What is Fibre and why is it important? 🤔
- Fibre comes in 2 different forms:soluble and insoluble. We can't digest these, but they have very important roles in the body especially within our gut.
Soluble fibre is found in fruit, oats, dried beans and peas, nuts, barley and chia.
Insoluble fibre is found vegetables, fruit and vegetable skins, seeds and nuts
Fibre helps us feel fuller for longer
Lowers our risk of Colon cancer
Speeds up digestion through our GI tract
Bulks up our stools
Lowers our blood lipids and Cholesterol
Boost overall gut health
We need approximately 25-35g per day. In Ireland, we tend to not eat enough fibre and thus we can have issues with our gut health. Too much can cause digestive stress so it's important to get just the right amount
Metabolic conditioning is a very effective way of getting stronger and fitter at the same time.
When I say fitter, I mean increasing aerobic capacity and the cardiovascular system. It is not as simple as pairing two exercises together and going hard through it until you burn out or slow
down. metabolic conditioning takes time into account and, whether that is sticking to a time or beating a
time with given repetitions. It is important to understand how the body gets energy when
programming these types of workouts. The work to rest ratio can be determined by the goal
of the workout.
Metabolism is how we break down food for energy. It can be broke into three sections,
Phosphagen, Glycolytic and Aerobic. Phosphagen, also known as the creatine phosphate
system, is the most powerful and fastest way to get energy. This is used in explosive
movements and short duration bursts no more than 10 seconds long. An example is a short
sprint, Olympic lift or a max jump. This system is so quick and powerful that it may even
take 3-5 minutes to recover. When training this system, recovery time is very important and
full recovery is the goal. Glycolytic can provide energy for up to 4/5 minutes. It is primarily
used in short but intense duration including 400-800m sprints and weightlifting. This can
take 3 minutes to recover fully. Finally, the aerobic system includes long lasting duration
and can recover in a matter of seconds. Now it is important to note that no sole pathway works once at a time, there is a lot of interplay but certain work to rest ratios used in metabolic conditioning can prioritise one energy system. You can still build all systems to a certain point, but you may have to prioritise one
depending on your goals.
Metabolic conditioning can be used to maximise the efficiency of one energy system, which
can be directly translated to a particular sport or even just for personal goals. From the
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a study in 1992 named ‘’Effect of resistance
training on excess post-exercises oxygen consumption’’ showed us that this high intensity
training leads to a higher resting metabolism for hours after. Metabolic conditioning very interesting because it values and prioritises rest time, which is often ignored.
Here is a general look at how you can prioritise each system (I mean general when I say it).
Work to rest ratios (W:R)
Endurance (4:1) Work 4 minutes, rest for maximum 1 minute.
Intermediate system (1:2) Work for 20 seconds, rest for 40 seconds.
Explosive/Power (1:10) Work 10 seconds rest 2 minutes.
People over complicate everything
Nutrition is relatively simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple. Exercise is the same. Eat better, move more
I have people coming to me, sprinting before they have even learned to walk. Yes, I've heard it all. I've had overweight/obese people give out to me about my food choices as they are not organic or may be genetically modified🤔 I've had people who lived on takeaways all of a sudden are now vegan. And don't even get me started on going gluten and lactose free Guys, get your house in order. If you are over weight none of these extremes are necessary. If you cut back a little on treats, controlled portion size and ate more vegetables you could probably sort all your problems out. It may be a slower process but it's a consistent one. I'm not trying to be harsh. I'm actually trying to be nice and say it's more simple than you are making it
As for exercise. Going from nothing to something is always a benefit. But make sure it's not just purposeful exercise. Increasing your steps daily will have a huge benefit on your Basal Metabolic rate. And as for the best exercise, that is the one you enjoy the most and can sustain. I know people that exercise that absolutely hate it and do it for the sake of it Exercise should be something you enjoy, not endure, so find one you like. I would recommend some form of resistance training on top of it, as it's hugely beneficial for bone, ligament and tendon health as well as maintaining lean muscle mass.
