Posts Tagged ‘meal planning’

 Counting Your Macros: The Pros and Cons 

NOVA Sports Nutrition Counting Macros

The term “counting your macros” has become a popular buzzword. This approach to dieting involves tracking the intake of macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – to achieve specific health and fitness goals. While many swear by its effectiveness, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if this method is right for you. Let’s dive into the benefits and drawbacks of counting macros and how it can impact your fitness journey.

What Are Macros?

Before diving into the pros and cons, let’s briefly define what macronutrients, or “macros,” are:

Carbohydrate: The body’s primary source of energy. Found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Proteins: Essential for building and repairing tissues. Found in meat, fish, dairy, beans, and legumes.

Fats: Crucial for hormone production, nutrient absorption, and protecting organs. Found in oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish.

Counting macros involves calculating the number of grams of each macronutrient you need to consume daily based on your goals, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance.

 The Pros of Counting Macros

  1. Personalized Nutrition Tailored to Your Goals: Unlike one-size-fits-all diets, counting macros allows you to customize your nutrient intake to suit your specific goals, whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain your current weight.
  2. Greater Flexibility: Unlike restrictive diets, counting macros offers flexibility in food choices as long as they fit your macro targets. This can make it easier to stick to your plan long-term.

Improved Nutritional Awareness

  1. Understanding Food Composition : Tracking macros increases your awareness of the nutrient content of foods, helping you make more informed choices and understand the impact of different foods on your body.
  2. Balanced Diet : Ensuring you get the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can help you achieve a more balanced and nutritionally complete diet.

Enhanced Performance and Recovery

  1. Optimized Energy Levels: By tailoring your carbohydrate intake to match your activity levels, you can ensure you have enough energy for workouts and daily activities.
  2. Muscle Growth and Repair: Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle repair and growth, making macro counting beneficial for those engaged in strength training.

The Cons of Counting Macros

Time-Consuming

  1. Tracking Every Meal: Keeping track of every meal and snack can be time-consuming and may feel burdensome, especially for those with busy schedules.
  2. Weighing and Measuring: To accurately count macros, you often need to weigh and measure your food, which can be inconvenient.

Potential for Obsessiveness

  1. Rigid Thinking: Focusing too much on hitting exact macro targets can lead to obsessive behavior and an unhealthy relationship with food.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: The pressure to consistently track and meet your macro goals can lead to stress and anxiety, detracting from the enjoyment of eating.

May Overlook Micronutrients

  1. Nutrient Gaps: Focusing primarily on macros can sometimes lead to neglecting micronutrient intake (vitamins and minerals), which are also crucial for overall health.

Counting macros can be a powerful tool for achieving your fitness and nutrition goals. It offers personalized nutrition, greater flexibility, and a deeper understanding of your dietary habits. However, it also comes with challenges such as time commitment, the potential for obsessive behavior, and the risk of neglecting micronutrients. 

Ultimately, whether counting macros is right for you depends on your personality, lifestyle, and specific goals. It’s important to approach this method with balance and flexibility, ensuring it enhances rather than hinders your relationship with food. If you’re considering starting a macro-counting journey, consulting with a dietitian can provide valuable guidance tailored to your individual needs.

Ready to optimize your nutrition and reach your fitness goals? Check out our resources and inquire about our services here.

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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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High-Fiber: A Dietitian’s Guide to Better Food Choices

NOVA Sports Nutrition Dietary Fiber

As a dietitian, I often find myself emphasizing the importance of fiber in a balanced diet. Not only does it aid in digestion and promote gut health, but it also plays a crucial role in managing weight, reducing cholesterol levels, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. However, many people struggle to incorporate enough fiber into their daily meals. That’s why I’m here to share some valuable insights into high-fiber choices that are both nutritious and delicious.

Understanding Fiber

Before we dive into the top high-fiber choices, let’s clarify what fiber is and why it’s essential for our health. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that our bodies cannot digest. Instead, it passes through the digestive system, aiding in regular bowel movements and promoting overall digestive health. There are two main types of fiber: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve and helps move food through the digestive tract.

Top High-Fiber Choices

Fruits and Vegetables: These colorful gems are rich in fiber and offer a wide range of health benefits. Aim to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks each day. Berries, apples, pears, oranges, broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens are excellent choices packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Whole Grains: Swap refined grains for their whole grain counterparts to boost your fiber intake. Opt for whole grain bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, oats, and barley. These wholesome grains provide a hearty dose of fiber, along with essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas are nutritional powerhouses loaded with fiber and plant-based protein. Add them to soups, salads, stir-fries, and chili for a satisfying and fiber-rich meal. Bonus: legumes are budget-friendly and environmentally sustainable.

