Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

Nancy is a Registered Dietitian and author of the best-selling “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.” She is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) and helps both recreational and serious athletes win with good nutrition. Her private practice is in the Boston area.

Why Some People Can Eat More Without Getting Fat
Life is unfair when it comes to weight management. Some people gain or lose body fat more easily than others. Unfortunately, fat gain or loss is not as predictable as we would like it to be. The fact is that people vary greatly in their susceptibility to gain or lose body fat in response to over- or under-eating.
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Foods You Should Eat or Avoid Before Exercise
What should I eat before I exercise? That’s one of the questions athletes of all ages and abilities most commonly ask in sports nutrition workshops. While most people expect a simple response such as “Eat a banana,” or “Have a slice of toast,” the answer is actually more complex and depends on many factors.
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Why Are Carbohydrates So Confusing?
Carbohydrates seem to be a source of confusion for most health-conscious people, including athletes and fitness fanatics. Many active people don’t know what to eat. They just think they should avoid pasta, bagels, juice, bananas, and sugar, even if these foods are not problematic for them. Most of the anti-carb hype is targeted not toward the fit crowd but the masses of overfat and underfit folks whose bodies do not handle carbohydrates as well.
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Eating Disorders in Athletes
Too many athletes of all ages struggle with food. While the prevalence of eating disorders is higher among elite athletes, and higher in females than in males, the runners, dancers, gymnasts, and others who compete in weight-sensitive sports are the most vulnerable.
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Sports Nutrition: What’s Old? What’s New?
Centuries ago, warriors (the original athletes) ate the hearts of lions. Today, athletes seek out energy drinks and protein shakes. Clearly, times have changed. In case you are wondering what else is old – and new – when it comes to sports nutrition, I’ve compiled this update to resolve confusion and help you fuel for success.
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Caffeine — Performance Enhancement in a Mug
Whether you are looking for a hit, boost, pleasing stimulant, or excuse to socialize with your friends, coffee is the go-to beverage for many people. Coffee-drinkers enjoy the way a cup of morning brew enhances their feelings of well-being and their ability to accomplish daily tasks. Fortunately, moderate coffee intake is typically not associated with health risks.
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Food News from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Experiencing the Food and Nutrition Expo at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Association’s (AND) annual convention is an eating adventure. Envision a huge expo hall filled with vendors offering tastes of their latest food and nutrition products. Several hours and many calories later, I emerged from the hall with a sampling of items that can contribute to an effective sports diet. Here is brief snapshot of some of what I saw.
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Weight Management for Active People
As a physically active person, you are unlikely to be obese, but you may have concerns about your weight or have relatives who struggle with their weight. To address the complexities of how to deal with undesired body fat, the Weight Management Group of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) held a recent conference on the subject. Here are some highlights.
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Sweat: Sodium, Muscle Cramps and Fluid Loss
You’ve probably heard stories about marathoners and soldiers who have died due to consuming too much water. Clearly, overhydration can be as dangerous to your health as underhydration. While our bodies can deal with transient underhydration for limited periods of time, chronic dehydration can lead to serious health issues. So what does a sweaty athlete need to know about staying adequately hydrated? Here are some answers from recent studies.
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Why Can’t I Simply Lose Weight?
Despite their apparent leanness, many active people are discontent with their body fat. All too often I hear seemingly lean folks express extreme frustration with their inability to lose undesired bumps and bulges. For all the exercise I do, I should be pencil-thin, they lament. Why can’t I just lose a few pounds? The answers are often surprisingly simple.
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Expanding Your Diet to Seeds and Grains
Times have changed from when we used to joke about folks who ate nuts and berries. Today’s health-conscious consumers routinely enjoy both and are now looking for ways to notch up their diets with more seeds (such as flax and chia) and whole grains (such as quinoa).
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2012 Sports Nutrition News from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association), the nation’s largest group of food and nutrition professionals, recently convened in Philadelphia (Oct., 2012). The following highlights from that conference may shed new light on ways for you to optimize your diet and manage your weight, especially if you are an athlete or at least physically active.
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How to Gain Weight Healthfully
If you are among the few skinny folks who have a hard time bulking up, you may be feeling frustrated that you can’t do something as simple as gaining a few pounds. For underweight people, the struggle to bulk up is equal to that of overweight ones who yearn to trim down. Clearly, genetics plays a powerful role in why some of us have trouble gaining weight (and keeping it on).
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How Much Protein Do Athletes Need?
Protein is a popular topic among both casual exercisers and competitive athletes, many of whom are confused about how much protein they need, when they should eat it, and the best kinds of protein to choose. The following article answers some of the questions active people commonly ask about protein in a sports diet.
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Learning from Olympic Champions
Eating a performance-enhancing diet isn’t easy, and for many athletes and active people nutrition is their missing link. If that’s your case, here are a few ABCs to get you started on the path to winning with good nutrition.
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Sports Nutrition News from The American College of Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the world’s largest organization of sports medicine and exercise science professionals. At ACSM’s annual meeting in San Francisco, May 30 to June 3, 2012, over 6,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and other health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few of the nutrition highlights.
