How Much Protein Do I Need?

This is probably the most common question I am asked as a dietitian. Whether someone is an elite athlete or a casual weight lifter, it seems they all want to supplement with this magic muscle powder. However, most of the population has major misconceptions about what protein is, how your body uses it, and how much you should be consuming.


What Is Protein?

Protein is one of the three major macronutrients (along with carbohydrates and fat) that contain amino acids and nitrogen.  There are 20 different amino acids. The human body can synthesize 9 of the amino acids on its own (non-essential amino acids), but cannot synthesize the other 11 amino acids (essential amino acids) and need to be consumed through the diet. Thus, it is important to consume a variety of protein in your diet in order to have a balance of essential and non-essential amino acids. Proteins provide a variety of biochemical functions in the body.

Functions Of Protein

1. Energy – 1 gram of protein = 4 calories

2. Antibodies – to help defend again foreign pathogens (ex: Immunoglobulin G)

3. Muscle building and contraction – (ex: actin and myosin muscle fibers)

4. Messaging – protein hormones help send chemical messages throughout the body (ex: insulin, growth hormone)

5. Storage

6. Transport – transport proteins help move molecules to different parts of the body (ex: hemoglobin)

7. Structure – provide structure and support to cells

8. Enzymes – help to catalyze biochemical reactions (ex: lactase)

Daily Protein Requirements

The general population:            0.8 grams protein/kg body weight   OR  10-35% of total energy intake

Endurance athletes:                  1.2 – 1.4 grams protein/kg body weight

Resistance-trained athletes:    1.6 – 1.7 grams protein/kg body weight

*Key Point To Remember: These ranges are in KILOGRAMS of body weight, NOT pounds of body weight. (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds)

Example – For an average 150 lb individual:   150 lbs x (1 kg/2.2 lbs) = 68 kg

68 kg x 0.8 g protein/kg body weight = 55 grams of protein per day

If you don’t feel like doing the calculations, below is a table of the RDA for protein by gender and age.

protein RDA

In general, Americans are consuming well over the RDA for protein. The graph below depicts the average amount of protein consumed by Americans. Throughout the lifespan, the amount of protein is consumed the greatest between the ages of 19-30 years old. Since I am a part of this age group, maybe that is why so many of my peers are asking me questions about how much protein they need.

Source: NHANES 2003-2004

Source: NHANES 2003-2004

Amount of Protein in Common Foods:

  • 1 oz beef = 7 g
  • 1 oz chicken breast = 9 g
  • 1 oz soft cheeses = 6 g
  • 1 oz medium cheese = 6-7 g
  • 1 oz hard cheese = 10 g
  • 1 oz tuna = 7 g
  • 1 cup soybeans = 29 g
  • 1 large egg = 6 g
  • 1 oz nuts = 9 g
  • 1 oz tofu = 2 g
  • 1 slice bread = 2 g
  • 1 slice bacon = 3 g
  • 2 TB peanut butter = 8 g
  • 8 oz milk = 8 g

How Much Is Too Much?

“The more protein I eat, the bigger my muscles will get.” This is not necessarily true. First of all, consuming an excess of calories, whether it’s via protein, carbs, fat, or alcohol…will be stored in the body as fat. Second of all, the human body cannot properly utilize protein beyond a certain amount.

The upper limit for protein is generally 2 grams protein per kg body weight.

protein lifter

Side effects of excess protein consumption include metabolic imbalance, toxicity, nervous system disorders, and kidney problems. When excess protein is consumed, your body uses more water in order to excrete it. For this reason, individuals consuming a high protein diet should also be consuming adequate water in order to prevent dehydration. High protein diets also tend to be higher in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Does Whey Protein Aid In Muscle Building?

Please refer to one of my previous blog posts for an in-depth explanation behind the research on whey protein.

Bottom Line:

1. Most Americans consume far more protein than they need.

2. Consume a variety of different protein sources to get a variety of other nutrients.

3. Do not OVER supplement with protein, this can cause long-term damage to your kidneys as well as your wallet.


The Dr. Dean Ornish Program for REVERSING Heart Disease

Dr. Dean Ornish on the cover of Newsweek.

