DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

DigeZyme Digestive Enzymes and Whey Protein

The benefits of whey protein have been researched heavily and include promotion of muscle growth, decreasing blood pressure, aiding recovery from exercise and reducing inflammation, but what happens if we are unable to effectively absorb the protein? Unfortunately modern lifestyle and diet choices mean that our ability to utilize whey protein is sometimes diminished, however there is a simple way to ensure our muscles can optimally use whey to support their repair and growth.

We can measure how well a protein source is absorbed and utilized by the body, we call this it’s biological value (BV). The BV of whey protein is fairly high, up to 104 for a whey isolate formula such as Instant Whey; compare this to the BV of meat 80 and milk 91, we can easily see why whey protein is deemed as one of the best post workout sources of protein. However just because it has a high BV does not mean that 100% of it is absorbed and utilized. This is because digestion of protein is reliant on proper digestive enzymes which are released by the pancreas.

The majority of the protein consumed is digested in the intestines. In order for this digestion to occur the body must be able to break down protein into peptides and then further into amino acids which can be absorbed through the small intestinal wall; and in order for that to happen the body needs enzymes called proteases. These enzymes alongside, lipases which breakdown fat and amylase which breakdown carbohydrates are released by the pancreas.

Once the proteins have been broken down into amino acids they are absorbed into the blood stream where they are circulated to the muscle tissue and other cells. When the amino acids reach the cells they can start repairing and rebuilding the tissue damaged from exercise training to make it stronger and bigger.

However, if the body cannot break down whey protein then it cannot reach the muscles and start the repair process. Symptoms of low levels of digestive enzymes include bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhea.

Although diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis and brush border diseases such as coeliac disease are known causes of decreased digestive enzymes, diet and lifestyle choices also have a huge impact; which is why abdominal complaints are becoming more common.

There are a few potential causes of enzyme deficiency; these include low grade chronic inflammation in the digestive tract- this can be caused by food intolerances, infection or nutrient deficiencies. Chronic stress is probably the most common reason for low enzymes, when our adrenalin is high and we are in “fight or flight” mode. This can be triggered by needing to get to school or work on time, an important meeting, a deadline or just generalized anxiety; the body reduces digestive function, including enzyme output. This is due to fight or flight mode being an essential function in prehistoric times for physical survival – the body would increase adrenaline, increasing the heart pumping and directing the blood away from non-essential organs (such as the digestive system) and towards the legs to keep them running. Ageing can also decrease enzyme production.

In modern life many people may suffer from either a nutrient deficiency, which could impair digestion or chronic stress (which can also impair digestion). This means our digestive enzyme production is low and our ability to absorb amino acids is low; causing a decreased recovery from training, reducing the chance of increasing muscle strength and size.

However, this does not mean supplementing with whey protein is useless, as it is important in the recovery process due to its BV, especially if training twice per day; it simply means we need to supplement with a digestive enzyme to assist the digestion process. Ideally combining a digestive enzyme with whey protein will yield the best results to ensure absorption and maximally support recovery.

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

How to Effectively Calculate Your Macros

In this post, the latest member of #TeamReflex, Juggy Sidhu, goes over the macronutrient basics and shows how to calculate your macros according to your personal goals.

 

What are Macronutrients?

 

Macronutrient

Key Facts

Protein

4 calories per gram;
Composed of amino acids (‘essential’, which the body attains through diet and ‘non essential’ which the body can assemble itself);
Used in our body for growth and repair of cells, increasing muscle mass and in enzymes, hormones, antibodies and neurotransmitters;
Aids with satiety, immune function, metabolism, weight management and performance;
Protein has a thermogenic effect and can also liberate fat from stores around the body to be utilised as energy.

Carbohydrates

4 calories per gram;
Carbs can be classified as simple and complex;
Simple carbs are faster to digest and absorb compared to complex carbs;
Carbs are the primary source of energy for your bodies cells.

Fat

9 calories per gram;
Three distinct categories, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated which can be found in unprocessed and wholefoods;
Trans and hydrogenated fats are industrially processed, usually found to preserve foods and increase shelf life of products;
Dietary fat supports metabolism, cell signaling, the health of various body tissues, immunity, hormone production, and the absorption of many nutrients;
Improves satiety, body composition, mood and can offer cardiovascular protection.

 

Calculating your Macros

When calculating your macros a good place to start would be to understand exactly how much energy in calories your body would need to maintain at rest- this is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). To create a more accurate figure of your BMR, it would be wise to understand your body composition and body fat percentages. Body fat percentages can be calculated using skin callipers, although these are more likely to be correct if performed by a trained professional.

The Katch McCardle method for working out BMR is:

P = 370 + (21.6 x LBM), where LBM is the lean body mass in kg.

To workout LBM:

LBM= Body Mass in KG x (100 – Bodyfat %) / 100

 

Let’s take a 100kg athlete with 10% body fat.

