Fitness Resources

Month: April 2018

5 Seasonal Foods Not to Miss This Spring

When it comes to healthy eating, seasonal foods have so many benefits to offer. Not only are these five foods available at the peak of their ripeness, giving them maximum flavor and nutrition density, but they are also at their least expensive price.


Biting into these vibrant green beauties is sure to release a juicy and sweet pop of flavor. You can incorporate peas into a quick pasta or even as part of slow-cooked risotto. And, if the spring weather is still a bit chilly, whipping up a creamy pureed pea soup is both quick and easy.

  • Did You Know? Peas are a wonderful plant-based source of protein. A 100-calorie serving has more protein than a hard-boiled egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • Nutrition Facts: Peas are a good source of both vitamin C and vitamin K.
  • Pair With: Mint, chives, tarragon and mushrooms


This springtime ingredient is extremely versatile and can be roasted, grilled, boiled or even sautéed. Moreover, asparagus works perfectly cooked in a breakfast quiche, used in a lunchtime Nicoise salad, or served alongside a grilled piece of salmon or steak, making it that much easier to get in the extra servings of veggies we all need.

  • Did You Know? You can enhance the glowing green color of asparagus by blanching it. To do so, bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the asparagus for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness). Next, remove the asparagus from the boiling water and immediately place inside an ice-cold bowl of water. The result is a gorgeous green seasonal food that is as pleasing to look at as it is to eat.
  • Nutrition Facts: Asparagus is a good source of vitamin K and folate.
  • Pair with: Lemon, almonds, parmesan and garlic

Leafy Greens

One of the first indications of spring is the tender unfurling of leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, arugula, romaine and other lettuces.  Regardless of form, all greens are considered healthy additions to a balanced diet.

  • Did You Know? Most leafy greens taste the sweetest after a frost. Additionally, you can reduce the bitter flavor of greens by adding an acid like lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Nutrition Facts: Leafy greens have some of the highest concentrations of vitamins—especially A, C, and K—as well as minerals like calcium, folic acid and iron.
  • Pair With: Citrus, vinegar, nuts, and seeds


The satisfying crispy crunch of radishes is complemented by the lovely mild pepper flavor they provide. While most people consume raw radishes, you can give them a quick pickle to turn up the flavor in tacos, or even roast them to bring out a caramelized sweetness.

  • Did You Know? Radishes grow quickly and are ready to eat just 25-30 days after planting. If you want to test your green thumb, this is an ideal food to plant.
  • Nutrition Facts: Radishes are loaded with both fiber and vitamin C.
  • Pair With: Thyme, leeks, butter, and fish


The delightful mix of sweet and sour make rhubarb a great seasonal food with which to experiment. While the most common way to use rhurbarb is to bake it into a sweet dessert, you can also pickle it for use in fresh salads.

  • Did You Know? Rhubarb gets its pretty reddish pink color from a phytochemical called anthocyanin. In fact, the color of rhubarb can tell you whether the plant was grown outside or inside. Rhubarb grown outside will be a vibrant red, which also indicates more sweetness. Conversely, rhubarb grown indoors in a hothouse will have a color that tends to be pale red and a taste that is more tart.
  • Nutrition Facts: Rhubarb is a good source of vitamins K and C, as well as the mineral calcium.
  • Pair With: Strawberries, basil, honey and balsamic vinegar
Post Author


Rebecca Lewis


Rebecca Lewis is Registered Dietitian on a mission to change the world by empowering people to take control of their health. Her passions lie in getting people back into the kitchen, reconnecting them with fresh foods, and rebuilding their confidence to have FUN with cooking. She is a champion of nutrients and a world traveler who loves peanut butter. As a fitness enthusiast, she enjoys Crossfit, the aerial arts, running, dancing, and yoga

5 Nutrient Deficiencies You Need to Know About

With a well-balanced diet, it is certainly possible for a healthy person to obtain all of the vitamins and minerals he or she needs from foods alone. Dietary supplements are not a replacement for eating healthful foods; rather, they are intended to do just what their name implies—to supplement a diet.

There are circumstances, however, in which the foods we eat may not provide all of the important nutrients that our body needs, resulting in a nutrient deficiency. Here’s a quick rundown of five nutrient deficiencies that are more common than you might think.