During this week of my clinical nutrition rotation at Charleston Area Medical Center, I have had the privilege to shadow the dietitian who works with the Dr. Dean Ornish Program.  I knew a little bit about the program previously, but I did not fully understand the wonderful health outcomes it truly has, not only in reversing heart disease, but in improving the overall quality of someone’s life.

Who is Dr. Dean Ornish?

Dr. Dean Ornish is a physician and president and founder of the nonprofit Preventative Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, CA as well as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. While he was a medical student in the 1970’s, he began conducting research on the prevention of Coronary Artery Disease, which included lifestyle modifications such as a low fat, whole-grain, plant-based diet, smoking cessation, moderate exercise, stress management techniques, and psychosocial support.

For the next 30 years, he has conducted scientific, clinical research proving that his program aids in the reversal of heart disease. He has since written several books and had dozens of television appearances on shows such as The Oprah Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and Larry King Live. He is also a consulting physician for former president, Bill Clinton. After the former president’s bypass surgery, Ornish encouraged him to make similar lifestyle changes and to consume a plant-based diet.  Recently, Ornish also published a research article showing that these lifestyle changes can slow, stop, or reverse the progression of prostate cancer. Ornish’s compelling, groundbreaking research has proven that his four-tiered lifestyle changes can actually turn back the hands of time in the development of heart disease.

Dr. Dean Ornish, creator of the Program for Reversing Heart Disease.

The Dr. Dean Ornish Program

There are four main components that comprise the Ornish program: exercise, nutrition, stress management, and group support. All of these components work synergistically to help heal the heart from the inside out.

1. Exercise

Includes moderate exercise such as walking, cycling, and strength training.

  • The program encourages aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day or for an hour every other day for a total of 3-5 hours of aerobic exercise per week.
  • If medically appropriate, participants are also encouraged to engage in strength training exercise 2-3 times per week.

2. Nutrition

The lifestyle change requires a low-fat, whole foods nutrition plan that is high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The diet also requires the elimination of all animal products and fish except for fat-free dairy and egg whites.

  • The composition of the Ornish diet is typically around 70% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 10% of calories from fat (take note that the average American consumes ~35% of calories from fat). Therefore, the diet is VERY low in fat in order to reduce the “stickiness” of the blood and to improve heart function.
  • No meat, poultry, or fish.
  • No caffeine (with the exception of green tea due to it’s health benefits from polyphenols and antioxidants).
  • No more than 10 mg of cholesterol per day
  • One serving per day of a “full-fat” soy food. A full-fat soy food is one that contains >3 grams of fat per serving, with none of the fat coming from added fats or oils. Always read the label for portion sizes and ingredient content.
  • Food products with added fat (such as soybean oil or canola oil) is allowed 3 times per day as long as a product has ❤ g of fat per serving.
  • Whole grain bread and pasta products with ❤ g of fat per serving.
  • There’s no counting calories, however portion control is strongly recommended.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption is encouraged to not exceeding one alcoholic drink per day.
  • The addition of a fish oil supplement and a senior multivitamin is encouraged. Why?? Because fish oil has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and a senior multivitamin has no iron and contains more Vitamin B12 (which may be lacking in the Ornish diet due to the elimination of meat products) compared to a regular multivitamin.
  • Where’s the protein? Legumes, wheat products, and soy products with ❤ g of added fat

The Ornish Diet Food Pyramid.

Ornish Diet Sample Meal Plan


  • 1¾ egg white zucchini frittata
  • 1/3 cup each—blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • ½ cup non-fat milk
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1 cup herbal tea or decaf coffee-alternative


  • 1-7/8 cup mango-beet salad
  • 1-7/8 cup vegetarian chili
  • 1 slice corn bread


  • 5/8 cup green pea guacamole
  • 6 whole-wheat pita bread wedges
  • ½ cup red grapes


  • 1-7/8 cup fennel and arugula salad with fig vinaigrette
  • 2 cups whole-wheat penne pasta with roasted vegetables
  • 2-1/3 cup fruit-and-yogurt trifle
  • Glass of wine or sparkling water

Nutrition Analysis of Sample Meal Plan

3. Stress Management

The program is not going to eliminate stress from everyday life, but it teaches participants to better manage their stress. Stress management techniques include stretching, yoga, relaxation, deep breathing, guided imagery, and meditation.