LBM= 100 x (100-10) / 100

LBM is 90kg.

 

BMR= 370 + (21.6×90)

BMR = 370 + 1944

BMR = 2314 Kcal

 

Now you know your BMR, you need to factor in a few calculations based on your daily activities and of course your training!

 

Average activity multiples

1.2 Sedentary job (desk job and little exercise)

1.3-1.4 Lightly Active (Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week)

1.5-1.6 Moderately Active (Moderately daily Activity & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)

1.7-1.8 Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)

In the above example our athlete with a BMR of 2314Kcal has desk job but trains intensely 5-6 days a week.

If our above 100kg athlete works in a sedentary office job (category 1.2) but then trains hard 5 days a week (category 1.8), it would be sensible to put him in a mid range of around 1.5.

 

TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure) = 2314 x 1.5

TDEE= 3702 kcals

 

The TDEE is an estimate of your maintenance calories, which would effectively allow you to retain a constant weight, in order to create a deficit, you can decrease the overall calorie intake, or increase activity levels.

 

Knowing Your Body Type

There are other considerations when working out your preferred macronutrient intake. The following table will outline the characteristics of three body types, ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.  When setting up a nutrition plan, it is important to know your body and understand some key traits that tie into developing an improved physique.  For example, if you are an endomorph, starting at a higher body fat percentage and a slower metabolic rate, you may find it useful to understand that due to impaired insulin response or beta cell dysfunction, your ability to utilise carbohydrates may be significantly lower than an ectomorph.  Having said that, if you are a trained individual, it could be that your carbohydrate tolerance is actually quite good! These tables are approximates only and in no way should be considered the key to success when creating your own nutrition plan, as you will surely realise by now, what works for one person will not necessarily be right for another.

 

Somatotype
Characteristics
Approximate macro % split for each somatotype

Protein        Carbs            Fats

Ectomorphic
• Naturally thin with skinny limbs
• Endurance Exercise
• Fast metabolism
• High sympathetic nervous system activity
• Higher carb tolerance
27.5%
52.5%
20%
Mesomorphic
• Naturally muscular and athletic.
• Bodybuilding/ Strength
• Testosterone and growth hormone dominant
• Moderate to high sympathetic system activity
30%
40%
30%
Endomorphic
• Naturally broad and thick set.
• Strength Exercises/ Powerlifting
• Insulin dominant
• Slow metabolic rate
• Low sympathetic system activity
• Low carbohydrate tolerance
35%
25%
40%

 

 

Our 100kg, 10% body fat example could fall into the mesomophic range.  Therefore to calculate protein, carbs and fats you will calculate the following:

Protein= (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 277g protein

Carbs = (3702*0.4) = 1480.8 kcals = 370g carbs

Fats = (3702*0.3) = 1110.6 kcals = 123g fats

If you are unable to categorise your body type clearly, there is another simple approach to working out your macros.  Consuming between the range of 2-2.2g protein per kg and fats at around 1g per kg body would be within normal ranges for an individual that trains.  The rest of the daily calories can be consumed in carbohydrates.

Therefore protein would be 2.2*100= 220g (880kcals)  fats 1×100= 100 (900kcals) and carbs would be set at (3702-1780)= 1922 kcals (480g).

 

Timing and considerations

While cutting, your goal should be to retain a positive nitrogen balance and stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS).  This can be achieved through consuming between 20-30g of high quality sources of protein every 3-4 hours. MPS offers a protective effect against muscle loss, as body fat levels reduce.  By retaining a high level of protein in your diet there will be an increased thermogenic effect (calorie output will increase to digest the protein,) muscle protection and offer greater satiety.

I am a huge advocate of using carbohydrates within your diet, if you are able to utilise them effectively.  Carbohydrates will fuel your sessions, your recovery and also improve your sleep. Carbs have had a bad reputation, because most people tend to either over eat them or tend to consume refined or processed forms, whilst also misunderstanding optimal timing of consumption.  I tend to use slower digesting carbohydrates pre workout or through the day and faster digesting carbs post workout.

For some reason dietary fats got a bad rep, then a great rep and then people thought that it would be better to just replace all carbs with fats.  Nutrition can be a minefield.  Therefore keep it simple, if you have moderate amounts of each macronutrient you will cover all basis for optimal health and function.  I keep a healthy level of fat intake in my diet throughout a cut, as they play a huge role in mood, energy provision, increased insulin sensitivity, fat loss and hormone production.

I always start a cut on around 4 litres of water, which for me is quite easy.  Others struggle to drink plain water, therefore mixing in Reflex Nutrition Amino Fusion can have a great effect on not only hydration, but also providing your body with a constant stream of essential amino acids. Consuming enough water can aid in the blood flow from tissues and improve the ability to oxidise fat on a cellular level.

