Recovering from Injury in Professional Rugby

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Hi, I’m Aaron and I’m a professional rugby union player currently playing for Montpellier in France. I’m really excited to join the Nuzest team and discuss how I optimise my performance in such a physically challenging sport by using Nuzest products. This is my introduction blog but I’m excited to discuss things I feel passionate about over the course of the next few months.

Following a dream

Ever since a young age, I was inspired by my parents to always chase my dreams and try to make them my reality. I attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School in New Zealand and played rugby there throughout my junior years. My parents have always been so supportive and whilst they’ve never forced me into anything, they’ve always been there to provide feedback and support throughout my journey.

I made my provincial debut for Manawatu Turbos in 2008. However, just as I thought my career was starting, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer at the age of 19. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone and it was a harsh lesson to make me learn how precious life is at such a young age. Seven months after receiving the all clear I was fortunate enough to be part of the U20 world cup winning New Zealand team. Since then I’ve played for the Wellington Hurricaines, Waikato Chiefs and have been capped 50 times for the All Blacks. I’ve always wanted to play overseas and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to now do so in France.

Strength and recovery with added flavour

At the very start of my career, I learnt you can never take your health for granted. I’ve also suffered from injuries – including knee reconstruction surgery. I was off the field for much of 2015 but I feel like I’m only going from strength to strength now thanks to the help of Nuzest products. I’m currently using both Nuzest Clean Lean Protein and their Good Green Stuff. I absolutely love that Nuzest is naturally sourced and I’d find it very difficult to get the level of nutrients I need without it. Good Greens Stuff is an extremely effective way of getting my daily source of greens. The Protein is full of flavour and provides added recovery and strength to my daily nutrient intake and the fact that there are multiple flavours makes it great for my smoothies.

I look forward to keeping you up to date with what’s happening in my world and discussing how Nuzest helps me achieve my goals. As for my goals over the next year? They don’t often change, it’s all about having balance in every aspect of life which includes my nutrition. So that is why I like to use Nuzest products because I believe they fit with my goals and lifestyle perfectly.

ggs
clp

A Day in the Life of an Elite Tennis Player

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Hi, I’m Marcus.
I grew up on a farm in New Zealand but these days I play professional tennis on the ATP World Tour. Once a month I’ll write about the challenges I face trying to optimise performance in a high-stress environment while travelling the world. Frequent air travel, jetlag, sleep, nutrition, travel hacks, rest, meditation – these are all areas I continue to explore and improve in. I hope my mistakes and successes help you optimise yourself.

Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor an expert on anything other than chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. But in my chase for that extra 1% performance and resilience, I have had a bucketload of trial and error experience and some of it just might make a difference to you too.

To Meat or Not to Meat
A few months ago I decided to become vegetarian. The decision was a bit of a shock for everyone, including me.

I was in a Tokyo sushi restaurant with some other doubles players during the Japan Open when one of the guys ordered a round of chopped whale for the table. Something inside me recoiled. I couldn’t even consider eating it. This ethical repulsion triggered some deep questioning of my own values and of why our society draws an arbitrary line around what is ‘ethical’ to kill and eat and what isn’t. After extensive reading and some horrifically graphic vegan propaganda documentaries I couldn’t justify eating a product of slaughter, both on ethical and environmental grounds. This is one reason why I have great admiration for Nuzest as a company – I’ll get to that soon.

I grew up on a sheep farm eating red meat a couple of times a day. Traditional rural wisdom was, ‘Eat good red meat and some potatoes and you’ll be right.’ As I got better at tennis a parallel refrain was touted by coaches and trainers, ‘You need protein, so you need meat.’ I can’t argue against the need for protein, especially in active humans, * Research suggests that active males require 1.6g-1.8g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. At 78kg, this means my protein requirements are around 133g per day (For active females the suggestion is between 1.2g-1.4g of protein per kilo of bodyweight). Research also suggests that the human body can only absorb around 35g of protein in one hit* so I went into the vegetarian diet highly conscious of how much protein my body required to function optimally. The nutrition model that has worked best for me is commonly called protein pulsing. This involves consuming a source of protein every three or so hours *The idea being that there is always an accessible protein source in the bloodstream so your body doesn’t have to recruit any protein from your muscles* Research suggests that this protein pulsing technique is beneficial for all people, and carbohydrate intake can be tailored depending on how active or sedentary you are.

As a virgin vegetarian this was my challenge: minus meat, how can I consume ~135g of protein per day?

