Diet Soda: Is it Really That Bad For You?

no diet-sodas.jpg

by Geoff Rand

We hear time and time again the recommendation of just eating real food when it comes to maintaining health and fitness.  If you’ve ever read the label on a can of diet soda, you know that these beverages could not be further from real food.

I’ve been told over and over that diet sodas are bad, but why are they bad, and what is the effect they have on the body?  Here’s what I found.

History While the official beginning of the diet soda era can be traced back to 1952’s No-Cal drink, distributed by a small Brooklyn bottling company, mainstream diet soda production and consumption really didn’t start until 1963 with Coca-Cola’s introduction of Tab.  Since then, companies have been battling to find newer sweeteners and marketing their beverages to consumers in search of no calorie drinks.

Artificial Sweeteners    The main actor in diet soda is the artificial sweetener.  Chemicals like Aspartame mimic the effects of sugar, but our bodies interpret this as a much larger dose, up to 1000x that of sugar.  This sends the body into fat storage mode, which explains the link between diet soda and obesity.  Some studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners actually stimulate our appetite, which in no way defines the word diet.

Addiction  The combination of caffeine and aspartame cause a short duration addictive high to be experienced, much like the effects of cocaine.  Frequent use can cause overstimulation of the brain’s neuroreceptors, which causes more cravings of the drinks, and horrible headaches should you miss a dose.

Trickery  With “diet” on the logo, some may be led to think they are drinking a healthier drink. But studies have shown those who drink diet sodas consume on average 200 calories more than someone not drinking diet soda.  The misleading name may cause people to think that their beverage is calorie free and thus healthy to them, so that helps justify the 800-calorie cheeseburger they are gobbling up.

So what happens when you drink a diet soda?   This graphic sums it up nicely.


What are the health risks?   Studies have shown links between diet sodas and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and dementia, and loss of bone density and cardiovascular and thyroid problems.  Long-term exposure to diet soda has shown damage to the skin, muscles, heart, and kidneys, with increased risk of developing kidney stones.  More immediate effects can be brain fog, dehydration, and energy spikes and crashes.

So if diet soda is this bad for you, how is it still allowed to be sold?    The answer is simple, money.  The soda industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, with some estimates putting diet soda drinkers at 1 out of every 5 Americans.  The soda companies have a lot of weight they can throw around, influencing studies to their benefit, advertising to millions of potential customers, and greasing the palms of legislators to keep their dangerous cocktails on the market shelves.

Alternatives    If you are a diet soda drinker, it will likely take some time to wean you off these drinks.  You’ll need to replace them with something healthier for you.  Examples are water (perhaps sweetened with honey, lemon or lime), green tea (provides caffeine without the jitters), Kombucha or Kefir tea (both are fizzy and provide other health benefits), vegetable or fruit smoothies, and, if you must drink soda, look for beverages sweetened with Stevia instead of aspartame.

You may have noticed I didn’t recommend that you just drink regular sodas.  They can be just as bad as diet sodas, causing many of the same maladies, and some new ones. 

Parting ways with diet soda won’t be easy.  The soda companies don’t want it to be.  You may need to treat it like an addiction.  Enlist the help of family and co-workers to support you.  Phase it out over time.  But know eventually, your body will start regaining its normal functions that have been suppressed or modified by the toxins you’ve been ingesting.  This will lead to a healthier, better, and happier you.





Athlete Spotlight: Billi Prugh


In an effort to get to know our members better, we asked Billi to answer a few questions.


Where are you from?  Rockville, MD

When did you start at CFF?   August 2015

What is your favorite time to workout at CFF?  8:00 AM

Did you work out before starting at CFF?  Not really.

What form of exercise were you into?  I would walk/run or do an aerobic video.  I’m old school.

What’s your favorite color? Pink and Black

Do you like the mountains or the beach?  the beach


What is your favorite dessert?  Lemon bars 

What is your favorite holiday?    Christmas

What is your favorite food to eat at a picnic?  hot dogs

Do you drink coffee or tea?  coffee

Do you have any pets? 3 dogs – WaWa is a Chihuahua, Yewbee is a Labradoodle, and Tink is a Yorkie.  Also 2 ferrets – Tater and Rufus.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?   I would like to be able to fly. That way I wouldn’t have to wait in traffic and could always get to where I wanted to go quickly.

Do you have any interesting /unique/special skills?   I play the drums.