It is recommended for participants to practice stress management techniques for about 60 minutes everyday.

4. Group Support

The participants have regular group meetings where they learn to better their communication skills with one another as well as within their personal relationships. Group support is meant to create a social network who will encourage and support each other along the journey.

Group support sessions are meant to help participants in:

  • Rediscovering inner sources of peace, joy, and well-being
  • Learning how to communicate in ways that enhance intimacy with loved ones
  • Creating a healthy community of friends and family
  • Developing more compassion and empathy for both yourself and others


Does the program actually work? …YES. It’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Ornish has published dozens and dozens of research articles in premier scientific journals proving that this program not only helps participants lose weight, but is the only program that has been proven to REDUCE heart disease without surgery or medications.  If you would like more information on Dr. Ornish’s published research articles, click on the link here to read the full versions.

In order to give a general sense of the benefits, here are the latest findings from all of the 3,780 patients who went through Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease via Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and West Virginia as of October 2011:

  • The average patient lost 13.3 pounds in the first 12 weeks and 15.9 pounds after 1 year
  • Significant reductions in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol after 12 weeks were still significant after 1 year
  • Exercise capacity increased from 8.7 to 10.6 METS after 12 weeks (18% increase) and to 10.8 METS after one year (24% increase)
  • Significant reductions in depression and hostility (the emotions most strongly linked with heart disease) after 12 weeks that were still significant after 1 year
  • Hemoglobin A1C in diabetics decreased from 7.4% at baseline to 6.5% after 12 weeks and 6.8% after one year (complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputations can be prevented when hemoglobin A1C is less than 7.0%)
  • 96.5% of patients reported improvement in severity of angina (chest pain) after 1 year

Who can benefit from this program?

  1. Those who are contemplating, or have already had, bypass surgery.
  2. Those with a history of cardiac events or surgery and want to minimize the chance of a recurrence.
  3. Those who have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease or diabetes.
  4. Those with significant risk factors for heart disease, such as: a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and central or abdominal obesity.

How long is the program?

There are two program options:

1.) The Reversal Program: This is a one-year treatment program. The first 12 weeks are more intensive and include meeting two times per week for four hours each. Sessions include lectures, group exercise, stress management, nutrition education, and group support sessions. As the year progresses, the amount of time committed to on-site sessions decreases.

2.) The Spectrum Program: This is a six-week education-only program based on Dr. Ornish’s best-selling book, The Spectrum, which can be tailored to suit almost anyone who wants to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Okay, so how much will this cost me?

The 1 year program costs over $8,000, BUT luckily most participants have their insurance providers cover 100% of the programs costs! Medicare, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and PEIA all cover the Ornish program for qualifying individuals.

Where are Ornish program locations?

Most programs are located in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Go to the website to find specific locations near you!

The Ornish 10-Year CAMC Celebration!

Just last week, Charleston Area Medical Center (located in Charleston, WV) celebrated it’s 10th anniversary of hosting the Dean Ornish Heart Disease Reversal program! Read more about the 10 year celebration in this newspaper article printed in The Charleston Gazette.

Jim Perry and John Linton try some of the healthy food last week at the 10-year celebration of the Ornish program, which is offered through CAMC Memorial Hospital. Perry and Linton were part of the program’s original group that started to reduce the effects of and prevent heart disease.

CAMC had the privilege to have Dr. Dean Ornish speak at the celebration via Skype!

Learn more about the benefits of the Dr. Dean Ornish program in this video!

Whole Wheat, Whole What?

Whole grains are being buzzed about all throughout the media, but many Americans do not understand the true definition of what “whole wheat” actually means and the benefits it can provide to your health.

Refined vs. Whole Grain: Whole Grain WINS the Battle Every Time

Refined grains go through a process called milling, which strip the grain of the bran and the germ (refer to the “Anatomy of a Grain” below).  Milling removes some of the most important nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, and many minerals.  Refined grains include white flour, white rice, white bread and degermed cornflower.  Refined grains are most commonly used because of it’s thinner texture, taste, longer shelf life, and price.

