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Final Project – Picking Up the Fork After you Pick Up the Weights: The Importance of a Healthy Diet

15 Dec

Sitting Down at the Table with Victoria Villalba

Victoria Villalba, a 21-year-old senior at Rowan University, is training to compete in a Physique Competition in Baltimore Maryland April 13, 2013. Villalba discusses her diet, shows her typical routine for preparing a meal, and divulges which meal is the most important of the day.


Setting the Table With Dr. Craig Wax and Patricia Scassera, R.D.

As a society, we are consumers. Whether it is wearing the latest fashion or buying the newest technology, we look for the product that is simply the best.

The same holds true in the fitness world. From bodybuilders to casual lifters, it has become a competition to find the best workout supplements in hopes to be molded into the best possible shape. Those in the lifting community try relentlessly to find the best product in order to obtain the big arms, the flat stomach, or the tiny waste seen in magazines. The question that arrises is, are these protein and creatine products really the best thing to put into your body?

Patricia Scasserra, a registered dietitian in the South Jersey area for the past 30 years, says no.

“I think they’re unnecessary and dangerous. People think that they can pump stuff into their bodies without consequence as long as it’s not drugs or something like that. Supplements in large quantities can do the same damage that medications and drugs can.”

Scasserra warns that although protein builds muscle, to be careful not to take an excess amount.

“Too much protein puts an extra load on your kidneys that you don’t really want or need. The best thing for young kids when they’re working out is certainly larger portions of meat, poultry, and cheeses to increase their protein. I would never recommend a protein powder or an excessively high protein diet.”

Although a number of articles have been written about the downsides of protein powders, it is easy to see why it is such an attractive option. Scooping powder, dropping it in water, and shaking it up is easy and fast. It’s quicker than cooking and cheaper in the long run.

Dr. Craig Wax, a Mullica Hill family physician who specializes in everybody and everything,  earned his Bachelor of Science in food science research from Cook College of Rutgers University. Wax says he sees why there is a market for protein powders.

“Protein powders aren’t necessary, but may be helpful for those who don’t take in enough protein as part of their regular diet.”

Wax acknowledges that when trying to make extra gains in size and strength, increasing protein may slightly help. However, he believes that there are better alternatives.

“A diet comprised of water, food that grows from the earth, and daily exercise will serve all populations well,” Wax says.

Food that grows from the earth has its benefits. Eating natural food is not only healthy, but you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need in addition to good carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates may be a scary word to hear in the fitness world, but they’re essential.

“Your body needs carbohydrates. Like a car uses gas to run, your body uses carbohydrates,” says Scasserra.

A diet is fundamental to personal health in addition to continuing gains from lifting. Wax says it best:

“The benefits of a healthy diet is a healthy life. You can feel vibrant, you can be well, you might not get sick. You can excel at school, at work, and you can have great relationships with other people. A healthy diet is where it all starts after drinking water.

For more information, Scasserra recommends visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, This is a national organization that dietitians belong to where you can find the most accurate and up-to-date information.


Working Out In The Kitchen

5 Oct

Sure the kitchen is not the first place you think of when it comes to working out, however most times leaps and gains are made in the cook room in addition to the weight room.

A great workout needs to be complimented by what you put into your body. Running one mile to McDonalds so you can order a Big Mac is counterproductive. Don’t get me wrong, Big Macs are delicious- fortunately so are many other foods and drinks that would be better options.

There are MANY products on the market and it can be overwhelming to find a launching point. There seems to be a supplement for everything, priced anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars.  The question is what is best for you? Luckily in South Jersey there are many options.

When it comes to buying products in South Jersey for fitness, the best option is Pro Source. Not only do they offer the cheapest prices, but in all my times ordering from there it has never taken more than two days to receive an order (most days one.) The reason being is the headquarters is located locally in Manasquan, New Jersey.

If you would rather see the products in person before ordering, I recommend visiting a GNC. They are sprinkled all over the Garden State. If you want to find one close to you, use their store locator.

Now the real question…what do buy? Well, depending on what you’re looking for there are a lot of different options. Most people either want to gain size or lose weight, so here is a quick run down of my favorites depending on your motive.


Protein is very important to consume after a workout, whether it is a run or a high intensity lift. When you lift or run you are essentially breaking down your muscles. What the protein does is help repair the muscles by pumping amino acides into your body. Some people take the protein before, some people take it after, and some people split it and take half before and half after. There is no right way but the rule of thumb is to take 20-25 grams. It is easy to be taken aback when trying to chose one, so here is my recommendation.

1. Muscle Pharm Combat Powder:  This is the product I take now and I am absolutely in love with it. There is a multitude of delicious flavors (banana cream being my poison of choice) and it offers very beneficial results. It also has an advanced time-release system that lasts for eight hours, a whey protein isolate, and a whey protein concentrate. You cannot beat the value either: four pounds for less than thirty dollars on Pro Source.  One user named Jose on Pro Source reviewed Combat Powder.

“I highly recommend this product due to the nutritional value of it. High in protein, low carbs and sugar and not to mention it taste phenomenal! I have the Vanilla and it literally taste like vanilla ice cream melted down!”

Taken by Tyler Mulvey

Dietary Supplement 

Diet pills main ingredient tends to be caffeine, so it is important to be careful while taking them. The purpose is to give you energy at the gym, raise your metabolism, and help burn fat. The best one on the market currently is a product called BSN Hyper Shred. I personally have never taken the product before. On, a reputable and well-known site for health and fitness ranks it a 9.5 out of 1o and is the most recommended dietary supplement on the site. User “jayrussel” reviewed the product:

“This isn’t just a lose-fat-now gimmick, it has helped me slowly lose excess fat, and after 4 months, I am starting to become more tone. It’s a slow-but-steady process, and I am feeling great.”

The same website also offers the product at a much cheaper price than retail.

These are just two out of the MANY categories you can chose from and these are just one product out of each category. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of products but these are good starting points. Just like anything else, when choosing a product you want to feel connected to it. Read reviews, check results and make educated decisions. If you have a question or would like more suggestions drop a comment below and I will be happy to discuss things further! Happy lifting!