Jan 29, 2015
New in Nutrition

susankundrat-head.jpgBy Susan Kundrat

In November, the 2008 American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo was held in Chicago. Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a sports dietitian for athletes at the University of Illinois and Bradley University, was there, and she shares with us what she learned.

More than 10,000 Registered Dietitians, nutrition professionals, researchers, and nutrition educators attended the ADA’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo from October 25-28. Conference attendees could choose from specialty workshops on everything from gut health to kid’s nutrition to culinary demonstrations. I’ll highlight a few of the key areas I think will be of interest to T&C readers:

SCAN Update: SCAN, or the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionists subgroup of the American Dietetic Association, is the group of Registered Dietitians (RDs) that sports professionals can forge partnerships with to help athletes meet their nutrition and performance goals. Many SCAN RDs are specialists in sports dietetics.

A few years ago, a group of dedicated SCAN RDs spearheaded the Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). Registered Dietitians with a specialty in sports nutrition and practical experience (at least 1,500 hours in the field) are able to sit for the national CSSD exam. Currently, there are 235 RDs nationwide with the CSSD certification. Working with CSSD-certified RDs is critical in promoting sound, research-based, practical sports nutrition education and medical nutrition therapy for athletes. Sports professionals can find a CSSD-certified Registered Dietitian in their area by searching the SCAN website at: www.scandpg.org.

Online Weight Management Counseling: Many sports and health professionals are utilizing online nutrition education with their athletes– whether for food log analysis, distance nutrition therapy with Registered Dietitians who are working with athletes, or to help clients and athletes maintain weight loss after initial one-on-one sessions with an RD. Presenters Deborah Tate, PhD and Susan Burke March, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE outlined research and practical recommendations for utilizing online weight management programs.

Many of our athletes and clients can benefit from weight loss, but helping them sustain that weight loss is the critical issue. Although comprehensive, medically-based weight management programs are often the best bet, this is not always practical, cost-efficient, or available for clients. Including behavior change in addition to educational information is critical to success in these programs. Online programs such those listed below can be a great addition to traditional nutrition counseling: • sparkpeople.com: a comprehensive online healthy living community with a wide range of tools and support • calorieking.com: weight loss tools, nutrition analysis, and weight loss support • ediets.com: diet and fitness plans, weight loss support, and meal delivery • nutriinfo.com: self-monitoring weight loss tool and support program • americaonthemove.org: resources and community support group

New Food Products: At every FNCE meeting, there is always a buzz around nutrition products hitting the market. This year, I was struck with the plethora of products targeting specific nutrition concerns – or “functional food” products. Functional foods, or foods or food products that provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition, can be a big help for athletes and active people. For example, foods that boost extra calcium (such as calcium-fortified orange juice for lactose-intolerant athletes) or extra protein (such as whey-enhanced yogurt or energy bars) can make meeting nutritional needs easier.

As Medical Nutrition Therapy becomes more and more mainstream as a cornerstone for prevention and care of disease, these foods will become more and more commonplace. Some of my favorite new items on the market:

• Single-serving iced tea drink mixes to add to water and drink on the go with 10 grams of fiber (that’s a ton of fiber!). I work with many athletes who need to boost fiber in their diets for a range of reasons. These might include (a) managing high cholesterol; (b) helping to curb hunger on weight-loss plans; or (c) helping with regularity. These fiber-supplemented products can help athletes meet the fiber recommendations of at least 25 grams a day.

• Many new high-fiber, gluten-free crackers and snack chips with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and flax seeds that are super-healthy and taste great. We are seeing a significant increase in gluten intolerance and celiac disease in the general population (including athletes and active people), so these products should be on our radar. Many athletes have a hard time getting enough high-quality carbohydrates when they cut out wheat and most grains on gluten-free diets.

• New products like muffins, cheeses, breads, and milk products with added cholesterol-lowering compounds to help people lower cholesterol naturally. These products contain stanol or sterol esters or other phytosterol compounds that may drop lipids 10-15 percent in some people when used appropriately. For athletes and clients with high cholesterol, these products can be an easy way to decrease risk of disease and enjoy great-tasting foods.

• New yogurts and granola bars with added “good bacteria” to boost gastrointestinal health. One area of sports nutrition that is really making a splash is nutrition for gut health. Why is this important for athletes? Improving digestion and absorption of nutrients (and staying regular) are ways athletes can keep their bodies in balance and gain an extra edge over their opponents. This is an exciting area of nutrition so keep your eyes out for more studies (and products) in this area.

• New bars and drinks of all kinds to enhance workouts, promote recovery, and offer alternatives that are more natural choices with more nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dried fruit. More and more athletes and active people are looking to natural foods, local foods, and minimally processed foods to give their bodies a sound nutrition base. Food manufacturers are listening. Now athletes can plan their pre- and post-workout snacks to include quick, on-the-go foods that also can fit into their “natural foods” lifestyle.

Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN is the President of Nutrition on the Move, Inc. (www.nutritiononthemove.net) and a Sports Dietitian for athletes at the University of Illinois and Bradley University. She and co-Sports Dietitian Michelle Rockwell have recently launched new sports nutrition education materials and workshops for coaches and sports professionals at www.rkteamnutrition.net.

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