It has turned out to be much easier and tastier than I expected. I usually eat five or six times per day. Three or four decent sized meals with snacks in between to keep me going. Prior to my vegemania I’d typically consume one protein shake per day. Over the years I tried tens of different whey protein supplements but never found a product that sat well in my stomach if I had to train or compete soon after consumption. I started using Nuzest products at the end of 2016 – well before becoming vegetarian – and Clean Lean Protein ticked that box immediately. Now I have two or three Nuzest shakes per day and they alone count for around two thirds of my daily protein requirements. Due to the purity of the protein, plus the fact that it’s made from golden peas rather than animal products, Clean Lean Protein is highly digestible and I have no issues drinking a shake just before working out or even during a session.

For interest’s sake, here is a typical training day for me in the off-season including food intake:

A Day in the Life of Marcus

7am : Wake up

Hydrate – ~250ml warm water with a squeezed lemon and a dollop of apple cider vinegar 

Shake – Mix two and a bit scoops of Nuzest Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Nuzest Good Green Stuff with water. Pound it. Eat 2 pieces of fruit, I’m a kiwifruit and apple man.

7.45am : Meditate – 9-12mins. I use an app called Calm. *I hope to do a post on meditation in the future*

8-9am : Yoga

9.15am : Breakfast! – Eat a big bowl of porridge with soy or almond milk, topped with trail mix and honey. I prefer Manuka honey. A (delicious) coffee.

10-10.30am : Gym Warmup – Rolling, stretching, mobilizing, activating core, glutes, rotator cuff, various rehab exercises.

10.30am-12.45pm : Tennis training – This can have a wide variety of focuses depending on what I’m working on at the time and who I’m training with. High level tennis training is exceedingly dehydrating so I try to consume at least 1.2L of water mixed with electrolytes per hour. *I also hope to do a post on hydration in the future* Finish with 15 mins warm down and stretching.

1pm : Lunch! – Lots of brown rice or sweet potato, lots of salad and veggies of all colours, a source of protein: quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, seitan, haloumi etc. Another (strong) coffee.

2-2.30pm : Gym Warmup – Back in the gym limbering up. More of the same rehab exercises. You can never do enough of this stuff.

2.30-4pm : Tennis training – Depending on the focus of my training block this session is sometimes replaced by a longer and more demanding heavy gym session.

4pm : Shake – 2 scoops Nuzest Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Nuzest Good Green Stuff, usually accompanied by a banana.

4-5pm : Gym – A hard session. usually either upper body or lower body focused, always with some core training.

5-6pm : Pool recovery and stretching – This will include dynamic and static stretching, hot and cold treatment, and often a blissful finish in the lukewarm hydrotherapy pool.

7pm : Dinner! – The same components as lunch but in a different combination to keep it exciting.

10 or 10.30pm : ‘Midnight’ snack – Another Nuzest shake with 2 scoops Vanilla Clean Lean Protein and a half scoop of Good Green Stuff, this time often accompanied by my biggest vice – popcorn. Having this just before bed gives my body some much-needed macro and micro nutrients to feast on while it’s doing important repair work overnight.

11pm : Shut down and sleep.

As you can see this is an incredibly demanding day for a body. Without an easily digestible protein like Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein I would struggle to get enough each day. Their Good Green Stuff also helps my body to repair all of its systems, especially overnight when the body does most of its repair work. The more I learn about Nuzest as a company the more I like it. As a sponsored athlete I’ve got good access to the key people behind the company, however I was the one who asked how I could help spread the name because I believe Nuzest represents the very best in both nutrition and ethics. Clean Lean Protein is extracted from sustainably grown European golden peas from northern France. Peas are among the most sustainable crops in the world; they add nitrogen to the soil in the growing process rather than stripping the fields of nutrients. Peas use less than 20% of the land required to produce the same amount of protein from whey or beef. The protein is naturally extracted from the peas in a unique facility in Belgium using a water process rather than chemical solvents, which makes it better for the environment and better for you. It’s vegan, gluten free, dairy free, GMO free, lectin free, soy free. It’s hypoallergenic and has an alkaline pH of 7.8.

I’m raving on, but there’s a lot to rave about.

This is a company I have a huge amount of respect for and want to help promote.

I haven’t lost any weight or muscle mass since the change to vegetarianism and my energy levels are equal. The one pleasant difference I’ve noticed is that my stomach feels lighter. What has also been particularly gratifying is the number of athletes and strangers who have contacted me via social media to ask questions about a vegetarian diet or say that I gave them the confidence to make the switch to vegetarianism themselves. I’m just one of many living proofs that athletes don’t need meat to be elite, and if athletes can be physical paragons on a vegetarian diet then anyone can optimise their lives eating the same.

I urge those of you who are interested to give vegetarianism a go for a month or so and see how good it feels to have energy without the heaviness of meat in your guts. Just remember to get enough protein!

