1 gram of Carbs = 17 kJ
1 gram of fibre = 8 kJ
1 gram of fat = 37 kJ
1 gram of alcohol = 29 kJ
1 gram of protein = 17 kJ
1 gram of Carbs = 17 kJ
1 gram of fibre = 8 kJ
1 gram of fat = 37 kJ
1 gram of alcohol = 29 kJ
Ever wondered exactly what the labels on your food mean?? This little infographic will give you a quick heads up...
Surely there is no way we could suffer a deficiency of vitamin D, especially here in the Sunshine state of Queensland. But Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise in Australia. This fat soluble vitamin plays an important role in many physiological processes necessary not only to good health but to good running performance and deficiency may be contributing to many problems that lead to sub optimal results for the runner…
Some of the contributing factors for this increase in Vitamin D deficiency include;
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin as it is synthesized by the action of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D plays an important role within the body. It is needed for Bone growth, tooth function and for calcium and phosphorus absorption reducing the risk of fractures.
It also plays a role in calcium metabolism and protein production making it essential to correct muscle function. This also impacts on the body’s ability to repair and regenerate after training sessions and prevent injuries.
For a runner after intense exercise the rate of inflammation within the body increases due to the elevated levels of pro- inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D assists in the reduction of these cytokines while producing more of the anti inflammatory type- this clever vitamin therefore has the ability to speed up the recovery process between races and returning to training or even just between hard training sessions.
Studies conducted in Vitamin D deficient subjects showed that when supplemented with vitamin D both the content and size of their type II muscle fibres as well as the muscle strength increased. These are key points for an avid runner.
Our immune system also requires vitamin D as it enhances the immune response both virally and bacterially. It is a vital nutrient in helping protect against autoimmune diseases. It also aids in reducing inflammatory conditions such as MS, inflammatory bowel disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, asthma and Diabetes. Research has shown that this vitamin is also important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. It is thought to be involved in both insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. It is also a noted nutrient is some cancer prevention (breast, colon and prostate).
Studies have shown that runners with a reduced vitamin D status tend to have more colds and flu’s each year and this can be the determining factor between the delicate balance of a heavy training schedule and staying healthy for the season.
Vitamin D also assists with healthy functioning of our nervous system and neuromuscular function. It is necessary for the nerves to carry messages between the brain and the body. Vitamin D is involved in numerous brain processes, making it biologically likely that a deficiency in this vitamin might be associated with depression and that its supplementation may play an important part in the treatment and prevention.
Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of cholesterol within the body. It is thought without adequate sun exposure the body converts the vitamin D precursors into cholesterol rather than vitamin D thus increasing cholesterol levels. It also plays a role in reducing blood pressure- this is very important as we age.
What is considered an optimal level of Vitamin D
Current ideal levels of serum 25–hydroxy-Vitamin D (25(OH)D) are thought to be greater than 50 ng/ml for optimal performance and at least above 40 ng/ml for ‘normal’. Once the body drops below this level any vitamin D that the body gets (through food or sunshine) is used primarily for day to day metabolic needs.
Food sources of Vitamin D include
If you have any doubts about your vitamin D status a simple blood test to check your Check for total 25(OH) D (which reflects all sources of Vitamin D – from food, UV energy and photo-production) will confirm your status. Everything in moderation- Not too much nor too little.
Signs of vitamin D toxicity are often associated with increased blood levels of calcium and can include: Nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss, constipation, weakness, confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm.
It is best not to supplement until you have checked your Vitamin D status.
For more information check with your Nutritionist/Dietician or Health practitioner.
Ever wondered how much is too much??? The current RDA of sodium for an adult is set at 1600mg of sodium per day (approx 4 grams of salt), with an maximum upper limit of 2300 mg (about 6 grams of salt) in order to prevent the onset of chronic disease. This is about half of what many Australians are currently consuming.
Salt and sodium are not the same. Salt is made up of both sodium and chloride. A small amount of salt is important for good health – it helps to maintain the correct volume of circulating blood and tissue fluids in the body, it helps with nerve transmission and it is involved in the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Sodium is regulated by the kidneys. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and many other health conditions. Too little salt can also cause an increase in the sodium levels in the body. As with everything it is about balancing- not too much or too little, just like everything in life.
Dr Helen Delichatsios at the Harvard Medical School states,"Your body works to maintain a delicate balance of sodium and water. When we eat salt (sodium) the body pulls in or holds onto to extra fluid to keep this balance. The extra fluid increases blood volume. “If there’s more fluid in your blood vessels, there’s more circulating blood volume, and that raises blood pressure.” Having high blood pressure increases your risk for a heart attack or a stroke and even osteoporosis.