Whole grains refer to grains that are not refined, or have not gone through the milling process. This leaves the bran and the germ intact and leaves behind all the nutritious “stuff” – the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains can either be consumed whole (such as brown rice and my favorite whole grain…popcorn!) or as an ingredient in many foods  (such as whole wheat breads and pastas).

Confused about whole grain vs. whole wheat?? …They are exactly the same thing!!

Types of Whole Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn – including whole cornmeal and popcorn
  • Millet
  • Oats, including oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, brown and wild
  • Rye
  • Sorghum (also called milo)
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • Wheat – including varieties such as spelt, durum, bulgur, and cracked wheat

Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Whole Grains…Period.

Take a look at the figure below from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines For Americans.

Americans are only reaching 15% of the goal for whole grains and nearly 200% of the limit for refined grains!  To put it simply, we aren’t getting nearly enough whole grains in our diet (and this needs to change, stat.)

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

Nutrients in Various Types of Whole Grains

The health benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:

  • Stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • Type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • Heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • Better weight maintenance

Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:

  • Reduced risk of asthma
  • Healthier carotid arteries
  • Reduced risk of inflammatory diseases
  • Lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • Healthier blood pressure levels
  • Less gum disease and tooth loss

 How Much Should I Be Eating?

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, written by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, suggests that at least half of grains should be whole grains. Or to make it simpler,aim for about 3-5 servings of whole grains every day.

Source: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

LOOK AT THE FOOD LABEL – Look at the ingredients list. If the FIRST ingredient is whole grain or whole wheat, then it is likely it’s a 100% whole grain product. If whole grain is not the first ingredient listed, then there are other types of grains (not necessarily whole grains) in the product as well.

Look for the Whole Grain Stamps! There are two…

Food producers have the option of putting a “Whole Grain Stamp” on the front of a food package.  There are two types of stamps: a “Basic Stamp” and a “100% Stamp”.

  • Basic Stamp:  The food item contains at least 8 g, or half a serving, of whole grain…BUT may also contain some refined grains as well.
  • 100% Stamp:  The food item has all of it’s grains from whole grains, or a minimum requirement of 16 g of whole grains (which is a whole serving).

A few words of caution…

Folic Acid – Whole grains are not a natural source of folic acid.  Thus, look for items that are fortified with folic acid…the easiest source to find fortified whole grains is ready-to-eat cereals.  Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women in order to prevent the birth defect, spina bifida.


“2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”. USDA & Dept. HHS.

Whey Protein, “Whey” Worth It

Consumption of sufficient dietary protein along with a resistance exercise program has been shown to increase muscle mass.  The average person requires about 0.8 g protein/kg body weight.  However, many athletes have a much higher requirement for protein from 1.2-1.7 g protein/kg body weight.  I always believe that consuming nutrients through food is much more beneficial than relying on supplements.  However, many athletes find it difficult to consume this high amount of protein that their body requires strictly through food sources.  Thus, many athletes resort to protein supplements and powders as an extra addition of protein. Specifically, whey protein is extremely popular amongst athletes and active individuals.  In fact, a 2001 study reported that 50% of college freshmen football players believed that protein supplementation was necessary to increase muscle growth (12).  Although, the specific sources and types of dietary protein that are most beneficial to the body has been a hot topic for debate. Therefore, I chose to delve into some of the research on whey protein and come to a conclusion based on science.

Whey protein is a popular supplement for athletes trying to build muscle mass.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein in particular has been a preferred source of protein, over other sources such as casein and soy, because it is fast acting, quickly digested, and has a high branched chain amino acid content (BCAA) (1).  The BCAA’s (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are used as fuel for muscles during exercise, stimulate protein synthesis, and improve muscle recovery time.  In recent years, whey protein has been a popular ergogenic aid in those attempting to increase muscle mass. Contributing to 77% of domestic powdered protein sales in 2004, whey has been a popular source of protein because of its BCAA composition, it’s ability to synthesize protein and increase muscle mass, it is easily available on the market, and has a desirable taste.  The market price of whey protein varies greatly depending on the manufacturer and the purity of the whey protein and can run anywhere from $10-$30 per pound.  Whey is produced during the process of cheese making throughout the separation of the curds and the whey.  The curds contain the component casein and the translucent liquid byproduct contains the whey protein. Once consumed, whey protein reaches the small intestine very quickly and rapidly, but once in the small intestine, hydrolysis requires a longer amount of time compared to casein, thus allowing for a greater absorption rate (3).