Is there anything else you would LOVE to share?  I’ve been married almost 25 years and have 3 kids. 22 year old twins, Samm and Andi, and Rion who is 14.

For what are you thankful?   Family. My family is so important to me and I wouldn’t be able to make it through this crazy world without them. Oh…and wine.



But first...Coffee

coffee vitamin c.jpg

by Geoff Rand

I want to preface this article by disclosing that I have had exactly two sips of coffee ever, once in 1993 after being ordered to by my first sergeant in the Army and then in 1998 after being ordered to by my field training officer at the police department.  Neither was a pleasurable experience and to this day, I avoid the substance.

But, as a journalist, I am able to research and write about any topic, even if I have little to no actual experience with the topic.  So when Amanda suggested I look into the effects of caffeine on vitamin absorption, I sat down with a bottle of soda and got to work.

While coffee has been shown to have many positive characteristics like reducing the chances of some cancers developing, decreasing the chances of getting type II diabetes, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease, and is a good source of antioxidants, let’s face it, most people drink it simply for the caffeine it contains and it’s effect on stimulating the body to wake up or stay awake, while simultaneously reducing the urge to punch others in the throat.

Megan Coffee.jpg

But the caffeine in coffee, or other drinks such as teas or sodas, can actually block or limit the absorption of some vitamins and you need to be aware of this effect of caffeine and tailor your intake of vitamins appropriately.

Here are a few examples of the effect caffeine has on vitamins and minerals.

Caffeine causes calcium to be excreted in urine and feces.  Studies have shown that women who had a high intake of caffeine (more than two cups a day) had a higher incidence of hip fractures than those who drank in moderation.

Caffeine can inhibit vitamin D receptors and can interfere with the absorption of iron, manganese, zinc, and copper.

The diuretic effect of caffeine also depletes most B-family vitamins through the fluid lost during excretion.  Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphate are also excreted in fluids after drinking caffeine.

So, for the vast majority of coffee drinkers, giving up coffee is out of the question.  So what are you to do if you want to have your coffee but want to take and get the full benefit of vitamins?

The meme and t-shirt “But first, coffee” seems to have our answer.  You can still enjoy your coffee, just drink it first and then take your vitamins and supplements about an hour later with a glass of water.






Don't Sweat It

sweat airplane.jpg

by Geoff Rand


If you’re old like me you may remember the 1980’s TV commercials for Dry Idea antiperspirant.  They featured a slew of celebrities telling us “Never let them see you sweat.”  While that might be a desirable result for an interview or first date, we definitely should be seeing you sweat in the Box.

Recently, a few CFF members were having a discussion about sweating and it got me thinking, so I decided to do some investigation into the topic.

Why do we sweat?  Our bodies produce sweat to keep us cool and heat generated by exertion triggers our sweat glands.  The air evaporating the sweat off our skin is what cools us.

Is there a correlation between amount of sweat and calories burned?  While you may feel like you haven’t gotten a good workout unless you can wring out your shirt at the end, amount of sweat is not necessarily an indicator of how many calories you burned or how intense of a workout you had.  If your amount of sweat really meant something, then workouts like yoga and Pilates, which often don’t turn you into a sweaty mess, wouldn’t produce toned and fit bodies.

I feel like I’m sweating more now than I used to, why is that?  Barring a medical condition, if you find that you are perspiring more now than you were before, it might be because you are more fit than you used to be.  Studies have shown that trained athletes sweat sooner and sweat heavier compared to untrained people.

While this may seem illogical, actually, the more fit you are, the more efficiently your body sweats.  As you become more fit, your body starts to sense the exertion it is about to be expected to perform and starts to pre-cool you by activating the sweat glands early.  This might explain why you find yourself starting to soak your shirt during the warm up.  As you become a more efficient machine, your body becomes able to work at a higher intensity for longer durations of time.  To keep this intensity up, your cooling system also becomes more efficient.

Why do men sweat more than women?  While women have more sweat glands than men, male sweat glands produce more sweat than women’s sweat glands. 

A 2010 Japanese study tested men and women in a controlled cardio workout and found that women’s bodies need to reach a higher temperature than men’s before they begin sweating.  While the reasons for this are not known, it is speculated that because women have less fluid in their bodies than men, this heat tolerance is an evolved survival mechanism allowing women to retain fluid and increase chances of survival in a hot environment.  The male response and increased sweating might be an evolutionary reaction to allow us to have greater efficiency during action or labor.