Please note that Marcus is sharing the perspective of an Elite Athlete with heavy physical and mental demands. His nutritional requirements may be more than Nuzest recommends for the every day person. Always read the label and use as directed.

See more from Marcus and some of our other Tennis Supporters.
Shop Online for Nuzest.

ggs
clp

Burning Fat Efficiently With the Right Training and Nutrition

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We’ve learned that fat burning is a system we’ve developed to allow us to use energy over long distances. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose genes we share almost unchanged, would roam their environments on the hunt for food for hours or even days on end. We would not be around today if they cold only hunt successfully if they could refuel on bags of potato chips or cans of coke every few hours. They would genuinely be running on empty, using fuel that they had previously stored. Someone who gets lost in the desert and is unable to hunt successfully will die, usually after a few days without food and water. But it’s not the lack of food that causes death, it’s the lack of water. Most of us can function, given water, for well over two weeks without food. That’s because we burn first of all our fat reserves, and then we that runs out, we start burning protein as muscle tissue. What’s ingenious about it is that we also generate another fuel when we burn fat called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies – or ketones for short – are actually are brain’s favourite fuels. If you keep burning fat, and continue to not eat over many days, the levels of ketones in your system can get so high they kill you. That’s why for many years ketones were thought of as bad compounds because they were known to occur at very high levels in people who were starving to death. To keep ketones as low as possible, you need to shut down your fat burning system. The best way to do that is by taking in lots of carbs.

Now, think about all those overweight people in the gym who you’ve seen working out on treadmills and cycling machines who never seem to lose weight. Chances are they’re working out for under an hour at a time and they’re also downing glucose- or sugar-laden energy drinks or energy gels to keep them going. Their diets might also be low fat and high in refined and processed carbs like white bread, pasta, pizzas and white rice.

What we now know is that we need to back off eating carbs to encourage our bodies to burn fats. This is one reason that there’s been so much interest in law carb diets, as well as ones that increase the amount of healthy fats. These kinds of diets are often referred to as Low Carb High Fat or LCHF diets. But it’s not just a question of what you’re eating, it’s also about how much and when you’re eating.

When we start exercising aerobically our bodies normally rely on the most readily accessible fuel. It’s actually not fats, carbs or protein. It’s a compound called glycogen that’s stored in our liver and muscles. If we’re replenished with glycogen from a good meal with plenty of complex carbs from vegetables, starches or grains the night before, most of us will have a reserve of some 500 – 800g of glycogen. This will be sufficient to act as our main fuel for around 60 to 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. So if you’re going to do some aerobic work in the gym and stop after just 30 minutes, you will have barely started to burn your fat reserves, irrespective of whether the machine in the gym tells you you’ve been in your fat burning zone for that half hour. You’ve burned part of your glycogen reserve that will be replete if you down an energy drink or another carb source after your workout.

What the fat burning zone inscribed on your treadmill, stepper, rower or gym bike is telling is however is right if you’re prepared to stay in this low to moderate heart rate zone for some time. This fat burning zone is approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, which is roughly 220 minus your age, although it can be considerably higher than this if you’re very fit. But how many people can manage over an hour of aerobic work in the gym. Three or four times a week. Not many as it happens.

That’s one reason why, when it comes to burning fat, getting outdoors and doing a long walk or cycle ride makes a lot more sense for many people. But it requires time – something not many of us have in abundance. But perhaps you can manage this once or twice a week if you really try, ideally not on consecutive days.

Such is the flexibility of our bodies’ systems that there are also other ways of burning fat. Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways of getting there. It’s a somewhat fancy term referring to a pattern of eating that involves eating both less as well as less often than a normal Western person might typically eat. There’s actually nothing odd about this way of eating – our ancestors almost certainly ate this way. They certainly didn’t eat three meals a day with snacks in between. They would go through cycles of feast and famine – and it’s important to realise we are supremely well-adapted to famine because if we weren’t, we’d not be here today. And bizarrely, it’s now the excessive feasting that’s much more likely to kill us than the famine…

One of the most useful rules with intermittent fasting is to try to cut down on your meal frequency by avoiding eating within five hours of your last meal. Another point involves cutting out snacks between meals, as well as all refined and processed carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta and white rice. Doing a couple of training or exercise sessions on a completely empty stomach (other than water) will also help you shift towards being a better fat burner. As will engaging in very short bursts of high intensity exercise, with rests of the same or double the duration in between. This is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT and you’ll find plenty of information about it on the internet, such is its popularity given its proven role in triggering mitochondrial function and fat burning. Depending on what your fitness goal is, you can adjust the pattern of your HIIT sessions to deliver different results.

