Alcohol: Impact on Athletic Performance and Health Goals

NOVA alcohol consumption

In the world of sports nutrition, every choice you make matters, including what you choose to drink. While a post-game celebration or a casual drink with friends may seem harmless, the truth is that alcohol consumption can have significant effects on both athletic performance and health goals. Because February is American Heart Month, we’ll explore how alcohol impacts the body, discuss its effects on athletic performance, and provide strategies for responsible consumption to support your fitness journey.

Understanding the Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that affects various bodily functions, including hydration, metabolism, coordination, and cognitive function. When consumed, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it begins to exert its effects on the body’s systems.

Effects on Athletic Performance

1. Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Proper hydration is essential for athletic performance, and excessive consumption can impair your body’s ability to maintain optimal fluid balance.

2. Impaired Coordination and Reaction Time: Alcohol can impair motor skills, coordination, and reaction time, which are crucial for athletic performance. Consuming alcohol before a game or workout may compromise your ability to perform at your best and increase the risk of injury.

3. Decreased Muscle Recovery: Alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery and repair processes by disrupting protein synthesis and increasing inflammation. This can prolong recovery time between workouts and hinder progress toward fitness goals.

4. Disrupted Sleep Patterns: While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce the quality of your rest. Adequate sleep is essential for muscle recovery, cognitive function, and overall well-being, making consumption before bedtime detrimental to your health goals.

Strategies for Responsible Consumption

1. Moderation is Key: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit your intake to moderate amounts and avoid excessive or binge drinking.

2. Hydrate Properly: To counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol, ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after drinking. This can help minimize the impact on hydration levels and support overall health.

3. Plan Ahead: If you have a game, race, or intense workout scheduled, consider abstaining from alcohol altogether to ensure optimal performance and recovery.

4. Know Your Limits: Be mindful of your tolerance level and how alcohol affects your body. Listen to your body’s signals and prioritize your health and fitness goals.

5. **Choose Wisely: Opt for lower-calorie, lower-sugar alcoholic beverages, such as light beer, wine, or spirits mixed with soda water or low-calorie mixers. Be mindful of added sugars and empty calories in cocktails and mixed drinks.

While enjoying a drink occasionally may be part of your social life, it’s essential to be aware of how alcohol consumption can impact your athletic performance and health goals. By practicing moderation, staying hydrated, and making informed choices, you can strike a balance between enjoying the occasional drink and supporting your fitness journey. 

Do you or someone you know struggle with alcohol misuse? Check out this link to see the top recommended treatment centers in Virginia.

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Recognizing Eating Disorder Awareness Week

NOVA Eating disorder awareness week

As Eating Disorders Awareness Week approaches, it’s essential to shed light on the significance of recognizing, understanding, and supporting those affected by eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have profound effects on both physical and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of raising awareness about eating disorders, discuss common signs and symptoms, and provide resources for support and recovery.

Why Eating Disorders Awareness Matters

Eating Disorders Awareness Week serves as an opportunity to educate the public about the prevalence and impact of eating disorders, challenge stigmas and misconceptions, and promote early intervention and access to treatment. By raising awareness, we can help those struggling with eating disorders feel seen, heard, and supported, and encourage open conversations about mental health and body image.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms:

Eating disorders can manifest in various ways and may not always be obvious. Some common signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Obsession with food, calories, and weight
  • Severe restriction of food intake or excessive exercise
  • Preoccupation with body image and fear of weight gain
  • Binge eating episodes followed by feelings of guilt or shame
  • Withdrawal from social activities and avoidance of meals with others
  • Changes in mood, energy levels, and physical health

It’s essential to approach conversations about eating disorders with compassion, empathy, and non-judgment, and to encourage seeking professional help and support.

Sharing Concerns About and Eating Disorder

Sharing your concerns with a loved one or friend who may have an eating disorder is easier said than done; sometimes, affected people won’t be aware of the severity of their condition and may deny that a problem exists at all. NEDA (the National Eating Disorder Association) offers several helpful tips if you have a friend or family member who may be suffering from an eating disorder, some of which include:

  • Learn as much as you can about eating disorders so you can understand people’s thoughts and struggles with food
  • Know the difference between facts and myths in regards to nutrition and fitness to enable you to explain the discrepancy in the person’s behavior vs. what is considered healthy
  • Compliment them on qualities unrelated to their appearance (creativity, sense of humor, etc.)
  • Be honest about what your concerns are; never judge or criticize, but emphasize that you are worried and want to make sure they are healthy
  • Refer them to a dietitian or other health professional with expertise in treating eating disorders

At NOVA Sports Nutrition, we take a holistic, comprehensive approach to nutrition therapy with the goal of improving client relationships with food, exercise, and body image. For athletes with disordered eating or an eating disorder, we will focus on a healthy return to sport and work collaboratively with additional healthcare professionals as appropriate including athletic trainers, counselors, psychologists and physicians.

