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

Transform your stress with lifestyle choices

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Recognising and acknowledging that you are stressed is the first step in the transformation process. What you don’t know, you can’t change. In most instances, the mere fact that you have taken stock and accepted that you’re stressed also allows you to see reasons why. You may not have that magic wand to sprinkle fairy dust and make it all go away, but you can certainly use a range of lifestyle choices to ease some pressure and give yourself some breathing space. Here is a selection of powerful stress-busting techniques to choose from:

Getting your beauty sleep

Whether you’re a lark or a night owl, sleep is not a luxury, nor is it something to be caught up at weekends, or saved for holidays. Sleep is probably the most powerful, but natural, stress transformer we have – and it’s free!

Without banking sufficient sleep hours into your ‘account’, not only is your body unable to regenerate but, more importantly, your brain winds down, hindering your ability to think clearly and keep your emotions balanced. We are meant to spend around one third of our lives asleep and yet it’s the first activity we sacrifice when the pressure is on. Why? Healthy sleep is one of the sure-fire ways of maintaining youthful, resilient, vitality of both body and mind and allowing us to cope better with stress.

But how much sleep is enough? If you’ve been scrimping on your sleep for whatever reason, it’s time for a re-think. Adults, regardless of gender, typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for optimal brain and body function. Under-sleeping by even one hour every weeknight amounts to a monumental 5 hours of sleep debt by the time the weekend arrives – impossible to recoup. But, just like your bank overdraft, sleep debt has to be repaid. All too often the price is your health and spiralling stress levels as you increasingly lack the resilience to adapt to the pressures of life.

Positive self-talk

You are what you think. The orientation of your self-talk can mean the difference between super hero or super zero. Our thoughts underpin our beliefs and beliefs quickly become self-fulfilling prophecies. What we believe determines what we do, so if we believe we can’t do something, or clog up our mind with negative thoughts, we will remain stuck in our unhappy stressed-out state. Negative thoughts can seriously limit our experiences and quality of life.

Conversely, if our self-talk is positive, even if that means consciously reframing a negative thought, our behaviour and life experience follows suit. As part of the re-framing process, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • What else could ‘this’ mean?
  • Is there a positive flip side I can reach for?
  • How else can I think about this?

Use a notebook if you need to in the beginning, but note your negative self-talk and change it. Negative thinking is a luxury we can ill afford.

Grounding in green spaces

Do you feel better when you’re outside in nature, barefoot on the green grass, under a sunny blue sky? Doesn’t everyone? Well it’s not all about the sunshine. It’s a lot to do with electrons. The Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. So when you’re in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, which synchronises us to the same electrical potential. Living in direct contact with the Earth grounds your body, inducing favourable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health eg. proper functioning of the immune system, circulation and synchronisation of biorhythms to name just a few. This electron exchange during grounding is also deeply relaxing and stress-relieving.

These positive effects from ‘grounding’ aren’t surprising because throughout our evolutionary history humans have been in constant contact with the Earth. It’s so simple — next time you’re on the grass, a beach or the earth, take your shoes off and synchronise a little.

Releasing your inner recreational ‘drug’

Cannabis isn’t the only source of ‘feel-good’ cannabinoids out there. Your brain can make them too! Cannabinoids may be responsible for cannabis’ classification as an illicit drug in many countries, but you can become your own legal dealer just by working out a bit more. For many years endorphins were thought to be behind the post work-out euphoria or ‘runner’s high’, but actually we now know it’s down to cannabinoids – endocannabinoids, because we make them in our bodies. It’s fascinating to find that there are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are receptors for other well-known brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and ten times more than the opioid receptors. We also have cannabinoid receptors in our digestive systems and reproductive organs. Getting physically active on a regular basis not only brings you a lean, fit, healthy body, but also a serene antidote to stress. Not only that, endocannabinoids also protect your brain’s neurons from early death, which is hugely important in maintaining cognitive function as we age.

