Sunday, 6 November 2016

Do I really need products and/or supplements to gain my desired health/fitness goal? Part 1- Improving on your workout performance


Recently I have been doing a lot more exercise and starting to really enjoy this. I have always wondered if I needed supplements to achieve my desired outcome which for me is weight loss and muscle growth. I have bought a lot of different products to try them out and tell you guys what I think. I have also researched a least expensive way to get everything I have previously bought which I'll go through in a later post. Now let's first talk about what you need when it comes to supplements and  products. You do not need anything is the key point. Eating the right foods, sleeping the right amount and exercising sensibly is enough to achieve the desired goals. If you want to try any of the products I have tested please consult with your doctor, especially if you're like me and already on prescription medication. Supplements and products may help you improve on a workout performance, suppress you apatite, increase your metabolism, encourage muscle growth, increase fat oxidation (fat burners), reduce stress hormones and decrease the absorption of carbohydrates and fats in your diet. depending on your desired outcome, products may help support this but they are not essential. When buying my products I was very conscientious. Ensuring that where I was buying these the site was reputable. I know everyone has heard horror stories off buying offline. Companies do try and keep fake products off the market but if the seller is not legitimate then what is in the products may not be what you expect.  Now let's talk about the key areas I mentioned earlier. I will first describe how you can achieve this without not products. You'll also notice links to other websites so you can gain more information on the discussed topic and where I have bought my products from. I will have a separate post for each key area.

Ways to improve on your workout performance

How you can improve naturally on your workout performance is making sure you are getting enough sleep. Depending on your age, gender and health condition the amount of sleep may vary for each individual (please see the link if you would like more information). I know I need around 8.5 hours to feel sane and have energy throughout the day. I also take a nap when I can before a workout which naturally gives me a lot of energy, enhancing my workout performance. However, if unfortunately you are the type of person who takes a nap and cannot sleep at night, avoid having a nap as going into a deep sleep at night is important to balance your hormones and repair your body. If my partner takes a nap he would be tossing and turning all night, so he would tend to avoid napping as he would be missing his REM sleep at night (please see the link if you would like more information). Also, the amount of time you take for a nap is important to gain the desired benefit which is having more energy (please see the link if you would like more information). I'm really lucky in the sense that I can nap for up to two hours and still have no issues with sleeping at night. But for those who are not getting a adequate amount of sleep at night. If you want to increase the amount of sleep you are having aim for going to bed 15 minutes early than usual for a week or two and increase this gradually. Thinking to yourself I want 8 hours sleep and going to bed 2 hours earlier than usual, may cause you to wake up early hours and reduces that amount of sleep you usually get. Finally on this topic a key point about getting a good amount of sleep is sleep hygiene. What is meant by this term is what you do before bed. Playing on your phone late at night, eating junk food and talking about something that has been stressing you out late at night may make you have difficulty falling asleep and this is classified as as sleep hygiene. I tend to avoid stressful topics late at night, having something light for dinner, take a hot bath, have some time relaxing, reading a novel, no phone or ipad in bed and put on my dimming light called Lumie bodyclock (£59.95).


You can improve on a workout performance by eating a healthy varied diet. I hate the word diet as it automatically makes me remember to times where I was hungy, grumpy and no energy due to being on a new FAD diet. So for the purpose of this topic I will call a diet a healthy eating plan. A healthy eating  plan suggest that this should be a long term, feasible plan. You should incorporate healthy vegetables, 1-2 fruits per day, healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates. How much you eat depends on you and would be calculated by your Body Mass Index BMI. I started off using a app called MyFitnessPal as it does all the hard work for you. This app calculated your desired goals and how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you require. It also looks at your vital micronutrients/ vitamins and suggest how much you need per day. I used this app for a number of months but no longer need to use it as I have a rough idea of how much I need to eat. Every now and then I use this to check I am guessing correctly. I also make sure that I am not hungry when working out so I have the energy to have a good workout. Sometimes I have a some fruit for carbohydrates and some protein a hour before my workout. Or I have a Juice Plus shake (£123.75) to fuel me for a good workout. The only down side is that Juice Plus only supply you with four months worth at one time, you can pay in monthly installments. They give you a rep who support you through their food plan, which I believe is one of the best healthy eating plans available. However, you do not have to have fancy shakes but a light meal may work the same to enhance performance. 


Finally, your water intake will improve your workout performance as your muscles love being hydrated. Your muscles move more fluently when hydrated which means less work when exercising. How much water you need is debatable. Most experts say 8 glasses but have no idea where this information came from. I drink as much water as I can as my desired goal is weight loss but be careful as too much fluids can be dangerous.



My current job role is a Community Psychiatric Practitioner. In this job role I work will mentally unwell patients in the community. The first thing I will look at when supporting these clients is the areas mentioned above, if they are getting enough sleep, are they being active and what are they eating/drinking. Being over all active, sleeping well and a healthy diet is not only great for weight loss or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, workout performance but is also great for a good mental health.



Now let's talk about the supplements and products that enhance workout performance. The ingredients that have been clinically tested to enhance workout performance are; caffeine, Branch-chain Amino Acids BCAA's, Creatine and Beta-Alanine. Now let's look at these areas in more detail.

Caffeine 
Caffeine is absorbed through the stomach and into the intestines. This usually takes around 45 minutes to start feeling the effect.  Caffeine increases heart rate, increases blood flow to your muscles and increases the amount of energy you have. This gives you more energy to work harder and makes some people feel like they have more strength.  Caffeine can be inexpensive and a good workout performance enhancer. Also, it increases metabolism which I will talk more about in another post. However, caffeine does have its down side, some people cannot tolerate it as its makes them feel anxious, have palpations and makes them feel queasy. Please do not use caffeine products without consulting with your doctor first. Especially some pre-workout products as some are known for high amounts of caffeine in them. Also, having caffeine long term is not beneficial, with any fat burner products, professionals advise to wean yourself off them. I currently have a product called Grenade (£44.99) which has high amount of caffeine, I have been advised to stop this after 6 weeks and too not use it again until after 3 months. This is the advice I have been given, you may be different so please do check with a professional.
Branch-chain Amino Acids BCAA's
Exercising has been linked to increase serotonin levels which makes us feel fatigue. BCAA's have been linked to increase serotonin levels enhancing workout performance. Some studies suggest that BCAA's increase the blood oxygen levels, which enhancing workout performance as the muscle have more oxygen to work harder.

Creatine
Creatine itself work similar to the Amino Acids mentioned above. Creatine phosphate is found in the human body which naturally increase muscle stores. Creatine helps make the glycogen (fuel for the body)  more available and therefore increase the performance of exercise (please see the link if you would like more information). I'm currently using a product by PEScience called high volume (£32), which has creatine in the product.


Beta-Alanine
Beta-Alanine also works like an Amino Acid as mentioned above. Beta-Alanine increases carnosine levels which increase muscle buffering capacity, in other words increasing strength (please see the link if you would like more information). However, Beta-Alanine can cause a tingling sensation like pins and needles, which may be annoying while trying to workout. Amino-Acids are brilliant in repairing muscles after a workout which I will go into more detail in another post.  Currently I am PEScience protein powder (£48.95) peanut-butter cup flavor and eating high protein foods to gain my Amino-Acids. I believe you can gain the essential Amino-acids from foods however I enjoy sometime sweet in my diet so love protein powders. I know some protein powders have added sweeteners which studies suggest this is not great for you, but I will be using them until I reach my goal weight. 


I am not a health and fitness professional, I just enjoy reading articles and clinical studies relating to health and exercise. Please do your own research and consult your doctor when trying a new product. 

Thank you for reading. 





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