Do we REALLY Need Nutritional Supplements?

Do we REALLY Need Nutritional Supplements?

By Olivia Hart, B.Sc. Nutrition and Dietetics

When it comes to supplements, we are bombarded with media telling us to take the next best thing and the next thing you know you feel like you are eating pills for meals! Let me help to debunk some of the supplement myths and tell you what you really need.

Before we get into it, there are two things we need to remember.

We are all biochemically unique. This means I will most likely require a different supplement regime then the next person. Our bodies all operate differently, have different imbalance or “stuff” going on and therefore should be treated differently.

Supplementation is meant to be added to a healthy diet to ensure we are getting what we need or to help our bodies find it’s balance. Supplementation is not magic and will not supplement a healthy diet. In other terms you can’t pop pills to make up for the fact that you don’t eat a single vegetable ever!

So, as mentioned in point number 1 every individual will require different specific supplements for what is going on with them, BUT I can definitely say that these would be my top 4 for EVERY BODY! These supplements will only help, never harm.

A multi-vitamin will cover your bases if you get a good quality one. Multi-vitamins become increasingly important for aging populations and extremely active individuals. As we age, it’s important to take measures to ensure our body is well nourished in order to keep living a vibrant life and as an athlete you automatically increase your needs of vitamins and minerals due to the increased amount of stress you are putting on your body. If you are an athlete who can down 20 servings (1/2 cups) of fruits and vegetables a day, that is absolutely incredible! BUT, if not let’s give our bodies a little extra help and supplement! Additionally, studies show that our soils mineral profile has declined greatly,  which results in less minerals in our foods! POP THIS PILL! (and don’t be alarmed if your urine becomes neon- it’s just excess B vitamins)

Living where we live (in Canada), we don’t get as much sunlight exposure as our bodies require in order to have a consistent storage of active vitamin D (D3). Ever heard of seasonal depression? Did you know that it’s linked to low vitamin D, which helps our brain make happy chemicals? I ALWAYS recommend clients take vitamin D liquid drops from the months of September to March in order to help build up your storage and in the sunnier months just get outside and soak up the sun!

We hear a lot about these in commercials promoted by women belly dancing because probiotics help to keep the GOOD gut bacteria happy and healthy. This means less stinky gas, better digestion which leads to better absorption of vitamins and minerals, less bloating and good bowel movements. That’s enough to make me want to belly dance! BUT if you need more convincing, what if I told you your mental health relies greatly on the health of your gut? WELL IT DOES! There are certain chemicals in the brain that 90% of them are made in the gut. Happy gut, happy body, happy mind, happy life, am I right?

There are some other honorable mentions such as: protein powders (see previous blog), fish oil pills (contraindicated in individuals on blood thinners), and herbal remedies but I will save that for an entirely different blog post of its own!

If you’d like a specific supplement regime for yourself, book a free consult with me by calling the clinic (905)339-2333 or emailing me at

HOW TO: Pick the Perfect Protein Powder for You

HOW TO: Pick the Perfect Protein Powder for You

By Olivia Hart, B.Sc. Nutrition and Dietetics

No matter what your goals are, from athletic training to weight loss, protein powder can be an awesome addition to your current dietary regime. Protein is essential for tissue repair- especially post workout, ramping up that metabolism, keeping us full and satisfied and even plays a role in our immunity. BUT- there are SO many protein powders on the market that choosing one can be a daunting task. Let me help you by summarizing some of the key elements I look for when choosing a protein powder.

  1. Type of protein. There are not only many brands of powder out there,  ut many types of protein as well. Two of the most popular protein powders are whey protein and casein protein. Both of these proteins are derived from dairy.

Whey protein is the quickest absorbed protein by the body, which makes it an ideal protein powder to use post exercise when our muscles need that extra help to rebuild stronger and quicker, so we can train sooner and harder.  When looking for a whey protein powder, you are looking for the word ISOLATE. This means you are only receiving the protein in the power and not junk.

Casein protein is a slow-release protein, which makes it an ideal protein source throughout the day. Individuals who may have a difficult time fitting in their protein needs at their meal times, might like to incorporate a casein protein into their day as a supplement. Casein protein tends to be cheaper than whey as well, so if you are not too concerned about the speed at which your body receives the protein, casein may be the way to go.