Committing to the present moment

Easier said than done. When we’re stressed, part of the reason for the stress is not knowing what to do to get out of where we find ourselves. It seems like a mountain of steps have to be taken all at once if we are to stop ourselves from drowning. Life feels out of control and it’s a natural impulse to keep looking outwards at all those steps in front of us that feel so overwhelming. But it’s actually the step right in front of us, in the here and now, that holds the key to release. All we need to do is stop looking into the stressful future, take a breath and connect fully to the present moment.

Change always begins with one step. Only one. So, try doing what our ancestors did: look to the sky and find your guiding star. Go out into the night sky. Sit in peace. Look up at the stars. Relax a little and take a moment to get away from the stress of your life and all those overwhelming steps in front of you. In the space and the quiet, in the relief and the stillness, you will regain focus. And you will feel the one step that’s in front of you. Have the courage to take that first step and commit to a daily practice of immersing yourself in the present moment – even if it’s just a fleeting 30 secs in your busy day.

You have time now to practice some of these lifestyle transformers before the next blog in this ‘Quit Stressing’ series. Next time, Rob will outline what a stress-busting nutritional toolbox should look like and why you definitely want Nuzest’s Good Green Stuff and Clean Lean Protein in it.

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.

How Your Immune System is Using Too Much Energy and How to Stop It

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Imagine how much fuel you’d burn if you never turned your car off and left the engine to idle continuously? Well, it’s the same with your body when your immune system is constantly revved up in the background fighting a battle that never seems to end. You burn a lot of extra energy to keep it — and your body’s daily processes — running. It would be a tug of war as to which bit of your body gets the most energy if the immune system wasn’t king in the hierarchy and very ‘selfish’. The result being that the ‘selfish immune system’ wins out and the rest of you ends up underpowered and ‘tired all the time’ (TATT).

As we know from the last blog, TATT is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors. In this blog we want to take you back a step to understand how you can be so tired when you’re not ill with symptoms that can be explained by a disease label.

Owing to their fundamental nature, the metabolic and immune systems were among the first systems to evolve in living creatures. This has made them completely symbiotic and inseparable when responding to challenge.  Now keep in mind that challenges can be emotional or physical. Our immune systems, and in fact our brains, don’t differentiate between an infection, the loss of a loved one, financial stress, lack of sleep or too much exercise. All of them register as stressors on the body and all of them trigger the immune system to act in defence. The important thing is not so much turning on the immune system, but turning it off.

Our regulatory mechanisms (neuroendocrine and immune systems) evolved to cope with short life-threatening challenges such as sepsis or wound healing, and short non-life-threatening episodes.  But not to deal with the persistent chronic activation we see today.  The use of old survival mechanisms to deal with modern challenges results in inflammatory symptoms that are ‘borrowed’ from the way we have always dealt with immune challenges throughout our evolution.  This means that our survival reaction to financial and emotional stress, sickness and obesity, for instance, is the same now as it was when we were running from or fighting off a sabre-toothed tiger.  It’s just that when we survived the tiger, it was over, and the immune and neuroendocrine systems stood down allowing normal homeostasis (balance) to return.

In today’s world, the stress is persistent, leading to chronic activation of the immune system, which diverts a huge amount of resources to assuage the heavy energy demand.  It also creates low-grade inflammation (LGI), which disrupts your whole metabolism. Having moved from normal daily function where the ‘selfish brain’ is king with first dibs on energy resources, the selfish immune system now takes over.  Organs and tissues not involved in direct survival are downgraded to only the most basic of functions and all available energy is diverted to the energy-expensive immune system.  Creating what we recognise as sickness behaviour, of which TATT is a prime factor.  This is all perfectly normal and healthy when it occurs for a very short period of time, but extended over weeks, months or years, creates an unhealthy situation as there just isn’t enough energy to go round.

Tired All The Time? – Good Green Stuff Helps You Feel Awake and Full of Energy

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Are You Tired All The Time?

If you are tired all the time, you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. It’s one of the common most reasons people go and see their doctor. The trouble is, most doctors can’t do much to help. That’s hardly surprising given they don’t learn much about non-specific conditions like fatigue during their medical training.