Will I still sweat if I’m dehydrated?  If you go into a workout already dehydrated, your body will still attempt to cool you, but there is a limit to how much it can do for you with limited resources.  Cooling through sweating is ideal, but as dehydration increases in severity, the body will start shutting down some processes to conserve energy in an attempt to cool itself while still performing the work being asked of it.  If you notice you have stopped sweating during exercise, this is a serious situation, and you are likely in advanced stages of heat stroke and are in need of medical attention.


What is a “normal” amount to sweat?  A former member of CFF was a heavy sweater.  I remember one time when he was on the GHD, the sweat coming off him was being thrown several feet behind him with each downward movement.  People on abmats had to move out of the way.  There was a huge slick in front of his GHD machine at the end of the WOD.  While he might sweat a lot compared to others, his level of perspiration was likely not outside of normal amounts.

The problem with determining what is normal when it comes to sweat is that there are so many factors at play that influence when and how much we sweat.  Exercise, stress, temperature, lack of acclimation to the climate, certain medications, heredity, certain foods, and some medical conditions can all factor into the amount we sweat.

Likely, if you sweat excessively, called hyperhidrosis, you know you have it.  People with this condition sweat nearly constantly, regardless of the situation or level of exertion.

When it comes to amounts of sweat we produce while exercising, the vast majority of us will fall into the widely varying “normal” range.


Sweating is nothing to be ashamed of.  Men and women will sweat and if you are doing work, you should expect to produce perspiration.  It’s natural.  Don’t sweat it.





Should I Be Soaking My Nuts?

By Geoff Rand

Prior to the industrialization of the Western world, food preparation was much different than it is today.  Among other differences, the agrarian culture would soak, and sometimes ferment, their nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes prior to consuming them.  They might not have understood the science, but they knew that these foods needed preparation in order to be digested properly.

Sadly, we have somehow moved away from these practices, and now attempt to consume these foods without preparation.  Maybe this is why we have seen an increase in gluten allergies and conditions like leaky gut and other digestive issues.  Perhaps the grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds aren’t really bad for us; it’s just the lack of preparation we are doing prior to consuming them that is causing all these maladies.

So what causes this adverse reaction when we consume nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes?  Phytic acid. 

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that is essentially the stored phosphorus in plants, and this is not digestible by humans because we lack the enzyme needed to break it down.  Worse still, phytic acid actually robs the body of magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron because it binds to them, preventing absorption of these nutrients.  The food may be rich in all sorts of good stuff, but without neutralizing the phytic acid, you’ll never be able to digest and absorb it.

The way around phytic acid’s force field is to soak before consuming these foods.  As an example, here is how you should be preparing nuts and seeds.  For more info on soaking nuts and seeds and the complete instructions for most grains and legumes, check out this link.

Nuts and Seeds

Place 4 cups of raw, shelled nuts into a large mixing bowl.  Cover with water and stir in 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Soak as prescribed (see specific times for nuts below).  Drain and then place in a dehydrator, or spread the nuts on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dehydrate them under 150° 12 to 24 hours.

Almonds:  7-8 hours                         Pistachios:  4 hours

Brazil Nuts:  4-6 hours                     Pumpkin seeds:  7-8 hours

Cashews:  3-6 hours                         Sesame seeds:  7-8 hours

Flaxseeds:  7-8 hours                       Sunflower seeds:  4 hours

Hazelnuts:  7-8 hours                       Walnuts:  6 hours

Macadamia Nuts:  6-7 hours            Pine nuts:  7hours

Pecans:  7 hours

As you can see, it’s not a quick process, but if you have been noticing that your body is adversely reacting to ingestion of any of these foods, soaking might be a way to put them back on the menu.






Yin-yasa with Gabby Gallegos

Your instructor: Gabrielle Gallegos

Your instructor: Gabrielle Gallegos

Every Saturday 10:30 am until 11:45 am - Yin-Yasa Yoga

Join Gabby as she takes you through a vinyasa flow-style that is perfect as a recovery aid from your daily workouts.

Improve your range of motion and mobility with poses designed for athletes of all levels. Feel good, body, mind, and soul!

Interested in why this style of yoga is called Yin-yasa?

Yin-yasa combines Yin yoga - a more passive and still practice (some postures will be held for 3-5 minutes) with Vinyasa- a sanskrit term translating to "flow" linking postures together to create a deeper connection to the body and loosen up areas of tension.

This style of yoga is an opportunity to release stress in the body while accessing deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia with a yin practice.