Forms of Whey Protein

1.  Whey protein isolate: This is the “purest” form of whey protein. It contains the most amount of protein per serving (90%+ protein by weight), has the highest bioavailability compared to other forms of whey, and has very little carbs and lactose. The downside to isolate is it is usually pretty expensive.

An example of a nutrition facts label for whey protein isolate.

2.  Whey protein concentrate: Concentrate is not as pure as isolate, containing 29%–89% protein by weight. The downside is that concentrate has more calories from fat and has a slightly higher amount of carbs and lactose. However, whey protein concentrate tends to be decently priced.

An example of a nutrition facts label for whey protein concentrate.

3.  Whey protein hydrolysate: This is predigested and partially hydrolyzed to aid in easier digestion and metabolism.  The hydrosylate form also produces less of an allergic reaction, which is beneficial to people with lactose intolerances.  However, it is usually more costly.

Does Whey Protein Increase Muscle Mass as a Supplement to Resistance Exercise?

Based on peer-reviewed research, whey protein is considered an excellent source of protein (Grade A = Strong positive scientific evidence).  It is also considere to be beneficial in increasing muscle mass and as an aid in weight loss (Grade B = Positive scientific evidence).  The grading system reflects the level of available scientific evidence (13).

Protein supplementation from whey has been shown to increase muscle mass more efficiently than other protein sources. In a study by Kerksick et al., 36 males participated in resistance training 4 days/week over a ten week period. The participants were randomly assigned into one of three supplement groups in a double-blind study; a carbohydrate placebo (48 g/d), whey protein (40 g/d) plus casein (8 g/d), or whey protein (40 g/d) plus BCAA’s (3 g/d) and L-glutamine (5 g/d).  Results showed that after 10 weeks, the group that received whey protein plus casein had greater significant increases in 1 repetition maximum leg press, bench press, lean mass, and fat free mass than the placebo group (4). In another study by Andersen et al., twenty-two healthy males were given either a protein supplement drink or a carbohydrate drink immediately before and immediately after each resistance training session as well as one drink on non-training days. The protein drink contained 25 g of protein (16.6 g whey, 2.8 g casein, 2.8 g egg white protein, and 2.8 g of L-glutamine).  Resistance training was performed three times per week for fourteen weeks and included 3 to 4 sets of inclined leg press, isolated knee extension, and hamstring curls for 4 to 15 repetitions maximum. The results showed that Type I and Type II muscle fibers in the trained leg muscles had an 18% ± 5% (P < .01) and 26% ± 5% (P < .01) increase respectively, whereas the carbohydrate group showed no significant increases in muscle fibers (5).

Another study observed the effects of whey protein in short term exercise. Eighteen men were given either a whey (21.4 g), casein (21.9 g), or soy protein (22.2 g) sports drink (all ~100 kcal) after performing four intense unilateral leg exercises.  Consumption of the whey protein drink produced greater muscle protein synthesis both at rest and after exercises compared to casein and soy (6).  Animal studies have shown the beneficial effects of whey as well. In rats, when whey protein was ingested along with resistance exercise, its effects promoted higher body weight and muscle weight gain than in rats who exercised alone (7). Even in older aged men (over 70 years), whey protein stimulated muscle protein accretion more effectively than casein and casein hydrolysate (8).

The timing of whey protein consumption, either pre or post exercise, can have different effects on muscle mass and body composition. In one study, eight subjects were given either a whey protein or carbohydrate supplement twenty minutes before resistance exercise. Results showed that 24 hours post exercise, participants who consumed whey protein had significantly greater increases in resting energy expenditure than those who consumed a carbohydrate supplement (9).  In another study, 23 males consumed a supplement containing 40 g of whey isolate during a ten week resistance exercise program. One group consumed the supplement both immediately before and after resistance exercise and the other group consumed the supplement both before breakfast and before sleep.  Results showed that the group who consumed the whey protein immediately before and after exercise had significantly greater increases in lean body mass, greater decreases in body fat, and greater increases in 1 RM strength (10). These results are consistent with another study in which milk protein ingested within five minutes post-exercise showed greater muscle hypertrophy than those consuming it two hours post-exercise (11). Furthermore, from the results of various studies whey protein should be ingested as close to a bout of exercise as possible in order to reap the most beneficial effects on the muscle.

