Tag: fitness

How to ease yourself back into the gym

After what feels like a lifetime, gyms have finally reopened on April 12th. Let’s face it, trying to stick to a routine when you’re stuck at home during a global pandemic, is pretty difficult. So if you are looking forward to getting back into shape, you might feel like you’re starting from scratch again. Here we give you some tips on how to ease yourself back into the gym, after your unexpected holiday from working out. 

Don’t overdo it

Doing too much straight away can overwhelm you physically and mentally. It’s better to go into it knowing that you probably aren’t going to be as fit as you were, and that’s ok! Regardless of whether you are a runner, weightlifter, or crossfitter, taking time off from exercise means that you will lose some of your abilities. To ease yourself back into the gym, start slowly with lower intensity than you were used to, eventually build back up to the amount of reps, distance, weight, that you could previously do. You don’t want to cause yourself an injury on your first session back and it’s important to focus on form over intensity.  The good news is that you’ll also regain your strength quicker than it took for you to reach that weight in the first place thanks to muscle memory.

gym

Make a routine and stick to it

Jumping back in at 4 days a week will be a tough adjustment. We suggest starting with 1 or 2 days a week and sticking to it, to ease yourself back into the gym, after all, you need to form the habit and routine again. As you get more comfortable, build up your days. Rest days are so important, these are the days where your body repairs itself and makes the progress, so don’t try to make up for the lost time by working out every day. Recovery is part of being active.

Listen to your body.

The chances are, your body is going to let you know that it’s working hard, but pain is not always a sign of progress, it could mean you need to stop that activity. After being out of your routine for so long, your body may not have the range of motion it used to, so don’t push through pain, it’s probably a sign that something isn’t right. Going from sitting in the house for 3 months to a full workout, you will probably feel fatigued much quicker as you burn more calories than you have done and your body adapts to the increased stress. It’s really important to make sure you get enough sleep, so on gym days try and get yourself to bed earlier than normal, so as not to burn out. 

Improve your gut health

Gut health is the current buzzword in the diet world. Without the gut, your body wouldn’t be able to extract nutrients from food and absorb energy.

Diet and gut health are very closely linked and good gut health means having a healthy microbiome, as these promote good bacteria and destroy growth of damaging bacteria. 

With such an important role to play in the functioning of your body, ensuring your gut functions normally should be of top priority. Not only can it help with your diet, but it can help with your overall wellbeing and health. 

Here are 5 proven ways to improve your gut health. 

1. Lower stress

Having high levels of stress is hard on your whole body, including your gut. It is a catch 22 situation, the more you are stressed, the less you can sleep, and you guessed it, lack of sleep can cause bad gut health. One of the results of bad gut health, inability to sleep.

Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, yoga, and making 7-8 hours sleep a priority.

2. Eat slowly

Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly is a simple and easy way to improve gut health. Eating slowly can help promote full digestion and better absorption of nutrients. This may help you reduce digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut.

3. Hydration

Water helps all bodily functions to work properly, including your gut as it helps to remove waste from the body, which is an important part of the digestive process. Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut.

4. Supplements

Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet is a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide “food” to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria. There are a lot of products on the market and not all probiotic supplements are high quality or will actually provide benefit as the good bacteria just gets killed off by stomach acid. It’s best to consult an expert when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to ensure you get the most benefit.

5 . Fermented foods

Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics. While the quality of these foods may vary, their benefits on the gut microbiome are proven and well studied to increase gut-friendly bacteria.

Making hydration a habit.

We all know we need to drink more water. From digestion, energy, and brainpower, water is key when it comes to having a healthy mind and body. 60% of our body is made up of water, even though most of us already know this, we still struggle to keep on top of our daily hydration. 

As with everything in fitness, the best way to make sure we keep on track with water intake is by forming a habit. Here we have some great tips on making hydration a habit.