*Yin-yasa is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced practitioners.

Member: Isaac

Member: Isaac

Our Yoga Rates

$10 drop in for everyone!
*members & non-members


Buy 5 and get the 6th free for $50!
*sessions expire 6 months after purchase.

Click HERE for our up-to-date SCHEDULE of CLASSES.

Member: Megan

Member: Megan



Are You Eating Too Fast?

by Geoff Rand

I’ve been conditioned to eat quickly all my life.  With three brothers, I had to scarf my food down fast if I wanted seconds.  In military school, we had to square our meals (an extremely slow method where you take a forkful, extend your arm parallel to the table, raise it up to mouth level, bring it to your mouth and chew it, placing your fork down between bites), but because squaring took so long, we would hardly make a dent in our plates.  The upperclassmen would always eventually yell, “Shovel!” and we’d commence an all out assault on whatever remained on our plates with total disregard for manners or healthy habits.  Now, as a police officer, I have to eat quickly because I never know when a radio call is going to come in and force me to abandon my meal.

But there are some serious downsides to eating your food so quickly.  First, when we eat too fast, we are more likely to overeat.  This is because it takes around 20 minutes for our stomach to signal our brain that it is full.  The faster you eat, the more calories you can ingest before you feel satiated, and this leads to weight gain.  And studies have shown that people who scarf down their meals feel hungry again sooner than people who take their time.

Fast eating also leads to a bloated feeling from gulping in air along with your monstrous bites.  Related to bloating are acid reflux and heartburn, caused when esophageal valves fail to close, releasing stomach acids upwards into the esophagus.  Over time, this acid goes from being uncomfortable to becoming a serious health risk.

But there are ways we can all slow down, enjoy our food more, and eat in a way that is better for us.

One of the easiest changes you can make is to put your fork down between bites.  Fully chew and swallow before going for the next bite.

Put down the phone and turn off the TV.  Being distracted tends to make us eat faster.  Instead of remaining plugged in during meals, try the ancient art of conversation with other humans.  I know it sounds weird, but give it a try.

Cut your food into smaller pieces and focus on chewing it fully before swallowing.  Your mouth is the first step in the digestive process, and fully chewed food is easier for the body to process completely.


Change your utensils.  Switching from a fork to chopsticks will definitely slow down your meals.  Or, go to a fondue restaurant like the Melting Pot, where you skewer and cook your food in pots of hot oil.  You can’t eat quickly there.

Drink water.  Having water with your meal aids in digestion, but also assists in helping us to feel fuller faster, saving us from overeating.

However you do it, there are some real benefits to incorporating healthy changes to your eating habits.  By slowing down you can improve the relationship between your body and food.






31 Heroes

On August 6, 2011, U.S. Army Rangers were on a mission to kill or capture a high value target in the Tangi Valley of Afghanistan, about 40 miles southwest of Kabul.  During the pre-dawn raid, several Taliban fighters were killed or captured, however other groups of fighters were seen massing for a possible counterattack on the Rangers.  An immediate reaction force of 30 service members, many of whom were U.S. Navy SEALs, and one military working dog, flew out to assist the Rangers in a CH-47D Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion One-Seven.

As the Chinook approached the landing zone, a previously undetected RPG team emerged from a building and fired two rocket propelled grenades at the helicopter, one of which struck the tail rotor, downing the helicopter and killing all on board.

In the wake of this tragedy, a fundraising WOD was created in 2011 to help support the 30 families who lost loved ones that day.  This eventually became the 31 Heroes Project and has since become an annual event, raising over $1.5 million for our nation’s veterans and their medical needs after returning from combat.

On Sunday, August 6, 2017, at 9AM, CrossFit Frederick will once again honor these warriors and support this worthy cause by hosting the 31 Heroes WOD.  Only the 9AM class will be held that day and a potluck party/BYOB will immediately follow the WOD.  Please bring a dish to share.  Note that CFF is closed Saturday, August 5 for a powerlifting competition.

31 Minute AMRAP

8 Thrusters (155#/105#)

6 Rope Climbs

11 Box Jumps (30”/24”)

This is a team WOD.  While Partner 1 works, Partner 2 runs 400m with a sandbag (45#/25#).   When Partner 2 returns from the run they pick up where Partner 1 left off and Partner 1 runs with the sandbag.

This is a challenging WOD and scaling is available if you are not ready for Rx.

