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Energy versus temperature and running performance

Something we have been reading about this year, and are now keenly observing in our own performance is the relationship between the body’s temperature and its performance in running.

As we all know, the human body is a marvelous piece of [nature’s] engineering, and it is very good at maintaining a fairly constant temperature through a range of environmental conditions. The body has to gain or lose heat in order to do this (controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain). Our core temperature remains quite constant through this regulation, but the skin and underlying tissues are subject more to environmental changes.

As we exercise, we produce heat and a surprising fact we found is that a huge amount of the energy we use during exercise is actually in regulating (or losing) that heat! The body simply can’t keep up with the rate of heat creation in its effort to stabilise the temperature, be that heat created from our increased metabolism, muscle movements or external factors such as hot weather.

It is quite a complex subject so I won’t attempt to explain it in full here… Anyone interested in learning more would do well to read this article on runtheplanet.com though as it goes into great detail about this subject!

Through our own experimentation we have found the following tips to be very helpful and have shown us a markedly noticeable difference in energy levels when training and competing. Some of this is pretty obvious stuff of course, but we are surprised at the number of runners we see out there in the hot weather still slogging away wearing their long sleeves and tights!

  • Plan your runs at the cooler times of day (early morning or in the evening)
  • Wear as little as is decent!
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate
  • Replace lost salts after your run (and hydrate some more!)
  • Acclimatize the body to the temperature if you must run in the heat, start slowly and build up to pace
  • For really long runs take some good quality energy gels/sweets which will help replace salts and carbs on the go. (Needless to say you should have water with you as well!)
  • Weigh yourself before and after your runs to understand how much water you lose. Then replace it before your next workout!

Some times it is hard to get the balance of clothing correct. I always tend to over-dress as it feels windy or chilly, but then halfway through my run I wish I was in just a vest and shorts! It takes a bit of getting used to your own body, especially as you improve and get fitter, but its worth keeping in mind that your body will perform better (and recover quicker) if it can more easily regulate heat loss…

Enjoy the summer! 🙂

Paul.

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Posted by on 4 July, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recovery, Running

 

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Obsessive Society – Health, Weight Loss, Diets….

We are obsessed with healthy eating, dieting, weight loss. But do we actually eat/live healthy? Looking at the rising obesity and diseases (such as cancer, heart diseases, diabetes) rates worldwide, we definitely do not eat/live healthy! Majority of us do talk a “good game” (or procrastinate to the next more “convenient day” or always find an excuse not to do it, pulled through!) but when it actually comes to eating/living/being healthy/doing it, fail! Why? What is holding some of us back or off? Why many of us struggle with loosing weight, keeping the weight off (!), being healthy, active and ultimately happy?

Lately I get to hear very often when people look at my food and say: ‘oh that looks very healthy?’ ‘You are eating very healthy!’ ‘Oh that looks delicious’. ‘Oh that is so colourful and appetising!’ ‘Oh I wish I would have time to do my own lunches, make home-cooked meals’…..

Well for me it is natural and essential, as we all call it “healthy” eating. That is what makes me, ME. A Human Being! And to be totally honest with you, I am starting to hate this phrase “healthy eating”!

And why do I eat such “shockingly” healthy foods? Because I don’t eat and want crap which is full of sugar (artificial or not. I won’t go into the detailed science with you here), bad fats, preservatives, artificial colours/flavours and other ingredients which I cannot even pronounce. Just think, if you cannot pronounce a certain ingredient how on earth does your body deal with it? Stores as fat, messes with your neurotransmitters, hormones and and and….

I came across something very interesting the other day. “If you are reading ingredient lists on products, then you don’t eat clean/lean/natural and (ok I say it here), healthy”. It is bloody true! Absolutely, if you are in the supermarket and read label after label then you are avoiding the real food! The food which is good for you, your body, mind, and and and! And you are in the wrong aisle! (Ok enough of rant).

On some occasions I get asked: ‘Don’t you treat yourself? Have some of the yummy cakes in the kitchen’. I just wonder – why? And that is what I really don’t get! Why do I want to “treat” my body and mind with high sugar, bad fats, crap food, empty calories?! A treat for me is a nice bowl of fresh berries (you can even have a spoon of full fat crème or Greek yogurt if you like), big fresh steak of tuna or piece of nice dark chocolate (at least 70%)! That is what a treat is – and should be! Treat, that actually gives your body good nutrients, cleansing your body from free radicals, oxidation stress, nourish your mind, gives you positive energy (emphasis on POSITIVE). Not crap, highly processed food! Please….

