Low-fat, high carbohydrate meals are digested more quickly, and stimulate the production of different brain chemicals - ones that help aid relaxation and facilitate sleep. So it's best to opt for a high protein breakfast and lunch to keep you alert and clear-headed all day, and save the carbohydrates for dinner.
If you're like most people, caffeine is a stimulant, so a cup of coffee before you hit the sack is probably unwise. Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt normal sleep patterns; you might be able to fall asleep, but not for long. This makes it hard to reach the deepest and most restful stage of sleep. So even with a full eight hours, you still feel sluggish in the morning. Chances are you'll also be roused from sleep by a full bladder, since both caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics.
Whether to snack or not before you go to bed depends on your usual patterns. If your evening meal is small and light (and early), then a light snack is fine if you feel it helps you sleep and you can afford the extra calories. Calcium-rich foods like milk and yoghurt are good choices, since calcium helps muscles to relax.
Good nutrition for a good night's zzzz's:
Have a lighter dinner, focused on salad, vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and beans
A bowl of lentil soup with a salad and some fruit for dessert
If you know that caffeine keeps you awake, avoid caffeine-containing beverages for 6-8 hours before going to bed
Keep your alcohol intake moderate to avoid sleep disruption
Drink most of your fluids during the day, and cut back after dinner. If you need to take medications at bedtime, use only a small amount of water
If you like to have a bedtime snack, include foods that are high in calcium to induce muscle relaxation
A cup of warm milk is an age-old remedy for sleeplessness, and for good reason
Hydration is an essential need all people share. Because hydration directly impacts athletic performance, it is even more important for athletes to keep fluid levels topped off – especially during a demanding event. Hydration is essential, as are electrolytes – important body salts which support proper muscle function and help regulate body temperature
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel during exercise and they’re essential to keep the body running. In an endurance race, calories are king and getting enough is essential for performance. Making sure to get plenty of carbohydrates both before and during the race is key, and proper nutrition also helps shorten recovery time, which is very important in a multi-day event. The use of carbohydrate electrolyte beverages in a race is often essential for endurance athletes, to maintain prolonged performance.
After a race, the body needs the right ratios of carbohydrates and protein to begin recovering. Recovery is two-fold, and requires carbohydrate for replacing glycogen stores as well as protein for rebuilding damaged muscle.
Additional nutrient supplementation may also be useful where the nutritional needs of athletes are so extreme that they can’t be met with food alone. But that being said, it is important to keep in mind that supplementation is just that – a supplement to a regular healthy diet. Every athlete should get the majority of their calories and nutrients from whole foods, primarily healthy sources of healthy carbohydrates – whole grains, fruits and vegetables – and protein from lean meats, poultry, fish, low fat dairy products and plant sources such as soy.
1. Warm Up
While your instinct might be to immediately dive into your workout, spending just five to 10 minutes warming up will better prepare your body for exercise. You’ll want to warm up at a pace that gradually gets your heart beating at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Note: The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 35 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220 - 35 = 185. For vigorous exercise intensity, you’ll want to be at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.)
And don’t forget to stretch! It warms your muscles and prepares them for exercise. Warm muscles also allow for a greater range of motion for your joints and make injuries less likely. Along with physically preparing your body for exercise, your warm up can provide a great space to mentally prepare for what’s ahead.
If your goal is to shut out all outside thoughts, get into the zone and focus on reaching new limits, this is the time to do it!
But don’t stop there. By frequently stretching throughout your workout, you’ll promote better circulation – and by increasing blood flow to your muscles, waste products like lactic acid will be removed to help prevent soreness. Each stretch should last approximately 20 to 30 seconds and should have you feeling a mild discomfort but not outright pain. Remember to leave time at the end of your workout to wrap up with some final stretches. Trust me. The next day, you’ll be glad you did!
2. Add Variety
Even the most driven, passionate athletes can reach plateau (both physical and mental) if they aren’t changing things up every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to split your routine in new ways, try different exercises and drills, or move your training from indoors to outdoors. Any of these changes will help send a message to your body that it can’t just “coast” along. Adding variety to your routine is especially important if you’ve been doing the same thing for weeks or even months on end.
3. Rest and Recover
Taking a step back from training probably goes against every fibre of your being. But if you’re not resting, how can you grow?
During intense training, our muscles are essentially “broken down.” The only way for them to recover is to be fed proper nutrition and to have some rest. During this recovery period, our bodies grow bigger and stronger so that our muscles can be broken down again. So don’t be afraid take off a day or two each week, or even a week off every two to three months. You’ll likely come back stronger, more rejuvenated and with more enthusiasm than ever before. Following a break is also the perfect time to modify your training program (see previous section) and start on a fresh footing.
4. Drink up
As you may already know, proper hydration is crucial to your results – especially after a serious workout. It’s critical that you replenish lost fluid during this time so your body can continue to function at its highest level. You’ll also need to ensure you’re hydrated before and during your workout. Every time you hit the gym, go for a run or step onto the field, you should have a water bottle in hand. Then continue to support your system by hydrating throughout the day. You can also benefit from hydration in the form of Herbalife24® Hydrate. This low-calorie advanced hydration supplement can be taken anytime during the day — mornings, during workouts or even at night to maintain body fluid levels.
5. Get Specific
It goes without saying that we all want to be better athletes. But having the goal of “being a better athlete” is too generic and won’t give you the structure you need to reach your objectives. You need a clearer vision, because the more detail you include in your plan, the better your chances of success will be. When outlining your goals, follow the “SMART” formula by choosing goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused, and Time-Bound.