How to Cheat at the Weekend Without Ruining Your Diet

How to Cheat at the Weekend Without Ruining Your Diet

The weekend can be a challenge as far as dieting is concerned. Our food-loving physique competitor, Tom McDonough, explains how to get through it without feeling guilty and ruining your diet progress.

 

Firstly I hate the phrase ‘cheat meal’… it automatically puts a negative twist on something as simple as eating a meal out with friends or family, and often leads to guilt. Start calling it a ‘free meal,’ a meal off the plan, a meal you can enjoy that you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about. I simply used the term for the article as everyone knows what a cheat meal is.

It’s pretty easy to stick to a diet five days a week. Most of us have a set routine that we can stick to and prepare food for so we adhere to our goals. When it comes to the weekend that’s a whole different ball game where routine goes out the window and we don’t necessarily want to be carrying food while out and about with friends. Hopefully this article will give you a few ideas on how to tackle the weekend diet without leaving you filled with guilt come Monday morning. You will have enjoyed your weekend without suffering.

There are many ways to skin a cat- how strict you want to be will dictate the methods you may choose.
Here’s are a few ways I do things and have successfully done in the past.

First, let’s look at options if you are being pretty strict and have a goal in mind: Simply write out a plan for the two days which include foods you’d like to eat over the weekend that are totally different to your optimal meals. The great thing is, because we are normally busy over the weekend and do not have to get up so early, your normal 5/6 meals that you eat on weekdays can be reduced to 3/4. That gives you a lot more calories to play with for each meal. You can even raise your calories a couple hundred over the weekend (don’t do this if you have someone helping with your diet.)

If you set yourself a plan through out the week heavy in “optimal” foods like the usual chicken and rice, then make a change. You could have pancakes for breakfast or eggs and bacon on toast and then grab yourself a subway for lunch. If you make the right choice even a foot long is only about 600/650 calories. Eat what ever, just make sure it fits your calorie allowance. Make sure that you maintain a good amount of protein within this and let the fats and carbs fall wherever. Eating this way is not perfect but much better than going off the rails and quite easily consuming an extra 2/30 00 calories which could set you back days.

This is obviously hugely dependent on your goals, and individual to each person. Your daily calories may be a lot lower, for example females may not eat 1500 calories and still have 1500 to play with so obviously your meal sizes would need to be reduced. You would need to design this FOR YOU. One plan for food certainly does not fit all but I hope reading this article helps you get the idea.

 

Pro Tips

Method 1- Goal Focused

  • Track your food
  • Write out a plan
  • Pick foods you look forward to eating

Method 2- Lifestyle Focused

  • Track your food
  • Consume less through out the day
  • Leave yourself plenty of calories
  • The day after have a low day
  • Weight session on following day
  • Choose food you enjoy

The Hungry Man’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

The Hungry Man's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

In this special guest blog, strength and conditioning coach, Alex Backhouse, who has over 10 years industry experience, talks us through the basics of Intermittent Fasting; What it is and how you could benefit from this tried and tested eating approach.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. You may be even experimenting with it already. The world seems to love things that have got technical sounding titles, especially when it comes to health, fitness and weight loss.

High Intensity Interval Training? We could just call that sprints. But it doesn’t sound as good. Intermittent fasting- sounds ten times better than skipping breakfast doesn’t it?

So to take the mystique out of fasting, let’s give it a better definition.“Non-sequential extended periods without calories.” From time to time, you don’t eat – at all.

There are several different ways to apply this caloric restriction, including the 5:2 method which involves 2 days of the week with severe calorie restriction. There are some that favour the occasional 24-72 hour fast, where you only drink water and other calorie free drinks.

I’ve found the ‘windowed eating’ approach easiest to use personally, and the one I’ve had great success with my clients with. You eat all your food within a timed window: usually 8 hours or less. The easiest way to do this is to skip breakfast, and carry on your day as if nothing happened.

 

How does Intermittent Fasting work?

“But breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” I hear you cry.

For me there’s a massive disparity with the type of things we were eating, 20, 50 or 100 years ago compared to the plethora of calorific delights at our disposal these days. Let alone the difference in lifestyle: transport, jobs, exercise, and recreation. My point is this: A day of working hard in the fields and coming home to a meager portion of meat and potatoes before bed is very different to how we live our lives today.

At some point, maybe breakfast really was the most important meal of the day. But not any more. I’m not even going to go down the route of whether Mr. Kellog invented that phrase as a marketing slogan and got the whole world hooked on carbs for breakfast. But it’s definitely a possibility.

So lets look a bit more at what happens to your body when you don’t eat. If you don’t believe in fasting, technically you’re already doing it every time you go to bed- this is where the magic happens. We recover from the day’s grind, the day’s workout. We soak up all the calories and nutrients we’ve absorbed from our food. Cells repair. We grow a little bit. We get older.

