5 Every Day Supplements as recommended by Reflex Ambassador Emil Hodzovic

Emil Hodzovic

Supplements are just that. They are meant to supplement a healthy and balanced diet, which can be very convenient in day-to-day life. There are a few supplements that I would consider more essential than others as it can be genuinely difficult to get enough in your diet despite the best intentions:

For health, I would argue that omega 3 fish oils or krill oil and vitamin D3 are up there.

If your goal is muscle gain, power or speed, creatine monohydrate is a ‘must-have’. These supplements are pretty tough to get through the diet alone and, as well as good evidence on the benefit to health and performance, they also have virtually no risk of negative side effects at the recommended doses.

Additionally, a multivitamin can be a good safety net in the modern world of high stress and fast living where optimal nutrition is not always possible.

You may wonder why I have not mentioned protein shakes yet. This is simply because I consider protein powder a food source, especially in this day and age with it being so versatile and readily available. It can be used in post-workout shakes or smoothies, meal replacements, desserts or even in protein cooking.

So these are the five supplements I would argue that you should be taking every day. Below I discuss why!

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fish oils and krill oil contain EPA and DHA, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids. These have a host of benefits including increasing good cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

For general health, taking 300-600mg of combined EPA and DHA a day is ideal. This constitutes one capsule of Reflex Nutrition’s Omega 3 capsule.

Krill oil contains the same fatty acids (EPA/DHA) but because of their chemical composition they are more effective so you need smaller doses for the same benefit. In addition to this, krill oil contains another compound called astaxanthin, which is the red pigment found in various sea foods. Benefits include lowering bad cholesterol.

Although these benefits can be gained from eating oily fish several times a week, I tend to build EPA/DHA into my daily supplement stack to ensure I get enough, and then eat fish when I can.

Vitamin D3

Although vitamin D3 can be gained from the sun, it can be hard to get enough. It would involve being out in the midday sun in your bathing costume, every day, all year round. Now, I am lucky enough to travel a lot with my work and also be in my trunks more often than most and despite this I still take a vitamin D3 supplement to be sure.

The optimal dose is debatable and in an ideal world we would get our vitamin D levels tested regularly so we could gauge the dose accordingly – this is what elite athletes do. However, as vitamin D supplementation has a large margin of safety and a host of benefits, it is worth taking regularly regardless.

I tend to take one or two capsules of the Reflex Vitamin D3 supplement every day, which is 2000-4000IU and well within safe limits. I vary it according to how much I am in the sun but will take some every day all year round. The benefits include improved bone health and wellbeing as well as improved immune health and increased cognition. It can also reduce the risk of various diseases including certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the big daddy of supplements as far as I’m concerned. It is the most studied supplement out there and has well defined benefits with minimal to no side effects. What more could you ask for?

You COULD get it entirely from your diet but that would entail eating around 1kg (2lbs) of steak a day. I recommend taking 3-5g of creatine monohydrate on an ongoing basis depending on size and muscle mass. Gone are the day of complicated loading or cycling protocols.

It would be theoretically optimal to take it post-workout with carbohydrates but I opt for convenience and take it when I remember. This tends to be first thing in the morning with my coffee, protein shake and morning supplements.

The benefits include increased power output and there may be increases in lean mass as well. Basically if you lift weights or do short sharp sprints (i.e. most sports) then creatine is a no brainer for you.

Multivitamins

My diet is healthy. It’s pretty much my job as a nutritionist and bodybuilder to eat well. Despite this, I take a regular multivitamin as I know that despite my best efforts life can get in the way.

I use Nexgen Pro to cover all the bases and try to eat a huge variety of fruit and vegetables as well. There isn’t much more to say about multivitamins as you are not ‘treating’ a specific problem or deficiency but look at it as an adequate dose of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

 

Protein

As mentioned above, I count protein supplements as a food source. Protein in itself has a huge range of benefits including muscle growth and increased satiety (making you feel full) especially while dropping body fat. Protein is easy to find in any diet so supplementation certainly isn’t essential but given it’s convenience, excellent nutritional profile and great taste there is no reason for anyone not to regularly include it as part of a healthy active lifestyle.

