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How To Choose The Best Sports Energy Drink

13 Oct

Choosing a Sports Energy Drink can be pretty confusing. There are so many options – Isotonic Sports Drinks, sports drinks with electrolytes, endurance sports drinks, and countless others.

But which are the best options? And what should you take into consideration when choosing a Sports Energy Drink?

Here’s my list of things to consider:

  • Low GI – most Sports Energy Drinks are high GI – this means that give you a quick burst of energy followed by a slump which reduces your performance.
  • Fructose based – most products are glucose based. Fructose is fruit sugar, much healthier for you, and low GI
  • Rich in mineral salts – a vital role of a sports Energy Drink is for it to provide mineral salts to replace those lost as you exercise.
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides – these, commonly referred to as MCTs, are fats composed of medium-chain fatty acids. They are easily absorbed as fuel during endurance events but are not likely to deposit as body fat.
  • Proof – if the product is as good as it claims to be, there will probably be clinical studies to prove that. Look for studies that show the product increases maximum oxygen consumption (VO2Max), time to exhaustion and aerobic performance.
  • Biochemicals – the energy drink should contain biochemicals, but it’s easy to not understand why – the role of biochemicals in your sports drink is to help the body clear itself of lactic acid, which is produced during physical exertion and reduces muscle performance.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a sports drink, and the ingredients of the product you use can affect your training results, so make sure you are choosing the best product available.  I personally use and recommend EmPact,which meets all of the above criteria and tastes great, and you can try it at a great discount price – with a 100% money back guarantee – here.

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Sports Nutrition: What To Eat When Before And After Exercise

1 Oct

A client told me recently, when I asked what exercise they did, that they longed to begin exercising but that they couldn’t.

Something was stopping them.

They didn’t know how to change their diet in response to, and how to fit food in around, their workouts.

I figured that this client couldn’t be the only person feeling that way.  And it’s no surprise.  We tend to make everything sport-related a little difficult, confusing, and complicated… everything from selecting the best pair of running trainers, to the correct whey protein, to the sports drink bottles is a little like working through a minefield.

Hopefully this blog post can explain what to eat, and when , before and after you exercise.  [If it doesn’t answer your questions, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help.]

So, here goes…

Before Exercise

The Importance of Pre-Exercise Eating

Eating shortly before you exercise has several benefits, including:

  1. It helps to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which interferes with exercise performance and causes symptoms including lightheadedness, needless fatigue, blurred vision and indecisiveness
  2. It helps settle your stomach, absorbs gastric juices and abates hunger
  3. It fuels your muscles by providing stored glycogen
  4. It gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your body is well fueled for the exercise

Pre-Exercise Foods

Remember that this is general advice, and some people will find that this advice does not suit their metabolisms.  However, as a general rule, the majority of people see good results when they eat 0.5g carbohydrates for every pound of their body weight, one hour before beginning moderately hard exercise, and 2g carbohydrates per pound of body weight four hours before.

This might sound a bit technical – and sometimes people imagine that this works out at a huge amount of food – but it’s pretty easy to work out.

For a person weighing 150 pounds, this is 75g of carbohydrate an hour before they exercise, which can easily be obtained from a small bowl of cereal and a banana.

However, it’s worth remembering that if you are doing intense, very hard exercise, any pre-exercise food is likely to remain undigested – typically, the body will only digest food during a workout if you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain for more than 30 minutes.  Therefore, when you are planning your meals around your physical activity, take into consideration the pace of your exercise and, for intense activities, have a hearty meal as calculated above four hour before the exercise but don’t have the smaller, pre-exercise snack an hour before.