We burn fat too, because after a while, all the calories we’ve eaten have been assigned to different storage areas – muscle, liver, fat stores, and we enter the fasted state aka the post-absorptive state. We’re no longer digesting and absorbing calories, we’re now using them and burning them. So when we wake up, we’re burning fat. I’m pretty sure most of us would be happy with that.

“But my metabolism will slow down if I don’t eat small regular meals”

Allow me to paraphrase Kaiser Soze when I say “The greatest trick the food industry ever pulled, was convincing people they had to eat more food in order to lose weight.”

I’m well aware that in extreme cases this may be true, but I think most of us would agree that if we’re overweight, it’s because we eat too much in general. And a consistent, mild caloric deficit is essential for weight loss (I’ll come back to this bit later). Then there’s this phrase “stoking the metabolic fire”- implying that you need to eat to increase the rate at which your metabolism burns calories.

Well, metabolic rate is king when it comes to daily caloric expenditure. If we can be burning more calories at rest, or throughout the day in general, then this is our most powerful tool in the battle to drop some fat. But we do not significantly increase our metabolic rate by eating. We increase it through exercise and by having more muscle mass.

You can fast for up 72 hours before experiencing any drop in metabolic rate, providing calories are kept above BMR before and after the period of fasting

 

What are the benefits?

So we’ve established that a fasted state is safe for our hard earned muscle, and that we probably don’t need to be topping up our glycogen levels to 100% to go about our day- unless we were mid-way through Royal Marines selection. We can now come back to your daily calorie allowance and how much we need to restrict this by to lose weight.

As a regular exerciser weighing 92kg, my basal metabolic rate is around 3400 calories. If I subtract 500 off this (the accepted sensible amount for consistent weight loss,) I get 2900. Following a windowed eating approach, breaking my fast at noon, I now have 8 hours to consume nearly 3000 calories. Which is nice.

However, if I divided this into 5 meals of 600 calories each, the first of which I ate at 7am, I’m just going to feel hungry, deprived and grumpy for pretty much the whole day.

Are you starting to see the appeal?

Fasting is not for everyone and not for every situation. Adding muscle mass would favour being in a fed state as well as a reasonable (500) surplus of calories per day. But for weight loss, maintenance or even a simple system to enjoy food without obsessing over macros and calories, a windowed eating approach can be a valuable tool.

It’s not ALL about weight loss though is it?

Human Growth Hormone, a favourite of Hollywood celebrities as a ‘fountain of youth’ substance has been shown to increase during periods of fasting. Insulin levels get reset to a healthier level by restricting any rises in blood sugar.

And there are the ‘non scientific’ benefits…

You have more energy. Strange but true. You’re not constantly craving food or worrying about where you can get some protein- you learn to survive with a slight hunger pang in my belly. Personally, I’m actually more productive on it.

 

To summarise, hopefully my fresh perspective on 21st century life, coupled with the biological processes involved in fasting have allayed some your concerns about experimenting with what is probably the easiest method of reducing your daily calories and feeling better throughout the day.

Wake up.

No breakfast.

Black coffee or black tea is fine.

Plenty of water.

Your lunch is when you’ll ‘break your fast’.

Easy.

 

Try it tomorrow!

 

Note: Please seek advice from your doctor if you are on any medication or have any medical issues, prior to attempting to follow or trial any of the above advice.

How to Build a Bigger Back

how to build a bigger back

#TeamReflex athlete and Muscle Model champion, Emil Hodzovic, gives us a run down on some fundamental movements for building a bigger back.

The back. Now, not to state the obvious but it’s behind you. This often means in a new gym-goers formative years it is often forgotten or at least neglected for more obvious muscle groups (such as the chest). However, it is such a fundamental part of a physique that physique shows have been won or lost the second the line-up turned to face the rear.

Let’s be honest, you can see a good back from the front and even clothed, a mountain range of a back will leave people in no doubt whether you even lift, more so than that chest or set of arms.

So how does one go about building a bigger back that a gorilla would be proud of? Read on…

This topic is huge. I could lecture endlessly about all of the fine intricacies of a bigger back training. Instead, I’m going to break it down into my top three back exercises. If you include these in your weekly split then you’re well on your way to a sick set of wings. If you don’t do any of them on a regular basis then you really need to re-evaluate your status as a gym goer.

 

1. The Deadlift

The deadlift is the bread and butter of back training. Before we go into some more detail, let’s just clear a few things up. Deadlifts don’t give you a thick waist. They will develop your core, just like squats and the other big compound movements but to achieve a level of oblique hypertrophy where your waist is thicker than if it just had excess fat on it is nigh on impossible. So get that excuse straight out of your head. And that’s exactly what it often is, an excuse…because deads are HARD. There is no other exercise that loads the back to the same degree as deadlifts from the sheer weight lifted. It will build both thickness and width and it will give you that 3D effect that so many people crave.