In conclusion, there is ample evidence to support the popularity for the ingestion of the ergogenic aid, whey protein.  Supplementation of whey protein has shown to promote greater muscle hypertrophy and increase muscle mass during a resistance training program. Also, the timing of ingestion of whey protein, either before or after, should be as close to a bout of exercise as possible to produce the best effects.

Whey Protein Shake Ideas

Consuming whey protein doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless.  There are hundreds of recipes and ideas to incorporate whey protein into shakes, drinks, and smoothies.  Here are a few recipes I found that sounded really tasty! You can find more recipes at

Wild Berry Boost Shake

   1-2 scoops vanilla whey protein.

8 raspberries

4 strawberries

15 blueberries

16 oz nonfat milk

1/2 cup ice cubes

Peanut Butter And Banana Shake

  2 scoops protein powder

100g almond flakes

1 tbsp peanut butter

500ml skim milk

Half banana

Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie

1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
4 large ripe strawberries
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3-4 ice cubes

How Safe Is Whey Protein?

The U.S. FDA does not regulate herbs and supplements, and thus there are no safety “guarantees”.  However, if taken properly and in the right dosages, whey protein is considered safe for the general population.   Prolonged and excessive whey protein use can cause kidney damage.  Whey protein tends to lower blood glucose levels and individuals who are diabetic should take caution.  It can also lower blood pressure and increase the risk of excessive bleeding (13).  Some other common complaints are gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, and cramps.


1. Paul GL. The Rationale for Consuming Protein Blends in Sports Nutrition. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009;24:464S-472S.

2. Hulmi JJ, Lockwood CM, Stout JR. Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2010;7:51-61. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-51.

3. Whey Protein. Alternative Medicine Review. 2008;13(4):341-347. direct=true&db=a9h&AN=36459242&site=ehost-live.

4. Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, et al. The Effects of Protein and Amino Acid Supplementation on Performance and Training Adaptations during Ten Weeks of Resistance Training. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc ). 2006;20(3):643-653.

5. Andersen LL, Tufekovic G, Zebis MK, Crameri RM, Verlaan G, Kjaer M, Suetta C, Magnusson P, Aagaard P. The effect of resistance training combined with timed ingestion of protein on muscle fiber size and muscle strength. Metabolism. 2005; 54(2):151-6.

6. Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol. 2009;107(3):987-992.

7. Haraguchi FK, Silva ME, Neves LX, dos Santos RC, Pedrosa ML. Whey protein precludes lipid and protein oxidation and improves body weight gain in resistance-exercised rats. Eur J Nutr. 2011; 50(5):331-9.

8. Pennings B, Boirie Y, Senden J, Mg, Gijsen A, P., Kuipers H, Jc. Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;93(5):997-1005.

9. Hackney KJ, Bruenger AJ, Lemmer JT. Timing protein intake increases energy expenditure 24 h after resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(5):998-1003. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c12976.

10. Cribb PJ, Hayes A. Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006; 38(11):1918-25.

11. Esmarck B, Andersen JL, Olsen S, Richter EA, Mizuno M, Kjaer M. Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. J Physiology. 2001; 15;535(Pt 1):301-11.

12. Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals 4th ed. 2006, Marie Dunford.


The 12 Best Foods For Your Skin!

The 12 Best Foods For Your Skin

How to eat your way to a better complexion!

1.)  Almonds – The antioxidant in almonds, Vitamin E, will help to prevent painful sun burns from the sun’s UV rays.  One tip: Try to watch portion sizes when it comes to almonds.  They are incredibly calorie-dense…1 oz, or around 24 almonds, contains about 150 calories.

2.)  Flaxseeds and Salmon – These are the omega-3 powerhouses. Omega-3’s help maintain cell membranes and allow water and nutrients to be absorbed into the skin (while keeping the toxins out).  People who consume high amounts of omega-3’s have less wrinkles, redness, and irritation.

3.)  Tomatoes – Lycopene is the phytochemical found in tomatoes. This phytochemical is an antioxidant that decreases the aging process caused by sun exposure. One tip:  Don’t like tomatoes? Lycopene is also in ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.

