GymBug

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Archive for the tag “energy”

Fuel your day!

Hi there!

I’m going to try and get more regular posts out now! I’ll be a bit more room bound now that exams are racing round so will have a bit of time to sit down and write! Today, I’d like to post about breakfast. My favourite meal ever and I love trying out new things to give me a great, healthy kick start to the day! I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite recipes! Unfortunately, there are no photos, except ones of breakfasts I’ve already posted! Unless otherwise stated, all recipes are for 1 person.

1) My Rock n Roll 10k breakfast; I made this just this weekend to prepare me for my first 10km race. I ate it about 1 hour 30 minutes before I started and it kept me powering through! It needs to be left in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients;

  • 1 portion of natural/greek yoghurt (your preference here)
  • 1 protein scoop of oats (this is about 25g worth of oats)
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • Optional; 1 teaspoon cinammon/agave syrup/golden syrup

Method;

  1. In a resealable tub, mix the oats with the cinammon (if using).
  2. Chop 3 of the frozen strawberries into chunks and pile on top of the oats.
  3. Add the yoghurt.
  4. Cut the remianing strawberries and place them on top of the yoghurt.
  5. Drizzle the agave syrup/golden syrup on top (if using) or sprinkle more cinammon (if using).
  6. Leave this covered in the fridge overnight.

2) Power Up Pancakesfollow the link for the recipe!

Protein Pancakes

3) Avocado & Egg Toast; oats aren’t everybodies cup of tea, so here’s a more savoury option for those dreary mornings!

Ingredients;

  • 2 slices wholegrain bread
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 medium eggs
  • To season; ground black pepper, smoked paprika, salt, tabasco, you’re condiment of choice

Method;

  1. Slice the avocado into strips.
  2. Scramble the eggs (try use olive oil rather than butter here).
    If you want, feel free to boil/poach/omlette your eggs!
  3. Toast the bread whilst the eggs are cooking.
  4. Put the avocado on top of the toast first.
  5. Add the eggs on top.
  6. Season.
  7. Devour.

4) Super fruit bowlfor a fresher, lighter start to the day!

Ingredients;

  • 1 small banana
  • 1 small apple
  • Handful of berries (you choose)
  • 1 portion of natural/greek yoghurt
  • Optional; cinammon, golden syrup, agave syrup, cocoa powder

Method;

  1. Chop all the fruit and pile into a bowl.
  2. Mix the yoghurt and any optional toppings you fancy.
  3. Simples!

These are 4 super easy and healthy recipes you can whip up for breakfast to keep the day starting right! I always find if I start the day on a good, healthy note, then maintaining my healthy eating throughout the day is so much easier. I also feel more energetic and have more energy right through to snack time.

Have a great week guys! Anyone else counting down the days until summer!?

Gym Bug

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Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015

Hi there!

I’ve already mentioned in a post a while that I was running the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K with my family, but I thought I’d tell you a little more about it!

There are 6 different events taking place on Saturday May 30th and Sunday May 31st. On Saturday the 10K, 5K and Junior Races take place. On the Sunday it’s the Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Hairy Haggis Team Relay runs. There really is a distance for everyone!
Prices vary and can be found on their website. The price includes the run itself with all associated entertainment, a technical wicking finisher’s T-shirt, medal, accurate chip timing, training plan, online results and a race recovery pack! There is also stalls in the finisher’s area with companies marketing their products as well as delicious food and drink to be purchased! The course also has numerous water and energy stations, providing hydration and energy gels (the energy gels are for those running the Half Marathon or Marathon).

EMF 2015

The whole event is in support primarily of MacMillan Cancer Support, who you can choose to run and fundraise for when you sign up. You can of course choose to run for your own charity! It’s a great way to raise some money and get fit! My family are fundraising as a group for MacMillan because cancer has hit our family quite hard and we all know the value of support for the sufferers and their loved ones. I know it’s a big ask, but if you can spare anything please donate on our JustGiving page.

MacMillan are a brilliant chairty seeking to provide help and support. I can’t describe them any better than they have on their website;
“No one should face cancer alone. So when you need someone to turn to, we’re here. Right from the moment you’re diagnosed, through your treatment and beyond, we’re a constant source of support, giving you the energy and inspiration to help you take back control of your life.”

                                                                      Enough said.

As someone who has watched loved ones go through diagnosis, treatment and (unfortunately not everytime) recovery, I know how important a solid support system is and how valued it is by everyone involved. MacMillan deserve funding and are a key source of care for those suffering cancer and their loved ones.