So stop over complicating healthy eating and exercise. You don't need to be a gluten and lactose free vegan to be healthy, nor do you need to be a crossfit athlete. Get moving daily, stop treating yourself so often (you don't need it), reduce your portion size and increase your vegetable consumption. Thats a great start right there
Listen up, this one is an important one.
Yes macros are important. Carbohydrate is the main source of energy for most sports. Protein is essential for repair and recovery. Fats are anti inflammatory and necessary for fat soluble vitamin transport. Yes your macronutrients which convert into energy are fuel for the body.
But what about micronutrients, phytonutrients and zoo chemicals. These don't directly fuel us but they are also vital to the functioning of the human body. They are responsible for vital internal functions and without them our bodies would not be able to asorb nutrients or convert them to energy. They are vital for gut health, immunity, nervous system functioning, nutrient absorbtion, digestion... The list goes on. As humans, our bodies don't just do one thing at a time (even if we think we are). Just to be alive, all our systems are working internally. Imagine adding eating and drinking to that. Now let's add a job. Let's add a family. Let's add exercise. Our bodies are constantly working, there is no off switch Sometimes are bodies are under serious strain. If we are not getting the vital nutrients we need to keep up with this pressure, major problems can occur within the body.
I don't give opinions on this very often but I'm going to for this one. If you are constantly worrying/counting macros and not focusing on food quality that's fine, you'll get the fuel you need for your body. But overall, internally, you are not focusing on the other functions in your body. Your body is more than just an engine that you need to fuel. It's complex and deserves to be treated like your most important possession. Because really, that's what it is 🤔🤔🤔
Are Macro and Micro Nutrients important for Athletes??? YES!!!!
Let's delve into what we need each nutrient for and requirement levels.
Every cell in your body needs protein. Protein is absolutely essential for athletes due to the amount of training they are doing. Protein turnover is very high so demands for protein are also very high. We need it for recovery and muscle repair. It is also very important in times of injury. I recommend 2g per Kg of Bodyweight.
Sources include: Meat, Fish, Eggs, Beans, Legumes. Eat protein at every meal.
Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for GAA. It gives us energy in the form of glucose or stored glycogen. There are 2 types of carbohydrates:Complex carbohydrates and simple sugars. Complex carbohydrates are the ones we want most of in our diet. They not only provide fuel but also fibre which is essential for gut health. I recommend about 3g per Kg Bodyweight. This can increase days of games/trainings or day before to almost 6g per Kg Bodyweight. Sources include: Rice, Oats, Fruit, Potatoes, Sweet Potato.
Fats are often neglected and are a very important part of an athletes diet. Fats reduce inflammation (caused by exercise or injury), they are part of our cell membranes and they transport vitamins A, D, É & K. I recommend about 1-1.5g per Kg BW. This can increase or decrease based on carbohydrate consumption. Sources include: Avocado, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, oily fish
These are often overlooked. Although they are required in small quantities, lack of consumption can lead to serious deficiencies. Not only is immune function lowered increasing risk of catching colds and illnesses which can increase absenteeism from training. Cognitive function can be impaired (not ideal on a pitch). Micronutrient deficiencies in some cases can cause fatigue like a lack of Iron or B Group Vitamins. Water would also be considered a micronutrient
It is important to look at the big picture. It's not just macros that are important to athletes. We need micronutrients for our overall recovery and health
As we all know, movement is controlled by the brain. Muscular contraction is a signal sent from the
brain just like any other movement. The brain is signalling the muscles to contract. But the
body does adapt and learn to neuromuscular movements (which mean some movements may
become a habit and the Mind muscle connection might be lacking). I will explain 3 ways of improving this connection and then explain what strength really means with this connection.