If you are not into dairy, you may absolutely use a plant based protein powder. It’s important to note though, that plant sources of protein are what we call incomplete proteins. Make sure when you are purchasing a plant based powder that it has a blend of protein sources. For ex- hemp, pea, flax, rice…

  1. Flavouring and additives. This point speaks to the quality of your powder. Depending on what you are using it for and how you are using it, will determine whether you would like a flavoured option or a flavourless option. Personally, when I use protein powder in baking, I like to use a flavourless option versus when I am mixing powder and water post workout. In the latter example, I prefer a flavoured powder to “help the medicine go down.” I always make sure to read ingredient lists of my powders, the shorter and more legible the list is, the more likely it is the better option for you. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your powder but it’s important to note that with any supplement, you pay for what you get!
  2. Quantity. A good serving of protein at one time is about 20-30g of protein. Double check by reading the food label to ensure you are receiving a protein powder that gives you enough per scoop. Nobody wants to drink, mix, or chew on 6 scoops of powder to get the amount their body needs!

I hope these tips help you select the protein powder that is right for you. If you’d like more information, want to know brands I trust or need help choosing one for you; feel free to book a free consult with me by calling (905)339-2333 or email me at


Tips and Tricks!

  • Go Shelf by Shelf
    • Instead of emptying the entire fridge out, it’s best to go shelf by shelf. That way food doesn’t sit out too long, and allows us to
      avoid potentially getting into the temperature “danger zone.”
  • Food Removal
    • As you remove the food decide whether it is going to go back in or needs to be thrown away. Check the expiration dates on any items you want to keep.
    • Remember that sometimes the expiration date means if not open. If you have opened an item see if it needs to be used within a certain time frame. Use the look and smell test too – if it looks funky or smells funky get rid of it (unless it is supposed to smell that way). The best thi g to do with a bunch of produce that is going to go bad is make a big old soup out of it!Plus, don’t forget to wipe off packaging as needed!
  • Remove Shelves and Wash
    • Take out shelving and other removable pieces as you go. If you have glass shelves let them sit out for a bit to warm up before washing them in warm soapy water. Plastic pieces you can wash right away. Dry well.
  • Wipe Down Inside Walls
    • While you have the shelving out, now is the time to wipe down the inside walls of the fridge. I use warm soapy water on this too with a clean rag.
  • Cracks and Crevices
    • Of course the spills always go into those hard to reach places. Use that soft toothbrush in warm soapy water again to help clean out those areas and then wipe dry well with a clean cloth.
  • Remove the Drawers
    • Take out any drawers and wash well and wash the interior walls of the fridge that are covered by the drawers usually. When replacing be sure to re-adjust any air flow levers you may have.
  • Clean the Door Shelves
    • Follow the same steps as the shelves for checking food, washing dividers, and general cleaning.
  • Freezer Cleaning
    • It is basically the same kind of thing. Throw out expired food or any that has freezer burn or lots of ice crystals inside. This is a good time to try and organize a bit in here too when you put things back in.
  • Replace Filters and Bulbs
    • If you have water filters or light bulbs of any kind (inside or out) now is a time to check them and replace any that need it.
  • Check and Replace Door Seal
    • The seal around the inside of the door keeps the cold air in and the hot air out. These get worn. Use a piece of paper to test the seal by placing it between where the door closes and if you can pull the paper out easily you need to replace the seal.
  • Check the Thermostat
    • It is easy to bump dials when cleaning. Make sure you note what temperatures (numbers) your refrigerator and freezer sections are set at before you begin and then re-check that they are set there when you are done.
  • Replace the Baking Soda
    • Yes, baking soda really does help with smells inside your refrigerator. Now is the time to replace with a new fresh box. Tip: You do not have to throw away the old box, use that for cleaning the sink drains out!


#TuesdayTip – Calcium & Milk

CALCIUM is a mineral that helps you build and maintain strong bones and teeth, helps your muscles work and adequate consumption of calcium throughout your life can help prevent disease such as osteoporosis, but is milk the ONLY or even BEST source?!

Yes dairy products provide the most readily absorbed calcium and in large quantities, but does it make it the best source? Well that depends!

For example, skim milk or any fat free dairy product is marketed as being the healthier option, but when we remove fat, we have to add sugar! It’s also devoid of nutritional value since fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) without fat in the milk cannot be absorbed into the body. Also these products become highly processed, or “altered,” which makes it a poorer option. When it comes to dairy sources skip the low fat versions!

Some other non-dairy options to consider for your calcium needs: dark leafy greens such as bok choy, collard greens, broccoli, kale, white beans, black eyes peas, canned salmon, sardines, almonds, sesame seeds, oranges to name a few!



A step to improving our nutrition choices is by learning the dirty dozen and clean fifteen, which refers respectively to the fruits and vegetables that are most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Why should we care?