I’ve used a huge variety of protein shakes over the years. Reflex Nutrition’s 3D Protein and Micellar Casein have formed a mainstay of my daily supplementation schedule due to their excellent sustained release formulations.

These basic supplements are the ones that should always form the base of any supplement stack. There are countless others available and use of these will depend on personal preference and need.

For more information about supplements, come and find me on Instagram @projectgoliath – I’m always happy to answer questions.

Want to hear more from Reflex Ambassadors? Take a look at our blog.

Top tips from the Reflex Ambassadors on getting ready for summer

Alex in Pool

While most of us want to look our best all year round, it becomes more of a focus in the lead up to summer. With this mind, we chat to Reflex Ambassadors and fitness and nutrition experts Emil Hodzovic, Gauri Chopra and Alex Crockford on their summer approach, nutrition and workouts.

As well as being a Reflex Ambassador, Gauri Chopra is also a PT, online coach, fitness model and founder of The London Rooftop Gym. So, she’s in the know when it comes to getting into shape for summer, and her approach is realistic and motivational. Here’s her two key pieces of advice:

Gauri Weightlifting

“Number 1: Give yourself enough time and avoid quick fixes! Quick fixes and going to extremes to lose weight in a short period of time tend to do more harm than good and you’re more likely to pile the weight straight back on after you reach you goal. Especially when dieting. Keep it simple, and be consistent so it is easier to progress on and tweak when needed. Slow and steady wins the race.

Number 2: Have a plan in place. If you have a program set in place, there’s no room to second guess yourself or go in half-heartedly. You’ll be surprised at how such a simple thing can make all the difference. All you have to do is turn up and follow the plan!”

Alex Crockford, another PT who knows his stuff, as shown by the success of his #CrockFit fitness plans, agrees with Gauri: “I think following a plan that you can get consistent with is so important. It keeps you motivated and builds momentum. Without consistency, that summer body is not going to happen!”

Nutrition

Moving onto the right nutrition for those summer bodies, we get the lowdown from medical doctor, fitness coach and Reflex Ambassador, Emil Hodzovic:

“I would recommend taking the basic products regardless of goal and these would include vitamin D, a multivitamin such as Nexgen Pro, Omega 3s or Krill Oil and Creatine.

Then on top of this, it is very useful to have a good quality protein shake. The most important factors when choosing a shake would be protein content and quality and then taste is a close second. When I’m trying to lean down, ideally I want a protein product which tastes good even when mixed with water (to save calories!) and has minimal carbs and fats in it. Instant Whey Pro is pretty good but Micro Whey really is the next level when it comes to good tasting protein.”

So when you’ve got the right protein sorted, when’s best to take it? Alex recommends preparing a shake so when you’re done working out you can have it straight away. Gauri on the other hand doesn’t worry too much about when to consume a protein shake: “I generally like to make a nice protein smoothie when I get home from the gym, or simply make and eat good high protein meal. I tend to have post workout protein shakes when I know I won’t be eating for a while or when I am on the go to help tie me over till I can get a proper meal in.”

There’s no right or wrong answer on when to take a shake as long as you’re having the right amount of protein for your goals. We speak to Emil about how much protein he consumes when he’s looking to lean down:

Emil on holiday

“I usually aim to keep my protein to around 2g per kg body weight so at 115kg this is around 230g for me. As I lean down and start to drop bodyfat I tend to increase my protein intake slightly to preserve muscle and I can go to 250g or even 280g per day. As well as maintaining and growing muscle, protein is great for keeping you full when dieting!”

We also get his thoughts on carb consumption when you’re looking to get leaner:

“When getting lean, it is all about calorie balance. As calories become more limited and protein stays the same or even increases, carbs become more limited as well. This means that you need to be picky with carbs – both in terms of sources of carbohydrates but also when you are eating them.

When dieting hard you want to focus on carbohydrates around training to fuel the session in the most effective way possible. For me this is often a normal meal 3-4 hours prior to working out. I tend to opt for a meal with potatoes or rice. Then an hour before my workout I have a One Stop Xtreme or an Instant Whey Pro shake along with a banana.”

Working out

Of course, our ambassadors don’t rely on nutrition alone to achieve their goals. Gauri tells us about her favourite workouts in the lead up to summer:

“I like to do a combination of Low Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or anything that gets me moving in a non-conventional way. For LISS, my favourite thing to do is to go on an outdoor walk or hike and aim for a step count. It’s much more enjoyable than walking on a treadmill in my opinion!