When someone suffers from persistent fatigue, many aspects of their life suffer. The quality of their work, the nature of their relationships or family life, their ability to go out, have fun, holiday, exercise – or even party – are often affected dramatically. Depression and anxiety may be triggers for being tired all the time, or they may be causes. The bottom line is that all kinds of events in life – ones that any healthy person would find manageable or even enjoyable – become a matter of trepidation. A doctor confronted with someone who exhibits symptoms of depression or anxiety often prescribes SSRI drugs (antidepressants). In the US, up to 10% of the population is taking an antidepressant at any one time. Things aren’t much different in most other industrialised countries.

You may also experience fatigue at certain times, and not others. OK, if you haven’t managed to get enough sleep, you’ve got a good reason. But if you’re sleeping, or trying to sleep, and you just can’t seem to recover and feel energised, or you lose all your energy at particular times of day, such as after you’ve eaten, or when you’ve taken a limited amount of exercise, you’re starting to feel your fatigue and malaise a real problem.

There are always underlying reasons for fatigue-related conditions, but these can’t always be identified. In some cases, fatigue can be related to serious underlying diseases, which yet have been diagnosed, such as heart disease, thyroid diseases, type 2 diabetes, kidney or liver disease, or various infectious diseases, such as upper respiratory tract infections, gastric or duodenal ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia or periodontal disease. That’s why it’s always important to see a doctor or other qualified or experienced health professional to check for any possible, serious underlying causes.

While any of these conditions may be a cause of being tired all the time, they may not be the sole cause and they may not have been the trigger that led to the disease in the first place. It may also be that the body struggles to resume normal, healthy function because of on-going mediators or perpetuators such as stressful life events (e.g. relationship or work-related challenges, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one), a poor diet or a particular nutrient deficiency, insufficient physical activity or relaxation, poor sleep quality, smoking, too much drink or other unhealthy habits.

Oftentimes however, the reasons for someone’s fatigue are complex, unclear and non-specific. Doctors and health professionals increasingly refer to this as ‘tired all the time’ syndrome, or TATT. Not for a lack of trying, the fatigue simply can’t be traced to a particular underlying disease. This is the case for over half the people who present to their doctors with fatigue — and the millions who don’t. Knowing there are some key things we can all do to help our bodies can be a lifesaver. We’ll give you more detail in upcoming blogs, but three key processes stand out as among the most important.

The first involves supporting the energy-producing ‘factories’ in our cells, the mitochondria. The second is about managing the amount of oxidative stress within the body. Both of these are strongly dependent on eating pattern and the quality of the nutrients you eat and absorb. It’s also about how you move, rest and sleep. The third key process is about providing the best possible environment for your body, one that nurtures it and allows it to function optimally. This means learning to be good to yourself, including eating as well as you can, taking particular supplementary nutrients, resting right and sleeping well, through to finding appropriate ways of being physically active and finding the best ways of transforming stress. Find out more in our forthcoming blogs…

A Guide to Keto Adaptation and How to Help it With Good Nutrition

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After nearly two hours in the saddle, you have no inclination to feast on cake or even down a gel. Your body has learned to use fuel from its own fat stores…

Picture this

The fresh air washes around you, leaving in its wake the residual stress from your hectic week. The hum of the tyres on the road and mechanical whirr of your freshly oiled chain and gears are the only indicators that your forward movement is being assisted.

Your breathing is steady and deep. Your torso and core feel good, strong and light, not being weighed down by food or digestive processes. You’re running on empty, but your fat reserves and ketones are burning cleanly, propelling you forward at a surprisingly rapid speed. Your legs feel powerful and you know they can deliver the goods for hours to come, regardless of the hills thrown up in front of you.

After nearly two hours in the saddle, you have no inclination to feast on cake or even down a gel. Your body has learned to use fuel from its own fat stores, and you know the fat burning will continue well after you finish your ride. This is the life of a keto-adapted cyclist, they’ve developed extraordinary metabolic flexibility (the ability to burn fat when they need to and use carbs or protein when both the demand and supply is there).