The goals of outpatient nutrition counseling include developing a regular eating routine that provides balanced nutrition and adequate energy to fuel performance and activities of daily living. Your dietitian will work with you to create a sustainable plan that gradually allows you to remove stress around eating and achieve freedom from negative thoughts related to food or exercise.

We provide nutrition counseling for the following conditions:

  • Disordered eating
  • Orthorexia
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Avoidant-Restrictive Feeding and Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Treatment can be very effective in aiding recovery from eating disorders, but outcomes are significantly better when treatment is started early. If you have concerns, don’t brush them aside.

You can’t force someone to get treatment, but you never know who might be the positive influence that helps someone with an eating disorder address his or her situation. It could be you.

For more information, please see the links below:

ANAD.org
NationalEatingDisorders.org

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Heart-Healthy Fuel: Sports Nutrition Tips for American Heart Month

NOVA American Heart Month

February marks American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness about heart health and encourage individuals to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. While exercise is crucial for cardiovascular health, nutrition plays an equally important role, especially for athletes looking to optimize their performance while keeping their hearts strong. In this blog post, we’ll explore how sports nutrition can support heart health and provide practical tips for fueling your body in a way that benefits both your athletic endeavors and your cardiovascular system.

The Heart-Healthy Diet Blueprint

A heart-healthy diet is rich in nutrient-dense foods that support cardiovascular health. Here’s a breakdown of key components:

  • Emphasize Plant-Based Foods: Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.
  • Choose Healthy Fats: Opt for sources of unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon and trout. These fats can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Limit Saturated and Trans Fats: Cut back on foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fried foods, processed meats, and commercially baked goods. These fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Watch Your Sodium Intake: Limit your intake of sodium by avoiding processed and packaged foods and opting for fresh, whole foods instead. High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for heart health. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during exercise, to keep your cardiovascular system functioning optimally.

Sports Nutrition Strategies for Heart Health

Incorporating heart-healthy nutrition practices into your sports nutrition routine can benefit both your athletic performance and your cardiovascular health. Here are some practical tips to help you fuel your body while supporting your heart:

  • Balance Macronutrients: Aim for a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in appropriate proportions. Choose complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy and support muscle repair and recovery.
  • Prioritize Whole Foods: Focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible. These foods are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that support heart health and overall well-being.
  • Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Incorporate sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, into your diet. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and improve heart health.
  • Be Mindful of Portions: Pay attention to portion sizes, especially when it comes to calorie-dense foods like nuts, seeds, and oils. Moderation is key to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Listen to Your Body: Tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and eat mindfully to avoid overeating. Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best while respecting your body’s natural signals.

As we celebrate American Heart Month, let’s remember the importance of nourishing our bodies with heart-healthy foods that support both our athletic performance and our cardiovascular health. By incorporating these sports nutrition tips into your routine, you can fuel your body effectively while keeping your heart strong and healthy for years to come. Here’s to a heart-healthy February and beyond!

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Sports Nutrition: Myths vs. Facts

NOVA Myths vs. FAct

Let’s debunk some common sports nutrition myths. In the world of sports, athletes might encounter a lot of information about nutrition, some of which may be misleading. To navigate through the myths and misconceptions, athletes should rely on evidence-based practices that align with their individual needs and goals. 

In this blog post, we’ll debunk common sports nutrition myths and present the facts that every athlete should consider for optimal performance. Let’s dive into the science-backed facts that will help you make informed decisions about what to eat and when, ensuring you fuel your body for success in your chosen sport whether you’re a basketball player, a swimmer, or a bodybuilder. 

Myth: Carbohydrates Should Be Avoided for Weight Loss.

Fact: Carbs are a primary source of energy. Choosing complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) in moderation supports energy needs and overall health.

Myth: Protein Only Matters for Bodybuilders.