You don’t need to register to attend CFF’s 31 Heroes WOD, but if you would like to donate you can register here.  The link will take you to options where you can fundraise for the 31 Heroes Project or just order a shirt.

We hope you will come out and honor these brave warriors on August 6 at 9AM.




Obey Your Thirst

by Geoff Rand

My first real lesson in hydration came at Fort Campbell, Kentucky at Air Assault School in 1994.  The final graduation requirement was a 12-mile road march in full uniform with helmet, rifle, and rucksack.  The 3-hour time limit was tough on my short legs, but the real challenge was to drink all the water they required.  At several points along the course were hydration stations.  At each one, we had to hold two open 1-quart canteens over our heads to prove they were empty.  And we couldn’t just dump the water along the way.  Spotters would disqualify us for a safety violation if we tried to spill it.  After showing empty, we refilled them and continued on.  I’m not sure how many gallons I drank during the 2.5 hours it took me to finish, but I would have exploded if someone kicked me in the stomach upon reaching the finish line.  I definitely was not dehydrated.

While the Army’s safety regulations may border on the absurd at times, there usually is a reason.  In this case, soldiers have died on this very course due to dehydration.

While potential for death is quite a motivator, there are other reasons you should be drinking water.  Studies have shown that dehydration by a mere 2% loss in body weight can cause impaired performance.  At 5% loss, capacity for work can be decreased by up to 30%.

Water has benefits for you even if you’re not engaged in physical activity.  It aids in proper digestion, reduces chances of developing kidney stones, cavities, some cancers, urinary tract infections, and cataracts, to name a few benefits.  Water is also crucial in flushing toxins from the body as well as assisting in proper blood flow and plays a key role in muscle repair because of these functions.  You will notice more muscle soreness, cramps, and earlier onset of DOMS if you are dehydrated.


Drinking water before a meal can also help you feel full faster and consume fewer calories.  If weight loss is your goal, consider drinking water as cold as you can stand.  Your body has to warm it up to metabolize it, and that burns even more calories.

When should you drink?  Early and often is good advice.  If you wait until you feel thirsty, you are already playing catch up.  Hydrate before, during, and after physical activity.  If you want to freak out other people in the bathroom, take the below chart in with you and compare your urine color to it.  Know that some vitamins and supplements can give you an artificially light yellow color even if you are dehydrated.

How much should you drink?  We’ve all heard the 8 glasses of water a day as the accepted standard.  However, it turns out this standard is not at all based on scientific study.  Its origin has not been definitively determined, but generally the accepted source is a 1945 paper that suggested one ounce of water consumed per calorie of food consumed.  On a 2,000 calorie diet, this translates to roughly 64oz., or 8 glasses of water.  A better rule of thumb, often prescribed by Amanda, is to drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight you have.

While we aren’t going to make you hold your water bottles over your heads, our coaches can tell when you aren’t drinking your water.  It shows in your face and in your performance.  So, do your body a favor, drink up now and keep drinking up throughout the day.





Practice Perfect Push Ups

by Geoff Rand

During my time in the Army, I became intimately familiar with the push up.  Move too slow, push ups.  Uniform not perfect, push ups.  This continued into the police academy.  Forgot a call clearance, push ups.  Shoes not shined, push ups…   It’s easy to see why this isn’t one of my favorite exercises.  It was always being done as a punishment.  On top of that, I never was showed how to really do them until coming to CrossFit.

To make your pushups better and easier, you need to concentrate on three areas, elbow position, hand position, and tight core.

Pretend you are going to shove someone across the room Elaine Benes-style (Seinfeld, anyone?).  Really, try it.  I guarantee your elbows aren’t going to be straight out to your sides.  It is much more natural and effective to keep your elbows down at about a 45 degree angle.  This is the same position your pushups should be done in.

For hand position, point your middle finger at the 12 o’clock position and spread your fingers wide.  Next rotate your hands outward slightly, screwing them into the floor.  This will help engage the lats and give your pushups a bit of a boost.  It also helps keep your elbows in the proper position.

Finally, keep those abs engaged.  This makes sure your back is being kept stabilized and moves as one unit with the rest of your body.  No wet noodles.  A slight curvature in the back is ok as long as you keep your abs tight to stabilize it.  You can also hold a yoga block between your thighs if you need a cue to stay tight.

Remember to focus on these areas when doing pushups.  With enough practice, the next time you get dropped for someone showing up to formation late, you’ll be able to crank out your punishment reps with ease.