Performance Nutrition Update

Last month, I spent some time at Division I Duke University in North Carolina learning the latest in college sports, pro sports, and military performance nutrition. Check out some behind-the-scene photos of Duke Football. You’ll notice a strength record with the name Paul Asack on it. He is an amazing athlete I used to run track with in the summer (a long time ago… proud of you Paul!). Bonus: My dietitian colleagues from all over the U.S. and I completed a sweaty strength and conditioning workout on an indoor turf Duke Football practice field (see photos included in post).

What does a dietitian do for a sport or military performance team, you ask?

The role of a dietitian for a performance team:

  • Dietitian provides resources to coaches (education, support, recommendations)
  • Collaborate on protocols and strategies used
  • Collects and consolidates data, stays current on research
  • Body composition, performance supplements, vitamin supplementation
  • Members of performance team: athletic trainer, sports medicine physician, sport dietitian, strength & conditioning coach, sport psychologist, clinical psychologist, sport scientist


Questions a dietitian may ask an athlete/performance team member:

  • Tell me about your current eating habits.
  • How many times do you eat per day?
  • How many times do you eat outside of your home?
  • Do you avoid any foods?
  • Do you take supplements?
  • Do you know which supplements are banned by the NCAA?
  • How much water do you drink before, during, and after a workout?
  • How easy/difficult is it for you to maintain your weight?
  • What are your weight goals?
  • How important is this to you?

Fun facts:

Did you know 74% of female D1 athletes did not meet the minimum recommendations for carbohydrates and 50% did not meet the minimum needs for protein in a 2013 study of 52 D1 athletes?

Dietitians can calculate your fluid needs, carbohydrate, fat and protein needs depending on your sport and your position in your sport (ex: pitchers need more calories than third basemen).

How are Traditional Sport (Athletes) similar and different to/than Tactical Athletes (Soldiers)?

There are many similarities and differences like regular access to food and fueling stations and variable access to food and sanitation. The biggest one is outcomes:

Win/Lose vs. Life/Death 


UMass Students and Zing Bars!



Last week, the Nutrition students attending UMass Lowell kept their blood sugar steady trying tasty Zing Bars as I discussed with them the many pathways to becoming dietitian. This was my second time talking to the students at UML. Thank you for having me back Professor Keyes! These bright students will all go far! They asked GREAT questions. For example, “Should I join AmeriCorps?” The answer is YES!


If you are interested in trying Zing Bars, you can purchase Zing Bars at Wegmans and Star Markets. You can also purchase the bars at Zing Bars are created by dietitians (so you know you can trust the nutrition and quality!) and they are vegan, gluten-free AND non-GMO. Bonus: They also fit amaZINGly well in small pockets!