  1. Start with a water goal

The traditionally recommended eight glasses of water is a good place to start. But it’s important to remember goals should be suitable for you as an individual. So if you are doing a lot of exercise or sweating you may want to increase the amount, or if you are just starting out on increasing your water intake, it might be too much to jump straight to eight glasses, so it’s better to make your goal achievable each day. Drinking too much water is not good for you, so it’s important not to overdrink the recommended amount and listen to your body.

  1. Add flavour

Whilst nothing beats pure water in terms of health benefits, if you really hate drinking it, it can be difficult to stay hydrated. To make something a habit you have to enjoy it. Sugar free cordials or infusing your water with fresh fruit to add flavour are a good way to enjoy the taste of water. If you are wanting to form a habit, drinking flavoured water is better than no water at all. A good way to do it is start with the water as flavoursome as you like, then gradually over time reduce the amount of cordial or fruit you add into it to get your pallet used to the plain taste.

  1. Find a water bottle you love.

Finding a way you like drinking water can make all the difference. Whether you prefer a cup, a sports bottle or a bottle with a straw. Sometimes you want to sip, sometimes you want to chug, but having a bottle that suits your needs can help to incentivise you. You can even get bottles that fit your entire daily recommendation of liquid in so you can know exactly how much you need to drink. It’s also handy having a bottle that’s easy to carry around with you as a reminder to drink wherever you go. 

  1. Track your intake 

Whether you use your bottle or an app, tracking your hydration is a really important thing to do. Not only does it help you reach your goal, but it feels like a great achievement at the end of the day to look back and reflect on how hydrated you are. Another handy tracking tip is to plan what time of day you want to hit a certain amount of water intake, eg by 10am drink 0.5litres, by 12pm drink 1litre. This can be a more realistic way of meeting goals as it’s broken down into manageable chunks. 

It takes about a month to really have a habit stick, so do this for a few weeks, and before you know it, you’ll be drinking your water regularly throughout the day without even thinking about it. You won’t look back once you notice your energy levels increasing, your workouts feeling better and your skin is looking clearer. 

Improve your Tennis Game

There has been a huge influx of people taking up tennis during the lockdown, as outside sports were one of the first things to be allowed as restrictions eased. Here are some tips to help improve your tennis game, no matter your level.

Be Alert

You cannot prepare soon enough for the ball to be in your court. Keeping your eyes on the ball, your feet moving and turning your hips and shoulders before the oncoming ball bounces on your side will give you the best preparation to hit the ball.

Identify your opponent’s weaknesses. Every match should have a warmup beforehand. Use this time to not only get yourself ready to play, but also to test your opponent by hitting forehands and backhands to determine what they’re best or worst at returning. You can then strategize which shots will be best to use throughout the game.

Pull back on your serve speed. The serve is the most important shot in tennis, and that often means people think they need to wallop the ball as hard as they possibly can. Professionals however will only hit the serve at 80% velocity and focus more on accuracy. Setting up the serve correctly is more important than speed.

Stick with one pattern of play. Stop trying to get creative on court. An amateur player will scatter several types of shot, but the best players only have one or two patterns of play through a match, they always try to hit their strongest shots, they find that one pattern that works, and they stick with it.

One bounce policy

A great tip used by professionals is to never let the ball bounce twice. Always run for the ball straight away with the intention to hit it after one bounce, even if you think you have no chance to reach it.

Don’t pause to recover

So many players will hit the ball and then relax watching watch the ball fly to their opponent. A great tip to improve your tennis game is to hit and recover, then get straight back into position. However, during changeover, it’s important to keep up hydration and nutrition, by sipping water and taking a bite of an energy bar.

 

 

 

 

 

FULFIL in the spotlight

About Fulfil

The mission of the FULFIL team is to have it all. Why can’t we have an utterly delicious bar, that’s also good for us?

FULFIL bars are designed and created in Ireland.