There are several other factors to consider when deciding whether to have the small, pre-exercise snack, including:

  • Experience – novices tend to experience more gastrointestinal problems following pre-exercise snacks
  • Age – younger athletes often do not handle pre-exercise snacks as well as older counterparts, perhaps because of the older people’s experience
  • Gender – gastrointestinal problems during exercise affect women more, especially around the time of menstruation
  • Emotions – food will remain in the stomach undigested longer when you are tense
  • Caffeine – caffeine intake before exercise increases the incidence of gastrointestinal problems (remember that caffeine is not just found in coffee, but also in energy drinks, some tablets and chocolate)

After Exercise

Generally speaking, if you are a recreational exerciser perhaps using the gym or swimming a few times a week, your post-exercise diet shouldn’t be a cause for concern, simply because your body has sufficient time to refuel before your next workout.

If you are an athlete doing 2 or more workouts a day, however, your post-exercise diet is crucial, and your first priority should be replacing the fluids lost during the workout.  Good options for doing this are low GI sports drinks, water, and watery foods such as watermelon or soups.

Tip: To calculate how much fluid you have lost during a workout, simply weigh yourself before and after.  Ideally you should have lost no more than 2% of your body weight during the exercise.  And you’ll know when you have replaced the lost fluid because your urine will be clear or pale yellow and you will be urinating frequently – this can take up to 48 hours.

Next, to replenish your muscle glycogen, you should consume carbohydrate-rich foods within 15 minutes of completing your workout.  This is to ensure you catch the period when the enzymes responsible for making glycogen are most active and will most rapidly replace the depleted glycogen.

You should aim for 0.5g of carbohydrate per pound of body weight every hour, consumed at 30-minute intervals for four to five hours.

Your body will naturally want this amount, if not more, but note that consuming above this calculation will not hasten the recovery process.

But what about protein, I hear you cry.

You don’t have to avoid protein in your recovery diet and a small amount can in fact enhance glycogen replacement (although this is disputed).  The amino acids provided from the protein may also assist with building and repairing muscles.

Through sweat, you will also have lost electrolytes, minerals in the body such as potassium.  These will easily be replaced from your recovery diet – good sources of potassium include potato, yoghurt, orange juice, banana, pineapple juice, and raisins.

For more information about sports nutrition, pre- and post-exercise foods and healthy sports drinks just contact me.

Interview: Gary King – Nutrition & Extreme Sports

3 Aug

Gary King during his race to the North Pole

I have a very special treat for you today; an interview with Gary King.

Gary King is an extreme sports journalist and enthusiast.  His website is the ultimate resource for anybody wanting to get the inside track on all things extreme.  Gary is based in Nottinghamshire and does keynote talks all over the UK to business and educational facilities.

Gary, thanks for doing this interview.  Could you tell us a little about the work that you do?

Hi Katie, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I’m an adventure sport and travel writer and I write for many different publications including The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times. I also have an Extreme Sports website where I routinely blog about a whole host of subjects that raise the heartbeat and tickle the senses. I’m also a public speaker and I regularly talk to all kinds of organisations from primary school kids to business people.

How did you get interested in extreme sports?  You’re clearly someone who loves taking part, not just writing or talking about them?

I’ve always loved extreme sports and I’ve always loved writing. So it was a natural progression for the two to merge. The great thing about adrenaline sports is that once you reach a certain level of experience it becomes far more about fine tuning technique. What I find is that when I’m doing this, whether I’m sky diving or snowboarding, I think about nothing else. It becomes completely absorbing and believe it or not very relaxing.

And – be honest – do some of the things you do scare you, or are you an adrenalin junkie?

It’s very rare that I get scared because most of the things that I do are within a safety envelope. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché but statistically you’re far more likely to get injured on the way to a drop zone than you are jumping out a plane. I do love that astonishing feeling when I’m in a particularly adrenaline fuelled situation but I equally love the sensation of calm when it’s all over. So, yes, I suppose I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie.

How important do you find diet to be for your sports performance and recovery?

I have a few basics rules – no transfat, no refined sugar, small meals throughout the day, good breakfast. I’m sensible really and I think that we all intuitively know when we’re over indulging. I have the odd splurge but I do think that it’s really important for my sports performance and recovery.

Do you have to be an elite, extremely fit athlete to get involved with extreme sports?

