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Muscle Cramps

Mar 17, 2017


We look at the latest evidence on what cramps are, why we get them, how to prevent them and how pickle juice may be able to help.

What are muscle cramps?

Ah cramps! They make me nervous just thinking about them! Most of us have had one at some point or another but what are they exactly?

A cramp is defined as a painful spasmodic involuntary contraction of a skeletal muscle which occurs during or after exercise. There are actually two main types of cramps:

  1. Whole-body cramping, but thankfully these are not as common;
  2. Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC). This type of cramping involves individual muscles or groups of muscles and is common in the calf, hamstring and quadriceps. Think a calf cramp as you go to push off the wall in the pool. It typically involves the muscle being used.

Cramping prevalence has been reported to be as high as 6-20% during Ironman events, 30-50% in marathon runners, 60% in cyclists and 30-50% in team sports.

Although localised and short in...

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Putting the FUN back into school lunches

Feb 20, 2017

 

Schools are back…”Phew!” I hear you say… Kids are kept busy for the term and parents can find their sanity again.

With back to school also comes the challenge of school lunches. They can be fun for the first week or two and then boredom sets in for both parents and kids alike. Here are a few tips on packing school lunches to make your life easy and fun.

1. Have your tools ready

Containers of different shapes and sizes make packing lunch easy and allow you to separate foods so juices from one don’t run into the other. Have an insulated bag to put all your containers into to keep lunches fresh in this hot weather.

2. Cold packs

Food safety is important; especially with the summer heat, cold packs are a must to keep your kids food cold until lunchtime.

3. Stick with a basic structure

(it's much easier to slot things in if you have a basic plan):

  • Brain snack: small apples, pears, carrot or cucumber sticks, strawberries or snacking tomatoes...
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Turmeric – the next big sports nutrition supplement?

Feb 16, 2017


As the Turmeric latte surges to the front of the trend list, what is it about this spice that’s causing all the hype? We take a look at what it is, the potential benefits and how to include it in your diet.

Why the hype?

Turmeric is a golden yellow spice that has been used for centuries in Indian cooking. Turmeric contains the bioactive compound Curcumin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s claimed to have a positive effect on heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer and many other conditions. Be mindful though that research for these benefits has been done in vitro (in a petri dish) or in animal models (mostly rats) which is difficult to extrapolate to humans. The research in humans is limited and more trials are needed.

How much Turmeric and Curcumin may benefit?

It’s not as simple as adding a little turmeric to your latte or smoothie....

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Sports Supplements

Aug 16, 2016


Sports Supplements are everywhere!  I struggle to keep up with the latest products on the market with new brands popping up every week. As many athletes search for that ‘magic bullet’, sports supplements have become a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, a recent study found that 40-70% of athletes take supplements.

A nutrition supplement, as the name suggests, is designed to supplement the diet and should never replace it. My approach as a dietitian is always “food-first” as your day-to-day nutrition is where you will see the greatest health and performance benefits long term. Supplements are considered the sprinkles, on the icing on the cake. It’s important to get the foundations of a balanced, healthy diet in training right first (the sponge), before adding the icing and even considering the sprinkles.

Supplements typically fall into three main categories: Sports foods and fluids, Medical supplements and Performance supplements.

Sports foods...

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I’ll Have What She’s Having

Jun 20, 2016


We asked Professional Cyclist Nic Moerig to provide a little bit of insight into what it’s like on the road as an elite athlete. Her account may surprise you…

Words by Nic Moerig


At World Tour races you are constantly surrounded by athletes from the World’s top teams. You race together, stay together and eat together. In the dining hall, you’re surrounded by the greats. Wiggle, High5, Rabo, Liv and Boels-Dolmans to name a few. It still puts me in my place, being surrounded by these amazing athletes with years of experience over and above me.

I never would have expected eating in this sort of environment would have made me feel so self-conscious about my food choices. Filling up my plate at the buffet and parading around in front of the rest of the peloton with my selection of dinner on display is a nerve-wracking experience. Yes, I see the eyes watching me, just as I watched my competitors do the same walk of judgement back to their designated seats. How...