 

Products

FULFIL bars are packed with high protein, 30% RDA of 9 essential vitamins, and low sugar and come in a range of twelve delicious flavours. There is no added sugar in the bars, with the only sugar coming naturally from the milk, and there is less than ½ to 1 teaspoon of sugar per bar. To make the bars more accessible to a wider range of audience, all the collagen used in the bars is Halal approved.

When to eat them – FULFIL bars are to designed fuel your activities, whether it’s a gym session, a long walk, or a hefty day at work. They are also great after training for some extra protein when you need it.  FULFIL bars are also a great alternative to empty-calorie snacks if you get hungry in between meals, you can even enjoy them with your cup of tea on the sofa.

FULFIL bars are available in 12 different flavours, so no matter your preference there will be one to suit you. 

 

CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER VITAMIN AND PROTEIN BAR

A deliciously smooth peanut butter centre with a soft creamy layer, surrounded in an indulgent milk chocolate coating and topped with a crunchy layer of peanuts.

This bar only contains 212 kcal and 20g protein per 55g serving 

See more reviews of this flavour on our website 

CHOCOLATE SALTED CARAMEL VITAMIN AND PROTEIN BAR

An indulgent milk chocolate coating surrounds a soft, silky salted caramel centre topped with a layer of crunchy crispies, with all the added benefits of 20g protein, low sugar and 9 multivitamins.

This bar only contains 204 kcal per serving.

See more reviews of this flavour on our website

 

PEANUT AND CARAMEL VITAMIN AND PROTEIN BAR

Milk chocolate encases a layer of caramel mixed with crunchy crispies surrounding a rich peanut centre all with only 2.1gs of sugar, 20gs of protein and 9 multivitamins.

This bar only contains 205kcal per serving.

See more reviews of this flavour on our website 

 

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND COOKIE DOUGH VITAMIN AND PROTEIN BAR

A creamy outer coating of white chocolate gives way to a delicious centre of cookie dough goodness with a crispy layer on top plus 20g of protein and 9 vitamins.

This bar only contains 198kcal per serving

See more reviews of this flavour on our website 

 

We have unbiased reviews on all 12 flavours of FULFIL Vitamin and protein bars. To read them all, head over to our website here.

 

 

 

 

HOP in the spotlight

About HOP

HOP was founded in 2018 by Geoff, Matthew and Ash after successfully pitching for start-up funding from Student Enterprise, University of Surrey.

More and more products were coming onto the sports market that were trading off between the health and environmental benefits. A product was either great nutritionally but cost the Earth in some way, or environmentally friendly with little nutritional benefit. They believed there must be a better way that provided both benefits… and that was edible crickets!

The idea to create a business around edible insects was an extremely novel concept at the time despite most of the Eastern world having done so for a long time. There was a lot of proving to be done and people needed convincing to overcome the perceived ‘disgust’ factor. Crickets are a complete source of protein containing all nine essential amino acids, which is why they created a protein bar. Once the first prototypes were formulated with cricket powder, dates, walnuts, cocoa, coconut oil, rice snaps, HOP BAR was validated by sports people, nutritionists and investors. 

HOP also have a passion for education, with one of their key activities being public speaking on the benefits of edible insects. HOP have been finalists at both Falling Walls (a conference hosted in Berlin on new and innovative ideas for future generations) and the Director of the Year Awards 2019, presented by Sir Trevor McDonald.

HOP is proud to give a proportion of all profits to the charity Water Aid through the Work for Good partnership. 

 

Products

Being still a relatively new brand, HOP have a small but specialised range. Starting with their original Chocolate Nutmix, they are expanding their range to include 5 new flavours from October, HOP also offer a cricket protein Powder. To stick with their environmentally-friendly ethos, products also come in recyclable packaging.

 

HOP bar

HOP BAR is packed full of high quality protein. Recently revamped with 6 all new flavours, there is a wide range to suit whatever your preferred taste.

