Category Archives: Health

How Bodybuilders are Turning to Non-dairy Plant Based Protein Powder

 

Protein shakes are a wonderful way to support muscle growth while cutting fat from your diet. For vegans and those sensitive to dairy, non-dairy plant based protein powder can offer similar benefits of whey without milk products.

Non-Dairy Plant Based Protein Shake Options

One of the primary benefits of whey and casein based protein supplements is that they’re complete; that is, they contain a full set of amino acids that can be completely put to use by the body when you ingest them, rather than needing to plan a combination of foods to build a complete protein. However, whey is not the only complete protein, and getting the combination right is not difficult.

Soy

Soy protein is a complete protein and has a higher level of glutamine, which is critical to new muscle growth and damaged muscle repair. However, soy has a high concentration of phytoestrogens and has been shown to impact testosterone levels, so many people prefer to avoid it. Additionally, soy is a legume, which may cause digestive sensitivity for some users.

Soy can be a prominent part of a vegan diet, such as in tofu and textured vegetable protein. If you’re concerned about getting too much soy, keep up on the tofu but consider using a different protein powder for your shakes.

Hemp

It’s critical to point out that hemp is not marijuana. Hemp protein powder will not get you high, but it can help you control sugar cravings, reduce your risk of osteoporosis and help you maintain a clean colon. If you’re on any blood-thinning medications or suffer from a chronic viral infection such as herpes, you should not use hemp protein. Hemp protein powder is often available from organic sources and can either be stirred into almond milk for a protein boost or blended into a smoothie.

Pea

Pea protein is one part of a protein shake. When combined with brown rice protein, yellow pea protein offers a complete protein boost that is easily absorbed for an energy and muscle repair boost right after your workout.

Brown Rice

Brown rice protein powder is a great product to have in your kitchen and in your smoothie! This versatile protein supplement can be added to soups, quick breads and casseroles for a nutritional bump; heat will not harm it. Brown rice is a great option for anyone with blood sugar issues. It adds protein to your diet without causing the high insulin spike often associated with white rice.

Recovering Faster with Non-Dairy Plant Based Protein Powders

Building a workout routine requires adding in days of rest and time for muscle repair. Adding a non-dairy plant based protein powder shake to the end of your workout can help you speed muscle recovery. While whey is popular, cheap and a complete source of protein, it’s often highly processed and can cause digestive distress such as gas, diarrhea or constipation for some users. Non-dairy proteins can be great for your muscle development and your gut.

Want to Get Fit this New Year? The Top Ten Exercises You can Do at Your Office Desk

 

 

We spend a lot of time sitting down. If you don’t believe us, just think about it – you probably spend about eight to nine hours sitting at your desk, and you may be spending approximately an hour or two a day sitting down during your commute to work. Afterwards, you’re more likely than not sitting down for supper, sitting down in front of the telly, and so on. But sitting down for a good number of hours each day need not be bad for you if you can do some exercise, right? Fortunately, you can. Here are the top ten exercises you can do at your office desk daily.

Desk pushups

With your hands on your office desk, move your feet backwards until you reach an angle of 45 degrees. Then do as many pushups as you can – a dozen would be a good start.

Book lift

Grab a heavy book, hold the book behind your head, and extend your arms upwards. Drop the book down then repeat the process.

Shoulder squeeze

Pretend you have a pencil between your shoulders. Then imagine squeezing the pencil between the blades of your shoulders. Repeat the process several times.

Neck squeeze

Sit up and move your left ear downwards until it’s parallel to your left shoulder. Hold the pose for several seconds then do the same thing on the right side.

Upward reach

Lace your fingers together and try to reach up as high as possible. Make sure your palms are facing upwards whilst you do it.

Shrugging

Raise both your shoulders up to your ears then hold the pose for several seconds. Release and repeat the process several times.

