Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

We’re proud to be backing today’s stage of the Long Run Home and donating money to Martin Yelling’s chosen charities (see below).

So far Martin has run 133 miles in four days and today he’ll cover a total of 32 miles between Crackington Haven and Padstow. Martin’s goal for the long run home goal is to run the entire South West Coast path, a total of 630 miles in  21 days.

Check out where Martin’s running, by clicking on the image below.

Martin Yelling's Long Run Home
Martin Yelling’s Long Run Home

We’re supporting Martin who is running the south west coast path for three charities he cares about: The Southmead Hospital Charity, Julia’s House and MacMillan Cancer Support. You can too sponsor Martin at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MartinYelling128.

Martin sets off Martin and runner

For more action today:

* Stage discussion: https://www.facebook.com/events/1048183521933746/
* Live tracking of Martin for every stage: http://live.opentracking.co.uk/longrunhome/

 

The Top 10 Foods For Athletes

The Top 10 Foods For Athletes

Whatever your level, if you’re an active person select these nutrient-dense superfoods for your best performance!

  1. Dark green vegetables

AdobeStock_56178614.jpgKey nutrients: B Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Mineral-rich leafy greens are key foods in any athlete’s diet, providing nutrients for energy production and fibre. The darker green they are, the higher concentrations of antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich vegetables help regulate the body’s inflammatory process. Vegetables such as kale and spinach also contain carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidant families that protect cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

  1. Eggs

Key nutrients: vitamin D and Leucine

Basket of organic eggs in a rural farmers market
Eggs pack a protein punch

Eggs provide protein in a low calorie package. Egg yolks are also a good source of vitamin D essential for bone and muscle health. And there are the BCAA (branch chain amino acids), particularly Leucine in eggs that are vital building blocks for muscular growth, as well helping to promote fat oxidation and endurance.

  1. Bananas
Bananas
Bananas fuel performance

Key nutrients: potassium, choline and vitamin B6

Potassium is one of the electrolytes lost after intense exercise, so replacing this is vital to aid recovery. Choline is needed for healthy nervous system activity and for healthy cell structure. Vitamin B6 in bananas is crucial for red blood cell production, and assists in carbohydrate metabolism.

  1. Milk
Organic White Almond Milk
Organic White Almond Milk in a Jug

Key nutrients: carbs, calcium and protein

A combination of carbohydrates and protein make milk an ideal post exercise muscle recovery drink as consuming the macronutrients together allows muscle tissues to repair faster. Calcium is known for boosting bone health and in a two-year American study looking at the affects of different nutrients on bone density, it was shown that an extra cup of milk a day was found to reduce runners’ incidence of developing a stress fracture by 62 per cent.

  1. Lean red meat
fresh raw meat
Lean red meat is a healthy choice for athletes

Key nutrients: iron and B12

The easiest and quickest way to get iron and B12 on board is to eat red meat. Red meat has had a bad press but if you choose organic, or grass-fed, and avoid processed meats, you’ll be sure of getting plenty ‘performance nutrition’! Iron deficiency can result in poor performance, and symptoms include, tiredness, shortness of breath, and elevated heart rate.

  1. Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna)

Dried smoked spratKey nutrients: Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)

Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout are all good sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and are excellent for heart health, too.

  1. Quinoa

AdobeStock_82504648.jpegKey nutrient: Amino Acids

Quinoa contains twice as much protein as rice or cous cous, and it’s gluten-free and fibre-rich. This nutrient-dense grain doubles up as a source of low GI carbohydrate and the bonus is that the protein in quinoa has a near perfect blend of nine essential amino acids, which we need to build lean muscle mass and recover well.

  1. Blackcurrants (New Zealand CurranNZ)

bowl-blackcurrants

Key nutrient: Anthocyanins

These universal plant pigments responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in foods have lots of health-promoting qualities. They have a positive affect on blood flow, and studies have found that taking a supplement such as CurraNZ (NZ Blackcurrant) increases lactate clearance, enhances fat metabolism, improves endurance and boosts recovery.

