Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Third-Party Supplements: Guide to Quality, Certifications, and Regulations

Third party supplements NOVA Sports Nutrition

Ensuring that my clients receive the highest quality nutrition is very important. When considering buying supplements, the market is flooded with so many options that it becomes difficult to make out which products are safe and effective. This is where third-party certifications come into play. In this blog, we’ll get into the importance of third-party supplements, the standards and certification programs available, and the regulatory landscape in the United States. By understanding these elements, you can make informed decisions.

 What are Third-Party Supplements?

Third-party supplements have been tested and verified by independent organizations, separate from the manufacturer. These organizations assess the product’s quality, safety, and efficacy, providing consumers with an added layer of assurance. 

 Importance of Quality Standards

Quality standards in supplement manufacturing are very important in making sure that products are safe, effective, and free from contaminants. The FDA regulates dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, but these regulations are not as stringent as those for pharmaceuticals. This is why third-party certifications are invaluable—they help bridge the gap by holding supplements to higher standards.

 Key Third-Party Certification Programs

1. NSF International

NSF Certified for Sport: This program tests for banned substances and verifies that the product contains what the label claims. This is critical for our NCAA athletes to make sure they are taking products that will be acceptable for competition!

NSF International’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Registration: Ensures the manufacturing process is up to standard.

2. USP (United States Pharmacopeia)

USP Verified: Confirms the product contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

3. ConsumerLab

CL Seal of Approval: Tests for identity, strength, purity, and disintegration of supplements.

4. Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice

These programs test supplements for banned substances and ensure they are safe for athletes. Again, another great seal to look for if you’re an NCAA athlete!

 The Role of Certification Programs in Purchasing Decisions

Third-party certification programs play a significant role in consumer confidence and purchasing decisions. Here’s how they help:

1. Trust and Transparency: Certifications from reputable organizations provide transparency about the product’s contents and quality, building consumer trust.

2. Safety Assurance: Knowing that a supplement has been independently tested for harmful contaminants and banned substances reassures consumers about its safety.

3. Efficacy Validation: Certifications verify that the product contains the ingredients and potency it claims, ensuring consumers get the benefits they are paying for.

4. Regulatory Compliance: Certified products are more likely to comply with regulatory standards, reducing the risk of legal issues and health hazards.

 Understanding Supplement Regulations in the United States

In the United States, the FDA oversees dietary supplements, but the regulations differ from those applied to pharmaceuticals. Key points include:

1. DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act): This act places dietary supplements under a unique regulatory framework, where manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe and accurately labeled.

2. Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs): These FDA guidelines ensure that supplements are produced consistently and meet quality standards.

3. New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) Notification: Manufacturers must notify the FDA about any new dietary ingredient not marketed in the U.S. before 1994, ensuring it is safe before it reaches consumers.

Third-party supplements and their certifications are incredibly important in a market where quality and safety can vary widely. Make informed decisions by taking time to understand the significance of third-party certifications, the key programs available, and the regulatory landscape in the United States. These certifications provide peace of mind around what you’re adding to your regimen.

Stay informed and prioritize quality to help you achieve health and performance goals with confidence.

We are here to help with you with your goals. Whether you’re new to competitive sports or an experienced athlete getting ready for another season, NOVA can keep you at the top of your game. In order to perform at your peak, it’s not only vital to consider what you put in your body, but also when. Nutrient timing, meal planning, hydration, game-day nutrition, and recovery are all essential components of any sports nutrition plan. Book a call with us today to get started on your personalized fitness regimen!

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Unlocking Performance: Why Athletes Use Creatine

Why athletes use creatine by NOVA Sports Nutrition

In sports nutrition, few supplements have garnered as much attention and debate as creatine. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior, or someone new to fitness, you’ve likely heard of creatine and its benefits. But what exactly is it, and why do so many athletes swear by its performance-enhancing properties? Let’s dive into the science and benefits behind creatine, and why it could be a game-changer for your training regimen.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a compound found naturally in muscle cells. It plays a crucial role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy carrier in all cells. During high-intensity exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy, and creatine helps to regenerate ATP, allowing you to maintain peak performance for longer periods.