Fact: Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and it’s crucial for all athletes. Endurance athletes, in particular, benefit from adequate protein to support recovery. Why specifically endurance athletes? Muscle building or power athletes typically need more than endurance, though it certainly is still very important for that group)

Myth: Hydration is Only Important During Exercise.

Fact: Staying hydrated is crucial at all times. Dehydration can impair performance and overall health. Athletes should hydrate consistently throughout the day. Pro tip: minimum fluid intake should be ½ your bodyweight in oz. of fluid per day. When exercising/sweating, that number should go up!)

Myth: Supplements Can Replace a Balanced Diet.

Fact: While supplements can be useful, they shouldn’t replace whole foods. A well-balanced diet provides essential nutrients that are often missing in isolated supplements.

Myth: Fats Should Be Avoided for Better Performance.

Fact: Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oil) are essential for overall health and can provide a steady source of energy. They play a role in hormone production and nutrient absorption.

Myth: Eating Before Exercise Causes Cramps.

 Fact: Proper pre-exercise nutrition is important. While eating too much or too close to exercise may cause discomfort, a balanced meal a few hours before is generally beneficial.

Myth: Sports Drinks are Necessary for Everyone.

Fact: Sports drinks can be helpful for intense or prolonged exercise, but water is sufficient for most activities. Excessive sports drink consumption can lead to unnecessary sugar intake.

Myth: The More Protein, the Better.

Fact: While protein is crucial, excessive intake doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle gain. Athletes should aim for an optimal, not excessive, protein intake.

Myth: All Athletes Should Follow the Same Diet.

Fact: Individual nutrition needs vary based on factors like sport type, intensity, body composition, and personal preferences. Personalized nutrition plans are essential.

Myth: Skipping Meals Helps Weight Loss.

Fact: Regular, balanced meals support metabolism and provide sustained energy. Skipping meals can lead to nutrient deficiencies and negatively impact performance.

It’s important for athletes to stay informed and consult with nutrition professionals for personalized advice. Nutrition is highly individual, and what works for one athlete may not work for another. The focus should be on a well-rounded, individualized approach to support performance and overall health.

NOVA Sports Nutrition is here to support you in your performance goals. We are experienced in tailoring our plans to each individual, based on their sport. Book a consultation with us to discuss where you are in your journey and how we can support you! 

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January: The Month of Sustainable Change

NOVA January health

January is a great time to reset and think about your health and to pause and reflect on
the past year to help you determine what comes next on your wellness or fitness
journey in the new year. However, January is also the time when advertisements
on quick fixes, diet supplements and fad diets too good to be true also begin popping up
everywhere. As you put your holiday decorations away and prepare for the start of
2024, remember that the best way to improve health and nutrition is not through quick
fixes, but rather sustainable changes that you can implement gradually over time. If your
health and fitness is not where you would like for it to be right now, you can focus on
getting back on track one step at a time.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some simple steps you can implement today
to start improving your health and wellbeing:

Slow Down and Breathe
A great tool for stress reduction is to take a few moments to slow down your day and
just breathe. When you are stressed, your blood pressure rises, your heart and
respiration rate may also accelerate. Taking 10-15 minutes to sit still, be calm and
breathe deeply can counteract all of this

Take time to chew your food, savor each bite
Chewing well and slowing down your intake of food, helps you savor every bite. By
chewing longer, you are allowing food to linger in your mouth and stimulate taste
receptors on your tongue. This helps start the digestive process and gives your
body time to signal the brain when you are getting full.

Be in tune with your hunger cues
Paying attention to your body’s cues for hunger can help keep you healthy and
signal you when to eat. Some common physiological hunger cues are stomach
growling, low energy, headaches, shakiness and general weariness.

Be mindful and move with purpose
The principles of mindful movement are the same as any other mindfulness practice:
keep yourself in the present moment to experience the here and now and get the
most out of each session. Be aware of your movement, focus on your breath, and
notice how your body feels as it moves. Staying in the present can keep you
mentally strong because you are no longer focusing on yesterday or worried about
tomorrow.

Stay hydrated
Your body needs to be hydrated to function at its best. If there isn’t enough liquid
in your body, essential functions like circulation and digestion will not perform
efficiently. Your organs may not get the necessary nutrients for optimal
functioning and even slight dehydration affects performance.