So if you’re looking for some fantastic motivation, go for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015! Get your running shoes and get going!

Gym Bug

Energy drinks; recipe for a sugar crash

Hi there!

I found an article recently about energy drinks and how they can contain up to 20 teaspoons of sugar PER CAN! This is insane, especially since our new recommended daily amount of sugar has been reduced to 6 teaspoons according to the WHO. This is insane and what’s even more concerning is that people, especially children, are drinking these regularly! I did a post on child obesity and this links directly with that. Studies have linked energy drink consumption with issues such as obesity, caffeine overdoses, risky behaviour and addiction.

Thee energy drinks are also targetted at those who participate in sports as a way to get that ‘much needed energy boost’ to improve performance. I can’t sit here and say I’ve never drank them and I never will again. I had half a red bull a few weeks ago (I had been drinking a little, so my ability to comprehend it’s awful-ness was hindered somewhat) but I most certainly drink far less. I probably average about 1 every 6-8 months. Prior to my half a can of red bull a few weeks ago, I think the last one I had was in the summer of 2014.

Anyway, energy drinks are getting an increasingly bad reputation. When I say energy drinks I’m referring to brands such as Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Bullet and so on. They typically come is huge cans as well. They are also becoming increasingly mixed with artificial fruit juices to make them more appealing. Not only does this amp up the calories but it makes the sugar content sky rocket. For example, Rockstar Tropical Punch contains 260 calories and 31g of sugar! That’s 20 teaspoons of sugar (Note; 1 teaspoon of sugar= 4grams) These energy drinks truly are something to avoid consuming regularly!

Energy Drinks

There are other drinks out there, such as Powerade or Lucozade, that are marketed as ‘sports drinks’ and something athletes should consume to help them. However, you should really only consume these ‘sports drink’ (I’m using the term lightly) when you’re participating in long, intense exercise. Typical standard is to skip the ‘sports drink’ if you’re running anything less than 30 minutes. Consumption of them before, during or after anything longer than this can be beneficial as it provides your body with carbohydrates, which is necessary to endure and recover. I typically opt for water however, whatever the distance or I’ll choose energy tablets, which you dissolve into water, for example I drank High5 Zero Pink Grapefruit before I ran Tough Mudder in 2014. I did notice I didn’t cramp during the race, which I did in 2013. High5 is an electrolyte based ‘sports drink’ and I personally prefer them a lot more to traditional ‘sports drink’ or energy drinks. But again, I only consume them for hard, intense, long exercise (or if I’m hungover, they work wonders).

An increasingly popular alternative is to make your own! Here’s a recipe I found on Everyday Roots.

Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink

Gym Bug

Image 1 Source; http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/var/plain_site/storage/images/publications/food-beverage-nutrition/foodnavigator-usa.com/markets/bad-press-affecting-energy-drink-category-mintel/8678378-1-eng-GB/Bad-press-affecting-energy-drink-category-Mintel.jpg

Image 2 Source; http://everydayroots.com/homemade-energy-drink

Oats!

Hi there!

Warning: I will use oats and porridge interchangeably.

I’ve already done a post on Stoats, which is a great porridge company based in Scotland. I love their oats and recommend trying their flavours to mix breakfast up! However, if you prefer making your own delicious oats, I’ve made a list of easy toppings that you can cook into the porridge (just cook the toppings with th oats) or throw on after cooking. I usually cook my oats in the microwave also a make it slightly drier.

  • Banana; very simple. If you microwave your oats the banana disappears and creates a delicious and creamy mix.
  • Banana and honey; bit sweeter.
  • Pineapple; this becomes insanely hot in the microwave, but it’s a great sweet and sour flavour. Add some dried/fresh coconut to make a tropical breakfast.
  • Dried fruit; cranberries, raisins, sultanas, apricots, dried coconut, the list goes on! Bananas and raisins are also delicious.
  • Cinnamon; powdered cinnamon is brilliant, throw it in with bananas, apples, raisins for even more flavour.
  • Apples; cook them with the porridge too for delicious, hot breakfast.
  • Berries; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Again, add these on top or cook into the porridge. Cooking them creates a lovely compote.
  • Peanut butter; on its own, with cinnamon, bananas or apples.
  • Jam; a bit more fruit (and a bit more sugar).
  • Peanut Butter and Jam; watch the portions here, but it’s a delicious treat.
  • Dark chocolate; a couple of squares, great if you’re craving some chocolate.
  • Cocoa powder; not as tasty as dark chocolate but better if you’re watching your calories.
  • Yoghurt; I really enjoy cooking up a nice, hot bowl of porridge and adding a tablespoon of low-fat natural or fruit flavoured yoghurt.
  • Granola; top your bowl with a modest amount of granola for a lovely crunch.
  • Almonds; adds a nice crunch and delicious flavour. Best add these in and cook for the final 20 seconds or crush them into your porridge.
  • Protein Powder; I recommend mixing up the protein and milk in your shaker then adding that to the oats before cooking to make sure the protein dissolves well.

