I’ve been told “you have it all”, more than once. It always gives me pause.


To be honest, hearing this causes me some discomfort. As a nutritionist, “you have it all” seems to imply that I have everything together and that I must have a perfect nutrition routine. As an immigrant woman, I wonder if I translated the phrase too literally in my head. As an English as a second language speaker, I wonder if it’s a figure of speech or a joke, based on cultural humor. As an athlete, I struggled tremendously with fueling my body during competitive athletics.


What I do know is that after my years of working with all different types of people, bodies, and nutrition issues, that hidden behind the phrase “you have it all” is perfectionism.


Perfectionism is something every single person struggles with. If we are entrenched in perfection, it affects our nutrition habits. We may seek the perfect meal or the prefect food or the perfect time to eat. Every single person I have provided nutrition care for has struggled with perfection.


In nutrition counseling, perfection does not exist. In fact, I can argue that perfection only lives in our minds. When we seek perfection in how we nourish our bodies, our choices are based on a foundation of judgmental and shame-based decisions. We may hyper-focus on being perfect and this may disconnect us from listening to our bodies. In nutrition counseling, this type of thinking can create rules and regulations that may lead to a disordered relationship with our bodies and food.


As a human who is passionate about helping you connect to yourself and create your own unique approach to nutrition, one of my goals is to help you align your nutrition with your culture, your passions, your body, your job, your pleasure, and your humanity. You eat for you and because you belong.


I would love to help you connect with things you may think of as imperfections and vulnerabilities but are actually opportunities and strengths. In my experience, the most meaningful and biggest teaching moments in nutrition journeys happen when you accept being. You are a human that is vulnerable, humble, and brave. Your nutrition care and your nutrition journey can be some of your biggest moments of growth.


At Rasa Nutrition, I encourage you to show up as you are. I respect, honor, and appreciate you and I know that making the first call or writing the first message to ask for help in nutrition requires a lot of bravery and vulnerability. But I believe in you.

  • Rasa Nutrition

Contributed by Hannah Stoker



We sweat. When we do, water evaporates from the surface of our skin. It’s the bodies mechanism for cooling our core body temperature. During athletic performance, not only do athletes sweat and lose water volume in the body, but they also lose some electrolytes, mainly sodium and chloride. Those electrolytes are important for maintaining fluid balance in the cells of our body.


Have you ever wondered how much fluid you need when exercising? The answer is unique to you. The best fluid replacement strategy for each individual athlete considers your sweat rate, sweat composition, exercise intensity, ambient temperature, and humidity to determine the best approach for your body.


Fluid replacement is important for me as an athlete? It’s all about safety and supporting your body. In fact, a fluid replacement strategy is especially pertinent for the safety of athletes during long endurance or ultra-endurance training and races like the Ironman triathlon event. In training sessions or events that are much shorter in duration, athletes should aim to minimize fluid losses in order to optimize performance.


When your body loses large amounts of water during exercise, your blood volume is reduced. A reduced blood volume increases the cardiac output required to maintain athletic performance. An increased cardiac output elevates perceived strain on the body during exercise which increases core body temperature and impairs skeletal muscle blood flow. When your ambient temperature increases, your sweat rate increases, and this amplifies the effects of reduced blood volume if fluids are not adequately replaced. As your training intensity increases, your body’s demand for oxygen increases. This translates into an increased demand for blood to your muscles to increase oxygen plus an increased blood flow to the skin so that your body can offload heat. Thus, as training intensity is increased, the importance of fluid replacement to achieve adequate blood volume and flow is elevated.


What is the ideal fluid replacement strategy for me? As a starting point, Rasa Nutrition recommends that athletes consider determining their individual fluid loss during exercise by noting body mass before and after a training session at a given temperature. This can help mitigate variability from athlete to athlete in sweat rate, sweat composition, and training status and intensity. To prevent performance decline, athletes should aim to reduce body mass losses to less than 2% of the pre-exercise value by drinking sufficient water throughout performance. For athletes who lose substantial amounts of sodium in their sweat or for athletes participating in longer endurance events, consuming sports drinks, or electrolyte drink mixes, throughout the bout of exercise can be an important factor to increase water retention and encourage water consumption. A fluid replacement strategy can be refined during training, especially under the guidance of a dietitian, before being used in a competitive setting. Happy hydrating!


References

1. Burke L, Deakin V, eds. Clinical Sports Nutrition. 4. ed. McGraw-Hill Education Medical; 2010.

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

Contributed by Hannah Stoker


Environmental factors such as wind speeds, ambient temperature, humidity, precipitation, and altitude play an important role in the athlete’s ability to perform at an optimal level. In this blog we will discuss supporting athletic performance, hypoxic training, and nutritional considerations when faced with environmental obstacles.


Reduced Oxygen & Your Body


During exertion physiological responses are elevated at altitude. Even low to moderate altitudes of 2000-3000 meters above sea level create a hypoxic environment* in which heart rate, respiratory rate, and perceived exertion increase during exercise.

At rest and during physical exertion, the body begins to exhibit an elevated sympathetic tone**. This is a cascade of biochemical events, beginning with a release of epinephrine and cortisol hormones, and resulting in an increased reliance on carbohydrates as a fuel source. In addition, the athletes resting metabolic rate and oxidative stress level are elevated at altitude. This highlights the importance of a calorie-sufficient and antioxidant-rich diet to support high-altitude training.


Extended Hypoxia


Endurance athletes and coaches may seek out extended hypoxic living and/or training to produce desired training adaptations, the most notable of which is erythropoiesis, or the increase in red blood cell count, elevating aerobic capacity.


To assist the athlete in maintaining performance output while in hypoxic environments, Rasa Nutrition recommends adequate nutrition. We focus on a few main nutritional considerations for athletes at altitude: adequate iron stores before initiation of altitude training; adequate overall energy and carbohydrate intake throughout training; sufficient consumption of antioxidant-rich foods to combat the oxidative stress placed on the body; and balanced hydration.


Nutrition & Success


Consuming iron-rich foods before beginning altitude training and throughout the training duration is a great way to maintain adequate iron stores. Rasa Nutrition suggests meals and snacks that include nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrate to meet the body’s increased reliance on carbohydrate as fuel. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants and should be included often.


Fluid requirements also increase in hypoxic environments as athletes tend to lose more water volume via sweat and the lungs with increased respiratory rates. Losses in water volume can impair performance as blood volume is reduced, making it more challenging for oxygen-rich blood to be delivered to the muscles and to the skin to offload heat. Reduced blood volume also increases the cardiac output required to maintain any given level of performance and increases perceived exertion of exercise.


You can be strong and train well in high altitude environments by maintaining focus on iron-rich foods, antioxidant-rich foods, adequate carbohydrate intake for energy, and proper fluid consumption. This simple nutrition guidance will put you in the best position to succeed in your high-altitude training or high-altitude competition. YOU CAN do it!



References

1. Burke L, Deakin V, eds. Clinical Sports Nutrition. 4. ed. McGraw-Hill Education Medical; 2010.


*hypoxic environment – a reduced oxygen environment

**sympathetic tone - The condition of a muscle when the tone is maintained predominantly by impulses from the sympathetic nervous system (A Dictionary of Biology » Subjects: Medicine and Health — Clinical Medicine).