Drink up!

With some parts of the country already warming up to summer-temps, it’s time to take a look at the importance of hydration and the effects that dehydration can have on your health and performance.

As temps continue to rise, especially in the northern states, I’ll admit, I struggled with training over the last few days. My own fault, really – definitely haven’t been drinking enough.

In fact, I experienced most (if not all) of the symptoms of dehydration:

  • Reduced concentration.
  • Increased perception of heat during training – it all felt harder than normal.
  • Feeling extra tired and lethargic – I slept so much over the weekend!
  • Eating more than normal due to confusion between thirst and hunger signals.
  • Headaches – yup! I’ve had a mild headache for the last couple of days.
  • I even managed to get UTI-type symptoms after my long run on Sunday. According to Runner’s World, this can sometimes happen if you’re running dehydrated.

Our bodies are made up of about 60 to 70 per cent water, which means we need a lot of water to function.

Dehydration basically occurs when the fluid balance is off – when our body loses more water than what we take in leading to disruption in electrolyte balance.

And as mentioned above, dehydration can leave you feeling pretty unwell and can have a negative impact on your performance.

How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?

The following are signs that you might be on the path towards dehydration:

  • The colour of your pee: if your urine is dark yellow, it’s typically a sign you need to drink more.
  • How often you need to pee: you should be passing urine about every three to four hours. More than that and you’re probably drinking too much; less and you’re not drinking enough.
  • Thirst: if you’re thirsty your body is telling you to drink! But remember, being thirst often means you’re already partially dehydrated, so make sure you sip on fluids regularly, even when you’re not thirsty.
  • Heat: if you’re overheating during training; if you can’t handle the heat, you need to hydrate!
  • Feeling tired and have trouble concentrating: if you’ve had enough sleep/rest yet you’re still feeling fatigued, it may be a sign that you need to up your fluid intake.
  • Headaches: dehydration can lead to headaches.
  • Constipation: your bowels need fluid to keep the stools soft. If you’re struggling and straining to pass a bowel motion, it’s an indicator to increase how much fluid you drink.
  • Dry, cracked lips and skin.

How much should I drink?

It’s been said that you should drink about 2L of fluid, daily.

To get it a little more precise, multiply your body weight (kg) by 35 to 45ml to get the amount you need.

So, a 60kg athlete would need about 2.1-2.7L of fluid per day.

Another way of monitoring your individual need is to check the colour of your pee, how frequently you’re urinating and if you’re experiencing any symptoms of dehydration.

During training, especially in the heat, aim to drink about 125-250ml every 20minutes. This includes during swim training too.

Tips for staying hydrated:

Handy ways to stay hydrated across the day include:

  • Carry a water bottle with you.
  • Have a bottle of water on your desk at work and sip throughout the day.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, flavour with lemon, lime, orange slices or mixed berries.
  • Drink tea: cups of tea can count as fluid intake.
  • Coffee: a standard cup of coffee can contribute to a positive fluid balance. Just don’t drink too much!
  • Other fluids such as sports/electrolyte drinks, fruit juice and coconut water can aid hydration.
  • Drink before, during and after a workout.
  • If you’ve eaten yet you still feel hungry, drink a glass of water. You may, in fact, be thirsty, not hungry.
  • Sip on fluids between meals.

To find out your individual fluid needs and to optimise performance, contact me today for an individual assessment.


Reference:

Austin, S. ‘Eat Like An Athlete’, Published in 2019 by Hardie Grant Books, ©Simone Austin 2019.

Run your way to health

It’s no secret I love to run.

While I’m still climbing my way back into ‘Fitness Land’ after a few niggles and focusing on other things (work/career… you know the drill) for a bit, I have some big goals ahead and even managed to run in my first Park Run in months!

For me, running is happiness, my “me” time. It’s a stress reliever, it clears my mind, it helps me to feel good about myself… not to mention the other benefits that come with being fitter – more energy, mental clarity, better sleep… the list goes on.

But the benefits of regular running aren’t just anecdotal.

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine ­has revealed that running – no matter how often or how far – significantly lowers the risk of death from any cause but particularly from heart disease and cancer.

To determine how running lowers risk of death and improves health, study researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 suitable studies, involving 232,149 people, whose health was tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years.

The researchers found that any amount of running was associated with a 27 per cent lower risk of death from all causes for both males and females, compared to no running.

Running lowered the risk of death from heart disease and cancer by 30 and 23 per cent respectively.