Vitamin D: Calcium’s Best Buddy

When it comes to nutrient deficiencies, vitamin D is arguably the most common. A large majority (some reports estimate up to 95% of the U.S. population age 19 and older) does not meet recommended vitamin D intake levels. That is probably due to the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of naturally occurring food sources of vitamin D. Furthermore, the largest source of vitamin D—fortified dairy products like milk—tend to be foods that we eat less of as we grow older.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in helping bones absorb calcium. It is found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as certain types of mushrooms. Your body forms vitamin D naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight, but most of us don’t spend much time outside, so fortified dairy products such as milk and yogurt are going to be your best food sources of vitamin D. Adults aged 19-70 should aim to get 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day. If foods don’t provide that amount, your healthcare provider may suggest a supplement.

Vitamin E: Get Yours From Foods Instead of Pills

Next up on the list of nutrients you may not be eating enough of is vitamin E. Like vitamin D, vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin, but it is found in fatty foods such nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

About 94% of adults over age 19 eat less than the estimated average requirement for vitamin E. Due to potential health risks associated with large doses of vitamin E pills, however, widespread supplementation is not routinely recommended. Instead, shift your food intake to make sure you are eating a variety of healthful fats that will help you bump up your vitamin E levels from food-based sources to meet your needs.

Make Magnesium Matter More in Your Diet

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic pathways in your body. It helps make proteins, controls blood sugar and blood pressure, bone health and is needed for making DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione.

Despite its position of supreme importance in the body, more than 60% of adults older than 19 don’t meet the estimated average requirement for magnesium. One way you can increase your intake is to bump up your intake of dark green leafy vegetable and whole grains. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are also a good source of this important mineral.

Iron: This One’s for the Ladies

About 14-18% of Americans currently take a supplement containing iron; and iron supplement takers tend to be overwhelmingly female. That’s because women are at higher risk for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia due to biological factors such as menstruation and lower intakes of high heme-iron foods, such as meat, fish and poultry.

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that those at high risk for insufficient iron intake include infants, young children, teenaged girls, pregnant women and premenopausal women. Animal foods such as meat, fish and poultry are good sources of the easily absorbed form of iron called heme iron.

Although plant foods contain iron, it is in the less readily absorbed non-heme iron form. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat. If you’re concerned about iron status, check with your primary care provider who can test for deficiency and anemia before recommending you start a supplement.

Vitamin A is Important for More Than Just Your Eyes

Although vitamin A deficiency is not widespread in the North American population, slightly more than 50% percent of people still do not meet the estimated average requirement for this fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is well known for the role it plays in vision, but it also impacts immune function, reproduction and your body’s cellular communication as well.

You can make sure you’re getting enough by consuming both preformed vitamin A (from animal foods, such as milk and eggs) and provitamin A, found in leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes and fruits. Increasing the variety of both the plant and animal foods you eat ensures you get adequate amounts of the all-important vitamin A.

Learn more about how to eat for better health with Nutrition for Sports, Exercise and Weight Management. 

Post Author


Katie Ferraro


Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE is a consultant dietitian and diabetes educator specializing in nutrition communications and family feeding. As a mom to 5 small children and creator of the popular blog The Fortified Family, Katie believes that good food fuels strong families. You can read more of her work at

10 Things to Know About Fat and Exercise

Fat is not a four-letter word, although many still consider it a dirty word when it comes to nutrition, fitness and exercise. Those who lived through the ‘90s undoubtedly remember when the food industry marketed everything as “low-fat” in the guise that it was a healthier option. While it’s true that having high levels of body fat can be a risk factor for many types of chronic diseases, dietary fat—specifically, the right kinds of fat—is an essential component of a healthy diet.

Here are 10 things to know about fat as it relates to helping create the energy your body needs for your favorite physical activities.