Top Tip – Deads are hard and although this isn’t an excuse not to do them, it is possible to overdo them and deadlifting heavy and often can be quite taxing. For me personally, I tend to do them roughly once a fortnight as part of my back workout but I tend to go in hard when I do. Oh, and also, don’t bounce them. It’s a ‘dead’ lift. That means a dead stop at the bottom before you go again.

 

2. The Barbell Bent – Over Row

The barbell bent-over row is next on my list of bigger back training essentials. It’s such a versatile and comprehensive movement and although you can’t load it as heavily as the deadlift, you can still shift some pretty serious weight. There are infinite variations of grips and back positions including the single arm dumbbell row and T bar row but generally speaking the barbell version is the most ubiquitous and even within just this bit of kit there is wide variation. Generally speaking, I prefer over grip and I try to get right over the bar with my back as horizontal as possible. If you’re not careful or start any higher it just ends up turning into a shrug. Within the movement, try and lift the bar to the top abs and control the movement as much as possible but you can alter the line of the lift and angle of the back so you are hitting different parts of the back.

Top tip – Depending on the variation, a little bit of leg bounce is entirely acceptable but if you’re nearly upright and throwing the bar in some sort of half range jerking movement then you’re doing it wrong… bro.

 

3. Lat Pull Down

I think the final one on the list has to be the Lat Pull Down. Often available in even the worst gyms and even more often performed horribly; it hits the back in the vertical plane versus the horizontal movement of say, the Bent Over Row. Again, there are infinite variations of grips and handles and ranges of movement but the standard wide grip front down does the job.

Top tip – Before you start the movement, grip the bar and allow the arms and scapula to extend fully – imagine you’re hanging loosely and letting the shoulder relax. Then, to begin, bring the scapula down and back, keeping the arms straight before bending at the elbows. This is the FULL range of motion and allows you to engage the lats and rest of the back MUCH more effectively.

 

… 4. Pull-ups

I know I said only three, but no discussion on a bigger back training can be complete without talking about the lowly pull up. I love this movement but in terms of sheer versatility the Lat Pull Down pips it when talking general usefulness and versatility. That said, I include pull-ups in most of my workouts as it’s both extremely effective but it’s also one of those movements that you’re kind of expected to be good at as someone who trains regularly. I often put it towards the beginning of a session as a warm up while I’m still fresh. I find I fatigue quickly on these and I try to keep them in even when gaining weight as this is essentially adding resistance to the movement over time.

 

Plant Based Diets

Plant based food protein alternative


Plant based eating has grown in popularity lately and is widely regarded as one of the healthiest approaches to fueling your body. Our resident dietitian, Rachel Hobbs, explains the benefits and practicalities of replacing meat with two veg.

 

What is a Plant Based Diet?Plant based - rice, beans, advocado and seeds

Plant based diets are a bit of trend in the nutrition world at the moment. The media claims they can do anything from cure cancer, to prevent heart disease and reverse diabetes; but what is all the fuss about and do they actually benefit us at all?

As a dietitian I define a plant based diet as a diet that aims to maximise the consumption of … you guessed it, plant foods, whilst minimizing processed foods, oils and animal produce. Sounds identical to a vegetarian or vegan diet? Similar, yes but the main difference is that often individuals choose to become vegetarian out of ethical or environmental reasons. Meat, fish and animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs are not banned from a plant based diet, but they are minimized.

A plant based diet encourages individuals to consume lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts and is generally low in fat; this can seem impossible and confusing for many, especially as for the past 10 years the fitness industry has hammered into the general public they should be eating chicken breasts, tuna and other high protein foods to be healthy.

 

 

What are the Benefits?Plant based - oats, raisins, seeds and nuts

There are many benefits of a plant based diet if it is followed correctly; science says that they are better than meat heavy diets for weight management and fat loss. This is hypothesised to be because they are higher in fibre and therefore make us feel fuller for longer; but also they are more nutrient dense, therefore contain more vitamins and minerals, allowing our bodies to work more efficiently. Research also shows they may prevent heart disease and diabetes too. Due to the increased fibre intake of a plant based diet, scientists suggest that they decrease the risk of getting some cancers, especially those associated with digestion such as colon and stomach cancer.

The jury is still out as to whether it is the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables that decrease disease risk or the reduced intake of meats and processed foods, personally I believe it is a combination of the two.
When discussing a plant based diet with my clients there are a few questions which are commonly asked; I will answer these now.

 

 

“Where will I get my protein from?”Plant based - vegetables, peppers, cabbage, green beans, chick peas and advocado

Many of my clients come to me with elevated protein levels in their diets without a balanced consideration of the role of other nutrients, often carbohydrates

Instead of focusing so strictly on grams of protein per day, I ask my clients to focus on food quality- if they consume foods of high quality or nutritional density, they will automatically meet their protein needs.

The only concern is to ensure adequate essential amino acids are consumed, these are amino acids which cannot be produced by the body. This can easily be achieved by pairing foods with differing amino acid sequences such as beans and rice or hummus and pitta bread.