This is the system we’ve been gifted by our ancestors; one that often falls into disuse through our frequent over-eating, over-exposure to carbohydrate-based foods including during training.

When it went pear-shaped

Fat-burning, not by accident, allows us to extract over twice the amount of energy per gram of fuel than when we burn carbs or protein. When we over-indulge in simple carbs, there’s no need for us to dig deep into our own fat reserves. Our blood is rich in glucose (the dirty-burning fuel our body uses when we are reliant on sugars and carbs as our primary fuel).

This remarkably flexible system for metabolising fuels allowed our Palaeolithic ancestors to function in unpredictable cycles of activity aimed at hunting and gathering food, a process that sometimes lasted days, followed by feasting and rest. No one is suggesting we return to our caveman ways, but there is very little difference in our genetics from those of our ancestors some 20,000 years ago. Agriculture only started circa 12,500 years ago and it was only then that the predecessors of wheat, such as emmer, einkorn and spelt, and later, other cereals including barley, maize and rice, became staples in most parts of the world.

While many of us tax our carb-burning glycolytic metabolism to the full these days, our ancestral fat-burning pathway that relies on the beta-oxidation of fats, often remains largely dormant. To stave off sugar crashes, we become ever-more reliant on carbs as our fuels, ironically converting any unburned fuel to fat. We then forfeit a clean burning fat metabolism for the dirtier burning of carbs, producing many more free radicals in the process that in turn damage membranes and DNA — effectively ageing us more quickly.

Switch on your fat-burning metabolism

We can all do it. Some do it easier and quicker than others. For most of us, it’s around a 12 week journey, but not an arduous. In fact, there are ways of making it easy, hugely rewarding and even fun!

From a dietary perspective, we suggest you follow the nutrient composition and guidelines in the ANH Food4Health plan. You’ll also get some great information on metabolic flexibility and fuel efficiency

Keta Adaptation Principles:

– Eat three meals – Half your food will be unprocessed vegetables and small amounts of fruits with high quality protein and healthy fat sources

– No snacking in-between meals, you will need to leave at least 5-hour intervals between your meals

– Weekly 16 hour fasts (don’t panic, you’ll be asleep for about half of that time)

– Add some supplementary nutrition to support your metabolism and recovery

– Avoid gels and sugar based drinks while you’re riding

– A simple training plan

As your metabolism becomes more flexible, you’ll be able to adjust your regime to your needs. The rewards are such that you won’t be inclined to revert to your old dietary and lifestyle patterns!

Add a simple but effective training plan

– Two long-rides per week (non-fast days). These shouldn’t be on consecutive days, such as the weekend. Ideally, one should be mid-week if the other is at the weekend. Many people find the easiest way of doing these longer training rides is early in the morning. They should be over 2 hours in duration, with at least one that’s over 3 hours each week.

– Get some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in. It’s a great way to use the right fuel after one of your 16 hour fasts. You can do this on a turbo trainer, or combine gentle riding during recovery periods, along with intense sprints for your high-intensity intervals.

– You need to extend your rides in order that you don’t just burn your muscle and liver glycogen reserves, glycogen being the short-term storage form produced by the body from carbs.

As you ride in your fasted state, without the rich supply of blood sugar, your body will re-learn that it has to beta-oxidise fats. It will start to generate a very low level of ketone bodies that your body and even your brain can use as fuel. It won’t happen immediately and it might take two or even three months before ‘nutritional ketosis’ kicks in. If you’re so inclined you can even use a ketone meter such as the Ketonix to measure ketone bodies. It’s something endurance athletes, especially the pros, are doing more and more often as they learn to appreciate the remarkable benefits of keto-adaptation.