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, or salads for a crunchy and nutritious boost.

Snack Smart: Choose high-fiber snacks to satisfy your cravings while nourishing your body. Opt for air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers with hummus, raw vegetables with guacamole, or a piece of fruit with nut butter.

Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake

– Gradually increase fiber intake to prevent digestive discomfort.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

– Experiment with new recipes and cooking methods to keep meals exciting and flavorful.

Whether you’re training for a team sport, endurance race, physique competition, or to improve your health generally, NOVA can create a nutrition plan to help you reach your goal. We take the guesswork out of meal planning and help you to take control of your diet.

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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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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A Beginner’s Guide To Plant-Based Eating

plant-based

Over the past few years, plant-based diets have gained a lot of popularity. Plant-based diets  often have a lower carbon footprint than diets centered around animal products, can be less expensive, and result in many benefits towards your overall health. When transitioning to a diet centered around plants, many people are confused about what plant-based means and how to successfully follow this way of eating. Read more to learn about going plant-based and tips to help you on your journey!

 

Defining Plant Based

While the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant based’ are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Vegan diets avoid all types of animal products including dairy, meat, and fish. Meanwhile, plant based diets are more flexible. People who follow a plant based diet center their meals around plant-derived ingredients, but “they may, occasionally, consume meat, fish, or dairy products” (1). Whether you decide to eat a fully vegan diet or a plant based diet, both ways of eating have several health benefits.

 

What are the Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet?

Eating a diet based on plants often gets a negative reputation for being low in protein, B-12, iron, and other essential vitamins that the body needs to function. However, plant based diets can provide “all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients” (2). Removing meat from your diet does not mean that your diet has to be low in protein. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds have adequate amounts of protein for anyone, even athletes. 

 

Additionally, it is common for vegans to take B-12 and iron supplements since plant based diets are often deficient in these nutrients. Find B-12 in certain non-dairy milks, nutritional yeast and other fortified products. Plant based sources of iron include spinach, dark chocolate, and beans (1). 

 

Before transitioning to a diet centered around plants, consult a medical professional to see if this way of eating is right for your body and lifestyle. 

 

Tip #1: Ease Into It 

When I first started my plant-based journey, I slowly started cooking more vegan meals during the week instead of immediately cutting out all animal products. I found it easy for me to make breakfast and lunch without any meat or dairy, but since I would cook dinner for my family, I usually had meat in the evenings. Slowly introducing more plant-based meals and ingredients is a great way to see if plant-based eating is something you enjoy. I have been lactose intolerant for my whole life, so I was already familiar with all the dairy-free options that were out there. For example, if you usually have an egg scramble for breakfast, try making a scramble with tofu crumbles and vegan cheese!

 

Tip #2: Look For Outside Inspiration

Another way to get into vegan cooking is to look for outside inspiration, especially if you feel like you’re having trouble with creating meals. Since most American food is based around meat and animal products, a lot of people don’t know how to cook meals without using meat as the main ingredient. Look for vegan or vegetarian blogs, social media accounts and cookbooks to provide you with recipes and product recommendations. There are two plant-based cookbooks that always have my back when I have no idea what to cook: Love To Cook It by Samah Dada and Love Real Food by Kathryn Taylor. Samah’s recipes are inspired by flavorful Indian dishes from her childhood. Meanwhile, Taylor’s book has everything to offer from comforting stews to delicious salads.  

 

Tip #3: Invite Your Friends To Join You

Starting your plant-based journey with friends can also make the experience easier and more enjoyable. A great way to bond with friends and try out vegan recipes is to gather some friends to cook a plant-based meal or dessert with you! Another option is to have a vegan potluck and challenge your friends or family make their favorite recipes without animal products! Additionally, since plant-based eating has gained a lot of traction in recent years, it’s easier than ever to find vegan options when eating out. Perhaps try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant in your neighborhood or browse the HappyCow app to find vegan restaurants in your area! After your meal, think about how you can recreate some of the dishes you ate at home. 

 

A lot of people think going vegan can be more expensive than eating animal products. While this can be true for certain specialty items like non-dairy milks, vegan cheeses, and non-dairy ice cream, dried beans and lentils or natural nut butters are inexpensive options that can be bought in bulk and won’t break the bank! 

 

Tip #4: Get Creative

Turn vegetables into delicious main dishes with the right preparation and seasoning. If you thought you couldn’t give up chicken wings, cauliflower has the perfect meaty texture to replace chicken! Find Jackfruit in canned form at the supermarket. It serves as a substitute for pulled pork or chicken. From tacos to sandwiches, jackfruit is a very versatile vegetable in vegan cooking! Look online for other vegetables that you can transform into delicious dishes. 

