dangers of a supplement you are taking.

Gavin Van De Walle specializes in sports nutrition and co-owns Van De Walle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and food science from South Dakota State University, and is a certified personal trainer. He also has several published articles on the topics of nutrition and fitness on popular websites such as eHow,, the Houston Chronicle, and several other major outlets.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sprints and a Side of Fries?

University of Montana researchers found that endurance athletes (think marathoners) can dig into their favorite fast food in moderation after a hard workout.  

Moderation is the key.  

Brent Ruby is the director of the University of Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism.  He along with graduate student Michael Cramer and a team of researchers in the department's Health and Human Performance reported their research findings in a paper titled “Post-exercise Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between Fast Food and Sport Supplements.” 
"A new study, recently published by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found there was no significant difference in glycogen recovery when cyclists ate fast food after a workout versus when they ingested traditional sports supplements such as Gatorade, Powerbar and Clif products" (Ruby, 2015).  
They used 11 male cyclists who participated in rides that lasted 90 minutes to deplete muscle glycogen (a form of carbohydrate stored in the liver).  They had the riders consume either fast food (burgers, fries or hashbrowns), nutrition bars, or a carbohydrate beverage.  
"The UM researchers analyzed muscle biopsies and blood samples taken in between the two rides and found no differences in blood glucose and insulin responses. Rates of glycogen recovery from the feedings also were not different between the diets. Most importantly, there were no differences in time-trial performance between the two diets" (Ruby, 2015).
Ruby emphasizes that participants ate small servings of fast-food, not super sized portions.
Read the full article here.

Monday, June 1, 2015

We Need Posts, Calling SCAN RDs!

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