You can also make porridge savoury, but I’ve never tried this (yet) but here’s a list of recipes from Shape to try if sweet porridge is not your thing!

If hot porridge is not your thing then try mixing your oats (typical 40g portion) with yoghurt in an airtight container (I use Weight Watchers individual pots, one per breakfast, great flavours), throw in some toppings listed above  and leave it overnight. Next morning you’ll have delicious cold oats, they must be left overnight however to ensure the oats soften. I’ve already mentioned overnight oats before with a recipe for Bircher’s Muesli that my mum makes.

IMPORTANT; porridge doesn’t need to be just for breakfast. Porridge can be a brilliant recovery food. Over the Christmas holidays I enjoyed cold, overnight oats post-run. You can get a great balance of carbohydrates and proteins and some sugars to help your body recover.

I’m a huge fan of porridge in case no one noticed.

Gym Bug

Stretches to get you through your day

Hi there!

I’ve already done a post on the importance of stretching but this is about some stretches to do whilst at work, studying, sitting at desk etc to help prevent aches and pains associated with sitting down (which is becoming an increasingly covered health risk). I like doing these as mini-revision breaks to clear my mind a bit and help stretch out muscles that have lay idle for too long. I’ve decided it’s best to give you the links to th stretches I use, since it’s easier to be shown how to perform the stretch through photos than it is to explain!

I also do basic likes bending over with straight legs and back, doing arm circles, reaching for the ceiling without lifting my feet from the ground and giving myself a big hug to stretch off my back.

Not only will these help stretch out any aches and pains from repetitive desk work sitting but it will also get your body moving a bit. As I’ve said, sitting is getting an increasingly bad reputation. It is becoming associated with poorer mental health, increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of becoming disabled and more. It’s also linked with obesity, high blood pressure and stress.
Other issues associated with sitting relate to increased risk of blood clots, increased pressure on the spine, poor circulation and fluid collecting in your legs.

This doesn’t mean you must invest in a standing desk or refuse to sit when you eat or watch TV. Instead, try move more, make it a habit to get up once and hour and pace around the room, stretch, just stand. Try reduce the amount your sitting down and you’ll hopefully feel more energised and focused. It’s also a nice break from the computer or TV!

Have a great weekend!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140407/sitting-disease-faq

Breakfast; The Most Important Meal of the Day

Hi there!

Today I shall be discussing the most important meal of the day; BREAKFAST. Studies have repeatedly shown breakfast is vital if you’re looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Literally, Google the importance of breakfast and see what happens!

The whole idea behind ‘breakfast is the important meal of the day’ relates to the fact that you haven’t eaten for a considerable amount of time whilst you’ve been sleeping. It’s roughly an average of 5-7 hours. That’s a long time for your body not to receive fuel. Yes, your metabolism is not running at such a high rate when you’re sleeping but you are still burning calories to breath and function, right? Eating breakfast gives you the energy to perform better, concentrate, exercise and generally tackle the day better. It may also reduce hunger throughout the day, leading to weight loss or management. Overall, breakfast is a must-have if you’re looking to make healthier lifestyle choices. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious and it can be quick if you need it to be!