 

I also started to eat more grains since I went vegan. Grains including farro and quinoa are a great base for meals and can add some extra protein and fiber to plant-based recipes. Some other staple grains that I always have on hand include whole grain pasta, chickpea or lentil pasta, rice, and soba noodles. Pad thai, pesto pasta with veggies, and quinoa salads are all meals that I cook weekly.  

 

While I love being vegan for environmental reasons, health benefits, and animal rights, I don’t eat plant based 100% of the time. If I’m craving tuna, sushi or Greek yogurt, I will eat those foods. Eating a more plant-based diet does not mean that you have to strive for perfection and it should never feel restrictive. With all of the amazing alternative products, recipe inspiration, and restaurants that exist today, eating plant-based is now easier than it’s ever been.

 

Looking for some no-cook recipe ideas that incorporate some plant-based meals? Click here!

 

Resources

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326176
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760

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A Complete List of Grocery Shopping Staples

grocery shopping

For many people, grocery shopping can feel like a chore. If you have a busy schedule, it’s difficult to fit in time for grocery shopping during the week. Additionally, not everyone has the time to prepare three meals and snacks during the day while attending school and/or working. Whether you order groceries online or make one to two larger trips to the grocery store each week, this expansive list of grocery staples will make daily meal preparation so much easier. If you prefer to meal prep, there will be some tips on how to buy enough ingredients to last the whole week!

A healthy and balanced diet doesn’t exclude food groups or macronutrients entirely. Each week you should make sure that your grocery cart includes items from each of the three macronutrient categories: carbs, proteins, and fats.  While it’s important to purchase foods that will nourish and satisfy you, such as high quality protein sources and produce, you should also allow yourself to purchase foods that you might consider as ‘treats’ or ‘fun foods.’ Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be boring and should bring some excitement into your life!

Note: If you’re someone who meal preps at the start of each week, try choosing a few different breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes instead of eating the same exact meal everyday. Adding some variety into your meals, even if you cook ahead of time, will ensure that you’ll actually want to eat what you’re meal prepping. 

 

Carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are our first macronutrient category. Carbs are often demonized by diet culture, but in reality carbs are the body’s main source of energy and should be incorporated in every meal. If you’re especially busy, choosing carb sources that are higher in fiber is a great way to feel more satiated after meals. 

  • Bread – While everyone has a personal preference on what type of bread they prefer, sprouted and whole grain bread often has a higher fiber content and a little extra protein than traditional white bread. If you prefer to buy loaves of bread, cut the loaf into slices and place the slices in a bag in the freezer to prevent the bread from going stale. 
  • Pasta – Pasta is a great ingredient to meal prep at the start of the week because it can be eaten in a cold pasta salad or can be heated with marinara sauce, grilled vegetables, and a protein source. Chickpea or lentil pasta is a great product that’s high in protein and great for anyone on the go. 
  • Grains – Rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, the list goes on! Grains are a great carb source that pair well with a variety of cuisines. Farro and quinoa are also high in protein which is an added bonus for vegans and vegetarians who might need some help in that department. 
  • Tortillas and wraps – Tortillas, wraps, and pitas are great to have on hand during the week. Use corn tortillas for tacos, pair wraps with egg salad, and snack on pita with hummus during the day!
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a staple breakfast item that can have so many flavor opportunities. Place oats, milk, chia seeds, and any other add-ons of choice (berries, cocoa powder, cinnamon) in a jar in the fridge overnight. Now you have overnight oats to eat in the morning without worrying about prep time!

 

Proteins

Protein not only helps you feel satiated but is so important for muscle growth and cell repair. If you lift weights or follow a resistance training program, a diet with adequate protein helps to build up the muscles that are recruited during training. 

  • For meat eaters – Lean meats such as ground turkey, chicken breast, and fish are great protein options to make during the week. If you prefer to not cook meat, check your freezer aisle for pre-cooked proteins that can easily be reheated and added to any meal.
  • Eggs – Use eggs in breakfast scrambles during the week or buy hardboiled eggs for sandwiches, egg salad, or a convenient snack.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian options –  Canned beans, tofu, tempeh, frozen edamame, and veggie burgers are convenient ways for non-meat eaters to get in their daily protein. Try not to rely on meat substitutes that might contain fillers and additives.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, can be a very high protein snack. Add yogurt into fruit smoothies for an extra protein boost in the morning. 