They found that even small ‘doses’ of running (e.g. less than once a week for less than 50 minutes) was associated with health benefits.     

Now, while the study is small (n=14) and it’s an observational study so you can’t establish cause, and while more study is needed into the area, the researchers concluded:

“Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its does, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity.

“Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running.”

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to lace up the runners and head out the door for a run!


To read the full study, visit: www.scimex.org/newsfeed/any-amount-of-running-makes-you-less-likely-to-die/multimedia/Any-Amount-of-Running-BMJ-paper.pdf

You say potato …

While it’s not entirely new, news – I remember hearing about using the ‘mashed potato in zip-locked bags’ approach during the Sports Dietitians Australia course at the Australian Institute Sport (I attended the course back in 2013 to get my sports dietitian qual’s) – a recent study has shown that consuming potatoes is just as effective as carbohydrate gels to support endurance performance.

Despite some popular belief, it’s well known that carbohydrate consumption helps to improve endurance performance – muscle glycogen is the primary fuel source during prolonged activity.

So, race day fuel sources (aka gels/bars etc.) need to not only sustain performance but they also need to be readily digested to provide said fuel and to prevent GI issues.  

With an increasing number of athletes opting for whole food options to fuel races, the latest study to show the benefits of carbohydrates during endurance activity, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2019) has revealed that good ol’ fashioned potatoes – specifically potato puree ­– might just do the trick when it comes to sustaining endurance performance.

Despite this randomised-crossover study being a small one (12 cyclists – although it’s hard to get a big number of elite athletes in these types of studies normally), with participants randomly chosen to consume either potato, a gel or just water during a two-hour cycling time trial, the results revealed improved time trial performance in both the potato and gel groups compared to the water group.

Study authors concluded: “Potato and gel ingestions equally sustained blood glucose concentrations and time trial performance. Our results support the effective use of potatoes to support race performance for trained cyclists.”

For athletes who want to try the more whole-food approach to race day fuelling, mashed potato might just be the way to go – a great savoury option when flavour fatigue hits from too many sweet options.

To read the full study, visit: www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/japplphysiol.00567.2019


If you’d like help sorting out your nutrition plan for your next race, contact me today! I’d love to help.


Do you even yoga

It helps to combat stress, helps to recharge, keeps you flexible and strong, helps with sleep and so much more.

Now the benefits of a regular yoga routine extend to glycaemic control and an additional approach in preventing type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal, PLOS One, looking at the effects of yoga on glycaemic control, lipid profiles, body composition and blood pressure in people in the pre-diabetic state found that yoga improved health outcomes.

The study authors included research studies published between January 2002 and December 2018 that evaluated a yoga intervention in the prevention of T2DM.  

Fourteen studies (12 randomised control trials and two non-randomised control trials) with a total of 834 participants (50 per cent of whom were women) were deemed eligible for inclusion in the systematic review.

The study revealed that compared to controls, yoga intervention improved fasting blood glucose levels, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure.  

According to the study authors, “This meta-analysis uncovered clinically improved effects of yoga intervention on glycaemic control, lipid profiles and other parameters of T2DM management in [a] pre-diabetic population.

“These results suggest that yoga intervention may be considered as a comprehensive and alternative approach to preventing T2DM.”

While more research is needed to support these findings, I know what I’ll be doing after my trainer session this morning.

To read the research article, visit – www.scimex.org/newsfeed/namaste-away-your-risk-of-type-2-diabetes/multimedia/yoga-paper-PLOS.pdf

Going vegan – what you need to know

One of the best moments in my plant-based journey so far, was when I was out at a restaurant for my birthday with the boyf, and while looking for the one vegan option on the menu, he said, “Ah, what are you doing? The whole menu is vegan!”

Are you serious?

I can choose from the whole menu?

Best. Moment. Ever.

World Vegan Month

The start of November officially kicks off World Vegan Month, with November 1 being World Vegan Day.

With the rising popularity of Netflix documentaries such as ‘The Game Changers’, with celebs, elite athletes, activists, companies/brands (most recently iconic Aussie staple, Vegemite was certified vegan), and even politicians jumping on board the vegan/vegetarian train, it seems plant-based is here to stay.

According to the market research company, Roy Morgan, vegetarian eating is on the rise with 12.1 per cent of Aussies now eating all or almost all vegetarian – up from 11.2 per cent in 2014. 