Here are some excellent breakfast options;

  • Porridge
    A huge favourite of mine. I usually have this for breakfast every day and I never get sick of it. The best part about porridge is that you can change it up all the time. Try it with sliced banana, apple, berries, pineapples and more fruit! I love cooking the fruit in with the porridge to soften the fruit and get the juices mixed with the oats. You can also add honey, agave syrup, seeds, cacoa powder, dark chocolate drops, nut butter and cinnamon! Also if you’ve made it rather thick, a good spoonful of yoghurt is delicious too. Porridge is a low glycaemic index food which means it’s slow releasing, keeping you fuelled and focused until lunch (or maybe snack time).
  • Pancakes
    I’ve done two different pancakes posts; Protein Power Pancakes and 2-Ingredient Pancakes. There are literally hundreds of recipes out there though and you can make variations on both these recipes. The best and most versatile thing about pancakes though is the toppings. Go for fruit, syrup (watch the quantities), nut butters, yoghurt, some cinnamon to make them sweet. If you’re wanting something a bit more savoury pancakes are great with eggs (maybe not the two recipes listed above, but a more neutral pancake mix), bacon, sausage (not the healthiest options), even have them with some ham and tomato or avocado.
  • Overnight oats
    I have had Bircher’s Muesli that my mum made once and it’s phenomenal, I’ll post the recipe below for you to try but overnight oats are becoming insanely popular. These are great if you need a grab’n’go breakfast.
  • Eggs
    Have them scrambled, boiled, poached, in an omelette, however you like them! These are a great source of protein which will keep you going until lunch. Have a veggie omelette, veggie scramble, boiled eggs with whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs and avocado, again the possibilities are endless!
  • Muffins
    You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, it sounds strange but you can create some delicious and healthy breakfast muffins for another grab’n’go breakfast. It’s all about preparing the night before and making sure you’re not buying your breakfast muffin! Here’s a recipe below I found for delicious Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins.
  • Smoothies
    Another grab’n’go one here. Through in your favourite fruit, some low-fat yoghurt, oats and blitz it! You can also make vegetable juices or through in some spinach, kale etc to make different combinations of smoothies. Freeze the fruit for an ice-cold serving of breakfast. Also, if you’re taking protein feel free to through in a scoop of your powder to really get a packed breakfast.

These are but a few options. Here’s a link to my Breakfast board on Pinterest for more inspiration  I’m constantly updating it with new finds and I’ll post on here when I use new recipes and let you know the verdict!

Now for the Bircher’s Muesli (for 6, overnight recipe)

Ingredients;
1 cup rolled oats
1 ¾ cups water or milk
1 green apple
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 ½ cups plain yoghurt/non-fat greek yoghurt/ low-fat fruit yoghurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Method;
1. Combine the water or milk and oats, cover and leave overnight.
2. The next morning make sure your oats are nice and soft.
3. Core and grate the apple into the oats.
4. Add the honey, yoghurt and (if using) the cinnamon to the oats and apple.
5. Stir until all is well combined.
6. Serve as it is or with your favourite breakfast toppings.

Some favourite toppings; banana, dark chocolate drops, berries, raisins, nuts.

This is a delicious breakfast and one I’m sneakily hoping will be prepared at some stage when I’m home, I may even make it myself!

With all these amazing recipes why would you want to skip breakfast!?

Gym Bug

Slow or Fast; who wins this weights race?

Hi there!

Another weight training session today and I tried a slightly different technique based on some research I’d done. I got curious as to whether it was best to do fast repetitions or slow ones, so I researched it and tried out a slower routine today than normal.

Women’s Health Mag has discussed that both can have great benefits for the body. The key is the point in your training you’re at. If you’re a beginner, going fast will likely lead to injury. Going slow is also great if you’re looking to build strength. What you want to do is really focus on slowing down on the “release” stage of the lift. For example, doing a bicep curl, really focus on slowing the rate on the way down rather than on the way up.  By going too fast, too soon you risk injury to muscles and joints, especially if your technique isn’t quite on form. However, when performing the repetitions it’s best that you slow it down on the ‘release’ phase. I tried it today and I could definitely feel more of a burn, particularly with my abs. By doing the repetitions slower (for example, with a bicycle crunch) I could really feel my abs working hard.

Men’s Fitness also discuss this and state that lifting slow will see you develop more muscle mass. Again, it’s all about going slow on the ‘release’ phase of the repetition, this way you’re really working the muscles hard and developing more strength. Don’t worry ladies though, going slow won’t mean walking out the gym one day a bodybuilder, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it takes more than just lifting to get those types of muscles. Females lack testosterone, which is what’s needed to give you those bulging muscles. Always remember female bodybuilders or very muscular females are probably taking supplements to enable that type of muscle growth!

