To Whey or Not to Whey

To Whey or Not to Whey

The majority of athletes I consult with usually want to know what protein supplements are best and if they are necessary to their sport.  I will help answer when and what protein supplements may be beneficial in an athletes nutrition plan.  But, first let’s get this straight, no nutritional supplement will counter negative effects of a poor diet on physical performance!  But, supplements can be a solution to filling a nutritional gap.  There are some key bits of information to consider.  The quality control of nutritional supplements does vary considerably, and a consumer may not always get everything they think they are paying for.

I get excited to talk about fueling with clients as for many it is just a guessing game, or worse, there is no fueling around the training session at all!  I appreciate the science behind proper fueling and refueling for performance and recovery. 

Adequate refueling (what to eat after a training session) post workout should be a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio, consumed within 30-60 minutes of training completion.  This is when your muscle and liver cells act like a sponge and soak up that nutrition to recover and repair!  Depending on your size,  you need 15-30 grams of protein after a hard workout to refuel and start to rebuild muscle.  It’s not always possible to consume a meal right after a workout or maybe you just don’t have an appetite after intense exercise.  Eating real food is ideal, but in a pinch it’s perfectly OK to grab something easy like a smoothie/shake with protein powder.  Adding frozen fruit and fluid to a protein powder is a fabulous way to get in what you need post workout; carb, protein, and fluids –  in a convenient and refreshing way. 

But there are so many protein powders on the shelfs and online!  How do you know what is the best or worst choice?  I separate the choices into whey based and plant based protein powders.  

Whey based protein is a complete source of protein with branch chain amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscle growth.  It is high in Leucine (which we call the leucine trigger – some good science here).  After consumption of whey protein, which is higher in leucine content than soy, casein, or plant protein, there is a rapid increase in blood concentration of leucine and this increase corresponds to the extent of stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.  Therefore, whey protein has a superior increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to soy, casein, and plant protein. 

Whey protein is the fast-digesting part of dairy protein.  Different forms of whey protein supplements are available, with two of the most common being whey concentrate and whey isolate. 

Whey concentrate is only 70-80% protein and has some fillers from lactose and fat.  If you have problems digesting whey due to the lactose content, avoid the concentrate and go for isolate! 

Whey isolate undergoes more processing, which results in a higher protein content 90%+  with less carbs, lactose and fat. Whey isolate is typically more expensive than whey concentrate.

Whichever you choose, whey is a high-quality protein that can help you reach your daily protein intake goals.

I have done some extensive research to find a great tasting protein powder without unnecessary additives (artificial sweeteners/flavors, carrageen, corn syrup solids) and the one that has stuck for my family and I, is Klean Athlete.  All their products are NSF Certified for Sport, which means they go through rigorous testing and are free from banned substances and contaminants.  This is especially important for athletes who play at a level where drug testing is involved as it provides athletes the peace of mind they need in order to perform at their best—safely and effectively.  I also believe non-drug tested athletes and casual competitors alike should also have access to supplements free of banned substances! 

Because I am a regular consumer of Klean Athlete and this is my number 1 choice of supplements to recommend to my clients, I am able to offer you an affiliate discount of 15% off any Klean Athlete Product.  To receive the discount simply copy and paste the link below to order, set up your account and you are good to order with 15% off.

Plant based protein powders are easily digestible and have been proven to fight inflammation and reduce muscle soreness, which makes them a good alternative for any athlete or active person who follow a vegan diet or suffer from dairy allergies. These often include soy, brown rice, pea, chia, and or hemp protein.  Although whey based protein  has been scientifically proven as the superior protein powder choice for it’s muscle-building benefits, there are alternatives for you!

Suzanne Iovanni, RDN, CSSD

*Sports Nutrition plans should be individualized as nutrient requirements are not static and energy availability is the foundation for health and performance.

**Consult with a sports dietitian for an individualized nutrition and fueling plan.

Let’s Talk Diets and Hormones

Let’s Talk Diets and Hormones

The weight loss industry knows we have caught on to them, especially commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, often thought of as your mother’s and grandma’s diet which they have become lifelong members with- why is that? Because they do NOT work!  And gone are the days of fat free foods and 100 calorie pack snacks, those just leave us feeling hangry (hungry and angry).