 

 

 

 

“What does a typical day’s food intake look like?”Plant based - oats, almond milk, soya yoghurt, nuts and fruit

To meet average requirements, a typical day could look like:

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with almond milk and soya yoghurt, topped with nuts and fruit

Lunch: Falafel, hummus and avocado wrap with spinach and rocket.

Snack: Peanut butter on toast.

Dinner: Lentil dahl with rice and peas.

Sometimes it takes a little while for the gut to adapt to the higher fibre intake so a pea protein shake such as Reflex Nutrition’s Vegan Protein would be a great supplement to take. This would also be ideal post workout or to add into a breakfast smoothie.

 

 

“Should I not eat any meat now?”

A plant based diet is exactly as it sounds, it is based around plants, which doesn’t mean all meat and animal products are banned. I actually recommended my clients to have two portions of oily fish a week such as salmon or mackerel to ensure they consume adequate Omega 3.

 

Plant based salad

 “Where do I start?”

I think it is important to take a step by step approach when making dietary changes, so I often prescribe my clients to just start with a “Meat Free Monday” and to experiment with different meal choices every week so they can increase the variety of plant based foods in the diet and feel more confident to try two days of plant based eating.

So, all in all, I think plant based diets are positive for many individuals. They increase fibre intake, they increase vitamin and mineral intake and they decrease processed food intake. So next week, why don’t you give “Meat Free Monday” a go?

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Fruity Amino Fusion® Cocktails

Recipe: Fruity Amino Fusion Cocktails

Summer is coming! Slowly… but we promise it is coming, and our favourite protein magician, Gauri Chopra, has been whipping up some delicious fruity cocktails to celebrate!

Perfect for an amino boost day or night, try these refreshing combinations – or create your own!

 

What is Amino Fusion®?

Amino Fusion® is formulated to be the market leading amino energy formula; it provides up to 40% more amino acids than some other formulas, tastes amazing, contains zero sugars and provides great caffeine kick.

Amino Fusion® only contains research supported amino acids along with science based dosages of citrulline malate, beta alanine and l-carnitine tartrate. You can use Amino Fusion® any time during the day, it is a great pre-workout and a great energy drink to use during the day, with virtually no carbs it is also perfect for those on a carbohydrate restricted diet.

Virgin Apple Mojito

A mid-day, party-starting drink worthy of being enjoyed just as much inside the gym as it is out!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving Green Apple Amino Fusion®
  • 8-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lime
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice

Method:

  • Place the Amino Fusion® powder, mint leaves and squeeze the juice of half your lime into the glass
  • Use a muddler or spoon to squash and mix the ingredients together to release and combine the flavours
  • Fill a quarter of the glass with ice and top it up with sparkling water
  • Add a fresh wedge of lime, a fancy straw, or an umbrella to really get you in the mood!

 

 

 

Pink Lemonade Spritzer

Want to spark up your Pink Lemonade Amino fusion into a delicious & fancy little drink? Try this simple way of serving it over ice!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving Pink Lemonade Amino Fusion®
  • 1 handful of frozen mixed summer berries (or fresh raspberries work well!)
  • Sparkling or Soda water
  • Ice

Method:

  • Pour the Amino Fusion® into a glass along with just enough sparkling water to mix it into a paste
  • Add your frozen berries, (mash half of them into the paste if you’d like more of a tangy, fruity kick!)
  • Add the ice before topping your glass up with more sparkling water

 

 

 

Tropical Fusion

Your pre-workout just got a summer makeover!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving Fruit Punch Amino Fusion®
  • 1 hand full of Frozen mixed fruits (Mango & berries work best!)
  • Enough water to fill a glass/desired sweetness

Method:

  • Simply mix the amino fusion with cold water until the powder is fully dissolved
  • Add a handful of your favourite frozen fruit  for a tropical twist in place your ice cubes
  • Sit back & sip through a bright and colourful straw to get yourself in a real holiday mood!

 

 

 

 

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

In recent years dietary fats have been pushed aside and carbohydrates seem to be public enemy number one. It only takes a quick search on the internet to be informed by a self-proclaimed nutrition expert that pasta will make us fat and sugar will give us cancer; whilst another nutritionist will tell us that we need carbohydrates to keep our metabolism healthy and lose fat. It is no wonder we are confused as to whether these little molecules of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are friend or foe.

So what’s the truth?

All carbohydrates are derived from plants; which means in their natural state, think sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, dates, raspberries and wheat- they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. All of which protect us from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, when we take a natural carbohydrate and refine it, process it and add fats and artificial chemicals to it, that’s when it can be unbeneficial (detrimental) to our bodies. So potatoes dug up from the ground and boiled until soft are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate vitamin B and iron; but when we peel, slice and fry a potato in rapeseed oil then add salt and preservatives to it to make crisps, we remove the nutrients and fibre whilst increasing the fat and salt content. Effectively the crisp making process turns a nutrient dense food into a nutrient sparse one. The same goes for bread, we automatically associate it with making us gain fat; but a minimally processed wholegrain loaf is rich in fibre and B vitamins, only when we play with it – for example refine it and remove its fibre to turn it into white flour then roll it thinly and top it with cheese, tomato and pepperoni does it turn into something that can easily cause excess fat storage.