Knee hug

Bend your right knee and lift your leg up. Then grab your leg with your arms; try to pull it as close as possible to your chest. Hold the pose for ten seconds then release.

Open up your chest

Whilst sitting down, bring your two hands to your back and try pressing your hands together. Make sure you are sitting up and hold the pose for the next five to ten seconds.

Looking over your shoulder

Turn your head to the right and try looking over your right shoulder. Hold the pose for five to ten seconds and repeat the same on your left side.

Chin drop

Let your chin drop to your chest and then roll your head in a gentle motion from one side to the other.

After these 10 exercises to do at your desk, reward yourself with a snack, some office small talk, or even with an exciting game of bingo online. Go ahead, you deserve it – as much as you deserve a healthier you for the new year.

Image attributed to stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Vegan Workouts: Building Muscle on a Plant-Based Diet

No matter how many weightlifting or endurance records they smash, or how many bodybuilding competitions or UFC titles they win, it seems like most people still think vegans have a hard time staying fit and healthy. But if you’re a vegan, don’t worry, as all of those athletes and records above have shown, you don’t actually need meat to build muscle. Despite what skeptics think, the question is not if you can improve your health, muscle mass and performance on a vegan diet, but rather – how?

Vegan-Friendly Supplementation

For starters, we have to get one thing clear, while your vegan diet won’t limit your performance, it won’t give exactly give you a competitive edge either. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is no evidence that supports neither a beneficial nor a detrimental effect of a vegan diet on performance. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take supplements that can help you build muscle. Of course, you have to be aware that most standard supplements aren’t suitable for vegans and vegetarians. For instance, standard capsules mainly use animal gelatin (more commonly known as “animal jelly”), made mainly from boiled skins, bones and tendons of various animals.

On the other hand, vegan capsules can be made from Kazu and Agar-agar, which are derived from seaweed, and is far more expensive. But if you want a more cost-effective supplement, you should try to find an organic vegan protein powder. They are mostly used as an additive in smoothies, and are specially formulated to help you achieve remarkable results, without forcing you to comprise your diet. It’s also worth noting that certain power-bars and snacks have gelatin in them, but in most cases, you have gelatin-free versions of the same products, made by the same food companies.

Vegan Workouts and Recovery Time

While a lack of meat in your diet won’t affect your workout sessions, but it’s important to understand that your lifestyle and diet programs doesn’t support the recovery necessary to exercise with high frequency and volume. But it doesn’t take that much to fuel muscle growth, and heavy weights and low repetitions will definitely get the job done. Due to the recovery time, it is important to keep your workout sessions around 45 minutes, and if your goal is to lose some fat, you don’t need more than 30 minutes. Recently, researchers from the University of Copenhagen had discovered that half-a-hour of exercise provides just as much benefits as an hour.

Now, let’s get back to the recovery time –while some surprising drinks like chocolate milk have certain revitalizing qualities, since we’re talking about vegan workouts, milk is of course, out of the question. So, out of all elements of recovery, oxidative stress (imbalance between the ability of your body to counteract harmful effects and the production of free radicals) is probably the most important thing to fight. Fortunately, according to a study from the University of Buenos Aires, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli help your body reduce oxidative stress and diminish muscle soreness. Numerous athletes like NFL Pro-Bowler, Tony Gonzales and boxer Timothy Bradly Jr. have leveraged the power of nutrient-rich, plant-based diets to speed up their recovery time.

Post Workout Meals

During an intense workout session, your body uses up most of your glycogen (the energy stored in your muscle tissue), so you need carbs to replenish your energy, and the protein helps your body speed up the process. However, carbs and protein are not all you need after a workout; you see, every exercise actually damages your muscle tissue (it recovers and strengthens after a resting period), and in order to prevent long term damage, you need food rich in antioxidants (like pumpkin seeds, red pepper and kiwis) and omega-3 acids (such as walnuts and leafy greens).