Pesticides are toxic by design. Different pesticides have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruptions. (I mean if a pesticide is designed to make an insects stomach explode from eating it, it can’t be doing great things to our guts either.) But for most people, switching to strictly organic is not an option as it can get really pricey, so making informed choices on your produce selections can help minimize pesticide consumption while sticking to your budget!

The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen (in order of least contamination)

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocados
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Sweet potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

Remember washing and scrubbing your fruits and vegetables is an effective way of reducing the amounts of pesticides on your produce, but no washing method can remove 100% of the pesticides residue. The best technique is to wash under flowing water and using a stiff clean brush on tougher surfaces and gentle rubbing with your hands for soft tissued fruits and vegetables!

Tips To Stay on Track When You Are Off the Map!

Tips To Stay on Track When You Are Off the Map!

Around this time of the summer we may have plans for cottage weekends or maybe even camping. Remember when we were kids, and this meant s’mores galore, hot dogs and lots of junk food? Now as adults, it’s all those things plus potentially…alcohol. Here are a few simple tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Plan it Out:
    Before your camping trip you need to do a little prep work first. I recommend making a meal plan for all the days you’ll be gone, so you’ll have more than enough healthy foods to get you through your trip.
  2. Pre-Cook:
    Pre-cook some of your meals at home before your trip to save yourself lots of time and effort once you’re away. You want to be able to relax and enjoy yourself so whatever you can do at home first will make a big difference.
  3. Freeze It:
    Before your trip, freeze any foods that could parish easily. Not only will they stay fresh but they will also help keep the other foods in your cooler cold! If you’re camping in a tent and won’t have a fridge, make sure you have lots of ice in your cooler and consume foods like meats, eggs, and dairy products first before the cooler gets warm.
  4. Pack Snacks:
    Since camping trips are usually full of hiking, swimming, or other outdoor activities, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your body with nutritious foods. Make homemade trail mix and pack some Hemp Heart Bites so you can bring them along during your day at the beach or outdoor adventure.
  5. Get Grilling
    Pack a portable grill or make sure there’s a BBQ at your cabin so you can grill burgers, fish, and lots of veggies for your meals. Using a grill is great since you don’t have to add any oil or butter to cook your foods.

I hope these tips help you have a successful getaway weekend!


Olivia Harty, Nutritionist

Beat The Bloat This Summer!

It’s important to note first and foremost that not everybody has the same digestive system meaning we all digest foods differently. One food that may cause bloat for you may be different then a food that causes bloat for your BFF, it’s very individual. That’s why it’s best if you have been having major issues with bloat or discomfort, to work one on one with a nutritionist or dietician to narrow down what foods may be causing some digestive disturbances.

Let’s talk about digestion first to understand how bloat can arise! Digestion initially begins in the mouth, where our saliva provides enzymes to break down carbohydrates into smaller molecules, that are more easily digested, but proteins and fats don’t start to get broken down until they reach our stomach, where there are different enzymes. Then we continue to digest and break down proteins and fats in the small

intestines. It’s in the small intestine where 95% of these proteins and fats ultimately get broken down. So when the bloating happens, it’s really because we are either lacking the digestive enzymes to help break down these foods, or we are eating foods that are more difficult to break down and digest. One of the groups of foods that are hard to digest and break down is complex carbohydrates. Because they take a little longer to digest, they end up sitting in the gut for a longer period of time, allowing the sugars in that food to ferment and create BLOAT!

So what foods can we incorporate to help with this?

  • Digestive enzymes
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Fibre
  • Water
  • Probiotics

If this sounds interesting to you, or maybe is something you would like a little more guidance with, feel free to book a free consult with me!

5 Awesome Burger Bun Alternatives

5 Awesome Burger Bun Alternatives

This summer ditch the burger buns to ultimately reduce potential for bloat at the pool party! Why not try these 5 alternatives instead?

  1. Lettuce Wraps
  2. Sweet Potato Bun
  3. Mushroom Bun
  4. Tomato Bun
  5. Make your own Paleo buns

Here is an awesome recipe for some Paleo buns. Paleo is a way of eating that reflects what our ancestors ate. This means it’s a wheat free and dairy free diet. These two food groups are common food allergens amongst today’s population; therefore these foods could be causing you digestive discomfort.


  • ¾ cup cassava flour
  • 3 Tbsp. psyllium husk powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • TOPPINGS: egg wash (one egg whipped) and black sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the hamburger buns. Puree until the dough is smooth.
  3. Divide the dough into four equal parts and shape into a round ball (if the dough is sticking, coat your hands in water and then shape the dough). Pat the round buns down into a dome shape. Brush the buns with egg wash and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. Bake on 400F for about 22-25 minutes until golden brown.


