Ask Theresa: Diet and Nutrition for Athletes

Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD

Christine Bishop asks:

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

ChrisIne.jpgA dietitian is someone who has obtained a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, then has been accepted to and completed a 1200-hour internship and then subsequently passed the national registration examination for Registered Dietitians.  A nutritionist is not a defined term.  In some states such as in New York, there is no licensure protection so someone can call themselves a nutritionist without having any nutrition credentials.  Other states provide more protection and do not allow individuals who are not Registered Dietitians to practice nutrition. 

Jon Lindenauer asks:

What vitamins would be best for a distance runner and which should I avoid?

JonTrophy.jpegAs a dietitian, I always promote food first vs. obtaining nutrients from supplements.  With that said, there are a few nutrients that are harder to obtain enough from our food.  One example of this is Vitamin D.  Milk and fortified milk products and shiitake mushrooms are the richest sources of vitamin D.  Other sources are eggs and milk, but these do not provide a significant amount. Vitamin D deficiency is very prevalent and when present leads to inflammation, which can impair recovery, increase risk for injury as well as increased risk for chronic illness. Although Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is rather difficult to obtain toxic amounts.  Vitamin D supplementation is one of the few supplements I would recommend.

Zinc is a mineral that can cause more harm than good when taken in supplement form.  Zinc is utilized to keep our immune system strong, to assist with healing and metabolism.  However, too much zinc causes as many problems as not enough zinc. Zinc competes with copper binding sites which can lead to the inability to use iron efficiently.  If zinc supplementation is deemed necessary by your doctor or dietitian, it should be taken for two weeks, followed by a two-week break. 

Kathy Viggiano asks:

How can I achieve balance with the foods I need to avoid while on my meds and still have balanced nutrition to train, while also attempting to lose the excess weight gained during treatment?

KathyViggiano.jpgFoods to avoid while taking aromatase inhibitors are primarily alcohol, certain citrus fruits such as lemons, lime, grapefruit and oranges and vegetable oils which primarily are omega- 6, pro- inflammatory containing oils as well as beef and lamb.

To obtain adequate vitamin C while taking aromatase inhibitors, foods such as berries, peppers and tomatoes are recommended and can actually increase the effectiveness of these medications.  Oils that are more beneficial for long-term health and also are alternatives to the ones listed above include olive oil, avocado oil or flax oil.  While it is suggested to avoid beef and lamb, chicken, fish, and turkey are excellent meat alternatives and are deemed safe while on aromatase inhibitors as long as they are baked or pan fried and not grilled or smoked.

Many vegetables have been found to enhance the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors including but not limited to broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, and zucchini to name a few.


Dr. DeLorenzo has been a Registered Dietitian (RD) since 2001.  She has a B.S. in Science and a M.S  and Ph.D. of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of N. J.  She currently is the Program Director for the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance of Logan University and serves as the team dietitian for USA Para Powerlifting at Logan. 

In addition to dietetics, Dr. DeLorenzo is a trained yoga teacher, and teaches online yin yoga and power yoga and provides yoga therapy for clients with anxiety, body dysmorphia, and pain.  

As owner and founder of Nutrition for Optimal Performance, she specializes in working with athletes.

Click here for more information about Dr. DeLorenzo

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