 

Fats

If you have difficulty feeling full after meals, you might not have enough fat in your diet. 

  • Seeds – Adding in chia seeds and flaxseeds into your meals is a great way to get in your omega-3s. Prepare a batch of chia seed pudding for the week or add in a tablespoon into your morning oats or yogurt. 
  • Avocado – Avocado really goes with anything and is a great substitute for mayonnaise. Add mashed avocado into a turkey sandwich or tuna salad. 
  • Nuts – Nuts contain important minerals and healthy fats to keep our energy up during the day. Any variety of nut you prefer will work, but walnuts are an especially good source of omega-3’s.
  • Avocado/olive oil – Avocado oil is great for cooking food at high temperatures, while olive oil is excellent for lower temperatures or for mixing with vinegar and herbs for a homemade salad dressing.
  • Nut butter – Any variety of nut butter will do, but make sure you are looking for a simple list of ingredients: nuts, oil, and salt (optional).

 

Produce

While it is best to buy produce that is seasonal, local, and/or organic, this is not accessible to everyone and can often be expensive. If you worry about produce spoiling in your fridge, stock up on a few bags of frozen veggies and fruit just in case! Frozen produce can also be significantly cheaper. 

  • Spinach – Get your greens in by adding in a handful of spinach into meals when you can. Spinach pairs well with almost everything from egg scrambles to pasta to stir fry!
  • Bananas – Bananas are the perfect pre-workout snack but taste great in smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal bowls!
  • Berries – Blueberries are high in antioxidants. Top off yogurt bowls with a handful of berries or use frozen berries in smoothies for a thicker consistency.

Bell peppers, zucchinis and mushrooms are a few other vegetables that are used in a variety of dishes and cuisines making them great vegetables to have on hand. Choosing three to four different vegetables and two to three fruits when you go grocery shopping ensures that you’ll have a wide variety of produce for meals during the week.

While the items listed above are staple items, don’t forget to purchase beverages such as milk (dairy or plant milk), snacks, dips and sauces, and dessert items. Grocery shopping should be fun and inspire you to try new items and recipes! Need ideas for recipes? Check out our blog post on no-cook meals you can make anywhere (even in a dorm!).

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7 Tips for Healthy Eating When Life Gets Busy

busy nutrition

When it comes to making healthy changes and sticking to them, the number one barrier many of my clients experience is not having enough time. As a general rule of thumb, I like to remind people that planning ahead and doing the prep work up front can actually save you greatly (both in terms of time and money) in the long run. While this may seem like a daunting task, I have worked with incredibly busy clients who have successfully developed sustainable habits: people whose jobs require them to travel every week, busy collegiate student-athletes, high-powered diplomats and attorneys, and more. So it can be done! Below is a list of the top 7 tips that have helped my clients maintain healthy eating habits when life gets busy:

 

  1. Have a list of quick and convenient healthy snacks on hand

    If you have high-quality protein bars, nuts, fruit, or dried chick peas on hand, you don’t have to worry about being hungry and defaulting to a nutrient-poor option, like candy or chips, in a pinch. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals will help to sustain energy for longer and may even boost mood and productivity

  2. Follow general guidelines for food groups at meals

    If you often must eat away from home due to travel, it’s not going to be possible to plan out every meal for the week. Instead, work ahead with your dietitian to determine the appropriate portion sizes and combinations of food groups you should aim for at each meal. If you know that you want a plate that is half vegetables, plus a protein the size of a deck of cards, and one starch the size of your fist, these guidelines will do a lot of the work for you when it comes to healthy eating, no matter the eating environment.

  3. Eat on a consistent schedule

    One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is going without food for 6 hours or more. If you do that, you may find yourself craving foods high in fat, carbohydrates, or sugar. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and makes it easier to focus on work and make healthier food choices throughout the day. Even if you can’t eat at the exact same times every day, the time between all meals and snacks should ideally be no longer than 3-4 hours.

  4. Prepare meals at home that can be frozen

    If you can’t afford to budget cooking time for every meal window, it’s a great strategy to cook meals that can be made in large batches and then frozen. This could be soups, crock pot meals, casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, protein waffles and pancakes, smoothies, homemade meatballs, etc. You can also keep frozen vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, and fish. Plus, if you opt for individually-sized portions, you can also help reduce food waste.

  5. Use a meal prep delivery service

    If you really don’t enjoy cooking or need to minimize meal prep time as much as possible, a meal prep delivery service may be the answer for you. Some services will ship you all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe, and others will even prepare the meals for you and deliver them, ready-made, to your door. In terms of cost, this option may add up to an equivalent amount as eating at a restaurant, and can allow for healthy eating with minimal time and effort.