  1. Almonds
Almond nuts isolated
Almonds are a healthy and nutritious snack

Key nutrients: Vitamin E, calcium and magnesium

Eat a small handful of almonds at least three to five times per week for a top source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that many athletes can fall short on. Almonds also help lower bad cholesterol, whilst raising levels of good cholesterol. Almonds are a great source of calcium and magnesium too, both vital for bone and muscle health in athletes.

  1. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin heap
Take seeds daily

Key nutrients: Zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, iron

High carb diets may decrease zinc absorption, so topping up levels with a daily handful of pumpkin seeds is the perfect answer! Zinc has an important role to play when it comes to immunity, so very relevant for endurance athletes who train hard, and often compromise their immunity. Pumpkin seeds are also a very useful vegetarian source of iron.

Getting Carbs Right for Sport

Getting Carbs Right for Sport

Runners love pasta parties, and endurance athletes are fuelled by gels and sweets, but do we need to rethink our relationship with carbs for the best performance? Runner and coach, Fiona Bugler and sports nutritionist Lucy Ann Prideaux report.

The movement to ‘train low carb and race high carb’ has gathered momentum in recent years amongst triathletes, cyclists – and even runners! And former carb fans, such as world renowned running expert, Tim Noakes, author of the The Lore of Running have had a complete change of view, saying excess amounts of carbs (especially high GI, sugary and refined carbs), are not good for runners and that sugar and processed food is responsible for the obesity epidemic and shocking rises in diseases such as diabetes (A Diabetes UK report in August 2015 found that there has been a 60 per cent increase in the disease in a decade).

Carb diet options for athletes

So how does the ‘traditional’ endurance athlete’s high-carb diet work? The body will easily adapt to a high-carb diet, becoming highly efficient at metabolizing carbohydrates for energy. In a long run or race for example, a runner may top up with energy-boosting carb gels. If they don’t have gels, they may under perform not because carbs are the only answer, but because their body has adapted to carbohydrate metabolism, burns carbs quickly, and needs regular top-ups. It expects to receive regular amounts of glucose to continue making energy.

The theory goes on that if you train the body to use fat when you run you do not need to be loading up with extra carbs. However, some athletes find that during this transition period, when relying too much on burning fat as fuel it’s harder to move faster or step up a gear, as the body can’t make energy quickly enough, and they run out of juice during training – and catastrophically, on race day. Many opt to ‘train low’ on carbs (50 per cent fats, 25 per cent carbs, and 25 per cent protein) for five to 10 days. Then, one to three days before a race, they opt for carb-loading with 80 per cent of their food coming from carbohydrates, 10 per cent from fat, and 10 per cent from protein, and take carbs on board during the race, i.e. ‘race high’.

We still need carbs – but watch your GI score

Carbs do supply readily available energy for performance but it’s important that the carbs we eat are healthy and we understand that not all carbs are equal. Carbohydrates are ranked using a scoring system called the glycemic index (GI). The GI score of a food is based on the rate at which it breaks down into sugar (glucose), how fast it is absorbed, and consequently how quickly is raises levels of blood glucose.

High GI Carbohydrates breakdown quickly during digestion, and release glucose into the blood very quickly.

Examples: processed ‘white’ foods, pure sugar, and energy gels.

✗Eating too many high GI foods can block the ability to burn fat.

✗High GI foods don’t fill you up and you’ll get hungry again quickly.

✓High GI food can provide fast-energy replenishment or be used during exercise – e.g. energy gels.

Low GI Carbohydrates breakdown slowly, releasing their glucose gradually into the blood stream.

Examples: Apples, pears, plums, oranges, grapefruits, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, fresh figs; brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, a few wholegrain breads such as dark whole rye bread, soy/linseed bread, and vegetables.

✓Provide longer-lasting energy, and a more sustained feeling of fullness, therefore aid in fat loss.

✓Generally, these foods are higher in fibre and nutrients, too.

 

The ultimate solution and best diet for athletes, is one that is flexible and includes moderate amounts of healthy carbohydrates balanced with quality proteins and essential fats. During periods of intense training, and leading up to long endurance events, the athlete should increase the amount of carbs, based on their particular energy expenditure, and their response to carbohydrates. Trial and error is necessary to a degree, and eventually the individual finds the perfect amount for them to train, recover, and race successfully.