Restrictive diets in effort to lose weight and quick, results in increased cravings and urges  for food.  90-95% of people who lose weight on diets, regain the weight back  and many result with weight higher than they started at!  We have the before diet, after diet, then there is the after, after diet!   And it is not because you failed!  Restrictive diet’s cause you to gain weight in the end!  


Diets cause many biological and health damage including; teaching the body to retain more fat, slows rate of weight loss with each attempt of dieting, lowers metabolism, and increases binges and cravings.


Dieting also provides psychological and emotional damage; eating disorders,  increased stress, social anxiety.  Dieting gradually erodes confidence and self-trust.  


Since the diet industry knows that millennials have caught on, they are coming at us from a different angle. They are reinventing themselves as Wellness. They are coming at us from a sneaky way to continue the dieting rollercoaster, but presenting it as health and wellness (and sustaining the multi billion $$ diet industry). These are in the form of clean eating, cleanses, Whole30, detoxes, Paleo, Ketogenic Diet, Intermittent Fasting.  Again, giving you more food rules and pushing you further away from intuitive eating, which really hones in on your hunger and satiety cues.  Resulting in not eating when we are hungry and then eating past satiety.  


I admit it is so hard to go against the grain and start trusting your body to tell you what, when, and how much to eat.  Especially when you are constantly inundated with social media posts regarding diets.  The only thing you should detox are the social media accounts that make you feel not good enough!  It’s time to retrain our minds on nourishing our bodies for physical and mental satisfaction as well as balancing our appetite and weight regulating hormones after dieting has disrupted the balance.  Diets that consistently have us taking in too few calories than we expend through our resting metabolic rate (RMR) and activity, result in our bodies responding by increasing or decreasing certain appetite stimulating and satiety hormones.  Let’s take a look at hormones that effect our appetites and weight – Leptin, Ghrelin, Cortisol, and Insulin. 


Leptin is the ‘master’ hormone that regulates weight and is produced by fat cells.  It tells us when we have enough food and can burn energy.  It also influences our fertility and immunity.  Its primary goal is energy balance and it influences how much we eat, expend, and store.  Weight loss decreases leptin, then the brain tries to gain weight back.  We can have leptin resistance!  This is when the brain isn’t listening.  No drop in appetite, no increased metabolism.  Your brain can even think you’re starving, because it doesn’t think that there’s not enough leptin. So it makes you even hungrier!

So the vicious cycle starts:

  1. increased body fat = more leptin
  2. too much body fat = leptin signal disrupted
  3. brain thinks you are starving, so you eat more
  4. and it repeats

Ghrelin is the ‘hunger’ hormone, which is produced in the stomach and tells the brain to eat!  It’s primary role is to increase appetite, increase food intake, and store fat. Ghrelin rises during dieting and increases hunger.  The more restrictive you eat, the higher the ghrelin. Yikes!! So, how do we decrease ghrelin? Avoid restrictive dieting, ensure adequate sleep, increase muscle mass, and  increase protein intake throughout the day 

Cortisol is increased with STRESS!  I know, we all have stress in our lives, but, if we have chronic high stress resulting in high cortisol levels for long periods of time, this can result in high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue, disrupted sleep, impaired memory (brain fog), and suppress immunity.


Insulin is the ‘storage’ hormone. High spikes in insulin from peaks of blood sugar tells our body to store fat. The goal is to control blood sugar peaks to prevent high spikes in insulin. Which results in decreased cravings, increased energy, and better mood : )


The end goal with all my clients is Intuitive Eating.  Intuitive – using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.  BUT, for many, we need to reverse the damage that restrictive dieting has done to their metabolism, hormones, mental thoughts regarding food, and depleted energy levels.  So, how do we get these hormones regulated?!  First off, ensuring you are not eating BELOW your RMR!  Then begin eating balance meals based on macronutrients – PFC (protein, fat, carbs) and make sure you are ‘pairing’ your foods to contain all 3. To begin regulating your hormones, you need to trust nutrient dense foods and forgo the fear of calories.  Remember, limiting calories ultimately increases cravings by increasing ghrelin, resulting in overeating in the later part of the day, and then the guilt sets in.  One should never feel guilty or bad about eating!