4.)  Go Orange and Yellow! – Orange foods such as sweet potatoes, papayas, apricots and oranges are packed with Vitamin C and Vitamin A.  Vitamin C promotes collagen production, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles. And Vitamin A reduces the risk of skin cancer and prevents the overproduction of dead skin cells, which can clog your pores.

5.)  Spinach – The folate in spinach, which helps to maintain and repair DNA production, has been shown to reduce the risk of tumors and skin cancer.

6.)  Tuna – Tuna contains the mineral, Selenium.  Selenium helps to maintain your skin’s elasticity, which will help it to appear smoother and tighter.

7.)  Oysters – Oysters are loaded with Zinc, which is a mineral that helps promote elastin production and also reduces sebum production. Sebum is the oil produced by your skin as a form of protection as well as to keep it moisturized.  The overproduction of sebum, however, may lead to clogged pores and thus, acne. So order some oysters next time you’re at a seafood restaurant!

8.)  Mushrooms – This fungi is rich in the B-vitamin, Riboflavin, which helps with tissue maintenance and repair.

9.)  Wheat Germ – Wheat germ is high in Zinc, which has anti-inflammatory properties.  Some studies show wheat germ can reduce the appearance of acne.  Wheat germ also contains Vitamins D and E, which have anti-oxidant effects on the skin.  Never tried wheat germ? Try sprinkling it over a salad,  yogurt, or blending it into smoothies.

10.) Green Tea – The catechins in green tea are cancer fighters due to it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

11.)  Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder – According to some scientific studies, chocolate lovers have been shown to have better skin texture and stronger skin resistance.  This is due to dark chocolate’s antioxidant, flavanols. Tip: Don’t overdo it – a little dark chocolate goes a long way.  A one ince square is all you need to do the trick.

12.)  Water, Water, Water – Did you know your skin is made up of 90% water?  Make sure you’re drinking eight 8-oz glasses of water a day to keep your skin smooth and moisturized.


Low-Sodium Diet In-Service

This week during my patient services rotation at Mon General Hospital, one of my assignments was to create an in-service presentation for the food service employees.  In-Services are a form of continuing professional education provided by the hospital or employer during working hours in order to improve worker knowledge, education, and attitudes.  Typical in-services are in a sit-down, classroom setting and last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  Employees are educated on a variety of topics relating to their respective field and are given a quiz at the end to assess what they have learned.

For my in-service presentation, I chose to do low-sodium diets. Low-sodium diets are ordered for patients who have heart failure, cardiovascular disease, heart surgery, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.

What do you think of my Low-Sodium handout??

Eating Healthy on a Budget

As a graduate student, I am definitely on a tight budget.  But sparing your wallet does not mean you have to spare your health and wellbeing.  Check out this video by a Washington DC dietitian, Rebecca Scritchfield, RD.

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What Are The “Healthiest” Oils??

Oils are a type of plant, animal, or synthetic fat used in cooking, baking, flavoring, and food preparation.  The macronutrient composition of oils are comprised 100% of FAT.  You’re probably thinking that fat doesn’t sound like a good thing…Well, think again. There are many complex components that make certain fats and oils “healthy” while others are considered “unhealthy”.

Choosing what type of oil to buy and use can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many different options:  Vegetable, Olive, Peanut, Soybean, Sunflower, Canola, Corn, Almond, Avocado, Coconut, and Sesame Oil…Which one do you choose and why?

What constitutes as a “healthy oil”?

It is recommended that a healthy diet should be comprised of 25-35% of calories from fat. There are two main types of fats: Saturated and Unsaturated.

SATURATED FAT: Saturated fats come mostly from animal fats and are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats are completely saturated with hydrogen atoms along the fatty acid chain and there are no double bonds between the carbon atoms.

Saturated fats contain no double bonds within the carbon chain. This specific molecular structure is Myristic Acid.

This is considered the “bad” type of fat because it has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by raising total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).

UNSATURATED FAT:  Unsaturated fats come from both animal and plant products and are generally liquid at room temperature.  Unsaturated fats contain at least one double bond within the carbon chain. Unsaturated fats can be in either the cis or trans isomer. A cis isomer is when the hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond, whereas a trans isomer is on the opposite side of the double bond.  in general, trans fatty acids are unhealthier. Fatty acids have two different ends: the carboxyl end (-COOH) and the methyl end (-CH3).