The Science Behind Creatine’s Benefits

1. Increased Muscle Energy and Strength: By boosting the availability of ATP, creatine allows for more explosive power and strength during workouts. This is particularly beneficial for activities that require short bursts of high-intensity effort, such as weightlifting, sprinting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

2. Enhanced Muscle Mass: Creatine has been shown to increase water content in muscle cells, creating an environment conducive to muscle growth. Additionally, it may enhance the expression of certain genes involved in muscle growth and repair. Many athletes experience significant gains in muscle mass when using creatine as part of their training program.

3. Improved Recovery: One of the lesser-known benefits of creatine is its role in reducing muscle cell damage and inflammation following intense exercise. This can lead to faster recovery times, enabling athletes to train harder and more frequently without the risk of overtraining.

4. Cognitive Benefits: Emerging research suggests that creatine may also support cognitive function, particularly in conditions of sleep deprivation or stress. This can be advantageous for athletes who need to maintain mental sharpness and focus, both during training and competition.

How to Use Creatine

Types of Creatine: The most studied and widely used form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. It is effective, affordable, and has a well-established safety profile. Other forms, such as creatine ethyl ester or buffered creatine, are marketed for their potential advantages, but research indicates that creatine monohydrate remains the gold standard.

Dosage Recommendations : A common protocol is to start with a loading phase of 20 grams per day (divided into 4 doses) for 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 grams per day. Alternatively, some athletes skip the loading phase and take a consistent 3-5 grams daily, which still leads to similar benefits over time.

Common Myths About Creatine

Myth 1: Creatine is Only for Bodybuilders: While creatine is popular in bodybuilding circles, its benefits extend to a wide range of sports and athletic disciplines.

Myth 2: Creatine Causes Dehydration: There is no substantial evidence to support the idea that creatine causes dehydration. In fact, it may actually help with hydration by drawing water into muscle cells.

Myth 3: Creatine is Unsafe: Extensive research has shown that creatine is safe for most people when used as directed. It is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market, with a strong safety profile.

Creatine is a powerful supplement that has stood the test of time, helping athletes enhance their performance, increase muscle mass, and improve recovery. Whether you’re looking to boost your strength, speed, or power, incorporating creatine into your nutrition plan could be the key to unlocking your full potential. As always, consult with a dietitian before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs and goals, and if you’re an NCAA athlete, always check with your dietitian or trainer to make sure any supplement you take is third-party-certified!

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Understanding Disordered Eating in Athletes

NOVA Sports Nutrition Disordered Eating

Eating disorders in sports is a complex issue that warrants attention and support. Let’s explore what disordered eating entails in the athletic context and discuss actionable steps and resources to help you navigate this challenge effectively.

Understanding Disordered Eating in Athletes

Disordered eating refers to a range of behaviors and attitudes towards food that deviate from healthy eating patterns. In many sports, athletes may experience unique pressures that contribute to the development of disordered eating habits. Athletes such as bodybuilders, gymnasts and ballerinas alike for example, can experience aesthetic pressures. These pressures present themselves as body dysmorphia, social pressures, exercise addictions and more. 

Recognizing the signs

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between behaviors rooted in improving health and athletic performance and behaviors that begin to cross into rigid or disordered behaviors that can cause physical or emotional harm. Below are some common signs of disordered eating to be aware of:

  • Calorie Tracking and Food Restriction
    • Constant monitoring of food intake and avoidance of specific food groups, especially if it leads to significant energy or nutrient restriction or avoidance of social situations due to not having control over the ingredients or amount of food, can often be one of the first signs of an eating disorder.
  • Obsession with Weight or Body Composition
    • In many collegiate and professional sport environments, measuring weight or body composition can be a common way to track progress and use data to inform nutrition or training goals. However, fixation on achieving a certain weight or body shape at the expense of health becomes a concern and can ultimately lead to decreased athletic performance.
  • Excessive Exercise
    • Athletes will often have demanding training programs as part of their sport, but if an athlete is engaging in compulsive exercise to offset food intake or burn calories or is engaging in exercise beyond what is prescribed by coaches and trainers, the risk for a disorder (as well as injury or illness) significantly increase.
  • Emotional Responses to Eating
    • Feelings of guilt or shame associated with food consumption are important to pay attention to and are not feelings associated with having a healthy relationship with food and body image.