And then people say: ‘oh that is so difficult to resist those cakes, chocolate, biscuits, sweets in the kitchen’. Really? I don’t have a problem with that. Why? Just read the ingredients list and research each ingredient (good old google will help you with that). Find out more information and then think about it (digest the information you just read). Do you really want to have it in your body? Probably not (I hope so though otherwise I really don’t understand the world anymore).

The emphasis here is on natural, real, fresh food! We are designed to move, we are designed to eat whole food, real food.

And just an end note: I am proud to say that I haven’t been to McDonald’s (or similar establishments) in 15 Years! And I am not going to change it! I am shocked to see a queue in the Drive Through every time I pass a McDonald’s. Shocked! Seeing all the families with their kids stuffing their face with who knows what is in the “foods”!

Happy & natural eating!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 23 May, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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Excel in your Sport through Nutrition and Sports Psychology

I am trying to mix up my reading material to gain knowledge, understanding, and facts. To understand the human race, especially when it comes to sport and nutrition. How to excel in sport? What is THE magic formula?
I am lucky enough to have a full access to a well stocked University Library. On alternating days I read about Sports Nutrition, General Nutrition and Wellbeing, Recipe books and Ingredients, and Sports Psychology.

Last night was “Sports Psychology night”. I am reading Pure Sport, Practical Sport Psychology by John Kremer and Aidan P. Moran. And the following struck me. So true not only in the world of sport but also daily life:

“From birth to grave, we grow and as we grow, we change…”
Absolutely! It’s so obvious but still we all forget that every day we live, we change. No day is the same. I find this so empowering and calming at the same time. It makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck ( Am I turning to a werewolf?!)

And it goes further:
“…and nowhere is this true than in sport and through sport…”
Again absolutely makes sense. We train, we change. We become stronger, leaner, muscular. You name it. We change through sport… in a positive way.

Next:
“…While there may be core aspects of our personality that endure, we continue to be moulded and shaped by our experiences, and especially our successes and failures.”
Wow that one gives me shiver! Hugely powerful! Hugely important if you want to grow, succeed and progress in any area of life.

Some food for thought.

Irina

 
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Posted by on 15 May, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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(Virgin) Olive Oil vs (Virgin) Coconut Oil

Something I have never thought of before, but after going to a Sports Nutrition seminar few weeks ago (where I learned a lot of amazing scientific evidences), I have to share this with you.

(Virgin) Olive Oil has been cultivated for thousands of years! It’s a great source of Vitamin K, E and Omega 9 fatty acids.
Being monounsaturated fat, Olive Oil protects against coronary heart disease, prevents diabetes and lowers blood pressure. It is no surprise that many doctors recommend to follow “Mediterranean diet”!

Coconut Oil on the other hand classed as a saturated fat and as we all know is not as healthy as (mono/poly)unsaturated fats. But the saturated fat in coconut oil is a different type as to those found in meat and dairy and doesn’t have the same health risks.
Coconut Oil is known as Medium Chain Fatty acids (MCTs) which means it is more soluble, easy to digest and metabolised by the body, used as energy source rather than stored as fat. The Medium Chain Fatty acids help with Calcium and Magnesium absorption.

But the problem with Olive Oil is that it is a low heat oil which means if using it for cooking (frying) it has a very low point at which is starts to burn and to smoke (Don’t tell me you don’t get it!). This results in activation of Free Radicals. In general unsaturated fatty acids are unstable and easily oxidized when exposed to oxygen free-radicals.
What are these Free Radicals? Free Radicals are highly reactive molecules contain one or more unpaired electrons, are extremely unstable and immediately react with another molecule (which then forms a new radical – the cycle of free radicals). They damage various body cells and could be the cause for various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, immune system weakness, cataracts etc. Free Radicals have to be neutralized with antioxidants. Fresh fruit and vegetables are great source of antioxidants. No wonder medics, dietitians and scientists recommend eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include various colours (mix it up, brighten it up!).
BUT there are however also some benefits of Free Radicals such as production of sperm, and eggs in ovaries.

Conclusion even though coconut oil is saturated fat (MCTs) it is a much healthier option than olive oil.

Use (Virgin) Olive Oil as salad dressing without getting those nasty free radicals. Very simple recipe:

Olive Oil
Fresh Lemon juice
Lemon zest
Salt, pepper.
Mix all good together until you get silky dressing. Done!

That now explains to me why I never liked the smell in the house after cooking with olive oil. I found the smell very heavy, somehow poisonous. Since understanding a bit of science, I’ve started using coconut oil and the transformation is amazing. The house smells nice, it doesn’t burn, the meal is much cleaner, tastier and delicious. Check out my recent recipe.

