Week Two: Q&A with HAC’s Registered Dietitians

Jeannie Versagli and Ashely Boyer are our Registered Dietitians that are available to coach individuals in every aspect of nutrition and health.  Look for their input on nutrition and dietetics throughout this month as we are featuring their responses to topics of interest to our members and the general public.

We hope you find their responses enlightening, informative and motivational, to enlighten your path to wellness.

Why should someone seek advice from a Registered Dietitian versus the meal planning apps and programs that are available?  What is the difference between what a Registered Dietitian offers versus a Weight Watchers’ coach?

Registered dietitians have the knowledge and ability to individualize a nutrition plan to suit the person’s lifestyle, generic meal programs are not individualized. Often the success rate is poor with app programs because they are too broad and not individualized in their approaches. I always say, “Just as we are alike, we are different”!  Dietitians can create a one of a kind nutrition plans, due to their education and credentialing which focuses on evidence-based science.  We create an eating plan that addresses specific nutrients an individual needs, educating on mindful eating and helping motivate individuals towards success. RDN’s have the knowledge, ability and legal protection to prescribe a nutrition plan. RDNs, are the food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin :

Photo of Ashley Boyer, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, 
Certified Personal Trainer.

Is there truly a “trick” to losing belly fat or gaining muscle through diet?

This is a two-part question:

Part I- When you lose fat, you lose it everywhere, not just the one specific part of your body that you are working towards. There is no “trick” to losing the belly fat. Trying to create a calorie deficit is the first step to addressing weight and fat loss. However, during weight loss about 25-30% relates to loss of muscle. Therefore, we need to try to limit further loss of lean tissue through adequate consumption of protein-rich snacks and meals. Including resistance training, at least 2-3x/week will help to maintain muscle mass and minimize loss.

Part II-Refueling window of opportunity. After a good workout session, your muscles are primed for breaking down, as the glycogen (stored carbohydrates) has been reduced, cortisol and other hormones that breakdown muscle is elevated. This leaves us with an important opportunity to repair and build muscle through the consumption of both protein and carbohydrates. This window of time can be ~45-minutes post-exercise. Pre-exercise protein can also reduce muscle breakdown, but whether or not this relates to muscle gains has yet to be determined.

Aside from weight loss, why might someone hire an R.D.?

A Registered dietitian is an expert when it comes to nutrition and wellness.  Weight loss is just one component of what these professionals are trained to do.  Dietitians assist individuals with learning how to develop a nutritional program to fight diseases such as Diabetes, Cardiac, Hypertension, Renal Disease, autoimmune disorders, improve the health of individuals recovering from post-cancer treatments, to name just a few areas where their expertise is needed.  Dietitians are trained in helping others eat healthy at all stages of life.

Individuals that become Registered Dietitians are required to have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and meet the requirements to be accepted into a 6 month to a 1-year nutrition internship program.  Upon meeting these requirements, they are then eligible to sit for the Registration Exam.  Upon passing this exam they then can work in the field of nutrition.  They must commit to completing 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years.  In comparison, MD’s on average are required to have one 3 hours course in nutrition while attending med school.  Over the years during my career as a Registered Dietitian, it has been challenging to stay abreast with all the research and findings on nutrition influences on the human body.  Much is being done today in this field and a Registered Dietitian’s prime focus is to ensure they practice using evidence-based nutrition outcomes.

Only licensed nutritionists and dieticians can provide dietetic and nutrition therapy, including the delivery of prevention nutrition services and/or nutrition therapy. As such, licensed nutritionists in Delaware may assess an individual’s specific nutritional needs and development and/or implement an intervention plan. An intervention plan may include counseling, nutrition education, and the monitoring of specialized nutrition support and/or referrals should an individual require additional services.

To become qualified in Delaware the following must be completed:

  1.  Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Nutrition Education, Food and Nutrition, Dietetics and or Food systems management.
  2. Pass a registration Exam administered by the state of Delaware
  3. Apply for licensure in Delaware.
  4. Maintain 2-year educational requirements.
  5. Renewal every 2 years is required in order to maintain a license in Nutrition.


“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – G. K. Chesterton


Hockessin Athletic Club opened its doors on June 10 2007. Boasting over 100,000 sq. ft., a 5-pool aquatics complex, and over 200+ weekly group and aqua fitness classes, it is Delaware's premier fitness destination. 100 Fitness Way, Hockessin, DE · HAChealthclub.com

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