The remastered original Choco Nutmix

Chocolate Mint

Caramel Cappuccino

Strawberry Yogurt

Cookies and cream blueberry muffin

  • When to eat them – HOP bars work the same as a typical energy protein bar, so they can be eaten during the day at work for an extra protein boost to meet your macros, pre- workout for fuel or a post workout snack to help restore and build muscle.
  • Nutrition – HOP bar is packed full of high quality protein goodness, with 15 crickets per bar and containing all 9 amino Essential acids. 

Macros per 30g serving

Calories: 111

Carbs: 10g

Protein: 10g

Fat: 4.3g

Sugars: 3.4g 

 

See all our HOP reviews on our website.

 

HOP Powder

The future of nutrition is here! Version 2 of HOP Cricket Powder is for athletes, health enthusiasts, and the environmentally conscious, made from 100% crickets. 

  • When to use it – This Gluten and Dairy Free powder is perfect to add to a smoothie or shake post-workout,  or for use in home baking and cooking to give your food a protein boost. HOP have also gone the extra mile to give you a selection of recipes to make with your Powder.
  • Nutrition – 1 tbsp of cricket powder packs a whopping 10g of protein for only 59 calories. This high quality protein also provides all essential amino acids, Calcium to support healthy bones and is a good source of iron and vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cell production.

To leave a review of HOP powder, visit our website.

6 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights

For many, the image of weightlifting conjures up images of male bodybuilders with muscles bulging at every angle. It can be daunting for women to start lifting weights, but it has huge benefits to your health and wellbeing. Here we list 6 reasons why women should lift weights. 

1. Lose Body Fat

Weight training builds muscle and as your muscle mass increases so does your metabolism. This means that the higher your metabolism, the more calories you will burn throughout the day. Studies have found that for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories per day. 

2. Gain Strength Without Bulking

Building muscle doesn’t mean bulk. This is one of the most common misconceptions that women have when it comes to weight lifting, women have 10-30times less testosterone than men so it is much harder (near impossible) to gain and bulk to the size of men, from strength training alone. Instead, women develop muscle definition, tone, and strength without size.

3. Decrease Risk of Osteoporosis

Weight training not only strengthens muscles, but it also strengthens your bones. Weight training increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. Research has also shown that weight training can increase spinal bone density to create a strong and healthy spine. For women, especially as they get older and oestrogen levels lower, there is an increased risk of osteoporosis, so weight training can help to prevent this.

4. Reduce Risk of Injury

Weight training can also increase the strength in your connective tissues and joints. By improving joints, ligaments, and tendons you can prevent injury and can even relieve pain from osteoarthritis. Strengthening muscles and connective tissue will make injury from daily tasks and routine exercise less likely, and can even improve performance in sport.

5. Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain

Weight-training will strengthen your core, back, and shoulders, helping to improve bad posture so that you can stand taller, with shoulders back and spine straight. A stronger back and core will prevent lower back pain and will help you in the future as you age.

6. Enhance Mood and Reduce Stress

Exercise and weight-training release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. An increase in endorphins naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Endorphins also improving alertness and boost energy. Weight-training can improve your entire day or help you combat a bad one by drastically improving your mood. 

 

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Why are rest days important?

Physical activity is essential for our health and for the achievement of our personal fitness goals. However, few people understand that being too active can actually damage your chances of developing your muscles, defining your body and smashing your fitness goals, which is why rest days are so important. 

Doctors, trainers and physiotherapists… they all agree on the importance of rest after exercise. It is a common mistake to think that doing sports every day, to the best of our abilities, is the best option out there to obtain quick results – this really is not the case.

The body needs a period of recovery after extended effort. If we do not respect it, all the benefits that sport brings are no longer present and training loses its main objective: to improve health and well-being.

It does not matter what your area of exercise is. Whether you practice an aerobic sport such as cycling, swimming or running, or if you lift weights in the gym, rest days are as important to your success as workouts.

Rest reduces the risk of injury 

Many of the common exercise injuries occur due to over-exerting yourself, and believe it or not – rest really is the most effective preventive measure in this case. Giving your body some time to relax and get used to the tension is especially important when you start a new training program, because during this crucial period, you still do not know what your limits are and how far you can truly push yourself. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t just have one or two days of rest between workouts, but also take short breaks during your exercises.