 

8 ways to measure fitness & health

8 ways to measure fitness & health

Monitoring successful progress is motivating, gives you routine and results. Tracking exercise works. A 2013 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine1 linked tracking to weight-loss success. Follow these eight tips and be the best you can be!

  1. START BY SETTING SOME HEALTH AND FITNESS GOALS

Studies have shown that written goals help people achieve results in both business and in achieving health and fitness targets. Identify SMART goals, i.e. goals that are, sustainable, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.

Screenshot 2016-06-10 14.31.39
Set goals on our unique dashboard launching soon…
  1. TIME WHAT YOU DO

Set the weeks and months ahead to achieve your goal, e.g. 16 weeks for a marathon. Then set the hours of training you can do per week – three, five, seven? Then set the time you’ll allocate to each session, including sets/and reps. “Timing gives you structure, and you can measure success with time. For example, you’ll be able to run for longer as the weeks go by in a marathon schedule. After six or more weeks you’ll find you can do more in the time you set for reps. For example, you can do more squats in three minutes, or run faster in five,” explains Amplify PT, Tristan Thrower.

 

Screenshot 2016-06-10 14.34.31
You’ll be able to set weekly time targets
  1. UNDERSTAND YOUR HEART RATE

Your heart gives you the most accurate feedback as to how your body is responding to training. For example, your resting heart rate will lower as you gain aerobic fitness. Elite endurance athletes have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Knowing your heart rate will help you to work in the correct training zone. Use an app such as Strava to monitor the zone you have trained at, for example, your threshold, tempo or V02 Max.

  1. MEASURE INCHES, FAT PERCENTAGE – NOT WEIGHT ON THE SCALES

“It’s better to measure the inches you lose, than worry about pounds and kilos,” says Tristan, “as you get fitter and stronger, you’ll create lean muscle mass which may mean you weigh more. And weight can fluctuate depending on what you’ve eaten, what you’ve drank and the time of day,” he adds. “Measuring (and lowering) body fat is a tangible measure of success. Keep fat percentage within the healthy ranges,” he adds. Use the American Council on Exercise’s chart and tools to work out what your fat percentage should be.

  1. MEASURE STEPS FOR HEALTH

Measuring steps has become a popular way to measure activity at home and in the workplace. And moving can get results, as the NHS UK point out, “A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3 to 5mph).”

  1. KEEP A RECORD

Keeping a food diary is standard advice for anyone who wants to lose weight and with technological advances this is easier than ever with websites and apps that will do the calorie, fat and nutrient counting for you. Measuring what goes in and what goes out are great ways of getting back on track if you’ve put on a few pounds. Apps such as MyFitnessPal can help you track what you’re eating and give you feedback on the nutrients you’re getting. And logging training using apps such as Strava, or Endomondo give you a reference point to see what’s worked and what hasn’t.

  1. FOCUS ON RESULTS

Reaching an end result, e.g. a race time, or a goal weight is the best indicator as to whether training is working. “If you’re a runner a good way to measure your fitness is to take part in a weekly parkrun.org 5K run. For swimmers why not try a 400M-time trial once a month? And for cyclists join in a time trial at your club for a fitness blast and a way of measuring your fitness and progress,” suggests Tristan.

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205141850.htm

 

Following a nutrition plan

Following a nutrition plan

Your body needs the right fuel whether it’s going to function at a higher level for sport and fitness challenges or keep going on a weight loss regime. That means not only ensuring the appropriate levels of calories are going in, but achieving the right balance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins too. Jo Waters reports.

Get enough calories

Skipping meals, snacking on nutritionally empty foods and failing to optimally time eating can all affect your strength and performance.

If your goal is to get fit and lose weight you might be tempted to cut your calorie intake right back – but there are limits. Cutting your calorie intake too low and getting too thin isn’t good for your performance as your body will burn muscle tissues and slow down the rate it burns calories, so weight loss may slow down too. If you don’t eat enough can also get run down and more prone to infections and injuries which can take longer to heal.

How many calories do you need?

The normal recommended calorie intake for men is 2,500 calories a day and 2,000 a day for women as a base line for maintaining weight. Obviously, this will vary according to your age and height/weight and the levels of energy you’re burning. If you are doing a lot of exercise though your calorie needs will be greater than this. For example, a 60-minute run will burn around 600 calories – so you’ll need some extra fuel.