Overcoming Disordered Eating: Practical Tips and Resources

If any of the above signs resonate with you, there are many resources and tools that can help you to begin the journey towards a positive relationship with food and body image and true focus on health and performance:

  • Professional Support
    • Seek guidance from qualified healthcare professionals, including registered dietitians and therapists specializing in eating disorders. We offer personalized assistance and nutrition interventions tailored to individual needs and are always happy to provide referrals to local or telehealth therapists.
  • Embrace Balanced Nutrition
    • When selecting foods, it’s important to think about what will fuel you well, what will provide good nutrition, and also what will taste good to you! The focus isn’t just on macronutrients, but also making food enjoyable and finding meals and snacks that are well balanced in all areas.
  • Prioritize Performance and Health
    • Redirect your attention from external appearance to performance and holistic well-being. Emphasize the importance of fueling your body adequately to support athletic endeavors and promote longevity in the sport.
  • Develop Coping Mechanisms
    • Explore healthy coping strategies to manage stress, emotions, and pressures associated with athletic pursuits. Practices such as mindfulness, journaling, and seeking social support can aid in building resilience.
  • Build a Support Network
    • Surround yourself with a supportive community of teammates, coaches, and peers who prioritize health and well-being. Foster open communication and create a safe space for discussing challenges and seeking assistance.
  • Educate Yourself
    • Equip yourself with knowledge about nutrition and its role in optimizing athletic performance. Understanding nutritional principles can dispel myths and misconceptions, empowering you to make informed choices about fueling your body effectively. Be mindful of who you follow on social media, and if you need recommendations for good follows you can always ask us!

Disordered eating poses significant challenges for athletes, but with awareness, support, and actionable strategies, it can be addressed effectively. By prioritizing health, seeking professional guidance, and fostering a supportive environment, athletes can overcome disordered eating and cultivate a positive relationship with food and their bodies. Remember, your worth as an athlete transcends physical appearance and is rooted in your dedication, resilience, and passion for your sport.

What Can You Do If You Suspect That You or A Loved One May Be Experiencing Disordered Eating?

The most important thing to do is reach out for help or additional resources as soon as possible. Both disordered eating and eating disorders have higher rates of recovery when these issues are addressed early. It’s important to find a trusted professional or team of professionals to help guide you or your loved one. Health professionals that can help include registered dietitians, counselors or therapists, psychiatrists, primary care doctors, and social workers. Please note that it’s important to seek out professionals that have experience working in the field of eating disorders or disordered eating in particular. Not all dietitians will be able to help with these issues, just like not all doctors are specialized in cardiology or orthopedics.

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Understanding Protein Absorption in Sports Nutrition

NOVA Sports Nutrition Protein

What’s the limit to protein absorption in a single meal, and how can meal balance impact performance? Let’s explore these concepts.

Protein Absorption Limit:

It’s important to recognize that the body’s capacity to absorb protein isn’t boundless. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consuming approximately 0.35 grams of protein per 1 pound of body weight per meal maximizes muscle protein synthesis (MPS). For instance, for someone weighing 165 pounds, this translates to roughly 60 grams of protein per meal.

Balancing Meals for Optimal Performance:

Even Distribution of Protein Intake

Rather than front-loading protein in one meal, aim for a consistent spread of protein across your daily meals and snacks. This approach ensures a steady supply of amino acids for muscle repair and growth throughout the day.

Pairing Protein with Carbohydrates

Combining protein with carbohydrates can enhance protein absorption and replenish glycogen stores, essential for sustained energy during workouts. Opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for sustained energy release.

Incorporating Healthy Fats

Healthy fats play a role in hormone production and nutrient absorption, contributing to overall performance and recovery. Include sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish in your meals to support these functions.

Whole Foods Over Supplements

While protein supplements are convenient, whole food sources are often richer in nutrients and offer additional health benefits. Prioritize lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and tofu in your diet.

Hydration is Key

Adequate hydration supports digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall performance. Ensure you drink enough water throughout the day, particularly around your workout sessions.