For HIIT, I keep it short (10-20mins) and like to either do a circuit consisting of 4-6 exercises repeated 4-6 times, or use a 20 sec on 40 sec off protocol on a cardio machine of choice!”

Alex takes a similar approach: “I am always getting my daily steps or activity done. 10-15k steps at least as an overall low intensity output. But a few times a week I will include tough gym circuits, or bodyweight HIIT, or treadmill HIIT to get the heart rate high and achieve a big calorie burn.”

Emil opts for more structure so he can track his progress and maintain the amount he can lift: “I track my steps and calorie intake and output. The workouts are usually bodybuilding style workouts and I try to hit all of my muscle groups 2-3 times a week. I keep sessions short and sharp at around 45-60 minutes, including warm up, and then try to do my cardio in separate sessions.

Although I will use compound exercises such as squats and bench press as the base of my workouts I will also use a lot of isolation exercises to really hone in on specific muscles.”

A big thank you to Emil, Alex and Gauri for sharing their top tips with us. If you’d like to keep up to date with our Ambassadors you can visit our blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Interview with Alex Crockford on Working Out, Nutrition and Healthy Living

Alex

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of hearing from Alex Crockford – Reflex Ambassador, Personal Trainer and Founder of fitness brand #CrockFit. Here we get the inside knowledge on Alex’s lifestyle when it comes to working out, nutrition and living life the healthy way. 

Hi Alex, let’s start by talking nutrition. Do you have a specific nutrition plan for the week? If so, where do you get your inspiration and how often do you change plans?

Every week is different for me, sometimes I am able to plan, prepare and track my nutrition, whereas other times, if I am travelling or very busy, then I have learnt to stay on track but with a more flexible approach. If I am working towards an important shoot then often I will write down a specific plan and repeat that daily.

Sounds very organised so do you prepare your meals for the week?

Fortunately I have a lifestyle where I can prepare for the day or the next but I rarely plan for further than that. I don’t want to sound basic, but chicken, rice and mixed veg is so easy to prep and it keeps well for the next day!

Do you measure or track your protein requirements?

I usually keep track of my protein intake daily to make sure I am hitting my protein goals. Having tracked this for many years I usually just know how much protein I’m eating a day. I have always aimed for about 1g per 1lb of bodyweight so for me that’s usually around 175-200g.

And, do you have a similar plan for carbohydrates or fibre?

Carbs is something that has more fluctuation in my diet, whereas with protein I always aim to have more rather than less. My fats and carbs go up and down sometimes but fibre and carbs from veg is always a top priority for me. It is easy to just focus on protein, but it is important to always get the fibre in too!

This is a great point and one that is very relevant today given that recent reports say that many people aren’t getting the recommended amount of fibre. Are you aware of how much fibre you need on a daily basis? And how do you make sure that you get this into your diet?

I don’t usually count, track or aim for a particular number but I aim to include vegetables in every main meal and I usually recommend veg being the majority of your plate. Unlimited!

So do you supplement your food intake with any sports nutrition supplements?

Always! The majority of my supplements come in around workout time, such as pre workouts and always a post workout protein shake. Reaching a protein goal is tough on purely just food, so supplements are extremely useful. Other than that I have range of daily supps such as omega 3, multivitamin and vitamin D.

What about when you’re travelling – do you have a go to ‘on-the-go’ snack?

I turn to protein bars, rice cakes, apples. These are things that I look forward to (weird I know!). They’re also dry food and very easy to carry around.

Given your career as a PT and from your answers above, it’s clear you’re a super healthy guy but for you, what does a healthy lifestyle mean and how do you maintain that? Especially when you’re busy or on the go?

Well that’s my whole #CrockFit life that I promote everyday! A healthy lifestyle is one that makes you feel good on the inside and look good on the outside. A life that gives you confidence to walk on the beach, try new things and meet you new people. It means getting excited about your daily exercise whatever that might be, and enjoying the food you eat everyday. Food that fuels your body and your mind for training and living!

Sounds great! Thanks for your time Alex.

