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.

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!








Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices and Aid in Recovery

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices and Aid in Recovery

Everything you do affects your body’s ability to perform at peak efficiency including getting a good night’s sleep. By making sleep a priority, you set yourself up to get the most out of every workout and build muscle more efficiently.

Sleep Helps You Get Stronger and Faster

Many athletes are more than willing to push themselves harder in training by lifting more weight, running an extra lap, or fitting in another training session. While a good work ethic is crucial to building a strong body, you have to balance all that hard work with enough rest. Otherwise, all those extra hours training might start to work against you.

Training your body by lifting weights and running sprints wears down the muscle tissue. You get stronger when the body not only builds those muscles backup but builds them bigger and stronger. When does that important work take place? You guessed it–while you sleep. Adequate rest, including sleep, is necessary to further improve recovery and performance.

Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices

Sleep also supports a well-balanced eating plan that includes the right amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits. Adequate sleep helps regulate everything from food cravings to your responses to those cravings. When you are sleep deprived you are more likely to make less nutritious food choices with foods higher in fat and sugar.

Depending on your age, you should be getting anywhere from seven to tens hours of sleep every night. If you’re doing heavy physical training, you may need even more for your body to keep up with the demands you’re putting on it. Studies have shown that athletes who get more rest perform better in competitive situations. All that hard work pays off when you give your body everything it needs, including nutrtion and sleep.

How to Get More Sleep

Creating the right conditions can help you not only increase the amount of time you sleep but the quality of that sleep as well. Start by making sure you have the right mattress as an old lumpy mattress might be getting in the way of the rest you need. Your sleep might also be enhanced by finding a mattress that caters to the way you sleep–side, back, or stomach. Other ways you can enhance your sleep include:

  • A quiet, cool room. Ideal sleeping temperatures range anywhere from 65-72 degrees, but some people sleep better with it even colder.

  • Dark or dim conditions. Sleeping when it’s dark helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. The darkness signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Blackout curtains work well for those sensitive to any light. They also help regulate the temperature of the room.

  • Skip the e-reader. Reading a book before going to sleep is a good way to help the body and mind relax. However, the bright light of an e-reader has been shown to throw off your body’s sleep cycle by making it believe it’s time to be awake. If you want to read, try a hard copy to help your body stay on schedule.

  • Clean mattress and bedding. If you wake up stuffy, you may need to clean your mattress. Dust and skin cells can build up and interrupt your sleep by causing allergies. Wash your sheets and mattress cover regularly. Be sure to vacuum your mattress every few months.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

An Athletes Secret – Binge Eating Disorder

An Athletes Secret – Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder – A compulsive drive to eat and continue eating well beyond feeling full and consuming ~3,000 – 6,000 calories in one sitting, usually alone.  Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S., effecting 8 million Americans, yet it is the least talked about.  There is alot of misconception and stigma when it comes to binge eating;  it is not a true eating disorder, no willpower,  lack of control, or that you have to be living in a larger body.  

Eating disorders do not discriminate.  Athletes are especially at a high risk for developing eating disorders due to the natural pressure they face in their sport.  Middle school, high school, collegiate, weekend warriors, or professional athletes are all at a high risk of developing an eating disorder which gentics and environment plays a role.  Athletes in asthetic sports are at an even higher risk; ballet, long distance running, wrestling, swimming, gymnastics. 

At a high level of training, athletes often follow a strict diet.  Any type of restrictive eating, even unintentional, can backfire and increase the urge to binge.  A binge is much different than overeating or emotional eating.  Having a large bowl of ice cream after a tough day is an example of emotional eating, while consuming a half gallon of ice cream then moving on to a box of cookies can be an example of a binge.  Binge eating disorders are reoccuring and on average lasts at least once per week for 3 months of consuming an excessively large amount of food in a short period of time and is characterized by experiencing a lack of control and significant distress among binge eating.  While overeating is a challenge for many Americans, recurrent binge eating is much less common and much more severe.  Atletes with binge eating disorder are at a high risk for injury, poor recovery, poor performance, and psychological problems.  

It is often difficult to identify an athlete with binge eating disorder, as their weight is often  at a healthy weight.  But, they may start to socially isolate themselves from food events, skip meals, or overtrain to compensate for their binge.  Family members and roommates may notice large amounts of food disappearing or empty containers pushed to the bottom of the trash.  Remember, people with binge eating disorder are ashamed and feel they have no self control.  Coaches who are in frequent contact with athletes may notice signs of an eating disorder as well. 