No, not at all. One of the Adventure Talks that I do basically says that virtually anybody regardless of their athletic ability can take part in extreme sports. It’s all about pushing your personal boundaries and experiencing life to the full. However, fitness and healthy eating are an asset in any walk of life. If you work on those it can only be of benefit in the long run on all levels.

What adventure sports do you have planned for this year?

I’m involved with an extreme and urban sports festival called X In The City.  It is going to be a showcase for all kinds of sports from Parkour to Wakeboarding to Cage Cricket to Martial Arts. That’s keeping me busy at the moment and I’ll be posting blogs over the next couple of months about the various athletes taking part. Other than that I’ll be snowboarding as soon as there is some snow in the Alps and I’ll be surfing throughout the rest of the summer.

And finally, what advice would you give to our readers who have maybe never been involved with extreme sports but are curious?  Where can they go to get more information, and is there a particular sport you’d recommend people get started with?

Just get out there and have a go. There are thousands of excuses why you shouldn’t go and do something and not that many on why you should. My website has loads of information about various sports and loads of links to organisations that will help you do it safely. If you fancy something to get you going then there’s nothing better than a Tandem Skydive.

Remember – Life’s for Living, Not Spectating.

Ok, thanks Gary for taking the time to speak to us!

Wow, what a great interview – kinda makes you want to get up off the settee, hey.  I love Gary’s last quote that life is for living, not spectating… and however you choose to truly live your life, having a healthy body is a great advantage.  So keep making the right diet choices and you’re helping your body support you through each day, whether you’re walking to the office of racing to the North Pole.

What are your thoughts on extreme sports?  How does your diet support your physical activity?  Any extreme sports stories of your own to share?

(I once did a tandem sky dive and can thoroughly second Gary’s recommendation!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Shocking Truth About Sports Drinks

5 Jul

The Shocking Truth About Sports Drinks

This post is really important whether you’re an athlete using sports drinks for performance, or someone simply choosing sports drinks from the vending machine because you like the taste or heard they’re good for you.

I like to share knowledge with you on this site so that you’re then enabled to make nutrition choices with the facts in front of you, not because of clever marketing ploys or celebrity endorsements.  And that’s a big issue for this post.

Because pretty much everyone who drinks a can of soda with lunch realises it isn’t the healthiest option, but they choose it for taste reasons.  Now that might not be the best decision for your body, but at least you’re aware of the facts.

With sports drinks, the opposite is true.  People seem to think sports drinks are some elite force of super-drinks, probably even better for you than water!

And when we look at the marketing that sports drink companies use, that’s little surprise.

The truth is that sports drinks are a very different product than many people imagine.

While we have begun to treat sports drinks as a Holy Grail that can offer us endless energy during exercise, sports, or just a typical day, many of these products are simply a blend of simple carbohydrate in the form of glucose, and complex carbohydrate in the form of maltodextrin.

What this means for your body is a very quick blood sugar spike, followed by a rush of sugar into your bloodstream.  To respond to this, your body is forced to produce insulin and increase the acidity of your blood pH levels.

The excess glucose is stored in fat cells, and the spikes in blood sugar and insulin inhibit the release of fats.  In simple terms, sports drinks reduce weight loss.

Let’s not forget the acid pH levels – they lead to a reduction in the delivery of oxygen to your cells, leading to breathlessness.

Not great, huh?

And this is before we’ve moved on to the artificial sweeteners most sports drinks also contain.  The sweeteners, such as aspartame and acesulfame K, have been linked with nausea, migraines, muscle weakness, fatigue, memory loss, and more.  Acesulfame K has also been shown to stimulate insulin response, as if the pancreas isn’t already doing enough to cope with the sports drink!

So, please, when you are in need of an energy boost, don’t reach for high street sports drinks – they do more harm than good.

What’s the alternative?

The good news is that there is a natural sports drink that supports the body through physical activity and provide more energy.  If you’d like to make the sensible choice, and switch to using this product, contact me.

**For a limited time, I am offering a 20% discount on a month’s supply of this product. To order, call me on (+44) 7795 116284**