It is not so much the salt that we sprinkle over the food which is increasing our levels; it's the hidden salt in the processed foods which we are eating. There are the obvious ones such as chips, popcorn, canned foods including soups and processed meats such as bacon, salami ham and hot dogs. But sodium is also found in bread and rolls, pizza, poultry, sandwiches, cheese, and pasta and other sauces. A bowl of cornflakes has about the same amount of salt as a small packet of plain chips and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce can have as much as 1350mg of sodium.
Sweat contains between 2.25 - 3.4 grams of salt per litre, so if racing on a hot day for long period of time you could easily lose around a litre of sweat. Thus making sodium an important consideration of longer event racing but not so much in shorter distances where duration is less than an hour. Recovery drinks and food replenishing will provide ample sodium replacement. (A good quality sports drinks will also replenish other electrolytes lost through sweat including magnesium, calcium and potassium)
Often the muscle cramps that occur during exercise are from dehydration and not lack of salt. The best way to prevent cramps while training and racing is to drink plenty of water on hot days as well as before, during and after the event.
How to reduce your salt intake
Check and compare food labels on the products that you are purchasing from the supermarket. Look for low sodium foods (contains less than 120mg/100g) but also
Your taste buds will get used to the changes, your heart will thank you for it and a PB may be coming your way
So pass ON the salt!!
The difficulty with exercising in cooler weather is that in order for the body to keep its core temperature constant in the cold weather it pulls the blood into the body and away from the extremities. When this happens the extra fluid tricks the brain into thinking that it has enough fluid thus delaying the thirst trigger even longer.
Water plays an important role in the body and has many functions including:
The body is made up of 2/3 water- The effects of dehydration can be felt with just a 2% decrease in and will impact on both physical and cognitive functions so whether you are a thinker or a runner water is just as important!
Although the weather is cooler, we wear more clothes and tend to spend time in heated rooms, which increase our body’s core temperature, making us hotter and therefore our need to rehydrate just as important.
Winter also brings with it dry air which can lead to itchy skin and dry cracking lips- all early signs of dehydration- note our winter love affair with lip balm J
Dehydration can cause major problems when you are exercising in the colder weather. We don’t feel the heat as much as we do in summer which impacts on the body’s ability to trigger the thirst response. Our body’s fluid balance relies largely on the thirst signal to be initiated so that we rehydrate accordingly. When its slow to signal, we are slow to drink
Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause:
Enrich Health & Nutrition
We all know how important good nutrition is. It is what keeps us moving, keeps us strong, keeps us balanced, it heals us, protects us and allows us to do what we love to do...whatever your passion is.
Then if we throw exercise into the mix it becomes a marriage made in heaven. When you exercise regularly you instantly choose healthier foods. But there is a 3rd part to this healthy living pie and that is stretching.
If you exercise regularly you need to stretch regularly, but do you? Tightness shows an imbalance within the body and stretching can help rebalance, alleviate pain and tightness and keep you on the “parkrun” track longer.
Most of us know about the importance of a warm up and cool down, but are they the only times that stretching should occur?? Quite simply the answer is no!! Stretching throughout the day has many benefits - releases stress and tension from our muscles and mind, helps the muscles feel loose and relaxed, and breaks up the monotony of the day in the office. Cats and dogs stretch throughout the day, why can’t we?
I understand that in our time poor world that finding 30 minutes to dedicate to just stretching is well, stretching it... so here is a quick solution, it’s not the only stretch you need to do and other stretching needs to be done as well, but the benefits of holding this stretch for up to 2 minutes, 3 times a day is remarkable - this is the stretch to stretch. ARE YOU READY FOR IT... It is the Downward Dog!! And here is why:
Other Therapeutic Benefits
From an acupuncture point of view this amazing stretch activates the very important bladder channel. It is the longest channel in the body and has acupuncture points that run from the inner eye, up and over the head, down the entire spine and posterior leg, along the side of the foot and ending at the pinkie toe. You are effectively improving your health inside and out!!
So it is time to strike a pose and get the many benefits on offer. Imbalances lead to injury so take the time to treat your muscles and your mind to a relaxing downward dog stretch. Who knows this could be the difference you need to get that new “parkrun” PB.
How to do the Downward Dog Stretch
1. Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
2. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.
3. Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.
4. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don't let it hang.
Run Strong, Run Smart but most of all Run Happy
Trish Russell x
1 for the money
2 for the show
3 for Omega and Go Go Go!!