Did you know that Vitamin E helps to keep the skin wrinkle-free and hair glossy? Vitamin K is the green leafy vitamin which helps against blood clotting.

Irina

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Green Goodness

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical with the idea. No matter what others said, what I read about it… But after trying myself for few days I have to say, I am hooked. I feel great, not too full, not too hungry, my blood sugar is stable for several hours, my bowls are happy too and it taste so yummy! …. I am talking about smoothies for breakfast. Green Tea Smoothie to be exact, aka “Green Goodness”.

They are very easy to make and you can put whatever you like in them (ish). I don’t take any measurements so I kind of did an ish estimate (sorry). This one is my favourite:

1 cup frozen green grapes – no seeds
1 frozen banana (peel the banana before putting in the freezer. You save yourself a lot of time…. wrap it in cling film or plastic food bag – reuse the bag!)
2 cups of green tea – cooled. You can use whatever flavour you like (or have at home). I used mango/lychee, 3 tea bags for 2 cups, brewed it for 4-5 minutes.
2 cups of fresh Spinach (or 2 hand full loads)
3 tablespoons of plain probiotic yogurt
1 teaspoon Maca Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon Spirulina Powder (optional)
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Optional: 1 avocado and 1 lime

The preparation is very easy (probably the easiest part). Put everything in the blender. Blend until smooth. Viola! You have got a great, delicious Green Tea smoothie to start your day.

Green Goodness

However I do give my stomach some solid food, I do have two soft boiled eggs before and a big glass of this delicious Green Tea Smoothie (I sometimes put some home-made granola in it to give a bit of texture). This breakfast keeps me going until lunch time (though I do have a mid-morning snack – banana and few nuts).

And even better, I make slightly bigger portion and have some as my afternoon snack.

As you may notice I use some unusual ingredients – Maca and Spirulina powders.
Maca Powder – increases energy, vitality and endurance. Is high in Vitamins C, B, E, Magnesium, Calcium, protein.

Spirulina Powder – is a blue algae. Great for weight loss, detox, stress buster. High in iron, carotene, Vitamins A, Bs, C, E and H, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Omega 3 oils, 18 Amino Acids.
I tried Spirulina Powder with water but didn’t like the taste. So put it in smoothie seems to work well. And it gives some lush colour to the final product.

Give it ago! You will love it!

Irina

 
 

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Eggs = Performance Enhancers

I have been avoiding eggs (or was very careful consuming on regular basis) for years. We all heard it before, eggs are too fat, too many calories, cholesterol rich. In short, not good for you if eaten on regular or daily basis, an so on. Well you get the picture.

It has changed for me few weeks ago as I discovered and researched that eggs are actually very good for you, especially if you exercise on daily basis. And during my Sports Nutrition course this has been confirmed and here is why:

Eggs are packed with vitamins and minerals, which are essential for human health. Eggs contain outstandingly balanced nutrition with many B vitamins, Vitamin A, many minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fat). And are low in fat and calories! (did someone say OMG!) And of course a perfect source for protein.
But why does my title say “Eggs = Performance Enhancers”? Let take a look at three B vitamins in a bit of detail.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – also called “The Carbo Burner”
Thiamin plays an important role in the metabolism of energy in all cells because it’s a coenzyme (TPP and TTP) which is essential for energy production. In short, Thiamin releases energy from carbohydrates. Good source of Thiamin is brown rice, pulses, cereals, vegetables and not to forget our good friend the egg.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – also called “The Fat Burner”
Same as Thiamin, Riboflavin also releases energy from carbohydrates. Riboflavin works effectively with iron which helps to promote red cells blood which transport oxygen. The coenzyme Flavin from riboflavin is needed for the metabolism of carbs, fat and proteins = energy source.
Good source of Riboflavin is milk, beef, spinach (which also contains iron) and our good old friend the egg.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – also called “Feel the Burn”
Niacin is essential for growth and healthy skin. And like Thiamin and Riboflavin, Niacin also releases energy from carbohydrates. Niacin is used in two coenzyme which are involved in energy production from carbohydrates, protein and fat (and alcohol, but I don’t count alcohol as a “good”source of energy).
Niacin can be found in meat, nuts, beef, chicken and yes, you are right thinking, the egg.

So here is a little bit of scientific evidence that eggs are actually very good for you and classed as Super Food. (or shall we call it “Wonderfood”!?)

Happy egg eating!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 21 November, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Super Foods

 

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