If you’re looking to lose weight at the rate of 1lb a week you need to cut around 500 calories a day or 3,500 calories a week so factor this into the equation when you are calculating how many extra calories you need. Dieters may get frustrated at a slow rate of weight loss but it’s important to make slow changes that will be easier to stick to in the long term – it takes about 12 weeks for new habits to form.

The importance of just sticking at it!

Eat a full range of food groups including: fruit and vegetables; lean meat, fish/ poultry; dairy products; nuts and seeds; carbohydrates such as wholegrains, potatoes pasta and rice.

Don’t get too hung up on the type of food you choose, i.e. the balance of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats). In 2013 The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), revealed that, “numerous trials comparing diets differing in macronutrient composition has demonstrated… very small and inconsistent differences in weight loss and metabolic risk factors.”

And furthermore, the real difference, the key to success for most diets is simple. It comes from sticking at it. Again in JAMA, four meta-analyses summarising between 14 and 24 major trials (in another words a broad sweep of studies) found that “adherence is the only consistent factor with weight loss and disease related outcomes.”

Avoid the Fads

Furthermore, faddy diets where one food group is prohibited such as a high fat diet or low carb regime may get quick results in the short term but you can run the risk of developing underlying health problems including vitamin deficiencies, constipation or gall stones.

Get the balance right

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are great fuel for running and other forms of exercise. Eating a small bowl of porridge or a banana 30 minutes before a run will give you sustained energy release. If you’re doing a longer run you may need to take a healthy snack with you and/or a sports drink.
  • Protein: Protein is found in fish, meat, eggs and beans and is need by the body to replace muscle tissue. Runners should eat lean red meat or another food rich in iron to help prevent iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Fruit and vegetables: The Department of Health recommends a minimum of five portions a day intake (although many experts now recommend 10). They’re packed full of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy immune system, fill you up with fibre and are low in calories.
  • Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurts are a rich source of calcium needed for strong bones. Choose skimmed milk and low fat cheeses, including cottage cheese as lower fat alternatives to butter and hard cheese.

 

 

Common energy zappers

Common energy zappers

On our soon to be launched Dashboard, we ask you every day what your energy levels are like to get an overall picture of your health and wellness. Feeling Tired All The Time (TATT) is one of the most common reasons people visit their GPs, and as many as one in five report feeling unusually tired with one in 10 have prolonged fatigue, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Here, health journalist Jo Waters explores the most common reasons for depleted energy. 

Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep

  • Not enough sleep: Sleep is often the first casualty for busy people so try and get enough – adults aged 18 to 64 need seven to nine hours, according to the US National Sleep Foundation.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea: If you’re waking feeling groggy and with headaches even after 7 to 9 hours of sleep , it’s possible you have sleep quality problems due to obstructive sleep apnoea. This is where your airways momentarily collapse for a few seconds several times a minute, depriving you of oxygen while you sleep. You might not even be aware of it (or you may wake up others with your snoring!). See a doctor for an assessment.
  • Insomnia: If you suffer from problems getting to and staying asleep, avoid day time naps, exercising too close to bedtime, caffeinated drinks in the evenings and deal with sources of stress and pain that wake you. 

Poor diet and vitamin/mineral deficiencies

Eating a balanced diet providing you with enough calories and a full range of vitamins and minerals from all food groups is crucial for energy levels, as is not skipping meals.

  • Lack of iron: Iron-deficiency anaemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet due to low levels of haemoglobin (red blood cells) which carry oxygen around the body. Women below the age of the menopause are particularly at risk if they have heavy periods, as well as pregnant women. Runners may also be at risk of anaemia because the impact of the foot on hard surfaces causes red blood vessels to burst, a condition called foot stroke haemolysis. Ask your GP for a blood test to check your iron levels. Rich sources of iron in food include red meat, leafy green vegetables, eggs and dried apricots. Boost iron absorption by drinking a vitamin C-rich juice at meal times, but avoid tea and coffee because this can inhibit it.
  • B12 deficiency: Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include extreme tiredness, lack of energy, depression and muscle weakness. The most common cause is pernicious anaemia where your immune system attacks healthy cells in your stomach, preventing absorption of vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is also more common in people who eat a vegan diet (no meat, fish or dairy products). You may need B12 injections or supplements to pep up your B12 levels.

