2010 Tips and Tricks From the American Dietetic Association

The American Dietetic Association (the nation's largest group of food and nutrition professionals) recently met in Boston. Here are just a few of the highlights from that meeting. Perhaps the information will help you enjoy a high energy, high quality, health-promoting sports diet.


While cholesterol used to be the buzzword when it came to heart disease, inflammation is the current focus. Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology spoke about the power of food on reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of the so-called diseases of aging (that are actually diseases of inflammation). Obesity, for example, is a pro-inflammatory condition. This helps explain why obesity is associated with inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and pulmonary diseases.

How can you reduce inflammation? Eat a colorful rainbow of fruits and vegetables rich in bioactive compounds at each meal. This will give your body continual protection and could potentially reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 20 percent, and cancer and diabetes by 30 percent. Red strawberries, blueberries, dark purple grapes (or grape juice), oranges, and leafy greens are just a few examples of colorful foods that fight inflammation.

Nuts are also powerfully health protective. Dr. Michelle Wien of Loma Linda University reported that people who eat two oz. (46) almonds a day can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. And more is better. No, you will not get fat from eating the nuts. The trick is to exchange other snacks (such as cookies or cheese & crackers) for almonds. Note: 23 almonds = 1 ounce= about 160 calories.

Plan to enjoy almonds with carbs, such as dried fruit, or as almond butter on toast. This reduces the blood glucose response of the carbohydrates. This helps stabilize blood glucose swings that can contribute to inflammation. Plus, carb-protein combinations contribute to sustained energy that gets you through a busy day and a hard workout, as well as optimizes your recovery from workouts. Almonds are also good sources of magnesium, a mineral protective against heart disease and diabetes. Bottom line: enjoy almonds and other nuts daily.

In a Nutshell

If you are fond of pistachio nuts, buy them in the shell. You'll be less likely to over-eat them. Keep the empty shells in plain sight (as compared to discarding the empty shells into a waste basket where you don't see them). The pile of empty shells becomes a visual clue you've eaten plenty.

Calorie Consumption and Weight Loss

Most dieters believe the less they eat, the more body fat they will lose. Not always true. A study compared obese people who were given 1,200-calorie (for women) and 1,600-calorie (for men) reducing diets. A comparison group was given diets with about 1,750 calories (women) and 2,100 calories ( men). Both groups lost the same amount of weight-even though the one group ate about 500 more calories each day.  Conclusion: Why suffer needless deprivation when you can achieve weight loss success with a higher calorie level?

A Daily Dose of Chocolate

Many athletes who want to lose weight restrict chocolate, thinking it's fattening. In a weight reduction study, overweight women enjoyed a daily dark chocolate snack as a part of their "discretionary calories" in a reduced-calorie diet. They lost the same amount of weight as the comparison group who ate no chocolate. The researchers concluded a daily dose of dark chocolate does not interfere with weight reduction and may reduce cravings for sweets.  Woohoo!

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