  1. The terms “fat” and “lipids” are used interchangeably when discussing how the body metabolizes energy. Lipids include triglycerides, which are formed by combining a glycerol with three fatty acids, fatty acids and cholesterol. The majority of lipids in food and the body are in the form of triglycerides.
  1. In the human body, fat can be stored in skeletal muscle, the liver and adipose tissue, and is used for many functions. This includes providing structure for cell membranes, insulating and protecting vital organs, regulating endocrine system function (how hormones are produced), helping transport vitamins and minerals around the body, and as a source of energy for many cellular functions. Fat provides approximately 70% of the energy for bodily functions when at rest and during low-intensity physical activity.
  1. Fat contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Because fatty-acid chains have more carbon and hydrogen relative to oxygen, they yield more energy per gram. Fats provide 9 calories of energy per gram while proteins and carbohydrates each produce 4 calories per gram.
  1. There are different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fatty acids contain hydrogen on the carbon bonds. Because the body can produce these fats on its own, there are no dietary requirements for the consumption of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats contain double carbon bonds with fewer hydrogen molecules. Fatty acids with one double carbon bond are called monounsaturated, while fatty acids with two or more carbon bonds are polyunsaturated.
  1. Saturated fats tend to be solid when at room temperature and can be found in animal, dairy and packaged food products in addition to coconut and palm kernel oils. A diet high in saturated fats could be a risk factor for heart disease.
  1. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats include the essential (meaning they must be consumed in the diet) omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of cold water fish and omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in soybean, corn and safflower oils (and foods made with those oils). Monounsaturated fats are found in olive, peanut and canola oils. Other foods that contain poly- and monounsaturated fats include avocados, flax and chia seeds, and almonds.
  1. Lipolysis is the breakdown of triglycerides into a glycerol and three fatty acids for the purpose of producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the chemical that fuels muscle activity. When the body needs energy for physical activity, the sympathetic hormone norepinephrine acts with receptor cells in adipose tissue to release the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which breaks up triglycerides into the free fatty acids used by the mitochondria during a process called beta oxidation. The result is that the three fatty acids and one glycerol of a single triglyceride can produce 457 molecules of ATP. By comparison, glycolysis (the conversion of glycogen to ATP) yields 36 ATP molecules per one unit of glucose. Lipolysis is a slower process, which explains why it is the dominant source of energy during periods of rest or low-intensity physical activities. Glycolysis creates ATP more quickly, which makes it the “go-to” choice for ATP during moderate- to high-intensity physical activities. High-intensity interval training can burn more calories, while low- to moderate-intensity steady-state exercise can help improve aerobic capacity.
  1. The myth of the fat-burning zone is not really a myth—lipolysis requires oxygen, which is readily available during lower-intensity physical activities. Muscles use primarily fat as the source of ATP during low-intensity activity; however, as the intensity of exercise increases, the demand for energy is greater and the working muscles will need ATP more quickly than lipolysis can provide. While muscles relying on lipolysis for energy are using fat, the overall energy consumption is relatively low. In other words, working at an intensity at which lipolysis is the primary source of ATP will not burn that many total calories.
  1. Stress can increase body fat. During periods of stress, or in reaction to certain drinks that elevate the sympathetic hormones of cortisol and norepinephrine, the body releases more triglycerides into the blood stream to be used for energy for the working muscles. However, if there is no significant physical activity to use that energy, those triglycerides will be returned to the adipose tissue for storage until they are needed.
  1. Trans fat is made when an unsaturated fat, which is normally liquid at room temperature, is hydrogenated (adding hydrogens) so that it turns into a solid. This manufacturing process increases the shelf life of a food product, which is why many packaged foods can be high in trans fats. However, because it changes the chemical structure of fat, trans fats have been linked to heart disease and elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

The food consumed in the daily diet should provide adequate levels of protein, which is used to repair damaged muscle fibers and produce new tissues, and carbohydrate and fat, which fuel cellular functions. One of the most important functions of fat in the diet is to provide a source of energy for a number of bodily functions, including muscle contractions for physical activity. Don’t think of fat as something bad that should be avoided; rather, think of it as an important source of energy for the body.

A healthy diet should contain adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, with only limited amounts of saturated and trans fats. Let’s all agree to leave the “low-fat” nonsense in the past where it belongs, and appreciate the role of fat that it plays in supporting our favorite types of exercise.

Post Author


Pete McCall

Health and Fitness Expert

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner’s World and Self. He holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.