With a personal trainer with extensive experience in HIIT, there are even HIIT regimes suitable for people with serious diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It may seem a bit tough, but think of it as short and sharp, with good rewards. Get it right and your metabolism will become super flexible, using whatever fuels are most efficient. You’ll generate ketones at low levels (nutritional ketosis) to keep your brain super sharp and you’ll even burn fat while you sleep!

When you’ve finished a bout of training over 20 or 30 minutes, make sure you consume around 20 grams of good quality protein to help your body recover and your muscles to grow stronger following the exercise trigger you’ve delivered to them. It’s a good idea to get this protein in within a 30-minute window of completing your activity. If the activity has involved long periods of endurance, you might also want to add some complex carbs and branched chain amino acids to the mix, as well as a good quality multi-nutrient product with plenty of good quality vitamins and minerals, botanicals, probiotics and other micronutrients that help support your multiple body systems.

Avoiding Being Tired and How to Boost Your Energy

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Now that you’ve read the previous blogs on being ‘tired all the time’ (TATT), hopefully they’ve shed some light on the how and the why. In this blog we look at what YOU can do about it to make sure you’re not left stranded in the cul-de-sac of TATT and low-grade inflammation (LGI). This is where you make your U-turn and get back on the road to resilience and health!

Review the following and see which may be missing from your life. Try incorporating one or two to begin with and then build up to bringing in the rest:

  • Ensure you get 6-8 hours quality sleep every night. Men need a bit less sleep than women do, but still, 6 hours is on the low side. Too much sleep, i.e. over 9 hours, can be just as bad as too little sleep, so aim for the right amount. You can’t scrimp all week and then expect one lie-in at the weekend to compensate.
  • Remember that we’re built for famine and not for feast — our protective mechanisms in the body turn on with fasting and off if we stuff ourselves continuously through the day. We just don’t need as much food as we’ve been led to believe we need. Streamline your eating to 3 good, quality, meals a day and cut out the snacks. You can balance your blood sugar much more effectively by cutting out the starchy refined carbs and upping your protein and healthy fat levels. Our cell walls are made up of protein and good fats, so if they’re not in our diet in sufficient quantity, then every cell in the body suffers. A no-carb protein like Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein can be very useful as an on-the-go shake. Mix it with half coconut milk and half water to make you feel fuller for longer. Take a look at this food plate by the Alliance for Natural Health International, it’s been designed to address LGI and bring a return to metabolic resilience.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil on your salads and veggies. It contains an active ingredient called hydroxytyrosol, which is not only one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man, but it also helps create new mitrochondria – the energy powerhouses in your cells. If you’re suffering from TATT, your mitochondria need a lot of TLC and as many new buddies as you can make!
  • Guess what? Exercise also helps make new mitochondria, but don’t overdo it if you’re TATT. When you feel like it, get out and do what you can. Being in nature is way better for your body than being indoors so swap the treadmill for the forest and get your bare feet on the ground as much as you can, for as long as you can.
  • Take honest and truthful stock of your emotional life. If you’re carrying a ‘backpack’ full of sorrows, regrets or fears you need to lighten the load so that your immune system knows the sabre-toothed tiger has been vanquished and it can stand down. Emotional pain, stress and anxiety have the same effect on our immune systems as an infection. It’s a wound of a different kind, but it still needs healing so that our ‘engine’ doesn’t have to idle so high. Look into relaxation and mindfulness techniques or you may want to see a practitioner for some more focussed support.
  • The same can be said for having a head full of toxic, negative, thoughts and being surrounded by people that don’t feed you with the right positive energy. If this resonates with you then it’s time to clean house, in more ways than one.
  • As a rule it’s always food first. Get your nutrition right and you body will reward you. If you’re suffering with TATT you can be sure that you’ll have a level of low-grade inflammation running in the background, so it’s best not to fuel the fire anymore. Make a pact with yourself that you’re going to cut out the two main food allergens that can drive inflammation and autoimmune conditions — gluten and dairy — for at least 8 weeks, 12 or more is better. You’re meant to be off starchy, refined carbs anyway so the gluten shouldn’t be such a problem!
  • Last, but absolutely not least, add in a targeted body-ready, food matrix supplement like Good Green Stuff to your daily regime. Did you know that Good Green Stuff has been formulated to feed into our energy cascade and support all 12-body systems, as well as being chock-full of powerful antioxidants?

Why Do We Need Protein? And How Much Protein Do You Need?