Prioritize Protein and Vegetables (especially the greens)
Protein
Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. You need protein in your diet to help
your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is important for growth and
development. Adequate protein reduces muscle loss, helps with recovery after
exercise, builds lean tissue and because it curbs your hunger can help with
maintaining a healthy weight.
Greens
Adding leafy greens to your diet is an easy way to get the vitamins and minerals
your body needs for optimal health. These vegetables are good sources of many
vitamins and minerals such as: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, magnesium,
potassium, calcium and fiber, but low in calories. Green, leafy vegetables help
support vision and skin health; and may reduce the risk of heart disease, high
blood pressure, and the risk of obesity.

NOVA Sports Nutrition is here to get you back on track. Whether you’re training for a team sport, endurance race, physique competition, or to improve your health generally, NOVA can create a workout plan to help you reach your goal. We take the guess work out of meal planning and will help you to take control of your diet once and for all!

Nutrition counseling services are provided via secure video chat or in-person in Northern Virginia. Please reach out via the contact page or schedule a free discovery call to learn more about pricing for our nutrition services!

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Post-Holiday: Getting Back Into A Healthy Routine

NOVA healthy routine

Hope you had an amazing holiday season filled with joy and delicious treats. Now that the festivities have wrapped up, let’s dive into some strategies to get back into a healthy routine.

Start Small, Win Big

Research shows that setting realistic, achievable goals is key to long-term success. Instead of aiming for drastic changes, start with manageable adjustments. Small dietary changes can lead to significant improvements in overall health.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Proper hydration has numerous benefits, including aiding in weight management and positively impacting overall well-being. Keep a water bottle handy and make a habit of staying well-hydrated throughout the day.

Move That Body

Regular physical activity is known to improve mood, reduce stress, and promote cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week for overall well-being.

Rediscover the Joy of Cooking

Cooking at home has its perks, from healthier meals with fewer calories to the joy of experimenting with nutritious recipes. Experimenting with nutritious recipes can not only enhance your culinary skills but also contribute to better dietary choices. Embrace the kitchen and make it a fun part of your routine.

Prioritize Sleep

Sufficient sleep is essential for overall well-being as part of your healthy routine. Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night has been linked to improved immune function, cognitive performance, and overall health. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and avoiding screens before bedtime can contribute to better sleep quality.

Find a Buddy

Having a friend to share your health journey with can boost motivation and accountability. Whether it’s a workout or meal prep partner, having someone by your side makes the process more enjoyable.

Practice Mindful Eating

Taking the time to savor your food and being aware of your body’s hunger and fullness cues can contribute to better weight management and overall well-being. Be mindful of what you eat and enjoy your meals more fully.

Embrace these practical tips to make your post-holiday health journey smoother. Here’s to a healthier and happier you in the year ahead! 

Cheers to making 2024 your most balanced and positive year yet!

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Holiday Superfoods

holiday superfoods

The holidays are upon us and there are many healthy superfoods that are traditionally consumed this time of year.  Many of these foods are nutrient-dense and are called superfoods because of their many health benefits. Listed below are many of these superfoods that traditionally are prepared during the holiday season. As you join family and friends to celebrate, keep in mind moderation and balance, as well as taking time to slow down and savor your food. Happy Holidays!

Protein Superfoods

  • Turkey
    • Turkey is a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (B6, B12, niacin), choline phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients play crucial roles in energy metabolism, nerve function, immune support, and antioxidant defense.
  • Shrimp
    • High quality protein source that provides good sources of many trace minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium which helps maintain a strong immune system with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Oysters
    • Excellent protein rich in zinc, iron, and selenium that have antioxidant properties that promote overall health; also, a great source of vitamin B12.
  • Salmon
    • A new holiday favorite associated with many celebrations this time of year. It’s a nutrient-dense protein source that is an excellent source of vitamins B12 and D. It also contains potassium that helps keep your heart healthy and regulate blood pressure.
  • Walnuts
    • A good source of essential fatty acids and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Fruit and Vegetable Superfoods

