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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.


Post 10 – So Close You Can Taste It

1 Dec

By now you have probably started to see some improvements in the gym. Lifting more weight, higher endurance, or maybe even a boost in your self confidence.

My blog thus far has primarily taken a look at the proper techniques in the gym. However, outside the gym is just as important- what you’re putting inside your body during the “golden hours,” if you will.

The popular website, AskMen, says, “consume about 0.8 grams of carbohydrate per 2.2 pounds of body weight within 30 to 60 minutes after your workout.

Below I am going to lay out for you a meal plan for one day along with recipes linked to each food.  These meals will compliment your time in the gym nicely. For more suggestions, feel free to message me or drop a comment below!

Breakfast: Steel Oats. If desired, substitute the brown sugar for some blueberries for natural sugar and a different flavor. Drink either a glass of orange juice, milk, or water with it.

Snack: If you need something to hold you over between breakfast and lunch, a protein bar is a wise choice. Women’s Health recommends the Pure Organic Cranberry Orange bar. This completely organic bar has six grams of protein as well as 200 calories.

Lunch: Turkey Sandwich. The benefits of turkey sandwiches are almost parallel with it’s connivence. It is easy to eat on the go and plentiful in almost any restaurant or diner.

Snack: In between lunch and dinner is sometimes the hardest period to stay loyal to healthy eating. My recommendation is to visit a farmers market on the weekend and load up on fruits and vegetables to snack on throughout the week. South Jersey is not shy to having great farmers markets. Three popular ones are:

1. Springdale Farms: Cherry Hill, New Jersey

2. Duffield’s Farm Market: Sewell, New Jersey

3. Mood’s Farm Market: Mullica Hill, New Jersey

Dinner: Men’s Fitness recommends chicken sausage over whole wheat penne pasta with tomato sauce and broccoli as a good post workout dinner. The fact that it only takes about 25 minutes to make is the icing on the cake…err…dressing on the salad.

Although this is only one day of healthy eating, it is easy to get an idea of where this is going. This meal plan should be used as a launching point for the second day, third day, fourth day, and so on. Eating healthy for most is the hardest part of maintaining ones physical physique, however, after a while those Big Macs and cheese steaks won’t look anywhere near as appealing as they once used to.