Too much exercise can interfere with your sleep 

sleep

Physical activity stimulates blood flow, which means that every cell in your body receives nutrients faster and works better. The downside of this is that it can upset you and interfere with your regular sleep schedules and patterns. Sleep is essential!! So you should always make a strong effort to get around 7-8 hours of daily rest.

Rest allows your muscles to grow 

This is an important fact that is often overlooked by workout-a-holics. Exercise not only works the muscles, but also damages them. Rest days are necessary for tissues to heal and grow. This is the reason why any professional bodybuilding program is based on the exercise of different muscle groups every day.

Relaxing helps you stay motivated 

Training regularly is good, but over time it may seem boring, allowing you to get distracted or it can just stress you out too much to continue. With that being said – there are always some new and exciting techniques that can help you rekindle your passion for exercise. More relaxation periods can help you eliminate stress, allowing you to have more motivation and do the exercises much more calmly, with greater concentration.

Resting is necessary to protect your immune system 

Too much exercise does a lot of damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Your immune system is forced to go full steam ahead in order to cure all these micro-fractures. This causes your body to overheat and increases the risk of injury, because your natural protections from the body cannot keep up.

As you have read, rest days are important not only because they are necessary to allow muscles to grow, but this time of inactivity also allows you to stay alert and focused without slowing down progress which ultimately enables you to stay healthy and achieve your goals.

CLIF In The Spotlight

CLIF IN THE SPOTLIGHT

About CLIF

CLIF came along when founder Gary, was on a very long bike ride, and despite being hungry couldn’t face eating any more of the not so pleasant tasting energy bar. He then started a mission to create a nutritious energy bar, that tasted so much better than the rest. After countless hours of trying and testing different recipes, Clif Bar was created, named after Gary’s father and exercise companion, Clifford. Gary has truly put so much love and hard work into this passion project, and the results can be seen in the delicious CLIF products and their community of pro and amateur athletes who love the products.

For over 20 years they have been committed to organic ingredients and sustainable agriculture, advocating to help ensure it would one day become the norm in the food industry. Today their recipes honor sustainably grown, plant-based foods that nourish both our bodies and the outdoor places we play. Now more than ever their 5 Aspiration business model underpins everything they do: sustaining people, sustaining communities, sustaining the planet, sustaining our business, sustaining our brands.

Products

CLIF are exercise experts who know what’s needed to fuel our bodies. They have created a great range of bars and energy gels, each range tailored to suit your needs throughout your journey from pre to post-workout.

 

CLIF Bar

The no.1  selling energy bar in U.K./Canada/USA original energy bar made with wholesome organic rolled oats and Rainforest Alliance Cocoa, in a huge range of flavour combinations such as White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Butter Banana with dark chocolate and Blueberry Crisp, there is a flavour to suit everyone’s tastes.

  • When to eat them – CLIF bars are designed to be eaten before exercise along with water to prevent hunger and supply energy to working muscles. During prolonged exercise such as hiking or bike touring. CLIF Bars can be also be eaten during activity to help satiate hunger and meet carbohydrate demands.
  • Nutrition – CLIF Bars are a source of protein and fibre with natural ingredients such as organic rolled oats, fruits and nuts. Each bar contains B6 and B12 which contribute to the normal release of energy for use in the body. With around 270 kcals, 40g carbohydrates, 10g protein per bar.

See the full range of CLIF bar products on our website.

 

CLIF Builders

This gluten-free, plant protein-packed bar was designed to help maintain and build muscle. It is the great-tasting bar that makes every ingredient count so you can get the most out of your workout.

  • When to eat them – Eat this bar post-workout, to aid recovery and to get the most out of your workout by contributing to muscle building, or consume a couple of hours before your workout for growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
  • Nutrition – Made solely with ingredients that you can recognize and taste like soy protein, rice flour, and cocoa. With an average of 280 kcal per bar, with 27g of carbohydrates and a huge 20g Protein.