  • Pumpkin
    • Packed with antioxidants to boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, and promote heart and skin health.
    • Rich in Beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), Vitamins C and E, potassium, and an excellent source of fiber.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    • Traditional side dish for the holidays supplying beta-carotene, Vitamin C potassium, and fiber. Supports vision health, enhances brain and immune system function, improves skin health and  digestion, and enhance brain and immune system function
  • Cranberries
    • Contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect against inflammation and also a good source of fiber, manganese, vitamins C and E. Cranberries also support urinary tract health and improve immune function
  • Pomegranate
    • Provides fiber, rich in Vitamin C, folate and magnesium. Strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, heart health benefits, digestive benefits, and urinary tract support
  • Clementines
    • Great source of Vitamin C to stay healthy through the holiday season that is naturally sweet and makes a great dessert alternative

Pass the Seasoning Shaker Please

  • Cinnamon
    • Research shows that cinnamon may reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties, improves insulin sensitivity, and supports cognitive function. It’s packed with minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, copper and zinc. Sprinkle it on your favorite breakfast selections and dessert choices!
  • Nutmeg
    • Keep your internal organs healthy with this delectable seasoning. It’s a good source of phosphorus, manganese and thiamin. Use it in baked goods, sprinkle on oatmeal or any hot cereal, a popular ingredient in many casseroles also. 
  • Ginger (Fresh or ground)
    • Anti-inflammatory seasoning, that has shown to be beneficial in gastrointestinal motility. Sprinkle it on sweet potatoes or add fresh ginger to all your favorite holiday side dishes

As the holiday season unfolds, approach your meals with a mindful spirit. Enjoy these holiday superfoods that also bring tradition and health to the table. Whether it’s turkey, veggies, or a dessert, find that sweet spot between indulgence and feeling good. Don’t forget the golden rule: savor every bite. Here’s to keeping it balanced, not too crazy, and having a blast with your loved ones. Wishing you all a relaxing and healthy holiday season! 

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Balance: A Guide for the 2023 Holidays

holiday eating balance

While the holiday season is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year, for some, it can also be a time of increased stress, anxiety, and pressure. The balance of holiday shopping, socializing, and festive preparations can take a toll on our mental well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies to help you stay mentally and physically balanced during the holidays so you truly enjoy this magical season.

Set Realistic Expectations

One of the primary sources of holiday stress is often unrealistic expectations. We tend to place immense pressure on ourselves to create the perfect celebration. Acknowledge that imperfections are a part of life and that the true spirit of the holidays lies in the moments spent with loved ones, not in achieving a flawless event.

Prioritize Self-Care

Amidst the hustle and bustle, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading a book, taking a leisurely walk, or practicing mindfulness. A well-rested and nourished mind is better equipped to handle the demands of the season.

Establish Boundaries

Learn to say no. It’s okay not to attend every event or take on every task. Be honest with yourself about your time and energy limits. Setting boundaries allows you to focus on what truly matters and prevents burnout.

Connect with Others

While the holidays are a time of joy, they can also trigger feelings of loneliness for some. Make an effort to connect with friends and family, whether in person or through virtual means. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can provide much-needed support and strengthen your sense of belonging.

Practice Gratitude

Take a moment each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Amidst the chaos, cultivating a sense of gratitude can shift your focus from what’s stressful to what’s positive and uplifting.

Mindful Eating

For some, the holidays can be a source of both pleasure and anxiety. Practice mindful eating by paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This can help you enjoy the festive treats without overindulging or feeling deprived.

Stay Active

Physical activity is a powerful tool for maintaining mental balance. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a dance party in your living room, staying active releases endorphins, reducing stress and enhancing your overall mood.

Create Meaningful Traditions

Focus on the aspects of the holidays that hold personal significance for you. Whether it’s a cherished family tradition or a new ritual you’d like to start, infusing meaning into the season can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a stressful sprint. By setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, and fostering meaningful connections, you can navigate the next few weeks’ balance. Remember, the essence of the holidays lies in creating memories and taking care of yourself and those around you. Embrace the season with an open heart, and may your holidays be filled with warmth, love, and mental well-being.

NOVA is always here to guide you in your fitness and nutrition journey no matter what stage you are at. 

Nicole Hindle NOVA Sports Nutrition Balance

Happy Holidays!

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Root Vegetables: A Fall Staple

This fall, enjoy cooler temperatures and outdoor activities without the concern of heat related conditions. This is the perfect time of year to start incorporating different colored root vegetables into your grocery staples. Root vegetables are at their peak in the fall season, and they are underground treasures packed with nutrients and full of flavor. Some great examples to add to your plant-based menu are garlic, onion, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips. These root vegetables are good sources of many nutrients such as fiber, folate and beta-carotene. 