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I think by this stage almost everyone knows that they ‘need’ protein, but in my lectures and workshops I still get questions like, “why do we need protein?”, “but won’t protein make me bulky?”, or, “won’t eating too much protein give me big muscles?”. While most of us know that we do need to be eating ‘enough’ protein, less know how much ‘enough’ is and why it’s important!

What is Protein?

Protein quite simply is the building block of most of the structures in the body and is consequently the name given to groupings of amino acids. Amino acids are used to create enzymes, muscle tissue, bone matrix and many other structural components of the body. All cells require protein. Quick Fact: Over 98% of ALL the cells in your body are replaced every year!

Why do we need Protein?

It helps us to remain lean! Protein has a higher ‘thermic effect of feeding’ (TEF) rating than either carbohydrates or fat. This means that when a higher proportion of your diet is protein your metabolic rate (and consequently fat loss) is going to be higher. This helps to give us the lean, fit-looking physique that many desire (but not ‘bulky’!) whilst also improving metabolic rate.

Improved Alertness and Focus

Amino acids supply the raw material for the excitatory neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. When we do not have enough of these amino acids we are more likely to suffer mental fatigue and physical fatigue.

Bone Structure and Health

Protein provides the matrix for bone and connective tissue. Ample protein helps to provide the structure for healthy bones!

How Much do we Need?

Individuals should measure their activity level when calculating their recommend daily allowance (RDA) of protein. The amount varies by looking at the protein taken in, compared with the amount excreted. It is approximately 0.8 grams per kilo of body-weight.

What the RDA Doesn’t Take into Account

RDA and DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) are ‘necessary’ amounts for baseline health. In other words – survival. But the optimal amounts we need in order to thrive may be much different!

In general, up to 3 grams per kg body-weight per day (over 3 x the RDA) demonstrated to increase lean body mass, reduce fat mass and improve performance.

Most people will do well to get at least the RDA level with additional protein if and when able but overall quantity should be less important though, than eating good quality protein consistently.

The key ‘take home’ point is to eat quality protein at every meal.

Examples of Good, Clean Green Plant-Based Sources:

  • Sprouted lentils, chickpeas or mung beans
  • Nuts or seeds (almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds)
  • Tempeh or other fermented protein foods.

One 25g serving of Clean Lean Protein provides 22g of high-quality protein.

Tips on Improving Your Metabolic Rate

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What an exciting and yet extremely frustrating world the health and fitness industry has become. There isn’t a day that goes by where there isn’t a new magic potion or diet that is going to help you lose that stubborn 3-5 kilos that you’ve never been able to get rid of. The secret to this magic formula may not be the “diet” you are on, but how well you can get the metabolism going.

Here are the secrets to having your metabolic rate moving faster than Usian Bolt.#1 – Do not skip meals! You must be eating every 3-4 hours. When you eat your metabolic rate speeds up as it has to work to digest, absorb and then using the nutrients from the food. The fancy term for this is “the thermic effect.” It’s not a ticket to base yourself at the golden arches but with the highest quality unprocessed and a combination of high-fibre carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats you’ll be burning fat in no time!#2- EPOC- part 1 Weights. When we exercise, we have this great post-exercise period called “EPOC.” Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption = more calories burned. High intensity weight training and circuit training where you have 40-70 seconds under tension per set will rev up the metabolism. Bottom line: all training creates EPOC, but these exercises will give you the most bang for your buck. Try to do them four days per week and save the long easy sessions for your recovery days. Metabolic Resistance Training refers to lifting weights in such a way that your metabolism is raised for an extended period of time after you finish the workout. This will cause your body to burn calories at a significantly higher rate following your exercise while it repairs and rebuilds the muscles fibres you just tore.

#3- EPOC- part 2. Anaerobic and Interval training. Anaerobic Training refers to doing cardio workouts with intense short intervals of maximal efforts combined with recovery intervals. Sprinting as hard as possible for 100 metres and then recovering is an example of an anaerobic interval. This high intensity training along with interval training (1 min hard: 1 min easy) are great for those of you that are time poor as these sessions shouldn’t last any longer than 30 minutes.

#4 – Drink your green tea! Green tea contains substances called catechins which is a natural component that helps speed up the metabolism. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that drinking three cups of green tea per day can help reduce body fat. Added bonus? Catechins have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, anti-cancer properties, and may help control cholesterol levels.

#5 Improve your thyroid function. To increase your metabolism you need to make sure your thyroid is functioning at it best. Your thyroid is, effectively, what is going to have your metabolic rate going through the roof or bring it to a complete holt! You can support your thyroid function by including more seafood, nuts and seeds in your diet as all of these foods are high in selenium, vitamin E, Iodine, zinc and copper which are essential nutrients for the thyroid.