Get the right supplementation

After your early morning ride you’ll want to make sure that you add plenty of protein and healthy fats into your breakfast. Down a Nuzest Clean Lean Protein shake within the 30 minute ‘magic window’. It’s 100% natural, one of the best tasting, most highly digestible proteins around made from the highest quality pea protein, free from any preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours or common allergens. It’s 100% vegetable, yet has all the potency (and then some) of other proteins. It’s very low in carbs and easy to digest, super-charged with the ideal profile of amino acids and best of all, unlike dairy-based proteins, it’s alkaline with a pH of 7.8!

If you’re still hungry after this, a couple of poached eggs, some spinach leaves and a couple of gluten-free oat cakes are a good shout.

Don’t neglect supporting the rest of your body that otherwise suffers under exercise-induced stress – and mop-up those free radicals. Try a serving of Nuzest Good Green Stuff, preferably along with your main meal of the day. It’s a superblend of 75+ nutrient-rich greens, vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbal extracts and plenty more, that put simply, each 10g dose has the very best nutrients, in a body-ready form, all in one great-tasting product! What’s more, it includes prebiotic fibres, microbiotics, enzymes and yes, the all-important plant-based antioxidants. The ingredients are carefully selected and delivered in optimal dosages to support all 12 of the major body systems, from your immune, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems, through to your skin, hair and nails! All the things any cyclist could ever need, in a completely natural nutritional supplement with no fillers, preservatives, artificial colours, sweeteners or other nasties.

Getting the right mix of protein and nutrients is key to your recovery. Your recovery is just as important as the exercise itself.

The Bottom line

Some people ask: why go to the trouble? My answer is simple: It’s no trouble. It’s about becoming a better cyclist, with much greater endurance or sprinting potential. It’s about engaging in a diet and lifestyle that means you’ll be lighter, leaner and stronger, making long rides, sprints and hills more of a guilty pleasure than tasks that are painful or arduous.

Dr Robert Verkerk on cycling

When I started my journey into keto-adaptation, I always would carry a gel in the back of my jersey in case I needed to use it. It reassured me that I wouldn’t be left behind if I felt the ‘bonk’. After 2 months, I didn’t need it any more for rides of 60 miles or less. And these days when I do need a gel on long, endurance rides, I need way fewer than those who haven’t keto-adapted.

Oh, and I lost 25 kg in weight in over the year and performance stats sky-rocketed! My average speeds and PBs on Strava segments have soared over the last couple of years. At 55, I’m riding faster and longer than ever before, and with much less stress on my body. All of these things mean that cycling offers more rewards than I could have ever imagined. And how I love the fresh air and scenery, the hum of the tyres on the road, and the whirr of the gears – especially in my recently keto-adapted state!

By Rob Verkerk PhD

Sustainability scientist, founder of the Alliance for Natural Health International, Director ANH Consultancy Ltd and lead formulator for NuZest

How Well Does Crossfit Work?

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Let’s face it, if we’re not pushing our bodies to the max, we feel like we’re not going hard enough.

Eat Clean, Train Like A Machine

Let’s face it, if we’re not pushing our bodies to the max, we feel like we’re not going hard enough. We eagerly anticipate the WOD and set about nailing it. After all Crossfit isn’t for the weak willed, it’ll challenge even the most elite of athletes.

Nailing The WOD

WOD’s are not only physically challenging, it’s a test of our mental strength too. We need to draw on every last bit of energy to complete that last pull up, so it’s important to know how to create the best sources of it, so we’re conquering the WOD time and time again.

Energy Creation

Without bamboozling you with too much science, during exercise our bodies are able to use 3 different types of fuel: ATP, Anaerobic Glycosis & Aerobic Glycosis

ATP – the universal fuel, from creatine phosphate – makes energy instantly but we don’t have much of it!

Anaerobic Glycosis – makes energy from glucose in the absence of oxygen, can be sustained for about 5 minutes before lactic build up forms (cramp is a common occurrence)

Aerobic Glycosis – key to long term energy use. It’s this energy source that we’re most concerned with, as it lets you burn any of the three major macronutrient fuels (carbs, fats or protein).

