3 Daily Digestion Habits You Can Start Today

Your body is a miracle machine. Day in, day out, we can rely on our amazing bodies to get us through anything – running around the office with a to-do list as long as your arm, lugging a million shopping bags home or a hardcore Jivamukti class (sometimes all in the same day). But how much attention do you pay to how you’re fuelling this incredible engine?

We are all guilty of snaffling a meal-deal sandwich at our desks or cramming in a Macdonald’s when it just seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, irregular stools, lethargy, and lowered energy levels are probably not worth the few minutes you save. After all, that super-high priority must-have-done-by-end-of-play task is going to be a lot harder when you’re feeling sluggish and tired.

Here are three solid changes you can make to get your digestion in order – starting today!

Start the day with a hot water and lemon

So simple, and so good for you. Drinking a hot water with lemon in the morning before breakfast will help to kick-start your digestive system for the day ahead. Lemon juice has the effect of stimulating the liver to produce bile, which helps keep food moving through your gastrointestinal tract smoothly. The acids found in lemon juice also encourage the body to process the nutrients in food more slowly, which helps to keep blood sugar and insulin levels balanced. For those who get bloated among us, this is a life saver!

Have breakfast every day

Make breakfast a priority. It’s easy to make the excuse of not having enough time, but breakfast should be as important as brushing your teeth or getting dressed in the morning. Avoid refined, processed, sugar rich foods, as this will send blood sugar levels and energy rocketing sky high, and then crashing, setting you up for a slow day ahead, and reaching for the biscuits over and over again. Aim for some protein (eggs, lean meat, fish, maybe a scoop of protein powder), healthy fats (salmon, nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butter, chia seeds, coconut oil), and complex carbs (oats, buckwheat, quinoa, fibrous veggies). If you tend to hit the snooze button a little too often, make sure you buy portable breakfasts for those days when you are really in a rush.

Eat a variety of fresh, colourful whole-foods

Ever looked at your plate and seen a sea of beige? Time to switch it up! Try to fill your plate with as many different colours of fresh produce as possible, as it’s often the colour pigments that contain all of the important nutrients that we need for healthy gut function. Eat a rainbow! You’ll be amazed at how much less sluggish you feel after eating once you mix in a bit of colour. Plus it looks way better on Instagram.

Stay tuned for more digestion tips from our in-house nutrition expert Sophie Higgins. Sophie works with our members to help them understand how to nourish their bodies to their full potential. Interested in a little nutrition revolution for yourself? Give us a call and start your journey towards wellbeing.

Endurance Hydration – The Basics

By Rachelle Healy

Many of our clients at MoreFit at some stage or another decide to enter an endurance event (2 hours or over) – here are the basics of endurance hydration.

On race day even the fittest people can suffer the consequences of a poor hydration and nutrition strategy. This article is focusing on hydration. Even though this is geared at Endurance, those of you taking part in the Hyde Park Run will benefit from hydration guidelines in this article.

As much as you prepare physically for events, hydration and nutrition are often the difference between crossing the finishing line well, crossing it in bits or not crossing it at all.

Recently I had the pleasure of being the nutritionist for the UK only 4 man team to participate in the Race Across America. RAAM is a 3000 mile race from the West – East side of the USA, crossing 12 states and climbing 170 000 vertical feet.

To give you an idea of RAAM:

  • The RAAM route is around 30% longer than the Tour de France. Racers must complete the distance in roughly half the time allowed for the Tour.  The Spinhalers completed in under 7.5 days with all riders finishing in great condition – considering!
  • Our team of 4 riders weighed between 67kg and107kg which meant each members requirements in terms of hydration, electrolytes and calorie consumption were very different and had to be individualised.
  • The team were racing in extreme conditions such as the desserts in Kansas and climbing the Rocky Mountains in extreme heat with a lack of shade or breeze. The protocols in place and monitoring our riders throughout was essential to the success of the trip and rider welfare.
  • It was vital we had a system in place, vital we monitored outcomes and adjusted accordingly and vital we were consistent in the execution of this.  Basically what I’m trying to say is you just can’t ‘wing it’ on the day!

Hydration:

The average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 litres per hour during exercise, however you need to factor in other elements such as heat, humidity,wind factor, sunburn etc as these all affect hydration levels on the day. A .5% reduction in hydration will start to affect your performance.

When hydrating, water isn’t the only thing to think about, it is essential that you supplement with electrolytes as well.

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. For example, when you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant.

The sodium and electrolyte concentration of one litre of sweat can range from 300 mg to 3600 mg depending on the individual, and varies by diet, sweating rate, hydration, and degree of heat acclimation Under-replacing your sodium and other electrolyte losses can lead to various problems including dehydration, muscular cramping, headaches, gastrointestinal upset, nausea, fluid retention and hyponatremia.