It’s also important that you find a professional to help you with your workouts and to make sure that you’re performing your exercises correctly. Also, try not to push yourself to the limit too much during the first few months, and if you start feeling any pain, stop exercising or lifting immediately. And finally, it cannot be overemphasized that you need your time off training to build muscle, and if you’re consistent, three to four sessions per week are enough to get you in the shape of your life

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Can You Lower Cholesterol Through Exercise?

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Those of us who enjoy sport tend to see it as a panacea for all ills. A bit overweight? Exercise. Feeling sad? Exercise. Want to set yourself a challenge? Exercise. But what if you have recently done a cholesterol test and your levels are elevated? Is exercise a good solution here? In this article we discuss the research behind cholesterol and sport, looking at how you can lower your levels safely and effectively, and whether exercise can help.

What is cholesterol, and why might you need to lower it?

Let’s start with the basics. There’s no point trying to lower something if we don’t know what it is!

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance created by the liver and found in the blood. There are two different types: HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol.

When people talk about having raised cholesterol they are generally speaking about LDL – this kind can build up, and if there’s too much in the blood it’s considered one of the risk factors of heart disease. Meanwhile, HDL-cholesterol can pick cholesterol up and take it to the liver to be destroyed, making it the good kind.

Confused? It’s always helpful to speak to a healthcare professional – and you can always request a cholesterol test along the way.

Can you lower cholesterol through exercise?

So now you know what cholesterol is, the question remains: Can you lower bad cholesterol levels through exercise?

The answer isn’t straightforward. Studies have found a link between LDL cholesterol and being overweight, so if you have elevated levels, exercising more may be a good step to take as it can help you maintain a healthy weight.

That said, if a cholesterol test has revealed that your levels are elevated, the most important thing to do is to take a look at your diet. Having a healthy, balanced diet overall is a good start, but it’s replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat that’s the major change to make.

How much exercise should we be doing?

Whether you’re trying to maintain healthy cholesterol levels or not, exercise is important for your health. If you don’t do much sport at the moment, this doesn’t mean you should start trying to run marathons – it’s important to always work from your base level and gradually increase.

The NHS suggests a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, so start by trying to get to that point. Once there, you can then add to it. If you’re currently walking 30 minutes a day, for example, try stepping that up to jogging instead for two of those days each week – and if you’re doing that already, why not try weights?

Even if the link between cholesterol lowering and exercise isn’t clear cut, it’s still an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Once you get the exercise bug, you’ll feel great and your body will love you for it – just find something you enjoy and get going.

How to Quit Smoking and Get Fit

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How to Quit Smoking and Get Fit

Quitting smoking and getting fit are both in themselves very difficult, however they work hand in hand. Quitting helps you get fitter and getting fit can help you quit.

Smokers who want to get fit often struggle due to the damage they’ve done to their body as well as fighting the addiction to nicotine. It’s only when trying to quit that you realise what damage has been done, however perseverance is key. Continuing to smoke while sticking to a good diet and regular exercise just won’t cut it. As Ann M. Malarcher, PhD, senior scientific advisor in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health explains, “Research shows that eating a healthy diet and exercising don’t reduce the health risks associated with smoking”.

The Damage

Smokers find it harder to catch their breath and have less energy and stamina than non-smokers. What’s more, as smoking increases the time it takes for the body to repair, it can be a struggle to maintain an exercise routine. This is due to the following:

  • Smoking narrows your arteries making it more difficult for blood to flow to the organs that need it during exercise.
  • Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide which binds to haemoglobin in red blood cells, slowing the flow of oxygen throughout the body. This puts a stain on muscles and makes it hard to breathe.
  • Tar, which is found in cigarette smoke, coats the lungs. This creates resistance, making it hard for you to catch your breath. Tar also reduces the elasticity of air sacs in the lungs, which stops them from being able to absorb the oxygen they require to function correctly.
  • As smokers have less oxygen-rich blood pumping through their bodies the heart has to work much harder to compensate, which increases your resting heart rate.