National Eat Your Vegetables Day!

You’ve probably been told since you were a toddler to “Eat your vegetables! They’re good for you.”
But, do you really know WHY they’re good for you?  Let me jump into a few reasons why vegetables kick serious butt!

1) Vegetables are nutrient dense. It should be no surprise that Popeye turned to a vegetable when he needed a power-up. Think of vegetables as one of our body’s most efficient fuel sources: they are packed full of vital macro, but more importantly micronutrients. Macronutrients provide the body with energy (calories), where micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) don’t provide any energy, but are needed by every system in the body to function. Without proper amount of micronutrients in our diet, we run the risk of developing deficiency diseases.

2) They fill you up, without “filling you up.”  Basically you can eat a whack load of vegetables, without overshooting your intake goals for the day. For example, 200 calories of broccoli is the size of a grocery bag, compared to 200 calories of a donut, which may only be half of one. Vegetables are an easy way to add volume to your meals, but not the added calories.

3) Veggies keep your body operating at maximum efficiency! Vegetables are a great way to keep your…um…indoor plumbing…functioning properly.  Adding a fibre rich vegetable or two to each meal is a great way to keep things working right! Seriously: if you’re someone who doesn’t eat many veggies, you will notice a considerable difference after adding veggies to your diet regularly.

4) They fight disease! Because of the rich nutrient profile of vegetables, they work towards prevention of diseases. 4) A lot of people today, don’t start looking at their diet as being a problem until they are already sick. Remembering that our bodies contain the most efficient pharmacy within them. Our body is always trying to survive and be the best it can be. So give it a vegetable here and there, and it will thank you!

5) Veggies can be delicious! I hear a lot of clients say, but they don’t taste good. Firstly, if your palette is used to highly refined flour and sugar products that have an addictive effect on the brain, then yes a vegetable is gonna taste like dirt. Lucky for us, our palettes will change with time and you will crave vegetables! You will! But, in the mean time there are ways to spice them up or hide them away in our already favorite dishes. Here’s a few ways to do that:

– Toss a handful of spinach in a smoothie
– Add veggies to your eggs and make an omelette
– Ditch the bread, use lettuce, kale or collard greens as your bread, bun or wrap
– Spiralize vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, even carrot or just use spaghetti squash to replace refined pastas
– Mix vegetables into your pasta sauce, or utilize salsa more
– Switch your pizza crust with cauliflower crust
– Make a fresh juice
– Make baked vegetable fries

The possibilities are endless!
Try out this recipe loaded with veggies and see if I have converted you 😉

RECIPE –>>  Sweet Potato Nachos


Olivia Harty

HBSc. Nutrition and Dietetics

Personal Training Specialist Certified

Conscious Cocktail Recipe

Spring is in the air, and so is patio season! Can I get a “HECK YES!” Patio season definitely means that there will be some drinks. I’ve noticed with my clients that alcohol has become a big topic of interest recently so I thought I’d include a conscious cocktail recipe in here that won’t put you too far off track with your Summer health goals

Conscious Cocktail Recipe

We made it through the Winter and the weather is starting to change! I know for me, as soon as the weather gets up into the double digits, I’m instantly in the mood for patio season, which means some cocktails are in order to refresh the palette. I believe in the 80:20 approach to diet, which means 80% of the time you are consciously feeding your body the most nutrient dense foods you have, as food is our fuel, but 20% of the time I allow food to be therapy. Alcohol can become a problem when we have specific weight loss goals in mind, not only because it is adding a lot of empty calories but because o the toll it takes on the body. The body has to do two things when we begin to drink alcohol: detox and metabolize. First, our body will always choose to begin to metabolize alcohol first over anything since it is a toxin. This means any other food in the body is most likely going to be stored as fat or sit in the stomach and cause indigestion. Secondly, it will continue to circulate in the blood until our liver is able to detoxify and excrete it which accounts for being drunk, but also is quite taxing on the organ. What better way to enjoy your cocktail in a conscious way than with this easy recipe your friends will love!

What you need:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. water
  • 1 tbsp lavender honey
  • Ice and a lemon wedge for garnish

How to do it:

  • In a small saucepan combine honey (1/2 cup) and lavender (1 tbsp). Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Use a small wire mesh to strain honey into a bowl or jar and allow cooling.
  • Combine all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake it up vigorously to get that honey mixed in well!
  • Pour into your favourite cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon wedge to serve.