Throughout the Race Across America, the riders would sip an electrolyte solution on the bike so they were constantly topping up their electrolyte levels.

If the riders were doing a tough shift in the heat or with hills or both, we would also add a more concentrated electrolyte tablet to their intake to counteract the excess sweating and loss of electrolytes and monitor outcomes.

It is very important to sip little and often and not drink huge amounts in one go as your intestines can only process so much at any one time, otherwise the rest will just go through you.

We used the following as a guide for hydration and monitored outcomes:

  • Average Athlete / Average Temperature: 2-0-25 oz/hr – approx 590-740 mls/hr
  • Lighter Athletes / Cooler Temperature: 16-18oz/hr – approx 473-532 mls/hr
  • Heavier Athletes / Hotter Temperature:Intakes upwards of 28oz/hr – approx. 830 mls/hr A regular-to-large size water bottle is equivalent to 20-25 oz (approx 590-740 mls) and that’s an excellent gauge to work within.

Throughout RAAM, every 30 mins we took the riderstats – how many calories in, what type of calories– fat, protein, carbohydrate, how much fluid they drank and we recorded how often they peed and yes, what colour it was, as that is a very good indication of if your body is dehydrated or not.

If their pee was dark, we would hydrate more in 250 mls increments per hour with an electrolyte tablet/drink and monitor outcomes.

Other dehydration symptoms are to look out for are:

  • Extreme thirst.
  • Extreme irritability and confusion in adults.
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes.
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal.
  • Sunken eyes.

The opposite to dehydration is Hyponatremia.  Drinking too much water during endurance sports is more common than you think and the result can be devastating.  Too much water causes the sodium/electrolytes in your body to become diluted. When this happens, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to life-threatening.

To avoid hyponatremia, fluid intake should not routinely exceed 28 oz/hr (830 ml/hr). The exceptions are heavier athletes, athletes exercising at extreme levels (prolonged periods at a high percentage of VO2Max), and athletes competing in severe environmental conditions.

During RAAM If the rider was peeing a lot, this was an indication that they didn’t have enough electrolytes in their system. Our first action was to increase their electrolyte intake and decrease their fluid intake to the minimum amount for the activity and conditions. Again, we would monitor outcomes.

A sign the body is low in electrolytes is excesspee’ing and sloshing (nausea) feeling in the stomach.

Other symptoms of hyponatremia are:

  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Confusion.
  • Loss of energy and fatigue.
  • Restlessness and irritability.
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma

You can also take on too many electrolytes causing Hypernatrimia.

Hypernatremia typically does not have many symptoms until your blood sodium levels are extremely high. Symptoms include dizziness when changing positions, vomiting and diarrhoea. You can help lower your sodium levels by drinking plenty of water.

During the race we used both isotonic drink solutions and Hypertonic solutions depending on what was required.

Isotonic drinks contain similar concentrations of salt and sugar as in the human body.

  • They quickly replace fluids lost through sweat and supply a boost of carbohydrate.
  • They are the preferred choice for most athletes, including middle and long-distance running or those involved in team sports. Hypertonic drinks contain a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body.
  • They quickly replace fluids lost by sweating.
  • Suitable for athletes who require fluid without a carbohydrate boost.

Prior to leaving for the States, the riders did a sweat test.  This involved taking their weight before and after cycling at race pace in a sauna for 30 mins in their cycling kit, helmet, gloves the lot!

Unfortunately we didn’t have the means to do the electrolyte sweat test, however what we did get was an indication on how much fluid each rider would be losing and this helped us prepare for the race ensuring we had enough water in the support cars and an indication as too how many electrolyte supplements we would need to purchase for the 24/7 race.

Following this, we put in place rehydration protocols to ensure our riders had optimal hydration.  We weighed our riders in only their underwear before and after each shift and then rehydrated as necessary.

  • For every pound of body weight lost we would replenish with 600 mls of water + electrolyte solution.
  • We also ensured we used plenty of Himalayan Rock Salt when cooking their foods as it contains many trace elements and is a super electrolyte source.
  • In these extreme events, the priority was hydration over sleep as you can exercise tired, but you can’t if severely dehydrated.

With dehydration, hyponatremia and hypernatremia you will find that if you’re monitoring outcomes and rectify the problem in the early stages through increasing/decreasing fluid intake or increasing electrolytes, the body adapts and the symptoms can disappear fairly quickly.