If you’d like to follow Alex’s journey and stay up to date with #CrockFit you can follow him on Instagram or visit his website. For more interviews and news from us, check out our blog and keep in the loop by signing up to our newsletter.

 

Interview with Gauri Chopra on Working Out, Nutrition and Healthy Living

Gauri Chopra

We speak to Reflex Ambassador, Personal Trainer, Online Coach AND Fitness Model Gauri Chopra on working out, nutrition and healthy living. Here she shares her healthy lifestyle tips and tricks with us. 

Hi Gauri! So let’s talk nutrition, do you have a specific nutrition plan?

I don’t have a specific nutrition plan as such, however I do like to dip in and out of tracking macros to ensure I’m getting enough of what my body needs for my lifestyle and training.

I generally keep my diet balanced throughout the week and aim for 85-90% wholefoods. The other 10-15% is made up of anything I’m craving, which may not necessarily be deemed as ‘healthy’. This way, I can keep my diet flexible and interesting to prevent the boredom of eating the same thing day in day out. It also helps me feel less restricted and therefore less likely to binge from cutting certain foods out.

It’s a great approach! So do you do any meal prepping to help keep you on track?

I prefer to batch cook rather than prep specific meals for each day. I generally batch cook my meats or fish so I have a protein source to grab and go, and similarly do the same for carb sources like potatoes or grains. I tend to add salads and veggies fresh as they tend to go off quicker, and fats I either add in the form of nuts, avocado, or the oil in which my food is cooked in. I feel prepping this way works best for me so I can mix and match based on how I’m feeling on the day!

Sounds like a plan! So do you work out your protein requirements for the week?

Yes, I like to use the 1g/lb bodyweight rule.

And, do you have a similar plan for carbohydrates or fibre?

Carbohydrates I keep flexible depending on how active I am or how intense my training is. Fibre I keep to a minimum of 25g to ensure my gut health is kept in check.

Fibre is incredibly important for gut health and something that can get forgotten about. Are you aware of how much fibre you need on a daily basis and do you have any tips for getting the fibre you need?

As a guideline I usually say 5g for every 500kcals consumed is a good minimum. My main sources come from leafy greens, whole grains, flaxseed, and chia seeds. My best tip would be to try and incorporate one of these into every meal!

So do you supplement your food intake with any sports nutrition supplements? If so, for what purpose?

I do supplement with whey protein for convenience, and because it tastes good! It also helps keep my sweet tooth satisfied and makes life so much easier on my busy days or when I’m on the go! My favourites are the Reflex Diet Protein and Instant Whey Pro.

When I am training fasted in the morning, I like to sip on some Amino Fusion. I feel like it gives me the energy to get a good session in, and ensures my muscles are preserved if I am training for a long period of time!

When I can feel a cold coming on, I do like to ensure I top up my vitamins with Nexgen Pro to ensure my body is fully equipped to fight off any nasty bugs!

And what about when you’re on the go – how do you ensure you get the right nutrition?

I love protein shakes and protein bars because they’re a super convenient and tasty way of meeting nutritional needs without much prep! My other favourite snacks or ‘handbag essentials’ are fruit and nuts, wholefood bars, popcorn, and dark chocolate.

Your diet sounds very healthy without being restrictive, for you, what does a healthy lifestyle mean and how do you maintain that? Especially when you’re busy or on the go?

To me, a healthy lifestyle means keeping active with the kind of exercise I enjoy doing, and eating in a way that nourishes my body to make me feel good from the inside out!

When I’m busy or on the go, I always make sure I’m prepared with healthy snacks so I’m not tempted to make poor decisions.

I also always opt for meals that are high in protein and fibre, and minimally processed when eating out to keep me fuller for longer. Looking at nutritional labels is always a must and allows me to ensure I’m maintaining a healthy balance throughout the day.

Workout-wise, I usually like to get them done first thing in the morning so it’s out the way and I have no excuse later when I’m too tired or busy. If I’m short on time, I’ll either get in a quick HIIT workout, or just make sure I keep myself active during the day by doing lots of walking and taking the stairs everywhere!

Thanks Gauri. As always, great to hear from you!