“To keep Vegemite relevant today, it needs to appeal to all Australians,” said Vegemite Senior Marketing Manager, Matt Gray.

“With over 10 per cent of Australians choosing a vegan or vegetarian-based diet, it’s important that they can still enjoy the nation’s favourite spread.”

Four member organisations of the Vegan World Alliance have reportedly challenged country leaders, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to try vegan for a month starting November 1 – World Vegan Day.

“World resources are being stretched to beyond their limits, so we have to start living within our planetary resource budget as soon as possible,” urged Vegan Australia Director, Greg McFarlane.

“We are urging the Prime Minister to try vegan for the sake of the environment, for future generations and of course to prevent the needless suffering of animals.”

With a plethora of vegan foods now readily available, the lack of vegan options is no longer an issue.

Cafes and restaurants are also increasing their vegan/vegetarian menu options making it easier to eat plant-based.

Image: Shutterstock

Health benefits

The health benefits of a plant-based diet include:

  • Lower cholesterol (particularly LDL-cholesterol) levels
  • Less likely to suffer from heart disease
  • Lowered risk of some cancers
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower body weight
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

While the health benefits of eating more plants are clear, what do you need to know if you want to go vegan?

How to do plant-based right

If you’re planning to transition to a plant-based, vegetarian, vegan lifestyle, you need to consider the following as you make your dietary changes:

  • Balance is vital: to ensure you’re getting enough energy (calories/kilojoules) you need to make sure you eat enough. Going plant-based isn’t merely a case of ‘cutting out meat’. You need to replace the energy and nutrients from meat and other animal products with plant-based alternatives.
  • Vitamin B-12: This vitamin plays several critical roles, including keeping red blood cells healthy and protecting nerve tissues. While you can get B-12 from plant foods such as soy, seaweed, nutritional yeast, vegemite, seaweed and fortified plant milk, you might want to consider a supplement, especially if going vegan. Other food sources of B12 that vegetarians can include in their diet are yoghurt, milk, cheese and eggs.
  • Iron: Iron is a crucial nutrient for absorbing oxygen into the blood and transporting it to your cells – it’s essential for energy production! Plant sources of iron include legumes/lentils, dark leafy greens, meat substitutes like tofu and fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Calcium: Critical for bone health, food sources include fortified plant milk, green leafy veg, tahini (sesame seed paste), sesame seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, tofu and dried figs. 
  • Zinc: Vital for the proper functioning of many enzymes in the body and a strong immune system, plant-based sources of zinc include wholemeal and grain bread, bran and wholegrain breakfast cereals, legumes and nuts.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: While plant-based diets, particularly vegan diets, can be quite low in fats, it’s important to include healthy fats in your diet. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fats include flaxseed oil, linseeds, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, pecans, soy and green veg.

If you’d like to know more about how to transition to a plant-based diet or if you’d like to see if you’re doing it right, get in touch! I’d love to help.


References:

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, 2019, ‘Becoming a vegetarian’, October 2009, Updated October 23, 2018, Available from: www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian [accessed 2.11.19]

Saxebly, C, 2018, ‘Catherine Saxelby’s Complete Food and Nutrition Companion: the ultimate A–Z guide’, Copyright © Catherine Saxelby 2012, 2018, Hardie Grant Books.

Roy Morgan, 2019, ‘Rise in vegetarianism not halting the march of obesity’, April 12 2019, Available from:

www.roymorgan.com/findings/7944-vegetarianism-in-2018-april-2018-201904120608

[accessed 2.11.19]

Nutrition News: Healthy diet improves mood

A small (n=76), randomised controlled trial published in the open-access journal, PLOS ONE – ‘A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults’ – shows a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in young adults (17-35 years old), after eating a healthy diet for three weeks.

The study by Heather Francis from Macquarie University and colleagues, reveals that a change in diet towards a healthy diet based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGTHE) results in significant improvement in mood, with depression scores shifting into the normal range.

Results of the study also show that a healthy diet is associated with lower anxiety scores.

Comparatively, the study shows that a poor diet (so high in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats) contributes to depression scores in the moderate-to-high range, reportedly.

“Modifying diet to reduce processed food intake and increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil improved depression symptoms in young adults.

“These findings add to a growing literature showing a modest change to diet is a useful adjunct therapy to reduce symptoms of depression,” the study authors said.

Source: scimex.org


To find about more about how to eat well to feel well, visit – 5 foods that will help boost your mood