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Even Athletes Struggle with Food and Weight
Too many athletes (males and females alike) struggle with food and weight. Their common belief is “the lighter I am, the better I’ll perform.” Not true, if the cost of attaining the perfect body is poorly fueled muscles, overuse injuries, and a dysfunctional relationship with food. If you are an athlete who struggles with losing those last few pounds, take note.
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Sports Nutrition News You Can Use
More than 450 members of the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) practice group, the nation’s largest professional group of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists (SCANdpg.org), convened in Baltimore in April 2012 to celebrate its 30th birthday and to learn the latest sports nutrition news. Here are a few highlights to help you “eat to win.”
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Dark Chocolate – A Health Food?
Chocolate, is it a bad food, an addictive drug, an instigator of dietary disasters? Or is it a health food, dieter’s weight loss aid, and effective recovery food when you’re tired or hungry? I vote for the latter! Personally and professionally, I like to think of chocolate (in moderation, of course) as one of life’s pleasures. Here is some research that might be of interest to people who love chocolate.
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Dieting Is Not Allowed!
It’s almost bathing suit season. Are you starting to panic because you’ll soon be shedding layers of winter clothing and exposing your body? When you have more flab than you want, fretting about excess body fat easily leads to plans to go on a diet, of which there are plenty of choices. Unfortunately, most diets don’t work in the long run. After all, if they did, everyone who has ever been on a diet would be lean.
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Water – A Wonderful Performance Enhancer
When a star U Conn basketball player took the advice of his sports nutritionist, Nancy Rodriguez, RD, and started drinking enough water to consistently void a light-colored urine, he was amazed at how much better he felt all day. Unfortunately, too many athletes and exercise enthusiasts overlook the power of this essential nutrient.
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Winter Nutrition: Fueling for Cold Weather Exercise
Whether you are a professional athlete or just like to exercise outdoors all year round, you want to pay careful attention to your diet during the cold months. Otherwise, lack of food and fluids can take the fun out of your activities. These tips can help you fuel wisely for cold weather workouts.
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Gluten-Free Diets
Gluten-free seems to be the latest nutrition buzzword. Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye and barley that must be avoided by people with celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of celiac vary greatly and can range from digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas) to serious health problems such as anemia, stress fractures, infertility in both men and women, migraine headaches, canker sores, easy bruising of the skin, swelling of the hands and feet, and bone/joint pain.
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Why Is Weight Loss So Hard?
Weight loss is the number one reason my clients make appointments with me. Many express frustration over their inability to do something as simple as losing a few pounds. At a conference presented by Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center (July 13-14, 2011), researchers addressed some of the issues that contribute to the difficulties of losing weight. Perhaps the following highlights offer a few insights if you are among those who struggle with shedding some unwanted body fat.
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2011 Sports Nutrition News from the American College of Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the world’s largest organization of sports medicine and exercise science professionals. At ACSM’s annual meeting in Denver, May 31-June 4, 2011, over 6,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and other health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few of the nutrition highlights.
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Exercise, Injury and Creatine
Each year, more than 5000 health professionals gather at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). At this year’s meeting in Denver (June 1-4, 2011), exercise physiologists, sports medicine doctors and sports nutritionists shared their research and offered updates. Here are three examples that might be of interest.
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Dieting Gone Awry: When Food is Foe
Too many athletes are at war with food and their bodies. In their quest to attain the “perfect body” that is leaner, lighter and presumably faster and better, they have developed atypical eating patterns that are far from peaceful. As one client reported, “I’m trying so hard to lose five pounds but I’m getting nowhere. In fact, I’m even gaining weight. I’m “good” at breakfast and lunch, but after I get home from the gym at night, I end up devouring everything in sight. On weekends, my eating is even crazier.” Sounds familiar?
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When Food Has Too Much Power Over You
I routinely counsel food-obsessed exercisers/athletes who fear food as being the fattening enemy. They think about food all day, stay away from social events involving food, give themselves permission to eat only if they have exercised hard, and white-knuckle themselves to one meager portion at dinner. If you (or someone you know) struggles with food, keep reading.
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Carbs, Protein & Performance
Should I exercise on an empty stomach? How much protein should I eat after workouts? What percentage of my diet should come from carbohydrates? Is whey a good source of protein? These are just a few of the questions addressed at the 27th annual meeting of SCAN, the Sports And Cardiovascular Nutritionist’s practice group of the American Dietetic Association. Over 400 sports dietitians gathered to learn the latest news from prominent sports nutrition researchers. This article wants to give you the information you need to choose a winning sports diet.
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When Athletes Struggle With Food Cravings and Sugar Addiction
Food cravings and sugar addictions are a source of concern and frustration for many athletes who believe that eating one chocolate bar (or whatever food they crave) will lead them to overeating, expand their waistlines, and ruin their health. They avoid chocolate like the plague and, instead, snack on only “healthy foods,” like apples and oranges. While the natural goodness of fruit is indeed the more nutritious and health-promoting choice, some nice chocolate, enjoyed in response to a hankering, can also fit into your sports diet.
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The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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