So, if we eat carbohydrates in their most natural state, they provide us with nutrients essential for optimal health. That does not mean we can eat as much fruit, vegetables and potatoes as we like though; we must consider the type, timing and amount we consume in order to ensure healthy body composition, good energy levels and our best sporting performance.

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are split into two main types. The first is starchy carbohydrates often referred to as slow release, which include foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and wholegrain bread. These foods are often high in fibre which is great for gut health and broken down into smaller particles of sugar and slowly absorb into the blood stream to provide a regular trickle of energy to the body.

The other type of carbohydrates are simple sugars, often referred to as fast release. These are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an almost instant source of energy- although this energy does not last for long. Simplesugars are found in table sugar, jelly sweets and fruits. Both starches and sugars have health and performance benefits for us.

Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, which is less than half of dietary fat; however, we still have to consider the amount of carbohydrate we consume, especially if we are looking to lose weight. Put simply, if we consume more calories than we expend, even if we get them from vegetables, we will put on weight.

Carbohydrates raise our blood glucose levels- this triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role is to decrease blood glucose to safe levels by directing glucose into muscle cells and the liver. We do not want continuously elevated insulin levels as this can prevent fat breakdown, so if weight loss is our goal we need to ensure are carbohydrates only take up a quarter of our plate at meal times and choose higher fibre options.

Using Carbohydrates Effectively

If we are training frequently and looking to improve our strength or endurance performance, then we need a higher amount of carbohydrates to fuel our training and support our recovery. At all meal times we should be choosing starchy carbohydrates, however immediately after a training session we would benefit from choosing quicker release to start the recovery process quickly. If a training session, especially endurance, is over 60 minutes then our performance would benefit from a very fast release carbohydrate during our workout to keep our body fueled.

A typical day could look like;

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with milk, pecans and raspberries
  • Snack: 1 pear
  • Lunch: Avocado, feta and quinoa salad
  • Snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Immediately post workout: glass of milk, handful of dried dates
  • Dinner: Bean and vegetable curry with wholegrain rice

The take home message is that we should be nourishing our bodies with natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to lose fat and improve our health and our performance; we need to simply consider the time, type and quantity we are consuming. It’s time to end our carb-phobia for good.

Extreme Sports: Train Like a Wakeboarder

Extreme Sports: Train Like a Wakeboarder

We asked Reflex Nutrition athlete & competitive wakeboarder, James Mott, about his unique training style and what it takes to stay at the top of the game in this gruelling sport

 

Before I start, for those not very familiar with wakeboarding: It is an extreme sports that consists of techniques adopted from surfing, water skiing and snowboarding, as well as many other water sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. Typically, a boat tows the rider in its wake, hence the sports name. However now cable riding is becoming more and more popular both for beginners and regular riders.

Having a full-time job that involves me working abroad which last year meant spending 6 months in China. When I’m not working it’s a case of juggling training both on and off the water in between competitions. As you could imagine this can become incredibly difficult, especially not knowing what fitness related facilities you will have at your disposal. With all this in mind I have what I would consider my essentials whether I’m travelling or training.

Essentials:

  • Trigger Point Foam Roller
  • Resistance Bands
  • Lacrosse Ball
  • Wireless Headphones
  • Yoga

Demands of the Extreme Sports

Wakeboarding can put tremendous demands on your body. An issue that nearly every wakeboarder will be able to relate to is knee pain, whether they have suffered themselves or know someone who has. The knee is subjected to the highest forces during wakeboarding. The human body has an immense capacity to heal itself. Clearly torn ACL’s don’t magically reattach, and herniated lumbar disks are slow to heal, but the human body will take a tonne of abuse for a really long time before it finally gives up the fight. This is the problem; our bodies will put up with our silly movement and lifestyle choices because they have an astonishing amount of functional tolerance built in. We shouldn’t, however, make the classic error of confusing this miraculous genetic inheritance as a justification for eating, sleeping, or moving however we please.

Training Types

In wakeboarding, an optimal focus for my training is focused on strength and power but I take care to remember my flexibility, agility, balance and coordination.  Mobility, something that not a lot people think about or are actively aware of. Range of motion (ROM) is king, and moving into it with strength, control, stability is a must. The most efficient way of developing mobility and range of motion is to work a mixture of disciplines into a small routine that you can work through before training either in the gym or before you hit the water. Myofascial, soft tissue release mixed with stretching and some yoga inspired poses can be really beneficial. This is great when I’m travelling and don’t always have access to a gym or haven’t been on the water for a while. I can fit my essentials easily into a travel bag or suitcase. Most hotel rooms will have enough space to spend 20/30 minutes working on a small routine using; foam rolling techniques, resistance band work on nearly all major muscle groups.