See our full range of CLIF Builders reviews on our website.

 

CLIF Bloks

These are the latest source of carbohydrates for endurance athletes. CLIF Bloks are vegan-friendly chewable cubes, making it easy to customise and track calorie and electrolyte intake during long outings and races. The bloks come in mouthwatering fruity flavours like Mountain Berry, Margarita Citrus, and Tropical Punch which are a joy to eat.

  • When to eat – Half a packet of CLIF Blocks can be eaten 15 minutes prior to activity to increase blood sugar levels, followed by 1-2 packets per hour during activity to give you a boost of energy, followed by a mouthful of water.
  • Nutrition – This food supplement is made with ingredients such as tapioca syrup and natural fruit flavourings. With an average of 30kcal per Blok, and 7mg of potassium. Some flavours also include 25mgs of Green Tea caffeine for an extra boost!

See our full range of CLIF Bloks reviews on our website.

 

CLIF SHOT

These energy gels provide a source of carbohydrate that give you a much needed quick energy burst of energy. CLIF Shot has fewer ingredients than most other energy gels, which means you don’t get loaded down with contents that don’t directly enhance your performance.  The Shots come in a range of five flavours, from Razz and Chocolate to the caffeine-filled Citrus or Double Espresso.

  • When to eat – One CLIF Shot can be consumed 15 minutes prior to activity to increase blood sugar levels, followed by 1-2 packets per hour during activity to give you a boost of energy. If you are using a flavour with added caffeine, we recommend limiting to only 1 Shot during activity. It’s really important to follow your CLIF Shot with some water.
  • Nutrition – This food supplement is made with simple ingredients such as Cane Sugar, Green Tea, Pottasium and natural flavourings. With an average of 100kcal per Shot, and 50mg of potassium. Some flavours also include around 40mgs of Green Tea caffeine for an extra boost.

See our full range of CLIF Shot reviews on our website.

 

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Protein What is it all about?

In the quest to meet your fitness goals, protein may be a very familiar thing to you, as one of the three major macronutrients that make up your diet (the other two being fat and carbohydrates). But what is protein all about and how does it benefit the body?

What is protein?

Protein is made up of a chain of 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. They are an important building block of bone, muscle, and skin and are found in every cell of our body.

Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues and promote proper growth. It also plays a role in protecting the body from viruses and transporting molecules.

How much do we need? 

Just because protein provides us with so many benefits, it’s important to know that you can’t just eat only protein all day long. The Recommended Dietary Allowance of most healthy people is 0.8 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. This calculation should get you within the recommendation to source 10 to 35% of your daily total calories from protein. Of course, this may vary depending on age and health, and athletes are advised to up their intake to between 1.1 and 1.7 g per kg of body weight daily. 

peanut protein

What sources to we get it from?

Protein is so popular because it has been shown to help weight loss and management. High protein food increases the feeling of fullness for fewer calories, and it can also have a positive impact on resting metabolism, so you will burn off more calories throughout your day. 

An easy and popular way to meet your daily protein goals is to eat an energy bar. There are many varieties so whether you are on a whole foods diet, vegan, or low sugar, there will be an option for you. These filling snacks are great for on the go.

Similarly, protein powders are an easy way to intake protein and are great to help repair muscle after a workout. It has been shown that a large single dose of 25 g of protein within the hour of exercise, can increase muscle protein synthesis.

If you are wanting to incorporate protein into your staple diet, you can easily add it to your plate. When most people think of protein they will think of lean meats, but there are plenty of sources for all dietary requirements. Eggs, greek yogurt, peanut butter, lean poultry and fish, chickpeas, oats, and quinoa all provide high-quality protein sources. 

When you’re choosing your protein source, be sure to pay attention to the food’s fat content as things such as red meat and nut butter, whilst high in protein may also be high in saturated fats.