As runners our bodies take a pounding every time we lace up our shoes. Each time our foot hits the ground approximately 8 times our body weight goes through our joints... Imagine how much that equates to over a 5km park run? Joint health is vital to our park run longevity and our health.
This is where omegas can come into play. These very important and fabulously fit fats are essential to our health and wellbeing. They are essential as our body can’t make them so therefore our diet must contain them.
Although the body can use any fat including trans fats (the very nasty ones), saturated fats (nasty ones) and omega 6 fats (non essential) it’s how the body uses these fats that is the difference. Omega 3 fats have an anti- inflammatory effect on the body. They reduce inflammation such as that caused by intense exercise, increased soreness of muscle and joints as well as muscle breakdown. Research confirms that omega 3 reduces both pain and inflammation in a runner’s poor old achy knees and aid with associated pain and symptoms of arthritis (including osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid)
Omega 3 fatty acids also play a valuable role in heart lungs and blood vessel function. When these 3 work together and function well it has the capacity to improve your running performance whether you are an elite athlete, fitness enthusiast or a runner with goal.
The correct balance of omega 3 in the body can improve insulin sensitivity therefore aid with weight loss and reducing body fat. Research also shows that by improving your omega 3 intake it has a positive effect on the body’s production of cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone which when overly active increases stress which increases inflammation which increases weight gain and breaks down our muscle...Not Good for any runner!!
These wonderful essential fats have many other roles within the body including reducing the risk of stroke, they are crucial for brain function, skin and hair health, correct blood clotting, hormone function and blood function including blood pressure.
To supplement or not to supplement:
Research suggests that food is our best source of nutrients. Holistically this is due to the fact that food provides us with more than just that one nutrient- it is a whole and all these nutrients work synergistically together. Where as a supplement is only one part of the whole product. A supplement is exactly that. It is there to supplement your diet when your intake is inadequate or your health is impaired. It can get you back on your feet and help speed up your healing but ultimately food will keep you healthy, fit, strong and running better for longer.
We need a good balance of omega 3 and 6 in the body to ensure the correct chemical communication within the body and to keep heart disease, chronic inflammation and diabetes out of our lives. We can’t change omega 3’s into omega 6 or vice versa so the type of fats we store and the effect they have on the body is related to the fats we eat in our diet.
You can start to restore this balance by replacing 2 red meat meals a week with salmon, tuna or deep sea fish such as cod and regularly include walnuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds (you know I love them!!) into your diet everyday. Limit your intake of saturated fats (animal fats, fried foods and fatty take away meals) and say no to Trans fats – read your labels carefully (typically found in margarines, fat used in deep frying and pastry dough)
We really are what we eat.
Enrich Health & Nutrition
Just Zinc about it
Winter is here and the running is right,
so lace up your shoes and pull on your tights
But with sniffles galore and the chill in the air,
Your run may be slowed and your training in despair
So put down the tissues and ramp up the rest,
Zinc may be able to get you back to your best.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that is involved in over 200 enzyme reactions within our body. It is vital to our immune function (it is a powerful antioxidant), improves carbon dioxide transport in the lungs, reduces lactic acid levels in overworked muscles, wound healing, injury recovery and to the hormone insulin.
Zinc is also useful in treating skin conditions, is important in digestive functions and necessary for bone mineralisation.
Runners lose zinc through sweat, urine and solid wastes. So if your zinc stores are already low you may be at risk of further deficiency. This can then impact on insulin release which is essential for the recovery of many of our cellular nutrients which are depleted after strenuous exercise. Research has shown that by ensuring there is enough zinc in your diet you can improve your energy production and therefore your cardiovascular endurance.
Reduced zinc levels can also contribute to increased fatigued and low energy and reduced endurance capacity....when you run the long kilometres it is important to put back the nutrients that the body burns to enable you to both keep running and improving.
Our digestive system needs zinc for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Zinc is needed for us to break down the protein into amino acids so that we can build and repair the muscles that we break down when we exercise and then rebuild to be bigger, better and stronger than ever.
In winter, our immune systems are working overtime protecting us from the bugs that surround us. Research shows that our immune system takes a hit after strenuous exercise which puts us at an increased risk of viral infections. Ensuring that there is adequate zinc in your diet can improve your immune function, protect you from the winter chills and keep you out running for longer.
Common Factors that can cause Zinc Deficiency
Feeling stressed???- When the body is under stress (mental, emotional or physical stress) the need for zinc is increased
Acute or chronic infections- zinc is needed for immune and healing
Growth periods- especially teenage boys and pregnant ladies
If you take the contraceptive pill- the pill increases the level of copper in the body and therefore reduces the amount of zinc available
Diet- Refined foods are low in zinc and a diet which is high in these foods will put you at risk of zinc deficiency.