First of all, I think the best test to know if you have this connection is quite simple to be
honest. Can you concentrate on a muscle and activate it. For example, can you tense and
contract your bicep, triceps, chest, lats, hamstrings, quads, calves etc... If you can do this and
control the muscles contractions, you have this mind muscle connection.
Secondly, know what muscle you are working and make sure that muscle is doing the work.
A lot of the time, especially with pulling/back exercises, people are not getting the most out
of their workouts. Your arms should be seen as levers/handles and the back should be the
muscle pulling. How can you fix this? It is easier than you think, 'retract your scapula'. This is not as technical as it sounds. Retracting your scapula means squeeze your shoulder blades together and try touch them off each other. This is a simple technique used to get proper connection to the back muscles. With the seated row or single arm row, I hear a lot of people saying that their arms are feeling it for most of these exercises, which means the arms the predominant muscles working, when really they should be secondary muscles assisting the lift.
Third on the list of improving mind muscle connection is by using the appropriate weight with the appropriate technique. This means no ego lifting (ego lifting is just packing on as much weight as you can
and using any old form to throw the weight up or move the weight). It is important that you are in control of the exercise as you lift the weight, but just as importantly, as you lower the weight. You should avoid swinging or using momentum to lift a weight (especially if you have difficulty feeling that muscle connection).
Fat gets a bad rep. Sure it is 9Kcal per gram but it is an essential part of a balanced fat. Fats provide us with energy, makes up our cell membranes as well as our brain and nervous system. Fats are necessary to transport vitamins A,D,E and K and make and balance certain hormones. Fat can be found in 2 forms:
Saturated – mainly found in animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, coconut
Unsaturated – found in marine sources like fish oils, as well as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils
For years saturated fat was thought to be associated with higher risk of Cardiovascular Disease and so it was deemed as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad for you’. The problem with saturated fat was not the actual fat itself but rather the increased consumption of processed food or the large quantities of saturated fat products. Saturated fat helps increase the cholesterol production in the body which is an essential part of metabolism and in the production of steroid hormones. So saturated fat should feature in our diet, just maybe don’t latter every meal in butter.
Unsaturated fats are made up of mono and polyunsaturated fats. These contain our omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids open our airways and blood vessels. They reduce our blood lipids and cholesterol and lower inflammation and pain. Omega 6 fatty acids do the opposite. Both are needed in the body, without both we wouldn’t heal or recover from exercise. The problem with Western diets is that we don’t have the proper ratios. We are at about 10:1 where we should be at 2:1 (omega 6/omega 3).
Low fat diets were a fad a few years ago. While people reduced calories, they increased their intake of processed foods. Diets lacked fats and fat soluble vitamins so instead of being healthier people were losing weight but were not healthier.
Fats are an essential part of any healthy diet. Be aware that they are very calorie dense so be sure not to overconsume and don’t opt for processed versions. Enjoy them as part of a balanced lifestyle.
Sometimes it is great to go balls to the wall, but that doesn’t mean it’s optimal or better than
leaving reps in reserve. Training smart is a lot better than training hard, in the long run. We
all know people who perform drop sets, pyramid sets or other forms of fatiguing sets. People
argue that going to failure in your sets will mean you are creating more tension and activating
all of the motor units. This hypothetically would mean more hypertrophy (muscle building).
But, weight training amongst other training methods, is a long run game. A lot of studies,
including one from the Discipline of Exercise and Sports Science in Australia (2016) and the
Centre for Human and Applied Physiology in Australia (2016) both show that stopping a few
reps shy of failure results in similar increases muscle size and strength as failure training.
Working with weights as high as 80% of your 1RM will activate all of our motor units
(which is the main argument for going to failure).