To stay up to date with Gauri, you can follow her on Instagram or check out her website.To hear more from us, sign up to our newsletter and take a look at our blog

Interview with Emil Hodzovic on Switching Up Protein for the Summer

Emil Hodzovic working out

As the weather is warming up and the summer months are in sight, we talk to Reflex Nutrition Ambassador, doctor and bodybuilder, Emil Hodzovic, on how he switches up his protein to achieve his specific training goals.

Hi Emil. Let’s start at the beginning, do you switch up your supplements throughout the year depending on your goals?

Yes, absolutely. I have some core products that I use all year round such as Nexgen Pro, Krill Oil and Creatine. Then, if I’m bulking, gaining strength or focussing on sport, I will use One Stop Xtreme both as my basic protein source and to fuel my workouts.

When I’m dieting I usually switch to Instant Whey Pro and if I’m competing in a bodybuilding show I will use Micro Whey to help minimise fat and carb intake – particularly in the final weeks before a competition.

As you can see I switch between products a lot!

And do seasons affect the type of workouts you do? For example, with summer on its way, many people look to lean down and tweak their nutrition and training plans accordingly. Do you do this?

Yes definitely. When I’m leaning down, my workouts tend to become more structured so I can track my progress and maintain my volume load (the amount I lift) across sessions.

On top of this I track my steps and calorie intake and output. The workouts are usually bodybuilding style workouts and I try to hit all of my muscle groups 2-3 times a week. I keep sessions short and sharp at around 45-60 minutes, including warm up, and then try to do my cardio in separate sessions.

Although I will use compound exercises such as squats and bench press as the base of my workouts I will also use a lot of isolation exercises to really hone in on specific muscles.

So when you are leaning down, what do you look for in a nutritional product?

When I’m trying to lean down, ideally I want a protein product which tastes good even when mixed with water (to save calories!) and has minimal carbs and fats in it. Instant Whey Pro is pretty good but Micro Whey really is the next level when it comes to good tasting protein.

How much protein do you look to consume in a day when you’re looking to lean down?

I usually aim to keep my protein around 2g per kg body weight so at 115kg this is around 230g for me. As I lean down and start to drop body fat I tend to increase my protein intake slightly to preserve muscle and can go to 250g or even 280g per day. As well as maintaining and growing muscle, protein is great for keeping you full when dieting!

Image of Reflex Ambassador Emil

How do you manage your carb intake when you’re looking to lean down?

When getting lean, it is all about calorie balance. As calories become more limited and protein stays the same or even increases, carbs become more limited as well. This means that you need to be picky with carbs – both in terms of sources of carbohydrates but also in terms of when you are eating them.

When dieting hard you want to focus on carbohydrates around training to fuel the session in the most effective way possible. For me this is often a normal meal 3-4 hours prior to working out. I tend to opt for a meal with potatoes or rice. Then an hour before my workout I have a One Stop Xtreme or an Instant Whey Pro shake along with a banana.

For people who would like to lean down for the summer, what product advice would you give them?

I would recommend taking the basic products regardless of goal and these would include vitamin D, a multivitamin such as Nexgen Pro, Omega 3s or Krill Oil and Creatine.

Then on top of this, it is very useful to have a good quality protein shake. The most important factors when choosing a shake would be protein content and quality and then taste is a close second.

For me, Instant Whey Pro ticks all the boxes here and there are a number of flavours so you’re bound to find one you like. At the moment, my favourites are Chocolate Mint Perfection and Raspberry Delight.

Thanks for sharing your insight with us Emil! If you’d like to stay up to date with Emil, follow him on Instagram.

And, if you think this interview can help others switch up their protein and nutrition to achieve their specific goals, share it with your friends and family:  

Whey Protein – The Basics

Image of Reflex Ambassador Emil

Here is Emil Hodzovic, Reflex Nutrition Ambassador, on the basics of whey protein. The who, why, what and when – Emil tells all!

Despite the huge range of protein varieties available these days, whey protein is always going to be the biggest player when it comes to protein shakes and for good reason.

It is a complete and balanced protein with high branched chain amino acid (BCAA) content and, importantly, it is fast digesting, rapidly getting vital amino acids to where they need to be. This makes it ideal as a meal replacement and before and after workouts.

Who is whey protein for and why?