There are several different types of unsaturated fats:

1.)   Monounsaturated fats: Contains 1 double bond. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).

2.)  Polyunsaturated fats: Contains 2 or more double bonds.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids:  This is an essential fatty acid from mostly plant and marine/fish sources. It is essential because the human body is unable to synthesize omega-3’s and therefore it must be consumed in the diet.  It is considered an omega-3 because the first double bond starts at the 3rd carbon atom from the methyl end of the carbon chain. Omega-3 fatty acids are reported to have several health benefits, which are still under scientific review and debate.  The reported health benefits are decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, depression, cognitive decline, arthritis, and dry skin.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids:  This is also an essential fatty acid with the first double bond starting at the 6th carbon from the methyl end of the carbon chain.  Omega-6 fatty acids are reported to have adverse health effects such as increased risk for cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, and certain cancers.

3.)  Trans fats:  This is an unsaturated fatty acid in the trans position (two hydrogen atoms are on the opposite side of the double bond).  Trans fats have different chemical and physical properties that make it valuable in food production, such as increasing the shelf-life of food. However, trans fats have been shown to be one of the “worst” types of fats for the human body.  This is because it increases the risk for heart disease by increasing LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and decreasing HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). Therefore, most leading health organizations recommend consuming as little trans fat as possible or consuming <1% of total energy from trans fats.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Oils and Uses in Cooking

When choosing an oil, in general try to choose oils that contain more mono and polyunsaturated fats and less saturated and trans fats. 

Check out this Cooking Oil Comparison Chart! It categorizes healthy vs. unhealthy oils, and oils better for cooking vs. dressings.

Healthy Cooking Oil Comparison Chart.
Complements of

When it comes to choosing a cooking oil in the grocery aisle, you have to take into consideration the health benefits as well as the cooking technique.

Safflower Oil:  Safflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fat.  It is best for medium-heat cooking such as stir-frying or sautéing.

**Canola Oil:  Canola oil got it’s name in 1978 as “CANadian Oil, Low Acid”.  Canola oil is made from the rapeseed. Canola oil is considered very heart healthy due to it’s low saturated fat, high monounsaturated, and moderate polyunsaturated fat content.  Canola oil has a high smoking point and  can be used for high-heat cooking, such as frying.

Sunflower Oil:  Made from sunflower seeds, this oil has a very high smoke point and is commonly used for frying foods.  Even though it has an abundance of polyunsaturated fat and Vitamin E, most of it is unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids and very little healthy omega-3’s.  Therefore, this is not the best nor the worst oil to choose from. If you’re looking for something healthy, try canola or olive oil.

Corn Oil:  I would stay far away from corn oil. The polyunsaturated content is 98% omega-6 and only 2% omega-3’s.  It has a high smoke point and is commonly used for frying. Not worth it.

Peanut Oil:  Peanut oil can be used for deep-frying, sautéing, or grilling food. The proposed health benefits of peanut oil is mixed among the research. It has a relatively high saturated fat content compared to most other vegetable oils, but it also has a high poly/monounsaturated fat content.  I would probably avoid this oil and stick to one with more definitive research on the health benefits. Plus, many people have allergies to peanuts.

**Olive Oil:  Olive oil is used in many Mediterranean and Italian dishes because it is one of the tastiest oils. It is high in monounsaturated fat and is beneficial to heart health.  Olive oil has a low smoking point and it used for simmering foods on low heat as well as for dipping/dressings.

Soybean Oil:  Soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and for that reason, it is probably not the healthiest choice. It has a very high smoke point and if you are looking to buy soybean oil, avoid the hydrogenated versions.

Avocado Oil:  The fatty acid composition of avocado oil is similar to that of olive oil, and it thus a healthy option. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and contains loads of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Butter/lard:  Bad, bad, bad. High in saturated and probably trans fats. Just stay away from these as much as possible. Try to stick to soft tubs of margarine instead of solid bars of butter/lard.

**These are the healthiest options.

Fat composition of common oils

Fat composition of common foods