But does that mean fast isn’t beneficial? Not at all, however, it’s only wise to use faster repetitions when you’ve got the overall technique nailed down. This will help prevent injury. It’s also pertinent you’ve got muscle strength to maintain a safe technique whilst going through the more intense workout. By going faster you improve power and burn more calories but you need to be physically capable of maintaining a proper technique when more fatigued. By forcing the weight to move faster you’re using more energy, so you will notice you’re more tired, sweaty and out of breath by following this technique.  Be careful though!  Jerky, poor controlled movements will cause injury. You must remain in control of the weights to reap the rewards!

Here are a couple of exercises you can do both fast and slow;

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Bicep Curls
  • Squats (maybe not too fast if you’re using a bar)
  • Push Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Tricep Dips

I’m going to do a session of 10 slow repetitions of different exercises, then next session try 15 repetitions in the same time frame for the same exercises. This way I’ll get to experience both! Hopefully it’s a new way to mix up my workouts. You should give it a try too!

Almost Friday. Keep going!

Gym Bug

Bounce Balls; Energy from Nature

Hi there!

When my sister picked up my first Bounce Ball, she raised her arm to launch it at the ground, not quite realising what she was holding. A Bounce Ball is not a bouncey ball that you played with as a kid and probably got hit by (small, round bruises, anyone?), although give me a bouncey ball now and I’ll be quite content for a while. Anyway, back on point, Bounce Balls are food. A great kind of food. They’re energy balls. The idea behind them is to get an excellent boost of energy from small, delicious, nutrient-dense foods.
I’ve only tried one flavour (still making my way around them) but here’s a run-down of their excellent, energy balls.

There are 8 amazing flavours to choose from, made from the highest quality ingredients (messing with quality is not an option here). Each different flavour provides something different whether it’s only flavour, or the function or the nutritional value is provides. Bounce Balls have made sure you will find exactly what you need.
HP= High Protein
V= Suitable for vegetarians
GF= Gluten Free
HF= High Fibre

  • Cacao Mint Protein Bomb; this is their newest flavour. Sunflower seeds, cacao nibs, quality proteins and rice bran. Get your protein pick me up from this incredible new ball! (HP)
  • Apple & Cinnamon Protein Punch; cashews, whey, pea proteins, excellent carbs and heart healthy fats. An excellent high protein which will curb even the meanest of hunger pangs to help you maintain your fast-paced day. (V & GF)
  • Peanut Protein Blast; they’re all on my bucket list, but this is next. I’m a huge peanut fan. Titled “The Golden Nugget” on their website, this ball is packed full of delicious peanut. High protein, energy packed ball of incredible. (HP)
  • Coconut & Macadamia Protein Bliss; an antioxidant packed ball with excellently healthy macadamias, coconut and cashews. This is definitely one for the lovers of coconut and summer flavours (HP & HF).
  • Spirulina & Ginseng Energy Balls; I hear a lot about Spirulina and I wasn’t sure what it was, so I did some research. It’s a superfood which is high in protein, essential amino acids and iron. Excellent sources of iron and great boost for the immune system. This particular energy ball is packed with superfood Spirulina and superfood Ginseng. This seems like a body’s cup of gold. Packed with delicious almonds, oat, sesame seeds, spirulina and ginseng. This is literally a health boost in a packet, it’s got fibre, unsaturated fats, vitamins E and B12 (HF)
  • Almond Protein Hit; I’ve tried this one ad I really enjoyed it, it’s got a bit of marzipan flavour to it, and it did give me a fantastic energy boost (I enjoyed it whilst on an energy slump on holiday, instant pick me up). Another ball packed with heart healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates. (HP & HF)
  • Cashew & Pecan Vitality Lift; another heart healthy packed ball packed with delicious nuts and seeds. This one also contains an excellent antioxidant called manganese. Get your mono and unsaturated fat hit from this one! (HF)
  • Fudgie Walnut Health Storm; walnuts, peanuts, carob and sesame seeds. This is an excellent ‘free-from’ option for all gluten free readers. Again it’s packed with manganese, heart healthy fats and fibre. (HF & GF)

All their products are great on-the-go snacks that are packed with healthy but filling ingredients. Once I’ve got some more monies in the bank (curse the student budget) I have every intention to getting my hands on these balls of power to fuel my long days. They’re too convenient not to try!

These are available in a wide variety of stores; find them in Holland & Barrett, Waitrose, Boots.com and other health food shops. You can also purchase them online on their own website. A pack of 12 costs £19.45 or a pack of 40 for £63.95. It sounds like a lot but consider how nutritionally dense they are, I think if you’re really serious about healthy energy, these are worth it.

Gym Bug

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