If your goal is to maximise muscle and strength, going to failure won’t be the best idea for
you. There is a difference between going to failure every set and planning your sets. Let’s
assume we have 2 athletes who are training with the same weight. Athlete A trains to failure
for the three sets, and Athlete B plans there sets at 8 reps per set (even if they could manage
9/10). So Athlete A does the first set and gets 10 reps (going to failure), they then head into
the second set, slightly fatigued an get 7 reps, and on the last set they get 5 reps (again, under
fatigue). 10+7+5 is a total of 22 reps. Whereas, athlete B is more calculated and performs 3
sets of 8 reps, which totals 24 reps. So although training to failure may be attractive and feel
great, it is not as beneficial if you want to track training and progress over time. The fact
athlete B has not hit that fatigued state, the rest of their session shouldn’t be affected by the
first exercise, unlike Athlete A.
One of the hardest things about training to failure is the tracking aspect. Linear progression is
hard to achieve if you’re sets and reps are changing each week due to fatigue. It is hard to
progress under fatigue, because one week on your 1st set you may get 6 reps, and another you
may get 4 depending on multiple stresses. Leaving some reps in reserve is more manageable on any given day. It is so important to understand that what gets measured gets managed. Training is training.
Competition is competition. If you are training to perform, you must train, which means not
going all out. It is important to fix technique, work on weaknesses and build toward a
performance/competition as we all know, you cannot be peaked all year around, and if you
try to, your performance will suffer and never truly peak.
The knock on effect is important to mention. If you go to failure one day, your training the
next day may suffer due to muscle damage more and lack of recovery. A study in the
European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2017 found that if you are training submaximally
and not going to failure, you can recover quicker for your next session as you have managed
the volume and loads. As a result, you can perform better in your next training session and
there is a knock on effect to all subsequent trainings. If you are getting yourself into a
fatigued state during your first set, it means you will be performing the other exercises in
your session under a fatigued state. So before we even look at recovery for the next day of
training, you may be harming the rest of your training. From the 2017 study we saw 10 men
assessed and those who trained to failure in the study had slowed down their ability to
recovery up to 48 hours after training.
Is failure training ever useful? Yes, as long as it is limited and controlled. For example, isolation movements
at the end of a session, it may be find to go to max in your bicep curls as these smaller muscle
groups recover quicker and won’t affect your other lifts as much (unless you perform them at
the beginning of a session). On the other hand, limited can mean every now and then just to
mix it up, it may be okay to go to failure, but make sure you have someone with you. Going
to failure with weights is dangerous, uncalculated and the cons outweigh the pros. If you are
trying to get fit for your sport, going to failure the odd time far away from the season or when
you have gaps in the season may be mentally beneficial to build a tolerance to pain and get
comfortable being uncomfortable, mentally it is good, physically it is good (when limited) and
allows us to find out our limitations and how we react when under extreme stress.
Eat the Rainbow
What does it mean?
Colour is nature’s way of letting us understand how nutritious foods are. Foods with rich colours like spinach, blueberries, beetroot, wild rice (the list goes on) are full of nutritious components and antioxidants. Not only do these foods contain lots of vitamins and minerals associated with a healthy immune system and optimal gut functioning they are also jam packed full of phytonutrients.
RED Coloured Food
Red fruit and vegetables like tomatoes often contain a natural plant pigment called Lycopene. It is a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce cancer risk and keep our heart healthy.
Blue or Purple Coloured Food
Anthocyanin is what gives fruit and vegetables this colour. This pigment also has antioxidant properties that protect our cells from damage.
Orange or Yellow Coloured Food
Beta Carotene gives fruit and vegetables this orange or yellow colour. Beta Carotene is a precursor for vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for vision, and healthy mucus membranes.
Green Coloured Food
Green coloured fruit and vegetables contain a whole host of phytochemicals. Foods like spinach and broccoli are also a good source of folate.
Brown/White Coloured Food
Phytochemicals like allicin (found in garlic) are known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Potatoes and bananas are a great source of potassium.
Next time you’re eating a meal, make a conscious decision to add more colour. With all the talk about macronutrients, it’s very important not to forget your micronutrients 😊