Here are the 5 Keys to Health to focus on to help regulate your hormones;

1.  REST (Lack of sleep leads to more ghrelin, less leptin, and disrupted glucose and insulin metabolism)

2.  NUTRITION (eating PFC throughout the day)

3. MOVEMENT (find ways to enjoy movement throughout the day)

4. MINDFULNESS  (calmly accept your feeling’s and thoughts and aware of eating)

5. SELF CARE – decrease stress!


The health and fitness world can be a confusing place.  A Registered Dietitian can help cut out the noise and guide you to the best eating and lifestyle strategies that are individualized to you and your personal goals. Visits with a Registered Dietitian are often covered by your medical insurance.


~ Suzanne

Building Better Nutrition


Partnerships with Fitness Centers, Crossfit, and Athletic Teams!

Partnerships with Fitness Centers, Crossfit, and Athletic Teams!

Building Better Nutrition is now partnering with fitness centers, Crossfit, and athletic teams. Let’s work together to create a strong nutrition presence with proven results for your members and athletes!

Built on your core values, we’ll design resources, programs, messages, and metabolic testing. By combining your effective programming with my effective nutrition strategies, your members and athletes will improve their health, body composition and athletic performance!

Let’s discuss providing a robust nutrition presence in your facility or with your team!








Enchilada-Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

Enchilada-Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

Enchilada-Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

Enchilada stuffed grilled portobello mushrooms are an easy and delicious way to get more plant based foods and filled with fiber! These can be baked or grilled.


  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white corn
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp chives - optional


  1. Preheat oven on 450 degrees F or grill on medium-high.
  2. Scoop gills out of mushrooms.
  3. Brush bottom of mushrooms with olive oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the enchilada sauce and salt.
  5. Mix corn and black beans with enchilada sauce.
  6. Scoop bean, corn, and enchilada sauce and place in the mushrooms.
  7. Top with shredded cheese.
  8. Bake or Grill for 5 - 10 minutes or until cheese and sauce is bubbling.
  9. Sprinkle with chives.

How’s that Fad Diet Affecting your Gut?

How’s that Fad Diet Affecting your Gut?

Ever wonder how a restricted diet affects your body long term?  All too often I see clients that have jumped from one fad diet to the next, trying to find that perfect plan that will give them the results they desire.  In the meantime, not only are they sliding down a slippery slope of a lifetime of diets, because we all know, diets fail us.  Yes, that’s right!  Diets fail us!

Restrictive diets in effort to lose weight, result in increased cravings and urges for food.  90-95% of people who lose weight on restrictive diets, regain the weight back and many result with weight higher than they started at. That’s right!  Diets cause you to gain weight!  They cause many biological and health damage including; teaching the body to retain more fat, slow rate of weight loss with each attempt of dieting, decrease metabolism, increase binges and cravings.  

Dieting also provides psychological and emotional damage; eating disorders, increased stress, social anxiety, lowered self-esteem.  Dieting gradually erodes confidence and self-trust.

So how does dieting affect my gut?

Here’s one more way diets leave us hurting.  Eliminating whole food groups or foods containing gluten effects your gut microbiome.  There’s a lot of recent research showing how our gut microbiome can affect our overall health.  Research has shown the relationship between the gluten-free diet and the gut microbiota.  Complete elimination of gluten, unnecessarily, (without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity), leads to worsened immune function by increasing pathogenic bacteria (E.Coli!) and decreasing beneficial gut bacteria.  Our gut ecosystem is greatly influenced by our diet.  When the growth of beneficial bacteria is not supported due to reduced supply of their main energy sources, other non-beneficial bacteria begin to grow and lead to intestinal microbial imbalance (dysbiosis).  This can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, yeast infections, leaky gut syndrome, skin conditions (eczema/acne), brain fog, infections, and colon cancer.

Dietary counseling by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) will help guide you to achieve your individual health and fitness goals, while including interventions to eliminate potential health risks of restricted diets.  When needing to eliminate gluten, good planning with the guidance of an RDN will allow you to feed the beneficial gut microbiome largely through resistant starch, providing pre and probiotics.

Here’s to good gut health!

~ Suzanne

Oven Baked Salmon

Oven Baked Salmon


  • 1 lb wild salmon, cut into 4 fillets
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Place salmon fillets in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk honey, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt. Then mix in lemon juice.
  5. Pour sauce over salmon fillets; coat evenly.
  6. Place salmon on prepared baking sheet. Add remaining sauce on fillets.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until salmon is fully cooked.


Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. It is a great source of protein, which allows your muscle to recover and build. Salmon is also an excellent source of several B vitamins, which are needed for energy production, controlling inflammation and protecting heart and brain health. Consuming salmon may help you control your weight by reducing appetite, boosting metabolic rate, increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing body fat : )

No-Bake Granola Bars

No-Bake Granola Bars

No-Bake Granola Bars

No-Bake Granola Bars


  • 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrupt
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp. flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries


  1. Line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add nut butter and honey or maple syrup to large saucepan and stir together over medium-low heat. Add in the oats, flax seeds, almonds, and shredded coconut.
  3. Cook on low heat, stirring continuously for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove mixture from heat and add dried cranberries.
  5. Press mixture firmly into pan.
  6. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.
  7. Remove bars and parchment paper from pan.
  8. Cut using sharp knife into small bars or squares.
  9. Store in an airtight container.


Granola bars can be a convenient snack between meals or a good pre/post workout snack. All natural ingredients with quality food sources make this a great choice.

Sports Nutrition For PEAK PERFORMANCE

Nutrition is essential for optimal performance on and off the field, fueling the body and the mind.  An effective nutrition regime is especially important for student athletes, who are still growing and developing. However, for many student athletes, nutrition takes a backseat to workouts and performance-boosting tactics, such as specialty gear and personal training programs.

Many young athletes go into their training and competition underfueled.  Just as a good work-out and training session can help a student succeed, a solid nutrition plan is an essential element for top performance and health.

Sports Nutrition for PEAK PERFORMANCE will give you the tools to fuel your body with evidence based sports nutrition guidelines. As well as answer common questions to supplementation, electrolytes, and recovery fuel.

Gluten Sensitivity or is it Fructan Intolerance?

Gluten Sensitivity or is it Fructan Intolerance?

Many people struggle with complaints of gas and bloating and while searching for relief, decide to give gluten free foods a try.  It may help alleviate your symptoms and you feel better, less bloated, less gassy, and therefore, self diagnose yourself with a gluten sensitivity.  But, is it really the gluten that is causing the uncomfortable digestive woes?  Millions of people voluntarily avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye foods like bread, cereal and pasta. Those who have celiac disease (1% of the population) MUST avoid ALL gluten due to immune damage  it causes in the small intestine, which makes them very sick.  But is it really the gluten causing all the digestive symptoms for the 12% of people reporting a gluten sensitivity?


New research from Norway suggests it’s not gluten that is causing issues for these people… it’s a FODMAP called fructan.  FODMAP is an acronym for a group of short-chained carbohydrates which are poorly digested by the human body.   FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide,Monosaccharide, And, Polyols.


Since many people can’t break down FODMAPs, these molecules remain undigested until they reach your colon. From there, the bacteria in your colon “digest” or ferment these molecules, which produces gas, and causes digestive symptoms – ouch!  Typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are now treated with the Low FODMAP diet. Symptoms of IBS include:


  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Excessive gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention and swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue


The Low FODMAP diet is also helpful for those diagnosed with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and inflammatory bowel disease.


FRUCTANS are a FODMAP and  occur in large quantities in wheat, barley and rye, garlic, onions, chickpeas, raisins, watermelon

So what’s the problem with avoiding gluten?  There are gluten containing foods that you may be unnecessarily avoiding, such as sourdough spelt or wheat bread, as the cultures in sourdough breakdown the fructans.  We know that the microbiome in the intestine is very important for gut health.  We don’t want to unnecessarily elliminate foods that contribute to a healthy microbiome environment. The other issue is that most people with digestive issues don’t ever fully recover on a gluten-free diet. This is because FODMAPs (including fructans) are the likely culprit and gluten free is not always low in FODMAPs which is what’s actually required. The good news is the Low FODMAP diet is not meant to be followed forever!  There are 2 phases;

1). elimination phase and

2). challenge phase. 

You begin with eliminating High FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks, if you notice a remarkable improvement, it’s time to challenge!  You will begin to see which FODMAPs are triggers and your tolerance level.  Yes, tolerance level!  That means you don’t need to follow a Low FODMAP diet indefinately.  Remember, alot of these foods contibute to good gut microbiome.  So, let’s not eliminate!  It’s about figuring out what YOUR triggers are, then finding your tolerance level.  You may tolerate a slice of wheat bread with your eggs in the morning, but have some awful digestive sympotoms after consuming a large pasta dish with a garlic sauce – that’s a no, no for me!

Consult with a Registered Dietitian prior to initiating a Low FODMAP diet or any elimination diet.  








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