  6. Scope out restaurants you frequent often

    For restaurants that you go to often, begin creating a list of at least 1-2 menu options that you know fit well within your personal food guidelines. This will make the ordering process easier and will allow you to have some back-up options ready to go when you find yourself out at a business lunch or stuck at the office without any food prepared.

  7. Look at nutrition facts ahead of time for new restaurants if possible

    Before you try a new restaurant, scan the nutrition facts (or at least the menu) ahead of time by looking it up online. This will allow you to make a more informed decisions about which menu items will suit your needs best, and preparing ahead of time takes the pressure out of trying to make a decision on the fly.

If you have a busy schedule or frequently have to eat away from home, try these tips in whichever order feels most realistic or helpful. Remember, in order for a food plan to be sustainable, it has to fit into your life. If you feel that you would benefit from working with a professional to seek advice on your specific situation or to create a customized meal plan, please feel free to message me to set up a consult!

 

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The Best Foods to Have on Hand During Self-quarantine

This time of self-quarantine and social distancing poses some unique challenges for meal prepping and following a nutrition plan. Some foods that were once readily available are now scarce on the shelves or hard to keep on hand due to a short shelf life. For ideas on the best foods to look for by food group when you go shopping, read the list below to stay healthy and balanced!

  • Proteins. Protein is a nutrient that is critical to get in every day. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, we cannot store excess dietary protein, so we need to consume adequate protein daily to meet metabolic demands. The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the following items:
    • Packaged or canned fish/chicken
    • Frozen seafood, meat, or meat alternatives
    • Eggs/egg whites
    • Sliced deli meat (no nitrites or nitrates)
    • Beans, lentils, or peas (canned or dry)
    • Milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese
    • Protein bars/powders

 

  • Fruits and vegetables. Produce is one of the top sources of essential vitamins and minerals that offer antioxidant and immune-protecting benefits for the body. If you aren’t sure what to get, look for:
    • Frozen fruits or vegetables (frozen options are great because they retain high levels of vitamins and minerals – sometimes even more than fresh!)
    • Canned fruit or vegetables (no added sugar or artificial sweeteners for fruit and low- or no added sodium for vegetables)
    • Fruit pouches (such as apple sauce or mixed berries – these aren’t just for kids, but great for adults if you need fruit on-the-go or an easy-to-digest pre-workout snack)
    • Fresh potatoes, carrots, and onions or apples, pears, oranges (long shelf lives)
    • Do continue to get other fresh options weekly or as often as possible! As long as you plan ahead of time to intentionally use ingredients such as lettuce, mushrooms, or cucumbers in recipes, you can utilize these foods effectively and avoid waste.

 

  • Starches. These are typically easier to get at the store, but the source matters! High-nutrient options are best, such as:
    • Brown or wild rice, quinoa, cous cous, farro, etc.
    • Oatmeal, cream of rice, muesli
    • Whole grain wraps, bagels, or pasta
    • Potatoes, corn, or peas
    • Beans, lentils, or chick peas
    • Limit high-sugar, processed starches like chips, crackers, cookies, etc. Some comfort food is okay, but don’t rely on these foods for most meals and snacks!

 

  • Dairy. Dairy is important for getting in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and more! These foods should be consumed on a regular basis for strong bones and balanced electrolyte levels:
    • Milk, regular yogurt, cheese
    • Note: You can get many of these nutrients from dairy alternatives, but some dairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk are much lower in protein and some products may not be calcium-fortified. Check labels to make sure you are getting the intended nutrients from a particular product.

 

  • Healthy fats. Important for healthy cell membranes and neural function, as well as the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. See if you can find:
    • Olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil
    • Nuts/seeds (any type of nut or seed is fine, but look for lightly salted or unsalted)
    • Black olives
    • Avocado/guacamole
    • Pesto
    • Limit butter, whole fat dairy, and high-fat meat, esp. if heart disease or high cholesterol are concerns.

 

  • Other ingredients to have on hand:
    • Corn starch
    • Chicken or vegetable stock
    • Bouillon cubes
    • Minced Garlic
    • Herbs and spices
    • Soy sauce or hot sauce
    • Vinegar (balsamic, white, red wine, etc.)

If you need help with meal planning, please reach out! I would be glad to assist you with developing a meal plan to meet your specific needs and preferences during this time. NOVA Sports Nutrition offers virtual nutrition counseling from the comfort of your home for ease and convenience.

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Email

info@novasportsnutrition.com

Location

Fairfax, VA 

Virtual Telehealth
USA