Consider Timing

While the precise timing of protein intake isn’t critical, consuming protein-rich meals or snacks within a few hours of exercise can aid muscle repair and recovery.

In sports nutrition, understanding the dynamics of protein absorption and meal balance is crucial for achieving performance objectives. By strategically distributing protein intake, combining it with carbohydrates and healthy fats, and favoring whole food sources, you can optimize your nutrition regimen for enhanced athletic performance and recovery.

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Mindful Eating for Athletes

NOVA mindful eating

Mindful eating involves deliberate focus on your internal and external environments. The aim is to increase your presence during eating by consciously consuming food using all your senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound). Most people however are eating mindlessly.  Mindless eating or eating without purpose, may cause your body to get confused about what, when or why you need to eat and may become driven by external cues to eat. These external cues may include: eating because others are eating or because food is in front of you and responding to appetite signals (i.e. food smells good) over hunger signals (grumbling stomach). Overeating is also common with mindless eating because you may eat too quickly to register fullness. This can impact body composition, efficient fueling for training, sleep, and your relationship with food. All of this may ultimately impact health and sports performance.  

The use of mindful eating aims to increase awareness of hunger cues of the body and fullness signals, eating with purpose and intuition. In general, your body has an instinctive way of knowing just what it needs to maintain weight and sustain health. Eating mindfully can assist the athlete in building skills in the selection of foods and quantities necessary to support training and competition needs of the body. Mindfulness practices and eating strategies for athletes can help reduce stress, improve overall quality of life, improve sleep, and even reduce the risk of injury.

Mindful eating strategies for athletes go beyond simple fueling guidelines. Mindful eating is about bringing together the ideas of what your body needs physically and also using inner wisdom (what we know and understand about ourselves and our bodies). This will help athletes succeed in figuring out individualized fueling and training plans in addition to fostering a healthy relationship with food. 

Increasing awareness of internal cues like hunger, energy and appetite and understanding what the body is trying to tell you can help to ascertain dietary energy requirements day-to-day. Being mindful of the food you are eating and the role it plays in fueling your body and being grateful for how food helps you develop and increase performance, rather than just taste and convenience, will help drive better choices to serve the body’s needs to perform at your best. 

Minimizing distractions during meals is a great way to get started with mindful eating. Other habits can include chewing your food more thoroughly, savoring each bite, and evaluating how you feel before, during, and after your meal.

Mindful Eating is Useful for Athletes

  • Increase awareness of your physical and emotional cues for eating
  • Understand the impact that training has on your body’s signals of hunger and fullness and when fueling the body is a priority
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food 
  • Decrease over-thinking, stress and self-criticism associated with dietary intake and eat for enjoyment and nourishment.  
  • Allow intake to be flexible with variations in training load from day-to-day and eating to meet training demands on a busy schedule
  • Assist in building skills in the selection of appropriate foods and quantities to support training loads
  • Reduce overeating or overcompensating intake for something you missed
  • Empower decision making and ownership over intake
  • Increase ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and still make a good food choice (on the road eating before and after competition)
  • Help with positive weight management and altering body composition
  • Develop strategies to foster a healthy relationship with food, reduce disordered eating, and prevent under-fueling

Tips to Help Athletes Achieve Mindful Eating

  • Eat meals without distractions by focusing on what you are eating
  • Acknowledge your meal time by sitting down to eat and dedicate time for eating
  • Avoid eating “on-the-go” when you can, so that you can focus more attention to eating
  • Prior to eating, take 10 seconds and pause to check-in with yourself and identify your internal cues to eat, and what role that food will play in fueling your training or health.  
  • Understand that you do not need to finish everything on your plate, stop eating when full and put the leftovers away for another meal.
  • Just like your sport and training, mindful eating takes practice to master; be persistent and patient, and change will come.

If you are looking to adopt more mindful eating habits, try some of these tips to enjoy food more while improving performance. Focus on making positive memories, enjoying your favorite foods, and banning any feelings of guilt over food choices. If you still feel anxious about food choices send Nikky a message and she will be happy to offer additional support!