8 Tools You Should Have in Your Kitchen

Image via The Wire Cutter
Ever rent a house instead of staying in a hotel? Have more control over your meals by having access to a kitchen at all hours of the day and night. Cook with local ingredients, spare yourself endless mediocre meals at tourist traps, and spend more time relaxing, knowing that you know what you’re eating!
Use these 8 kitchen essentials in your home & pack them in your travel kit!
1. Twelve-inch skillet: A good skillet is where most meals come to life and others go to burn. Good options are: sturdy, warp resistant, have heat distribution, and oven-safe handles so you can go directly from stovetop to oven. You can buy a French-style carbon steel skillet for about half the price of expensive models (around $60 for a 12 inch), and they’re every bit as reliable. Carbon steel skillets build a patina similar to cast iron skillets (another inexpensive option), so they become nonstick the more you use and season them. They also can be used on ceramic cooktops, whereas cast iron skillets cannot, as they scratch the surface and cause cracking. Carbon steel skillets are extremely durable.
2. Fish spatula:  A fish spatula features a stiff, slotted metal blade that flexes just enough to dislodge delicate fish fillets from the skillet or grill. The blade is long enough to support an average-size fish fillet and prevent it from breaking under its own weight when transferring it to a platter.In addition to flipping fish, this spatula is good for stirring sauces; acting as an impromptu strainer; removing food from the oil when frying; prying the errant, stuck cookie off a baking pan; or any number of soon-to-be-discovered tasks.
3. Heatproof rubber spatula: Rubber spatulas are great for everything from spreading frosting on a cake to scrambling eggs to getting that last bit of something out of a bowl. Over the last few years, the trend has been to make most rubber spatulas heatproof, which keeps them from melting at the bottom of the pot while stirring.
4. Tongs: A good pair of tongs should be sturdy enough to flip a heavyweight steak but precise enough to transfer cherry tomatoes without squashing them. You can use the same type of tongs for the stove and grill. One medium-size pair, about 14 inches long, with a solid spring, is appropriate for 98% of your tonging needs.
5. Wooden spoon: In an age of plastic, wooden spoons have become a rarity. They don’t scuff pan bottoms, are lightweight and, in addition to stirring sauces, they can be cross-utilized. Even the cheapest versions seem to last for years.
6. 8-inch chef’s knife: “A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.” A dull knife causes you to force your way through the food, increasing your chances of slipping and cutting yourself, whereas a sharp knife glides through the food with little effort. All you have to do, in theory, is put the knife in the right spot and let it do all the work. A sharp budget knife is more valuable than a dull high-priced knife, at least in the short term. A knife is only as good as you treat it. Sharpen it regularly, keep it clean, and don’t abuse it by hacking through bones!
7. Honing steel: This is the steel rod that chefs slide their knives against at an approximate 20-degree angle.  Honing steels reduce burs and inconsistencies on the knife blade that result from constant use. Diamond-coated and ceramic rods are more expensive but tend to be more effective. Regardless of the type, it’s safe to assume that behind every sharp knife is a blunt honing steel.
8. Whisk: You can make do with a fork when you’re in a bind, but whipping cream is nearly impossible. A whisk can blend ingredients thoroughly and quickly, incorporate air into egg whites, and form an emulsion between yolks and oil.
Image via Williams-Sonoma
Adapted from: The Essential Kitchen — Nine Items You Shouldn’t Cook Without, By Bryan Roof, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 10 P. 104

Organic Complete Plant-Based Protein Shakes

Looking for a nutrient-packed protein drink that’s not full of ingredients you have no idea how to pronounce? Try #Orgain Organic Nutrition complete protein shakes. This shake is good for athletes, people who are too busy to sit down to eat, vegetarians, people who are trying to get more protein in their diet and anyone trying to boost their nutrition without weird ingredients. My personal favorite flavor is iced mocha. Orgain drinks are Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Non-GMO. It’s also great for those of you trying to eat a more plant-based, natural diet without artificial sweeteners, hormones, and food colorings. Click the link below for coupons to try a shake today! 

The Difference Between a “Nutritionist” and a “Dietitian” and How a Dietitian Can Help You

What can a Dietitian do for you?

Help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Find peace with food
  • Increase energy
  • Decrease body fat
  • Decrease stress & anxiety
  • Improve performance

Dietitians aka Nutritionists provide expertise and guidance for help with weight loss, muscle gain, improved sports performance, management of health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, high cholesterol, obesity, stress and anxiety and better overall health. Nutrition & wellness counseling benefits clients of any age. Clients can get help with a special diets such as low-sodium, low-potassium, gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, high-protein, vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan. Adults and children who have food allergies, intolerances, or diabetic needs can also benefit from the help of a nutritionist.


The title “Nutritionist” is not protected by law and does not require regulation, whereas the title “Dietitian” requires specialized education and clinical training. While many nutritionists may have completed formal training or have university degrees in nutrition, they are not required to do so to use that title. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are regulated and licensed by the state in which they operate. As such, RDNs/ RD, LDNs may have higher fees than someone operating as a nutritionist. *An RD is the same as an RDN. An RD with an LDN is licensed in the state. An MS after a Dietitian’s name means they have a Master’s Degree in Science. I earned my Master’s Degree in Applied Nutrition with a specialization in Fitness from Northeastern University.

Dietitians are Beneficial in the Offices of (but not limited to):

  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Orthopedics
  • Sports Medicine
  • Dentists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Personal Trainers
  • Fitness Centers
  • Athletic Directors
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Churches
  • Massage Therapists
  • Acupuncturists
  • Food or Fitness Expos
  • Festivals
    Stopped to take a pic at the end of my shift with a fellow Simmons Alum and Boston Children’s Hospital Dietitian who came to check out the food, fun and education at the Let’s Talk About Food Festival in Copley Square September 23rd 2017!
    Line up of amazing nutrition professionals at the Let’s Talk About Food Festival 2017 in Copley Square, Boston
    Packed all day with questions, photo op at the end of the shift!
    Crowd learning about sugar and health

    Teaching the crowd about sugar and health

Let’s Talk About Food Festival

Join me and other talented food professionals this coming Saturday September 23rd at the Let’s Talk About Food Festival in Copley Square! What will you get at the festival? Free food, free knowledge, and tons of fun for the whole family! Time: 10:15-5PM See the event on Facebook.  Don’t forget to bring questions, an open mind, and an adventurous appetite!