Fat, Your Most Important Fuel Source

We know the Paleolithic lifestyle advocates a typically ‘healthy’ plate, but let’s also consider the kilocalories that each yields:
– Paleoloithic Plate – 30% Protein (lean & varied) 40% Carbs (low GI) 30% Fat (monosaturated).
– Both protein and carbs yield 4Kcal/gram.
– Fat yields 9 Kcal/gram – more than twice the amount.

Transitioning From Being A Carb Burner To A Fat Burner

The Alliance for Natural Health’s Food4Health Plate is a well-researched alternative. We’re not suggesting that you go crazy and eat every fat you can find. We recommend that around 10% of the daily weight of food is comprised of healthy high-fat foods, there are also plenty of fats in the other food groups. So, if you calculate the contribution of each macronutrient to energy, you get a split, in terms of energy contribution, that looks like this: 24% protein, 46% fats and 30% carb. Don’t shun the fats, they could become your most important fuel source, that will help you push through that last burpee.

Pushing Your Body To Its Limits

When you’re working out this hard, there’s no doubt some healthy sweat involved, your lungs are trying to get in more oxygen and your muscles are under a lot of strain. If we don’t then consume enough protein and antioxidants, we suffer oxidative stress, which, among other things, actually speeds up the aging process, none of us want that! This is where what we feed our bodies really matters.

All Essential Protein

Protein is the essential food group we need to counteract muscle damage. Before you think about anything else, you need to think about getting some protein back into your body, not always an easy task if you’re out and about, on a restricted diet or watching what you put into your body.

NuZest’s Clean Lean Protein is 100% natural, made from the highest quality pea protein, free from any preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours or common allergens. It’s 100% vegetable, yet has all the potency (and then some) of other proteins. It’s low in carbs and easy to digest, super-charged with all the essential amino acids your body needs and a pH of 7.8 (the perfect alkaline). Oh and did we mention it’s Paleo Friendly. There couldn’t be a more perfect way to repair muscle damage after nailing your WOD.

Cell Rehydration

Dehydration can be very common if you don’t replenish properly, especially when you’re working out at such a high intenstity. Water may quench your thirst but it wont fully rehydrate you or your cells. To counteract oxidatitive stress and ensure our bones, muscles, brain and other tissues stay in prime condition it’s important that the cells are refuelled with the right minerals and nutrients.

NuZest’s Good Green Stuff is a superblend of 75+ nutrient-rich greens, vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbs and plenty more that, put simply, it packages the very best nutrients in a body ready form into one great-tasting product! What’s more, it includes prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants. All the things any Crossfitter could ever need, in a completely natural nutritional supplement.

We believe great nutrition is at the core of feeling your best every day. We make nutrition easy by offering the best quality nutritional supplements, in the most body ready, convenient form… naturally. Together we can ensure you’re feeding your body to conquer your goals each and every time.

WOD. Bring it. We’re ready for you. Look out for us at a Crossfit Box near you soon.

Bikram Yoga, How Yoga Helps Repair Muscle Damage

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Getting Your Sweat On with Yoga

We all love practising Bikram Yoga for different reasons, but the one thing we are unanimous about is the sweat pouring down our faces. It feels so good to rid our body of those nasty toxins! Sweat is, of course, our best friend; after all, it’s natural and healthy. However what you may not realise is that although it helps to flush out the toxins from our body, we also end up losing some goodness, including essential minerals! But that’s not all.

Oxygen – something we take for granted

We sweat profusely not just because of the heat in the room, but because we’re working pretty hard too! To do this, we need more oxygen than usual and there’s good evidence that Yoga along with the deep breathing practice helps you improve your lung capacity as well as many other areas of fitness. But taking deeper breaths to get more oxygen into our lungs and working our muscles hard creates a lot of extra free radicals. If we don’t then consume enough protein and antioxidants, we suffer oxidative stress, which, among other things, actually speeds up the ageing process, none of us want that!