When planning for endurance events be it 2 hour or 24 hour + the more prepared you are, the more you monitor the more chance you have of finishing well.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.morefit.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Rachelle-Healy-MoreFit-Personal-Trainer1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Rachelle Healy is a Personal Trainer at MoreFit St Paul’s Motivation: “I want to make you the best version of yourself.” If you are planning an endurance event and would like some help with hydration and nutrition, please get in touch with Rachelle at Morefit St Paul’s. [/author_info] [/author]

 

The Truth About Abs Training

Many of my clients ask why I don’t put much abdominal training into their sessions or programs. Despite the fact that over 90% of the exercises I give them forces them to engage their core much more than most isolated core exercises such as your traditional sit ups or planks. There seems to be this old school conception amongst most people that in order to have strong abdominals & core you need to do some form of isolated abdominal exercises, generally those done on the floor. Well I disagree. I hardly do or did in the past any isolated abdominal exercises, mainly because I hate doing them and they are not as effective as when I was unconditioned. I can squat 1.5 times my body weight and deadlift 2.5 my body weight, that means I can deadlift 200kg… Do you think I need a strong core for that?

Here is an interesting article by strength coach Charles Poliquin where he discusses this topic making good comparisons to Olympic weightlifters whom don’t implement a great deal of isolated abdominal exercises into their program. Yet they are considered top athletes with stronger and thicker external & internal obliques and deep abdominal walls than athletes in other sports.

To further back this point is a study published in 2011 by Physical Therapy clearly showing as I have mentioned above making comparisons between female weightlifters to other active control groups.

So don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that isolated core exercises are a waste of time, as a matter of fact they are great. I would even recommend that most people learn some key core exercises deriving from gymnastics such as the hollow body which done correctly forces you to engage more than just your core. If you are a total beginner to exercise core exercises will be challenging and effective and will hopefully learn how to engage your core consciously. However, I have also found that, as mentioned by Charles, after 4-6 weeks of abdominal training they are not very effective.

A lot of my training revolves around Olympic weightlifting, tennis, rock climbing and gymnastics. Fortunately most of it is very functional and forces me to always engage a lot of muscles in my body. So this is what I get most of my clients doing and I also recommend you implement into your training.

Here are a few tips to improve core strength:

  1. Perform compound lifts such as the deadlift or squat. I also recommend going heavy, 8 reps or less. Your core will be put under a lot more pressure at this intensity as apposed to doing high reps like you find in a typical body pump class. Furthermore the squat & deadlift are both very functional movements in nature,  for instance the deadlift is simply picking something from the ground which we tend to do everyday. So learn to engage your core in movement patterns similar to our daily activities and you are more likely to prevent injury.
  2. Presses and pull ups are also great for core strength if done properly, remember your abdominals link the upper and lower part of the body. Performing a standing military press for instance will force you not only to engage your core but also back and legs. Done with sufficient weight and you will feel how you have to embrace your core.
  3. Most functional exercises are also beneficial, I particularly enjoy using the kettlebell for single arm squats or Turkish get ups which put your body in a slightly compromised position putting more emphasis on core stability.
  4. Focus on breathing techniques where you have to consciously activate you TVA (transverse abdominus). Even Pilates or yoga classes would be great place to learn this, where you will also be taught how to engage the rest of your body whilst doing the abdominal exercises.
  5. Address your stress and lifestyle. Cortisol plays an important role within the body, those that find they put a lot of fat on around the stomach is most likely due to some form of stress whether it be nutritional, physical or even mental. This will inevitably affect how well your body performs in general, hence your core. If you are interested in the role of cortisol read “The cortisol connection” by Shawn Talbott.
  6. Nutrition and gut health is also very important, over 75% of the population are carb intolerant. More specifically the carbs that derive from processed foods such as cereals, bread, rice, pasta etc. Most of us have learnt to live with the consequences of a high carb diet and consider it normal I.e the bloated and lethargic feeling after eating, indigestion, poor sleep and so forth. Those that built up intolerances to carbs will build up more inflammation within their gut. Unfortunately anything that inflames your gut will shut off the neurological reflex to your deep abdominal wall, thus it won’t work as well. So, in simple words, address diet and lifestyle. For more detail on this topic read this article by Paul Chek where he discusses leaky gut syndrome.
  7. Play with gymnastics. Gymnasts have great trunk musculature due to the amazing movements they practice. Hollow body being one of the fundamental exercises they use and is incorporated into most of their movements whether it be a handstand, press up or ring work. This is simply body weight exercises taken to high levels. When was the last time you did a handstand, cartwheel or backflip? Rediscover these movements and see how different it feels. Here is a link to an advanced hollow body exercise. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qgV51C4ebRs There is plenty I have not mentioned or gone into depth with but I hope this enough to get you started and thinking on how to improve your core strength.

>> Blog by Anthony Masters – MoreFit Personal Trainer