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Iron-(wo)man

May 22, 2016


There can be many reasons for feeling tired and exhausted sometimes. Keeping up with the demands of training, getting enough sleep, managing stress, eating well and staying hydrated are all factors that affect how we feel day to day. Meeting our vitamin and mineral requirements is also key to feeling energised. A common culprit to feeling flat for no apparent reason is iron deficiency.


The importance of iron for athletes

Iron is an essential nutrient for a number of fundamental functions within the body.  Iron is important for:

  • red blood cell (RBC) production,
  • transporting oxygen around the body (via haemoglobin),
  • storing oxygen in the muscle (via myoglobin – a special protein responsible for the red colour of muscles),
  • energy production systems
  • helping to maintain a healthy immune system.

It’s also an important nutrient for athletes as it plays a key role in aerobic metabolism (the slow and steady type of exercise) where energy is extracted from carbohydrate,...

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Why you shouldn’t go past the humble potato

Apr 29, 2016


I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line, the potato has become a forbidden food, while sweet potato joins the “superfood” ranks. The poor potato has been given the flick in preference for the miracle starchy vegetable, but how does the humble potato stack up nutritionally?

Let’s take a look!

 

Energy (kJ/kcal)

Media claims tout sweet potato as the secret switch for weight loss, yet when you compare energy contents, a serve of sweet potato provides 36% more kilojoules than potato. Sweet potato is more energy-dense at the same quantity so keep this in mind if you’re trying to manage your energy intake.

Carbohydrate

Both potato and sweet potato are starchy veggies, providing carbohydrate in our diet. Sweet potato is slightly more carbohydrate-dense compared to potato. Per 100g, sweet potato contains 15g of carbohydrate, compared to 12g of carbohydrate in potatoes. Compare that to the same portion of white rice...

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Chocolate & Sports Performance – the next big thing?

Mar 24, 2016


There’s been lots of talk in the media about chocolate being good for you. From lowering blood pressure to increase HDL cholesterol, it’s the new wonder drug (apparently). Dark chocolate, in particular, is rich in cocoa, which is the seed part of the cocoa tree. Cocoa is rich in a compound called flavanols, a potent antioxidant also found in fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine.

Research is emerging in the general population of a positive effect of flavanols on cognitive, visual and brain function. It has also been suggested that flavonoid and polyphenol compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, improve blood flow and insulin sensitivity. There is however limited research of a performance benefit in the healthy, athletic population.

Chocolate lovers may take solace in a new study out of the UK, the first of its kind in fact.
Researchers found that dark chocolate enhanced performance in a small group of cyclists when compared to white...

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Carbo-Load, Don't Garbo-Load!

Mar 14, 2016


Race season is well and truly here!

Have you developed your race nutrition plan yet?

WHAT you eat and drink during a race and WHEN can have a massive impact on your performance…

Lay the foundations in training

Before we delve into race nutrition, let’s not discount the value of your everyday eating plan. The foundations of daily healthy eating are where you will see the greatest performance benefits. Day-to-day nutrition helps you optimise your general fitness and training capacity, recovery system, immune function and both fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Once you’ve got the foundations right here, then you can focus on fine-tuning things come race day. OK got that sorted – read on!

Work out what you need

Nutrition and hydration are very individual, so what works for your training buddy may not work for you. We are all different with different taste preferences, food preferences and gut preferences.

The amount of carbohydrate needed during a race depends on...

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5 Tips for Fueling on the Bike

Mar 07, 2016

 

Words by pro cyclist Nicole Moerig


I was out riding with an old school friend the other day and we got chatting about nutrition. She has been cycling going on 1 year now and came from a running background, similar to me. Any runner would know how hard to it is to fuel your body before and during training. ‘Runners Belly’ is not what I would call the most pleasant experience. For this reason, runners tend to avoid eating around training. However, this is a very different story when out on the bike as you are cycling for significantly longer periods of time.

Halfway through our ride my friend went from tapping up the hills to falling out the ass of them (excuse the French). At the end of the ride, we got chatting and she commented on how much food I had consumed. It went a little something like this…

Friend – ‘You eat a lot!’

Me – ‘ha, what have you eaten during the ride today?’

Friend –...

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