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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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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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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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The Importance of Hydration

water, hydration

Proper hydration is important year round, but it can become particularly critical during the summer months. July and August are usually the hottest months of the year in the United States, which is also usually the time that people are engaging in more outdoor activities and athletes begin ramping up training for fall sports. Unfortunately, this time of year is also a prime time for a potentially serious condition to occur: dehydration.

How does dehydration occur?

Dehydration can occur by losing too much fluid (usually through sweating) or by not drinking enough fluid. You may recall from school that the human body is made up of approximately 70% water, so this fact alone illustrates how important proper hydration is for us!

The body has mechanisms in place to urge us to drink fluids, most notably the feeling of thirst. This is the most obvious sign that our body is running low on water; however, by the time you feel thirsty, you are actually already experiencing mild dehydration.

How can you tell if you are dehydrated?

There are many other symptoms that can signal dehydration. Some examples, according to Medline Plus, include the following:

  • Mild dehydration: Thirst; dry mouth; decreased urination; yellow urine
  • Moderate dehydration: Dry, cool skin; headache; darker yellow urine; muscle cramps
  • Severe dehydration: Irritability or confusion; dizziness; rapid heartbeat and/or rapid breathing; shock (decreased blood flow to important organs); unconsciousness.

Keeping an eye out for these signs are important for everyone, but they are particularly critical for two groups: older adults and athletes.

Who is most at risk for dehydration?

Older adults have a decreased response to thirst and are more likely to be on a diuretic. These factors make it important for this population to drink fluids constantly throughout the day, even when they may not feel thirsty. This is especially important during prolonged exposure to heat during activity, such as walking, gardening, mowing the lawn, etc. These activities may not always seem strenuous, but they can cause the body to sweat profusely. During activities that are of a more vigorous intensity (such as jogging/running, hiking, biking, etc.) the sweating effect is more pronounced and proper hydration more critical.

Athletes exercising in the heat can lose an average of 2.0 liters of water through sweat per hour (which is equal to a large bottle of soda!). Not replacing the lost water can cause serious fluid imbalances and dangerous rises in core temperatures. Unfortunately, student athletes are often the victims of poor monitoring of hydration status. According to sports nutrition experts William McCardle and Frank and Victor Katch, “Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperatures) has occurred more than 100 times over the past 30 years among football players who died from excessive heat stress during practice or competition.” These situations are completely preventable by making sure to either have water or an electrolyte replacement beverage at all times during outdoor activity in the heat.

What can you do if you suspect dehydration?

If dehydration does occur for any reason, there are several steps that can be taken, depending on the severity of the condition:

  • Sip water or suck on ice cubes (or an electrolyte sports drink)
  • If heat exhaustion is also a problem, lie down somewhere cool and focus on breathing slowly
  • For severe situations, go to a hospital immediately

Notice that the first suggestion is to sip water. While replenishing fluids is a critical step to treating dehydration, it is possible to drink too much water at one time, which isn’t healthy either. Rehydrate slowly if you become dehydrated!

How much fluid should you be drinking?

A good rule of thumb is 2 cups of water 20 minutes before being active in the heat. For athletes or anyone engaging in vigorous exercise, you can weigh yourself before and after activity takes place to gauge how much fluid you need to take in to replace losses. The amount of weight lost in pounds should be replaced at least 100% to account for fluid loss in sweat and urine. For example: If 2 lbs., or 32 oz., is lost during an hour of activity, 32 oz. (or 4 cups) of water or a sports drink should be ingested over the next hour. In terms of choosing between water and a sports drink, always choose the sports drink if activity is lasting longer than an hour. Below an hour, water is usually sufficient.

So whenever you leave the house this summer, always bring a water bottle with you! And remember to always drink more when exercising or being active in the heat. Dehydration is 100% preventable, as long as you provide your body with the fluids it needs every day.

 

References

 

McArdle W, Katch FI, Katch VL (2013). Exercise, Thermoregulation, Fluid Balance, and Rehydration (4th ed.). Sports and Exercise Nutrition (pg. 319-335). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Popkin B, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH (2010). Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Review; 68 (8): 439-458.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2013). Dehydration. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000982.htm

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