Along the same lines of recording your goals, it’s just as important to track your workout progress throughout your journey. This could mean recording specific exercises, weights, reps, distances, etc., that you’ve reached each time you’ve laced up. Your training log will be a blueprint to your successes or failures through trial and error, and will give you a better sense of where you can make modifications to enhance performance. Think of it as part of your overall game plan to success!
6. Find a Buddy
Do you ever have those days when your laces are tied, your workout clothes are on, but your heart’s just not into it? It can be oh-so-tempting to just shrug off your workout and hop on the couch, but what if one missed workout turns into another, and another and – well, you get the picture! Here’s where a workout buddy can really help. On days when your motivation is hovering below its usual level, your workout buddy can act as your “accountability partner” and give you the push you need to get back in the game. He or she will also be there to celebrate successes with you, and vice versa. If you don’t already have a workout buddy, let the search begin now!
7. Challenge Yourself
Despite having the occasional “off” day, you probably have it in your DNA to always keep on going. That’s what being a serious athlete is all about. But are you always challenging yourself? Are you always doing more than you think you can do?
Here’s some easy advice: When you’re in the gym and feel like you can’t do any more reps, crank out just two or three more. When you’re running and feel like you’ve hit the wall, take just a few extra strides. It’s not about making huge leaps every time, because you don’t want to compromise technique or risk injury. It’s about taking small steps that will lead to consistent gains. If you don’t try to add weight at every workout or go further on every run, your body won’t have anything to adapt to. So keep it guessing and keep on growing!
8. Nourish for Success
So you’re doing all the physical work – now comes the healthy nutrition to complement it. Throughout your day, you should be consuming a mix of lean proteins, low-glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats (and don’t forget to add a multivitamin to the mix). Protein is especially important for athletes of all levels, as it helps to build and repair muscle tissues following intense training.
When you want a break from preparing whole-food meals, you can use Herbalife24® Formula 1 Sport to get your vital macronutrients in. It’s a quick, healthy meal that can be prepared anywhere, anytime to ensure your body is always properly fuelled. To support sports performance, also check out the rest of the Herbalife24® line. You’ll find great supplements for that extra support you need before, during and after your workout.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey!
Here are three important reasons for you to pick up some weights and make yourself stronger. It’s a fact: strong is in. A toned, muscular and functional body has become the new sexy for both men and women. The following are important reasons why you should add weight and strength training to your regular fitness routine.
Three Reasons to Get Stronger Now!
Burn More Calories
By lifting weights and becoming strong, you’ll change every aspect of your body. People with increased muscle mass burn more calories at rest than those without. It takes more energy for your body to sustain lean muscle and, therefore, your resting metabolic rate may increase as a result of lifting weights.
Improved Bone Density
Weight-bearing exercise is very beneficial for bone health in people of all ages.
The aging process is linked to a decrease in bone density and a greater risk of fractures. So, consider how you can add weights to your workout, because your bones rely on resistance training to stay healthy and strong.
If your body gets used to lifting weights, imagine how much easier just lifting your own body weight will be. Improved strength means that your daily activities will become easier, and if you’re training for a sport, an increase in muscular strength can significantly improve your performance.
Becoming stronger has so many benefits, and you don’t need to be worried about looking like an out-of-proportion body builder. Unless you’re dedicating hundreds of hours to lifting heavy weights and following a very specific body-building nutrition plan, the chances of you getting bulky are slim. Adding weight training to your routine two to three times a week and eating a protein-rich diet will have you well on your way toward achieving a healthy muscular physique. Also, don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights. But do make sure that you start out with manageable, lighter weights so that you can focus on technique for 12-15 reps and slowly work your way up to heavier weights. As you increase the weight you’re using, decrease to 8-10 reps.
Your body will start adapting to weight training right away, so get started today.
Around 60-70% of the human body is composed of water, so it's fair to say that water is vital for survival. It functions to keep our body temperature regulated, allows us to breathe, is essential in digestion and excretion, assists body movement, just to name a few!
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day is recommended, but during exercise or when in hot environments, we need to drink more, because we sweat more.
But is water enough? Or do you need a sports drink to stay properly hydrated?
Sports drinks will keep you well hydrated and give you energy if you're participating in high intensity exercise for more than an hour. However, if you're not exercising to this level, plain water will do just fine.
What defines a sports drink?
Sports drinks (sometimes called electrolyte or isotonic drinks) are developed to contain the right level of carbohydrates (5-8 g/litre) and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) to keep you well hydrated; replacing what is lost from the body during exercise.
Other drinks that contain high amounts of carbohydrates (such as Lucozade and Red Bull and soft drinks) stop water being absorbed quickly and therefore can delay hydration, so are not suitable before exercise.
So if you're doing a high intensity workout, choose a sports drink. But, if you're not working out to this intensity and drink them as part of your everyday routine you may end up putting on weight because of the extra carbohydrate content.
If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon, orange or a sprig of mint to give your water some flavour without adding the calories you'd get by using cordial.
Hydration tips for exercise
Make sure you're well hydrated before you exercise — start drinking approximately two hours before
Keep your fluids topped up during exercise
Always remember to re-hydrate after exercise – it's essential for recovery. Try to drink one to two glasses per hour until your urine is pale again.