Check out a few more health benefits of root vegetables

  • High in Fiber: Many root vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which is essential for digestive health. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements, helps control blood sugar levels, and contributes to a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management.
  • Stable Energy Release: The carbohydrates in root vegetables are complex carbohydrates, providing a steady and sustained release of energy. This can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes, supporting overall energy balance throughout the day.
  • Supportive of Heart Health: Potassium, found in abundance in root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, is known for its role in promoting heart health. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and supports cardiovascular function.
  • Seasonal and Local: Virginians can also enjoy other local produce this time of year: apples, pears, zucchini, peppers, kale, okra, brussels sprouts, eggplant, pumpkin and a variety of squash.

Healthy Autumn Eating Tips:

  • Shop local farmer’s markets to get the freshest produce
  • Eat “the rainbow” when choosing fruits and vegetables
  • Cook with healthy fats such as olive oil
  • Grill, roast, steam, or air fry vegetables to create lower-fat dishes
  • Experiment with all types of seasonings (parsley, sage, curry, garlic and apple cider vinegar pair well with root vegetables)

Try one of our favorite recipes & let us know how you liked it!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts:

  1. Wash 1 pound of brussels sprouts and peel away any brown areas of the sprout
  2. Mix the brussels sprouts in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until all pieces are coated. Season with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and/or black pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven on a sheet pan for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • (Alternatively, you can grill the sprouts by placing them on aluminum foil and grilling)

Zucchini/Squash/Onion Stir Fry:

  1. On the stovetop using a nonstick pan, sprinkle pan with olive oil
  2. Slice any vegetables you want to use
  3. Heat on fairly high heat while stirring the vegetables

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Slice potatoes into rounds (~1/4-1/2 inch thick)
  4. Lay potato slices flat on a baking sheet and spray lightly with the cooking spray.
  5. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and ground cinnamon.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway.

Season as you like with non-salt alternatives

  • Add some ground pepper
  • Add a splash of apple cider vinegar

Incorporating a colorful array of root vegetables into your fall recipes not only elevates the taste but also adds a nutritional boost to your meals. From supporting your immune system to contributing to heart health, these veggies are a delicious and health-conscious addition to your autumn meals. 

Remember that meal plans are not cookie-cutter and each one is unique to each person. Our mission is to help you create a healthy and fit lifestyle. One that is realistic and sustainable and allows you to optimize your overall health and wellness.

Enjoy and have a Happy Fall!

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Hiking for Wellness in Northern Virginia

woman hiking

At NOVA Sport Nutrition, we believe in providing truly individualized, client-centered care that addresses specific needs and barriers reaching your goals.

One of the many ways you can reach those goals is through hiking. Check out some of the perks below. 

 

The Physical Perks of Hiking

Cardio Fitness

Hiking can get your heart pumping and make it stronger. It’s like a workout for your ticker as you tackle those uphills and downhills.

Strength and Stamina

Those uneven terrains will give your leg muscles a good workout. It’s like nature’s gym! You’ll build strength and have the endurance of a champ. Don’t forget to hydrate and fuel your body before and after. 

 

The Mental Boost of Hiking

Stress Buster

Nature is the ultimate chill pill. The sights and sounds, combined with the physical activity, release those feel-good endorphins. Stress, be gone!

Mindful Escape

Disconnect from screens and connect with nature. It’s a mindful journey where you can de-stress, think, and soak in the peace of the great outdoors.

 

This fall, lace up those hiking boots and make your way to Northern Virginia’s beautiful trails. Hiking isn’t just about getting fit; it’s about finding happiness and reconnecting with nature. So, don’t miss the chance to explore while boosting your health and joy. It’s time to step out and let the great outdoors be your ultimate wellness guide. 

 

Hiking in Northern Virginia’s Best Spots

Mount Vernon Trail

If you’re new to hiking, this 18-mile trail along the Potomac River is a great place to start. You’ll see the river, the city, and, of course, the spectacular fall colors.

Great Falls Park 

Just a short hop from D.C, this park has epic waterfalls and challenging trails. The Mather Gorge Loop will give you a workout and some amazing views.

Shenandoah National Park

On November 11th, entry to this park is free! It’s a great time to explore the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, with trails winding through lush forests and jaw-dropping vistas.

 

Happy hiking!

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Location

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