Get Support

Support is key to helping you quit and to help you get fit. There are a plethora of smoking cessation aids that can help support you as you cut down on the cigarettes and quit. Ensure you invest in a support method that works for you, whether that’s nicotine patches, gum, spray or even electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes actually became the most popular smoking cessation aid in England 2012. Even though there’s still much debate over their benefits, reports have suggested they are less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. Added to this, 29% of those who have used e-cigarettes to help them quit do so within six months. If you’re new to vaping, Aspire eCig UK recommend the Aspire Nautilus Mini Tank Clearomizer as it’s user-friendly and durable.

Get Fit

When you are ready to cut down and quit smoking, it’s important to understand your body’s limits in order to create an exercise routine that works with you. Here’s how exercise can help:

  • When you exercise endorphins are released, which reduces your stress levels, so you’re less likely to reach for the cigarettes as a way to cope with stress.
  • You can’t smoke at the gym. By removing yourself from your usual routines you can distract yourself and reduce the sense of withdrawal.
  • If you’re exercising while trying to quit you’re less likely to put on weight, which is something many people worry about.

Yes, smoking can make exercising difficult, but exercise can help you quit in the long run. Just remember, with determination and time it is possible to both reverse the damage done and to get fit and kick the habit.

How Smoking Affects Exercise Performance

How Smoking Affects Exercise Performance

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How Smoking Affects Exercise Performance

It’s well known that smoking is harmful, but how exactly does it affect the body? Here we look at what you need to know about the effects of smoking and how to improve your exercise performance…

Keeping healthy and fit is important, but for those who smoke, keeping active can become difficult due to the many harmful affects smoking has on the body. However, regular exercise can also help smokers to kick the habit all together.

Here’s how smoking affects the body:

Less energy and stamina. When exercising, blood vessels in your muscles dilate and blood flow increases to boost the oxygen supply to your muscles, providing the energy required to push your body to its limit. These limits, however, are reduced when you smoke due to the carbon monoxide within cigarettes, which binds to the haemoglobin in your red blood cells, preventing oxygen from doing the same, thus reducing the amount of oxygen available.

Bad blood and narrow arteries. Nicotine and carbon monoxide raise your fibrinogen, which clots blood, and lowers your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), causing atherosclerosis. This makes your blood sticky allowing lipids to accumulate, which build up in your arteries and narrows them. As such, it becomes increasingly difficult for blood to flow to organs that need it, making it harder to breathe and increasing the time it takes for the body to repair.

Chronic illness. Smoking causes the mucous membranes within your airways to swell and the tar in cigarette smoke coats the lungs creating resistance, making it difficult to catch your breath. Tar also reduces the elasticity of the air sacs in your lungs reducing their ability to absorb oxygen and decreasing your lung capacity. This can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Increased heart rate. Smokers have a higher resting heart rate than non-smokers because of the extra work and strain put on the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This means smokers are at risk when exercising as their heart rate can rise to dangerous levels.

How to improve performance

For those who smoke, the best way to improve exercise performance is to kick the habit. Regular exercise can be used as a distraction to help you quit smoking, however if you need some help, there are a variety of smoking cessation aids available, from nicotine gum and patches, to electronic cigarettes, which are now the most popular aid to quitting in England. LiquideCigUK.co.uk explain a couple of reasons for this, quite simply, “… they’re less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cost up to 80% less.” The UK’s Royal College of Physicians also state that there is resounding evidence that e-cigarettes are “much safer” than smoking and aid quitting.” And that, “…vaping could improve the lives of millions of people…” What’s more, according to Statistic Brain, 29% of those who tried e-cigarettes quit smoking within six months.

Those who quit smoking benefit from improved exercise performance compared to those who continue to smoke. What’s more it’s suggested that  20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate drops, after 12 hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal, and after two or three weeks lung function improves!