Whey protein is an extremely useful tool for anyone who needs a convenient source of good quality protein. A lot of people incorrectly believe that drinking protein shakes will automatically cause them to gain muscle and become bulky, or that if they consume shakes and don’t train, the protein will turn to fat. Both of these misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth!

For people who train hard, whey protein is a prime candidate for convenience and can provide the perfect blend of amino acids. What’s more, it promotes the recovery and repair of damaged muscle fibres when taken immediately after gruelling sessions, whether those involve weights, cardio or training for sports.

Whey protein can be used by anyone, including people of all ages who are just starting out in their exercise careers. Even people who don’t train or are injured can take advantage of whey protein to increase their protein intake or use it as a low calorie, highly nutritious meal replacement.

Whey protein can also be used in cooking and to reduce the calories of a recipe as well as adding that important protein hit! Using different flavours of whey can add a twist to otherwise bland or boring recipes.

What to look for in a good protein supplement?

An effective protein supplement should be complete and balanced with a high proportion of BCAAs. Whey protein fits the bill perfectly and generally speaking beats most other sources of protein including soy protein. Soy protein is used a lot in the supplement industry and is the cheaper, poorer quality alternative to whey protein.

On top of this, when buying protein, you want a powder which mixes easily and is tasty to consume. This means finding a flavour that you like. My personal favourites at the moment include Instant Whey Pro Raspberry Delight and Chocolate Perfection as they are versatile and taste great whether I mix them with water, milk or almond milk. They also work well with oats or stirred in with yoghurt.

When is the best time to consume protein?

The best times to use whey protein include:

First thing in the morning

It can be difficult to find the time for protein first thing so this is a perfect time for a shake. This applies to anyone, whether you’re dieting, trying to build muscle or just need a convenient tasty snack before work.

Personally, I am rarely hungry in the mornings and always in a rush but muscle retention is a priority for me so a shake with unsweetened almond milk and some fruit hits the spot perfectly.

Immediately post workout

This is the traditional time to use whey protein as you want a fast digesting, good quality protein with a complete amino acid profile to optimise the effects of the training session. It’s also hugely convenient and it means you don’t need to rush home or think about your next meal for a few hours.

Any time between meals

Whether it is for convenience or if you want to reduce your daily calories when dieting. Whey protein can be more filling and better at holding off hunger than crisps or fruit. And, it will also increase your daily protein intake.

Whey protein is an all-round, comprehensive protein supplement and can be used by anyone with any training background or history. If whey protein is the right protein for you, then shop now.

Shoulder mobility: 5 moves to improve your overhead press

Shoulder mobility: 5 moves to improve your overhead press

The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body. However, it is also the most vulnerable. Shoulder mobility is heavily influenced by the surrounding muscles and these muscular imbalances can cause real problems with pressing movements.

In this article, I’m going to explain why this occurs and give you 5 exercises to help correct common shoulder issues.

If you can’t perform the full range of movement, you can’t fully train the muscle. This will be impacting your strength and size gains.

Although resistance training isn’t actually to blame for becoming tight, working muscles in shortened ranges of motion can cause them to become short. Further to that sitting forwards at a desk for long periods of time shortens the pec muscles and weakens the upper back. All a combination of bad posture.

So let’s look at some simple ways we can fix this to help you get more shoulder mobility and improve your pressing.

We need to stretch these shortened muscles and increase the range of movement, but a strong overhead press also requires good scapular movement so we need to make sure that is included in our mobility work.

Most people skip a proper warm up and get right to work, and as much as I applaud your enthusiasm, your shoulders probably don’t.

Here are 5 shoulder mobility movements to incorporate into your upper body warm up:

Scap pulls

Take a shoulder width grip on a bar and allow yourself to dead-hang. Let your shoulder blades separate and your shoulders come up to your ears, then retract your shoulders and lats and pull yourself up, not bending your elbows. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.

 

Chest Opener - step2Chest opener

Attach a band to a frame at shoulder height or above, take the band in one hand and step forwards. Allowing the hand to rotate upwards with a locked arm you will feel a stretch in the pec and anterior delt. You can also rotate the elbow up and down (but keeping locked) for more of an active stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds or 20 rotations per side.