Sustainable Swordfish Skewers

Sustainably Caught Cajun Swordfish Skewers!

Watch us cook this recipe up on video at the 6th Annual Boston Seafood Festival HERE!

From the Kitchens of: Laura Hartung, MA, RD, LDN & Nicole Chenard, MS, RD, LDN

PREP TIME:       6 minutes     Total Time: 12-15 minutes     Servings: 6

Ingredients: 2 pounds of swordfish, cubed into equal chunks


    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons parsley
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Directions: Mix marinade ingredients together. Place fish in marinade and leave in refrigerator 30 minutes to 24 hours. Skewer and grill, 3-5 minutes per side, or cooked thoroughly. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve later.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Makes 6 servings at approximately 413 calories per serving, 39 gm protein, 26 gm fat (4.6 grams of sat fat & 1390 mgs of Omega 3 fats), 272 mg sodium, 617 mg potassium, 3 gm sugar. Also provides approximately 133% of daily needed selenium, 90% of daily needed niacin, 51% of daily needed B12, and 21% of daily needed vitamin A.

Sustainable Swordfish Skewers

Video of Nutritional Benefits of Recipe


How to Keep Inflammation at Bay

Photo credit:

Inflammation is meant to be a positive aspect of our body’s natural way of protecting itself. If something is wrong, for instance, when you fall and scrape your knee, inflammation shows up at the site of the injury, which causes pain and/or swelling, and that gets your attention. This is an example of a normal inflammatory response. Inflammation is not normal when you have it consistently and you are in constant pain, have irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue or if your doctor tells you your blood shows that you have high inflammation in your body via your C- Reactive Protein lab value (CRP).  More info on why your doctor may want to test your CRP to screen for heart disease here.

Photo credit:

What you should eat to help decrease inflammation:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Most fruits brightly colored vegetables contain high levels of natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.
  • Nuts and seeds: Studies have also associated nuts and seeds with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Fish and healthy oils: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, oysters, mussels, halibut, catfish and tuna help decrease inflammation.
  • Whole grains: These grains contain all three parts of grain—germ, endosperm, and bran. Not all whole grains are high in fiber, but they are all good at reducing inflammation because they also contain other inflammation-fighting substances—vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Try: amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet (all gluten-free grains).
  • Beverages: The polyphenols in coffee and the flavonols in cocoa are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is rich in both polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Spices: Turmeric with black pepper (black pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of hydrophobic turmeric).

What you should avoid (inflammatory foods):

  • Beverages: Sodas, alcohol, energy drinks, and refined carbohydrates (sugar-sweetened beverages).
  • Meat: Red meat and processed meats (sausage, bacon, roast beef, ham).
  • Processed foods: For example: emulsifiers added to products like ice cream may have independent effects on inflammation. Read more about emulsifiers and gut microbiome disruption here.
  • Foods with refined grains: White bread, white rice, white pasta, white flour. These foods spike blood sugar, which can cause inflammation.
  • Foods with added sugar: Juices, soda, cake, candy, cookies, jarred sauces, salad dressings. These foods also raise blood sugar, which can cause inflammation.
  • Foods with trans fats: Most stick margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, deep-fried fast foods, and most commercial baked goods.
  • Foods with saturated fats: Whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, and coconut products. These fats also raise cholesterol and increase inflammation in your body. Limit these to no more than 7% of your daily calories.

For Anti-Inflammatory Recipes: Click here 

For Anti-Inflammaroty Recipe Videos: Click here

Source: Published January 2017. 

Cooking in Italy


It is important to me to make my own meals as often as possible and share them with loved ones. It makes a difference knowing where each ingredient comes from and home-made food always tastes better than store-bought food. On a trip to Italy this summer, I learned how to make gluten-free Pasta Pomodoro from scratch along with Risotto (the Italian word for waves) and Tiramisu. I was taught by a professional Italian Chef, Christina, who teaches in a beautiful kitchen overseen by a company called Veronality, which I found on, a wonderful travel website that helps you find good deals on tours and classes anywhere in the world.

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