Common medical causes of tiredness

  • Type 2 diabetes: An estimated 594,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed diabetes where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. Symptoms include tiredness, weight loss, thirst and passing large amounts of urine. Your GP can run blood tests to check your sugar levels. If diagnosed early you may be able to control your diabetes with diet and exercise alone, but some patients also need medication.
  • Underactive thyroid: This is where your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of a hormone called thyroxin for a healthy metabolism. Symptoms may include feeling tired, muscle aches, thinning hair, sudden weight gain, dry skin and a hoarse voice. See your GP to arrange for a thyroid function test. If diagnosed you’ll need to take thyroxine tablets.

Psychological causes of tiredness

Stress, anxiety or depression can make life feel like a struggle and sap your energy as well as affect your sleep. See your doctors to talk about your feelings you may need to be referred for a talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or need a course of antidepressants.

Too much or too little exercise

If you’re training remember to have regular rest days and to plan your exercise so you don’t overdo it. Exercising generally though should leave you feeling more energised. A University of Georgia study found healthy adults who began exercising lightly, three days a week for just 20 minutes reported higher energy levels and less tiredness after six weeks.

 

5 Ways to kick start motivation

5 Ways to kick start motivation

You’ve committed to getting fitter and healthier, and you are full of enthusiasm at the moment, but you have a track record of dropping out and are worried it will happen again – here’s how you can stay on track.

  1. Set yourself a goal: Setting a goal gives you an end to your plan of action. A well-known longitudinal study of Harvard graduates found that those who had clearly defined, written, goals were the ones who went on to achieve the greatest success.
  2. Find something you enjoy: Eating plans and exercise can seem like a chore. But finding something you love to do is simple, running or dog walking, tennis or even gardening are all great ways to exercise. Cooking is fun and experimenting with healthy nutrients and ingredients can be as enjoyable as the eating!
  3. Make healthy your default setting: New research has found the most consistent exercisers are those who made it into a specific type of habit – such as jumping out of bed automatically when they hear their alarm and heading for the gym. The aim is to make being healthy your default setting so you don’t have to think about it. Plan andyou’re your workouts, record what you eat, and the nutrients you take in. Be as methodical and practical as you would work meetings or social events – that way they’ll actually happen.
  4. Tell people what you’re doing: Good friends will want to encourage you on your getting healthier plans (and some may even join you – so even better). If you’ve made a public commitment, you’ll have more motivation to carry on and earn their praise. Setting up a Just Giving sponsorship page for a charity event can be a great motivator too, once people have donated money for your chosen charity you’ll have the added incentive of not wanting to let them down.
  5. Track your progress: Whether it’s a wearable, a phone app, or simply a pen and paper, tracking your health and fitness progress and using data, stats and graphs will get you to your goal. faster

Staying motivated

  • Dangle the carrot: If you respond to bribery, promise yourself rewards for your exertions. If you meet a friend for a Saturday morning class – why not have a coffee and catch-up/beer and watch the match afterwards?
  • Download some music for workouts: We all have our favourite songs that make us run that bit faster or dig in the cross trainer with more oomph. Load them onto your i-Pod and enjoy.
  • Work with your body clock: Are you an owl or a lark? Is it realistic for you to get up an hour earlier and run before work to or will you find it easier to pop to the gym after work? If neither are realistic (particularly tough for working parents), think about how you can fit more exercise into your daily routine – brisk walks at lunchtime, walking all or part of the way to or from work and then maybe some classes and a long run at the weekend may be the best solution.
  • Eat to suit your day: Don’t believe you have to rigidly stick to one particular time of day to eat. Research has found if you are under-eating or over-eating for your needs, your performance and recovery and management of your weight will all be affected. What matters is the nutrients you get in over your day, so manage eating plans to suit your lifestyle.
  • Talk to an expert: An assessment of your fitness and nutrition goals are worth the investment. An expert can give you a fresh perspective and advise you on how train, and what to eat.