The more Yoga classes we do, the greater our mineral depletion and oxidative stress

You may be wondering why it’s so important that we add protein, easily absorbable minerals and antioxidant nutrients to our diet? The answer is very simple – our bodies need these to function optimally, so that we can be brimming with energy, have a bounce in our step, be 100% alert and ready for whatever life throws at us. It’s also about staying this way in the long-term, making sure our bones, muscles, brain and other tissues stay in prime condition for as long as possible so we don’t wear ourselves out and age prematurely.

90 minutes of strenuous weight-bearing exercises

As we mentioned earlier, our reasons for loving Yoga are often different. Some people do it to regain some balance in their lives and to rid themselves of the stress. Others do it to alleviate joint pain, to improve muscle strength and suppleness, or their energy levels. But what’s the point in alleviating that joint pain if you’re actually stressing the muscles, even more, causing muscle damage?

All important protein

Protein is the essential food group we need to counteract this muscle damage. So before you think about anything else, you need to think about getting some protein back into your body. Without splitting hairs about 20g should do it:

– For the carnivores: 1 chicken breast; 1 small steak or a portion of fish

– For the herbivores: 100g of nuts (several handfuls); 300g of pulses or lentils

– For the ovo-vegetarians: 4 eggs, or anything from the herbivore suggestions

Not always easy, especially not within the required 45-minute window after your workout!

45 minutes to repair and replenish

It isn’t all doom and gloom. None of this should end your love affair with Yoga: it certainly hasn’t ended ours! The good news is the 45-minute window after you workout is the most important to counter potential damage. This is the all-important window in which you should aim to put extra protein, minerals and antioxidants back in your body. This is where we can help.

A little about us

We are the Feel Good people because we believe great nutrition is at the core of feeling your best every day. We make nutrition easy by offering the best quality nutritional supplements, in the most convenient form… naturally. We’ve got two amazing products that will help you alleviate all we talked about above. Clean Lean Protein and Good Green Stuff

What will Clean Lean Protein do for you?

Do you remember we talked about a 45-minute window of repair and replenishment after your workout? Well, this is where Clean Lean Protein comes in. It’s vegan, the highest quality pea protein available and is 50% higher in glutamine than most dairy-sourced protein powders (glutamine is one of the most important nutrients for healthy intestinal cells). What’s more, you won’t suffer any flatulence and bloating, typically associated with the more common whey or casein protein powders!

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s 100% natural and free from any preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours or common allergens. It’s 100% vegetable, yet has all the potency (and then some) of other proteins – without the fillers, artificial flavours and other additives. It’s low in carbs and easy to digest, super-charged with all the essential amino acids your body needs and a pH of 7.8 (the perfect alkaline). Perfect to repair that muscle damage after your satisfyingly exhausting Bikram Yoga session and, unlike making your perfect recovery meal once you get home it travels with you so it’s convenient enough to get into your body within the 45-minute repair window!

Clean Lean Protein benefits Yoga

How can Good Green Stuff help you?

Chances are you will feel dehydrated after 90 minutes of dripping in sweat. But simply drinking water after your Bikram Yoga session just isn’t enough! It’ll help quench your thirst, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the cells in your body will be properly hydrated. Why? Because you need to have the right balance of mineral electrolytes in your body to make sure water gets into the cells.

Good Green Stuff is a blend of 75 nutrient-rich greens, vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbs and plenty more that. Put simply, it packages the very best nutrients available into one great-tasting product! What’s more, it includes prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants. All the things any Bikram Yogi could ever need, in a completely natural supplement.

Add a couple of teaspoons of Good Green Stuff to your water and consume with your protein rich meal after your session to ensure that you replace the lost nutrients and in some cases, you will even be topping up anything that is lacking in your diet. Bonus!

Here’s a top tip from us. Try adding a shot of Good Green Stuff to Clean Lean Protein as a meal replacement after your workout. Not only will it keep you leaner it also has all the benefits we talked about earlier. Repairs muscle damage; mops up free radicals; replenishes the lost minerals and micronutrients and you won’t have to wait until you get home. It’s a win-win!

Good Green Stuff benefits