Staying Flexible

Another essential for me which is easy for anyone to do whilst traveling is yoga-based stretching- this can help to counteract many of the muscular imbalances that arise from spending time on the water, gym and travelling. Yoga can be a great way to train for the season and couldn’t be simpler with apps like ‘Yoga Studio’ free to download and easy to use. The physical poses, called “asanas,” can help improve your body’s overall flexibility and balance, you’ll also be able to recuperate faster from tough days.

Wakeboarding can challenge muscles you didn’t even know you had. A well-rounded yoga practice will utilise every muscle in your body, making it an essential element of cross-training! In addition, yoga offers many other benefits that can help improve my performance wakeboarding, overall fitness levels and wellbeing, including:

  • Stronger leg, back, and core muscles
  • Improved spinal, neck, and hip flexibility
  • Improved balance
  • A calm mind and clear focus
  • Improved stamina and energy

Although I have written this from my prospective juggling a full-time job, training, wakeboarding and competitions- I would encourage anyone to try and spend a short period of time each week to start with using a foam roller, resistance bands and yoga based stretching. Once it becomes part of your everyday routine you really will notice the benefits.

Train to Gain: A Guide to Progressive Overload

When it comes to strength training, how to do you ensure your progress? Athlete Tom Wright talks us through Progressive Overload – what it means and how to use it.

If you were to ask any coach worth their salt what the most important factor in strength training then they would likely say progressive overload. You may never even have heard of it, but you’ve almost definitely seen it and even used it in practice before. So what exactly IS progressive overload?

Simply put!

Progressive overload is the increase in stimulus on your muscles (and connective tissues) over time. If your goal is to become bigger, stronger or faster then your training volume must increase over your career. Muscle adapts to the stimulus put on it, so if you want it to grow you must create a hypertrophic stimulus by increasing the stimulus on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. To add strength you need to increase the weight lifted over time. Thankfully the two tend to go hand in hand and in most cases increasing one will allow you to increase the other.

However, when applying the principle of progressive overload it’s important to remember that more isn’t always better. If lifting more weight comes at the cost of your form then scale it back and complete all your reps with good form. This is still progress. Simply performing movements that you couldn’t before is improving your neurological signalling and motor unit recruitment.

How to Use Progressive Overload

If you’re a novice starting out in your weightlifting career then increases in size and strength will come quickly. The first 6 months of lifting will allow you the most gains as your body adapts to completely new movements and stresses. That being said proper programming can set you on the right path to moving up the ranks quickly.

Try to add ~5% to your lifts week on week for 3 weeks for the same sets and reps, and on the 4th week (or when you can’t manage full reps at the increased weight) drop your weights by 10% to allow you to progress the following session. This is known as a deload.

Tom Wright - Progressive OverloadAs you progress to intermediate level things become a little more complex. Increases in strength and hypertrophy won’t come as easily and programming will need to be more thoroughly planned out. Increases in strength can be achieved using programming such as ‘wave loading’ in which you increase the weight by no more than 5% but decrease the reps each session. Eg.

  • Bench press week 1: 3×8 at 80kg
  • Bench press week 2: 3×7 at 84kg
  • Bench press week 3: 3×6 at 88kg
  • Bench Press week 4: 3×6 at 80kg (deload week)

You can see that as the reps decrease we increase the weight by 5% of original weight. On week 4 we program in a deload week by dropping back to original weight but keeping the same reps. On week 5 we would go back to 3×8 but at the new weight of 84kg and the process is repeated.

Of course this won’t always go as smoothly as above, but by following a process like this we will see progression over time.

Anything else?

Another factor to consider is your assistance or isolation lifts. These are the exercises performed after your main compound movements. For bench press this may be the French Press aka ‘skullcrusher’. To increase strength and muscle mass you want to increase the reps each week but using the same weight. So on week one you perform 3 set of 12 with 20kg, week two you try for 14 reps, and week 3 you aim for 3×15, followed by a reload of 2×12 at 20kg.

Advanced lifters will only see marginal gains for a large amount of effort. Small increases in strength over months and size may not change at all once you are at your genetic potential. Programming becomes essential at this stage and periodisation is integral to progression.

Even with physique the changes may be so minimal that measurements don’t reveal true progress so it is better to track weight lifted and volume. This is especially true for athletes in an ‘off-season’ as added body fat will make it incredibly difficult to track lean muscle gain. Track strength with 1RM or AMRAPs and look at total volume of each session and for the week. A monthly or 3 monthly increase in these will indicate progressive overload.

Start seeing greater results in the gym by using the information above to better plan your sessions, and training blocks. Train smarter, not just harder.