SCAN Symposium Recap

If you recall I spent a weekend last month in Baltimore for the annual SCAN Symposium. SCAN is the dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) that focuses on Sports, Cardiovascular, Wellness, and Eating Disorders Dietetics.

My SCAN Mentors and I

I have attended this meeting every year since 2009 and I always come back filled with new information and new RD friends/mentors! Above is me pictured with my PhD advisor, one of my DI preceptors, and my undergraduate advisor – all of whom are active members of the SCAN organization. Don’t mind the tired eyes – it was late and this was taken as we were wrapping up the evening’s events after a full day!

While I cannot write a post that encompasses EVERYTHING from this meeting, I did want to share information from some of my favorite presentations and provide you with links to learn more!

Katherine A Beals, PhD, RD, FACSM, CSSD“How Low Can You Go?” Energy Availability, Performance, and Health in Female Athletes”

Energy Availability (EA) represents the energy (calories) “left over” to support bodily functions after the energy expended in exercise is accounted for. It is calculated as: EA = (Energy Intake – Exercise Energy Expendiutre)/ Fat Free Mass. Right now, the categories of energy availability are:

  • Low EA: < 30 kcal·kg-1 FFM·day-1  , which has been associated with perturbations in markers of bone formation and bone resorption along with disruptions in LH pulsitility and amplitude.  Other consequences of low EA may be: Menstrual dysfunction; Low BMD (bone mineral density); Musculoskeletal injuries; Endothelial dysfunction; Suppression of immune function; and Nutrient deficiences.
  • “Optimal EA??” > 45 kcal·kg-1 FFM·day-1  associated wtih “energy balance”.  Although, little research to prove this is indeed optimal!
  • 30 – 45 kcal·kg-1 FFM·day-1   Marginal EA? Suboptimal EA? Adequate EE? Again, not sure on what is best!

The inital thought is that female athletes with mestrual dysfunction and low bone mineral density would be most likely to fall in to the “Low EA” group. However, evidence to date shows that low EA is common among female athletes (particularly endurance athletes) with both normal and abnormal menstrual dysfunction.

For more information: Loucks, 2007; Nattiv, 2007; Loucks, 2011

Marc Hamilton, PhD – “The Inactivity Physiology Revolution: The Story Behind the New Physical Activity Recommendations”

The inactivity physiology paradigm says that “too little exercise” is not the same as “too much sitting” (physical inactivity) and that too much sitting has very potent effects on the body contributing to the most common diseases, regardless of if exercise guidelines are met.

For a review of the literature: Hamilton, 2008

Lawrence Spriet – “Regulation of Fat Metabolism at Rest and During Exercise”

This presentation covered information about the regulatory sites of fat metabolism; adipose tissue lipolysis; free fatty acid (FFA) transport in to muscle and mitochondria; intramuscular fat breakdown; and then went on to discuss how high intensity exercise acts to increase fat oxidation.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you that as exercise intensity increases that there is an increased reliance on carbohydrates as a fuel source. However, training the body to increase its ability to utilize fat as an energy source more effeciently can have positive training and performance outcomes. (Recent iRunnerBlog Article). In this presentation, Dr. Spreit presented some information that High intensity interval (HIT) training can increase whole body fat oxidation at 60% pre-training VO2 max in addition to increasing VO2 max and time to exhaustion. As far as mechanisms responsible, increases were seen in mitochondrial content and substrate transport capacity. Finally, and most appealing is that increases in fat oxidation during exercise are seen in a short time period – i.e. after only 7 HIT workouts and was seen in a fueled -not fasted- state!

Further reading: van Loon, 2001; Romign, 2000; Bradley, 2011; Talanian, 2006;

Ron Maughan, BSc, PhD“Conflict of Conviction: Sport, Religion,  and Nutrition”

As we look forward to the summer Olympics in London this year something important to note is that the competitions are being held during Ramadan. This means that several Muslim athletes may be participating in the spiritual fast that lasts from sun-down to sun-up each day. Could this have a negative impact on their performance? Maybe yes, maybe no. Some research has been performed on the influence of fasting on performance in sports with mixed results…but never during Olympic games. We might be prone to say, of course this will have a negative impact on performance – but for some sports it may not be a big deal – like if a skill-based competition is scheduled for the morning, but for others (say a decathlete) who must compete throughout the day without the chance to eat or drink, fasting may be detrimental to performance and cost them a medal.

Then there is the other side of the coin – the spiritual and psychological component. If an athlete believes fasting is beneficial and spritually strengthening, than it could easily result in increased athletic performance as well.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for information about this and the decision some athletes will be making about fasting or not during the Olympic games!

Further reading: Lay Article; Burke 2012

Two other highlights of this conference for me, personally, were that I was selected as the award recepient of the SCAN Graduate Student Research Grant award. I submitted a proposal for funding for a research project in the winter and was thrilled to be chosen for this award since I know several other excellent proposals were also received. With the help of funding from SCAN, I will be carrying out one of the 1st research projects of my dissertation!

The final highlight of this conference is that I was able to have my undergraduate advisor come back to Tech with me following it to give a presentation at my current department’s graduate seminar. Here we are enjoying some coffee before her trip back to Wyoming! (I think we could pass for being related, what do you think?)

What is YOUR favorite part about attending professional conferences? Plans for the weekend? I am going to be a busy bee getting work wrapped up before heading to ANOTHER conference next week. I’ll give you the details of that on Monday! 🙂


5 thoughts on “SCAN Symposium Recap

  1. Samantha says:

    I wanted to comment on this even though this stuff is way out of my field of expertise.

    Even with these studies focusing on a more pro-athletic level it is interesting to the regulars out there.

    I am interested in the Ramadan aspect of the Olympics. I truly never thought about that. I think it was important you raised the spiritual component as well. I hope it gets talked about from the athletes and the coaches perspective. There is never one nutritional solution that fits every active body the same – but the Olympic athletes are at such a high physical performance level.

    Congratulations on your grant award! That must be very exciting to have your research funded.

    I haven’t been to professional conferences in years, but I miss them. I miss being immersed in the learning and around other passionate people.

  2. eatingRD says:

    Congrats on your award, that’s awesome!! I sure missed that conference this year, but hopefully will be able to go to the next! Thanks for the re-cap.

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