5Warning Signs:

 1.  Eating too little in front of others.

2.  Training to hard and excessive.

3.  Increased focus on weight, shape, size, and appearance.

4.  Stress fractures and overuse injuries.

5.  Missing large quatities of food.

It is important to have a discussion with an athlete who is showing signs of an eating disorder such as binge eating.  It is imperative an athlete receive the treatment they need for support and recovery.   If you know an athlete exhibiting any of these signs, it is best to seek help from a Registered Dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and eating disorders to help the athlete build better relationships with food and their bodies.  

Orthorexia:  When Healthy Eating Makes You Sick

Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Makes You Sick

A preoccupation with healthy eating can lead to a form of dysfunctional eating called orthorexia. It is on the rise and the athletic population is at a higher risk. The condition starts as an innocent attempt to improve nutrition and/or performance.  Yet, it often leads to elimination of too many foods or food groups, labeling food as good or bad, clean, pure, or correct.

Can healthy eating really be a problem and turn against you?  If it becomes an unhealthy obsession that impacts one’s social life, self-esteem, and anxiety, then yes, it can be a problem!  ‘Ortho’ means correct and ‘rexia’ means desire.  In other words, a desire to be correct.

In our current food-obsessed culture, it can be a slippery slope with healthy eating.  All sorts of people (non-nutrition experts) are pushing fad diets, cleanses, fasts, sugar-free, flour-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, you’ve heard it all, right?  When someone needs to follow a restricted diet due to health or multiple food allergies, they are followed by a registered dietitian to ensure adequate nutrition intake.  But, when you log on to social media and keep seeing posts or articles from non-nutrition experts putting the fear of food on you and making you feel bad for eating a processed food, or asking you to spends lots of money on a special supplement or drink (which is processed by the way), don’t listen, just delete.  

Many of my clients suffer from orthorexia, although they may look happy on the outside, they are hurting on the inside.  I met with a teen yesterday, whom  I’ve been working with for the past few years.  Although he continues to struggle with some anxiety and negative thoughts around food, he is recovering from orthorexia.  He is a bright, athletic, popular teen and he stated to me that he would have full blown panic attacks if asked to eat a homemade cookie.   He was at his lowest point when his orthorexia was high, he socially isolated himself from friends, avoided doing things he loved if it involved eating away from home.  He did not enjoy holidays due to the high anxiety he would have from eating non-pure foods or foods prepared from someone else.  I am happy to say he has worked very hard and has been persistent at fighting this disorder!  

Recovery from orthorexia does not mean you can not eat healthy, nourishing foods.  You will still heat healthy, but the difference will be your understanding of what healthy eating is.  You will realize that food will not make you a better person and you will not base your self-esteem on the quality of your diet.   

If you find yourself tying one fad diet to the next, or find yourself with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, please seek help by a registered dietitian who specializes in disordered eating.  Orthorexia is a serious disordered eating pattern that can have mental and physical health consequences.  You may know alot about food and food science, but the information you receive may not always be accurate as the information may come from non-reputable sources.  When following social media, look for nutrition advice from qualified nutritionists.  




What is Intuitive Eating?

What is Intuitive Eating?

Forget the rules, restrictions, and control!  Intuitive eating is an approach developed to help people heal from the side effects of dieting.  We are born as intuitive eaters, it isn’t until rules and restrictions (DIETS) are set around food that we lose our inner intuitive eater.  Diets often result in repercussions – labeling food as good and bad, restriction leading to binging, feelings of failure if you eat a “bad” food. An intuitive eater honors their hunger, respects fullness, and enjoys the pleasure of eating.  Listen – really listen.  Focus on the diverse, delicious, nutritious foods you CAN have, rather than what a diet tells you, you can’t have!  When you eat nutrient dense whole foods, focus on how well you feel and realize you deserve to feel like the best version of yourself! Be kind and nurture yourself.  Eat well to feel well and this will inspire you to exercise and motivate you to sleep soundly.  It’s a journey to get back to intuitive eating and it starts with rejecting diet mentality and make peace with food by allowing unconditional permission to enjoy and eat all kinds of food. The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise – Focus on How You Feel
  10. Honor Your Health

Let’s build BETTER NUTRITION not perfect nutrition.

Reference:  Intuitive Eating by E. Tribole and E. Resch.

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