Gut dysfunction or malabsorption issues- unable to breakdown and assimilate the zinc
How much do I need and which foods should I be eating?
The RDA of zinc is 15mg -20mg per day for an adult but the supplementary range is wider. If you think you may have a zinc deficiency check with your natural health practitioner and they can perform a simple test to confirm. Not all forms of zinc are absorbed equally so speak to your practitioner to ensure a form that is right for you.
Foods High in Zinc Include:
Oysters- very high!!
Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
Black-eyed peas...and not the band!!
So think zinc this winter and include the above foods in your diet to keep you powering on through this winter running season.
Happy Healthy Running
Eating before competing
To allow the body to work and perform as you need it to it must be fueled. But the how, when and what of fueling is where it can all get a bit tricky. A poorly timed meal before your race can leave you feeling flat, tired, nauseous and with stomach cramps, creating less than ideal PB running conditions.
What and when you eat will depend on the time of your run or activity, the intensity at which you will perform it and the length of time your event will take. How you fuel to get a PB at park run will be different to how you fuel before your long run.
If you have less than an hour (ie- 30-40 minutes before your event) you want to keep your pre exercise meal high carbohydrate and easy to digest. Good options can include
Fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, watermelon, grapes, strawberries (be careful with pears as they can increase bowel movements)
You can have an energy gel (20-30 minutes prior to your event)
You can have 250-300 ml of an energy drink
If you have between 1-2 hours before your event your fuel could include
· An English muffin with honey
· A tub of yoghurt
· A muesli bar
· A bowl of cereal with low fat milk (high fat milk is longer to digest)
· Smoothie (try berries, low fat milk/ or milk alternative, drizzle of honey, dollop of yoghurt)
Whilst a cup of coffee for some people is the perfect kick start to their day and gives them the energy boost they need, for some caffeine can be less than helpful. If you are sensitive to caffeine (read the information panel on energy gels as well as some of these also contain caffeine) it can cause headaches, tremors and have you running to the bathroom faster than the finish line.
Foods to stay away from before your race
Anything high in fat or fibre and these are heavy and slow to digest. This includes foods such as muffins, cakes, meats, chocolate, heavy grainy breads with spreads such as nutella and or peanut butter. These types of foods force the body to focus on digestion rather than energy production and draw the blood supply into the gut to facilitate the breakdown of the food. This increases the risk of cramping, nausea and vomiting while racing.
It is important to remember however that these are purely guidelines and we are all individual in our needs. What works for you may not work for a fellow runner and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to check out what other runners are eating but always try new things in training first. Finding what is right for you takes a little bit of trial and error (hopefully more trial than error).
If you would like to better understand how your body reacts and performs after eating certain foods keep an exercise and food diary for 2 weeks. Write down what you eat and when you ate it, the training or racing that you did and how you felt during and after training. Did you run well, did you feel fatigued, did you feel heavy, did you have any stomach complaints?- (Diary Template Attached)
Don’t forget sometimes the meal you ate the night before can give your digestive system a work out, so before your race day keep the meal simple and healthy and try to avoid heavy stodgy greasy and spicy.
Remember KISS- keep it simple silly
Food is there to nourish and fuel our body so make your choices count- The most important thing you can do is to HAVE FUN
In Health & Happiness
Magnesium for the runner- Are you getting enough?
Magnesium is a mineral which is essential in the functioning of the nervous system, bone formation, immune system health, maintaining blood pressure and wait for it fellow runners....muscle function. Yes magnesium is important for our muscles to function not only correctly but efficiently. It works in conjunction with calcium and facilitates muscle relaxation. However, this wonderful mineral is easily depleted through strenuous exercise. Runners have an increased need of approx 10-20 % as magnesium is lost through sweat, urine and the stress on the body. Unless you are always replenishing your stores it is easy to become deficient leading to a slump in your performance...Oh yes!!
Common signs of magnesium deficiency include: muscle cramps and spasms, heart palpitations, nausea, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and increased recovery time
You can take a supplement to replenish your stores (powder form is much more readily absorbed) or you can increase your intake of magnesium rich foods. Keep your fridge stocked with these fabulous foods: Almonds, spinach, parsley, garlic, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, onion, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
NOTE: more is not better and too much magnesium supplementation can cause diarrhea (remember it is a muscle relaxant) and can interfere with other mineral absorption such as calcium.
Food is the best medicine!!
Run strong, Run happy
Trish Russell is a qualified nutritionist, personal trainer and her passion is inspiring others to live and eat well.