The Pros and Cons of Being a Vegetarian Fitness Enthusiast

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc


  1. Eating a plant-based diet provides a plethora of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A to fight free radicals caused by exercise (where free radicals are produced at a greater rate).
  2. You are forced to focus on your dark leafy greens like spinach and collard greens and high Vitamin C foods like peppers and oranges to absorb the non – heme iron found in plant foods.
  3. Pre training foods like bagels, yogurt and peanut butter are already a part of your daily intake.
  4. You’re at an even greater advantage to prevent heart disease by exercising and eating the healthy fats such as almonds, avocados and lean proteins like beans and fish.
  5. Your physical activity and plant based lifestyle are dually protective against diabetes. Vegan diets have been shown to lower one’s average 3 month blood glucose.


  1. You must make extra effort to get your  8 essential amino acids needed for muscle and hormone synthesis by eating a variety of protein sources like beans, peanut butter, tofu and quinoa.
  2. You may need to take an omega 3 Fatty Acid supplement if you are not consuming deep sea fish. There are vegetarian marine algae forms of DHA available.
  3. Caution – place extra emphasis on eating complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat pasta, barely, and millet.  Avoid grabbing easy and available processed stand – bys like chips, packaged cookies, and boxed macaroni and cheese.
  4. Don’t fall prey to quick soy proteins sources like veggie burgers, “unchicken” fingers and fake meat. These products are highly processed, high in sodium and artificial fillers. In addition, limit soy intake to whole soy foods like tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame.  Choose one soy food /day.
  5. Bring on the Vit. B12. Vit. B12 is generally not found in plant sources. Milk, Fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast are vegetarian friendly form of this water-soluble vitamin needed for red blood cell synthesis.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Lycopene!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Lycopene!
By Alyssa Mitola, RD and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Photo Credit: jacki-dee via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jacki-dee via Compfight cc

What is Lycopene? Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. Although chemically related to vitamin A, lycopene does not function in our bodies like the vitamin. Rather lycopene serves as the most powerful antioxidant of the >600 carotenoids, riding our body of harmful free radicals and oxidizing species. Lycopene is a red pigment found in fruits and vegetables. You may already know that tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, but lycopene is also found in guava, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, and apricots.

Photo Credit: EJP Photo via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: EJP Photo via Compfight cc

Lycopene is constantly being researched for its potential health benefits, most notably in relation to cancer and cardiovascular disease. The strongest research comes from lycopene’s role in preventing prostate cancer. Many studies have found that people with higher intakes of lycopene have reduced rates of prostate cancer (Giovannuci et. al 1995; Zu et. al 2011). In addition, a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Medicine showed people consuming higher amounts of lycopene had less incidences of cardiovascular disease. Researchers are also currently investigating lycopene’s role in sunburn, gingivitis, osteoporosis, asthma, and mental disorders.


The health benefits of lycopene are numerous and we should try to include sources of lycopene daily. However, this does not mean lycopene should be taken as a supplement. Rather lycopene should come from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is actually more bioavailable (available to our bodies) when it is heated. Therefore foods like tomato puree, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and tomato juice are even richer sources of lycopene. When purchasing tomato-based products, be sure to look out for no sodium or low sodium products. Eating lycopene with a healthy, fat like olive oil, will also increase your body’s ability to absorb the lycopene. With tomatoes in season get your fill of lycopene. Serve your tomatoes with some olive oil or make some homemade salsa, a tomato salad, or a fresh pot of tomato sauce!




1) Giovannucci E, Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Intake of carotenoids and retinol in relation to risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995;87(23):1767-1776.

2) Fielding JM, Rowley KG, Cooper P, et al.: Increases in plasma lycopene concentration after consumption of tomatoes cooked with olive oil. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 14 (2): 131-6, 20.

3) Holzapfel NP, Holzapfel BM, Champ S, Feldthusen J, Clements J, Hutmacher W. The Potential Role of Lycopene for the Prevention and Therapy of Prostate Cancer: From Molecular Mechanisms to Clinical Evidence. Int J Mol Sci. 2013;14(7): 14620-14646.

4) Zu K, Rosner BA, Clinton SK, Loda M, Stampfer MJ, Giovannuci E. Dietary Lycopene, Angiogenesis, and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Study in the Prostate-Specific Antigen Era. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2014) 106 (2).

5) Jacques P, Lyass A, Massaro JM, D’Agastino B.  Relationship of lycopene intake and consumption of tomato products to incident CVD. British Journal of Nutrition (2013), 110, 545-551.

6) Story E, Kopec RE, Schwartz SJ, Harris GK. An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. National Institute of Health Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010; 1: 1-24.


Vitamins: The Basics

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From cereal boxes to juice cartons, it seems like every food and beverage products is boasting its vitamin content. But what roles do vitamins play and why are they so important? Read on as we help decode some of the most common terms used in the vitamin world.

Essential Vitamins VS Non-Essential Vitamins

“Vitamin” which stems from the Latin word, “vita”—means life. They actually do not provide energy…but are crucial to life in the sense that they are needed to turn food into energy. Every vitamin is absorbed differently in the body. They fall into two categories 1) essential vitamins and 2) non-essential vitamins. They key differences between the two are found in the name. “Essential” refers to the fact that the body cannot make this vitamin (or rather, not an adequate amount that is needed for our bodies to carryout bodily functions) and “non-essential” refers to the body being able to synthesize it.

Fat Soluble Vitamins VS Water Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are only absorbed by foods with fat and thus adequate intake of dietary fat is very important to ensure proper absorption. Once the vitamin is absorbed, it is stored in adipose tissue, otherwise known as body fat, and the liver. Since we are able to maintain stores, we are less likely to be deficient deficient in these vitamins. On the contrary, we should be more cautious of our levels of these vitamins since it is possible to build up toxic levels. Note that consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables rarely leads to the build up of toxic levels. In most cases, people should be more cautious when taking supplements, powders or consuming fortified beverages.

Water soluble vitamins are directly absorbed by cells and if we consume them in exces, they will be flushed out of our system. Because we do not build up stores of these vitamins in our fat cells, water-soluble vitamins need to be restored more often.

The “Fat Soluble Vitamins”:

·      Vitamin A

·       Vitamin D

·       Vitamin E

·       Vitamin K


The “Water Soluble Vitamins”:

These are collectively known as the “B vitamins”:

·       Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

·       Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

·       Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

·       Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

·       Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

·       Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

·       Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

·       Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) —-***side note next blog folate vs folic acid?

And last but not least…

·       Vitamin C


Biggest Takeaway? 

Be sure to take your multivitamin with food. Vitamins and food work like a lock and key. If you don’t have food for the vitamin to “latch onto,” the vitamin will not get absorbed!

Thank You and Healthy Holiday Wishes

December 23, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for all of your respect, referrals and support over the past 12 years. As many of you know, I have taken on a number of new adventures in 2011, including:

My gratitude specifically extends to my husband, my children and my parents. With their help I have been able to expand Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services and have had the opportunity to witness my clients’ successful adaptation of moderate nutrition lifestyles.

I look forward to sharing the nutrition message of healthy moderation in parenting, feeding and eating with all of you in 2012. Thank you for your love and support, and continuing to help me spread the message by “liking” my pages on Facebook, sharing my blogs and of course, by living healthily and moderately.


Happy and Healthy Wishes for 2012,

Laura Cipullo