 

Bully Stretch - step3 - front Bully Stretch - step3 - rearBully stretch

Attach the band overhead and turn your hand behind your back. Keep the band close to you and allow it to pull your arm up your back – like the classic ‘high school bully’. Do not allow your shoulder to roll forwards. By holding this position you will increase your internal rotation. Hold for 15-30s per side.

 

Band Dislocate - step4 - A Band Dislocate - step4 - BBand dislocates

Take a resistance band at both ends and hold out in front of you. Keeping your arm straight, take the band overhead and behind you as far as you can go. Bring the band back over to the front without bending your elbows to stretch the pecs, front delt, and bicep tendon. Perform 10-15, pausing at the top where the muscle is tightest.

 

Shoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart BBand pull-apartShoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart A

Take a thin band or cables and take your hands out straight in front of you. Retract your shoulder blades together and with palms facing down, extend your arms straight out to your sides. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

Women & Protein – the 5 facts

women-and-protein-facts

There is a misconception amongst women that protein will make them look bulky, or somehow create unwanted muscle mass.

Let me start with some education on the basics of ‘protein’ before getting to some myth busting…

What is protein?

Proteins are macronutrients, chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. There are 20 amino acids, nine of which are referred to as ‘essential’. These essential amino acids cannot be manufactured in the body and have to be obtained through food. Common animal sources of these are meat, fish, eggs, dairy, with incomplete vegan sources coming from foods such as whole grains, pulses, legumes, soy, leafy greens, and nuts. Whey protein in particular has been noted as the most bioavailable complete source of protein, meaning it is the most easily digested and utilised source of all essential amino acids.

Why is it especially important for women?

Any woman with functioning hormones will be no stranger to cravings. These tend to lean towards more sugary, low-protein foods. Whilst carbohydrates and fats are needed for energy, protein is essential for stabilising energy levels, as well as the growth and repair of cells within the body such as neurotransmitters and hormones- not just muscle cells! Unlike carbohydrates & fats, your body does not store protein so there is no reservoir to draw from when running low. This in turn puts muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood under threat from insufficient protein uptake.

Why protein could mean the difference to your fat loss goals

If you find that you’re constantly hungry throughout the day, chances are you may not be consuming enough protein in your meals. Protein takes a lot longer to digest than carbohydrates, meaning you’ll stay fuller for longer if you base a large portion of your meal around protein. It is also the hardest to digest of the three macronutrients, or in other words- has the highest ‘Thermic Effect of Food’ (TEF). The body actually requires energy to break down and utilise protein, so essentially you burn calories during the digestion process. Therefore those on a high protein fat loss diet could potentially see faster results than those on a low protein diet.

Back to the myth busting…

Why protein will NOT make women look bulky

Even when consuming sufficient amounts of protein paired with a heavy and intense weight training program, it is still extremely difficult for women to build large amounts of muscle mass. We simply do not possess the amount of testosterone needed to stimulate large amounts of muscle growth. As mentioned before, protein helps the growth and repair of muscle cells. The body is only capable of developing a certain amount of lean muscle mass per day. Any excess protein consumed through your diet gets converted and used as energy, or excreted. If anything, consuming protein will simply make us women look and feel stronger, leaner, and healthier!

The ‘bulkiness’ which most women tend to confuse with muscle gain is usually a result of one consistently consuming too many calories in general, in turn resulting large amounts of fat mass developing on top of muscle. Provided a woman is sticking to a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle, becoming ‘bulky’ is the least of anyone’s worries!

Who benefits from protein?

In simple terms- All of us! However for those who are active, breaking down muscle tissue becomes inevitable. Therefore protein becomes an even more essential macronutrient to repair and protect muscles, as well as supporting bones and joints from breakages, strains, and sprains.

Given that whey is the most bioavailable source of protein, whey protein shakes can be a great supplement as a means of providing the muscles with an instant dose of protection. Whey protein also contains an immune boosting tripeptide called ‘glutathione’, so whether you’re undergoing intense exercise or not, supplementing with it could provide you with the immune boost you need to keep those colds at bay!

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.

When pea meets cookie, you won’t believe the results – Protein Cookies

Protein Cookies in pile - Reflex Nutrition recipe

Putting pea protein into a cookie recipe might surprise some, but we believe that the results are fantastic – Reflex Vanilla Protein Cookies with Chocolate Salted Caramel Stuffing Recipe